No matter how long a life lasts, the residue left behind is often fleeting, and within a generation or so, most of us are largely forgotten. But it’s also true that every life has a story, and many are worth retelling. I often glean subject matter from obituaries, or from gravestones as I walk through cemeteries. A tiny snippet of information stirs the need to dig for more, perhaps revealing unusual or remarkable achievements and contributions.
A fine example involves Benjamin Wood Haynes, a native of Westford, Vermont, who lived and worked in northern New York in the latter half of the 1800s. Intriguing to me was a reference to him as a “builder,” and so the digging began, yielding some impressive nuggets. Continue reading
They were headed this way. British troops had done that before, without success, but these were not just any British troops. They were 11,000 troops fresh from their victory over Napoleon.
By that third summer of the War of 1812, British shore raiding parties were taking a great toll in the Chesapeake Bay. Supported by a fleet of more than 30 warships, they would put troops ashore near a town, and either burn it, or demand ransom from the inhabitants. Continue reading
“The naval battle of Lake Champlain was probably the greatest feat of arms that our navy achieved in the War of 1812,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt.
From Secretary of Navy William Jones on Oct. 3, 1814: “To view it in abstract, it is not surpassed by any naval victory on record. To appreciate its result, it is perhaps one of the most important events in the history of our country.”
According to Penn University historian John B. McMaster, it was “the greatest naval battle of the war,” and Thomas Macdonough was “the ablest sea-captain our country has produced.”
Like McMaster, author and historian Teddy Roosevelt called it “the greatest naval battle of the war,” and praised Commodore Thomas Macdonough thusly: “Down to the time of the Civil War, he is the greatest figure in our naval history. … he was skillful and brave. One of the greatest of our sea captains, he has left a stainless name behind him.” And one more: looking back, Sir Winston Churchill said it “was a decisive battle of the war.” Continue reading
Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga this weekend can discover how soldiers of the Continental Army built huts at Ticonderoga in 1776 and try their hand at colonial construction techniques. This living history weekend, entitled “Lodging as the Nature of Campaign will Admit”, takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 13-14, 9:30 am to 5 pm.
The Ticonderoga peninsula was already an old battlefield and encampment site by the summer of 1776 when American soldiers began digging in to block a British invasion southward. For soldiers, such as the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion, their first priority was to erect earthworks with which to hold this vital ground. Continue reading
New search efforts have begun for the missing private jet that disappeared into Lake Champlain in the winter of 1971 that was carrying two crew members and three passengers.
A new high-tech search using modern techniques, sophisticated side-scanning sonars, underwater vehicles and a submarine will take place. This search will be a combined effort between the New York State Police, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and Vermont State Police. Boating traffic in the search area will be restricted during search operations. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga has announced today the findings of a report that concludes the Fort generates $8.9 million annually in state and local economic impact. The total includes visitor spending from tourists; spending by the Fort Ticonderoga Association in its daily operations; the indirect and induced impacts created by labor income as it flows into the regional economy; and tax revenue generated by that spending.
In 2013 the Fort Ticonderoga Association of Ticonderoga, NY commissioned Magellan Strategy Group to perform the study which utilized data provided by guests visiting Fort Ticonderoga in 2013 and IMPLAN software. According to a statement issued to the press “The study employed a conservative approach to measuring guest spending that evaluated only those expenditures that occurred as a result of visiting Fort Ticonderoga.” Continue reading
Immerse yourself in the epic history and incredible natural beauty at Fort Ticonderoga with richly informative and entertaining guided specialty tours this summer. Thrill at the power of artillery during Guns by Night tour; discover the History Within the Walls in the 1826 Historic Pavilion house tour; walk in the steps of great generals during the Armchair General tour; and discover the legends of the past while taking part in the Garrison Ghost Tour. All prices are in addition to Fort Ticonderoga admission and advanced purchase is required. Space is limited for tours. To learn more about our specialty tours visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga’s 2014 Author Series continues on Sunday, June 8, with Stephen Darley, author of The Battle of Valcour Island: The Participants and Vessels of Benedict Arnold’s 1776 Defense of Lake Champlain.
In his new book about the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, Steve Darley includes a roster of 448 officers and men who participated, the names and personal history of 16 captains of the American vessels on the lake in 1776, as well as first hand accounts in letters, journals, memoirs, and pension applications that tell this amazing story of a Lake Champlain battle. No such comprehensive information has been published before. It contains a description of all of the American vessels in the battle as well as the story of how the first vessels of the American fleet were obtained and how the last group of vessels were destroyed or captured in 1777. Continue reading
The Bluff Point Lighthouse on Valcour Island in Lake Champlain will be open most Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm through the summer. Dedicated volunteers look after and interpret the lighthouse and island for visitors under the sponsorship of the Clinton County Historical Association.
The lighthouse, once the home of the lighthouse keepers, now is filled with themed rooms containing interpretive materials. The gallery around the light at the top of the building, is at the same level as the osprey nest at the top of the tower next to the building.
