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.
Showing posts with label Local History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Local History. Show all posts

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Culver Family History

It was a pleasure to present for the Sterling Historical Society, the history and ancestry of my ancestor Rev. Solomon P. Culver.  For anyone that was not able to attend, here is a recording of our evening together:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ladies Auxiliary: Thurston-Schramm-Reynolds Post 8137 VFW

Early photo of the Ladies Auxiliary of Thurston-Schramm-Reynolds Post 8137 of Montezuma, NY with the first charter members and officers of the auxiliary,  Photo courtesy of Dona Roe who extends a thank you to Aaron and Lila Wilson for donating this photo to her.

Seated (left to right):  Elizabeth Wilson, Helen Aubin Hutchings, Jeannette Armstrong Giovanni, Flora Hayes, Nancy Smith Decker, Agnes Moroney Lapp and Betty Leubner Dixon.

Standing (left to right): Mary Carner Stoneburg, Ruth Garner Laraway, Micky Doran Wilson, Lila Stoneburg Wilson, Hellen Ward Davies and Vanita Wilson Roe.

If anyone can identify these woman, please contact me so that the list can be updated.

A newspaper article in 1972 says that the Ladies Auxiliary Post was formed 5 years previously and had 19 members at that time.  This dates the auxiliary as being formed in 1967.

1967 Officers:
President: Flora Hayes
Senior Vice President: Nancy Decker
Junior Vice President: Agnes Lapp
Treasurer: Ruth Laraway
Chaplain: Elizabeth Wilson
Conductress: Vanita Roe
Guard: Dorothy Garner
Secretary: Jeannette Giovanni
Patriotic Instructress: Micky Wilson
Historian: Iva Reynolds
1st Color Bearer, Helen Hutchings
2nd Color Bearer: Nellie Boas
3rd Color Bearer: Delores Townsend
4th Color Bearer: Jessie Dingman

Additional Charter Members:
Hellen Davies
Elizabeth Dixon
Bonnie Jenner
Mary Stoneburg
Lila Wilson

Wayuga Community Newspaper Inc., May 25, 1967
 Here's the 1972 article that provided insight into when the auxiliary was formed:

The Citizen Advertiser Auburn, NY - March 15,1972

Monday, March 23, 2015

Centerport Detour

Here's an interesting post that I know the Centerport residents will appreciate, it provides a clue as to when the road between Port Byron and Centerport was paved:



Port Byron -Weedsport — Work In progress. Leave Port Byron for Weedsport on new concrete pavement to Centerport.  At Centerport four corners turn south one-eighth mile, crossing Erie Canal, taking first left hand turn to Weedsport. Detour posted.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Today we travel between places without giving it any thought but can you imagine a time when you could get stranded in Port Byron and it would be considered news?  That is exactly what happened to a theater company in 1908:


The Percey-Norman Stock company which has been playing at the Auditorium Annex, is stranded in Port Byron. After paying the fares of the fourteen members of the company to Port Byron the manager had 45 cents.   There were sixteen paid admissions to see the show and so the actors were unable to get back to Auburn.  The boy who sings the solos between the acts managed to get a ride to the city after he had done his turn, while the others, sitting as a committee of the whole, are trying to devise ways and means.

Here's some background from Billboard Publications, 1908

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fine of Lands

Recently I stumbled onto another way people transferred land using an old English law that was not commonly used in the United States.  The process was called "Fine of Lands".

What makes this different than a normal land sale is that was initiated as a law suit where a person (plaintiff) files a case stating they are the true owner of the land and request the court to order the land returned to them from the current owner (called a deforcient).

There was never any real dispute when using this method, both parties were already in agreement on the sale, but used a court process to declare the asset belonged to the plaintiff.

The normal process when selling land does require confirmation of the seller's spouse, they would be traditionally interviewed away from the husband where it would be documented that she agrees to the sale free of duress or demands of her husband.  The Fine of Lands bypasses this step.  It also moves the land out of an estate as if the original owner never owned it at all.

The person who gains the most from this process is the original land owner (the deforciant).  The outcome of the case relieves them from all liabilities.  Why is this significant?  One reason may be that in the 1820's, many soldiers of the American Revolution were just receiving their benefits from their service, in the form of pensions and bounty land.  Between 1775 and 1855, the Government was issuing bounty-land warrants to encourage enlistment for the War of 1812, the Mexican War etc as well as to compensate those who served the Revolution.  Those given a promise of land or script sometimes sold it for quick cash, especially if they had already established a homestead.  The scripts sometimes were sold more than once, thus many complications could arise.  

Such a conveyance would also be difficult for heirs to contest because a legal ruling would already be on file which takes precedence.  Heirs would be hard pressed to make claim when a court has already determined you never owned it to begin with.

