Palmyra New York
Compiled by the Woman's Society
Western Presbyterian Church
In the winter of 1788-9 John Swift and Colonel John Jenkins purchased Tract 12, Range 2, now Palmyra, and commenced the survey of it into farm lots in March. Thus wrote Orsamus Turner in his "History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase."
Swift and Jenkins, sent out from the Wyoming Valley Settlement after the Pennamite War, were advance agents for those dissatisfied pioneers. Trouble between the Indians and Jenkins and his associates made an end to this Pennsylvania movement.
John Swift bought out Jenkins and went to New England to encourage migration to his tract. During the summer of 1789 Swift returned to this then west and built a log house with a store house at the junction of the present Main and Canal Streets.
Before the close of the same year Webb Harwood, the second permanent settler, brought in his family from Adams, Massachusetts. Many families-separate or in company-closely followed. William Jackway, John Hurlburt, Jonathan Millett, Nathan Parshall, Barney Horton and Mrs. Tiffany came from Wyoming.
Captain James Galloway came from Monroe, Orange County, to the farm where his son still lives-1907.
Cummington, Massachusetts, sent Lemuel Spear - the third settler-and a few months later, Noah Porter, David Warner and David White.
Gideon and Edward Durfee of Tiverton, Rhode Island, came on foot from Albany. Fast on them followed-mostly in bateaux-twelve others of the Durfee family. The advent of Gideon Durfee was most opportune. He payed in coin for his 1,600 acres, thus enabling Swift to meet his indebtedness to the Phelps and Gorham company, and to secure a warranty deed of the town.
Beside the Durfees, Rhode Island sent to Tolland - as Palmyra was called - Isaac Springer, William, James and Thomas Rogers, Festus and Isaac Gold-smith, Humphrey Sherman, Zebulon Williams, Weaver Osborne, David Wilcox, and Nathan Harris, father of Martin Harris.
In 1792 Elias Reeves, Abraham Foster, William Hopkins, Luther Sanford and Joel Foster, representing the Long Island company, took a deed from Swift for 5,500 acres along the Ganargua creek. On Monday, April 4, 1792, the colonists set sail on Heady creek, near Southampton, Long Island, for their new home five hundred miles to the north and westward. It was a tedious trip with long, hard carries but was accomplished in twenty-eight days.
Many a thrilling tale of conflict with the Indians or abounding wild animals is told. The former were so feared that a block house was begun on the brow of Wintergreen hill. It was not finished for the victories of Mad Anthony Wayne set the pioneers at rest.
Many a pretty romance was lived here in the woods. Clarissa Wilcox, daughter of David and Ruth Durfee Wilcox, went to the door to give a thirsty hunter a drink. Ambrose Hall returned to his home in Lanesboro, Massachusetts, but soon came back to marry his Rebekah and to settle. Two of their daughters married Leonard and Lawrence Jerome, Palmyra boys, who became Wall Street financiers.
For a short time the settlements in Tract 12, Range 2, were called after John Swift; then Tolland until January 4, 1796, when a meeting was held to choose a permanent name. Daniel Sawyer, brother-in-law to Swift, was engaged to Miss Dosha Boughton, the first school mistress. He had been reading ancient history and had concluded if Zenobia had a Palmyra his queen should dwell there, too. Therefore he proposed the name, which was adopted.
Until 1823, when the present Wayne County was formed, Palmyra was included in Ontario County.
Palmyra held her first town meeting and elected her first officers at the house of Gideon Durfee, in April, 1796.
In 1812 Macedon was set off. Palmyra village was incorporated March 29,1827, while the first village election was held at the house of Lovell Hurd, February 4, 1828, when the following officers were elected:
Trustees, Joseph Colt, president, Joel Thayer, Thomas Rogers, Nathaniel H. Beckwith and James White; clerk, Thomas P. Baldwin; treasurer, William Parke; assessors, George N. Williams, Alvah Hendee and George Beckwith; fire wardens, Stephen Ackley, Pliny Sexton and Benjamin Throop.
On February 19 it was voted to buy an engine and ladders, and to provide water to be used in case of fire. That May twenty men organized a fire company, which has grown into the well equipped Volunteer Firemen of Palmyra with some eighty members, and with three organizations-the Steamer and Hose Company, the Sexton Hydrant Hose Company, and the Protective Hook and Ladder Company.
