Saturday, October 18, 2008

The War of 1812 and Black Rock's Roll

The pictures to the left are of a map and a key that where hand written by Gen P. B. Porter. Countdown to the 200-year anniversary of the war of 1812. The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain from June 1812 to the spring of 1815, although the peace treaty ending the war was signed in Europe in December 1814. From the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the United States had been irritated by the failure of the British to withdraw from American territory along the Great Lakes; their backing of the Indians on America's frontiers; and their unwillingness to sign commercial agreements favorable to the United States. The United States at first attempted to change the policies of the European powers by economic means. In 1807, after the British ship Leopard fired on the American frigate CHESAPEAKE, President Thomas Jefferson urged and Congress passed an EMBARGO ACT banning all American ships from foreign trade. The embargo failed to change British and French policies but devastated New England shipping. Later and weaker economic measures were also unsuccessful. Napoleon's announcement in 1810 of the revocation of his decrees was followed by British refusals to repeal their orders, and pressures for war increased. On June 18, 1812, President James MADISON signed a declaration of war that Congress--with substantial opposition--had passed at his request. Unknown to Americans, Britain had finally, two days earlier, announced that it would revoke its orders. American frigates won a series of single-ship engagements with British frigates, and American privateers continually harried British shipping. The captains and crew of the frigates CONSTITUTION and United States became renowned throughout America. Meanwhile, the British gradually tightened a blockade around America's coasts, ruining American trade, threatening American finances, and exposing the entire coastline to British attack. American attempts to invade Canada in 1813 were again mostly unsuccessful. There was a standoff at Niagara, and an elaborate attempt to attack Montreal by a combined operation involving one force advancing along Lake Champlain and another sailing down the Saint Lawrence River from Lake Ontario failed at the end of the year. The only success was in the West. The Americans won control of the Detroit frontier region when Oliver Hazard PERRY's ships destroyed the British fleet on Lake Erie (Sept. 10, 1813). This victory forced the British to retreat eastward from the Detroit region, and on Oct. 5, 1813, they were overtaken and defeated at the battle of the Thames (Moraviantown) by an American army under the command of Gen. William Henry HARRISON. In this battle the great Shawnee chief TECUMSEH, who had harassed the northwestern frontier since 1811, was killed while fighting on the British side. Black Rock was involved in at least 5 separate Military actions including 10/13/1812 , 11/28/1812 , 7/11/1813 and 8/3/1814 this last action being know as The Battle of Black Rock and was fought near Conjocta Creek now known as Scajaquada creek. Here is an excerpt from that account. It comes from the book, "Historical Collections of State of New York", by Barber and Howe. It was written in 1841 when the memories of the War of 1812 were still fairly fresh. "The British troops which crossed over at Black Rock on the 10th inst. were commanded by Cols. BISHOP and WARREN. They crossed the Niagara below Squaw Island, and marched far above the navy yard before any alarm was given. The detached militia being surprised, retreated up the beach, and left the enemy in quiet possession of the village, who proceeded to burn the sailors' barracks and blockhouses at the great battery. They then proceeded to the batteries, dismounted and spiked three 12 pounders, and took away 3 field-pieces and one 12 pounder; they took from a storehouse a quantity of whiskey, salt, flour, pork, and c. [corn?], which, with four citizens, they took across the river. At the first moment of the alarm, Gen. PORTER left Black Rock for Buffalo, at which place he assembled a body of volunteers and a few regulars, which, with 100 militia and 25 Indians, formed a junction about a mile from the enemy. After being formed, with the militia and Indians on the flanks and the volunteers and the regulars in the center, they attacked, and the enemy, after a contest of 20 minutes, retreated in the utmost confusion to the beach, embarked in several of our boats, and pulled for the opposite shore; all the boats got off without injury, except the last, which suffered severely from our fire, and from appearance nearly all the men in her were killed or wounded."

