C6

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lake Life.

The Citizen. Auburn, New York

• PORT BYRON •

GAR posts spawned fellowship
Editor’s note: Anthony Gero, fellow of the Company of Military Historians and board member of the NAACP, co-wrote this month’s article. Recently, as a result of a project to dedicate a new headstone for Capt. John William Lockwood of Company F, 111th New York Volunteer Infantry, at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on July 30, primary research data was uncovered which shows Dawn that the Grand Roe Army of the Republic Post 175 of Port Byron and the Seward-Crocker Post 45 of Auburn were integrated circa 1880-1934. Such occurrences, in those segregated days of American history, are quite remarkable and need to be documented as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War now takes place. Let us begin with a recap of the history of the GAR. It was formed at Decatur, Ill., in 1866. Membership was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the the Revenue Cutter Service, which was the equivalent to today’s U.S. Coast Guard. In Cayuga County, of the many posts formed as early as 1867, two stand out for the purpose of our present article. The first is the Lockwood Post 175, named for Lockwood, who died as a POW at Salisbury, N.C. The second is the consolidation of Posts 45 and 37, which was completed about 1904. This new, consolidated post took the name Seward-Crocker Post 45 of Auburn. During the tragedy of our Civil War, as thousands upon thousands of white men volunteered to save the Union and later to end the stain of slavery, more than 100,000 blacks also served as soldiers in the United States Colored Troops and Massachusetts Volunteers. More than 4,000 of these volunteers came from New York state and served in the 20th and 26th U.S.C.T. Some were also soldiers in the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, upon which the movie “Glory” was based. Previously to our present article on the local GAR, it had been documented that Cayuga County men like William Wise served in the 54th Massachusetts and Nathan Prue in the the 26th U.S.C.T. Yet, one of the areas of Civil War research which has been overlooked by many historians and the general public is whether or not GAR posts were segregated or integrated from 1866 to about 1934. A former episode of “History Detectives” on PBS helped document an integrated GAR post in Cazenovia, but did other such GAR posts exist elsewhere in the United States and in New York state in particular? As a result of the Lockwood dedication effort in July, evidence has been recently rediscovered that two Cayuga County black brothers and Civil War veterans, Thomas McChesney and Sylvester McChesney, served in the 26th U.S.C.T. Each of these veterans were longtime residents of Port Byron after the war and appear to have been members of the Lockwood Post 175 as well. Unlike the Cazenovia photograph seen in the “History Detective” episode, no photographs have as yet been uncovered that depict the white and black veterans of the Port Byron post, but perhaps, somewhere, in some dusty place, such an image may hide, waiting to be rediscovered — we hope. In the case of the SewardCrocker Post, an original 1908 roster of that post put online by the Cayuga County NYGenWeb project by Steve Mckay shows five blacks enrolled in that post. They are: Harry Douglas, Ambrose Dunbar, Issac Jackson and Edward Watkins, all listed as having been in U.S.C.T. units, and Charles A. Smith, having served in Company C, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Again, we have discovered no photograph yet of these men in this GAR post, but there is no doubt that the consolidated Post 45 was an integrated post

Photos from Footnote.com

Thomas and Sylvester McChesney served in the 26th U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War. Sons of Thomas and Jane McChesney, the family moved from Little Falls, Herkimer County, and resided in Mentz by 1860, just before the outbreak of the war. Sylvester enlisted on Dec. 24, 1863, and Thomas enlisted Jan. 18, 1864. Both brothers were discharged at Hilton Head, S.C. on Aug. 28, 1865, and are currently buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron.

here in Cayuga County, at least, in 1908. There is even the possibility that perhaps among early posts of the late 19th century in Cayuga County, they too could have been integrated. What is also interesting is a Civil War veterans section of Soule Cemetery, just outside of Auburn. In that site are the burial markers of white and black Civil War veterans, buried side by side, in non-segregated hallowed ground. Likewise, at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Port Byron, there is no separation of burials for soldiers of the Civil War by race either, as seen by the burial markers there. Although the record of the United States of America from

1876 to 1954 was spotty on integration and civil rights for blacks, in the case of Cayuga County, and in particular in Port Byron and Auburn, such was not the case. The evidence on the Lockwood Post and the SewardCrocker Post confirms that. If it can be said that war forges soldiers into a “band of brothers, ” the Civil War veterans of the GAR in Cayuga County, white and black, formed such bonds in the post-Civil War years. In our present celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we should take note of that bond in these veterans’ service and of their shared brotherhood. It is a legacy we all should be proud to bear witness to.

