Town of Royalton
Map Site 24: Lewiston residents flee

Lewiston residents fled east along the Lewiston Trail to Batavia in Genesee County where an arsenal was located.

Marker is located in front of 8108 Chestnut Ridge Road in Royalton

The Lewiston or Niagara Trail started in Geneseo, NY and followed what is now Routes 63 and 77 in a northwest direction. This was the trail that the Seneca Indians followed to Fort Niagara in September 1779 after the Clinton-Sullivan Expedition raided Central New York State. This offensive move by the American army during the Revolutionary War destroyed at least 40 Seneca villages and all of the fruit and vegetable crops in their fields. This was done in retaliation for the Seneca attacks against Loyalist settlers in the Mohawk Valley. This attack was approved by General George Washington whom the Seneca dubbed “Town Destroyer.” Approximately 5,000 Seneca fled Central New York to spend the winter at the British-held Fort Niagara. That winter was one of the coldest on record up to that time and many of the Natives starved or froze to death. The Fort had only enough rations to feed the regular army there and had to send to Canada for more provisions. Most of the Natives lived in tents just outside the walls of the Fort. In the spring of 1780, about 3,000 returned to their lands to rebuild and plant a new crop of food.

About halfway along the trail was the village of Batavia in Genesee County. Batavia was founded in 1802 by Holland Land Company surveyor Joseph Ellicott. In early 1813 a large stone arsenal was built on a hill at the junction of West Main Street and Lewiston Road in Batavia. Its purpose was to aid in the defense of the Niagara Frontier in case of invasion by the British. The arsenal contained a few cannons and hundreds of muskets. When the residents fled Lewiston, many of them chose to head for Batavia because of the arsenal there. The arsenal was taken down in 1871 and the stone from it was used to build a new school. In a 1928 newspaper article, two elderly men were interviewed who remembered playing in the arsenal as children and seeing the muskets and cannons there. A memorial plaque was supposedly placed at the site in 1928 but no record of it can found today.

A picture of the Batavia Arsenal from a 1928 newspaper article



© 2013 NCHS & J.Christian Krull