DATE: December 30, 1813 LOCATION: Black Rock and Buffalo, New York VICTORY: British COMMANDERS: Gen. Amos Hall (American)/ Maj. Gen. Phineas Riall (British) CASUALTIES: AMERICAN................ ( 1,200 men) 30 -KILLED/ 40 -WOUNDED/ 69 - CAPTURED BRITISH/INDIANS...... ( 500 regular, 500 Indian) 112 -KILLED, WOUNDED, & MISSING BATTLE DESCRIPTION: As soon as Fort Niagara had been captured, the British under the command of Maj. Gen. Phineas Riall, marched down the American side of the Niagara River. They were till seeking revenge for the burning of Newark. Riall had 500 regulars and 500 Indian warriors with him. They marched through Lewiston, Manchester, and Youngstown burning every farm building for several miles inland from the river. Meanwhile, a company of British troops approached Fort Schlosser, a little ways before the fort. They captured a blockhouse and took 8 Americans prisoner. The Niagara Frontier on the U.S. side of the Niagara River was now in flames. There was almost no resistance, although the Canadian Volunteers destroyed the bridge over the Tonawanda Creek, but Wilcox and his men could at best only delay the inevitable. The Americans were surprised again on December 30 when Riall came back. His objective was to capture any supplies that could be moved and destroy the rest, including any American ships wintering in Buffalo or Black Rock, and any other buildings that might shelter the American army were to be burned. Lt. Gen. Sir Gordon Drummond was a man of action and a strict disciplinarian. He wished to avoid the ransacking of American property that had been the trademark of the American occupation on the Niagara peninsula. His orders for the raid on Buffalo and Black Rock were that any men caught looting would be put to death as punishment. The British forces crossed the captured bridge over the Scajaquada Creek. The cannons were booming at Black Rock. The American Gen. Amos Hall had 1,200 men with him. They put up a fight for awhile, but the militia gave way and retreated through Buffalo. Riall burned both towns of Black Rock and Buffalo and all the buildings that he had missed on his first raid. One serious loss to the Americans was the destruction of 3 of Commodore Oliver H. Perry's small schooners, which were at Black Rock for the winter. The British departed and left a garrison at Fort Niagara. The Buffalo citizens slowly returned to their village. The British had burned the frontier from Buffalo through Black Rock to Eighteen Mile Creek. They destroyed 333 buildings in all, and in Buffalo, only 3 were left standing. Sir George Prevost followed this action with a proclamation that stated his regrets that the British troops had been forced to take measures "so little congenial to the British charactor". He ended the statement with the suggestion that the Americans had better behave themselves in the future. The fires of Buffalo finally died down, but the scorched earth policy was not be the end. Both American and British armies alike had the same thought, "Fire breeds fire and revenge breeds revenge". Before the war would end, more homes and buildings would be burned on both sides of the border, from the smallest cottage to the America's capitol, the White House in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Black Rock Vacancy Initiative

Unfortunately we seem to have hit a bit of a snag in our Black Rock Vacancy Initiative. The promise that I received from the City to write all of the vacant properties in Black Rock for court has not been followed through on. The City has simply refused to cite these properties and I think they are going to need a not so subtle push from the residents. I have attached an Excel file that lists each of the 54 properties that were supposed to be written for Court. It appears as though the only way to get the City to follow through on their promise is for residents to make at least five complaints for each vacant property. Complaints can be made through the Mayor's Complaint Line. As residents and activists, a coordinated effort to flood the complaint line will make the City understand how important this Initiative is and that it cannot be taken lightly. Getting the block clubs, Good Neighbor's Planning Alliance and community activists involved in this process is going to be essential for the ultimate success of the Initiative. We really appreciate the work that all of you have already contributed to this project and it is unfortunate that more needs to be done. The Mayor's Complaint Line phone number is: 851-4890 The Internet link is: Thank you very much for your assistance on this matter and please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Sincerely, Dan Soleimani

Sunday, January 27, 2008

1 year of bloging

This month one year ago I started this blog about the Black Rock community {link to first post here} I have not updated this blog on a consistent basis so it's hard to keep peoples interest. Those of you that do check this blog on a regular basis and don't find updates eventually lose interest . I WILL update as I can there is always something going on in our community and I will try to get that info out here on the Advocate. If anyone wants to share anything about our great community{story's, news, old photos} please send me an email and I may share it here on the Black Rock Advocate. Thank you B.R.A

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BUFFALO ReUSE in Black Rock

I noticed Deconstruction of this former home in Black Rock located at 1731 Niagara St. next to Porter Square I'v touched on this property before here is a bit of background on that area .

Monday, September 24, 2007

Decent story about our creek in the snews today but why is this mess left out?

