Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

May 3, 2014

Long-gone tavern played role in Niagara County development

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — For people in Niagara County who still travel to Canada, the area around Upper Mountain, Military and Lewiston (Route 104) roads is the jumping-off point to the cross the border. It is usually a very busy place crowded with traffic, but before 1960 the area was very quiet, tranquil and rich in history.

In 1810 Isaac Colt came from New Jersey with his wife and six children and purchased Lot 25 on the Mile Reserve, on the lower Niagara River just south of the village of Lewiston. His property extended one mile east between Lewiston and Military roads, with Upper Mountain Road immediately to the north. This was also near the heavily traveled “portage” route around Niagara Falls that was used by travelers and traders before the Erie Canal opened in 1825. 

At this important intersection, Colt built a log home/tavern where his seventh child was born in 1813. Later that year the family fled to Canandaigua to escape the British assault on the Niagara Frontier. When the family returned in 1816, Colt built a new, large frame house that doubled as a tavern. He also purchased lots 24, 26, 29 and 30 adjacent to his property and established an extensive farm. 

The Colts eventually had eight children, six sons and two daughters. As each one married and had families of their own, Isaac Colt Sr. gave them a part of his property. One son built a cider mill directly across from the house on Lewiston Road. Later the railroad was built alongside the cider mill. A school house was built there as well, but was later moved across the road on the corner opposite to the Colt house.

By the end of the 19th century, no fewer than eleven Colt families lived in the vicinity of Upper Mountain, Lewiston and Military roads.

In the 1880s the old homestead was sold to the Rodell family. Their daughter, Helen, later inherited it and lived there with her husband, a Mr. Irving (first name unknown). After her husband’s death, Mrs. Irving began selling some lots to the south of the house along Lewiston Road. These lots later became what is called the Irving Subdivision, with short streets laid out. Further south was (and still is) the Riverdale Cemetery.

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