Palmyra post office was established in 1806 with Dr. Azel Ensworth the first postmaster. The Doctor kept the first public house in the corporation. It stood on the site of the present Methodist church and was opened in 1792. In 1796 Louis Philippe of France stopped on his return from Niagara at the log tavern opened by Gideon Durfee where the George Townsend house now stands. The present Powers Hotel, built where a succession of hostelries have stood, was erected about 1835 by a company of public spirited men, who sold it to the genial host-the late William P. Nottingham. As the Palmyra House he kept it nearly thirty years.
Robert Town, the earliest settled physician, was in Palmyra but a short time. As early as 1800, possibly before, he was succeeded by Dr. Gain Robinson from Cummington, Massachusetts. Once when Dr. Robinson desired counsel he sent to his old home for Dr. Bryant, father of the poet, who hurried here on horseback. Dr. Robinson lived at the head of Main street where now resides Mr. Pliny S. Aldrich. In his office studied Alexander McIntyre an allopath, and Durfee Chase, a homeopath-afterwards local practitioners. To-day doctors of both schools minister to the sick.
Palmyra's first lawyer was John Comstock. Other early barristers were Judge Tiffany, Judge Hiram K. Jerome and Justice Theron R. Strong. Well equipped men have been and are to-day their successors.
Zebulon WiUiams was the first storekeeper-in a log house near the present Central station. The first emporium in the corporation was kept by Major Joseph Colt on the west corner of Main and Market streets
Patrick O'Rouke, Samuel Jennings, Alvah Hen-dee, James and Orren White, who erected the first two story brick building,-all these were forerunners of Joel Foster, George, Nathaniel and Baruch Beck-with, J. C. Lovett, David Sanford, the Thayers, Lasher and Candee, William Jarvis, James Jenner, Birdsall and Sanford, Edwin Anderson, Sr., Bowman and Walker, W. H. Farnham, M. Story, and many another successful business man.
William Wilson, Henry Jessup, George Palmer, and Wells Anderson - in the order named - were early tanners.
Salmom Hathaway kept a saddlery on the site of the present Village Hall, while Calvin Perrine opened the first carding mill and clothiery. Edward Durfee and Jonah Hall operated the pioneer grist mill and saw mill.
In 1823 Pliny Sexton, later associated with Martin Butterfield, brought to his-the first-hardware store the first cooking stove. He was the pioneer silver-smith, and introduced sewing machines in the community.
To-day Palmyra boasts many good shops - dry goods, hardware, jewelry, drug, grocery, and shoe stores.
Different factories have been located here. At present the Globe Manufacturing CO. - 1864 - now the Peerless, and J. M. Jones & CO.-1871-now Chandler and Price, make printing presses or their parts. In the early eighties the Garlock Packing Company was formed by Olin J. Garlock, inventor of a packing for steam engines. The Crandall Packing Co.; the Dealers Packing Co.; the Triumph Packing Co.; Williamson Bros., cigar manufacturers; the Drake Box Factory; the Cator Dump Wagon Co.; the Sessions Cement Plant, - the list makes a goodly showing.
In January, 1868, the Village Hall was completed. Since 1857 gas has been supplied to the village, while electricity was first furnished in 1894. The water system was installed in 1890.
June 26, 1856, seventeen men organized themselves as the Palmyra Union Agricultural Society, and held a three days fair that October. From then until the present, successful annual fairs have been held on the extensive, well kept Fair Grounds on Jackson Street.
The local banking business began with the Wayne County Bank of Palmyra, organized in 1830, with its president Angus Strong-succeeded by Thomas Rogers, George Beckwith and Abram Spear-and its cashier, Joseph S. Fenton. This bank built and occupied until its failure in 1840 the offices and residence where now is the First National Bank.
The Palmyra Savings Bank, incorporated in April, 1842, enjoyed a brief existence.
Lyman Lyon and S. B. Gavitt carried on a private banking business from December, 1865, until June, 1867, when Lyon bought Gavitt's interest to continue alone until his death, in August, 1887.
In 1866 H. P. Knowles & Co. opened a private banking business which still continues.
