FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — “First white child to survive born here” — that’s what was written on a sign recently removed by the village of Fairport. Bill Poray is the Perinton town historian and said it was put up in the 1940s.
“If you imagine what was happening at the time, pioneers were working their way west after the Revolutionary War and in many communities across the area they felt great joy and relief that their children were surviving. At the same time, they had displaced Native Americans that were here for generations,” said Poray.
Julie Domaratz is the mayor of the village of Fairport. She said while the “first white child” marker is historically important, the wording doesn’t sit well in 2020- which is why she decided to have it removed.
“It’s not appropriate when we think about the indigenous people who lived in this community because it’s really directed at the indigenous people who were here long before the European white people were,” she said.
The sign used to stand in front of a house on South Main St. The village plans to get a new one made, mentioning the history of both the Native Americans and the settlers.
“The way it’s written it is kind of at the expense of the Native American community that had been here for so long and we don’t have to do it that way. We should find a way to celebrate the fact that Native Americans were here for centuries before that,” Poray said. “Rather than first white child it might be first pioneer child, it might be first child of settlers.”
They plan to put the old sign in the Fairport village museum with information about its history. They hope to get a grant to pay for the new marker at the historic site but said they will replace it either way.
“It’s really about honoring our history but yet paying attention to where we are and what’s appropriate for the here and now in 2020,” Domaratz said.