Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Archives Month

October is Archives Month here in NYS. It's a very special year for the New York State Archives. It is the 30th anniversary of the Archives, and the 20th anniversary of the Documentary Heritage Program! The heritage, culture and wealth of history we New Yorkers share exists in the historical documents, photographs and artifacts that places such as archives, historical societies, libraries, and museums collect and make available.
Over the past several years different organizations have celebrated Archives Month in a variety of ways, both big and small. Types of activities have included:
  • Displays & Exhibits
  • Dinners, Banquets, & Awards Presentations
  • Family History or Genealogy Days
  • Lectures, Film or Slide Shows
  • Open Houses or Special Tours.

The Upstate History Alliance builds the capacity of upstate history organizations to use history to engage the public in shaping their communities. A wealth of information about workshops, grants, and celebrations can be found at their website of www.upstatehistory.org. This website also includes links to all member websites; primarily these are historical societies and museums. Check them out!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alanson Tracy and the Civil War

When you read the name Alanson Tracy, you may recall that as the name of a man who was one of Scipio's very first settlers, and who rode a bear (see previous blog "Tracy and the Bear"). This man died in 1852 at the age of 81, so was obviously not around for the Civil War.

Alanson did however have a son, Calvin, born in Scipio in 1810. Calvin in turn had a son of his own, and named him Alanson; that is who we are talking about today. I’m going to call him Alan in this posting, to distinguish him from his grandfather.

Born in Scipio in 1828, Alan served his country in the Civil War. He was mustered in to the 3rd Michigan Cavalry as a Lieutenant in October of 1861. Alan was not married, and would have been about 33 years old at that time.

Alan died of disease at Cincinnati in June of 1862. He was buried here in Scipio.

A sad story indeed. But how did I learn all these facts about Alan Tracy? From my trip to the NYS Archives.

These facts (except the part about the bear!) are found in the Complete Record, as required by law, of Officers, Soldiers and Seamen prepared by the Scipio Town Clerk for the War of the Rebellion.

Some entries are more complete than others, but there is a great deal of information here that could guide you around that brick wall you have been banging your head against. The Archives has a lot of information and this is just one example of something learned about an early Scipio family that we didn’t know before. I hope to share many more stories!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Barber's Corners School #5

I spent some time at the Cayuga County Historian's Office recently and found some information about the Barber's Corners School teachers. Here are some names, and if you recognize any or have any stories to share, post a comment please!

Teachers here included:

Fannie Taylor, Susan Brown, Matilda Jacobs, Adolphus Searing, George Swayze, Fred Bowen, Frank Kent, William Otis, Mrs. Hoag, Oscar B. Swayze, Sarah Howland, Nelson Stevens, Mary Tompkins, Fanchia Groom, Augusta Phelps,Martha Bancroft, Lucy Anthony, Mrs. Carr and Miss Post.

School # 3 also saw George Swayze as a teacher; in fact it is where he began his teaching career, with as many as 40 pupils in that one-room schoolhouse at a time.

NYS Archives Visit

I am back from my visit to the NYS Archives in Albany. What a wonderful place! You can find them online at www.archives.nysed.gov.
I highly recommend a visit. The Archives are located in Albany and are very easy to find, right on State Route 20. Their website has some finding aids, so you get an idea of what is available. But those finding aids only scratch the surface of what is there. More than once, an Archivist was able to retrieve a document with information about Scipio that I had no idea existed!
I took many pictures of documents, and made a lot of copies. Some documents were too fragile to be handled by anyone but Archives staff, who will be sending copies and scans to me in a few weeks of those materials.
I will be making a lot of information available both on the blog and at the Scipio Town Offices over the next few months, so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scipio Newsletter

Our Fall 2008 newsletter for Scipio has arrived in the mailbox, and I hope you are visiting the blog today because the URL was listed on its front page. One nice feature of this blog is the ability to search for a specific topic or person and waste no time.
Sepnd some time, look around, make a comment if you would like to see a specific topic addressed. The blog is yours!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fire Prevention Week Posters

It is about the time of year again when the firemen sponsor their poster contest for the grade schoolers. They like to remind people to be careful as we go into the heating season, and a nice way to do that is by asking children to draw a picture, then giving out prizes.
I had forgotten all about this until I was reading the newspaper from Thursday, October 22, 1959 and saw my name among many others. The article listed the Sherwood School winners of a poster contest sponsored by the Scipio Center Fire Department for Fire Prevention Week.

Kindergarten: Christopher MacCormack, Prudence Campbell, Mary Britt, Keith Bergerstock, Ann Redmond, Darryl Philo (?), Winifred Hailwachs and Jerry Cooper.

