by Barb Chapman, Wheatland Town Historian
At four-thirty in the morning of November 11, 1918, Rev. P. J. McArdle of St. Mary’s Church in Scottsville was awakened with the news that the “Great War” was over. The armistice had been signed! The church bell immediately pealed out the news. In the evening, a parade, led by the Scottsville Band, marched through the town, and a ceremony was held to celebrate the victory. Five local dignitaries gave speeches, as the mothers of the soldier boys listened from the back of the platform. It was the second parade and ceremony in a few days.
Four days earlier, Father McArdle had received word that the war had ended, and the celebrating had begun. It was found later that the news had been premature, and the armistice was not yet signed. The Wheatland people probably had no problem rejoicing and reveling in good news twice in one week. Since the fighting had not ceased until the moment the armistice was signed, many of the Wheatland soldiers were still overseas. Father McArdle had been appointed the Town of Wheatland representative for the Monroe County Historical Commission during the war. He and the town officials decided to set aside the date of July 12, 1919 to honor the loyal men of Wheatland who had served.
A celebration was held in Scottsville that day to celebrate the homecoming of Wheatland’s World War I soldiers in the park that was on the south side of Main Street where the house numbered 25 now stands. The house was built in 1924 by the Rochester Telephone Company to house its Scottsville office. It later became Phil’s Barber Shop and more recently the Excellent Air office. Rev. Patrick McArdle is standing with his arms raised giving a short address of welcome. He later presented a medal to each of the returning soldiers.
The returned World War I soldiers each received a medal that day with the inscription, “1917 – 1919. For Democracy, Liberty and Justice. Presented by the people of Wheatland, NY, to their loyal fighting sons.” They are wearing the medals on the pockets of their uniforms in the picture. It was indeed a happy occasion. The “war to end war” was over and all but two of our local men had come home. One hundred years later we know that there has been no end to war, but we can remember the gratitude felt that day when peace had come, and we can appreciate the sacrifices of the men who had bravely represented our community.