Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Summer Solstice, my Wednesday talk & Strawberry History

Well the days have finally become warmer and longer…could summer be lurking ready to overtake the cold of spring ... finally!

As I was getting ready for my “lecture” on Wednesday night to honor the Summer Solstice, I was drawn back to thoughts of childhood and going about the woods near our home picking a handful of wild strawberries.  It was a wonder to me … and eating a few was fun.

Those strawberries that I am now allergic to, were a great treat to the early settlers and to the Native Americans who could finally warm themselves with the sun after the cold winter.  As a matter of fact Iroquois Tribes (Seneca) celebrated a Strawberry Festival each year…the same as our Strawberry Socials today.

In June the children and woman would scour the fields much as we children did…gathering the little berries to get ready for that special festival.  The berries were mashed and readied for a drink made with honey and water.  Then at the appointed time all would gather for fun and food with two chosen children bringing the drink around to be sampled by all members … Fun

Of course, then other berries were gathered and made into cakes or that were dried and saved for food to later be reconstituted to eat or to travel with.  Dried like much of the food they preserved for future use.

As I thought on this, I decided that this year our little history group, Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum, could do a Summer Solstice celebration by taking rhubarb and strawberries and turning them into our traditional “Pie of Spring”… Strawberry Rhubarb.  Of course, we will add ice cream or serve it plain, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate the Solstice.  (We will also have other pie as well!)

So come out on Wednesday night at 7pm, to the old Auction Barn in Eaton on route 26, and taste our Strawberry Solstice treat and listen to stories from the past… including the history of salt, Hiawatha, and the once inland sea that is today’s Onondaga Lake... once the home of Sturgeon, Whitefish, the Onondaga Nation and CNY’s Salt industry!

A video of today's Onondaga Lake Park and Salt Museum!





Sunday, June 10, 2018

Our Early Settlement, Salt and Hope for the Future!

The history of settlement in many of our early communities formed around lush rich soil, water bodies or old transportation routes, in some cases around something as simple as mineral deposits like “salt”.

In early times a salt source or spring was sought and early settlers flocked to it to boil off water to gain a cup of the needed mineral.  Salt in colonial times was as valuable as gold as a source of money or for trade. Salt as a trade-ware is traced as early as 6050 BC.  Salt is a need mineral for man or animal…needed to dry meat and preserve fish, it was also needed to make many other components of life.  From the history of salt in America we find from “SALT WORKS”  – History of Salt…..

Salt motivated the American pioneers. The American Revolution had heroes who were salt makers and part of the British strategy was to deny the American rebels access to salt. Salt was on the mind of William Clark in the groundbreaking Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Northwest. The first patent issued by the British crown to an American settler gave Samuel Winslow of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the exclusive right for ten years to make salt by his particular method. The Land Act of 1795 included a provision for salt reservations (to prevent monopolies), as did an earlier treaty between the Iroquois' Onondaga tribe and the state of New York. New York has always been important in salt production.”
Yes the settlement of Central New York...our area… and so I decided to give a presentation on June 20th at 7pm, at the Old Auction Barn in Eaton, It will be a discussion of our early settlement and the importance of the salt industry… something that in part created the need for Fort Stanwix to guard the area known as the “Oneida Carry”.
History is in some ways is a road sign to the future. It seems that as a historian you are continually seeing the current happenings in a context of what has transpired in the past and then predicting what will happen in the future.  In every small town in rural America we can see that past disappearing before our eyes.  Sitting here at night writing I wonder if perhaps there might be a rebirth of the rural small communities as more and more people do business from home and seek out peaceful setting to escape to.


Here in Eaton we have the reservoirs and small lakes that in the past filled with only summer people…but more and more of these “camps” are becoming year round homes.  As the suburbs inch closer and our electric & Internet improve… I wonder if some of these areas like Eaton might again revitalize again.  It’s a wonderful thought isn’t it.!

Video of Memorial Day Monday at the Potters Field honoring our Veterans please view and enjoy!.




Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Summer Solstice, the Haudenosaunee confederacy, and Salt!

The Old Town of Eaton Museum will be sponsoring another history lecture on Wednesday, June 20th at 7 pm, at the old auction barn on Route 26 in Eaton.  The discussion will focus around the Native Americans of the Central New York area and the importance of Onondaga Lake its Salt Springs to it early settlement. 

