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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The New Year Brings Change

Starting with the New Year, I will represent only the village of Port Byron as historian.  Recently the Town of Mentz announced that starting in 2012, they expect their historian to fulfill the duties based on a net operating budget (after association dues) of only $20.00 per year (had been $70.00 in previous years).  Any additional expense reimbursements require board approval.

Funding for historians continues to be a challenge and is established by each municipality.  The level of support fluctuates significantly across the Empire State where many historians in order to bring programs, promote and preserve history in their community, do so at their own expense.  I have been happy to do so but there is a limit, considering the hard economic times we all face.

My relationship with the Town of Mentz began when their last historian resigned without completing the appointed term of office in 2009.  Since that time, the Mentz Town Board has been cooperative and supportive of my vision as historian.  However, there still has been great cost to me personally.  Given the reduction effective for 2012, it is certainly inadequate support and is in my opinion, taking advantage of the historian.

Regrettably, I must decline, my appointed term for the Town expires December 31st.  I would like to extend my appreciation to the Mentz Board for their support during my two years of service.

I look forward to remaining your village historian with the same level of commitment, to fulfill my duty to the best of my ability.

Mentz will appoint someone to service their needs soon and wish them the best in their future endeavors.    

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Former Port Byron Stage Star Is Dead

The Cayuga Chief  Weedsport, NY Friday February 14, 1941

The funeral of Mrs. Lewis Henderson, formerly of Port Byron, who died Sunday at her home in Newburgh, was held Wednesday from the home of her sister, Mrs. Mertie Brown, in Port Byron, with the Rev. ? Burial will be in Mount Pleasant cemetery, Port Byron.  Mrs. Henderson many years ago was one of the prominent actresses of the country, having her own dramatic company in a repertoire of comedies and dramas. Her performances were enjoyed in the days of the old Academy of Music in Auburn, before erection of the Burtis Opera House, and later for many years in that theater. Her name was then Kittie Rhoades.

Man's Best Friend

The Ithacan, Ithaca, NY c. 1868

Cayuga County

The Auburn News says that Mr. Milan McCarty, residing on the Port Byron road, owns a dog that is deserving of notice.  Mr. McCarty is a subscriber to the News and the paper is brought past his door by the Port Byron stage. On the arrival of the stage the dog takes his position by the roadside, catches the paper in his mouth and delivers it safely at the house.  If the driver omits to hand the dog his paper, he will follow the stage for a long distance, and attest his displeasure by frequent barks.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tribute to Capt. Lockwood

In Memory Marker
Mt. Pleasamt Cemetery

Port Byron was proud to honor one of its civil war heroes on Saturday July, 30th 2011.  The In-Memory marker ceremony was a beautiful tribute to such a courageous young man, Capt. John William Lockwood of Company F, 111th NY Infantry.    

I would like to thank Senator Michael F Nozzolio and especially the office of Senator Charles Schumer for their assistance in working with the veterans administration on our behalf.  I was pleased to sponsor this project with purchasing the needed documents to enable our Captain to receive this marker.

Daughters of Union Veterans
Tokens of Remembrance

The Julia Hibbard Tent #71 of Bridgewater, Oneida County, NY conducted an inspiring dedication service.  Deposited at the grave in this ceremony were tokens of affection, the wreath of evergreen symbolizes undying love for the comrades of war, the single rose signifies purity and the wreath of grapevine represents a symbol for victory.

Photo by Christopher Barclay

Friday, July 8, 2011

Port Byron to honor Civil War Prisoner of War

For Immediate Release:

On Saturday July 30, 2011 at 11 am, a Civil War Sesquicentennial Event will be held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron, NY. Historian Dawn Roe will be hosting an “In-Memory” marker dedication ceremony to honor Capt. John W. Lockwood of Co. F, 111th NY Infantry.

Lockwood died as a POW while being boarded for transfer between prison camps and is interred in a mass grave at Salisbury, NC. Roe worked closely with the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Michael Nozzolio to obtain a military marker to honor the memory of our fallen Captain.

