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Throwback Thursday: September 22, 2022

“Banned Books Week” display. Moffat Library, Campbell Hall location, September 3, 2013. Moffat Library of Washingtonville

From September 18th to 24th, 2022, libraries across the United States are commemorating Banned Books Week. Since 1982, this awareness campaign celebrates the freedom to read, while drawing attention to banned or challenged books as well as those persecuted for reading or writing them. Over the years, our library has put together many creative displays to recognize Banned Books Week, even when we were temporarily removed to our Campbell Hall location! To view these and other book displays our staff has put together in the past, head over to our Flickr album here.
To learn more about Banned Books Week, including the top challenged books of 2021, you can visit the official Banned Books Week website here.

Throwback Thursday: June 23, 2022

American Girl. 2000 Summer Reading Program, Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

Last week registration opened for our 2022 Summer Reading Program: Oceans of Possibilities! Every year between July and August, libraries across the United States host special events and programs that encourage children, teens and adults to read as many books as they can in order to expand their minds and revel in the simple joys of reading. The staff of the Moffat Library have actively documented our summer reading programs since the early 1990s for historical and staff development purposes.Our local history librarian has recently begun uploading selections of these events to our photo archive on Flickr! Check out our Summer Reading Program photo archives spanning the years 2000-2008 here and see if you recognize anyone! 

Check out our Summer Reading Program photo archives spanning the years 2000-2008 here and see if you recognize anyone!
The image below is from an American Girl program as part of our 2000 Summer Reading Program “Discover 2000 Read”.
To register yourself and your children for this year’s program, visit our registration page on Beanstack here or call the library at (845) 496-5483 x 325, or visit us in person for additional details during our operating hours!

Throwback Thursday: June 16, 2022

This week we are observing Juneteenth on our blog this Throwback Thursday by highlighting a recent donation potentially connected to a local resident to our library’s Local History Collection that tells the story of African Americans actors and artists and their triumphs and challenges of advancing their careers and profession in a segregated United States in the 1930s.

Flyer for Sit-Down Protest at Lafayette Theater, Harlem (c. 1939). Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

Although states abolished slavery at different times leading up to, and following the American Civil War (1861-1865), Juneteenth commemorates the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the official abolition of slavery on June 19th, 1865. Many states have their own “Emancipation Days” but Juneteenth has been recognized and celebrated by African Americans throughout the United States since the first official celebrations were held on June 19, 1866. Despite this, June 19th only became a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and eventually a federal holiday in 2021.

 

This flyer for a “Sit-Down” protest from members of the Harlem chapter of the “Negro Theater Project” (NTP) does not explicitly mention the Juneteenth holiday. However, the significance of the date in relation to the activities of this group of civil rights pioneers was probably not lost on them or those who supported their efforts. Since the end of the American Civil War, African Americans throughout the United States lived in a segregated society, where they were barred by law and racial prejudice from receiving the same privileges and advantages of their white counterparts. This was exacerbated more when the stock market crashed in 1929 ushering in the Great Depression, a period which saw massive unemployment for many Americans across racial, social and economic backgrounds. 

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped to alleviate unemployment and poverty through his slate of “New Deal” programs, which aimed to use the power of the federal government to increase wages and provide employment opportunities in exchange for national improvement projects that covered areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and the arts. One such program was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was created as part of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act in April, 1935 and renamed the “Works Projects Administration” in 1939 and was a government funded program that employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.5 million projects. One subdivision of the WPA was the “Federal Theater Project” (FTP) which included a segregated unit geared towards African American artists and performers known as “The Negro Theatre Project”, or NTP. This project established theaters in 23 cities throughout the U.S. between 1935 and 1939 and employed African American actors, directors, technicians and playwrights and apprentices. 

 

The unit based out of Harlem was one of the best known in terms of its talent and output. It was initially led by Orson Welles and John Houseman, who were white, noted Black Directors Edward Perry, Carlton Moss, and H.F.V. Edward took over in 1936. Their theater productions included the Haitian adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth directed by Orson Wells, Frank Wilson’s Walk Together, Children (1936) and Sweet Land (1937) by Conrad Seiler among others. Through this program, African American artists, technicians and writers were not only given an opportunity to work, but to perform roles that were typically reserved for white actors and artists.