The Summer Solstice is the perfect time to shed light on the traditions and stories of this time of the year and the importance of the rising sun in our culture.  All peoples the world over used this solar time for special ceremonies that marked the beginning of the planting season.

Onondaga Lake and its many salt springs gave rise to businesses that allowed Syracuse and Central New York communities like Solvay, Tully, Jamesville and others to flourish and become the hub of Syracuse know at one time as “The City Salt Built”.

A lake steeped in traditions that go back to the start of the Haudenosaunee confederacy and the story of Hiawatha it was the home of  “The Great Tree of Peace” under which was buried the hatchet of war.

The Salt Springs themselves were of great interest to the early Jesuit Ministers who came down from Canada to map and to convert its Native inhabitants to their Christian Ways.  Many an early settle made their way onto Native land with their boiling bucket and ax to make salt to preserve their meat and fish for the winter.  Onondaga Lake also contained White Fish and Sturgeon a food source that has now become extinct. 

Today’s Onondaga Lake is returning to fishing, recreation and boating by projects to clean its pollution cause by many years of industry and waste dumping, however it is these very industries that built the Central New York area and gave immigrants and settlers alike the jobs necessary to produce a vibrant economy.


join Back Street Mary the former Madison County Historian on June 20th with a Rain Date of June 21 at 7 pm to learn more. You can visit the Old Town of Eaton Museum on the first and third Sunday of the month in the summer, from 1 – 3 pm.  The museum is just a stones throw from the auction barn on River Road.

A short video I've done on today's Salt Museum and Onondaga Lake Park.










Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Alderbrook- Eatonbrrok History......West Eaton Mills, and the Heat Continues.....

The heat continues....Humorously I ran into one of the cashiers in the local grocery store who saw how hot and tired I was and commented that I was just as miserable when it was freezing cold...TRUE!  I did get to sit near the Alderbrook again and so this weeks blog came to mind...How many know the history of the West Eaton Millarea? Then this history blog is for you!


(Eatonbrook) -Alderbrook Mill History

 This mill is one of the old landmarks which our citizens will regret to see pass away.  Some 35 years ago, an old saw mill stood upon the site, which was purchased by Alpheus Morse and John Brown.  They also obtained land of Simeon Chubbuck , …land upon which to erect and build bogs and to flow water into the pond.  In 1849, they built and put into operation the well-known Alderbrook Woolen Mills. 

It was a wooden structure four stories high.  They built a fine boarding house, a cottage or two and the Long Block, a long building.  The factory was in the shadow of the northern mill, a very pretty location.  The Mill employed some 75 employees and manufactured some of the best quality cashmere and doeskin. 

In 1856, the firm failed, after which Alpheus Morse effected an arrangement and continued the business.  During the war, he made the army and navy blues, his goods being in such demand in the early years of the war that much of the time the works were run night and day.  Mr. Morse ran the mill with the cooperation of different individuals with varied success until 1874 or ‘75, during which time he built three cottages on the terrace overlooking the sheet of water. 

In 1876, the premises were purchased at a mortgage sale by Messrs. Lakey & Co., who sold to D.E. Darrow and Philo Walden in 1879.  Darrow and Walden soon after removed two stories of the upright part of the mill, putting in a new roof and otherwise repaired it.  The Long Block had become a ruin nearly ready to fall when they removed it. 
 
In 1883, they leased the mill to John Klock from St. Johnsville, N.Y., for paperboard manufacture.  Later, James Healey from the same place became associated with him.  Last year, Klock and Healey sold their interest to Messrs. Howe and Son. 

The cottages on the terrace have all been sold to different individuals, and now all of the buildings belonging to the mill property, all that is left, are the wool house and the boarding house. 

Fifty years ago, before there was ever sound of factory bell, hum of wheels or clash of looms in Alderbrook dell, it was the delightful home of Emily Chubbuck, the gifted “Fanny Forester.”  Here with her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, she lived her free joyous childhood – amid the wild picturesque beauty of nature, inhaled the breath of poetry…and wrote some of her most charming stories.  

The stories of busy enterprises silenced the Muse and for more than a third of a century held away.  The actors in the drama and their works are low in the dust; and should the pristine romantic beauty and poetic atmosphere of Alderbrook return to it, then this third of a century is simply bridged over by the force that evolves destiny; a period, a scene, fallen into oblivion…dead and buried.

