Batavia, located on the Tonawanda Creek at the former junction of two major Indian trails, was founded in 1801 by Joseph Ellicott, resident agent for the Holland Land Company. Four years earlier, the Holland Land Company had purchased 3.5 million acres including the current site of Batavia from Robert Morris, “Financier of the American Revolution,” who in turn had acquired the land from the State of Massachusetts. The Seneca Nation, with the exception of reservations existing still today, in exchange for a payment of $100,000 ceded its rights to this land in the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree.
The Holland Purchase extended from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border and from Lake Erie to a few miles east of Batavia. Before 1797, with the exception of a relatively few Native American settlements populated mainly by Seneca Indians, the area was largely undeveloped. When Ellicott built his 1801 land office at Batavia and sold there thousands of parcels carved from the former Indian land to pioneers principally from the eastern United States, the community became known as “the birthplace of western New York.” As Batavia grew, it first became incorporated as a village in 1823 and then as a city in 1915.
The original Indian trails became the routes of several state highways that were later joined by the New York State Thruway (I-90) in 1954. The first railroad reached Batavia from Rochester in 1836 and was followed by several other rail companies that made the city a railroad center. A modern airport with a 5500 ft. runway is located just north of the city. Over the years, many manufacturing concerns have been attracted to the community by virtue of its superior access to good transportation.
Batavia has been the county seat of Genesee County beginning with the latter’s formation in 1802. Among its many attractions is the second Holland Land Office, now a museum, built in 1815 as a successor to Joseph Ellicott’s first land office. Other historic structures are also located in Batavia including the 1841 Court House and the former Brisbane Mansion built in 1853.
Selected City Historian Monographs
- A Sculpture
- Albert Brisbane
- Hey Mister
- Batavia's Trolleys
- An Overview of the Ellicott Mansion
- History of Youth Bureau
- Batavia's Route to Becoming a City
- Facts of Interest
- The Brisbanes of Batavia
- Batavia Businesses Operating
- Bicycles Built by the Cooley Brothers
- Who Was Trumbull Cary
- Fun and Games on the Tonawanda
- Naked Lady
- Tabernacle Campaign
- The 1957 Adoption of the City Manager Form
- 13-15 Jackson St Rear
- A Tale of Two Cities
- What is the History of the Cary Mansion
- Research on Mobile Homes
- Batavia's Stone Sidewalks
- The Brisbane Mansion