Thanksgiving in the Mohawk Valley

Daniel T. Weaver

Thanksgiving Day 1893 was not a happy time for many people in Amsterdam, New York. The Panic of 1893 was a financial crisis which lasted four years and had a negative impact on the city. Many newspapers blamed the crisis on free trade or the removal of tariffs on American goods. The city of Amsterdam was used as an object lesson for the “blighting effects” of “the tariff wreckers.” In an account in the Amsterdam Daily Democrat published the day after Thanksgiving, Amsterdam was described as a city where “Nearly every mill is shut down. Thousands of men and women, who a year ago were employed, are on the the brink of want. A recent Amsterdam dispatch declares that the Aid and Benevolent society is attempting to care for several thousand destitute families. People daily go from house to house begging for food. Local trade is at a standstill. Various charitable organizations are making constant appeals for help. Numbers are deserting the town.”

That Amsterdam’s population suffered because of the Panic of 1893 can be seen in its population growth during the era. From 1880 to 1890, the city grew from 9,486 to 17,336 inhabitants, an 83.1% growth. From 1890 to 1900, Amsterdam only grew from 17,336 to 20,929 inhabitants, a 20.1% growth.

Not everyone in Amsterdam was suffering, however. An item in the November 21 Democrat stated that “A number from this city intend to witness the Yale-Princeton football game at New York Thanksgiving day. A few football lovers also expect to be at the Yale-Harvard game at Springfield Saturday.”

Even though football had been around for nearly two decades, the Yale-Princeton game attracted unprecedented news coverage, bringing a reaction from the New York Herald which editorialized, “Thanksgiving Day is no longer a solemn festival to God for mercies given. It is a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football. The kicker now is king and the people bow down to him. The gory nosed tackler, hero of a hundred scrimmages and half as many wrecked wedges, is the idol of the hour.”

Thanksgiving was not an official national holiday in Amsterdam’s early days and football had not been invented. Thanksgiving Day was observed, however, and it centered around faith. The Thanksgiving of 1822 turned out to be a very dark day, not in an economic sense as in 1893, but in a physical sense. The temperature had fallen to zero the night before and it began to snow heavily. There was so much snow that the country people could not make it into Amsterdam’s Presbyterian Church at the corner of Market and Main where the former Key Bank building stands vacant. Villagers however made their way to the church. Cloud cover and thick snow made the church so gloomy, Tommy Allen and Deacon Gabriel Manny, owner and operator of the Old Manny Inn, “lighted the tallow lamp and the dips.”

The story of the 1822 Thanksgiving appeared in an 1893 issue of the Democrat. The writer stated the 1822 Thanksgiving “was known through out the valley as the Dark Thanksgiving.” Only a couple days in American history were darker than that one. One of them was a day in May 1780 in the Northeast when candles were needed at noon, and people thought the end of the world had come. The cause was later determined to be a combination of smoke from forest fires, thick fog and cloud cover.

Thanksgiving Day of 2014 was one I won’t forget. The Mohawk Valley experienced the fifth worst November storm since records were kept. The snowfall we received on November 27 set a record for that day. It was the only White Thanksgiving I can remember in my lifetime. There was nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and our power had gone out. Breads and pies had already been baked, but the turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots and other foods had not been cooked.

We were expecting more than a dozen people at our house. Around 11:00 a.m. I suggested we might have to have an alternative dinner, like order take-out pizza. Fortunately, the power came back on at 11:30. We got everything in the oven and managed to sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner around 7:00 p.m. That was the last Thanksgiving we were all together as my father-in-law died the next year.

There is nothing wrong with football, but for me it’s faith and family that make Thanksgiving such a great holiday.

