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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.

“He has aimed to appeal to academics and non-academics alike, reaching out with nearly evangelical fervor to attract interest in Cooper from scholars, students, local history buffs, book collectors, recreational readers and others from all over the world.

“Even today, after Hugh has stepped back from some of his former duties with the Society (which now take several people to do), he still delights in serving as “Ask Fenimore” point of contact, ably fielding whatever

Cooper questions people might throw his way.

Hugh MacDougall in Cooperstown’s Cooper Park.

“Hugh always believed in making knowledge accessible with minimal barriers, providing editorial guidance while letting the ideas of his contributors speak for themselves…”

We could not agree more with Harthorn’s thoughts and thank him for sharing them. They are not only completely appropriate, but also most deserved, when it comes to acknowledging Hugh’s many contributions to the James Fenimore Cooper Society, not the least of which was encouraging us to join.

And while we often think some of the articles are way above our understanding of Cooper, we always feel we learn something new with each and every one of them that we read. And we would encourage anyone who is interested in Cooper’s many works to also join the Cooper Society.

Interestingly enough, at the same time we received the most recent edition of the James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal, we also received the most recent copy of the Fly Creeker, both of which mentioned possible people who served as Cooper’s inspiration for the character of Natty Bumppo.

And, in the Cooper Society Journal, we read an article entitled “The Leatherstocking Fountain in Edenkoben, Palatinate, Germany,” written by Robert Becker. He explains that this fountain in Edenkoben features a statue of Leatherstocking, with his rifle, dog and two beavers as well as Leatherstocking’s Indian friend, Chingachgook.

Becker points out that on the current site of the fountain in “…1952, a memorial plaque was unveiled in honor to a certain Johann Adam Hartmann (1743-1836), former citizen of Edenkoben.

This Hartmann fellow is purported to have been a ‘model’ for Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo – the Leatherstocking.”


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