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 Military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military. Show all posts

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heritage Days 2010

The 2010 Heritage Days Festival events to be held on Saturday July 31st are well underway. Living history performer Eileen Mae Knapp Patch will be portraying her Great Grandmother in 1880's dress, as she reads letters received from a civil war soldier in her family. While the soldier is not from Port Byron, he faced many of the same hardships and struggles in common with our residents that served in the war. It is a rare look into the civil war from the soldiers viewpoint. Admission will be $1 which will be given to our performer to offset her expenses, since she is driving from Endwell, NY to be a part of the this years civil war theme at Port Byron.

We will also be having a military encampment by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. They will be in period uniforms and bringing much of the equipment that our soldiers would have used during the war such as cooking equipment, rifles and even a canon!

Yours truly will be hosting a cemetery tour, visiting some of our soldiers at rest. Histories of the soldiers and/or regimental histories will be shared. It is encouraged that attendees bring binoculars for a special surprise during the tour. I will be bringing mine to share for those that may not own their own.

These are all new events taking place at this years Heritage Days. A full calender of events for Friday 7/30 and Saturday 7/31 will be available on the Town of Mentz Website in the near future.

Time for all events will be announced at a later date.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Capt. Joseph Harker

Another Revolutionary War Soldier Discovered at Port Byron

Capt. Joseph Harker was born 9/28/1743 in Morris County, NJ. He served in Capt. Abraham Lyon's Company, 4th NJ Regiment commanded by Col. Ephraim Martin. His wife was Mary Walling. Joseph died in September of 1815.

After the war the Harker family moved to Stillwater, NY in Saratoga County. This is the same area where Seth Higley and Philip King lived before they came to Port Byron. I was very surprised to find this soldier in the Harker-Higley genealogy as he has never appeared on our soldier list. The book describes his burial place in Port Byron as the old cemetery near the Erie canal. It also reports that a brick wall was constructed by Joseph's son James Harker before he moved to Illinois in 1829. This certainly fits the description of our Old Port Byron Cemetery, today known as King Cemetery.

The book indicates that their headstones were in poor condition, so today I walked the cemetery to see if I could find any remains of their headstones. I am sad to report that their head stones have not survived the fate of time. However, thanks to this book, I will now be able to order a military marker for him. King Cemetery is a tremendous challenge because there are no burial records or maps. The only record that exists are previous headstone inventories and the Harker name has not appeared on our lists.

Reading the history of this family was fascinating. As I mentioned, our soldier had a son named James. James was married twice. His first wife was Mary McColom. His second wife was Puella Higley, a widow of Josiah Partridge and daughter of Seth Higley. Puella was born at Half Moon in Saratoga County, NY. They moved to Peoria County, Illinois in 1829. Their settlement would be named "Harker's Corner" after their namesake.

The family genealogy is important because without it, we would have never known that Capt. Joseph Harker was buried here. You can read more about this family by visiting:

Harker-Higley Ancestry by Margaret P Brown

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lieut. Peter Elsworth

Here's another ground breaking law suit involving Port Byron. This case involved a Revolutionary War soldier who was awarded bounty land for his service. The soldier never occupied the land but willed the land to his father. The father in turn willed the land to his son Theophilus Elsworth who was the first to settle on part of the soldiers lot. The law suit was over the rights of deceased soldiers:

Law Suit over land grant at Port Byron

Peter Elsworth had a lengthy period of service during the war. He served in the 4th NY Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Frederick Weissenfels, Lt. Mayor's Company. He was stationed at West Point, Fort Schuyler as well as Camp Steenrapie. His muster cards are plentiful being 65 cards in all. He also was assigned to Henry B Livingston, Esq. and spent some time at the Manor of Livingston in the Nine Month Levies. He held the rank of Captain with Livingston's assignment. He was also a Regimental Adjutant.

Friday, September 25, 2009

American Sculptor Byron M Pickett

Newspaper articles reflect that sculptor Byron M Pickett was born at Port Byron, NY the son of John Welcher and Lucy Pickett. Other articles suggest he was a native of Jordan. We can confirm that the Pickett family did live at Port Byron as early as 1840 per the Federal census.