The Palmyra Bank, established by Pliny Sexton in 1844 did business in the east section of the present Story store. Later, George W. Cuyler opened the Cuyler Bank in the old offices of the Wayne County Bank. In April, 1853, these houses were associated and, in Mr. Cuyler's offices, continued as Cuyler's Bank of Palmyra with George W. Cuyler, president; Pliny Sexton, vice president, and Stephen P. Seymour, cashier. In 1864 this bank became the First National Bank with the following directors: George W. Cuyler, president; Pliny Sexton, vice president; Pliny T. Sexton, cashier; William H. Cuyler, Charles McLouth and David S. Aldrich.
"Easy conveyance for men and goods from place to place" is essential to the prosperity of any community. The early paths through the forests have become highways-the first, Canandaigua road in 1793. John Swift, with others, cleared Ganargua creek to its junction with the Canandaigua outlet, and in 1799 it was declared navigable water. This stream was the principal route until the opening of the Erie canal in 182i. The tumbled down collector's office on Canal Street gives little idea of the business done by "Clinton's big ditch." From the day the Governor's boat-greeted at every settlement-officially opened the canal until the railroad usurped most of its traffic, the Erie canal was the great instrument in opening this new country. It carried freight and it carried people. When the packet approached a station a trumpet blared to set the town agog, the horses were put in a fast trot and with gusto drew the boat to the landing.
The New York Central railroad came through in 1853, and the West Shore in 1884. Morris Huxley - known to all as Dad Huxley-drove the omnibus to the first train to stop here. For thirty-four years Dad's hearty greeting and 'bus welcomed all arrivals. The omnibus service to the stations has been discontinued since the advent in 1906 of the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern electric road, for this trolley does nearly all the local passenger business.
Henry Wells, afterwards founder of Wells College, starting from Palmyra, carried parcels short distances in a hand bag. His business grew until it needed a horse and wagon. In 1845 was formed the firm of Wells & Co., one of the earliest express companies in the country. This, merged with others, became the American Express Co. Henry Wells married his first wife-Sally Daggett-in the little weather beaten house that stands opposite Stafford street on the north side of Main street.
On November 26, 1817, Timothy C. Strong sent out the Palmyra Register-Democratic - the first newspaper in what is now Wayne County. In 1823, after various changes of title, it was bought and continued as the Wayne County Sentinel by Pomeroy Tucker and Egbert P. Grandin. Up to its end in 1860 this sheet often changed editors, names and p~itics. It was on the press of the Wayne County Sentinel-in 1830-that the first edition of the Mormon Bible was printed John H. Gilbert did the type setting and press work. He kept a copy of the book in the original sheets, which is now owned by P. T. Sexton. The press used was recently sold to the Mormons by F. W. Clemons. Other newspapers enjoyed each its brief existence. Frederick Morley issued the Palmyra Courier in 1838 and continued its publication until 1851. In 1854 it was known as the Palmyra Democrat; but in August of that year the present editor, E. S. Averill, bought it and restored the original name. He brought it to the support of the Republican party, and added a novel feature-a page devoted to local items.
In 1871 Anson B. Clemons and Frederick W. Clemons, his son, established the Wayne County Journal-the first newspaper or printing house in the county to use steam power. The Journal is now edited by Frederick Foster for the Palmyra Printing Company.
A wide felt movement emanating from Palmyra is the Church of Latter Day Saints. In 1816 Joseph Smith, Sr., moved here from Vermont with his wife and nine children. For two years he kept a cake and beer shop on lower Main street. Then he moved his family to a wild tract south of the village which, within this present year, the Mormons have bought as the well kept farm of William Avery Chapman. The Smiths were interested in things occult. With a "magic stone" they claimed to locate stolen articles and buried treasure, and to forecast the future. In the summer of 1827 Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed that he beheld a vision. The second was announced that fall while others followed hard apace until Smith said he was directed to find the golden plates. He went out at night and alone to return bearing a mysterious package which he said contained the treasure with the stones by which he could translate. These were found on Mormon Hill-a Mecca for his disciples to this present day. Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery the amanuensis, and Martin Harris, who furnished the money for printing, were conspicuous in the incipient stages of the powerful hierarchy of Utah. In 1830 the Mormon Bible appeared. That June saw the organization of the Church of Latter Day Saints with, beside the Smith family, some thirty members drawn from this and neighboring communities. Sidney Rigdon, the first regular Mormon preacher, held a meeting in the rooms of the Palmyra Young Men's Association on the east corner of Main and Market streets. He was confronted by a small, unsympathetic audience. Late in the summer of 1830 Joseph Smith, Jr., and his followers left Palmyra for Kirtland, Ohio.
