Friday, July 2, 2010

I Have My Permission

Script No, 546 February 16, 2008

(c) 2008 David Minor / Eagles Byte

There is a possibility that during his unintended one-day 1830 layover in Avon, New York, traveler John Fowler might have passed a 16-year-old budding author somewhere around the village. One about to blossom. William Henry Cuyler Hosmer had been born here on May 25, 1814, to lawyer and former legislator George Hosmer and his wife Elizabeth, whose Berry family ancestors had been some of the first Europeans to settle among the region's Seneca Indians. The mother has been described as "accomplished", speaking several Indian dialects. Which seems to have had an influence on her son.

Reportedly he had learned the Seneca language and tales from her at about the same time he learned his own language. This year he was beginning to put his knowledge to good use, when a local printer published his drama, "The Fall of Tecumseh". He would go on to publish a number of articles and volumes of poetry, including "The Themes of Song," - printed in Rochester four years from now - 1838's Pioneers of Western New York", "Yonnondo, or the Warriors of Genesee", and Legend of the Senecas", among others. While his publications poured from his quill he also found time to follow his father into the practice of the law, travel among Florida and Wisconsin Indian tribes, and become a clerk in the New York City customs house. But for now, at the beginning of his career he'd attracted little attention and Fowler doesn't seem to have been informed that there was a young man of letters about town. Maybe if our man had stayed at the other inn in town, run by another member of the Hosmer clan, word would have reached him.

The next day Fowler is in the right place at the correct time to catch the first stage west. He pays his tab - 81 cents for two meals and the overnight lodging - says his countrymen back home should get off so cheaply - and climbs aboard. Seventeen miles further along he passes through Le Roy, in the eastern third of Genesee County. He grades it a pleasant village, noting a number of good houses and stores, occupied by its nearly 4,000 inhabitants. Had he chosen to stay overnight it's quite possible he would have put up at John Lent's Tavern, opened back in 1813. Lent was quite the promoter, and when he died, in 1861, he was accounted the richest man in town, leaving an estate worth a quarter of a million dollars. He even rated his own poem by our Avon (New York) bard, Mr. Hosmer. It's possible that for the last few years before Fowler's arrival in town that business had been a bit slow - it was reportedly in Lent's Tavern that Masonic tell-tale William Morgan had last been seen back in 1827. Recently, at the beginning of 1830 there had been some excitement here in town (actually not even a village until 1834). On January 2nd, Samuel Davis had been murdered, a father and son, both anti-Masons, had been accused of the crime. The trial would take place later in the year (we'll wait until we get to Batavia for that account, next time).

Apparently Mrs. Lent was quite a formidable character in her own right. Lynne Belluscio, director of the Le Roy Historical Society recounts how, earlier that year, Presbyterian minister the Rev. Crawford took Lydia Lent to task for having recently attended a dance. She was directed to report and explain such scandalous behavior. She refused, explaining in a letter that it was none of Crawford's business. In turn Crawford banned her from attending services for three months. Upon which her husband entered the church and nailed the door to their paid-for pew closed, to keep other parishioners out

No comments: