Sunday, November 22, 2015

This week, Pie & Bake Sales, Pecksport & the Chenango Canal

Steve & Cathy with some of our bake goods!
Finally except for the Christmas gathering, which is also the Birthday gathering for December, things are winding done.  The pie sale and the making of the pies provided some interesting moments and here I will mention our little group of Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum who came through…Pat Utter, Barbara Keough, Steve and Judy Goodfriend, Michele Kelly, Jen Caloia, Judy Oplinger, Cathy Nagle, and Bob Betz... who baked and baked up a storm.  When we got to the sale there were 45 pies and when we left there were none.

I am personally thankful for their help and sincerely thankful to the Eaton Community Bible Church and Pastor Pollock for allowing us to use the basement for the pie sale.  This made the parking so much easier and the building well well lit for the sale.

The week also provided for some interesting sidelights as we had interesting visitors also, Kevin Orr and I were able to film a section on the Chenango Canal video that we have been working on.  

The Canal is really an interesting part of Eaton’s history.  In reality only a small part of it is in Eaton…but that small part was probably the most important part as it, as it is through Eaton that all the water for the main section of the canal flowed.  The waters of the Leland Ponds, Woodman Pond, Lebanon Reservoir once know as Kingsley Brook Reservoir, Hatch’s Lake, Bradley Brook and Eatonbrook Reservoir met there.  Yes even Lebanon Reservoirs runoff makes a turn and runs north to join the canal at a spot near Pecksport. 

If you stop at the bridge on 12b over the fishing section of the canal, just off Wendover Road, and glance east you can see where it all enters.

The other interesting thing about the area was the ingenuity of Josiah Peck and his son Alonzo who dug out an area that would allow more than one canal boat to unload at the same time.  Alonzo who also ran the Chenango Canal Boat Lines erected a large warehouse at Pecksport to allowing an overflow of goods to be stored from either the northern or southern routes.

Today there is nothing to mark the spot as the signs and historic markers one by one have disappeared.  This isa sad actually as the vanished history was an important part of the canal which bought number of new towns and new families to our area.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Remembering Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, & ties to Utica and Lorenzo here in Madison County!

Horatio Seymour a Utica native and Governor of the State of New York, was one of those privileged to hear in person one of America’s greatest speeches. On November 19, 1863 he sat with 5 other northern state governors in Gettysburg, the speech to be delivered by President Lincoln at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery.

This November 19th the speech called “The Gettysburg Address” became 147 years old, and starting in April, Gettysburg along with other important sites of the Civil War will start a 150 Anniversary set of programs to commemorate that great turning point in American history.

The battle, which lasted three days, killed over 7,000 men and over 300 horses that lay on the ground decaying in the heat of July. The battle had wounded another 40,000 or so men and the people of Gettysburg - that only numbered 2,400 had the ungodly job of burying the dead and burning the horse carcasses.

It is they, with an attorney David Wills, who petitioned the Governor of Pennsylvania to get federal funding to buy land (17 acres for $2,475) to turn into a final fitting-resting place for the fallen. Throughout the ensuing months bodies were exhumed from the battlefield and buried in the nearby cemetery and November 19th 1863, the day it was to be dedicated.
The main orator was to be the famous Edward Everett delivering an 13,000 plus word oration, followed by music and then the President who delivered only 300 words. Those 300 words however, have lived forever, and to this day are quoted by many school children that have memorized it.

Lincoln’s purpose in the speech was to bring the importance of keeping the Union together and finishing the war as one “Nation” to the people. (Lincoln had become unpopular as over a quarter of a million men died already and debate on the draft was raging) We are still one Union and the Gettysburg Address is indeed one of America's greatest speeches.

*Of interest is that Horatio Seymour was born in Pompey, New York and moved to Utica at 10 years old, his sister Clarissa married Ledyard Lincklaen her second cousin and lived her days out at Lorenzo in Cazenovia.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A week of sadness, trouble, money and happiness for Thanksgiving!

