Seneca Dawn

The Pioneer Journey of John Dow

by Frank W. Steber Illustrations by Jackie Kippola

Frank W. Steber imagines the journey of one of the Finger Lakes region’s first pioneers, John Dow, as he travels from Connecticut to the head of Seneca Lake in the late 1700s. After apprenticing with a cabinet maker and spinning wheel maker in Connecticut, young John takes his skills to the frontier of Western New York. Travel along as he pursues his dream of carving a new life out of the wilderness.

EXCERPT FROM Seneca Sunrise
“He noticed several narrow, frozen waterfalls, vertical slashes of pure white, along the opposite shore, sparkling under the Spring sun. Elsewhere, high, rocky cliffs edged the water, meeting the forest rising in the hills above. To his left, from time to time, he gazed in wonder at heavily wooded glens from which swirling brown waters poured into the lake. These wonders of nature he thought he’d love to explore, all the way up to their origins in the hills above. And from the little boat, the high, inaccessible cliffs along the shore evoked a sense of wonder beyond what he had sensed before. This was a true wilderness! What wild beasts must make it their home? ”

Author’s Note:

Frank Steber

Everyone has heard of the early pioneers of the west like Daniel Boone and Kit Carson and others. Here in the Finger Lakes, we don’t know about our own pioneers, our own early settlers. I wanted to know more about them. In one of the old books on local history, someone had asked a man named John Dow to write about his life and that’s what he did. As a 19 year old kid, he traveled on horseback from Connecticut to the Finger Lakes. It must have been a very challenging experience,  but he wrote only a few lines about the journey itself.

Seneca Dawn is a narrative of John Dow’s journey and what it must have been like. There were very meager records of what was Culverstown (which would eventually become Watkins Glen) in 1789. There were no old newspapers or old records from that time. I discovered by accident that I knew a descendent of John Dow. She had a lot of information related to family, like genealogy. That information turned it all on for me. I then had to find out what life was like in upstate New York in 1789.  I was able to learn about some events, and had to weave a story around the information that I could find.

paperback, 8.5 x 5.5, 114 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9725571-1-5

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