Asa Dunbar – Pioneer; Part 2

This continues the story of Asa Dunbar, a pioneer settler of Irondequoit and Brighton, NY.

The 1800 census record of Asa and his family shows him and his wife having four boys, and three girls. By the 1810 census there are only 2 children living with Asa and Elizabeth. Some of the older children probably have married by that time or maybe one or two have died.

In 1801 a municipal court was established in the City of Tryon and Asa was appointed as city attorney. In the Town of Northfield records dated March 2, 1802 Asa is one of 16 of Overseers of Highways for the town.

Tax records for the Town of Northfield between 1800 and 1804 are on Asa is listed as being taxed for a house and farm but not as owning the real estate. The value of his farm is listed as $624 in 1800 and 1801 and as $425 in 1803. The tax lists also have listings of personal property. His personal property was valued at $48 in 1801 and jumped up to $511 in 1803. His taxes paid were $1.55 in 1800 and $2.60 in 1804.

Henry Ward was a clerk at the Tryon store after 1800. In his reminisces he described Asa as 6 feet and 7 inches in height, and of great muscular power. In laying the logs of a building, he often raised one end to the height of five feet, when it required three men of ordinary power to elevate the opposite end.

On April 1, 1807 Asa finally bought land in the area from John Tryon on a mortgage. For $800 he got the north half of lot 26 (105 acres) approximately 85 acres in lot 32 and ½ acre in lot 33 at Tryon. That would prove to be a sale at the wrong time. John Tryon would die in September 1807. His estate said Asa was in default on the mortgage and the lands were sold at a sheriff’s sale on Aug. 3, 1808 for $150.

The last record Asa in New York State is in an Ontario County Court record. On January 24, 1812 Asa was in Lima, NY, probably delivering goods to the store associated with Tryon and Adams, when he was attacked by Peter Moon and Rufus Webber. They grabbed and pulled his nose and pulled out a large quantity of hair. They then proceeded to beat him with sticks and their fists on his face, chest, back, shoulders, etc. Then they threw him to the ground and kicked him. From this beating they also tore his clothing described as a coat, waistcoat, pair of breeches, cravat, shirt, pair of stockings and a hat which he said were worth $50. Asa took them to Court in June 1812 and was awarded $150 in damages.

Asa then moves his family to Canada. Some researchers say that he died in 1815 in Burleigh Falls, Peterborough Co., Ontario. That is about 50 miles north of Lake Ontario. Other people say that Asa died after 1818 because he is taxed in the Town of Brighton, NY in 1818. I believe that he wasn’t in Brighton in 1818 but it was probably another Asa who would be the next generation.

The family tree for Asa and Elizabeth on FamilySearch Family Tree says they have a son, Asa Jr., born about 1792. He could be their son but he may also be a nephew. He is probably the Asa Dunbar that was taxed in Brighton in 1818. Records show that he was married to Nancy Elliott. She was born in England about 1823 and I suspect that she is his second wife because of the great difference in age. In the 1840 census they are living in Irondequoit. That census record is very interesting because of the way the family is listed. There is one white male aged 30 to 40, 1 white male aged 50 to 60 (this would be Asa Jr.), one black male under 10, 1 black male aged 10 to 24, 2 black males aged 30 to 40 and 1 black female aged 24 to 35 (Nancy). On June 8, 1846 Asa and Nancy sell 50 acres in Irondequoit. I looked for when they bought that property but couldn’t find the deed. That property was just north of the corner of Titus Ave and Culver Road. In the sale deed they are described as living in Smithtown, Colborne District, Ontario. The 1851 Canadian census has the family living in Harvey and Smith Towns, Peterborough County, Ontario where Asa Jr. is an inn keeper. Asa died in 1883 and Nancy in 1886 in Bridgenorth, Peterborough Co., Ontario. They are both buried in the Bridgenorth Cemetery.

Asa Jr. supposedly had a son, George, who seeing as he was born about 1820 (in Canada), would indicate that Asa Jr. had a wife before he married Nancy Elliott. George was living in Irondequoit in the 1850 census but seeing as his young children were born in Canada, he just had returned between 1848 and 1850. He, his wife Susanna (born in England), and their family of about 10 children appear in census records of Irondequoit up to the 1892 NY State. After that the family moved to the southern end of Portland Avenue in Rochester. George and Susanna are found buried in Range one of Mt. Hope Cemetery. The dates on his tombstone say Sept. 3, 1820 – Dec. 7, 1898 and Susanna’s dates are Dec. 9, 1828 – May 20, 1901.

There are many facts found on Asa Dunbar but missing are the important vital records connecting his and Elizabeth’s descendants. It does seem very likely that may be descendants still living in Monroe County as well as in Canada.

