Happy Birthday, George Washington! He was the father of our country and our first President. Some other important dates note that on Feb. 16, 1916 the Palmyra Historical Society becomes affiliated with the State of New York; Feb. 24, 1892 one share of Palmyra Yacht Club stock was sold for $510; Feb. 25, 1874 the Palmyra Grange was organized; and on Feb. 27, 1866 the Palmyra Village Cemetery on Vienna Street needed expansion and Carlton Rogers sold land to the Village on the west side. Carlton Rogers was owner of the 1850 brick building known for years as the library house donated to the Kings’ Daughters Free Library. His father was General Thomas Rogers and his mother was Harriet Holmes Rogers.
When the country was getting started and the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were being written this part of New York State known to many as Upstate New York, now, was part of Massachusetts and an untamed area with lots of waterways and lakes. Our founder John Swift was just a young boy joining the fight for independence at the age of 15 years old. He was commissioned to a captain when he moved to Pennsylvania with a number of the Connecticut Colony. War was behind and now settling down to make homes in peace and plenty was the order of the day. In Pennsylvania, however, it wasn’t that easy. Those Tories and British supporters did not relish the infiltration of the patriots and certainly did not want to share their land and communities with them.
The first serious battle ensued in 1763 when settlers were drawn to this picturesque countryside in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. It was labeled a massacre and the resettling did not occur until after 1769 lasting for almost 20 years. The location was near the Susquehanna River in a community called Westmoreland, in the Wyoming Valley. Constant unrest over land and ownership was the cause of turmoil and discontent between those Pennsylvanians and the Connecticut Colony that settled in this area. Our founder Captain John Swift did not settle in the Wyoming Valley until after the Revolutionary War in 1788.
The battles in the Revolutionary War were difficult to say the least but this particular area caused havoc for those soldiers who had to leave their homes and families in the hands of old men and boys to defend their community as they marched on to a larger war. The Six Nations, the Tories and the British were all fighting this Connecticut Colony. We see names such as Jenkins and Ransom, both surveyors of Palmyra; defending the Westmoreland Forts, Ransom being only 14 years old. In 1838 Congress held hearings on the massacres of the Wyoming Valley and the Pennamite Wars. A young General Wm. Ross who was 17 when the battle ensued testified the battlefield was a horrible site.
The final straw was in 1789 when John Swift said enough after being shot in the neck. He moved to a quiet, peaceful area known as Township 12 District 2 and 3 in the newly annexed Upstate New York. Fertile land, plenty of water, peaceful and unsettled this location seemed like an amazing place to begin life and create a special community. Thus in 1789, March 4, John Swift, Jenkins, and Rawson built Swifts’ first cabin in this Genesee Country. Shortly after the cabin was built a surprise attack from three renegades befell them as they slept, killing one and mortally injuring another. This event must have led them to say, “Not again.” But, they stood fast and took action and Palmyra still lives strong after 224 years.