Tag Archives: Onondaga County

Remembering Onondaga’s Split Rock Explosion


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split rockAs Rich Miller remembers, it was sometime around 1984 that a colleague at the bank where he worked first mentioned Onondaga’s Split Rock Explosion of July 2, 1918.

This was not the first time that Rich’s interest was piqued by the Split Rock Explosion. He had read former newspaper columnist Dick Case’s columns on that event, but this was the first time someone offered to take Rich up to explore Split Rock.

Over thirty years later, his research has lead him to write a four volume series about Split Rock – before, during and after the explosion that changed the lives of the people who worked there and the communities nearby. Continue reading

Onondaga Historians Marking Split Rock Explosion


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split rock explosionThat particular summer’s day, July 2, 1918, began, or more like continued, like all the days before it as the munitions manufacturing facility at Split Rock in Onondaga was an around the clock operation.

The owners of the site, Semet-Solvay (better known to most as Solvay Process) knew the importance of this plant as it supported WWI efforts, at first filling the demands of the European powers – England, France and Italy – before the entrance of the United States into the war and its’ need for the products manufactured at Split Rock. This plant produced a variety of products important to the fight against Germany, such as T.N.T., picric acid, poison gas, and smokeless powder (gunpowder for shells). Continue reading

Areial Photos: New York Rural History From Above


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aerial photograph centered in Syracuse Onondaga County New York 1938Aerial photos can be helpful research tools for historians. Google Earth, which provides access to a vast collection of aerial photography stretching back 20 years, is just a sampling of the many aerial photos that have been made since French balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as “Nadar”, took a photo over Paris, France in 1858.

Much of New York Sate was photographed with the camera pointing straight down, an oblique presentation that is less useful to some historians. An effort to capture all of New York in an orthophotographic perspective (corrected to a uniform scale) started in 1936 with a contract to C.S. Robinson of Ithaca, NY. These images are particularly valuable resources for historians of all stripes. Continue reading

Manlius, Madison County, and Abolitionists Talk Planned


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Seceder Cover JPEGAfter six years of research Alethea “Lee” Connolly has published her book on “forgotten trailblazers” in early 19th Century Central New York. Connolly will present her research on her book The Seceders: Religious Conviction & the Abolitionist Movement in the Town of Manlius, 1834-1844 at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2014 at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

As Barbara S. Rivette, Manlius Town Historian, states “The network of families and church affiliations involved in The Seceders spread through Canastota, Clockville, and Peterboro.” Seceders, like early Manlius settler Elijah Bailey, “believed the church had veered off the simple path of Bible religion into pride and folly.” Continue reading

New Photo History of Bridgeport, NY


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Bridgeport Ny historyDiscussing the importance of the history of Bridgeport, NY, is the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. The book titled Bridgeport from local author Judy Barrett boasts a collection of more than 200 archival images.

“Bridgeport is still a hamlet, which is another factor in the continuance of the uniqueness of our community,” writes author Judy Barrett. In her new book, Barrett celebrates the history of this unique hamlet, which lies in both the towns of Cicero, in Onondaga County, and Sullivan, in Madison County. It is divided only by Chittenango Creek, which was the main attraction for settlement in the early years. Continue reading

New Book Features Early Onondaga Co. Abolitionism


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SecedersAfter six years research, retired genealogist, one-time teacher, and journalist Alethea “Lee” Connolly has published The Seceders: Religious Conviction & the Abolitionist Movement in the Town of Manlius, 1834-1844 (2013). The book makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the very early abolitionist movement in Onondaga County, and its interactions with similar movements in Madison, Cayuga, and Oneida counties.

Motivated by deep religious values of justice and human dignity, the men and women covered in this book defied local resistance and social pressures. They refused to be silenced in their anti-slavery beliefs. Town of Manlius Historian, Barbara S. Rivette, has called the book “an amazing feat of research.” Continue reading

Women’s Rights: The Matilda Joslyn Gage Home


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3-GageHouseIt’s helpful to know about the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in advance or you might miss it when driving through Fayetteville, NY (Onondaga County) – even though it’s strategically located on the main street.

Fayetteville is a small upstate town in the “cradle” of New York’s women’s rights movement, centrally located for those activists who worked with Gage and others while seeking radical social change in the years before and after the Civil War. Continue reading

Signage Plans Focus on Local Historians


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Is resurgence in the interest in history a sign of the time?  It seems so as two initiatives to promote the importance of history and heritage of New York both use signs as a means to the end.