Asa Dunbar – Pioneer; Part 1

This is the story of Asa Dunbar who was a pioneer settler of what is now Irondequoit and Brighton. The best previous collection of records on Asa are in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in volume 166 (2012) where there is a genealogy of his parents.

When white settlers came to what is now Monroe County in the mid 1790s they found living here a “mulatto squatter” named Asa Dunbar and his family. Mulatto is an old term, now consider in bad taste, that means the person is of mixed races. Some histories suggested that he was a runaway slave from down south but research finds that is not true.

Asa Dunbar was born in Braintree, Mass, March 16, 1754. His birth is recorded in the records of that town. His parents were Sampson Dunbar (1721 – 1804) and Patience Crouch (1732 – before 1765). Sampson is sometimes also referred to as “mulatto.” Sampson had served with the American forces at Lexington and Dorchester Heights in the Revolutionary War.

Asa and Elizabeth Odell had their intentions to marry recorded twice in March 1784 before they were married on June 9, 1784 by the Pastor of the Second Church of Sutton, Mass. (now First Congregational Church of Millbury). Elizabeth was born April 29, 1759 in Sutton to Ichabod and Elizabeth Odell.

At the time of his marriage, Asa was living with his brothers Joshua (who married Elizabeth Odell’s sister, Lydia)  and Samuel in the house of Ebenezer Snell. All three were also employed by Mr. Snell. Then Asa bought land from Mr. Snell and built a house.

Within a few years Asa started moving to the west. His first move was to around Plainfield, Mass where he is recorded as a charcoal maker in 1789. The 1790 federal census for Plainfield says his family consisted of 5 people.

Then in 1791 Asa and his younger brother, Joshua, are living in the “Canandaigua District” of Ontario County, NY. That district would later be subdivided and it appears that they are living in the current Town of Seneca, Ontario County. Joshua would live out the rest of his life in that Town. Joshua was taxed in 1791 for real estate worth £3, 16 shillings and personal property valued at £5, 10 shillings. Asa didn’t own any property but was taxed on personal property valued at £20.

Dates vary when earlier researchers think that Asa moved his family to present day Monroe County. Some say that he moved here as early as 1792 while others place it closer to 1795. Asa and his family lived along Thomas Creek on the west shore of Irondequoit Bay. Their place of residence was near a salt spring at what was later called Palmer’s Glen. That is now in Monroe County’s Tyron Park at the east end of the road also called Tyron Park.

There are descriptions that say Asa boiled down salt from the spring near where he lived and sold it. He supposedly picked fruit off area trees and sold that to merchant shippers who sent it to Kingston, Ontario. I’m not sure how he would have made connection with those ships. He definitely would have hunted, fished and grown enough crops to maintain his family.

An often repeated story is from a recollection by William Hincher Jr. (of Greece, NY) that was first printed in History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase and Morris’ Reserve (1851) by Orasmus Turner. Mr. Hincher reported that John “Parks and mulatto Dunbar, who lived at Irondequoit, were out after coons near the lake shore. Their dogs treed one. As they supposed. It was dark; Dunbar climbed the tree, until he discovered a pair of eyes larger than coons usually have, and backed down. They built up fires, remained until morning, when they found their game a large panther, which they shot.”

On April 28, 1795 Asa was one of 30 area residents to petition to create the Town of Northfield. That primitive Town was what now is most of the eastern part of Monroe County.

In 1796 lots were set up in what was called the “City of Tryon” in present day Ellison Park, Brighton. That was at the southern end of where Irondequoit Creek is navigable. The owners John Tryon and Amasa Adams never lived in the area but were hoping to set up a prosperous settlement. They built a store there in 1798 and they also had a store in Lima, NY which could be reached by primitive trails. They hired Augustus Griswold to run the store and he persuaded Asa to move his family to Tryon.

Records of the Tryon store still exist and Asa shows up in there a lot. He wasn’t a full time employee of the store but would deliver goods to area residents. He also was paid for milling grain. On one day he milled 13 bushels of rye and received 12 shillings for his work. The store also had a still and the rye was used for making whiskey. Asa would buy many small quantities of whiskey. Some days it would only be ½ pint then the next day it would be a pint (for 8 pence). On another occasion he would buy ½ gallon. By looking at those records, you would think that he was drinking a lot. The store records show that other settlers in the area would buy much larger quantities. Also, at that time, drinking whiskey was safer than drinking water which could contain many germs. Asa would also buy bushels of oats which would have been fed to farm animals. Asa’s wife sold the store a muskrat pelt and received 2 shillings, 1 pence. One day the store must have received bolts of cloth because many local residents were buying cloth on the same day. Asa would buy his wife 9.75 yards of cloth (for 7 shillings, 3 pence). Another time he bought her 3 large buttons for 11 pence.

