Steam was not used for the purpose of propelling water craft on this lake till comparatively a late date.
In the year 1860, George Watson of the city of Rochester, an old experienced canal boat builder conceived the idea that a boat built after the canal boat pattern somewhat, but large enough to carry a boiler and engine, besides some room for some passengers, would be a nice thing for both pleasure and profit. A house was erected and a son, Stephen Watson moved therein to work on it under his father’s superintendence.
The boat when finished was seventy feet long and eighteen feet beam, and proved as unwieldy as a canal scow. The boiler and engine were taken from the old steam saw mill nearby and put into the boat, and though it did considerable puffing in its way, yet it made very little progress. On the day of the launching, quite a large assemblage of people were present to witness the scene. It made frequent trips to the head of the lake, and dancing parties were not infrequent on this deck, but not proving a success, as anticipated, it closed its career as a steamer, at the end of the second summer, and the boiler and engine were replaced in the old mill, and it was used as a scow for some time afterwards.
Most of the means used in its construction was furnished by Stephen’s wife, and it eventually passed into her hands, in satisfaction for her claim, and also through the hands of Vidette Wright, Arminius Bugbee, Printice Chesbro and Alonzo B. Hosford, and at last was scuttled, filled with rocks, and the last relics of form a portion of the landing for the Lake Shore House, proving no more worthy of a good and successful record than “that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses bark”.
While the “Seth” was being built, a lively interest was taking hold of a goodly number of those who annually rusticate for a few days or weeks, and from the increasing numbers who were trending hitherward, many could safely divine, that in the near future this lake must become a noted place for summer resort, and as the day for its launching was quite a gala one, we know of no better way to chronicle said event than to copy somewhat from our own report, published the week following in the “Ontario County Times.”
“A few days previous to the 25th day of June in the year of grace one thousand eight hundred and seventy-four, handbills proclaiming that the - New Steamer Seth Green - would be launched, and make a trip on that day on Hemlock Lake, having been scattered as thickly around as autumnal leaves that strode the brooks of Vallombrosia, we, your humble correspondent, threw care to the dogs and proceeded to the scene of action, where we arrived at half-past nine”.
The morning was the loveliest in June and the lake, a beautiful sheet of water, whose surface was as smooth and placid as ever was broken by a Seneca’s oar, some seven miles long and from one to two wide, and while standing at the foot and looking up towards the head we could see on either side flocks and herds feeding in green fields, or the young luxuriant grain of old Livonia; while farther up, in Canadice, on the left, and Conesus on the right, the green old hills looming up in solemn grandeur along whose sides gigantic shadows chased each other as the light clouds flit before the sun, and clad in their primeval garb just as they were spoken into existence by the voice of God.
As we had plenty of time we spent some two hours or more lounging around on the west shore visiting the little cabins and summer homes dotting the banks for some distance up the lake, and also the “Jacques House,” which has been a fashionable resort for not only transient but permanent boarders through the summer season for a number of years; the “Lake Shore House,” first opened to the public about eleven months ago, which will be, for the present at least, the headquarters of the new steamer in question.
At both of these places plenty of boats, fishing tackle and stabling for teams can be had at any time at reasonable rates. Those wishing a “temperance” house can be satisfied at Jacques, while those who wish to get a little “Old Rye” can pass a little farther up the lake and be accommodated at the Lake Shore House.
When we had arrived but a few had gathered to partake of the festivities of the day, but by eleven o’clock the balcony of the Shore House, the shore of the lake, and the rustic pass-way leading to where the young “Seth” was safely secured, (for it had slid into the lake two days in advance of us) were pretty well packed with the young and old, of all nations and all shades from the sable Congo to unnatural whiteness of the invalid, for “the cradle and the grave had been robbed” of their inmates to witness a scene not common in this vicinity.
Soon came the coronet band of Lima, which was received by the discharge of a terrible load from a “bell metal” brought from Wayland for the occasion by the Hon. James G. Bennett late member from Assembly from old Steuben, - a naval piece that did good service and spoke well all through the rebellion. At a little past eleven, the band, together with a favored few, started down the lake with the steamer to the Jacques House amid the booming of cannon and music by the band, and while they are gone it will be a good time to tell “Seth’s” history, etc.
The steamer was built in 1873, by Hingston Brothers of Buffalo, for Clark Morehouse of Wayland, and delivered a few weeks ago. It is thirty-eight feet in length, nine feet beam and draws between two and three feet of water. The boiler is of the Baxter pattern, of six horse power, and the engine was made at Corning by Preston.
