Oswego County War of 1812 Symposium Offers a Glimpse of Life in a Military Town

OSWEGO – Come to the American Foundry on state Route 104 West in Oswego for an intriguing series of lectures about the War of 1812 on the New York-Canadian Frontier. The day-long symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 31.

Eight speakers will talk about a variety of War of 1812 topics, including naval and military logistics, society and fashion in the early 19th century, historic preservation, service organizations and the Native American perspective.

Noted historian Dr. Gary Gibson will return to the Oswego County War of 1812 Symposium to paint a colorful picture of life in Sackets Harbor in 1812. His presentation, “Society, Sex and Scandal: Sackets Harbor in the War of 1812,” offers a glimpse of this quaint little village beyond war maneuvers and ship-building.

“During the War of 1812, life in Sackets Harbor was not limited to building warships, housing soldiers or beating off British attacks,” said Dr. Gibson. “Society was enhanced by the presence of many military and naval officers. However, village life was also augmented by the merchants, tavern keepers and prostitutes who accommodated them. Local history is filled with fascinating stories about spies and espionage, court-martials and executions, labor disputes and duels, gala balls and sham marriages. All of these things contributed to a residential experience that was vastly different from what had been before and what would come after.”

Gibson has long held an interest in history and has written much on the topic. For more than twenty years, he has explored the naval perspective of the War of 1812 on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. He has authored several publications, including “Service Records of U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Officers Stationed on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.”

Gibson is a computer scientist and the vice president of Velocity Servers, Inc. an Internet telecommunications company. He also serves as vice president of the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Inc. A member of the U.S. Naval Institute, Gibson has presented numerous papers on the results of his research at symposia and meetings in the U.S. and Canada. He currently resides in Sackets Harbor with his wife Susan.

The symposium is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Ontario, Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council, and Fort Ontario State Historic Site with support from the Daughters of the War of 1812, City of Oswego, The Palladium-Times, H. Lee White Marine Museum, Heritage Foundation, Oswego County Historical Society, Half-Shire Historical Society and Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

Registration is $25 per person and $15 with valid student ID and includes lunch and workshop materials. Advance registration is required and may be paid by credit card through the Fort Ontario State Historic Site. Contact Jon Zella at 315-343-4711 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by e-mail at [email protected] Checks should be made payable to Friends of Fort Ontario Inc. and mailed to Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 East Fourth Street, Oswego, N.Y. 13126.

For accommodations and visitor information, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com or contact the Oswego County Tourism Office at 315-349-8322. To follow War of 1812 commemoration activities or to learn more about the history of Oswego County, go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/historical-info/war-of-1812/