First Grade: Marion Reynolds, James Chase, Wendy Alexander, Charles Hou??, Sonia Minde, Richard Myers, Penny Powers, and George MacAllaster.

Second Grade: Sandra Stoker, Ricky Wiggans, James Chamberlain, Marcy Klipple, Susan Brown, Donald Brown, Teresa Costello and Peter Campbell.

Third Grade: Diane Rafferty, Alan Mapes, Dawn Cuatt, William Van Nostrand, Beverly Wood, Thomas Kanalley, Donna Bancroft and Ray Botsford.

Fourth Grade: Roberta Church, Stephen Burcroft, Shelley Hetherington and Jane Maroney.
Fifth Grade: John Wilbur, Richard Wilbur, Kevin Lacey and John Babcock.

Sixth Grade: Cathy Mullally, Lesley Winters, Pat Kanalley and Jonnie Fiorenzo.

In charge of the contest were Assistant Chief Edward McCormick, Jack Powers and John Sarnicola. The committee was aided in judging by County Fire Marshall Wendell P. Lindenbach.

I can still remember the fireman, in his firefighting gear in our classroom. I kept my prize, a dark-haired doll, for many years!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Record Breakers 4-H Club

Continuing to read the old newspapers available online, I found in the same paper as my mother's 8th grade report card an article entitled "Belltown 4-H Club Plans Project Tour:"
The "Record Breakers" 4-H Club met at the home of Ward O'Hara on the evening of July 16. Eleven members were present. The president took charge of the meeting. Under old business an uncertain time, dependent on the weather, was set for the project tour and the plans for the club social were left on the table for a later meeting.
Mr. Samuel B. Dorrance, the county club agent, was able to be at the meeting and he gave an interesting talk on the club activities for the remaining club year and he also answered numerous member's questions. We were very glad to have Stanley with us who came with Mr. Dorrance from Auburn.
The program committee gave a good response by Danny Mitchell giving a humorous joke. Ward O'Hara read a selection "Entertaining Sis's Beau." Leslie Wager asked some 4-H riddles. Edison Quinn recited a poem and Alice Wager gave a demonstration on "manners at the table." Root beer and cakes were served by Mrs. O'Hara after the adjournment of the meeting.
Nancy Bowen, club reporter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mama Was a Daydreamer

I spent some more time at www.fultonhistory.com this weekend, and in the Genoa Tribune of Friday morning, July 25, 1930, found my mother by her maiden name. As Ruth Hitchcock, she completed the 8th grade at Emily Howland High School. Her classmates (or at least the ones who passed!) were Mary Baker, Lavinia Benjamin, Willard Brown, Donald Cook, Frances Grady, George Jacobs, Harry Lacey, Genevieve Lawton, Robert Simkin, George Wade and Lyle Wood.
Of this dozen, I remember my bus driver Lyle Wood and Algebra teacher Willard Brown. Harry Lacey was on our school board and my mother remained friends with Genevieve for many years. I believe Bob Simkin ran a store in Poplar Ridge. So most of her class stayed right in Scipio or Cayuga County.
When I read a little further in the article, I realized that my mother Ruth had perhaps been a bit of a daydreamer. Her marks for 8th grade English and History were 74, not exactly indicating a great deal of attention being paid. I had to laugh though when I saw she excelled at one thing - Silent Reading!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Military Tract

I'm getting excited now, since I will be leaving Tuesday for Albany. I mentioned in an earlier posting that I was successful in writing a grant application for the Larry Hackman Local Historian Grant. This includes my expenses to stay in Albany, one-on-one assistance at the NYS Archives and money for copying or scanning some records there. Mostly, I plan to look at some of the earliest records I know of for Scipio, the tax and assessment rolls for 1799 - 1804.

Scipio is one of the original Military Tract Towns in NY - number 12. Congress in 1776 required New York to come up with four battalions of men. The 12 other colonies were asked to provide from 1 to 15 battalions. Congress also made provision for soldiers in each state to receive land as bounty for enlisting.

The Military Tract was established to make it so by a treaty made with the Onondagas in 1788. After more congressional action and some decisions about what amount of land a man might receive, the lands were surveyed and townships were divided into 100 lots, as nearly square as possible; each lot had 600 acres.

Scipio was originally a part of Onondaga County, which had been set off from Herkimer County in 1794. The other 10 towns of Onondaga County were Homer, Pompey, Manlius, Lysander, Marcellus, Ovid, Ulysses, Milton, Aurelius and Romulus.

Scipio was set off in 1799 into Cayuga County; Cortland County was set off from Onondaga in 1808, and Oswego County in 1816 - leaving us with the present-day Onondaga County.

The NYS Archives have some early Revolutionary War and Military Tract records and I hope to find some great new information to share!