Postage Stamp not a Poll Tax

“Voting is neither free nor fair if the State requires voters to pay for postage,” claims Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat. “During a pandemic, when millions of New Yorkers will vote by mail to protect their health and safety, it is vital that we remove every barrier to the vote. This amounts to a poll tax: the cost of a single stamp could represent a difficult decision that no one who is barely scraping by should be forced to make.” Continue reading “Postage Stamp not a Poll Tax”

The Tragic Life & Death of Reverend Alexander Gordon’s Second Wife

When Margaret Martin married the Reverend Alexander Gordon, she probably didn’t know what she was getting into. Gordon’s first wife had died, and left behind two children for his second wife to raise. Gordon wasted no time getting his second wife, a young parishioner in his congregation, pregnant. Since the Margaret’s first baby was a girl and Gordon did not have any girls, they named her after his first wife. Between 1824 and 1832, Margaret gave birth to five children, bringing the size of her family to nine. The family was poor. Gordon never earned more than $200 a year. Continue reading “The Tragic Life & Death of Reverend Alexander Gordon’s Second Wife”

Better to Vote in Person than Trust the USPS

In spite of Joe Biden’s support for voting by mail in the upcoming presidential election, the possibility of fraud as President Trump has suggested is real, but there are other problems with voting by mail that have nothing to do with fraud. One problem is the United States Postal Service. I worked for the post office in Amsterdam, New York for five years. I was a clerk most of the time, but I also carried mail when needed, worked the stamp window and was a substitute supervisor. With the exception of a couple of bosses—particularly one who said “I don’t care if you lose both arms and both legs, you have to come to work the next day. I’ll use you for a paper weight”—all the employees were decent, hardworking people.

As a postal customer for many decades, shipping out about a thousand packages most years, I am for the most part satisfied with the postal service. However, the postal service does make mistakes, enough mistakes that I would rather vote in person than by mail.

Continue reading “Better to Vote in Person than Trust the USPS”

Never Say Never: From Never Trump in 2016 to Supporting Trump in 2020

Daniel T. Weaver

Never say never. When I first heard in 2015 that Donald J. Trump was running for president, I was dumbfounded. To me Donald Trump was nothing but a celebrity, a man without a moral compass, a man who acted like a buffoon and who had a terrible hairdo. I was a never Trumper, and I let people know on the radio show I had at the time what I thought of Trump. Continue reading “Never Say Never: From Never Trump in 2016 to Supporting Trump in 2020”

Independent Investigation of Andrew Cuomo’s Handling of Covid-19 Needed

Old lives don’t matter, at least not to the devil who went down to Georgia recently for a publicity stunt. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a doctor and the only senator to test positive for the covid-19 virus, said on Fox News recently, “I think Governor Cuomo should be impeached for what he did, for the disastrous decision he made to send patients with coronavirus back to nursing homes.” Continue reading “Independent Investigation of Andrew Cuomo’s Handling of Covid-19 Needed”

Montgomery County NY & General Grant’s Last Days

By Daniel T. Weaver

One of the more poignant stories in American history concerns the final weeks of Ulysses S. Grant’s life at Mt. McGregor in the summer of 1885. Knowing he was dying, he continued to work on his memoirs, which were the only asset the bankrupt former general and president had to leave his wife Julia.

While Mt. McGregor is located in Saratoga County, it was mostly Montgomery County men, who made it possible for Grant to spend the end of his life in this beautiful and relatively peaceful setting. Continue reading “Montgomery County NY & General Grant’s Last Days”

Attacks on Congressional Candidate Liz Joy Uncalled For

I have observed often that people who preach tolerance and want it for themselves are often intolerant. Take the case of Thomas Hurd-Toften. Hurd-Toften is a resident of the Town of Root. A couple of years ago, he and his boyfriend applied for a marriage license from the town clerk, Laurel “Sherrie” Eriksen. The two men alleged that Eriksen refused to grant them a license. Subsequently they sued the Town of Root, and the town settled with them for $25,000. Continue reading “Attacks on Congressional Candidate Liz Joy Uncalled For”