(We would like to thank Susanne Greenhagen, a member of Julia Hibbard Tent No. 71, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and fellow historian for the village of Morrisville and co-historian for the town of Eaton in Madison County, for her assistance on the history of the GAR and the Lockwood post, along with Cayuga County Historian Sheila Tucker for her valuable aid on this research into Cayuga County Civil War veterans.)
Dawn Roe is Port Byron and Mentz historian. She can be reached at 776-8446 or beatatune@tds.net. Visit her Web site at www.portbyronhistorian.com

• ZO N TA C LU B •

District conference to meet in Auburn
Zonta International is a great example of how the world is getting smaller, and of the benefits of social networking for keeping in touch with friends, wherever they are in Gloria the world. Stootman We all Wristen were concerned about family and friends in late August as Hurricane Irene ravaged the east coast of the United States. As a Zonta governor from 2004 through 2006, I became close friends with other Zonta governors around the world and we are able to keep in touch. Zonta consists of 32 districts around the world, with clubs in 68 countries. Four of those districts were in the path of Hurricane Irene. District 11 covers the southeast and Caribbean, District 3 covers Long Island to Washington, D.C. and Virginia, and District 1 covers New England. Our own District 2 covers central and eastern New York, and parts of Canada that were also affected. Messages came through via social networking and email wishing us safety and enquiring as to our status from Zontians around the world. In the past, we’ve been concerned about our Zonta friends during the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, the shootings in Norway and other tragedies around the world. It was so nice to have those around the world show their concern for us in this difficult time. Our Zonta District 2 covers 20 clubs in New York and Canada. We have clubs in New York, from Oswego and Canton, south to Binghamton and Auburn, and west to the Vermont border. In Canada, we have clubs in Ottawa and Montreal. We have clubs all along the New York State Thruway: Syracuse, Oneida, Rome, Herkimer, Utica, Amsterdam, Schenectady, Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley. Many of those areas have been devastated by the flooding. Also hit by flooding were our clubs in the southern tier in Binghamton, Elmira, Cortland and Watkins Glen/Montour Falls. It was great to be able to check with our Zonta friends to make sure they are OK. We got eyewitness reports from those affected. We heard from Zontians along the East Coast in Florida, Virginia, New Jersey and New York City while the storm was hitting them. One post could let Zontians know what was happening in real time all along the East Coast. On a more pleasant note, the Zonta Club of Auburn is busy getting ready to welcome more than 100 Zontians and guests to Auburn for our biennial district conference in mid-October, “All the World is Our Stage. We ” have members coming from around our district and even as far as California, New Jersey and Virginia. We look forward to showcasing our wonderful community and local businesses. If your business would like to offer coupons, discounts or samples to the women attending who will be in Auburn from Thursday through Sunday, please contact us at auburn@zontadistrict2.org. We will also be raffling off baskets and gift certificates to raise money for our organization — a great way to showcase what your business has to offer. Zonta will hold events that weekend at the Auburn Public Theater, The Center for Living, The Holiday Inn and the historic Willard Memorial Chapel. We also will encourage our visitors to visit our museums, restaurants, retail businesses and wineries. Our actionpacked weekend will include a champagne reception for our international president, a pampering at the spa at the Center for Living, a museum walk, a red carpet arrival at the Auburn Public Theater, a keynote speech by the Zonta International United Nations chairman, a wine reception, a networking breakfast, an awards luncheon to honor district award winners of Zonta scholastic awards, and a “Masks of Life” performance followed by a mask-making workshop culminating in a blackand-white masked ball. Sunday morning, a memorial service will be held at Willard Chapel honoring Zontians who have passed away during the past two years. We will have three business sessions where we elect officers for 2012 through 2014, hear the accomplishments of our district clubs and committees, vote on budgets and rules of procedure, and hear from our Zonta International President about our Zonta work around the world. The weekend will end with an invitation to our Biennial Zonta International Convention in Torino, Italy in July 2012, and announcement of winners of our district awards to Zonta Clubs. We look forward to handling the business of the district, catching up with old friends and making new ones, and having a great time in the Finger Lakes during fall foliage season. If you're interested in learning more about Zonta membership, please contact us at auburn@zontadistrict2.org.
Gloria Stootman Wristen has been a CPA in Auburn since 1982 and a member of Zonta since 1989

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Book Lovers Giveaway!
“Roses” by Leila Meacham “Satori” by Don Winslow
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Thank you.
Many thanks go to Ben and Sue Ahner; Sally Price; Logan Park Lofts and the Bartolotta family; The The Auburn Beautification Com- Seward House and staff; 10 Fitch B&B and, innkeepers, Cheryl and mission hosted a very successful Rodney Barber; Kathleen Dilger; Bob Summer Garden Tour on Sunday, July 17, which included 10 properties and Althea Piorun; Mr. and Mrs. in several neighborhoods in Auburn. Rizzo plus Hoopes Park and the city More than 170 garden enthusiasts of Auburn, the perfect setting for the ending reception of the selftoured the showcased intimate guided tour. The event raised more home garden, secret backyard than $1,300 for future beautification retreat, commercial landscape, projects. evolving perennial estate, heirloom Special thanks go to the Auburn vegetable plot; private B & B and the Downtown Partnership/BID and home of a famous Auburnian. The garden owners outdid them- Downtown Books & Coffee for serving as our pre-sale spots; and to selves and put on a great show for Garden Tour committee members: guests.

Garden tour pleasant addition to summer

Sally Price, Sue Talbot, Nicole Hulik, and Laurie Turo; and the rest of the commission members. If you are looking for a colorful commemorative T-shirt from the day, stop by the BID office. The ABC is currently looking for participants for the 2012 Summer Garden Tour. If you would like to nominate a garden or want to be included yourself, please contact Susan Marteney at 252-7141.

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Auburn Marteney is Garden Tour chair for the Auburn Beatification Commission

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