October 21, 2000

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A popular slogan several decades back was, "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?" In the beginning of 1815 it was more a case of "Suppose They Called the War Off and Didn't Tell Everyone?" Or more accurately, couldn't tell everyone. By the time news of the peace treaty reached Louisiana, the Americans under Andrew Jackson had thoroughly trounced Sir Edward Pakenham's British forces. A great morale booster, it turned out to be otherwise meaningless, as peace reasserted itself.

New York State had some winding down and some building up to do. Several ships being completed at Sackett's Harbor were mothballed and remained under wraps for decades. During the dismantling of one, the ship New Orleans in 1884, half the vessel broke off and toppled, killing one workman and injuring two others, victims of a war fought 69 years before. But back to 1815. A number of British officers, including commodores Owen and Yeo came down the Hudson from the Great Lakes unmolested and passed through Manhattan, taking a private ship back to England. Some wounds healed more quickly when the prospect of profits was held out. By May steamboat service between Sackett's Harbor and Kingston, Ontario, was on a regular schedule.

Other projects, unrelated to the war, moving along. A steamboat navigated the rapids of Hell's Gate in Manhattan's East River and launched the crude beginnings of the New Haven Line. That December, both the East and the Hudson froze completely over. And at about the same time mayor De Witt Clinton was invited to present a proposal to the state legislature regarding his ideas for canal to link Albany with Lake Erie. On the eastern shores of the latter, the village of Buffalo was rising rapidly from its own ashes. This same year Colonel Nathaniel Rochester continued to edge closer to the village that would bear his name, moving from Dansville to East Bloomfield.

If war's aftermath preoccupied New York's citizens in 1815, so did legal matters. Governor Tompkins granted a pardon to our geologist friend Amos Eaton. Just one stipulation. Don't show your face in New York State. Ever again. Eaton agreed and headed to Massachusetts. He'd be back. Not so lucky were Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Whittlesley. And this was related directly to the war. Lawyer Whittlesley, a militia paymaster, arrived in Watertown with his wife and news of a bold robbery. The two of them had been forced to hand over $8700 in military funds. Actually the Missus had stolen the money, and when caught by her husband, persuaded him to join the scam. Certain details of his story didn't ring true to some, though. Several of his bondsmen got him alone in the woods, dunked his head under water several times for lengthy periods and got a confession. His wife learned the jig was up, walked down to the river, threw herself in, and drowned. She gained some fame however; they named the spot Whittlesley Point.

For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor

 

© 2000 David Minor / Eagles Byte

 

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URL OF THE WEEK
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Shuffle off and see if the gals will come out tonight. That's right; we're talking about Buffalo, New York. It may be struggling with a dwindling population currently, but the one-time Queen City of the Great Lakes is well worth a detailed look. And that's what webmaster Chuck LaChiusa has given us at:

http://bfn.org/preservationworks/hist/hist/bfloto1831/index.html

You'll find a chronology for the city, accompanied by links to a huge number of historic and modern photographs.Links to other related materials are promised in the near future. Best not to eat your Buffalo chicken wings at the keyboard however.

 

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THE GAME'S AFOOT ! !
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