Much about Lockwood’s war experience has been surrounded by mystery, including his burial location. This in part, is due to his family recording his data on the family monument, which is today worn from the fate of time. Post war newspapers reported that Lockwood died while in route to Salisbury prison, while others claimed he died in route to Andersonville. After research of historical documents, we are now able to present a timeline that will answer many questions about his life. Port Byron welcomes everyone as we commemorate his memory; yet at the same time tell his story in more detail than has ever been told before.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The PBS pressroom announces a new program on the War of 1812 to air on October 10th.  They issued the following press release:

For Immediate Release



— Television Program Presents American, Canadian, British and Native Perspectives, Leading the Way of Bicentennial Activities, Airs October 10 —

WASHINGTON, D.C. and BUFFALO, NY — Nearly two centuries after it was fought, the two-and-a-half year conflict that forged the destiny of a continent comes to public television in a comprehensive film history. “The War of 1812” airs on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings). From 1812 to 1815, Americans battled against the British, Canadian colonists, and Native warriors; the outcomes shaped the geography and the identity of North America. This two-hour HD documentary uses stunning re-enactments, evocative animation, and the incisive commentary of key experts to reveal little-known sides of an important war — one that some only recognize for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The broadcast is accompanied by a companion book and website, as well as comprehensive bi-national educational resources.
The British impressment of American sailors
on the USS Niagara, in a re-enactment
from the The War of 1812.
Premieres Monday, October 10 at 9 p.m. ET
on PBS (check local listings).

Photo credit: Photo by David Litz.
Courtesy WNED-TV, Buffalo/Toronto
and Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc.

Across the United States and Canada, communities are planning events to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812. “We have proudly created ‘The War of 1812’ for both nations,” said Donald K. Boswell, president and CEO of WNED, the producing station of the program. Broadcasting from Buffalo, New York, WNED has significant viewership in Southern Ontario. “This timely examination of a shared history allows us to celebrate our past together, and renew the bond of our present and future as national neighbors. With this production, WNED also continues a tradition of showcasing cultural and historical treasures of our bi-national region to the PBS audience.” WNED is one of fourteen public broadcasting stations that share a border with Canada, extending the national broadcast of “The War of 1812” throughout the United States into many Canadian communities.

“WETA is pleased to join WNED in bringing this important project to all viewers,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the flagship public broadcasting stations in the nation’s capital and a partner in the project. “It is an excellent example of the intellectual integrity and cultural merit for which public broadcasting stands.”

Portrait of Shawnee leader Tecumseh,
who is featured in The War of 1812.
Premieres Monday, October 10
at 9 p.m. ET on PBS
(check local listings).
Photo credit: Portrait by
Benson John Lossing,
ca. 1868. Courtesy of the
 J. Ross Collection of the
Toronto Reference Library.

The War of 1812 is a celebrated event by Canadians, forgotten by many Americans and British, and dealt a resounding blow to most of the Native nations involved. The film is in many ways an examination of how the mythical versions of history are formed — how the glories of war become enshrined in memory, how failures are quickly forgotten, and how inconvenient truths are ignored forever, while we often change history to justify and celebrate our national cultures and heritage.

“The War of 1812” explores the events leading up to the conflict, the multifold causes of the war, and the questions that emerged about the way a new democracy should conduct war. It was a surprisingly wide war. Dozens of battles were fought on land in Canada and in the northern, western, southern and eastern parts of the United States — in the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama. There were crucial naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain, and a wide-ranging maritime struggle with many episodes off Virginia, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Cuba, Ireland, the Azores, the Canaries, British Guyana, and Brazil. The U.S. proved surprisingly successful against the great British navy, but the War of 1812 also saw American armies surrender en masse and the American capital burned.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old Occupation Titles

Every once in awhile in census records I see an occupation listed that is not common today.  A good example is a person who lists themselves as a "scavenger".  One would think perhaps this could be an alternate use for a person who may be a junk dealer. 

However, I have found an alternate list for Scottish occupations, which lists a scavenger as a person who was a street sweeper. 

Don't be overly impressed if you see someone listed as a scholar, this lists indicates that would be a child who is attending school, not the graduate of worthy abilities.

It's an interesting read, hope you enjoy the list!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Visit from the Late Penny Helzer?

Many of you may recall my predecessor, the late Penny Helzer.  I had the opportunity to briefly work with her.  During the later part of her illness, on occasion I volunteered to answer inquiries on her behalf, until she was feeling well enough to resume her normal duties.

Shortly before she passed, I received the most unusual phone call from her.  She shared with me her plans for her funeral and post ceremonies.  She left very clear directions for her son, one of which was to round up several of her closest friends for a ceremony to release butterflies in her memory.  She asked me if I would do the honor of joining her friends and family for this special task.