 

Despite putting on around 1,200 productions and taking in $2 million in admissions revenue, more than other WPA projects, the Federal Theater Project was shut down after congressmen, who disliked the idea of government funding of the arts and falsely saw the FTP as an organization that disseminated Communism, removed funding for the program in the 1939 WPA bill. Members of the Harlem chapter of the NTP staged sit-downs, a form of nonviolent protest to fight these cuts to staff and funding. Unfortunately the cuts remained permanent and the WPA was eventually dissolved in 1943 as attention and the economy shifted to producing munitions and military personnel during World War II (1939-1945). Following the cuts to funding for the Federal Theater Project, African American theater professionals were unable to find work among their white counterparts, or were relegated to playing stereotypical roles in theater and film productions. However the sit-down strike as a form of protest would continue to inspire a new generation of Civil Rights activists who would use it and other tools to push for the end of segregation, and for equal treatment of African Americans in the 1950s and 60s.

 

Although we are still investigating how the flyer is connected to the papers of a local resident that were donated to our library, this humble flyer that states “On June 19th the people of Harlem will speak” has a message that resonates nearly a century after it was printed.

Sources

 

Hill, A. D. (2019, April 19). Federal Theatre Project (negro units) . Blackpast.org. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/federal-theatre-project-negro-units/

“Sit-Down Strikes.” In Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, 2nd ed., edited by Thomas Riggs, 1208. Vol. 3. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2015. Gale eBooks (accessed June 16, 2022). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3611000821/GVRL?u=nysl_se_moffat&sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=ac324bc0.

Smith, W. (n.d.). The play that electrified Harlem  :  articles and essays  :  Federal Theatre Project, 1935 to 1939  :  digital collections  :  library of Congress. The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.loc.gov/collections/federal-theatre-project-1935-to-1939/articles-and-essays/play-that-electrified-harlem/

“Works Progress Administration (WPA).” In Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, 2nd ed., edited by Thomas Riggs, 1486-1488. Vol. 3. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2015. Gale eBooks (accessed June 16, 2022). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3611000995/GVRL?u=nysl_se_moffat&sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=a5610230.

 

Throwback Thursday: June 9, 2022

Summer is quickly approaching and with that the whir of lawnmowers, weedwackers and other yard equipment. However you would be hearing a completely different noise if you lived in Blooming Grove 100 years ago. This week we are highlighting this advertisement for a horse-powered threshing machine as sold by Samson L. Moffat (d.1929) from 1888. 

Advertisement for A.W. Gray’s Sons’ Threshing Machines. 1888. Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

Although horsepower, the unit used to measure the rate at which work is done, is associated with devices powered by gas and steam, its origin dates to the late 18th century, when Scottish engineer James Watt conducted experiments comparing the work output of draft horses to early steam engines. Watt was able to determine one horsepower equals 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute, or half the equivalent of what a draft horse can perform in a working day. This information was important for measuring the efficiency of pumps, mills, and other industrial machines being used at the beginning of what is known as “The Industrial Revolution”. 

 

In addition to being used as a unit of measure, horses literally powered many agricultural tools used on farms in the 19th century. Threshers were designed to loosen grain from the straw, which was the first step of turning grain into flour. Before the invention of horse-powered threshers, this work was done manually using flails, a rod with a swinging pole at one end. The device advertised by Samson L. Moffat shows two horses on an enclosed treadmill. The treadmill is at an incline, which means that the horse’s weight will force it to move uphill continuously once the brake is released. The treadmill powers a wheel which is connected to the threshing device via a belt drive. As straw is fed through one end, it enters a device that softens the stalk and removes the wheat. Once the bag became full, the brake was placed on the treadmill and the horses were able to rest. The end product is collected via a canvas bag where it was taken to be “winnowed”; having the grain removed from the chaff. 

priJLC_AGR_003615, Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

The Vermont firm of A.W. Gray’s Sons was a well-known producer of horse-powered machines in the late 19th century. Their two horse powered Thresher, Separator and Cleaner being described in their literature as: 

so universally known and approved that a description seems almost useless. Where our machines are not known, they only need to be once introduced and they will soon show that they are just the machines the farmers want”. 

This model, sold by Samson L. Moffat would have weighed 2400 pounds and cost $264 dollars, or $7,632.48 in 2022, a considerable investment for the average farmer!

