Tag Archives: War of 1812

Tom Shanahan: Daniel Tompkins, Not So Trival


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“Who was the Vice President under John Quincy Adams? — Daniel D. Tompkins. And I’ll bet your Mr. Sawyer doesn’t know that!”

It’s a line from that classic Christmas movie, “Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street.” In that scene the protagonist, Kris Kringle, tries to demonstrate that not only isn’t he delusional, but is so in touch with reality he can recall trivial facts most people couldn’t possibly remember. Continue reading

Lessons From the French and Indian War Commission


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In the past decade, the New York State Legislature desired to create three anniversary commemoration commissions. The Commissions were necessary to bring together persons qualified by experience to coordinate and facilitate commemorations and activities.

In 2002 and 2004, the Hudson – Fulton- Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, and the French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration Commission (FIW) were created. In the past three years, three bills to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 (1812) with a Commission have been vetoed by Governors Patterson and Andrew Cuomo.* Continue reading

‘Lost Cause’: NY and Confederate History


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The fact that New York State has no official celebration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial or the War of 1812 Bicentennial is no secret. The question that isn’t being asked is: Why not?

To say that New York doesn’t have the money misses the point. Every state has financial problems but somehow other states are able to do something officially on the state level on behalf of these historic anniversaries. Why not New York? Hasn’t New York always generously supported historical anniversaries in the past? :) Continue reading

War of 1812: Carrying the Great Rope


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During the War of 1812, control of Lake Ontario was one of many issues considered critical by both sides. A key position for the British was Kingston, Ontario, about thirty miles north of the vital American base at Sackets Harbor. In an effort to establish domination of the lake, the two sites engaged in a shipbuilding race.

The British finished first and gained control, but American builders quickly completed three new ships (two brigs and the huge frigate Superior, larger than its British counterpart). Their launch required only weapons and rigging, which were en route from Brooklyn via Albany. In 1814, hoping to keep those vessels in port, the British sought to disrupt American supply routes. A prime target was Fort Ontario, located at Oswego on the mouth of the Oswego River.


On May 5, the British fleet launched an attack that was repelled by the Americans. On the following day, an intensified assault featured heavy cannon fire from the British. Eventually, the Americans lost the fort and some important armaments, but most of the valuable supplies had been taken upriver to Oswego Falls (now Fulton) for safe storage. The preservation tactic worked, and shortly after the Battle of Oswego, a plan was in place to resume moving war supplies northward to the waiting ships at Sackets Harbor.

Following the attack, the British withdrew to Kingston, but a few weeks later, they were at the Galloo Islands near Sackets Harbor, blockading any marine attempts at supplying this strategic site. Should the materials slip through, it would dramatically tip the scales in favor of the American forces. By monitoring the harbor, the Brits were preventing that from happening, ensuring their superiority on the lake.

A British attempt to destroy the Superior was foiled, and on May 2, the ship was launched. But it was hardly battle-ready, still lacking guns and rigging. Less than three weeks after the attack on Oswego, the critical supplies hidden at Oswego Falls were once again on the move. They had already traveled from Brooklyn to Albany, and then to Oneida Lake. Now, from Oswego Falls, it was time for the final, dangerous leg of the journey.

A land contingent paralleled the 19 American boats as they fairly sneaked up the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario. At Sandy Creek, the boats were taken inland as far as possible while scouts checked ahead for the presence of British ships. It was a wise move, for the enemy was indeed lurking nearby. Shortly after, the British launched an attack, but in less than a half hour, the Americans had won a resounding victory known as the Battle of Big Sandy Creek.

Despite the win, it was deemed unsafe to risk sending the valued supplies any farther by water, lest they again fall under attack and be captured or destroyed by the British. Wagons, oxen, horses, and manpower were summoned, both from the military and from local residents. The plan was to move the important supplies the remaining distance by land.

The bateaux (boats) were unloaded, and soon a lengthy caravan laden with guns, ship cables, and other supplies was on its way to Sackets Harbor, about 20 miles north. Only one item was yet to be moved—a length of rope, albeit an important one—and it presented a real problem.

This wasn’t just any length of rope. It was intended as the anchor line and/or rigging for the USS Superior, the huge new frigate that could alter the balance of power on the lake. That meant this was a BIG rope. Most descriptions portrayed it as 6 inches thick and 600 feet long, weighing in at just under 5 tons.

