First published Jan. 17, 1985:
Among the oldest photographs in the Patterson Library files are two taken by Weatherup, a local photographer, in October 1886. They show both sides of a handsome silk banner which was presented by the 9th New York Cavalry on the occasion of its 25th anniversary reunion in Westfield, Oct. 1-2, 1886.
The Weatherup Photography Studio was located on South Portage St. "next to the Presbyterian Church." That was before there was a McClurg Street and the little building stood at what is now a busy intersection.
Weatherup photograph from Patterson Library files
One side of the elegant banner presented to Wm. Sackett Post GAR at the 9th New York Volunteer Cavalry reunion held in Westfield 25 years after the unit first assembled in Westfield.
The Sept. 22, 1896 Westfield Republican printed a little item from the Jamestown News announcing the reunion and stating, "During the reunion, the boys will present an elegant banner to Wm. Sackett 324 GAR at Westfield. This banner will be purchased in New York City whither Capt. Lyman goes in a few days for the purpose of purchasing."
On Oct. 16, 1886, it was reported that over 250 veterans attended the reunion on Friday and Saturday, bronzed and weather-beaten, hair showing signs of age - very different from the gathering of 25 years before when they were boys full of vigor and hope, born of belief in the justice of their cause.
The History of the 9th New York Cavalry tells that 10 companies from Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties assembled at Westfield during September and October 1861, established camp on the fairgrounds in the southern part of the village and began taking lessons in camp duties and cavalry tactics. The camp was named Camp Seward, in honor of Wm. H. Seward, then Secretary of State and who had at one time resided in Westfield as agent of the Holland Land Company. Company officers were elected, and the medical examination of the men was made by Dr. Spencer of Westfield. About 20 muskets furnished by the state were used for instruction in guard duty. Meals served at the rough wooden barracks by Paul Persons, under contract with the state, were substantial and wholesome. Barracks were built sufficient for about one-half the men. The others were in tents. Generous Westfield citizens furnished wood for amp fires and opened their houses to the men on cold and stormy nights.
On Oct. 31, uniforms, clothing and canteens arrived for most of the men and were issued. These supplies consisted of cavalry jackets, trousers, shoes, and underclothing furnished by the state. Of the underclothing, there was one shirt, one pair of drawers and one pair of stockings for each man.
The 1886 Reunion was the first time these men had been together since the regiment left Westfield 25 years before. Small wonder that it was such a momentous occasion. The townsfolk went all out to honor the regiment which had done such noble service during the Civil War. Business places and private homes were decorated with flags and bunting. Mr. J.S. Williams of Buffalo was in charge of decorating. "At the top of Westfield Hill, (which was near the corner of Main and Portage Streets before the viaduct was built) was a very large wooden monument representing General Grant on horseback. This monument was modeled after the proposed Grant Monument in Buffalo."
Dinners were served at The Rink by ladies' committees. Meetings were held at Wells Opera House. A reception was held at Virginia Hall where the gallery was filled with ladies and the platform occupied by speakers and other dignitaries. Rev. A.M. Tennant opened the meeting with prayer. A glee club, composed of S.W. Mason, G.H. Barton, P.W. Bemis, and E. Bemis, sang "We Were Comrades Together in the Days of the War." More music was provided by the Westfield Cornet Band.
Capt. W. Goodrich gave the presentation speech when the elegant silk banner was given to the Wm. Sackett Post and Commander Bemis received the banner on behalf of the Post. The 25th anniversary reunion of the 9th New York Volunteer Cavalry was surely one of the biggest and best celebrations in the history of Westfield.