There may be additional reasons and benefits why someone would use the "Fine of Lands" to move property.  The process was banded in England by the mid 1830's.  However, you will find isolated cases where this was used in Cayuga County prior to the law being abolished.

The parties filing the case would quickly return to the court to advise that they settled, often on the same day the case was filed.  Then the court would draw up the paperwork based on their agreement.  It was settled before the court could take any action on it.  The plaintiff would then use the court papers as his legal deed to the property.

The law gave exceptional rights to the original owner or deforciant by allowing them to transfer the asset while at the same time remove them from all liabilities.  It is unclear what documentation was required by the court when the case was closed (levied).

This process was not used for convenience, as the case would have been presented before the Supreme Court.  Fine of Lands is a fascinating and rare application for conveyance of land.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tanner Dry Dock

A request was received asking for the location of the Tanner dry dock.  Here is a snippet view from the Cayuga Genweb 1875 map that shows where it was located.

The following map is from 1904

Compare the above to Google and you will see changes and the re-appearance of James St, but don't be fooled by the map, the street signs are labled W Dock Street at both ends (not James).  You will also see slight changes to Rochester St as well.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Married Farm Hand Wanted

Auburn Weekly Bulletin
Nov. 11, 1904

WANTED— At once, a man by the year, to work on a farm: must be well recommended:  married man preferred:  good wages.
W Wethey. Pt Byron. N Y

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Rookers

c. 1924
Thank you to Clara and Keith McIver for donating a family photo for the family of Earl and Nettie Wilson Rooker, featured are:

Back row: Gene (Madison Eugene, 1902-1980), Charlie (Charles Oliver, 1914-1960), Earl (Earl James, 1906-1975), Nettie Jane Wilson Rooker (1884-1940), Earl Hesler Rooker (1878-1948). Front row: Fred (Frederick Ernest, 1912-1979), and Helen (Helen Frances, 1917-1992).

Earl and Nettie were blessed with another child Clinton who was not yet born when this photo was captured.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Home Defense Reserve Unit 176

Today I discovered that Port Byron has an entire new group of service men who deserve recognition.  Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Port Byron formed their own company of the Home Defense Reserve and was designated Company No. 176 when it mustered in on July 18, 1917.

According to the 1919 annual report of the Adjutant General, the Home Defense Reserve is described as follows:


"On April 25, 1917, the Governor authorized the organization of the Home Defense Corps under section 5-a of the Military Law.  Later the designation was changed to the Home Defense Reserve of New York State. This organization was a local auxiliary police reserve under the control of the Governor as commander-in-chief and was intended solely as a local police guard. The units were not to be used outside of the county in which organized. Arms, uniforms and equipment were not issued to it by the State other than a few Ross rifles in 1918.  The units were equipped and maintained either by voluntary contributions or under chapter 235 of the Laws of 1917, which authorized a county, city, town or village to provide arms, uniforms and equipment for military organizations raised within the municipality.  Its members were enrolled for the period of the emergency and the Governor had authority to terminate the liability under the enrollment oath at any time. Soon after the armistice was signed these organizations began to be musteredout and at present very few of them are in existence.  Chapter 212 of the Laws of 1919 prescribes that all property in the possession of such organizations provided by or purchased from funds appropriated by a county, city, town or village shall be disposed of upon disbandment in a manner to be prescribed by the governing board of the municipality which provided the property or appropriated the funds from which it was purchased and further prescribes that all other property and funds in the possession of said organizations shall be disposed of upon disbandment in such manner as may be prescribed by a two-thirds vote of all of the members of the organization concerned in good standing at the time of disbandment."

In the roster, there are only two companies from Cayuga County being unit 175 of Auburn and unit 176 of Port Byron, with 40 members serving from Port Byron.  The names of those that served are not known at this time except for L. H. King who served on the county committee.  Dr. George B. Stewart of Auburn was Chairman and secured the Ross rifles for Auburn and Port Byron.

There was also a Woman's Division under the direction of Mrs. Anna M Kent of Union Springs.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Village Jail

The Auburn Citizen
January 25, 1928

Village Lockup—Port Byron
Inspected December 31, 1927
George Newkirk, mayor; T. M. Crane, village clerk. The village population is about 1,000.  This lockup is located in fire headquarters on the ground floor of the two-story Village Hall.  It consists of a two-cell latticed steel cage, each cell equipped with folding bunk, waterproof covered mattress and comfortable.

Large windows provide ample light and ventilation. Electric light and coal stove. Sanitary buckets are used as there are no sewers in the village.  General condition good.  Only one person has been detained here during year just closed.

