FDR and the Presidential Flag

Original Presidential Flag

The Presidential flag or standard as it is sometimes known has changed several times since its humble beginnings with the creation of this nation and the office it represents over two centuries ago. In 1817 the flag had not only the eagle, stars, and stripes but it also included the Goddess of Liberty. During the course of the 19th century both the Army and Navy had their own flags to signal all presidential visits. This would prove to be a bit of a confusion to future Presidents.

The Flag that FDR designed in 1916

By the time of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency he had decided that there should be one official flag. He choose the Navy’s flag since it was older and closer to the look of the presidential seal. It was President Taft who in 1912 issued executive order 1637 to have one official flag, yet the army still continued to show its presidential colors from time to time. President Wilson noticed this fact in 1916 and put together a flag committee to design a flag that would work for both Army and Navy. On the committee was a man who loved to design and also loved flags, the young Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt helped design the flag with four stars on each corner, which represented the highest ranking generals in the army at the time, along with the continued use of the Navy blue background. Some would have you believe that the four stars represented his four terms as President, but his time in the White House was years away.

The four star flag remained the official flag until 1945 when FDR set out to create a new one. An aide who worked for Roosevelt during the War named George Elsey said that he changed the number of stars from four to 48 to match the number of states in the nation at the time. He also changed the direction the eagle was facing as experts at the time claimed that the eagle looking to the left was “sinister.” However, FDR died before his new flag could be flown and when Truman took over in April of 1945, the flag was used for the first time ironically on the U.S.S Franklin D. Roosevelt. The flag has remained unchanged since 1960 when the last two stars were added for Alaska and Hawaii.

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Guest Blog:Black Mariners in the Atlantic World PT.3

Finally, in my talk I highlighted the actions of David Walker. This free black man, born in the South and well traveled, eventually settled in Boston where he opened a used clothing store. Spurred on by the atrocities he had witnessed in and around the plantation system, Walker became a forceful advocate for the abolition of slavery and published a pamphlet in 1829 calling for an end to enslavement by any means possible, including armed insurrection. Taking full advantage of regular contact with his sailor clientele, he managed to gain their assistance in smuggling his pamphlet, “Walker’s Appeal,” into the Plantation South: he sewed copies into the coats of sailors. Walker was successful enough in the distribution of his pamphlet that Southern leaders offered a $3,000.00 reward for his head or $10,000.00 for anyone who could bring Walker to the South. Walker died in his home not too long after the second issue of his appeal was published, and although the timing is suspicious, evidence suggests that, like his daughter a short time before, he succumbed to tuberculosis.

In my talk, I provided these four profiles, from the Caribbean up to the Northeast United States, to highlight some significant and celebrated activist figures in the Afro Caribbean and African American maritime communities. They are examples of people working in a very public way to advocate for the end of slavery, but also for general democratic principles, and in the Early Republic period, for equal rights for free people of African descent. Less public but equally important were those runaway slaves, the men and women who thwarted attempts to extract all of their energy and labor value for the profit of the colonial and Antebellum slaveholders, who maintained connections to each other and to the broader Atlantic World in ways that resisted efforts to strip them of their dignity and humanity. Much of this resistance was accomplished with the aid of mobile maritime laborers who kept people and ideas circulating and contributed to a broader, long-term effort to resist the tyranny of the plantation complex and the cold economic calculus that it fostered.

​When I teach students about the African American Civil Rights movement, a topic that comes up in standard United States history textbooks as a phenomenon starting in the 1950s and running through the 1970s, I work to correct the notion that concern and activism over rights was a twentieth century phenomenon. Using examples such as those I have provided here, I talk about the civil rights movement that began from the moment enslaved people were forced across the Atlantic and into the plantation complex and continues to today. This is not to downplay the powerful actions of activists from Thurgood Marshall, attacking segregation in the courts, to bold figures like Rosa Parks, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, encouraging the mass action and civil disobedience to Stokely Carmichael and others who pushed forward with the Black Power initiatives. On the contrary, the economic success of black mariners, a success that extended well beyond the limited examples I have provided here, were instrumental in creating a foundation for secure black communities, first in the Northeast, but eventually throughout the urban United States, that provided the solid support system for the activists of the mid-twentieth century. A black middle class was an essential element for that period of activism, and black mariners from the Colonial Era through the Early Republic set the stage for that social and economic development. In this way, they were responsible for shaping freedom then and now.

