Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PRESIDENTS & Otsego County

AFTER THE WAR:  During his retirement tour of Revolutionary War battlefield, George Washington visited the scene of the Cherry  Valley Massacre on July 31, 1783, and the next day stopped at Cooperstown, where General Clinton had dammed the Susquehanna en route to razing Oqaga.

LITTLE VAN, LOST: In 1839, while he was the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren attended a party at Samuel W. Beall’s Woodside Hall, the Greek Revival mansion at the top of Main Street, Cooperstown.  He wandered into the garden, got lost and it took an hour to locate him.

AT THE FAIR:  In 1885, his last year in office, 21st President Chester Allen Arthur, a former New York governor, attended the Central New York Fair in Oneonta’s Belmont Circle neighborhood.

SHAKING HANDS:  The year before, in September 1884, Gov. Grover Cleveland – later the 22nd and 24th president – got off the train en route from Elmira to Albany and shook hands with folks at the station at the bottom of the former Broad Street for 15 minutes.

DOUBLE WHAMMY:  At different times, both Theodore Roosevelt (26th president) and William Howard Taft (27th) stayed the night at Congressman George Fairchild’s Oneonta home, now the Masonic Temple at Main and Grand.  In 1900, Fairchild had founded International Time Recording Co., the future IBM.

GOVERNOR VISITS:  As governor, FDR spent a night at The O-Te-Sa-Ga in August 1930, then spoke to “an enthusiastic crowd” the next morning in front of the Hotel Oneonta.

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