After landing, and dinner at the Shore House, it was ascertained that the veritable Seth Green who was advertised to be present and present a flag for the steamer was not on hand, but Miss Mattie Atkinson, about fifteen years of age, from Lima was, and after a few introductory remarks by Mr. Galetine from the same place, and “Hail Columbia,” by the band, she, while standing on the deck of the little steamer, and in the name of Seth Green, presented the flag in the following words: “We are called here today to christen and set afloat this small, neat and tiny steamer, Seth Green, and fling to the breeze the beautiful steamer which he has given, bearing his name, which I have now the honor to present.” Barnes, of the Steuben Courier, was called on to respond, who mounted the deck and read a half sheet or less of pool scrap, the words we were unable to obtain because he said he “spoke from notes.” Then came the “Star Spangled Banner,” from the band, three cheers for the steamer and three more for the Coronet Band of Lima, then “Seth,” with fifty persons on board, slowly and silently left for a trip up the lake, while the band gave us the “Marsellaise Hymn,” and Bennett, another word from his little Commodore; but after going up as far as “Echo Rock” it hung around the circle, and landed again, the trip ending with “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning.”
A few short trips were made when the visitors from the head of the lake went on board and with music by the Band, interspersed with martial strains which were not unpleasant to take from H. A. Clark and son of Springwater, and Bennett and Newman of Wayland, we passed the romantic possessions of Bishop Mc Quaid, of Rochester, who has erected on a slightly eminence a “Home for the retired Priests in his Diocese,” and landed safely at about six at the Half Way House.
The steamer passed into the hands of L. B. Onley of Wayland,who ran it for two seasons. T. J. Reynolds became the next owner who sold it to H. J. Wemett, to whom it belonged during its after existence as a boat. Captain Fox leased and ran it two seasons, and in the fall of 1878, it was pronounced unseaworthy, and laid aside, to make room for the next season for the Corabelle.
The Seth Green having proved a complete success, its owner, Wemett, did not venture a farthing, when he concluded to replace it with a larger craft, made of superior material, and capable of accommodating the rapidly increasing business of the lake. Early in the season of 1879, Samuel Hingston the old, experienced boat builder of Buffalo, employed by the said H. J. Wemett, commenced, and on the July following, finished, and successfully launched the present worthy Corabelle. She measures, forty-five feet on the keel, with ten and a half in the beam, capable of carrying a load, respectable in numbers.
The vast amount of work done; the immense crowds of passengers consistently being carried by the Corabelle in 1879, created quite a desire to share in what was considered by everyone, a Bonanza. The same Samuel Hingston was again brought into requisition; and rather late in the season of 1880, was successfully launched the Mollie Tefft. The Mollie was built more in the style of the larger lake steamers, with the pilot house on top. It measures sixty feet in extreme length and twelve and five twelfths feet in the beam, and has an engine of nineteen, and a boiler of twenty two horse power.
Mrs. Mollie Tefft of Rochester, who owns “Maple Hill” Cottage, is the owner. George Snyder ran it two seasons, and Frank Tefft, son of Mollie, the last.
In the spring of 1882, the pilot house was removed, and thus it was arranged so that one less hand is required to handle it. The Mollie is a staunch boat, and has a capacity to stow away a goodly congregation.
The Nellie was not first launched in these waters. It was first built as a Ship life-boat, and has seen service in “Merry old England,” before it cleft the waves of Canandaigua and Honeoye lakes and was introduced here in the season of 1881, by Captain William Wicks, by whom it has been successfully managed, for the two seasons. The hull is wholly built of iron, and as long as it is sound, it should be perfectly seaworthy. It measures some twenty-four feet in length, and eight or nine feet beam, and last summer, it made a daily morning trip around the lake, taking orders, and feeding the hungry cottagers and campers.
As it was called Nellie at the time it made its appearance here, we have so called it, but the name was hauled down during the past season, and “A. Bronson” placed in its stead.
The Camilla is somewhat smaller than the Nellie, and has also seen service before it came here. It belongs to McDonald and Reynolds of the city of Rochester, and was successfully managed last season by the youthful Captain, Bert. Reynolds. This was the first season here, and like all the before-mentioned boats, it ran as a regular passenger carrier.
This little clipper is smaller than any other steamer on the lake, and quite different in many respects, from any of them. It belongs, and was run last season for the first, by Farnsworth of Lima, and is exclusively a family pleasure boat.
It was built expressly for this lake, and will be remodeled somewhat for the coming season.