Many people from Clinton County, NY have ancestors from Ireland or Canada. In the 1850 census, in the Town of Ausable, one in four people were born in Canada or Ireland. In the Town of Clinton, every other person would have been born in Canada or Ireland. In the whole of Clinton County in 1850, only half could claim to be born in New York, as was the case for the Town of Black Brook. [Read more…] about Clinton County’s Irish Immigrant Legacy
The Mystery of Joseph Brant’s Watch
There was a story that had been passed down in the Minthorn family for generations. It told of how an ancestor had hidden her two infants under the roots of a tree to save them during the Revolutionary War attack on Cherry Valley, NY, in 1778. It was said that in her zeal to quiet her children, the youngsters were rendered unconscious, being revived only after the attackers had departed.
While this story is most likely fiction, there is some truth mixed in. [Read more…] about The Mystery of Joseph Brant’s Watch
Smugglers & The Law: Prohibition In Northern New York
Dennis Warren left his job as a coal shoveler on the New York Central Railroad in Albany to ship out to the First World War. His transport ship had a close call with a German submarine on the way over, but got there in time to take part in what one of the bloodiest military campaigns in American history.
For Americans after the war, the Argonne would mean what Normandy meant just 25 years later – sacrifice. Sadly, that sacrifice in the Argonne Forest was never repaid to Dennis Warren, who met the death of a smuggler – running from an officious and invasive law on a treacherous mountain road near Port Henry on Lake Champlain.
According to the newsman who reported his death at the age of 29, “Canadian Ale was spread across the road.” [Read more…] about Smugglers & The Law: Prohibition In Northern New York
Possession and Exorcism in New France
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mairi Cowan, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, joins Liz Covart to investigate the life of a young French woman named Barbe Hallay and her alleged demonic possession.
Cowan is the author of The Possession of Barbe Hallay: Diabolical Arts and Daily Life in Early Canada (McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 2022). [Read more…] about Possession and Exorcism in New France
New Invasive Affecting NYS Elm Trees; Threatens Major Spread
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the elm zigzag sawfly (Aproceros leucopoda) was detected for the first time in New York State at three locations in St. Lawrence County, including Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, Brasher State Forest, and Lost Nation State Forest.
This exotic pest feeds exclusively on elm trees and can cause severe defoliation, branch dieback, and crown thinning. Although the sawfly has not yet been shown to cause tree mortality, repeated defoliation by established sawfly populations would put added stress on native elm trees already heavily impacted by Dutch elm disease. [Read more…] about New Invasive Affecting NYS Elm Trees; Threatens Major Spread
French Canadian Rev War Veteran Antoine Paulin’s Grave Being Marked in Champlain
Born in Grenoble, France on April 24, 1734, Antoine Paulin arrived in Canada with a French military squadron. Choosing not to return to France, he made Canada his home. With the onset of the American Revolution, he again picked up arms to serve with the fledgling American Army.
Paulin served as a Captain in Colonel Moses Hazen’s 2nd Canadian Regiment in the Continental Line and participated in several well known campaigns throughout the Revolutionary War. He and his young family settled in Northern New York. [Read more…] about French Canadian Rev War Veteran Antoine Paulin’s Grave Being Marked in Champlain
Stephen Van Rensselaer III: The Last Patroon
Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839), was orphaned at the age of ten. His father had died when he was five and his mother remarried Reverend Eilardus Westerlo, minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany. She died five years later and Stephen was raised by Abraham Ten Broeck (later Brigadier General) and his wife (Stephen’s aunt) Elizabeth Van Rensselaer.
Stephen attended the John Water’s School in Albany, grammar school in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey and Classical School in Kingston. He then attended college at Princeton, but withdrew to Harvard because of the dangers in Northern New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, Stephen’s grandfather Philip Livingston (who had married Ten Broeck’s sister Christina) had signed the Declaration of Independence. [Read more…] about Stephen Van Rensselaer III: The Last Patroon
Cohoes Airman Eugene Chouiniere, Missing Since WWII, Being Memorialized
Even before the United States entered the Second World War, Americans joined Great Britain’s war effort – among those who volunteered was Capital District native Eugene E. Chouiniere.
Chouiniere was 19-years-old when he died in a British Royal Air Force (RAF) mission to Germany. The crew included three Brits, two Canadians and three Americans. Letters to the families of the crew from the RAF stated that “it must be regretfully accepted and officially recorded that he [Eugene] does not have a known grave,” and thus their aircraft was “lost without a trace.”
Now independent historians think they know where the aircraft, a Avro Lancaster R5695EM-C Bomber, rests 80 years after it went down. [Read more…] about Cohoes Airman Eugene Chouiniere, Missing Since WWII, Being Memorialized
Syracuse Hero Jermain Loguen, Abolition & The Jerry Rescue
During Black History Month, it is useful to recall well-known Black Americans and also some not-so-well known. Jermain Loguen (1813-1872) fits a category of those who deserve more recognition and attention.
Born into slavery in Tennessee, he escaped to Canada (where slavery was outlawed) in 1834 and moved to Rochester in 1837 and then to Syracuse in 1841. He became a teacher and then a minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. An eloquent speaker, he used his sermons and public presentations to advocate abolition and resistance to slaveholders and to urge enslaved people to escape. Loguen had an apartment in his Syracuse home for freedom seekers and identified himself as “Underground Railroad Agent.” Loguen assisted more than 1,500 enslaved Black people to freedom, earning the informal title “King of the Underground Railroad” in Syracuse. [Read more…] about Syracuse Hero Jermain Loguen, Abolition & The Jerry Rescue
A History of Snowmobile Racing in New York State
In the motor toboggan era – the time before the advent of the modern snowmobiles we know today – motor sleds had been too slow for racing excitement. As a result they remained strictly utilitarian vehicles racing only occasionally for promotional purposes. Motor toboggan and later snowmobile maker Polaris traveled each year at the end of the 1950s to trapper festivals at The Pas, Manitoba where they helped organize ad hoc races.
“We tried to rig them a little bit so we had a zig-zag effect,” David Johnson said, remembering one of the first informal races, “one guy ahead, and then the other, and so on, at a terrific speed of about 20 miles per hour.” In February 1959, Johnson won the first organized men’s race on an oval at The Pas and in 1960, the first cross-country race was held there. [Read more…] about A History of Snowmobile Racing in New York State