Tag Archives: St Lawrence County

Ogdensburg and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

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ogdensburg 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

Event: St. Lawrence County’s Civil War Veterans

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60th NY Volunteers Band Civil WarSt. Lawrence County’s Civil War Veterans is the topic for discussion at the next St. Lawrence County Historical Association (SLCHA) Civil War Roundtable this Sunday, March 30th, 2 p.m. at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.

John Austin will tell about his project to document all of St. Lawrence County’s Civil War veterans. The North Country Civil War Roundtable is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which was fought from 1861-1865. Continue reading

Civil War Event in Canton: 150 Years Ago – 1864

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Sherman's March to the Sea150 Years Ago 1864″ is the next topic for the St. Lawrence County Historical Association (SLCHA) Civil War Roundtable, Sunday, January 26th, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association in Canton.

Stanley Maine will lead the program and will discuss the major battles and significant events of the Civil War and the North Country which occurred during 1864. Among the significant events of 1864 were the Atlanta Campaign, which resulted in the occupation of Atlanta, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln. Continue reading

Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?

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01679vAn ad like the one in the January 21, 1869 issue of the Malone Palladium which announced the opening of a new writing school in Malone, NY, was not uncommon during the post-Civil War era.

According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”

Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. Continue reading

New York State’s Most Destructive Earthquake

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Massena damageIn the early morning hours of September 5, 1944, an Associated Press agent in Albany received information about an earthquake in northern New York. “Anybody killed?” he asked. When informed no one had been hurt, he showed little interest. Likewise, when the state geologist in Albany was notified that a whole lotta shakin’ was goin’ on, he said, “There is no need to be alarmed. It is improbable they [the quakes] will be anything but quite small.”

You win some, you lose some. In this case, both the reporter and geologist lost―big-time. They missed the call on what still stands as the most destructive earthquake in New York State history. Continue reading

War of 1812: Wilkinson’s Descent of the St. Lawrence

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James_WilkinsonWhy 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

Reformer and Suffragist Charlotte Smith

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Charlotte Odlum SmithIn the world of women’s rights, there has been great progress across many issues that are still being debated. A North Country native stands at the forefront of the ongoing battle, taking on a number of concerns: jobs for single mothers; equal pay for equal work; the negative effects of drugs and cigarettes on young women; the horrors of trafficking in women for sexual purposes; food labeling; the restriction of food additives; the rights to patented and copyrighted works; women’s ability to serve in the military; and the issues faced by families of soldiers serving overseas.

If you follow the news, you’ll recognize most of those topics from current or recent headlines. They are the very same issues that were current between 1880 and 1900, when St. Lawrence County’s Charlotte Smith was American’s groundbreaking and leading reformer in the fight for women’s rights. Continue reading

Robert Emmet Odlum: North Country Daredevil

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Robert Emmet Odlum LOC 02 RET CRThe recent exploits of Nik Wallenda at the Grand Canyon (the video might make you weak in the knees) call to mind a North Country man who once performed daredevil stunts and amazing feats more than a century ago. The most famous effort by Robert Emmet Odlum, a St. Lawrence County native, earned him footnote status in the lore of a famous American landmark.

While Odlum’s origins (he was born August 31, 1851) have been reported as Washington, DC, and Memphis, Tennessee, he was born in St. Lawrence County, New York. That information is in stone, literally―Ogdensburg as his birthplace is carved into the obelisk atop Odlum’s grave. (He was buried in Washington, which may account for some of the confusion.)

Robert’s entire life was linked to water, beginning with the St. Lawrence River, where it is said he learned to swim as a very young child. That information comes from his mother, who wrote Robert’s life story after he died. Continue reading

Olympia Brown: Crusader for Women’s Rights

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07350rOlympia Brown made U.S. history in the North Country 150 years ago, early this summer. She became the first woman to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a regularly established theological school. Olympia was ordained in the Universalist Church of Malone by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists on June 25, 1863 and graduated from the St. Lawrence University Theological School in Canton two weeks later, on July 9, 1863.

Throughout the remainder of her 91-year-old life, she was an outspoken Universalist preacher and a fearless campaigner for suffrage and equal rights for women. Olympia marched, lectured, testified, published, protested and picketed a myriad of times from coast to coast. Continue reading