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.

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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Passing of a Legend

Cayuga County lost one of its greatest historians on July 8, 2010.  Hallie Sweeting, a long time historian at Sterling, NY passed away at her home at age 81.  She often served as a mother figure for many historians in our County, with her gentle words of encouragement. 

Hallie was an avid researcher and was as much at home on her farm with her many animals as she was searching local history.  She loved a good mystery and touched the lives of so many.  With a quip sense of humor, a visit with Hallie always involved laughter. 

For those that have not met Hallie, I found a wonderful biography of her on the Morgan Horse Association.

Biography of Hallie Sweeting

Hallie was a member of many heritage groups, including the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as the Daughters of 1812, the latter being her favorite.  She enjoyed researching civil war soldiers as well as those that belonged to the Hudson Post GAR in Fair Haven, NY.  She recently contacted me when she discovered my ancestor George Kilmer was once a member at this post.  He had transferred to the Lockwood Post GAR at Port Byron. 

It was this constant exchange of history that drew people to Hallie.  I would not be a historian today if it wasn't for her.  I first met Hallie when searching for a branch of my own family that were early residents of Sterling.  That contact would lead to a 20 year friendship with a historian that loved the hunt as much as I did.

One thing I learned from her was that history of one municipality often affects the history of another with the interaction of people and their descendants. Hallie authored many books on local history.

Her legacy will include the gift of history that she left behind for all of us to enjoy.  The depth and scope of her historical work is nothing less than inspiring.  With my deepest sympathies to her family, Hallie Sweeting will be truly missed.

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