Sunday, April 24, 2011

Publishing The Blog

I visited the blog this morning, and checked to see what the visitor count was. Another milestone - it had reached 12,000 even! So I want to thank you all for reading, commenting and otherwise sharing in this journey. Scipio has so many great people and places, I will never run out of things to say. I wish there were more hours in the day (or perhaps, that Scipio would finally have access to a high speed connection!).
To commemorate this milestone, I have ordered a paperback book of the blog from inception in October of 2007 through December of 2008, using Blog2Print.
It was easy to create a book, and the cost, while not cheap, is also not prohibitive. Once it arrives, I will let you know how it looks - I hope to have each calendar year printed out and available at the town offices for all to read.

Another Scipio Milestone

I celebrated Easter yesterday with some of my family in Rochester, NY. Tradition is what builds our family history, and what better way to add to it than by spending a soggy but sunny afternoon playing "Bunny Rabbit Ring Toss" and "Slingshot Egg Launch" with family old, new and honorary? It gave us a chance to exclaim over a new engagement, and to discuss a new piece of information on our Civil War ancestor who fought so bravely with Ellsworth's Avengers, the 44th NY.
My generation recalled out loud our fondest Easter memories, especially those of the family photo shoot every year followed by worship at Sand Beach Dutch Reformed Church in Fleming, then home to a delicious dinner and too many chocolate eggs.
I looked across the picnic table at my teenage nieces and nephews intently watching the animation in their grandmother's expression while she talked about what Easter was like with our parents when she was a child, just post-World War II, and realized that this day would also be a memory for them to share and pass along to their own children and grandchildren someday.
Oral history is such a special way to share your family history. I hope you take a little time today to tell someone else about one of your own traditions. Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More about Gordon Robert Stewart, World War II Casualty

Here is an excerpt from the Tuesday, March 23, 1943 Citizen of Auburn NY found on

Eleven Auburn and Cayuga County men are members of the First Marine Division the entire personnel of which has been cited by President Roosevelt for bravery in the heavy battling of Guadalcanal and the Solomons.The eleven, who went forth to battle with the Fifth Company of the First Marine Division are: ....Gordon Stewart of Cortland, formerly of Auburn and Raymond Maassen of Aurora.
Of the eleven, Gordon Stewart and Raymond Maassen have made the supreme sacrifice while ...(4 others) have been wounded.

I have found some interesting articles on Raymond Maassen and will talk about him soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gordon Stewart Obituary

I know that some folks only read the blog, and do not look at the comments left by other readers. I am putting this comment on the face of the blog, contributed by an alert and helpful follower. Thanks, Roger!

Sandie, here is Gordon Stewart's obituary from the Old Fulton New York Post Cards website.

"Marine, Former Moravian Is Killed In Solomons - PFC Gordon R. Stewart, 18, of the Marine Corps and son of Mr. and Mrs. Orville J. Stewart, 126 Groton Avenue, Cortland, was killed in the Solomon Islands fighting, according to word received by the parents from Lt. T. Holcomb, USMC. Father of the marine is manager of the Lehigh Valley Railroad freight office in Cortland. The family formerly had resided in Moravia. The young marine was born May 9, 1924. Accompanied by a cousin, John S. Bunn, he enlisted January 12, 1942 in Syracuse and they both received basic training at Parris Island, S. C., and additional training at New River, N. C. PFC Bunn went to Northern Ireland while PFC Stewart went to the Solomons. He had written to his parents of landing first at Tulagi Island and then crossing to Guadalcanal where he was killed September 26, according to the War Department communication. Surviving besides his parents are a brother, Lt. O. J. Stewart, Jr., attached to the supply battalion, Fort Benning, Ga., and a sister, Mrs. Joseph Titus, 317 Kellogg Street, Syracuse."
-- Moravia Republican-Register, Moravia, Cayuga Co., NY, Thursday, 5 November 1942

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gordon R. Stewart and Raymond H. Maassen

I received a gift of some wonderful older yearbooks from a Scipio man last week. They are the 1939 and 1943 issues of The Echo from Emily Howland Central School (EHCS). Now known as Emily Howland Elementary, this school has been in operation for many years in the Town of Scipio.
Some of the same teachers that I saw in their later years were in those pages, fresh-faced as the students. I found two of my father’s sisters in the grade school photos - Nancy Stoker Goodnough and Isabelle Stoker Mason. Younger versions of my aunts smiled back at me along with many other familiar faces. I have already placed the yearbooks in Scipio’s History Corner and hope you find some time to come flip through the pages and reminisce.

By 1943, the United States was involved in World War II. The 1943 “Echo” opens to a full-page photo of classmate Gordon R. Stewart, accompanied by a moving tribute to his sacrifice for his country.
Gordon R. Stewart was a Scipio boy who became a Marine Corps Private, and he was awarded the Purple Heart. September 25, 1942 is given as his date of death. His name is inscribed forever on the Tablet of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery.
From the American Battle Monuments Commission website at I learned that the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines occupies 152 acres on a prominent plateau, visible at a distance from the east, south and west. It contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,202. Most of them lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. The headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set among masses of a wide variety of tropical trees and shrubbery.
On rectangular piers are inscribed the Tablets of the Missing, containing another 36,285 names. Gordon R. Stewart is one of them.

