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Route 5 in Fayetteville, NY

We made a quick trip across Route 5, and sped through the little town of Fayetteville, NY; this small, cosmopolitan village is only a few minutes from Syracuse. The root word “Fayette” is a very popular name for Upstate New York towns and streets. These places are named for the electrifying young nobleman from France who aided George Washington during the American Revolution– the Marquis de Lafayette. After the Revolution, in 1824-25, Lafayette victoriously toured across the United States and was met with parades of people, fireworks, flowers, and other celebrations. He was and still is a highly-celebrated national hero, for he epitomized the youthful purity and energy of the American cause of liberty. He was, obviously, a devoted darling of George Washington and all the founding men of our country. And here’s a little trivia tidbit for you: when U.S. general John Pershing landed the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I, his first words were “Lafayette, we are here!”

I don’t think Lafayette ever visited his Upstate NY namesake town, but Fayetteville is historical in its own way. Fayetteville was first settled in 1792, (originally known as Manlius Four Corners). It was incorporated as a village in 1844, and renamed in honor of Marquis de Lafayette.

Fayetteville Marker

Fayetteville was along the path of the Erie Canal, which brought incredible prosperity to all Upstate cities along the towpaths. Fayetteville also sits on precious limestone deposits from which cropped up mills and mines. Today, Fayetteville is a goldmine of prosperous and educated people, boasting a median household income of $50,598 and the median family income reportedly at $66,201, with only 1% of its population below the poverty level. It sits in a convenient spot, so close to one of Upstate’s largest cities (Syracuse) with nearly a dozen colleges and universities within commuting distance. 81% of Fayetteville residents 25 and older have college degrees.

This is a snapshot of Fayetteville’s Presbyterian Church on Route 5, built in 1859. It merged with Baptist congregation in 1933 and is known as the United Church.

Fayettville Church

Fayetteville was the boyhood home of President Grover Cleveland. His father, Reverend Richard Falley Cleveland, was pastor of the Presbyterian Church when Grover was four years old. The Clevelands lived there until they moved to Clinton, NY, in 1850, when Grover was about 13 years old.

Grover Cleveland

Old Presbyt Church

The Fayetteville Library website at fayettevillefreelibrary.org has an excellent page about Grover Cleveland, including photos of his boyhood possessions.

Grover Cleveland Marker

It was difficult to tell exactly which house was the Cleveland’s. The traffic was heavy and big snowbanks on the sides of the streets didn’t leave me much time for investigation. I snapped a photo of this house, the one that held the historical marker. Was this the Cleveland home?

Grover Cleveland House

Update: No, upon investigation, I see that the Cleveland home is on Academy Street and looked like this in 1899.

Cleveland house

Fayetteville was also the home of Matilda Joslyn Gage, an active abolitionist and womens’ rights advocate.

Matilda Joslyn Gage Marker

Some of the older photos are courtesy of the Fayetteville Library webpage.

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (6)

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  1. Allison says:

    Go Upstate! 😀 WNY native 😀 (still resident :-)).

    I know of a window in our town that was scorched because a candle burned down while waiting for Lafayette to come through. That building was a home, I believe, at the time, but now it’s the Library’s Historical Museum. Been a while since we looked around there—last time we did, the upstairs was off limits, but I know I saw the window when I learned of it in school (about 20 years ago). 🙂

  2. Ed Hutchison says:

    Having lived many years in Fayetteville, Lyndon, and DeWitt, I very much enjoyed seeing these photos. Thank you.

    Edward Hutchison
    Madison, MS

  3. So pleased to see the historic home of Matilda Joslyn Gage mentioned. It is the only home in the country where the author of the Wizard of Oz spent time that is open to the public. Also an official Underground Railroad site, and listed on the forthcoming “Votes for Women” trail. Gage was considered part of the woman suffrage leadership triumvirate with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The home is currently undergoing restoration, and is open by appointment for rehabilitation tours. Call 315-637-8511 or email foundation@matildajoslyngage.org

  4. Interesting post. Lafayette visited Utica and paid a call on President Adam’s niece, ?? Johnson, who lived on Genesee Street (until till the mansion was torn down in the late 1800s)where the “Gold Dome Bank is now located.
    Obviously you have discovered the vast amount of national history located in central New York.
    Utica boasts as being the home of a former Vice President of the USA, and a presidential candidate of the USA.
    It is also the home of a Governor.
    Thanks for the mini history lesson.

  5. Sabra says:

    This is a very interesting piece of History. I had heard of Fayetteville in the past, but never knew anything about it. I love History, so thanks for the lesson 🙂

  6. Sue L. says:

    The gray Federal house above with the historical marker would be the Dr. Curtis Hurd house c.1830. It is part of the Genesee Street Hill-Limestone Plaza Historic District which was listed on the National Register in 1982. At first I thought it was the Palmer house farther west at 7189 E. Genesee as they are very similar.