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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Civil War Concert

Interested in Civil War era music? 

Madison County is hosting two unique programs: 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Local Military of the 1820's

To follow up my article about how the village of Port Byron received its name, I decided to see if I could yield any dates from the military appointments.  We had a local military unit when the Erie Canal opened in 1825.  For the grand opening, requested to be present for the canal celebrations was a John S. Willis.  The 1825 newspaper called our unit the "Byron Grey's".

Military Historian Anthony Gero adds "Rifle companies were suppose to be in grey then in NYSM so, at this point, "assume" this Port Byron company may have been such."

My interest in this development is because this association to John S. Willis may suggest our current namesake of Port Byron may predate the official opening of the Erie Canal.

Since our militia was known as the "Byron Greys" and Brutus had a unit of light infantry known as the "Brutus Blues" with a commander by the last name of Kennedy, I found a newspaper article indicating that the Brutus Blues formed in 1824.  It is not known if we can determine what year the Byron Greys formed, but their name is suggestive of the use of Port Byron, which the earliest evidence was a newspaper from 1825.  However, given John S Willis's appointment in 1822 from his military appointment, this may suggest our name changed during the construction period of the Erie Canal and not at the time of the grand opening.


(Pertaining to 1822 names I quickly recognize 
from Port Byron or Mentz are highlighted in blue)
Blue=Port Byron/Mentz


One Hundred and Fifty-eighth regiment of infantry:
Abraham Gridley, major, vice Price, resigned; John H. Bennet, adjutant, vice Young, moved. Captains — John C. Lewis, vice Crane, resigned; William Haines, vice Montgomery, resigned; Henry H. Cooley, vice Smith, resigned; Almeron H. Cole, vice Gridley, promoted. Lieutenants — Henry Ramsey, vice Hanes, promoted; Alanson Smith, vice Robertson, deceased; William E. Tibbils; John B. Tallman, vice Cooley, promoted; John Wait, vice Lewis, promoted; John Oliphant, junior, vice Cole, promoted. Ensigns — Charles M. Nicolls, vice Ramsey, promoted; Henry M. Griffin, vice Tallman, promoted; James Dole, vice Smith, promoted; Arman Rhoades; John S. Willis, vice Wait, promoted; Clark R. Hotchkiss, vice Oliphant, promoted; William Mandeville, vice Arnold, resigned.

Twenty-first regiment of infantry:
Simon Culver, colonel, vice Chadwick, resigned; Ezekiel Parker, lieutenant colonel, vice Culver, promoted; Herman Bissell, major, vice Parker, promoted; Joseph Bishop, adjutant; Josiah Chatfield, quartermaster. Captains — Elias Tillotson, vice Barger, resigned; Robert Sharpsteen, vice Bissell, promoted; Peter Lawson, vice Haywood, moved. Lieutenants — Philo Baldwin, vice Lawson, promoted; Selden Chadwick, vice Tillotson, promoted; Hiram Rathbun, vice Sharpsteen, promoted. Ensigns — John C. Bull, vice Robinson, promoted; William Pancus, vice Baldwin, promoted; Daniel D. Owen; Allen Palmer; Charles S. Olmsted; Humphrey Hunt, vice Bush, moved.

One Hundred and Sixty-seventh regiment of infantry:
Ebenezer Curtis, quartermaster. Captains — Robert Gait, vice Emerson; John Dolson. Lieutenants — Gardner Jeffries, Isaac Van Doren. Ensigns — Robert Gridley, Amos Barnes, Peter Young, David Trumbull.

One Hundred and Ninth regiment of infantry :
Ezra Hough, colonel, vice (Agreen) Ingraham, moved, and (William) Greenfield, unfit; Asa Little, lieutenant colonel, vice Hough, promoted, etc.; Samuel Odell, major, vice Hough, promoted; Isaac Wood, quartermaster, vice Pierce, resigned; Silas N. Hall, surgeon, vice Ford, moved; David E. Lord, surgeon's mate, vice Hall, promoted. Captains — Elijah Austin, vice Fuller, resigned; Isaac W. Skinner, vice Little, promoted; John M. Brinkerhoff, vice Ten Eyck, moved; Abraham J. Slover, vice Stivers, moved; Ezekiel Smith, vice Branch, moved. Lieutenants — Eleazer Woodard, vice Austin, promoted; John Locke, vice Skinner, promoted; Hezekiah Johnson, vice Brinkerhofif, promoted; James D. Hewitt, vice West, promoted; Alvin Kellogg, vice Smith, promoted. Ensigns — ^Jotham Bassett. vice Woodard, promoted; James Powers, vice Locke, promoted; William Slover, vice Johnson, promoted; Orrin Standish, vice Slover, promoted; Ephraim Hardy, vice Kellogg, promoted; Thomas Cone, vice Kennedy, promoted.

