Our current flu season is a reminder that not so long ago the 1918 Influenza Pandemic – known then as the “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe” – killed over 22 million people. It sickened thousands in Northern New York and killed hundreds.
The first documented case occurred on March 11, 1918 at Camp Funston, Kansas. By the end of that week more than 500 soldiers had been sickened. Influenza first spread through army bases, but by September 5th the Massachusetts State Department of Health warned that “unless precautions are taken, the disease in all probability will spread to the civilian population,” which it did. By October 22nd the city of Philadelphia’s death rate was 700 times higher than normal for a single week. Continue reading
A cannon dating to the mid 1600s, which had been salvaged from the St. Lawrence River at the head of Carleton Island in the Town of Cape Vincent decades ago, has been returned to New York.
Plans are in the works for a long term loan to allow for the cannon’s display at the Village of Cape Vincent’s East End Park on the shores overlooking Carleton Island, where so much of the cannon’s history played itself out. Continue reading
An Ogdensburg statue stands in honor of General Newton Martin Curtis, a DePeyster native, who distinguished himself during the Civil War and won a Congressional Medal of Honor 150 years ago this week.
On January 15, 1865, General Curtis successfully led the Union forces at the Battle of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Find out more about the life and accomplishments of this true American hero at a special lecture and exhibit this Saturday, January 17th, from 11 am to 4 pm at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Silas Wright House in Canton, NY. Continue reading
As the recently appointed historian for the City of Ogdensburg I was stunned at the amount of historical artifacts and research that I had inherited that somehow was crammed into a very small space. I had always been interested in local history and in a previous life had worked as an archivist at the Ogdensburg Public Library, until teaching called me.
Twenty years later I was given the task of not only preserving Ogdensburg’s history, but making it accessible to others. Continue reading
For the sixth year, the Fort La Présentation Association offers a varied set of lectures April 25-26, 2014 for those with broad interests in the War of 1812. As in past years, this event will utilize the banquet hall and rooms of the Freight House Restaurant, 20 Market Street, in Ogdensburg, adjacent to part of the February 22, 1813 battlefield.
The event begins Friday evening with a family friendly concert of period music by Don Woodcock, the Grand Champion Fiddler of New York State, who is recognized for having one of the greatest repertoires of traditional fiddle tunes. Saturday there are seven seminars by speakers from Maryland, Connecticut, Ontario, Quebec and New York. A dozen tabletop exhibits with a regional theme will look at archaeology, battlefields, local authors, museums, the sailing navy, re-enactment photography and an active demonstration of Regency quilting. Continue reading
During the holiday season of 1945, a most unusual conversation was taking place in the Northern New York. It was a pivotal year in the twentieth century―history’s worst war had just ended, and an effort to prevent future wars had resulted in the formation of the United Nations, which officially came into being on October 24. The groundwork had been laid earlier in San Francisco, where delegates from fifty governments joined forces and drafted the original UN Charter.
The next order of business was to find a home for the new alliance, referred to widely then as the UNO (United Nations Organization). Since San Francisco hosted the charter conference, it was considered a favorite in the running. But as the process played out, northern New York was abuzz with the possibility of being chosen as permanent host. Continue reading
Why would Major General James Wilkinson march his troops around the Village of Ogdensburg while his flotilla of more than 300 boats sailed down the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812?
Learn the answer when John Austin presents Wilkinson’s Descent of the St. Lawrence on Saturday, November 9th, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton. This War of 1812 program is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Continue reading
The bicentennial of the Battle of Ogdensburg will be commemorated with re-enactments and special events this weekend Feb 22-24 (Friday through Sunday) at locations in Ogdensburg and Prescott, Ontario.
