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A Little Known Connection Between Upstate And The First Juneteenth

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - When the enslaved people of Texas learned they were free, two months after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it was a Sodus native, Union Army General Gordon Granger, who delivered the news.

On June 10, 1865, the Civil War hero was given command of the Department of Texas on June 10, 1865. Nine days later, as one of his first official acts in that role, Granger published General Order No. 3.

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Gordon Granger was born in the hamlet Joy, southwest of Sodus, in November, 1821. His mother later died while giving birth to a daughter and Granger was raised by his paternal grandfather in Phelps.

Before starting his military career at West Point, Granger was a school teacher in North Rose.

Bruce Farrington of the Sodus Historical Society said efforts are underway to erect a marker detailing Granger’s role in history.

“Hard to believe its 2021,” he said, “and no marker has even been erected and that’s one reason so few people know about his story and his significance in history.”

General Granger died at his post of duty in Santa Fe, New Mexico on January 2, 1876.