News of Otsego County




April 1, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

135 Years Ago

The report of the Wilber National Bank of Oneonta gives some idea of the immense business interests which it represents. The surplus of $92,500 gives evidence of its financial prosperity and soundness, and its nearly $280,000 of deposit certificates (at three percent we suppose) shows a large amount of capital in the country which finds no desirable investment in business at this period of democratic prosperity, marked by financial depression and laborers’ strikes.

April 1886

STERNBERG: A&D, OPT, Other Transportation Services Step Up


A&D, OPT, Other

Transportation Services Step Up

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

I and multitudes of people, from the President of the United States on down, have tried to convince people to get vaccinated when they are eligible, and to maintain basic public health precautions; wearing masks properly, washing hands and surfaces frequently, and maintaining social distance. Only about 60 percent of the adult population has followed these recommendations and a similar percent say they will get vaccinated.

If this continues, we may never get to go back to things the way they were, because enough of the population will remain vulnerable and the virus will still circulate and mutate. Once it mutates enough, it will defeat the immunity provided by most of the vaccines.

So, to the people who refuse to follow the best practices to eliminate COVID as a continued threat to normal, social, life, if you are not going to get the shot for some reason you picked up through rumor, learned on the internet or because of political position, maybe you will try to protect yourself, friends and family. If not, it is hurting you where it really matters, in the wallet.

BOUND VOLUMES: March 25, 2021


March 25, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library


Mrs. Martha P. Graham’s recipe for a crimson dye – To two gallons of poke berries, when they are quite ripe, add half a gallon of strong vinegar, made of the wild crab apple, to dye one pound of wool, which must be first washed very clean with hard soap. The wool, when wrung dry, is to be put into the vinegar and poke berry juice, and simmered in a copper vessel for one hour; then take out the wool and let it drip awhile, and spread it in the sun. The vessel must be free from grease of any kind.

March 23, 1811

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Here’s How Not To Ban A Book

Here’s How Not To Ban A Book

Here are five of the top 10 best-selling books in the hardcover fiction category in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition of March 19-20.

1. Green Eggs and Ham.,
Dr. Seuss/Random House Young Readers

4. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,
Dr. Seuss/Random House Young Readers

5. The Cat in the Hat,
Dr. Seuss/Random House Young Readers

6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,
Dr. Seuss/Random House Young Readers

9. Fox in Socks,
Dr. Seuss/Random House Young Readers

ATWELL: Minnie Undrowned Again

Minnie Undrowned Again

Jim Atwell, a Quaker minister and retired college administrator, lived in Cooperstown, now resides at Woodside Hall.

Grandma hung up the telephone. “Mrs. Halpine from down the street. She’s forwarding a message from your Grandpa and Uncle Tom.”

“They’re standing on the pier with boat hooks snagged in Minnie Frederick’s coat collar, holding her head above water. She’s screeching protests.”

Grandma gave a snort. “I’d say, let her sink! Minnie puts on this show every November. Well, let’s see how she does without an audience!”

STERNBERG: Rotary Edges Toward In Person Meetings

Rotary Edges Toward
In Person Meetings

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

There comes a time in the history of an epidemic when the risk of discomfort, disability and death begins to be outweighed by the risks of continued isolation and continued restrictions on normal societal behavior.

If we can stay the course on the rate of vaccinations that we’ve seen lately since the mega-sites opened, we can soon reach that point. The CDC has indicated that if all the individuals in a space have been fully vaccinated, they can congregate in small groups and without masks with very low risk of illness.

This also assumes we are beginning to reach a level of herd immunity so that the risk of a person who is infected coming into contact with a person who has no protection is decreased solely by the numbers of safe people around them.

The CDC has recently changed its guideline regarding distance that schoolchildren must stay apart. It is been reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet somewhat with the comment that the extra 3 feet doesn’t really matter much. It doesn’t mean that there’s a decreased risk of communicability, it just means that the distance between masked children may be decreased.

There is also a consideration of increased damage to the population from the isolation of individuals from normal society.

