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March 2, 2013

Oneonta's Company G witnessed presidential inauguration in 1913

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The Daily Star

---- — Not long ago, many local residents made the trip to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration ceremonies of President Barack Obama’s second term. The same was true 100 years ago, but a difference back then was that presidential inaugurations took place later, in early March. Company G of Oneonta made the trek south to witness the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson.

Company G of the First New York Regiment of the National Guard was one of 12 state companies to make the trip to Washington. The cost per man was about $15, and each was responsible for it from his own savings.

Nearly 60 men departed by train from the D&H passenger station on today’s Market Street on Sunday evening, March 2. The Star reported how, “the large crowd numbering several hundred people present at the D. & H. station when they embarked evidenced that the city takes pride and interest in its excellent company and is the fact that it will for the first time participate in a national event of this magnitude.”

“The company presented a fine appearance that will reflect credit upon the city and they were greeted with cheers at the station. Captain Parish, who has labored indefatigably in bringing about this consummation, was in command and the men were anticipating a most enjoyable stay in Washington, where they will have unusual liberty to visit and inspect many points of interest.”

Extra coaches were provided on the train, as Company F of Walton joined them at Sidney. At Binghamton, Company H joined in, and the train continued to make the trip, passing through Scranton, Pa., Trenton, N.J., and Philadelphia, Pa., set to reach Washington, D.C., on Monday morning. They arrived “safe and sound” at 8:30 a.m.

The entire First Regiment had obtained a place to stay, at what was called the Washington Inn, described as “an abandoned hotel,” rented at a cost of $1,500. It was reported on March 6 “when the soldiers gathered it was found inadequate to contain them, and many were compelled to bunk in the halls.”

Since the inauguration ceremony was set for Tuesday, March 5, the members of Company G had the rest of Monday to see the sights. Many likely took in the main event of the day, a suffragette parade. 

“There were 10,000 women in line and it required four hours for them to pass the reviewing stand; the principal part of this vast number were college teachers and college girls,” the Star reported. “Vassar college had the most beautiful costumes, and almost every state in the union was represented; Stanley Shannon marched in line with the suffragettes. Teddy Mooney has made a decided hit and creates a vast amount of amusement wherever he goes.”

“Congressman Fairchild was seen during the day in his automobile and given a great cheer by the company.” Congressman George W. Fairchild was Oneonta’s representative in Washington between 1907 and 1919. During this time, presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were guests of his at the Fairchild mansion, today’s Masonic Lodge at the corner of Main and Grand streets.

Company G was among 60,000 men who marched in the inaugural parade from the Capitol to the White House and back, a total of eight miles, passing the review stand of President Wilson and Gen. Leonard Wood. 

With many good memories and quite possibly a few stiff backs from sleeping in the hotel hallways, Company G arrived home on Thursday, March 6, on the 6:20 a.m. train from Binghamton.

On Monday: A new life for Oneonta’s old city hall.

City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.