John served as Mentz Town Clerk and is buried with his son David Pickett at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron.

Byron M Pickett completed several important sculptures:

"Patriotism" located at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY. According to their website, they are the 6th oldest Reformed Church in America. This sculpture is also known as the "Daughter of the 120th Regiment".

History of the Old Dutch Church at Kingston

"Samuel Finley Breese Morse" at Central Park.
Morse Statue at Central Park

"62nd NY Infantry" Gettysburg. This regiment was also known as Anderson's Zouaves.

Photo of 62nd NY Inf Statue

"Anderson Zouaves" - Living History & Research Group

1879 Bio of Byron M Pickett

If anyone knows of the burial location for Byron M Pickett, please contact me. He has relatives trying to find his grave, somewhere in the Manhatten area.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Richard Warren's Civil War Website

New Addition: Under the military category you will find a nice link to a website that features Richard Warren of Port Byron. He was an officer in the 111th. This unit served at Gettsburg and many other major campaings.

Port Byron's Lockwood Post G.A.R. was named after John Lockwood of Port Byron who served in this same regiment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Penny

2009 Marks the 100th anniversary of the minting of the American penny that proudly displays Abraham Lincoln.

Did you know that the Lincoln penny is more than just currency?

It has taken on another unusual purpose. It can often be found on top of a fallen civil war soldier's headstone.

Why do people place a penny on a soldier’s monument?

The purpose is symbolic. The first Lincoln penny was issued in 1909. Union soldiers and their families started placing them on headstones to honor their connection to Abraham Lincoln.

You may even find a penny on monuments of others that provided support to the war effort such as war nurses. Even Harriet Tubman's stone has been known to accumulate them.

This month’s issue of the Bugle Call, the official newsletter of the Grand Army of the Republic, offers a wonderful explanation on the significance of this ritual.

It is believed that the penny brings peace to the soldier as he serves under Lincoln in death as he did in life. In turn, Lincoln would be looking up at the stars as his spirit continues to serve a country that he lived and died for.

Next time you pass a monument with a penny placed on top it, may you be reminded of the person’s sacrifice. May it also bring awareness to all of the progress that we have made as a unified country .

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Lost Radeau

The Oldest Intact Warship in North America is found at the Depths of Lake George in New York State

Recently PBS broad casted a wonderful documentary made about the Land Tortoise radeau warship, which was part of the "The Sunken Fleet of 1758" during the French and Indian War.

To read more about the documentary:

Archaeological study of the 1758 Land Tortoise "Radeau" warship

Sunday, May 31, 2009

John Cool Post #257

Today my family visited Fort Hill Cemetery to see the burial site of Pvt. Andrew J Bulkley. Thanks to the wonderful maps provided by the cemetery we had no difficulty in finding his burial site. However, he did not have a flag to mark his status as a veteran.

I extend a thank you to the Commander at the John Cool American Legion Post #257 of Port Byron, for donating a flag holder and flag for Pvt Bulkley's grave at Fort Hill. As a Korean War veteran, my father was proud do the honor of placing the flag on his grave. This was also the first time he had visited Fort Hill so we enjoyed a tour on our way home.

We had a pleasant visit with the folks at John Cool Post 257. They are very proud to be the sponsors of the Port Byron Marching Band. I was so pleased to learn that they are behind our Marching Panthers!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Honoring Our Soldiers

Memorial Day certainly is a day of reflection. Port Byron has always been a town to serve our country proudly, both past and present. The many freedoms we enjoy today have been protected by their effort, often at the sacrifice of their own safety.

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought I would compile some information on Port Byron's Lockwood Post Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Many of the surnames listed still remain active in our community.

The old boys in blue are but a small portion of the brave soldiers from Port Byron.

Partial member list Lockwood Post #175 G.A.R.

The last 3 surviving members of Port Byron's Lockwood Post #175 were Nathan Elliott Jr., August Sweet and Sylvester McChesney:

Read the biographies of the last 3 members

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cyrenus F Horton-Civil War Musician

I am truly amazed at the unusual connections that can be found from searching the residents of Port Byron. On the list of conscripted men who enlisted into the Civil War from Mentz, there is a man named Cyrenus F Horton. Interestingly he would not serve from the State of New York. He served the Union from the State of Indiana.