The New England settlers of Palmyra could not be long without their school house. In 1793 two were built of logs-the one on a site in the village given by John Swift; the other, the Hopkins school in East Pal-myra. Much later the partisan spirit was rife and crept ~nto educational matters to such an extent that two frame school houses were built-the Federalist, taught by Blackman, and the Democratic, under Ira Selby. Before the site of the present Roman Catholic Church was graded down, on the crest of the hill stood the Palmyra Academy, a two story brick building that boasted the first bell in town.
In 1835 the village was divided into three districts each with its stone school house. One stood on the west corner of Main and Carroll streets; another on the north side of Jackson, between Cuyler and Fayette streets and the third on the east side of Throop street. The last teachers were: No.1, John R. Vosburgh; No. 2, Henry J. Foster; No.3, Charles H. Graham.
These three districts were united in 1846 as Union School No.1 of Palmyra. March 19, 1847, an act authorized the village to levy taxes for a lot and building. April 11 the school was incorporated. The present site was bought of the Samuel Beckwith estate for $2,500, and the "old school house," a square, three story brick edifice. was built. The first board of trustees was A. P. Crandall, Theron R. Strong and Pliny Sexton; R. G. Pardee was clerk. The first faculty was: Justus W. French, principal; William M. Crosby, A. M., and Sarah D. Hance, seniors; Charles D. Foster, juniors; Clarissa Northrup, juveniles; Edward M. French, Melinda C. Jones and A. Maria West, assistants; E. Lusk, instrumental music; C. D. Foster and J. C. French, vocal music; DeWitt McIntyre, lecturer on physiology. The Palmyra Union School in 1857 became the Palmyra Classical Union School with a board of nine trustees officered by Stephen Hyde, president; Joseph W. Corning, secretary, and Joseph C. Lovett, treasurer. The first building was used until 1889 when the present structure was built on the old lot. In 1905 a large study hall and other rooms were added.
The complement of the free school is the free library. On the first day of November, 1899, the King's Daughters opened a public reading room. In September, 1901, a Library Association was formed with a five year charter from the state. The first gift of books was sixty volumes from the Patrons of Husbandry. In July 1906, the Association received a perpetual charter, and now, 1907, the library numbers twenty-five hundred volumes.
Palmyra pioneers had their school house in 1793, their first church building-in the eastern part of the town-in 1807.
The first meeting house in the village-erected in 1811 on land given by General Swift for a Union church - was built almost entirely by the Presbyterians, who occupied it until 1832. This same building was used as a town hall. It was of wood, painted white with green blinds, and was burned in 1838. Around it, in true New England way, was the church yard-now the "old cemetery." Here lie John Swift and Zebulon Williams with many another early comer. This was not the first burying ground in the town, for that was on the farm of Gideon Durfee, east of the village, recently purchased by Mr. Mitchell of Mrs. Hiram Clark. Here rests Gideon Durfee. In 1844 the present cemetery was opened, while two years later a receiving vault was built. In 1886 the Rogers Memorial Chapel was erected with a fund left by Carlton H. Rogers.
The Roman Catholic cemetery was consecrated during 1868.
To-day Palmyra's churches number six: the Reformed Dutch on Cuyler street; the Roman Catholic on Church street; the Presbyterian, the Methodist, the Baptist, and the Episcopal on the four corners where Main street and Canandaigua with its continuation Church street, intersect.
As has been stated, the purchase of Swift and Jenkins included under the name of Palmyra the present Macedon, Palmyra, and East Palmyra. So the parish of the Presbyterian Church of Palmyra was this entire section. The Rev. Ira Condit organized a Congregational church in David H. Foster's house December 5, 1793. Later this church adopted the Presbyterian form of government and was connected with the Presbytery of Geneva until the formation of the Lyons Presbytery in 1857. The Presbyterian Church of Palmyra was incorporated the twenty-eighth day of September, 1797, the date given in the certificate of incorporation filed in the office of the Clerk of Ontario county. In this same document it is stated that the trustees were Jacob Gannett, David Warner, Jedediah Foster, Jonah Howell, Thomas Goldsmith and Stephen Reeves. From the formation of the church until 1817 the pastors preached alternate Sabbaths in the east and in the west ends of the township. Among the early ministers were Mr. Johnson in 1795; in 1800 Eleazor Fairbanks, followed by Mr. Lane; 1811-16, Hippocrates Rowe, who in 1812 occupied the only house on Canandaigua street; 1816, Stephen M. Wheelock, who went with the western part at the division.