In recent years, the island has become a popular day trip for kayakers and canoeists as there is no public transportation to the island. There will be docents there this Sunday, barring heavy rain or lightning. Continue reading
A talk entitled “Not Just a Sunday Man: The Civil War Story of Rev. Charles Luther Hagar, Chaplain of the 118th New York Volunteers” will be presented by Helen Nerska with music by Stephen Langdon
The Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) will host the presentation “Not Just a Sunday Man: The Civil War Story of Rev. Charles Luther Hagar, Chaplain of the 118th New York Volunteers” by Helen Nerska, CCHA President, and a musical composition by Stephen Langdon, Saranac Lake musician (Rev. Hagar was their great-great-great uncle). Continue reading
The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2014 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open on Saturday, May 24, at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 8:00 a.m. is the annual Early Bird Nature Walk at Mount Independence.
These sites preserve and present Vermont’s significant history in their museums and on their historic grounds. There are also State Historic Sites on the New York State side of Lake Champlain, but they almost never issue announcements to the press. Continue reading
It’s remarkable how two unrelated historical events sometimes converge to form a new piece of history. In one such North Country connection, the job choice of a future president became linked to a famous encounter on Lake Champlain. The future president was Warren Harding (1921–23), and the lake event was the Battle of Valcour Island (1776). The results weren’t earth shattering, but the connection did spawn coast-to-coast media stories covering part of our region’s (and our nation’s) history.
In 1882, Harding (1865–1923) graduated from Ohio Central College. Among the positions he held to pay for schooling was editor of the college newspaper. In 1884, after pursuing various job options, he partnered with two other men and purchased the failing Marion Daily Star. Harding eventually took full control of the newspaper, serving as both publisher and editor. Continue reading
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has awarded Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) grants totaling about $80,000.
Just seven of 21 funded projects are located in New York State. $54,000 was awarded to Vermont programs while just $27,075 was awarded in New York. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga has announced that it has received a grant from The Perkin Fund which will support dendrochronological research on the 19th-century Pell house located on the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula.
According to Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO, the grant will provide funding for vital research to help Fort Ticonderoga date the construction of the Pell home, known as the Pavilion. The result of the analysis will help inform the future interpretation and use of the historic structure. Continue reading
An Adirondack history lecture series continues at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall, 1610 NYS Route 22 in the Champlain Valley. Presentations on the early settlement, the philosophy and invention of the wilderness ideal, the history of the forest preserve and boats and boating are included in the schedule.
The series “Our Wild Home” will take place on Tuesday nights at 7:30. A donation of $5 is requested, students always free. More information is at www.thegrangehall.info. The schedule of talks is: Continue reading
The War of 1812, sometimes called “America’s forgotten war,” was a curious affair. At the time, it was dismissed as “Mr. Madison’s War.”
Later it was hailed by some as America’s “Second War for Independence” and ridiculed by others, such as President Harry Truman, as “the silliest damned war we ever had.” The conflict, which produced several great heroes and future presidents, was all this and more.
In America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812 (SUNY Press, 2014) Robert P. Watson tells the stories of the battles and leaders and shares the blunders and victories of the war. What started out as an effort to invade Canada, fueled by anger over the harassment of American merchant ships by the Royal Navy, soon turned into an all-out effort to fend off an invasion by Britain. Continue reading
The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College has released a new edited collection of articles about the American Revolution, published by SUNY Press. Key to the Northern Country: The Hudson River Valley in the American Revolution represents nearly forty years of collected scholarship on the region’s role in the American Revolution.
This interdisciplinary anthology provides essays about political and social issues as well as battles, fortifications, and strategy. The range of perspectives and material make it an ideal textbook for classes on American, regional, and military history, as well as a source for education classes learning about local history and critical thinking. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga has received a grant from the French Heritage Society to underwrite restoration work on the Fort’s Soldiers’ Barracks. The grant was given to Fort Ticonderoga, originally named Fort Carillon in 1755, because of its historic significance as a French heritage site. The project will replace 80 year old windows and sills on the third floor of the Soldiers’ Barracks. Restoration work is currently underway with the windows expected to be installed by the spring of 2014.
“The restoration and preservation of Fort Ticonderoga’s historic structures require on-going effort and investment,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO of Fort Ticonderoga. “Fort Ticonderoga is delighted to be recognized by the French Heritage Society for its significant French story and its on-going legacy. This grant provides important funding that will have a big impact on the preservation of the Soldiers’ Barracks.” Continue reading
The hill that separates the outlet of Lake George from the creek that opens into Lake Champlain is among the oldest portages in continuous use in North America.
The Native Americans gave it a name: Ticonderoga, “the place between waters.”
Up and down its slope have passed explorers and naturalists such as Isaac Jogues and Peter Kalm, travelers such as Thomas Jefferson and, of course, the armies of the French, the British and the Americans as supremacy over North America and its strategic waterways shifted from one nation to another. Continue reading
If terms like Roaring Twenties, Winter Weekend and Homecoming Weekend sound familiar, you may be a graduate or staff member of SUNY Plattsburgh.
For a look into these events, as well as many others, go no further than the closest Internet connection. A total of 87 SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinal Yearbooks, consisting of 16,046 images, are now part of the New York Heritage site (www.nyheritage.org). This project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the college and the Northern New York Library Network based in Potsdam. Continue reading