These are some of the themes I emphasize in my classes, even for programs like the one I am teaching now. Connections between the United States and the Caribbean are complex but strong, and a comparative approach helps students contextualize everything from economic relations to the cultural mixing that comes from long-standing patterns of mobility throughout the Atlantic. I am looking forward to exploring more of this with my students in our upcoming port stops.

Again, it was a great honor to be able to share my work and teaching approaches with the friends of the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Thanks to Lana Chassman for reaching out to me for the opportunity to speak, to Carla Lesh for inviting me to write this blog, to the rest of the staff of the Museum and to those who came out to hear my talk.

Fair Winds!
Craig Marin, PhD
Assistant Professor of Maritime Studies

Blog appears with permission of Hudson River Maritime Museum


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Guest Blog:Black Mariners in the Atlantic World PT. 2

After this introduction to enslaved maritime workers and some of the ramifications of the existence of such a group on a somewhat localized level, I typically turn to some examples of maritime workers, enslaved and free, to begin working out larger implications. As I did in my talk, I like to give examples of maritime workers who appear in “runaway slave advertisements” that appeared throughout the Colonial and Antebellum periods in North America. For instance, this is an advertisement from a newspaper published in Charleston:

…Ran away last night… A negro man named Tom, born in the Havanna, speaks Spanish and French, a very likely fellow, and somewhat used to the house carpenter’s trade… Peter, a short well set fellow… Pompey, a middle sized [fellow]… [h]e can write and read, and talk good English, [a] wench named Arabella, is very likely, short and slim… and [h]er child [who] answers to the name of Castila… As there is a small schooner or fishing boat missing this day, it’s suspected they may have [gone] off in her; and as some other Negroes are missing, among whom is a French or Spanish fellow, a fisherman, it is strongly suspected that they are gone to the Southward on their way to the Havanna. Any person or persons apprehending and securing said Negroes so that the subscriber may have them again, shall receive One Hundred Pounds currency reward, besides all reasonable charges. (South-Carolina Gazette, June 27, 1768.)

​This is one of many advertisements that highlighted either the use of a boat in running away, or an experienced maritime worker/sailor as the runaway, or, as seen here, in some cases both. While this example has local implications, it also indicates that enslaved maritime workers and other skilled slaves moved throughout the Atlantic and shared their knowledge and expertise with one another in actions of resistance to the system of slavery.

One particularly famous example of such an enslaved maritime worker was Olaudah Equiano. As a slave sailor working out of Montserrat in the Caribbean (an island we sailed by just two days ago), Equiano was able to move throughout the Atlantic World as a “hired out” slave. What this meant was that he and those in a similar situation were sent out to work, sometimes in ways specified by a master but also arranged by the enslaved themselves, for wages, but the hired out slave was to return the bulk of those wages to his or her master. What it meant for Equiano in particular was the chance to earn his freedom, as his master had agreed to allow him to do so after he earned a particular sum. With his hard-earned freedom, this experienced mariner and highly literate man (he had learned to read from another sailor) set out to convince the public in England, through a published account of his life, that the slave trade and slavery should be ended.

When I teach about Equiano, I tend to emphasize the moments in the account of his life where he relates instances where, as the only enslaved sailor on board, the crew treated him as a peer with no concern about his legal position as a slave or prejudices regarding his African heritage. Even the captains he worked for, with some exceptions, assessed he was treated the same way any other sailor would have been. Those familiar with conditions on board eighteenth century merchant vessels might say that this was not “good” treatment, as seamen in this era were treated rather poorly, but for Equiano and others in his situation, it was a significant improvement. After explaining the circumstances of Equiano’s work life, I usually stop to explain to my students that it was common enough to have enslaved sailors on board, and even to work with enslaved pilots (the people responsible for taking command of vessels entering or clearing out from ports) that most sailors in the 1700s would not have found it at all out of the ordinary, so his experiences with equal treatment on board ships was not an exception.