In 1807 the first church building-situated in the eastern part of the town-was used, but it was not completed or dedicated until 1810. As has been said, the west end Presbyterians built a meeting house in 1811.
In accordance with a request of the church, made February 13, 1817, the Presbytery divided the Church of Palmyra into the Presbyterian Church of East Pal-myra, and the Western Presbyterian Church of Pal-myra. The certificate of incorporation of this latter branch, recorded in Canandaigua the thirteenth of May, 1817, reads:
We hereby certify that on the eighteenth day of March, 1817, a number of male inhabitants residing within the limits of the Western Presbyterian Church in the town of Palmyra met pursuant to publick notice, in the Meeting House in the Village of Palmyra, and agreed to be incorporated into a society to be known by the name of the Western Presbyterian Church and Society in the town of Palmyra, and proceeded to elect David White, Joel Foster, Henry Jessup, Charles Bradish, James White, and Isaac Howell to serve as trustees of said society. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 13th day of May, 1817.
Gain Robinson (seal)
The Rev. Francis Pomeroy assisted in the organization of this western branch. The present edifice was built in 1832 and dedicated in 1834.
On the wall of the church, near the pulpit, is a marble tablet sacred to the memory of Horace Eaton, D. D., pastor from 1849 to 1879:
"Fairer seems the ancient city, and the
Dr. Eaton lived in Palmyra until his death on the twenty-first of October, 1883.
At a memorial service the Honorable Henry R. Durfee said in part:
"When the elders of Epheseus went down to Miletus for what proved to be their farewell interview with Paul, 'they all wept sore......sorrowing most of all for the words that he spake, that they should see his face no more.'
"It was their sense of personal loss that filled their eyes with tears as they realized that the loving presence of their friend and teacher would shortly disappear from their sight forever.
"And so it is with us as we gather here to make some expression of our grief at the loss of our friend and teacher. It is our loss that we lament to-day. For him to die is gain. In this assemblage it is not so much the man of mark, of wide influence, of high attainments, fitted worthily to bear the title of 'doctor of divinity,' as our friend endeared to us by long acquaintance and companionship, that we mourn. And I think that the personal qualities and traits which attracted us and gained him our affection are at this time uppermost in our minds. In recalling the personal characteristics of our dear friend and pastor, it has seemed to me that one of the most marked was his constant and abounding cheerfulness. This arose, not from cynical indifference, or stoical fortitude-for none was more sympathetic, compassionate and tender hearted than he-but from the depth and serenity of his faith.
"Another characteristic was his keen perception and love of the sublime and beautiful. His was the true poetic soul, to which 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever.' Whether he listened to the giant harp of the wind swept woods, the 'breezy call of incense-breathing morn,' the songs of the birds, the pealing thunder, or the deep diapason of the sea, his ear was attuned to all their harmonies. He recognized with reverent delight the voice of the Great Creator in every harmony of the wind or wave, and His creative hand in every perfect form or tint of earth or sky. And as in Nature, so also in literature and art, whatever was grand or beautiful found in him an enthusiastic and appreciative admirer.
Nor was this refined, aesthetic taste and perception at all allied to weakness. On the contrary, he had in his character not a little of the granite of his native hills. No war of elements or opinions, and no obstacles natural or conventional, could deter him from vigorously and valiantly following the path in which he believed his duty called him.
To the preaching of the Word, also, he brought a like courage and vigor, and robustness of understanding. He was not afraid to grapple with the great problems of the life that now is, and that which is to come, and with the profound truths of the Scripture; and he brought to their consideration a grasp of mind, and an intentness and clearness of thought which was most truly edifying to thoughtful minds. And yet I think he loved especially to dwell upon the divine tenderness and compassion, and to entreat us by the mercies of God to be reconciled to Him.
'Well may we sorrow that we shall see his face no more. Yet his teachings and his life shall not fail from our memory. These shall rest upon and remain with us like a benediction,- and an inspiration also - leading each of us with sweet persuasion to a nobler, purer, and higher life."
