Tag Archives: Oneida County

Landmarks Society of Greater Utica Recognized


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Landmarks Society of Greater Utica President Michael Bosak accepted the John J. and Wilma B. Sinnott 2010 Conservation Award at a brunch held in December at the Hotel Utica. The award, administered by the Utica Zoological Society and presented by the late Mr. and Mrs. Sinnott’s daughters – Allison (of West Winfield) and Deirdre (of New York City) – was established by the Sinnott family nine years ago to recognize organizations and individuals that support the preservation of the Earth’s wildlife and natural resources.

The Landmarks Society was recognized for its extraordinary efforts in preserving community architectural and cultural resources of major importance. The award consists of a plaque and a $500 contribution to further the work of the Landmarks Society.

For more information about The Landmarks Society of Greater Utica, visist them online, call them at 315-732-7376, or e-mail info@uticalandmarks.org.

Photo: (l to r): Allison Sinnott; Deirdre Sinnott; Michael Bosak, President of the Landmarks Society and Beth Irons, executive director of the Utica Zoo. Photo provided.

Utica Exhibition Highlights Holiday Season


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A mixture of greenery and finery marks the Victorian Yuletide celebration that opens in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art period rooms in Fountain Elms Friday, November 26 and remains on view through January 2, 2011. This annual exhibition brings to life an historical 19th-century Christmas and illustrates the origins of many of today’s Holiday customs.

This year, the dining room and parlor will be arranged to depict an evening party called a kettledrum. At this type of affair, somewhat of a predecessor to the 20th-century cocktail party, the dining table was set with a buffet of cold entrees, salads, fruit, cakes, and other sweets. Guests were served eggnog, tea, coffee, wine, and claret or champagne.

One author of etiquette books noted that at a kettledrum, an assortment of unmatching china should be used, which added to the festive appearance of the table. In keeping with all these traditions, the dining room will feature a bountiful table setting using all of the best crystal, silver, and china, and highlighted by an elaborate Yuletide centerpiece.

The Successful Housekeeper (1882) provides a detailed description of a kettledrum: “At a kettledrum, the time is passed in greeting friends, disconnected fragments of conversation, listening to music or recitations, and, best of all, in partaking of good cheer from the groaning refreshment table.”

After “partaking of good cheer,” a guest could retire to the parlor to enjoy music and the profuse Christmas decorations of greenery and a table-top tree. Despite the convivial gathering and abundant food and spirits, guests were expected to follow certain proprieties. The Successful Housekeeper also noted that: “[Women’s] bonnets are not discarded and only one hand is ungloved. The experienced guest hardly ever remains more than an hour.”

The Museum’s other period rooms will be adorned with various types of Christmas trees. The library will feature a German putz—a traditional miniature farm scene featuring buildings, animals, and figures. The Museum’s putz belonged to the Williams family, whose daughters, Rachel and Maria, grew up in Fountain Elms. The girls’ diaries from the 1860s record the simple gifts they received: books, cornucopias filled with candy, pens and journals, and paper dolls.

In the manner of our forebearers, the period rooms will be dressed with a variety of greenery, ribbon, wreaths, and flowers and with the beauty of autumn, which was harvested and laid aside for the bleak winter holidays. Nineteenth-century toys and games will be on display. All of the decorations that grace the period rooms are based on 19th-century accounts of how a home as grand as Fountain Elms would have been decorated for the Holiday season.

Digital History Archive Adds Important Volumes


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Bob Sullivan, of the Schenectady Digital History Archive, has announced that the first two (historical) volumes of Nelson Greene’s four-volume history of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties, History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 is now online.

Included are more than 300 photos and maps, and a biographical section – more than 2000 pages so far, are online. Greene’s History joins the Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, a four-volume set with more than 1300 family entries from Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington Counties.

Utica Harbor Lock Reopens, Dredged Soon


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The New York State Canal Corporation has announced the start of dredging of the City of Utica Harbor and the re-opening of the refurbished Utica Harbor Lock. The recently completed rehabilitation of the lock by the Canal Corporation will allow dredging to occur for the first time in 30 years. The dredging will allow use of the harbor for future recreational, tourism and economic development opportunities.

Utica’s location on the Erie Canal middle section (the first to open in 1820) stimulated its industrial development. The Chenango Canal, connecting Utica and Binghamton, opened in 1836, and provided a further stimulus for economic development by providing water transportation of coal from Northeast Pennsylvania. With the opening of the Canal, Utica’s population increased threefold over a span of ten years. By the late 19th century, Utica had become a transportation hub and a commercial center but was somewhat limited in its industrial capacity due to low water power on the Mohawk River.

The New York State Canal Corporation is a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority. In 1992 State legislation transferred the Canal System from the New York State Department of Transportation to the Thruway Authority. Canal operating and maintenance activities are supported by Thruway toll revenues.

Illustration: Bird’s eye view of the city of Utica, Oneida County, New York 1873. Drawn by H. Brosius.