I was hardly prepared for such a request but felt this would be the final act of kindness that Penny would ever ask of me, so I was flattered to be in their company.  When the butterflies were released, there was one in particular that fluttered around us, almost as if it was Penny giving her final goodbye.

This week I visited the gas station on my way to work, when I noticed the most beautiful large bodied butterfly, with a color pattern that I don't recall seeing before.  It was clinging to the base of the gas pump.  After paying for my purchase, when I returned to my car, I looked to see if the butterfly was still there.  I found it on the pavement crawling, so I stood and watched to try to assess if it had been injured.  Much to my surprise, it decided to cling to the rim of my car tire.  Then I gently lifted it from the tire, to ensure it was not harmed, and watched as it flew up and away beyond my line of vision.  As I drove away, I had the thought that maybe that was Penny in spirit, sending me a brief hello. 

Penny had the butterflies mail ordered and purchased a variety that was said to be very people friendly.  I'd like to think she was checking in on me.  Perhaps this was an offspring of the butterflies released at her ceremony. 

May the butterfly continue its journey, placing smiles on the faces of everyone it visits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Memory of Anna

Mrs. Howell in 1987
The Port Byron community mourns the loss of one of our most beloved teachers, Mrs. Anna White Howell.

In addition to curriculum, Anna taught life lessons, the virtue of kindness, self-respect, and the basics of good character in order to prepare pupils for the challenges of the future.

We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

NSDAR Literacy Promotion Contest

I am deeply honored to share that the program organized in November 2010 to honor the late Pearl Kilmer Wilson's contributions to the "Mail-It" program, has received national recognition by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in their literacy promotion contest.

When the contest was announced we didn't know if the program we held, which focused on the elderly and visually impaired, how it would stack up as compared to other more traditional programs centered on reading involving the youth.  Our program seemed to fit the contest guidelines like a glove, so we decided to give it a try.  I am pleased to report that the program placed as follows:

Contest Results
1st Place  - New York State
1st Place  - North East Division, which includes the States of NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, CT, and RI
2nd Place - National

To fully understand why reading became so important  (page 2) to Pearl, I'd like to share her story:

Pearl as a youngster worked for her family as a mule driver on the Erie Canal.  This was a task traditionally performed by young boys for hire but she always stayed with her family.

She traveled the canal from Rochester to Syracuse and from Syracuse to Albany, following the Hudson river to New York City with her father William. She had a life long fascination over shoes and her days on the canal is likely the reason.  Shoes wore out frequently due to the many miles traveled.  

           c. 1903
Pearl with her sisters
Myrtle, Pearl (center), Georgiana

While it was hard work, Pearl found the traveling to be very exciting.  One of her adventures included a boat accident.  Upon arriving at a lock, they found the lock tender was on a lunch break. A gentleman nearby assured her father he could operate the lock to get them on their way without delay. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned and the boat made contact with the chamber wall.
Pearl laughed, saying she was so scared by the water rushing into the boat, that she jumped onto a small table that was nearby.  She added that by the time her father reached her, the table was floating in the water!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day


Port Byron wishes all of our service men and woman a safe return. 

They are among generations to contribute to the defense of National freedom.  We owe our liberties to the cause. 

May God continue to bless the families of those that have fallen.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mystery Band Photo Solved

Last year I posted a photo of the Port Byron band from the 1935/37 period.  Today I found the newspaper article that shows this was a photo of an award winning band, taken at Syracuse University.  The photo was cropped but you can see that signature hand rail in the background, so mystery solved.

Also note that Edward Dougherty received special recognition from the brass section!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revolutionary War Records

It was my pleasure to serve as one of the volunteer genealogists for the Owasco Chapter NSDAR Lineage Workshop that was recently hosted at the Port Byron Library.  I'd like to thank the library for their continued support and for letting us use their facility.  The workshop drew a standing room only crowd in search of their families, many focusing on finding proof of service for their ancestor who served in the American Revolution. 

I thought I would share some details on the various pension acts and how to obtain those records.  If your ancestor drew a pension, the date they became eligible varies depending on their rank, regiment served, disability and need of financial support from the Government.

Pension applications assigned a unique letter in front of the application number which signifies the following:

S = soldier was pensioned.
W = widow was pensioned.
R = pension was rejected.