Crispus Attucks in the Boston Massacre. Lithograph by J. H. Bufford, 1856.

Respect for black sailors was also apparent on shore, and this was apparent in the celebration of Crispus Attucks as a participant and martyr in the Boston Massacre. Attucks was a free black dockworker and sailor in Boston, and as such, his actions cast a light on the maritime nature of this pivotal Revolutionary event. While Paul Revere’s depiction of the event features harmless looking, middling to well- to- do Boston residents being attacked, the reality was that dockworkers and apprentices, aggressively confronted the soldiers in an expression of anger and frustration over the fact that the off duty British soldiers were taking work away from them. Indeed, in most contemporary accounts of the event, Attucks was acknowledged as the leader of this group and, at the time, he was celebrated for his bravery and honored in death after taking the first bullet fired by the British soldiers.

In nearby Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Paul Cuffee, the son of a free black man and Native American woman, worked his way from a sailor on whale ships to captain, merchant and owner of several trading vessels. His economic and social prowess was evident in his receiving an audience with President James Madison in a successful attempt to receive an exemption from the embargo then in effect regarding the importation of British goods. Cuffee’s and Equiano’s interests in terms of their activism overlapped in that they were both involved in efforts to create a community for free black people wishing to leave the Americas or Great Britain and start anew in Sierra Leone. On a personal note, I was pleased to discover when I moved to Providence, Rhode Island, that Paul Cuffee’s legacy is still being celebrated through a charter school that bears his name with a mission that highlights his accomplishments.

Fair Winds!
Craig Marin, PhD
Assistant Professor of Maritime Studies

Blog appears with permission of Hudson River Maritime Museum

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Guest Blog:Black Mariners in the Atlantic World PT. 1

February 26, 2017
Position: 18˚ 47’ N x 68˚ 05’ W
Sailing through the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

As I write this guest blog entry for the Hudson River Maritime Museum, I am tucked away in the aft cabin of the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot brigantine, nearing the end of a transit from Portsmouth, Dominica, to Samaná, in the Dominican Republic. This is the second leg of our six-week journey that started in St. Croix, USVI, and will end in Key West after additional stops in Jamaica and Cuba. For this SEA Semester program, Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, I have the pleasure of working with a group of student crew members and professional ship’s staff conducting oceanographic research and island cultural and environmental exploration. My role involves continuing instruction in Atlantic History, Maritime History and Culture and Maritime Environmental History with my faculty colleagues, the Captain, Chris Nolan, and Chief Scientist. Dr. Jeff Schell. The program, operated by the Sea Education Association (www.sea.edu), began back in Woods Hole over seven weeks ago, and the exploration will continue until we are alongside at our destination in Florida.

Returning to my talk and this blog, let me begin by saying just how honored I felt to be invited to speak at the Museum and then briefly write for this blog on the subject of black mariners in Early America for Black History Month. The fact that my talk also fell on the birthday of activist Rosa Parks made the day all that much more meaningful to me. The topic of free and enslaved maritime workers in Early America and the Atlantic World is one that I have continuously worked on from the early days of my doctoral work and now as part of what I teach in SEA Semester programs. In teaching this subject, I find it effective to begin with an outlining of the changing nature of the historiography of the slave trade, slavery in the Americas and the African American experience up to the modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

To begin, I use an image of the diagram of the slave ship Brooks (often spelled: Brookes) to start a discussion of both the slave trade and they ways in which people from various parts of Africa enter into the story. Most students are now familiar with the abolitionist image, and many can tell me that the diagram that those working to end the slave trade created is of an actual ship that did make slave trading voyages. Fewer students, however, are aware that the 450-person capacity that is indicated in the diagram is after England began regulating the slave trade. After then sharing with students that we have records indicating that the ship carried more than 600 enslaved people on board on more than one trip, I discuss how much of the historical work done in decades past on the slave trade, and indeed of the plantation system itself, treated these enslaved people as mere passive recipients of historical actions rather than active creators of historical events. Recent work on the slave trade has uncovered plenty of evidence of active participation of the enslaved in this chapter of history, much of it in the realm of resistance and uprisings. Still, there is a tendency to gloss over the actions of those forced to toil for others in the surveys that cover the system of slavery in a broader context of national or regional history.

