Sunday, September 17, 2023

Changes...Fall and Fall Festival ...are soon to be on us!

The Fall is coming on us quickly, and while getting ready stacking wood and thinking of our next museum event, " Fall Festival History Weekend...I dug this up and thought you might enjoy reading it again!

Many of our original settlers in Eaton date back to the Mayflower and the settlers of Natick especially the Morse, Leland, Kent and Stowe families.  Eaton followed much of the tradition of Natick so I thought I would include some wonderful history on Thanksgiving and Governor Bradford who Grandma Clark was a direct relative of. 

  The first Thanksgiving was truly different from what we see portrayed today on TV and in the movies.  In actuality, the Pilgrims who had invited the Indians over to thank them for their help in cultivating corn, in fishing and in hunting, and for basically keeping them alive for the first year, were stunned when the Indians arrived for the feast in numbers far beyond what the Pilgrim’s could feed.  So, the Indians left and hunted for deer and fowl and returned with the food necessary for the feast to last three days…yes, three days.

     This occasion was unusually frivolous for the stern Pilgrims and comprised of continuous eating, the marching of Myles Standish’s little band of soldiers, bow and arrow competition etc…  The feast meanwhile was tended to by five of the eighteen women who survived the first terrible winter.  Imagine trying to fix a feast for 140-150 people over an open fire, and then stretch it to three days.

     The great Governor Bradford delivered this prayer on the first Thanksgiving and I thought I would include it for us:

     Oh give thanks unto the Lord; sing unto him; sing praises unto him, for the precious things of heaven for the dew, and for the deep that couches beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth from the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the everlasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and its fullness.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord, Praise ye the Lord.

     Of interest, I think, are a number of passages from “Of Plimouth Plantation” by Governor Bradford, which mention the colony’s success only by acts of what he referred to as “God’s divine providence”.

     Bradford mentions windfalls of corn from unexpected quarters, a mysterious voice that warned the colonials of a store-house fire, showers that came just in time to save the crops, even the turning back of a ship that would foreclose on the colony.  These quotes show the success of the colony having been squarely laid on the cornerstone of faith.

     This faith led Bradford to guide the colony through all of its terrible trials and gave him the moral capacity to do what was right for all without wish for personal gain.  From his first election in 1622 until 1639, he received nothing for dining the court during their monthly sessions.  One comment I received after the piece on the “Common Good” read “too bad things could not be like that today!”  To this I say, “Amen!”  The word “altruism” is too seldom used to describe our modern leaders.

     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, something we need to concentrate on today I think.

 Fall Festival will be the later in October -  21 & 22 this year our little museum in its 25 year will close for the season at the end of the month. For those days the museum will host a special display on the Chenango Canal with Backstreet Mary on hand give a small talk on the Canal and Eaton's industries which made Peck's Post in Eaton, the Canal's busiest port. 

Put your sound on and listen to and oldie and a fall favorite from a past Fall History Weekend theme!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Deep Purple Day as Summer Fades

Today as I sit here in my office looking out over the the Old Union School and the historic Eaton Church, I was struck by the fact that since I came to this little hamlet in 1984 things have changed drastically.  The change has been not for the better in many cases.  

The old friends I used to treasure are for the most part gone, many relatives gone, associates gone, and most original museum members are gone.  An old friend Nellie Wooten taught me so much about the people she knew each time we walked in the cemetery...once on the way down to town she looked back over her shoulder and said wistfully with sadness...all my friends and relatives are here...I miss them.

Maybe because of my tiredness and depression caused by the fact that I have not accomplished more in  this short summer that is slipping away...whatever it is... I could not stop singing or humming a very sad song…"Deep Purple"!

When the deep purple falls..
Over sleepy garden walls?…
And the stars begin to twinkle in the night..
In the mist of a memory ..
You wander on back to me..
Breathing my name with a sigh..

