Is resurgence in the interest in history a sign of the time? It seems so as two initiatives to promote the importance of history and heritage of New York both use signs as a means to the end.
At the 2012 conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State on Long Island, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation used that opportunity to announce that their organization was taking their interest in historical markers statewide. Read more →
An obituary from 1865 led me to investigate the life of Ira T. Brum, who enlisted in the 185th New York Volunteers in June 1864. The regiment was full of young men from Onondaga and Cortland, and some few from elsewhere in the state. Company F contained mostly men from Cortland who enlisted together that spring. The 185th participated in the siege of Petersburg and was part of the Appomattox Campaign, fighting at Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, Five Forks and at Appomattox Court House. There, on April 9th, 1865 members of the 185th saw the “white flag come out and was glad to see it.” First Lieutenant Hiram Clark of Marathon gathered his men and sang “Hail Columbia.” As the men settled against a fence, a shell came over and killed Clark, the “last man killed in the army of the Potomac.” The 185th camped outside of Washington and Company F was mustered out on May 30th. On June 1st, Ira Brum died. According to his obituary, he was the only “colored man in his company, and possessed the confidence and good will of his officers and comrades.” He was reported to be a good soldier and “had distinguished himself in many of the hard-fought battles which preceded the fall of Richmond and Lee’s surrender.” Brum was just thirty years old and left a wife and daughter in Cortland County and his mother, father and siblings in Ithaca. The Brum family monument is in the Ithaca City Cemetery.
New York State agreed to allow African Americans to enlist in United States Colored Infantry in the fall of 1863 and these men fought in federal units. The 20th USCT was recruited in New York City- the 26th USCT was filled with many men from the Southern Tier.
In the spring, the Tompkins County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission will repair the Brum grave, now in pieces in the Ithaca City Cemetery.
It would be interesting to know if other African American men fought in white New York regiments.
Photo: Above, reunion ribbons from the 185th New York Regiment- below, the 185th’s service during the war.
Jermain Wesley Loguen, famous “Underground Railroad King” of Syracuse, will be inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at Saturday, October 22, 2011 ceremonies to be held at Colgate University in Hamilton NY. Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. professor emeritus of African American Studies and History, Syracuse University, provides a brief history of the new inductee: Born into slavery in 1813 “Jarm” stole his master’s horse in 1834 and escaped to Canada West where he farmed for a few years. In 1837 he went to Rochester, NY and worked as a hotel porter. Later he attended Beriah Green’s abolitionist school at Whitesboro, NY and while there he started a Sunday school for African American children in Utica. He married Caroline Storum in 1840 and they had six children, one of whom (Amelia) married Lewis Douglass, the son of Frederick and Anna Douglass.
The Loguens moved to Syracuse in 1841. Jermain taught school and became a licensed preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, serving congregations in Syracuse, Bath, Ithaca, and Troy. He was as much an abolitionist activist as a minister and became one of the nation’s most active agents of the Underground Railroad. He assisted the Rev. Samuel J. May, a Unitarian clergyman in Syracuse, with Underground Railroad work. The Loguen house near the intersection of Pine and Genesee Streets was a principal station on the Underground Railroad. Loguen placed letters in the Syracuse press openly discussing his activities and asking for donations to assist fugitives. Loguen is said to have aided more than 1500 freedom seekers.
Donna Dorrance Burdick, historian for the Town of Smithfield, relates, “In 1844 Frederick Douglass introduced Loguen to Gerrit Smith. On September 1, 1846, Loguen joined Henry Highland Garnet and Samuel Ringgold Ward as a recipient of common Peterboro property.” The passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 brought Loguen’s response of, “It outlaws me, and I outlaw it.” Following his participation in the Jerry Rescue of October 1851, he was one of five African Americans indicted in the incident. He fled to Canada returning to Syracuse in the spring of 1852 and resumed his Underground Railroad activities.”
