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Throughout the Ages
A Visual Document Resource

Questions: 1830s

Image. Erie Canal. Letter from the Citizens of Germanflatts.

Document 2. Letter from Germanflatts.

This letter of appeal was written by the citizens of the town of Germanflatts in Herkimer County and sent to the Canal Board.

A feeder canal was overflowing its banks and flooding an important road in the community. The residents of Germanflatts had an idea for solving this problem: they wanted New York State to change the location of the feeder canal.

feeder - a short canal that brings water from reservoirs, lakes, and streams to a larger canal. Without feeder canals, some sections of the Erie Canal would be dry.

What did the letter say?

Link to printable version of this document

"To the Honorable the Canal Board of the State of New York:

The undersigned inhabitants of the town of Germanflatts in the County of Herkimer, respectfully show:

That there is a feeder of the Erie Canal in the town of Germanflatts aforesaid taken from a stream in said town called Steels Creek which by anchor ice, frost, freezing and the fall raines cause the same to overflow the road running nearly parallel with the Erie Canal, commonly called the river road; that the overflowing of said feeder causes great damage to the inhabitants residing near the same and inconvienence to travelers and frequently makes the road nearly impassable by the depth of water in the road. Your petitioners are informed and believe and from inspection of the same that the difficulties and obstruction above stated result in a great measure from the present unfavorable location of said feeder.

To remedy said inconvience your petitioners propose to alter the location and direction of said feeder so as to secure the same advantages to the Canal and to avoid its future overflowing and reccomend the following as the most faverable location-viz to take the water by a side cut from Steels Creek about one hundred rods above where it is at present taken out which would be near the Mills of George W. Dexter, from thence to run nearly parallel with the road leading from said mills to the said river road near the house of Elizabeth Remington near the Canal in said town. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray be.

January 5 1829"

  1. 1. Who are the citizens of Germanflatts writing to?
  2. 2. What is a feeder?
  3. 3. What happens to the feeder when there's "ice, frost, freezing and the fall raines"?
  4. 4. What do the citizens of Germanflatts think needs to be done to fix their problem?
  5. 5. Based on the information in this letter, are the citizens of Germanflatts happy about the Erie Canal going through their community? Why?

Document 1 | Document 3