[Editor’s note: This piece comes from the careful pen of Buzz Hesse, Otego, New York, resident and an expert on New York’s geography and geology.]
Did you know we now live in the Mohawk Valley Region?
Traveling east on I-88 at Otego, New York exit 12 (mile marker 46), there is a relatively new New York State sign promoting the state’s tourism. At the bottom of the sign, in huge letters, it says: MOHAWK VALLEY REGION.
This is blatantly incorrect and misleading!
Although adjacent to the Mohawk Valley, we are miles and miles away from it. Our area is the Upper Susquehanna River Valley. The source of the Susquehanna is in Otsego County at Otsego Lake, in Cooperstown. From these headwaters, the Susquehanna River traverses our area, continuing some 444 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.
The phrase MOHAWK VALLEY REGION on this sign is wrong. It is wrong historically, geographically, and geologically. These are actual facts that cannot be disputed.
This sign discredits our area; it erases our identity! It should be corrected either to say UPPER SUSQUEHANNA REGION (or, perhaps, LEATHERSTOCKING REGION) or it should be removed. Period.
Our area has been inhabited for some 14,000 years, as attested to by Dr. Robert Funk, New York State Archaeologist, in his published work, “Archaeological Investigations in The Upper Susquehanna Valley New York State.” Please note that he correctly referred to our area as the Upper Susquehanna Velley, not the Mohawk Valley.
Historically, our area is significant unto itself as it was the first to be settled by colonial westward expansion as a result of the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty. Subsequently, it was historically significant for the 1778-79 Sullivan and Clinton Campaign, the only military expedition ever to come down the Upper Susquehanna.
Further, our area is home to the famous author James Fenimore Cooper, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Glimmerglass Opera, and many other significant entities.
Geologically, our area is distinctive due to the Helderberg Limestone Escarpment, which separates our area from the Mohawk Valley. The Mohawk River flows west to east and into the Hudson River watershed; the Susquehanna flows north to south and into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Obviously, these are two distinctively different watersheds.
These facts cannot be disputed. The sign on I-88 discredits our area. It is misleading to the tourists and others traveling through our area.
New York State Department of Transportation officials should remove and relocate this sign further east to I-88 mile marker 84 near East Worcester and Richmondville, on the other side of the interfluvial. At that location, the sign would be accurate.
Won’t you join me in taking an active part in preserving the integrity of our area? I have a list of NYSDOT officials and politicians to be contacted to move this issue forward. Please find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 607-287-5320.
Did you know we live in the Mohawk Valley Region?
Traveling east on I-88 at exit 12 (mile marker 46) there is a relatively new NYS sign promoting area businesses.
At the bottom of the sign in huge letters it says: “MOHAWK VALLEY REGION”!
By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Community Bank has closed its branch in Otego, the only bank in the town, much to the dismay of residents and local leaders.
In a letter dated June 22, F.J. Buzz Hesse, chairman of the village of Otego Planning Board, Otego Mayor Ernest Kroll and Otego Town Supervisor Joseph Hurlburt asked Hal Wentworth, senior vice president of retail banking for Community Bank, to reconsider closing the branch.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, AUGUST 22
RENAISSANCE FAIR – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dress in you medieval/renaissance best and come out for performances by Celtic step dancers, The Happy Haggs, as well as vendors, crafters, and games for all ages at this years annual Ren Faire. Admission, $5. Windfall Dutch Barn, 2009 Clinton Rd., Cherry Valley. 518-774-0134 or visit www.windfalldutchbarn.com
LETTER from BUZZ HESSE
To the Editor:
After months of listening, reading and seeing a litany of positions on the upcoming 2020 Presidential election, I have concluded it all boils down to the following:
Do we as Americans want to give away the hard-fought fight of democracy to socialism? Or keep our democracy as intended by our forefathers?
• TRUMP – Pro democracy; pro United States Constitution; pro U.S. Bill of Rights.
• BIDEN – Socialism; anti U.S. Constitution; Marxism
The Founding Fathers formed the greatest government based on democracy. Many hundreds of thousands have laid down their lives for our democracy. We have a responsibility to preserve this democracy.
Socialism is NOT the answer.
We now face perhaps the most important election ever in this country – certainly in our life time. If you are an American patriot, love this country and want to preserve it, then take a stand at the polls and vote for democracy!
LETTER from BUZZ HESSE
To The Editor:
I was born in 1940 in Endicott, a diverse cultural area where many people were from the Old World. In fact, on the street where I lived were Italian, German, English, Jewish and Swedish families. We all lived side by side compatibly.
A very meaningful school experience took place when I was in first grade.
I remember all the students sat in rows, side by side. Teacher asked us one by one what our nationality was. Some said Italian, some said Jewish, others responded English, German. A few said American.
Our teacher then asked each one to raise their hand if we were born in America. To a person we all raised our hands – we were all born in America.
Our teacher then said, no matter what our background was, the fact that we were all born in America made us all American! I have never forgotten that experience.
So I ask the question: When we hear people say they are Afro-American, how many of them were born in Africa? If they were born here in America, they are American. My background is German. I don’t call myself German-American. I am American.