No cart was big enough to handle its tremendous size and weight, but if it wasn’t delivered, the Superior would remain port-bound, and the Brits would own the lake. Ingenuity often yields solutions at such critical moments, but sometimes good ol’ elbow grease is the answer. In this case, it was a combination of the two, but the emphasis was clearly on the physical.

A section of the rope (referred to as a cable) was piled on a cart, and the remaining cable was strung out along the trail. Militiamen heaved it to their shoulders, and like one gigantic, ponderous snake, the cable began moving slowly northward behind the cart.

There are various accounts of the trip, and claims as to the number of cable-carriers range from 84 to more than 200. Some say that discouraged men skipped out of the nasty job after a few hours, and that locals stepped in, literally shouldering the burden. None of the stories differed on one count, though: participants were left badly bruised from the incredibly difficult ordeal.

But, they did it! The cable arrived at Sackets Harbor on the afternoon of the second day. The tired men wore abrasions, cuts, and huge, deep-purple bruises as hard-earned badges of valor. At the close of their incredible 20-mile journey, “there was loud cheering the whole length of the cable,” as the men were greeted with music, drumming, flag-waving, and drink—and the princely sum of $2 each for their efforts.

They should have celebrated with a tug-of-war!

As soon as it was deemed seaworthy, the Superior turned the tables on the British, blockading their main shipyard at Kingston and helping establish American dominance of the lake. It was thanks in no small part to the “can-do” attitude exemplified by North Country pioneer folks.

Top Photo: Fort Ontario at Oswego.

Middle Photo: One of several plaques honoring the cable carriers.

Bottom Photo: Map of Lake Ontario sites.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

War of 1812 Mini Grants Available


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The New York Council for the Humanities is offering War of 1812 Mini Grants. The Council is partnering with the State Historian and State Archives to coordinate commemoration efforts statewide.

New York’s economic prominence and long border with Canada gave the state a central role in the War of 1812. New York State’s experience of the War of 1812, from the militarization of the Great Lakes to the decisive American victory at Plattsburgh, is critical to understanding the developing political and military mindset of the young United States.


Grants of up to $3,000 are available from the Council to present humanities-based public programs exploring the legacy of the War of 1812 in new York State. Organizations must meet all of the eligibility criteria for the Council’s general Mini Grants.

Applications for these special grants will be accepted until September 30,2012. During 2012, organizations may receive one Mini Planning Grant, one Mini Grant for implementation in addition to a War of 1812 Mini Grant.

To apply, organizations should use the existing online forms for Mini Grants for implementation. Just be sure to mention War of 1812 in the title and/or description of the project and apply 12 weeks before the start of your project.

Illustration: War of 1812 attack on Oswego from the Paul Lear collection. Courtesy The Seaway Trail Foundation.

Book: The Vandercook Family of Renssealer County


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A new book illuminates the life of Michael S. Vandercook, a prominent figure in the early history of Rensselaer County, New York. A Fine Commanding Presence: The Life and Legacy of Maj. Michael S. Vandercook (1774-1852) of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, New York by Vandercook’s great-great-great- grandson, Ronald D. Bachman features more than 400 pages, an in-depth bibliography and extensive genealogy and index.

A descendant of some of the earliest Dutch settlers in the Hudson Valley, Vandercook was born on the eve of the Revolution and lived to see the emergence of the regional divisions that led to the Civil War. He spent his entire life in Pittstown, where he was a merchant, farmer, militia officer, county sheriff, justice of the peace, and father of twelve children by three wives.


During his relatively long life, he crossed paths with such luminaries as Daniel Tompkins,
Henry Dearborn, Henry K. and Solomon Van Rensselaer, Joseph Bloomfield, Herman Knickerbocker, Eliphalet Nott. His second father-in-law was General Gilbert Eddy. On five occasions the Council of Appointment in Albany awarded Maj. Vandercook civil positions in addition to several military promotions. Governor Tompkins repeatedly picked him for special assignments in the militia, including inspector of a detached brigade deployed to the northern front immediately following the declaration of war in 1812. Later that same year, Maj. Vandercook was selected as one of New York’s 29 presidential electors.