Every year hard working volunteers do there part to try and cleanup a century of neglect in and around Scajaquada creek but why is this area adjacent to the mouth of the creek in the Black Rock Canal always ignored? I'm sure plenty of people would volunteer if the powers at be would make this a priority. The location of this mess makes it very difficult, dangerous and imposable for an effective cleanup by hand . A barge and heavy equipment would most likely have to be used. This is the pile of shit that you see when going to and from the north end of Squaw Island via the International RR Bridge.

Nature Watch / By Gerry Rising

Scajaquada Creek may be down, but don’t count it out

Updated: 09/23/07 5:40 AM

Alien knotweed and signs of erosion are visible along the banks of Scajaquada Creek in Buffalo.
Last week the redoubtable Riverkeeper Larry Brooks led me on a four-mile walk along the lower reaches of Scajaquada Creek and on a trek around Hoyt Lake. It was a pleasant several hours on one of those hot sunny days of late summer. As we walked, Brooks filled me in on the history of the stream and in the process identified many of its current problems.

Originating from several springs in Lancaster and flowing to its outlet at Black Rock on the Niagara River, Scajaquada Creek is about 13 miles long and its entire watershed is only 29 square miles.

The early explorer Robert LaSalle launched his ship, Griffon, here in 1679 and America’s first naval yard was established near the creek’s mouth in 1812 to help build Oliver Hazard Perry’s Lake Erie fleet.

In the 1880s, Frederick Law Olmsted designed Delaware Park on its banks, damming the creek to form “Gala Water,” now renamed Hoyt Lake after the late State Assemblyman William Hoyt.

But the lake’s condition has been almost all downhill from there.

The 1901 Pan-American Exhibition not only disturbed the area but also encouraged Buffalo’s expansion northward. To support this urban extension in the 1920s, a tunnel was constructed which buried four miles of the stream from Pine Ridge Road to the middle of Forest Lawn Cemetery. Along much of its length — including in this tunnel — storm sewers empty sewage overflow into the creek. As one result, another underground section from the edge of the cemetery around Hoyt Lake is badly silted and almost blocked. Another buried section is under the Walden Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga.

Then came the expressway, which not only took up much of the remaining open land but also divided it and reduced the size of Hoyt Lake. A dam was constructed to separate the cleaner waters of Hoyt Lake from the now seriously polluted creek.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Black Rock section of the Erie Canal has raised the water level above that of the river, severely reducing the outflow from the Scajaquada.

Even some of the steps taken to improve the area backfired. For example, the damming of Hoyt Lake began to turn it into a stagnant deoxygenated pond. A well was added to pump fresh spring water into the lake and the problem was solved. Indeed, but this created another problem. The pump reduced the underground aquifer and began to drain Forest Lawn’s lovely Mirror Lake a quarter mile away. Now cemetery staff must purchase citytreated water (run into its property through an ugly fire hose) to maintain the level of that lake.

Today almost 100,000 people live in the Scajaquada Creek watershed, which also includes Buffalo State, Canisius and Villa Maria Colleges, McKinley and Cheektowaga Union High Schools and the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. Although much of the industry that lined its shores is now gone, those plants left their mark in the stream’s contaminated sediments.

What a mess. A beautiful stream has been turned into a sewer.Yet old Scajaquada ain’t quite dead yet and even shows some signs of recovery. Yes, on our hike, Brooks and I saw many problem areas, but most of our walk was through attractive parklands. We identified wildflowers, birds and insects. Despite the damage wreaked by last year’s October storm, many lovely trees remain. In the water under the shadow of a willow, a snapping turtle showed its head. And Hoyt Lake remains a fitting tribute to a man who was one of the region’s finest politicians.

A single individual is responsible for one major improvement. Jesse Kregal, a tympany player with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, has been pressing officials for more than a decade to construct a biking and walking trail along the creek from Delaware Park to the Niagara Riverwalk. This month that trail has been completed.

Hundreds of volunteers taking part in the annual Great Lakes Beach Sweep recently took tons of refuse and dozens of shopping carts from along the stream.

Of course more needs to be done, but I was encouraged by a woman we met walking her dog. Seeing us taking pictures of trash in the creek, she asked who we were. When Brooks identified himself and Riverkeeper goals, she announced that she would be his ambassador among her many friends. Me, too.