Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Washington Monument

Did you know Port Byron has connections to the Washington Monument?

The Washington Monument was a broad effort of many people. It was a joy to discover that Finlay M King and his wife Frances were involved in raising funds for its construction.

Finlay was born at Port Byron in 1821. His connection to Philip King (1761-1854), the first white settler of Mentz, took some digging.

After careful research, it was proven that Finlay was the son of Jeremiah B. King (1792-1836) and a grandson of Philip mentioned above. Jeremiah was listed in local papers as an Esquire and several of his sons would follow his profession. His son Chauncey P King would become a member of the bar from the state of Wisconsin. Augustus E King was a Counsellor of Law in New York City. Finlay once had a law practice with General Hugh and even ran a law office from Port Byron under the name of King & Gillipsie.

Finlay was appointed a Notary of the Republic by Gov. John Alsop King, a son of Rufus King, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution. To date, it appears these two King families are not related. If they are, it would have to be in a much earlier generation.

Before I get to Finlay's connection to the Washington Monument, I do want to pay tribute to some of his local contributions. Finlay was one of the original board of trustees of the Free School and Academy at Port Byron which operated from 1858 until it was lost to fire in 1898. He later moved to Syracuse where he would become a member of the Bar and was also President of the Franklin Institute Library. His daughter Annie Kathleen King was a manager of the morning musical shows at Syracuse. She was also a member of the Salon Musicale and Morning Musicals Inc, and was manager of the Wieting Opera House in Syracuse.

Many people can associate Finlay to the Eastern Star Chapter of Port Byron, which was named after him. He became very involved in writing masonic laws and published a mason publication from Port Byron. However, few know that he and his wife were involved with the Washington Monument. Their involvement with the monument was due to their high ranking connections with the Masons, where Finlay was a Grand Master for New York State.

In 1859, at the Richmond House in Chicago, a National convention of masons was held where Mrs. Finley M King of Port Byron, NY was elected President of the Woman’s Washington National Monument Society. Finley was on the Mason's building committee and his name is also mounted on a plaque at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.

To see an image of the plaque:

To read more on the history of the plaque:

Finlay and members of his family are buried in the historic Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, which the cemetery is listed on the register of historic places.