King's Landing

The story of King's Landing begins with the Phelps-Gorham purchase. New York and Massachusetts had a dispute over the lands referred to as the Genesee Country. An 1786 agreement recognized New York's jurisdiction but secured for Massachusetts the preemption title to all the land west of a line that practically followed the course of Seneca Lake. Several groups tried to get access to this land but were superseded by Phelps and Gorham who purchased the preemption rights from Massachusetts. After reaching financial agreements with two other groups of land speculators they reached an agreement with the Indians during July 4-8, 1788 and the agreement was signed in 1789.

Phelps and Gorham purchased the right to Indian land from the preemption line west to the Genesee River as well as a twelve by twenty four mile tract on the west side of the Genesee River.

To neighbors in Suffield, MA, Phelps promoted the idea of Fall Town, an area with manufacturing and shipping. The manufacturing would be done at what we now call the High Falls. In 1800, how would materials manufactured at the falls be shipped from the area? Via the Genesee River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Phelps received interest from several people in Suffield most notably Gideon King and Zadock Granger who were interested in the shipping aspect. King had employed men in his capacity as a contractor, had some experience in building. The men gave the move a lot of thought. There was forest to provide lumber, and an existing sawmill for cutting wood into lumber for homes. A gristmill would grind grain when land was cleared for farms and Lake Ontario opened American shipping with the surrender of Fort's Niagara and Oswego in 1796.

On January 13, 1797 both King and Granger bought 3000 acres of land from Phelps. King paid cash and Granger took a mortgage. They returned in the spring to chose the site and built homes before they brought their families to the area. An early task was building two roads. One a road through the forest to Indian Allen's mill. This is now known as Lake Avenue. As there were only about 25 men available to assist it must have been a pretty basic road. There was deep ravine, later known as Deep Hollow, just south of present day Driving Park Avenue which had to be bridged. During the War of 1812 it was feared the British might destroy the Main Street bridge. Built between 1810 and 1812 it was the only bridge across the Genesee for 20 miles. In defense the Americans loosened the planks of the Deep Hollow bridge so they could be quickly removed and at this site built an earthen works fort equipped with a four pound cannon. This fort was known as Fort Bender and was the only fort ever build for the defense of Rochester.

A second road was built from the settlement at the SE corner of Lake Avenue and Hanford Landing Road to the flat area at the rivers edge. Goods would be brought from downtown Rochester along the River Road and down to the landing for shipping.

It is notable that King told Phelps that the Landing was too valuable to be controlled by one man and should be held in common with access for all. When Kodak wanted to build its water treatment plant on the site ownership couldn't be established so the City foreclosed on the property for nonpayment of taxes and transferred the property to Kodak.

In the fall of 1797 six families moved from Suffield to the Landing making it the first white settlement west of the Genesee. The sawmill was now in working order and Eli Granger began work on a boat. It was completed in 1798, named the "Jemima" after his wife and was the first American built schooner on Lake Ontario.

Allen's mill at he Upper Falls was being run by Colonel Josiah Fish and in March 1798 his wife Elizabeth Hazelton Fish passed away. This brought up the subject of a burial ground. It was decided to take an acre or two from lot 42 and settling the purchase of it later. The King's Landing cemetery, Rochester's first, is located on the NE corner of Lake Avenue and Maplewood Drive.

By early spring the wharf at the Landing was finished and by mid-summer the warehouse was completed. With the warm weather the Genesee Fever appeared. Asa Rowe, from a near-by farm, died and was the second grave in King's Landing Cemetery. Then, from King's Landing, Daniel Graham died on July 28, 1878 and Gideon King died one week later on August 5, 1798. Bildad, the third son of Gideon King died that October. With the coming of summer 1799, Zadock Granger succumbed to the Genesee Fever. Thomas King and Eli Granger were the only men of the original families who had escaped death by the Genesee Fever. The development of manufacturing at the Upper Falls didn't begin until after the War of 1812 so, with little to ship and the fear of the Genesee Fever, Kind's Landing fell into disuse.

In 1809 the seven Hanford brother arrived from Rome, NY and settled in the area with names changing to Hanford Landing and Hanford Landing Road.

King's Landing, A History of the First White Settlement West of the Genesee River in the State of New York 1797 by Helen Edson Slocum, Rochester, New York, Published by a Special Committee of the Rochester Historical Society 1948