Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

July 20, 2013

CANAL DISCOVERIES: Recollections from an early settler

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The owners of the first log home near what is now the Lockport locks was acknowledged to be Dr. Isaac Smith and his wife, Edna Deane Smith. The couple operated an infirmary out of their cabin. Anyone who was hurt as a result of work on the Erie Canal would most likely have been taken to the Smith home. Mrs. Smith, a Quaker, affectionately known as Aunt Edna, served as a nurse for her husband.

Aunt Edna retold her life experiences in the form of several stories that she either wrote herself or transcribed to others. Her recollections form a vivid picture of what life was really like in early Lockport. We are certainly thankful for her careful attention to detail while providing this wonderful historical information. The following is one such recollection from Aunt Edna:

“My husband, Dr. Smith, came on to Lockport in April 1821, bought a lot, and contracted for a log house to be put up and finished by the first of July. Everything progressed favorably, when he left for the East to bring on his family. 

“On our arrival at the appointed time, weary with a journey in wagons, we were confronted by a sorry outlook. The logs were up in the shape of a house to be sure, and a temporary roof on, made of oak staves lashed onto the rafters with withes, but there were no doors or windows, no partitions, a small fireplace with the back of a chimney on the lower floor, from the ceiling it had four sides up to the roof.

“Altogether, it had a very dreary air to one accustomed to the common comforts of life. However, there was nothing to be done, but to move in our household goods. We put up a bed, and when night came on, fastened blankets up to the places where windows should have been, and in due time went to bed.

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