News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Hometown Oneonta

THIS WEEK: July 16-17, 2020
Security Cameras Protect Trump Billboard

Security Cameras

Protect Trump Billboard

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

The Trump 2020 billboard on Route 28 north of the Village of Milford that was
vandalized with paint has been replaced.

MILFORD – June 1, drivers on Route 28 north of this village noticed someone had thrown paint on the Trump 2020 billboard.

As July 1 approached, drivers on Route 28 north of this village noticed someone has put up a brand new, shiny Trump 2020 billboard.

“It’s exactly the same,” said Anna Johnson, 17-year manager at the Rome Sign Co., which owns the billboard and rents it out. Only, this time, “I believe they’ve set up cameras,” she said.

“They” is “the person who contracted with us.” She’s not permitted to reveal that individual’s identity.
As it happens, the June 1 vandalism wasn’t the first bit of trouble the Trump 2020 placard caused for Rome Sign, which has 100 some billboards, primarily in Oneida County, but also in Chenango, Madison and Otsego counties, as well as into the Adirondacks.

When the billboard first went up last fall, “We actually got a call from the Milford legal department,” because the village had received complaints from, presumably, people opposed to President Trump.

“Being in business, we can’t choose sides here,” said Johnson. “As long as it’s not derogatory, we don’t pick sides. We put it up. But it isn’t our (message).”

Mayor Brian Pokorny said the village didn’t contact the sign company – that must have been another entity – but he did communicate with NYCOM, the state Conference of Mayors when the billboard first went up.

He did so “because it is on village property that is leased to Rome Signs.” The mayor said “I wanted to make sure it was Constitutional and the village was abiding by the law.

“I was told it was OK, and that asking the sign company to get permission before such billboards went up would be a slippery slope under the First Amendment.”

Johnson consulted her company’s legal department. “If they found it was in any way bad taste, we would have been instructed to tame it down.”

But it was found to be simple politics. “Whoever put the sign up, they want to support this gentleman” – the president – “in 2020,” as stated, Rome Sign concluded.

There are some messages “we’ve said no to,” she continued, primarily if local candidates have a negative message or unprovable claim to advertise.

She pointed out the other half of the Milford billboard advertises McDonald’s. Removing Trump 2020 “would be no different than if Burger King called and told us the McDonald’s had to come down.”

None of its billboards are insured, Johnson said, so it split the cost of repairing Trump 2020 with the unnamed customer. Because of the vandalism, “it became a little more expensive to rent,” said the business manager. “We’re going to add it into our monthly price.”

At the time the billboard was defaced, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. said it could lead to a charge of criminal mischief. But since he had received no complaint, he didn’t plan an investigation.

BENNETT: Slavery America’s Original Sin


Slavery America’s Original Sin

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, resides in East Merideth.

Eighty million native people of color lived in the Americas in 1492; 65 million primarily white people lived in Europe; 46 million people of color lived in Africa.

In December of that year, Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island of Haiti, which he then named Hispaniola, or Little Spain. It was the first recorded contact between Europeans and the indigenous Americans who called themselves the Taino. The Taino were divided into five kingdoms around the large island, and their estimated population ranged from 1 million up to 3 million.

The exact number of Taino people at first contact can never be known, but it is known that after 50 years of massacre, disease, forced digging in gold mines and being enslaved and shipped to other islands to work plantations, the Taino population was reduced to 500 people. The Taino then disappeared from the face of the earth. The first genocide in America by Europeans was complete.

Over the first century and a half after Columbus’ voyages, the native population of the Americas fell by an estimated 90 percent, from an estimated 80 million in 1492 to 8 million in 1650. While a majority of the deaths were caused by outbreaks of Old World diseases, many millions were also killed by the European invaders.

A second genocide visited on native Americans was well under way. It arguably continues today in Brazilian rain forests and on American Indian reservations.

From 1500 to the end of the slave trade in 1860, at least 12 million Africans were abducted and taken to the Americas. It’s estimated that an additional 1.5 to 2 million died during the ocean passage. About 500,000 slaves went to North America, while the majority went to South America and the Caribbean. Still, by 1850 there were 4 million Africans in the United States. Of the 4 million only 10 percent were free and 3.6 million were enslaved. In 1850, the 4 million made up 17 percent of the total U.S. population of 23 million, but they constituted over 37 percent of the population of the South.

The American Civil War abolished slavery and gave new freedoms to one sixth of the population. If the nation had moved on from there, honoring the rights of all people of all colors, we would live in a much different world today. But it didn’t work that way. Reconstruction lasted from 1863 to 1877, when it fell apart under heavy pressure and constant attacks by Southern Whites. The Democrats of the time were the party of White supremacy and they used every tool to diminish Blacks.

Economic pressure, governmental pressure, social pressure, intimidation, threats and violence were the norm. Lynching andother forms of murder were common. A third genocide continued.

A key part of the post-Reconstruction repression of black Americans was the use of white government forces — be they sheriffs, policemen, guardsmen, or judges – to visit daily and deadly violence on black citizen. Whites creating the violence went unpunished. (Does this sound eerily familiar?)

After the end of Reconstruction, lynching intensified. Lynching involved criminal accusations, often false, against a black citizen, an arrest, and the assembly of a lynch mob intent on subverting the judicial process.

