Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another side to the Thanksgiving story, Natick, King Phillip's War and Remembrance!

The date of May 26, 1637, a mere 17 years after the settlement of Plymouth, the tensions between the Puritans and the Native Americans had become strained.  The very people who they stole the corn from on their landing and who showed them how to plant corn and other crops. as well as how to fish and hunt, were being exterminated by the English and Puritans who had now flocked to the shores of New England. 

The most militant of the Native tribes the Pequot has started warring against the white settlers who were pushing them off of their land.  So Militia and English troops set up and ambush on May 26, 1637.  The surrounded the Pequot settlement and using surprise burned the native fort to the ground.  The women, children, sick and elderly hid in their teepees and thus were burned alive.

Governor Bradford is quoted as saying: “It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink there of: but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise there of to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them such a speedy victory!’

The history Channel named this as one of the 10 days that unexpectedly changed history, for the attitude of removal or cleansing would be our policy.  We regarded all those Native Americans who would not become civilized - near white as Devils who must be killed or driven out.

The Wampanoag’s and their famous Chief Massasoit, who were friends with Bradford and the Plymouth settlement, began to complain about the white settlers freely taking the crops and invading their land. In 1622 a militia Captain killed 8 friendly natives and impaled their sachem’s head on a pole in Plymouth.  Hostilities had begun and as the colony encroached more and more on their land, New England became a battleground.  The Wampanoag’s thought they could coexist with the whites but by the 1670’s Massasoit’s grandson Metacom, known to the English as King Phillip, began what would become known as King Phillip’s War.

Metacom noted that The Wampanoag “had bine the first in doing good to the English and the English the first in doing rong.”

Metacom claimed that phony contracts were used to take large tracts of land from Indians who had been made drunk.

When a praying Indian who helped set up the Praying Indian Village of Natick was found murdered, three of Metacom’s followers were accused, found guilty and executed.  King Philips war was on…settlements, major towns and villages were burned and sacked until finally on August 12, 1676 he was killed…thus ending the King Phillip’s War.

*It is noted that in Plymouth for that Thanksgiving they bought his head back and paraded it around town.  They Puritans thought it a sign from God of their righteous ownership of this new land...they the chosen people!


* Today Natick has a National Day of Mourning instead of Thanksgiving.  A monument was placed marking the genocide that took place at that time!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eaton, Thanksgiving, Plymouth, genealogy of the Mayflower relatives!

We have been getting ready for our Colonial Holiday Celebration this wee k and I have been going through the genealogy of a number of the early settlers of the Town of Eaton and vicinity it is interesting to note how many of the early settlers could trace their bloodline back to members of the Mayflower.  Myles Standish III directly from Myles Standish is buried in the Eaton Cemetery.  Patience Kent, who married Bigelow Morse, was related to three of them: the John Howland, the John Bilington, and the Isaac Allerton.  Some like Hanna Hall Clark are related to the first elected official, Governor Bradford.

Bradford was a very interesting person who was born in Austerfield, England, and who faced many hardships in his early life including the death of his mother and father.  William Bradford, who as a boy walked to a separatist Church in Babworth, broke at an early age with the Church of England.  This break eventually led him to Holland and on the venture of his lifetime with his fellow Pilgrims, to the New World.

Once here in America, Bradford was elected to office as Governor, a post he held for 36 years, the first ten of which he received no compensation for.

Bradford wrote a number of books of poetry and books on Congregationalism: his most important work, however, was a volume called Of Plimouth Plantation (Which we will talk about at a later date.)

Since the Plymouth Colony had no Royal Patent, they adopted their own system of government, a system that was drawn from their needs and from their faith.  It is this system that was set forth in the Mayflower Compact.

From The Mayflower Quarterly, the American historian Samuel Eliot Morrison says. “In 1636 the Pilgrims even created a Bill of Rights of their own.”

The article, written by J. Allyn Bradford, shows that in the rules they set forth which included that no laws would be made or taxes laid without the consent of the citizens (called Freemen), a free election of Governor and Assistants, the right to an impartial and equal justice, nobody was to be punished except by the law of the Colony, as well as a trial by jury, only called if there were two witnesses to the crime and or sufficient circumstantial evidence.