Having a pension application rejected does not mean the soldier did not serve.  It may only represent that the soldier did not meet the minimum standards of the particular pension act for which they applied.  Some acts had a minimum service requirement, or was limited to the Continental Line.  Soldiers were responsible to present their own proof of service at the time of such application.

Due to the lapse of time from service to when they applied for pensions, many soldiers had already lost their discharge papers.  In such cases, soldiers were expected to present written testimonies from fellow soldiers or anyone else that could support their claim. 

Soldiers who applied directly via open court did not fare as well as compared to those that hired a lawyer.  The main reason for this is simply because the lawyers knew to gather statements from others who could vouch the applicant did indeed serve.  This was accomplished by obtaining statements from any combination of fellow soldiers, commanders, family or neighbors who could provide details as to when the applicant enlisted or was discharged.  This was needed as many pension acts had a length of service requirement.  Soldiers who could not present satisfactory proof to duration of service were denied.

Keep in mind that many soldiers of this war came from other places and spoke limited English.  Perhaps language barriers kept them from understanding that their word alone was not considered proof.  It was not the role of the open court to then go obtain witness statements, their role was simply to evaluate what was submitted before them.  While some rejected pensions could indicate a false claim, more often it was a case of failure to submit the needed proofs to determine minimum service requirements as required by the pension act.

Here are some links that provide a nice explanation of the evolving changes to the pension act:


Pension Timeline




Today there is a growing number of sources where one can obtain portions or all of the pension files.  Heritage Quest, which requires membership but may be a benefit from your local library, offers what I like to call the mini pensions.  This is the same as the Federal Military Pension Applications - Pension Documents Packet (NATF 85B) at the National Archives, also known as M805.  This shorter file contains pages that have been preselected to be most relevant to family history.

When possible, I recommend obtaining the full file, which is called the Federal Military Pension Application - Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85D) at the National Archives, also known as M804.  This file contains up to 100 pages which many pensions far exceed the page count found in just the pension packet mentioned above.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mapping of New York State

A new link has been added that contains a digital book by David Y Allen regarding the mapping of the Empire State.

The direct link is:


Friday, March 25, 2011

Alice Branson Mathis

I thought many of you would appreciate reading the story of Alice Branson Mathis, an African American migrant worker who worked on farms at Port Byron and Red Creek from the 1940's to the 1960's.

The report provides a behind the scene look at her struggles as well as her creativity.  Alice was born at Monticello, Florida on July 2, 1898, her parents dying while in her youth and was raised by her brothers.  By the age of 12, she was employed as a domestic worker. 

While residing at Sanford, Florida she would travel North for crop season.  Miss Alice while being unable to read or write, was able to own a home.  She never had any children and died at Rochester, NY in 1990.

Read her story here:

"Goin' North" by Victoria Sandwick Schmitt

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amos King Bible Joins Sesquicentennial Events

February 21, 2011


NEWS from Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
P O Box 377
Manchester, Vermont 05254
The Shires of Vermont
Press Contact: Paula Maynard, 802.367.7961


On Friday, February 18, Hildene Executive Director, Seth Bongartz and Deputy Director, Laine Dunham represented the Vermont Lincoln site at the New York State Museum at the invitation of State Historian, Robert Weible. February 18, 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the president’s stopover in Albany on his trip by rail from his Springfield home to his March 4 inauguration in Washington. As part of a national kick off for the multi-year sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War the National Park Service is retracing this famous journey.

Central to the celebration was an address delivered by Fritz Klein, widely considered to be the foremost Lincoln re-enactor in the country. Klein has been portraying the 16th president for more than three decades. At the request of Weible, Bongartz and Dunham brought the Amos King bible from the Hildene exhibit to be displayed at the event. The book was gifted to Lincoln by Amos King, a Port Byron, New York, boatman. King had been inspired to purchase the bible, which was bound with high quality leather and printed by Cambridge University Press in England, when he read the President’s farewell address at the train station in Springfield at the start of the inaugural trip. The inscription is dated March 4, 1861, the day of the inauguration. Bongartz commented, “What makes the bible so remarkable is that it still exists … by that I mean it was clearly important to Lincoln and then to his descendants. It was in the family’s home when we took over at Hildene. It may well have been important to them because it was given by a comparatively humble person. That says a lot about Lincoln.” Bongartz also referenced the work of a diligent and committed Port Byron town historian, Dawn Roe. It was Roe’s relentless research that uncovered the thank you note from President Lincoln’s Secretary, John Nicolay, proof positive that the bible did indeed reach the President’s hands. She even offered several scenarios for how this may have happened logistically. In short, this important artifact is connected to the inaugural journey that was being celebrated in Albany and Hildene was honored to be a part of the event.

