NEWS Archive

A collection of articles from previous years events.

1862 Civil War Action

posted Apr 19, 2013, 1:42 PM by Steven Joeckel   [ updated Apr 20, 2013, 3:51 PM ]

In 1862 the United States was in the second year of its Civil War.  In 1862 Peterboro citizens prepared for service in that war. The 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend will commemorate the nation’s Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, as well as celebrate the 20th anniversary of the educational and fund-raising event in the historic hamlet of Peterboro, Town of Smithfield in Madison County NY.

According to the research of Smithfield Town Historian Donna Dorrance Burdick, the Utica Morning Herald & Daily Gazette reported that “Gerrit Smith has donated twenty-five dollars to each volunteer from this town who has enlisted under the last call of the President.  The town has raised more than the whole quota of men required by the last two calls of the President.”  Days later a farewell reception was held on the Peterboro village green for the 157th NY Volunteer Infantry, a unit raised with men from Madison and Cortland counties. On horseback Smith addressed the troops and arranged for copies of the New Testament to be placed in the knapsack of each soldier. 150 years later on that same Peterboro green, during the opening day of the weekend, Dick Enders as Gerrit Smith and members of the 157th New York Volunteers (reenacting) will recreate segments of this 1862 scene. On Saturday Major Carmichael aka Don Jeffrey will host an exhibit on the 157th at the Smithfield Community Center.

During the weekend event, information on Smithfield citizens who served in the Civil War will be featured at the Peterboro Area Museum. Donna Dorrance Burdick, Smithfield Town Historian, has assembled town records, pension notices, discharge papers, letters, and other documents on the 157th NY Volunteers, as well as other military units and individuals. Burdick and her sister Beth Dorrance Spokowsky, President of the Peterboro Area Museum, will also be conducting their popular and informative tour of the Hamlet of Peterboro on Saturday and Sunday.

On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln shared his early draft of the (Preliminary) Emancipation Proclamation with his Cabinet. Lincoln released the final Emancipation Proclamation in January of the following year and donated the draft copy to the U.S. Sanitary Commission for a raffle to raise funds for the troops. Gerrit Smith bought most, if not all of the raffle tickets, and thus, became owner of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which he, in turn, donated back to the Sanitary Commission. That priceless document now resides in the New York State Library thanks to NYS legislative action in 1865. During the 20th Civil War Weekend a facsimile of the proclamation given to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum by the NYS Library will be on display at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro.  The U.S. Sanitary Commission and Abraham Lincoln (aka Jack Baylis) will once again be at the weekend event.

1862 is the year that legends and research indicate that the short musical piece of Taps began to be played to indicate the end of the day for soldiers. Cheryl Pula, Secretary of the (Brigadier General) Daniel Butterfield Civil War Round Table (which will be participating in the weekend event), explains  “Butterfield wrote Taps at Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The story is that he was tired of the bugle call used for "lights out," so he wrote a new call, and gave it to his bugler, Oliver Norton. Norton played it, and the tune caught on, even with the Confederates who overheard it and used it.”  The 2012 Peterboro Civil War Weekend will close on Sunday, June 10 with Taps in recognition of its addition to military regimen 150 years ago.

The Peterboro Civil War Weekend Committee invites the public to step back to 1862 on June 9 and 10 to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  The 12th U.S. Infantry hosts the encampment. For two decades the Peterboro encampment has demonstrated aspects of military and civilian life. In recent years exhibits and programs on abolition and the Underground Railroad have been added. During the event Peterboro relives the period of the mid 1800s when the hamlet held national recognition because of Gerrit Smith’s Underground Railroad station, the visitations of famous abolitionists, and the connection with John Brown that sparked the Civil War. Peterboro sites are on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and on the National Park Service Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Trail. The annual event is an educational and fundraising event sponsored by the Smithfield Community Association, the Town of Smithfield, and private donors. Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the heritage of the Town of Smithfield. Saturday, June 9 hours are 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday, June 10 from 10 am - 4 pm.  Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for ages 6 – 12, and free for children under 6. Parking is free.  For more information contact 315-684-3262 and civilwarweekend.sca-peterboro.org

William Hiller Fuller
William Hiller Fuller enlisted in the 117th NYVI in 1862. Fuller’s great grand daughter is bringing her first
time novel to the 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend to display, sign, and sell.