At the 2012 conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State on Long Island, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation used that opportunity to announce that their organization was taking their interest in historical markers statewide. Continue reading

African American Men in White NY Civil War Units


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An obituary from 1865 led me to investigate the life of Ira T. Brum, who enlisted in the 185th New York Volunteers in June 1864. The regiment was full of young men from Onondaga and Cortland, and some few from elsewhere in the state. Company F contained mostly men from Cortland who enlisted together that spring.

The 185th participated in the siege of Petersburg and was part of the Appomattox Campaign, fighting at Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, Five Forks and at Appomattox Court House. There, on April 9th, 1865 members of the 185th saw the “white flag come out and was glad to see it.” First Lieutenant Hiram Clark of Marathon gathered his men and sang “Hail Columbia.” As the men settled against a fence, a shell came over and killed Clark, the “last man killed in the army of the Potomac.” Continue reading

Syracuse Abolitionist Inducted to Hall of Fame


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Jermain Wesley Loguen, famous “Underground Railroad King” of Syracuse, will be inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at Saturday, October 22, 2011 ceremonies to be held at Colgate University in Hamilton NY. Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. professor emeritus of African American Studies and History, Syracuse University, provides a brief history of the new inductee:

Born into slavery in 1813 “Jarm” stole his master’s horse in 1834 and escaped to Canada West where he farmed for a few years. In 1837 he went to Rochester, NY and worked as a hotel porter. Later he attended Beriah Green’s abolitionist school at Whitesboro, NY and while there he started a Sunday school for African American children in Utica. He married Caroline Storum in 1840 and they had six children, one of whom (Amelia) married Lewis Douglass, the son of Frederick and Anna Douglass.

The Loguens moved to Syracuse in 1841. Jermain taught school and became a licensed preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, serving congregations in Syracuse, Bath, Ithaca, and Troy. He was as much an abolitionist activist as a minister and became one of the nation’s most active agents of the Underground Railroad. He assisted the Rev. Samuel J. May, a Unitarian clergyman in Syracuse, with Underground Railroad work. The Loguen house near the intersection of Pine and Genesee Streets was a principal station on the Underground Railroad. Loguen placed letters in the Syracuse press openly discussing his activities and asking for donations to assist fugitives. Loguen is said to have aided more than 1500 freedom seekers.

Donna Dorrance Burdick, historian for the Town of Smithfield, relates, “In 1844 Frederick Douglass introduced Loguen to Gerrit Smith. On September 1, 1846, Loguen joined Henry Highland Garnet and Samuel Ringgold Ward as a recipient of common Peterboro property.” The passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 brought Loguen’s response of, “It outlaws me, and I outlaw it.” Following his participation in the Jerry Rescue of October 1851, he was one of five African Americans indicted in the incident. He fled to Canada returning to Syracuse in the spring of 1852 and resumed his Underground Railroad activities.”

The Induction of Jermain Wesley Loguen begins at 1:30 p.m. in Golden Auditorium at Colgate University with I Owe My Freedom to the God Who Made Me: Jermain Loguen and the Struggle for Freedom presented by Carol Hunter PhD, professor of history at Earlham College in Richmond IN. Dr. Hunter’s 1989 doctoral dissertation at Binghamton University researched Loguen and the abolition movement in upstate New York. A revised and edited version of the work was published in 1993 as To Set the Captives Free: Reverend Jermain Wesley Loguen and the Struggle for Freedom in Central New York 1835-1872. Hunter’s lecture is one of the afternoon Upstate Institute Abolition Symposia programs supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.

Loguen’s official public nomination by Onondaga Historical Association, and others with Loguen connections, will be part of the October 22 evening ceremonies at 7 p.m. in Golden Auditorium at Colgate University. Loguen’s part in the Jerry Rescue of 1851 will also be included in John Rudy’s program The Jerry Level: Gerrit Smith and the Memory of the Jerry Rescue at 2 pm Satruday, October 1, 2011 at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0169. (Admission: $2)

The public is encouraged to attend the Loguen sessions. Admission at the door for each of the lectures and the induction ceremony is five dollars. (Admission for all four symposia programs is eight dollars.) Information and registration forms for the day-long induction event are available at 315-366-8101 and info@AbolitionHoF.org and www.AbolitionHoF.org.

Illustration: Portrait of Jermain Wesley Loguen created by artist Joseph Flores of Rochester NY for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum for the occasion of the induction of Loguen to the Hall.