"Let The Eagle Scream!!"
That was the headline over an article regarding Oneonta's Fourth of July celebration as seen in The Oneonta Herald of Wednesday, July 2, 1862. It was a preview of the planned events.
In the July 9 edition, a summary told how the celebration was incredibly well-attended, and with a war under way in the South, the mood was patriotic.
If you were hoping to get a good night's sleep or perhaps sleep in a bit on the big day, you were out of luck.
"When the clock struck 12 at midnight, the advent of the glorious 4th of July … the village bells pealed forth a grateful anthem in commemoration of the Natal day of a Nation's Freedom," the Herald reported.
"At sunrise the booming of the cannon, as it echoed and re-echoed from hill and valley, a grand National Salute of 13 guns filled the streets with people, alive to the instincts of Freedom, and imbued with the most Patriotic ardor, offering up their morning orisons to the Goddess of Liberty."
While the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad construction had gotten under way, it was still about three years before the tracks reached Oneonta, which had a population of somewhere between 675 and 750.
The Herald reported that on July 4, Oneonta had about 10,000 visitors for the festivities.
"At 9 o'clock all sounds were hushed in the mighty hum of hundreds and thousands thronging every avenue leading to our village, until every street, public square, all the Hotels and private dwellings in the village, were filled to repletion. From the green hills and rich valleys of Delaware came thousands; while a mighty mass of men women and children, gladdened the sight from the classic waters of the Schenevus, and the maidenly Charlotte, then turning, the eye beheld multitudes teeming forth from the good old patriotic towns of Otego, Butternuts and Morris, till one vast crowd of humanity filled every space in our village."
A procession began under the leadership of Gen. S.S. Burnside and staff, marching to Goodyear's Grove.
This is the area where today the Swart-Wilcox House and Riverside Elementary School are found.
The grove was likely named after Jared Goodyear, one of two men who owned land in that area at the time. In the 19th century this area had also been known as the "Leafy Temple," and in the 20th century as Wilcox Flats.
The procession was "accompanied with Martial music by the gentlemanly band from Croton, Del. Co," today's Treadwell, "and Uebel's Oneonta Sax-Horn Band, both of which on the occasion of forming the procession and at intervals during the exercises of the day 'discoursed most eloquent music.'
"The thousands who assembled at the grove, will never forget the chastened fervor and patriotic enthusiasm that characterized the proceedings. Amidst this vast assemblage exuberant feelings of joy reigned supreme, blended, perhaps, with sad thoughts, that relatives, friends and countrymen, were this moment fighting and bleeding to preserve those liberties guaranteed us by our fathers years ago at Philadelphia."
After the grove exercises, the procession returned to the village hotels and other places, where dinner was provided to nearly 2,000.
The meal was called dinner, but we call it lunch today.
"At 4 o'clock the vast multitude was set all agap by the appearance in the streets of a large company of Guerillas, dressed and equipt in the most fantastic and tatterdemalion styles imaginable; on foot and on horse back, Jeff. Davis and his wife riding in a carriage, accompanied by John Bull, special artists, black servants, &c.; the whole a most admirable burlesque on the Southern Confederacy and its army, and the duplicity of John Bull. With a good display of fire-works in the evening, the day and its exercises were over, each one present carrying to his home pleasant memories of the many enjoyments afforded in this days Celebration, and a fixed resolve to celebrate the 4th of July annually, the remaining part of this century at Oneonta."
On Monday: A popular livestock show in Otsego County turns 65.
City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.
"Let The Eagle Scream!!"
- Mark Simonson
Local pipeline construction stirred controversy in 1964
Unlike the proposed Constitution Pipeline project, planned to bring natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania through our region to a terminal in Schoharie County, another pipeline project built from Watkins Glen to Selkirk generated considerably less local controversy 50 years ago.
Natural gas drilling efforts of the 1880s found little locally
There was no such process as hydraulic fracturing. New York didn't have a Department of Environmental Conservation. Lawn signs for or against it weren't seen anywhere. Yet natural gas drilling efforts were going on in our region more 125 years ago. It was an industry still in its infancy. Numerous reports were published in local newspapers during the late 1880s and beyond.
Beauty, grooming took center stage in Oneonta in March 1964
Good grooming, beauty and style seemed to be a recurring theme in the news around Oneonta during the month of March 1964.