Between Bradford’s and the Colony’s reforms was the separation of Church and State, something we still employ today.

The key word in our pursuit of the history of the Pilgrim’s is DEMOCRACY.  Democracy, is the basis for the
Pilgrim’s government, carried through both the church and the state.


     The church of the Pilgrim’s was based on a primitive church discussed in the Bible in the Book of Acts.  In our Colonial terms it was called Congregationalism, a subject that Governor William Bradford discussed in full in one of his writings late in life called A Dialogue Between the Older and Younger Men.

     The Pilgrims were actually pushed out of England because they believed that the King was not the head of the church, but that Jesus Christ was.  The church itself was democratic in all of its dealings, and it left marriage a civil, not spiritual, right.

     William Bradford must have been a shrewd and valued leader in all aspects of the unbelievable hardships faced by this group of religious rebels who crossed a raging sea and forged a home out of unfamiliar, hostile surroundings.  Bradford’s election 30 times to the post of Governor of the Plymouth (Plimouth) Colony certainly proves that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

For Pauline...Bullhead fishing...Bob Rollins...and the good times in Eaton..Think Spring!

My good fishing buddy Pauline Brown...miss her!
With all the snow that fell everywhere but here in Eaton. (Thank God) I thought about Spring and how I wished we were coming on to it instead of Winter.  I got and email today from someone from the area and this story popped into my head...so for Harold.

One year my good friend Pauline and I went up to Jack Ass and were frustrated at catch- ing no bullhead; as a matter of fact we had few bites. Pauline had talked to our neighbor Bob Rollins, and he said we should use crabs. Well, this particular night when we didn‟t even get one bite we were camping on the hill where Pauline had a trailer. The next morning over a cup of coffee she ordered me to town to find her daughter Judy in order to get her to get us some crabs (crayfish) to fish with that night.

So I drove back to town and got Judy, telling her of her mother‟s request. I had a pail and asked her if we needed cans or a net to catch the crabs with. Judy laughed at me with that city slicker type of laugh of hers and said, “You just reach down and grab them”. So, reinforced with that information, I followed her across the cow pasture behind the house to the place where she and her friend Cindy used to catch them. There were these “crabs”. I yelled, “You mean crayfish are your crabs?” She looked at me and said, “Yes, why?” “I eat these things, I do not fish with them!”

Judy reached down and tried to grab one, and it bit her. She dropped it and looked at me. After losing a bunch of them that way I took my baseball cap off, and we used that as a scoop! My poor hat! This ball cap was my prize possession since it was bought the day the Liverpool Library became the first library in the United States to bar- code, and it had a barcode on the front for Liverpool! It worked well, but unfortunately the hat never recovered!

That night I took the “crabs” up to Pauline, and we fished. While being novices at fishing with crabs, we did not know we were supposed to break the poor thing‟s legs or it would crawl under a rock. Well, to say the least, we were not successful, and that week I had to go out and buy hooks and sinkers to replace the ones that were under what must have been every rock in the Eatonbrook Reservoir in our casting area!
After some thought on this I wrote the poem “Crabbin‟ .
 page41image752 page41image912
Crabbin ’
(For the bullheads)

On a hot day in May,
Thought of going fishin’ at the end of the day. 
So I asked my neighbor what bait he’d use, 
If he were fishin’ in my shoes.
He said t’wer crabs they would bite best, 
Not knowing crabbin’ would be a test, 

With pail and helper I shuffled along, 
Across the cow pasture and further beyond.
Just as the creek went ‘round the bend,
They were spotted by my crabbin’ friend.


It seems in her youth she had caught them by hand, 
As they scooted backwards across the sand.
But now as adults we found it quite clear, 
‘Twas more than a hand that was needed here. 

So using my ball cap as a net,
Up to the crabs we slowly crept.

Two hours of crabbin’ and soaked to the skin, 
We made it back to my lawn again.


