Many small communities in Niagara County have taken their names from their early settlers, and such is the case with Ezra Warren and Warren’s Corners. Sgt. Ezra Warren first came to Niagara County in 1812 when, as a soldier for the frontier forces, he was stationed at Forsyth Tavern on the Ridge Road. Ezra took an attraction to the widow Forsyth and after the War of 1812 was over, he married her and took over management of her tavern.
Like most tavern owners, Ezra kept a large stock of wine and liquor in barrels in his basement. Former Niagara County Historian, Clarence Lewis, relates that Warren seemed little bothered by the thought of selling intoxicating beverage to earn his livelihood. At least that was the case until one night in 1825, when he attended a temperance lecture at the Methodist Church at the Corners. The preacher painted quite a verbal picture of tavern-owners languishing in the nether-regions under extreme heating conditions. Warren was said to fight a battle in his sleep that night and he woke up with a new conviction against the sale of liquor, and moreover, began to preach the gospels and the evils of intemperance. He began his campaign by taking the barrels of whiskey and brandy out of his basement and cracking them all open with an axe. After the last barrel was ruined, there was an immense pond of whiskey and cherry brandy, with cherries still floating in it, in the pool of liquor.
Lewis relates that the aroma of the sizzled cherries was so strong that a multitude of swine that were grazing in the fields took interest and paid the tavern a visit. At first they sniffed the brandy and then they ate the cherries. After finishing the cherries, they lapped up the brandy and whiskey from the pools. Soon however, they began to wobble from side to side and Ezra wondered if they were sick. When the animals began to drop over, one by one, he soon realized they were dead drunk. Ezra Warren was now further convinced of his cause and was seen traveling from place to place to lecture on the evils of drinking.
Douglas Farley, Director
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094