"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 email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.
"Let The Eagle Scream!!"
- Mark Simonson
Sunday movies in Oneonta finally shown in 1934
You know an issue is divisive when a vote to resolve it is quite close. In Oneonta during the early 1930s there were probably plenty of discussions or arguments at the family dinner table or sermons from the pulpits on Sunday mornings, regarding whether or should be able to see a movie in Oneonta on Sunday.
Politics, fitness and landmarks dominated local news in May 1968
Area residents mulled over the idea of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller as their next President of the United States. New fitness opportunities emerged for all ages. One area landmark was saved while another was razed. It was only a part of our life and times in May 1968.
Local people sought income in many ways in 1933
In the economy that was the Great Depression, there were times people would do what it took to try to earn some money.
Local windstorm in 1983 caused tense moments
I realize I've got the wrong month in mind when I say "May came in like a lion." However, that's what happened in 1983 as a number of twisters moved through our region, leaving plenty of damage behind in their trails. Add some melting snow and heavy rain, and scenes of cleanups were widespread 30 years ago this month.
Disaster, expansions put people to work in May 1913
- Monday, April 29, 2013
Job opportunities abounded in area 45 years ago
If you were looking for a job in April 1968 in our area, or perhaps looking to change your employment situation in the near future, opportunities were pointing in your favor.
- Saturday, April 27, 2013
Oneonta greeted an aviation giant in 1928
An early aviation superstar came to Oneonta in 1928.
- Monday, April 22, 2013
Area saw its own armed standoffs 30 years ago
This past Friday, we watched how the Boston area went into a lockdown during a tense search for the last suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Had I still been living and working in that area, as I was in the early 1990s, I would have had a day off from work Friday, as police scoured the city of Waltham.
- Saturday, April 20, 2013
U.S.S. Maine explosion, war drew much local sentiment
For most people in our area in early 1898, a growing conflict between two distant nations probably didn't get much attention, other than some glances at the newspaper. When a young Oneonta man was one of many injured or killed in an explosion of a battleship he was aboard, the local attention increased markedly to what was soon to become the Spanish-American War.
- Monday, April 15, 2013
Oneonta river walking path came from a surveyor's daydream
Leon Kalmus of Oneonta spent a lot of time surveying land near the Susquehanna River in the early 1970s around the time Interstate 88 was being planned and built in this area. What he saw along the shores of the river, he called â€œpristine,â€� and soon had an idea for some kind of walking or hiking pathway along the shores of the river in the town of Oneonta.
- Saturday, April 13, 2013
Decline of Prohibition led to return of beer in April 1933
â€œI think this would be a good time for a beer,â€� remarked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933. This marked the beginning of the end for Prohibition that year.
- Monday, April 8, 2013
Dietz Street shifted from residential to commercial through the years
By taking a walk along Dietz Street today, heading north to Walnut Street, one can see a lot of businesses and the recently refurbished parking lot on the east side of the street. It would take some imagination to see this street lined with houses and a church, but prior to the late 1940s, thatâ€™s what was there.
- Saturday, April 6, 2013
Oneontans voted for a 'dry' city in 1918
- Monday, April 1, 2013
Future city historian kept family busy for Easter and April 1958
- Saturday, March 30, 2013
Colliscroft became new Oneonta landmark in 1902
If the Oneonta building trade sector of the economy could have awarded a plaque to a most valuable individual customer of 1902, it would have nearly been a shoo-in. That was Edward H. Pardee, who was listed in the Oneonta Directory around that time as a farmer, on Southside.
- Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Historic Cooperstown cottage got a new address in 1988
To unknowing tourists seeking information from the tourism information center at 31 Chestnut St. in Cooperstown, they would probably believe that the mid-19th century cottage had always been on that site. It blends in well with some of the grand old houses along that street, and the same tourists might think it has an interesting history behind it.
- Saturday, March 23, 2013
Free mail delivery began in Oneonta 125 years ago
- Monday, March 18, 2013
Oneonta enacted first building code 60 years ago
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- Saturday, March 16, 2013
Area isolated during historic March 1888 snowstorm
Earlier in the week, we recalled the "Blizzard of 1993," which was one containing historic snowfall that fell on our region on Saturday, March 13. It was the largest recorded in a single local snowfall in the 20th century, and ever since another storm dating back 105 years. The latter snowfall was worse than the 1993 storm, falling overnight into Tuesday, March 13, 1888. It was commonly referred to as the "Blizzard of 1888."
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Blizzard of 1993 was a local memory maker
- Sunday movies in Oneonta finally shown in 1934