In 1788, a few years after the American Revolution, followers of Jemima Wilkinson, also known as the Public Universal Friend, came to this area from New England and Pennsylvania. They encountered dense woods inhabited by wild animals. It was only a few years after the native Americans had been forcibly removed by the Continental Army under General John Sullivan. The early settlers worked hard to clear land for farms, a meeting house and school. They built mills along the Outlet. Their hard work resulted in the establishment the first permanent white settlement in what was then considered the frontier. When the Friend arrived during the spring of 1790 that settlement included 60 families and was larger than either Geneva or Canandaigua. Ownership of the Society of Friends' properties came into question due to issues regarding the Pre-Emption line. So the Friend and some of her followers moved on to settle the township of Jerusalem.

The story of Jemima Wilkinson, the charismatic leader of the Society of Universal Friends, and her followers is truly a fascinating one. It will soon be available in great detail in a new book by Yates County Historian, Fran Dumas, titled “An Unquiet World, The Public Universal Friend and America's First Frontier”. You can find this book in early summer at Longs' Cards and Books and other area retailers.

Follow in the footsteps of the Public Universal Friend and her followers with a companion audio driving tour that will bring their story to life as it takes you from the Oliver House Museum, where many of the Friend's belongings are on exhibit, to the Friends' Landing Site on Seneca Lake, on to City Hill Cemetery (the oldest cemetery in Yates County), to old mill sites along the Outlet, to the township of Jerusalem where you will see the Potter Mansion and the Friend's final Home with many stops along the way. This interesting tour will be available for purchase with or without the book at Longs Cards and Books and other retail sites.

The driving tour package includes an audio CD, a tour map indicating the location of each stop with mileage and GPS coordinates, a booklet organized by tour stops with pictures and additional information, and some valuable coupons from area businesses that will enhance your visit to the area. The tour is about 50 miles long and will take approximately 3 to 4 hours. It can be done all at once or over several days.

The Universal Friend tour is the first of several historical driving and walking tours of Yates County to be produced by the Yates History Tours Project . The project is sponsored by the Finger Lakes Visitor's Association as part of its program to promote Yates County tourism.

For more information on the Universal Friend book and driving tour contact Sue Lange at (315) 536-2493.

The Tour Package: CD, Booklet, Map and Historical Timeline, with an accompanying book by Yates Co. historian Fran Dumas: An Unquiet World: The Public Universal Friend and America's First Frontier