HOMETOWN HISTORY: March 25, 2021


March 18, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

135 Years Ago

M. & L. Westcott, who are about to begin the construction of a four-story brick block to contain four stores on Main Street near the fire building, have arranged to open a new street between the proposed block and the residence of Dr. Hamilton, to be called Hamilton Avenue. The street will run from Main to Front Street and will be paved. As an easy grade can be obtained from the freight depot, it will doubtless prove a popular thoroughfare for teamsters and others. (Ed. Note: The area once occupied by Hamilton Street is today a parking lot)

March 1886

HOMETOWN HISTORY: March 18, 2021


March 18, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

135 Years Ago

Home & Vicinity – A meeting for the purpose of taking steps toward organizing a village law and order league was held at the M.E. Church on Tuesday evening, at which there was a good attendance. Prof. N.N. Bull was chosen chairman and A.L. Kellogg secretary. Short addresses were made by the chairman and by Rev. Mssrs. Allen, Lee, Gleason, Richardson and others, the sentiment of the meeting being that the law governing the sale of intoxicants must hereafter be respected. The license laws were read for the information of those present. The following resolutions were unanimously passed – Resolved: that the pastors of the village churches prepare and distribute 2,000 copies of a circular containing the points of law regulating the sale of intoxicating drink; and Resolved: that the pastors and five committeemen named by them be authorized to organize a law and order league. The committee consists of Geo. Reynolds, N.H. Briggs, George Kirkland, A.A. Whitcomb, and T.W. Stevens.

March 1886

BOUND VOLUMES: March 18, 2021


March 18, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library


Observations on the Culture of Hemp – The soil peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of Hemp should be rich, strong and mellow – low lands, and even cleared swamps, well ditched and drained, exhibiting a deep black, loamy soil, and a sandy bottom, are extremely prolific in the production of Hemp. When the soil is judiciously selected, and properly prepared, the seed must be entered early in the month of May and sowed very thick to prevent its great height, which ought never to exceed five feet. Hemp sown thin on strong ground runs up 7, 8 and 9 feet high is coarse in its texture, and never so good in its quality nor its quantity, as when sown thick. No further attention is necessary until the blossom appears and begins to decay. The Hemp is then pulled by hand in the same manner as flax is pulled, and never to be cut. After pulling the crop it is to remain on the ground 10 or 12 hours; then bound in small, portable bundles and placed under the surface of running or still water to remain 6, 8 or 10 days; when taken from the water, spread to dry as soon as possible on poles, or sticks laid on crotches to admit free circulation or air. The article will command from 300 to 500 dollars per ton. (Ed. Note: Hemp from which rope was made, was at the time a scarce commodity in the United States)

March 16, 1811

ELLSWORTH: Hugh’s Legacy Linked To Famed Novelist

Hugh’s Legacy Linked To Famed Novelist

Editor’s Note: On hearing of Hugh MacDougall’s March 6 passing, former columnist Cathe Ellsworth, now retired from Cooperstown to Mount Vernon, Ohio, resubmitted this column from Feb. 15, 2018, as a tribute to the James Fenimore Cooper expert.

Catherine Lake Ellsworth

We have recently learned that at the 21st International Cooper Conference, held in Oneonta last September, Cooperstonian Hugh MacDougall was recognized as founder of the Cooper Society and longtime Cooper Conference participant.

At the conference, a handout entitled “A Tribute to Hugh MacDougall” was distributed to the attendees. And while we have not had the opportunity to read all of the tributes to Hugh, we would like to share part of the one written by Steven Harthorn, the Cooper Society’s executive director for publications.

Harthorn wrote: “Hugh MacDougall is an extraordinary person in many ways, and when spending time with him, it doesn’t take long to recognize his vigorous energy or his
encyclopedic knowledge.

“One quality that has stood out for me as I have tried to carry on Hugh’s legacy in editing the Cooper Society’s publications is Hugh’s passion for outreach. Hugh’s vision for the

Cooper Society has made it distinctive in the world of author societies.

BERKSON:  Lady With Horse


Lady With Horse

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

I heard about Lady Ostapeck about 20 years ago at my friend Buddy Crist’s house on Angel Hill outside of Schuyler Lake.

There was a picture hanging on his living room wall. It was of a man dressed in a Tolstoy-like shirt standing in the doorway of a weathered cabin.

When I took a closer look I realized it was Buddy, appearing very authentic in clothes I never saw him wear before. “Who took the picture?” I asked.

“Her name is Lady Ostapeck,” Buddy answered. “I was gassing up in Richfield Springs. She was filling her tank on the other side of the pump and kept looking at me. I mean really looking – for a long time. Finally she comes around the pump and says, ‘Are you finish?’”

“I’m still pumping,” I answered.

“No, are you Finnish – from Scandinavia?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“That may be, but I’d like to take your picture.”

It turned out that the woman who was then in her seventies was a famous photographer of Finnish descent. She wanted Buddy, who had the “right look,” to pose for pictures she planned to use for Independence Day in Finland.

