Category Archives: Living History

2019 Henry Welles Award

The Henry C. Welles award honors those individuals who “embody the character and commitment of the founder of Memorial Day toward the betterment of our community.”
Lee Henry – 2019 Henry C. Welles Award Winner

For his efforts to preserve and improve the village of Waterloo, this year’s Welles award honors Leland “Lee” Henry of 93 Virginia Street.

“For more than 50 years, Lee has worked tirelessly for the improvement of Waterloo,” said Josh Mull, a member of the selection committee. “From his service in the Lions Club and the Jay Cees, to his work on the Town Board and his efforts as a private citizen, Lee’s life of service and commitment is exemplary.”

Lee Henry will be presented his award at a reception from 5:30 to 6:30 pm on Friday, May 24, at the Waterloo Library and Historical Society, East Williams Street, the kickoff for Celebrate Commemorate weekend.

Henry came to Waterloo with his family from Brooklyn in 1946, in the middle of his junior year in high school, and although his work forced him to move frequently throughout his adult life, Waterloo was always the place he called home.

Lee graduated from Waterloo High School in 1947, and after a year in college enlisted in the ARMY, serving four years with the 82nd Airborne Division. While in the service, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Alice O’Connor, who joined him at Ft Bragg, N C .It was not surprising that the young couple returned to Waterloo following his discharge. “Our roots were here,” he explained.

Not long after settling into his new home, Henry joined the Waterloo Lions Club and became involved in the group’s many projects. The Lions created the first crossing to Oak Island by installing a culvert  and path from Oak Street. They then built a playground in the swampy area north of what is now the Community Center, between Oak & Seneca St “We literally drained the swamp before it became a popular phrase,” Henry said with a laugh. Mike Weaver, local tile drainage expert, provided help with drainage and surveying, he said.But the group was stymied when it came to installing a fence around the field.  The project’s cost was more than the group could fund.  Then they heard that the former Andes Furnace  Co  on Route 5&20 in Geneva was closing and would donate its cyclone fence to the Lions if they removed it that weekend.  Verne Sessler Sr. .came to the rescue  providing trucks and equipment and on a “rainy, cold weekend” in November the Lions turned out to take on the challenge of rolling up several hundred feet of fence, pulling up posts and removing the concrete footings. “That’s when I learned to use a jackhammer,” Henry joked.  The playground was completed over several years, fence erected, painted, equipped, supervised and became a Village operation. Henry remained a Lion for many years, serving at least one term as President.

During this time, he was employed at Greenwood Foods, moving up from warehouseman to transportation manager. For three years he also drove three nights a week to Syracuse University to study economics and transportation, a tough commute in those days with no Thruway. And he and Alice raised their three children, daughters Karen and Valerie and son Leland.  When work took him away from Waterloo, Henry reluctantly gave up his community activities.  But he returned home in 1965-66 in time to assist fellow Welles Award recipients Richard Schreck and John Genung on the Centennial Committee that succeed in Waterloo being named the official Birthplace of Memorial Day.

It was a proud day in 1978 when Lee successfully passed the five, four-hour exams to earn his professional certification from the American Society of Traffic and Transportation.  Following his retirement in 1992, Henry returned to public service. He served on the Town Board from 1997-2001, helping form a zoning committee and develop a comprehensive plan and the Town’s first zoning ordinance, with a bevy of other ordinances to protect to Town, in 2000. 

Henry served on the board of the Library & Historical Society from 2005 to 2009 ,helping raise funds and drafting the organization’s first formal budget and instituting health care and retirement plans for employees. 

He is proudest of his work as vice president of Concerned Citizens of Seneca County in helping to shutter mining on a 200-acre field East of Burgess Road. “Saving that land is huge. If Waterloo is ever going to expand, that’s the natural direction,” he explained. 

 Alice Henry died in 2014, and these days Lee, age 90, enjoys spending time with his children and their spouses, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren who all live nearby, and his large orange cat “Dilbert”.  He works part time as a delivery person for BonaDent, serves as an usher at St. Francis-St. Clare church, delivers Meals on Wheels and is working on his golf game. 

