The tray was produced by the Charles W. Shonk Company in the 1890s—possibly in 1899, since the painting indicates the year 1799, which may have been intentional. The Shonk Company produced this type of tray for breweries throughout the U.S. using stock images. However, this unique image was arrived upon as the result of collaboration between brewery representatives and representatives from the Shonk Company. What an amazing tribute to the Genesee River and Rochester’s history.
The painting is valuable because it interprets the lives of Native Americans near the Lower Fall Gorge, (which was only one mile north from the Brewery) before very many people of European heritage arrived. The river below the Falls was a primary fishing location for the Seneca tribes because of the abundance of fish that were available. The teepees on the East side of the river (left side of the painting) are on land that would later be developed with buildings used to produce hydroelectric power. The barrel shown on the West side of the river (right side of the painting) would have been below the campgrounds that were above the Gorge, near where Maplewood Park is today.
If you have additional insights or comments about the scene depicted on the tray, we welcome your input.
Tremendous thanks go out to the Genesee Brewery for permission to use the image of this unique tray on our website.