According to the Centennial History of the Town of Dryden (George Goodrich, 1898) there is evidence that Indians once occupied this area as a hunting ground. It is known that the Cayuga Indian tribe, one of the five or six tribes which made up the Iroquois confederacy (Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas, Onondagas, Mohawks and later the Tuscaroras), lived at the present site of Ithaca, on both sides of Cayuga Lake.
The first white men to live among them were French Jesuit Priests, who spend many years of their lives trying to convert the Indians to Christianity. Led by Hiawatha during the Revolution, the Iroquois formed the Iroquois Confederacy.2
The Iroquois Indians took the side of the English during both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. There were massacres and retaliations. To secure his western front, George Washington planned an invasion in 1779 called the Sullivan Expedition. A force of 5000 men under Generals Sullivan and Clinton defeated the Iroquois Indians in a battle near Newton (Elmira). A detachment of soldiers under Colonel Zebulon Taylor and Lt. Colonel Dearborn then marched north toward the Cayuga Indian villages on the side of Cayuga Lake.
Following the Iroquois custom of avoiding a mass action with enemy troops, the Cayugas disappeared into the woods. It was late September when the soldiers reached the empty Indian villages. They burned the villages and destroyed all the corn and grain that had been stored. According to The Story of the Cayugas by Mary Van Sickle Wait and William Heidt (1966), the Cayugas never recovered from this complete devastation. They had vacated the area well before the first white settlers came to Dryden.1
1. Most of the historical information on this website came from the book Ellis Hollow, written by Jeanette Knapp and Jill Welch.
2. Excerpts and chapters taken from "The History of Ellis Hollow" written and researched by Jacob Myers who is the Grandson of Elsie Myers Stainton and Walter Stainton who lived in the Ellis home "Headwaters." The paper contains pictures (photocopies) of both Peleg and Ruth Ellis, photocopies of deeds of transactions, and other interesting memorabilia. A copy is retained by the editor of the Gazette.