Outside the House The Grounds Inside the House More Inside

from above

from above

As former commander of the 31st NY National Guard, the location of Woodlawn must have been especially appealing to Brigadier General Henry Livingston Lansing, situated as it was directly across from the Military Reserve, Butler's Barracks, and Fort George. And the belvedere must have given the family exactly that, a beautiful view.

From a military family, three of the four Lansing boys joined the army. Henry Livingston and Henry Seymour were early members of the Military Association of New York though, with both boys named Henry, even the secretary taking minutes would confuse the two. Henry Livingston, being the oldest, made rank before his brother, but Henry Seymour was never far behind.

When the Civil War began, Henry Livingston Lansing was named to an eight person senatorial State committee with the responsibility of putting together NY state regiments for the Civil War. He was made a Brigadier General, and commanded the 31st NY Militia in Buffalo.

Continue reading about the gardens

from house

toward house

bridge to bridge

brick gazebo

Gardens were a necessary element for any country home, and the 1880 Census for Canandaigua NY shows the Lansings employing a couple - Robert Poiser as a gardener, and his wife Jane as their cook. When the house was sold out of the Lansing family, it consisted of fifty acres.

An early photograph shows the garden and gardener of the Canandaigua house of Catharine Lansing's parents.



Continue reading about the landscaping

The Pool of Randwood
wall above pool

stair down to pool

pool statue

bridge from pool

While the Lansings and Dicksons planted most of the trees on the property, the formality of the stonework walls and patios and walkways are the work of the Rand family and subsequent owners.

The house, itself, is not symmetric, but it does give that appearance from the front. When you first enter from St. Johns Street, you have a straightline view of the house. But the drive to the house takes a soft curve and brings you in where the "grown like Topsy" home shows off a more informal charm.

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Back of Randwood
walkway to back of house

over beds to back left corner

wooden gazebo


In 1870, Henry L. Lansing has not yet purchased Woodlawn and is living in Buffalo NY at 274 Delaware Ave. His house was later razed and became the location of the Tourlaine Hotel.

Of their five children, Henry has just died in Montevideo South America. Livingston and Charles married in 1868 and 1869, respectively, and both new families live with the Lansings in Buffalo. Sarah Lansing married General Henry L. Burnett in 1867, and they are living with their 2 year old son in Cincinnati, along with the General's two daughters from his previous marriage, and Sarah's younger brother Watts.

Catharine's mother, Sarah Gibson, was widowed in 1863 and lives with only servants in the remodeled Ontario Bank on Main Street in Canandaigua. But her son John still lives in Canandaigua. Daughter Sarah Maria has been widowed for five years, and lives in New York City. Daughter Amanda is living with her husband in New London CT. Daughter Mary Young died four years ago, in the Buffalo house next door to where the Lansings live, and son William has been gone about nine years now.

Henry's mother has been widowed again, and lives with a companion in Oswego. Of Henry's sisters and brothers, Manette is married to the son of S.F.B. Morse, and lives with her family in New York City. Brother Arthur lives there as well. Brother Henry Seymour is living in Philadelphia, working as the Treasurer for the 1876 Centennial. Only brother Barent Bleeker lives in Buffalo, but with his three sons living there, too, there's still a strong family center for the Lansings in Buffalo.

By 1880, the Lansings have given up their home in Buffalo, and are now dividing their time between Niagara-on-the-Lake as their primary residence, and Catharine Lansing's mother's residence in Canandaigua.

Daughter Sarah has died. Her widower, General Burnett, is living alone in the Fifth Avenue Hotel in NYC. His oldest daughter Grace traveled to Europe, coming back with the S.F.B. Morse family, to whom Henry is related. In 1878, Grace married Count Victor Siegmund von Oertzen, and lives in Germany. Katherine still lives with Catharine Lansing, as well as with her two younger step-siblings, Lansing and Catharine.

