Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A New Direction

I have been trying to decide which direction to take my blog--it's been a bit rambly so far. I have decided to focus on true historic events, people, places, and times, and try to connect them to my locale of the Elmira/Corning/Ithaca/Binghamton, New York area.

For starters, a quick review of Elmira's history. Elmira is the county seat of Chemung County, and was officially recognized a city in 1865. It first became settled prior to the American Revolution, and hosted historic camp sights of General Sullivan in his campaign against the American Indians allied with the British. The Iroquois people, more specifically the Seneca, once called this valley home.

During the Civil War, Elmira hosted one of three recruitment rendezvous in New York state, since two major railways ran through it. It was considered a transprtation hub, and it facilitated the trasport of trained soldiers to the southern front. Three barracks made up the training grounds, the third which became the infamous death camp of the north, "Helmira". The Elmira prison camp housed Confederate POW's from July 1864 through the end of the war.

Many notable historic figures hailed from Elmira, including Jervis Langdon, an abolitionist and reputed patron of the underground railroad, also known as being Mark Twain's father-in-law. John W. Jones resided in Elmira. An escaped slave, he became a conductor on teh underground Railroad to rival Harriett Tubman's involvement, leading over 200 slaves to freedom. Mark Twain himself called Elmira home fro short stretches of time at Quarry Farm on historic East Hill. He penned the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in an octogon-shaped pavilion at the farm. Thomas K. Beecher, a relative of Harriett Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, a remarkable minister and humanitarian in his own right, took up residence in Elmira. Each of these noted citizens will be featured in articles and interviews with local historians to come.


  1. What an interesting town and to have so many famous people to have lived there. It sounds like a place that would make a great vacation spot. Especially for a homeschool family like mine. I wonder if one could get a local to show them around the area. J I look forward to learning more NY history from a great teacher.

  2. *waving hand* me! Me! pick me!

    Come on down! the water's fine.