Samson L. Moffat was married to Harriet Brewster Moffat (1842-1929), and owned a 172 acre farm with their son Warren. The farm was located between Moffat Road and the Erie Rail line on the northern border of the Town of Blooming Grove and was made up of two undivided parcels of property on which was an “improved dwelling house, two very small tenant houses, an old carriage house, an ice house, a cattle and hay barn, a granary and two or three sheds erected thereon”. These properties were originally deeded to Henry F. Moffat from Schuyler Goldsmith in February 1837, and Joseph Moffat in June that same year. Following Samson’s death in December 1929, the property was divided among his three children: Warren (1867-1937) Henry (b. 1875) , and Anna (1869-1956). The farm is now a private residence.

To learn more about our Local History collection you can visit our resource guide here, or contact us via phone at (845) 496-5483 x 326, or e-mail at moffat@rcls.org!

Sources

A.W. Gray’s Sons Patent Horse Powers, 1878, priJLC_AGR_003615, The Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

New York, Orange County, Estate Files; New York. Surrogate’s Court (Orange County); Probate Place: Orange, New York

“Town of Blooming Grove.”  In Atlas of Orange County, New York, 22. Philadelphia, PA: A.H. Mueller & Co., 1903.

Throwback Thursday: May 19, 2022

Tune In Teen Decorating. 2005 Summer Reading Program, Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

Teen Game Night. 2003 Summer Reading Program, Moffat Library of Washingtonville

Teen Bus Trip, New York Aquarium. 2002 Summer Reading Program, Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

Teen Dance. 2006 Summer Reading Program, Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our teen volunteers have always played an important part of our library programs and events, especially during Summer Reading! We’ve recently uploaded over 230 photos covering our library’s summer reading programs from 2000-2008 on our Flickr page here!

Throwback Thursday: April 28, 2022

This Sunday, May 1st, marks the return of Alex’s Lemonade Stand at the Moffat Library.  This fundraiser was inspired by the real life story of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma before her first birthday. When Alex turned four she started her first fundraiser for childhood cancer research and raised over $2,000 by selling lemonade in her front yard. By the time of her death in August 2004, Alex had raised over $1 million through subsequent lemonade stands and fundraisers.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Moffat Library Campbell Hall Location. August 16, 2013. Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

 

The Moffat Library has served as a venue for an annual lemonade stand fundraiser since 2009, including the years we were removed to our temporary location in Campbell Hall. In 2019, Alex’s mom, Liz Scott as well as Assemblyman Colin Schmidt attended the program at our library!

You can check out archived photos from Alex’s Lemonade Stand from 2013 and 2014 on our Flickr page here.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand at Moffat Library, Campbell Hall, New York. July 16, 2014. Moffat Library of Washingtonville

Alex’s Lemonade Stand is happening at Moffat Library this Sunday May 1st, 2022 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. You can see more info on activities and events here.

You can learn more about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and information on donating and volunteering here.

Throwback Thursday: April 21, 2022

This week we are announcing the addition of a new collection of historic documents to our digital collections page on New York Heritage!

 

https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/pnp/cph/3g10000/3g11000/3g11800/3g11864v.jpg

“The nations bulwark. A well disciplined militia”, Edward Williams Clay (1799-1857) and R.H. Hobson, Philadelphia. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The 148th Regiment, New York State Militia, under the command of Colonel Benjamin Dunning, was one of several organized militia units that existed during the early 19th century. Before the United States had a large standing army or National Guard, local citizens, who according to the 1793 “Act to organize the militia of this state”, consisted of able-bodied, free, white men between the ages of 18 and 45, were required to meet and drill twice per year. Although earlier acts stipulated that the recruit was required to bring their own arms and equipment, by 1808, the job of supplying these regiments fell to the Secretary of War. Returns such as these noted who needed muskets, bayonets or flints, and thus who would be fined in exchange for receiving the appropriate equipment from the Secretary of War’s store.  Unlike their regular army counterparts, militia officers were elected and comprised of leading figures in the community, so although the individual members are not listed by name, one can get a sense of the prominence, or respect the individual officers had in the community by identifying their names.

 

Inspection Return of Captain Joseph Stewart’s Company, 148th Regiment of New York State Militia taken October 8, 1819. Moffat Library of Washingtonville.