He had a remarkable life but more than his share of tragedy. The final third of the book traces the descendancy of the twelve Vandercook children, all but one of whom left New York to seek their fortunes in the West. Many of them enjoyed success in journalism and politics.

The price, including shipping, is $22.50. To purchase the book, contact the author at ron.bachman2@verizon.net

Searching For MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has received a grant of $23,985 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) to undertake an archeological survey to determine the precise location and established boundaries for MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard in Vergennes, Vermont.

“We are proud to support projects like this that safeguard and preserve American battlefields,” said Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “These places are symbols of individual sacrifice and national heritage that we must protect so that this and future generations can understand the struggles that define us as a nation.”


This grant is one of25 National Park Service grants totaling $1.2 million to preserve and protect significant battle sites from all wars fought on American soil. Funded projects preserve battlefields from the Colonial­ Indian Wars through World War II and include site mapping (GPS/GIS data collection), archeological studies, National Register of Historic Places nominations, preservation and management plans.

Federal, state, local, and Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible for National Park Service battlefield grants which are awarded annually. Since 1996 more than $12 million has been awarded by ABPP to help preserve significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil.

Additional information is online at www.nps.gov/history/hpslabpp. To find out more about how the National Park Service helps communities with historic preservation and recreation projects please visit www.nps.gov/communities.

Artist conception of MacDonough’s War of 1812 Lake Champlain Shipyard Workers by Kevin Crisman, LCMM Collection).

New York’s Historic Military Maps Event


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On Friday, May 6, 2011, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY, opens for the spring season with a special exhibit of New York’s Historic Military Maps from 1750 to 1820. At 6:30 pm that evening living history re-enactor Randy Patten will share his collection of historic maps, accouterments and artifacts from the French and Indian War.

Patten says, “These maps provide a fascinating look into America’s history as it occurred in New York State. Several show the local Northern New York area as well as all of New York state and parts of Canada and Pennsylvania, plus the waterways that people traveled to establish settlements and forts in such places as Oswego and Youngstown.”


Over the past 30 years, Patten has traveled to the Library of Congress and as far as Great Britain to obtain color copies of original maps, including some from the collection of King George III. Patten describes the hand-drawn maps as “works of art.”

The presentation by the retired New York State Trooper will include a look at French and Indian War artifacts, a British broadsword from a man-of-war used in the War of 1812, and a lesson on historic musket safety.

The exhibit of more than 50 historic maps will be on display Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5 pm at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center through June 26, 2011. The Center is located at 401 W. Main Street. Day admission is $4. Evening program admission is $5.

For more information on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway, visit www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.

Books: The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley


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As the 200th anniversary approaches, there will be a steady stream of new books about the War of 1812. But for readers interested in the effects of the war on the ground in the Champlain Valley, there remains just one foundational text, now available for the first time in paper by Syracuse University Press. Although first issued in 1981, Allan S. Everest’s The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley is still required reading for those hoping to understand the Plattsburgh campaign, considered critical to the war.

The War of 1812, ranks with the often overlooked American conflicts of the 19th century, but unlike the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) or the Spanish-American War (1898-1902), the War of 1812 really was a Second War for Independence. America stood at the other side of Britain’s own Manifest Destiny, the homes, farms, property, and lives of Americans in the Champlain Valley stood in the middle.


The first months of 1814 spelled gloom for America, then only 35 years old. The war against England was stalled. The British continued to kidnap and impress American for service on their warships. They supported Native Americans who attacked outposts and settlements on the American frontier. American harbors were blockaded by the British and New England, never sympathetic with the narrow vote of Congress for war, had become openly hostile and was threatening to secede.

Still worse, Napoleon had been defeated in Europe and Britain could now devote more time and effort to America. The British saw an opportunity to split the new American republic and once again take control of sections of the young colonies. The bold plan called for a combined army and naval strike at Plattsburgh, followed by a drive down the lake and through the Hudson Valley to New York City, splitting the colonies in two. The Americans saw that opportunity too.

