199 N Main St
Naples, NY 14512
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Founded 1789 on the old Seneca village of Nundawao; first known as Watkinstown; in 1796 called Middletown; on April 6, 1808, named Naples.
By the State Education Department — 1940
What was there
The oldest Seneca village of Nundawao, and where the Seneca people first emerged from the land (supposedly from Clark’s Gully). Most of the land at this time was wetlands. Then the pioneer settlement of Watkinstown, which eventually grew into the Town of Naples.
What is there now
The village of Naples is the heart of the Town, known for its deep gullies, wine, and grape pies. In the immediate area is a diner, winery, cemetery, and small village park. The village had a population of 1,041 and the Town of Naples had a population of 2,502 according to the 2010 census.
The township (#7, tract 4) deed was purchased from Phelps and Gorham for a total amount of 1,056 pounds of Massachusetts currency by a group of 60 people of Massachusetts, represented by Edward Kibbe, Nathan Watkins, and William Cady. They initially set out to purchase another tract, now the Town of Gorham, but were beaten to the purchase. They then sought to purchase what is now the Town of Richmond, but due to some unknown error, the group signed the deed to the Naples tract. The estimated cost was 12 cents per acre.
Of the first of the pioneer settlers to the area were the Parish family, who built a mill on what is now called Parish Glen (Conklin Gully).
A memorial stone in the park adjacent to this marker reads:
Canesque, chief of the Senecas at Nundawao Village, who came from the Genesee Reservation in 1794 to die and be buried in this beloved Kiandaga Valley.
This memorial stone was dedicated by the Kiandaga Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Naples, Ontario County, New York, in 1925.
A small plaque on a stone, also near the marker, reads
Below this is evidence of another plaque since removed. No tree of suspect age can be found in the area adjacent to this stone. Washington took control of the American Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts on that day, not in Naples, and it is unknown if it really took place under a tree. The “Washington Tree” myth, often referred to as the “Washington Elm Tradition,” began as early as the 1830s in many townships where his armies may have passed in a campaign. This one, as well as many other markers with this claim, are assumed false.
- History of Naples, NY
- Naples, NY official website
- A History of Ontario County, New York and Its People (1911)
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