That evening, exhausted, I went to fish, 
Picturing them fried, lying on my dish.
But each time I threw a crab in the lake, 
A quick walk under a rock it would take.

Now with reticence I sit and think,
With not a fish to clean in my sink; 
‘Though they wiggle, and they do squirm, 
There’s nothing’ like fishin’ with a worm. 

A video of Jack Ass...







Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A stray in my upstairs bed and breakfast revisited...Please help...

The cat of the upstairs attic bed and breakfast was a blog I did when the blind cat that lived up there  died last year....basically because I could not get her until she was too sick.

(Read http://backstreetmary.blogspot.com/2013/05/stray-cat-of-my-attic-cat-bed-and.html).

Within months of her departure the same mother cat dropped off a kitten that hid under the floorboards in the attic and wouldn't come out.  I fed her by going up and kept the wood stove going to heat her area but could not get her to come out when I was up there.  She was attacked while eating by other cats and I realized she could not see well.  She could recognize my voice and peer at me...but would not come to the snacks and food I tried to entice her with.

Finally this summer she went into heat and was chased by male cats outside and became exhausted and I grabbed her.  Ihad her fixed, shot, and she has turned into the sweetest, loving little cat who just runs around trying to please.

Barbara when she comes over is her favorite.  We both realized that she can see something close to her but obviously things at distance are a blur.

She has suddenly started acting like a real kitten and to see it is funny...but...I have her in a room upstairs and let her down when I am in the front of the house...but there is no heat... and I cannot afford the electric heater for her...and my house is freezing cold.

My cat Rascal will kill her as Rascal does not like other animals...and so I am writing this blog to see if someone can adopt her...even for the winter.

She is skittish as she can't see and is afraid of noises, so she needs a quiet person who doesn't have a dog, kids, or another cat and... she needs some love.

If you can help please email me at backstreetmary@yahoo.com.....she is beautiful and spunky but still not free of her worries about being attacked. She is smart blue eyed and obviously has some Siamese in her.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

History, upcoming cemetery tour, museum and Me!

The Historic Eaton Cemetery is one of my favorite haunts in October...yes it might be for the ghosts of old Eaton....but I think it is for the serenity and the history that lays all around you as you wander around.

This Saturday the 18th I will be doing something I haven't done in a while...a guided cemetery tour.  At 1 PM weather permitting (rain date the following Saturday) will will walk you around and tell you the stories of our Hamlet's former citizens.  The stories are too numerous to tell of course...but on sale will be a book I put together on the cemetery and its many occupants.  I includes the famous lady cooks and their recipes, obits for a number of them, and yes the stories of others.

There will be cider and cookies and of course our museum will be open so you can tour afterward.  The tour will start at 1 PM in the cemetery located on Landon Road just off Rt. 26 in Eaton and it is to benefit the Eaton Village Cemetery Society...so we are asking for a free will donation for my services...

I thought I would include just one of the many stories here...one that I love on a little known person...rather than one of our famous ones...the Rev. Smitzer..

The Reverend John Smitzer who was a minister at the Eaton Congregational Church was also immortalized by Melville Landon “Eli Perkins”  in his books.  One goes as follows:

Elder Smitzer and his special prayers!
Elder Smitzer was famous for making special prayers. In these prayers he used to tell the Lord everything. In fact he used to tell the Lord so much that he would have no space left for asking for the blessing. The elder would go on for an hour informing the Lord about everything in Log City, and in Asia, Africa and Oceiana. Once I took down the Elder’s prayer in shorthand, and it ran thus:
O Lord, thou knowest everything. Thou knowest our uprisings and or downsittings. Thou knowest thy servants’ inner most hearts. Thou knowest, O Lord, what thy servant’s children are doing. Thou knowest the wickedness of thy servant’s nephew, Francis Smitzer,-how he came home last night in a beastly state of intoxication, whistling, O Lord, that wicked popular air (whistling):
Sho’fly, don’t bother me!”
“Thou recognized the tune, O Lord!”

* Reverend Wilson and Reverend Smitzer and Francis are buried in the Historic Eaton Cemetery, as well as Melville Landon, of course.
So come out and visit...donate to you local Cemetery & Museum and enjoy History!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Little Berries, thoughts of traveling, and the beautiful Palatine Church...