The Navy Department contracted Noah Brown, one of New York’s finest shipwrights, to build a fleet to protect the way south from Canada along Lake Champlain. In less than two months, Brown constructed, armed, and launched a total of six of war ships: Allen, Borer, Burrows, Centipede, Nettie, and Viper. With the help of the small Vermont town of Vergennes and its iron foundry that could supply spikes, bolts, and shot, and it’s water-powered sawmills, and surrounding forests filled with white oak and pine for ship timber, Brown built the 26-gun flagship Saratoga, in just 40 days, and commandeered the unfinished steamboat and completed it as the 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga.

Vastly out-manned and outgunned on both land and sea, a rag tag inexperienced group of 1,500 Americans commanded by Capt. Thomas Macdonough met the greatest army and naval power on earth. Because of a serious shortage of sailors for his fleet, he drafted U.S. Army soldiers, band musicians, and convicts serving on an army chain gang to man the ships.

Their leader Macdonough had some experience. He had served against the Barbary pirates in North Africa, but two decades of warfare had given the British considerably more experience. It had for instance, led to the promotion of officers by merit, rather than by purchase or birth. As a result the British forces were the best trained and most experienced in the world and they enjoyed the backing of the world’s greatest military power. Sir George Prevost led the large British army and its fleet into New York and down Lake Champlain to meet the Americans. But what happened that September 11th no one could have predicted.

By the end of the day, the U.S. had achieved the complete and unconditional surrender of the entire British fleet and the full retreat of all British land forces. More importantly, the American victory at Plattsburgh helped persuade the British to end the war.

That’s the bigger story, but the local story is the strength of Allan Everest’s history. As a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, and the author of Moses Hazen and the Canadian Refugees in the American Revolution, Our North Country Heritage, and the seminal book on the region’s prohibition history drawn from local interviewees, Rum Across the Border, Everest had a grasp of the topography of the region’s political, social, and cultural history.

Over some two and a half years, the region saw armies raised, defeated, and disbanded, including their own militia, which was repeatedly called out to protect the border areas and to serve under regular army units. Everest catalogs the political and military rivalries, and the series of disheartening defeats, loss of life, and destruction of property and markets resiliently borne by local people, who were forced to flee when battle threatened, and returned to rebuild their lives.

2001′s The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812’s Most Decisive Victory painted with a broader brush and suffered criticism for misunderstanding the Plattsburgh campaign. As a result, Everest’s 30-year-old work – despite its age – is still the definitive work on the impact of the War of 1812 on northern New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

War of 1812-Like Quilts Sought for Bicentennial Event


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It’s “a once-in-200-years” opportunity. The Seaway Trail Foundation is asking quilters and non-quilters, to make quilts with War of 1812-era colors and patterns for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2012 War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show and Challenge event.

Organizers are reaching out to American history enthusiasts and re-enactors, children and people of all ages from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Native nations, and internationally to enter and attend the commemorative event to be held March 17-18, 2012 at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in the War of 1812 heritage community of Sackets Harbor, New York.


Guidelines for making “cot to coffin”-size (30 inches x 70 inches) quilt using a variety of fabrics, including cotton, linen, silk, wool and linsey-woolsey, and patterns common to the 1812 period are online. Entries must be committed to the show by January 15, 2012; quilts must be completed by March 3, 2012.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2012 War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show and Challenge guidelines suggest studying the research works and books of noted quilt historians Barbara Brackman, Anne Orr and Pepper Cory.

Brackman of Lawrence, Kansas, suggests that a quilt in medallion or strip format would be a good patchwork design for the historical era. Brackman says, “Patterns that were popular during the 1812 time were simple stars and basic nine-patch and four-patch variations. The War cut into fabric imports into America but well-to-do women already had stashes of imported French, English and Indian chintzes and calicoes in a variety of colors, and loved to mix large-scale and small-scale prints. For those thinking of using fabric reflecting the domestic prints of the time, indigo blues, browns and a touch of pink would be among the best colors.”

Brackman has designed a reproduction collection of prints from the era for Moda Fabrics; the “Lately Arrived from London” collection should be available in quilt shops by the end of the summer of 2011.

The Seaway Trail Foundation is sponsoring the event as part of a host of War of 1812 Bicentennial commemorative plans for tourism, cultural heritage and military history programs in 2011-2014. The March 2012 show will be the kickoff for a 2011-2014 traveling educational exhibit of the War of 1812-like quilts.

