Tag Archives: Onondaga Nation

Come To Geneseo, Give Us Money, Look at the Sky

            A long time ago when Bob Newhart hosted Saturday Night Live, he did a bit during his opening monologue in which he spoofed early television travel documentaries. Newhart played the role of the narrator, describing his expedition into the wilds of Peru.  He described his arrival at villages inhabited by Indigenous peoples who “were quite superstitious.” The arrival of Newhart’s party, the story went, coincided with a total solar eclipse. In response, “the natives began to beg us to please return the big red ball in the sky. Which we did of course. It just shows you there are lighter moments in even a trip as serious as ours.”

            The entire premise of Newhart’s routine rested on the audience’s assumption that the Indigenous peoples were unsophisticated rubes, completely unable to understand celestial phenomena.  Of course Indians would wonder what happened to the sun during an eclipse, because they could not possibly know any better.

    I have thought about this routine a lot, as the Great American Eclipse approaches in April of 2024.  This total solar eclipse will be visible across much of upstate New York, and my college’s money makers are hoping to draw people to campus to witness the event.  (Reminders of how cloudy, cold and wet Aprils in Upstate New York can be are completely unwelcome).  Even some of our own promotional materials—shown to prospective students during an admitted students weekend–made reference to primitive peoples’ befuddlement at the appearance of eclipses. I wonder, however, if we are being too uncritical, and too dismissive of the sophistication of Indigenous peoples’ understandings of the stars, the skies, and all that they contain.

            Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, said once that a solar eclipse stopped the war between the Lydians and the Medes. The warring parties saw the eclipse as a sign they should make peace. In the Bible, darkness at noon figures prominently in the Passion Narratives, a portent of doom if we look to the Old Testament Book of Amos which, for instance, the Gospels copied in the telling of the Crucifixion. The death of the English king Henry 1 in 1133 shortly after an eclipse may have helped spread the superstition that eclipses could be bad news. In Plains Indian Winter Counts, Indigenous historians recorded comets and eclipses. They were events worthy of note.

Some People think that Eclipses are apocalyptic events that portend evil. Some people think hardly at all.

So, two stories. In his account of the year he spent at the first Roanoke Colony from 1585 until 1586, Thomas Harriot described the coastal Algonquians’ reaction to the English newcomers. They could not tell whether the English were “gods or men,” Harriot said. The Carolina Algonquians felt this way because of the inexplicable disease that seemed to accompany the English, the “invisible bullets” that the English were somehow able to fire with lethal accuracy at those who offended

them. The technology the English carried with them, items that seemed “so strange to them, and so far exceeded their capacities to comprehend the reason and means how they should be made and done, that they thought they were rather the works of gods than of men, or at the leastwise they had been given and taught us of the gods. Which made many of them to have such opinion of us, as that if they knew not the truth of god and religion already, it was rather to be had from us, whom God so specially loved than from a people that were so simple, as they found themselves to be in comparison of us” further encouraged this feeling. Finally the English arrival closely followed some significant astronomical events: a comet, for instance, and an “Eclipse of the Sun which we saw the same year before in our voyage thitherward, which to them appeared very terrible.”

That was what Thomas Harriot heard in the 1580s. So let’s jump ahead to 1925, for an event that the Brooklyn Citizen said took place on the Onondaga Nation in central New York. The Onondagas were gathered in the Nation’s Longhouse that January to commemorate their mid-winter rites. And then:

Interrupted in the midst of their annual ten-day penitential and atonement sacrifice by the eclipse of the sun, Indians at the Onondaga Reservation were crazed by fear. Darkness descended on the Indians as they were gathered in the famous old Longhouse to offer up the sacrifice of the White Dog to tehir God in atonement. As the light turned blue and then purple, they rushed from the buildings and led by an old chief, began firing at the eclipse. As the last shot rang out, the moon passed from the sun and the purple light began to fade. In a few moments it was normal again, and the Indians returned to the Longhouse, confident they had driven away the evil spirit.”

Think about these two stories. Think about how the authors know what they know. Think about which of them ring true to you. If I were to ask you to identify the story you thought most likely to be untrue, which would you choose? One, or the other, or both?

I suspect you might choose the second one. But I am skeptical about the first one as well. Harriot did not see the Indians’ reaction to the comet or the eclipse. The idea that Indigenous peoples were easily befuddled by astronomical phenomena is not entirely convincing to me. If we assume that freaking out at the sight of an eclipse is a sign of savagery, and a sign of possessing a lack of sophistication, and possessing a great deal of stupidity, it is not surprising perhaps that some writers might use an eclipse as another racist trope describing Indigenous backwardness. The sun disappeared, and the Indians wondered if it would ever come back!

But isn’t there another possibility? Isn’t it possible that Indians observed eclipses, saw the sun disappear, and then return, and then understood that eclipses were not all that big a deal. If I am right about this, it is entirely possible that Indians did not freak out at all at the sight of an eclipse. They might have said, “Huh, that’s weird,” and went about their day.

Don’t underestimate Indigenous peoples. Do not underestimate people who, as the anthropologist Lynn Ceci asserted long ago, knew to time the planting of their corn by the appearance or disappearance of the Pleiades. Indigenous peoples watched the sky closely. The evidence that this is true is so abundant. There is, as well, abundant evidence showing the sophistication of Indigenous observations of the cosmos. The astronomer Anna Sofaer called buildings at Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest “cosmological expression through architecture.” Some Indigenous peoples could predict astronomical events with great precision. So come to Geneseo. With 165 sunny days per year, there is slightly less than a 50% chance that you will be able to see the eclipse clearly, but what the hell. You could go to Dallas and be almost assured of a sunny day, but we don’t judge. I do ask, however, that you not perpetuate unproven stereotypes about eclipses, and that you not diminish the wisdom of the peoples whose lands you will be visiting the moment you arrive.

A Timeline of Onondaga Lake Pollution, 1600-2000

City boosters could look to the future of Syracuse with enormous optimism. Harvey Baldwin, in 1846, gave a speech extolling the city’s many virtues, “the most sanguine, hopeful, confident,” that had ever been delivered on the Salt City’s. When Baldwin arrived in Syracuse, it had barely five hundred residents. Now more than ten thousand lived there. Baldwin expected Syracuse to continue to grow, to outpace its rivals Rochester and Buffalo. “Immense structures of compact buildings will in every direction cover this delightful plain, and every hill, knoll, and swell of ground be occupied by some stately mansion or neat cottage.” Meanwhile, “all bordering territory will have been brought into a high and perfect state of cultivation, and our beautiful lake, on all its beautiful shores and borders, will present a view of one continuous villa, ornamented with its shady groves and hanging gardens, and connected by a wide and splendid avenue that shall encircle its entire waters, and furnish a delightful drive to the gay and prosperous citizens of the town, who will, toward the close of each summer’s day, throng it for pleasure, relaxation or the improvement of health.” And “in every salt manufactory that studs its shores will be seen the ponderous steam engine, breathing forth its heated vapor, and by the same power drawing rich treasure from the bowels of the earth, and converting it into an article indispensable to the human family; while it drives a thousand wheels and propels cotton, woolen and flouring mills, and all the varied machinery known to man or that may be by man’s ingenuity designed and adopted to his necessities and wants.”

Syracuse grew into an important industrial center. Those economic enterprises Baldwin envisioned blossoming along the shores of Onondaga Lake produced what was, for many years, the most polluted body of water in North America. Onondaga Lake, which the Onondaga Nation today considers a sacred site, was brutalized by pollution. Years ago, I began working on a research project exploring the Onondaga Nation’s ties to the lake, and collecting evidence on the history of industrial pollution on the lake, on Onondaga Creek which flowed through the Onondaga Nation Territory, and other waters in the Onondaga Lake watershed. Though I am currently writing a book on the history of the Onondaga Nation, I have a lot of material on the lake’s toxic history that I thought would be appropriate to share here. If you have any suggestions or comments, please share. Someday, if time allows, I may produce documentary history of Onondaga Lake and its intersections with the history of the City of Syracuse and the Onondaga Nation.

Books, Dissertations, and Theses

There are a number of important books, articles, and dissertations that explore the history of Onondaga Lake. If you are interested in reading about the lake and its pollution, you should look at the following:

Alexander, Maurice    The Ecology of Onondaga County and Vicinity, Syracuse: State University      of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1976.

Alexander, Michael Douglas.  “Hanging Gardens: The Untold Story of Onondaga Lake,” CRP       Honors Thesis, Cornell University, 2002). 

Barnhill, S. Kathleen.  “Negotiating Sacred Space: Indigenous Participation in Local Environmental Governance,” MS thesis, SUNY-ESF

Benton, L. M.  “A Witches’ Brew: A History of Pollution in Onondaga Lake,” M.A. thesis, Syracuse University, 1992).   

Bergeron, Emily.  “From Sovereignty to Superfund: The Onondaga Nation’s Legal Battle for Land Rights, Environmental Justice, and the Remediation of Onondaga Lake,” Ph.D Dissertation, Cornell University, 2017.

Bray, William L.  The Development of the Vegetation of New York State.  Technical Publication No. 3, (Syracuse: New York State College of Forestry, 1915).

Connors, Dennis J.  The Search for the Jesuit Mission of Ste. Marie de Gannentaha,(Liverpool,         NY: Office of Museums and Historical Sites, County of Onondaga Department of Parks and Recreation, 1980)

Dumas, Ashley A. and Paul N. Eubanks, eds. Salt in Eastern North America and the Caribbean, (Tuscalossa: University of Alabama Press, 2021).

Gray, Barbara Anne.  “An Eagle’s Cry: The Impacts of Environmental Injustice on Haudenosaunee Culture,” Ph.D. Thesis, Arizona State University, 2008.

Jamieson, Gerald S.  “Cultural Loss and Traditional Values in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Process,” MS Thesis, SUNY-ESF, 2011

Kimmerer, Robin Wall.  Braiding Sweetgrass.  (Minneapolis: Milkweed Publications, 2013).

Landis, Catherine.  “The Heart of the Country: Historical Ecology of Onondaga Lake,” Ph.D. Diss., State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2018.

Metz, Elizabeth.  Sainte Marie among the Iroquois: A Living History Museum of the French and     the Iroquois at Onondaga in the Seventeenth Century, (Syracuse: Quartier Printing,  1995).

Munson, Lilian Steele.  Syracuse: The City that Salt Built.  (New York: Pageant Press International, 1969).

Rushak, Elaine.  “A History of the New York State Salt Springs Reservation at Onondaga, 1788-1820,”( M.A. Thesis, SUNY-Buffalo, 1979)

Storey, Mike.  Heartland: A Natural History of Onondaga County, New York., (Syracuse: Onondaga Audubon Society, 1977).

Stradling, David.  The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State,    (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010).

Vertigan, Richard.  “Reclaiming Onondaga Lake: The Role of Community Attitudes,” MS Thesis, SUNY-ESF.

Newspaper Timeline:

The citations below include many of the quirks with which I work. This timeline could not have been assembled with the assistance of Will Porter and Peter Olsen-Harbich. Will and Peter both graduated from SUNY Geneseo, and went on to complete their doctoral dissertations at Harvard and William and Mary, respectively. Will completed his dissertation in English, Peter in Early American History.

1819  14 August          Plough-Boy,   “The Onondaga Salt works improve by experience. The present season will produce an increased quantity and of superior quality. Revenue estimated at 60,000 dollars, which belongs to the Canal fund.”

1822, 18 July            “Course Salt.” Long-Island Star, “We yesterday received from Colonel Wheeler, of Salina, as a sample, a small box of salt, made at his works at Salina, byt the process of slow evaporation by means of heated tubes passing through vats of salt water. This, we are told, is altogether a new invention in the history of making salt….We are unable to say with what facility salt may be manufactured on this plant; but we are informed it can be made with much less expense than by the usual mode. The sample sent us is very superior.”

1822    2 August          Spectator.  New method of producing salt established and discovered. The brine at Saline is five or six times as saline as the ocean, and the result of the boiling produce “must of course be in the same ratio.

1824     1 July   “Salt,” “Long-Island Star, “A cargo of salt, course and fine manufactured at Salina Onondaga county has arrived at Albany. The Albany Advertiser states that ‘there is no doubt but New York alone can supply all the northern states, if not the whole union, with salt of as good quality, and at as cheap a rate, as it can be afforded by the importers of that article of necessity.”

1826                            8 June              “A Great Curiosity,” Long-Island Star, “A stone has recently been found in the town of Salina, Onondaga county, which is pronounced by those who have examined it, to be a petrefaction of the human head. The outlines of the organs, and the exact proportion of their location, is almost demonstrable proof of the fact.”

1826    21 July “A Discovery,” New York Spectator.  “The Syracuse Gazette says a salt spring has lately been discovered on the margin of the Onondaga Lake, about a mile and  a half from the Salina Springs. Its water is represented to be heavier, and is pronounced by good judges to be equally as strong, as the water at Salina; and will afford as great a quality as either of the springs now in use.

1832  15 January        “Onondaga Salt,”Evening Post (NY).  A brief note on salt.  “By a report of the superintendents, it appears that 1,514,037 bushels of salt have been inspected at Salina during the past year, of which 163,004 bushels is coarse salt, manufactured in vats by solar heat.”

1843  29 May              “American Salt,” Letter to editor.  Brooklyn Evening Star.  Not sure how relevant this is, but thought I would note this for the sake of keeping track of the salt industry.  “The supply of saline waters at Onondaga is inexhaustible, and no doubt derives its rich store from the salt gem close by. It will not be among the greatest wonders to see the beautiful Onondaga salt among the articles of export of our merchants. The state tax upon the salt made at Onondaga, was a tax upon labor, and therefore oppressive, and part of the last year compelled the laborer to be idle, and besides it was an embargo upon its locomotion for the salt could only be carried one way.  If it come east it met the foreign salt, and was put down by competition. It is a source of gratification that salt can be brought into the market here and sold for 20 cents per bushel, from a distance of near 300 miles in the interior, and that the farmer can for about one pound of fresh butter purchase a bushel of the salt of Onondaga. The time was, when the back woods people gave two pounds of butter for one pound of salt.”

1843 20 July               Salt.  More on the salt industry, this time from the Brooklyn Evening Star.  “The villages of Syracuse, Salina, Liverpool and Geddes, almost adjoin each other, and lie at the head of this lake, and probably at some day not far distant will form one great city. These villages are indebted for their prosperity and importance to the Salt trade which is so extensively carried on there.  The Salines, the lake and the land was the property of the red man of the forest—the nation of Indians known as the Onondagas, resided here, and the remnant of that people still occupy a reservation a short distance from the Salines, which is known as the Onondaga Reservation. Near sixty years ago these Indians made a grant of the Salt Lake and the lands appurtenant to the people of this state, for the use of the Indians and the White men forever, for a small consideration in hand, and an annual payment of small amount in addition thereto.”

1845    4 December    New York Herald:  “A slat spring is said to have been discovered by some Indians of the Onondaga tribe, within but a short distance of our village.  The spring has been visited by several of our citizens, two or three of whom have made arrangements to test the saline properties of the water and ascertain by experiment, whether the manufacture of salt from it can be made profitable.” Originally from the Ithacan Journal.    

1856    22 November  Syracuse Standard. OHA Clippings File.  “We saw yesterday at a fish stall near Ashby’s grocery store, on the north side of the canal, a large and very fine lot of White Fish which were taken from the Onondaga Lake, at a depth of forty feet. Fishermen say this is the first season in twelve years that these fish have made their appearance in this Lake.”

1861    8 February       Ice Advertisement, Syracuse Journal.  OHA Clippings File.  “My ice is all taken from the ONONDAGA LAKE, is hard, solid, and clear, free from  impurities of every kind, put up in cold weather, and was selected with great care for Family Use . . . .” Jos. Savage.

1866    26 April.  “Shad in Onondaga Lake, “ Albany Argus.  Fish dealer is selling the “first shad ever caught in that lake.”

1872    21 March “Restocking Onondaga Lake with Fish.” Commercial Advertiser. 10,000 black bass and 10,000 salmon to be stocked.

1875    No Date “The River of the Senecas” Syracuse Newspaper in Beauchamp  Scrapbook, Box 31.  A travel journal highlighting the waterways flowing   northward into Lake Ontario.  “From the Onondaga Outlet to the lake is  the old historic part of that river.  Above that, indeed, it formed one great public highway for the red men, but whites were seldom found upon it  until after the Revolution. Our early knowledge of it belongs especially to  that part which the whites traveled, in seeking the castle of the Onondagas. Here came the early traders and missionaries. Here toiled or floated the army of Count Frontenac.  Here ambassadors wended their way; and here war-parties passed to strike the French settlements.

1880    27 August        Syracuse Journal.  OHA Clippings File.  “Several lads residing in the  Seventh and Eighth Wards of this city and Geddes have had the skin of their bodies poisoned by bathing in Onondaga lake, near the mouth of Onondaga Creek.”

1884    16 June “Opening an Indian Burial Ground,”NYT.  “On Saturday, while laborers were engaged in leveling a mound of earth in a grove at Long Branch, a Summer resort on the shores of Onondaga Lake, they came upon a pile of skulls and skeletons ranged side by side in regular order. The excavations were continued until the bones of a large number of Indians were discovered.  The skeletons lay in a row with their heads to the south. The bodies crumbled to dust on being exposed to the air. The skulls were in a good state of preservation.  A large number of flint arrowheads were found. The mound was undoubtedly a graveyard for the Onondaga Indians many years ago. Dr. Hamlin, the archaeologist, drilled into the mound which had excited his curiosity, but without discovering anything.”

1885    23 July   “A Naturalist’s Ramble: The Great Text Book of Nature as Seen in Onondaga County.” Syracuse Journal. OHA Clippings.  Piece by Beauchamp describing the natural world, including the mollusks of Onondaga Lake. 

1886    No Date  “Salt Manufacture: The Origins and Progress of that Important Industry,” Syracuse Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 36.  Centuries ago there dwelt in our new beautiful city of Syracuse and its surroundings a tribe of Indians of whom the great Hiawatha said, ‘You Onondagas who have your habitation at the great mountains and are overshadowed by its crag, shall be the third nation, because you are greatly gifted in speech and mighty in war.’  The country occupied by the Onondagas was fertile and fruitful, and the extensive water facilities were of great service in commerce, as the different trading posts were more accessible by water than by land.  The place where the Onondagas were situated was considered the center of the Iroquois nation.” The article goes on to describe the French mission and all the Europeans who wanted access to and control of the lake.  The Onondaga Lake “was greatly prized by the Indians and many beautiful legends are told in connection with it.  How beautiful must have been that picturesque lake with its charming blue waters and delicate white edging, as the mellow lights from the camp fires of the Indian braves overspread his waters.  A spring bubbled here and there along the shore, depositing its waters on the bank, and as the water evaporated a white substance remained which they called salt. The existence of these springs was known to the Indians long before the advent of the early Europeans.”

1889    12 December  “Removal of Disease Producing Material,” Northern Christian Advocate. “The matter of disposal of sewage forms a prominent question for inland cities and towns. The city of Syracuse, for example, is discharging its  sewage into Onondaga Lake, just outside city limits, and is slowly making of it one immense cess-pool whose disease germs may some day return to smite the city as with a scourge.” 

1890    2 February       “Onondaga Lake Undergoing a Complete Transformation.” Syracuse Standard. OHA Clippings Files.  “Ducks are quite numerous about the lake owing to the open water. Hunters who are hardy enough to stand the rough weather are having some fine sport.  Early last week George Lodder bagged 13 and Edward Mann 11 in a walk around the lake.  A wild goose, which weighed nine pounds, was shot by a hunter from the Second ward on Friday. There is a little ice on the borders of the lake, and large  white fish are being speared through holes in the ice by some of the expert spearsmen.”

1894    6 October        “An Unaccountable Change in the Color of Onondaga’s Waters.”  Syracuse Standard. OHA Clippings Files.   “Owen Donovan, proprietor of several popular resorts on the lake, was             asked if he had noticed the change. ‘Yes, I have,’ said he, ‘and it is one of the queerest things I ever saw. Everybody who has been on the lake must have noticed the change in the color of the water. The last time I took a party across on my steamer  we couldn’t talk of anything else. Some thought it was merely due to the reflection of the sun, but others declared that they had noticed the same phenomena when the sun was obscured. I believe it is owing to the Soda Ash factory. The refuse from that factory is carried by an inlet right into the lake. I think it will also have the effect of destroying our ice crop within a few years.”

 1895 No Date  “Old Spots Made New: Resorts of Pleasure-Seekers Known to the Indians and the Jesuits,” Syracuse Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 34. “Summer visitors to Onondaga Lake and its tributaries only go in the tracks of the aboriginals and pioneers of this country. The whole region round about is marked by footprints of an ancient occupation. If  the farmers, who resort once a year after harvest time to Three River Point, lately called Three Rivers, knew that centuries ago this point was acknowledged as one of great strategic importance it might give them additional interest in its history.” The article proceeds to discuss various historic sites around the lake. “Two hundred years ago our locality was nearly the dividing line between two contending powers for supremacy in America.”

1896    May                 Local History Leaflet, Written by Beauchamp. Published by OHA, May 1896.   OHA Clippings Files.   “Before the middle of the seventeenth century the Onondagas had little use for the lake which bears their name. Almost all the Indian remains about it are of earlier tribes, having little affinity with them. They did occasionally visit the lake, and the formation of the Iroquois League, about 1600, is traditionally assigned to the high banks north of Liverpool.  A few Iroquoian relics have been found there. .The French colony of 1656 drew a few Indians there, but they soon returned to their great village in Pompey, and we hear no more of the Onondagas at the lake until the year 1700.  At that time Livingston wrote  about a proposed fort at Onondaga, where the English had previously assisted in the building of one burned in 1696, a little south of the present  village of Jamesville, and on the Watkins farm.  He thought it ‘not proper to build a fort at Onondaga for these reasons: 1. Besides the difficulty of the two carrying places, you cannot come nearer than 16 miles to the Castle by water, except they go round by Kanienda, so that the carriage of provisions by land so far will be dangerous, difficult and chargeable.’ He also said that ‘Keneenda is within eight miles of the Castle.’ The same year a Seneca reported that the French intended building a fort ‘at Kaneenda, a fishing place of the Onnondages, eight miles from their castle, their landing place when they came from hunting over Cadaracqui lake,’ or Lake Ontario.”

1899    17 November  Post Standard.  OHA Clippings File. “The Members of the State Board of  Health when in this city Thursday visited Onondaga Lake and expressed the opinion that the running of refuse into the lake must be stopped sooner or later. This is an observation that has been made at various times by people in Syracuse who are interested in the welfare of the city.  With the growing interest taken in Onondaga Lake it is apparent that steps must be taken before long to preserve the purity of the water.” 

1901    2 February       “City’s Open Sewer to Lake.” Syracuse Journal.  OHA Clippings File.“Complaints are being made that the Solvay Process refuse is choking up the Onondaga creek at the point where it enters Onondaga Lake, and fears are expressed that eventually the flow of sewerage into the lake will be impeded, if not entirely stopped.  The attention of the city authorities has, it is said, been called to the alleged nuisance and it is possible that steps maybe taken to abate it.”

1909    27 November  “Net Fishing is Blamed by Mr. Bierhardt for Disappearance of White Fish from Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard.  OHA Clippings File.  “Few Left now, he declares.  Well known angler believes sewerage pollution responsible for extermination of other fish form the lake.” The story continues:  “While the sewage from the city, carried to the lake, has contaminated the waters so as to render them practically deserted by the finny tribe, and Solvay refuse has destroyed the spawning beds, it was the predatory instinct of man that resulted in the death blow about ten years ago to this species of Onondaga fish, esteemed by epicures as a delicacy par excellence. . .”

1911    2 August        “Water Quality Improved at the Summer Resorts.”  POST STANDARD. Drinking water remains safe (unclear if water is from Onondaga Lake.

1912    9 July  “Double Number of Swimming Places Needed in Syracuse—All Now Available Too Crowded, Says Superintendent Campbell—Hundred Use Municipal and Y.M.C.A. Pools Every Day.” POST STANDARD. David Campbell, superintendent of parks, understands the pollution of Onondaga lake as an act of “the white man.” He stated that “when the state and municipal improvements planned are carried out, when the sewage is disposed of by other means than it is now and when Onondaga lake in years to come again assumes something of the condition in which it was when the white man found it, it will be the greatest blessing known to Syracuse in summer.”

