Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Wowed Waterloo Overcomes Tragedy To Welcome Hero

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Previous: The Great Central Trail Becomes The State Road

Waterloo Hotel became the Madison House before being converting into Twin Brothers’ Yeast Cake factory (pictured here). The factory burned down in 1877. Source: Becker, John E., A History of the Village of Waterloo, Waterloo Library and Historical Society, Waterloo, NY 1949, p. 81

The party began early in Waterloo on the morning of Wednesday, June 8, 1825. It was like a festive holiday. A great anticipation thrilled the small village and those visitors who had come to town for the special occasion about to unfold. Revolutionary War hero and valiant icon of freedom, the Marquis de Lafayette was about to visit.

Excitement filled the air. And cannon smoke.

There was no way to contain the enthusiasm. Several villagers expressed this feeling by gathering at Earl’s tavern, as the Waterloo Hotel had been known. Ab Falling built the three-story brick structure in 1817. Located in the center of its west side, the main entrance faced the public square. The upper floor had a ballroom and a Masonic Hall.1

That same year, Junius Lodge No. 291, F.&A.M. received its charter from the Grand Lodge of New York on June 5. The growing lodge began meeting at the Waterloo Hotel on July 1, 1819. By 1825, only one of the original petitioners—Dr. Jesse Fifield, Treasurer—held a leadership position.2

Captain Jehiel P. Parsons was a member of Junius Lodge No. 291.3 He wasn’t among the citizens celebrating at Earl’s tavern. Instead, he chose to have breakfast across the street at the Mill. The partiers at the tavern would show their delight for the joyous day by Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Wowed Waterloo Overcomes Tragedy To Welcome Hero”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The Great Central Trail Becomes The State Road

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Previous: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva

The Cayuga Bridge helped improve travel times on the Great Genesee Road, which eventually became Routes 5 & 20. Source: Barber, John W., and Howe, Henry, Historical collections of the state of New York, S. Tuttle, New York 1842, p. 79

As General Dwight D. Eisenhower led the Allied effort into the heart of the Nazi regime, he couldn’t help but notice the transportation infrastructure that strengthened the defense of his opponent. Hitler began construction of his Reichautobahn in the 1930s. Although designed primarily for civilian use, war reports during the Eisenhower’s push into Germany in 1944 and 1945 repeatedly referenced the autobahn, “Hitler’s Superhighway.”1

Impressed by these autobahns, Eisenhower proposed an interstate highway system once Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: The Great Central Trail Becomes The State Road”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva

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Previous: How Commonality Saved Captain Williamson And Western New York

Geneva a generation after Lafayette’s visit. Source: Barber, John W., and Howe, Henry, Historical collections of the state of New York, S. Tuttle, New York 1842, p. 52

General Lafayette rose the morning of Wednesday, June 8, 1825, shortly after sunrise. At 7 o’clock that morning, the French entourage bid John Greig adieu. They climbed aboard their waiting carriage and a military escort led them onto the old Genesee Road (and then the Seneca Turnpike). About ten miles down the road, at Ball’s tavern, they’d meet the committee from Geneva and transfer their precious cargo to them.1

For the good citizens of Geneva, the largest settlement in the Greater Western New York region, Lafayette was a long time coming. A couple of weeks before, the village appointed a committee of eleven upstanding men to invite the Nation’s Guest to visit their fair village. They drafted a letter dated May 28, 1825, for that purpose. Appealing to his sense of Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Pomp, Circumstance, Before Lunch In Geneva”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: How Commonality Saved Captain Charles Williamson And Western New York

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Previous: Canandaigua Anxiously Waits Before Jubilation And An Elegant Supper

Captain Charles Williamson was responsible for developing much of the Genesee Country between Preemption Line and the Genesee River. Source: Main, William, Charles Williamson, Cowan & Co., Ltd., Perth, 1899, frontpiece

He was a proud Tory and Captain in the British army who volunteered to fight for King George III against the rebellious colonists. She was a proud Patriot whose father graciously saw in this prisoner of war a common human element.

Before we get into this backstory, let’s review why it’s so important.

In December 1786, the states of New York and Massachusetts agreed to resolve a conflict started by the kings of England. Those monarchs made a royal mess of Western New York, at one time or another granting rights to all or portions of it to no less than five colonies.

By the end of the American Revolution, three states had claims to the Greater Western New York region: New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut (a sliver along the southern tier). With Connecticut quickly quitting its claim, New York and Massachusetts stood nose-to-nose. With the Articles of Confederation dissolving, the two states decided to circumvent that ineffective parchment and meet in neutral territory. Ironically, this meeting took place in the state of Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: How Commonality Saved Captain Charles Williamson And Western New York”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Canandaigua Anxiously Waits Before Jubilation And An Elegant Supper

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Previous: John Greig Lives The American Dream

Canandaigua Hotel, not the original one that Lafayette visited, but the one that replaced it after the one once owned by William Blossom burned down in 1851. Source: History of Ontario County, New York With Illustrations, Everts, Ensign & Everts, Philadelphia, 1878, Plate X

The young boy was no different from anyone else in the town of Canandaigua. Anxious, fretting, full of anticipation, on the morning of Tuesday, June 7, 1825, they all waited for the word they knew was coming but feared it might not.

Located on the northern tip of the lake that bears its name, Canandaigua housed the first land office in Western New York. This former Seneca stronghold sat on the old Genesee Trail, or Central Trail, that cut through the heart of the Iroquois Confederacy. Today we know it as Routes 5 & 20. Back then it had various names, from the Great Genesee Road to the Seneca Turnpike to the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike. Whatever you called it, it was the road everyone heading east or west traveled on.

