We are skipping over the next museum just for this week. Let’s talk about Heritage Weekend which is happening on May 19 and 20 all over New York state and right here in Palmyra. The museums on Market and William Streets, will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Our theme is the War of 1812, the 75th Anniversary of the Hill Cumorah Pageant and the 125th anniversary of the Garlock Packing Company as well as the 35th anniversary of the Wm. Phelps General Store Museum.
Two lovely pioneer women will be visiting, Mrs. John Swift (Rhoda) and Mrs. W. H. Cuyler (Eleanor). Mrs. Swift is buried with her husband on the old Cemetery Hill while Mrs. Cuyler is buried next to her husband Major William Howe Cuyler at the Village of Palmyra Cemetery. General John Swift is our founder and died in the War of 1812. After General Swift and his wife settled in this wild frontier, building the first log home on East Main Street in 1790, Rhoda died leaving her children and husband. It wasn’t too long after that General Swift remarried and went off to war, again. He was a veteran and war hero of the Revolutionary War. Rhoda Sawyer Swift had many adventures in Palmyra, before it was even named Palmyra. Tolland was its name and finally at the first Town meeting in 1796 the name of Palmyra was proposed by Daniel Sawyer, Rhoda’s brother. Come visit with Mrs. Swift and hear the story of the name Palmyra, where it came from and why it came to be. You will also hear of Rhoda’s harrowing story of the hot poker and the unwanted visitors to her cabin when the General was away.
Can you imagine moving to a place with no roads, no people, and little food? That is what the life of Rhoda Swift was like in those early days. It was the same for the Durfee’s, Harris family, Palmer’s, Van Nesses’, Harwood’s, Comstock’s, Harrison’s, Galloway’s, and so many more that finally built up the population to 11 families and growing to over 3,000 people by 1816.
Mrs. Cuyler was married to Major William Howe Cuyler who was the name sake of William and Cuyler Streets and killed at Black Rock, hit by a four pound cannon ball during the War of 1812. The Major was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War and built the first law office in Palmyra. Of course, that meant he was a lawyer by profession; but like the General when the call to protecting his country came, he was only too eager to leave everything and answer that call. Mrs. W. H. Cuyler is a very illusive figure and it was difficult to get information. We do know about the Major and will review what her life might have been like with him. There is some conflicting information about where their home was and whether they had two homes, possibly a first home and a second much larger home. Either way they lived on Cuyler Street. The General died in 1814 at Fort George after he was shot in the chest.
Page 2 of 2 - The Alling Coverlet will be ready for its story of the War of 1812 and those that lived and died, were born and married during that time. Come and visit all the museums. Our regular admission will be charged. Members are always no charge. Call for details 597-6981.