1912   12 September   “Asks $500 for Plunge in Stream of Hot Waste—Stillman Bring Suit Against Solvay Company—Horse Killed When Bridge Falls.” POST STANDARD. Waste flowing from the Solvay Process Works company onto the shore of Onondaga Lake instantly kills a horse and burns a man up to his legs. Click

1914    19 June            “Anglers Measure Catches made in Annual Contest—Awards to be Announced Next Week at banquet—Many Fishermen Display Prizes, Yet ‘It’s Not What it Used to be’ is the Complaint.” POST STANDARD. Anglers blame new barge canal for the lack of large fish in Onondaga Lake

1915    1 May  “Discuss Sewer Screen System—W.L. D’olier And Intercepting Board Consider Purification Plans—Inspect Location Of Plant—Sanitary Corporation Men Go To Lakeview Point After Conference—Onondaga Creek Work Progressing Rapidly.” POST STANDARD. The state has indicated that it will require Syracuse to install screens or tanks in addition to filters in the water purification plant in construction at Lakeview Point

1915    12 October      “Onondaga Park Overflow Problem For Commission—No Funds To Pay For New Main Suggested By Bureau Of Water.” POST STANDARD. A new ten-inch main is required to dispose of overflow from Onondaga Park Lake; dispute over responsibility for payment.

1916    22 June            “Solvay Process Erecting Large Water System—Pump House And Conduit Line To Be Finished About Sept. 1—Investment Of $300,000—Pipes Extending 1,500 Feet Into Onondaga Lake Have Diameter Of Six Feet—Sections Weigh 8 Tons.” POST STANDARD.  System will have the capacity to remove water from Onondaga Lake at a rate equal to that required by the entire city of Syracuse. Water will be used for cooling purposes only, and 95% of water will be returned to the lake “purer than before.”

1917    17 August        “Semet-Solvay Plans To Stop Lake Pollution—Disposal Plant Will Be Erected To Take Care Of Split Rock Wastage—Will Divert Brook—Swimming Pool At Onondaga Lake To Be Supplied With Skaneateles Water During Construction Work.”  POST STANDARD. Chemical waste has entered Hiawtha Lake through Stolp Brook. Some worry that the Woodlawn reservoir will not be able to supply enough Skaentaeles water for the swimming pool.

1917    7 October        “Wanted: A New Canal Through Cicero Swamps—Project Would Cut Thirteen Miles From Present Water Way And Bring About New Factory Development—Oneida Lake To Onondaga—Planning Commission Backs Scheme To Increase Shipping Facilities For Syracuse—Experts Advise Quick Action—Cost Would Be Small In Proportion To Gain; But One Lock Needed; Private Concerns May Develop Scheme—Would Reclaim 10 Square Miles of Fertile Land—Canal Would Drain Large Territory and Restore Fertile Acres to Agriculture—Great Swamps to Disappear—Zone Two Miles Wide From New York Central Cut-Off to Oneida Lake is Needed—Industries Must Expand—Section North of City Only Available District; Channel Will Parallel Railroad, Getting Double Service.” POST STANDARD. Cicero swampland is extremely fertile and inhabited by Italian immigrants. The proposed canal from Oneida-Onondaga Lakes is listed as having three purposes: providing better water service to the city of Syracuse, draining the Cicero swamps (thus opening up its land for agriculture), and prompting the development of a new industrial section of Syracuse around the northern shore of Onondaga Lake.

1927    15 October      “Ka-ne-en-da, Fishing Village of Indians, Now Under Waste: Syracuse Archaeologist Tells Members of historical Association of Early Iroquois Land Given to Englishman in 1752,” Post Standard, Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbook, Box 38.  The site has disappeared under “Solvay lime waste.”  And this:  “Ka-ne-en-da is gone, but the Solvay Process Company wants to build a bulkhead across the south end of the lake, fill it with refuse and put on a top dressing of earth for the purpose of making it into a park, Dr. Hinsdale said.” Hinsdale was an archaeologist addressing the Onondaga Historical Association.

1930 23 February        “Seek to Save Lake: Syracusans Would Restore Former Beauties of Onondaga.” NYT.  “Before refuse was dumped into the lake it had all the charm it possessed when Hiawatha knew it in 1600.  Hiawatha formed the Iroquois Indian confederacy on the easterly shore of the lake. This is historically true, Longfellow having used poetic license in associating the Indian leader with the Ojibways of the Middle West.”  The story recounts the destruction: fish species eradicated, like the Whitefish, the smell, and the movement that was underfoot in the city to reverse course and save the lake.  The point is that Syracusans at an early point in time recognized that they had a significant problem on their hands, and that the lake had a long cultural connection to the Onondagas.

1931    27 June            “Solvay takes Up Indian’s Discovery. “ Journal.  Newspaper Clipping. Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 40.  “Discovery by Albert Shenandoah, an Indian living on the Onondaga Reservation, of a process for converting  Solvay waste into building material, is under investigation by engineers of the Solvay Process Company, according to an announcement by Shenandoah Saturday.  The process, on which the inventor has been at work for three years, involves combination of the waste—of which millions of tons are piled along the Onondaga lake shore—with other substances to form a mixture which can be molded into any shape or form and used in place of lumber or brick.”

1931    27 September  “Indian’s Find May Restore Lake Beauty: Schanandoah Discovers use for Waste Piled Up About Onondaga.” Post Standard. Newspaper Clipping.  Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 40.  Important story.  “Will an Indian whose forefathers paddled their canoes over its waters, fished in its depths and hunted along its shores be the one responsible for restoring Onondaga Lake in a large part to its natural beauty?”  Scanandoah [the spelling changes in different stories] collected the waste. He guarded his secret closely, but did show the end result.  “Years ago the company began acquiring lowlands along the shores of Onondaga Lake or the right to deposit its waste on them, and since the beginning has filled such lowlands from near Park Street on the south shore of the lake to and past the former mouth of Nine Mile creek on the west shore, north of the state fairgrounds, a distance of nearly four miles.”  A “white-lime embankment along two thirds of the west shore of the lake” can be found

1932    13 November  “First French Fort in Area Now the U.S. Will Be Reproduced on Original Site Overlooking Onondaga Lake.”  Herald.  Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 41

1933    30 July  “Jesuit Well Rites Part of Parkway Fete: K of C. to Dedicate Salt Base on Onondaga Lake, Aug. 16. Indians Feared Spot.” Herald.  Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 41. 

1933    16 August        “Replica of Jesuit Stockade Feature of Lake Parkway: Buildings of Settlement of 1656 Reproduced on Bluff Overlooking Onondaga.” Post Standard. Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbooks, Box 41.  There was considerable interest in Syracuse about the city’s colonial past.  The article said little about the Indians, and the Onondagas do not appear to have been involved in any of the planning, but there was a community offered abundant evidence about the lake’s historic significance

1935    29 September  “Graves and Legends Reveal Life of Onondaga Tribe in Early Days when Settlers Came to Salt Springs: Pioneers’ Sugar Loaf Hill Once was Indians’ Beacon Pinnacle.” Herald. Newspaper Clipping, Beauchamp Scrapbook, Box 42. “Syracuse is in the center of a section noted for its Indian history. In early days a main encampment of the Onondagas was near Jamesville. The present             reservation of the Onondaga Indians is located not far from the city.  There are many spots within the city limits definitely associated with Indian history.  Indian graves have been found on a knoll between West Genesee Street and Onondaga Lake, and near North Geddes Street, and again on the bank of Onondaga Creek, near West Genesee Street, proving that, at an early date, there was an encampment of Indians there, probably working the salt springs with which the region abounded.”

1946    3 February       Letter to the Editor from William Maloney.  Post Standard. OHA Clippings File. Blamed the city for despoiling one of God’s choicest gems, Onondaga Lake.” Citing Solvay Process, Maloney noted that “these huge pyramids of sludge built upon the shores of Onondaga Lake and city-owned land are mute testimony to the sins of our community.”

1946    28 April  “Pump Moisture out of Solvay Sludge, Cover with Topsoil, Engineer Advises.” Post Standard.  OHA Clippings File. “Plan for reclamation of Onondaga Lake and ridding the locality of the mountains of Solvay Process Co. sludge was advanced last night by Oscar D. Guilfoil, 213 Green Street.

1946    16 June            “Lake Cleanup to be Pushed.” Herald Journal.  OHA Clippings File. “Citizen-inspired movements to return Onondaga Lake to is natural state—for many years as ‘bogged down’ as the pollution itself—are gathering momentum, along with widespread public support, as evidenced by three major developments in the cleanup battle revealed yesterday.”

1946    18 June            “State Probe Of Onondaga Lake Proposed.” POST STANDARD. Proposition calls for the creation of a committee run by state officials to conduct witness examinations and subpoena records pertinent to the pollution of Onondaga Lake. The committee will then submit drafts of legislation that will carry out their recommendations for restoring the Lake

1946    19 June            “Officials Of State Being Tests For Pollution—Survey Is Aimed At Determination Of Effects On Fish.” POST STANDARD. State aquatic biologist tests portions of Onondaga Lake for organic and chemical pollution. Special attention is being paid to testing the water for phenols, which are present in the chemical waste of coke production. 

1946    20 June            “Plenty Of Carp Found By Biologists At Lake.” POST STANDARD. No other fish removed from Onondaga Lake. State conservation experts take this as evidence that pollution has affected “only the quality—not quantity” of fish life. The fish is not considered edible by upstate New Yorkers but is known to be “hardy” and “prolific” as well as resistant to pollution. The carp will be examined in a Rochester laboratory. 

1946    23 June            “Solvay Process May Not Fight State Action To Recover Lake Land.” POST STANDARD. Maloney, activist, has stated that Solvay has no chance in court if they attempt to make a claim to the land. It is believed that Solvay encroached on public land beyond the limits of its deed in order to further its pollution. The village of Solvay is also mentioned as a primary polluter, as its sewage system dumps directly into the Lake without any treatment.

1946    24 June          Political Cartoon Commenting On Onondaga Lake Pollution. POST STANDARD.

1946    30 June            “Survey Shows Leaks Into Onondaga Lake At Solvay Waste Beds.”POST STANDARD.  Leaks from Solvay’s dykes result in a sludge channel that first combines with the village of Solvay’s sewage to form a stream of pollution directly into Onondaga Lake. A dead carp was spotted by a survey boat. “At times, the stream also runs almost wilk white far into the lake with Solvay waste…for several hundred yards out into the lake at the mouth of the creek, bubbles arise contently as in a stagnant pool.” Records indicate that Solvay and the city of Syracuse have been cooperating in their mutual dumping of sewage into the lake as far back as 1896. The Liverpool chamber of commerce hopes to show that Solvay has encroached on public land by dumping its sewage on lake bottom owned by the city, with the goal of this demonstration being to attract the attention of the state department of canals and waterways. 

1946    3 July             “Appeal Made To State To Halt Solvay Process Dumping—Court Writ Sought In Onondaga Lake Cleanup Campaign.” POST STANDARD. Appeal filed by William A. Maloney, pollution activist. Maloney protests the long extension granted to Solvay for answering the state’s pollution complaint.

1946    7 July             “Lake Pollution Tours Slated.” Two surveys will be made of the Lake, one by a special sanitary engineer from Albany and the other by prominent Syracusans. Maloney praised the cooperation of the State in addressing the pollution issue.

1946    9 July             “Trout Found Dead In Stream—Nine Mile Creek Pollution Source Sought By State.” POST STANDARD. Sixty dead trout found. Sanitary experts from Rochester have been dispatched to investigate. Paper and Woolen mills are located on the stream. Nine Mile Creek is the outlet of Otisco Lake.

1946    24 July           “State Finishes Investigation Of Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD. The report of the state department of public works has been referred to Attorney General Goldstein. Maloney states that the department has gathered evidence of encroachment on state waterways.

1946    2 August        “Fishermen Awaiting Report On Nine Mile Creek Pollution.” POST STANDARD. The state conservation department has been too concerned with Onondaga Lake to pay much attention to the creek.

1946    4 August        “State Promises Support In Onondaga Lake Pollution Fight—Maloney Assured Of Albany Interest In Solvay Battle.” POST STANDARD. Assistat Attorney General Arthur Mattson pledges his support to Maloney. Maloney charges that the Syracuse chamber of commerce has demonstrated a “very definite lack of interest in the manner.” 

1946    4 August        “ ‘Pollution’ Sign Bearer At Thruway Demonstration Sues State—Unlawful ‘Arrest,’ Assault Claimed By Liverpool Man.” POST STANDARD.Albert E. Pope was arrested after attempting to attract the attention of Gov. Dewey by displaying placards. He was arrested while walking away from the demonstration.

1946    15 August      “State Authorizes Onondaga Creek Control Project—Negotiations Due For Compromise With Indian Nation.” POST STANDARD Albany has given final approval for the creek plan. Congress has also approved financing. The state is responsible for obtaining rights-of-way, including furnishing land on the reservation.

1946    8 September    “Welch Suggests Solvay Pay for Waste reclamation.” Post Standard. OHA Clipping Files.  “Reorganizing operation of the state fair, to make it more truly representative of New York’s agricultural and industrial resources, and leaving it at its present site expanded to Onondaga Lake’s shore after making Solvay Process pay for reclamation of its wastelands are suggested in a new study of the future of the exposition. IN a 64-page illustrated book just published, Walter L. Welch, Syracusan long active in civic movements to improve the state fair, presents a detailed survey of the origins, history, and recommended future of the huge show.’ Welch said in this book that “’If the violated rights of the people of the state caused by the virtual encirclement and depreciation of the value of the fairgroundsby Solvay Process Co. are properly asserted by officials of the State who should do so, and proper restitution is made, there will be ample room available adjacent to the present site for a new exposition growing out of the old, with a beautiful promontory and lake side setting.”

1946   15 September “Onondaga Lake Group Charges State ‘Brushoff’—Maloney Asks Pollution Reports Be Made Public.” POST STANDARD. Maloney issues complaints that the pollution case has been repeatedly ignored by the attorney general, calls for the release of the report created by the canal and waterways division regarding Solvay’s encroachment.

1946   17 September “Pollution Probers To Be Taken On Onondaga Tour.” POST STANDARD. The Ostertag pollution investigators will be given a tour by the American Legion committee for improvement of Onondaga Lake.

1946   18 September “Legislator Asks United Effort In Cleaning Up Onondaga Lake—Ostertag Makes Appeal Following Survey By Boat.”POST STANDARD.  Harold Ostertag, chairman of the special state committee on pollution abatement, declared that Onondaga Lake “has the appearance of a serious pollution problem,” and pleaded for the co-ordination of industrial, civil, and public effort in restoring the lake. Ostertag revealed that Governor Dewey had commented to him in conversation that the lake pollution was a “real problem.”

1946   19 September “Actions—Not Words—Demanded Of Legislators Water Pollution—100 Tell Committee Of Need For State To Clean Up Lakes.” POST STANDARD. The Ostertag committee was confronted by 100 citizens demanding the restoration of Onondaga and Oneida Lakes. The principal speaker for Oneida was the president of the Anglers Association, who recommended that a sanitary sewage district be established and that the state engage in a large scale program to eliminate carp. George W. Cregg, chairman of the American Legion committee on the improvement of Onondaga Lake, demanded that the current flow of pollution be stopped and that efforts be made to clean up existing damage. The Legion attracted the rebuke of a Syracuse citizen who stated that “we can’t persecute industries in Syracuse because we’ve got to make our daily bread.” Officials pledged solidarity on the pollution issue and the chairmain of the department of commerce reminded the assembly that New York state depends upon vacation revenues from those attracted to its waters. The assistant director of the division of sanitation of the state department of health reported that the municipalities of upstate New York must improve their sewage treatment facilities.

1946   29 November   “Solvay Process Plant Installing Oil Burners—Half Of Required Power To Be Met By Coal Substitute.” POST STANDARD.

1947    30 May  “Lake Reclamation Group is Chartered.” Post Standard. OHA Clippings. Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, which will “wage a campaign to end pollution of the lake and restore it to its former condition.” It is worth pointing out that in the Onondaga Lake clippings file at the OHA, there is a synopsis of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Problem written by Walter Welch, the research director of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association. See under Archival Collections, OHA.

1947    6 June            “C Of C Lake Plan Called ‘Nonsense’—Move ‘Ducks’ Issue, Declares Maloney, Of Citizen Group.” POST STANDARD. Maloney stated that existing laws and commissions are sufficient to demand immediate state action on restoring the lake and to seize reparations and that the formation of new exploratory groups, as proposed by the chamber of commerce, is unnecessary. Maloney directly implicated local industry and local municipalities as the source of the lake’s ruin. Document is barely legible.

1947    30 June   “Boy’s Essay on Reclamation of Lake Wins Check.” Herald Journal. OHA Clippings File.  Thomas Clarke of Geddes St. won a contest from the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.  He made a number of arguments.  The Lake was important in the city’s history.  If clean, it could once again be a summer resort. And then, this: “The Onondaga Indians took pride in this lake and so resented the white man’s interference when they first tried to settle here. Would they take pride in that lake as it is today? It has lost its beauty, its fish, and other sports. The onetime Onondaga Lake could be restored to its former beauty and use within a few years if Syracuse would start a cleaning process on it.” Was he talking to Indians? Was Indians’ contribution common knowledge?  Or was this a case of non-Indians romanticizing and appropriating Indian images for their own ends?  Were the Onondagas involved in this debate? It is unclear.

1947    8 July             “Onondaga Lake: Officials Fast Asleep.”POST STANDARD.   Letter to the editor written by A.E. Pope. States that 19 corporations bordering Onondaga Lake and creek were served by the state with a 90-day limit threat of suit 75 days ago. Pope complains about being deprived of the state’s report on the lake. He implicates the municipal governments as negligent and culpable for the pollution. 

1947    10 July           “ ‘Brushoff’ Charged In Lake Reclamation—Maloney Hits Scientific Studies As Unnecessary.” POST STANDARD. Maloney states: “we’ll prove to the Albany officials that Onondaga lake either belongs to the people of the state or to the Indians who discovered it.” To the chagrin of Maloney, the state department of health refuses to act on pollution issue without further scientific studies that can demonstrate the lake’s pollution. Maloney dismissed the studies as superfluous and implicated the influence of “big interests and special privilege granted to corporate groups by the people we have elected to office” as the reason for further delays.

1947    14 July           “Traisler to name pollution study group this week.” POST STANDARD. Group will be formed at the request of sportsmen groups. Nine Mile Creek, Onondaga Creek, and Onondaga Lake will dominate the group’s attention.

1947    15 July           “Flash Fire Demolishes Part Of Solvay Plant—Two Men Hurt; Damage To Run Above $25,000.” POST STANDARD.  Caused by the escape of benzol from storage tanks.

1947    3 August        “N.Y. State Legion Adopts Onondaga Anti-Pollution Plan.” POST STANDARD. The N.Y State chapter of the American legion will present its demand for federal legislation against water pollution before the national Legion convention in New York City. Plan was presented by George W. Cregg, Syracuse activist for the restoration of Onondaga Lake.

1947    7 August        “Inadequate Sewer Facilities Stressed At Pollution Parley.” POST STANDARD. Treatment of sewage at the main Syracuse plant achieves only 50% completion; many communities such as Solvay have no treatment of domestic sewage.

1947    20 August        “Demand Solvay Alter Dumping Sewage In Lake—Proper Treatment Ordered By State Said To Be Ignored.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, Inc., demanded that the village of Sovay stop dumping its untreated sewage into Onondaga Lake after the division of sanitation revealed that Solvay had only been granted a permit to dump in Onondaga in 1932 on the condition that it treated its sewage. Maloney stated that he will travel to Albany in order to examine documents regarding the type of sewage being dumped by the Solvay company into Onondaga. He intends to attempt a legal revocation of the village of Solvay’s dumping permit. 

1947    24 August      “State Map Reveals Encroachments On Onondaga Lake Shore—Reclamation Body Asks Restrictions In Lake Dumping.” POST STANDARD. The state department of public works has shown the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, Inc., a map detailing the extent of Solvay Process Co.’s infringement on state lands. In response, the Reclamation association formally requested that the state department of health restrict Solvay Co. and the village of Solvay from dumping into Onondaga, asking explicitly for the revocation of the village of Solvay’s dumping permit. Maloney also stated that the revocation of the city of Syracuse’s dumping permit was imminent.

1947    26 August      “Map Shows Lake Encroachment Of 3,400 Feet—Waste Beds Take 4 Separate Areas Along Shore Line.” POST STANDARD.  Maloney intends to use the map to completely stop the dumping of sewage into Onondaga. He also plans to make a detailed study of the Syracuse sewage treatment plant. Click here 1947    28 August        “2 Workers Escape As Chlorine Tank Explodes—Rendering Plant Section Damaged By Terrific Blast—Solvay Nitrogen Plant Razed For Scrap Steel” POST STANDARD.

1947    31 August        “View Mire Of Onondaga Lake From Air To Realize Its Loathsomeness Compared To Gem Of Oneida.” POST STANDARD. Editorial condemning the poor treatment of Onondaga Lake in contrast to the majestic “gemlike” Oneida Lake.

1947   23 September “Pollution Hearing Set For Tomorrow.” POST STANDARD. Hearing will discuss the pollution of Skaneateles creek, Cross Lake and their tributaries. The Ostertag committee reported that the waters of the area are polluted with dye.

1947   27 September “Welch Scores Solvay Co. As Waste Flows Into Lake.” POST STANDARD.  48,000 gallons of Solvay waste poured into Onondaga Lake yesterday when a pump failed. This amount is about 10% of the total sludge disposed each day by Solvay. The company emphasized that the accident was not the result of a dyke leak and that they have not used the banks of the lake for dumping in four years.

1947    5 October       “Pollution Hearing Set At N. Syracuse.” POST STANDARD. Pollution of Mud creek, Ley creek, bear Trap creek, and Oneida Lake will be discussed.

1947    12 October     “Pollution Group Calls 4th Hearing.” POST STANDARD. Pollution of Limestone creek and Butternutt creek will be discussed.

1947    26 October     “Pollution Hearing In City Wednesday.” POST STANDARD. Pollution of Onondaga creek and Lake will be discussed.

1947    30 October     “Lack Of Evidence At Pollution Hearing Assailed—Brown Condemns City, Village, Firm For Failure To Aid.” POST STANARD. Don H. Brown, chairman of the county pollution commission, condemns Syracuse, the village of Solvay, and Solvay Process Co. for failing to present requested evidence at a public meeting. Maloney again emphasized that existing laws are capable of correcting the pollution problem, “but they don’t want to be corrected.” 

1948    13 July           “Fear Onondaga Lake May Be Health Menace—Commission Asks State To Try To End Pollution Of Water.” POST STANDARD. Onondaga county commission calls upon the state to take action against the pollution of Onondaga Lake on account that it “may become a serious health menace at any time.” The commission holds the state partially responsible for not acting years earlier.

1948    18 July           “Authors Of Pollution Shirk Guilt—No Plan Drafted To Halt Dumping Waste Into Lake.” POST STANDARD. The village of Solvay and Solvay Process Co. have made no steps to taper their daily dumping of 600 tons of sewage into Onondaga Lake. An attorney for the village of Solvay commented that “maybe the state ought to take over” the expense of restoring the lake since such action would heavily indebt Solvay. Solvay Co. had no comment other than that it remains “civic minded” and will comply with any program worked out by the state. The city of Syracuse has invested $45,000 in a pollution analysis of the city’s sewer system and the tributaries of Onondaga. Onondaga county is assembling plans for expanding the Ley creek treatment setup and doubling the number of water treatment facilities capable of rending sewage waste 98% pure. 

1948    1 August          “Onondaga Group To Back Pollution Control Bill—Board Committee To Attend State Hearing Aug. 12.”  POST STANDARD. New bill would prohibit any new pollution from entering the waters of the state and would require that existing pollution by eliminated through treatment methods on a specified time schedule. It is sponsored by Assemblyman Harold Ostertag.

1948    23 August      “Start Onondaga Lake Restoration Now.” POST STANDARD.  Letter to the Editor, anonymous. Advocates small-scale beautification of the lake through the planting of shrubs and grass. Indicts the city of Syracuse as “the worst offender in polluting the shores of the lake.”