The 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail along the freshwater coastline of New York and Pennsylvania is a National Scenic Byway offering authentic American travel experiences

Illustration: War of 1812 attack on Oswego from the Paul Lear collection.

Walking Guide Features Sackets Harbor History


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With sponsorship from Watertown Savings Bank, the Sackets Harbor Historical Society has published an updated edition of its Harbor Walk: A Guide to the History & Architecture of Sackets Harbor, NY. The book is available from the Sackets Harbor Historical Society and at several venues in the village that was a shipbuilding center during the War of 1812.

The 44-page illustrated guide celebrates the historic architecture as seen at homes, businesses and buildings in the waterfront village, at Madison Barracks, and on a 17-point Town of Hounsfield Driving Tour in western Jefferson County, NY.


Sackets Harbor Historical Society President Jan Maas says, “This guidebook interprets more than 200 years of our cultural, economic and military history by showcasing the architectural quality of our built environment and serves the Historical Society mission to educate the public about the unique heritage of our community.”

The book’s front cover features the Sackets Harbor Bank Building at the corner of West Main and Broad Streets. Watertown Savings Bank operates a branch in the building that dates to c.1836 and includes the Sackets Harbor Historical Society. The Sackets Harbor Bank housed here in 1836 was the county’s second bank.

The book’s back cover highlights the Union Hotel, at West Main and Ray Streets, now owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and housing the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center. Frederick White, reputedly the wealthiest man in Jefferson County, built the hotel in 1817-18 to take advantage of the post-War of 1812 hotel trade. The guidebook notes that the building’s “well-preserved interiors are counted among the finest of any Federal-era public buildings in New York State.”

The guide includes a short history of Sackets Harbor, a guide to 13 architectural styles, a glossary of architectural terms, and a bibliography.

The original text was prepared by Michael D. Sullivan and updated by Sackets Harbor Historical Society President Jan Maas. Local historians Bob and Jeannie Brennan, Sackets Harbor State Historic Battlefield Manager Connie Barone, the staff at the Pickering-Beach Historical Museum, Flower Memorial Library and Olin Library at Cornell University contributed to the Harbor Walk guide’s development. Sackets Harbor artist Lawrence Barone provided the new cover design and updated several maps.

The Northern New York Community Foundation and the Heritage Area Program of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided funding for the first edition of the guide. Sackets Harbor is a New York State Heritage Area Community.

Sales benefit the Historical Society’s interpretive projects. Call 315-646-1708 for more information.

War of 1812 Bicentennial Plans Announced


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From Sackets Harbor, NY, site of two big War of 1812 battles that are cause still today for gatherings of troops – of living history reenactors for festivals and educational events in the Lake Ontario shoreline village, Seaway Trail, Inc. has announced a full complement of War of 1812 Bicentennial plans to promote travel along the 518-mile National Scenic Byway that runs alongside New York’s and Pennsylvania’s freshwater coast.


“This project has federal funding to accomplish many planned tasks, so we are seeking both financial and historical knowledge partners in U.S. and Canada. Based on our success with the French & Indian War Bicentennial commemoration, we expect the War of 1812 plans to result in immediate and long-term tourism and economic benefit,” said Seaway Trail, Inc. President and CEO Teresa Mitchell.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2011-2014 War of 1812 Bicentennial Plan includes provisions for:

· Adding 20 40 inch x 30 inch War of 1812 themed panels to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail “outdoor storyteller” signage system

· A short-term tourism impact brochure guide to War of 1812 sites along the byway in NY and Pennsylvania and in Plattsburgh, NY

· A new Seaway Trail War of 1812 guidebook to replace the 1987 edition that was among the Seaway Trail travel guides that received “Best of the Byways” honors from the American Recreation Coalition

· Incorporation of War of 1812 historic site into the Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoTrail high tech treasure-hunting travel adventure

· A War of 1812 reproduction theme quilt show and challenge competition at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY, in March 2012

· War of 1812 public programming at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY

· A marketing campaign in historic and heritage travel publications

· War of 1812 themed travel itineraries for families and groups

· A series of War of 1812 feature stories in the annual Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Guide over next four years

· Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 travel focus at the US Travel Association annual international travel trade show.

