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Contact & Conquest

Conflict over the lucrative fur trade caused the Marquis de Denonville to invade the Genesee Country in 1687.

March back into history at Old Fort Niagara near Youngstown.

Landing at Irondequoit Bay from Montreal, Denonville's French army destroyed a large Indian village on Boughton Hill near Victor in Ontario County. After the attack, the village went into a 300 year decline. Today the area is the state's newest park, Ganondagan State Historic Site.

The Iroquois Confederacy engaged in active and often warlike diplomacy with tribes all over the eastern United States. The Iroquois sided with the British in the Revolutionary War and were very troublesome to the American side until their power was broken by Gen. John Sullivan's expedition in 1779.

Sullivan's forces joined soldiers from New England and Pennsylvania and advanced into Western New York from the south. A decisive battle was fought at Newtown near Elmira in Chemung County in 1779 where the Indians and their British allies suffered a bloody defeat. After that Sullivan was able to advance deep into the Genesee Valley with only minor resistance.

The soldiers serving with the expedition were struck by the region's beauty and fertile soils suitable for farming. Many of them returned after the war, dividing up the native lands and building settlements and towns.

By a series of treaties between the Indians and the new federal government at Canandaigua in 1794, and at Big Tree (Geneseo) in 1797, title to the western lands was eventually settled and European development could begin in earnest. The British maintained their stronghold in Niagara until after the War of 1812.

The Saga of Mary Jemison 

One of the most colorful characters in Genesee Country history was Mary Jemison, the so-called, "White Woman of the Genesee." Mary was captured as a young girl by Indians in northern Pennsylvania in a raid in which both her parents were killed.

She was taken back to Western New York where she was adopted and raised as a Seneca. In later years Mary had a number of Indian husbands.

She played a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797 and by the terms of that agreement ended up with a sizeable estate on the Gardeau Flats near the present Letchworth State Park where she lived out her days.

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