The Induction of Jermain Wesley Loguen begins at 1:30 p.m. in Golden Auditorium at Colgate University with I Owe My Freedom to the God Who Made Me: Jermain Loguen and the Struggle for Freedom presented by Carol Hunter PhD, professor of history at Earlham College in Richmond IN. Dr. Hunter’s 1989 doctoral dissertation at Binghamton University researched Loguen and the abolition movement in upstate New York. A revised and edited version of the work was published in 1993 as To Set the Captives Free: Reverend Jermain Wesley Loguen and the Struggle for Freedom in Central New York 1835-1872. Hunter’s lecture is one of the afternoon Upstate Institute Abolition Symposia programs supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.
Loguen’s official public nomination by Onondaga Historical Association, and others with Loguen connections, will be part of the October 22 evening ceremonies at 7 p.m. in Golden Auditorium at Colgate University. Loguen’s part in the Jerry Rescue of 1851 will also be included in John Rudy’s program The Jerry Level: Gerrit Smith and the Memory of the Jerry Rescue at 2 pm Satruday, October 1, 2011 at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0169. (Admission: $2)
The public is encouraged to attend the Loguen sessions. Admission at the door for each of the lectures and the induction ceremony is five dollars. (Admission for all four symposia programs is eight dollars.) Information and registration forms for the day-long induction event are available at 315-366-8101 and info@AbolitionHoF.org and www.AbolitionHoF.org.
Illustration: Portrait of Jermain Wesley Loguen created by artist Joseph Flores of Rochester NY for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum for the occasion of the induction of Loguen to the Hall.
160 years ago on October 1st, a captured fugitive slave named Jerry was freed by a mob of Syracuse citizens. For seven years after that date Central New York abolitionists celebrated the Jerry Rescue with an event that commemorated its importance. In 1859 Gerrit Smith responded to the request of the Jerry Rescue Committee for him to speak with a refusal because people had not maintained the high level of commitment to abolition that the Jerry Rescue had demonstrated.
On October 1, 2011, exactly 160 years after the Jerry Rescue, John M. Rudy will present “The Jerry Level”: Gerrit Smith and the Memory of the Jerry Rescue at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134. October 1st, 1851, events in Downtown Syracuse drastically altered the course of the lives of countless Central New Yorkers. As abolitionists battered down the door to a Syracuse police station and freed the fugitive slave Jerry Henry, they embarked on a journey which would span the course of the next decade. The Jerry Rescue was a catalyst for Upstate’s abolition activity from 1851 until the dawn of the Civil War.
Among those who turned the freeing of one man on Clinton Square in Syracuse into mass action were Gerrit Smith and Jermain Loguen. Smith advocated living life to the “Jerry Level” regarding the need for radical action. Loguen took the Jerry Rescue as inspiration to become more active in the Underground Railroad in Central New York. Throughout the 1850s the two men grew more radical every year until, by 1859, civil war seemed inevitable.
On the event’s 160th anniversary, historian John Rudy will share some of the interesting tidbits of research that he unearthed during his thesis preparations, investigate Central New York in the turbulent 1850s, and recognize the enduring memory of the Jerry Rescue. Rudy’s thesis centers around four personalities who had connections to the Rescue. Daniel Webster, in his May 1851 speech in Syracuse which challenged the abolition community, leads off the study. The next chapter centers on Jermain Loguen, Syracuse’s “King” of the Underground Railroad. Third is a discussion of Gerrit Smith’s disillusionment with the Upstate abolition community over the course of the 1850s, and his eventual alliance with John Brown. The final chapter discusses Samuel May and the “death” of the Jerry Rescue spirit in Syracuse at the coming of the war. It seems that the abolition world, for about ten years, revolved around Syracuse and its personalities – Smith being key among that community of thinkers.
Gerrit Smith was one of the first five abolitionists to be inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in 2005. Jermain Wesley Loguen will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 22 in ceremonies at Colgate University.
