For many, nostalgia is more than just reminiscing about the past, it’s an emotion or feeling they have when thinking about certain memories — whether it’s a particular place, experience or time.
Region takes flight
Capt. Frank Burnside first to pilot north country skies
By Lenka P. Walldroff
It may surprise some visitors to learn that the north country boasts a number of international airports. Here in Watertown, the “International” in “Watertown International Airport” has raised a few eyebrows, but small as it may be, our humble airport gets the job done, ferrying passengers to and from Northern New York to destinations around the world. Eyebrows and square footage aside, north country airports are but a whisper in the region’s long-standing relationship with aviation. [Read more…]
A ‘most American thing’
The Chautauqua Movement and Thousand Islands Park
By Lenka Walldroff, NNY Living
Pop quiz, history fans: To what was President Theodore Roosevelt referring when he said: “It’s the most American thing in America.”? [Read more…]
An early dairy dynasty
By Lenka Walldroff
F.X. Baumert and Co. introduced Muenster cheese to United States
From the mid-19th century until about 1930, Jefferson County reigned as the “Cheese Capital of the World.” In fact, at the time, more cheese was bought and sold on the Watertown Cheese Exchange than anywhere else in the world. Jefferson County’s cheese notoriety came from humble origins, however, with the first dairy farm opening in Rutland in 1834 with 20 cows. As road conditions were often poor, or roads were non-existent, travel took significantly longer in previous centuries than it does today. In pre-refrigeration times, this proved problematic for farmers trading in perishable goods like milk. [Read more…]
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln faced a decision: Should he allow his Army to carry out the deaths of 303 individuals?
At a time when the Civil War was raging and word of mass death came to doorsteps daily, a decision to send the condemned men to their deaths may have not raised many eyebrows. Indeed, public opinion favored death for the convicted and even the “extermination” of their kind.
But the president’s decision to spare all but 38 of the men — Dakota Indians in Minnesota — may have been influenced by the pleas of an Adams native who urged Lincoln to look at the big picture and not do something that would haunt the country and go against its better nature.
The episode is explored in the new book, “Lincoln’s Bishop: A President, a Priest, and the Fate of 300 Dakota Sioux Warriors” by Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor of newspaper and online journalism at Syracuse University. It’s published by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
The Washington Post has called Mr. Niebuhr, a former reporter for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, “one of the country’s most experienced religious commentators.”
The idea for his latest book was sparked during a 2009 visit by Mr. Niebuhr to Watertown when he spoke at Jefferson Community College about free speech and tolerance. He was invited to the area by Robert D. Gorman, who was then managing editor of the Watertown Daily Times and who now serves as chief executive officer of the United Way of Northern New York.
Mr. Gorman gave Mr. Niebuhr a tour of Watertown and mentioned some prominent people who were raised in the area.
“He named a couple of names I recognized and one I didn’t, which was Henry Whipple,” Mr. Niebuhr said recently during an interview at the Times. “He said, ‘This was the man who went to see Lincoln during the Civil War about the Dakota Indians.’ I thought this was really interesting. I had never heard of this before.”
Mr. Niebuhr’s research on Henry Whipple uncovered a gallant tale.
“What I would hope is that people would draw something from Whipple’s courage,” Mr. Niebuhr said. “I think he was courageous to stand up as a kind of a one-man movement. There was very little support that he got.”
Henry Benjamin Whipple, born in Adams in 1822, was the son of John Hall and Elizabeth Wagner Whipple. Had it not been for another resident of Adams, Mr. Whipple might not have become an advocate of Native Americans.
In his book, Mr. Niebuhr writes that Peter Doxtater became a young Henry Whipple’s “moral tutor” on that subject. Mr. Doxtater, who’d served in the Continental Army and fought the British at the Battle of Oriskany, was taken captive as a child during an Indian raid at a Mohawk River settlement and taken to Canada.
“Doxtater forgot most of his English,” Mr. Niebuhr writes. “He became an Indian.”
He was freed in the 1760s when British soldiers came upon him and his siblings.
So after settling in Adams, old man Doxtater had many tales of adventures to share, and his home “became a magnet for Adams boys” Mr. Niebuhr writes. But Mr. Whipple would not actually meet an Indian until he was 37 years old.
After a year of study at Oberlin College in Ohio, Mr. Whipple went into business with his father, who owned a general store in Adams. He was raised Presbyterian but in 1842, he married Cornelia Wright, a “committed Episcopalian.” His early church affiliation then became Zion Church, Pierrepont Manor, and he was one of the founders of Emmanuel Church in Adams.
He was ordained a deacon in Trinity Church, Geneva, and elevated to the priesthood at Christ Church, Sackets Harbor.
After serving parishes in Rome and Chicago, he was elected the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota in 1856. Three years later, the Right Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple built a cathedral in Fairbault, Minn. The state was heavily populated by Dakota Indians, also referred to as Sioux.
Mr. Whipple empathized with them as a people under siege from corrupt government officials, unscrupulous merchants and frontiersmen.
“He takes his identity as a Christian missionary bishop very seriously,” Mr. Niebuhr said. “He believes he’s in Minnesota not just to serve whites, who are settling there, but the Indians as well.”
Mr. Whipple wrote many letters to politicians in Washington, D.C., about what he saw as the poor treatment of Indians on the Minnesota frontier. He wrote several letters to President James Buchanan and his successor, Lincoln.
“Even when the Dakota War breaks out in August of 1862, and so many whites, including the governor of Minnesota, are totally alienated from the Indians and blame the entire war on them, Whipple has a way of fitting what’s happening to his view of how the Indians have been treated,” Mr. Niebuhr said.
About 500 white settlers lost their lives in the war, according to the Indian Affairs Council of Minnesota. The council said that hundreds of Indians also died, but many were credited with saving the lives of settlers.
