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In These Otsego Hills

May 3, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: 1986 continues ...

This week we continue our journey through the columns of 1986 with the answer to the question “for whom, according to tradition, was Hannah’s Hill named?”

In the column of Feb. 5, we wrote: “Concerning Hannah’s Hill, Howard P. Michaels, Fly Creek, called our attention to ‘The Story of Cooperstown,’ by Ralph Birdsall. Rector of Christ Church from 1903 to 1918. In that marvelous volume, Father Birdsall states ‘...the pine clad summit which overlooks...the village from the West is still called in her honor, Hannah’s Hill.’ The ‘her’ referred to Hannah Cooper, Judge William Cooper’s eldest daughter. She was only 23 years old when, on September 10, 1800, she fell from her horse while on a ride with her brother, Richard, and died.

“The Cooper brother and sister were on their way to visit General Jacob Morris at his home at what was then called Butternuts and what is now called Morris. When Hannah fell from her horse she struck her head on a tree root and was killed immediately, according to Birdsall’s account.

We must confess that as we grew up here we rarely heard ‘the pine clad summit’ referred to as Hannah’s Hill. Indeed, not too long ago, a native and lifelong village resident asked us quietly on Main Street where Hannah’s Hill was located. Hannah Cooper is buried in the Cooper family plot of Christ Church yard.”

And then, since we had mentioned Birdsall’s book, we where given the following historic information for the column of Feb. 12: “Andrew Gilchriest, Nelson Avenue, was kind enough to point out to us a paragraph from Ralph Birdsall’s ‘The Story of Cooperstown’ concerning the 1901 unveiling of the marker placed by the Otsego Chapter D.A.R. to commemorate Clinton’s Dam: ‘Directly across the river, on the eastern point of the outlet, the newly erected marker was concealed beneath the  folds of an American flag...from beneath the green foliage down the river a canoe paddled by a young man who wore the dress and war paint of a Mohawk brave approached.

Seated with him in the canoe were two little girls attired in patriotic colors...The  young girls were Jennie Ordeliaand Fannie May Converse, both descendants of James Parshall, an orderly sergeant who was present at the building of the dam in 1779. The Indian was impersonated by F. Hamilton McGown, a descendant of John Parshall, private, a brother of James Parshall.’”

And while not exactly historical, we note the following in the column of Feb. 26: “In closing, we have never pondered much over why William Cooper picked this particular spot for his village. Certainly the peaceful lake, verdant hills, lush meadows and woodlands were (and are) a most appealing place.

However, we firmly believe that if Judge Cooper had first arrived here on a day such as several we experienced last week foggy, damp, cold, wet, grey, snowy he probably would have settled in West Palm Beach instead.”

Our historic musings continued when we also wrote in the column of Feb. 26: “On another historical note, in August of 1863, Cooperstown played host to most distinguished visitors. Secretary of State William H. Seward brought the entire diplomatic corps from Washington D.C. to tour the manufacturing areas in New York State. While on said tour, the group visited Cooperstown which charmed them.

Actually Seward had another reason, a secret one, for coming to Cooperstown. He was using the diplomats’ visit as a smokescreen thus masking his true mission. Why was Secretary of State Seward in Cooperstown that August of 1863? Hint...yes, it has to do with the Civil War.”

The answer to the William Seward question appeared in the March 5 when we wrote: “Cloak and daggerish as it seems, in the summer of 1863 Secretary of State William H. Seward was sent by President Lincoln to Cooperstown to consult with Samuel Nelson, a village resident and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1845 to 1872.

The Republican president was most eager to have an unofficial ‘off the record’ opinion from Justice Nelson, a Democrat, on the constitutionality of the new federal draft law. Lincoln did not want it known that he was sending Seward to Cooperstown for such a reason. Thus the whole diplomatic corps tour was designed as a screen which would keep the press from suspecting the truth.

The secretary of state and the justice discussed the draft law at a midnight meeting and Seward returned to Lincoln with the news that Nelson supported the law.