1948   2 September   “Limited State Fair Linked To Solvay Process Expansion—Rights Of People Infringed, Welch Claims In Article.” POST STANDARD. Welch, the executive secretary of the Committee of ran Expanded Exposition on Onondaga Lake, accuses Albany officials of essentially abandoning the old fair ground to Solvay’s pollution. Welch also indicated that he believes some amount of corruption exists between Albany and the Solvay company, which never refunded the state for loaning it assistance in cleaning the fair grounds after a pollution accident. Welch claims that the state has elevated the interests of Solvay over the rights of New York’s farmers, who have a natural right to the fair grounds.

1948   12 September   “Loopholes Provided In Proposed Pollution Bill—Time Extension Clause To Aid Dumpers.” POST STANDARD. Section 130 of the proposed bill will allow the pollution boards it creates to grant punishment free extensions up to five year for polluters, provided they can demonstrate that complying with board demands to stop polluting are “impractical.” The board cannot grant extensions if the pollution in question creates “an actual or potential hazard to public health.”

1948   14 September “County To Spend $2,500,000 On Sewage Plant—Board Approves Bonds To Finance Ley Creek Job.” POST STANDARD. 

1948   17 September “Puts Pollution Up To Dewey.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor authored by John Van Duyn Southerworth, President of the Iroquois Publishing Co. Blames inaction on cleanup front on the chamber of commerce’s reticence to antagonize the Solvay Company. Southerworth writes to Dewey, warning him that reputation is dependent upon the condition of Onondaga Lake, as Syracuse citizens are beginning to wonder why he has not been more supportive of cleanup efforts.

1948   23 September “Solvay Waste Abatement Group To Conduct Hearings—Committee Plans Study Of Laws In Other Cities.” POST STANDARD. The group was formed by Solvay Mayor John J. Deegan to pressure the village to pass ordinances restraining Solvay Process Co. from polluting lime dust, fly ash, and soot.

1948   30 September “20 Testify At Air Pollution Hearing In Solvay—Residents Report Increase In Dust, Smoke In Village.” POST STANDARD.  Residents report that their children are unable to play on their porches without having their clothes changed several times a day due to them becoming covered in fly ash and dust. An army veteran testified that he frequently smells chlorine gas in the air. More testimony will be compiled before the Solvay Air Pollution committee approaches Solvay Co. with their evidence.

1948    21 October     “W. Solvay Industries To Aid Pollution Unit—4 Firms Indorse Committee Aims At Village Meet.” POST STANDARD. Pass & Seymour Co., Iroquois China Co., Frazer & Jones Co., and Stanton Foundry, Inc., publicized their support of the Solvay Air Pollution Committee.

1949    3 February       “What Future Has Onondaga Lake?” Herald  Journal. OHA Clippings File. “No effective method of disposing of the huge mounds of sludge on Onondaga Lake’s west shore has ever been offered.  That stark fact stands out as the Solvay Process company in effect turns the lake back to the community, announcing that it will remove its pipes and sluices. . . Syracuse has a major issue on its hands, especially so because its sewage system is directly involved. The lake has been used for disposal of sludge  from the city plant, a practice that will have to be stopped as anti-pollution demand for restoring the lake grows.  Further, the whole future of the state fair is bound up in the issue.  The problem demands a special study by the  city planning commission or by a special commission.  It is of key importance.”

1949    12 June          “Solvay Process Shift Held Possible—Waste Problem May Force Firm To Move Away—Concern Halts Costly Program Of Rehabilitation.” POST STANDARD. Examination reveals that Solvay Process Co.’s waste disposal land in the town of Camillus was never zoned properly. In response, Solvay suspended its plan to rehabilitate its current plants. The “West Side Citizens association” understood the revelation as evidence of an impending “economic danger.”

1949    13 June          “Solvay Moving Report Held Ruse To Intimidate.” POST STANDARD. Walter Welch, director of Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, Inc., dismisses Solvay’s threat of moving as an intimidation tactic. Welch charged that Solvay had actually not suspended its rehabilitation project, but was actually moving forward with it. Welch also attacked the notion that Solvay properly purifies the water it releases into Onondaga Lake, stating that the company dumps approximately 600 tons of waste into the lake each day.

1949    3 July             “West Side Association Criticizes Welch For His ‘Confusing’ Attack.” POST STANDARD. Welch has attacked the West Side Association for primarily concerning itself with preventing the closing of local Solvay plants over the pollution issue. The Association has critiqued Welch for employing language ‘not commonly used by a gentlemen.” The Association also defended Solvay’s pollution as a necessary externality for the community’s well-being, stating that the pollution was admittedly “unsightly, but it represents employment for many thousands for a period of about 70 years.” 

1949    3 July             “Maloney Hits Employment Defense In Lake Pollution; Sees Reclamation.” POST STANDARD. Maloney stated: “It is our opinion that the health of the entire community is paramount. We have scientific data furnished by the state department of health as to the cause of this health menace…we have no tolerance for any corporation that hides behind an employment of persons.” Maloney also reiterated that Solvay Co. holds no permits for the ongoing dumping of its waste in Onondaga Lake.

1949    15 July           “Build New Lake In Onondaga Valley.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the editor. Advocates the complete filling in of Onondaga Lake and the construction of a new lake south of Nedrow. This new lake would displace the Onondaga, which the author views as a nonissue, advocating the relocation of the natives to farms or city homes.

1949    20 July           “Liverpool To End Pollution Of Onondaga Lake—Ready In 3 Weeks, Pumping Station To Divert Raw Sewage.” POST STANDARD. A new pump in the town of Liverpool will reduce the town’s contribution to Onondaga Lake’s pollution.

1949    24 July Letter to the Editor, Post  Standard.   OHA Clippings File. Written by  Walter L. Welch, advocate for lake cleanup.  “Onondaga Lake will clean itself as soon as its sources of pollution are stopped, as they will be, and  the fairgrounds can be extended to the shore of the lake for a fraction of the 50 million dollars, as soon as it becomes necessary or desirable.   . . . Welch called the attention of the editor to the “historic relationship of Onondaga Lake and the Onondaga Indians.”  Quoting from the Centennial Edition of the Post Standard, ‘—all of the so-called      salt spring reservation, out of which the Walton tract and downtown Syracuse developed, was purchased by the state form the Indians by treaty for $5000 on July 28, 1795.         ‘By previous treaty between the state and the Indians in 1788, the state had bought all the land, except the Salt Lake, or Lake Onondaga, and the lands for one mile around the same, which shall forever remain for the common benefit of the people of the state and the Onondagas for their posterity’. . . . . On Onondaga’s shores long ago was founded the great Iroquois Confederacy, prototype of a later federation of sovereign states known as the United States.  A great principle had been demonstrated here which some historians credit with also having been the genesis of the United Nations concept. Another great principle will one day be re-established, either from choice or necessity, and perhaps here, and that is that the essential natural resources of our nation must be prudently conserved and administered in the interest of all of its people, not of  the few.” 

1948    15 August        “Onondaga Lake Center Of Recreation In 90s.”  POST STANDARD. “Onondaga Lake was a heyday center of recreation during the gay 90’s before waste dumping by the Solvay Process Co. changed the scene.”

1948    23 August      “Start Onondaga Lake Restoration Now.” POST STANDARD.  Letter to the Editor, anonymous. Advocates small-scale beautification of the lake through the planting of shrubs and grass. Indicts the city of Syracuse as “the worst offender in polluting the shores of the lake.”

1948   2 September     “Limited State Fair Linked To Solvay Process Expansion—Rights Of People Infringed, Welch Claims In Article.” POST STANDARD. Welch, the executive secretary of the Committee of ran Expanded Exposition on Onondaga Lake, accuses Albany officials of essentially abandoning the old fair ground to Solvay’s pollution. Welch also indicated that he believes some amount of corruption exists between Albany and the Solvay company, which never refunded the state for loaning it assistance in cleaning the fair grounds after a pollution accident. Welch claims that the state has elevated the interests of Solvay over the rights of New York’s farmers, who have a natural right to the fair grounds.

1948   14 September “County To Spend $2,500,000 On Sewage Plant—Board Approves Bonds To Finance Ley Creek Job.” POST STANDARD. 

1948   17 September “Puts Pollution Up To Dewey.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor authored by John Van Duyn Southerworth, President of the Iroquois Publishing Co. Blames inaction on cleanup front on the chamber of commerce’s reticence to antagonize the Solvay Company. Southerworth writes to Dewey, warning him that reputation is dependent upon the condition of Onondaga Lake, as Syracuse citizens are beginning to wonder why he has not been more supportive of cleanup efforts.

1948   23 September “Solvay Waste Abatement Group To Conduct Hearings—Committee Plans Study Of Laws In Other Cities.” POST STANDARD. The group was formed by Solvay Mayor John J. Deegan to pressure the village to pass ordinances restraining Solvay Process Co. from polluting lime dust, fly ash, and soot

1948   30 September “20 Testify At Air Pollution Hearing In Solvay—Residents Report Increase In Dust, Smoke In Village.” POST STANDARD.  Residents report that their children are unable to play on their porches without having their clothes changed several times a day due to them becoming covered in fly ash and dust. An army veteran testified that he frequently smells chlorine gas in the air. More testimony will be compiled before the Solvay Air Pollution committee approaches Solvay Co. with their evidence.

1949    3 February       “What Future Has Onondaga Lake?” Herald  Journal. OHA Clippings  File. “No effective method of disposing of the huge mounds of sludge on Onondaga Lake’s west shore has ever been offered.  That stark fact stands out as the Solvay Process company in effect turns the lake back to the community, announcing that it will remove its pipes and sluices. . .  Syracuse has a major issue on its hands, especially so because its sewage system is directly involved. The lake has been used for disposal of sludge from the city plant, a practice that will have to be stopped as anti-pollution demand for restoring the lake grows.  Further, the whole future of the state fair is bound up in the issue.  The problem demands a special study by the city planning commission or by a special commission.  It is of key importance.”

1949    12 June            “Solvay Process Shift Held Possible—Waste Problem May Force Firm To Move Away—Concern Halts Costly Program Of Rehabilitation.” POST STANDARD. Examination reveals that Solvay Process Co.’s waste disposal land in the town of Camillus was never zoned properly. In response, Solvay suspended its plan to rehabilitate its current plants. The “West Side Citizens association” understood the revelation as evidence of an impending “economic danger.”

1949    13 June            “Solvay Moving Report Held Ruse To Intimidate.” POST STANDARD. Walter Welch, director of Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, Inc., dismisses Solvay’s threat of moving as an intimidation tactic. Welch charged that Solvay had actually not suspended its rehabilitation project, but was actually moving forward with it. Welch also attacked the notion that Solvay properly purifies the water it releases into Onondaga Lake, stating that the company dumps approximately 600 tons of waste into the lake each day.

1949    3 July             “West Side Association Criticizes Welch For His ‘Confusing’ Attack.” POST STANDARD. Welch has attacked the West Side Association for primarily concerning itself with preventing the closing of local Solvay plants over the pollution issue. The Association has critiqued Welch for employing language ‘not commonly used by a gentlemen.” The Association also defended Solvay’s pollution as a necessary externality for the community’s well-being, stating that the pollution was admittedly “unsightly, but it represents employment for many thousands for a period of about 70 years.” 

1949    3 July             “Maloney Hits Employment Defense In Lake Pollution; Sees Reclamation.” POST STANDARD. Maloney stated: “It is our opinion that the health of the entire community is paramount. We have scientific data furnished by the state department of health as to the cause of this health menace…we have no tolerance for any corporation that hides behind an employment of persons.” Maloney also reiterated that Solvay Co. holds no permits for the ongoing dumping of its waste in Onondaga Lake.

1949    15 July           “Build New Lake In Onondaga Valley.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the editor. Advocates the complete filling in of Onondaga Lake and the construction of a new lake south of Nedrow. This new lake would displace the Onondaga, which the author views as a nonissue, advocating the relocation of the natives to farms or city homes.

1949    20 July           “Liverpool To End Pollution Of Onondaga Lake—Ready In 3 Weeks, Pumping Station To Divert Raw Sewage.” POST STANDARD. A new pump in the town of Liverpool will reduce the town’s contribution to Onondaga Lake’s pollution.

1949    24 July            Letter to the Editor, Post  Standard.   OHA Clippings File. Written by Walter L. Welch, advocate for lake cleanup.  “Onondaga Lake will clean  itself as soon as its sources of pollution are stopped, as they will be, and the fairgrounds can be extended to the shore of the lake for a fraction of  the 50 million dollars, as soon as it becomes necessary or desirable.   . . . Welch called the attention of the editor to the “historic relationship of Onondaga Lake and the Onondaga Indians.”  Quoting from the Centennial Edition of the Post Standard, ‘—all of the so-called      salt spring reservation, out of which the Walton tract and downtown Syracuse developed, was purchased by the state form the Indians by treaty for  $5000 on July 28, 1795.         ‘By previous treaty between the state and the Indians in 1788, the state had bought all the land, except the Salt Lake, or Lake Onondaga, and the lands for one mile around the same, which shall forever remain for the common benefit of the people of the state and the Onondagas for their posterity’. . . . . On Onondaga’s shores long ago was founded the great Iroquois Confederacy, prototype of a later federation of sovereign states known as the United States.  A great principle had been demonstrated here which some historians credit with also having been the genesis of the United Nations concept. Another great principle will one day be re-established, either from choice or necessity, and perhaps here, and that is that the essential natural resources of our nation must be prudently conserved and administered in the interest of all  of its people, not of  the few.” 

1949    26 August      “$2 Million Sewage Disposal Plan At One-Third Stage.” POSTT STANDARD. Construction details of the Ley Creek Sewage Disposal Plant.

1949    28 August      “Solvay May Move If Zone Plea Fails—Approval Asked To Use Camillus Land For Waste—$20 Million Expansion Plea Being Delayed.” POST STANDARD. Solvay affirms its threat to relocate away from Camillus if the town does not rezone its property for dumping. 

1949    28 August      “Text Of Solvay Process Letter.” POST STANDARD. Written by Carlton Bates, director of operations of the Solvay Process division of Allied Chemical and Dye Corp. Charges that the zoning ordinance adopted by the town of Camillus in April of 1948 will make Solvay’s land holdings in Camillus useless. Bates questions the legality of the ordinance. The letter also details the historical development of Solvay’s dumping practices in Syracuse.

1949    31 August      “Camillus Board Meets Next Week On Solvay Request.” POST STANDARD. Syracuse and Solvay business interests will appear the Camillus town board in order to lobby for the rezoning of its dumping ordinances.

1949   29 September “Solvay Process Sets Deadline For Waste Beds—Firm’s Future Up To Camillus Planning Board.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Solvay Process Co. vowed to leave the Camillus area if it was not given permission to acquire a new 500-acre sludge waste bed within five to six years. The firm asked for zoning changes in the area bounded by Nine Mile Creek. William Maloney, leader of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, criticized the firm for polluting the Creek, claiming that its pollutants killed bacteria necessary to degrade the sewage discharges in Onondaga Lake.

1950    6 June            “Action Would Bar Dumping By Solvay.” POST STANDARD. Citizens of Camillus oppose the town board’s recent decision to allow Solvay to use its former municipal airport site as a waste dump.

1950    12 June          “Solvay Process Plant Votes To Strike Tonight—Talks Continue Today; Union Asks $100 Pensions.” POST STANDARD.

1950    15 June          “Request To Dump Sewage Rejected—Geddes Board Refuses Use Of Solvay’s Lands—Onondaga Lake To Be Used Again Following Ruling.” POST STANDARD. The town of Geddes has refused to allow the city of Syracuse to dump its sewage in unused Solvay Co. waste beds within its borders. The city of Syracuse halted its usual practice of dumping sewage into Onondaga Lake when a strike at the Solvay plant meant that the sewage could no longer be diluted with Solvay waste. The town of Geddes refused to allow its lands to be used as sewage dump sites, despite the city’s assurances that it would properly chlorinate the waste.

1950    22 June          “Mayor And Aides Inspect Pollution In Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD. “Conditions were reported to be worse than usual.” The Post argues for federal action to clean up the lake. DPW Commissioner Frank Harmon has suggested that the city spend $4.5M to improve its sewage treatment facilities. Click here. 1950    24 June            “Oswald Urges Demolition Of City Disposal Plant—Favors Erection Of Modern Setup To Handle Sewage.” POST STANDARD. First District Councilman Clarence Oswald advocates the use of federal funds in the construction of a new treatment plant for Syracuse’s sewage

1950    30 June            “State To Consider Chaotic Conditions In Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD. The NYS Health Department’s water pollution control board promised to give Onondaga Lake “early consideration” in its examination of state pollution. 

1950    1 July             “Water Board To Hold Hearing On Pollution Of Onondaga Lake—State Unit Session To Be Concluded At Lincoln July 10.” POST STANDARD. The State Water Board will conduct a hearing on Onondaga’s pollution, and is expected to classify the lake at “the bottom of the list.” Syracuse is seeking interest free loans from Albany in order to finance the construction of a new treatment plant.

1950    2 July             “West Side Sewage System Planned—Plant To Serve Solvay; Taunton, Fairmount Area—Onondaga Works Group Requests Board Authority.” POST STANDARD. Plant would be located at the southwest end of Onondaga Lake and would finally begin treatment of the town of Solvay’s sewage. The plant aims to emulate the progress made by the Ley Creek treatment facility.

1950    11 July “State Board Orders Onondaga Lake Pollution Check—Survey Scheduled To Begin Oct. 1 For Typing Of Waters.” POST STANDARD. 

1950    23 July           “Pitts Filling Out Form For Loan To Plan Sewage Plant.” POST STANDARD. City Engineer Pitts will lobby for a federal loan to finance the surveys and plans for Syracuse’s new treatment facility. Click here.  1950    23 July “Solvay Process Seeks To Enter Amboy Suit—Defendant Status To Be Asked In Waste Bed Action.” POST STANDARD. Solvay wishes to defend its legal right to use the Amboy airport site as a dumping ground, a right that has been contested by some citizens of Camillus. Solvay reiterates its threat of closure if waste grounds cannot be secured

1950    10 August        “State Will Being Pollution Survey Of Onondaga Lake.”  POST STANDARD. The department of health will aim to gather information in order to aid in the classification of Onondaga Lake in its pollution ranking system. The rankings range from “fit to drink” to “fit only for boating,” with Onondaga reportedly falling in the boating class.

1951 10 April  Post Standard.  OHA Clipping File. Column by Grace Lewis.  She writes of  Onondaga Lake that “it’s a cesspool—a big cesspool atop the ground. It’s a cesspool of untreated solid sewage, of untreated industrial wastes, of scum and grease. It’s a breeder of disease, and luckily, so far as it is known, the cesspool    hasn’t yet flowed over into the city.  Warnings of  probable epidemics are old stuff—they come every time a health official looks at—or smells—Onondaga Lake.”

1951    4 June  “Syracuse’s ‘Expansion’ Isn’t ‘Progress.’” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor by Walter Welch. Written to response to the revelation that Syracuse’s industry is growing so rapidly that water from Skaneateles Lake will soon prove inadequate for the city’s needs. Welch questions the benefits of industry for wage earners, noting the increase in nervous disorders, heart failures, sewage waste and traffic. “Laissez-faire expansion does not bring automatic benefits for everyone.”

1951    29 June          “Lake Purification Group Discusses Hiring Of Engineer.” POST STANDARD. .There is debate over whether to contract out the planning of the new sewage treatment plant to a private party or to hand over the project to City Engineer Pitts.

1951    30 June            “Committee Hunts Sewage Engineer For 3-Town Check.” POST STANDARD. Onondaga Lake Purification Committee wishes to hire an engineer to determine if any sewage problems are occurring in the towns of Onondaga, Camillus, or Geddes. No town has asked to be surveyed.

1951    5 July  “The Facts On Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD.  Special piece by the Post Standard to clarify the facts about the pollution circumstance at Onondaga, written in response to “misrepresentation.” Writes that NYS will require higher waters standards for the lake, forcing the construction of new sewage facilities. It also clarifies the purpose of the Onondaga Lake Purification Commission as being solely limited to determining whether one large plant are multiple small plants should be built with the goal of minimizing expenditures

1951    12 July           “Board To Discuss Sewage Plant Post.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Lake Purification Commission will announce its recommendation for head engineer on the sewage facility project. The engineer’s chief job will be to determine what the towns of Solvay and Westvale should do with their sewage.

1951    13 July “Purification Group Urges City Aid On Sewer Problems.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Lake Purification Commission failed to reach a consensus on an engineer recommendation. They asked that the city engineering department appoint someone to aid them in decision-making and cost estimating.

1951    14 July           “Key Factor In Storage Plant.” POST STANDARD. Describes the cost of running a connecting sewer from the proposed location of the new plant to the old plant as the “heart” of the Onondaga Lake Purification Commission’s problems.

1951    19 July “Progress Reported On Sewage Survey.” POST STANDARD. Survey has begun and will take approximately two months.

1951    22 July           “Lake Pollution Hearing Seen In 4 Months.”  POST STANDARD. The Water Pollution Control Board has finished its report on the Onondaga lake drainage basin. Solvay states that it is opposed to paying any part of the cost of the new sewage treatment plant.

1951    25 July “Solvay Not ‘Out’ Of Sewage Issues Says Mayor Major.” POST STANDARD. The town of Solvay expressed its willingness to unify its sewage system with that of Syracuse’s in order to further anti-pollution efforts. Mayor Major stated that the town was “not in a position to hand out any money towards it now,” but assured that it was “all in favor of cleaning up Onondaga Lake.”

1952    1 June            “City Threatens To Initiate Its Own Sewage Disposal Program—Corcoran Denies County’s Decision On Combined Plant.” POST STANDARD. Mayor Corcoran released a statement clarifying that should the Onondaga County Public Works Commission recommend that each municipality construct its own treatment plant, the city of Syracuse will reject this proposal and proceed with constructing a combined plant.

1952    4 June            “Sportsmen Open Drive To Clean Up Onondaga Lake.”  POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs has organized to back the fight to attain a Class B purity standard for the lake, which currently has segments classified in the D range.

1952    4 June            “Syracuse Asleep On Lake Opportunity.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor. Praises the Sportsmen’s Clubs for standing for a Class B standard for Onondaga. Chastises other Syracuse citizens for not confronting the city about the lake’s standards.

1952    6 June            “4 Months Seen Needed To Decide Sewage Problem.” POST STANDARD. It will be at least four months before any decision can be made as to whether a single combined or multiple sewage plants should be built in the West End sewage district of Onondaga Lake.

1952    7 June            “Decision On Sewage Plant Next Week—Corcoran Will Call City Hall Leaders To Map Course.” POST STANDARD. Mayor Corcoran expressed frustration at the delays of the Onondaga Public Works Commission and plans to summon his own meeting of leaders and engineers in order to determine the city’s course of action. Corcoran stated that the Commission’s report is irrelevant, as everyone knows the city needs the plant, but it is questionable as to where the plant should be built. He also criticized the Camillus and Geddes town boards for not cooperating with Syracuse by impeding its access to dump sites.

1952    7 June            “Anglers Demand A ‘B’ Standard For Entire Lake.” POST STANDARD. Urges anglers to remain united on demands for a Class B standard across the entire lake.

1952    8 June            “Onondaga Lake Kept A Mess By State Order.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor from “A Fisherman.” Expresses anger at NYS for allowing sections of Onondaga Lake to remain at D-level classification.

1952    22 June          “Danger Of Typhoid In Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor. Speculates (no science) that the lake is in danger of breeding typhoid. Complains about the presence of flies, mosquitoes, and the smell of the lake.

1952    25 June          “Group To Estimate Cost Of Purifying Onondaga Lake.”  POST STANDARD. The Onondaga County Public Works Commission will estimate the cost of obtaining B, C, and D rankings throughout Onondaga Lake. The commission will aim to classify the south end of the lake, which receives all industrial waste and sewage, with a D ranking.

1952    25 June          “Sportsmen Spur Public To Back Lake Cleanup.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor. The Sportsmen have lobbied to 160 different organizations to aid in the cleanup of the lake and the abatement of public apathy about the issue.

1952    27 June          “You’re Invited To Join In Onondaga Cleanup.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor. Calls on all citizens to attend a meeting of the Water Control board on the reclamation of the lake and to demand a universal Class B ranking.