12th U.C. unit prepares for the 2:00 skirmish
A 12th U.C. unit prepares for the 2:00 skirmish at the Peterboro Civil War Weekend. The 12th is the host
military Unit at the annual event.

Lahm Skirmish LO
Each day the 2:00 skirmish at the 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend surrounds the 1804 Land
Office of Gerrit Smith. Exhibits at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark will be open during
Civil War Weekend June 9 and 10.

The Secret Six: Gerrit Smith, Five Colleagues, and John Brown

posted May 28, 2011, 4:35 AM by Steven Joeckel   [ updated Jun 2, 2011, 1:29 PM ]

A Focus on John Brown and the Secret Six in Peterboro

Gerrit Smith did not like to travel from his beloved Peterboro, but he did so May 24, 1858 to meet at the Revere House in Boston with four northern supporters of John Brown who lived in the Boston area. The five men further discussed the decision made by Franklin Sanborn and Gerrit Smith as they walked in the Peterboro snow February 23rd while John Brown waited inside Smith’s home for a decision to support Brown’s plan for a raid into the south to destabilize the institution of slavery. These four men of Boston, plus another absent from that spring meeting, and the one man of Peterboro became known as “The Secret Six.” Their support of John Brown’s objective led to the hostile fire of the South at Fort Sumter in 1861.

In observance of the Sesquicentennial of that beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz presents The Secret Six: Gerrit Smith, Five Colleagues, and John Brown at noon on Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. On Sunday Urtz’ program on John Brown is immediately followed by Matthew Broderick’s presentation on the famous Louis Ransom painting of John Brown on the Charles Town Virginia Courthouse steps.

Urtz will use a PowerPoint program to focus on the relationships amongst The Secret Six. Urtz will cover how the six men (Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, Theodore Parker, Frank B. Sanborn, Gerrit Smith, and George L. Stearns) met, which men were close to each other, which ones were close to Brown, and their relationship with Brown until his death. Urtz will also look at what happened after Brown’s death, including Stearns dealing with the 54th and 55th Massachusetts and Wentworth as a Colonel of the First South which was the first authorized regiment that recruited former slaves for Federal Service.

Matt Urtz was born and raised in Verona, NY, graduating from Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in 1998. He went on to the State University of New York College (SUNY) at Oswego where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in May of 2002 in History with a minor in Economics. While at Oswego he interned at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY and enjoyed the experience greatly. He then took a summer job working at the Rome Historical Society and upon the job’s completion enrolled in Graduate School at SUNY Oswego. He attended the college and worked full-time completing his Master’s Degree in December of 2005. During graduate school Urtz took a class on local history. It was in this class that he met Judith Wellman and Mary Messere who introduced him to the many stories of upstate NY, specifically Madison County. The last part of the graduate work was an internship at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. After earning his degree he worked in the private sector before being appointed Madison County Historian in April 2010.

Portrait of John Brown

posted May 26, 2011, 6:00 PM by Steven Joeckel   [ updated May 27, 2011, 11:21 AM ]

Louis Ransom’s Famous Painting of John Brown on the Way to the Gallows

In 1857 an obscure portrait painter named Louis Ransom opened a studio on busy Genesee Street in downtown Utica.  Three years later Ransom would stun his friends and others from Central New York when he completed his life-sized and life-like depiction of John Brown being led to the gallows. Warren F. Broderick, Archivist Emeritus New York State Archives, will present an illustrated program on Ransom and his famous painting at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 12 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend.

The landmark depiction of Brown on the Charlestown court house steps became the favorite image of Brown among abolitionists, in part because of Ransom’s controversial inclusion of Brown “kissing the Negro baby.”  The painting’s history following its completion was most noteworthy.  Its brief exhibition by P.T. Barnum in New York City in 1863 led in part to the onset of the infamous draft riots.  The scene on the court house steps in 1859 is now known primarily from two lithographed versions of this painting created by the firm of Currier and Ives.  The monumental painting itself received shabby treatment from Oberlin College and is believed to have been destroyed.

