Saturday, July 13, 2024

A Rose of a different Color!!!!

                                                                     Hyde Park

With all the political slop on TV and the internet... and the discussion on women's rights, something that has been getting ridiculous.  

Women fought hard to be part of the voting  public.  Women fought for rights in the work place.  Did you know that uncooperative wives were often sent to the poor house or asylum??  True...Woman should have autonomy over their lives and their I have been thinking about the fact that I have been lucky enough to travel around New York State…see beautiful scenery…learn interesting history…and get to know people from the past and how things today got to be.  

Thinking about my past year’s travels brought me a re-introduction of thoughts on a grand lady of note, Eleanor Roosevelt.  On a visit to Hyde Park and her home Val Kill, I was treated to a video documentary on her life..and what a life it was.

Just this past week I received a card with one of Eleanor’s quotes on it...not the kind of quote you would expect, but for Eleanor Roosevelt one cannot expect the normal -just the truthful, and in some cases humorous.

The card came with this quote from Eleanor - it read:  “I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: ‘NO good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’”

The grand dame of the democrats was a self-made person of sorts - putting herself into the role of First Lady as no other had done before her.  She was a politician who stumped for her husband and an activist who worked diligently for the United Nations and for human fact she was a person who understood more than any of her collogues then… that “women’s rights” were a necessity in the modern world and in America.

More than ever we need a person like Eleanor to guide us through the political muckery of today, a person who has the ability to show the world that human rights are needed by all people, especially in this world that is becoming smaller each and every day.

Perhaps she was successful because she was no beauty queen - only a woman of many faces…. mother...wife…friend...writer...activist….

They called her the “first lady (citizen) of the world”...and that she was…and she was a "rose of a different color!"

Thursday, June 27, 2024

July 4th's Gone By..From my Book EATON!

 Eaton 4th of July Field Days in a Bustling Town

The best remembered and photographed times in Eaton were the “field days” held yearly to celebrate the Fourth of July.  This community, born out of Revolutionary blood felt it a duty to put on big yearly celebration. 

The big day usually started with cannon volley, which in later years is remembered as Patty Miles “firing” his anvil.  This was done by filling the hole in the bottom of the anvil with black powder and setting it off.  Any late sleepers would be awakened if their children had not already forced them out of bed in their excitement to get downtown.

Horse racing was part of the day and baseball games were played in different fields around town, big rivals for Eaton’s team was the Bouckville Bucks.  Food was available everywhere from the churches where the ladies aid put on a dinner, to the food stands on Main Street (front street) and the hotels, some brought their own lunches, but everybody ate.

The "Town" filled with music with people listening, especially when the Eaton Military Band played. In the evening there was always a dance that was well attended at the opera house in town, and the Rebekah Lodge usually served coffee to the attendees, with the dance continuing until midnight.

By the 1920’s, the world was at war; the steam engine plant was closing, water power had given away to electricity, woolen mills were closed, the Chenango Canal had ceased to be a transportation route and was only used to fill the Erie Canal, the “Great Depression” was on and the march to the city for work began.

No more does the anvil fire, and only once every three years is there a parade in Eaton and “History Day” is now on Memorial Day,  (instead of Field Day on the Fourth of July). In Eaton, however the memories live on in this rural community, remembered most of all for its once glorious past replete with famous Eatonites, famous inventions and stories of the wars. Eaton like so many of its rural counterparts has gone to Sleep!

Happy Fourth America!  Every community needs a Band!

The Eaton Museum will be open on Sunday 1-3!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Enjoy the Fourth of July!

I realize that I have been tardy in getting some new history blogs out...but I have also been struggling along trying to repair my house after the fire and get our new 501 3c started.  

This week has been good for my brain and while watching the TV about the rising "White Nationalism" and Civil War era legislation with voter suppression .. I was reminded of an old story about Eaton.  The story actually revolves around the house next to the museum on River Road, the road that was once called Water Street. The building is one of the oldest in town and was owned during the period before and after the Civil War by the Leach family. It is "Henry" I believe who served in the Confederate Army while the rest of the town for the most part was pro North.

Small towns in those days stuck together in a more cohesive way than today I guess... and after the War had passed, it is said that on all holidays and during parades old Mr. Leach would don his Confederate uniform and march in the parade with the many members of the GAR.  Both sides it is noted paraded up and down the streets with pride.  As a matter of fact... it wrote Mr. Leach into history and he has become part of the "Tales told of Old Eaton"... ones that you can enjoy.

Curiously, when redoing the museum we held a very large opening day celebration... and Chris Staudt with whom I bought the building and refurbished it to become  the museum for Eaton... invited friends and family down for the occasion. 

Chris' dad came down and toured...after the crowd had gone home and as he was leaving, he looked up at the American flag flying over the door, he glanced across the yard to the Leach house and said... "You really need a Confederate Flg flying here also".  To this day I wonder if old  Mr. Leach was around giving us a hint of his past... could be I guess.... after all it was Memorial Day!

The concept of Eaton Day arose from Eaton's traditional 4th July Celebration which had been taken over by Hamilton recent years. In "the Old Days" it was a celebration of honoring the dead warriors, remembering the past and enjoying community, today Eaton's little history group has tried to keep that spirit alive on Memorial Day Monday's.

I hope everyone will come out and visit what has become the Old Town of Eaton Museum, currently owned and run by the not- for- profit museum group Old Town Folks.  Of great interest... the new group that has formed to help support it is...Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum. 

The group has officially become a recognized charity so all donations to it are are tax deductible. The museum is open on very other Sunday most of the year , with a sign board giving the dates and times. of the year until October  and we are currently seeking Docents who will help, or anyone interested in giving a hand. Donations may be sent to Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum care of 5823 Brooklyn Street, Eaton, NY 13334.