My first impression was that he was from the South and later moved to Port Byron. That assumption would prove false. Cyrenus was already a resident of Port Byron and his autobiography found after his death inside his shoe shop on Church Street tells his story. It was written to the Lockwood Post of Port Byron.

The autobiography indicates that he left Port Byron in July of 1859 for Petersburg, Pike County, Indiana. His travels would then take him to Memphis, TN but unable to get work there, he ended up at LaGrang, just West of Memphis. There he worked on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad until 1860. He would return to Petersburg where he would join a cornet band. In 1861 the 12 member band would be sworn into service and be assigned to the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Additional members from the Indianapolis area would be added, making them an official full regimental band.

The autobiography is a little hard to read but I will include it here anyways, as many will enjoy reading his experience as a Civil War Musician.

Cyrenus Horton and his wife are buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Last Men of the Revolution

Did you know that Port Byron has a connection to one of the last six surviving soldiers of the Revolutionary War?

Photo of Alexander Millener

The fifth oldest survivor was Alexander Millener, a drummer boy in the Revolution and some of his children moved to Port Byron where they were boat builders.

Alexander Millener was born in 1761 at Quebec, Canada. His mother had married a second time to Florence Maroney, a Sergeant in the Life Guard of General Philip Schyuler. It was claimed that Alexander was to young to serve in the troops, so his stepfather enlisted him under the name Maroney as a drummer boy. There was also a claim that Alexander was of a young age when discharged because his discharge was issued to his stepfather Florence Maroney.

The only muster rolls I could find was for Alexander’s service with the 1st NY Continental Line. However, his pension says that he served about 3 ½ years in Capt. Grahm’s, Col. Peter Gavensvort’s NY Regiment. He then transferred into the 1st NY Continental Line in Capt. Cornelius Johnson, Col. Goose Van Schaick’s Regiment. When looking closely at these muster rolls, it is clear that Alexander served several Captains within Van Schaick’s Regiment. During the period of August to December 1780 he served in both Capt. Nicholas Van Renssalaer and Capt. Benjamin Hick’s Companies and was discharged in 1781. However, he had witness testimony that he served as late as 1783.

Alexander is on record describing his time at Valley Forge, having met General George Washington as well as “Lady Washington”. Valley Forge served as Washington’s Headquarters during his winter encampment from Dec 1777 to June 1778. The website valleyforgemusterroll.org has an Alexander Milliner stationed there for the entire winter encampment period, serving from the State of PA. However, the 1st NY Cont Line served in the Second Division, 1st PA Brigade at Valley Forge, having arrived in June 1778. This Alexander Milliner was a drummer, so this is likely the service record of the same soldier.

I can add from my own ancestor that many soldiers of Col. Goose Van Schaick’s Regiment served at Valley Forge. Joseph Rooker was in Capt. John Copp’s company and his muster roll shows he was in the Hospital at Valley Forge, having recently been promoted to Fife. It would be a romantic notion to think that perhaps these two soldiers met while stationed at Valley Forge, but we may never know, but chances are good that the musicians knew one another.

One interesting thing to note is that Alexander’s step father also collected Alexander’s wages during the time he served with Van Schaick, which by 1780, he would have been 19 years of age. Why his stepfather was collecting his military pay is not known but it is unlikely because of Alexander’s age as other soldiers of that age received their wages directly. It is obvious that Alexander had a long period of service as a drummer in the Revolutionary War.

In 1855 Alexander applied for bounty land while a resident of Homer in Cortland County, NY. At that time he was listed as being 94 years of age, giving him a consistent birth year of 1761. He was awarded 160 acres in Cayuga County. His son James Millener provided testimony. Another unexpected name in the file was Porter Wethey of Port Byron.

You can read more about Alexander’s history from the following articles:

Last Surviving Soldiers of the Revolutionary War

Alexander's Obituary

Alexander is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

Story to be continued....