I feel that it is very important to let students know that much of this glossing over, or what I would call an ignoring of agency, in the literature is a result of misconceptions about the nature of the work that enslaved people did in the Americas. In my classes, I display some generic work or occupation images for students to first identify and then decide whether or not the activity could have been done by slaves. Classic images of gang labor in fields are juxtaposed to what are thought of as more skilled occupations that ranged from printing to tailoring, carpentry to blacksmithing, and from shipbuilding to deep-sea sailing. While some of the occupations outside of field work fit into students’ perceptions of common work for enslaved people (I have usually referenced enslaved maritime workers at some point prior to this exercise, so that one is no surprise to them), many are surprised that all of the examples I give can be connected to common instances of unfree workers doing that work. The truth is, enslaved people were put to work in almost any setting where any kind of labor was needed. In fact, masters often relied on previously developed and demonstrated skill or knowledge among those they purchased for forced labor. It is important to note that the system of slavery was equally brutal and terroristic for such non-plantation workers. Still, pointing out that labor in the fields, while also requiring skill, was not the only work that enslaved people did helps to break down some erroneous preconceptions about the forced labor system and it opens up the possibility for a deeper discussion of enslaved maritime workers.

Drawing upon my own dissertation research that focused on river boatmen and other enslaved maritime workers in South Carolina, I also point out to my students that close supervision of such skilled men in their work was often sacrificed to maximize the efficiency of the transport of cash crops. Thus, slave boatmen in the Carolina Lowcountry often worked in all black crews with no supervision as they traveled, on locally constructed boats called pettiaugers, from plantation to port and back again delivering rice and indigo or carrying provisions. Again, the desire to move goods and people as efficiently as possible in South Carolina, and in the Atlantic World more broadly, meant that any desire or efforts to completely isolate enslaved people to their plantations or other areas of work were undermined by this need for constant movement—a need that brought people and news in and out these environments on a regular basis. This has pretty broad implications for the enslaved, and one of these was the fact that the process of dehumanization of slaves that was at the heart of the plantation complex was countered to some degree by the ability of enslaved people to create and keep open avenues of communication. These avenues or outlets kept mobile maritime workers and plantation workers alike aware of what was happening in the regions around them and connected to family or surrogates for family, thereby maintaining useful knowledge and relationships that helped to maintain a sense of self that was not determined by the slave regime.

"Stowage of the British Slave Ship Brookes."

Fair Winds!
Craig Marin, PhD
Assistant Professor of Maritime Studies

Blog appears with permission of Hudson River Maritime Museum

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Historic Huguenot Street Constructing Replica Native American Wigwam


NEW PALTZ, NY (April 7, 2017) – Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce that it is constructing a replica Munsee Native American wigwamto celebrate the 340th anniversary of the signing of the 1677 land agreement between the Munsee Esopus sachems and the Huguenot Refugees.  The land agreement provided for the 12 Huguenot founders to “purchase” nearly 40,000 acres of land in the lower Wallkill Valley. The village that developed within the borders of this land is now known as New Paltz.

Today, despite suffering multiple forced removals from their homelands, Munsee people continue to thrive as several federally-recognized Indian Nations in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Canada. The wigwam will serve as an ongoing testament to the Munsee Esopus people who first populated this land.

Native American crafts expert and museum consultant Barry Keegan has already begun authentically constructing the replica wigwam on the DuBois Fort lawn and using locally sourced materials. Keegan is the former Supervisor of Native American Programs at the New York State Historical Association and Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY.  He has constructed over 70 wigwams and longhouses for museums, nature centers, and educational institutions, and regularly demonstrates early technologies for these organizations, as well as others such as the History Channel.

The wigwam will be under construction through the spring. During the week of April 10–14, New Paltz school children, college students, and members of the community will help build the wigwam during scheduled sessions.  All who are interested are invited to observe the wigwam’s creation, free of charge, during the duration of its construction.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to build a traditional indigenous structure on Huguenot Street,” said Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming. “The wigwam will provide a chance for visitors to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of our local Munsee Esopus history and culture.”