Victims would be seized and subjected to every imaginable manner of physical torment, with the torture usually ending with being hung from a tree and set on fire. More often than not victims would then be dismembered. It’s hard to imagine human beings committing such vile and cruel acts against other human beings.

Over 4,000 people were lynched in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950. The vast majority were Black. That was over one lynching a week for 73 years. All in a nation that declared itself dedicated to liberty and justice for all.

Today, black Americans make up about 13 per cent of our population, but are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Typically, 30 per cent of black victims are unarmed compared to 19 percent of White victims. Finally, 99 per cent of all black killings by police are not prosecuted by the legal system. Only the most egregious videos seem capable of forcing police to punish their own, and then often only after protests and demonstrations.

Since 2015, American police have killed over 1,000 people every year, with over one third being people of color. It appears that institutionalized dehumanization of these people, be they black, Hispanic, or Native American, encourages the police to pull the trigger quicker. As a culture, white European-descended Americans have always dehumanized and demonized others. We have always slaughtered others for their land, their gold and silver, and finally, just because they don’t look like us.

Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes,
lives in East Merideth.

‘Indian’ Erasure Revisited
Sternberg Asks For Second Look

‘Indian’ Erasure Revisited

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN –Enough with “11th hour resolutions,” Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is concluding.

At issue at hand is a resolution, passed unanimously by the Village Board Monday, June 22, asking the state Education Department to consider removing the word “Indians” from the Historic Marker at Council Rock, and perhaps the one at the Indian Mound marker, too.

As the trustees’ meeting was coming to an end, Trustee MacGuire Benton had jumped in to say a constituent had told him using the word “Indians” is “insensitive.”

Trustee Richard Sternberg quickly recast Benton’s remarks in resolution form, which within minutes was put to a vote asking the state Education Department to change the language.

This Monday, the 29th, Sternberg issued an apology. “After discussions with people much more knowledgeable than I about tribal histories and affairs,” he stated in a press release, “I realized that my wording was poor and that I didn’t even state well what my true intention was.

“I have requested that the other trustees delay implementing it until I can withdraw and replace it,” he wrote.

How might that be avoided in the future?

“I don’t want to hamper anybody in any way,” said Mayor Tillapaugh. “But there has to be more research and nuanced phrasing. There is recognition, all around, that there was not.”

She continued: “Subsequently, I’ve heard that Kevin Gover, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation and director of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, has no problem with the word ‘Indian’.”

Some do object to “Native American,” she said, and they point out their ancestors were on this continent long before Amerigo Vespucci was born.

“They believe they are members of their tribes first,” she added.

Going forward, the mayor said she is going to ask trustees to submit prospective resolutions to Village Administrator Teri Barown by the Friday before each meeting. It can then be included in the packet of information trustees review over the weekend in advance of their monthly meeting.

She is also referring the “Indians” matter to the village’s Parks Board, chaired by Trustee Jeanne Dewey, to come to an understanding of what sensitivities, if any, surround the word “Indians” and whether any further action is warranted.

For his part, Benton, the trustee who started the whole thing, said he supports Sternberg’s decision to withdraw the motion.

Still, he echoed the resolution: “I see the village reaching out to tribal leaders in Upstate New York and the state Education Department to update the signage as they see fit.”

He also envisions a telephone number alongside the Historic Markers that people could “essentially, dial one for a full history, instead of a couple of sentences.”

He further suggested, “I do hope the signage about General Clinton is changed to reflect history more accurately and to honor native history. General Clinton led an ethnic cleansing campaign, and I don’t think the sign accurately reflects it.”

Extremism Threatens George Floyd’s Legacy


Extremism Threatens

George Floyd’s Legacy

In our nation and county, we have a moment of opportunity.

George Floyd’s death – and, in particular, the graphic video, 8 minutes and 46 seconds of it – caused every American of good will, black, white, Hispanic, even, yes, Indians, to say, enough is enough.

The mechanisms of reform are starting to turn on the question of the moment: How do we retool our police departments so it, finally, once and for all, won’t happen again? How do we retreat from the militarization of local, state and national law enforcement set in motion on Sept. 11, 2001, after terrorists brought the Twin Towers to the ground before every American’s very eyes?

At the state level, Governor Cuomo has ordered every local government with one of the state’s
500 police forces to review records for the past 10 years and “reinvent and modernize police strategies and programs” – BY APRIL 1! This is what’s called, not a wish, not a study, not a forum, but an action plan.

Subjects to be studied include use of force, crowd management, community policing, addressing “implicit bias,” de-escalation training, community-based outreach, citizen-complaint
procedures, and more.

County Rep. Dan Wilber, who chairs the Public Safety & Legislative Affairs Committee, Oneonta Common Council, at Mayor Herzig’s initiative, and the Cooperstown Village Board are already moving to meet the governor’s deadline.

Potentially, this will be George Floyd’s legacy. Let’s not threaten it.

It isn’t guaranteed.

The biggest threat to accomplishing Cuomo’s mandate and George Floyd’s legacy – at base, to create a more perfect union – is extremism and its silly stepchild, overreach.