Oneida Nation Will Remember Battle of Oriskany


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The Oneida Indian Nationhas announced that they will participate in an memorial ceremony to remember the 1777 Battle of Oriskany this evening:

231 years ago, the Oneida Indian Nation became the first ally of the American colonists in their fight for freedom, at the Battle of Oriskany. On Wednesday, August 6, at 7 pm, a solemn remembrance ceremony will be held at the battlefield to remember those who fought and those who died at what history has called the ”bloodiest battle of the American Revolution.” The Oneidas will be represented at this community-wide event by Brian Patterson, Bear Clan Representative for the Nation’s Council, and members of the Nation’s reenactment group, First Allies.

The Battle took place in what is now Oneida County on the south side of the Mohawk River. According to the great wiki:

During his march down the Mohawk Valley from Oswego to Albany, Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger besieged Fort Stanwix, then under the command of Colonel Peter Gansevoort. St. Leger’s force of British regulars of the Royal Artillery, 8th and 34th Regiments, loyalist King’s Royal Yorkers and natives of the Six Nations and Seven Nations of Canada laid siege to the fort.

Upon hearing reports of St. Leger’s advance, Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer assembled the Tryon County militia at Fort Dayton to proceed to Gansevoort’s aid. On August 4, 1777, Herkimer, with 800 militiamen—mostly poorly trained German-American farmers—and 40 Oneida Indians, began the forty-mile (65 km) trek west from Fort Dayton to Fort Stanwix.

When St. Leger learned through Molly Brant that Herkimer and his relief expedition were on their way, he sent Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief, with more than 400 natives, and Sir John Johnson, with the light infantry company of his King’s Royal Yorkers to intercept them. Their clash at Oriskany Creek was one of the key episodes of the Campaign of 1777.

On August 6, 1777, [the] American relief force from the Mohawk Valley under General Nicholas Herkimer, numbering around 800 men of the Tryon County militia, was approaching to raise the siege. British commander Barry St. Leger authorized an intercept force consisting of a Hanau Jager detachment, Sir John Johnson’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York, Native allies from the Six Nations, and Indian Department Rangers totaling at least 450 men.

The Loyalist and Native force ambushed Herkimer’s force in a small valley about six miles east of Fort Stanwix. During the battle, Herkimer was mortally wounded. The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Natives lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. It was a clear victory for the loyalists over the rebels.

But the Loyalist victory was tarnished when a sortie from Fort Stanwix sacked the Crown camp, spoiling morale among the Native Americans.

The Oriskany Battlefield is located on Route 69, two miles west of the Village of Oriskany.

A Western New York Online Historical Resource


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Forwarded from Tim Stowell who posted it to the NYDUTCHE (Dutchess County NY) genealogical mailing list, is notice of this massive online archive from the Western New York Library Resources Council. It includes a tremendous collection of maps of the Holland Patent area which are held by the State University of New York at Fredonia.

According to Stowell, “These maps are mainly about New York state and western New York at that – from Herkimer west, but also contain early maps from Pennsylvania to Maine to Georgia and points in between.”

Skenandoah – Chief of the Oneida


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Mrs. Mecomber over at New York Traveler offers an interesting post on the Skenandoah Boulder, a monument to Oneida Chief Skenandoah.

Her site includes lots of photos of the memorial, some research she conducted and a link to her trip to Skenandoah’s grave site at Hamilton College cemetery in Clinton, Oneida County.

According to the Chiefs website:

In 1766, Samuel Kirkland, an American missionary, began living with the Oneida. He adopted many of their customs, but at the same time preached Christian ways. He was largely responsible for persuading the Oneida to abandon their neutral stance and support the Americans. Skenandoah, who was a close personal friend to Samuel Kirkland, began sending some warriors to help the Americans.

When George Washington’s men were starving at Valley Forge, Skenandoah sent baskets of corn. Skenandoah also informed residents of German Flats, New York, that Joseph Brant and the British Loyalists were going to raid their town. The settlers were able to save themselves, but lost all their property and possessions. In recognition of Skenandoah’s invaluable support, George Washington named the Shenandoah Valley after him. Following the American Revolution, Skenandoah remained the principal chief of the Oneida. In 1816, Skenandoah died. Per his request, he was buried next to Samuel Kirkland at Hamilton College cemetery in Clinton, New York.

Mrs. Mecomber reports that the boulder’s plaque says:

This marks the site of the last home of SKENANDOAH Chief of the Oneidas, “The White Man’s Friend.” Here he entertained Governor DeWitt Clinton 1810, and many other distinguished guests, and here he died in 1816 aged 110. He was carried on the shoulders of his faithful Indians to his burial in the cemetery of Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, and laid to rest beside his beloved friend and faithful teacher Rev. Samuel Kirkland.

“I am an aged hemlock; the winds of an hundred winters have whistled through my branches . I am dead at the top. The generation to which I belonged have run away and left me.” Skenandoah.

Erected 1912 by Skenandoah Chapter, N.S.D.A.R. Oneida, NY