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
August 16th is a Vermont State Holiday commemorating Bennington Battle Day and the victory over the British on August 16, 1777. To celebrate this Revolutionary War victory, admission to all the state-owned historic sites will be free on Saturday, August 16, 2014.
Pack the picnic basket, grab the kids, invite your friends and neighbors, and head out to enjoy the great Vermont summer at any of the state-owned historic sites. 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
Research projects sometimes take unexpected, but fascinating, twists and turns. I had reason a few years ago to look into the case of a woman called Madame Sherri. She is mostly known for an unusual castle-like house built for her in a rural area of New Hampshire–its ruins are now popular with hikers and lovers of the odd and mysterious.
My investigation dragged me far from New Hampshire–to the world of cabaret reviews in New York City, the vaudeville circuit, and “soldier shows” (popular during World War I, with Irving Berlin’s “Yip Yip Yaphank” being the most well-known). And, for good measure, toss in a scandal involving sex and blackmail. 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
Vermonters have always been proud that their state was the first to outlaw slavery in its constitution—but is that what really happened?
In a new book, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810 (Vermont Historical Society, 2014), historian Harvey Amani Whitfield challenges this myth by showing that the enslavement of African Americans continued in Vermont for another 30 years, even as anti-slavery sentiment continued to swell.
The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810 will be enlightening to Vermont teachers and students, scholars of the early national and antebellum periods of U.S. history, and anyone interested in the history of Vermont. The book can be purchased at the website of the Vermont Historical Society. Continue reading
An 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
While touring the museum at Crown Point State Historic Site in May, a group of members of the Daughters of the American Revolution from New York’s mid-Hudson Valley visited historic Crown Point on Lake Champlain.
They came to see the point from which Hudson Valley troops, commanded by Generals Richard Montgomery and Philip Schuyler, departed to invade British Canada, and found an opportunity to serve history by funding a bronze marker at the starting point of the so-called Knox Artillery Trail, but not at Ticonderoga – at Crown Point. Continue reading
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) staff and volunteers have begun to build a whaleboat destined to go aboard Mystic Seaport’s newly restored whaleship Charles W. Morgan. On Sunday, July 21 at 1:30pm, LCMM will host a viewing of live streaming video from Mystic sharing the relaunch of America’s last wooden whaleship.
They will then invite visitors into LCMM’s boat shop to see the first steps in construction of the whaleboat, and measure themselves against a whale jawbone, ribs and vertebrae on loan from New Bedford Whaling Museum. Continue reading
The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2013 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open this Saturday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m.
The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison commands one of the most strategic locations on the Lake, of importance to human beings for over 9,000 years. The site presents the Native American, early French, and early American settlement of the area. The special exhibit is What Lies Beneath: 9,000 Years of History at Chimney Point, highlighting the archaeological findings from the 2009-2011 bridge and temporary ferry project—including the likely location of the “chimney” that gave Chimney Point its name in 1759. Continue reading
New York author L. Lloyd Stewart has recently published an extensively researched and documented book on African American history in New York State titled, The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vrankens and Other Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.
The author will be at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) during May’s Troy Night Out, on May 31, 2013. Stewart will give a presentation at 6:30 pm and will be available to sign copies of his book afterward. Continue reading
On Saturday, October 20, at 1:00 p.m., historian Douglas Cubbison will present a program at the Mount Independence State Historic Site just across Lake Champlain in Orwell, VT on Burgoyne and the 1777 Saratoga Campaign of the American Revolution. The event, the annual Robert J. Maguire lecture, is offered by the Mount Independence Coalition.
Cubbison, who lives in Mission, Kansas, has done extensive research on Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne, and his book, Burgoyne and the Saratoga Campaign: His Papers, was published this June by the University of Oklahoma Press. The book includes an extensive introduction to the subject and many of Burgoyne’s papers, previously unpublished. Burgoyne had gathered these papers m for his defense when parliament was looking into his conduct during the northern campaign in 1777. Continue reading
On Sunday, September 30, 2012, state historic site managers Thomas Hughes at Crown Point, New York, and Elsa Gilbertson at Chimney Point, Vermont, will lead a guided round-trip walk across the new Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont.
For centuries, this crossing has been used by Woodlands Indians, the French, the British, and Americans. The narrow channel passage for water vessels and the peninsulas, or points, on either side made this one of the most strategic military locations along Lake Champlain, especially during the 1700s.
People from all over the northeast begin gathering today at the Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison, Vermont, for this weekend’s annual Open Atlatl Championship. The event is back at Chimney Point after two years at Mount Independence, due to the site’s closure during the Lake Champlain Bridge construction project.
The atlatl is the ancient tool used the world over before the bow and arrow to effectively project darts and spears for hunting. During the bridge project archeology work, a number of projectile points were found here, indicating the atlatl was used historically on the very location of this championship, now in its 17th year. Continue reading
What follows is a guest essay by Thomas Hughes, Director of the Crown Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Essex County, NY. The site includes two National Historic Landmarks: the ruins of French-built Fort St. Frédéric (1734-59) and the ruins of Crown Point’s British fort (1759-73).
Dedicated 100 years ago this month on July 5, 1912, and located at a prominent site that is steeped in history, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse serves as a monument to the 1609 voyage on Lake Champlain by French explorer Samuel Champlain. Continue reading
When I set out to write From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in New York’s Champlain Valley, I became discouraged by the mixed information coming from various authors.
While there is archeological evidence of Native settlements in Plattsburgh at Cumberland Bay, across Lake Champlain in Vermont and along the Hudson River and its tributaries, little information exists for the rest of the Adirondack Coast. Continue reading
The Lake Champlain Bridge construction project helped reveal some exciting historic and archaeological findings at the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, Vermont.
On Thursday, June 21, at 7:00 p.m., site administrator Elsa Gilbertson presents an illustrated program about the Chimney Point experience during the bridge project and “what lies beneath.” Continue reading
The Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites have opened for the 2012 season. The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison has reopened to the public after two years of closure due to the Lake Champlain Bridge construction project. This location is one of the most strategic on the Lake, important to Native Americans, the early French, and early American settlement. Continue reading
After many months of planning the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCBC) will host its two-day Grand Celebration which celebrates the re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge and the re-connected New York and Vermont communities that surround it.
The bridge re-opened to traffic on November 7, 2011, but the celebration was postponed until now.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program will be hosting John Krueger, City Historian of Plattsburgh and executive director of the Kent-Delord House, for a presentation titled The Lake as Battleground: 1609-1815 on Thursday, March 1st at 6:30 p.m. in the LCBP office in Grand Isle, Vermont. This program is part of the LCBP’s Love the Lake speaker series.
John Krueger began promoting Lake Champlain’s history as a guide at Fort Ticonderoga in 1970. His talk will focus on Lake Champlain as a corridor for warfare, beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration and the conflict of European powers for control of the corridor.