Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History

Ellicott's Description of Gardeau Reservation.


Gardeau became the home of Mary Jemison or Dehgewanus when she fled with her family from Little Beardstown during the American invasion of 1779. Later the lands were set aside in the Big Tree Treaty of 1797 for her use. In the year following the treaty Joseph Ellicott and his crew went to the Genesee Valley to survey the tracts the Senecas had reserved. The Gardeau lands, as shown below, proved to be the most difficult.

The following description of the Reservation at "Gardo" was part of a larger report submitted by Ellicott to Paul Busti of the Holland Land Company around 1800.

Also see the Gardeau Survey map which we believed accompanied this report, and the Minard map from 1897 showing the east half of the former reservation lands. A later photograph of the Gardeau area is also found in our Historic Photo Album.

Please note that the spelling, capitalization, and italics are as found in the published record.


 Reservation at Gardo,

Surveyed & laid off.

"At this place the Indians made a reservation by location without mentioning the quantity of Land intented, the Description itself being of that kind that the location might contain more or less nearly at the option of the Indians, and at the same time comport and agree with the location. The description runs as follows, that is to Say;
Beginning at the mouth of Steephill creek (a small branch emptying into the Genesse River) thence due East to the old path, thence due South so far that a line drawn due west with intersect certain Steep Rocks on the West side of the Genesee river; then, extending the said line due west, due north, and due East to the place of beginning, so as to contain equal quantities of land on both side of the river.
In the Establishment of this reservation considerable difficulties were found to occur, both in respect to the place of beginning, and the old path, there being three different old paths, one near the River bank, another some distance to the Eastward, and the other to a considerable distance farther to the Eastward.
It will easily be see that as the Indians themselves made the location, and being interested in a large reservation would naturally endeavour to Establish the Eastern path as the Old path by them meant and intended when they made the location. Differences also occurred in ascertaining the Certain Steep rocks, on the West side of the Genesee river, because ever where along the river in that neighborhood many steep rocks were found, and as I before observed, the Indians were naturally disposed to fix upon those steep rocks that would afford them the greatest quantity of land which would consequently be the means of occasionning much trouble and Vexation.
It was however after much Altercation mutually Agreed to Establish the middle old path for the one intended, and the first Steep Rocks of any magnitude on the West side of Genessee river, as the steep rocks intended. Although the reservation will now contain considerably more land that was expected when the Treaty was carried into effect, yet it will not contain half the quantity it would otherwise have contained, if the Indians had been permitted to establish such paths and rocks for the boundaries as they wished. For a particular Description and record of said Tract, with the quanity of acres contained therein see book No.- folio from page ­ to ­ and by a reference to the general Map you will see its local and relative situation.
I have been more particular in regard to the execution of this reservation than any of the others; having understood that the persons who hold the lands in that quarter are dissatisfied with the extensiveness of the reservation,and supposing it probable that you might have been informed on the Circumstance without being apprised of the reasons that governed me on the occasion, you might be including to suppose that due care had not been taken in laying off said reservation."

From Reports of Joseph Ellicott, Holland Land Company's Paper Vol I, ed by Robert W Bingham. Buffalo NY: Buffalo Historical Society, 1937     pp 88,89


Also see

A Glimpse of Mary Jemison



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