As of course, you would suspect …the song has an unbelievable history.  This piece of music was written originally as a piano piece written by pianist Peter DeRose, who broadcast, 1923 to 1939, with May Singhi as "The Sweethearts of the Air" on the NBC radio network.

"Deep Purple" was published in 1933 as a piano composition. The following year, Paul Whiteman had it scored for his suave "big band" orchestra that was "making a lady out of jazz" in Whiteman's phrase. "Deep Purple" became so popular in sheet music sales that Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938 or 1939.
It was recorded so many times by different bands and sung by different singers that it is amazing.  On the hit charts it was a  number 1 song in 1939 with Larry Witman, it was also number 2 for Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra, a number 9 for Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, number14 on the charts for Bing Crosby, number 17 for Artie Shaw and His Orchestra….. all in 1939. 

By January 1949 Paul Weston and His Orchestra recorded it as well as Billy Ward and His Dominoes in September.  For us 70 year olds it became number 1 again for Nino Tempo and April Stevens in September 1963 and also a hit for Donny and Marie Osmond in December 1975.

It just seems to remind you of every love, every person you ever knew.. and how loneliness feels at night in this small town.

In the still of the night
Once again I hold you tight..
Though you're gone,
Your love lives on when moonlight beams
And as long as my heart will beat,
Sweet loved ones we'll always meet..
Here in my deep purple dreams…

I have been working all summer on my house that was going to the bulldozer when I bought it...Mr Woods house... and part of the old school.  It has survived 200 plus years of floods, wars, trees falling on it, and this past two a fire...I am still working on it.  

I am working on a growing website of history for Eaton, another website to try and help people understand the importance of fixing their animals called 4 Community Cats, my blog View from the BackStreet that reflects my thoughts on history on the area, and a perhaps a bit of hope.

My hope rises as the Stone Morse House on the hill is finally being saved, plus all in all we still have here  Eaton Fire Department, a Community Bible  Church, a well kept EatonVillage Cemetery, the  Old Town of Eaton Museum, a store and gas station... as well as a beautiful scenic place to live. A place we can just look out at the world with all its wars, sorrows, and disasters from. 

Depressed...yes I am...but filled with some hope for the future.

Friday, August 25, 2023

A Great Place to Visit inFall

Fall, History, Travel to Palatine Church......

This week has been busy with  getting ready for winter & our upcoming Fall Festival Event in September. in my heart however, I wanted to be on the road again visiting my favorite places for fall travel...The one I 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! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Another well known writer from Eaton.....Melville Landon

Melville Landon - Known to the World as Eli Perkins

Eaton and its many stories and pieces of history blend well with the area writers,,,some of whom. not only lived here but returned frequently to visit in the summer or even in the winter.  One Morse family relative sent a letter to her family that spoke about Landon returning to Eaton in a covered sleigh!  I am hoping to give a tour of the cemetery this fall and Landon's grave will definitely be on it.

If traveling near Eaton in the late 1800’s, you might have gone out of your way to see an oddity as noted here in HOUSE BEAUTIFUL MAGAZINE. 
Eli Perkins Japanese Bungalow at Eaton is a unique summer home. It looks up and down the Chenango Valley for miles, and it is so pretty that travelers go out of their way to see it. Outside and inside it looks as if it had been dropped down from feudal Japan. The lawn is dotted with huge Japanese vase and porcelain lanterns, and scampering around them were a half dozen sacred Japanese dogs. Inside are Japanese servants dressed in the costumes of old Japan, and when they walk around porcelain curios, bronze storks and ugly dragons from Kyoto, the visitors think they are in the “Flowery Kingdom” 
Melville Landon was born in Eaton, N.Y., 1839, he was known under the pen name of Eli Perkins. Landon attended Madison University (now Colgate) and graduated from Union College in what was called the ‘war class of 1861.’ 
After graduating from Union College, he went to Washington with other Union graduates. After Fort Sumpter was fired upon, he assisted in organizing and then serving in the famous Cassius M. Clay battalion, which bivouacked in the White House, War Department and Capitol until the Seventh New York Regiment and Fifth Massachusetts marched through Baltimore to Washington attaining the rank of Major. During the War he was asked to take over two seised plantations that he ran to prove that free men would work harder than slave labor.
It is recorded that he passed many an hour in a literary rendezvous, under a Fifth Avenue Hotel, with many of his celebrated friends, Atemus Ward, Petroleum V. Nasby, and Josh Billings.  
He became friends with the Emperor of Japan and was given 4 scared dogs that he bred in Eaton and gave away for fundraisers, one of which is buried in the Eaton Cemetery. The Eaton Museum has much information and artifacts on him, as well as a book I wrote as a fundraiser that contains his humor. 
Landon became the President of the New York News Association and attained much wealth, spending his later years traveling to raise money for the YMCA & Civil War Veterans and their wives, spending summers at his Eaton Bungalow. 
His family home and his Japanese Bungalow are still standing on Landon Road today, and he is buried in the Eaton Village Cemetery at the top of the steps that lead to Landon Road. His beautiful Coptic cross monument, erected by his wife has an hourglass carved into it with the words. 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