Auburn State Prison Guard:
Joseph S. Colt, captain; James Fitch, lieutenant; James Francis, ensign.

Friday, January 13, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Poem

Courtesy of LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
secure and surrounded by love, I would sleep,
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
so I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
but I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked with out fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
you should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December."
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas Gram always remembers."

"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
and now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
but my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
the red, white, and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
or lay down my life for my sister or brother,
who stand at the front against any and all,
to ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said,
"Harbor no fright, your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least?
Give you money," I asked, "Or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
for being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
to stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
that we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Thank you to all of our soldiers, near and far that continue to keep America strong.  Many families of Port Byron have served our country and have done so for many generations.  To our service men and woman we appreciate your dedication.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Girl I Left Behind Me

Next summer we will be honoring Capt. John Lockwood who was one of our local civil war soldiers who died at the age of 20 as a POW.  In doing research on our soldier, I found a poem written by another soldier who enlisted at the age of 14 from Wolcott, NY.  He enlisted as a private and climbed the ranks to Full Sergeant.  His record can be found under the name of Adam Michael which reports his age at enlistment as 18.  Perhaps he said he was a bit older so that they would take him to serve, like so many other young men did at that time.

Adam Michel wrote a poem before he left home to serve in Company C of the NY 75th Infantry.  He sent the poem to his sister Katie.  He would also become a POW being sent to Libby Prison in Richmond before being transferred to Salisbury Prison in North Carolina where he died of starvation, never returning to see the girl he so candidly wrote about in his poem.  According to the 1942 Cato Citizen, his burial site is not known.  Adam Michel died in December 1864 just two months after our soldier. 

The poem sends a universal message for those that serve their Country to engage in the defense of our freedoms, yet not knowing what fate has in store for them.  All soldiers leave someone behind.

In the memory of those that have never returned, I share the words written nearly 150 years ago from such a courageous young man:
'Tis many days since I left home
    To join our glorious army,
I thought but of my Country's call
    And not of what might harm me:
I vowed to join both hearth and hand,
    Where duty called you'll find me,
I left my home and shed a tear
    For the girl I left behind me.

To meet the foe was my desire
    Upon the field of battle,
The Union States my battle cry,
    While cannons thunders rattle.
But while I'm fighting for my flag
    And dust and smoke do blind me,
I'll not forget to give one thought
    To the girl I left behind me.

Oh, when rebellion is crushed out
    And traitors slain or taken,
The Stars and Stripes will shine more bright
    And joy each heart awaken.
The horrors of grim war will flee
    Like troubled dreams remind me.
How sweet to know I'll meet once more
    The girl I left behind me.

Surrounded now by friends and kin,
    Who smile, weep and caress me,
I watched the tears of joy that flow
    As each dear one doth bless me.
But there is one who moves my soul,
    My tears now almost blind me;
God grant I'll be obliged no more
    To leave my girl behind me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Civil War Events a Success

Thank you to our civil war groups that came to Heritage Days 2010.  Many drove over 2 hours to bring their displays and equipment to be with us.  All that attended the events gave positive feedback and the Sons of Union Veterans and Woman Relief Corp tent had a steady stream of interested visitors all day long.  They report having had a wonderful time and were greated well by everyone.   

While it was not planned, we may have set a record at Port Byron as we had all 5 allied orders of the Grand Army of the Republic in attendance. 

Heritage Days at Port Byron, NY July 31, 2010

Representing the five allied orders of the GAR.

Standing: Jerry Orton-SUV; Dawn Roe-Port Bryon Historian and member of DUV and LGAR, Doug Duell-SUV; Althea Cratsely-PDP, ASUVCW and Lyman Baker-SUV, Dept. Patriotic Inst.
Sitting: Gloria Fisher-Dept. President, ASUV and Lorraine Orton-PDP-WRC; Photo courtesy of Jerry Orton.

Jerry also captured some photos in the cemetery for the Department Website where they feature graves of GAR Namesakes and Officers.  Visit their site at:

Gallery of Civil War Graves

We started the morning with a civil war cemetery tour at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.  The preparation for this event was overly meaningful to me.  It is events like this that also enable me to become more connected with the various families that paved the patch in Port Byron's history.

Living history performer Eileen Patch gave a captivating performance as she went back in time portraying the heartache of war as felt by a soldiers mother.  The story also mentioned the fate of some neighbor boys that also enlisted.  The story unfolded as she shared thoughts of the day on period inventions such as steam power and changes in products that improved daily life of the period.  I never knew so many things could find their way to a sewing basket!

It was unfortunate that the event brochure neglected to include where she was performing, so people had some difficulty getting to the show, but for those that came it was an event to remember.  

Eileen Patch performing Voice of the Civil War
based on her book This from George.

Soldiers developed a deep bond of brotherhood and today the allied orders keep their memories alive.  Thank you all for coming and sharing the day with our community.