A native of Pompey in Onondaga County, John Rudy has been studying the history of Upstate New York’s abolition community since 2005. John holds a Masters in Applied History from Shippensburg University and a Bachelors in History, with a minor in Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College. John currently lives in Gettysburg and works with the National Park Service’s Interpretive Development Program in Harpers Ferry, WV, creating training materials for park rangers across the entire park system.
The public is encouraged to attend the program at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road / 5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY. Admission is two dollars. Students are free. This program is one of a series of programs provided by the Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark during 2011 and partially supported by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006 www.gerritsmith.org 315-684-3262 and National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055 www.AbolitionHoF.org, 315-684-3262.
Photo: Jermain Wesley Loguen of Syracuse was one of the primaries in the rescue of Jerry McHenry from a jail in Syracuse on October 1, 1851.
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center (210 E. Genesee Street, Fayetteville, Onondaga County) will offer a ‘-Gage Girls’ Summer Day Camp, August 15 – 19, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. for girls entering 6th through 8th grades.
Participants will explore the rooms in the home of 19th century activist Matilda Joslyn Gage through fun, thought-provoking and empowering activities including: Haudenosaunee Room – Outdoors for nature exploration and to learn about the culture of Central New York’s Native Americans and how they inspired Joslyn Gage in her work for social justice.
Women’s Rights Room – Create a special exhibit with a Seneca Falls doll house crafter and portrait artist and meet a local pioneer of science.
Oz Parlor & Local History Hall: Learn about the powerful girls of Oz, see what it was like to wear corsets and petticoats and take a look at today’s clothing styles.
Religious Freedom Room – Discover the rich diversity of people and religion in Central New York- learn about labyrinths- try meditation.
Underground Railroad Room – Uncover the secrets of the Underground Railroad- examine today’s bullying problem- try your hand at acting- join a drumming circle
Each day wraps-up with a Victorian tea party. Register by Saturday, July 30 ~ Space is limited. Call (315) 243-7667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $135.00 members, $150.00 non-members ~ Some scholarships are available. A $50.00 deposit is required to reserve a space, the balance due by Friday, August 5.
The Gage Foundation will celebrate the 185th birthday of Fayetteville, New York’s most famous women’s rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage on Thurs., March 24, from 4-7 p.m. with an open house at the newly restored Gage Center, 210 E. Genesee Street, Fayetteville.
The event is free and open to the public. It will feature music and poetry written in honor of Gage. Winners of the annual Matilda Joslyn Gage essay contest will be announced at 4:15. Musical entertainment will follow, with local activist-artist Colleen Kattau performing a song she composed about Gage. The Eagle Hill Middle School girls’ chorus will perform music from Gage’s time, and Ed Nizalowski will play period flute music. Martin Willitts will read from his new poetry chapbook, “Protest, Petition, Write, Speak: Matilda Joslyn Gage Poems” and sign copies of the book at 6 p.m. Visitors will be invited to “Write on Our Walls”: to share their ideas for programs and exhibits by writing on whiteboard walls in each room. All will be treated to birthday cake provided by Connie Decker of the Chocolate Truffle.
A place of ideas, the Gage Center relies on dialogue to explore the social justice issues that Gage found most important and that still challenge us today.
Beginning March 26, the Gage Center will be open to the public Saturdays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at other times by appointment. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. Watch their website to learn about upcoming events at the Gage Center. For more information contact (315) 637-9511 or foundation@MatildaJoslynGage.org.
In Pulling Strings: The Legacy of Melville A. Clark, musician Linda Pembroke Kaiser explores the extraordinary career of Melville A. Clark (1883–1953), a musician, inventor, entrepreneur, community leader, and collector whose colorful story is largely unknown. The story is told by Kaiser, a musician who performs on the harp, piano, and guitar. She has published articles in the International Folk Harp Journal and has published and recorded an album of harp music, Lullabies for Earth Children. Beginning with an account of Clark’s musical family, Kaiser chronicles the founding in 1859 of the Clark Music Company, of which Melville Clark became president in 1919. Originally just a tinkers shed, the business ultimately moved into a six-story building in the center of Syracuse. The Clark Music Company celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2010. Clark also combined his talents as a gifted musician and astute entrepreneur to start the first Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
Kaiser recounts the development of the Clark Irish Harp, the first portable harp manufactured in the United States, that could easily play accidentals. There were other Clark inventions, such as the first nylon strings for instruments. In addition, Clark designed balloons that the British used in 1918 to drop more than 1,250,000 pamphlets over Germany.