**And so it is today...back to the wild pristine slumber of the ages…



Saturday, May 12, 2018

Memorial Day...Talks, Pies, and the Revolutionary War Veterans

Jim Monahan and his reenactors!
The Memorial Day Celebration is coming up and I decided this year we would honor the Revolutionary War Veterans who settled the area, including Smith's Valley.

One of the more interesting aspects of our area is the old historic marker that stands on River Road marking Madison Counties Early history.  One such marker lies just below the Old Town of Eaton Museum and lists the first clearing in what is now Madison County.. 1788...The Bark Hut.

If one takes the time to pick threw Mrs. Hammond's History of Madison County you will note many stories on our early founding where men forged into what was still considered" indian country" and upon arrival made a rudimentary hut to stay in. This area actually formed what was eventually a set of log homes that stretched from Lebanon to Eaton then dubbed "Log City".

Most of these men and those that came later were veteran's of the Revolutionary War and some had followed Col. William Smith to his land patent set up by Joshua Smith (not a relative) who served under him. Joshua was sent by Col. Smith to find him the best tract of land in the area...which Joshua did and where upon he built a bark hut.These actual squatters were indeed our first settlers and ironically today over two hundred years latter,  many of these families names still live on here today.

To honor these men we decided to do a talk on the Revolutionary War to open our Memorial Day Event on Wednesday, the 23rd with a lecture, Ice Cream Social with raffle baskets  and pie pre sales. This to gear us up for the Memorial Day Parade and regular "Eaton Day"Pie Sale Event.

So Mark it on your calendar and enjoy the night the ice cream and learn some local history.  Our Rain date is Thursday night!  All proceeds to benefit the Old Town of Eaton Museum.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cats, Winston Churchill, Eaton...Me...

Thanksgiving time is always a time of reflection and remember and for me.  I saw a news segment that reminded me of London, it also reminded me of my latest present from some friends.. a poster.   The poster was a copy of a historic poster put out just before Britain’s anticipated entrance into WWII in 1939.  Humorously, the poster was never publically displayed and recently was found and has become a new symbol...one I love… “Keep Calm and Carry On”.  What could be more British...perhaps only thoughts of Winston Churchill!

That brought me to Churchill’s mother who was Jennie Jerome, a beautiful American who actually has great ties to CNY.  The Jerome Family farms were in CNY and the land that my family built its house on was part of the Jerome Farm…home of Jennie’s grandmother.  

Thoughts of the Jerome farm led me to ponder the fact that for Christmas one year I gave my brother the gold watch dad had given me...he had found the old gold watch in the family garden as a young man...a garden that would later become the family compound of homes.  Repaired and running, I thought it was a great family history piece and a great present.

Picture I took on a trip to London
of Churchill's statue with
Big Ben in Background
Churchill was supposed to come to speak at a family reunion in Syracuse once, but had to turn back because of the presence of U Boats...he did send a telegram to the family group assembled…a piece of history I learned from the Wood-Eaton sisters who visited me years back in Eaton.  They were relatives and were to be at the reunion and remembered the trip.   They had come to Eaton to visit their great grandfather Allen Nelson Wood’s house, the house I live in.  Isn’t it strange how life is full of so much serendipity?

Mr. Wood was named Allen Nelson Wood...Nelson for Lord Nelson a hero his family honored with the name for many generations…and then suddenly my grey cat Rascal jumped in my lap…hint …one o f Winston Churchill’s most famous cat’s  (grey) was named Nelson to honor Lord Nelson.

Churchill was a cat lover, actually an animal lover.  Winston and his wife Clementine signed their love letters to each other with little drawn pictures…he a dog (Pug) she his cat...and their daughter the PK or puppy-kitten.

His cat stories are famous and many can still picture him speaking with a drink in one hand and the grey cat next to him. One story I love is... after one of his famous speeches (he had a lisp as well as drank) a woman MP in Parliament said, “Sir, you are drunk!”  His replay was “Madame that may be true, but in the morning I shall be sober whereas you will still be ugly!”

His favorite cat in later life cat was a ginger-marmalade colored cat he called  “Jock”, named after Sir John Coville his secretary who gave it to him.  Churchill loved the color and the cat so much that after giving his home Chartwell to the National Trust… he stated in his will that it should always have a ginger colored cat in residence…and to this day it does…and always named appropriately “Jock”.

Here is one of his most famous speeches....