Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 7, 2014

HIGGS: St. Peter's Episcopal Church and early life

Niagara Gazette — Last time we learned how the Porter family assisted the parish of a small chapel known as Christ Church in downtown Niagara Falls in 1846 by donating two parcels of land, one for a site on which to build a church and one for a parsonage house. The History of St. Peter’s Church found in a Program of Services Held in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Laying of the Corner Stone referred to “General Peter Buel Porter, whose estate donated the lots referred to, as a well-known pioneer and distinguished citizen of the Niagara frontier.” He was elected to Congress in 1808 but resigned and recruited a group of volunteers during the War of 1812 against Great Britain. He later served as Secretary of War in President John Quincy Adams’ cabinet and died at his home in Niagara Falls on March 20, 1844. His son, Colonel Peter Augustus Porter and his sister Elizabeth donated the two parcels of land which were part of his father’s estate left to them. Colonel Porter was killed June 3, 1863, during the Civil War in the bloody battle of Cold Harbor.

On Easter Monday in 1847, the members of the reorganized parish met and elected as Wardens, Samuel DeVeaux and George W. Holley along with eight vestrymen: Christopher H. Smith, Richard H. Woodruff, Dexter R. Jerauld, Hollis White, Cyrus F. Smith, Michael Walsh, Abel M. Swallow and John Telyea. Some of these men were well known to the congregation at the 50th anniversary celebration in 1923 or at least their names fondly remembered. We already were introduced to Judge Samuel DeVeaux in a previous article and Mr. Holley who lived in the stone house on the river at the beginning of the “Loop drive” which was surrounded by several acres of only partially cultivated fields — all fronting on Buffalo Avenue extending to the bank of the Upper Niagara River. This was, of course, prior to the state of New York’s purchase of Reservation Drive. Michael Walsh was the father of Mrs. Hamlin who lived in the large brick house with extensive grounds on Third Street, near Ferry Avenue with her daughters. The rector at the time, Amos Treadway was also a relative of the Walsh and Hamlin families. Dexter Jerauld lived in the old stone house on Buffalo Avenue, which later became the Niagara Club.

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