Lansing son Charles and his family are living with the Lansings in Woodlawn. Son Livingston is living nearby in Buffalo. And Henry's brother Bleeker still lives in Buffalo, as do his three sons.

By 1881, Catharine Lansing's mother, Sarah Gibson, has died, and the family now have her Canandaigua house, as well as their own in Niagara-on-the-Lake. But in the administration of Sarah Gibson's will in 1881, Catharine gives her permanent address as Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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Gibson/Lansing House in Canandaigua
Gibson House

1870 United States Census, Buffalo NY
Name Age Sex Occupation Birth F For'n Birth M For'n Birth
Henry L. Lansing 50 M Ret. RR Treas NY . .
Cath. Lansing 45 F Keeping house NY . .
Livingston Lansing 27 M Law student NY . .
Grace C. Lansing 24 F Boarding NY . .
Charles Lansing 26 M At home NY . .
Eliza G. Lansing 31 F Boarding NY . .
Ellen Gillen 28 F dom. servant Ireland yes yes
Brigit Henson 28 F dom. servant Ireland yes yes
Hettie Schultz 24 F dom. servant Switzerland yes yes
Albertine Leak 15 F dom. servant Bavaria yes yes
Mary White 45 F dom. servant England yes yes
Francis Synch 30 M dom. servant Ireland yes yes
Chas Synch 21 M coachman Ireland yes yes
Kate Kelley 31 F nurse Ireland yes yes
Henry L. Lansing 11/12 June M . NY . .
son of Livingston Lansing

1870 United States Census, Canandaigua NY
Name Age Sex Occupation Real Estate Personal Estate Birth
Sarah Gibson 74 F Keeps house 20,000 120,000 NY
Polly Carroll 80 F Domestic servant . . Delaware
Hannah Knickerbocker 61 F Cook . . NY
Ellen Classin 40 F Waiter . . NY

1870 United States Census, Cincinnati OH
Name Age Sex Occupation Real Estate Personal Estate Birth F For'n Birth M For'n Birth
Henry L. Burnett 31 M Lawyer 15,000 500 Ohio . .
Sarah G. Burnett 23 F Keeps House . . NY . .
Grace H. Burnett 10 F At school . . Ohio . .
Kate C. Burnett 6 F . . . Ohio . .
Lansing Burnett 2 M . . . NY . .
Watts Lansing 19 M Bank clerk . . NY . .
Charlotte Cobb 26 F House servant . . MA . .
Hannah Mason 25 F House servant . . NY yes yes

1880 United States Census, Canandaigua NY
Name Relation Marital Sex Age Birth Occupation F's Birth M's Birth
Sarah GIBSON Self W F 83 NY Keeps House NY NY
Catherine LANSING Dau M F 50 NY At home NY NY
Katharine BURNETT GDau S F 16 OH At school OH OH
Lansing BURNETT GSon S M 11 NY At school OH OH [NY]
Catherine BURNETT GDau S M 58 NY At school OH OH [NY]
Isobel LEASK Other S F 26 Canada Governess Scotland Scotland
Robert POISER Other M M 56 England Gardener England England
Jane POISER Other M F 48 England Cook England England
George W. POISER Other S M 58 NY At school England England
Ellen CLOKACY Other S F 50 Ireland Servant Ireland Ireland
Ellen GILLIN Other S F 35 Ireland Servant Ireland Ireland

1880 United States Census, Buffalo NY
Name Relation Sex Age Marital Occupation Birth F's Birth M's Birth
Livingston Lansing Self M 38 M Lawyer NY NY NY
Grace C. Lansing wife F 38 M Lawyer CT NJ NY
Henry L. Lansing son M 11 S . NY NY NJ
Cleveland C. Lansing son M 6 S . NY NY NJ
Catharine Lansing dau F 2 S . NY NY NJ
Lizzie Gruner servant F 19 S servant NY France Germany
Maggie Ney servant F 26 S servant NY Germany Germany

