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Wayne County, New York

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  • Hannah Gaskill (1775 - 1886)
    🪦 Inscription: In Memory Of Hannah Reeves Aged 80 Years Reference: Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed March 1, 2024), memorial page for Hannah Reeves (15 Jul 1775–28 Jun 1886), ...
  • Irwin Laverne Wilson (1853 - 1936)
  • Jarit Lewis Wickwire (1852 - 1897)
    "New York, State Death Index, 1880-1956" Name Jarit L Wickwire Event Type Death Event Date 6 Feb 1897 Event Place Rose, Wayne, New York, United States Entry Number 5338
  • Leaton Joseph Seelye (1886 - 1958)
    Deaths Reported In Western N.Y LEATON J. SEELYE CLYDE, Oct. 12 - Leaton J. Seelye, 70, of 90 Sodus fit, died suddenly at his home early today (Oct. 12. 1958). Mr. Seelye was born in Pierre, S. D., in 1...
  • George Sheffield Seelye (1862 - 1894)

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Wayne County, New York.

Official Website


The county was created on April 11, 1823 and is named in honor of General Anthony Wayne, an American Revolutionary War hero and American statesman.

War of 1812

Two small skirmishes were fought in the county during the War of 1812: one in Sodus in June 1813,[8] and the other in Williamson a year later. In May 1814, British troops under the command of Sir James Yeo landed in the Williamson hamlet of Pultneyville. Yeo's fleet had already successfully raided Oswego to the east and unsuccessfully attacked Rochester to the west before attempting to obtain stores from Pultneyville. An agreement with the hamlet's residents was made, permitting the invaders to seize supplies without resistance. A dispute broke out, however, and weapons fire began on both sides, including cannon bombardment from Lake Ontario. A few citizens were killed or wounded and two were taken prisoner as the British fled.

Great Lakes Commerce

Until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1823, Pultneyville, New York, at the mouth of Salmon Creek, was Wayne County's only port. From about 1811 through the 1890s (when the customs office closed), shipping in this small hamlet extended to the Atlantic Ocean and the world via the Saint Lawrence River. During the early years of the 19th century, activity in Pultneyville focused on agricultural commerce from the surrounding region (as far south as Canandaigua) and the maritime trade on the Great Lakes. In 1865, it was home to nearly 30 lake captains, and many sailors from both Pultneyville and Sodus Bay crewed on whalers around the world. In 1874 the first railroad appeared when the Lake Shore Railroad line opened and the center of trade moved three miles south to Williamson and Pultneyville's significance as a commerce center sharply declined.

Religion: Wayne County and the Second Great Awakening

Wayne County played host to key events in the development of significant American religions during the country's Second Great Awakening period of the early 19th century. The Fox Sisters, Kate & Margaret heard rappings from a dead peddler in Hydesville and spawned a movement that eventually garnered a million followers at its peak.

Palmyra became the birthplace of the Latter Day Saint movement in the 1820s.

Shakers in Wayne County

Sodus Bay also was the site of a community of Shakers from 1826 to 1836. The site provided convenient access to travel by water on the Great Lakes Ontario and Erie, for visits to Shakers who lived in Ohio. This site might also have been useful for abolitionists moving former slaves to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad.

The first Shaker leadership team, Elders Jeremiah Talcott and Eldress Polly Lawrence, along with their assistants John Lockwood and Lucy Brown, came to Sodus from the Shakers' parent community at New Lebanon, New York. With 72 converts during their first year, they soon had 200 acres under cultivation. By 1835, the community had grown to almost 150.

However, they learned in 1835 that a canal had been proposed to be dug through their land, and by New York state law, the canal company had the right to seize the property it chose. The Shakers responded by selling their land and 23 buildings to the canal company and moving inland to the 1,700 acres they purchased at Groveland, in Livingston County, New York. However, the canal was never built; two years later, the Shakers were asked to take their property back, but, having reestablished their village elsewhere, and knowing that the land could later be taken for the same purpose, they refused.