“That the president could seek out Samuel Nelson’s opinion is an indication of the respect that the justice commanded nationally. Locally Nelson was much esteemed. So much that one of the village’s streets bears his name.

We thank Dr. Louis Jones and his book Cooperstown for much of the above.”

On March 5, we turned our attention, as a result of an article written for the paper by Jane Johngren, to the advent of dial telephone service in Cooperstown. We wrote: “We enjoyed Jane Johngren’s telephone article in last week’s Journal. We well remember that day when Cooperstown got dial phones.

We remember wondering what it would be like to make a call without the operator’s saying, ‘Number, please.’ We also wondered if we could remember all those new strange long numbers.

“Our pre-dial phone number was 949 and our neighbors’ across the street, the Spraker’s, was 44. We confess that we do not remember any other pre-dial numbers. Are there any pre-dial telephone books extant?”

Next week we will continue with the answers we received to these burning questions about the telephones.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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In These Otsego Hills
  • The cruelest month of all It has long been said that April is the cruelest month of all. However, given our recent winter, the cruelest month designation might well be open for debate this year.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sharing conspiracy theories on Main Having traversed the village a number of times now, we have come to the conclusion that there is very little reason to mention the current crop of potholes. It seems they are quite able to speak for themselves. In fact, they seem to do so loud and clear.

    April 10, 2014

  • Recovering with family and friends We must say we were somewhat overwhelmed by the telephone calls and emails that we received regarding last week's column. From what we were told it greatly brightened the day for a number of people. In fact, several of our callers told us they were going to cut it out and send it to friends around the country. And just as the column brightened the day for a number of our readers, their responses absolutely made our day. In fact, we are tempted to think it made not only our day, but our week, our month and perhaps even our year.

    April 3, 2014

  • Back to the present Much as we have enjoyed our recent trip through the archives of 1984, we fear we must return to 2014. If nothing else, we were reminded during our journey that the column today is not the column of 1984. But then, we suspect the greater Cooperstown community today is not the community of 1984. And while it is nice to reminisce about yesteryear, it is also important to recognize where we are today. And when we do that, we tend to focus on the one thing that has always made this column seem to work, namely the input of our readers.

    March 27, 2014

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    March 20, 2014

  • DAR column sends us down memory lane Of all the scripts we found in our cleaning of the basement, the one that intrigued us the most is one that we had completely forgotten we had written. It was done for a program we presented quite a while ago at a meeting of the Cooperstown DAR. As we recall, Lona Smith had asked us to talk about our experiences with writing this column. And since that could be a rather lengthy presentation, we decided to limit ourselves to talking about our first year of writing the column.

    March 13, 2014

  • Remembering a CCS vote that failed| We note that the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women's Club of Cooperstown, will be held on Thursday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the Village of Cooperstown Library. Jane Anne Russell will lead a discussion on the book "North to the Orient" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The meeting is open to the public.

    March 6, 2014

  • Cookies make a better valentine than MRI We had originally thought that our entire Valentine's Day celebration would be a trip to Bassett healthcare to get a MRI of our lower back. Thus we were most pleasantly surprised when a friend dropped in on us with a bag of heart shaped, frosted sugar cookies for us.

    February 27, 2014

  • Swing and a miss on PumpkinFest We must admit that we are probably not as caught up in sports as some people are.

    February 20, 2014

  • Keeping busy as winter creeps From all that we hear, any number of people are sick of the winter weather. And, given what it has been, it is not difficult to understand why, especially if one is not particularly taken by winter weather in the first place. However, we do suspect that, unlike some years, the weather worked out well for Cooperstown's annual Winter Carnival. We must admit that we have not participated in the Winter Carnival for a number of years for the simple fact that it is held in the winter. And we are simply not devotees of the winter. But, should the decision ever be made, which we find highly unlikely, to hold the Winter Carnival in the spring or the fall, we might be more inclined to participate

    February 13, 2014