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It was my pleasure to attend the 116th State Council of the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 that was held in Auburn on May 6 and 7. Flora Adams Darling formed the society in 1892 and its national headquarters with a library and museum are located in Washington, D.C. Objectives of the society include but are not limited to the promotion of patriotism, preservation of documents of the 1784 to 1815 period, documentation of family histories and traditions, and the education of civil, military and naval life that impacted government growth from the close of the American Revolution to the close of the War of 1812.

Currently the New York state society has six chapters servicing New York City, Niagara Falls/Buffalo, Saratoga Springs, Corning, Watertown and central New York, with its newest organizing chapter to be located at historic Sackets Harbor.  

I would like to extend a thank you to state chaplain and New York City member Anne Farley for her gracious invitation to join the weekend events, which started with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Auburn Veterans Memorial Park on Friday evening.

It was held in honor of American, British, Canadian and First Nations soldiers who died in the War of 1812.

 Members of the Korean War Veterans Association of Cayuga County Chapter 296 served as color guard of ceremonies with Steven Hodge performing taps.

We must extend tremendous appreciation to our local Korean War Veterans Association for creating such a beautiful place to honor soldiers of all wars.  

Commander John Barwinczok of Chapter 296 shared welcoming remarks, as well as Ronald Dale, of Parks, Canada. Dale emphasized that in 2015, we will be starting our third consecutive century of peace with our Canadian neighbors.

The Daughters’ roll call included the placement of a white carnation into a vase of tribute, along with a flower for all American, British, Canadian and First Nations soldiers. The vase was placed along with a memorial wreath at the 1812 monument in remembrance of the heroic deeds of fallen soldiers of the War of 1812, as well as those that perished in every generation. The carnation is the flower of the society of 1812.   

In reflection, the weekend was surrounded by historical significance, considering the founder of Auburn is credited to Col. John L. Hardenbergh, whose settlement that grew around his home and mill was previously known as Hardenbergh’s Corner.

He was a patriot of the American Revolution and has a memorial brick at this park that was installed by the Owasco Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. When the military tract of central New York was formed, Hardenbergh was appointed surveyor in association with Moses Dewitt, brother of Simeon Dewitt, who was at that time surveyor general of the state of New York.

The historical connections continued with the subsequent meeting and banquet held the next day at the stately Springside Inn.

The town of Fleming's namesake is Revolutionary War Capt. George Fleming, who also served as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812. He assisted the growth of his community by acting as a surveyor for his neighborhood. According to the historic roadside marker, he achieved the rank of brevet brigadier general in 1816. After his death, the town was named Fleming in his honor.

Those in attendance will likely agree that one of the special highlights was the reading of a letter from Buckingham Palace, greetings from the majesty in recognition of their council meeting.

Following a wonderful presentation on the history of the War of 1812 by Dale, he was presented The Spirit of 1812 Award by society President Mary Raye Casper.

 The medallion is presented to an individual or to an organization with a distinguished record of study, promotion and dedication to the preservation of the history of people, places and events of the War of 1812.  

Additional history and an interactive map on the War of 1812 can be found by visiting www.discover1812.com.

Many can trace their heritage to a soldier who served this campaign. Port Byron and Mentz had 33 soldiers who filed equipment claims for service in this war. At that time, Mentz included portions of present-day Throop, Montezuma and Conquest.

Sources: New York State Museum historic marker list; collections of the Cayuga County Historical Society, volumes 4-6; public papers of Daniel D. Tompkins, governor of New York, 1807-1817; the annual report of the state historian Hugh Hastings (1895-1907)

Dawn Roe is the Port Byron and Mentz historian. She can be reached at          776-8446 or beatatune@tds.net,          and maintains a blog at                 www.portbyronhistory.com

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