On Friday, March 4, the bible will again travel, this time to Burlington, Vermont, for a Civil War Sesquicentennial event sponsored by the 18th Vermont Regiment Civil War Living History Organization. The event which focuses on relevant Civil War history surrounding this particular date begins at 2:00 pm at the Fletcher Free Library. It will include a presentation by Lincoln re-enactor, Bob Bushnell, a question and answer period, remarks from Seth Bongartz, executive director of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home and by Bill McKone, the president of the 18th Vermont Regiment and the event’s organizer. Activities will then move to City Hall for re-enactments of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address and of the President’s swearing in. March 4, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of this momentous occasion. To learn more about this event, contact Bill McKone at 802.644.2433.

The bible that Amos King gave to President Lincoln is on permanent display at Hildene and is currently a part of the exhibit: The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural. Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is open daily from 9:30 to 4:30.

To learn more about Hildene, go to http://www.hildene.org/ or visit Hildene on Facebook.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Article Correction

This months article was about my trip to the County Seat at Washington County, NY in December.  In this article I commented on there being a separate department containing transcribed wills.  Unfortunately the article was altered by the Editors at the Auburn Citizen.  They do a wonderful job with minor edits in the layout process but they did not recognize the significance of the term LDS which is the universal initials used when referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints research center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I had commented that the transcribed wills is what is on file in Utah, so anyone that rents the reels from their collections would not receive the original wills, they would be viewing the transcribed documents.  That is relevant because there is additional information, likely on additional reels because Washington Co., NY does not store all components of an estate in the same location.

Therefore, when you read the article, the line that says:

We were instructed to report to the opposite end of the complex, only to discover that the bound books contained transcriptions (same as what is on file with Washington County). 

This should read :  {same as what is on file with LDS}.

Many years ago I had rented the films for Washington County Wills and the bound books are the same as what I viewed from Salt Lake City.  Many people will mistake the file as complete when more information is actually on file with the County Archivist.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mansions of The Past

The Syracuse Morning Standard, Syracuse, NY, Tuesday Morning, May 4, 1880

In the Weedsport Column appeared:

W. W. Mack, of Rochester, brother and partner of S. J. Mack, has purchased the Smith residence at Port Byron, and will make it his present summer residence and  probably a permanent home in the near future.  This mansion originally cost $80,000 but the price paid for it was less than one-fourth of this sum, if current report is  correct.

($80,000.00 in 1880 would have the purchase power of $1,730,000.00 as of 2009 based on CPI) 

Auburn, NY Argus 1895-1897

Coroner A. D. Stewart has purchased the Chas. Smith mansion in Pine street, and will establish a hospital therein; Consideration $2,200.

($2,200.00 in 1886 would have the purchase power of $51,800.00 as of 2009 based on CPI)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The New Year

Our website has had a slight change but our mission remains steadfast in promoting and preserving the rich history of the Port Byron, NY area.  In reviewing the stats over the past year, our website has had regular visits from the following locations:

United Kingdom
United States

Therefore, it seemed appropriate to change our website from Port Byron Historian to Port Byron History, to better reflect our content.  The change went very smoothly.  Our new website is http://www.portbyronhistory.com/ with no loss in content, all of your favorite features and articles are here for your enjoyment.

With this change, we also updated our Facebook group to Port Byron History.  Many of the original posts can still be found in the note section.  Thank you for your participation on Facebook, where posts averaged about 1,000 viewings each.  That is amazing!

It's the start of a bright New Year with a fresh start for Port Byron History.  We look forward to seeing you in our fan club on Facebook.  Thank you for your loyal support and we shall enjoy the upcoming year as we celebrate a wonderful place called Port Byron, NY.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Port Byron High School 1899-1935

The Port Byron High School was dedicated on Tuesday, January 16, 1900.  It replaced the Port Byron Free Academy that was lost to fire in November 1898 at this same location.  The architect was C. E. Crandall of Rochester, NY.  The building was heated and ventilated with a Smeed-Norcot heating system and had running water on both floors.  The Smeed Heating System was widely used in schools and other public buildings, its furnace generated heat by heating air.  The building cost "nearly $16,500.00" (equivalent to "nearly" $440,000.00 based on 2009 CPI).  The structure was described as housing 450 pupils, consisting of two floors with basement, six large study rooms, a laboratory, library and multiple recitation rooms. 