You can make a Difference...WRITE LADIES

I ran across this old blog I wrote in 2014 about women writers and the impact they made on our history. With all that is happening now and knowing history always repeats itself...I thought I would post this and ask those who can to write about things can change things for the better and might become famous as well.

Most interesting to me is when a visitor to the old stone museum who  actually knows who Emily Chubbuck Judson was.  Of course the woman was a writer and journalist... but still…Emily dates back to 1817.

Born in Eaton Emily became a writer of children’s stories under the pen name Fanny Forrester.   She started writing articles for the newspapers and put them together as a book of famous short tales about the Eatonbrook .  The Eatonbrook is a little stream still runs today through Eaton and behind the Old Town Museum today.  Then it was call the Alderbrook and her stories of  “Alderbrook Tales” put together as book sold very well.  Emily of course became famous in the mid-1840s when she married Adoniram Judson the American Missionary to Burma.  Her life and her writings about Judson’s earlier wife made quite an impact on the Baptist world in her time.

Certainly the most famous woman writer of her time and a woman credited with moving America toward abolition was Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The Old Town Museum contains information on her family and her husband’s family as they are directly related to the Stowes and Morse-Bigelows who settled Eaton.

Harriet’s book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, like Chubbuck’s “Alderbrook Tales”, was also a serial book first carried in the periodical "National Era".  Later as an actual book it was translated into different languages and became a best seller in many countries.  In the United States the only book that sold more copies in its day was the Bible.  In its first year it sold 300,000 copies here in the USA and 200,000 copies in England.  It effected a change that some feel led to the Civil War.  It certainly stirred the sentiment of a great swath of the country toward abolition.

Another woman later did the same thing with her only actual full-length novel, a book in part based on an actual experience that happened in her early life called “To Kill A Mocking Bird”.

With the release of this book… Harper Lee became an overnight sensation.  The 1960 book won her the Pulitzer Prize and was rated in England by librarians as “a book every adult should read”.  The story in a way contributed to social change since it addressed race relations, equality and life in the “Deep South”... among other things.  A book used in classrooms and made into a movie…it has never been out of print.

So women…get out your pens…start writing…there are a whole lot of social issues that need to be addressed today.  Remember it only takes one book to make a difference.  Wish I could make a difference with my blog…but if I got someone else to write the big book…. I will have.  SO WRITE!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Famous Women of Eaton Buried in the Eaton Cemetery

This week I have been reviewing the book I did for the Eaton Village Cemetery as a “fund Raiser” I had the opportunity to think about a great number of women who survived the arduous journeys from other Northeastern areas to Eaton in the times of settlement.  Women, who bore children, took care of the family and worked side by side with their husbands clearing land and starting a new life.

Certainly among the most famous is Eunice Bigelow Morse of the famous Stowe-Bigelow -Morse families of Natick, Massachusetts.  Eunice came with her husband Joseph, and young children to a place that would become not only home to her but to generations of her family.

