Brooklyn Ghost Ship: Revolutionary War British Prison Ship HMS Jersey


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Brooklyn Prison ShipA new book by Robert P. Watson, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn (Cornell University Press, 2017) tells the story of a prison ship employed by the British during the American Revolution.

Moored off the coast of Brooklyn until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, held thousands of Americans either captured by the British or accused of disloyalty.

Crammed below deck – one thousand men at a time – without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water. Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners were held at the mercy of British and Hessian guards. Continue reading

Women Will Vote: New Book On Winning Suffrage in NYS


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Suffrage in New YorkSusan Goodier and Karen Pastorello have released a new book, Women Will Vote (Cornell University Press, 2017), which coincides with the 2017 centenary of women’s right to full suffrage in New York State.

The book highlights the activism of rural, urban, African American, Jewish, immigrant, and European American women, as well as male suffragists, both upstate and downstate, that led to the positive outcome of the 1917 referendum.

Goodier and Pastorello argue that the popular nature of the women’s suffrage movement in New York State and the resounding success of the referendum at the polls relaunched suffrage as a national issue. If women had failed to gain the vote in New York, Goodier and Pastorello claim, there is good reason to believe that the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment would have been delayed. Continue reading

New York History Around The Web This Week


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Horace Brown: Master Horseman of Northern NY


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One of my favorite people to visit when I was a child was my maternal grandfather, who owned a 100-acre farm in remote northwestern Clinton County. Ninety acres of the property were wooded (I loved exploring nature); he had cows, horses, and a dog (I loved animals); and he was an avid fisherman (I lived on the riverbank in Champlain and loved fishing). From my perspective, everything about my Grandpa Jim (Lagree) was cool (this was back in the ’60s, so “cool” is appropriate).

On the wall near his usual sitting area in the living room was a framed photo of a horse and sulky with the caption, “Dan Patch.” Since it was my grandfather’s picture, I knew it had to be something cool, and I was right. As he explained to me, Dan Patch was the greatest trotter ever. Trotting, as I learned, was once the most popular sport across Northern New York.

Within a general loop from Albany north to Glens Falls and Plattsburgh; west to Malone, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, and Watertown; south to Boonville; southeast back to Albany; and many stops in between, dozens of communities in the Adirondacks and foothills had trotting tracks of varying quality. Participants ranged from farmers to professional horsemen, all of them eager to put their horses’ abilities up against others for bragging rights, money prizes, and, of course, side bets. Continue reading

Suffrage Centennial Exhibit at Athens Cultural Center


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“White Louis XVI End Chair, Women’s Rights are Human Rights” by Laurel Garcia ColvinWomen won the right to vote in New York State in 1917, but the story really began much earlier and with particular fervor in the mid 19th century.

In the 1840’s, upstate New York was a hotbed of radicalism. The “Second Great Awakening” brought with it spiritual revivalism, penal and education reforms, abolitionism and the temperance and women’s right movements. This turbulent atmosphere of ideas and events was not unlike the cultural upheaval of the 1960s.

In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Coffin Mott and several other women gathered around a tea table in Waterloo, New York and drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments” based upon the Declaration of Independence. By inserting into the text that women, as well as men, were created equal, they renewed the revolution that was started seventy two years earlier in 1776. The protracted and arduous road to women’s right to the elective franchise took until 1917 to be realized in New York State and not until 1920 in the entire United States. Continue reading

Uncovered Story: Indian Enslavement in America


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ben_franklins_worldIn 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He also played a central role in the European adoption of Indian or Native American slavery.

When we think of slavery in early America, we often think of the practice of African and African-American chattel slavery. However, that system of slavery wasn’t the only system of slavery that existed in North America. Systems of Indian slavery existed too. In fact, Indians remained enslaved long after the 13th Amendment abolished African-American slavery in 1865.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Andrés Reséndez, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis and author of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in Americas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), leads us on an investigation of this “other” form of American slavery. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/139.

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Convention Days Announces Centennial Gala


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dr mary walkerConvention Days will commemorate the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State with a Thanksgiving Dinner Gala entitled “A Fine Agitation” followed by the World Premiere of a One-Woman Play about Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

The title “A Fine Agitation” comes from a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton after Anthony voted in 1872: “Well I have been & gone and done it!!! . . . We are in for a fine agitation . . .”

The dinner, being served at at the New York Chiropractic College, will be based on a 1916 Thanksgiving menu from The Hoag House, precursor to The Gould Hotel. Continue reading

Sullivan County’s First World War Sacrifices


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Leonard Houghtaling from Neversink (on right) served overseas and fought in WWIJuly, 2017 is 100th anniversary of the first U.S. forces sent overseas to fight in World War I. The Time and the Valleys Museum in Grahamsville, NY will be honoring the men who fought in the war and the women who supported the troops by hosting a new exhibit and weekend of special programming on July 8th and 9th.

The new exhibit, A Rendezvous with Death: Local Sacrifice in the First World War highlights Sullivan County residents who participated in WWI. It includes photos, artifacts and little known facts and information about the war. The new exhibit can be viewed through Labor Day during Museum hours: Thursday through Sunday, noon to 4 pm and weekends in September. Continue reading

Independence Day Celebration at Hanford Mills Museum


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ice blocks used for chilling ice creamIn February, more than seven tons of ice were cut from the Mill pond at the Hanford Mills Museum Ice Harvest Festival, and then stored in the Ice House. On July 4th, that ice will be used to make ice cream on a steam-powered churn, and visitors to the Museum’s Independence Day Celebration can sample the results.

The ice is used to chill the outside of the churn, while the locally produced milk and cream is inside the churn.

The Independence Day Celebration, which runs 10 am to 4 pm on July 4, also features a fishing derby for kids, frog jumping contests, music, delicious food, and field games. Visitors also can tour the historic Mill and woodworking shop and see water- and steam-power demonstrations featuring the 1926 Fitz Overshot waterwheel, the steam boiler and steam engines. Children 12 and under, Museum members, and active duty military and their families, receive free admission. Continue reading