1881 Canadian Census
Name Sex Ethnic Age Birthplace Occupation Religion
H.L. Lansing M Dutch 63 USA Gentleman Church of England
Catherine Lansing F Scottish 62 USA . Church of England
Chas M. Lansing M Scottish 36 USA Gentleman Church of England
Eliza M. Lansing F English 32 USA . Church of England
Catherine Lansing F Dutch 9 USA . Church of England
Karl Lansing M Dutch 5 Ontario . Church of England
Name Sex Ethnic Age Birthplace Occupation Religion
Watts Lansing M Dutch 30 USA Gentleman Church of England
Agnes M. Lansing F English 26 Ontario . Church of England

With the missing 1890 U.S. census, we're forced to rely on birth and death records, directory listings, and whatever Canadian census information is available. There is a depressing drumbeat of deaths in the 1880 decade. Henry Lansing's mother, Sarah Platt, had died in 1879, and Catharine's mother, Sarah Gibson, in 1881. Henry's brother Arthur had died in 1880, and brother Henry Seymour in 1882. But the death of Henry and Catharine's son Charles in 1884 must have been especially hard for the family. With the deaths of Henry's brother Barent Bleeker in 1887 and sister Manette in 1888, Henry Livingston Lansing was the last of the siblings. But he outlived them by only a year, dying in 1889.

Besides the Lansing brothers and sister, son Watts lost his wife in 1888, then married her older sister in 1890.

General Burnett also remarried in 1882. His third wife, Agnes Suffern Tailer, was from an old New York family, and the General was now a fixture in New York society.


His eldest daughter Grace remained in Germany with her husband and his second daughter, Katharine Burnett, is no longer living with Catharine Lansing in Canandaigua. Since she will appear in her own apartment in New York in 1900 as a teacher, we can assume she's either still acquiring her education, or already moved to the city.

Now that she's a widow, Catharine is living in the house in which she grew up in Canandaigua, and with her in 1892 are the children of daughter Sarah and General Burnett, Lansing and Catharine. Grandson Lansing Burnett appears in a Buffalo directory in 1890 as a medical student, so he may have been just home for the summer. Son Livingston and two of his children live in the old Gibson house as well.

Catharine Lansing's two other sons, Watts Lansing and Charles Lansing, both stayed in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Watts continued living in Woodlawn until he transferred the house to Livingston's daughter Katherine, who had married Col. James Fraser MacDonald.

The last decade of the 19th century saw more losses for the Lansing clan. Lansing Burnett, whom Catharine Lansing had raised, died in 1893 and was buried in Buffalo beside his mother Sarah and grandfather Henry.

Son Livingston's wife Grace had died in 1895, and Livingston was now living in Niagara-on-the-Lake, as was his brother Watts.


In January 1896 daughter Catharine Burnett had married Robert Mercur in a splendid Canandaigua wedding, and before Catharine Lansing died she was able to see her great grandchild, a daughter named, of course, Catharine.

Less than a year after the birth of Catharine Mercur, Catharine Lansing died in Canandaigua, and was buried in Buffalo beside her husband, daughter, grandson and grandmother.

Woodlawn was now a place for the next generation.

Continue touring the inside of Randwood

1892 Canandaigua Census
Name Sex Age Occupation
Mrs. H.M. Lansing F 74 x
Lansing Burnett M 24 x
Catharine Burnett F 20 x
Livingston Lansing M 50 None
Grace Lansing F 49 x
Catherine Lansing F 13 x
Ernest Lansing M 17 x

Outside the House The Grounds Inside the House More Inside

empty Family Tree
emptyFamily Tree

Henry L. Burnett
Brig. Gen.
Henry L. Burnett

Henry Livingston Lansing
Brig. Gen.
Henry L. Lansing

Henry B. Gibson

NJ Governor
Lewis Morris


Henry Livingston
Night Before Xmas
Henry Livingston

George Bush

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