Historic Huguenot Street will incorporate the wigwam into its regularly scheduled tours, set to begin May 6, although those who attend the Museum’s Spring Celebration on April 29 will have an exclusive opportunity to tour the wigwam, hear Keegan discuss his process and the daily life of the Munsee, as well as meet Bonney Hartley, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation. Over the course of the season, Keegan will additionally create arrows, axes, buckskin, fire-making tools and pottery, recreating the daily life of the Munsee people.

For an exclusive preview and tour of Historic Huguenot Street’s replica historic home, the wigwam, please visit www.huguenotstreet.org/springreception to purchase tickets to the Museum’s Spring Celebration.

Funding for the wigwam, and its related educational programming, was generously provided by Elwyn V. and Elsie H. Harp Family Foundation Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

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Historic Huguenot Street Hires Executive Director

Marybeth De Filippis \ Photo: Don Pollard

NEW PALTZ, NY (March 24, 2017) – Concluding a national search, Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce the hiring of its new Executive Director, Marybeth De Filippis.

Ms. De Filippis is an award-winning museum professional and scholar specializing in the material culture and history of early New York.She served for eight years at the New-York Historical Society, where she was most recently Associate Curator of American Art and former Manager of the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture.

While at the New-York Historical Society, Ms. De Filippis conceived the groundbreaking and triple-award-winning Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick, for which she served as co-curator of the exhibition and co-editor and a major author of the catalogue, the latter of which was published by Yale University Press, and project co-organizers, the Bard Graduate Center and the New-York Historical Society.

Additional exhibitions and permanent installations to which Ms. De Filippis contributed include New York & The Nation; the DiMenna Children’s History Museum; Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery; New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War; Slavery in New York; Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present; and Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society. Moreover, De Filippis contributed to the New-York Historical Society’s multi-year strategic planning process, which culminated in its 2011 Grand Reopening, and further served on its website redevelopment committee.

Ms. De Filippis has held Board of Trustee positions at the New Amsterdam History Center, Huguenot Heritage, and Henry Hudson 400; served as an advisor for Peabody Essex Museum’s recent exhibition Asia in Amsterdam: The Culture of Luxury in the Golden Age; and has undertaken independent art historical, conservation, and provenance research projects. Her early career included positions in the banking and securities industries, as well as substantial residential design, space planning, and renovation experience, skills that will be drawn upon as Historic Huguenot Street prepares to embark on a Master Site Plan.

Ms. De Filippis holds a MA in American Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center in New York City and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Of Huguenot descent, Ms. De Filippis is a member of The Huguenot Society of South Carolina, New Netherland Institute, Association of Historians of American Art, and the Association of Art Museum Curators, among other industry organizations.

“HHS is excited to begin a new chapter with Marybeth De Filippis at the helm,” said Mary Etta Schneider, Board Chair. “Our Search Committee and Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of hiring Ms. De Filippis due to her exceptional museum-related credentials, impressive work experience, strong leadership qualities, significant strategic planning and financial skills, and her passion to see Historic Huguenot Street ‘soar.’ This is an important time for the organization, and the board and staff look forward to working with Marybeth.”

“I am truly honored to be joining the dynamic and committed Board and team at Historic Huguenot Street” remarked Ms. De Filippis. “My relationship with the Museum began more than ten years ago, when I first conducted research in its exceptionally important colonial New York manuscript collection. I was immediately both enchanted by its charming stone houses and astonished at the remarkable survival of this intact seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century settlement. The Historic Huguenot Street team has ambitious plans to build on already strong community and national partnerships to expand the reach of this great cultural treasure. I’m thrilled that I’ve been given the opportunity to help them further develop and realize these expected transformative goals.”

Ms. De Filippis will begin work in late April, just prior to the organization’s inaugural Spring Celebration and Opening Day.

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Speaker Bill Birns focuses on Burroughs


The Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society  provides a new look at the life of the region’s favorite naturalist, John Burroughs.  Speaker Bill Birns focuses on Burroughs’ philosophy of life and appreciation of nature, reflected in the title Birns has given his presentation: “‘I Go To Nature To Be Soothed and Healed:’ John Burroughs & The American View of Nature.”

