George A. Reed, the author of Fort Ontario: 250 Years of History, 1755-2005 will offer a presentation on the truth and legends of Fort Ontario at 2 P.M. Oct. 17 at the Busy Corner Cafe, 234 Ford Street (at the intersection of Ford and State streets) in Ogdensburg. Reed’s informal talk, hosted by the Fort La Presentation Association, will focus on Fort Ontario’s rich history at the time of the French and Indian War. The old fort Ontario was first constructed in 1755 overlooking the Oswego River, the main route west in colonial times, to protect the fur trading settlement at Oswego. Following the American Revolution, the fort remained in British hands until the Jay Treaty in 1796.
The Fort saw action twice during the War of 1812 and received and trained troops during the Civil War. Troops from Fort Ontario fought in the Philippines during the Spanish American War and the fort was enlarged in 1909 and became the Flower Medical Unit, training Army doctors, nurses, and medics, and treating wounded troops from the battlefields of France. Between World Wars, Fort Ontario s mission changed to training National Guard troops and Artillery. Its currently serves as a historic site.
The Fort La Presentation Association is hosting New York State’s final 250th anniversary commemoration of the French and Indian War, July 16-18, 2010.
Sixty-five years ago 982 people arrived at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY. They would stay the next 18 months at the only World War II refugee camp on American soil. On August 20th at 6 pm in Sackets Harbor, Safe Haven President Elizabeth A. Kahl will share the story of those 982 “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from August 1944 to February 1946. The program is part of the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center. Kahl, who has served on the board of the nonprofit that administers the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center in Oswego since 1999, said in a press release that “The maelstrom that was World War II had millions of fugitives fleeing for their lives in Europe. A continent away, Oswego, New York on the shores of Lake Ontario was to play a unique role in history as the small community who gave 982 people shelter and hope.”
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is among those who visited the refugees at the fort.
The $5 admission to the August 20th program benefits the Seaway Trail Foundation and its educational programming.
Cannibalism? Daring battles and sieges? Rum becoming river water? All a part of Fort Ontario history? Yes, says author Rev. George A. Reed, who will share his enthusiasm for the history of Fort Ontario at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY, this Thursday, August 6, at 6pm. Reed is the author of Fort Ontario: 250 Years of History. His program is part of the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series.
“My research includes an overview of all the eras at Fort Ontario from the French and Indian War through World War II. There are tales of cannibalism that always make 4th graders eyes get big. Descriptions of daring battles and sieges at the fort, and stories of how rum turned into river water,” Reed says. According to the author cannibalism is indeed part of the Fort’s history, but he has debunked a bit of other folklore associated with the historic, star-shaped fort that overlooks Oswego Harbor and Lake Ontario. A lifelong historian, Reed worked with the National Park Service at the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, DC. He managed the North Creek Depot historic site near Gore Mountain where Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt learned that U.S. President McKinley had been shot, and served as executive director of the Pratt House Museum in Fulton, NY.
While volunteering with the Fort Ontario Guard at the State Historic Site in Oswego, NY, Reed realized that no one had ever written a comprehensive text on the history of the fort. Reed will sign copies of his new book Fort Ontario: 250 Years of History as part of the August 6 program at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center. Program admission benefits the nonprofit Great Lakes Seaway Trail Foundation. Discount applies to active and retired members of the military.