Seaway Trail, Inc.’s current War of 1812 projects funding partners include the New York State Department of Transportation, Empire State Development, the Erie County (PA) Department of Planning (Seaway Trail Pennsylvania), the Plattsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau, Key Bank, and the Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways Program.

Seaway Trail, Inc. plans to hold two spring 2011 meetings to provide 1812 Bicentennial promoters throughout the War’s northern theatre, including Canada, to share information and discuss opportunities for collaboration and the creation of War of 1812 “Signature Events” similar to those recognizing the 250th French and Indian War anniversary commemoration.

More information on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail — also a National Recreation Trail — is online.

Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History


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The eastern edge of the Adirondack Park stretches into the middle of Lake Champlain, that great river-lake 120 miles long, four times the size of Lake George. Standing between the states of New York and Vermont, it’s the largest body of water in the Adirondacks, one that connects Whitehall and (via the Champlain Canal and Hudson River) New York City to Quebec’s Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River.

Two routes inland from the Atlantic Ocean that have had a historic impact on the entire North County, New York and Vermont. The book Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History celebrates what is unquestionably America’s most historic lake. Continue reading

War Of 1812 Symposium Planned for Ogdensburg


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During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years. The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Présentation Association.

The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are: Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier; American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer; “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte; The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren; and Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny. The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor


“We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”

The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.

The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Présentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.

Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner; and $35 for the dinner with speaker.

Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Présentation Association webpage.

The Freight House Restaurant in Ogdensburg will host the symposium, as it has in previous years.

The Fort La Présentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Présentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.

Seminar Presenters

Darren Bonaparte from the Mohawk community of Ahkwesáhsne on the St. Lawrence River is an historical journalist. He created the Wampum Chronicles website in 1999 to promote his research into the history and culture of the Rotinonhsión:ni—the People of the Longhouse. Mr. Bonaparte has been published by Indian Country Today, Native Americas, Aboriginal Voices and Winds of Change, and he has served as an historical consultant for the PBS miniseries The War That Made America; Champlain: The Lake Between; and The Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America.

Paul Fortier, of Kingston, ON, worked 10 years as a military curator and historian for Parks Canada and a following 10 years as a manager at the National Archives of Canada. While living in Prescott, ON, the home he restored was the Stockade Barracks, British military headquarters on the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. Mr. Fortier is a founder of the re-enacted Regiment of Canadian Fencible Infantry. He owns Jessup Food & Heritage, providing period food services at Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry and Fort York.

Kate Kenney is the Program Historian at the University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program. She supervises historic artifact analysis and also helps supervise field work, particularly at historic sites. She is the senior author of Archaeological Investigations at the Old Burial Ground, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Ms. Kenny has organized and conducted UVM CAP public outreach, including presentations to elementary and high school students. Personal research projects involve Vermont history from the earliest settlement through to the Civil War.

Richard F. Palmer of Syracuse is a senior editor of “Inland Seas,” the quarterly of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and has written some 40 articles for the publication, covering more than 250 years of Lake Ontario’s maritime history. His presentation on “Cooper’s Ark,” is the story of a short-lived floating fortress built in Oswego during the War of 1812, but lost in a storm while sailing to Sackets Harbor. He’ll also recount the attempt to raft lumber for the construction of ships from Oak Orchard to Sackets Harbor; the delivery was intercepted by the British.

Victor Suthren, from Merrickville, Ontario, is an author and historian. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 to 1998, and is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy and advisor to the Directorate of Naval History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (Canada). He has worked as an advisor to film and television productions and has voyaged extensively as a seaman in traditional “tall ships.” Mr. Suthren has published several works of historical non-fiction, as well as two series of historical sea fiction.

Patrick Wilder is an historian retired from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He is the author of The Battle of Sackett’s Harbour, 1813.

Photo: Canadian Fencibles Colours, courtesy Fort La Présentation Association.

Lecture: Red Jacket, Role of Six Nations in War of 1812


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Dr. Alan S. Taylor, a renowned and award-winning author and historian, will be at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society‘s history museum this Saturday, November 13, 2010, at 1:30 p.m., for a talk entitled “Red Jacket and the Role of the Six Nations in the War of 1812.” Local interest is mounting for the 2012 bicentennial of the War of 1812. In addition, the museum currently has an exhibit exploring Red Jacket in the context of John Mix Stanley’s monumental painting “The Trial of Red Jacket.”


