Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Following the Revolutionary War land was awarded to men who served, with amount of land based on their rank. In 1790 an area of 600 acres was awarded north of Elm Street Extension to Amos Sniffen and south of Elm Street Extension to James Duncan.
After this initial award no evidence of how the site was occupied is available until 1817 when deeds begin to appear in the newly founded Tompkins County Office of the clerk.
From historical accounts we do know that the Ithaca & Geneva Turnpike was completed in 1811 opening the West Hill area for development. The turnpike ran along the west side of Cayuga Lake connecting Ithaca at the south end of the lake to Geneva forty miles to the north end of the lake.
Forests were harvested for use as building materials and agricultural development ensued on land that was cleared. A sawmill was located on the west portion of Military Patent 64 and identified in deeds as Gray's Saw Mill.
Subdivision of the land for multiple owners was first observable following award of the Military Patent and the first agricultural uses. The earliest known records in 1817 show 314 acres transferred between people living not on the land but in the Village of Auburn.
Subsequently Tompkins County Bank acquired the land in 1845. Next the land was subdivided and sold for agricultural use, but also for the purposes of land speculation.
Deeds refer to the Luther Gere land. George D. Beers, a prominent local land speculator was involved in sale of land as well. Samuel H. Purdy is the first documented farmer. The first parcel of land was sold to him by Tompkins County Bank on November 24, 1845.
Pressures from nearby settlements including the City of Ithaca and the Village of Enfield which the Elm Street Extension rests between, as well as improvement and maintenance of roads and transportation by automobile and bus allowed for development.