History of Grand Island

Grand Island HistoryFor Western New Yorkers and outside travelers who are looking or who have looked for a great place to set roots, Grand Island has always been a sought-after location. Friendly folks, great schools, close community and plenty of recreational activities are just a few of what makes Grand Island so desirable. These are just a few of the amenities of the Grand Island we are familiar with today, but have you ever looked into the history of how Grand Island became what it is today?

Grand Island has a very unique history. It starts nearly four centuries ago in 1651, when the war against the peaceful Neutre Nation, which occupied Grand Island, lost its battle against the fiery Seneca of the Iroquois. The remaining Neutre became part of the Iroquois League, which by 1655 dominated most of Western New York, including Grand Island, says IsledeGrande.com.

The island was mainly used as a hunting preserve, and no permanent villages were posted on the island. Later, an Indian burying ground was placed where Beaver Island State Park sits. This landmark spot served as the final resting place for deceased members of the Indian tribes.

Almost immediately following the French and Indian war, control of Grand Island changed again, as British forced gained control of the island. Following the Revolutionary War, Britain maintained control of Fort Niagara until 1796, after which the Iroquois again claimed their rights to the islands in the Niagara River. In an effort to make peace and gain control of the islands, the state of New York negotiated the purchase of Grand Island along with the other islands in the river from the Iroquois Nation for $1,000 in 1815. The treaty signed at the time also specified that the Iroquois were to receive $500 every year in perpetuity, a payment still upheld to this and to this day in June, according to Buffalo Architecture and History.

A group known as the Squatters then moved onto the island in 1817, occupying and building upon the land. These settlers quickly became branded as nuisances by the people of Buffalo due to their cutting, logging and shipping of white oak wood from Grand Island. A prominent Buffalo doctor wrote the governor asking for his help in evicting the Squatters out of fear of their disrupting the “peace of this vicinity.” Though legislative action, the governor moved quickly, and a bill passed in April 1819 gave permission to the Niagara County Sheriff to remove them by his discretion. The Squatters were all driven from the island in December of that year, with all families moving to Canada except one – the Pendleton Clarkes, who moved to current-day Pendleton.

A generation later, starting in 1849, farmers moved onto the land and began developing it for crop planting. Due to the water source, natural soil and the weather conditions, the island saw an abundance of crop growth. While the island was growing, no bridge had been built. Bridge discussions trace back as far as 1819, and advocates came close to securing one in 1894 when legislation was introduced to permit the building of a bridge. These efforts eventually fell flat, and it took more than a century for Grand Island to get connected to the mainland, with the completion of the first two bridges at the north and south of the island in 1935.

To this day, Grand Island continues to grow and flourish, offering its residents a unique place to live. Grand Island offers so much more than just a rich history, however, and at Town Hall Terrace, you’ll find plenty of conveniences and amenities that make your life comfortable and relaxing. If you are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle on Western New York’s wonderful island community of Grand Island, call Town Hall Terrace today at 716-773-2788.

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