Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: Mini Sketches of Early Fairporters

History is full of signature moments.  Certain events and individuals dot the pages of any history book or community lore.  Fairporters recall the names of Dr. Amy Kaukonen, Joseph Babcock, Donald Blakeslee, H.G. Ingraham, Matt Killinen, Hugh Prosser, Samuel Huntington, and others.  'The Diamond',  P.&L.E.Dock Co, Mardi Gras, Schoolhouse Fire, Walnut Hill, community athletic prowess still resonate in village memories.  Today we recall some little known early Fairporters.

                                                          Dr. H. E. York

Dr. York was a progressive, and civic minded citizen of the community for decades.  Dr. H. E. York studied in Ottawa and graduated from medical college in Montreal in 1894.  He came to Fairport immediately after graduation and practiced medicine.  This Lake County physician was the division surgeon for the B&O Railroad as well as the Diamond Alkali Company.  He finished his distinguished medical career as Lake County Coroner.

                                                       'Fighting John' Guraly

A noted politic activist, this early Fairporter made his mark as a Democratic leader in Lake County during the 1930's.  His colorful political fights with Congressmen won approval of funding for the village water plant.  Guraly served on Village Council under three Mayors beginning in 1924.  As President of Council he spearheaded changes that reduced Federal and local governmental bungling / red tape that resulted in the passage of many initiatives favorable to Fairport.

                                                      Joseph Rider

Perhaps more associated with the famous Rider Tavern he built in Painesville, Ohio, Rider nonetheless was an enterprising early pioneer in Fairport.  He built his first local hostelry in 1803.  His Fairport hotel stood for many years during the early part of the 19th century.

                                                     Samuel Butler

Butler came to Fairport in 1816.  A trader, business man and merchant, he supplied immigrant ships with provisions and fuel.  He married Mary P. Welsh, said to be the prettiest girl in the Reserve in 1816 and their homestead on the west side of Eagle Street still remains, the oldest home in Fairport.  Butler became the first keeper of the lighthouse in Fairport in 1825.  In 1827 Butler was elected to the State Legislature.  He also served the community as the local Collector of Customs.  An Abolitionist, he was involved as a conductor for the Underground Railroad in Fairport / Lake County.

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