Winters cold has settled in for a bit with snow crystals making their debut this fall…strange how it seems to be imitating the World’s mood right now.  As we all learned of the Paris attacks I am sure we each thought about how crazy the World had become.  I personally cannot figure why anyone could believe that by blowing themselves and other people up they were making a statement…it is easy to see that the statement gets lost in the reporting of the carnage and let us face it…when your dead your dead.

Meanwhile the radios are already blasting Christmas music and the stores have pushed their Christmas sales up to accommodate a crazy group of people who actually leave their family and Thanksgiving celebrations to haunt malls for deals on a day dubbed “Black Friday”... I am pretty sure the clerks that have to work aren’t happy or giving thanks for them.

When I was in retailing we were closed on Sunday and Holidays…CLOSED!

Today we take for granted the ability to shop until we drop…but really should we?  I actually wonder if we ever as a collective society think about how lucky and wealthy we are.  By world standards even the poorest of poor here in the USA is better off than much of the world’s people. 

Our “Capitalistic society” has dropped most people into debt and into a stressful world of acquiring items we do not need and also forcing many to live up to the standards set by advertisers and by our neighbors who have this or that that is new and shiny.

So for this “Thanksgiving” I offer a suggestion.  For at least one minute of our day let us sit and reflect on the World, on our life, on our loved ones and above all on how lucky we are.  We have come along way from that first Thanksgiving day…but I fear we have long way to go until we can understand that for many just having a family that is alive, having some food of any variety to eat, having a roof over their head and some warmth, and having their health, is all that they need to be happy. Truthfully it should be enough for all of us.

Happiness is a simple thing that cannot be bought, cannot be acquired in a mall, but it can be shared and enjoyed in our hearts. So share the happiness you have with your loved ones and friends…sharing and caring in this cold world will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside… but only if you are thankful for what you have.

PS Support your local community and if in our area come to our Eaton Museum Pie and Bake Sale on November 21, to be at the basement of the Eaton Community Bible Church in Eaton...


Monday, November 9, 2015

Foodies, health, Mother Nature and the crazy world of today's medicine!

Foodies…yes ”Foodies”…they seem to be everywhere on line…health nuts…organic lovers…on and on.  Buzz words that link us to all types of websites, information, and resources.  I really wonder what happened to just plain healthy living .  I personally think we have become so obsessed with ourselves and our health that we are being distracted form what is important about life.

A drive anywhere will bring into view huge medical complexes that replace the poor family doctor who helped patients not only with their physical problems but many times gave advice on eating, life, and discussed mental health.

Gone are the Doc. Wests who simply dealt with the problems using common sense since he knew the families and their histories and did not need a long written explanation of genic linking health issues or personality traits.  We all want to live to be 100 to enable us to populate thousands of nursing homes waiting to die… in a setting…well a setting I do not want. The old Indians used to go out in a field… lay down and die…my thinking exactly!

Health tips on line have become big money and on one site you can learn that pepper is a stimulant and could raise your blood pressure, and then on a health cure page find out it will help keep your blood pressure in check…I wonder if any of it is real? Don’t eat eggs…do eat eggs… What?

Vitamins to make you healthy…yes instead of eating your vitamins at well-rounded meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner… you can pop a pill. Oh yes and by the by…the pharmaceutical industry.  Money, Money, Money and more MONEY… Really cancer has been around for years and genetics and the world that each and everyone of us lives, eats and breathes in has created the epidemic mind state of our feared illness called “Cancer!” Folks you can’t get out alive…and you are going to die of something...its called LIFE!

I was on a website that tickled me as it touted Nature as the drug you could take to cure your ills…the site called “Nature” said get outside and view nature…the cure for everything is stress related.  Humorously, I think “Work” and filling your life with love, faith and the beauty of nature and Nature’s God has cured more people of stress related illness than every pill in the world. But that of course is the view of a backward thinking person who thinks we should step back and look at our society for what it is…”commercial” and money oriented.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cemetery Tours, Hammond's History of Madison County and a mystery solved!