A relative Harriet Beecher Stowe in a book titled “Old Town Folks”, forever immortalized Eunice’s family.  Many believed the story was written by Harriet's husband Calvin Ellis Stowe for his family… the Stowe’s… However, when Harriet married Callvin she married into the same family as her grandmother. * It is interesting to note that the Eaton Museum has the first edition of Hearth & Home with the first installment of that book inside…a newspaper kept untouched by Eunice Morse.  

The museum also has Eunice’s rocker and the cradle she used for what became the famous Morse brood.  The Natick crowd (Old Town Folks) also included other Morses…crab (Hezekiah Morse”, Grandpa Stowe of Eaton’s Stow Tavern…. and many more.

From Luna Hammond’s History in part:    
 Joseph (Eunice)  removed to Eaton in 1796 from Natick… Joseph Morse was the founder of Eaton village, and his sons have been identified with nearly all of its business interests. These sons were named as follows: Ellis,  whose biographical sketch appears in the chapter relating to Eaton, Joseph, who moved to Pennsylvania served in the Legislature of that State, and also became judge of the County Courts; Calvin, who was an elected member of the Legislature from Madison County in 1842, and has held municipal offices in town and county; Alpheus, who has been a merchant and scientific farmer, and for many years past, manufacturer, being proprietor of the Alderbrook Woolen Mill; and Bigelow, who was a respected citizen of Fabius, Onondaga County. Eunice, the eldest daughter of Joseph More, married Dr. James Pratt the pioneer physician of Eaton.   After her husband's death, she with her family removed and began pioneer life again in Palmyra, Mo.  She was a woman of indomitable will and great energy of character.
     The descendants of Joseph (and Eunice) Morse have, many of them, distinguished themselves in various positions. Gen. Henry B. Morse entered the late war as Captain of the 114th Reg. N. Y. V., was promoted to the office of Colonel, and subsequently, for meritorious services, was breveted Brigadier-General in the army of the southwest. He is grandson of Joseph Morseas also is the Rev. Andrew Morse, who as a young man was a missionary to Siam and then become the Chaplain of the U S Treasury and friends with Abraham Lincoln,. Gardner Morse, who was member of the Legislature in 1866, Walter, a member of the manufacturing firm of Wood, Tabor Morse, George E., a prominent citizen interested in the schools and who founded the Eaton Village Cemetery Association, and Alfred, who bravely gave his life for the Union cause at the battle of Winchester,Va. ; all these being sons of Ellis Morse. Darwin and Frank B. Morse, merchants at Eaton village, Allie Morse Burchard whose husband formed the Chenango Breeder’s Association, Children of Bigelow, are grandsons of Joseph Morse. Two grand-daughters, Belinda and Eliza, daughters of Calvin, have been conspicuous as teachers, the latter being now assistant Principal of Vassar Female College.
     Hezekiah Morse, the third of the pioneer brothers, came to Eaton in 1806. His children are scattered and many of them dead.   One of his sons. Alpha was for many years a prominent manufacturer of Eaton.  Another son, Elijah, who is now dead, was a wealthy farmer of Eaton. A grand-daughter is wife of  Rev. John Raymond, President of Vassar Female College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Albert H. Morse, a prominent citizen of Eaton is also a grandson, being son of Elijah. H. B. Morse, youngest son of Hezekiah, is a scientific and successful farmer of Norwich, N. Y. (and this is just and excerpt) 
What a family… and that isn’t all of them and their accomplishments.  The very road today’s Eaton Village Cemetery is located on (Landon Road) was once the Great Skaneateles Turnpike a road that it is claimed would not have been built except for Joseph and Ellis who controlled 51 percent of the stock investment… an investment they made of $30,000 in 1810… think about it.
Come out to Eaton Day on Memorial, Day Monday… tour the cemetery…by a book, make a donation to support the Eaton Village Cemetery Association and help Eaton celebrate History and  “Happy Mother’s Day” to all of those pioneer women whose husbands and children made our area a wonderful piece of rural Americana! 