You can contact backstreetmary@ for more information.

Attached is a video I did  for  Memorial Day honoring the many Revolutionary War Soldiers  buried in Eaton Village Cemetery.

Saturday, June 15, 2024


                                      My FATHER DOMENIC J. MESSERE

This has been a weather nightmare for a good portion of not only our country but of Europe and beyond with floods, tornados,  rain and hail.  Down here in old Eaton we escaped with just more of rain.  We finally realize that the car that hit the museum threw a piece of heavy metal on the roof and pierce it and water poured in.  The museum is fine even though the weather has prevented my patching it for a few days. Now Patched!!

My rules:
Rule 1 -”Do not roof on wet days!”
Rule 2- “Do not use wet aluminum ladders!”

So I worked on other projects that have finally come together.

Father’s Day always bring thoughts of my dad who I worked with as a helper as a child and who worked with me when he retired as an adult.  He never really swore in mixed company using his famous “NUTS!” as the expletive if something went wrong.  He was an ‘officer and gentlemen” as the old saying goes.

He had actually been with Patton at the Battle of the Bulge time and I guess he picked up the phrase “Nuts” from General McAuliffe who was the acting commander of the 101st Airborne at the siege of Bastogne.  The general had quite a history..he had flown in on a glider before D Day.  When asked to surrender by the Germans who had his troops surrounded,  he sent back one of the most famous WWII replies…one word…”NUTS!” Some say it was because he didn't want to be remembered for a swear word..but whatever...

Dad taught me everything about construction and electricity - I remember his saying, ”If you are going to learn to drive a car, you should know how it works and how to fix it”.  If I had and older model truck I could still do it today.    I even rebuilt an engine in the dead of winter and repaired anything I could.


My favorite story was the time I bought a house in Syracuse and we had to jack up the basement in one part because of a broken beam.  I came home from a job…contracting…and dad was in the basement.  He told me to hold this timber in place and he worked the jack.  We could not lift it…the timber came loose and hit me in the head. 

After much effort and two jacks we got it sort of up there.  One day I decided to hang a shelf on the wall above the bad area and “bam” I found the reason why we had such a hard time.  A former owner had taken a chimney out in the basement and on the outside but not in the middle…. He or she had walled it off! 

P.S.   The word he used when 
the beam came loose and hit me was “Nuts”.  I said something 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Summer Solstice is Coming!

With the Summer Solstice being only a week or so away my thoughts return to the Town where I grew up and to the area they called in history the "Slat Springs" area.  Solvay of course, perfected a chemical process which became World Famous as the "Solvay Process,"... a new way to make soda ash  baking soda and many other products.

So 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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Happy Birthday to Eaton Church....

June 6th is an important date in World history as it marks there 80th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion in World War II. 

In Eaton is the Anniversary of the founding of the Eaton Church founded on June 6th, 1833 and is the sight I see each morning while writing this blog. At that time it was the Congregational Church, its founding members included two of the original incorporators of the Baptist Theological Seminary that became Madison University and today's Colgate University.

In 1848 the church hosted the Congregational Society’s yearly northeast meeting at which time the Congregational Society officially adopted an anti-slavery stand.  Some information on this is in the Cornell College Library.

The church had many noteworthy pastors including its first installed minister the Reverend E D Willis.  I became interested in Willis because he lived in my house, a house that Allen Nelson Wood and his wife would buy on their return to Eaton.

The church’s members at that time included Allen Nelson Wood founder of the Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works and both his partners Loyal Clark Taber and Walter Morse.

Other famous Eatonites who attended services were Melville Delancey Landon and his family. Landon became a well known as both a writer and as a lecturer. Many rich and famous people attended the church during the Victorian era during what time Grover Cleveland’s brother; the Reverend William Cleveland was its pastor.

The church still today houses a historic Meneely Clock and Bell, and the churches windows which bear the names of some of Eaton’s greats... still grace its interior; an interior that sports hand turned pillars turned by Allen Wood himself.

During the Civil War the Eaton Churches banded together and held services attended by each other patrons during the week to pray for the wars end.  Prayers were also read during the Wars that followed.

Eventually, the Congregational Church became part of the Federated Churches of Eaton and then later became a Community Church under the Pastor Thomas Clark who improved not only the building, and but helped institute a fabulous AWANA program. During the time he was pastor the congregation also built a large activities build that is used today for youths to play basketball and games and to host special functions.

The Church located on Brooklyn Street is the focal point of a new display at the Eaton Museum.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Memorial Day Special..More to Come!

Maybe we will have a new collectable book!

Thank all that attend our yard sale last weekend.  A Thank You to the sales crew... Michele Kelly, Carolyn Tine and Don, Barbara Keough, Judy Wilson, and Pam Wexler.  Thank you to Jim Monahan for the use of the building and to our tent people..Jen Caloia, Michele Kelly, and any other volunteers. Unfortunately we had to take it down because of the wind, but we just closed early to escape the rain...and we did.

The Museum was open and we had some great visitors even though it was horrible out.  Thank You to Doug and Diane Chilson, who helped us by bringing Dougs personal belongings for our display and answered questions! Barb Keough and I toughed it for those who didn't dare visit in the bad weather, Barb and I will hold it open Sunday, June 2 and will be there from 1-3 pm.

Memorial Day next year will be special for Eaton as it is the 30th anniversary of our Bicentennial Day! I am hoping we can get the Parade in Eaton for the Event and we can get some Revolutionary War re-enactors to help us remember what that time was like.

                                                         Jim Monahan and his gun crew

 I am hoping to do some Blogs about our revolutionary War soldiers from Eaton, as well as the history of our involvement as the first settlement area of Madison County. We can recount information on the bark hut, Col. William Smith and much more!  I am also trying to put together a blog for the museum called "Back Street Mary's Place.