Extremism? How about Black Lives Matter’s Hawk Newsome, who said the other day: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down the system and replace it.” That’s
going to work out well.

Silly overreach? Last week’s action by the Cooperstown Village Board to remove the word “Indian”
from Historic Markers qualifies – and, presumably, eventually from such icons as the “Indian Hunter” in Lakefront Park.

It turns out, though, the word “Indian” is unobjectionable, even preferred, by many Indians themselves, local experts tell us. Some Indians specifically reject the alternative “Native Americans,” noting their ancestors crossed the Bering Strait – “Beringia” – from Asia 15,000 years before Amerigo Vespucci was born in 1454.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

The point is, there are “sensitive” experts out there – as compared to the “insensitive” rest of us, as characterized by Trustee MacGuire Benton – who would be contemptuous of the Village Board’s initiative, first raised by Benton and turned into a resolution by Trustee Richard Sternberg.

Thankfully, after knowledgeable instruction, Sternberg said he intends to at least revise his resolution to allow a period of study before approaching the state Education Department and asking for our local monuments to be defaced.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch now says that resolutions, like this one, shouldn’t be sprung on the Village Board at the 11th hour of a late-night meeting, as this one was. She’s considering asking that resolution be included in the packet trustees receive on the Friday before their Monday meetings, so they aren’t ambushed.

Look, folks, all of us have undergone severe personal challenges, going on four months now.

Some of us, or family and friends, have been stricken by coronavirus. Many of us have seen our livelihoods challenged. Most of us have been confined, for better or for worse. And all of us have been inconvenienced.

Then, just as things appeared to be improving – maybe, it turns out, in New York State; but in much of the rest of the nation, no – a match was thrown into a bucket of gasoline in Minneapolis, dramatizing a grievous flaw in OUR American society that can no longer go unaddressed.

In both crises – the pandemic and the protests – there has been extremism and overreach, and
they are eroding the consensus that will allow us to get anything out of this mess.

Again, let’s stay focused.

As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, let’s vow to stick to the business of being can-do Americans,
and get both crises behind us, to affirm our American system, that we don’t burn books, and
can read what we want. That we don’t deface monuments over ideology. That we remove statues by due process, not mob rule.

That we can burn flags if we want to – even our revered Stars & Stripes.
Except for very narrow exceptions – shouting fire in a crowded theater – we can say and write what we want. If we can stand the scolds, we can use whatever words we want. And certainly, we can think what we wish, as long as we don’t act on our felonious ruminations.

Let’s treasure these Constitutional guarantees. They’re called freedoms. And looking at most of the world, they’re American freedoms. Let’s cherish them. Let’s learn to appreciate them by practicing them – this Independence Day and going forward.

NORTHRUP: Give Native Americans A Say

Give Native Americans A Say

In How Things Are Named

To the Editor:

My distant relative and friend, the late Jim Northrup, was a Native American, decorated Vietnam Marine vet, and very humorous author.

My real name is James so Jim and I used to joke about how all the “Jim Northrups are strong, handsome and above average.”

He’s gone now, but on his behalf, as his paleface relative, I’d like to suggest that when it comes to naming locations, sports teams and other things – ask a Native American.

If they’re OK with it, go ahead. If they’re not, rethink it.

Native Americans, including Jim and his brother, are disproportionately represented in the Armed Forces. They often struggle with health issues, but in my experience, they’re pretty much immune to bone spurs.

If something is going to be named for them, give them a say in it. All the Jim Northrups think it’s the right thing to do.


MORGAN: Slavery Was Most Everywhere

Slavery Was

Most Everywhere

Tom Morgan, the retired Oneonta investment counselor and national syndicated columnist, resides in Franklin.

Hating America is in fashion these days. As if you did not know.

Fuel for the hatred comes in the form of sins. Sins the early Americans committed. They belittled women. They savaged the natives. And they owned slaves. As early as 1619. That was when an
English shipowner unloaded African slaves into Virginia. Aboard his vessel, flying a Dutch flag.

The haters claim this proves that racism is in this country’s DNA. It is systemic. It courses through the veins and arteries of the nation. Therefore all white people should feel guilt. Because the wealth of the country was built upon the backs of slaves.

The extreme haters reckon the U.S. is illegitimate. Because of these original sins.

Well, there is no denying we had a lot of slavery and a lot of racism in this country.

There is no denying that many white people grew wealthy by using and abusing blacks. (They abused a lot of Irish, Italians, Jews, Chinese and assorted immigrants as well. But that is a separate story.) However, declaring the country is illegitimate because of this? That is not even a stretch. It is a ridiculous concept.

I suggest this for a simple reason: If you are going to declare this country illegitimate you may as well cancel out the rest of the countries on this planet. To hell with the lot of them.

Find me a country that does not have sins in its DNA. All countries were built on foundations that are sinful by today’s standards.

Pick a country. Then read some of its history. You will find combinations of racism, sexism, caste systems, slavery, atrocities against Jews and folks of various religions. These sins are widely distributed among countries. This is because they flourished in the Age of Ignorance. And that Age of Ignorance only began to weaken in recent enlightened times.

Slavery is supposed to be our biggest sin. Let us ask all the people on this earth who live in places that suffered slavery to raise their hands. There are barely any hands that are not raised.

