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Culture

Town of Scio Was Named to Honor the Victims of the 1822 Massacre of Chios

October 7, 2021
By Peter Plumpis

NEW YORK – Scio is a small community of 1,723 people in Allegheny County in western New York State. It is located in the lush farm country south of Rochester, NY, and about 100 miles (160km) south-east of Buffalo, NY. There is no record of any people of Greek Descent who live or have lived there.

The name Scio is the Venetian/Italian name for the island of Chios and was designated for the renaming of the town instead of the Greek name Chios.

The Scio Lions Club donated and unveiled a plaque in 2019 explaining the history of the town’s name. The plaque, located on Main Street in front of the public park next to the Scio Memorial Library, reads:

“The area around Scio was first settled around 1805 by Joseph Knight, a minuteman in the American Revolution. Knights Creek, which flows into the Genesee River near Scio, is named for him. Before getting its final name, Scio was called Bloods Corner and then later Riddleville. In 1822 there was a massacre of Christians by the Turks on the Greek island of Scio [Chios] in the Aegean Sea. This act horrified many in the western world with the great Daniel Webster giving a passionate speech that swept the country. Scio’s founders honored the victims by naming their new town Scio on January 31, 1823.”

“Minuteman” refers to a citizen-soldier, one who may have been a shopkeeper, tradesman, butcher, farmer or anything else, and who, although not in the Army, would be ready to take up arms against the British in a minute when called upon.

Daniel Webster, a Philhellene, was an eloquent orator, writer, and famous Senator from Massachusetts in the early 19th century. He also gave a noted speech in Congress in 1821 urging the United States to support the Greek Revolution.

The naming of Scio is another example of the fervent Philhellenic spirit that spread across Western Europe and the United States at the time. As the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek Revolution continue, it is important to note that the 200th grim anniversary of the Chios Massacre is also approaching in April 2022.

Peter Plumpis, former history teacher, historian of Siatista Association – USA, resides in Tonawanda, NY.

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