Chautauqua County Historical Society Announces 2012 Event Schedule

Pulitzer Prize Winner to highlight lecture series

Pulitzer Prize winning author Alan Taylor will speak on the War of 1812 as part of the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s 2012 lecture series. (Image by Lynn Friedman/Random House)

(Editor’s Note: This post was updated on May 8, 2012 to reflect a change in date and time for Dr. Alan Taylor’s lecture. It will now take place Saturday, June 16 at 1 p.m.)

WESTFIELD, N.Y. – A Pulitzer Prize winning author will be coming to Chautauqua County this summer to discuss the War of 1812. Dr. Alan Taylor will appear at the Dunkirk Lighthouse on Thursday, June 14,  Saturday, June 16 as part of the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s 2012 Speaker Series. Taylor is a noted historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for American History in 1996 for his book on Cooperstown, N.Y. and who’s most recent book deals with the War of 1812.

“We are extremely honored to have a speaker of this caliber coming to Chautauqua County as a guest of the historical society,” said James O’Brien, historical society president. “Dr. Taylor is a nationally known historian who brings a wealth of knowledge and information to the table. To have him come here to Chautauqua County during the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 is a very exciting occasion for area residents interested in American history.”

Taylor will deliver his lecture – entitled “The Civil War of 1812” – at the Dunkirk Lighthouse on the shore of Lake Erie. It is a fitting location because one of the first skirmishes of the war is believed to have taken place less than a mile to the west of the lighthouse, near the mouth of Canadaway Creek.

Author Alan Taylor’s most recent book, “The Civil War of 1812”, was published in 2010. Copies will be available for purchase during his appearance in Dunkirk on June 14.

“The society’s board of trustees wanted some of this year’s programming to focus on War of 1812, not only because it is the bicentennial but also because of the war’s connection to our own local history,” explained O’Brien.

Taylor’s presentation will focus more on the regional impact of the war. He plans to present a world of conflicting loyalties and overlapping identities in the midst of a war that divided neighbors and relatives on both sides of the Niagara River two hundred years ago.

In addition to his appearance, copies of his latest books – “The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies” – will be made available for purchase and signing by the author.

The lecture, which is in collaboration with the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Dunkirk Veterans Park, will be free and open to the public. It will take place rain or shine at the Lighthouse on June 14, June 16 starting at 6 p.m. 1 p.m.


In addition to Dr. Taylor’s appearance, the Chautauqua County Historical Society has nine other events planned for the year.

The first event of the year will take place on Saturday, April 21 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) in Westfield with the society’s annual meeting and luncheon. The event will feature a lecture from Dr. Thomas Miller from the Erie Maritime Museum. Miller will be on hand to discuss the history of the Brig Niagara, which played a key role in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. In addition, he’ll also provide details about the Erie Maritime Museum, located in Erie, Pa.

The annual meeting and luncheon will take place in the Westfield Methodist Church with Miller’s presentation set to begin at 1 p.m. A luncheon featuring a stuffed chicken breast dinner and desert will also be available at a cost of $15 per person. If planning to attend the luncheon, attendees are asked to make reservation by Saturday, April 14 by calling (716) 326-2977 or email at No reservations are required if only attending the meeting and/or lecture.

On Wednesday, July 11 (6 p.m.), the Historical Society will hold its annual summer picnic at Falconer Park in Falconer, N.Y. The event will feature trustee Jason Sample, who will give a presentation on the early flat boat and keelboat industries of Chautauqua County, which was predominant in the southeastern part of the county during the first half of the 19th century. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a dish to pass and enjoy a pleasant summer evening in the park.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21 (6 p.m.), the Historical Society will partner with the Lawson Boat Museum and the Bemus Point Historical Society for a presentation in the museum. Entitled “History of Lawson Boats and Museum,” a lecture will be given by members of the museum and the audience will have an opportunity to see several of the boats and artifacts.

Saturday, Sept. 29 (2 p.m.) will mark the final lecture of the society’s 2012 speaker series. The organization will partner with the 1891 Fredonia Opera House to host a presentation on the History of Natural Gas in Chautauqua County, delivered by Gary Lash. Lash will provide details on how the first commercial use of natural gas took place in Fredonia. Following the lecture, a tour of the historic opera house will also be provided for those in attendance.

In addition to the society’s speaker series and related programs, several other events will also take place throughout the year. On Saturday, June 9 (6 p.m.) the Historical Society will hold its Annual Fundraiser at the McClurg Museum in Westfield. A Civil War Encampment, featuring re-enactors from the 9th Cavalry, will also be taking place throughout the weekend in Westfield’s Moore Park, where the museum is located.

The annual Westfield Antique Show, which is coordinated by the Historical Society, will take place July 21 and July 22 at Eason Hall. On Aug. 4, the historical society will host the third annual Westfield Book and Paper Show, also at Eason Hall. And on Sunday, Dec. 9, the historical society will present its annual Holiday Open House at the McClurg Museum.

More details of all the historical society’s programs and events can be found online at on the “events” page. Inquiries can also be made by calling (716) 326-2977 or emailing

About the Society
The Chautauqua County Historical Society was established in 1883 and is the oldest historical society in Chautauqua County, N.Y. Since 1951, the organization has been based out of the historic McClurg Mansion (built in 1818) in Westfield, N.Y. Annual Membership rates start at just $20. All members are given free access to the museum year-round and a subscription to the quarterly “Time Lines” newsletter.  For more information, call 716-326-2977 or visit

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