Filed Under Historic Markers

The Historic Ridge Road

Trail of the Iroquois

- Genesee to Niagara - Historic Ridge Road Trail of the Iroquois Traced by Eli Granger in 1798 Trek - DeWitt Clinton - 1810 Seymour Murdock first permanent settler of the town of Ridgeway located on this property in 1810. One hundred feet southeast stands the barn the frame work of which was raised by Seymour Murdock, assisted by General Izard's troops in 1813. In the same year Betsey Murdock, his daughter, taught the first school in Ridgeway in this barn.

The Murdock clan, consisting of twelve family members, packed into wagons drawn by a team of oxen for the nearly 300-mile journey. Upon reaching the Genesee River, the family was met by dense forests and difficult travel the entire distance to their next stop at Clarkson. There they lodged in a roughly constructed log tavern before starting the journey westward to the family lot in Ridgeway.

The next stretch of the expedition was far more treacherous. Between Clarkson and Ridgeway, the family encountered three poorly constructed log cabins during the two-day trek. Upon their arrival at Otter Creek, the family was met by embankments lined with logs to form a “dugway.” The path was so steep as to form a nearly perpendicular trail up the west bank. To drag the wagons up the precipice, the oxen were maneuvered to the top of the hill and the wagons pulled from the creek. The oxen struggled under the heavy load and at one point were pulled backwards by the weight of the wagons; one ox buckled under the weight, caught his horn under a root, and tore it clean off.

Traveling further westward, the family encountered another challenge upon reaching the banks of Oak Orchard Creek. A similar dugway was constructed at this site for use by the “Yankee Wagons” used by earlier pioneer groups. The pathway proved too narrow for the long axles of the Conestoga wagons used by Murdock’s group and nearly rolled the wagons and oxen down the embankment.

The arrival at the family’s new homestead was welcomed with great celebration and provisions were immediately spread out in preparation for a “first meal” on the new land. One can only imagine how frightful those early years were for families with young children. Roughly 30 miles south was Batavia, the location of the closest store, post office, and church; Niagara Falls was the closest grist mill. The closest neighbors in any direction were approximately 5-7 miles away.

As the War of 1812 raged on the Niagara Frontier, focus shifted from raising crops to protecting pioneer homes. This created a lack of provisions and forced families to abandon their homes in search of safety and security. When the British captured Ft. Niagara, local men took up arms in preparation for the potential eastward path of the enemy. A band of Tuscarora Indians passing along the Ridge gave the locals quite a scare before they realized the group was friendly.

During this same time, Gen. George Izard was traveling along the Ridge Road towards Ft. Niagara when he encountered the elder Seymour Murdock attempting to raise a barn. With a lack of able-bodied men in the area, the General directed his troops to assist in the construction of the barn.

"[William Murdock] came to Ridgeway with his father's family in 1810; had some hard times here when he was a boy. [He] remembered once seeing his mother mixing dough for bread and noticed she was shedding tears. On asking why she wept, she said she was working the last flour she had and did not know where she could get more..." - Record of the Orleans County Pioneer Association

Images

The Historic Ridge Road Bronze plaque affixed to stone. Creator: Matthew R. Ballard, Historian
The Historic Ridge Road Bronze plaque showing barn in background. Creator: Matthew R. Ballard, Historian
Portrait of Seymour B. Murdock Seymour B. Murdock, Ridgeway, N.Y. - "My grandfather - M.P.G." Source: Collection from the Orleans County Department of History Creator: Furman 58 State Street, Rochester, New York.
Portrait of Eliza Ann Reed Murdock Mrs. Seymour B. Murdock (Eliza Ann Reed Murdock), "My grandmother - M.P.G" Source: Collection from the Orleans County Department of History Creator: Ground Floor Gallery - Geo H. Hedley, Artist, Medina, N.Y. Date: November 1882
Children of Seymour B. Murdock Standing L-R: Charles S. Murdock, Ransom R. Murdock. Seated L-R: Addie Murdock Pells, Elizabeth Murdock Pells. Creator: Manly Gaylord Photographer Medina N. Y.
Gubernatorial Portrait of George Izard Source: Courtesy of the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office and the Old State House Museum Date: c. 1825-1828

Location

The bronze plaque is mounted on a large boulder situated under a cedar tree - the roadside monument is on private property.

Metadata

Matthew R. Ballard, “The Historic Ridge Road,” EXPO, accessed July 15, 2024, http://expo.matthewrballard.com/items/show/1.