Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library
135 Years Ago
Richard Rice, a character generally known throughout the counties of central New York as “Dicky” Rice, died at Mt. Vision on Sunday, at the residence of Mr. Harrison, after about a week’s illness. For a period of about 30 or 40 years Mr. Rice has been a familiar figure throughout this section of the state as astride his trusted charger, he has wandered aimlessly about, volunteering adjuration and scriptural advice to all with whom he came in contact. Mr. Rice was known to be a harmless, inoffensive old man with a shattered intellect, and he usually found a resting place in any house where night overtook him. He had a great penchant for Bible study and could quote from the Bible by the hour from a singularly retentive memory. Mr. Rice was born in the northern part of the county in 1802. He studied medicine with Martin Gardner at Portlandville in 1838, practiced for awhile, was taken sick and became mentally unsound, and has since been a wanderer. His horse, his companion for the past 18 years, has been taken in charge by the poor officer of Laurens.
110 Years Ago
Local News: C.H. Borst, who for many years has successfully conducted a grocery store in Oneonta, is rapidly closing out his stock and will discontinue business on Saturday of this week.
The Woolworth Company will thereafter take immediate possession and in a few days the store will be refitted and opened as one of their five and ten cent stores, of which practically every city in the east has one or more.
Harry J. Rines, the well known singing evangelist, with Mrs. Rines as accompanist, closed on Sunday last a very successful two-week series of meetings in the Free Baptist church. About 60 conversions are counted as the result of Mr. Rines’ sojourn in this city.
90 Years Ago
Punch board racketeering in this city is taboo from now on according to orders issued last night by Police Chief Frank N. Horton. The operators of such boards face both a fine and jail sentence in violation of the law, the chief stated. “Numerous complaints have been received about the operations of the chance boards in this city,” Chief Horton said, “and from now on it’s either put up or face arrest for the operators. Every member of the force has received instructions that there is to be no more violation of this law in Oneonta. It has also been learned that several lotteries have made their appearance in this city recently. One of these is a new baseball pool with headquarters in Endicott. In spite of disclosures which several times have threatened to wreck the gigantic Endicott treasury balance racket, that syndicate is now selling its new baseball pool tickets in scores of places frequented by the so-called “sporting” crowd.
70 Years Ago
Two lines of action are being shaped to stimulate the recording of local history in the towns and villages of Otsego County. Supervisors are being urged to appoint town historians where none are in office. Also, the Upper Susquehanna Historical Society is planning to shift its meeting from Oneonta to small communities to emphasize local history.
Dr. Edward J. Parish, president of the Upper Susquehanna Historical Society explains that “much valuable local history is being neglected because no move has been made to preserve it.” Dr. Parish points out that while town historians do receive expense allowances, the money inducement is negligible. Many persons, he says, have a zest for this work and will gladly pursue it as a stimulating hobby, if encouraged. As matters now stand 14 towns have historians and 10 have not.
50 Years Ago
The New York State Assembly Education Committee approved the Speno-Lerner bill to provide state tuition grants to parents of children in Roman Catholic and other non-public elementary and secondary schools. The measure now goes to the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for further study because of its potential impact on state spending. By some estimates, the cost of implementing the bill could cost more than $100 million annually. The legislation is supported by New York’s Roman Catholic bishops. Governor Rockefeller opposes the bill on the ground that granting assistance to parents of nonpublic-school children could harm public education. However, the governor has promised to help bring about some form of aid to private schools this year. The Speno-Lerner bill also was reported out of the Assembly Education Committee last year. But it died in the Rules Committee in that house.
40 Years Ago
A Committee on Uniting the Local Disabled (COULD) is organizing to help disabled people realize they are not alone, that together they could have a clout to help remove some of the obstacles. “Disability” is defined as any condition that keeps an individual from doing something useful, anything that gets in the way of functioning, equal enjoyment or social interaction. “We want to get the disabled out from behind closed doors and into society,” said Chairperson Winnie Williams. Eight of the committee’s 15 members have disabilities including cystic fibrosis, blindness, limb impairment, and nervous disorders. The group’s formation in February was inspired by the fact 1981 is the International Year of the Disabled. One of COULD’s main goals is to educate the disabled about the laws that could help them and to educate the general public about what it means to be disabled.
30 Years Ago
Professor Charles Burnsworth of SUCO’s Department of Music a multi-media, anti-drug documentary at the college’s Instructional Resource Center in lecture hall number 3 at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The presentation is titled “Drugs, Death and Rock ‘n Roll.” His presentation includes a long list of rock musicians and other entertainment stars that have died as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. The show is titled “The Age of Rock.” “I’m trying to talk to kids and every kid in the country listens to rock music. It’s relevant to their lives,” Burnsworth said. The presentation addresses youth of all ages.