In addition to military equipment, these records also show an inventory of musicians and instruments. In the days before wireless radios and walkies-talkies, fifes, drums, bugles, and hunting horns were commonly used on the battlefield to relay commands to soldiers in the field over the din of battle. Another important function of these battlefield instruments was to boost moral on the march, in camp, or in the heat of battle. Although several companies of the 148th list fifers and drummers in their returns, another list of musicians entitled “Regimental Returns of the Columbian Concert Attacht to the 148th Regiment...” lists other instruments such as clarinets, bassoons, “hautboys” (an early form of oboe), and bass drums. These instruments would be too bulky to be carried in battle, but were common in military bands throughout Europe and the Middle East during this time and mainly used in special occasions or in peace-time duties.

You can check out this new collection by going to our digital collections page on New York Heritage here! For more information on our Local History Collection, be sure to contact us at (845) 496-5483 x 326,  or via e-mail at moffat@rcls.org today!

Throwback Thursday: March 31, 2022

The Friends of Moffat Library are hosting their 14th “Meet the Authors Luncheon” this weekend to a sold-out audience, so we thought to share some images from the first few years that have been added to our library’s Flickr page! This program introduces our community to noteworthy authors, many of them local, while raising funds for library programs and services. The first Meet the Authors Luncheon was held on May 6, 2007 at Orange Inn, Limoncello Restaurant in Goshen and featured Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Frank Gilroy (1925-2015) as the keynote speaker and authors Beth Quinn, Richard Cain, Valerie Palmer and Debra Severs. Visit our Flickr album here for more images from luncheons past!

First Meet the Authors Luncheon, May 2007. (Left to Right) Rosemarie Werkman, Beth Quinn, Frank Gilroy (Keynote Speaker), Richard Cain, Debra Severs, Valerie Palmer.

Throwback Thursday: March 24, 2022

We are bookending our posts for March, which is Women’s History Month, with another from our blog archives! This week we re-publish an article on the Blooming Grove chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution that originally appeared on our original local history blog on March 30, 2017!

The late 19th century saw a renewed interest in uncovering the early origins of the United States. The Centennial of the American Revolution in 1876, followed by the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s presidency in 1889 reminded many Americans that they were not too far removed from the founding fathers and the American War of Independence. Groups such as as the Sons, and later Daughters of the American Revolution were formed as a way for Americans to connect with their ancestors who served in George Washington’s Army as well as promote scholarship and patriotism among their members and communities [1]. The Blooming Grove Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is one such group that did these things and more in our area.

Louise Howell’s copy of the 1917 By-Laws of the Blooming Grove Chapter, D.A.R. Moffat Library of Washingtonville

The story of the Daughters of the American Revolution is a uniquely New York one. Following the formation of the Sons of the American Revolution in April 1889, many women with ancestors who served on the “Patriot” side of the American Revolutionary War were eager to participate in this club. A motion during the April 30th, 1890 S.A.R. meeting excluded women from joining, which prompted Chatauqua County native Mary Smith Lockwood to publish an article to the Washington Post asking “Where will the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution place Hannah Arnett?”; a reference to woman who prevented a group of men in her home of Elizabethtown, New Jersey from proclaiming their loyalty to the British [2] [3]. Following the publication of her article, Miss Lockwood was approached by the Great Grandson of Hannah Arnett, William O. McDowell to help form a society for “Daughters of the American Revolution”. By October of 1890, the Daughters had held their first meeting.

The Blooming Grove Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was formed on January 20th, 1903 by a group of 15 local women whose goal was to “co-operate with and further to the utmost, all the ends and aims of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution…to encourage a true spirit of Americanism by the observance of historical anniversaries, by the preservation and marking of historic places and the graves of the soldiers of the Revolution, by the aid of essays and lectures on historical subjects, by the use at the Chapter meetings of patriotic songs, and the discussion by topics pertaining to early American History by promoting patriotic education and finally to work for the best interest of Blooming Grove Chapter” . Founding members included Agnes B. Helme, Joanna B. Howell, Fanny W. Marvin, Ruth E. Parsons, Belle Strong, Mary Strong, Jennie Strong, Alice J. Steadman, Belle H. Steadman, Clara S. Stuart, Augusta H. Woodhull, Jennie V. Woodhull, Kate C. Woodhull, Mary C. Woodhull, and Mrs. Nathaniel D. Woodhull [4].

