Myron Holley: Canal Builder/Abolitionist/Unsung Hero


Myron Holley: Canal Builder/Abolitionist/Unsung Hero


By Richard O. Reisem

In this inspiring biography, author Richard Reisem reveals the noble heart and remarkable accomplishments of one of Mount Hope Cemetery’s most distinguished residents — Myron Holley (1779-1841).

As the author notes in his introduction, “Despite his illustrious lineage, startling good looks, fine education, superior intelligence, consistent honesty, humanitarian views, leadership of the Erie Canal, founding of an influential political party, laudable speaking abilities and passionate writing — despite these admirable qualities and accomplishments, Myron Holley had his legal career abruptly ended by a murder, was accused by evil forces of embezzlement, deprived of his property, became caught up in a notorious killing, and finally was reduced to penury. As Mark Twain said, ‘Life is stranger than fiction, because life has no obligation to be probable.’ The whole story of Myron Holley, seemingly not probable, becomes an important and fascinating tale.

Among Holley’s many achievements, he served as the Superintendent of Construction of the Erie Canal and founded the first Horticultural Society in Western New York, the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, and the anti-slavery Liberty Party. More than 70 illustrations enrich this story of a man devoted to public service, often at the expense of his personal health and financial security.