1952    3 July  “Information Sought On Sewage Plant.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Public Works Commission has inquired as to the actual purpose of the existing treatment plant, through which sewage has been flowing unfiltered into Onondaga for over a year. Mayor Alfred Haight promised to supply the Commission with an adequate answer.

1952    28 July “Stop Making Cesspool Out Of Onondaga Lake, Pitt Tells Control Board.” POST STANDARD. Class D water is defined as being suitable for agricultural and certain industrial uses. The director of the state health department’s office of legal affairs stated that the only possible change in ranking might be to improve the central area of the lake enough to qualify for a Class B ranking rather than a Class C. City Engineer Pitts argued that the entire lake should be classified as rank B. The Mayor’s office defended the board’s classifications and stated that they were in the best interests of the Syracuse taxpayer, believing that any greater improvements would impose unbearable financial costs. The Sportsmen presented a petition signed by 3,000 citizens demanding a universal Class B ranking for the lake

1952    15 August      “Old Creek Channel May Be Used For Dumping Garbage.” POST STANDARD. DPW Commissioner Frank Harmon recommends using the old channel of Onondaga Creek as a garbage dump. Harmon stated that the city’s creeks are badly polluted and that machinery used for dumping could also serve to dredge filth out of existing waterways.

1952    16 August      “Open Sewers, Open Sores.” POST STANDARD.  Editorial from the Post Standard. Supports using Onondaga Creek as a dumping ground as a means of protecting other creeks; advocates fines for illegal dumping.

1952    24 August        “Creeks Condition Known In 1948, City Slow To Act.” POST STANDARD. Editorial from the Post Standard written by William Maloney. Condemns Commissioner of Health Dr. Sargent for failing to recognize the work of City Engineer Nelson F. Pitts in publicizing the pollution of Onondaga Lake four years earlier. States that Pitts did not possess the authority to stop pollution, Sargent does as Commissioner of Health, and his inaction is unacceptable.  

1953    4 June            “O’Brien, Gere Sewage Disposal Plan Strikes Snag.” POST STANDARD. The Corcoran administration resist O’Brien & Gere sewage disposal plan on the grounds that the proposed lines would add additional waste to the Solvay sludge beds.

1953    7 June            “Research Bureau Recommends County Sewage System—Cut Of $8 Million Seen In Construction Costs By Adoption Of Plan 3.” POST STANDARD.  Calls the pollution of Onondaga Lake a “metropolitan problem.” County plan is favored over city plan due to a belief that the cities cannot be trusted to efficiently pursue pollution abatement. The proposed plan hopes to afford as much protection to Seneca River as Onondaga Lake. 

1953    11 June          “Sewage Facilities Held Mandatory.” POST STANDARD.  Earl F. O’Brien states that the communities surrounding Onondaga Lake no longer have the option of not treating their sewage.

1953    12 June          “North Syracuse Backs Ley Creek Extension Plans.” POST STANDARD. The Mayor of North Syracuse supports his city’s incorporation into the Ley Creek sanitary district.

1953    15 June          “Sewage Plans Impractical Despite High Costs, Welch Holds—Engineers’ Report Based On Faulty Evidence, He Says.” POST STANDARD. Walter Welch of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association condemns the O’Brien & Gere sewage plans, citing a miscalculation of the community’s available water supply as well as a lack of consideration that the streams feeding Onondaga Lake are already mostly polluted.

1953    17 June          “Sewage Disposal Plan Explained.” POST STANDARD. O’Brien & Gere conduct a public hearing on their plan.

1953    17 June          “Need Engineer Check On Sewage Plan.” POST STANDARD. Editorial from the Post Standard. Asks that Syracuse engineers respond to the criticisms raised by Welch.

1953    28 June          “Public Hearing On Sewage Plant May Be Deferred.” POST STANDARD.  Issues concerning the determination of the rate of cost of the proposed Syracuse treatment plant have left the commissioners unsatisfied. They may demand a long study to determined whether the facilities. Click here. 1953    30 June            “Delay To July 22 On Sewage Plan Public Hearing.”  POST STANDARD. Delay stems from issues regarding the question of appropriating costs for the plant. The city is now only considering the sewage plan that will result in all treated sewage being transported to the Seneca River.

1953    19 July           Photograph Of “Sludge Beds” POST STANDARD. On The Shore Of Onondaga Lake. Plant life has grown upon them.

1953    19 July “Beauty For Waste Beds—Two Men Outline Low Cost Planting Project.” POST STANDARD. Two men propose plan to beautify the Solvay waste beds on the western shore of Onondaga Lake through the introduction of plant life.

1953    23 July           “Approval Of State Seen For Area Sewage Plan—City, County OK Of Plan 3 Needed To Start Program.” POST STANDARD. Col. A. F. Dappert of the New York State Water Pollution Control Board comes out in support of sewage plan and assures Syracuse that the plan will have state approval.

1953    24 July “County Group Favors Setting Up Districts To Solve Sewage Problems.” POST STANDARD. The plan will create new sewage districts through which costs can be appropriated to individual towns.

1953   11 September   “Dewey Reveals Plan To Utilize Solvay Sludge—Tells Fair Crowd Project Slated To Begin Next Spring.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Gov. Dewey unveiled a plan to remove the “eyesore” of the Solvay sludge beds by “grading and landscaping for the most part, and not by wholesale removal of sludge deposits.”

1953    13 September  “Onondaga Lake Bothers Conscience of Syracuse: Waste Dumping Thwarts Vision of First Mayor: Thousands of Dead Fish.”  Post Standard. OHA Clippings.  “Thousands of Dead Fish: “It was in the late 1890s that  the community became aroused when ‘thousands upon thousands’ of dead fish polluted the unsavory Onondaga Lake waters.   There was varied speculation, and in August of 1897, the Standard printed an explanation from Willis Barnum, one of the resort operators who qualified as an expert observer from his vantage point of being 64years old and a life fisherman on the lake. . . .Said Mr. Barnum: ‘Instead of carrying a current of fresh water, Onondaga Creek carries about all the sewage of the city and discharges it into the lake.  Besides the sewerage of the city, the lake is taking in refuse form the soda ash work, the gas works, and other manufactories.” ‘It is my belief that all these things combine with the terribly hot weather to kill the perch in the lake. From that time on, the  citizens of Syracuse—heedless to editorial pleas and published explanations—allowed waters of Onondaga Lake to become more and more polluted by sewage and industrial wastes. Solvay Process acquired vast acres of shoreline and piled up its waste—what waste, that is, that did not flow directly into the lake. One by one the resorts disappeared, and the west shore became a ‘perfect outrage.’

1953   29 September   “Council Told To Consider Sewage Land Giveaway.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Councilman Glenni D. Tomb warned that the proposed metropolitan sewage plan will result in future city administrators being forced to provide new land for garbage and rubbish disposal. The city will consider the construction of trash incinerators.

1954    2 June            “Continued Sewage Dumping Okayed.” POST STANDARD. Syracuse has granted Solvay Co. the right to continue dumping on its ash beds in the Second Ward.

1954    3 June            “Dappert Approves Sewage Progress.” POST STANDARD. Dappert, NYS Water Pollution Control Board secretary, assured Mayor Mead that he approves of the city’s progress on pollution.

1954    5 June            “Solvay Co. Says Additional Water Use Hazardous.” POSTT STANDARD. Solvay Co. disapprove of the New York Water Service Co.’s application to withdraw 4 million more gallons daily from Otisco Lake, stating that it could compromise their own use of the lake as a water source.

1954    6 June            “County Watershed Mapped For Land, Water Conservation—Resources Council Begins Work On Limestone Creek.” POST STANDARD.

1954    7 June            “Students Complete Beautified Creek On Drawing Board.” POST STANDARD. SUNY College of Forestry students construct plan to beautify Onondaga Creek and prevent drowning’s.

1954    8 June            “Board Approves Two Bond Issues For Sewer Job.” POST STANDARD. The Ley Creek sewer will be extended into West and North Syracuse.

1954    9 June            “Mayor, Staff Study Action On Sewage.” POST STANDARD. Mayor Mead reviews the actions of the Onondaga Public Works Commission and the Board of Supervisors, reporting that he is pleased with both.

1954    10 June          “Equipment Lack Halts Sewage Job.” POST STANDARD. Congressman Grosso criticizes the Department of Public Works for failing to complete digging sewage ditches at Solvay Co.’s waste beds in the Second Ward. The DPW states that the job ceased due to a lack of funds for machinery, but that the job will resume soon.

1954    18 June          “Grosso Demands Veto Proviso In Sewage Plan.” POST STANDARD. Congressmen Grosso threatens to table the sewage resolution unless a provision is added to give the Common Council veto power over resolutions adopted by the Board of Supervisors and the Onondaga Public Works Commission. 

1954    18 June          “Sewage Diverted Into Sludge Beds.”POST STANDARD.  For the first time since 1950, sewage solids were diverted from flowing into Onondaga Lake, as the trenches in the Second Ward were completed.

1954    23 June          “Solvay Conditions Assent To New Tapping Of Otisco.”  POST STANDARD. Solvay Co. withdrew its objection to the New York Water Service Co.’s proposal to increase its withdrawal of water from Otisco Lake under the condition that Solvay is guaranteed 6 million gallons of withdrawal a day. e

1954    4 July             “Board Will Get Onondaga Lake West Shore Plan.” POST STANDARD. Development plan to build lagoons and increase parking at Onondaga Lake.

1954    7 July  “City, County Give Green Light To Sewage Treatment Project—District Created By Supervisors For New Plant—Selection Of Site Next Step For $11,707,000 Job.” POST STANDARD. The O’Brien & Gere sewage plan, Plan 3, passes the Common Council after 11 months of delay. The plant will likely be built along the Seneca River. The development plan constructed by SUNY Forestry students was also approved.

1954    20 July           “More Water An Investment.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga County Water Authority responds to concerns about the new sewage plant’s demands on the water supply by investigating methods of conserving water and tapping into new sources.

1954    22 July “New Sewage Plan To Be Drawn For Southeast Area.” POST STANDARD. New administration plan proposed for the managing of sewage districts

1954    20 August        “Seek Liverpool Area Sewer Study.” POST STANDARD. O’Brien & Gere seek $5,000 to study whether the village of Liverpool should be included in the Ley Creek Sanitary District.

1954    22 August        “Air Park Proposed On Solvay Waste—Local, Federal, State Officials To Get Plans—Air Expansion Seen Boost To New Field Site.” POST STANDARD. Solvay Waste beds may be converted into an “ultra modern” private Air Park.

1954   2 September     “Airport On Solvay Waste Beds Approved.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor expressing approval for the Lakeland airport on Solvay’s waste beds. “I feel very sorry for people who would rather have a beautiful atmosphere than a place to work.” 

1955    1 June            “Sewer Extension Contract Awarded.” POST STANDARD. .Extension of Ley Creek sewer system into the town of Salina is approved.

1955    5 June  “Split Rock Blasts Kill Sixty-Five.” POST STANDARD. At least 65 killed at Solvay Co. plant at Split rock; the Worst Disaster In Syracuse History.

1955     21 June         “34 Firms, Communities Face Pollution Penalties.” POST STANDARD. The State Water Pollution Control Board indicts municipalities and industries for their continued pollution of Onondaga Lake and its waterways. The Board threatened legal action. Solvay and many other firms listed as persistent polluters.

1955    27 June          “Pollution Of Lake Discussion Topic.” POST STANDARD. The Board of Supervisors will discuss pollution abatement with the Onondaga County Public Works Commission and other city officials.

1955    1 July             “Steady Progress On Lake Pollution Problem Reported.” POST STANDARD. The State Water Pollution Control Board stated that it was “well satisfied; in fact, delighted with the progress being made by the Onondaga Public Works Commission.”  Click here. 1955    8 July  “Chlorine Feels 10 Syracusans—Hiawatha Lake Boat Damaged As Fumes Ignite—Onondaga Park Ordered Closed By Chief Kelly.” POST STANDARD

1955    27 July “Camillus, Geddes Get Plan For New Sewage System.”  POST STANDARD. The Sylvania Corp. and the Chapman Development Corp. announce that they will build and maintain a sewage disposal system for the West Side Sanitary district

1955    17 August      “Solvay Industries Meet, Study Smoke Problem.”  POST STANDARD.

1955    20 August        “4½ Million Gallon ‘Oversight’ Costs Solvay Big Los In Precious Water.” POST STANDARD. Water escaped through an open valve at Solvay Process Co

1955    28 August      “Million Dollar Lake Shore Reclamation Project Planned—100 Acres Of Fill Will Widen Park On Liverpool Site.” POST STANDARD.  Recreational facilities, picnic and bathing areas, and lagoons will be built on Onondaga’s northwest shore, which will first be prepared for construction by the dumping of ‘heavy fill.’

1955   9 September     “Solvay Firm This City Failure In Sewage Pact.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Solvay Co. has publicly criticized the city for using its trenches and waste beds for sewage disposal improperly

1955   14 September “City Due To Place $1 Million Price On Sewage Plant.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Syracuse is expected to estimate the cost of new sewage disposal and garbage reduction plants at $1 million. The Onondaga County Public Works Commission will pay the sum.

1955   21 September   “Pollution Board Favors Industrial Usage For Creek.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Water Pollution Control Board has recommended that Skaneateles Creek be classified “D,” thus allowing it to be used for any use other than fishing.

1957   14 July “State Health Maps Fight To Clean Lakes, Basins—Onondaga Tops List.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. NYS Health Authorities have scheduled conferences with the cities of the state to discuss the pollution of sewage into Onondaga Lake and the Oneida River drainage basin areas.

1957   7 September     “Onondaga Lake Project In Sight—Time To Plan Restoration.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial urging for the creation of plans to restore the West Shore of Onondaga Lake upon the completion of the new sanitary system in 1960.

1958    20 August        “Cover The Creek.” POST STANDARD. Editorial describing Onondaga Creek as an “open cesspool;” written by the pseudonym “Disgusted.”

1959    29 February     “Survey Covers Creek, Brook.” Post Standard.   OHA Clippings Files.   “Mayor Henninger disclosed yesterday that the City of Syracuse will seek  an advance of $64,300 from the federal government for an engineering study to ascertain what remedial measures are necessary to halt pollution of Onondaga Creek and Harbor Brook which in turn are polluting Onondaga Lake.” “In a report in 1957 the State Health Department satiated that between 30 and 50 percent of the city’s sewage intended for the city’s plant through the intercepting sewer system was not reaching the plant.  The report stated that instead the sewage was being discharged into Onondaga Creek and Harbor Brook and was being carried by those streams directly into Onondaga Lake.”

1959    2 July  “Classification Of Creeks Opposed.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Industrial interests have opposed the classification of Butternut and Limestone Creeks by the State Water Pollution Control Board. Officials from the Onondaga County Public Works Commission demanded that the creeks be classified as class “C.”

1960    19 July “Rullison Seeks State Aid On Ley Creek Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. State Sen. Lawrence M. Rullison pledged to the Town of Salina that he would continue his efforts to obtain state aid in order to abate foul orders in the town. The source of the odor is believed to be inadequately treated sewage that is being discharged into Ley Creek

1960    21 July “Elusive Odors—Mattydale Unit Denies Ley Creek Sole Cause.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Representative of the Mattydale Improvement Committee have denied that Ley Creek is the only source of foul odors in the Town of Salina, questioning why the Town has failed to take action towards cleaning up its dump in Mattydale

1962    13 August        “Clean Waterways.” POST STANDARD.  Editorial complaining of garbage and oil dumping into the Seneca River. Author claims that the Anti-Pollution Board, Conservation Dept., and the Heath Department have been non-responsive. 

1963    11 June            “Sewage Flow Charged.” POST STANDARD. Photos allegedly showing raw sewage from the Village of Marcellus treatment plant flowing into Nine Mile Creek were presented to the State Water Resources Commission

1964    6 July  “Board To Study Lake Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The County Board of Supervisors will investigate Onondaga Lake pollution.

1964    31 July “4 Counties Move To End Pollution—Group To Study Oneida Lake Problems.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, and Madison counties have formed a committee to solve the pollution problem of Oneida Lake. Algae abatement is their chief concern.

1965    18 June            “Sewage Flow Found In Creek.” PS Officials discover six sources of raw sewage entering Onondaga Creek from unknown origins

1965    25 August        “Water Pollution Plan Offered To Voters.” PS. NYS voters will have the chance to approve $1 billion worth of bonds for the construction of sewage treatment facilities. 60% of the cost will be paid by the federal and state governments, 40% by municipalities.

1965   9 September     “City Is Considering Creek-Pollution Test.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Syracuse officials heard testimony from engineers regarding new techniques for testing sewer flow in order to determine the degree of pollution entering Onondaga Creek. “The project is aimed at determining how much of the creeks’ pollution is caused by [sewage] overflow.”

1965   19 September   “Water Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor advocating investments in treatment plants as cost-effective in the long run. Condemns lack of action in the abatement of pollution entering Oneida and Onondaga lakes

1966    1 July  “Information Sought To Aid Onondaga Lake Clean-Up.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. All industries in Onondaga County have been mailed a survey concerning their waste disposal in order to determine the toxic makeup of the region’s waste and sewage discharges.

1966    28 July “Pollution Menace.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor written by a Danforth sixth grade student condemning industrial pollution of Syracuse’s lakes and rivers.

1966    1 August          “Crucible Steel Pledges Help In Lake Cleanup.” POST STANDARD. The manager of the plant announced that he “is proud to be associated with the county and Allied Chemical in combatting the pollution problem.” Waste materials will be pumped onto county land and covered with dirt in order to lay the foundations for a public park.

1966    20 August        “Solvay Process Chided At Pollution Hearing.” POST STANDARD. Rep. Robert E. Jones of Alabama openly criticized Solvay Co. for its Onondaga Lake dumping. Federal reports indicate that Solvay continues to dump 4,000 tons of pollutants into Onondaga lake daily. Solvay denied that it is primarily responsible for the lake’s pollution. Solvay is defended by County Executive John H. Mulroy.

1966    25 August        “Cure For Pollution Costly To Industry.” POST STANDARD. Editorial warning of the economic dangers of regulating Syracuse’s polluters.

1966   7 September     “Pollution End County Target—Mulroy Talks.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. County Executive John H. Mulroy stated that the cleanup of Onondaga Lake was a “top priority” for his administration. Mulroy proposed the creation of a countywide health department. Mulroy praised Allied Corp. for its “assistance in the pollution abatement program.”

1966   30 September   “Melvin: Many Studies But Pollution Still Here.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Candall Melvin Jr., Republican candidate for assemblyman in the 118th district, criticized the numerous studies on the pollution of Onondaga Lake that have not lead to any tangible action.

1967    Winter             Daniel F. Jackson, “Polluted Lakes of Onondaga County,” EVENT, pp. 10-16.   OHA Clippings File.  “When did the lakes of Onondaga County first become polluted? The answer to this question could be 15,000 years ago when the waters of the county were assigned to their channels and basins, or 1615 when Champlain visited the county, or in 1786 when Ephraim Webster built a trading post near the mouth of Onondaga Creek, or in 1803 when James Geddes began making salt on a large scale, initiating the first major industry in the county. Each of the answers is correct, depending on what is meant by the term ‘water pollution.’” Jackson, in a later piece, referred to the lake as a cesspool.

1967    1 June  “Prof Cites ‘Boss’ As Major Air Polluter.”POST STANDARD  Professor Jackson of Syracuse warned of impending air pollution, and stated that the state’s lake are excellent examples of politics’ nocuous effect on pollution cleanup. Jackson stated, “to date, however, nothing has been done to improve [Onondaga] lake’s water.”

1967    20 June            “Connor Maps Pollution Fight—Onondaga Lake: ‘A Stinking Mess.’”  POST STANDARD. John T. Connor, President of Allied Chemical Corp, declared that a new sewage plant may be constructed on Nine Mile Creek. Connor also declared that many of the liquids flowing from the Solvay plant (chlorinated water) are beneficial to Onondaga Lake’s ecosystem.

1967    21 June            “Antipollution Progress.” POST STANDARD.  Solvay President John Connor reemphasized the firm’s commitment to remove “Nine mile Creek’s turbidity” by 1971. Solvay desires to build a new plant with Crucible Steel and the county, but will pursue the project alone if necessary.

1967    27 June            “Algae Specialists Mull Purification.” POST STANDARD.  International summit on algae purification methods meets at Syracuse. SU engineers will pursue funding for a new purification method using lime. They also learned of a European technique of purifying water of nitrogen and phosphorous the outlet of lake’s.

1967    29 June            “Liquid In Sewage Could Be Explosive.” POST STANDARD. Syracuse Metropolitan Sewage Disposal Plant Fire Marshal Fred Patuna warned that an unknown individual is dumping a kerosene-based liquid into the city’s sewers, which could result in an explosion. The liquid cannot be treated and has directly contaminated Onondaga Lake.

1967    1 August        “WHO Expert To Eye Lake.” POST STANDARD. Dr. Vladimer Sladecek, a water pollution expert for the WHO, will spend three weeks studying Onondaga Lake.

1967    4 August          “Lake Marl May Be Valuable.” POST STANDARD. The ‘marl,’ or calcium carbonate, that lines the floor of Onondaga Lake may actually be economically valuable. The marl was formed from Solvay Co.’s lime discharges; they are now dredging an area of Nine Mile Creek to reclaim it.

1967    25 August      “House Report Cites Polluted Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD.  The Government Operations Committee recommends federal aid for Onondaga Lake cleanup. The lake is used as a prime example of America’s pollution problems.

1967    28 August      “Czech Urges Onondaga Cleanup.” POST STANDARD.  Dr. Vladimir Sladecek, hydrobiologist, singles out Bristol Laboratories and Crucible Steel as the major contributors to Onondaga’s pollution. Sladecek recommended a new treatment plant. 

1967    31 August        “Peek Into Murky Water Brings Call For Money.” POST STANDARD. Professors Daniel Jackson stated that the Ley Creek treatment plant was proving inadequate. Fully cleaning up the lake will take $7 million.

1967   29 September “$7 Million Plus Sewage Plant Said Needed For Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Twenty local leaders and engineers have announced that with $7 million dollars to clean the bottom and shoreline of Onondaga Lake, the lake can be rehabilitated by 1976. The $7 million is in addition to the $25 million needed to construct the state mandated sewage treatment plant.

1967   29 September   “State Fair Polluter Of Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The NYS Fair has not properly disposed of its sewage in the past. It will now be transported to the metropolitan sewage treatment plant rather than be dumped into Onondaga Lake.

1968    17 June            “Study To Plumb Lake’s Depths.” POST STANDARD. The most far-reaching geological and chemical survey of Onondaga Lake in history will take place soon. The survey will study the composition of the lake’s bottom and be partly funded by a federal grant.

1968    10 July           “Fair Haven Typical Of Water Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor expressing outrage at the poor beach conditions of both Oneida and Onondaga Lake.

1968    10 July “Asks ‘Effluent Tax’ To Finance ‘Onondaga Cesspool’ Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Dr. Daniel F. Jackson of Syracuse University’s civil engineering department has proposed additional taxes on the city’s industrial polluters. “It has been convenient for some to have Onondaga Lake polluted.” Jackson defended Allied Corp. as a cooperative partner in his research efforts and only one of many industrial polluters.

1968    15 July           “CNY Pollution Pinch Not Yet Felt By Public.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Report by the Post Standard emphasizing the large increase in demand for natural recreational areas in the future, an increase that will not be met by the central NY region due to pollution.

1968    16 July           “Effects Of Pollution Nearly Everywhere.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Overview of the pollution affecting all of the lakes in the Lake Ontario watershed. Discusses the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the watershed due to pollution.

1968    17 July           “Beaches Hazardous To Health.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Discusses the widespread long-term closing of lake beaches in the central NY region. Notes that the lakes with few problems, Skaneateles and Keuka, are strictly protected against pollution.

1968    18 July “Outlook Bright For Pollution Battle.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Praises the State for opening new recreational facilities on central NY lakes and improving sewage facilities.

1968    19 July            “County Health Code—Water Pollution Revision Slated.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The proposed Onondaga County Health Code will revise its water pollution section due to contradictions with state law. The Syracuse Manufacturers Association has also opposed the water pollution section of the code. William A. Mahoney, president of the NY Pure Water Association, has called the part of the code that gives the county health commissioner authority to fluoridate the county’s water supply “tyrannical and despotic.” Maloney considers fluoride “rat poison.” 