One of the more outstanding members of the chapter was Louise Howell, whose scrapbook contains the 1917 By-Laws of the Blooming Grove D.A.R. as well as National D.A.R. memorabilia. Born in Washingtonville in 1866 to Mary Jane, and William S. Howell, Louise Howell was an active member in the community . In addition to her membership in the D.A.R., she served as organist at the Blooming Grove Congregational Church for 35 years, was a charter member of the Athenia Club, president of Washingtonville Kings Daughters, and organizer and president of the Washingtonville Women’s Civics Club. She also served as librarian of Moffat Library from 1923 to 1933 [5]. As a D.A.R. member, Louise Howell was recording secretary of the Blooming Grove chapter, and nationally served as a New York delegate to the 31st Continental Congress of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in 1922, where she was responsible for voting on new policies and by-laws. 

Daughter’s of the American Revolution New York Delegate’s ribbon worn by Louise Howell, Moffat Library of Washingtonville

The Blooming Grove chapter not only played an active role in shaping national policies of their parent organization, but was also an active in recognizing the local history of the community. In the twelfth annual report for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (October 1908-October 1909), the chapter placed bronze Sons of the American Revolution stars on the graves of eight local  Revolutionary soldiers around Orange County, including William Hudson, and Major Samuel Strong at the Washingtonville All Faiths Cemetery. They also placed government markers at the graves of Captain Phineas Heard in Farmingdale, Major Nathaniel Strong in Washingtonville, and Sergeant Stephen Howell in Blooming Grove [6]. They also raised $25 for the Continental Hall Fund for the association’s national headquarters. During the First World War (1914-1918), the members of the Blooming Grove D.A.R. helped organize a local chapter of the American Red Cross. Member Mrs. Thomas J. Fulton was in charge of surgical dressings, and the oldest member of the group was reported to have knitted 16 sweaters, 8 pairs of socks, 2 caps, and 1 pair of wristlets for the Red Cross. The members also organized a literature drive to donate books to soldiers stationed at Camp Mills, Long Island, and bought $5,000.00 of Liberty Bonds, which went towards funding the war effort [7].

Following the war, the chapter continued to host a series of charitable events and  fund raising programs, including dinners for the few surviving Union veterans of the American Civil War, Card making parties, and high school essay contests. Despite declining membership, the Blooming Grove D.A.R. remained active until the late 1940s. Today, the National Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has 180,000 members, and 3,000 chapters located in all 50 states, including the Quassaick Chapter in Newburgh, which absorbed the Blooming Grove chapter, and Minisink in Goshen [1]. Although the Blooming Grove Chapter no longer exists, the memory of Louise Howell lives on in her scrapbook kept by Moffat Library, as well as the memorial markers its members placed at Washingtonville Cemetery.

 

A four-leaf clover is pressed into the spine of the 1922 yearbook of the Blooming Grove Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Moffat Library of Washingtonville

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

[1] – DAR History by Daughters of the American Revolution

[2] – Daughters of The Empire State by Denise Doring VanBuren & Patrice Powley Briner

Publication Date: 2016

[3] – Memorial honoring the patriotic dead, especially Hannah White Arnett by New Jersey Women’s History

[4] – Blooming Grove Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution By-Laws

Publication Date: 1917

[5] – Louise Howell Obituary by [Middletown Times-Press]

Publication Date: 1933
[6] – Report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution by Daughters of the American Revolution
Publication Date: 1910
[7] – Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 52 by Daughters of the American Revolution

Publication Date: 1918

 

Throwback Thursday: March 17, 2022

In recognition of Saint Patrick’s Day, a holiday associated with Ireland, and has become a celebration of Irish heritage and history for many, we thought it would be appropriate to share a few items from our digital collections page on New York Heritage that are linked to two stories of trans-atlantic migration from Ireland to the United States in the early 19th century.