The son of a millwright in rural Herkimer County, Louis Ransom (1831-1926) executed many portraits in his long career and some classical and religious tableaux as well.  This Renaissance man was also a debater, civic leader, writer, and an inventor who first proposed a self-propelled street car.  During his life Ransom resided in four states; in New York he called Salisbury, Little Falls, Utica, Lansingburgh, and Stratford his home.  

Research conducted in a number of original sources has revealed much new information on Louis Ransom and his work.  In a collection of family photographs in the Herkimer County Historical Society a previously unknown signed carte de visite of John Brown, bearing a cryptic inscription, was discovered.  Determining how this photograph was obtained by the artist, and deciphering the meaning and origin of the inscription, constitutes another intriguing aspect of the Louis Ransom story.  Except for brief entries in artist dictionaries and footnotes in John Brown biographies, now for the first time the story of Louis Ransom and his master work can be told. Louis Ransom's studio in Utica was directly across from the asylum in Utica where Gerrit Smith was being treated in December 1859.  There is reason to believe that there may be a connection to Smith and the distribution of photographs made by the family after Brown’s funeral.

 

At the June 12th program Broderick plans to give a brief general overview of Ransom's life and career and concentrate on the John Brown painting--how and why he created it, and its complicated history leading to its destruction.  Broderick will also deal with the discovery of the photo in Herkimer and how Ransom would have acquired it, as well as a discussion of the elements found in the panting itself, such as the kissing incident. Broderick will conclude with an analysis of the short-term and lasting effects caused by the painting and its exhibition, and legacy left behind by Ransom.

Warren Broderick is an historian and archivist by profession and is involved in art history, researching artists associated with Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, between 1800 an 1950.   He lives in Lansingburgh a few blocks from the place where Ransom maintained a studio which held the John Brown masterpiece between 1862 and 1874. He is co-author of Pottery Works (1995) and numerous journal articles on local history, specifically relating to history American ceramics, early American literature and folklore, regional history, and Native American studies.  He is Editor of a new edition of Granville Hicks's Small Town (1946), reissued in 2004 by Fordham University Press.  He is also active in land preservation, geographic information systems, and natural resource protection in Rensselaer County. 

The Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend is an educational and fundraising event sponsored by the Town of Smithfield, the Smithfield Community Association, and private donors. The 12th U.S. Infantry hosts the military and domestic encampments. Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the heritage of the Town of Smithfield. During the event Peterboro relives the period of the mid 1800s when the hamlet held national recognition because of Gerrit Smith’s Underground Railroad station, the visitations of famous abolitionists, and the connection with John Brown that sparked the War Between the States. Peterboro sites are on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and on the National Park Service Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Trail. Saturday, June 11 hours are 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday, June 12 from 10 am - 4 pm.  Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for ages 6 – 12, and free for children under 6. Admission to the to the special Civil War concert at 8 p.m. Saturday may be paid at the door.  Parking is free.  For more information contact 315-684-9022 and .civilwarweekend.sca-peterboro.org

PHOTOS:

  Brown Courthouse Hovenden 1884 crp

Louis Ransom’s work inspired works of art on John Brown including Thomas Hovenden’s “Last Moments of John Brown” (1884) shown here. Ransom’s work was mistreated and lost. Warren F. Broderick, Archivist Emeritus New York State Archives, will present an illustrated program on Ransom and his famous painting at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 12 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. The presentation will concentrate on the John Brown painting and its controversial history.

 

Ransom Louis Broderick 5-11

The son of a millwright in rural Herkimer County, Louis Ransom (1831-1926) executed many portraits in his long career including a famous picture of John Brown on the Courthouse steps in Charles Town on the way to the gallows. Warren F. Broderick, Archivist Emeritus New York State Archives, will present an illustrated program on Ransom and his famous painting at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 12 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. The presentation will concentrate on the Ransom’s  painting and its controversial history.

 

  JB C&I  lithograph  Broderick 5-18-11

The scene of John Brown on the court house steps in 1859 is now known primarily from two lithographed versions of this painting created by the firm of Currier and Ives. Warren F. Broderick, Archivist Emeritus New York State Archives, will present an illustrated program on Ransom and his famous painting at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 12 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. The presentation will concentrate on the Ransom’s  painting and its controversial history.