Slavery has been most everywhere! And the U.S. was one of the smaller players in it. (We also beat up ourselves over mistreatment of women. What country, what people did NOT mistreat women –
by today’s standards?)

The Spanish brought slavery to Central America? Hey, the Mayas and Incas beat them to it. English, Dutch and French brought slavery to America? Many Native Americans could have taught them a few things about it. They practiced it for a century or two. The Cherokees were major traders in slaves.

Europeans introduced slavery to the Caribbean? Hardly. Before them, the native Caribs owned slaves.
When the evil British colonized northern Nigeria in the late 1800s they found the locals held well over two million of their fellows as slaves.

Muslim countries in the north of Africa bled the continent of countless millions of slaves. For at least 10 centuries! They exported slaves via the Red Sea, via Swahili ports onto the Indian Ocean. They paraded millions in caravans over trans-Saharan routes.

Royalty of various African countries built their wealth on the slave trade. Brutal hardly describes how they rounded up and shipped slaves to the coasts. Where other Africans grew rich selling them to Europeans.

The rulers of Algiers captured a million and half Christians and Europeans. Whom they forced into slavery. In the 19th century.

Slavery is endemic today in Sudan. And Niger. Countless Nigerians are enslaved this very night. Sexual slavery and forced labor are common in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Many are enslaved from birth. There is systemic slavery on cacao plantations in West Africa. In Ivory Coast over 100,000 children are enslaved. Al Sharpton take note please.

Wikipedia reckons Indians own 8 million slaves today. Chinese own nearly 4 million.

Japan’s history is blighted by slavery. As are the histories of India, China, Korea, Burma, Thailand, Bhutan, Tibet and all of Southeast Asia. The Philippines were thick with slaves before the Spanish arrived.

And Europe? Well, the Romans were equal opportunity slavers. They enslaved Greeks, Berbers, Germans, Britons, Slavs, Thracians (Let’s hear it for the Thracians!), Gauls – otherwise known as Celts – Jews, Arabs and many more ethnic groups.

The Celtic tribes of Europe owned slaves. The Vikings raided Europe and Britain for slaves. They hauled off English, Irish and Scottish.

Ancient Hawaiians ran rigid caste systems. Those of the lower casts were not only virtual slaves. They were butchered in sacrifice rituals.

Even pure New Zealand cannot escape the sins of slavery. The Maoris, its native people, scorn European settlers for abusing them when they arrived. Yet the native Maoris made slaves out of their defeated enemies.

My point? It is to those who delight in claiming the U.S. is illegitimate because of its history of slavery. If the U.S. is illegitimate, what country is not? What country has no slavery in its DNA?

Tom Morgan, the retired Oneonta investment counselor whose column is national syndicated, lives in Franklin. 

Museums, Hyde Hall Announce Openings

Museums, Hyde Hall

Announce Openings

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Fenimore Art Museum Assistant Curator James Matson Photoshopped a mask onto “Picking Flowers” (1840) by Samuel Miller.

COOPERSTOWN – These days, even art plays it safe in the face of COVID-19.

To enforce mask wearing when The Fenimore Art Museum opens on Friday, July 3, Assistant Curator James Matson Photoshopped masks over several pieces from the museum’s collection, including “Laura Hall” (1808) by James Brown, and “Picking Flowers” (1840) by Samuel Miller.

“We took the artwork and utilized it for our signage,” said Todd Kenyon, communications director.

Following the announcement of the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday, June 28, The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall announced they would start their seasons: Hyde Hall on Wednesday, July 1; The Farmers’ and Fenimore on Friday, July 3.

“It’s been a long winter,” said Kenyon. “Everyone wants to come back, but they want to do it safely.”

Though the Fenimore postponed headlining exhibits “Keith Haring: Radiant Vision,” “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams”, and “The World of Jan Brett” until 2020, the museum has lowered its prices to $10 for adults. “We’re hoping reduced pricing balances it out,” said Kenyon.

In the Clark Gallery, “Prismatic Beauty: American People and American Art” is on display, and
“Blue Gardens: Photographs by Gross and Daley” and

“Elegant Line/Powerful Shape: Elements of Native American Art” are also opening. Though tickets can be purchased at the door, the museum is limited to 150 visitors at a time, with strict limitations on how many can be in each gallery. “In the Clark and Thaw galleries, there can be 30 people at a time,” said Kenyon. “But smaller galleries, like the Cooper Room, have a maximum of six people.”

There is also one-way signage throughout the museum.

At The Farmers’ Museum, the entirety of the Historic Village has been closed, with only the main barn and the children’s barnyard open. “We will have interpreters in front of the Blacksmith’s shop, Pharmacy, Bump Tavern and Lippitt Homestead,” he said. “You just can’t go inside.”

With these limitations, Kenyon said, prices have been reduced to $5 for adults, $3 for kids 6-12, and under 6 free. “Even without these buildings open, we have a beautiful setting for people to come in,” he said.

Additionally, some virtual programming, including performances from the Glimmerglobe Theatre, will continue throughout the summer on the museums’ website and Facebook page.