Following revolutions in both America and France, in the last quarter of the 18th century, a group of Irish political revolutionaries led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, and James Napper Tandy organized the Society of United Irishmen in 1791. This political group sought to achieve emancipation for Roman Catholics with the help of Protestant and Presbyterian Irishmen who were seeking universal male suffrage, and the removal of British rule in Ireland. Attempts to form an alliance with Revolutionary France however led to mixed results, and the British government’s actions in suppressing this movement by confiscating arms, ceasing the publication of radical publications, and arresting local leaders only hastened the outbreak of open rebellion. The regions of Eastern Ulster and Wexford saw a majority of skirmishes, raids and battles, culminating in the Battle of Vinegar Hill on June 21, 1798. During this battle, 13,000 British troops successfully defeated between 16 and 20,000 United Irishmen. This battle led to the numerous atrocities against the United Irishmen, their families and  supporters, with many fleeing to France or North America.

Settlement of affairs between James Lecky and John Caldwell regarding the payment of debt, signed July 15, 1811, Moffat Library of Washingtonville

Although we aren’t certain that Joseph Lecky, was a member of the United Irishmen, we do know that he is connected to John Caldwell, who was a member of the United Irishmen and fled to the United States with his family following the confiscation and destruction of his estate “Harmony Hill”, in County Antrim. The Settlement of Affairs between James Lecky and John Caldwell from the library’s Sears Family Collection, seen here, shows us the connections maintained, and routes traveled among Irish people following the failure of the 1798 rebellion. According to this document, Joseph immigrated from Ireland to the United States sometime in the last quarter of the 18th century. From Philadelphia he decided to acquire land in Kentucky, then a relatively new, and sparsely populated state. Lecky may have been one of the many “Scotch-Irish”, or Irish Presbyterians, looking to establish themselves in the western frontier of the newly formed United States. We also know that the Leckys and Caldwells intermarried, Joseph’s sisters Maria and Catherine married Nathaniel, and James Caldwell respectively, and they were living in Dublin, Ireland at this time. 

The Caldwells also feature prominently in another document in our digital history collections page on New York Heritage. The outbreak of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain on June 18, 1812 was the first time since the 1798 Rebellion that Irishmen who wanted to be independent of Great Britain saw an opportunity to settle old scores. One month earlier on May 12, 1812, Lieutenant Colonel John Chrystie ordered John Caldwell’s son Richard, a Captain in the 25th U.S. Infantry, to begin recruiting in the Blooming Grove area for an 18th month term of service. You can read this letter in its complete and transcribed form here!

John Chrystie to Richard Caldwell May 12, 1812. Moffat Library of Washingtonville

This conflict, fueled by anger over the impressment of U.S. sailors by the British Navy, and the desire of the United States to expand into British territories in Canada and the midwest, also pitted Irishmen against Irishmen, who served on both sides. However Captain Richard Caldwell would never see action, dying at Pike’s Cantonment, a winter encampment, located in Plattsburgh, New York in the late fall of 1812. Reports of his death state that he died of pneumonia after handing out articles of his clothing to his men, who were insufficiently clothed for the harsh winter conditions. For his part, John Chyrstie, the author of this letter, would command U.S. forces under Stephen Van Renselaer at the Battle of Queenston Heights, in present day Ontario, Canada, fought on October 13, 1812, and was later blamed for the American defeat after the boats carrying his troops across the Niagara River failed to return, leaving the American stranded on the Canadian shores. He would die of natural causes after being promoted to Colonel nearly  one year later. Although Chrystie Street in lower-Manhattan is named after him, Richard Caldwell is remembered in the form of a memorial to local soldiers who served in the War of 1812, and American Civil War located on Orrs Mills Road, near his former home, now the Caldwell House Bed & Breakfast, in Salisbury Mills, New York.

If you want to learn more about the History of Ireland, or the role of Irish immigrants in the early decades of the United States, feel free to check out our history collections at the library and online! 

 

Sources

Britannica Academic
, s.v. “Irish Rebellion,” accessed March 17, 2022, https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Irish-Rebellion/42781.

Britannica Academic
, s.v. “Kentucky,” accessed March 17, 2022, https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Kentucky/111247.

Serendipity Tree.
“Preserving the Papers of Captain Richard Caldwell, Blooming Grove, NY,” accessed March 17, 2022.
https://www.serendipitytree.com/captain-richard-caldwell/

Britannica Academic
, s.v. “War of 1812,” accessed March 17, 2022, https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/War-of-1812/32132.

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