History of Dresden and
The Local Area
In 1787, this whole region was known by the Indian name Kashong. Three disciples of Jemima Wilkinson, who as the "Publick Universal Friend" was the first American-born woman to launch a religious movement, came to the region to seek a place to settle. They found an area under Indian control. A handful of whites lived under the Indians' sufferance.
Joined by a Wilkinson disciple from Philadelphia, the three founded a settlement on City Hill, near what is now Dresden.
Early attention focused on Crooked Lake Outlet, a creek connecting what is now Keuka Lake with Seneca Lake. The Outlet enters Seneca Lake less than two thousand feet from the center of Dresden.
By 1800 four dams had been built on the Outlet, powering numerous mills whose foundations can still be seen at creekside. The Outlet was improved to form the Crooked Lake Canal, an important route for water traffic between 1833 and 1877. In that year, the canal closed.
Dresden was founded by two Geneva speculators, Harman Bogert and Samuel Colt, who purchased 800 acres in 1811. They retained surveyor Valentine Brother, who laid out a rectangular street plan. Named for Dresden, Germany, Dresden was the only planned community in Yates County. One of its three public squares is still visible: the open area on all four points of the corner of Main and Cornelia Streets.
Dresden's founders vied to have their town declared the county seat, but Penn Yan seized the honor in 1823.
Dresden was a center for agricultural trade, milling, and boatbuilding. In 1855 it had a population of 365 people. The railroad came in 1876. By 1900 Dresden had become a railroad town, with a resident crew, grain elevators and warehouses clustered near the depot. Brakemen, engineers, section hands and other rail workers lived in the village.
Village Historian Ray Welker's extensive local history collection is now housed in the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. A Local History Room displays highlights of that collection during Museum hours, Friday through Sunday from 12:00 noon to 5:00 P.M., Memorial Day through Hallowe'en.
"text courtesy of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, copyright 1996"
web page and its contents are Copyright ©2003-2012 the Village of Dresden,
page last updated on:
March 22, 2012