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February 27, 2014

Making maple sugar

Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Feb. 26, 1814

Compiled, with comments


An Indian Method

The sap begins to run — farmers, look out; it is all important that every effort should be made to obtain a national supply, the present year, from our own resources.

One of the principle [sic] obstacles heretofore has been, the loss of sap, trouble and inconvenience, from the awkward machines for catching it, or buckets which are too expensive — to remedy both, make your troughs of white birch bark, holding from 8 to 12 quarts; a squaw will make 150 a day; the ends are warmed a few seconds by the fire to prevent cracking, then folded so as to be entirely tight; the ends meet at top, and are tied by a string of slippery elm, run through and tied outside.

A man may easily carry about 15 or 20, being of different sizes. Another important matter is, to scrape the snow off the surface 6 or 8 feet round the tree, so as to expose the roots to greater cold, by which means from 7 to 10 days extra running is obtained.

COMMENT: With American ports firmly blockaded by British warships, maple sugar was needed to replace the white cane sugar normally imported from the West Indies. William Cooper of Cooperstown had, around 1800, sought to promote maple sugar for moral reasons (cane sugar was produced by African slaves), but didn’t get very far. Now there was an economic reason as well.


Hellish conspiracy is in motion. Why sleeps the genius of the Union, until devils are cast out from the land? A most treasonable pamphlet is secretly circulating in this city.... It is entitled “Northern Grievances.” It speaks in the most bitter & vindictive terms of the government—& expressly recommends a dismemberment of the empire.

This incendiary pamphlet concludes with the following sentence. “You have carried your oppression to the utmost stretch. We will no longer submit. Restore the Constitution to its purity—give us security for the future, indemnity for the past—abolish every tyrannical law—make an immediate and honorable peace—revive our commerce—increase our navy—protect our seamen—.

“Unless you comply with these just demands without delay, we will withdraw from the union, scatter to the winds the bonds of tyranny, and transmit to posterity, that liberty purchased by the revolution.” We have not room this day to take a severer notice of this infamous publication. – [New York] Standard of Union.

COMMENT: Rumors that New England planned to secede from the Union were growing rapidly, as American military efforts began to prove unsuccessful. The New York “Standard of Union” was a semi-weekly newspaper published briefly between October 1813 and May 1814. The editor was Tunis Wortman (1773-1822), a lawyer, political writer, and prominent member of Tammany Hall in New York City.

Another New Editor

S. R. Brown, late Editor of the SARATOGA PATRIOT, an eccentric and versatile being, yet firm and persevering in his purposes, when powerful incentives stimulate to exertion, respectfully informs the American people, from St. Croix to Sabine, from the Atlantic to the wilds of Louisiana, that, life, health and contingencies permitting, he WILL on Monday, the 28th of February ... issue from the press of Messrs. E. & E. Hosford, State-street Albany, the first number of a weekly paper, to be entitled


The objects, nature and conditions of the intended publication will then be made known ... Not a single subscriber is obtained — a few, however, are expected. Don’t laugh, Gentlemen. – Feb.22,1814

COMMENT: The life of Samuel R. Brown (1775-1817) was as eccentric as this advertisement, and over the years he founded and briefly edited quite a number of newspapers, including the “The Aurora Borealis and Saratoga Advertiser,” “The Albany Republican,” and the “Cayuga Patriot.”

Of him, the famous New York editor Thurlow Weed, who boarded with him in 1814, later wrote: “Out of my seven weeks residence there, Mr. Dickens would have found characters and incidents for a novel as rich and as original as that of ‘David Copperfield’ or ‘Nicholas Nickleby.’ Mr. Brown was an even tempered, easy-going, good natured man, who took no thought of what he should eat or what he should drink or where with he should be clothed. He wrote his editorials ... upon his knee, with two or three children about him, playing or crying as the humor took them ...

“Mr. Brown and Mrs. Brown were originals. Neither of them as far as I remember, ever lost temper or even fretted. The office was always full of loungers communicating or receiving news. We worked at intervals during the day and while making a pretense of working in the evening. Those hours were generally devoted to “Blind Man’s Bluff” with two or three neighboring girls or to Juvenile concerts by Richard Oliphant, our typesetter, and vocalist.”

“Carding Machines.”

William Tew adopts this method of acquainting the public, that he has associated Mr. ABRAHAM FISK, in business with himself, and that in future they will carry on making Carding Machines, at the Card and Wire Factory, on Oaks’ Creek, four miles west of Cooperstown, under the firm of Tew & Fisk ...

They have on hand a number of machines, which will be sold on liberal terms ... Most kinds of Grain will be accepted in payment. WILLIAM TEW; ABRAHAM FISK. Otsego, Feb. 26, 1814.

COMMENT: William Tew (1769-1847) lived in Otsego County from 1810-1832. He came from Rhode Island, and his father and two older brothers had died during the Revolution as British prisoners. William and his wife Priscilla Fish (1776-1852) had 9 children. There are a lot of Abraham Fisk’s, and I haven’t identified this one. Carding is a mechanical process that breaks up locks and unorganized clumps of fiber and then aligns the individual fibers so that they are more or less parallel.