Clark’s story unfolds in detail: a musical encounter with President Wilson, entertaining President F. D. Roosevelt, a visit to Buckingham Palace to present Princess Elizabeth with a music box, and the journey of a Clark Irish harp to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd.
Pulling Strings uncovers the life of a musical genius and also sheds light on a forgotten chapter in Syracuse history.
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In 1911, Civil War nurse Lucy Blanchard died in Fenton, Michigan. Her remains were brought back to Syracuse and she was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. For ninety-nine years, her grave was unmarked and the memory of her service faded. Thanks to the efforts of Michigan historian Len Thomas, Lucy’s life story has been researched in depth. With the help of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a government headstone has been placed on Lucy’s grave.
On Saturday morning, November 13 at 11 o’clock, all are invited to pay tribute to this courageous lady, so long forgotten. For more information and a map to the gravesite, go to:
Four new books provide readers with first person narratives of rural Upstate New York teenage life in the 1860s through the 1890s. These accounts of young peoples’ lives on the farm, or in the home, offers a unique perspective and serves as an important primary resource in the study of American history.
The first is A Darned Good Time by 13-year old Lucy Potter of Taylor, New York (in Cortland County) in 1868. She writes of classes, teachers, friends, boys, a new stepmother, an invalid aunt, and complains about upstate New York weather. Second in the series is My Centennial Diary – A Year in the Life of a Country Boy by 18-year old Earll Gurnee of Sennett, New York (near Skaneateles) in 1876. He writes of school, family life, social life, farm life, girlfriends, and hard work. His teacher gets arrested for being too brutal to children, he juggles two girlfriends, he plows, cuts hay, cleans out the horse barn…-.then wonders why his back hurts!
Third in the series, My Story – A Year in the Life of a Country Girl, is by 15-year old Ida Burnett of Logan, New York (in Schuyler County) in 1880. Ida churned butter, milked cows, sewed her own underwear, canned fruit, but also had time for boys and parties. She lived in the country in Upstate New York and in the whole year did not venture any farther than twenty miles from home. The book will be released soon.
The fourth (forthcoming) will be Home in the Hills by 14–year old Edna Kendall of Altay, New York (in Schuyler County) in 1891. It will be available in early 2010.
Records Revisited was packed floor-to-ceiling with discs of a vintage and variety that drew a steady stream of record buffs to 34 West 33rd Street. The shop, more like an archive than a store, held approximately 60 tons of swing, big band jazz and other styles on vinyl, forming one of the largest collections of 78s in the world.
The shop has been closed since Mr. Savada’s death in February. Last Thursday, his son, Elias Savada, was poring over a cardboard box, one of 1,300 being filled with records and put on waiting trucks. The collection will be sent to Syracuse University’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, which will now have the second-largest collection of 78s in the United States, after the Library of Congress, university officials said…-
The Syracuse University archivists couldn’t be more pleased with the obscure records arriving in numbered boxes. Not only is there a huge swing collection, but also recordings of country, blues, gospel, polka, folk and Broadway tunes. Suzanne Thorin, the university’s dean of libraries, said the truckloads of Mr. Savada’s records — at least, the tiny percentage sampled so far — has revealed fascinating auditory treasures, including Carl Sandburg reading his own poetry while accompanying himself on the guitar, and Hazel Scott, the pianist and singer. There are also many rare recordings preserved only on V-Disc records produced for American military personnel overseas in the 1940s.