: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

The feeling recently created by an attempt to fasten the stupid names of

Fairport or of North Elmira on the village in central New York that, off

and on for fifty years, had been called Horseheads, caused an inquiry as

to how that singular name chanced to be adopted for a settlement. In

1779, when General Sullivan was retiring toward the base of his supplies

after a destructive campaign against the Indians in Genesee County, he
stopped near this place and rested his troops. The country was then rude,

unbroken, and still beset with enemies, however, and when the march was

resumed it was thought best to gain time over a part of the way by

descending the Chemung River on rafts.

As there were no appliances for building large floats, and the depth of

the water was not known, the general ordered a destruction of all

impedimenta that could be got rid of, and commanded that the poor and

superfluous horses should be killed. His order was obeyed. As soon as the

troops had gone, the wolves, that were then abundant, came forth and

devoured the carcasses of the steeds, so that the clean-picked bones were

strewn widely over the camp-ground. When the Indians ventured back into

this region, some of them piled the skulls of the horses into heaps, and

these curious monuments were found by white settlers who came into the

valley some years later, and who named their village Horseheads, in

commemoration of these relics. The Indians were especially loth to leave

this region, for their tradition was that it had been the land of the

Senecas from immemorial time, the tribe being descended from a couple

that had a home on a hill near Horseheads.