“We are honored to welcome Lee Henry to the group of amazing men and women who are previous Welles Award recipients,” said Jane Shaffer, co-chair of Celebrate Commemorate. 

Schedules – Applications – Maps available

If you are looking for a Schedule of Events, Event Map or 5k Race Map, or need an  Application for an event or wish to be a vendor, please visit this link.

Schedules, Applications, Maps, etc.

Bear_wText

US Engineers during the Civil War

The Civil War encampment this Memorial Day weekend on Oak Island will feature a two day long “School of Instruction for Engineers / Pioneers”. Engineers were one of four branches of the Army including the infantry, artillery and cavalry during the American Civil War. The general public will be able to see Civil War reenactor participants build some of the various defensive pieces during this school of instruction. Pioneers were infantry troops that were skilled tradesman that acted as “infantry engineers”, one per every 100 man company if they were available.
Photos courtesy of Dennis Luthart

 

The role of the engineer was extremely vital for the Army to move across the land and fight on the battlefield. The engineers were instrumental in clearing paths through woods, laying down “corduroy roads” on muddy surfaces, building wooden trestle bridges and transporting / deploying pontoon bridges over rivers.  Defensive works needed the guidance of the engineers to construct gabions (three foot tall, round wicker containers filled with dirt to place around artillery batteries), and direct the building of field fortifications especially towards the middle through the end of the war when trench warfare was more prevalent. Chevaux-de-frise (or Friesian horses) were anti-cavalry defensive pieces built by engineers that were often logs with projecting sharpened spikes alternating every foot out of the timber. When placed in front of defensive works they acted as a barrier or obstacle for both cavalry and infantry offensives. Abatis were large branches that were placed in front of works as well to serve as a obstacle to slow down an advance of troops. Also in front of such works were shallow rifle pits (much like foxholes) that the defenders would use to repel the offensive forces. Signal towers were often constructed behind the lines for both observation of the enemy and use by the signal corps to transmit semaphore messages with flags. Lifting gins, with their pulleys, were used to lift heavy objects such as cannon barrels. 

During the course of the “School of the Engineer / Pioneer”, the public will be able to witness participants rotating through 45 minute learning sessions on how to build gabions, chevaux-de-frise, lifting gins, dig rifle pits and a construct a signal tower. The Engineers’ Tool Depot will feature hand tools, entrenching / felling implements and cartography (map making) equipment. Witness history yourself, see their camps, examine their personal belongings, food and equipment. The school located at the Oak Island encampment will commence on Saturday at 1pm following the Memorial Day Parade. 

The school is hosted by two Western New York engineer reenacting units. Capt. Ray Ball of Co. A of the U.S. Regular Engineers has been reenacting since 2010 and is a veteran of the Army Corps of Engineers. Capt Alex Johnson of Co. F of the 1st N.Y. Volunteer Engineers, has reenacted since 1992 and is a descendant of an immigrant sergeant of the original New York regiment. If you’re so intrigued to, join in on the fun and enlist in either Co. A of the U.S. Regular Engineers or Co. F of the 1st N.Y. Volunteer Engineers. 

Photos courtesy of Dennis Luthart

 

Fritz Klein as President Abraham Lincoln May 24th-26th

Klein’s portrayal of Lincoln brings this American icon to life. He bears a striking physical resemblance to Lincoln. His programs are thoroughly researched, historically accurate, and blend Lincoln’s humor with his great humanity. His ability to adapt to any audience and adapt his program’s content to your theme means that you are guaranteed to walk away with new insight into the man and a genuine sense that you have been with Lincoln himself.

To prepare for a performance, it takes about an hour with costume and make-up. However, if you happen to have Lincoln in mind, his natural resemblance to Abraham Lincoln can be quite convincing. Several years ago when visiting Washington D.C. he created something of a stir when he walked into Ford’s Theater, the place where Lincoln was shot. Though Klein was dressed in ordinary street attire, with his 6’3″ height and Quaker beard one woman screamed outright when she looked up to see him casually strolling down the stairs.