1968   5 September   “Report Shows Obstacles To Cleanup Of Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Officials projected that all sewage currently exerting high oxygen demands on Onondaga Lake will undergo secondary treatment within three to four years.

1968   19 September “Decision Reversed On Sewage Plant.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Onondaga Town Board has rescinded its approval of a new sewage plant.

1968   27 September   “Onondaga Lake—State Speeds Cleanup Plans.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. NYS has initiated abatement of pollution caused by the NYS Fair. $400,000 will be spent connecting sewer lines form the fairgrounds to the proposed Lakeside treatment plant.

1969    9 June  “Pollution Scored.”  PS Syracuse will either have to modernize its Willow Glen Sewage Treatment plant or prepare to be incorporated into a new Onondaga County-Skaneateles Sanitary District, according to new orders from the corporation counsel for Syracuse.

1969    18 June            “Fears For Lake.”  PS. Editorial discussing the dumping of Empire Oil Co. into Oneida Lake; fears a replication of Onondaga Lake conditions.

1969    20 June            “Algae Use Eyed To Purify Lake.” PS The County Department of Public Works is studying a new method of abating algae growth by introducing zooplankton in order to curb the population of toxic algae in Onondaga Lake.

1969    24 June            “Drain Onondaga Lake?” PS Editorial suggesting that Onondaga Lake be drained and refilled with clean water. Discusses how study after study of the Lake has produced little results.

1969    26 June  “Onondaga Lake Renewal Project.” PS Letter to the editor from Dr. Daniel Jackson in response to the June 24th editorial. Jackson says that   a clean lake would be polluted again quickly and that the real solution is to make the area around the lake a state Park.

1969    7 August          “81 Landfill Squeezes Ley Creek Drainage.” PS The private dumping of demolition debris has interfered with the normal flow of Ley Creek and narrowed its stream, causing flooding. City officials blamed the private residents along Ley Creek.

1969    23 August        “Sewage Facility Finish Seen Before 1970 Fair.” PS A new sewage treatment facility plant will be built along Nine Mile Creek in order to eliminate its pollution flow into Onondaga Lake.

1969   11 September   “Tired Of Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor condemning boaters and campers for pollution of central NY lakes.

1969   18 September “Officials Lax On Sewage Treatment.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor criticizing Onondaga County officials for failing to construct secondary and tertiary sewage treatment plants.

1969   25 September “Sewage Disposal Critics Supported.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Additional Letter to the Editor emphasizing the insufficiency of primary sewage treatment.

1969   27 September “Statistics Obscure Sewage Conditions.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor by Dr. Daniel F. Jackson criticizing the use of statistics by Asst. Deputy Commissioner John J. Hennigan Jr. in a September 24th letter to the Post Standard. Jackson claims that Hennigan’s statistics do not accurately represent the quality of sewage treatment in Onondaga County.

1969    23 November  “SU Prof’s Idea: Indian Park Proposed.” Herald American, OCPL Clippings, Volume 1.  “A state historic park—dedicated to the culture of New York’s Iroquois Indians—has been suggested for a site close to the Onondaga Penitentiary, near Jamesville.  The idea originated with Prof. Spencer Parratt of Syracuse University. It has been discussed informally behind the scenes until now.” Parratt spoke with the Interior department and with Onondaga Chiefs. Both were responsive.  He also talked to the  Chairman of Allied Chemical, who owns lands adjacent to the penitentiary. 

1970    16 May            “State Orders Ban: Onondaga Lake Fishing Halted.” Herald Journal. OHA Clippings File.  “Onondaga Lake is closed to fishermen. Fish caught in Lake Ontario and the Oswego River should not be eaten . . .Onondaga Lake has earned the distinction of becoming the first lake in the state to be placed entirely off limits to fishermen. State spokesmen said the action was taken due to mercury contamination which is considerably above the safe level of 0.5 parts per million.”

1970    13 July           “Mercury Poisoning New Ecological Disaster—Onondaga Lake Affected.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Mercury has official been discovered in waterways in 20 states, causing the FDA to announce that it is “uncomfortable” with the degree to which the element is present in the nation’s fisheries. Congressional officials announced their surprise at the find; having once believed that mercury was too valuable to be disposed of by firms. No drinking water bans have been reported.

1970    13 July           “Probes Yield Information On Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Environmental researchers at SUNY ESF have concluded that bleaching liquors used in pulp bleaching do not contribute significant among of chlorophenols or have any apparent effect on fungi or insect life, thus declaring the use of the liquors environmentally safe.

1970    14 July           “Sewer Plant Parley Seen.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. County Executive John H. Mulroy has called for an informal session of the County Legislature to discuss 22 alternate sewage treatment plant plans in consideration for construction on Onondaga Lake.

1970    15 July           “Sewage Plant Discussed; Doors Closed.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. A bipartisan discussion o the failed $48.8 million sewage treatment plant proposal took place behind closed doors.

1970    15 July           “Concern For ‘Dollar’ Said Prolonging Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Dr. Harold Wolf, a federal environmental official, told a Syracuse University group that pollution will continue so long as communities value “the damn dollar” more than human welfare. Wolf related a history of water pollution dating back to the Roman Empire.

1970    16 July           “Pollution Tied To Public Attitude.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Robert Smith, a member of the federal Water Pollution Control Administration, told a Syracuse University group that inducing towns without sewage treatment plants to construct them is the largest problem facing water pollution abatement. Syracuse professors called for pollution controls above the local level.

1970    16 July           “Sargent Cites Sewage Plan Essentials.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor by Willis Sargent, County legislator, defending his vote against the $48 million plant proposal by arguing that the plant was excessively costly. Sargent emphasizes the need for any large anti-pollution expenditure to fully restore Onondaga Lake and permanently stop continuing pollution.

1970    17 July           “Pure Water Pleasures Cited As Cleanup Aim.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Speakers at Syracuse University’s conference on pollution emphasized the aesthetic benefits of clean water and the public ownership of the natural environment.

1970    16 July           “Ottinger To Force U.S. To Jail Water Polluters.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Rep. Richard Ottinger will attempt to use an 1889 law prohibiting the discharge of all refuse besides sewage in order to jail industrial pollution. The Justice Department has refused to enforce the law. Ottinger is supported by conservation organizations across the U.S.

1970    18 July           “Sewer Plant Argument Heats Up Legislature.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Partisan conflicts continued to plague the Legislature due to concerns over the cost-efficiency of the $48 million Metro plant proposal.

1970    22 July           “Metro Sewage Start Up For Second Vote.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The legislature will vote on beginning the first stage of the $48 million Metro plant proposal on August 3rd.

1970    23 July           “Solvay Plant Said Polluting.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The State DEC has cited Allied Corp. as one of eight mercury-polluting industries in NYS. The department has accused Allied of making direct mercury discharges within the last month. It has asked that all polluting industries draw up plans for curtailing their mercury discharges.

1970    23 July           “Mercury Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial arguing that “the fact that 13 companies are now facing Justice Department action” for their pollution “indicates that they have failed to have the required Corps of Engineers permits of have failed to abate the pollution voluntarily.”

1970    24 July           “Assemblyman Seeks Name Of Polluters.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Assemblyman Donald L. Taylor vowed to force the new State DEC to reveal the identities of the state’s mercury polluters.

1970    25 July           “State Could Sue On Sewage Issue—County On Spot.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. NYS may sue Onondaga County if its legislature does not approve the $48 million Metro plant. The county was informed that it is “technically delinquent” on meeting state standards, which it was supposed to do by 1966.

1970    27 July           “Ottinger Asks Lake, River Commercial Fish Ban.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Rep. Richard L. Ottinger has called on Gov. Rockefeller to immediately close Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence to commercial fishing after presenting laboratory evidence that fish taken from the waterways exceed the FDA’s safe mercury limit by 175%. Ottinger commissioned the laboratory test himself due to his belief that NYS “has concealed the full extent of the danger” of mercury pollution. Atty. Gen. John Mitchell has filed lawsuits against ten mercury-polluting firms, including Allied Chemical Co. for its dumping into Onondaga Lake. 

1970    28 July           “Mercury Input Halt Ordered.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. U.S. Attorney James M. Sullivan has filed a restraining order against Allied Chemical Corp. to halt its direct discharge of mercury into Onondaga Lake. Allied has reportedly reduced its daily input of the metal from 26 to 3 pounds, but the Justice Department seeks to completely eliminate the plant’s mercury discharges.

1970    31 July           “Allied Solvay Plant Faces Closes—Pollution Deadline Monday.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. NYS has warned Allied Chemical Corp.’s Solvay plant that it will be shut down unless it can create “a satisfactory plan to eliminate” its mercury discharges into Onondaga Lake. The company “fully expects” to present an adequate plan on time. The plant has already reduced its mercury discharges from 21 pounds of mercury per day to 1 pound per day.

1970    1 August          “Keenan Asks Hearing On Mercury Pollution.” Assemblyman Edward Keenan called on the Assembly Speaker to run mercury tests on Lawrence River, as he believes its pollution is affecting the area’s tourism.

1970    4 August          “Allied Submits Cleanup Plan.” In response to Governor Rockefeller’s threat of shutdown, Allied Chemical Corp. has pledged to reduce its Solvay plant’s mercury pollution into Onondaga Lake to one tenth of a pound daily. PS

1970    5 August          “Sewage Plant Plans In Troubled Waters.” Due to technicalities in the County Legislature, the new Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant could not be approved, inciting threats of legal action from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

1970    6 August          “Pollution Parley Due At ‘Burg.” County officials and regional industry will discuss mercury pollutions and its possible abatement. PS 

1970    6 August          “Alter Sewage Facility, State Urges Canastota.” NYS encouraged Canastota to improve its sewage facility in order to remove certain industrial pollutants.

1970    6 August          “Walinsky Scores GOP On Mercury Pollution.” Adam Walinsky, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, incorporates abatement of mercury pollution into his primary platform.

1970    7 August    “Sewage Plant Vote Wednesday.” County legislature will hold a special vote on the Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant. PS. 

1970    7 August          “State Unit Still Mulls Allied Plan.” The state failed to meet its own 72-hour deadline to begin acting on mercury abatement plans submitted by Allied Chemical. POST STANDARD.

1970    8 August          “Sewage Plan Aspects Hit By Sargent.” Legislator Willis Sargent explains that he voted against the new sewage treatment plan due to a fear of its inefficiency and a desire to ensure that industry pay their full share of the cost. POST STANDARD. 

failed due to opponents who do not believe the county should pay the treat the waste of private firms. POST STANDARD.

1970    13 August        “12 Fish Species Suspect In Mercury Poison Alarm.” The State Department of Environmental Conservation warned that 12 species of fish in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Right may have mercury levels in excess of .05 ppm. POST STANDARD. 

1970    13 August        “Sewage Plant Goes Down For Third Time.” Political conflicts lead to the legislature rejecting funding for the Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant for the third time.  POST STANDARD.

1970    20 August        “DDT, Mercury Levels Studied At Rome Lab.” Lake Delta is being tested for DDT and mercury pollution. As a result of state studies, Onondaga Lake has also been closed to fishermen. POST STANDARD

1970    20 August        “Rocky Sets Deadline For Sewage Plant.” Governor Rockefeller set a strict deadline of September 8th to begin working on the Syracuse Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant or face the withdrawal of state aid. POST STANDARD.

1970    21 August        “Mayor Enters Sewage Issue.” Mayor Alexander will consult with the county legislature, determined that “a way can be reached and an understanding arrived at.” POST STANDARD.

1970    21 August        “Allied Said Striving To Abate Pollution.” Gov. Rockefeller identifies Allied Chemical as “a major” air polluter. POST STANDARD. 

1970    21 August        “Mercury In State Waters Being Rapidly Reduced.” The known discharge of mercury into state waters has been reduced from 71 pounds daily in May to less than 3 pounds daily, mostly due to threats of shutdown from Governor Rockefeller. POST STANDARD. 

1970    26 August        “Rocky Hit Over Sewer Aid Threat.” William Maloney, secretary of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association, chided Governor Rockefeller for threatening to halt issuance of sewer connection permits should the sewage treatment plant fail to receive county funding. He wonders why no threats have been levied against the actual polluters of Onondaga Lake. POST STANDARD.

1970    26 August        “Claim Saving In Sewer Plan.” Union Carbide Corp. will present to the County legislature a method of treating sewage with pure oxygen as a means of reducing the cost of the proposed Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant by 20-40%.  POST STANDARD.

1970    26 August        “Tons Of Septic Waste Enter Lake.” Letter to the Editor from Walter Welch, director of the Onondaga Lake Reclamation Association. Welch argues that Syracuse’s storm water sewers are a major source of pollution that flush hundreds of tons of septic waste into Onondaga Lake due to their outdated design. He advocates for separate storm and septic sewers. Welch also states, “it was the original Solvay Process Co. which had been primarily responsible for the physical desecration of the lake and its shores.” He calls the placing of taxes upon the people of Syracuse for cleaning the lake “ little short of criminal.”   POST STANDARD.

1970    29 August        “Salanger Plan Aimed At Sewage Plant Deadlock.” Legislator James F. Salanager offers to vote for treatment plant in exchange for Republican concessions to agree to cost saving measures. POST STANDARD.

1970   3 September     “Rock Unveils Program To Halt Water Pollution—Seven Point ‘Strategy’ For The 70s.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Governor Rockefeller called his new pollution abatement plan the “largest anti-pollution effort ever undertaken—anywhere in the world.” Rockefeller will propose seven pieces of legislation to prevent future water pollution problems. He will aim to remove sludge from lakes and rivers, curtail phosphate fueled plant growth, prevent toxic discharges, utilize thermal energy for industrial processes instead of polluting it, seek an end to storm sewer overflows, and help impoverished communities construct basic sewer systems. Rockefeller will press for “total elimination” of mercury discharges.

1970   5 September     “Minister Cites Pollution Evils.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor encouraging citizens to be individually responsible for reducing pollution through selective consumption, reuse, and appropriate disposal

1970   11 September   “State Cuts Aid To Metro Sewage Plant.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The State DEC has rescinded over $343,000 in state aid for the Metro treatment plant after the Onondaga County Legislature failed to approve the entire amount of $48.8 million in bonds necessary for the plant’s construction.

1970   12 September   “County Stops Issuing New Sewer Permits.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County Health Department has stopped issuing sewage permits within the Metro sewage plant district in accordance to a NYS DEC directive penalizing the County for failing to pass bond authorization for the entire $48.8 million Metro plant. Buildings currently in construction will not be authorized to connect their plumbing systems to Metro sewers.

1970   16 September   “GOP Rule Linked To Cesspool Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor blaming the Syracuse Republican Party for the continued pollution of Onondaga Lake.

1970   28 September   “Lakes And Streams Must Be Polluted.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor criticizing the Post Standard for not recognizing that “the laws of gravity and economics” require sewage discharges into waterways.

1972    11 August        “City Biggest Polluter Of Lake.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor condemning the city of Syracuse as “the biggest polluter of Onondaga Lake” due to sewage runoff.

1972    16 August        “Long-Range Lake Study Urged.” POST STANDARD. Robert Werner, SUNY ESF faculty member, disputed the efficacy of Skaneateles copper sulfate treatment, believing that the solutions concentration was likely insufficient to treat algae. He also called the spraying a “permanent poison used on a temporary problem.”

1972    23 August        “EPA And State At Odds On Crucible Waste Plan.” POST STANDARD. The state has supported Crucible Steel Co.’s assertion that it cannot complete its water pollution abatement plans quicker than 9 months. The EPA pushed Crucible to speed up its timetable, which centers on the construction of a wastewater facility by December of 1974.

1972    29 August        “Fair No Longer Pollutes Lake.” POST STANDARD. The NYS fair will no longer discharge its waste into Onondaga Lake. The waste will be discharged into the new Lakeside Pumping Station, the same process that was used at the 1971 fair.

1972   7 September     “Onondaga Lake Not That Bad.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor defending the scenic aesthetic of Onondaga Lake despite its pollution.

1973    27 June            “Storm runoff blamed for lake pollution.” POST STANDARD. Robert D. Hennigan, chairman of the Environmental Management Council, informed the Skaneateles village board that storm runoff “contains sewage materials equal in concentration to the effluent from…sewage treatment plants.”

1973    19 July “Lefkowitz Replies On Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor from Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney General of NYS, defending his office’s timeliness in pursuing a crackdown on Central New York’s industrial polluters. Lefkowitz encourages citizens to notify his office of environmental issues necessitating legal action

1973    25 July “Seek Planning Role In Waste Projects.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Executive Committee of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board has urged Gov. Rockefeller to designate CNY as a “substantial water quality problem area.” They also urged Rockefeller to appoint their planning board the official agency for waste treatment management planning in the area.

1974    31 July “Hated Creek To Get Cleaning.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Syracuse will clean Harbor Brook Creek of sewage. The creek has been polluted by interceptor sewers that feed into it.

1974    28 August        “State Aid Helps Clean Region’s Water.” POST STANDARD. Article on the history and present implementation of the Pure Waters grant program.

1974    30 August        “Say Tests Show Allied Chemical Pollutes.” Evidence is presented by the State Environmental Control Agency accusing  Allied Chemical of rampant air pollution. POST STANDARD.

1974   14 September   “Pollution Remover May Benefit Lakes.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Union Carbide Corp. has gained exclusive market rights to a phosphorous removal process known as PhoStrip. The EPA believes the process may aid in pollution abatement in the Great Lakes region

1975    23 July “Biking And Hiking Trails—Onondaga Lake Project Posed.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. County Executive John H. Mulroy will seek $1.6 million in county funds for the construction of hiking and bicycle trails on the north shore of Onondaga Lake.

1975    22 August        “Creek pollution study aids urged.” City Engineer Harry Rook has recommended that the county set up monitoring equipment at Onondaga and Harbor Brook Creeks in order to keep track of sewage overflow. POST STANDARD.

1976   20 September   “Ducks Eat PCB Carriers.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. 25% of ducks tested in 1976 showed a higher PCB level than is allowed in commercially sold chicken.

1979    15 June            “$70M Sewer Project In Works—Aims At Halting Lake Pollution.” The new project aims to remedy the continuing problem of pollution from Syracuse’s combined sewer-drainage system. Rain water overflows into Onondaga Lake, which occur 65 days a year on average, “defeats the efforts of the new Metro plant to cleanse the lake.” POST STANDARD

1979    23 July            “Brine Leak Causes Massive Fish-Kill.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2.  All fish residing in Onondaga Creek within the two-mile span of the Onondaga Reservation and Seneca Turnpike were killed after an Allied Chemical Corp. brine pipeline erupted. Allied faces fines up to $10,000 for each day of the spill, which occurred from Wednesday to Sunday.

1979    24 July            “Onondaga Creek May Need 2 Years To Recover.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2.  Allied Chemical Corp.’s brine spill into Onondaga Creek has been classified as a “significant economic disaster” by the state Environmental Conservation Department. The Department believes that insect life was also affected by the spill. Irving Powless Jr. of Onondaga stated that he did not believe the spill would dramatically affect waters on the reservation

1979    25 July            “Allied Aids In Cleanup Of Fish.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2.   Allied workmen collected thousands of dead fish in plastic bags while wading through Onondaga Creek. The dead fish were described as “more a nuisance than a health hazard.”

1979    27 July “Allied Brine Spill Leaves Creek, Fisherman’s Days Empty—Disappointed Young Anglers Seek New Spot.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Syracuse’s youth mourn the loss of fishing in Onondaga Creek. All fish along a 10-mile stretch were killed by the brine spill of Allied Chemical Corp.

1979    30 August        “Chemical Spill Rein Tightened.” Federal agencies have been given more power to fine those responsible for chemical spills and the ability to take cleanup action if those responsible fail to. POST STANDARD

1979   13 September   “Allied Fined $5,000 For Causing Spill.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Allied Chemical Corp. has been fined $5000 by NYS for its July brine spill into Onondaga Creek. The company has also been ordered to install an alarm system along its pipeline. The idea of replacing the entire decaying pipeline was ruled out due to immense cost.

1979   20 September   Advertisement from Allied Chemical wishing The Syracuse Post Standard a happy 150th birthday. Emphasizes Allied’s contributions to the economy of Syracuse throughout history.

1980    5 August          “Illegal Waste Dumping By State, County, Crucible Found.” POST STANDARD.  The state, county, and Crucible Co. have been illegally dumping into the Solvay waste beds according to the state DEC. The DEC stated that they do not intend to prosecute and will merely ask that all dumping parties receive appropriate permits. 

1980   17 September   “Onondaga Lake Dream Spoiled—Toxic Chemicals From Land To Water: Third In A Series.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Extensive article on the discovery of chlorobenzene in Onondaga Lake. Chlorobenzene is known to accumulate in the flesh of fish. Allied discovered in 1979 that .01 pounds of benzene was seeping into Onondaga Lake each day. Wells near the Lake showed a concentration of chlorobenzene of 111,700 ppb; NYS healthy guidelines recommend no drinking water contain more than 4.7 ppb. Oxygen remains nonexistent in the lake below depths of 25 feet.

1980   18 September   “State Tracks Down Waste Producers—Toxic Chemicals From Land To Water: Last In A Series.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Extensive list of industrial polluters in NYS and the chemical composition of their pollution. DEC Regional Engineer Daniel Halton stated, “this department isn’t doing anything but responded to crises.” Click here and here. Studies have shown that only 100 firms in NYS generate about 90% of the toxic waste in New York. 

1980   20 September   “Pollution ‘Superfunds’ Approved By House.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The House has approved two $375 million Superfunds to deal with oil and chemical spills into the nation’s water supply. A third Superfund of $1.2 billion has been proposed to deal with existing toxic waste sites.

1981    14 July “Keep Spotlight On Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor questioning the validity of Allied Chemical’s claim to have “accidentally” leaked chemicals into Onondaga Lake. Also calls attention to the continued pollution of the Lake by Syracuse sewage overflows. 

1981    31 July “Pollution Data Invalid? DEC Official Wonders.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. DEC director Bill Hicks has questioned the validity of data used by the EPA to calculate a pollution rating for the city of Syracuse that placed it as possessing some of the 34 most polluted waterways in America. Onondaga Lake and the Seneca River were included on the EPA list. 

1983    2 June  “Onondaga Lake Plan—Hearing Set For June 9.” POST STANDARD. The legislature is expected to consider a new $17 million proposal to prevent raw sewage from flowing into Onondaga Lake sometime soon.

1983    14 June            “Why Not Drain Onondaga Lake And Fill It With Tax Dollars?” POST STANDARD. Editorial decrying the new treatment proposal for Onondaga Lake as an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money, as many politicians have made similar promises in the past with no success.

1983    18 June            “Leg Committee Oks Lake Cleanup Plan.”  POST STANDARD. The Ways and Means Commission has endorsed the new Onondaga Lake cleanup proposal, which will allow the county to “install a web work of plastic sheets through which water and sewage could be contained from Harbor Brook and Onondaga Creek during heavy rainstorms.”

1983    21 June            “County To Get Lakeside In State Trade.” POST STANDARD. The county will acquire 252 acres of Onondaga Lake shoreline, including the formal waste refuse sites used by Allied Chemical, from NYS in exchange for other land parcels.  The county desires to use the land to expand its bike paths.

1983    7 July  “Save Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor encouraging the cleanup of Onondaga Lake and terming it “one of our greatest assets.”

1983   7 September     “Bigger, More Expensive Project Sought For Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. County Drainage and Sanitation Commissioner John Hennigan will seek $35.3 million from the county for three treatment plants and a system of floating curtains designed to prevent sewage pollution of Onondaga Lake.

1984    19 July “Stop Dirtying Lake, State Orders County.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The State DEC has ordered Onondaga County to stop polluting Onondaga Lake with suspended solids. The County is accused of violating federal emission standards in its discharges from the Metro Plant, which are believed to be calcium-loaded due to waste from Allied Chemical Co. Allied has warned that its plant is “marginally profitable” and could shut down if it is forced to pretreat its waste.

1984    1 August          “Lake Cleanup Would Open A Whole New Can Of Politics.” POST STANDARD. Editorial condemning the wasted taxpayer money on failed cleanup efforts at Onondaga Lake. “Not even the descendants of the Indians who once did all those things in the lake [swim, eat, drink] want it—I have forgotten the exact source, but it made sense when I learned that in all the Indian land claim cases, Onondaga has been excluded. They don’t want it!”