 

Peterboro Prepares for Sesquicentennial of the Civil War

posted Apr 27, 2011, 6:16 PM by Steven Joeckel   [ updated Apr 27, 2011, 6:17 PM ]

1861 marked the beginning of the American Civil War. The 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend Committee plans to include programs that reflect the 150th anniversary of that conflict. Among the plans in the works: President Lincoln will share his thoughts and feelings upon his March 4 inauguration, a relative of Edmund Ruffin (the man who fired the first shot at Fort Sumter) will share that history, and the Saturday evening concert will include references to 1861. The annual event will be held in Peterboro Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, 2011.

Peterboro Civil War Weekend is an educational and fundraising event sponsored by the Town of Smithfield, the Smithfield Community Association, and private donors. Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the heritage of the Town of Smithfield. During the event Peterboro relives the period of the mid 1800s when the hamlet held national recognition because of Gerrit Smith’s Underground Railroad station, the visitations of famous abolitionists, and the connection with John Brown that sparked the War Between the States. Peterboro sites are on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and on the National Park Service Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Trail. Saturday June 11 hours for the event are 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday, June 12 from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for ages 6 – 12, and free for children under 6. Admission to the to the special Civil War concert at 8 p.m. may be paid at the door. Parking is free. For more information contact 315-684-9022 and www.sca-peterboro.org

 

Jordan Presents Fashion
Terry Jordan, a sutler at Peterboro’s annual Civil War Weekends, presents a program on 19th Century fashion during the 2010 Civil War Weekend. The 19th Annual Civil War Weekend is June 11 and 12, 2011.

CWW 10 Skirmish Prep
Reenactors at the 2010 Peterboro Civil War Weekend prepare for the 2:00 p.m. skirmish held on Saturday and Sunday of the annual event.

CWW 10 Military Encampment
Military and civilian reenactors carry on daily activities on the green in Peterboro at the Civil War Weekend event in 2010.

Sesquicentennial of First Civil War Shot Observed by Relative at Peterboro Civil War Weekend

posted Apr 25, 2011, 8:05 AM by Steven Joeckel   [ updated May 27, 2011, 11:24 AM ]

At 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861, Confederate Troops under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard began shelling Fort Sumter, an island garrison in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, held by Union troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson.  Edmund Ruffin, a 65 year old Virginian serving as an honorary member of the South Carolina Palmetto Guards, allegedly was chosen to fire the first shot on Sumter because he was the oldest member.  The firing on Fort Sumter was the first action of the War Between the States.

Nancy Douglas of Morrisville NY, who shares a common ancestor with Edmund Ruffin, will present information on her relative at 11:00 a.m. Saturday June 11 at the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. A retired Morrisville State College physics and math professor, Douglas’ hobbies now include local history and her family history. Raised in Arkansas, Douglas’ family lore has it that Ruffin considered it an honor to have fired the first shot of the Civil War. Secessionist Ruffin had left Virginia because Virginia was not as quick as South Carolina to secede. Devastated by the Confederacy’s loss of the war, and driven by his hatred of Yankees, Ruffin also may have fired the last shot of the war. Placing a pistol to his head he ended his life June 17, 1865.

Called the “Father of Soil Chemistry” because of his study of the soil depletion of tidewater farms, Edmund Ruffin had distinguished himself as an agriculturist. His success with crop rotation and using lime to raise the pH in peat bogs made significant differences in southern agriculture. Ruffin published The Farmer’s Register. He also served in the Virginia legislature and was president of the Virginia State Agricultural Society. The public is encouraged to attend Douglas’ family perspective on the famous relative.

Nancy Douglass of Morrisville
Nancy Douglass of Morrisville, who shares a common ancestor with Edmund Ruffin (who fired the first shot of the Civil War) will present on her relative at 11:00 a.m. Saturday June 11 at the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend.

Ruffin Portrait           Ruffin Portrait
  Portraits of Edmund Ruffin courtesy of The National Archives and TheLatinLibrary.com.


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