Taylor is the author of six American history books, and has won the Pulitzer, Beveridge, and Bancroft prizes for his scholarly writing. His newest release is titled The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (Random House). The book is available at the museum gift shop, and the author will be available to sign copies of it after the lecture.

Taylor is currently serving as a visiting professor, holding the prestigious Douglas Southall Freeman Chair in History at the University of Richmond, Virginia; he has been a professor of American History at University of California at Davis since 1994.

The lecture program is in support of the History Museum’s current exhibit, “Fact, Fiction and Spectacle: The Trial of Red Jacket,” which uses as its starting point the huge canvas by John Mix Stanley. Attendees to the lecture are encourage to view the exhibit, which is in the Museum’s lower floor gallery, when they are here for the lecture.

War of 1812, Border, Focus of Ontario Genealogical Conference


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The Ontario Genealogical Society‘s Region VIII (Kingston, Leeds & Grenville, and Ottawa Branches) will host the Society’s annual conference on June 1-3, 2012 at St. Lawrence College, Kingston Campus.

The conference theme is “Borders and Bridges: 1812 to 2012″ – chosen because the War of 1812 was a border dispute between England and the United States.

Issues such as border crossings; land settlement and pension records (on both sides of the border) of participants in the war of 1812 and other wars; immigration and migration; and genealogical resources in areas bordering eastern Ontario as well as in Ontario will be among the topics covered by speakers at the Conference. Also, genealogy is about making connections between people and families, including bridging gaps using DNA and other modern technologies.

The subject of lectures should preferably fall within one of the following categories:

1. Borders and Bridges (immigration/emigration, “Old Country” records, research trips)
2. Location (land records, directories, census)
3. Military records (not limited to War of 1812)
4. Technology (software, internet, DNA, etc.)
5. Eastern Ontario and Vicinity (New York state, Quebec)

Those wishing to be considered as a presenter, should submit a brief outline of your proposed talk(s) via e-mail to conference2012@ogs.on.ca no later than 15 January 2011.

Saturday and Sunday lectures will be one hour long, including time for questions. Friday workshops offering a more in-depth exploration should be 2.5-3 hours in length, including time for questions.

Speakers should bear in mind that PowerPoint presentations must be clearly readable from a minimum distance of 20 metres / 65 feet and should employ fonts no smaller than 32 points.

Each proposal should include on one page:

* a presentation title
* an abstract of 200 words
* a one- or two-sentence description of your talk for the seminar brochure
* your full name, postal address, telephone number, e-mail address, and website
* a brief biography
* whether your lecture would be aimed at genealogists working at the beginner, intermediate or advanced level, and suitable for a general or specialist audience (Multiple proposals are encouraged)

If your proposal is accepted, you will be requested to provide a 4-page summary of your talk or workshop for our Syllabus. This may include references and web addresses mentioned, sample screen shots, etc. It will be submitted electronically (in Word, RTF, WordPerfect, text or PDF format) approximately three months prior to the Conference.

Please include your approximate travel costs, economy class, to Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Remuneration will normally include reimbursement of transportation expenses, free registration, free accommodation and meals on the day(s) of your talk(s), free Saturday banquet, plus honorarium. Workshop fees may be negotiated.

Lecture on the Battles at Plattsburgh


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The Wilmington Historical Society invites you to their program with historian and author Keith Herkalo “September 11th, 1814: The Battles at Plattsburgh” to be held on Friday, August 20th at 7 pm at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington, Essex County, NY.

Would the United States exist if our naval and land Battles at Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814 had been lost? For the United States, the War of 1812 is often referred to as “the second war for independence”. We have learned of the battles at Baltimore, Washington and Sacketts Harbor, but what about the Battles at Plattsburgh?


Keith Herkalo, using personal journals, military journals, contemporary newspaper accounts, and other original source documents, examines the evidence that leads to the conclusion that the Battles at Plattsburgh on land and on Lake Champlain, were actually the key battles of the War of 1812. He claims that were it not for the exemplary talents and skills of two young military officers, Commodore Thomas McDonough and General Alexander Macomb, a small force of regular army and navy personnel and New York Militia, a few thousand Vermont Militia, a handful of Native Americans and Veteran Exempts (those too old for military service), and a group of boys from a local school, the United States, as we know it today, would not exist.