FritzAbe 1

Actor Fritz Klein of Springfield, Illinois has been a professional actor and speaker for many years. His portrayal of Lincoln brings this American icon to life. Klein brings striking physical resemblance as well as historical accuracy, acting ability, humor, and relevance to the audience. Productions vary in content and length according to the need and character of the audience, but you will come away with new insight and the sense that you have been with Lincoln himself. Klein was first asked to portray Lincoln after performing as Lyman Beecher in a local history pageant in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i where he lived at the time. After a number of requests for repeat performances, he decided to begin extensive research in order to write a one-man production on Lincoln. That production has led to many others. He has since performed as Lincoln in 38 states and internationally as well. He and his wife Linda now reside in Springfield, Illinois where he performs at the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, as well as many other venues around the country. In the summer Klein plays Lincoln in a variety of venues in a program called “History Comes Alive. In 2011 Klein was featured in the National Park Service’s recreation of Lincoln’s Inaugural Journey, travelling from Springfield to Washington, DC. and performing for some 5,000 people enroute. Klein portrayed Lincoln in a feature entitled “Lost River” and four History Channel Lincoln Bicentennial spots, as well as the award-winning Lincoln film at the Lincoln Home National Park “Journey to Greatness” by Aperture films of Los Angeles. On President Obama’s Inauguration night, Klein was Lincoln in the first American showing of a German film called “Lincoln’s Last Night” produced by VIDICOM of Hamburg and again featured at the Smithsonian for the 2013 Inauguration. Klein was also featured in the 2013 Ford’s Theater exhibit put together by History Channel. Klein has also done numerous documentary and feature films for National Geographic, Discovery and History Channel including “Stealing Lincoln’s Body”, “Lincoln’s Secret Killer”, and “American Mastermind”. In 2013 the Smithsonian film, “Lincoln’sWashingtonWar” aired in 2013, on the Smithsonian Channel, and he appeared on National television with “Larry the Cable Guy”. In April 2015 a new documentary “Lincoln’s Last Day” aired on the Smithsonian Channel. Recent plays include a 2012 role in the Pulitzer – Prize nominated production “The Heavens Are Hung in Black” by James Still, and a 2014 appearance with actor Carlo Garcia in “Of Mutual Interest – Lincoln and Mexico” before Illinois Governor and delegates from Mexico. In the Fall of 2014 a new Ken Bradbury play about Lincoln’s assassination called “Last Full Measure” opened at Union Theater in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. That play will continue to run in locations around the country through 2016.

President Abraham Lincoln (Fritz Klein) speaks at the American Civil War memorial in Waterloo, New York. As keynote speaker at the annual Illumination Ceremony, He was asked to make some comments about the battles at Gettysburg and his part in the dedication of the cemetery. His comments conclude with his famous Gettysburg Address, recited as only the President could.
<p class=”wpview-selection-before”></p>

The boating experience that should not be missed!

Depart Oak Island, Waterloo, aboard the Seneca Lake Reel Tours, a 50-foot catamaran, and travel down the Cayuga-Seneca Canal passing through the Waterloo lock and descending 15 feet.

Drinks and snacks available for purchase.  Bathroom on board.

Boat departs at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm Saturday and Sunday. Pre-sale tickets from Stivers Seneca Marine 315-789-5520  bstivers1@hotmail.com

Tickets will also be available for purchase prior to departure. Tickets: Adults $15.00 & Children $10.00 (ages 10 and up).

Historical dialogue featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube

We are proud to have Women’s Rights National Historical Park as a sponsor again this year. The M’Clintock House on East Williams Street was the home of Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock from 1836-1856. The family were active Quaker abolitionists, actively engaged in the Underground Railroad, and were major organizers of the first Woman’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY, in July of 1848.