At Hyde Hall, Executive Director Jonathan Maney used the closure to finish a series of renovations to the house, including restoring the maple stair hall in the West Wing, replacing the plaster in the third-floor billiards room, slipcovers for the high-back sofas and the ongoing restoration of the water closet, the first flush toilet west of the Hudson.

“Hyde Hall has more to offer than ever before,” said Maney. “Explore history with us and see fascinating things that you cannot find anywhere else. We are excited to share this beautiful New York treasure!”

Tickets are available by reservation only, with a maximum of six guests per tour, and masks must be worn throughout the tour.

“This is what we do,” said Kenyon. “But we want to do it safely.”



July 3, 2020

150 Years Ago

Wanted to Know!!! The whereabouts of a man who came to Oneonta and purchased a sewing machine on December 18, 1868, giving his note for it, and calling himself J.E. Wentworth, and claimed to reside four miles east of East Davenport, over east of Rattlesnake Hill. He was about five feet, nine inches in height, weighed about 175 pounds, was dark complexion, had dark eyes and dark whiskers, and was about 35 or 40 years of age. He drove a pair of medium-sized horses; the off one being brown and the near one bay. $100 reward will be paid for any information leading to the finding of this man, by leaving same at the Post Office in Oneonta, or at Russell Crego & Son, 564 Broadway in Albany N.Y.

July 1870

125 Years Ago

Of interest to some Otsego County farmers – The flurry in the European horse market has opened the eyes of American horsemen. The value of horses weighing from 1,000 to 1,400 pounds has advanced 20 percent. European buyers are continually arriving and are making large purchases. Of course, fast horses have been exported in great numbers during the past year, but the draft horse now receives attention, Men like Mr. H.L. Wardwell have done a good thing in introducing some of the best horses into this county.
J.W. Chamberlain, formerly of Oneonta, shot himself and his mistress in Norwich on Monday last. The man fell dead. The woman may recover.

July 1895

100 Years Ago

Local – Rattlesnake in Park. Thursday afternoon, while John O’Brien was walking through Neahwa Park, he came upon a large rattlesnake in the grass near the road. Picking up a stick, he dispatched the snake with a couple of well-directed blows. With the assistance of Vincent Martucci, O’Brien carried the snake through the business streets and attracted considerable attention. Later the reptile was put on exhibition in the show window of the New York State Gas and Electric Corporation and later removed to Shippey’s Cigar store on Broad Street. The reptile measures five feet, three inches in length and, as it has eight rattles, this would indicate it is 13 years old, as it is said the snakes do not begin to grow rattles till they are 5 years old. A year ago a sideshow with one of the carnivals showing in the park reported that a rattlesnake was missing and they were unable to find it. It is thought that the reptile had been making its home in the park ever since. O’Brien, whose home is at 8 Liberty Street, says he intends to convert Mr. Rattler into a belt for his personal use.

July 1920

60 Years Ago

A 33-year-old Middlefield farmer, Arthur A. Wannamaker pleaded guilty to a charge of first degree grand larceny in County Court here, appearing before Judge Frederick W. Loomis. Wannamaker was charged with holding up the Upstate Loan Company in Oneonta last March 29. He was captured by Oneonta City Police within minutes after he brandished a gun on a cashier and made off with an estimated $1,400 in cash.
Advertisement – Wee Toy and Miniature Fox Terriers at Nabob Kennels, Route 205, Oneonta, New York. Open Evenings and Sundays. Phone Oneonta GE 2-2031 weekdays. Phone Oneonta GE 2-2818 Nights, Sundays.
Neil H. Burton, aged 34 of Oneonta, was injured critically in a near head-on crash Thursday night while enroute to the bedside of his wife who had undergone surgery at Albany hospital. He suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in the collision which occurred about 9:27 p.m. on Route 7 at Worcester, His condition at Fox Memorial hospital remains critical. Mr. Burton is a June graduate of the State University College of Education in Oneonta. He is also a past president of Oneonta Aerie 1250 Fraternal Order of Eagles. Driver of the second car in the crash was William S. Mattice, aged 50, of Worcester. State Police said Mr. Burton, who was driving a 1959 Rambler owned by Hinman Motors of Oneonta, was eastbound while Mattice was headed in the opposite direction. Mr. Burton is a 1944 graduate of Oneonta high school and was employed as a lifeguard at Gilbert Lake State Park near Laurens.

July 1960

40 Years Ago

Planned Parenthood Produces Videotape About Sexuality – “Do You Hear Me? – Four Moments Between Mothers and Daughters” is a 15-minute color and sound videotape produced by Planned Parenthood Association of Delaware and Otsego counties and by the Evelyn R. Hodgdon Instructional Resources Center of the State University College at Oneonta. The production was made possible by a grant from the Dewar Fund of the St. James Episcopal Church of Oneonta.” Do You Hear Me” was developed by the Teen Outreach Program and Education Department of Planned Parenthood as part of a one-day workshop on communication about sexuality with a focus on obstacles to communication within the family and the concerns of early adolescents 12 to15 years of age.

July 1980

30 Years Ago

Supporters of retaining a County Administrator Speak Out: The League of Women Voters for Oneonta and Cooperstown Areas issued a joint statement in support of a county administrator, after conducting separate studies of county government. The Cooperstown League report noted in its study of how the county operates: “Because you must spend so much time on detail, we observe that you are often forced to react to problems rather than anticipate them. Your time for looking ahead and setting policy becomes limited.” The joint statement favored a non-political appointee of the board thus freeing the board for policy and long-range planning.