Many will be surprised to learn that some pupils from Brutus attended our school here.  In our early history, we were a progressive place.  Woman started to serve on our Board of Education in the year 1890, before woman even had the right to vote.  Helen Hadger Root was a teacher and among the first woman to serve on the school board.  Her husband William H. Root a past Board of Education Member was present when both the Free Academy as well as the High School was dedicated.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet The Press

Many can recall The Port Byron Chronicle but did you know there were other newspapers produced at Port Byron?

The Port Byron Herald was started in 1844 by Frederick Prince.  (He already owned another paper called The Weedsport Advertiser, later known as the Northern Phoenix which was produced at Weedsport.)

The Port Byron Gazette was founded in 1849 by Charles T. White which was continued with the help of his brother until the year 1860.  The paper was then sold to B. W. Thompson who in turn sold out to William Hosford in 1861.  Hosford then sold to Cyrus Marsh in 1862 who then changed the name of the paper to the Northern Cayuga Times.

Note: Some sources indicate the Port Byron Gazette was founded in 1851 by Oliver T. Beard.

The Port Byron Times was published by C. Marsh 186_-1870.
There is one additional paper that appears in the business directory on the 1859 village map of Port Byron, being the Citizen operated by N. Marble.  It is interesting that this paper is not listed in the article by the Auburn Morning News on Dec. 15, 1877, which was in tribute to the history of the press in Cayuga County from 1798-1877.  Perhaps this paper was produced elsewhere and simply sold here and did not make the list because it was not produced here.  I will make mention, as this paper was available.  

The paper with the most interesting history is the Port Byron Chronicle.  That is partly due to it being the longest surviving paper associated with our community, but also due to the folklore attached to it.  The Weedsport Cayuga Chief - Port Byron Chronicle issued on Dec. 10, 1964 had an article honoring the 90th anniversary of our paper.  It stated that L. H. King established the paper on January 1, 1875.  After Editor King's death, his son Richard T. King is listed as continuing the paper who later sold the paper to Mr. G. Welton Fickeisen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Port Byron Free Academy 1859-1898

Early primary or grammar education consisted of a series of one room school houses, dating back to the year 1800.  They were the standard for children to learn the needed skills to ensure their success to adulthood.  The first teaching certificate issued at Port Byron was issued to Celestia King in 1854, a granddaughter of Philip King.  She boarded at various homes to teach for $1.50 a week. 

An article by Richard T King in 1952 indicates that within the village, there were two separate school districts, one located at the corner of Rochester and King Streets, and the second at Pine Street.  His article indicates the Port Byron Free and Academy opened in 1852, with Ceylon Otis as its first Principal and academic departments under the management of T. K. Fuller.   The first Board of Education included Dr. James D. Button-President, William A. Halsey- Secretary, Alfred Mead, George Randall, A.K. King, William D. Osborn, Finlay M. King, George Hayden, and John C. Foster.

The district was chartered on April 7, 1857 and would be called the The Port Byron Free School District.  The following year, a lot was purchased on Church Street.  The cost of the lot and building amounted to $10,850.00, which has the purchase power of about $292,000.00 today (based on 2009 Consumer Price Index).  The building would be called the Port Byron Free & Academy.  They were established with the State Board of Regents under Chapter 298, Laws of 1859.

The building was three stories, and measured sixty feet long and fifty feet wide to accommodate 400 students.  The building was heated by coal stoves.

There were two entrances, one for boys and the other to be used by the girls with genders separated inside the class room.

The first floor held classes for grades 1-4; the second floor was used for grades 5-8 and the high school occupied the third floor.  The faculty consisted of six teachers.

Despite the name Free in the school district name, enrollment was not free for all students.  Pupils outside the village had to pay tuition of $4.00 per term (would be about $108.00 today) with extra fees for classes in Latin, Greek, German, French and Bookkeeping.  Tuition increased to $5.00 per term by the 1890's.