As a kid growing up in "The Post" I often wondered about what the original Post Monument looked like and exactly where it stood. I was far (very, very far) from the best student in school, but one subject I liked was local history taught in the Painted Post High school (1963) 7th grade by, if my memory is correct, Mrs. Feldt. It was, hands down, the best class I had during all my school years. I learned a lot in that class including the importance of books and how to properly use a library for research. From then on I often visited the local Town of Erwin Museum, marveling at all the Indian relics Mr. (Ellsworth) Cowles was kind enough to show me. I talked with him a couple times a week during those summers (it was closed for the winters) for hours at a time about the history of Painted Post and its Indian heritage. Mr. Cowles was very knowledgeable on the history of all the different Native Americans that settled in the Painted Post area throughout the centuries and opened my eyes to the world of learning. I also made many trips to the Corning Library local history section and room. To this day (over 50 years later), I'm still learning about the history of the Painted Post area.
For years I've read different accounts of where the original Post stood and its description. From what I've found, the replica Post, now standing in the approximate area of the old Quigley's Drug store on the former corner of Hamilton and W. Water streets (on your right entering the village from the Gang Mills direction) near the Dresser Rand plant is a very close replica according to first hand accounts of its description. But for years I could never find an accurate location of where the original monument stood.
That changed when I found the right reading material a number of years ago. I was reading a book titled:
Early History of Painted Post and of the Town of Erwin, Containing an Authentic Record of Its Traditions from 1779 to 1874 And the Story of the Dedication of The Indian Monument by Charles H. Erwin and W.A. Allen.
And there it was...
First hand accounts from several people describing the original Painted Post Monument and exactly where it once stood!
Capt. Samuel Erwin, an early settler in the Painted Post area and Charles Erwin's father, was curious as to the exact location of the original Monument. In 1833 Erwin requested that Capt. Samuel Adams look up the famous Seneca Chief Cornplanter to see if he could get the complete story on the Painted Post along with its original location. The following is from the above book:
Capt. Adams reported that:
...at the urgent request of Capt. Samuel Erwin, to call upon this chief and get if possible, a correct version of the facts regarding the post found here: and while lying by for repairs in Cornplanter's eddy on the Allegany river, being near his habitation, I found his interpreter Benjamin Marsh, Jr., and with him called upon the distinguished chief.
Capt. Adams describes the meeting:
Mr. Marsh, who introduced me as a person of distinguished influence, who had come from a great distance to get from him some reliable information concerning the exact location and the origin of the name Painted Post.
Here's a passage of what Cornplanter told Marsh:
Being seated, without a moment's hesitation he related briefly through his interpreter, 'that a great chief and brave was there taken sick, died and was buried under the shade of an elm, on the north side and near the mouth of the Conhocton river, (at the same time mapping it out on the ground foor and marking with his knife the place of the grave,) 'and that he (Cornplanter) was one of the council that placed over the grave a post, stained with the juice of the wild strawberry, to mark the spot.
Erwin goes on to write about Adam's report:
From this report of Capt. Adams...Undoubtedly Cornplanter did not consider it politic, or consistent with the dignity of a great chief to acknowledge wounds, or reveal the name of a chief or brave that received them in the losing battles of the Six Nations with frontier civilization...For our purpose, it matters but little what reasons induced Cornplanter's silence regarding the name, and we cordially give to his memory, thanks for the facts in his brief statement, that so distinctly and indubitably points to the same grave and the identical post, and locates them beyond a cavil or controversy on the site of the village.
Erwin pinpoints the original Post Monument location:
Edmund C. Cooper, a resident of our village, Robert Patterson of our town, Mr. Samuel Cook, of Campbell, and others still living who have seen it, have within the present month (September 1860) pointed out to us the original spot. Capt. Samuel Erwin, Francis Erwin and others, while living have each repeatedly shown us the place, and all mark the identical place, described by Cornplanter's knife in his map upon the ground floor of his palace, and that is within a few feet and in front of the northeast corner of Messrs. Stout & Hurd's wagon shop erected last spring.
And there it was...the location. I have a Beers Steuben County Atlas Map of the Village of Painted Post printed in 1873. I found two buildings listed under the names of Stout & Hurd's. One of those buildings were the location of Stout & Hurd's wagon shop where Capt. Samual Erwin and others (along with Chief Cornplanter) place the location of the original Painted Post Monument. The two buildings were on W. West Water st. just north of where the river once ran (before the construction of the infamous "traffic circle") and near the
Hamilton St./ Water St. corner where most of the later monuments were placed and were said to be close to where the original Post stood.
Here's a portion of the Beers 1873 map of the village of Painted Post with an insert I placed showing the Stout & Hurd's properties.(from the 1873 Steuben County Atlas)
Here's a photo of the village taken in the early 1900's (judging from the cars) of the area of where the Post was located. I marked the streets and buildings so you get an idea of where the photo was taken. I also (according to the above accounts) point out the approximate original location according to the Beers map and Erwin's book of where the original Painted Post Monument stood.
(photo: Auburn Post Card Mfg. Co.)
And here's another turn of the century photo showing, from a different angle, the approximate location of the original Painted Post Monument.
There was a fire in February 1873, the same year the Beers map was published. Because of the fire, the buildings in the early 1900's photo can't be the same as illustrated on the 1873 Beer's Map. The map was copyrighted and published in 1873 and the fire was in February that year. It had to take a long time recording and mapping every property in Steuben County. I can only guess the map was probably drawn long before being published. But I'm sure the map is correct as to the (pre-fire) location of (Stout and) Hurd's wagon shop as described in Erwin's book.
Here's a description of the fire from the New York Times:
Several Stores Burned in Painted Post, N.Y ELMIRA, N.Y., Feb. 23.- About 7 o'clock this evening a fire was discovered in the saloon of Richard Emmerson, on the south side of Maine-street, in Painted Post, near Corning. The extended to the buildings occupied by Carpenter's saloon, Baker's shoe-store, and Perrenbaugh's harness-shop. The Times office, James Welder's blacksmith-shop, H. Bonham's wagon-shop, Owne's blacksmith-shop, R. Bonham's livery-stables, Hurd's wagon-shop, Stout's blacksmith and wagon-shop; also to the Empire Block which contained the dry-goods store of Parkhurst; Co., R. P. Badger's grocery, Robinson; French's hard-ware store, and the Empire House, (Joseph Burst, proprietor.) All were destroyed. The total loss will reach $25,000. The New York Times (New York, NY) February 24, 1873.
A present day overhead photo of the area in the previous photo. (photo: Bing Maps)
Every time I drive past the Painted Post Monument replica I can't help thinking that just a short distance away, on the other side of the
Dresser Rand fence, the ground where the original Monument stood and any possible evidence of it is now covered with concrete.
Click on "The Old Village of Painted Post" to go back.
Map & Photos: Beers 1873 Steuben County Atlas, Auburn Post Card Mfg. Co., Bing Maps
e-mail: sabre_fan at hotmail dot com