What follows is a message sent to the media by Arthur L. Simmons III, Executive Director of the Rome Historical Society regarding construction at the site of Fort Bull.
Fort Bull was one of several British forts that secured the portage between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. In 1756, French troops, supported by allied Native Americans, marched overland from Fort La Presentation (present day Ogdensburg) and attacked the British fort on the Oneida Carry. The French destroyed Fort Bull and killed or captured nearly 60 of the British garrison.
On Saturday October 5th, 2019 the Rome Historical Society discovered in a field adjacent to its Fort Bull/Wood Creek property the construction of what is now known to become the wall of a fort, which is to include a gate and block houses erected on each end for reenactment purposes, on the property of the former Erie Canal Village.
As there is a deed restriction that requires review by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation prior to the commencement of any ground disturbance at the property we alerted the appropriate agencies. Images of the project show large posts being tarred and driven into the ground, severe rutting caused by machinery, and other extreme ground scarring occurring as a direct result of this project.
Additionally, this harmful activity is occurring less than 100 feet from the Rome Historical Society’s Fort Bull/Wood Creek property, which is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. We believe that this project is contributing to the unconscionable and willful destruction of one of the City’s most important and historic archaeological sites and we condemn this irresponsible action.
As this site is widely known within the community to be a proposed location of the original Fort Bull and with the recent discovery of exploded British grenade fragments found during the American Battlefield Protection Program’s ongoing archaeological survey of our property, this entire area can be considered a battlefield, which may include a burial site.
The Fort Bull Research Group has, in the past, assisted the Rome Historical Society by volunteering their time to maintain and interpret the Society’s Fort Bull/Wood Creek property, for which the Society is grateful. However, it also appears that the Fort Bull Research Group supports this destructive project. Consequently, the Rome Historical Society wishes to inform its Partners, the City and the public that it has disassociated itself from the Fort Bull Research Group, an unincorporated group of individuals who are not chartered in NYS, not a 501c3 under IRS code and are not registered with the NYS Charities Bureau.
Regretfully it has become apparent that the Fort Bull Research Group is complicit with Cross Roads Redemption Church in a misguided, irreversibly destructive construction project at the former Erie Canal Village and with the commencement of this project being conducted in violation of the known deed restriction, the Rome Historical Society is gravely concerned that individuals and/or groups that claim to be dedicated to preserving history are in fact condoning, endorsing, and publicizing this regrettable error in judgement that has compromised one of Rome’s most significant archaeological sites. Those wishing to preserve our City’s history should protect our irreplaceable cultural resources, not destroy them.
These actions are not preservation.
The Rome Historical Society’s mission is to actively research, collect, preserve, and present the historical importance of Rome, NY and to serve as an educational and community resource. We applaud the City, State, and others in their actions to ensure that this project was stopped and that all applicable reviews and permitting is being enforced, thank you.
The Rome Historical Society is located at 200 Church Street, Rome. For more information, call (315) 336-5870, or visit their website.