July 1990

10 Years Ago

All of a sudden, assisted living is nothing new. In much of the nation, it’s been around for 50 years. And, with the opening of the Heritage at the Plains at Parish Homestead, it’s in Otsego County. Plains patio homes – independent living – have been open for two years now, but the Heritage apartments has just begun renting its 64 independent-living apartments and 44 assisted- living apartments. Also a first – the complex includes 16 secure Memory Care units for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

July 2010

Mecca ‘Tone-Deaf’ Way To Refer to HoF 

Mecca ‘Tone-Deaf’

Way To Refer to HoF

To the Editor:

I am a reader of as well as its weekly newsprint companion. Twice now I have seen reference made to the Baseball Hall of Fame as “Mecca” and/or “the Mecca.”

Although I too place great value on the HoF and acknowledge it might be very old tradition to use the word, I think calling it “Mecca” is, frankly, tone-deaf.

I am sorry to be so blunt. For many, including some of our fine Bassett physicians, this would be the same as saying the Hall was just like the Vatican or the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. For many others, again including some of our fine Bassett physicians, that term brings to mind Howard University specifically.

I know we in and around your readership value our community, both near and far. I know we wish to be as welcoming as possible and assume your staff and sponsors feel likewise.

Therefore I kindly ask you to consider using other terms of great praise for our fine local institution.

Thanking you in advance,


Baseball Hall of Fame Opens Doors

Baseball Hall of Fame

Welcomes Fans Back

HoF President Tim Mead reviews the safety manual that allowed reopening. (Libby Cudmore/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


For the second time in history, the Baseball Hall of Fame had an opening day.

“It’s only the second opener, after the day we first opened,” said Tim Mead, Hall of Fame president. “It puts it in perspective.”

On Friday, June 26, nearly 81 years to the day of the first June 12, 1939 opening, Oneonta’s Steve Pindar, visitor services director, opened the glass door at 25 Main St. and called out, “we’re open.”

It had been closed since March 15, the weekend Governor Cuomo declared a “state of emergency” to combat COVID-19.

“On Friday, we had 150 visitors,” said Mead in a Monday, June 29 interview. “On Saturday, we had 250, and by Sunday, we had 340 guests.”

The Hall was allowed to open under Phase Four of NY Forward with strict guidelines about social distancing, maximum capacity and masks. “Four weeks ago, we began putting together our reopening plan,” Mead said. “Based on the two weeks between Phase One and Phase Two, we projected that we could open by the end of June.”

He worked with the American Association of Museums, Rock & Roll Hall President Greg Harris, formerly of Cooperstown, and Paul D’Ambrosio, Fenimore and Farmers’ museum president/CEO, to design the Hall’s reopening plan.

“We wanted to see what others had done,” he said. “Being a museum, we have basic standards we need to follow, but there’s a uniqueness to how we have to clean.”

The Hall is able to operate at 25 percent of capacity – maximum capacity is 12,000 visitors a day. To maintain a manageable flow, the Hall is using timed ticketing, purchased online, which allows 25 visitors every half-hour.

But enforcing the protocols gave the Hall a chance to be creative. Take the signage. “Yogi Wore a Mask: Be Like Yogi” reads one sign, and the protocols, including social distancing, not entering if sick and frequent hand sanitizing at one of the 25 stations throughout the Hall – are called the “Starting Nine.”

“Wherever possible, when we did signage, we tried to do it in a baseball way,” said Jon Shestakofsky, vice president/communications. “Let’s have a little fun.”

The Hall redesigned the flow of traffic to move one way, and in smaller spaces, such as the art gallery, put up ropes to help keep visitors on the path.

To keep touch-screen exhibits sanitary, Shestakofsky demonstrated a rubber-tipped stylus, which are handed out to every visitor. With it, “you can still push the buttons, make your own baseball card, and see the Holy Grails,” he said. “We wanted all our exhibit spaces to be fully functional.”

And although the Grandstand and Bullpen theaters are closed, visitors can watch the “Generations of the Game” film through the Baseball Hall of Fame app.

Prior to the closure, the Locker Room exhibit had been relocated to the third-floor gallery. “It gives it more of a locker room feel,” said Shestakofsky.

During their closure, the Hall offered a robust slate of digital programming, including talks, trivia and virtual field trips, which Mead says they intend to continue.

“We challenged ourselves,” said Mead. “We didn’t want to look at short-term solutions, we wanted to look at long-term possibilities.”

BOUND VOLUMES: July 2, 2020


July 2, 2020


Important to Tanners – The patent right for preparing, using and vending chestnut wood for the purpose of tanning and dyeing in the New England states, is vested in the Springfield Manufacturing Company, who will soon have in operation machinery and apparatus for preparing the wood fit for use, and will deliver it to purchasers in large or small quantities, at any place within the above limits, for a sum that will not exceed two-thirds of the amount of the price of the equivalent of oak bark, on a credit of one year. The proprietors have no hesitation in saying that the above material, for the purpose of tanning, is in every respect superior to oak bark. The leather tanned with it is of a better quality, being firmer, less porous, and at the same time more pliable. It is also very neat and convenient in the application. Letters relative to the above, addressed to Benj. Jenks, Agent, at Springfield, Massachusetts, will be promptly attended to. (Ed. Note: This marks the beginning of the end for America’s chestnut trees which, though once numerous as the oaks, had virtually disappeared by the early 20th century. In replacing the oak tree as the preferred source, the chestnut may have saved the oaks from a similar demise.)

