Town Line, New York

There was no newspaper coverage of Town Line’s actions when the residents voted 80-45 to secede from the Union in December 1861. The crossroads border of Lancaster and Alden has never established its own separate legislative standing, and the vote carried no legal weight.

 During the patriotic fervor of the end of World War II, Buffalo’s Courier Express ran a story about the hamlet’s secession, making much of its alignment with the southern Confederacy. The competing Buffalo Evening News responded with an interview with Eleanor Bissell, the official historian of Lancaster, NY, and distant relative of the Willis family.   She explained that some men did indeed get together and vote for a secession, but that it was primarily a pre-emptive move to dodge the draft. Not surprisingly, Town Line residents tend to lay claim to an alignment with the Confederacy.

Legend has it that the secessionists signed a declaration of their independence, but the fate of that document is unknown. The desk it was signed on is on display in the Alden Historical Society.

In January, 1946, four score and four years after the secession vote, Town Line was reinstated to the Union in a ceremony lead by actors Martha Stewart (No, not that one) and Cesar Romero (pre-Joker). On the recommendation of President Harry Truman, the residents celebrated  with a fatted calf barbecue. They then rode to downtown Buffalo, where they watched the premiere of a movie called Colonel Effingham’s War. That procession was lead by William H. Webster, Mary Willis’ grandson.

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