Another question that needs to be addressed is: Where is the money coming from to finance all the protests? Who is paying for making the 200 photos on the wall in Oneonta? And what about those displayed recently in Unadilla? Who are the behind-the-scene organizers? The public needs to have these questions answered. Transparency should be the order of the day.
Intertwined with all this is the subject of our police force.
I live in Otego and have been coming to Oneonta for over 70 years. During that time I have come to respect and appreciate Oneonta’s police presence. I have read Chief Brenner’s letter and I do not feel it was in any way “an example of white fragility.” Such a statement serves only to provoke a problem. The current demonstrations and protests in our country have unequivocally served to divide this country.
It would be remiss for Chief Brenner not to have supported his officers.
There are somewhere between 750,000 and 850,000 police on the job in the United States, and there are as many as 1.1 million in the field of law enforcement. Of the individuals shot by police in 2020, 215 were white, 111 were black. (statista.com) Police who died in the line of duty in 2020 numbered 145. (odmp.org)
You do the math!
Another concern is with the dictate from Governor Cuomo for local municipalities to establish a Community Advisory Board to review the rules governing their local police forces, Oneonta being no exception.
Oneonta’s board, as currently composed, is not likely to provide a broad and unbiased perspective on the matter, given the backgrounds and affiliations of the proposed members.
Police are an important part of our society. We need to support them.
Letter from BUZZ HESSE
Editor’s Note: As recounted here, life – and death – in the former frontier where we live could be brutal, and is reflected in this letter. Please proceed with that understanding.
To the Editor:
The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta editions of June 13-14, 2019, published a letter written by Zachary Aldridge headlined, “Article complicit in suffering of Native Americans”. This letter was in reference to Jim Kevlin’s May 23 article regarding the Sullivan/Clinton expedition of 1779-80, and
Mr. Aldridge’s was a narrow, one-sided view of the expedition.
Keep in mind that the Fort Stanwix Treaty Line, established in 1768 between Native Americans and Great Britain, formed a boundary that demarked the westernmost edge of what was later to become the United States in 1783 when the signing of the Treaty of Paris separated the Colonies from Great Britain.
The Stanwix treaty, which allowed colonists’ settlement eastward of the treaty line, was not honored by the Native Americans. In fact, the Iroquois nations – excepting only the Oneidas – along with Butler’s Rangers and some British Tories, wreaked untold havoc on the early colonial settlers of this region who by virtue of the treaty had been authorized to settle here.
Numerous Iroquois raids upon those early settlers – in violation of the Stanwix treaty – resulted in innumerable deaths and great devastation to individuals, their farms and fledgling communities as documented in the accounts of the Wyoming Valley Massacre and, later, the Cherry Valley Massacre of 1778 in what is now Otsego County. As noted by Capt. Benjamin Warren, American colonial officer, and witnessed by him at Cherry Valley, “the mutilation and scalped bodies”… “of men, women and children, corpses with their heads crushed” … “charred bodies remains” … “a shocking sight of savagery and brutality” were acts perpetrated upon the colonists by the Iroquois at Cherry Valley. Some 46 people were killed and nearly 200 others were left homeless.
This massacre, led by Little Beard of the Senecas, Capt. Walter Butler of Butler’s Rangers, and Joseph Brant of the Mohawks, culminated in Gen. George Washington establishing the Sullivan/Clinton Expedition to end these atrocities.
Another noted illustration of the extent of the savagery of the Iroquois toward the Americans is an account chronicled in William L. Stone’s “Border Wars of the American Revolution,” Vol. II, published in 1843 regarding the capture of Lieutenant Boyd of the Rifle Corps of the Sullivan/Clinton force, along with eight other men.
Capt. Walter Butler delivered Boyd “to Little Beard and his clan, the most ferocious of the Seneca tribe. … Having been denuded, Boyd was tied to a sapling, where the Indians first practised upon the steadiness of his nerves by hurling their tomahawks apparently at his head, but so as to strike the trunk of the sapling as near to his head as possible without hitting it; … His nails were pulled out, his nose cut off, and one of his eyes plucked out. His tongue was also cut out, and he was stabbed in various places. …
His sufferings were terminated by striking his head from his body.”
This took place on the 13th of September 1778. Eight other individuals were included in the capture, and all eventually were killed, including Honyerry, an Oneida Indian, who was “hacked to pieces”.
To conclude, we should look at as many facts about issues as we can and try to be open-minded.
Several years ago, I wrote an article for inclusion in the Otsego County Tourism booklet. In that article I referred to Joseph Brant as a famous person. I guess I was naïve as I received several calls rebuffing me and stating that I surely must have meant that Brant was infamous. Well, I guess it showed a lack of open-mindedness on the parts of all parties.
I must admit that based on the prowess of Joseph Brant, I still think of him as a remarkable individual, despite his alliance with the Crown. We all need to be more retrospective. Great people have existed on both sides of the fence whether we agree or not with the side of the fence they have chosen to be on.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 29
INDUCTION CEREMONY – 1:30 p.m. Jack Morris, Alan Trammell to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Attendees should bring chairs or blankts, hat & sunscreen. Refreshments sold on-site. Admission, free. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org
SUNDAY SERIES – 1 – 3 p.m. Learn about “Local Archaeology: Historic or Prehistoric” with Buzz Hesse. Swart-Wilcox House Museum, Wilcox Ave., Oneonta.