Bill Birns shares Burroughs’ love of nature, especially his attachment to the Catskills, where Burroughs spent his childhood and senior years, and where Birns has lived and worked for 40 years. 
Birns is the current president of the Board of Trustees of Woodchuck Lodge Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic lodge in Roxbury, NY, where Burroughs spent summers from 1910 until his death in 1921.  The lodge began as a cabin built in the 1860’s by Burroughs’ brother on the family homestead land, where John Burroughs was born and raised. 

Many Hudson Valley residents may be more familiar with Slabsides, the cabin in the woods in West Park, NY, which John Burroughs and his son Julian built as a forest retreat near their more elegant home overlooking the Hudson River.  But Burroughs, born in 1837, was always drawn back to the Catskills, which shaped his love of nature as a boy.  In his writings, Burroughs described the region as a “land of wide, open, grassy fields, of smooth, broad-backed hills, and of long, flowing mountain lines.”  It was indeed this nature that “soothed and healed him,” where, in his later years, his spent hours sitting on the broad deck he added to his brother’s simple cabin, writing nature essays and pondering the beauty of what he saw.

As a young man, Birns – like Burroughs – taught in Catskill Mountain schools.   Birns graduated from Union College and holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His 1986 dissertation was a study of the dialect of the Catskills.  Both the speaker and his subject wrote about the Catskills, with Burroughs focusing on nature and Birns on regional history and culture.  His book, A Catskill Catalog, is a collection of essays published in 2011 by Purple Mountain Press.

TOLHPS sponsors monthly public programs from September to June, usually on the first Monday of the month.  Vineyard Commons, where the April program will take place, is at 300 Vineyard Avenue, about a mile and a quarter from the Hamlet of Highland on Route 44/55, just south of the Hudson Valley Rehabilitation Center.  To reach the theater, turn into Vineyard Commons and follow signs to Building 6.  Early arrivers get the best parking spaces.  Free refreshments will be served.  For more information, call 845-255-7742.

Monday, April 3, 2017
7 PM
Building 6, (Vineyard Commons Theater Building)
Vineyard Commons, 300 Vineyard Avenue (Rte 44/55),  
Highland, NY 12528

The program is free and open to the public. Free refreshments. 

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Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley


On Saturday, March 18th at 1 PM, the Plattekill Historical Preservation Society is pleased to welcome Tony Musso, author of Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley Volumes 1 & 2. Each of these feature 55 sites throughout the local upstate New York region that, while not widely known, boast significant ties to, among other things the American Revolution, early American industry and local and national politics.

Mr. Musso plans on combining his presentation of both volumes to cover the local area from Mohonk over to Pawling, including places in the Towns of Marlboro and New Paltz.

His presentation uncovers locations of existing buildings such as early stagecoach stops and prominent inns that served as meeting places for some of the nation’s first political leaders, aging structures that line the streets of local cities, towns, and villages that served as critical components of the Revolutionary War, early American industry, and social hubs during past centuries.

Tony Musso has had a 38-year career with the US Post Office, besides being a freelance correspondent for the Times-Herald Record and a well-known speaker. He is presently a weekly columnist with Gannett Newspapers.

Other books by Mr. Russo include FDR & the Post Office; Setting the Record Straight Vols. 1 & 2; Staatsburg: A Village Lost in Time and Hidden Treasurers of the Catskills.  Signed copies of his books will be available after the presentation.

You are invited to join us at the Plattekill Historical Preservation Society headquarters (the old Plattekill Grange hall), 127 Church Street (off Route 32), Plattekill.   PHPS has updated and made a number of improvements to the old 1903 Grange building, besides providing a number of historic displays to be viewed while you are there.  We look forward to seeing you!  Admission is free and refreshments will be served. For more information, call (845) 883-6118.

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HYDE PARK, NY — The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will present LISTENING TO THE ROOSEVELTS: ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, “FIRST LADY OF RADIO” at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. Hosted by Library Director Paul Sparrow — in conversation with Anya Luscombe of University College Roosevelt — this program will include selected audio recordings of Mrs. Roosevelt as she talks about the Dutch Royal Family, Pearl Harbor, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a range of public issues. Attendees are invited to put down their mobile devices and experience Eleanor Roosevelt as listeners did in the age of radio. Registration is required. Visit www.fdrlibrary.org to register.

