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Speaker series to focus on War of 1812

The chairman of Niagara University's History Department will kick off a War of 1812 speaker series when he addresses the war's causes and concerns Monday at Youngstown First Presbyterian Church, 100 Church St.

A 6 p.m. dinner will be followed by the 7 p.m. presentation by Thomas Chambers. The event is sponsored by the Town of Porter Historical Society.

While the talk is free, a reservation and $15 fee is required for the dinner.

The Historical Society hopes to bring in several more speakers in anticipation of the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812. The next speaker is planned for the fall, said society member Karen Noonan.

In addition, the Historical Society will present free, guided Youngstown walks beginning Aug. 10, visiting various sites of historic significance in relation to the War of 1812. The tours will begin at 6 p.m. in Constitution Park on Main Street.

Society members will conduct these tours while dressed in period costume as they portray characters of great historical importance, including Catherine Young of Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and Rebecca Swain and Agnes Greensitt of Youngstown. All three fled their homes when soldiers set fire to their respective communities during the War of 1812.

Society members hope to conduct the walking tours at least once a month -- during good weather -- but will also arrange for private group tours.

To make reservations for the speaker series dinner planned for Monday or to learn more about either of these programs, call 745-1271.

The Town of Porter became incorporated as a village on June 1, 1812 -- just three weeks before the War of 1812 started, said Suzanne Simon Dietz, Porter Town Historian.

Dietz has been busy working on a number of projects "to get people interested in history and in what's going on here."

She helped create a dozen new markers, posted throughout the town identifying historic sites, including the "Hamlet of Blairsville" and the "Hamlet of Porter Center."

Teaming up with illustrator Amy Freiermuth, Dietz recently printed colorful and glossy maps of the Town of Porter and on the flip side, the Village of Youngstown and hamlet of Ransomville. These maps identify the location of stagecoach lines, one-room schoolhouses, cemeteries and other points of historic interest in these three communities.

The maps sell for $5, and sales will benefit Porter cemetery restoration work. They are available at Porter Town Hall and at the Historical Society museum in the Red Brick Building, 240 Lockport St., Youngstown.

Dietz served as the American contributor to the Binational 1812 Legacy Council's award-winning War of 1812 map, which was distributed to all fourth- and eighth-grade and high school American history classes throughout Niagara County.

A small group of Youngstown residents recently planted an 1812 Bicentennial Art of Peace Garden, under the auspices of the Binational Tourism Alliance. The roughly 700-square-foot garden is in Falkner Park on Main Street in Youngstown and features a variety of New York State perennials. The official dedication ceremony is slated for Aug. 20, said Gaylynn Long, one of the local organizers.

The Youngstown garden will be featured on an upcoming map locating peace gardens planted on both sides of the Niagara River, "to celebrate 200 years of peace between the borders of the United States and Canada," Long said.

e-mail: niagaranews@buffnews.com

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