The week has been busy with sorting elderberries  baking and getting ready for our little berry event.  In my heart however, I wanted to be on the road visiting my favorite places for fall travel...The one love the most is the old Palatine Church on the historic Mohawk trail to Albany near Nelliston.  I take people to it whenever we are driving by.... it is probably the most notable German Palatine structure in upstate New York.


Rising off the highway it stands on a hill near a spot that was once the settlement of Fox’s Mills. The limestone church dates to 1770 when it was erected by the subscription and the labor of a number of families in the area. The Garoga Creek, which flowed near by, provided waterpower for a number of mills and businesses in the small community, now gone which is today called Palatine Church.

Most notable among the families of the area was that of Hendrick Nellis who not only donated the land it stands on, but helped build the church with other community members.

Nellis and his grandson however remained loyal to the Crown at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and had to flee to Canada. Other members of the family remained so typical of the division of loyalties at that time.

History has it recorded that in October of 1780, when the Tory forces under Sir John Johnson dropped down from Canada with the allied Native Americans to burn the farms and harvest of the valley, the church was saved by a British Officer who stopped it saying he had promised Nellis.

The site is also a historic marker site as it was the camp of the American Army under General Van Rensselaer after winning the Battle of Clock’s Field retreated to this site to make camp. Van Rensselaer refused to pursue the Tory forces, an act for which he was later tried for treason.

Today the church has been restored including its famous raised pulpit with sounding board and has had its organ rebuilt by noted organ builder Robert S. Rowland. Rowland built it in the style of old colonial organs. The inside has many historic artifacts on display as well as a rare 13 star American Flag that was found during the renovation.

Visitors from all over the world come to what is today call “The Shrine of Lutheranism in the Mohawk Valley”, and all passing it on Route 5 still admire its Colonial beauty! I love it!
For more history and videos visit my website at www.historystarttproductions.com.







Sunday, September 7, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Lead Belly, Blues, Folk Music and Goodnight Irene!

With all of the Ice Bucket Challenges for ALS on line and on TV this past month, I got to thinking about a gentleman by the name of Huddie Ledbetter… better know to us Folk music aficionados as Lead Belly!

Lead Belly was a black man born in the late 1880’s on a Louisiana plantation who ended up in jail for murder and attempted murder and yet managed to leave that part of his life behind…using the experiences for learning… gaining the respect of not only the “Blues” community but also of many of the Folk music world.

I myself loved his renditions of Down in the Valley, House of the Rising Sun, Good Night Irene , Rock Island Line, Midnight Special, and marveled at the man who actually brought the 12-string guitar into the world of my era of folksingers.  He was also proficient at the accordion, mandolin, piano or just about any instrument he picked up.  It was said that he got out of a Texas jail by writing a song appealing to the warden after performing for the inmates and the warden’s friends for a number of years... and his name…well there are many theories or how he adopted it… but Lead Belly stuck.

In prison John Lomax who was doing folk music recordings for preservation as well as a written history of the genre, discovered Leadbetter who eventually toured with him as he lectured at colleges and universities.  Lead Belly’s drinking however, caused trouble and the two eventually parted.  Later in his life he picked up a relationship with Lomax’s son Alan and toured with him.

Over the years he wrote, arranged, and sang hundreds of folk, blues and spiritual standards… that have been adopted by musicians from Folk to rock…but for those of us my age and for me it will always be the popular “Good Night Irene that we remember.  I remember it the most for being my brother’s favorite song when he was a little kid; he made my poor Uncle Lou play it over and over and over when we visited his house..


Lead Belly’s great voice and 12 string eventually brought him from blues to a new set of “folk admirers”, as well as albums and gigs with legends like Woodie Gunthrie, and Josh White. In the end however, the man with iron hands and booming voice, and a figure larger than history, fell victim ALS.  Before he was unable to play or sing he did a much-remembered concert in Texas ending with singing “Spirituals” with his wife.  Another “Legend” felled by ALS!