The Town of Victor has a long and varied history. In the 1600’s the Iroquois confederacy held the power in this neck of the woods. In fact, here in Victor, the Seneca Nation had their main community on Fort Hill at what is now the Ganondagan State Historical site just south of the town of Victor and located at the intersection of Boughton Hill Road and Rt. 444.
The 1600’s saw the French setting up their new colony of New France, chiefly located around Montreal and focused on the Fur Trade. Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in 1608 and established a foothold in the colonies. In 1627 the company of New France was created and given a monopoly on the fur trade under the condition that it bring in settlers to populate the area. These French allied themselves with the Algonquian and Huron Tribes North of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
The Iroquois League
At this time, the Iroquois League was an association of 5 tribes, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations that controlled most of upstate New York from the Hudson River West to the Genesee River but their influence extended well past those borders. Historically, the Hurons, Algonquian and the Iroquois were traditional enemies. This animosity escalated during the early 17th century over the fur trade. The ensuing war and conflicts lasted almost 100 years and became known as the Beaver Wars.
The Beaver Wars are important to the Victor area due to one particular incident in 1687. The current governor of New France, the Marquis Denonville, had been harried by the Iroquois throughout his career as governor. He planned a surgical strike directly into the heart of the Iroquois stronghold, specifically, the main Seneca encampment at Ganagaro.
July 10th 1687 the landing began at Sea Breeze. 350 boats containing 3000 men, half were French colonial troops and the remainder from the Algonquian and Huron tribes, Indian allies. Led by the son-in-law of the Marquis Denonville, Jacques-Rene de Bresay, the troops began the trek south on July 13th after erecting a palisade at their landing and leaving 400 men to protect their retreat. A forced march ensued to reach Ganagaro before the Senecas were able to mount a significant defense.
The ploy was effective as the Senecas were undermanned having only 1,200 warriors to mount a defense and were unsure of the army’s destination until within 12 miles of their objective. A pitched battle ensued just to the north of Victor, the French were victorious. They were surprised the next morning however when they arrived at the site of Ganagaro to find the settlement deserted. TheSenecas had fled.
The next target was Ganagarae a small settlement located near the present day town of Bloomfield.From there, Totiakton, another Seneca settlement located near Rochester Junction, was reduced to ashes. Each of the settlements was burned and the food stores and crops destroyed. The Seneca nation although defeated at Ganagaro, would not let this insult pass unavenged.
In the fall of 1687, at Fort Frontenac (Now Fort Niagara) the 50 Sachems of the Iroquois met with Denonville under a flag of truce to discuss the end of hostilities. The Sachems were subsequently chained and shipped to France where they were pressed into slavery.
While Denonville expected that this strike at the heart of the Iroquois homeland would defeat the enemy and secure the future of New France and the Fur trading empire that he was building, he was poorly prepared for the repercussions of his actions. The following year, the Iroquois took the battle to Montreal and slaughtered and burned the settlements around this city. The town of Lachine on the upper end of Montreal Island was substantially burned and many of the 375 inhabitants were killed or captured. Denonville was recalled to France shortly thereafter.
While a bloody and sad part of the history of Victor, NY. This part of the history of our town shows just how far we have come. Today we embrace our Seneca heritage and celebrate the Native Americans that are a large part of our history and our local identity.