Friday, September 5, 2008

NYS 4-H Congress

I looked myself up at that great website www.fultonhistory.com and found an article from July of 1968 that brought back some great memories. That was the year I was one of 15 local 4-Hers selected to attend the State Congress for 4-H held at Cornell University in nearby Ithaca NY June 26 - 28 of that year.
I had my Earth Science Regents exam the afternoon of the 26th, and I can still remember how slowly that clock moved while I tried to concentrate on my exam (didn't work, had to repeat the course).
One thousand 4-Hers from each and every county in NY were at this Congress in 1968. They included Cayuga County residents Linda Pierce, summer 4-H assistant; 4-H agent Pat Burns; Vivian Zakielarz, Elaine Foster,Cindy Cappy,Mary Ann Frank and myself from Auburn; Lora Outhouse from Union Springs; Paula Defendorf of Skaneateles; Richard Clark and Sherrie Lloyd of Cato; Sonia Minde and Chris Redmond of Scipio Center; Chris Flanigan of Owasco and Doug Potter of Sennett.
The article in the Citizen Advertiser says the highlights included presentations on several topics and bus tours of the campus. What I remember is being worn out from all the walking around on campus; and meeting other 4-Hers at ceremonies and afterwards at dances and other get-togethers. It broadened our perception of the world and of 4-H.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How Scipio Got Its Name

You say tomato, I say tomahto. I was talking with someone interested in our town and she asked me a simple question - how is the name of our town pronounced? Now why I hadn't ever thought about that before, I'll never know.
The short answer is that phonetically we pronounce it "Sip-ee-oh."
I have heard it said as "Skip-ee-oh: too, and I think that is because of the way we pronounce the name of the man who our town was named for.
He was Scipio Africanus, a great Roman General who defeated Hannibal (another nearby town) in the Second Punic War in 202 BC. You can read all about him online at Wikipedia or any of a dozen other websites.
Our town of Scipio was town #12 of the original Military Tract, an area of about 1.75 million acres that includes portions of the present NY counties of Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Seneca , Oswego, Schuyler, Tompkins, Yates and Wayne.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New York State Fair

I wrote about the "Big 5" and the "Big 6" - both 4-H Fairs where children showed handmade or raised items and animals in competition for ribbons and prizes. The best of the best was selected to go on to the NYS Fair in Syracuse, NY.
As long as I can recall the State Fair is held at the end of August, and today is the final day of this year's State Fair.
I didn't attend this year, but when I do I always visit the 4-H areas; the buildings with horses, cattle, pigs, chickens and rabbits; vegetables, flower arrangements, baked goods, and so much more.
A lifelong Scipioite and former 4-Her, now retired, recently shared a copy of the 1890 NYS Agricultural Society Catalogue with me. At a price of ten cents, it is the catalogue of entries for the fiftieth annual Cattle Show and Fair of the NYS agricultural Society at Syracuse, held on September 11, 12, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of 1890.
The booklet is stamped H. Wait Cigar and News Room, Leland Hotel, Syracuse, NY and was created by the press of Moser, Truax and DeGolia of 216 Clinton Street, Syracuse. According to the booklet, the Leland was located at Fayette and Franklin Streets, opposite the NYCRR Depot.
There is an ad for the West Shore Railroad, describing their buffet drawing room cars with revolving chairs as a special feature. West Shore trains ran for the NYS Fair at Syracuse; excursion tickets ran folks directly to the entrance and included admission.
The contents of the Catalogue are amazing. Prizes were awarded from fifty cents to a few hundred dollars, in subdivisions of categories ranging from watercolors or painting on porcelain to various livestock, poultry, farm produce, art & domestic departments and implements and manufacturers.
So far I have only found a few mentions of Scipio. In the section on Percheron horses, for stallions 4 years or older I find Elwood S. Akin, of Scipio, with Favori. If I am reading this correctly, Favori was a gray Percheron stallion, 16.2 hands and 7 years old.
A John Akin showed in the same category a black Percheron stallion named Tongleur, at 16.2 hands and 6 years of age. And Howell & Slocum of Scipio showed Brin D'Or; a black, 17 hand 4 year old.
Elwood and John must have raised Percherons; we find them again in the 3-year old stallion section with Joseph and Aristida respectively. In the 2-year old stallion section, they are showing Harod and Joyeux, while Howell & Slocum offer up Planton. Elwood also shows against one other fellow a one year old stallion named Emett, then he and John show L Amie and Angele in the Percheron Brood Mare with foal at foot section. They continue to show in fillies and foals, French coach stallions and Farm or Draft sections.
There is a surname index, making it easy to find someone if you know they showed that year. If you want to check a name, post a comment!