July 3, 1820


(Selected) List of Letters remaining in the Post Office at Cooperstown, June 30, 1845: Miss Polly Ball, Henry Brown. Amos Bissell, Henry Chadwick, Miss Jane Crippen, Marcus Dutcher, Miss Hannah Edwards, Estate of Herman Lord, George Fern, Heirs of Lieut. L. Loomis, Swift’s Continental Regt. Army of Revolution, Miss Mary M. Hicks, Erastus Horth, Joseph Husbands, E. B. Hubbell, Theron Ives, R.S. Johnson, Alver Kenyon, Anna Lum, A.V. and S.S. Moore, Van Booskirk Morris, Mrs. Elizabeth Quackenbush, R.E. Robinson, William Smith, Samuel Tabor, Mark Tomlinson, Walter S. Tunnicliff, Miss Eliza Ann Walker, David Waterman, George H. Webb, Miss Jane Wilcox, Simon Wolf, John Yale.

June 30, 1845


The Fourth (of July) was one of the most delightful days of the whole year so far as the weather was concerned. There was no celebration of the day at this place, and the “boys” had all the noise to themselves. If they had not commenced quite so early, their powder and crackers would have held out longer. After about ten o’clock “firing ceased all along the line,” and during the rest of the day only an occasional “pop” was heard in our unusually quiet streets. The Lake was the resort of a great many parties and individuals, and the “Mary Boden” had a paying day. In one little circle, at least, the day was duly “observed” after the good old fashion, the orator and poet being the great grandson of a soldier of the Revolution; patriotic songs were sung and toasts were given under the shadow of the stars and stripes, and the usual salutes were fired. In the evening enough fireworks were set off by different families about the village to have made quite an attractive display had they been concentrated.

July 7, 1870


Local – One of the handsomest horses which we have seen on this corporation in a long time is a five-year-old dark bay gelding whose sire was a famous Kentucky horse called “Banker.” He has the gait of a fast traveler and the action of old “Snip,” the finest horse ever owned in this county. He belongs to Mr. Barclay, the brother and present visitor of Mrs. Constable.
The Journal for this week is issued on “The Glorious Fourth” and it will be rather a quiet day in Cooperstown. In the afternoon there will be a baseball game played on the grounds of the C.A.A. at 2:30 o’clock between the home team and one from New York.

July 4, 1895


Sunday, when the mercury soared to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, hundreds sought relief in the cooling waters of Otsego Lake. The temperature equaled the former ideal record that stood until it was broken on August 4, 1944, with a reading of 93. Monday, the weather completely changed and became raw, wet and so cold that everyone around the lake had to jump in the water to get warm.

July 4, 1945


Boyd Bissell, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Bissell, Jr. of Cooperstown, and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire’s Hotel Management School, knocked about on ocean liners for two years before coming home. Finding opportunities limited here, he headed for Paris, France where he landed a job cooking for an American family. After many “digestive” complaints he was “sacked.” He then applied to a cooks’ employment agency in Paris and two days later was told to present himself to LePre Catelan, a swanky restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne. To his surprise, he was hired and given a room to sleep in since he had none elsewhere. Recently he was introduced to Oliver, the renowned chef of LeGrand Vefour where he will work in an underground kitchen beneath the sidewalk of an arcade in the Palais Royal.

July 1, 1970


Gallery 53, having been under the charge of Interim Director Susan Friedlander since April, will officially welcome back Beth A. Bohling, a former Arts Administrator at Gallery 53, as the new Director on July 10. Bohling has recently been Director of the Pyramid Arts Center in Rochester. “While I was in Rochester, I missed the small town community. Living in a rural area is more for me than living in an urban area. I missed the camaraderie of Cooperstown, and I missed the hills.

July 2, 1995


It was a 35-day sprint, and Price Chopper crossed the finish line Tuesday, June 6, opening its new Cooperstown supermarket in time for the Fourth of July weekend. “It was an incredibly quick turnabout,” said Mona Golub, vice-president for public relations and consumer services. “To build a store from scratch takes nine months to a year,” she said. Interest was high in this super-market-starved community as 150 people gathered in the parking lot awaiting the 8:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting and opening.

July 1, 2010

COMMENTATORS:  Is Word ‘Indian’ Even Offensive?

From Our Comments Section

Is Word ‘Indian’

Even Offensive?

Editor’s Note: Here are reactions that appeared on’s comment section regarding an aritcle, “Village Board Concludes: It’s Time To Revisit Use Of Word ‘Indian’ On Plaques, Statues,” posted Monday evening, June 22.

►JOE BRANT – If you really want to be sensitive to Native Americans we should return to them the lands that were taken in Cooperstown. I am sure Trustee Sternberg’s house with a view of Otsego Lake was occupied by native Americans, as was Trustee MacGuire’s mother’s house, where he lives. Isn’t that the correct way to be sensitive to the original inhabitants of the village?