Nineteen sons of the Western Presbyterian Church have studied for the ministry. Among them were John Eaton, son of Dr. Eaton, who died before completing his course; Warner Bradley Riggs, who in October, 1876, went as a home missionary to Texas, where he organized the Brenham Church, and was pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Dallas from 1885 until his death in March, 1905, and Charles Foster Kent, Ph. D., Woolsey Professor of Biblical Literature in Yale University. There have gone out as foreign missionaries, Martha Lovell, Maria West and Sarah West, to Constantinople; and Cora Stone to Japan.
"The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." - PROV. 4 : 18.
"Friends my soul with joy remembers!
PASTORS OF THE WESTERN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
The First Baptist Church of Palmyra was organized at the home of Lemuel Spear, May 29, 1800, with nineteen members. In 1808 a frame meeting house was built on the west side of the Walworth road just north of where it is crossed by the Macedon road. November 9, 1832, a Baptist church was instituted in the village-at the home of Rev. John D. Heart-but after a year was received into the older church. In accord with an agreement made when these societies joined, the pastor preached alternate Sundays in his church and in the Palmyra Academy. A final separation came in February, 1835, when the older society as the First Baptist Church of Macedon retained the property, while the younger moved to the village as the First Baptist Church of Palmyra. The seventy-eight members of this latter branch elected for deacons
R. C. Jackson, William Parke and E. R. Spear; for trustees, R. C. Jackson, William Rogers and Stephen Spear. Services were held in the meeting house on burial hill until it was burned in 1838; then in Williamson Hall until the old stone church was dedicated January 28, 1841. This was torn down in 1870 to give place for the present brick structure which was dedicated March 29, 1871. This church sent Mrs. Jane Mason Haswell to Burmah where she labored as a missionary from 1835 to 1884. It has given four ministers, Thomas Rogers, C. B. Crane, Charles Shear and Albert Clark.
PASTORS OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
It is impossible to learn when Methodism was first preached in Palmyra; but the first class, formed in 1811 and connected with the Ontario circuit, Geneva conference, may be considered the beginning of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Palmyra. These early followers of Wesley met in school house, barn, or grove until 1822, when they legally organized themselves into a society and built a church near the corner of Vienna and Johnson streets, just north of the cemetery. Here they worshipped until 1847 when the house was removed to Cuyler street, remodeled and used until the dedication of the present brick building, October 31, 1867.
Albert A. Allen and Charles D. Purdy represent this church in the ministry.
PASTORS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Doubtless the first local services of the Episcopal Church were held by the missionary-Davenport Phelps. On June 23, 1823, Zion Episcopal Church came into being under the ministry of the Rev. Rufus Murray. Joseph Colt and Benjamin Billings were the first wardens of the parish. Service was held in the Academy until February 1, 1829, when the Right Reverend Bishop Hobart consecrated the first building. This was of wood and stood on the present site. In July 1873, the Right Reverend Bishop Coxe consecrated the present beautiful sandstone structure. The entire spire was given by George W. Cuyler, a memorial for his children. Miss Amy Chapman went out from this church as a missionary to the Freedmen. Rev. James H. Herendeen, rector of St. John's Church, Medina, entered the ministry from Zion Church. Right Reverend William Paret, D. D., LL. D., in 1885 consecrated Bishop of Maryland, lived in Palmyra and studied with the Right Reverend George D. Gillespie, Bishop of Western Michigan, when he was rector of Zion Church.
RECTORS OF ZION EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
PASTORS OF ST. ANN'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
The first mass was said in Palmyra by Father O'Reilly of Rochester. St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1849 by Rev. Edmund O'Connor of -Canandaigua, who had for some time said an occasional mass in Williamson hall. In 1848 or '49 William F. Aldrich sold the old Academy to the Romanists, who used it as a church until 1861 when Bishop Timon blessed the present structure, and the congregation occupied it though unfinished. It was completed, and consecrated by the Right Reverend Bernard McQuaid on October 23, 1870. During 1903 the congregation added a belfry and vestibule, while in October of that year a bell was hung - the gift of Mrs. Mary Darmody. The parish has given two candidates to the ministry - Thomas M. Moore and Francis Goggin, D. D., professor in St. Bernard's Seminary, Rochester.
