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Politics In 1888

by Lynne Belluscio

Last Thursday I attended the County Historians meeting and picked up a small booklet written by Pembroke Historian, Lois Brockway in 2007. She and Allan Starkweather and Joann Cummings updated it this year. The story is about the “Tallyho Trip in 1888” in Genesee County during President Grover Cleveland’s reelection campaign.

Although Grover Cleveland was born in 1837 in New Jersey, he grew up in New York. His father was a Presbyterian minister and the family moved to Fayetteville, New York, near Syracuse. The family then moved to Clinton, N.Y. in Oneida County and finally to Utica.

After his father’s death, Grover headed west and in 1855 he was living in Buffalo. In 1859 he was admitted to the Bar. During the Civil War, he paid to have a Polish immigrant serve his Army conscription. He became politically aligned with the Democrats and opposed the Republicans of Abraham Lincoln.  By 1870 he ran for Sheriff of Buffalo and won. In that capacity, he personally hanged two criminals.

In 1882, he became Mayor of Buffalo, and then won the state election as Governor a year later. He ran for President in 1884 and took office in 1885.  In 1888 he ran for reelection against the Republican candidate, Benjamin Harrison.

Genesee County was predominately Republican and the Democrats decided on a publicity tour with a “tally ho coach.”  Willis Z, Stanard, who owned a livery stable, drove the horses. The coach was covered with banners which read “Cleveland and Thurman.” The coach left the Continental Hotel in Batavia on Monday morning at 9 in the morning. On board was Edward O’Donnell, from New York, who was the Democratic State Speaker. From Batavia was O.C. Parker, the hotel landlord; Wilbur Smith, hardware merchant; A.E. Clark lawyer and one of the speakers; and Batavia lawyers, David Lent and R.L. Kinsey. There were musicians perched high on the back seats – a fifer, bass drummer and two snare drummers. As they left Batavia, the band played “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Packed inside the coach  “was the best of everything: 10 cent cigars, good liquor, and lunch . . .”

 

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