*Interestingly Luna Hammond the historian and her famous mother Deidamia Button Chase (the first female physician of Madison County) and her famous brood are also buried in the cemetery. Almost all of the Morse family is buried in the Eaton Cemetery including the Morse – Motts. Did you know that Luna's brother Julius was the historian for the US Treasury in Washington DC.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Morse and Pratt Family Histrory

History of Pratt House - A Piece of Missing History


 The James Pratt house, which for almost 70 years has sported a historic marker, burned.  The house located today on Route 26 once sat on the hill next to the Great Skaneateles Turnpike on lands once owned by Joseph Morse, who was considered by many to be the father of Eaton because of his expansive business empire.  Its builder, Dr. James Pratt, came from Massachusetts in the early 1800’s and became the first physician in the Town of Eaton and the town’s first teacher, moving to teach in the early days in rotation to three different sites within the town.


The house which had fallen into disrepair over the years was currently a two story home, but in the early 1800’s when built it was described by noted artist Carlton Rice as a white one-story building.  Rice would come to Eaton with Pratt’s cousins to visit his Rice relatives who also lived in Eaton.


     The Dr. once owned interest in the Eaton Woolen Mill with Joseph Morse and others and had married Laurency Eaton, the daughter of James Eaton one of Eaton’s first settlers.  (*Please note Eaton was not named for James but for Gen. William Eaton of Tripoli fame.)

 After his first wife’s death Dr. Pratt took Joseph Morse’s daughter Eunice as his wife in one of the most notable wedding ceremonies ever held in the village.  The wedding took place on the first of June, of 1814, at the Morse’s new Stone house in the Village of Eaton. (Also marked by and historic marker) and among its guests were some of the notables of Madison County’s history including Col. Lincklean, Col. Angel DeFerrier and his wife Polly, Peter Smith and his sons Gerrit (the abolionist) and Peter Skenandoah Smith, Joshua Leland’s widow Waitstill and an entourage of Native Americans, the Stowes, the Cramphins and many others, basically anyone who was anybody.  The couple were married by the Rev. Jonas Thompson.


     Eunice Morse had come to the then wilderness of what would become Madison County with her father, the son of Capt. Joseph Morse and mother Eunice, who was of the famous Bigelow family of Natick immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Old Town Folks.  Young Eunice attended school under Dr. James Pratt, and was exceedingly friendly with the Indian children of the area, often inviting them in to warm by the fire. (The Morse family always left the “latch spring” open for their native friends.)  After her father’s death, Ellis, a brother who also came with them, would take the businesses of Eaton over from his father and his brother Joseph Morse Jr.   Joseph Sr. upon his death had bequeathed Eunice $600 to be paid by Joseph Jr. in 3 years from his death, and a lot.  Eunice continued her education going on to graduate from Clinton Academy in 1810 – the last graduating class before it became Hamilton College.


The family was on a move to Palmyra, MO. Where a son James by his first wife found prosperity and died, his grave has never been found.  Eunice moved west, some believe perhaps in hopes of finding him.  She never did.  Dr. Pratt and Eunice’s children and Dr. Pratt’s grown children from his first wife settled near Knox where Eunice lived until her death.  She was considered by all a remarkable woman for her time, she had served the earliest period of our county’s history.


An interesting side note is that Dr. Pratt’s will created quite a storm when he left money to fight an ongoing lawsuit with the Congregational Church he was such a part of.  During this period Charles Grandison Finney, the Evangelist of Oberlin fame, had favored the congregation standing to sing and sitting to pray.  Dr. Pratt believed this wrong and spent much of his fortune fighting this practice.  He suing the church, the church he (Ironically, Charles G. Finney as a boy lived in early Eaton Village then Log City with his aunt and uncle the Cyrus Finney