The Reformed Dutch Church of Palmyra, the outgrowth of a mission, was organized August 15, 1887, with thirty-four members. Service was held in the Presbyterian Church until March, 1890, when the old Methodist Church on Cuyler Street was purchased of P. T. Sexton.
PASTORS OF THE REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH.
Palmyra glories in her war record. Her founders were many of them Revolutionary veterans, while there are recorded the names of forty-three who fought in 1812. In this second war with England, General John Swift, a tried Revolutionary soldier, was on the Niagara frontier. At Queenston Heights he led a charge against Fort George and captured a picket post with some sixty men whom he did not disarm. One of the prisoners asked: "Who is General Swift?" "I am General Swift," he answered. The miscreant fired and mortally wounded the gallant commander. General Swift was buried where he died, July 12, 1814, but was removed by his fellow citizens to Palmyra. The legislature presented his son with a sword as an acknowledgment of the father's patriotic services; and hung a portrait of the General in New York City Hall.
The Civil War found Palmyra ready. Colonel Joseph W. Corning came home from the legislature to raise a company-Company B, 33rd Regiment of Infantry. On May 16, 1861, this company marched to the front with Joseph W. Corning, captain; G. T. White, lieutenant; H. J. Draime, ensign.
In 1862 Captain Seneca B. Smith, Lieutenant S. B. McIntyre and Lieutenant A. P. Seeley took out company A, 111th Infantry - raised almost entirely in Palmyra.
When Company B was mustered out in 1863 Henry J. Draime wished to re-enlist. He set about raising a Veteran Cavalry company which he filled largely in Palmyra and led to the fighting line in November.
All told, four hundred and forty-two men of Palmyra fought for the union. Unfortunately, better fortunately, the list is too long to name each and every gallant soldier. In the Village Hall are two marble tablets inscribed with the names of those soldiers who died during the war.
The soldiers and sailors met January 15, 1881. and organized as the John H. Starin Post, 0. A. R., which became the James A. Garfield Post in September of that year. The first officers were: John G. Webster. C.; Colonel A. P. Seeley, S. V. C.; Murganzy Hopkins, J. V. C.; William I. Reid, O. of D.; William W. Williamson, Q. M.; I. C. G. Crandall, Chap.; John Pitkin, Surg.; William S. Gilbert, O. of G.; Colonel George McGown, Adj.; John Allis, S. M.; James B. Beckwith, Q. M. S. To-day the officers are: Major H. P. Knowles, C.; Colonel F. W. Clemons, S. V. C.; James West, J. V. C.; M. V. B. Randolph, Adj.; Colonel A. P. Seeley, Surg.; Joseph Benedict, Q. M.; L. H. Essex, Chap.; Howard Campbell, O. of G.; Jacob Zeigler, O. of D.
In connection with the Civil War it may be said that the house of the late Pliny Sexton on Main Street was a regular station of the Underground Railway; and that Dr. Eaton helped many fugitive slaves. The Doctor's study was in the belfry of the Presbyterian Church, just under the clock. One morning a number of fugitives were consulting with the Doctor about reaching the lake-shore and crossing to Canada. Of a sudden the most terrific clanging brought them terror stricken to their knees. They besought their supposed benefactor not to give them up to their master; they prayed the Lord to be merciful. After twelve resounding strokes all was still. The clock had struck the noon.
The Spanish-American War drew its quota from Palmyra. William Thomas Sampson was born here February 9, 1840. In 1857 he entered the United
States Naval Academy at Annapolis from which he was graduated at the head of the class of 1861.
Sampson served afloat and ashore during the Civil War, and through the long peace from '65 to '98. He was given command of the North Atlantic Squadron in the spring of 1898. He arrived off Santiago the first day of June and assumed command of the Flying Squadron with his own. Then began the blockade of Santiago harbor which continued until the third of July when Rear Admiral Sampson annihilated the Spanish fleet under Cevera.
October 26, 1899, William T. Sampson, tired and worn, came home to receive the warmest welcome the town could give, for Palmyra delighted to do him honor.
Admiral Sampson died in Washington, D. C., May 6, 1902, and lies buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington. On Sunday, May 11, his friends in Palmyra gathered in the Presbyterian Church for a memorial service.
The national government gave Palmyra a gun taken from the Spanish Almirante Oquendo, destroyed at Santiago. The cannon was placed in a conspicuous place on Main street, and on Memorial Day, 1903, was dedicated to the memory of Rear Admiral Sampson.
