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Tea Party Winners: Vicki Talley McCollum's Never Say Goodbye, A National Park Romance novella goes to: Caryl Kane, Deanne Patterson, Deana Dick, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners Beverly Duell-Moore and Cindy Pratt, Roseanna White's winners - Betti Mace, Gabrielle Meyer's winners -, Deb Marvin's paperback winner - Rachel Dodson

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Landing at Lewiston, New York--"most historic square mile in America"

by Kathleen L. Maher

Lewiston makes a bold boast among all the towns with rich history in these United States by claiming to have the most historic square mile in America. My mind races to places like Yorktown, Gettysburg, Lexington, and Washington. Surely Lewiston can't beat the events of historical significance that occurred in these famous places. Who has ever heard of Lewiston, anyway? (Pat Iacuzzi and Debra Marvin, shhhhhh--we already know you know-- :D ).

From the ancient to the present, Lewiston on the Niagara has seen plenty of significant action throughout the years. Artifacts from 7000 years ago trace indigenous dwellers to the area, and Iroquoian speaking people have left a mark for over 600 years.  The Tuscarora, who would be welcomed in the 1800's as the sixth sister in the Iroquois confederacy, had a village here before the Revolutionary War, Yehęwakwáʼthaʼ.

Known simply as the Landing since the earliest whites came--French fur traders from Canada in 1600's--the village was the first European settlement in Western NY in 1720. Lewiston's current name comes from Morgan Lewis, a 19th century governor of New York.

Lewiston shines when it comes to War of 1812 history. It was the launching point of the first major battle of the war, the Battle of Queenston Heights, detailed in my previous post. New York State Militia crossed the Niagara River into Canada October 13, 1812. The Americans lost that battle, and in December 1813, the British burned Lewiston to the ground in retaliation for that initial strike. Civilians were attacked and killed, the city was in chaos, while the American militia skedaddled.


All would have been lost if not for the astonishing heroism of the Tuscaroras. They came from their nearby village as soon as they saw the smoke rising from the Landing, rushing to the aid of the citizens fleeing through slush and muck from the marauding British. Though surrounded 30 to one, the Tuscarora stood alone. One detail came around the British at the escarpment blowing horns, making the illusion of superior numbers, while another detail attacked with war whoops from the heights. This created a delaying action that allowed scores of women and children to escape with their lives.

A memorial to the bravery of the Tuscarora tribe will be unveiled in Lewiston on December 19 of this year, marking the 200th anniversary of these "Tuscarora Heroes." For more info on the beautiful commemorative sculpture planned, see: http://lee389.wix.com/tuscaroraheroes.

Lewiston also boasts the first recorded railway in the United States. "The Cradles" as they were called, were built in 1764 by a British Army engineer named John Montresor, and were a series of wooden rails on which loads of goods were raised by rope over the Niagara Escarpment.
Freedom Crossing monument

In the 1800's slaves escaped to freedom into Canada along routes bringing them through Lewiston as they departed the US.

The Frontier House was the furthest outpost of civilization west of the Hudson, offering distinguished travelers fine accommodation since 1824. Many famous people have stayed at the Frontier House, including President McKinley, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster.

Frontier House facing the Niagara
From ancient times through the Colonial period and the 19th century, this little village situated near Niagara Falls packs a lot of history per square mile. If you're ever sightseeing at the Falls, make sure to leave a bit of time in your itinerary for Lewiston, and judge for yourself if you think its boast has bang or just all brag.




7 comments:

  1. Thanks for informative article. If we ever make it back to Niagara, I"ll be sue to visit!

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  2. I'd just read about this story from another source this morning. Fascinating and I'm so happy about the monument. This is the kind of story that inspires me to write. Thanks for the article. Kathleen.

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  3. It reminded me of your fabulous novel, Lori. I recently had a discussion with some non-Christian writer "friends" on facebook who expressed outrage over Christians who disliked the portrayal of Tonto being a pagan in the recent release of The Lone Ranger. I told them it was only fiction, but in reality there was precedent for natives embracing Christ. They down shouted me, claiming superior historical knowledge than me, and when I cited real names and real people, all they could do was say that missionaries forced them at the point of sword. It grieves me that secular liberals seem to feel that they are the only ones who think they know anything about our native people and spread such vitriol and lies. I am thankful for you, and Joan, and others who have written about Native Americans in a Christian light. Keep up the good work! I believe we have the attention of heaven.

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  4. This is so interesting. I hope to visit Niagara Falls and will definitely put Lewiston on my list of places to visit.

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  5. This really is fun to read about! I have been to Lewiston more than once, as I grew up in Niagara on the Lake. It is a beautiful town!

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  6. Wow, I really want to go there! What a great post, Kathy! Thanks so much!

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  7. Wow your just full of historical info... That is neat, I have been to the falls twice in my lifetime and never went to Lewiston. If I get there again I will have to visit and see things. And now you have me wondering what these other authors have written... I am new to so many of you... Loving it !
    Linda Finn
    faithfulacres7@gmail.com

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