In honor of Memorial Day, Women’s Rights National Historical Park will offer an open house at the M’Clintock House from 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM on Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26.  A ranger will rove Lafayette Park 1-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday at 1:15 AND Sunday at Noon, The beautiful harmonies and songs of Merry Mischief from by gone times will set the mood in advance of the characterizations of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Step back in time with music and learn from the wisdom of those who have tread the stairs of politics and women’s rights at this historic museum.

 

At the M’Clintock House at 1:45 pm and 3:00 pm Saturday, May 25th and 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm Sunday, May 26th, there will be Historical dialogues on women’s rights and women’s suffrage featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube.

Kids will have an opportunity to join in the fun, playing lawn games or writing their own Kids’ Declaration of Sentiments in the M’Clintock House yard.

 

 

 

Melinda Grube focuses on the life and work of suffragist and freethinker Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who helped to organize the first Woman’s Rights Convention in her hometown of Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.  Melinda Grube is an adjunct lecturer in history at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, New York, and a longtime interpreter of regional women’s-rights history

 

 

Here is a sample from the 2017 dialogues:

Federick Douglass

 The most Prolific and Highly Regarded Frederick Douglass Presenter to Attend

Frederick Douglass / aka Michael Crutcher Sr.,
will speak on Abolition and Human Rights at
2:30-3:30 Saturday at Pavilion 1, and
at 11:00-11:45 Sunday at Pavilion 1.

Frederick Douglas a.k.a. Michael E. Crutcher, Sr.

Frederick Douglass – “A fugitive slave who rose from bondage to become a foremost orator, writer, abolitionist, and the most influential black leader of the mid-nineteenth century. Douglass was instrumental in convincing President Lincoln and the U.S. Army to raise regiments of former slaves and free northern blacks to help fight the war and liberate their enslaved brethren in the South.” Douglass was a Martin Luther King Jr. type of that time! A well-known Frederick Douglass message to us today: “Without a struggle, there can be no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”

“Michael Crutcher Sr. is perhaps the most prolific and highly regarded Frederick Douglass presenter in the world!”

“His greatest honor to date was representing Douglass at the request of Frederick’s descendant family at the unveiling of the new Frederick Douglass statue in Emancipation Hall at the Nation’s Capital in Washington, DX, on June 19, 2013.”

He has been in several television commercials and training videos and was a stand-in actor in the movie Seabiscuit and can be seen in the movie Dreamer, with actors Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell Douglass’ statue is the first to represent the District of Columbia and the third of an African-American at the Capitol. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks from the modern civil rights era also have statues, as do abolitionist Sojourner Truth

In early 1863 Brigadier General Lorenzo Thomas Sr. was sent to the Mississippi Valley by the Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War to organize self-emancipated “slaves” into regiments of United States civil war troops. On April 12th while at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana headquarters of General Grant, he was satisfied that 20,000 troops alone, could be organized on the west bank of the Mississippi in answer to Douglass’s Call to Arms at the time.

”Freedom to the slave should now be proclaimed from the Capitol, and should be seen above the smoke and fire of every battle field, waving from every loyal flag.”—Frederick Douglass, 1861

SELF-EMANCIPATION ABOUNDED IN THE MISSISSIPPI “RIBBER” VALLEY IN FREEDOM SUMMERE 1863 AS EX-SLAVES SOLDIERS FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM’S GLORY ON THE BAYOUS

In April U. S. Colored Troops fought Confederate Armies at Pascagoula Mississippi and won. In May they lost in battle at Port Hudson near Baton Rouge, while proving they could and would fight their “masters.” In June they won in battles of Fort Butler in Donaldsonville and Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana. On July 4, they won in battle at Helena Arkansas. These battles were for Union control of Mississippi River and victory at Vicksburg.

In Freedom Summer 1863, Vicksburg fell to the Union Army on July 4th, four days later Confederates at Port Hudson surrendered. Then thousands upon thousands of enslaved African Descendants self-emancipated (runaways) “in ways that showed once and for all they were not content to be held in bondage.”

