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Battle of La Belle Famille marker dedicated in Youngstown

Sat, Jul 30th 2016 07:00 am
The new Battle of La Belle Famille marker is unveiled. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
The new Battle of La Belle Famille marker is unveiled. (Photo by Wayne Peters)

Through the efforts of the Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee, Town of Porter Historical Society, Niagara County Historian Catherine Emerson, and Old Fort Niagara, a new historic marker was dedicated July 24 at the intersection of Main, Water and Lockport streets in Youngstown.

The ceremony marked the culmination of a years-long effort of working with the state on relocating the Battle of La Belle Famille historic marker to the actual site in the village where the battle occurred.

Numerous representatives attended, including William G. Pomeroy Foundation WNY Ambassador Nicole Walters, Town of Porter Historical Society President Dotty Riordan, Niagara County Legislator Clyde Burmaster, Emerson, Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee member Karen Noonan and Old Fort Niagara Executive Director Robert Emerson.

Riordan told attendees it was many years ago when she learned the historic marker, then further south on Lower River Road, did not commemorate the main battle, which took place in the vicinity of Main and Lockport streets.

Noonan recalled the historical significance of the site was not only that the battle was fought there, but that, almost 55 years later, in December 1813, British troops would, again, successfully advance on the fort, held this time by American forces.

"In peaceful times, this site would be associated with the travelers and tourists who came to the area," Noonan said. "Here once stood the El Dorado Hotel and, across the street, still stands The Ontario House. And today, the Discover Niagara Shuttle stops and picks up passengers at the same site the Lewiston & Youngstown Frontier Railway stopped 113 years ago on its way to Fort Niagara and Rumsey Park."

Brian Leigh Dunnigan, former executive director of Old Fort Niagara and current associate director and curator of maps for the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, was honored for his research on the early history of the Great Lakes - especially the Niagara Region. It was Dunnigan's research and publication about the siege, "The Siege of 1759," which lead to the current placement of the marker.

Walters said the Pomeroy Foundation, which furnished the marker, created this program to support its goal of using historic signs to educate the public and foster historic tourism, which, in turn, will lead to economic benefits for the community. The foundation has placed over 300 historic makers in New York state, four of which are located in Niagara County.

In addition to the current marker, there is a second in Youngstown that notes the achievements of Betsy Doyle, the War of 1812 heroine of Fort Niagara.

Noonan announced the Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee, in cooperation with the Town of Porter Historical Society, pledged to continue efforts to promote local history through the placement of additional markers.

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