Bicentennial Snapshot # 35: “Lafayette, We Are Here!”

Today we pay tribute to the men from Greece who died in World War I.

Every November 11, we honored our military veterans. But as many of you know, the holiday used to be called Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. The United States’ involvement in the first world war has a connection dating back to the Revolutionary war.

Armistice Day in downtown Rochester, November 11, 1918, from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

In her quirky history, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell describes Lafayette’s celebratory tour of the United States in 1824-25, just before the country marked the 1826 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

You may recall that the Marquis de Lafayette as a nineteen-year-old fought in the American Revolutionary War. As Vowell relates stories of his appearances in various cities, she emphasizes that America would not have won the war without the help of France. Of course, the author wasn’t able to write about every place Lafayette visited. One place she left out was the Town of Greece.

Lafayette as a major general by Charles Willson Peale, circa 1799
Broadside announcing Lafayette’s visit on June 7, 1825, from GHS

Lafayette came to Rochester from Lockport on June 7, 1825, via the Erie Canal. He disembarked in Greece…

Map showing the western wide waters from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

…at what was called the Western Wide Waters. Today it is where the parking lot for Rochester Products is. The surrounding land at the time was owned by Bradford King, the eldest son of Gideon King who was one of the founders of the first European settlement west of the Genesee at King’s Landing. We told you about King’s Landing in Snapshot No. 4, in snapshot 15 you learned about the Erie Canal, and in snapshot 19 we mention Blanche Stuart Scott who owned land next to the Western Widewaters area.

Arriving on the Seneca Chief, leading a flag-decked flotilla of twelve canal packets, Lafayette and his son, George Washington Lafayette, were greeted by booming cannon and “the ringing of every bell in the village.”

Lafayette as he appeared in 1824 painted by Ary Scheffer, now hanging in the U.S. House of Representatives
Lafayette’s tomb in Picpus Cemetery

After the Americans liberated Paris, the French celebrated July 4, 1917, with a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb. American Colonel Charles E. Stanton began his speech by saying “Lafayette, nous voila” Lafayette, we are here, implying that the American soldiers were repaying the debt owed to France for their aid to this county during the Revolutionary war. The World War Service Record of Rochester and Monroe County lists seventeen men from the town of Greece as giving their lives in World War I. They are:

These are the men from Greece who lost their lives in World War I according to the World War Service Record of Rochester and Monroe County

James P. Armstrong

James P. Armstrong was born in Greece on March 1, 1889; he was killed in action, on August 22, 1918, while attempting to cross the Vesle River during an engagement near Reims, France.

Clarence S. Baxter

Clarence S. Baxter was born in Charlotte on October 6, 1895. He served in the Army infantry. He died of pneumonia on October 27, 1918, just days after his 23rd birthday.

William H. Brown
William H. Brown

William H. Brown was born in North Greece. He enlisted in the regular Army and served eight different enlistments. A veteran of three wars and several military expeditions, Sergeant Brown was still in service when he was taken to the Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington, D. C. He died in that hospital, on February 18, 1923, from gas burns, suffered in World War. He was buried, on February 23, 1923, in Greece with full military honors.

Wesley John Christian

Wesley John Christian was born at Barnard Crossing in 1893; in August 1917 he joined the United States Marine Corps. He died June 6, 1918, at Chateau-Thierry, from wounds received in action there. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery.

George J. Dietrich

George J. Dietrich was born November 25, 1897. He was killed on October 15, 1918, near St. Juvin, Meuse-Argonne, during the final 47-day allied offensive against the Germans from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

Charles A. Emerich

Charles A. Emerich first enlisted in the New York State National Guard in 1917. He was sent overseas with the Army in May 1918. He was killed in action, on September 29, 1918, during the battle of St. Quentin.

Romolo Epicoco

Romolo Epicoco was born in Italy. He died of pneumonia on October 17, 1918. He is buried in the Charlotte Cemetery.

Carl A. Glanzel

Carl A. Glanzel, who lived on Stone Road near Barnard Crossing, was born in Germany circa 1896. He joined the Army in November 1917 and was killed in action in France, on August 19, 1918.

Frank Leo Guillod

Frank Leo Guillod was born in Buffalo, on May 24, 1897. Before he joined the Marines, he was an outstanding athlete, particularly with the Kodak Park basketball team. Sergeant Guillod died June 11, 1918, at Belleau Wood from wounds received in action that same day.

Thomas Herbert Imeson

Thomas Herbert Imeson lived at Barnard Crossing. His Regiment was part of the famous Fourth American Brigade; he went missing in action at Soissons, France, and was not reported after that time. A certificate of presumptive death was issued by the United States Marine Corps. Their official report said: “Died of wounds received in action, July 19, 1918.”

Ira James Jacobsen

Ira James Jacobsen was born in Charlotte on January 25, 1897. Before his enlistment Corporal Jacobsen was captain of the Charlotte Fire Department. He was killed in action, on October 18, 1918, at LaSelle River, France.

Pierre Cornelius Meisch

Pierre Cornelius Meisch was born in Charlotte on October 15, 1892, Like his grandfather and father before him, he was Superintendent of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. He was the Company Sniper positioned in front-line trenches for 120 days. He died of pneumonia, on October 13, 1918; Private Meisch was a member of Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion,” and the direct cause of his death was due to exposure and experiences with this Battalion.

Raymond J. Quinlan

Raymond J. Quinlan was born August 12, 1889. He died of pneumonia, on February 6, 1919, shortly before his unit sailed for home.

George W. Quinn

George W. Quinn was born September 3, 1889, and lived in Charlotte. He also was a member of the Lost Brigade. He died September 29, 1918, while trying to deliver a message to Whittlesey. Nothing was learned of Quinn’s fate until four months after the Armistice. “After lying out in the depths of the Argonne all winter, almost buried by vines and underbrush, his body was accidentally found by an American burial squad.” His mother found out about the circumstances of her son’s death when a poem about him was published in the Saturday Evening Post.

James H. Scorse

James H. Scorse was born August 4, 1894, and lived at Barnard Crossing. He was twice wounded in action at Soissons, in August 1918, and again in September. After he recovered, he returned to the battlefront. Corporal Scorse was cited for bravery and was the recipient of a medal of honor from the French Government. He was killed by a shell fragment on October 4, 1918.

William E. Sundt

William E. Sundt was born in Charlotte on May 31, 1893. He died on November 30, 1918, another casualty of pneumonia.

Sam Taccone

Sam Taccone was born in Italy and came to America at the age of 17. He lived on Fleming Street in Charlotte before the war. His service continued after the Armistice, but he died of pneumonia, on February 11, 1919.

Arthur J. Tallinger

Arthur J. Tallinger, born circa 1889, was another soldier who died of pneumonia. His death occurred on February 8, 1919. He is buried in the Falls Cemetery.

The Invention of Penicillin

World War II poster for the Invention of Penicillin located in the National World War II Museum

A staggering number of soldiers died during the first world war of non-combat illnesses; bacterial pneumonia was one of the chief causes of death. Penicillin which could have saved these soldiers’ lives was discovered in 1928. It was administered to soldiers in World War II, before being widely used by the general public beginning in 1948.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about two Greece Fire Departments.

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