Tornados in upstate New York, like those that struck recently in the Capital Region, are comparatively rare events, but are by no means anything new. Similar storms in the past have wreaked devastation in New York and New England, but few have had the incredible impact of the twister that struck northern Franklin County on June 30, 1856. The results bore strong similarities to the recent destruction near Oklahoma City.
The storm system caused chaos across the North Country, in lower Quebec, and in northern Vermont as well, but the villages of Burke and Chateaugay in New York bore the brunt of the damage when a tornado touched down, causing destruction of historic proportions. Read more
When New Yorkers say with pride that they come from the North Country, strength, courage and rugged individualism can be seen written all over their faces. In addition, everyone knows they have the ability to withstand abnormally cold and miserable weather, and to survive natural disasters, such as the Great Ice Storm of 1998. But, exactly where is the North Country?
Yes, it is in the northern part of New York State, but north of what? Yonkers? Albany? The Erie Canal? The Adirondacks? Read more
It’s a phrase most of us use, without knowing much more than it connotes an air of struggle.
A desperate struggle is exactly what was taking place when Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake made those words his final order – 200 years ago today.
The United States had been at war with Britain for nearly a year when Lawrence sailed his frigate out of Boston. Waiting for him outside the harbor was HMS Shannon, whose Captain was disobeying orders by preparing to engage an American ship one on one. Read more
The latest issue of the New York State Historical Association’s digital quarterly journal, New York History, features the following:
“Editors’ Introduction” by F. Daniel Larkin, Thomas D. Beal, and William S. Walker Read more
This is a story about a fat guy. In this politically correct and hyper-sensitive world, some of you might already be reaching for your keyboards to send me a nasty message for being so thoughtless. But without referring to him as fat, I couldn’t have written this piece. I’m pretty sure he knew he was obese, as did anyone who met him. But if there was ever any doubt, one could always refer to his professional name: Phat Boy. (Imagine … a name like that, 150 years before the birth of Rap music.)
His given name was Edward Frederick Babbage, the son of John and Frances Babbage, who emigrated from England in the early 1800s and settled in Rochester, New York. Among their five children was a pair of twins, Edward Frederick and Edwin Francis, born about 20 miles west of the city in 1841. Early on, Edward exhibited a propensity for gaining weight. He was considered large at age six, and weighed 200 pounds when he was fourteen. Read more
Entries for the 8th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest are being accepted now through September 6, 2013. Winning photos will be published in the 2014 Erie Canalway calendar.
Amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit prints and digital images in four contest categories: Bridges, Buildings and Locks- For the Fun of It- On the Water- and the Nature of the Canal. Read more
The same “prove or disprove” mission I undertook to investigate Mary Johnson’s claims (to have passed as a man and fought in the Civil War) was attempted by Eleanor Vashon after interviewing Mary Johnson in 1924. Several parties were involved: a pension attorney- the Massachusetts adjutant general- the Daughters of Veterans- the Convent of St. Rock, Quebec- the Canadian Red Cross- the Tewksbury Hospital- and acquaintances of Mary with whom she had shared the unusual story of her life.
The Red Cross managed to confirm that Thomas Hill indeed served in the Massachusetts 53rd, but found no record of a Saul Hill in the same outfit. They did find a Joseph Saul, and considering Mary’s age and her earlier jumbling of General Nelson Miles as Mills Nelson, the similarity was noted as a possible link. Read more