Local news, opinion often mixed in 1889 newspapers
Modern-day newspapers make it very clear where local news is found, as well as opinion, separated by their own pages in weekly or daily editions, including The Daily Star.
Gasoline, demons and baseball were 'trending' locally in 1974
"Trending" has become a popular word in our present everyday language. This word wasn't used in February 1974, but for what I write twice weekly, it could just as well have applied to local history.
- Saturday, February 22, 2014
Early efforts to halt Silver Creek were slow going
Incidents of Silver Creek overflowing into the streets of Oneonta aren't making news as often as they once did.
- Monday, February 17, 2014
Effort to establish Oneonta historic district began in 1970s
- Saturday, February 15, 2014
Experiment to treat inebriates began 150 years ago
Dr. J. Edward Turner came up with a unique idea in the 1840s on how to treat and restrain inebriates in the United States. Turne
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Milford fought over new school 30 years ago
At times nearly 30 years ago, the future of the Milford Central School District could have been portrayed as a weathervane, spinning in directions of either a new school, consolidation, or closing. The â€œwindsâ€� changed considerably between 1984 and 1988, but the end result was a new school in the village before the end of the decade.
- Saturday, February 8, 2014
Military camp, jobs, new Sidney church made news in February 1934
Despite bitter cold February weather, some already had summer camp on their minds, including one camp that may not be very popular today. A re-employment service was experiencing unusual success during the Great Depression. Also, a new church opened in Sidney. All were part of our local life and times in February 1934.
- Monday, February 3, 2014
The Farm of Franklin became a 'commercial for God' in the 1970s
Their mission was pretty simple.
- Saturday, February 1, 2014
Oneonta businesses expanded, bonded in February 1904
While some of Oneonta's businesses were changing hands or expanding, some of them paused to remember one leader who helped make the village's overall prosperity possible. Other business people who had previously worked in a bit of vacuum saw the benefits of working together for a better business climate. It was part of Oneonta's "Business Beat" of February 1904, as read in The Oneonta Star.
- Monday, January 27, 2014
Business changes, energy conservation made news in January 1974
Our family's automotive parts store business on Valleyview Street in Oneonta was no place to be if you wore a short-sleeve shirt to work in January 1974.
- Saturday, January 25, 2014
Oneonta students responded strongly to Victory Corps in 1943
Oneontans seem to have a history of responding when being called upon to help. Earlier this week, when our local radio stations held an on-air fundraising event to help rebuild the Doc Knapp Little League field, after being hit hard by vandals last weekend, a goal of $3,000 was set. Local listeners responded with more than $10,000 in only two hours.
- Monday, January 20, 2014
Debates, updates dominated local education news in 1969
Need for another local college was debated, departures of two longtime college administrators, and the dedication of a new occupational center made local news during January 1969.
- Saturday, January 18, 2014
Civil War deserters challenged local law enforcers in 1864
Area law enforcers had their hands full with rough and tumble activities in the early months of 1864. While there were still many enlisting in the Civil War, there were also many local deserters from the front lines, and it was the latter men who challenged the authorities. These accounts came from January editions of The Oneonta Herald.
- Monday, January 13, 2014
Otsego Habitat for Humanity got start 25 years ago
Here's proof that good things can happen on any Friday the 13th. A potluck supper was held on Friday, Jan. 13, 1989 at the First United Methodist Church at 66 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, and over some good, shared food came the start of a positive mission in Otsego County.
- Saturday, January 11, 2014
Winters spent differently by Worcester residents in 1914
I hope you've been coping with the wild roller coaster ride of temperatures we've experienced the last few weeks, from the teeth chattering cold to days we could break out the barbecue grills. Worcester residents had an adventure in coping with the winter weather 100 years ago, while a few others from the village had it a bit easier.
- Monday, January 6, 2014
Moving clocks forward caused local controversy in January 1974
- Saturday, January 4, 2014
Juvenile delinquents stressed local authorities in 1919
As Oneontans turned over their calendars to January 1919, they soon learned that the city had a problem of bad behavior amongst some of their youngest citizens. News was abundant and reported in The Oneonta Star, and by February a crusade was called for to turn the tide on juvenile delinquency.
- Local pipeline construction stirred controversy in 1964