Bellona (aka Le Roy) celebrates bicentennial Friday
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Bellona (aka Le Roy) celebrates bicentennial Friday

Jun 7, 2012

BELLONA (LE ROY) — Here ye, Hear ye! Be it known that all citizens and freeholders of the town of Bellona are requested to assemble at 7:30 p.m. on the eighth day of June, year two thousand and twelve.

Assembly shall take place at Trigon Park, near the school.

Alms for the poor shall be the first order of business.

Shall any citizens and freeholders of Bellona so desire, they may also gather at 5 p.m. on this eighth day of June for a feast of ox, which rumor has it may not necessarily be ox but roast beef.

Shall any citizens and freeholders of Bellona have no clue where Bellona is, why all they have to do is ask.

Bellona was the original name of the town of Le Roy, at least for a year or so before the name was officially changed to Le Roy, said Lynne Belluscio, chairman of the committee of arrangements for Friday night’s Bicentennial Celebration at Trigon Park.

New York State Legislature passed a law dividing the town of Caledonia on June 8, 1812 and thus Caledonia was “erected into a separate town by the name of Bellona and that the first town meeting will be held at the schoolhouse near Stoddard’s mills, in said town.

The town meeting was not conducted until the first Monday of March, 1813. At some point either during the meeting or in that first year of existence, the town fathers decided to change the name of Bellona, the Greek Goddess of War, to Le Roy, after Herman Le Roy, a rich land speculator and merchant from New York city who owned the Triangle Tract.

On April 6, 1813, the state Legislature officially changed the name to Le Roy.

“There was a lot of discussion about when to celebrate the bicentennial,” Belluscio said. “We decided to go with when the state created the entity. June 8, 1812.”

Armed with $1,000 authorized from the Town Board and a fund-raising effort to reach $3,500 Belluscio and other organizers set the date and have a plethora of activities planned, beginning with the $10 a plate ox roast.

Then, at 7:15 the Chimmer’s Bell Choir of First Presbyterian Church will perform, followed by Le Roy Marching Knights, a welcome by Belluscio and Le Roy High School students signing “Hail Columbia.”

The official meeting will begin with town Supervisor Stephen Barbeau presiding in place of the first-ever supervisor, Dr. William Sheldon.

Belluscio and town historian Irene Walters pored through minutes of the first town meeting in 1812 and decided to re-create much of what was done.

Meetings were much different in 1812, Belluscio said.

“Town meetings were held once a year and when they got together, that was what our founding fathers envisioned. Town meetings were so important and for these people it was the only chance they had at confronting government. They didn’t go to Albany or Washington. And at the time, the Revolutionary War was still fresh in their minds and many of them fought for the right to have these meetings.”

The first meeting in 1813 had several orders of business, the first being to elect a board.

Twenty-eight men were appointed overseers of the highways, a volunteer job that allowed the roads to be kept clear of debris. Two constables were appointed and a fund of $50 was established to care for the poor.

A bounty was set for fox and restrictions were set on what people could do with their board and rams.

Barbeau will lead Friday’s “meeting” with the first order of business being a donation to the Le Roy Food Pantry.

The meeting will end with 13 toasts, including one to Herman Le Roy and “to the Ladies, fairest of the fair because they are free.”

Oh, and Barbeau will take the Oath of Office using Herman Le Roy’s family bible, which was recently discovered in Rhode Island and borrowed for the event, Belluscio said.

Other activities includes games for children, and fireworks at 9:30 p.m. 

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