By Mackenzie Oatman, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – Oswego kicked off a 200th anniversary commemoration on Saturday with the War of 1812 Symposium.
The event, at The American Foundry, consisted of a series of lectures which focused on Oswego County’s role in the War of 1812. Several local historians and history buffs attended.
The event was a “smashing success,” according to Paul Lear, a local historian and manager of the Fort Ontario Historic Site, who presented a detailed lecture about the Battle of Oswego in 1814.
Lear felt the symposium did a great job in linking historians from all over Central New York.
Shawn Doyle, Dr. Gary Gibson, Richard Palmer, and Matthew Mac Vittie were among other speakers at the event.
“They all touched on different areas of the war. It was a good mix,” said Sheila Weldin, who attended the symposium.
Ned Goebricher, a member of Friends of Fort Ontario, also enjoyed the afternoon session of the day-long program.
Goebricher is a history buff who has traveled to places like Gettysburg, Pa., and stresses the importance to “see what’s in your backyard before you go other places.”
Goebricher takes advantage of the historic sites right here in Oswego.
“It would seem if you lived here, you would want to know what happened,” he said.
As the War of 1812 commemoration continues over the next few years, there will be plenty of opportunities to find out what exactly happened here in Central New York.
Lear anticipates a War of 1812 themed military camp for children this summer along with ceremonies at the Post Cemetery at Fort Ontario to honor sacrifices made during the war.
According to Lear, there is also painting being commissioned of the U.S.S Oneida, which was a military ship built in Oswego which had significant use during the War of 1812.
“We are looking to bring in some tall ships,” said Mercedes Niess, executive director of the H. Lee White Marine Museum.
Being part of the War of 1812 committee, Niess is finding ways to incorporate additional information into the War of 1812 commemoration.
She plans to feature a lecture on women and children’s dress during this era during the Canal Celebration this summer.
“We’re really excited to partner with the fort,” Niess said.
“All the aspects blend so much that all the agencies are bringing,” added Weldin, who is the assistant director of the marine museum.
“Everyone works very well together here and it does its part in improving the community,” said Lear.
In September, then-Gov. David Paterson vetoed the creation of a War of 1812 commission. So the symposium and any future commemoration events was and will be pulled together under a very low, local budget.
Lear is confident in the people of Oswego County’s ability to honor the War of 1812, even with a lack of funding.
“We don’t have to wait for Albany or Washington. We’re just going to do it. That’s the American way,” said Lear.