From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, May 7, and Wednesday, May 11, 1814

Compiled, with comments



[Results summarized from Otsego County tables in this “Otsego Herald.” The two Political Parties were the Federalists (opposed to the War of 1812) and the Republican-Democrats (Jeffersonian — supporting the War of 1812). I have roughly averaged votes cast for different candidates of each party.]

Congress (House of Representatives, Western district): Republicans (with Otsego County votes of about 2,700 votes each) Jabez D. Hammond and James Birdsall, defeated Federalists (about 2,450 votes each) Robert Campbell and Tracy Robinson. Federal Senators were, at this time, appointed by the State Legislature.

NY Assembly: Four Republicans (about 2,700 votes) Arumah Metcalf, Robert Roseboom, Lemuel Fitch and Nathaniel Fenton defeated four Federalists (2,450) George Pomeroy, Charles Mason, Lester Holt, and James Hyde. This helped transfer control of the State Assembly from the Federalists back to the Republicans, who gained 19 seats and lost only one. .

NY Senate: Four Republicans (1,740) Philetus Smith, Chauncey Loomis, Bennet Bicknell, and J. I. Prendergast defeated Federalists (1,625) Joseph Kirkland, Valentine Brother, Joshua Forman and Jared Sandford. NOTE: Property requirements for voting for State Senator were higher than for voting for Assemblyman.

Within the county, Republicans carried the towns of Milford, Exeter, Pittsfield, New Lisbon, Richfield, Otego, Burlington, Maryland, Westford, Edmeston, Worcester, Hartwick, and Unadilla. NOTE: Reflecting the growing influence of Jedediah Peck of Burlington.

Federalists carried Otsego, Laurens, Middlefield, Springfield, Decatur, Cherry Valley, and Butternuts. NOTE: Reflecting the continued influence of the Cooper family.

Newspaper Date Changed

To accommodate our western customers who receive their papers by mail, the HERALD will hereafter be published on Wednesday. As this arrangement will render it inconvenient to give the paper next Wednesday in its usual size, we shall issue but a half sheet on that day, which will be delivered gratis.

COMMENT: We include one item from the May 11 “half issue.”

Cleaning Merino Wool

From a letter dated November 20, 1813. SIR — In compliance with your request to obtain ... the best method for cleansing the Merino Wool, the following directions are given by one of our best manufacturers: One part urine, two parts soft water, as warm as the hand can bear; let the wool be properly worked in this, then taken out and laid on a rack to drain ... then rinse it well in cold soft water. ...

When to be carded, about one gill of olive or sweet oil to the pound of Merino Wool. ... The price of wool is increasing: -- Merino full blooded, 2 dollars 50 cents — three 4ths 1 dollar 50 cents — one half, 1 dollar —one fourth 75 cents — common, 37 to 50 cents.

Farmers ... can now manufacture all the wool they can raise at 100 percent profit.

COMMENT: The “bubble” for growing the Merino breed of sheep, which had been smuggled out of Spain, was at its height, and Otsego County was in its center. Young James Cooper (he had not yet adopted the “Fenimore”) was trying to raise them at what he called “Mount Ovis” on the site of the New York State Historical Association. When the War of 1812 ended, the bubble burst.

London Smog

London, Jan. 3 ...The fog still continues. It was more dense and oppressive last night than at any time since its commencement on Monday last. Very few persons ventured out ... and no sound was heard out of doors but the voices of the watchmen or the noise of some solitary carriage, cautiously feeling its way through the gloom.

To a person who came up to London ... it would seem as if he had been descending into a coal pit, to see persons walking with a little torch or candle, at 4 o’clock, in the afternoon, and trying to find out in their own street their habitations and ... so bewildered as to knock at their neighbor’s doors to ask where their own houses were.

Some of the public stages and coaches were obliged to be left in the roads, and the horses taken out —many were overturned, and several people injured.

COMMENT: The famous (or infamous) London fogs would last until the early 20th century, when coal ceased to be the principal fuel for heating buildings.

Ships Launched

Middlebury [VT], April 27. From Vergennes, we learn, that six row-gallies were launched last week, capable of mounting two heavy guns each. ... The new Brig is represented to be one of the finest of her class. If our fleet, thus strengthened, clears Otter Creek in safety, we venture to predict that it will ride triumphant on Lake Champlain the ensuing season.

COMMENT: As indeed it did, at the Battle of Plattsburgh on Sept. 11, 1814, when a small American fleet on Lake Champlain commanded by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough decisively defeated a British squadron commanded by Commodore George Downie (who was killed in the fight).

The American naval victory caused British Army Commander Sir George Prevost to abandon his planned invasion of America and retreat back to Canada.

The American Brig (a two masted warship) referred to in the story was the 500 ton Eagle, with a crew of 150, carrying eight 18-pounder guns and twelve 32-pounder carronades (a shorter type of cannon). Her hull was holed 39 times and she lost 13 men killed and 20 wounded. After the war she was sold in 1825. The six “row-gallies” gunboats were each 70 tons, with a crew of 40; they carried one 24-pounder long gun and one 16-pounder carronade. – From the May 11 issue.

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