Up and down the Mississippi River and her tributaries, thousands of able-bodied African Descent males joined and were recruited into the Union military as freedom fighting soldiers, sailors and cavalrymen. Thousands of other African Descent men, women and children served the cause for freedom as spies, scouts, nurses, cooks, laundresses, servants, teamsters, stevedores, foragers, wood choppers, general laborers, field hands, blacksmiths and builders of forts, breastworks and roads.

frederick Douglass 2

Female Heroes of the Civil War

Espionage and Samaritans are as old as conflict itself, and women have often played major roles as spies, doctors and nurses.. The American Civil War was no exception. This year’s Celebrate Commemorate Living History event will include portrayals of female spy for the North – Elizabeth “Crazy Bett” Van Lew, portrayed by Nancy Karasinski, Dr. Mary Walker portrayed by Marilyn Dirk and Clara Barton portrayed by Eleanor Sterns.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, for her work as a surgeon during the Civil War. Mary Walker was born in Oswego, in upstate New York, in 1832. She graduated from Syracuse Medical College and, while serving as an assistant surgeon during the Civil War, was captured by the Confederate army. Following her release, Walker briefly returned to Washington, D.C. In the fall of 1864, she received a contract as an “acting assistant surgeon” with the Ohio 52nd Infantry, and soon began supervising a hospital for women prisoners and then an orphanage. She went on to lecture on women’s rights, dress reform and suffrage. She’s also known for her work as an outspoken women’s rights activist, for seeking to change the restrictive styles of women’s fashions of her day, and for refusing to be held back by her gender.  Walker died in Oswego in 1919.

 

 

Dirk, former President of the New York Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. You may recognize Marilyn from her previous appearances as spy Belle Boyd.  Dirk enjoys bringing to light the heroic contribution of women to our national history, a contribution too often overlooked by mainstream history books.

 

 

CLARA BARTON:
Educator, nurse and founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton became a teacher, worked in the U.S. Patent Office and was an independent nurse during the Civil War. Barton sought to help the soldiers in any way she could. At the beginning, she collected and distributed supplies for the Union Army. Not content sitting on the sidelines, Barton served as an independent nurse and first saw combat in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1862. She also cared for soldiers wounded at Antietam. Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” for her work.

After the war ended in 1865, Clara Barton worked for the War Department, helping to either reunite missing soldiers and their families or find out more about those who were missing. She also became a lecturer and crowds of people came to hear her talk about her war experiences. While visiting Europe, she worked with a relief organization known as the International Red Cross, and lobbied for an American branch when she returned home. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881, and Barton served as its first president.

Eleanor Sterns is a popular actress and board member of the Geneva Theater Guild.  She brings history alive through her portrayals of  “women of vision” — Clara Barton, Emily Dickinson, Amelia Earhart and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. “I am passionate about doing them. It’s my goal to bring these women alive and to bring history to people,” Sterns said.  “One of the most exciting times was when I did Clara Barton in her home down near Washington, D.C. on the 100th anniversary of her resignation from the Red Cross. They let me get changed upstairs and I came down the stairs that she would come down.”

The 148th New York Volunteer Regiment of Infantry

In the reenactment community, the 148th New York Volunteers are considered veterans. Established in 1962, the 148th is the oldest Civil War reenactment organization in New York State. Since its founding, it has participated in several hundred Civil War battle reenactments and hosted scores of living history events, marched in parades and given presentations for schools and historical societies. Even though the organization is built on a military impression, families participate in the recreation of a time in American history when everyone was touched by the events, not just the soldiers serving in Dixie. The original 148th was recruited from the Finger Lakes regions of New York. They were assigned to the Army of the James and served under Major General Benjamin “The Beast” Butler. Some of the battles they participated in were Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, the Siege of Petersburg, Chaffin’s Farm, Fair Oaks, the Appomattox Campaign, and the post-war occupation of the city of Richmond. They had five Medal of Honor recipients, and suffered more than 500 casualties. The 148th of today recruits its members primarily from the Finger Lakes area. In 1962, the 148th began with six members from the Ovid Camp of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. Membership in the SUV is a tribute to those “Sons of the Finger Lakes” who answered Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more!

148th muskets