They made an appointment, and a week later my friend spent an entire day trying on clothes in a costume – and prop-cluttered house while talking with Lady Ostapeck as she tried to bring to the surface a certain spirit she saw in him.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Crime A Worry, But ‘Quality Of Life’ Of Greater Concern


Crime A Worry,
But ‘Quality Of Life’
Of Greater Concern

I revisited (social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling’s 1982 article, “Broken Windows,” in the Atlantic) because I was trying to solve a mystery. On a recent reporting trip to New York City to ask bankers, policy analysts and real estate brokers about the city’s economic future, I kept hearing that crime was a major risk.

…When I probed, I found that they talked less about violent crime than disorder. Homeless encampments were flourishing, panhandling had become more aggressive, and minor crimes like public urination or open drug use were not just more visible, but making the papers.

The summer had brought looting and riots close to home as well. Moreover, many of them saw this as a result of the city’s deliberate decision to ignore the “quality of life” offenses that broken windows had emphasized.

Megan McArdle
Washington Post, March15, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES: March 11, 2021


March 11, 2021


In our notice last week, of the result of town elections in this county, we did injustice to the Town of Decatur, by stating that she had elected an opposition man for supervisor, and now make amends by correcting the error and asserting the fact, that Col. Robert C. Lansing, a firm democrat is elected – thus, of the 22 towns, placing Richfield alone in the opposition ranks, and in her case we learn that the majority was only 5! Another year will redeem Richfield from her political fatuity.

March 14, 1836

STERNBERG: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Get Shots

Neighbors Helping
Neighbors Get Shots

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

This past weekend Bassett performed an amazing feat of vaccinating a large group of people, more than 1,100 over two days. The confirmation of vaccine availability only came though on Wednesday, March 3, leaving but two full days to prepare. Nevertheless, I visited on Sunday and it had the appearance of a military operation (which in a sense it was).

The Bassett community, from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim on down should be proud, as should the staff of the Clark Sports Center, which hosted the event.

I want to especially commend the Bassett Director of Network Pharmacy, Kelly Rudd, Pharm.D., who was in command of the clinic from planning through implementation.

She worked from the list of patients from the state, a list of patients from Bassett’s own scheduling system, and an ad hoc group of volunteers who worked to contact and track down people qualified to be vaccinated, but for whom the computer-driven scheduling system was difficult or even impossible to use.

Also, many thanks are due to the Bassett staff who took the time to make hundreds of calls to help schedule seniors 65+.

There are many reports of computer-savvy individuals signing up friends, family members, and neighbors for vaccine appointments. To see this community spirit and kindness is a great thing.

The clinic was also able to smoothly access the waiting list to make sure no dose went unused. The volunteer group – which went out and identified about 175 people who had difficulty finding appointments on their own – included church members, other faith-based organizations, philanthropic NGOs (non-government organizations) including the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and additional individuals.

Many had been working on an individual basis, but recognized the synergy of working together.

THE DOG CHARMER: Griff Must Learn To ‘Drop-It’

Griff Must Learn To ‘Drop-It’

Dear Dog Charmer:
We are hoping that you might settle a family dispute. We have a 6-month-old pup who loves to play tug-of-war. Some books advise that tug-of-war is a good game for dogs to play, helping dogs burn energy and gain confidence; this is the side my husband takes. I’ve found that the more our puppy plays tug-of-war, the more she tends to bite; she is very gentle, but uses her teeth more on us, which I find disagreeable, and which causes considerable stress when we have visitors with young children or who are less comfortable with dogs. Any advice?

Curious in Cooperstown

Dear Curious in Coop,


The easiest part of being a dog trainer, is training the dog. The hardest part of being a dog trainer is what I call the “leash transfer”, getting the owners to do what I tell them to do, to get their dog cooperating. Having had over 800 training appointments a year I quickly realized that in addition to training the dog and training the owners, a third skill was needed, that being the tactful expertise of a mediator. The first line of the question above is asking me to settle a family dispute. I’ve lost count of all the “how to” quarrels and disagreements I stepped into the middle of when it came to parenting the dog. As for the tug-of-war dispute, you are all correct, or will be with a little bit of training.

With repetitive consistency your dog (based on the picture I’ll call her Grif) can easily attain a large vocabulary. Tug-of-war is a great game, as long as you initiate, and control the game. She needs to be taught, “drop it!”. (The “Drop It” command can save her life if she picks up gum with xylitol in it). Offer her the tug toy saying, “Grif, wanna play tug?” as you hold it out for her to grab. In your other hand is a treat, and after a bit of happy growling tug play put the treat under her nose as you say
“drop it!”.

In the great majority of cases the treat will be more attractive than the toy and she’ll immediately drop the toy for the treat.

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