It’s time to give Austin Badger his due.

We all enjoy Public Square during the various festivals and celebrations that take place  almost continually during the year.  We revel in its picturesque beauty during all four seasons and think how lucky we are to live in such a lovely, historic community.

But no one ever thinks to thank Captain Austin Badger, the young pioneer who single-handedly whacked his way through three acres of primeval forest to create a village green in 1819 when the community was still in its infancy.

Austin Badger was born in Green, Chenango County, New York in 1793.  He volunteered for the militia when the War if 1812 began and was present when the British burned Buffalo.

Six years later, he folded all his  worldly possessions into a knapsack and walked from Buffalo to Cleveland, and thence to the area that would become Medina County. Rufus Ferris, land agent for Medina’s founder, Elijah Boardman, hired him as a surveyor and gave him a contract to clear the Public Square area. Badger sharpened his axe and went to work.

Captain Badger was also the first resident on the Square.  He built the first building — a two story log cabin on the northwest corner, presently the location of Cool Beans Coffee Shop.  The ground floor served as a tavern (and his dwelling) and the second story was used as a court room.

Not only did Badger clear and  survey Public Square — he also assisted in naming the first streets in the village.  This also happened in 1819, during the first Fourth of July celebration.

Here is his account of that memorable day from the 1881 History of Medina County:  “The Fourth of July had come…and it was resolved that it should be celebrated with appropriate honors.  In the morning, a long pole was cut and stuck in a hollow beech stump where the old courthouse now stands, and on its top, streamed gloriously …a bandanna handkerchief, being the best facsimile of the nation’s flag that could be found.”

He goes on to say, “Good whiskey, being one of the necessary articles on such a day, was bountifully furnished and plentifully drank as a beverage.  Sentimental toasts were drank… Whiskey, sweetened with home-made sugar constituted the drink that was handed around in fashionable circles in those days.”

Badger adds, “We, on that day, gave names to all the streets or main roads that then centered in the village, by which names they are still called.”

(This, no doubt accounts for such mellow and “sentimental”  names as Friendship and Harmony.)

The hard work did not appear to do Captain Austin Badger any harm.  He lived to the venerable age of 90 and is buried in the Old Town Cemetery.

So, the next time you walk across Medina’s picturesque Public Square, think of the man who wielded such a ferocious axe.  And say thank you.

Happy New Year.  And a special thanks to my lovely daughter Jess for inspiring me to create this blog.

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