Lafayette would soon be one of those travelers.

Or would he?Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Canandaigua Anxiously Waits Before Jubilation And An Elegant Supper”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: John Greig Lives The American Dream

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Previous: Dispelling Mendon Myths

Portrait of John Greig. Source: Milliken, Charles F., A History of Ontario County, New York and Its People, Lewis Historical Co. Vol I, New York, 1911, p.225

The sun rose on Tuesday, June 7, 1825, signaling the start of a new day. For John Greig, it would prove among the most momentous days of his life—so far. It would prove anyone can attain their American dream.

By that morning, Greig had lived a tad more than a quarter of a century in his adopted home country. Born in Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland on August 6, 1779,1 he immigrated to the United States in 1797 after attending the Edinburgh High School.2 Only eighteen when he sailed to America, no doubt like many his age, Greig sought to make his mark.

He certainly did.

But not immediately.

Greig spent his first few months living in New York City before moving to Albany. He relocated to Canandaigua in April 1800. It’s likely this move Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: John Greig Lives The American Dream”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Dispelling Mendon Myths

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Previous: Timothy Barnard, A Soldier’s Story

Lafayette’s probable path from Rochester to Canandaigua, 1840 Map of New York State by Henry S. Tanner. Source: oldmapsonline.org

By 1825, the road from Rochester to Canandaigua was a well-travelled road. Samuel Hildreth saw to that, although he didn’t live long enough to see it first-hand.

Hildreth might be considered a first generation Western New Yorker. He was born on March 20, 1778, in what would become the town of Phelps in Ontario County. His parents had moved there from New Hampshire.1 He moved to Pittsford in November 1814. There, he quickly established himself as a mover and shaker. He ran a store, rented to others, and operated a tavern. More important, he set up the Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Dispelling Mendon Myths”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Timothy Barnard, A Soldier’s Story

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Previous: Competing Memories Turn Lafayette’s Rochester Visit From History To Mystery

Siege of Yorktown (1781), by Auguste Couder (1789–1873) Rochambeau (center L), Washington (center R), Marquis de La Fayette (behind Washington, L), Marquis de Saint Simon (behind Washington, R), Duke of Lauzun (L, mounted) and Comte de Ménonville (R of Washington). Source: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Another Revolutionary Patriot Gone.” That was the lead, buried at the very bottom of the third of seven dense columns on page two in the Tuesday, April 13, 1847, edition of the Geneva Courier. Three perfunctory sentences followed.

“Hon. TIMOTHY BARNARD, father of Hon. DANIEL D. BARNARD, the distinguished ex-member of Congress of the Albany district, died at Mendon on the 29th inst. Judge Barnard took an active part in the revolutionary struggle, and for his services he drew a pension until his death. For many years judge Barnard was associate judge of the old county of Ontario, and after Monroe county was set off; he held the same office in the latter county.”1

That was it. That was the sum total of nearly 91 years of life.

But there was more to Timothy Barnard. He represented all that made America great; that first generation of rebels turned heroes turned pioneers turned nation-builders. In a way, Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Timothy Barnard, A Soldier’s Story”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Competing Memories Turn Lafayette’s Rochester Visit From History To Mystery

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Previous: Remembering Silvius Hoard

1832 Map of Rochester from a correct survey, Gill, Valentine; Child, Jonathan;
Morin, John F., KEY: FB (green) Fitzhugh St. Basin; AQDT (yellow) Aquaduct; GB (purple) Gilbert’s Basin; HT (Blue) Hoard’s Tavern (marker location); CMH (red) Christopher’s Mansion House. Source, Library of Congress, LOC Control No. 2003623826

You’ve heard the expression “the sands of time,” right? Well, sometimes the expression reads better as “the sandblaster of time.” The march of time has a way of eroding all in its past, leaving no trace behind. Spoiler Alert: Nearly every single landmark you are about to read of here no longer exists.

Worse, those same sands often erode memories as well. We often remember what we think is true, even if it’s not. That’s why if you ask two people who witnessed the same event, you’ll often get two different descriptions of what happened. At least two. Because if you ask the same person a week later to describe what happened, there’s no guarantee the story will remain the same.

These are the challenges when recounting history. That’s why it’s better to rely on primary witnesses (the people who were actually there). It’s even better to rely on multiple primary witnesses, because you can “average” their stories to get a more reliable understanding of what really happened. Finally, it’s best you hear from these primary witnesses immediately after the event occurs. That way the memory is freshest and less prone to error.

Such are the issues with retelling the tale of Lafayette’s visit to Rochester on Tuesday, June 7, 1825. Everything is gone and even firsthand witnesses, years later, tell conflicting Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Competing Memories Turn Lafayette’s Rochester Visit From History To Mystery”

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Remembering Silvius Hoard

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Previous: Fort Niagara And The Man-Made Wonder Of Lockport

Lafayette memorial on 1 Exchange Blvd. in downtown Rochester identifying the site of Hoard’s Tavern. Source: Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center

Think of history as a mosaic containing thousands of tiny stones. When you get up close, they appear unremarkable. Except for a few, often minor, variations in color or a slightly different shape, they look nearly identical. Sure, for any number of reasons, a few stand out and pique your curiosity. But all in all, they’re all the same.

Until you back away. Farther away, you see the small rocks begin to transform into a series of patterns. It’s as though each stone represents a dot connected to its neighbors. From a more distant perspective, you no longer see individual stones. You see a compelling picture. As if it was always there.

That’s history. It’s a picture you see, far removed from the original source, the original data points, the human stones that actually created the picture. It’s too easy to forget those Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: Remembering Silvius Hoard”

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