The Violence, Anti-Capitalism & Collectivism of Antifa

The anarchist and Marxist group or groups that constitute Antifa and its supporters, like Chris Cuomo who compared Antifa to our soldiers invading Europe on D-Day, would like you to think that the word antifa is simply and only a shortened form of the word antifascism. They trot out memes of American soldiers invading Europe on D-Day with the word antifa on it and of General Dwight D. Eisenhower with the phrase Global Leader of Antifa, 1945 splashed across his photo. The Ike meme is not accurate because in 1945 the word antifa always referred to communists and the global leader of Antifa was Stalin not Eisenhower.  And while our soldiers were anti-fascist, the idea they would have anything to do with Antifa is ludicrous. Continue reading “The Violence, Anti-Capitalism & Collectivism of Antifa”

The Generational Chauvinism & Chronological Snobbery of America’s Left

“Judging past eras by the standards of the present” is how historian and author William Manchester defined generational chauvinism, a phrase he coined, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times on February 4, 1990. Manchester’s letter was written in defense of his friend and former colleague at the Baltimore Sun, H. L. Mencken, whose diary had just been released to collective howls of “racism,” and “antisemitism.” Continue reading “The Generational Chauvinism & Chronological Snobbery of America’s Left”

Governor Cuomo’s and Congressman Tonko’s Response to Violence Lacking Vigor

Daniel T. Weaver

While there has been nearly universal condemnation of the murder by a cop of George Floyd in Minneapolis, democrats and liberals have been slow to condemn the violence of rioters, looters and arsonists. When they do condemn, their condemnation is often insipid. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s and Congressman Paul Tonko’s condemnation of violence by rioters and anarchists are examples of too little, too late. They have been more concerned about condemning President Trump than they have been about condemning violence. Continue reading “Governor Cuomo’s and Congressman Tonko’s Response to Violence Lacking Vigor”

The Importance of Coming in Second

Daniel T. Weaver

Although there have been some efforts to alter our society in recent years, the United States is still a nation that values competition. Whether in sports, politics, the arts or scientific achievement, emphasis is placed on coming in first. That is as it should be.

However, we do not value enough the person who comes in second. While many of us can name all of our presidents, only a few can name the candidates who came in second, names like William H. Crawford, Hugh Lawson White and Alton B. Parker. We often refer to these men and women as losers.

AltonBParker
Alton B. Parker of Cortland, NY

Continue reading “The Importance of Coming in Second”

Albert Vedder – Citizen Hero of the Revolution

Daniel T. Weaver

Shortly before one in the afternoon on Sunday, April 11, 1779, Albert Harmanus Vedder, who after the American Revolution would become the founder of what is now the City of Amsterdam, New York headed east from Fort Johnson on the turnpike that paralleled the Mohawk River. He was on his way to see Justice William Harper and Colonel John Harper at Daniel Claus’s house. Claus’s manor, which he called Williamsburg, was about a mile away (near the current Amtrak station) from Old Fort Johnson which Vedder had been renting from The Tryon County Committee of Sequestration since the previous year. A little farther down the valley was Colonel Guy Johnson’s house, occupied by Fergus Kennedy. The Tryon County Committee of Safety had confiscated the three manors because their owners were Loyalists.

Continue reading “Albert Vedder – Citizen Hero of the Revolution”

Beware The Unconstitutional Census Long Form – American Community Survey

By Daniel T. Weaver

While liberals celebrated the Trump administration’s decision to not include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, they are oblivious to the fact that the question is included in the American Community Survey, what we used to call the census long form. Question 8 of the ACS is “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” Failure to answer the question can result in a $100 fine. Continue reading “Beware The Unconstitutional Census Long Form – American Community Survey”

New York State Needs New Gov Not New Flag

By Daniel T. Weaver

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to add the Latin phrase “e pluribus unum” which means “out of many, one” to the New York State seal and flag. E pluribus unum is the motto of the United States and appears on paper money and the great seal and was approved by congress in 1782. The NYS flag already contains the Latin word excelsior meaning ever upward. It is hard to imagine–in fact it is unimaginative to add the US motto to the NYS flag. If Cuomo were to add a new Latin phrase to the NYS flag why not something original? But why add something new at all? What’s the reason for it? Continue reading “New York State Needs New Gov Not New Flag”

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