City Of Oswego Observes 160th Anniversary Of Its Charter

OSWEGO, NY – History repeated itself Wednesday evening in the Port City.

Once again, Simon Jacob Schemerhorn (Anthony Leotta, city engineer) presented the charter of the city of Oswego to Mayor James Platt (Mayor Randolph Bateman) just as he did 160 years ago.

Simon Jacob Schemerhorn (Anthony Leotta, city engineer), right, presents the charter of the city of Oswego to Mayor James Platt (Mayor Randolph Bateman). At far right is city historian Rosemary Nesbitt.The paean was presented at Veterans’ Stage along the Oswego River in observance of the 160th anniversary of Oswego being granted its charter.

“First, I want to make one thing very clear; are you all listening? This is the anniversary, 160 years, of the granting of the charter by the state of New York to this community so that it would become a city,” Rosemary Nesbitt, Oswego’s city historian informed the crowd in the park. “It is not the anniversary of the founding of Oswego.”

Rosemary Nesbitt slices the first piece of the charter anniversary cake. Looking on, also in period dress, is Michele Southgate.The first Europeans who came to the area were two Jesuit priests who came in 1656, she added.

“This is one of the oldest European communities anyplace in the United States,” Mrs. Nesbitt said. “This is a distinction that we need to remember. It is extremely important that we understand and celebrate tonight because Oswego is one of the first cities in New York State to be granted a charter, thereby becoming an official city.”

Gail Goebricher of the chamber and Paul Lear of Fort Ontario, both in period costume, examine one of the stalls at the Market House as it would have looked in 1848.Right after the War of 1812, “this little place began to boom,” she continued. “It was due to one man, one man made that happened. He is being represented tonight by Mike D’Amico. Alvin Bronson was the first mayor of the village here.”

Bronson went to Albany and fought for years to get the Oswego Canal established, she explained.

“When that feeder canal into the Erie Canal was established, we boomed economically,” she said.

On March 28, 1848, Schemerhorn came north to Oswego to present the charter to Mayor Platt.

“It is my privilege to present to you the charter of the city of Oswego, adopted and passed by the New York State Assembly on March 24, 1848,” Leotta said in guise of Schemerhorn. “Please allow me a moment to read the opening paragraph of the charter, and I quote:

“The district of country in the county of Oswego, contained within the boundaries hereinafter described, shall be a city by the name of Oswego and the citizens of this state from time to time inhabitants within the said boundaries shall be a corporation by the name of the city of Oswego.”

The singing group Concinnity performed several period songs.“I am both honored and pleased to provide you with this historic document. God bless the city of Oswego in perpetuity,” he said as he presented a copy of the document to the mayor.

Mayor Platt/Bateman thanked the state official.

“I accept this document on behalf of the wonderful citizens of Oswego, New York,” he said. “Oswego is a thriving community with a prosperous port; filled with ships from time to time, sometimes you can walk across the ships all the way from one side of the river to the other.”

Oswego is a great city with a great promise for the future, the mayor added.

‘Mayor James Platt’ (Mayor Randolph Bateman) offers his vision of the future.“My hope and vision for the future, say 160 years from now, is that Oswego maintains its thriving port, its historic significance with Fort Ontario, and we honor our veterans with a great stage on the west side of the river, that we maintain and develop higher education in the community,” the ‘1848 mayor’ continued. “And, also that we treat each other with respect and dignity and neighbors look out for neighbors – and that we be blessed with a city historian that will be forthright and ensure that all future reenactments are done with authenticity.”

The singing group Concinnity performed several period songs to the delight of the crowd assembled in the park.

After the ceremony, everyone walked over to the Market House. The stately building had served not only as a location for the farmers’ market of the times, but also as the city hall.

The building was decked out as it might have looked in 1848 – including on of the market stalls displaying a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The centerpiece of the reception was a huge cake, created by Bob Bateman of Cakes Galore, that depicted the Market House.

The original charter is on display in City Hall.