"Death makes no conquest of his conqueror,
At the dedicatory services Hon. Pliny T. Sexton delivered the following address:
"To the philanthropist war is unspeakably horrible and hateful, and its instruments of destruction are hideous. Yet, the grass grows greener and the flowers take on brighter hues in the fields whereon warring human beings have shed each others blood. And the phflosopher, taught by the lessons of history, and gifted with prophetic vision, easily perceives that war has been, and yet must be, a necessary agency in securing and preserving for mankind the inestimable blessings of liberty and peace.
"Redeemed by such usefulness, and idealized by such. associations, the instruments of warfare lose their repulsiveness, and even come to be admired as justified means to justified ends. And to-day, as we are halted here for our brief dedicatory services by the side of this great cannon, we are thinking little of its terrible destroying power; but are regarding it rather as a comforting reminder of our beloved departed son and brother, the illustrious Admiral Sampson, whose faithfulness, valor, and genius organized the marvelous naval victory which, at Santiago, wrested this gun from the control of the supporters of a detestable despotism and crushing tyranny which had long dominated some of the fairest lands of earth and ruthlessly oppressed millions of people.
It was eminently fitting that the nation should give this notable gun to the village of Palmyra - the birthplace of Admiral Sampson. The nation had kept from us his sacred dust, which we fain would have brought home to water with our tears and guard during the years. It surely could not well do less than to place here, as it has done, on this greensward, along this village street-once so familiar to our brother's feet-this speaking signal of the last great and crowning achievement of his life.
Concerning that glorious event, it is not permitted me now to enlarge; nor may I detail his fruitful career since the going forth from our peaceful village, nearly half a century ago, of the even then "wonderful Sampson boy" to consecrate himself to the service of his country. For this occasion it must suffice to say that with never abating zeal, from youth until death, all the great powers with which his Maker had endowed him, and all which the most sedulous cultivation developed in him, were unsparingly devoted to safe guarding and advancing the welfare and glory of his native land. He knew no greater or sweeter duty than serving his country; and permitted himself neither rest nor indulgence when that duty called. Faithfulness was the keystone of his character; excelsior his motto; and manifold and splendid were his achievements.
"That it may not be thought that I have summarized with extravagance, or have been unduly biased by my love for the friend of all my life, let me add the testimony of witnesses who can be in no wise impeached.
"Speaking of Admiral Sampson as a student at the Naval Academy, Admiral Philip, who was his classmate, has said:
"No matter what the subject of study was - mathematics, French, moral science, or seamanship - Sampson, with invariable regularity, had the perfect marking in his class..........He was graduated number one.
"Of him later, as Superintendent of the Naval Academy, whose conditions and methods he greatly improved, Mr. Park Benjamin in his history of the Naval Academy, says:
"When Commander Sampson's tour of duty at the Naval Academy ended, there remained little for any one else to do, save to keep the standard of efficiency unimpaired.'
"In the final mortuary record made of him in Appleton's Encyclopedia, referring to his comprehensive connection with the North Atlantic Squadron, whose almost unparalleled victory in the naval battle of Santiago won for the United States Navy imperishable renown, it is said: 'It was Sampson who designed and built the guns; designed and built the projectiles; designed and built the armor; placed the batteries upon the ships and superintended their construction; aided in the preparation of the drill book; drilled the crews and officers; and finally took command of the fleet and fought it through a successful war.'
"If national gratitude were something unknown, as it is not; yet for very selfishness alone, nations must still preserve the memories of such public servants. All motives move thereto. And gladly may we realize and agree that properly this memorial gun has been given to us of Palmyra not simply to minister to our gratitude, but also, and more, that its presence here shall through generation after generation, awaken our local pride and affection the more often to recount the inspiring story of the immeasurably valuable life of Admiral Sampson. And so, with such impelling, and with all impelling, and with a depth of personal affectionate feeling which those not of Palmyra and not of Sampson's generation may not fully understand, we do now by these simple services gratefully accept and lovingly dedicate this enduring trophy gun to the perpetuation of the memory of Admiral William Thomas Sampson. And, with the nation and for the nation, we do also dedicate all of the inspirations of his blessed memory, even as he dedicated his whole life to the continuing service of his beloved country."
Printed in MCMVII, The Herald Press, Rochester, NY.
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