1984    7 August          “More Than Just A Body Of Water.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor criticizing The Post Standard’s editorial writer who argued that Onondaga Lake is beyond saving. Author argues the editorial writer is scientifically misinformed about the current state of pollution in the lake, which is actually improving.

1984   14 September   “Amid The Stench And Greed, A Serene Beauty On The Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Personal account of a canoe trip on Onondaga Lake. Notes that the odors emanating from the lake “ranged from mildly gagging to the mysterious reek of cheap bathroom soap,” but remarks that the lake still has a beautiful quality, and that “maybe it really is worth spending a few more bucks to undo the damage.”

1984   14 September   “Seminar May Determine The Future Of Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Experts and citizens will assemble for an all-day seminar at Onondaga Lake in order to determine what exactly it is that Onondaga County citizens want from the lake. Many want to use the lake for swimming, fishing, biking, and hiking.

1984   18 September   “County To Reduce Lake Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Under pressure from the DEC, Onondaga County officials have agreed to stop the pollution of Onondaga Lake with suspended solids by April, agreeing that the Metro Treatment Plant was not working properly. Calcium-loaded waste from Allied Corp.’s Solvay Process Division is the root cause of the plant’s malfunction, as the waste is “pretty much insoluble” but has been dumped into the lake regardless. The county will not ask Allied to change its production methods or pretreat its waste.

STANDARD. The Onondaga County Legislature has endorsed game finishing on Onondaga Lake. Proponents of lifting the ban do not want to legalize consuming the fish. Opponents say that lifting the ban would harm pollution abatement efforts, as it would encourage Syracuse citizens to believe the lake is pure.

1985    2 July  “Lawmakers OK $300G To Study Allied Fallout.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County will spend $300,000 on two studies of the problems created by Allied Corp.’s decision to close its Solvay plant. Allied’s machinery and lime products play major roles in the county’s current method of treating its sewage sludge, and most of the money will go towards exploring alternative methods of disposing of the sewage waste. It is estimated that replacing Allied’s contributions to the treatment process will cost the county $1.6 million.

1985    5 July  “Sewage Plant Blamed For Neighborly Holiday Odor.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Residents of northern Clay have complained that an unpleasant odor of sewage sporadically appeared around their homes over the course of two days. The origins of the odor are indeterminate, though residents spoke confidently that it was sewage.

1985    16 July “Officials Raid Candle Factory, Seize Evidence In Pollution Case.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Police and state investigators raided the Will & Baumer Inc. candle factory under suspicion that the firm has been illegally dumping hazardous wastes into Onondaga Lake. Investigators seized company records and took samples of wastewater discharges. It is believed that the company was discharging phosphorus and phosphoric acid into Ley Creek.

1985    18 July “Critics: Decision To Lift Fishing Ban Premature.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Conservationists decried Environmental Conservation Commissioner Henry G. Williams’ decision to reopen Onondaga Lake for fishing as premature. The DEC tempered the decision by saying that a full agency review must occur before the lake can be reopened.

1985    20 July “Allied Pays $48G Fine, Signs Order.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Allied Corp. has paid the DEC $48,000 in fines for its pollution of brine and waste due to breakages in its liens. An October spill in 1984 killed more than 1,000 fish in Onondaga Creek. A separate February spill in 1985 did not kill any fish, “largely because fish populations were already depleted by the earlier incident.”

1985    10 August          “Study: Create Commission To Oversee Lake Cleanup.” A new state-financed report recommends the creation of a special commission to guide all future Onondaga Lake cleanup efforts. The report also recommended that Syracuse turn over all responsibility for Onondaga Creek and Harbor Brook to Onondaga County. “Among the key scientific findings of the report is that Allied is primarily responsible for making the lake so salty. About 85 percent of the chlorides in the lake are attributable to the chemical company.” POST STANDARD. 

1985    14 August        “Company Given Permit For Discharging Wastes.” The Will and Baumer Inc. Candle factor has obtained a permit for dumping wastes into the metropolitan sewer system. The firm has faced allegations that it has been dumping illegally into Onondaga Lake for at least two years. The EPA raided the factory in July and found evidence of dumping. POST STANDARD. 

1985 17 October        “A Harrowing Journey into the Deep,” PS,. Part of a series of stories on “Onondaga Lake: Paradise Lost?”  An examination of the scale of pollution in the lake.  Other articles in the series, and published on this date, include pieces titled “A Lake Grown Old Before Its Time,” “Scientists Worry About Benzene Level,” and  “Mercury Mystery: A Deadly Hazard Baffles the Experts.”

12 November 1985    “Allied’s Closing May Cause Big Onondaga Lake Fish Kill,” HJ.

1986    11 June            “Will & Baumer Fined $60,000, Told To Obey The Law.” U.S. District courts imposed the fines on Will & Baumer Inc. and sentenced the company’s president, Howard Nybo, to a year in prison for his role in the firm’s intentional pollution of Ley Creek. POST STANDARD.

1986    4 July  “County: Dump Sludge On Shore.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County executives have proposed to dump 500,000 gallons of sewage sludge per day on the shores of Onondaga Lake as “an emergency solution…for about six months,” as the county faces pressure from the DEC to stop using waste beds in Camillus. Those waste beds are leeching pollution into ground water supplies. Allied Chemical Co., which ones the beds, has given the county until August 1st to stop using the beds due to the company’s closure.

1986    8 July  “Sludge: Shortsighted Threat To Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial condemning Onondaga County officials for proposing to dump 500,000 gallons of sludge daily on the shore of Onondaga Lake.

1986    8 July “State: Don’t Dump Sludge On Lake Shore.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The DEC has spoken out against Onondaga County’s plan to dump sludge on the shore of Onondaga Lake. The DEC has the power to halt the plan by denying the County a dumping permit. County officials have defended the plan as a necessary emergency solution that will be temporary.

1986    9 July  “County May Move Sludge To 2nd Camillus Waste Bed.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County is considering dumping its sludge in another Camillus waste bed rather than Onondaga Lake. Camillus environmental attorneys have vowed to fight the proposal

1986    17 July “Lawmakers OK Plan To Turn Sludge To Solid.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County has allocated $2.2 million in order to pump its sludge into a second waste bed in the town of Camillus rather than Onondaga Lake, as originally proposed.  Critics of the plan have called attention to the fact that the supposed “emergency solution” is a result of poor planning by County officials, who have known since 1985 that they would have to find a new place to store county sludge.”

1986    18 July “Sledge Dumping To End By Jan. 31—County Oks Sludge Plan.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County and NYS officials have signed an agreement that will force the county to stop its dumping of sludge onto waste beds in Camillus by January 31st. The County admitted that it is violating state environmental laws by dumping into the waste beds without a permit. Before the end of January, county will have to halt its dumping into waste bed 15 and move dumping to bed 12, but will have to dewater its sludge before dumping into waste bed 12.

1986    2 August          “Need Action, Not Talk, On Lake Commission.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the editor from the president of Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake imploring Gov. Cuomo to sign Bill S8894 to create the Onondaga Lake Commission.

1986    5 August          “Bragman Says Cuomo Scotched Lake Panel.” POST STANDARD. Gov. Cuomo has vetoed S8894, which would have created a new commission to “promote the orderly development of [Onondaga] Lake.” Cuomo opposes temporary commissions that have a tendency to become permanent and costly.

1986    7 August          “Zimmer: Lake Panel Will Be Named Soon.” POST STANDARD. Cuomo will appoint a 17-member advisory committee on Onondaga Lake to explore pollution abatement and tourism development.

1986    12 August        “Senator Says Lake Could Become Big Recreational Center—Oneida Lake Committee To Study Development.” POST STANDARD. Sen. Tarky Lombardi warned that the work of the Onondaga Lake Committee would be ineffective if the city of Syracuse does not stop polluting the lake.

1986    20 August        “Pooler Vows Work On Lake Problems.” Congressional candidate Rosemary Pooler vowed to work towards the cleanup of Onondaga Lake by securing “untapped federal funds for lake revitalization.” POST STANDARD.

1987    9 June  “County Legislators Tour Polluted Waters Of Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD. The lawmakers were told that no oxygen exists in the lake more than 25 feet below the surface.

1987    9 June  “Allied land, laboratory would cost $3 million.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The total expense and tax loss of purchasing the land and laboratory facilities of Allied Chemical Corp. would cost Onondaga County around $3 million. Allied has agreed to assume responsibility for any toxic materials found in the discussed land. Some county legislators questioned the wisdom of removing the land from tax rolls without having an immediate purpose for it.

1987    10 July “Lake Research To Cost County Another $800G.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County will be asked to allocate another $800,000 in consultant fees in order to aid the county in its search for federal and state aid in abating sewage overflows into Onondaga Lake.

1987    11 July “County Pumps In $50,000 To Keep Lake Tests Going.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County approved $50,000 in “emergency funding” to continue testing of Onondaga lake water until the end of July. County Legislators expressed irritation at rising costs and declining state and federal aid for the project, which aims to end sewage overflows into Onondaga Lake.

1987    23 July “Pirro: Lake Cleanup Needs State Money.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Nicholas Pirro has expressed concern that NYS will attempt to shift a larger share of the cleanup costs for Onondaga Lake onto Onondaga County taxpayers.

1987    24 July “State Will Make Loan, Not Grant, For Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. In the wake of the Clean Water Act, NYS has diverted most of its grant funding into a “revolving loan program,” thus depriving Onondaga County of grant money for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. Onondaga County will now bear 100% of the cost for cleaning the lake.

1987    25 July “Lake Cleanup—State Ruling A Big Setback.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial imploring Governor Cuomo to restore grant financing to Onondaga County to aid in the cleanup of Onondaga Lake.

1987    30 July “Firm’s Suggestion That County Burn Its Sludge “Worth Looking At.’” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The engineering firm O’Brien and Gere has proposed building an incinerator to burn Onondaga County’s semi-solid sewage sludge as the county looks for alternatives to shipping its waste to Buffalo. The plant could generate electricity as well as deal with the county’s waste problems. County Executive John Mulroy favors using Camillus waste beds owned by Allied Chemical Co. instead. Camillus Environmental Attorney John Ferris approves of dumping in Camillus so long as preliminary studies directed by Allied can be preformed. Ferris stated that Camillus would be “delighted to have Allied in command of the operation,” and criticized the county as being a “successful failure” in its implementation of waste policies.

1987    4 August          “County Allocates Money For Onondaga Lake Study.” POST STANDARD.  $130,000 has been allocated from the Department of Drainage and Sanitation for daily monitoring of bacteria and turbidity in Onondaga Lake. The data will be used to develop computer models of the lake’s condition in order for the county to qualify for state and federal grants towards the lake’s cleanup.

1987   24 September   “Oil City Plan Revives Interest In Allied Land.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County has viewed the shutdown of Allied Chemical Co. as an opportunity to extend its ownership of Onondaga Lake shoreline. Incomplete article.

1987   25 September   “Sludge To Soil Transformation Beginning On Allied Waste Beds.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Allied and Onondaga County will preform a $160,000 experiment, mixing Allied’s calcium carbonate waste with the county’s sewage in an attempt to create an artificial soil. If successful, the experiment will turn Allied’s waste beds into a grass bed.

1988    6 June  “The Man Behind A $50M Pollution Lawsuit—Atlantic States Group Has Polarizing Effect.” POST STANDARD. Profile of Atlantic States Legal Foundation, an antipollution group that has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Onondaga County over its pollution of Onondaga Lake. The group is Syracuse based and has filed 200 lawsuits against polluters across 20 states.

1988    7 June  “Legislators Vote $291,000 To Finish Lake Trail.”  POST STANDARD. The county legislature has approved funds to complete the Onondaga Lake bike trail.

1988    10 June            “Mercury Suspected—LCP’s Wastes Tested At Beds In Camillus.” POST STANDARD. NYS is investigating the possibility that LCP Chemicals Inc. has discharged toxic mercury into the Camillus waste beds. Studies have shown that material from the waste beds can be washed into Nine Mile Creek and thus Onondaga Lake. LCP has agreed to stop discharging material into the beds by August.

1988    25 June            “Creek, Sewage Plant Need Smells Of Success.” POST STANDARD. Odors emanating from the Metropolitan treatment plant and Onondaga Creek may stymie plans to reinvigorate Onondaga Lake waterfront business.

1988    1 July  “More Mercury Found In LCP’s Waste Water.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Mercury has been detected in the waste of LCP Chemicals Inc. that flows towards Onondaga Waste. The company has shut down due to pressure from state officials. LCP self-reported the pollution, which stemmed from an accidental spill, to the DEC. LCP has reported eight mercury discharges since June 17th.

1988    1 July  “County Near Agreement To Resolve Lake Lawsuit.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Atlantic States Legal Foundation is close to settling its lawsuit against Onondaga County for the pollution of Onondaga Lake. Details of the settlement are unknown.

1988    14 July “Pirro Supports Proposed Deal On Lake Suit.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County Executive Nicholas Pirro has endorsed a proposed settlement of Atlantic States Legal Foundation’s lawsuit against the county over its pollution of Onondaga Lake. Pirro considers the settlement a victory in that it will not require homeowners to replace their illegal sewer hook-ups, a proposal he has staunchly opposed. Atlantic States will receive a sizeable monetary settlement to develop a computer model of Onondaga Lake and a commitment from the county to inspect homes with illegal sewer hook-ups.

1988    16 July “Pirro: State Must Weigh Effects Of Crackdown On LCP Pollution.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County Exectuive Nicholas Pirro has asked the DEC to consider the economic consequences of the state permanently shutting down LCP Chemicals Inc., which employees 150 people. Pirro will attempt to convince the DEC to allow LCP to remain open while it works to abate its mercury discharges. The DEC has said that it has always been the department’s goal to reopen the plant after its pollution problems have been solved.

1988    19 July “Moynihan Pledges Cleanup Of Lake—Moynihan Promises ‘Drinkable’ Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan promised to secure federal funds for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake by 1994 if reelected. Moynihan pledged that the lake will “be fishable, swimmable, drinkable.” Moynihan stated that his rank as chairman of the Senate Water Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would guarantee his ability to secure the funds from the allocation created by the Clean Water Act.

1988    20 July “Lake Trail Plan ‘Near Fruition,” Maclachlan Says.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Gary MacLachlan, commissioner of the Onondaga County Parks and Recreation Department stated that although no budget or construction schedule have been set, progress has been made on the creation of a 12-mile bikeway around Onondaga Lake. MacLachlan expects Onondaga County to acquire land owned by Allied-Signal Corp., the only part of the lake shore’s not currently owned by the county. The county will attempt to secure federal and state aid for the cost of the bike trail.

1988    22 July “Swallow This, And Onondaga Lake Water Should Be Easy.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial criticizing Senator Daniel Moynihan for promising to “pour more of everyone else’s money into Onondaga Lake” as Syracuse politicians have done for decades.

1988    29 July “Lakeside Extravaganza: Entertainment, Recreation Fill 9 Days At Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Onondaga Lake Waterfront Extravaganza will showcase “the economic and recreational potential of the heavily polluted lake.”

1988    5 August          “Lake Group’s Report Makes A Pitch For ‘Salmon 2000’—Plays Main Role In Panel’s Onondaga Lake Study.” POST STANDARD. The Onondaga Lake Advisory Committee’s first report articulates a hope to purify the lake to the point that a salmon population could live and breed there. This would necessitate clean, oxygenated water at a depth of around 15 feet.  The report also made recommendations to the DEC to hold Allied Co. accountable for its waste beds, which continue to leech into the lake.

1988    12 August        “Build A Cultural Center For Indians Near Fort.” POST STANDARD. Letter to the Editor crediting the Iroquois for creating the foundation of the American constitution. Suggests creating an Indian cultural center on the shore of Onondaga Lake as a means of giving back. 

1988   23 September   “Moynihan Proposes $100 Million Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan has introduced legislation to acquire $100 million in federal funds for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake, announcing that he intends to restore the lake “to the condition it was in a century ago.” The funds may be acquired in October 1989 at the earliest. Moynihan clarified that he will ask Allied Chemical Co. to contribute to the lake’s cleanup costs, stating, “they owe us. They can’t walk away. 

1988   27 September   “Lake Suit Settled; Sewer Inspections To Begin.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County has agreed to settle the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against it by Atlantic States Legal Foundation by beginning random inspections of homes for illegal sewer hookups. The County has “fought for years” against being forced to inspect homes for the illegal hookups, which contribute to sewage overflows that pollute Onondaga Lake.

1988   29 September   “Sludge Land Application Shows Great Promise.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor from the Atlantic States Legal Foundation voicing cautious support for land disposal of Onondaga County sewage sludge. The letter calls for increased testing of sludge and a limiting of the hazardous material that may be put into it. It concludes that the use of Allied waste beds for the disposal “shows great promise.”

1989    10 June            “Company To Admit It Kept Spill Quiet—Hess Continues Cleanup Of Oil Spill On Lakeshore.” POST STANDARD. Amerada Hess Corp. will plead guilt y on the charge that it failed to report a 17,000 gallon oil spill on the south shore of Onondaga Lake in 1988.

1989    27 June            “State To Sue Allied Over Lake—Action Will Seek Cleanup Money.” POST STANDARD. The State Attorney General’s office and the DEC will pursue damages from Allied-Signal Inc. for its mercury pollution and aesthetic damage to Onondaga Lake in order to help finance the lake’s restoration. Allied reported $11.1 billion in revenue in 1988.

1989    28 June            “Lake Cleanup Billed To Allied—State To Use Waste Rules And Lawsuit.” POST STANDARD. The State will ask Allied to pay for whatever the cost of cleaning Onondaga is, estimated to be in the “tens of millions” of dollars. Allied claims that it complied with all contemporary permit regulations throughout its dumping period. Allied netted $1.4 billion in profits last year. The most recent surveys of Onondaga reveal that 69% of the lake’s bottom is covered in mercury at least 6 inches deep. The DEC has recently reclassified Onondaga Lake as a class 2 site, meaning it is considered a significant public health threat.

1989    29 June            “State: Oswego Mercury May Be From Allied.”  POST STANDARD. The DEC believes that mercury found in Oswego Lake may have been brought there from Onondaga Lake via the Seneca River.

1989    8 July  “Cheers For Suit Against Allied.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor praising stat Attorney General Robert Abrams for filing suit against Allied-Signal Inc. for its pollution of Onondaga Lake.

1989    11 July “Clean Lake, Then Develop.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor criticizing the development of the Carousel Mall before the cleanup of Onondaga Lake.

1989    20 July “Odors Threaten Camillus Sludge Dumping.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The town of Camillus may shut down the dumping of Onondaga County sludge on Allied Corp. waste beds located in the town due to “intolerable” odors. The firm hired to mix the county’s sludge with Allied’s wastes, Bio-Gro, claimed that the odors are not being generated by the waste beds, but rather algae growths caused by heavily rains.

1989   1 September     “New Product Key To LCP’s 1992 Restart.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. LCP Chemicals Inc. will apply for DEC permits in order to open a new manufacturing facility in 1992 that would produce sodium chlorate rather than chlorine, LCP’s former primary output. LCP was fined $650,000 in March 1989 for polluting Onondaga Lake with mercury. The company plans that it’s new manufacturing practice will not include mercury discharges. It still intends to discharge its wastewater into Onondaga Lake.

1989   13 September   “Senate Panel Earmarks $500,000 For Cleanup Of Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. A Senate Appropriations Committee has allocated $500,000 into the EPA budget for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. Another $250,000 has been allocated for a study of the lake’s water quality by the Army Corps of Engineers.

1989   19 September   “Environmentalists To Sue Bristol And PICO.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Bristol-Myers Co. and PICO Products Inc. have been notified that they will be sued for millions of dollars by the Atlantic States Legal Foundation due to their over discharging of wastewater in violation of the Clean Water Act. Both of the company’s waste ends up in Onondaga Lake and sewage sludge.

1990    21 June            “Lake Advisory Chairman To Offer To Share His Title.” Richard Smardon, the newly elected chairman of the Onondaga Lake Citizens Advisory Committee, will offer to share his chairmanship title with his defeated opponent, the president of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. POST STANDARD.

1990    25 June            “Compromise Key To Lake Cleanup Leader—Lake Ecologists Get Mediator In Smardon.” Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. president has rejected Richard Smardon’s offer to share the chairmanship of the Onondaga Lake Citizens Advisory Committee. Smardon stated that he sees himself as a conciliator and not a “rabid environmentalist.” POST STANDARD.

1990    6 July  “Guards: Security In Toxic Site Lax—Oil City Workers Walked Over Site.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Workers at the Carousel Center construction site in Oil City fear that they may have entered the contamination zone of the site inadvertently due to poor security. Some workers have complained of respiratory problems or rashes.

1990    29 August        “Forecast Worsens for Trash Plant Mercury Output.” The county has announced that mercury emissions at the Onondaga County trash plant on Rock Cut Road will be double what was estimated in 1988. Environmentalists fear that the mercury will be introduced to local water systems due to rain, with one man stating, “This will almost guarantee that Jamesville Reservoir becomes another Onondaga Lake.” POST STANDARD.

1990    30 August        “Storm Dumped Sewage into Lake.” Heavy rains pushed at least 6 million gallons of raw sewage overflow into Onondaga Lake Tuesday night, the largest instance of pollution in the lake’s recent history. Power outages at the Baldwinsville treatment plant also resulted in the county having to pump 10,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Seneca River. Drainage overflows are caused by the connection of sewers with drainage systems, which characterize around 60% of the sewers in Syracuse. POST STANDARD.

1990   8 September     “Concert Begins A Mission: The Lake Needs A Hug.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Syracuse spiritualist David Yarrow has begun to raise awareness and finances for his planned “Healing Circle of Unity,” a vision of assembling 20,000 people to link hand-to-hand in a circle around Onondaga Lake. The event will be sponsored by the Phoenix Festival, which also seeks to “nurture a rebirth of Onondaga Lake.” Yarrow roots his spirituality and commitment to the lake in the oral history of the Iroquois, stating, “the lake is the birthplace of North America’s oldest democracy—the Six Nations Confederacy of the Iroquois, the Haudenosaunee.” He has invited an Onondaga Nation representative to his announcement of the project at the Phoenix Festival.

1990   14 September   “Lake Cleanup Paddles Forward.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Senate has approved $1.5 million of federal funds for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake.

1991    27 June            “Lake Researchers Find ‘Funky’ Gunk.” A diving team found what they believe to be roofing tar along a 1,000 meter stretch of a shallow portion of Onondaga Lake. POST STANDARD.

1991    30 June            “Amid Pollution and Strife, a Faithkeeper Endures.” Herald American. OCPL Clippings, Volume 4.  Profile of Oren Lyons.

1991    4 July  “Firm’s Solution: Seal Waste Sites.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Terran Environmental Inc. has patented a process of “entombing hazardous waste in a rocklike compound” in order to prevent leaks that contaminate groundwater. They claim the process can work on existing landfills, and accomplished “entombment” through injections of calcium carbonate. The company has identified the Allied-Signal Inc. waste beds as an excellent potential application of the technology, which could stop the beds from leaking mercury into Onondaga Lake.

1991    9 July  “Article About Lake Gave High Points.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor commending a Post Standard contributor for writing positively about the health of Onondaga Lake fish, and for helping to provide education to the public “about future opportunities for developing a viable fishery in this polluted lake.”

1991    12 July “Lake’s ‘Tar’ Is New Hazard—State Searching For Source Of Polluted Patch.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The DEC has discovered tarlike sediment in Onondaga lake containing hazardous levels of chlorobenzene. The pollution is believed to have been produced by either Allied Chemical Co. or a petroleum spill.

