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Wayne Post
  • Historically Speaking — A peek at Palmyra’s past

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  • Antietam was a bit overwhelming so I thought we would start this off with some interesting events that happened in Palmyra. But, then again do the men get a rest from Antietam the bloodiest day in the Civil War? No they do not, they just pick up, regroup, and find those that are still alive and begin another day with who is left and able to stand. New recruits were heading to the area and they would join up with those who had such a terrific loss. Even so, we need a moment to regroup and look at some other events.
    Babies were being born, marriages occurred, and the women were getting shoes and making blankets for those on the front that had none. Businesses were getting started, and all seemed to be fairly normal. One young wife living on Fayette Street married to Mr. Coppins had witnessed a murder of a Mr. Sherman on her street. Mr. Bailey of Walworth got into a scuffle with Mr. Sherman and hit him with a piece of wood, killing him immediately. Bailey was arrested and a court date was set. Mr. Coppins had joined the troops signing up for service and leaving his lovely wife alone. Mr. Bailey, the culprit, was going on trial in 1861 for the murder of Mr. Sherman and was heading back to court.
    Bailey came to Palmyra and as happened when he committed this dastardly deed he went to the local tavern and began to drink. Finally Mr. Bailey was on his way back to where he was staying before the trial and found that Mrs. Coppins was alone in her home. In the morning Mrs. Coppins was found lifeless on the kitchen floor. The local police were alerted and began an investigation. The only witness in Mr. Sherman’s death was no longer able to testify. We will need to check court records, because this is where the story ends. Did Mr. Bailey go to prison? Was Mr. Bailey charged with two murders? All questions that we hope can be answered.
    The fall, October especially, is a very busy time for Historic Palmyra. We are celebrating Sibyl’s 118th birthday on Oct. 10. Sibyl was born on Oct. 10, 1895 in the Wm. Phelps home above the Wm. Phelps Store. She was a student at the Palmyra Union Classical School located on Canandaigua Street before the current building was built in 1923. Sibyl was a good student, talented, and certainly well dressed.
    Being an only child and grandchild in the Phelps home, Sibyl was cared for by three doting women. She had a great talent for music and theater and dreamed of heading to NYC for an education in the art of acting. Upon graduation, she had attended the Eastman School of Music and played the guitar, organ and piano. What fun for Sibyl Phelps to fulfill her dreams and heading to the greatest city in the world. This was not long lived as her funds ran out and her father insisted she return home. Sibyl did as she was told and was very unhappy.
    Page 2 of 2 - She lived the rest of her life in this Phelps building and died Dec. 7, 1976. Sibyl’s birthday party begins at 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. with lots of food and a personal reading included in your admission. This is always a great night and is early enough for those working in the morning. Call 597- 6981 for reservations. The Phelps Store is at 140 Market St. and will be decked out in appropriate lighting and décor.
    Next will be the Historic Palmyra 9th Cemetery tour at the village of Palmyra Cemetery. Two shows each night, Oct. 18 and 19 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Plenty of parking and as always some regular visitors, some infamous, and some new characters await your visit. We are adding Mr. and Mrs. Coppins, Phyllis and Willard Bean, and Mr. Bogart the man paid to replace Pliny T. in the Civil War. If it rains hard with high winds, the event will be held in the museums on Market and William streets. The five museums of Historic Palmyra await you.

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