President Lincoln dispatched Gen. John Pope, relieved of his duties in the Civil War after defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run, to end the war. More than 2,000 Indians were rounded up, and 303 were sentenced to death.
“The public, from the government on down, very quickly called for the extermination of the Dakotas,” Mr. Niebuhr said. “Whipple said, ‘No. You can’t do that. It’s not what we do in a Christian country. People who have committed crimes should be brought to justice, but you can’t bring the hammer down on the entire tribe, particularly when you mistreated them for so long.’”
The author said Mr. Whipple believed that the uprising was brought on by years of poor treatment of Indians.
“He doesn’t make any excuses for them, but he sees a bigger picture, and that’s what he takes to Lincoln,” Mr. Niebuhr said.
He met Lincoln in the early fall of 1862 in Washington when the president had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation on his desk.
“What better time, with a revolutionary act at hand, than to argue for another change — not one so grand, but one that could curtail the duplicity and suffering to which another large segment of the population was subject?” Mr. Niebuhr wrote in “Lincoln’s Bishop.”
Later, Lincoln said he wanted to study the verdicts of the Indians who were sentenced to death. Mr. Whipple thought Mr. Lincoln would show empathy, even though Lincoln’s grandfather and namesake was killed by Indians before he was born.
“But he was never a man to think in terms of revenge,” Mr. Niebuhr said.
On Dec. 6, 1862, Lincoln ruled that 39 cases of the 303 Dakotas warranted capital punishment. He later commuted the death sentence of another person.
The 38 who were hanged in Mankato, Minn., on Dec. 26, 1862, comprised the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Bills were then introduced to exile Dakota Indians out of the state to reservations farther west. Mr. Whipple fought the bills but couldn’t prevent their passage.
Mr. Whipple died in 1901 and is buried in a crypt in his cathedral.
He left an important legacy, Mr. Niebuhr said. “When people become afraid and they want to point their finger at a particular group, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to enforce the laws that we have and also to give people a fair hearing and trial.”
He added, “When we get scared, we may take it out on an entire people, and it’s something that comes to be regretted later on.”
“Lincoln’s Bishop: A President, a Priest, and the Fate of 300 Dakota Sioux Warriors” by Gustav Niebuhr, published by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins (hardcover, 210 pages, $26.99, illustrated with 16 photos)
By Chris Brock, Times Staff Writer
It was the final push for the approximately 100 people carrying a 600-foot rope down County Route 75 toward the village’s battlefield site.
Sweating the final 3.5 miles Sunday, their footsteps mirrored those of the brave troops whose grueling cable carry 200 years earlier allowed for the creation of the massive USS Superior, ensuring America’s stand against the British during the War of 1812. [Read more…]
French left legacy of culture, food in Northern New York [Read more…]
From the rugged majesty of the Adirondacks to the labyrinthine depths of the subterranean cave system, the serenity of Lake Ontario’s shores to the quiet whispering of the St. Lawrence River, chances are good that no matter where you stand in Northern New York, breathtaking views or interesting natural formations are just a stone’s throw away. While much of the beauty here is obvious, there are some formations that are not exactly what they seem.
Surface and bottom waters mix seasonally in traditional lakes, delivering oxygen to the bottom, which in turn allows fish and plant life to survive. A meromictic lake is one whose waters do not mix. They are rare, especially in temperate climates like that of New York state. There are only 36 known meromictic lakes in the world. New York state is home to six of them, and three of the six are located just outside of Syracuse in the towns of Fayetteville and DeWitt: Green Lake, Round Lake and Glacier Lake.
Meromictic lakes are Mother Nature’s time capsules. Because their waters do not mix, the sediment along the lake bottom is not disturbed. This undisturbed sediment forms a natural record of environmental and aquatic conditions that often predates recorded history. Not surprisingly, this sediment is of particular interest to geologists and environmental scientists. [Read more…]
In 1858 a young peasant girl in Lourdes, France named Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have received visions of the Virgin Mary. Near the bank of the Gave de Pau River stood a naturally occurring shallow cave, or grotto, in which the apparitions took place. As word of the apparitions spread, the grotto, which was transformed into a shrine that would eventually be called Our Lady of Lourdes, began to receive pilgrims from surrounding villages.
The number of visitors grew steadily over the years to become what is now one of the most important pilgrimage sites for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Millions of people visit the site every year in search of physical healing and spiritual renewal that is said to be imparted by drinking or bathing in the water of the Lourdes Spring.
An interesting piece of religious history to be sure but what does a pilgrimage site in France have to do with the north country? [Read more…]
It was 10 years ago this summer when the world heard about Funny Cide, the previously unknown and undistinguished three-year-old colt who rushed from behind to win the Kentucky Derby in May 2003. Two weeks later, he pulled out all the stops and won the Preakness Stakes. Then he was 2/3 of the way to the pinnacle of racing, the Triple Crown. This was world-class stuff in “the sport of kings,” something I knew little about.
I usually don’t pay much attention to horse racing, especially the thoroughbreds at the flat tracks. It’s a bias I have from my boyhood, when my favorite uncle, Lyndon Miller of Hopkinton, raised, trained and drove harness horses at local county fairs for a hobby. These trotters and pacers and their drivers—not jockeys—would ride two-wheeled “bikes,” or sulkies, behind them for Sunday entertainment. Harness races were small town sport; the thoroughbreds were for millionaires and swells.
Uncle Lyndon was great with animals; dairy farming was his living, but horses were his passion. He would keep one or two in his “stable” at a time, mostly has-beens or also-rans to the truly serious competitors, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. I was fascinated with Billy Song and Kay Ensign and how Uncle Lyndon cared for them. [Read more…]