When this lockup is occupied close and competent - supervision should be provided against the fire risk.
Respectfully submitted,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Smith & Dixon

Auburn Daily Bulletin. February 21, 1874

A CHANGE OF BASE.—Messrs. Smith & Dixon, of Port Byron, have sold to parties in Indianapolis their interest in the manufacture of the Skilton mower and reaper knife guards. The machinery of the manufactory has been shipped for
Indianapolis, where the purchasers design the formation of a heavy joint stock company to continue the manufacture.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Port Byron Twins Win Baby Contest

Port Byron Twins Win

Agnes and Helen, twins of Mr. and Mrs. William Murray of Port Byron, were adjudged normal and perfect according to a comparison made with tables supplied by the Woman's Home Companion which was the criterion on which the judges based their awards.  Needless to say that Mrs. Murray is today the proudest mother in Port Byron.

The Auburn Citizen
August 22, 1919

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I've Been Working On The Railroad

When they say the best gifts come in small packages, it's true!

Today my nephew handed me an envelope containing something very special from my recently deceased brother Ray, known to many of us as Bub.

He once worked on the railroad, the same industry as our Grandfather Oliver B. Wilson who retired as a section foreman on the New York Central.  He lists many of the names of locals that he worked with and thought readers would enjoy a glimpse of Bub's reminiscences about these hard working days of his past.  Thank you Justin for this wonderful gift about your Dad's personal history.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Port Byron Telephone

Here's a vintage advertisement of the Port Byron Telephone Company as it appeared in the Port Byron Chronicle and Cayuga County News on Friday June 14, 1944.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lord's Prayer

Weedsport, Saturday, Dec. 20, 1879

—We learn from the Chronicle that at a gathering of several prominent business men of Port Byron, the other day the question arose as to how many could repeat the Lord's prayer, and it was agreed to try it. To their mutual astonishment all proved equal to the task. This is the most hopeful news we have had from Port Byron in a long time.

Pickle Boy

Thursday, December 18, 1879

—Some little boys were playing "hide and coop" in this village the other day, when one of them went into a shed in the rear of a grocery to hide. He saw a barrel standing on end, with one head out, and thinking that would be a fine place in which to secrete himself, ran and jumped into — a barrel full of vinegar. He didn't wait to "coop," but climbed out as quickly as he could, as sour looking a boy as ever was seen. He bore a close resemblance to a pickled lobster, and hurried home before some one should mistake him for that and treat him accordingly,—Port Byron Chronicle

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Soldiers Bond

The students at Dana L West Jr/Sr High held a wonderful tribute to fallen soldiers in December as part of the Wreaths Across America Program under the direction of Dr. Linda Townsend.

Our guests included the Patriot Guard and their motorcycle display in the auditorium I'm sure will be remembered by the students for years to come.

I was honored to join them to share a few words about the contributions of the African American Civil War soldiers and their role in the Lockwood Post #175 GAR of Port Byron.  I closed sharing my thoughts about the bond of soldiers being mutual love of country.

Poem by Mark Schuster
(Click image to enlarge)
After the ceremony, Mark Schuster of the Patriot Guard, shared with me that he was pleased that my talk touched upon the bond of soldiers.  Mark had recently wrote a poem on the subject and he agreed to provide a copy to share with my readers.

Thank you Mark and all the members of the Patriot Guard who dedicate themselves in the remembrance of soldiers.  Port Byron was proud to have you with us in December.  I am especially grateful for the poems you left for us, our community will find great inspiration in them.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rev. David Wilson of Hebron, NY

Here's a nice bio of Rev. David Wilson who briefly resided in Mentz. Many of his family are buried at the Wilson-Dixon Cemetery. While Rev. David did have a will drawn from Cayuga County, he moved back to Hebron, Washington Co., NY just before his passing.

Source: The Congregational Quarterly, Volume 6, by Revs. Henry M Dexter, Alonzo H Quint and Isaac P Langworthy, 1864

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Courage of Myrtle Kilmer

Every now and then you find a news clip that makes you stop and realize just how important the imagery of liberty is to us.  I'd like to share a little article that appeared in the Port Byron Chronicle on Saturday January 26, 1917:


Miss Myrtle Kilmer a former resident of this village, who resides with her sister Mrs. Oliver Wilson at Syracuse, is receiving a great deal of praise as the result of an act she performed at the Emanuel Evangelical church Thursday evening while a meeting was in progress. The fire started near the chimney and the auditorium quickly filled with smoke.  The members of the audience crowded to the doors. Miss Kilmer forced her way through the crowd to the front of the auditorium where a large American flag  was hung , took down the flag and then hurried out of the building being the last to leave.  Miss Kilmer modestly denied that any special credit was due her, as it seemed to her the most natural thing to do.

Way to go Myrtle!