There is also an Editorial in the 1943 Echo by Patricia Keogh. She describes the two flags displayed that year at EHCS; one, the American Flag and the other the service flag. Each blue star on the service flag stood for a boy or girl from EHCS gone to the war. Each gold star stood for those who in Patricia’s words “have died that we might live.” The service flag had two gold stars that year.

Raymond H. Maassen was a second Scipio boy who was awarded the Purple Heart for his brave service to his country in World War II. His name is inscribed alongside that of his classmate on the Tablet of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery. A Private in the US Marine Corps who was present at Guadalcanal, his date of death is given as 26 September 1942.

I searched World War II battle dates on the internet, and found that the Battle of Guadalcanal was fought between August 7, 1942, and February 9, 1943, in the Pacific theater of World War II. The fighting took place on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands.
The first U.S. Marine operation and attempt to attack Japanese forces west of the Matanikau River, conducted between September 23 and September 27, 1942, by elements of three U.S. Marine battalions, was repulsed by troops under Akinosuka Oka's local command. During the action, three U.S. Marine companies were surrounded by Japanese forces near Point Cruz west of the Matanikau, took heavy losses, and barely escaped with assistance from a U.S. Navy destroyer and landing craft manned by U.S. Coast Guard personnel. It would seem likely that this is the battle that cost these Scipio men their lives.

Both these men from our small town of Scipio served their country during World War II and their honorable service resulted in them never seeing Scipio again. I'm grateful their country recognized this sacrifice and awarded them the Purple Heart. I will share a photo of Gordon from the 1943 yearbook on this blog, just use this link:

I invite you to stop by Scipio to see the rest of these yearbooks. Maybe you have a memory to share of Gordon or Raymond, or someone else from Scipio. I would enjoy hearing from you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scipio's Comprehensive Plan Redux

Many Scipioites (think I should copyright that!) have worked hard on putting together a comprehensive plan to guide us into our future. Surveys were filled out, returned and the information reviewed. Many of our residents have roots that run deep, some back to the Revolutionary War and the original settlers here who came to claim the land in the Military Tract area their fledgling government awarded to them for their military service. Other residents have come in recent years for differing reasons. Many are farmers, some are commuters, and most enjoy the rural character of the town. How to preserve what makes us unique while still attracting residents and industry and offering services that the residents want requires thoughtfulness.
Now we have reached the point of reviewing the draft of a comprehensive plan. I want to share the e-mail I received:

A public hearing will be held to receive comments on the Town of Scipio Comprehensive Plan on Wednesday, May 11 from 6:30 - 7:30. Anyone wishing to comment on the Plan may do so at that time. If you are unable to attend the hearing but wish to comment, you may do so by email to or in writing to Town of Scipio, PO Box 71, Scipio Center, NY 13147 Att: Comp Plan Comments.

Copies of the Comprehensive Plan are available for review at the Scipio Town Office Monday and Saturday 9 am - 1 pm and Wednesday 3 pm - 5 pm, or may be downloaded at They may also be purchased at the Auburn Document Center, Genesee Street Auburn NY (you might wish to call ahead if you wish to purchase a hard copy from the ADC in Auburn).

I look forward to reviewing the comprehensive plan, with a view to our town's wonderful history and how we can best preserve and share it for future generations.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NYS Historian Award Certificate

Here are a few photos of the Association of Public Historians of NYS (APHNYS) conference I attended this week in Elmira, NY. I was selected to receive the NYS Excellence in Promoting Local History Award! I was honored to be there and to be given this recognition.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New York History: Rochester to Honor African American Civil War Sold...

New York History: Rochester to Honor African American Civil War Sold...: "Nazareth College is hosting the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission's seventh annual tribute to the nearly 200,000 men of color..."

The Owasco Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently honored Dr. Anderson with their Local Media Award; NYS has recommended that the national organization consider honoring him as well. His work to record and honor the black soldiers and white officers of the US Colored Troops has been extensive. Scipio had at least two men who served as officers in the USCT - Daniel Perrine Van Liew and Edwin Fell. James Philips of the Hamlet of Sherwood in Scipio served as a soldier in the USCT. I'm pleased to see Dr. Anderson's work continue.

APHNYS Conference Time

I am heading off to Elmira, NY this weekend for the annual APHNYS conference (Association of Public Historians of New York State). I have been a member since becoming Scipio Historian in 2004, and they were instrumental in providing me with the resources and contacts I needed to obtain certification as a NYS Registered Historian. One of their conferences is where I picked up the idea and impetus to start this blog, and that has been a wonderful way to share and communicate the history of our town. I’ve “met” several people through this blog who are interested in learning more about a person in one of the entries, as well as several who have been willing to share information that is new to us.
While there are increasingly larger amounts of historical and genealogical records on the Internet, it is still important to take advantage of learning and networking opportunities. We can learn a lot by listening to and networking with fellow researchers who might have different, and possibly better, approaches to particular research challenges that can help break through those brick walls.
The APHNYS conference is always a great place to do just that. I always return with something new to think about and I’m sure this year will be no exception. I hope to see old friends and meet some new ones, and look forward to telling you all about it when I return!