1991    18 July “Dumps Poison ‘Mother Earth’—Besieged Onondagas Begin To Resist Fast-Buck Haulers.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. In August, the EPA will begin its cleanup of the Onondaga Nation Reservation, which is polluted with 1,200 drums of industrial waste and acids scattered over a 25-acre section of the reservation. There are other waste sites on the reservation, including a “makeshift landfill” sloping into Onondaga Creek, a collection of “medical waste bags” littering a stream bank, and dozens of areas where “untested demolition debris” has been left by Syracuse contractors. Much of the waste has been dumped illegally and without the consent of the Onondaga. In May 1991, 200 bags of asbestos-laced pipe casing were dumped on the reservation. The Onondaga responded by implementing 24-hour road patrols. Irving Powless Jr., Onondaga Chief, expressed his anger, stating, “we’ve been here 4,000 years and never polluted the lake. You people come in and in 100 years ruin the lake. We’re not in control of all that, it’s you people, your industry. The pollution that we have is coming from the outside.” One Onondaga, John Deer, started his own dumping business on the reservation, charging contractors less than one percent the market rate to dump their demolition debris on his reservation land. Deer’s landfill, which runs into Onondaga Creek, tested positive for PCBs, arsenic, and lead.

1991    18 July “Polluted Lake Is Allied’s Burden, Lawmakers Say.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County Legislators Willard Lipe and James Salanger have argued that Allied Chemical Corp., not county taxpayers, should bear the financial burden for cleaning up Onondaga Lake due to its pollution of the lake. Allied is already being sued to establish its liability.

1991    19 July “Lack Of State Funds Chokes Lakes With Overgrown Weeds.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Soil and Water Conservation District has not received adequate state funds to remove overgrown weeds from NY lakes

1991    23 July “State Traces Creek Pollution To Nimo’s Air Conditioning—Power Company Promises To Stop Dumping Water.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The DEC has announced that Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. is polluting Onondaga Creek through discharges from its AC system. This pollution is increasing the salinity of Onondaga Lake. 25% of the salt entering Onondaga Lake during the summer can be attributed to the discharges. The DEC has decided against demanding the immediate cessation of the discharges, because this would result in NiMo having “no air conditioning at all in their buildings.” The company had originally speculated that the salinity levels in Onondaga Lake could be attributed to Allied Corp. pollution.

1991    30 August        “Airing Out Onondaga Lake’s Pollution—Oxygen May Scrub it Clean.” The Onondaga Lake Management Conference will investigate the benefits of pumping oxygen into the lake. POST STANDARD.

1991   16 September   “Muscling Into The Lake—Zebra Mussels’ Arrival Could Help Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. A SUNY ESF professor believes that the introduction of zebra mussels, considered an invasive species across the U.S., could help cleanup Onondaga Lake by consuming algae and mercury in the lake. Other cleanup activists have advised against the measure, calling the mussels “dangerous pests.” Because fish eat mussels, the fixation of the toxin in the creatures might actually intensify the contamination of the lake’s food chain.

1991   18 September   “New Look Finds Hope At Lake Floor—Scientist Shatters Long-Held View Of Murky Bottom.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. New research indicates that Onondaga Lake’s bottom has “less gunk” than previously believed. It is not as deep or as filled with Allied waste as was once thought. “Allied material can be found in only the top 23 inches of the soil.” Researcher Chandler Rowell stated that Onondaga Lake “was in the process of going eutrophic before Allied and, in fact, before white settlers ever came and cleared ground.” Rowell did note that calcium carbonate discharged by Allied into the lake has significantly altered its chemistry and encouraged high rates of sedimentation.

1991   27 September   “More Money Floats To Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Congress has approved $1.25 million in funds for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. The federal government’s financial commitment to the lake now exceeds $5 million.

1992    1 June  “Rebounding Fish Make Big Splash in Lake—Mercury Contaminates Lake Catch.” Scientists have expressed caution at the rebound of fish species in Onondaga Lake, claiming that the lake’s fish remain inedible due to high mercury concentrations. POST STANDARD.

1992    10 June            “Scientist Support Shipping Treated Sewage to River.” Lake scientists support Onondaga County’s proposal to reroute treated sewage into the Seneca River instead of dumping it into Onondaga Lake, stating that the sewage will end up in the river anyway after lingering in the lake for three months. POST STANDARD.

1992    20 June            “Lake Committee Floats Proposal For Study Center.” The Onondaga Lake Advisory Committee advised the construction of a “water research center” on Onondaga Lake to conduct research on the lakes, water fish, plants, wildlife, and history. POST STANDARD.

1992    22 June            “Lake Goo Remains Mystery For Researchers.” The DEC has announced it cannot identify the “funky gunk” discovered at Onondaga Lake and previously thought to be tar. It believes the base of the material is lime-based waste from Allied Co.   POST STANDARD.

1992    1 July  “County Accused Of Blocking Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Timothy Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference, has accused county leaders of obstructing the cleanup of Onondaga Lake by refusing to even consider the cessation of wastewater discharges into Seneca River instead of the lake.

1992    30 July “Allied-Signal Moves To Remove Toxics Near Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Allied will remove a pool of pure chlorobenzene discovered only fifteen feet from the shore of Onondaga Lake. The pool could be sixteen feet thick.

1992    30 July “Storm Sewers Should Bypass Sewage Plant.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor encouraging further dumping of raw sewage into Onondaga Lake, which “ought to be able to handle it very easily,” compared to the Seneca River, given its size. Encourages a storm sewer system that bypasses the sewage disposal plant altogether to dump directly into the lake.

1992    31 July “Senate Committees Put Aside Millions For Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Senate subcommittees have agreed to allocate $1.75 million for the Onondaga Lake Management Committee and $2 million in “a transportation spending bill for lakefront development.” 

1992    20 August        “Audience Skeptical of Sewage Bypass.” A 45-person audience attending a meeting of the Common Council raised criticisms of the new plan to divert treated sewage into Onondaga Lake and the Seneca River. Environmentalists articulated fears that the sewage would encourage algae growth in the lake, already a serious problem. POST STANDARD. 

1992    21 August        “Crowd Calls For Cleanup Of Lake.” Angry citizens demanded the town crack down on manure leakage into Owasco Lake and reopen the lake’s beaches. POST STANDARD. 

1992   23 September   “Federal Funds Boost Cleanup Program For Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Another $1.75 million has been allocated from federal coiffeurs for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake.

1993    1 July  “Public Debates Whether Cleanup Is Worth The Cost.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Onondaga lake Management Conference has created a plan to clean Onondaga Lake for $775 million by taking all sewage discharge out of the lake with two pipelines. Onondaga County Executive Nicholas Pirro believes that the plan cannot be implemented without 75% state and federal aid. Onondaga Chief Irving Powless spoke to the Conference and said that “he remembered an ancestor telling him that one day Onondagas would see muddy water in Onondaga Creek” and now “that prophecy is true.” Powless added that the Onondaga do not have a solution to the lake’s pollution, but that “if you don’t clean up the lake, you shall perish.”

1993    13 July “NiMo Pays For Harbor Park.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. has agreed to build a park along the Onondaga lake harbor creek walk area in order to “make up” for polluting Onondaga Creek. The park will cost $500,000 and emerged out of negotiations with the DEC. Originally the DEC wanted NiMo to build a boat launch, “but that proved too complicated when toxic goo was found on the west shore of Onondaga lake near the launch location chosen.”

1993    14 July “Water-Filled Damn Raised To Clear Creek.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The U.S. Soil and Conservation Service has built a 4-foot-high plastic dam in order to prevent sand, clay, and silt from flowing into Onondaga Creek through mud boils. Mud flows from the creek have disrupted the harbor development of Onondaga Lake.

1993    30 July “Creekwalk Ceremony Gives Harbor Project An Official Start.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Ground has been broken on Onondaga Lake’s inner-harbor project.

1993    24 August        “Pollution fines hang over county—county could owe two sets of penalties for pollution.” NYS and Atlantic States Legal Foundation has threatened court action against Onondaga County if they further delay cleaning Onondaga Lake.  POST STANDARD.

1993    26 August        “Lake conference under fire.”  Onondaga County Legislature Chairman William Sanford will ask President Clinton and Congress to withdraw funding for the Onondaga lake Management Conference. POST STANDARD.

1994    2 June  “For Now, Bikeway Is A Path To Nowhere.” The proposed Onondaga Lake bikeway, which has been in construction since 1987, still does not surround the lake as originally intended. POST STANDARD.

1994    3 June  “Discharge Of Treated Toxic Waste Would Start Owasco Lake Decline.” Editorial written by “we, the resident of Cayuga County” condemning the DEC approval of sewage discharges into Owasco Inlet. “We fear the creation of another Onondaga Lake.”

1994    8 June  “Pirro’s Plan For Lake May Hinder Cleanup.” Letter to the Editor criticizing County Executive Nick Pirro’s plan for discharging waste into Onondaga Lake due to its failure to consider “induced currents.” POST STANDARD.

1994    23 June            “Ads Will Promote Plan To Clean Onondaga Lake.” The Onondaga Lake management Conference has approved $5,000 for advertising to urge residents to become educated about its lake cleanup plans. POST STANDARD.

1994    1 July  “Salt boilers’ Ball To Benefit Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake will hold the “Salt Boilers’ Ball” in order to raise funds for their group, which contributes to “capital improvements at the lake park’s museums” and “programming and equipment at the Salt Museum and Ste. Marie among the Iroquois.”

1994    7 July  “Early Settlers In County Found The Going Tough.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. History of the early settlement of Onondaga County. “Residents had a love-hate affair with Onondaga Lake. They loved its trout, but the swamp around it was filled with malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Although the locals were on good terms with the Onondagas, they feared that Onondagas who had gone of to fight wars in Ohio would return and drive the settlers out.”

1994    7 July  Timeline of notable events in Onondaga County from 1814-1823. Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. “1822: level of Onondaga Lake lowered by widening and deepening outlet, partly to save money on construction of the Oswego Canal.”

1994    7 July  Timeline of notable events in Onondaga County from 1874-1883. Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. “1881: Solvay process organized. The company’s plant in Solvay would make soda ash and, in the process, pollute Onondaga Lake. It would also provide thousands of jobs.”

1994    7 July  “History On Exhibit At Museums.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. List of Onondaga County museums. Notes Sainte Marie among the Iroquois, which “joins drama and local Native American heritage to present Onondaga County history. The costumed staff re-creates the 1657 encounter between native Americans and Europeans on the shores of Onondaga Lake.”

1994    16 July “Repeating Past Mistakes With Lake Will Only Cost More In Long Run.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial written by Thomas P. Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference, encouraging the cessation of sewage discharges into Onondaga Lake from the Metro Sewage Treatment Plant. In 1966, the County decided against constructing a main to discharge waste into the Seneca River instead of the Lake after it was determined that the sewage effluent was needed to dilute waste from Solvay Process Co. The closure of Allied has “effectively isolated METRO as the dominant source of pollution to the lake.” The May 1992 report on Onondaga Lake stated, “The most effective measure to reduce pollution loads to Onondaga Lake is rerouting of METRO discharge.”   

1994    25 July “Put Lake Cleanup Plan On Ballot In November.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor asking Timothy Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference, to place the issue of lake cleanup onto a referendum, which the author is sure will be rejected, leaving Mulvey “as jobless as are many taxpayers.”

1994    27 July “Use Water From River To Give Lake Current.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor disagreeing with Timothy Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference. Mulvey has asserted that Syracuse should direct its sewage into the Seneca River rather than Onondaga Lake. The Author suggests pumping fresh water into the lake from the Seneca River instead, which will create a current in the lake and stop it from becoming “a cesspool.”

1994    30 July “No ‘One Thing’ Holds Key To Onondaga Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial written by Nicholas J. Pirro as a response to criticisms against Onondaga County published by Timothy Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference. Pirro criticizes Mulvey for simplifying the cleanup issue to sewage discharges and cites the magnitude of existing pollution in the lake.

1994    17 August        “Free Oxygen May Help Clean Onondaga Lake.” Letter to the Editor proposing that air be pumped into Onondaga Lake rather than costly pure oxygen. POST STANDARD.

1994    27 August        “$8 Million Snafu Hits Local Lake Cleanup.” The promised federal funding for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake has been reduced by $8 million. POST STANDARD.

1994   1 September     “Lake Politics.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial harshly criticizing Timothy Mulvey for politicizing the issue of cleaning up Onondaga Lake and compromising “the independence of his office.”

1994    3 September    “Slime Coats Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The largest batch of blue-green algae growth seen in twenty-five years has appeared on Onondaga Lake. The algae has permeated the first twenty-five feet of water in the lake across nearly the entire surface. Blue-green algae are believed to be flourishing in the lake due to the presence of zooplankton, which consume other varieties of algae, and the fertilization of blue-green algae by overflows from Onondaga County’s sewage treatment plant.

1994   7 September     “Every Time You Flush You Add To Lake Woes.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor encouraging the present generation of Onondaga County residents to take some blame for the current pollution of the lake due to their sewage waste.

1994   12 September   “County Seeking Pros For Lake Cleanup Fight.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County has sent out 22 requests for proposals to law firms around the nation in its various lawsuits with Atlantic Sates Legal Foundation, the EPA, and Allied Corp. over the cleanup of Onondaga Lake.

1994   12 September   “More Red Tape.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Editorial condemning Congress for allocating $2.7 million to the DEC to coordinate the cleanup of Onondaga Lake, the exact job it created the Onondaga Lake Management Conference to do in 1990. “no money will be spent on cleaning up the lake,” only creating a bureaucracy to manage the cleanup and run further studies on the lake’s sources of pollution. “Maybe if we use all the paper from all the studies, we could just blot up the pollution.”

1994   13 September   “Use Dam To Make Lake On Onondaga Nation.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor encouraging the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to use the dam in the Onondaga Reservation to “create a lake” for mud boils that plague Onondaga Lake “to settle.” The lake could also act as “a worthwhile recreation spot for the Onondagas.”

1995    8 June  “Complex Issues Confront County, State On Onondaga Lake Cleanup.” Editorial by Nicholas J. Pirro, county executive, defending Onondaga County’s cleanup of the lake and criticizing Atlantic States Legal Foundation for simplifying the cleanup issue and disregarding the boundaries the county is forced to work within. POST STANDARD.

1995    13 June            “Lake Policy Recommends 25-Year Cleanup.” The Onondaga County Legislature has recommended postponing plans to pump treated sewage into Onondaga Lake for as long as 25 years. Currently, sewage effluent is discharged on the lake’s surface. POST STANDARD. 

1995    1 July  “County Fixates On Obstacles To Cleaner Onondaga Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Opinion piece by Donald J. Hughes, consultant for the Atlantic States Legal Foundation, criticizing Onondaga County for staying “focused on the obstacles and in the process, [spending] million of tax dollars on endless studies of the lake.” Hughes criticizes Onondaga County executive Nicholas J. Pirro for dismissing the positive effects rerouting sewage away from Onondaga Lake and into the Seneca River would have.

1995    19 July “Lake Cleanup Perspective Needed.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Opinion piece by Nicholas Pirro written in reply to Donald Hughes, consultant for Atlantic States Legal Foundation. Pirro defends his ongoing decision not to redirect Onondaga County sewage into Seneca River instead of Onondaga Lake, citing minimal benefits at tremendous costs.

1995    1 August          “Feds’ $15 Million May Flow To Lake—Lake Cleanup Funds OK’d By Assembly.” A $15 million spending bill has passed through the House that would provide money for the Onondaga Lake cleanup project. Plans to use the money to address sewage overflow were criticized by the executive director of the Onondaga Lake Management Conference, who stated that “the core of the problem with the lake is the Metro plant, so don’t tell the public that by fiddling with these second and third-tier problems…we’re going to see results.”  POST STANDARD.

1995    8 August          “Lawmakers Adopt ‘Road Map’ For Lake Cleanup.” The Onondaga County Legislature has voted to proceed with the cleanup of Onondaga Lake in small steps rather than massive projects. All work done on the county’s sewers will be done in small phases. Democrats criticized the adopted plan for failing to outline cost allocation and delaying all major improvements of the Metro treatment plant. POST STANDARD.

1995    9 August          “Senate Gives Final OK For $4 Million Lake Cleanup Project.” The U.S. Senate has approved $4 million for a new sewage treatment facility on Hiawatha Boulevard to capture sewage overflows. POST STANDARD.

1996    7 June  “Bond Has $75M For Lake Cleanup.” Gov. Pataki has introduced a $1.5 billion Environmental Bond Act to be submitted to lawmakers and voters. If approved, the act will allocate $75 million to the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. POST STANDARD.

1996   20 September   “Onondaga Lake Sours Voters On Environmental Bond.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. More than fifty citizens called into Syracuse Newspapers to voice their opinions on Governor Pataki’s proposed $1.75 billion environmental bond act. The response was “overwhelmingly against the bond act.” Many called said “they saw no reason to spend $75 million cleaning Onondaga Lake.” One citizen stated, “I don’t think if we spent $50 billion that we’d touch the pollution that’s there. We ought to leave it alone and let nature take its course over the next several hundred years.”

1997    12 June            “Pollution Can Stop, But Lake Can’t Be Cleaned.” Letter to the Editor condemning NYS and the city of Syracuse for its shifting of blame onto Solvay Process Co. for the pollution of Onondaga Lake. POST STANDARD.

1997    14 July “Lake Cleanup Plan Gets EPA Approval.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The EPA has approved a plan to up the Metro treatment plant that will bring the plant’s sewage discharges into compliance with water quality standards by 2012. Timothy Mulvey, executive director of the Onondaga Lake management conference, “vehemently opposes the plan” due to his belief that the proposed upgrades to the Metro plant will be insufficient in creating safe discharges. Onondaga County officials have expressed concerns that the plan gives too much power to state and federal agencies. Atlantic States Legal Foundation ahs also criticized the plan doing nothing but get government officials “off the hook” for their legal obligation to attempt to make discharges into Onondaga higher quality.

1997    21 July “Is Lake Cleanup Mired In Studies?” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. County Legislature Chairman Bill Sanford has called the issue of cleaning up Onondaga Lake “over studied.” Three hundred different studies on the lake have been preformed since the mid-1800s. More than half of those studies occurred after 1980. In 1991, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was given $435,000 to study and summarize past studies of the lake. Allied-Signal has spent $14.5 million since 1992 to study mercury pollution in the lake.

1997    25 July “Why Does County Insist On Fouling The Lake?” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor criticizing the Syracuse and Onondaga County politicians for refusing to stop the city’s dumping of sewage into Onondaga Lake.

1997    28 July “Pollution Changes Lake’s Ecosystem.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The pollution of Onondaga Lake is probably responsible for the disappearance of the Onondaga Lake whitefish, once considered a delicacy in Syracuse restaurants. Researchers primarily blame the pollution of calcium carbonate from Solvay/Allied-Signal, and also the phosphorous added by the sewage of Onondaga County.

1997    4 August          “Obstacles Confront Lakefront Project.” The development of the Onondaga lakefront has been delayed due to odors and the presence of hazardous waste, in addition to other economic issues. POST STANDARD.

1997    8 August          “Studying Onondaga Lake.” Letter to the Editor clarifying the purely research based and apolitical function of the Upstate Freshwater Institute. Another letter defends the large number of scientific studies that have been conducted on Onondaga Lake; the letter also attributes the lake’s pollution mostly to waste discharge. POST STANDARD.  Click

1997    12 August        “Mud Flows Persist in Onondaga Creek: An Onondaga Chief Recalls When his People Swam There; Allied Signal Denies Responsibility.” Syracuse Herald. OHA.  Interview with Irving Powless, Jr.  “’There used to be bass, trout, whitefish and suckers in the creek,’ Powless said. ‘That was in the 40s and 50s. I went into the service in 1950.  When I came home, nobody was swimming in the creek anymore because of the chocolate waters flowing through hear.’ Powless attributes the ‘chocolate’ water to the Tully Valley mud boils. . . .Powless blames Allied Signal Corp. for the mud boils and the resultant damage to Onondaga Creek. Allied mined brine in the Tully Valley for use at its Solvay soda ash plant.” Powless stood for this interview along Tully Farm Road, just north of  Savoy Road and south of the mud boils.  “For Powless, the fact that the water in the creek is clear until it mixes with the muddy sentiment from  the area around the mud boils is proof enough of Allied’s responsibility.

1997    13 August        “Cleanup Plan To Go Before Legislator—Proposed Lake Cleanup To Cost $350M-$400M.” Atlantic States Legal Foundation has approved a new proposal, to be submitted to the Onondaga County Legislature, to cleanup Onondaga Lake at a cost of $350-400 million to local, state, and federal taxpayers. The majority of the funds would go towards upgrading the Metropolitan plant. The Atlantic group claims that the county has done little to abate its sewage pollution of the lake in violation of the Clean Water Act. POST STANDARD.

1997    16 August        “Onondagas Pray For Sacred Lake.” Editorial written by Sean Kirst on the sacred nature of Onondaga Lake to the Onondaga Nation. Kirst asks his readers to imagine a world in which a foreign group conquered Jerusalem and dumped “raw human waste” on “the most sacred places,” which Kirst believes occurred when white Americans polluted Onondaga Lake. He calls the lake in the pre-colonial period a “spectacular beauty…the center for an indigenous religion.” He quotes Audrey Shenandoah, who approved of his Jerusalem analogy and expressed doubts about pending plans to clean the lake. Kirst states that the Onondaga believe that the Iroquois Peacemaker assembled the chiefs of the five Iroquois Nations on the shores of Onondaga Lake during his founding of the Iroquois Confederacy. Kirst notes that the Onondaga consider the 1795 sale of the lake for $400 to NYS an “illegal land grab.” Shenandoah told Kirst that he has memories of “the elder people saying how the lake wasn’t being respected, how some day all of this would turn on the (polluters).” Shenandoah also stated that the Onondaga “hold ceremonies now in which we mention the lake…there are ceremonies here that mention our hope for the return of the area, and mention our hope it will someday be cleaned up.”  POST STANDARD.

1997    21 August        “Group Sees Flaws In Plan To Clean Up Onondaga Lake.” The Upstate Freshwater Institute has expressed doubts that the new $380 million to clean Onondaga Lake will be successful in restoring the lake to meet federal clean water standards. UFI researchers criticized the plan as possessing “a loss of objectivity.” Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has promised not to lobby for federal funds for the project unless the plan meets federal water quality standards. The county plans to raise $120 million for the plan through increases in the county’s sewage unit charges.   POST STANDARD.

1997    21 August        “Lake Cleanup Plan Won’t Do The Job, Scientists Say.” Article summarizing the Upstate Freshwater Institute’s criticisms of the cleanup plan. POST STANDARD.

1997    25 August        “Harvest Dinner Set Sept. 14 At Ste. Marie Among The Iroquois.” The dinner will act as a fundraiser for the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake Guild. Iroquois will be present to discuss the history of the site. POST STANDARD.

1997    29 August        “Business Groups Back Proposal For Onondaga Lake.” The Metropolitan Development Association supported the new $380 million cleanup plan of Onondaga Lake, which finances the cleanup purely from tax revenue. POST STANDARD.

1997   8 September     “Critic: Lake Polluter To Monitor Itself.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Steven Effer, director of research for Upstate Freshwater Institute, has criticized the new cleanup plan for Onondaga Lake for allowing Onondaga County, the lake’s current largest polluter, to monitor its own compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. Effer also criticized the accuracy of the data being used by the county, stating that it contains faulty measurements of the lake’s pH and phosphorous levels. Onondaga County officials have responded by stating that there are adequate checks and balances built into the plan to ensure accurate monitoring on the part of the county.

1997   8 September     “Onondaga Lake Plan Latest Of Boondoogles.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Letter to the Editor criticizing the new $300 plan to clean Onondaga Lake as a “quick, expensive, partial fix” that will fail to remove mercury and other metals in the lake.

1997   18 September   “County Oks Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. A $380 million plan to make Onondaga Lake swimmable in 15 years has been approved by the Onondaga County legislature, thus officially ending the lawsuit filed against the county in 1988 by Atlantic States Legal Foundation. Robert Hennigan, one of the foremost researchers on the lake, criticized the plan vehemently for not adequately addressing sewage flows into the lake and stated he was “disappointed legislators approved the plan.” The plan will force the Metro treatment plant to remove more phosphorous and ammonia from its sewage discharges and will attempt to end sewage overflows into the lake. It will raise sewer bills by around 70% over the next twenty years.

force the Metro treatment plant to remove more phosphorous and ammonia from its sewage discharges and will attempt to end sewage overflows into the lake. It will raise sewer bills by around 70% over the next twenty years. Click here and here. 1997   23 September   “Volunteers Clear A View To Troubled Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Onondaga County Parks department has removed 10 years worth of overgrown brush and trees blocking the view of Onondaga Lake along the Onondaga Lake Parkway in order to showcase the true extent of the lake’s pollution

1998    2 July  “Lakefront Group Says Clean-Up Closer To Reality.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Lakefront Development Corporation, the firm that plants to redevelop 800 acres of land on the southern shore of Onondaga Lake, announced that their redevelopment plan was well under way. Officials expected that the foul odors of sewage would disappear by early next year, when odor controls are finished at the Metro plant.