Eleanor Roosevelt became a prominent radio personality during the 1930s and 1940s. She began appearing on the radio during the 1920s, speaking about public issues on New York stations. When she became First Lady she was interviewed on countless radio shows, commenting on news events and public policy. She also hosted several current events programs. In 1939, WNBC called her the “First Lady of Radio.”

Anya Luscombe is Associate Professor of Media at University College Roosevelt, the Netherlands (in the province of Zeeland from which the Roosevelt ancestors came). A former BBC journalist, her research interests are media history and Eleanor Roosevelt’s use of media. She is the author of FORTY YEARS OF BBC RADIO NEWS: FROM THE SWINGING SIXTIES TO THE TURBULENT NOUGHTIES and several articles on Eleanor Roosevelt and Radio.

Please contact Cliff Laube at (845) 486-7745 or email clifford.laube@nara.gov with questions about the event.




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Old Town’s Notable Residents


One of my favorite burial grounds/cemeteries is the Old Town Cemetery in the city of Newburgh. One of the many reasons it is a favorite destination is because of the notable people interred within its bounds. Two such notables are congressmen, Thomas McKissock and Jonathan Fisk.

McKissock was born in Montgomery, New York on April 17, 1790. The Directory of the U.S. Congress, states that he studied medicine and law. Walter Case Anthony writes that his early schooling was at the Montgomery Academy. Once admitted to the bar, he practiced in Newburgh. In 1847, he was appointed a pusine justice of the New York State Supreme Court. A pusine justice is a junior judge. Although Marcus T. Reynolds had been nominated by the governor and confirmed by the N.Y.S. Senate, he refused the position. McKissock was Governor Young’s second choice.

McKissock was elected to the 32nd Congress from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1851. Although he ran for re-election in 1850, he was defeated for the 9th district. After his defeat, he continued to practice law. He is listed in the Newburgh Directory for 1864 as having an office at 27 Third Street in Newburgh.

Thomas McKissock passed away on June 26, 1866. According to a local paper, his funeral was held on June 30 ,and he was buried in the Old Town Cemetery. He was buried not to far from Congressman Jonathan Fisk.

Jonathan Fisk was not born in Orange County, but in New England. He was born in Amherst, New Hampshire on September 26, 1778, where he started out his professional career as a teacher. Walter Case Anthony, wrote that he was certified to teach grammar, writing, and math. He would not do this for long.

McKissock Grave-Find A Grave

In 1795 he moved to Ware, New Hampshire to further his studies and continue his teaching. This time he studied Latin and Greek. Once again, according to Anthony, he moved, this time to New York City. Fisk studied in the law office of Peter Hawes. He continued to earn money teaching. In 1799, he was allowed to practice law before the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester County. As his abilities were realized he was allowed to practice law before the state supreme court as well as the court of common pleas in both Orange as well as Ulster Counties. This was in 1800, when he also relocated to Newburgh.

Jonathan Fisk was elected to 11th Congress in 1808, for the 3rd district. He would be elected again in 1814, where he would represent the 6th district. Eventually he gave up his seat in Congress to become a S.S. Attorney.

Fisk briefly left Newburgh for New York City in 1815 when he was appointed by President James Madison a U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Eventually Fisk returned to Newburgh in 1820, and continued to practice law. Anthony wrote in his book about prominent lawyers in Orange County published in 1917, that Fisk was investigated for charging large fees while he was a district attorney. It was believed that it hurt his business, even though he was cleared of wrong doing. He died in Newburgh on July 13, 1832.

Fisk and McKissock are two of many distinguished citizens of Newburgh buried in the Old Town Cemetery. There are prominent military men, merchants, and Captain Henry “Bully” Robinson’s mausoleum. The Cemetery is located between Grand and Liberty at South Street, next to the Calvary Presbyterian Church.

Posted in Cemeteries, City of Newburgh, Education, Landmarks, Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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    AJ Schenkman

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