Welcome to the History Corner!
Port Byron, New York is an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz, located along the pathway of the original Clinton's Ditch. My mission is to promote the rich history and heritage of our community with emphasis on our pioneer families, their contributions as well as any other tidbits that readers may enjoy. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Class of 1917


Class of 1917                                                                  

Marion Ruth Jones                      Robert J Dixon                                
Norma Faye Hadden                  Marie Catherine Ryan
Adah May Hadden                     Russell E. Corey     
Dorothy E. Wilt                          John Byron Hearn
Regina Moroney                         Frederick W. Kearnan
Marion Luella Weston                 Marguerite L. Fraher
Edgar H Wood                           Ruth Fannie Curren
                       Robert V. Beach

Board of Education for 1917:
John A. Topliffe                           Thomas W. Howell
Frank Jones                                 Arthur E. Blauvelt
G. Ernest Wethey                         Hull F. Tanner
Thomas M. Crane                        Charles D. Loomis
                         T. Fayette Dixon

Memorial Day Tribute

Local artist Herb Roesch completes another shed mural.  This time, the subject matter could not be more meaningful.  The mural is dedicated to the memory of Robert W Emms of the United States Navy.  If you look closely, you can see the outline of a Navy ship floating on the blue horizon with our National Flag as a backdrop.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oldest Civil War Soldier to Enlist from Mentz

With reflections of Memorial Day, I thought I would share some information about the oldest civil war soldier to enlist from the Town of Mentz (based on Ancestry.com records).  Our oldest soldier would be Levi DeGroff.

Levi Degroff served in Company L, 16th NY Heavy Artillery.  He reported his age as 45 at the time he enlisted.  His headstone at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery says he was born in 1809 making him closer to age 54 when he enlisted on Dec 23, 1863.

Less than 17% of the men to enlist here were of age 40 and over.  Less than 2% reported they were age 45.  Of these men, all were older but reported their age as 45, so not to be excluded from service.  Out of the 38 men age 40 and over, 4 would not survive, Patrick Cossin of 16th HART would die of disease at Williamsburg, VA, William Hatfield of 111th Infantry would die of wounds, Abel Mott of the 105th Inf would die of disease at Catlett's Station in Virginia and William Dibehart (Dineheart) also of the 111th would die of disease as a POW at Andersonville, GA. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our soldiers.

The oldest soldiers to enlist from Port Byron and Mentz includes:

Levi Degroff
Aaron Wilson
Henry Dinehart
David Upham

All of the oldest soldiers served in Company L, 16th NY Heavy Artillery.  Aaron Wilson served the last part of his service as the company cook.  David Upham may have been from Butler, Wayne County but enlisted here.

Levi Degroff married Susan A Moon and together they had three children.  They once owned a home on the corner of River and Green Streets.  His daughter Minnie DeGroff married Charles Delanson Quimby.  He also had a daughter named Mary and a son Levi Jr. 

He was a farmer by occupation and received a pension for his service during the war.  Levi DeGroff's obituary indicates he died at Victory, NY in 1890 while visiting on a trip there.  He is buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron.

Levi reminds us that freedom is never free, it comes at the price of many soldier's lives, those who make this sacrifice to serve, protect and preserve the freedoms and liberties that we all enjoy must be commended.  The long tradition of proud military service continues.  This memorial day, I express my appreciation to the many service men and woman who are serving to keep America strong.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Historian Exchange Program

I am pleased to announce that I have started a new "historian exchange" program.  Often public historians answer inquiries and research topics for newspaper articles, all while remaining in complete isolation.  The idea, inspired by my fond memories of the school band exchanges, will build camaraderie, bring renewed interest in our local history and allow historians an opportunity the work together. 

Several times a year I plan to offer a program to a neighboring township and in exchange, that township would then be hosted at Port Byron.  The idea has been well received by historians from Liverpool, Owasco, Montezuma, Scipio and Victory.

Event programming remains a challenge for most rural libraries and historical societies.  This will provide a wonderful opportunity where new educational and history presentations can come to each township with no cost to the host for the speaker.  In this process, we will learn a little more about the history of our neighbors as well as many other topics.

Historians who are interested in participating should contact me so that we can schedule you.  I look forward to visiting the many towns in our area and working with the various historians who keep history alive.

Plans for the program are in process.