Continued tomorrow when we get a personal description of Asa and other facts.

Rochester Transit History

I uploaded an annual report for Rochester Transit (1982 – 1983). Most of this booklet is a short history of the transit systems that were in Rochester over the years. First there were many trolleys. Those all ended up merging into one system. At one time you could connect with the subway, too. Eventually all the trolleys disappeared and they were replaced by the bus system.

Wilkinson Scrapbook Article #13

In this article from William Wilkinson’s scrapbook “One Hundred Great and Near-Great Events, Person and Places in Rochester History” (1947) he writes about the Rundel building of the Rochester Public Library. That building houses the Local History and Genealogy Division.

The Rundel Memorial building, South Avenue and Court St. houses the Reynold’s Reference Library and the Rochester Public Library completed in 1936. It is constructed of limestone and designed in a modern interpretation of Italian Renaissance style. Funds for the completion of the building were bequeathed by Morton W. Rundel, (1835 – 1911) who born in Alexander, N. Y., conducted an art store on Rochester for several years and fostered local exhibitions of water colors and oil paintings. In his will he left the city $400,000 for a building to be used as am art gallery and library. The fund increased to nearly a million dollars and was finally made available in 1934. With the addition of a Federal PWA grant of about 200 thousand dollars the building finally was completed in 1936 and houses the central public library.

Old News – Autos

In 1917 there still wasn’t any standard for road signs along highways. Then again most highways were still dirt.

In the ad, a Ford roadster is selling for $360. In 2017 dollars that would be only about $7000.


Thursday, Jan. 11, 1917


In many cities associations are providing a system of warning signs upon the highways and boulevards, designed to advise automobiles of the proximity of schools, hospitals, fire stations and other institutions, where careful driving is necessary. These signs are always placed on the right side of the roadway upon which the cars approach, and about a block distant from various buildings. If for example, a hospital is located upon a corner, the “Hospital—Quiet” signs are placed about a block distant on that institution. The sign proper may be square, round or oval, but usually they are conspicuous by reason of their white background and clear lettering. Sometimes the posts are of wood, painted white, and in other localities the posts are of iron, piping, covered with asphaltum or other rust-resisting paint. It is safe to say that the warning given is rarely disregarded.

Guide: Newspapers

I uploaded a new chapter to the Genealogical Guide on newspapers of Monroe County.


This appears to be the kind of record that has the greatest growth over the last ten years. There are a couple of big websites with Monroe County newspapers. Also see the paragraph on the newspapers that are on Google. They have some newspapers that are not anywhere else.

Online newspapers are scanned and then software has to recognize the text. The accuracy of the final product depends on the condition of the newspaper, That is why sometimes names are nor found when they are actual in the newspaper.

There were two newspapers in German that were published for many years. The Rochester Beobachter is available on microfilm at the Rochester Public Library. That newspaper does not have any vital records. Then the Rochester Volksblatt was published from 1854 to about 1900. The Rochester Library only has one copy and there are only another 12 issues scattered around the country.

Kodak News

Kodak Ektra Camera Phone

Kodak is at CES 2017, the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas this week showing new items.

There is the Kodak Ektra camera/phone that is made by Bullitt Group of the UK. They say that it is a camera with a phone not a smartphone with a camera. That is because the main camera is a 21 megapixel camera. Then there is a front-facing (selfie) camera that is 13 megapixels. There are many automatic modes to get the image you want. In manual mode you can adjust exposure, ISO, focus, white balance and shutter speed. The camera also takes 4K video. It features 32gb of memory and a microSD card slot. It has been available in Europe since last month and will be for sale in the US and Canada in April. Price $549.00.

Also at CES, Kodak is showing a functioning prototype models of the new Limited Edition Kodak Super 8 movie camera. Visitors can view test footage “demonstrating the camera’s ability to capture 8mm images with incredible quality.” It is supposed to be available in the spring. Not sure why Kodak would think that anyone would want a new movie camera. Most people would rather make digital videos.

At the same booth is the other Kodak; Kodak Alaris. That corporation was created by U.K Kodak Pension Plan in 2013 and they bought the consumer photo division from Eastman Kodak. They sell 35mm film, one time use cameras, kiosks and other related products. for printing digital images. They are bringing back Ektachrome (100 speed) 35mm film that Eastman Kodak stopped selling in 2012. This film format is used to make color slides. It was in the past used mostly by professional photographers. The film should be available by fall.

This web page from Kodak has a video highlighting what Kodak is showing off at CES 2017.