Plattsburgh City Clerk and a charter member of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association, Keith Herkalo believes that the Battles at Plattsburgh and the individuals who fought in the War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley and surrounding area deserve national recognition. Karen Peters, President of the Wilmington Historical Society, notes that many area residents of that time period participated in the land battle, including Major Reuben Sanford of Wilmington who commanded a regiment of detached militia. Stephen Partridge, also of Jay and Wilmington was one of the first to be killed in action in a skirmish at Culver Hill on September 6, 1814, a few days prior to the main battle.

Having grown up in both Philadelphia and Plattsburgh, and spending more than a decade in military service, Keith Herkalo returned to Plattsburgh developing a keen interest in Plattsburgh’s history with a particular attention to Plattsburgh’s involvement in the War of 1812. He is a builder and member of the boat crew of the award-winning bateau “Rooster” (the 37-foot replica of an 1812 era work boat). As an 1812-era re-enactor and an amateur historian he is the research catalyst behind the archaeological re-discovery and preservation of the 1812 Camp Site known as “Pike’s Cantonment” and the Crab Island Graves location. He is the editor of The Journalof H.K. Averill. Sr.: An Account of the Battle of Plattsburgh and Early North Country Community, and author of September 11th, 1814: the Battles at Plattsburgh which documents Plattsburgh’s importance in the War of 1812.

The “September 11th, 1814: The Battles at Plattsburgh” program on August 20th is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at (518) 524-1023 or Merri Peck at (518) 946-7627.

Illustration: Naval battle on Lake Champlain. Engraving in 1816 by B. Tanner.

New Windsor Purple Heart Appreciation Day


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National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will celebrate Purple Heart Appreciation Day this Saturday August 7, 2010 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the New Windsor Cantonment.

228 years ago General George Washington’s orders created the Badge of Military Merit. It was to be a heart shaped piece of Purple cloth, given in recognition of a singular act of merit and was the inspiration for the modern Purple Heart. The award we now call the Purple Heart was created in 1932. Today’s program honors all who have earned the Purple Heart, and commemorates the history behind this award.


The day’s program will include a military time line of America’s soldiers from the 17th through 20th centuries and will also feature Veteran’s Administration and local veteran’s organizations to provide information to veteran’s of the services available to them.

Throughout the day 18th century children’s games will be available.

1:00 p.m: In the Temple of Virtue there will be a short lecture on the history of the Purple Heart

2:00 p.m.:A weapons firing demonstrations that will show weapons across time.

Admission is FREE

For more information please call 845-561-1765

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Sites are located at 374 Temple Hill Road (Route 300) in the town of New Windsor, three miles south of I-84 exit 7B and I-87 exit 17. Parking, gift shop, and picnic grounds are located on site. Museum exhibits are open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday – Saturday and from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sunday.

War of 1812 North American Grand Tactical Gathering


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The Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Inc. and the Village of Sackets Harbor, New York are proud to host the War of 1812 North American Grand Tactical, July 31-August 1, 2010. The Grand Tactical is the annual gathering of all 1812 American and Crown Forces recreated units, showcasing a wide range of living history traditions including 1812 camp life, clothing, cooking, dance, etiquette, music, period games, military dress and tactics, and weaponry.

One of the largest living history weekends for re-enactors, this is the dress rehearsal for the 2013 Bicentennial living history event scheduled for Sackets Harbor. Grand Tacticals annually alternate between the United States and Canada, attracting large numbers of participants and spectators. This is the first War of 1812 Grand Tactical for New York State’s north country. The Sackets Harbor site was selected for its battlegrounds authenticity and ranking by the National Park Service as one of the top ten War of 1812 sites in the nation.

Experience life during the War of 1812 as living history re-enactors and sutlers (period merchants) gather at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site. A full schedule of demonstrations fills Saturday from 9am to 8pm and again on Sunday from 9am to 3pm. There is a nominal admission fee.

This gigantic Grand Tactical kick-off to the upcoming War of 1812 Bicentennial will give everyone a taste of what’s to come during the three-year cross-border observance starting in 2012.

For more information, contact the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site (NY) at 315-646-3634 or online at www.sacketsharborbattlefield.org