The afternoon finished with a performance by the Dana L West Drama Club.

Combine all this history with live music, good food and the other activities, it was an enjoyable afternoon for everyone.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Today as you celebrate the 4th of July, a day marking separation of our Country from England, please thank a veteran who continues to fight for the many freedoms that we enjoy.

History of the 4th of July

Saturday, June 12, 2010

GAR Display at Heritage Days July 31st

Lorraine Orton and members of the Woman's Relief Corps, the official auxiliary of the G.A.R., will be joining us on July 31st to display G.A.R. artifacts.

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was an early veterans group formed by soldiers of the civil war.  The G.A.R. became a strong political force and with their endless efforts, the Grand Army Pension Bill became law in the year 1900 securing pensions for the soldiers of the civil war.

To read more about the G.A.R. and Port Byron's Lockwood Post #175 G.A.R., read my article:

Lockwood Post #175

To learn more about the Woman's Relief Corps:


Monday, May 31, 2010

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.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York's Coat of Arms

Next week my article about the New York Coat of Arms will be published in the Auburn Citizen. The laws and regulations behind our State Arms and Seal could not be covered in full due to space restrictions, so I thought readers may enjoy some of the resource links about the Arms that is used in our State flag.

I was inspired to write the article after finding reference that the Coat of Arms was used in Gansevoort's 3rd NY regimental flag that was carried at Yorktown during the revolutionary war.

The beauty of our flag has always interested me, but my knowledge of its history was limited. There are many claims of the flag that belonged to Col. Peter Gansevoort’s 3rd New York Regiment. Some site that it was the inspiration of our State Coat of Arms.
Photo from Albany-A Cradle of America.by Francis P. Kimball, Printed by the Argus Company 1936.

It has also been claimed that this flag was in the collection at the Albany Institute of History and Art.  After contacting them, they granted use of a photo of their flag for my Citizen article and it has slight variations of the flag pictured above, indicating there was a flag previous to their flag which dates between 1790-1797.

Due to limited article size, I was unable to include the flags from the civil war that also used variations of the State Coat of Arms:

4th NY Heavy Artillery

3rd NY Provisional Cavalry

15th NY National Guard

The correct arms of the state of New York, as established by Law since March 16, 1778 by Henry Augustus Homes, See Page 22, where it is recorded that Col. Peter Gansevoort issued a proclamation in 1864 that the 3rd NY was flown at Yorktown.  Gansevoort himself was not there due to consolidation of regiments, he was returned to command the Albany Militia as a Brigadier General.

The 3rd NY was best known for its defense at Fort Stanwix.  Soldier Ashbel Treat who was pensioned from Mentz and buried at Pine Hill in Throop testified he marched to Fort Stanwix but the dates on his muster cards indicate he arrived after the famous battle. 

The Revolutionary War flag did not "create" the Arms, it simply used a variation.  The fact that it was used on the regiment flag of the 3rd NY does provide me with a greater appreciation of what our State flag stands for.  Our current State flag is inspired by this historical flag of the American Revolution, from the Arms that were adopted in 1778.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1812 Equipment Claims

The following soldiers requested reimbursement for supplies for their service during the War of 1812. They reported their residence as Mentz and Port Byron at the time of their claim:

William Allen
Charles Clapp
John De Groff by Administrator
Marvel Eldridge
William Forshee
Jacob Guilfers
Joel Halsted
Martin Harker by widow
Silas Hopping
Thomas Kerns
Daniel K King
Richard King
Meigs Kirtland
Job May
Simeon Mott
Philip A Munroe
Aaron Murphy by Administrator
Thomas Rems
John W Sawyer
Samuel Seaman
Jacob Stahlnecker
Richard Sutton
John A Taylor
Casper D Tryon
Elias Wethy
Robert Whaling
William S Willis
Tilly Gilbert

Port Byron:
John Hughson
Horace Perkins
Joseph Shotwell
Isaac Snow by Administrator
Nathan Upham

Source: Ancestry.com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Family History Seminar April 24th

Military Records: Unlocking Your Family History

Port Byron and Mentz Historian Dawn Roe will be hosting a training seminar at the Port Byron Library on Saturday April 24th at 11:00 AM. The class will highlight how to obtain the various records from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of pension applications, equipment claims and land bounty applications. These files often contain hidden clues to help you unlock mysteries in your family lineage. Examples of prior mysteries that were solved with the use of military records will be presented.

Computers are available after the class. Library card is required. Don’t have one? Fill out a free application.

Date: April 24, 2010
Time: 11:00 AM
Class Length: 1 Hour (approx)
Location: Port Byron Library
Address: 12 Mentz Drive, Port Byron, NY 13140
Contact: Dawn Roe
Email: beatatune@tds.net

Cost: FREE