News of Otsego County

James Fenimore Cooper

Editorial: Missions possible

Missions possible

On its editorial page over the past few weeks, The Freeman’s Journal has commented on, among other important issues, the fog-like haze that was smoke from the western wildfires that fell on the lake and village, leaving the air heavily dangerous for long periods of time, and the latest COVID surge that is gnawing, for the most part, on our unvaccinated and younger residents — children — as well as causing new concern among our older population. None of this was any good and all of it is sad and, no doubt to some, depressing.

However, for us here in Otsego County, this distant, remote upstate almost-forgotten (or, perhaps, not yet discovered) place, there is a special glimmer; something that can bring a smile; something to lighten our load and keep us on a happier track. Otsego Lake.

Nine miles of clear, deep water that laps endlessly on steep tree-lined shores and often reflects the changing sky and clouds and forest, the lake is a home to myriad fish and feathered wildlife, a reservoir for the village of Cooperstown and a summer and winter playground for boaters, tubers, swimmers, sailors, rowers, paddlers, divers, fishermen and water, and snow-skiers. Glacier-created during the last great Ice Age, and spring-fed as well as stream-fed, this superb natural resource is the headwaters of the Susquehanna River. In the past it has played a variety of roles in the Leatherstocking novels of James Fenimore Cooper, who called his – and our – beautiful lake The Glimmerglass.

Hyde Hall holds history close to its heart, mission
Hyde Hall is 22,000 square feet and was built in the 19th century. (Kevin Limiti/

Hyde Hall holds history
close to its heart, mission

The haunted mansion exudes an atmosphere
that is unlike any other in Otsego County

Hyde Hall brings to mind Shirley Jackson’s famous opening for the Haunting of Hill House. Only in this case, the house stood for more than 200 years and will probably stand for 200 more.

Hyde Hall is something of an anomaly. It’s a relic of the past, which does not exist anymore and was unusual even for the time, at least in Otsego County.

The breathtaking scenery surrounding Hyde Hall is enough to warrant a visit. At the top, where the house stands, you can look down at Otsego Lake and see all the way to Cooperstown.

The limestone house has a cold, intimidating demeanor, which is why it is a surprise the interior of the house feels warmer and much more decorative. Marketing Manager John Aborn describes it as an oyster with a pearl inside.

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.

Moon Over Otsego

Cooperstown photographer Jeri Dobler captured the moon rising last evening over James Fenimore Cooper’s Gllimmerglass.

Music, Literature, Bill Murray


SPECIAL PERFORMANCE – 8 p.m. One night program featuring chamber music and literature with cellist Jan Vogler, pianist Vanessa Perez, and violinist Mira Wang performing selections from Bach, Schubert, and readings from Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper. Also including Bill Murray (Ghost Busters, Lost in Translation, Moonlight Kingdom, etc.). Glimmerglass Festival, 7300 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-2255 or visit

CONCERT – 7 p.m. Dyer Switch Band performs traditional tunes from 1st-generation bluegrass giants, as well as originals. Lakefront Park, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-5256 or visit

Cooperstown Historian Traces Roots Of Mystery Novel To Cooper Daughter

Cooperstown Historian Traces Roots 

Of Mystery Novel To Cooper Daughter

Cooperstown Village Historian Hugh MacDougall fields a question from the Friends of the Library's Hilda Wilcox this afternoon after delivering a paper on "Elinor Wyllys," a little known novel by Susan Fenimore Cooper, daughter of James Fenimore Cooper.  The courtroom scene in "Elinor," and her father's  1850 mystery novel, "The Ways of the Hour," were early example of what continues as a popular genre today.  (Jim Kevlin/
Cooperstown Village Historian Hugh MacDougall fields a question from the Friends of the Library’s Hilda Wilcox this afternoon after delivering a paper on “Elinor Wyllys,” a little known 1845 novel by Susan Fenimore Cooper, daughter of James Fenimore Cooper. The courtroom scene in “Elinor,” and her father’s 1850 mystery novel, “The Ways of the Hour,” were early examples of what continues to be a popular genre today, said MacDougall, an expert on the Cooperstown family of writers and a founder of the James Fenimore Cooper Society. (Jim Kevlin/


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