News & Announcements

Copies of the Historical Society's Newsletter are available here.

For many years, a quiet but very friendly gentleman graced the last pew of Trinity United Church of Christ sanctuary every Sunday. Over time, he has lost his hearing but never his beautiful smile. While he was a man of few words, little did we know that he was a man of great deeds.

Roger Lewis was that man. We came to know him as a successful businessman, a community volunteer, and a devoted husband and father. His quiet demeanor did not give a hint to his accomplishments during the Korean War. Roger was born in Auburn but spent most of his adult life in Union Springs. He owned several successful office supply stores long before Staples and Office Max were part of our landscape. He married Millicent Spring and together they had two children, Deb and David. Roger served our country in the Army both during World War II and yet again during the Korean War when he was called back to service. It was during this war that Roger was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the United States Armed Forces" third-highest military decoration for valor in combat. The Silver Star Medal is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

Below is the citation which accompanies Roger's medal which is on display at the Frontenac Museum.



GENERAL ORDERS 5 August 1951


AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR. By direction of the President, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July 1918 (WD Bul. 43, 1918), and pursuant to the authority in AR 600-45, the Silver Star for gallantry in action is awarded to the following named enlisted man:

Corporal ROGER E. LEWIS, ER12246761, Infantry, United States Army, Company K, 31st Infantry, distinguished himself by gallantry in action near Sindok, Korea, on 4 June 1951. On this date, Corporal LEWIS's platoon was attacking a heavily defended enemy-held hill when the group was pinned down by intense hostile small arms and automatic weapons fire. Observing the fire was being placed on them from a bunker, Corporal LEWIS, with complete disregard for his personal safety, charged up the hill firing his automatic weapon at a rapid rate. Reaching the emplacement, his BAR failed to fire. Corporal LEWIS then used his pistol and grenades to kill the occupants of the bunker. The intrepid and prompt action of Corporal LEWIS allowed his platoon to advance and capture its objective with negligible casualties. The gallantry displayed by Corporal LEWIS reflects great credit on himself and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

And so this Memorial Day Weekend, we remember Roger, a quiet, brave and fearless hero whose heroism is hidden no more. There are many quiet heroic veterans among us. It could be the man who mows the museum lawn always with a smile on his face who served during the Viet Nam War. It could be a Lion Club Member who gives of his time on Saturdays to barbeque chicken knowing that the proceeds will benefit many of our community organizations. It could be a member of the American Legion who supports the amenities of this organization knowing that those proceeds will also promote the good of our community. It is our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, as well as neighbors, who served our country and continue to serve today in a more quiet way. We salute and thank each and every one of you for your continued service!

The Frontenac Museum is grateful to the Lewis family for entrusting us with Roger's Silver Star and Commendation which are on permanent display in the museum's Military Room.

Recently the Frontenac Museum, Lions Club, American Legion and businessman Eric Rosencrans partnered to sponsor a writing contest for all students residing in the Union Springs Central School District. Students submitted an original essay, poem, song or short story entitled "My Life in the Pandemic." Awards were given at both Middle School and High School levels. We are pleased to announce the following student winners:

Middle School

First Place - Finleigh Biter

Second Place - Alexandra Batruch

Third Place - Kate Besner

High School

First Place - Olivia Koffler

Second Place - Alexys Northrup

Third Place - Victoria Powers

Congratulations to the winners! Honorable mention is also given to the 18 other students who submitted entries. Thank you to all the participants for providing and preserving a historical record of a challening time for future readers.

With his wife Rhoda and their six children, Hiram McDonald (1807-1890) arrived in Union Springs sometime in the 1840's. Over time, another six children would join the family here. Hiram also brought with him his keen knowledge of boat building which had been honed around the boat yards of Ludlowville in Tompkins County.

On several census records for Springport, Hiram's listed occupation was that of ship carpenter, boat builder and manufacturer. He also served several terms as a school and village trustee. But Hiram's greatest connections were his ties to the Howland's, a wealthy New Bedford whaling family who saw great possibility for growth in this area. It was the patriarch, George, who built the iconic stone mill at the North Pond realizing the potential value of a pond which never froze in the cold winter months.

George's son, Charles, engaged in a local ferry boat operation and in boat building. By the 1850's, McDonald joined Charles Howland in his boat building yard located adjacent to the canal leading from the North Pond and Cayuga Lake. It is noted as "Dock House" on the 1859 map of Union Springs.

In advertisements dating to the 1850's which appeared in Albany newspapers, it is clear that McDonald's intention was to attract commercial buyers from all over New York State. To tempt these buyers, McDonald cleverly moored one of his boats, the "Adriatic," at a dock in Brooklyn. The Adriatic, a cargo ship built by the Union Springs' lakeside, offered a tonnage of 86.68 tons.

Noted Haverford College graduate, philanthropist and area entrepreneur, Robert Howland, stated in a 1902 edition of the Union Springs Advertiser that "Hiram McDonald built the best boats every floated in the Erie Canal in a yard west of the mill" referring the mill at the North Pond.

Following his retirement from boat building, Hiram worked for Howland Bending Works. In 1861 he was granted Patent No. 31,182 for a device which created a more secure means of bending wood. In 1981, IBM applied for a patent entitled Dynamic Send Queue Modification System which was a data communications system providing for the dynamic modification of a queue of documents arranged sequentially for transmission. This patent and 14 later patents all cited McDonald's original patent in their applications. Hiram and Rhoda McDonald removed from Union Springs to Shortsville, NY to be near family and where he died in 1890.

We are indebted to Alan McDonald, three greats grandson of Hiram McDonald for the source information for this article. Alan presented the museum with copies of a biography of Hiram which he completed in 2016. Hiram's History. Copies of this biography are available in the Lake Room of the museum.