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Founding father missing? Ancient Order of Hibernians seek to honor, find, John C. Devereux

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Searching for John C. Devereux

Utica's 2022 St. Patrick's day parade grand marshal wanted to honor the first-ever grand marshal, John C. Devereux, with a new tradition. But he couldn't. And the reason why has unraveled a mystery

"I wanted to start a tradition of leaving a shamrock on his gravestone, because he was the first grand marshal, but, we couldn't find his grave," says 2022 Grand Marshal, Alex Sisti.

Devereux's contributions to Utica are endless. You see one of them towering over downtown Utica.

"When the Irish were here digging the canal, they didn't get paid hardly anything, but when they did scrape a couple pennies together, they gave it to John C. Devereux. They trusted him to put it in a lock box. He paid them interest, the money was safe and they felt at ease. So that box is now the Bank of Utica. The Gold Dome bank," says H.A.R.P. Museum Committee member, Pat Costello.

Devereux is responsible for many firsts in the city.

"He was a really benevolent guy. He started an orphanage because there wasn't an orphanage. He started St. John's Church. The first hospital was in his home. The first Catholic mass was in his home," says Sisti.

A boulder and plaque, where Devereux's house stood at Broad and Second Streets commemorates that first mass. But Devereux's name isn't even mentioned. But members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians are working to have a historic marker placed here, that will boldly state Devereux's name. Alongside the quest for the marker....The quest for the founding father

"We don't know where he's buried. He was originally buried on the grounds of St. John's, the Sisters of Mercy, that he started, then he was reinterred at St. Agnes, but we're trying to find his grave," says Sisti. "That's one of the special projects we're doing is trying to locate his grave, give it the gravitas that it deserves."

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