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Elmira Wedding Resources (more information)


Elmira, NY
History

Early history

The Sullivan Expedition of 1779 passed through the area and fought a British force at the Battle of Newtown, south of the current city. The Iroquois and the new United States made a treaty at Elmira in 1791 to settle territorial disputes in the region.

The first settler in Elmira was captain Abraham Miller of the Continental Army. He built a cabin after resigning just before the Revolutionary war. Miller's Pond and Miller Street are named after him where his house was originally built.

Elmira's formation

The New York legislature established the Township of Chemung, now Chemung County, in 1788. The settlement of Newtown was soon established at the intersection of Newtown Creek and the Chemung River. In 1792, the settlement at Newtown joined with the Wisnerburg and DeWittsburg settlements to form the village of Newtown. In 1808, the village officially changed its name to the Town of Elmira, at a town meeting held at Teal's Tavern. It's said the town was named after tavern owner Nathan Teal's young daughter, but that story has never been confirmed. In any case, the City of Elmira, also called "The Queen City", was incorporated in 1864 from part of the town of Elmira and the village of Elmira. The remaining part of the town of Elmira exists still, surrounding the city on the west, north, and east. The city and town share an intricately entwined history. According to Amos B. Carpenter's Family History book printed in 1898, Elmira is named after Major General Matthew Carpenter's daughter. This occurred according to the book in 1821 at the constitutional convention which Matthew was a delegate to.

Elmira served as a transportation hub for New York's Southern Tier in the 1800s, connecting commercial centers in Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City, via the canal system and railroads. The city was the southern terminus of the Chemung Canal (completed in 1833); later, the Junction Canal was constructed to connect Elmira with Corning, facilitating transport of coal from the Pennsylvania mines via the Northern branch of the Susquehanna Canal system. Some years after, the Erie and New York Railroads were completed and criss-crossed in the midst of the city, making it a prime location for an Army training and muster point early in the Civil War.

A great deal of the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Union installation, known as Camp Rathbun, fell into disuse as the Civil War progressed, and the camp's "Barracks #3" were converted into a Civil War prison camp in the summer of 1864. The camp, in use from June 6, 1864 until the fall of 1865, was dubbed "Hellmira" by its inmates. Towner's history of 1892 and maps from the period indicate the camp occupied a somewhat irregular parallelogram, running about 1,000 feet (300 m) west and approximately the same distance south of a location a couple of hundred feet west of Hoffman Street (Foster Avenue?) and Winsor Avenue, bordered on the south by Foster's Pond more or less, on the north bank of the Chemung River.

In the months the site was used as a camp, 12,123 Confederate soldiers were incarcerated; of these, 2,963 died during their stay from a combination of malnutrition, prolonged exposure to brutal winter weather, and disease directly attributable to the dismal sanitary conditions on Foster's Pond and lack of medical care. The camp's dead were prepared for burial and laid to rest by the sexton at Woodlawn National Cemetery, ex-slave John W. Jones. At the end of the war, each prisoner was given a loyalty oath and given a train ticket back home; the last prisoner left the camp on September 27, 1865. The camp was closed, demolished and converted to farm land. Woodlawn cemetery, about 2 miles (3 km) north of the original prison camp site (bounded by West Hill, Bancroft, Davis, and Mary Streets), was designated a National Cemetery in 1877. The prison camp site is today a residential area.

As Elmira grew, so did the citizens' concern about increased crime after the end of the war; the idea of constructing a reformatory within the city had been discussed for some years. Finally, lands on which the present-day Elmira Correctional Facility resides, approximately 280 acres (1.1 km2) in all (north of Bancroft across the street from Woodlawn Cemetery), were purchased in 1869 and 1870 by the state legislature, specifically for construction of the reformatory and an armory. These lay within the boundaries of the town of Elmira, rather than the city. Around the same time, Dr. Eldwin Eldridge purchased a large tract of wilderness (~ 100 acres (0.4 km2)) with a small pond, also within the township, and developed it into a fabulous garden spot. His sudden death in 1876 put paid to his plans to develop the land further. After his death, Dr. Eldridge's estate granted access to the parkland to Elmira residents and tourists. In 1889, the city purchased the land, calling it Eldridge Park in the doctor's honor. The park this time held a nearly 15-acre (61,000 m2) lake in its center, along with marble statuary, flower gardens, fountains, driving and walking paths, and a labyrinth. In 1890, along with Eldridge park, the Reformatory, and Armory, the city added a well-populated area known as "Carr's Corners" (area bounded by Hoffman, West Hill, and Hillcrest (old Carr Road) - and appears to include the residential area around and to the south of Woodlawn National Cemetery[citation needed].

Elmira Economy

In 1950, the population of the City of Elmira peaked at about 50,000, which represented 57 percent of Chemung County’s total population at that time. Today, the City has approximately 30,000 residents, which represents 34 percent of Chemung County’s total population. This population decline is due to the national decline in railroads and manufacturing.

Today, the primary manufacturing employers are:

Anchor Glass Container Corporation, located in Elmira Heights, is a manufacturer of glass containers. Anchor Glass produces a diverse line of flint, amber, green, and other colored glass containers of various types and designs for the beer, food, beverage and liquor markets. [1]

Notable people with ties to Elmira

Geoff Bodine
Ernie Davis
Tommy Hilfiger
Mark Twain

   
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