Confederate Buffalonians

Think again if you believe Buffalo’s three-degrees-of-separation rule is a byproduct of recent history.

Its roots can be traced to at least the Civil War, according to the writings of Benedict R. Maryniak.

Maryniak was the revered and well-read leader of the Buffalo Civil War Roundtable before he died in 2009. While researching the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place 150 years ago this week, he found the writings of Buffalo-born Col. Adrian Root, who was taken prisoner by rebel soldiers after his 94th N.Y. Infantry unit was overrun on the first day of the battle.

Root oversaw the care of federal soldiers behind Confederate lines and wrote about his captors in a letter to his mother in Buffalo 11 days after the battle ended. He talked of meeting a former classmate who was with the Eighth Georgia Infantry, Maryniak reported in a roundtable newsletter. “You will doubtless be surprised to hear that I met several Buffalonians in the rebel army,” Root wrote. “Where don’t you meet them!”

Maryniak assured readers only a handful of Western New Yorkers donned Confederate gray during the war.

Not short on humor

When a coterie of state officials and local politicians descended on Niagara Falls State Park a couple of weeks ago to dedicate new makeovers of Luna and Three Sisters islands, there was a strong forecast of high winds – not necessarily from the Niagara Gorge, but at the microphone.

After all, politicians aren’t known for being reticent or brief. State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey was worried about long speeches, or so State Sen. George D. Maziarz told the crowd.

“She said, ‘Make sure yours is short,’ ” Maziarz reported. “And I said, ‘Commissioner, I’m short 365 days a year.’ ”

Purple reign

Any day now, look for the mighty cataracts to be lit up in either imperial pink or royal blue to commemorate the birth of Great Britain’s future monarch.

The Niagara Falls Illumination Board is primed to flood the falls with one or the other hue, depending on the sex of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s impending bundle of joy.

“Niagara Parks has great history of royal visits, including Princess Diana’s 1991 trip accompanied by Princes William and Harry,” said Janice Thomson, Niagara Parks Commission chairwoman and a member of the Niagara Falls Illumination Board. “We would be delighted to host one of William and Kate’s future family vacations here as well,” Thomson added.

A towering move

HSBC Bank USA’s move out of the One HSBC Center tower involves not just people, but supplies.

The bank is donating a lot of office supplies to The Teacher’s Desk, a nonprofit group that provides items to teachers for their classrooms.

“Some of the office supplies we have are a bit dated but perfectly useful for schools,” said Kevin Quinn, HSBC’s top local executive. On the tower’s 24th floor, HSBC has 12 portraits of former chairmen of Marine Midland Bank, a bank that HSBC acquired. “We’re trying to find a good home for them,” said Neil Brazil, an HSBC spokesman. “We’re reaching out to nonprofits and even some descendants.”

When HSBC called one descendant, the man began to weep. “When I heard you were leaving the tower, I remembered the portrait of my father, and I thought I was never going to see it again,”the descendant said. “We were actually reaching out to him to donate the portrait to him,” Brazil said

Written by Harold McNeil with contributions from Scott Scanlon, Matt Glynn and Thomas Prohaska. email: