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Honeoye Richmond Historical Society
For the past 25 years, residents of the town of Richmond have been contributing family heirlooms, Native American artifacts found in the vicinity of Richmond, historical farming implements used in Richmond, old family diaries of settlers, and other historical items and collections to the Honeoye-Richmond Historical Society.  In previous years the collections were displayed in the basement of the town library.In June of 2009 the Honeoye-Richmond Historical Society moved the historical collections into a room located in the newly built Richmond Town Hall. The museum features:
  • A vast collection of Native American arrow points, stone tools for food preparation and wood/leather working and pottery dating from 600 BC to 1800 AD. The artifacts in the Native American collection were found in the surrounding area of Richmond and Canadice. 
  • Interesting items found in old country stores of Honeoye from the 1800s,
  • An extensive bird collection mounted in 1899 by early resident N. Raymond Reed,
  • A gun collection made by Honeoye gunsmiths in the 1800s. 
  • Vintage wedding gowns and other clothing from the 1800s used by Richmond residents

Other interesting items found at the museum include historical books, ledgers, and goods from early businesses in Richmond, and journals and ledgers from early residents of Richmond.  Some of the early school desks, chairs, and school supplies from the 1800s as well as early maps of Ontario County and Richmond are available upon request.  Currently the Museum is open to the public from 10:00 AM to noon on Saturdays and by appointment (contact Richmond Town Historian Carol MacDonald at 229-5070.) The Honeoye-Richmond Historical Society is an official Chartered Historical Society under the Regents of the State University of New York.

Honeoye Lake History

Before the Sullivan Expedition came through the Honeoye Valley in the fall of 1779 an Indian village was located at the north end of the Lake Hanayaye (in Seneca language meant "finger lying there"). The village hunted, fished and farmed this area.  It was destroyed by Sullivan's troops in 1779. Returning to their New England homes, soldiers told of the beauty and fertile soil in Western New York. The Phelps and Gorham Purchase of two million acres from Massachusetts created high interest in acquiring area land, and the subsequent Deighton Purchase led to settlement. By lottery, Captain Peter Pitts drew 3,000 acres north of the lake. On May 31, 1789, his two sons Gideon and William, became pioneer settlers.  The remainder of the Pitts family arrived the following December and for three years were the only inhabitants. By 1795, other New Englanders began to migrate into this locality and settlement was rapid. In 1796, Pittstown was established. Since another Pittstown already existed, in 1808 it was changed to Honeoye, the white man's version of "Hanayaye".  It is not documented why the name of Honeoye was changed  later in 1815 to Richmond; however, the wife's maiden name of village's first settler was Abigail Richmond, and it presumed the village was named after her.

In the late 1800's Honeoye Lake was not developed with hotels or commercialism (unlike its sister lakes, Hemlock and Conesus), due to the lack of a railroad system to and around Honeoye Lake, along with the extremely poor and ensuing difficulties of traveling to and from the area.
Around the 1900's there was a logging business on the lake. The area of Briggs Gully near the south end of the lake was logged. All by hand a railroad was built for the logging business back into Briggs Gully for about 1- 1/2 miles. Logs were dragged out of the woods and gully and to the lake on the railroad. By steamboat (the only one ever on the lake) the logs were then floated up the lake to a saw mill which was located in the area that is now Sandy Bottom Park. The lumber was subsequently transported to Hemlock by a steam locomotive equipped with wheels which ran along the bumpy dirt roads. After an entire load of red oak logs sank to the bottom of the lake while being floated up to the saw mill, the saw mill was moved from the north end of the lake to the mouth of Briggs Gully. The logging business came to an end when all of the available timber was removed from Brigg's Gully.

In 1928 the City of Rochester was granted permission by the State of New York to acquire Honeoye Lake for the purpose of flooding the valley and using the water as a reservoir for drinking water. The Town of Richmond, Canadice, West Bloomfield and Lima along with the Ontario County Board of Supervisors, spent years in heated court battles fighting desperately for an appeal, all to no avail. Rochesterians, however eventually believed this endeavor would be too expensive and, in all probability, would increase their taxes drastically. They subsequently turned to Lake Ontario for their drinking water. In the late 1930's, building of cottages around the lake began, but people were hesitant to build while there still was a possibility that the City of Rochester would take over the lake. It wasn't until the era after World War II that lakeside development became popular.

Farming with flour mills and hops were incorporated into the valley and soon the valley and surrounding hills filled with farms and families. Today hunting, fishing, farming and logging continues in the Honeoye area.
Learn more of the history of the Honeoye Lake and valley at our Honeoye Museum in our new location in the Richmond Town Hall in Richmond Town Park, Main Street, Honeoye. Books available at Mackerel Sky Books on the History of Honeoye located in the Honeoye Commons.
© 2012 Honeoye Chamber of Commerce