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August 15, 2013

Hartwick finishes marker restoration projects

Cooperstown Crier

---- — The town of Hartwick marked its history, literally, on Aug. 8, by restoring a historic marker at 3650 state Route 205 in honor of Marcus Wells.

Wells, a farmer, carpenter and lawyer, is best known for the hymn “Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide,” which he wrote in Hartwick in 1858. Deb Ward sang Wells’ hymn at the dedication.

Wells lived in the house where the marker has been restored.

The house is now the parsonage house for Reverend Laverne Saxer and his wife Marie of the Christian Church of Hartwick.

“The crux of the song is that the Holy Spirit is always by your side,” Saxer said at the marker unveiling. “If you look at Marcus Wells’ life … you see the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the reality of it played out in his life.”

The marker honoring Wells was the final marker of six that the Hartwick Historical Society restored with a federal grant. It was the only one that had to be completely replaced. According to Saxer, the original marker was knocked down during a snow storm in 1971 and a wooden replacement rotted away nearly 20 years ago.

The other five markers were cleaned and repainted. They mark the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, Hartwick Seminary, the grave of Ebenezer White in the South Hartwick Cemetery and the grave of a revolutionary war solider in Pleasant Valley.

“If you look at them, four of them are religious, which honors why Hartwick was founded in the first place, as New Jerusalem,” said Gloria Waro, vice president of the Historical Society. “But if you look a little deeper, the other two have religious ties as well. The one at the South Hartwick Cemetery honors Ebenezer White, who was a itinerant minister and the other one honors Abner Adams, a revolutionary war soldier. I think if you do a little digging, you will find he also had a religious background.”

Waro said that watching the historical society members honor the local history has been gratifying.

“It has been a lot of fun to watch this process,” she said.

Although the original markers are all restored, the society has ideas for some new ones, according to town historian Carol Goodrich.

“There are a few more we would like to place,” she said.

Added Historical Society president Caren Kelsey: “We are going to write for another grant.”