Several diaries and journals describing the Shakers' early years at Sodus and Groveland can be found at the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio. These manuscripts are available on microfilm at more than 20 locations throughout the U.S.


Wayne County is the birthplace of the Latter Day Saint movement and Mormonism. Founder Joseph Smith, whose family lived on a farm that straddled the line between Palmyra and Manchester, claimed to have been visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820, an event known as the First Vision. In 1830 the Book of Mormon was first published in the village of Palmyra by E.B. Grandin, in the present Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.

Spiritualism and the Fox Sisters

Spiritualists often set March 31, 1848 as the beginning of their movement. On that date, Kate and Margaret Fox, of Hydesville, reported that they had made contact with the spirit of a murdered peddler. What made this an extraordinary event was that the spirit communicated through audible rapping noises, rather than simply appearing to a person in a trance. The evidence of the senses appealed to practical Americans, and the Fox sisters became a sensation. Demonstrations of mediumship (seances and automatic writing, for example) proved to be a profitable business, and soon became popular forms of entertainment and spiritual catharsis. The Foxes earned a living this way, as did many others.

Civil War and Underground Railroad

During the American Civil War Wayne County inhabitants were active in support of the Underground Railroad due to the area's proximity to slavery-free Canada. Wayne County also raised companies for multiple volunteer Union regiments, including the 33rd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 98th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 111th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and the 9th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment.

During the Civil War, men from Wayne served in the 111th New York Infantry, under Colonel Clinton D. MacDougall.

The 111th New York was present at, among others, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Appomattox Campaign. During the Battle of Gettysburg, the 111th took the second highest casualties as a regiment of the entire battle.

Throughout the war, the regiment took a total of 1803 casualties, of which 158 were Killed in action, 557 were Wounded in action (490 of whom recovered to some extent), and 1088 Missing in action.

Erie Canal

The Erie Canal transits the southern edge of the county. The villages of Clyde, Lyons, Newark, Palmyra and Macedon all became homes to canal locks when the Albany to Rochester section of the canal opened on September 10, 1823. On that day these communities became part of a direct water-link between the eastern seaboard metropolises of New York City and Baltimore and America's expanding western frontier.

Nuclear Power

On June 1, 1970, the Robert E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant started commercial operation on the shores of Lake Ontario, just over the Monroe County line in the Town of Ontario.

The Ginna plant was the site of a minor nuclear accident when, on January 25, 1982, a small amount of radioactive steam leaked into the air after a steam-generator tube ruptured. The leak which lasted 93 minutes led to the declaration of a site emergency. The rupture was caused by a small pie-pan-shaped object left in the steam generator during an outage. This was not the first time a tube rupture had occurred at an American reactor but following on so closely behind the Three Mile Island accident caused considerable attention to be focused on the incident at the Ginna plant. In total, 485.3 curies of noble gas and 1.15 millicuries of iodine-131 were released to the environment.

Historical Societies

In addition to the county historical society, there are a number of other historical preservation organizations. Most of these are town or village based.

Newark-Arcadia Historical Society
Butler Historical Preservation Society
Galen Historical Society
Historic Palmyra, Inc.
Lyons Heritage Society
Macedon Historical Society
Marion Historical Society
Ontario Historical & L.P. Society
Pultneyville Historical (please refer to Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society)
Red Creek Historical Society
Rose Historical Society
Town of Sodus Historical Society
Sodus Bay Historical Society
Walworth Historical Society
Wayne County Historical Society
Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society (
Wolcott Historical Society

Adjacent Counties


  • Arcadia
  • Butler
  • Galen
  • Huron
  • Lyons
  • Macedon
  • Marion
  • Ontario
  • Palmyra
  • Rose
  • Savannah
  • Sodus
  • Walworth
  • Williamson
  • Walcott



Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

Montezuma Nat'l Wildlife Ref. (part)