OSWEGO, NY – Researcher Steve Wapen will present the topic of “Lost Rum At Oswego 1756” at 1:30 pm on April 7 at the H. Lee White Marine Museum’s first history lecture of 2012.
During the summer of 1756 colonial batteaumen brought several shipments of supplies from Albany to the English garrison at Oswego shortly before it fell to the French a few weeks later on August 14, 1756.
Among the supplies were 33 barrels containing 1,023 gallons of rum that were delivered to Indian traders Chapman Abraham and Daniel Denniston.
Abraham and Denniston intended to “make a killing” in rum sales profits to more than 1,400 soldiers assembled to defend this remote frontier outpost at the start of the French and Indian War.
However, as history informs, their business plans had disasterous consequences for more than 100 military and civilian prisoners of war who would become victims of a brutal rum fueled massacre following the French victory.
Amazingly, two years later in 1758, Abraham and Denniston resurfaced and petitioned the English Treasury in London for recovery of the monetary value of their lost rum.
What roles did such prominent figures such as William Shirley, former English Commander in Chief, Antoine De Bougainville, aide de camp to French General Montcalm, and Francis Lewis, Commissary at Oswego and future signer of the Declaration of Independence, play in the story of Oswego’s “lost rum” and resolution of this civil dispute?
Were the two colonial Indian traders successful in their attempts to recover the value of their rum from the English, and why?
These and other intriguing questions will be addressed in the presentation.
Wapen has researched recently uncovered British documents relating this untold story that sheds valuable light on the influence of massive quantities of strong rum at the Oswego garrison and the complex interplay of military-mercantile relations both prior to and after the 1756 English defeat on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Wapen is a native Oswegonian and a graduate of SUNY Oswego and holds masters degrees from the University at Albany and Cornell University.
He has worked in human resources & labor relations for 35 years in the public and private sectors throughout the country.
Wapen currently resides in Chaplin, Conn., with his wife, Sharon (LaMay), also from Oswego.
The H. Lee White Marine Museum is located at the end of the West First Street Pier, in Oswego’s historic maritime district.
For more information about the program, or other museum activities, contact the H. Lee White Marine Museum at (315) 342-0480, or at [email protected]
Also, visit the museum at hleewhitemarinemuseum.com and on Facebook.