►ANONYMOUS – From the website of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian: “What is the correct terminology: American Indian, Indian, Native American, or Native?
“All of these terms are acceptable. The consensus, however, is that whenever possible, Native people prefer to be called by their specific tribal name. In the United States, Native American has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms American Indian or indigenous American are preferred by many Native people.”
►DOREEN BUSH – Be very careful not to take away or minimize the real history of the village.

►JOHN WARD – If the signs need to be changed, then the Indian hunter statue needs to be taken down, as it depicts a Native American in a stereotypical appearance that could offend someone, and the name is no different than the name on the state signs. James Fenimore Cooper wrote “in defense of slavery”. That dictates that his statue in Cooper Park should be taken down (and the name of the park changed), and the name “Fenimore Museum“ needs to be changed. William Cooper, the founder
of Cooperstown and father of James Fenimore Cooper, owned slaves right here in Cooperstown. Thus, the very name of the village needs to be changed. Since the Village Board has opened the door these
actions are the only logical thing to do – how can the village board possibly pick and choose what might be considered offensive and insensitive to others? What is the standard used? Best to take it all down and change all the names. George Orwell would be proud.

►ALEX D. TOCQUEVILLE – Why has our village thwarted our constitutional right to elections? With the primary elections being held (Tuesday, June 23), we should be able to vote Benton out of office. However, the village has allowed him to act unabatedly, continuing to suppress our right to vote and have effectively kept him in office indefinitely. This is not democracy! And the Democrats thought it would be Trump postponing elections to stay in power – pot meet kettle in Cooperstown.

►DOM – Why not change everything and start over.

►BRIAN HINDENBRAND – Who in the h… said “Indian” is racist? No white person has that right? And if it was offensive, don’t you think it would have been changed years ago!! All of a sudden white people are afraid of offending “1” person in the world, so the world should change! Well I tell you what, the thought of these type of changes in history offends ME big time. Now back off young Mr. Benton: Learn about the Indians and Cooperstown history before thinking about walking the streets and saying, “change this, change that.”

►JOHN DINEEN – Ridiculous

FEINMAN: If Schuyler Statue Toppled, What Else?


If Philip Schuyler Statue

Toppled, What Else?

Editor’s Note: FYI, William Cooper, founder of Cooperstown (and The Freeman’s Journal), also owned slaves.

‘Reconsidering the Past, One Statue at a Time,” was the front-page above-the-fold headline in The New York Times on June 17. The article begins by noting the “boiling anger” that exploded after the murder of George Floyd.

It has gone national.

In religious terms, we are witnessing the attempt to purify America by cleansing it of all vestiges of its racist past.Back on July 19, 2019, Maureen Dowd, Times op-ed columnist, wrote a piece entitled “Spare Me the Purity Racket,” in part:“The progressives are the modern Puritans. The Massachusetts
Bay Colony is alive and well on the Potomac and Twitter. They eviscerate their natural allies for not being pure enough while placing all their hopes in a color-inside-the-lines lifelong Republican prosecutor appointed by Ronald Reagan. The politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.”

She was writing about the Mueller Report and had no idea about the world we are now living or what John Bolton would reveal. Still now as the purification of America is underway, it is worth considering what the end game is. How far will the cleansing go? Exactly what is at stake here?

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has announced that the city will be taking down the statue of Philip Schuyler because he was a slave owner.

Dr. Alice Green, executive director at the Center for Law and Justice, said: “He enslaved them, he devalued them, and the lesson for young people is that: Why are we glorifying people who treated us that way?”

An objection was raised by former state legislator and city historian Jack McEneny: “Philip Schuyler is one of the people who … if we didn’t have him, we would’ve lost the Battle of Saratoga.”

In response, Dr. Alice Green, said: “I don’t believe in censorship. I do believe if somebody wants to glorify Philip Schuyler … They should, but not on my government property.”

There are other examples glorifying Philip Schuyler.

One is the nearby Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site located on state government property and operated by the state Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation.

Another is the Schuyler House, Philip Schuyler’s country house near the Saratoga battlefield and owned and operated by the National Park Service on federal government property. What is the basis for removing the statue but keeping state and federal ownership of his houses?

Why should taxpayer money be used to support the homes of a slave owner? Shouldn’t these houses be privatized as Green suggested? One thing always leads to another. That’s the way the purification process works.

What about Schuylerville, the village where the Schuyler House is located? Shouldn’t its name be changed?

A bigger problem is Schuyler’s daughters. They appear in the musical “Hamilton”, as one of them married Alexander Hamilton.

The daughters were all beneficiaries of white privilege. What are they doing on Broadway in positive roles? Shouldn’t they be removed from the musical?

If seeing a statue is traumatic, what does that make seeing living examples of these daughters of white privilege singing and dancing before an appreciative audience? What does that make the people who pay to see them?

“Who tells your story?” the musical famously asks. The real story is one of slavery and not that of Hamilton’s immigration. That’s the way the purification process works.

Peter Feinman, who advocates for local history to be taught in New York State schools, is president of the Institute of History, Archaeology & Education.

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