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Historic Williamsville

The Charge of the Knights takes place in the heart of historic Williamsville, NY (known prior to the War of 1812 as Williams Mills, named after Jonas Williams who rebuilt the old mill in 1811 after its initial construction in 1799 by John Thompson and Benjamin Ellicott – brother of the surveyor Joseph Ellicott, who bought the land from the Holland Land Company and is the namesake of Ellicott Creek).

Along the course are a number of historical sites, most relevant to the Charge of the Knights being Ss. Peter and Paul Church and School (5480 Main St.). Ss. Peter and Paul is the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Buffalo. The initial Ss. Peter and Paul church was constructed from 1834 to 1836, on a 65′ x 90′ property sold by Mr. Oziel Smith for $30 to early parishioners wanting to establish a church. It was said that Mr. Smith donated the $30 back following the sale.

Fr. John Neumann (now St. John Neumann) arrived and took charge of the parish on July 4, 1836. Due to the need for teachers, he also began teaching at the school, which is today the longest continually operating school in the Diocese. We’ve been educating the children of WNY since 1836!

The church was rebuilt in 1863 under Rev. Alexander Pax and made of limestone for longevity due to the growth of the parish. The old church served as the school until it was dismantled in 1871 and the stones shipped to Cheektowaga. A new (current) school building was built in 1893 behind the current church.

Other noteworthy landmarks passed on the route include:

Other interesting Williamsville history can be read on a number of websites (Walkable Williamsville, Williamsville High School Class of 1969Ed Young’s TrueValue Hardware Store, Buffaloah, Ray’s Place) and through other materials (A History of the Town of Amherst 1965 book, Our County and Its People 1898 book, History of Buffalo and Erie County: With Illustrations 1884 book).