“Friday evening the Ontario shore will shower us with a barrage of fireworks and Saturday afternoon the invading Anglo-Canadian army will battle the American troops from the waterfront to past Ogdensburg City Hall,” said Tim Cryderman, President of Forsyth’s Rifles. “The invaders will be inspired by the skirl of the pipes and drums of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highland Regiment from Cornwall, Ontario. After the battle, they’ll give a free public concert in the Ogdensburg Public Library.” Continue reading
A new organization, Canadian Friends of Fort de La Présentation, is partnering with the Fort La Presentation Association in Ogdensburg, New York to advance the education of Canadians in general and students in particular in shared Canadian and American colonial history.
Through seven decades – 1749 to 1813 – encompassing the Seven Years War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Canadian and American history intertwined at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River in what is now Ogdensburg, New York.
“The Canadian Friends will develop educational programs and resources, undertake research to advance historical knowledge and widely share these assets through media, local projects and other services,” said Michael Whittaker, president of the Canadian Friends of Fort de La Présentation. “The forts which once stood on Ogdensburg’s Lighthouse Point, La Présentation from 1740 to 1759, Oswegatchie from 1760 to 1796 and Presentation until 1813, are rooted in Canadian history from the last years of New France through the first 50 years of British colonial rule.”
With recognition as a non-profit corporation by the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canadian Friends of Fort de La Présentation is undertaking a campaign to attract members and donations for which charitable tax receipts will be issued. All communications from the Canadian Friends will be in English and French.
They are already working actively with the Fort La Presentation Association to plan the fourth annual War of 1812 Symposium in Ogdensburg April 27 and 28, 2012. The symposium, featuring four speakers from each country, will attract an audience drawn equally from Canada and the USA .
“We hope to fund the Canadian speakers at the War of 1812 symposium,” said Mr. Whittaker. “I live in Bishop’s Mills and know those of us on the Ontario side of the St. Lawrence River look forward to expanding our co-operation with our friends in New York .”
Two of the historians featured in the recent PBS production, “The War of 1812,” are giving seminars at the 2012 symposium. Four other historians who appeared in the production have presented at previous symposia.
Brigadier-General Thomas Brigdum Benedict of De Kalb, St. Lawrence County, NY commanded the northern frontier from Sackets Harbor to Salmon River from June to December 1812. Many people have heard of General Jacob Brown and Captain Benjamin Forsyth, but not Benedict. Who was this man who commanded at Ogdensburg before Forsyth arrived?
The public and re-enactors can learn about this forgotten general at the Ogdensburg Public Library, 3:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. There is no charge for this Battle of Ogdensburg Weekend event, part of the River Shiver winter festival.
“We invited Bryan Thompson to speak about Benedict because Bryan knows more about the War of 1812 in the North Country than most people can imagine,” said Tim Cryderman, Vice President to Forsyth’s Rifles. “Brigadier-General Benedict, who dedicated his life to public service in St. Lawrence County, deserves to be remembered.”
Thompson, the municipal historian for the Town of De Kalb, is a retired teacher. Interestingly, as we enter into the bicentennial of the War of 1812, he is the descendant of at least four St. Lawrence County veterans of that long-ago conflict.
“Bryan Thompson received New York State Archives Hackman Research Fellowship to research General Benedict and other War of 1812 soldiers from De Kalb,” noted Mr. Cryderman. “For almost 20 years he has chronicled local history in 30 published articles and given many presentations.”
In 2009 Thompson received the Bruce W. Dearstyne Award for excellence in educational use of local government records (Dearstyne is a regular contributor here at New York History). The Battle of Ogdensburg Weekend includes re-enacted battles on Lighthouse Point at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday Feb. 26. Saturday events include a 10:00 a.m. wreath ceremony at Sheriff York’s grave in Riverside Cemetery and the Winter Ball (English Country Dancing) at Centennial Towers at 7:30 p.m.
Sheriff York and his men faced the British alone on Feb. 22. 1813. They fired a brass six-pounder at the invaders. When his men fled, York remained alone serving his gun. A British officer said to his soldiers, “There stands too brave a man to shoot.” York was taken prisoner.
Illustration: Map of Ogdensburg during the War of 1812 from Benjamin Lossing’s Field Book of the War of 1812.