This has been an unusual few days. I have stated that I am retiring from history…and everyone says they don’t believe me.  History is your passion they say…you will be back!  Humorously, if I have something to say about it I won’t be!  There comes that moment when you no longer care…when the results no longer benefit the time, money and effort you have put into it.  And so…I am retired.

I did the cemetery tour for the last time today…tours we started back in 1995 and have carried out in October or on Memorial Day Monday since then.  The amount of information has been compiled I have written a book out on it…so I no longer have to do it I think.

As for the history of things…the history will always be there…it is up to the individual to discover it!  I have discovered much history in the Eaton Cemetery that has never been known and written about.  One such piece is the story of Mrs. Luna Chase Hammond’s History of Madison County.  This is a mammoth book put out in the 1870’s that covered the history of Madison County up to that time.  But as many times as I opened the book over the past 20 years I have wondered what ever happened to her brother James that helped her write it.

The answer to the quest for this answer came in a most unexpected way…by accident.  I was writing the book on the Eaton Cemetery and was researching the Chase Family graves, graves that include Luna Hammond the author, her mother Deiadamia Button Chase the first female Physician of Madison County and what appears to be 7 direct relatives who became doctors, some very famous in our area.  Among them was a Col. Julius Chase.

So I looked him up…and after a fashion I found him.  Lo and behold…there was the answer… Julius had become a member of the United States Historical Society in Washington, DC.  To qualify for this prestigious group he presented a book he had written… the book was called “The History of Madison County.”  Yes I had finally found James…he was Col. Julius Chase,,, buried right there with all of his famous relatives.  Who would have guessed!

So to you in the Blogosphere I will continue these little blog quests…but the rest I put to rest! More next Sunday!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I am Quitting, Eaton History & Museum, and the Keepers of the Fire and you!

This week’s blog is about quitting…yes quitting.  I am a person who never gives up…really!  I started the quest to help Eaton get a business since 1995.  The only thing Eaton the Town and Hamlet had going for them at that time was “History”. So the little group called Neighbors for Historic Eaton… that has morphed into Old Town Folks today… set out to use that history as a vehicle to gain recognition and to put Eaton into the public eye. We have certainly accomplished that and now have a museum that works to that end.

I started doing Fall Festival History Weekends to bring not only Eaton’s History to the public, but also all of the small town museums that have been overlooked.  To accomplish this I put up an early website called Our Old Town.  We did 8 years of these fall history tours.  Today I have expanded this to include the history of upstate New York with our current website

As Madison county Historian I worked to save the records that had been long since forgotten and abused.  Records that record the lives of the people of Madison County.  I have a hard time getting people to visualize that a county is not a drawing on a piece of paper but is people…the people that live within it…both past and present.  In that capacity I tried to save the Madison County Fair…donating my time and much of my own money.  We have a Fair today.

I have written so many articles in the past 20 years on our shared history, so many weekly blogs, books, and in all this time have never been paid for any of it and almost never thanked either.

I have toured to promote each of these quests…doing public speaking engagements, 31 in one year alone for the Fair.  I have done numerous public speaking lectures to raise money for my museum…but I have to stop.  Of all the things I do…public speaking is the thing I hate the most.  This month I am retiring…really.  I am giving the Eaton Cemetery tour on the 31st…yes Halloween…and that is it.

The museum will still be there, the history will still be in the public’s eye.. but I won’t be.  After 20 years I am turning the job of promoting our cultural heritage in the form of history back to you.  I implore you to support your local museums; …mark your memories by labeling photographs and donating important pieces of your communities’ history to your local society or museum…do not wait for it to be sold at auction to cover your debts.  Also remember that your children my not prize that memorabilia as you do. Volunteer with a group that works for your community such as fire departments, churches, cemetery association, and museum groups…etc.

Remember…each town, village, and hamlet needs what I call “Keeper’s of the Fire”.  In the old days whole groups of people traveled together to market with their goods…. travel that took in their time days by ox cart…they always left a few folks home who kept the home fires burning until their return.  So I ask you to become a modern keeper, by preserving and promoting the history (remembered lives) that founded our rural America, the future generations will be richer because of it!