1998    21 July “A Dead Lake Killed A Pioneer’s Dream.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Bob Hennigan, SUNY ESF professor and Onondaga Lake researcher, has encouraged the citizens of Syraucuse remind themselves that Onondaga Lake has always existed as “the focus and centerpiece of this community from the beginning.”

1998    23 July “Pirro Seeks Pact On Lake.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Onondaga County executive Nicholas Pirro has completed a project labor agreement that will send about 60-65% of the labor on the Onondaga Lake cleanup project to union companies.

1998    28 July “Lake Cleanup Pact Angers Contractors.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Non-union contractors have spoken out against the labor agreement pushed by Onondaga County executive Nicholas Pirro that will reserve most of the contracting jobs created by the $380 million cleanup of Onondaga Lake for unionized labor, calling it anticompetitive. Pirro believes the agreement will save the city money by preventing the emergence of labor disputes that could slow down the cleanup.

1998    29 July “Who Legally Owns Syracuse?” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. The Onondaga hope to file their land claim suit for 100-square-miles by the end of the year. Article describes Onondaga Lake as “one of the Onondaga’s holiest sites…it was there, according to the Iroquois faith, that the Peacemaker assembled Iroquois chiefs. He gave them the Great Law that still guides traditional Iroquois.”

1998    6 August          “Lake Cleanup Plan Creates Labor Mess—All Workers Would Pay Union Dues, Obey Union Rules.” The new Onondaga Lake cleanup plan has ignited tensions between union and non-union labor. The plan requires that 75% of workers on the cleanup site be unionized, infuriating non-union contractors. Union workers claim that the clause exists to ensure that jobs are given to community laborers.  POST STANDARD.

1998    28 August        “Open Shops Claim Cleanup Savings.” Open-shop (non-union) contractors have promised to save Onondaga County $40 million if the county agrees to remove a clause in the Onondaga lake cleanup proposal requiring the county to hire 75% union workers for the project.  POST STANDARD.

1998   29 September   “Pataki Adds $20M To Lake Cleanup.” Post Standard. Porter Files, Batch 2. Governor Pataki has promise $5.8 million in state funds to Onondaga County for combined sewer overflow facilities, $5.9 million for sewer piping, $1.2 million to test sewage treatment disinfection technologies, $1.1 million to reline sewer pipes, $4.8 million to improve the Metro treatment plant, and $1.2 million to remove ammonia from Onondaga Lake.

1999    25 June            “Now You Can Eat Onondaga Lake’s Fish—Onondaga Lake’s Fish Grow More Diverse.” State officials have lifted a 27-year warning on the safe consumption of Onondaga Lake fish, but continued to advise that residents do not consume the fish more than once a month. Children and women of childbearing age are not advised to consume any of the lake’s fish. A Syracuse University expert in mercury decried the lifting of the warning as premature. POST STANDARD. 

1999    3 August          “DEC: Botulism Killed Onondaga Lake Ducks.” 55 ducks found dead near Onondaga Lake last month were killed by botulism and not blue-green algae, as previously believed.  POST STANDARD.

1999    10 August        “Native History Museum Planned.” A Native American museum will be constructed near Onondaga Lake in order to “demonstrate the importance of Onondaga Lake to the Onondaga,” according to the Nation’s lawyer, Joseph Heath. The idea of the museum is credited to conversations held between the late Leon Shenandoah and Metropolitan Development Associate chairman Stephen Rogers “about eight years ago” as a means to reduce the negative press associated with Iroquois land claims. The Onondaga claim that the Peacemaker gave the Iroquois Chiefs the Great Law on the shores of Onondaga Lake.

1999    11 August        “Onondagas Get MDA Backing For Museum.” Metropolitan Development Association leaders   have agreed to help the Onondaga Nation seek funding to build a museum near Onondaga Lake after listening to an appeal by Chief Irving Powless Jr.  POST STANDARD. 

2000 5 January           “Federal Expert Visits to Get to Bottom of Lake Debate: Water Expert’s Visit is part of a Promise from Clintons’ Summer Vacation,” Post Standard.

2000    2 June  “Don’t Give Up On Lake Cleanup.” Letter to the Editor from a SUNY ESF Professor criticizing cleanup groups for inefficiencies and the conditions imposed upon the cleanup (the Metro must continue to discharge into Onondaga Lake and improvements to the Metro must occur onsite) as delaying an “optimal solution” to the lake problem. Author also criticizes the current cleanup plan for exclusively focusing on sewage pollution to the lake instead of industrial pollution.  POST STANDARD.

2000    6 August          “From Empire To Reservation—How The Onondagas Lost Their Land More Than 200 Years Ago—Revolutionary War Split Iroquois Nations.” Introduction to the Post Standard’s series on the history of the Onondaga. Picture of Sid Hill in full ceremonial dress standing on the shore of Onondaga Lake, with caption: “The Onondagas consider the polluted lake sacred because the Iroquois Confederacy was formed on its shores centuries ago.” Article views the American Revolution as the first instance of conflict between Iroquois peoples after the formation of the Confederacy, citing the 177 Battle of Oriskany. “After the Revolutionary War ended, the Iroquois never regained the unity or power they enjoyed before the Great Peace was shattered.”  POST STANDARD.

2000    9 August          “Lake Partnership Sets Sail Under Army Corps’ Command.” Government and conservation officials will gather for a public signing ceremony of the Onondaga Lake Partnership charter.  POST STANDARD.

The Church of the Dead

I have not posted to this blog as much as I have in the past. I am on sabbatical, working on a history of the Onondaga Nation that I began long ago. I won’t finish it during the semester I have off–it is just too big a project–but I hope to make some substantial progress.

I have been working my way through the Jesuit Relations, the annual writings of the French priests who began ministering to the Haudenosaunee in the middle of the seventeenth century. The first Jesuits arrived at Onondaga, at the very center of the Iroquois League, in 1654. They remained even after many of the converts left for mission settlements in the St. Lawrence Valley. After most of the devoted left, Father Jean de Lamberville found himself facing the Onondagas’ “ill humor and savage whims,” as well as their outright rejection. “The chief fruit that I have gathered,” he wrote, “has been among the dying.” Mostly, he baptized dying children. “This is the most certain fruit we gather in this country,” he wrote, “where it is desirable that the children should die before obtaining the use of their reason.” It is a constant theme in Lamberville’s writings. “The Church of Onnontague,” he wrote, “has been blessedly diminished this year by the death of some Christians who have gone to increase the number of the blessed.” Because of his medical skills, Lamberville often was granted access to the sick. Few of these “escape who are not baptized before they die.”

Lamberville baptized thirty-nine Onondagas in 1671, “twenty of them entering, soon after, into the possession of glory.” Of the twenty-seven people he baptized in 1672, “They all died, with the exception of three.” In 1673, he baptized eight “aged persons,” all but one of whom died. In a letter to his superiors written in June 1676, Lamberville reported that he recently had baptized forty-five children, “forty of whom are before God.” He admired, he wrote, the ways God adopted “for the salvation of his elect,” as he presided over a church composed of dead children.

We are facing a national crisis in history education, as Republican lawmakers across the country rush to downplay the Holocaust, erase slavery, deny the diversity of this country’s many stories, and proscribe the teaching of ideas they find suspect. History can be difficult work at times, carried on in defiance of those frightened men and women who worry that a frank discussion of our nation’s sins may not lead to forgiveness. And at times, writing history can be emotionally exhausting.

Just Kids: The Story of Two Onondaga Women who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School

THEY WERE JUST KIDS. That is something that leaps off the page when you look at their student files. Delia and Florence Edwards, two Onondaga sisters, arrived at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in December of 1909 and May of 1910, respectively. Delia was fourteen years old, Florence 13.

            They were not dragged to Carlisle. State officials did not forcefully remove them from their homes. Like many of the young people who came to Carlisle, a parent signed them up.  The girls attended the Onondaga Nation School for a couple of years, and then the Mindenville School District in the Mohawk Valley before they came to Carlisle.  By the time the girls arrived, Carlisle required all students to have had several years of prior schooling and fluency in English. David Russel Hill, an Onondaga chief, the leader of the Onondaga Indian Band, and an advocate for Indian education, wrote on both of the girls’ applications that they had “advanced beyond the required studies.” If they wished to continue their schooling, he suggested, Carlisle may have been the best and the only opportunity open to them.

RECENT MONTHS have witnessed the discovery of more than 1300 unmarked graves at the site of a number of Canadian residential schools. The discoveries, according to a story that ran in the Ottawa Citizen, are proof of what First Nations people have been saying for a long time: “That Canada’s Indian Residential Schools spent nearly a century overseeing shockingly high rates of death among their students, with the bodies of the dead routinely withheld from their families and home communities.”  In part because of the outcry these discoveries sparked, the American Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced an initiative to “address the inter-generational impact of Indian boarding schools to shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be.” Haaland cautioned that the work would be difficult and time-consuming. Nothing, she said, will “undo the heartbreak and loss we feel.” Nonetheless, she said, “only by acknowledging the past can we work toward a future that we’re all proud of.”

            The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative will investigate “the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of residential Indian boarding schools.” These schools, said Bryan Newland, the Principal Deputy Assistant for Indian Affairs, were intended to “culturally assimilate Indigenous children by forcibly relocating them from their families and communities to distant residential facilities where their American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian identities, languages, and beliefs were to be forcibly suppressed.”  “Hundreds of thousands” of Indian children, Newland said, were taken from their communities. The Interior Department will work to collect the relevant documents, locate possible burial sites, and try to set the record straight.”

            This is a worthwhile project, one of the only times in American history where an agency of the federal government has pledged to take an honest look at its history, collect the evidence, and allow for a true accounting of this part of the nation’s past. It is stunning, really. Having spent much of my work time the last year or so reading through Carlisle student files, this will be complicated and in many ways difficult work.  And it may force many people to reconsider what they know to be true about Indian boarding schools.

CARLISLE WAS ABOUT 250 MILES south of the Onondaga Nation Territory, so Delia and Florence traveled less far than most of the 10,000 students who attended the school between 1879, when it opened, and 1918, when it closed.

            It is difficult to discern much about the girls’ lives before Carlisle.  Their Onondaga mother had died from heart disease, and they were being raised by their Mohawk father on the Nation Territory. We know which schools they attended, and that they were Protestants, though the denomination is not clear.

            A military officer named Richard Henry Pratt founded the school to “kill the Indians and save the man.”  Speaking to a gathering of Baptist ministers in 1883, Pratt said that “in Indian Civilization, I am a Baptist, because I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under holding them until they are thoroughly soaked.” The best that Pratt could see in the thousands of young Native Americans who attended Carlisle was that with proper training they might be formed into something else, and he boasted of his ability to do just that.

Carlisle’s Founder, Richard Henry Pratt

            Pratt was an energetic and effective promoter of the school. He produced before and after photographs of Carlisle students, the first depicting the child in their traditional dress, the second with their hair cut, their faces cleaned, and dressed in Carlisle’s school uniform. Pratt claimed that Carlisle took “savage” and “wild” Indians and transformed them into civilized individuals, ready for citizenship and productive employment in the American republic.  His school, according to a newspaper article announcing its opening, “will endeavor to save the Indians from extermination by educating young Indians, who can grow up to be leaders of their people and direct them to civilization.”  In reality, the largest numbers of students came from Iroquois communities, eastern Cherokees, and the Oneidas in Wisconsin.  These young people spoke and wrote in English when they arrived, were members of Christian denominations, and familiar with farming.

            Pratt needed to promote his efforts. Contrary to popular belief, policy-makers began to criticize off-reservation boarding schools as educational institutions. Early twentieth century commissioners of Indian Affairs and secretaries of the interior, for instance, much preferred reservation day schools, which were less expensive because they allowed children to return home at the end of the day, and because they better prepared the students for life in American society. Francis Leupp, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, wrote in 1905 that “it is a great mistake to try, as many good persons of bad judgment have tried, to start the little ones in the path of civilization by snapping all the ties of affection between them and their parents, and teaching them to despise the aged and nonprogressive members of their families.” Pratt retired five years before the Edwards sisters arrived, at a time when boarding schools faced a steady drumbeat of criticism from reformers, political leaders, and of course Native peoples themselves, who viewed them as retrograde institutions, dated and of questionable value compared to the benefits of schools closer to home.

            Students at Carlisle spent only some of their time on school grounds. Much of their time was spent on their various “Outing” placements, where they were sent to live with white families to learn a craft or a trade or, in the case of women, basic housewifery.  If they were old enough, they attended schools near their patrons’ home.  Delia attended Moorestown High School in New Jersey, and Florence attended Haddonfield High.

            Delia’s patrons found her “headstrong and self-willed,” but capable of doing well when she tried.  Another thought she was “a great child and tries to please.” Florence spent time in Jenkinstown and Kennet Square, Pennsylvania, and at a couple of sites in New Jersey.  One of her patrons, in 1910, told the Carlisle field agent, whose job it was to check in on students, that “Florence is not satisfactory, she is not very strong, is at a critical period in her life.” The thirteen year old was “willing,” but just not capable, in the eyes of her patron, to provide enough help.  “She is very untidy about her person & work.”  A year later, however, a new patron in Beverley, New Jersey, reported that she was very fond of Florence, and found her “a good obedient child, a little slow, but tries and is improving.”

One of Delia Edwards’ records cards, listing her outing assignments and patrons’ addresses.

            Florence may have struggled at times during her placements, but she took advantage of the opportunities Carlisle presented. She wrote for the student newspaper. She received a prize for one of her essays from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  She was an active member of Carlisle’s YWCA chapter, and at one meeting led the students in a lecture on “the heroes of the Bible.” She was also a member of the Mercers, where she practiced “Declamation.”  IN 1914, she gave a reading in the auditorium of her essay, “Is it Worth While?” (The paper gave no sense of what “it” was). In January of 1915 she led the Protestant service at the school “and also gave a fine little talk.” She must have been a magnetic figure, filled with charisma. People liked her.

            Both of the girls went home for the summer of 1915.  By September they were back at school and both had moved on to their next placements.  In October of 1915, the Carlisle Arrow ran a report of students staying in the school’s hospital.  Florence “who came in from the county,” was one of them.  She was “now up,” and, according to Agnes Owl, “was only lonesome for Carlisle.”

            Turned out it was much more serious.  Florence had contracted tuberculosis, the dread disease that killed 194 out of every 100,000 Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. Lawrence Edwards, her father, began to hear that his daughter was ill. In November he wrote to the school’s superintendent, asking for information.  He had heard nothing from Florence, but “others are telling me she is sick.” Two weeks later, on the sixth of December in 1915, the Superintendent wrote back. Florence was cured, but he told Mr. Edwards that he thought it advisable “to let your daughter…have a complete rest in order that she regain her physical strength.” He was sending her home to Onondaga.

            Delia, it turned out, was sick as well. Mrs. Lippincott, one of her patrons, sent Delia to the hospital.  She complained of abdominal pain. It was appendicitis, and she had surgery in November.  She recovered well. While Florence journeyed home to rest, Delia returned to her patron. She wanted to go back to Carlisle. She wrote to her friend Lucy Lenoir, a Chippewa student.  The letters are wonderful.  Delia was a relentless kidder, always ready to affectionately tease her friend.  And she was bored to tears at times doing housework for her patron. “I wish we could be there for the social which will be the last Saturday” of January. Earlier, she told Lucy, she had broken up with her boyfriend. “We certainly would make a hit on some swell guys,” she wrote.  But getting back to Carlisle was more difficult than it should have been.  The superintendent saw no reason for her to return to the school. Her patrons reported that her work was good, and that she was succeeding in her studies.  Delia told Lucy that “I am so darn sick of country life I believe I’d die if I stay here much longer.” Maybe, she wrote, “I’ll play sick and see if I can’t go back to Carlisle.”  She missed her friends. A short time later she wrote to Lucy again, saying “Dearie, I have no idea where I will be when you open this letter, but if I am not in my grave I will be at dear old Carlisle.”

            Delia would not make it back to Carlisle until June. In May of 1916, Lawrence wrote to the superintendent.  “My daughter Florence is very low now and I wish to have Delia come to her before anything happens.” Delia was summoned back to the school, where she arrived on the First of June. She returned home to the Nation Territory on June 6.

One month later, Florence died. “She had been ill for about ten months,” Delia wrote. “She certainly wanted to get well so she could return to Carlisle in the fall to graduate with her class next spring.”  She told the superintendent that it was hard for her to lose a sister.  “Father and I are trying our best to bear it,” she wrote, “but life is not ours so we will have to take things as they come.”  Her sister had returned to Carlisle from her outing assignment with a fatal illness. The school’s records document the names of the children who died there. Still, Delia could not wait to return.  Like many of the Onondagas who attended Carlisle, she missed the school when she was not there. She was nineteen years old. In the very same letter in which she expressed her grief at her sister’s death, she told the Superintendent that “I will try to return the latter part of September to Carlisle to continue my studies.” She wanted to “be placed with the graduating class as I certainly worked hard this winter with my studies at the Moorestown High School.”  She wanted confirmation that she could return, so she asked the superintendent to “let me know if I can be entered in the ‘Fourth Year vocational’ class and I will return just as soon as I can before I get too far behind with my studies.” She hoped as well that the school would consider admitting her stepsister Elsie.  Carlisle mattered to Delia.

The last letter in Delia’s Carlisle file, announcing Florence’s death, and how she wanted to recover well enough to return.

She never returned to “dear old Carlisle.” She was told that she did not have “sufficient credits to enter the class which is to complete the course in another year.”  She should return to Moorestown High School and then, at “the opening of the year you will be given the opportunity to take whatever work for which you are prepared.” Her last date of attendance was listed as May 31, 1916. It is not hard to believe that when Carlisle closed a short time later, she may have seen this as a loss for her people. As Onondaga chief Jesse Lyon asked, “Why was Carlisle closed? Nobody know,” he said.   “Too good for Indian, maybe, but that is what Indian needs.”

THE STORY OF CARLISLE is not a simple one. As historians we know to be attuned to ambiguity and ambivalence.  It is proper to view boarding schools as American institutions directed toward cultural genocide—the erasure of Native American culture, values, and beliefs.  It attempted to play that role.  But it did not always succeed. Students were homesick, at times.  Some ran away from the school, especially the boys. Some returned to their communities feeling as if they no longer belonged. Yet there were Onondagas who ran away from home to get to Carlisle.  Some of those runaways were not heading home, but to visit girlfriends.  It is proper then, to view Carlisle as well as a flawed institution which Native American students attended to receive an education and learn crafts and trades, or to play sports or to play music, opportunities that were often closed to them elsewhere.  More than one thing can be true at a time. Carlisle took and it gave, but it neither destroyed nor erased, the Onondagas who attended it between 1879 and 1918. The Interior Department’s Boarding School Initiative will need to be attuned to the school’s ambivalent legacy.

“I Have Just Killed My Wife”

The newspaper coverage may as well have said that Mrs. Smith had it coming.

            Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by something that you read? Those of you who do historical research, I will wager, can answer this question easily in the affirmative. It happened to me again early last week. And like a deep scratch, I am feeling it days later.

            I had been listening to as set of audio recordings housed at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. An Onondaga woman named Lucenda George sat down with the anthropologist Fred Lukoff in 1950 and told him about life on the Nation Territory, just a bit south of Syracuse, New York. Mrs. George spoke her native language but in several dozen of the recordings, she translated what she said into English, line by line, as Lukoff advanced the tape in small segments.

            Mrs. George told stories about Onondaga clothing and food.  She told Lukoff about working in factories in Syracuse during the first World War.  She told him about a band of gypsies camped on the reservation, and about how she drove a taxi for a time in Syracuse. There was one about the young white woman who boarded with her who wanted to become a missionary.  She spoke about locusts, an occasional delicacy the Onondagas fried in a pan with butter and salt. Don’t criticize, Mrs. George suggested, if you’ve ever eaten and enjoyed a lobster.

            One of the stories was “About a Murder.” Mrs. George told the tale of an Onondaga man who had murdered his Onondaga wife.  “It must be about two years ago that happened,” she said. “This man killed his wife with a knife. He kept pushing the knife in her throat until she died.”  He was tried, and then he was acquitted.  Then, according to Mrs. George, he left the Nation Territory, abandoned his three children, “and nobody knows where he is now.”

            This story surprised me.  I had spent a great deal of time reading through every newspaper story I could find about the Onondagas in the Syracuse newspapers and in other newspapers that covered central New York.  I had not seen this. Perhaps I missed it.  I went back to the papers, and I looked.  It took me only a few minutes. On December 10, 1948, Edwin Smith murdered his Onondaga wife.

            One source, a seventy-year old digitized copy of a reel-to-reel tape of a story told by Lucenda George, clicks into place with the newspaper coverage of a brutal crime. A fuller picture comes into view.

            Edwin Smith had been struggling, that’s for sure.  According to coverage in the Syracuse Post-Standard, several hours before Smith murdered his wife, he entered the grocery store in Nedrow, just off the Nation Territory, owned and operated by Justice of the Peace Darwin N. Camp.  Smith had left the Onondaga County Penitentiary on the first of December after having served a sixty-day term for assault.  Now, he told Camp, “I am in trouble again.”

           That evening Smith took his wife to a dance.  According to Mrs. George, people were drinking. Smith and his wife were drinking, too.  “She got up on the table,” Mrs. George said, and “took all her clothes off, and there she stood without a stitch of clothing on her.” She started dancing. Mr. Smith was so embarrassed that he left, but there was a man outside who told him to go back inside, get his wife, and take her home. So he did. He told her to get dressed, and he took her home. He continued to drink when they got there.  Then he stabbed her twenty-one times, the lethal blow severing her jugular vein.  He called the police, told them he had killed his wife. His three children, ages 8, 6, and 4, were sleeping in the other room.  He killed their mother “because he couldn’t stand it any longer,” Mrs. George said. “Everything just went black.”

            The newspapers reported on Mrs. Smith’s infidelity.  Mrs. George said that “when they first married she was a very good girl,” but after a while “she got mixed up with this bad company.”  Smith’s defense attorney presented a case of temporary insanity. A psychologist testified that Smith suffered from a “disassociated personality” when he stabbed his wife to death, and that as a result, he “was not able to understand the nature of his act.”  Testifying to Smith’s “peaceful and quiet nature” was the Thadodaho of the Six Nations George Thomas, along with Onondaga Nation treasurer Davis Greene, Chief Jesse Lyons, Elizabeth Powless, and the Methodist minister Livingston Crouse. They all accepted the argument that Mrs. Smith’s infidelity had produced in Mr. Smith so much pain and anguish that he could not justly be held responsible for his actions.  It took the jury of nine men and three women less than four hours to reach its verdict at the beginning of March in 1949.  Not guilty.  “At the trial,” Mrs. George said, “the sentiment was all for him because of his wife’s terrible deed. I am speaking of the white people now. They were for him.” The jury accepted that a wife’s infidelity could drive a husband so crazy that he could get away with murder.

            Mrs. George said that Mr. Smith left the Nation after his acquittal. “This man who has gone away nobody knows where he is, whether he is alive or dead, [and] he has never written to ask if everybody is all right here.” It turns out that he went to Syracuse.  His three children were raised in foster care. They went through a lot.  A friend on the Nation Territory who knows its history well told me that the youngest child “grew up damaged” and has passed away.

You likely have noticed what is missing from this account.  What about Mrs. Smith? Catherine? With all the support shown to Edwin, it is easy to lose track of her. Smith’s defense attorney argued that Mrs. Smith’s infidelity drove him temporarily insane. The chiefs and a Christian minister, in telling the jury that Edwin was a good guy, endorsed this view, even if the record clearly demonstrates his use of violence as a solution to his problems. The jury accepted as perfectly reasonable the argument that a wife’s infidelity can drive a man so insane that he might stab her twenty-one times. Everyone seemed to think that Mrs. Smith had it coming. Was she beaten, neglected, ignored, and tortured in her marriage? Her motives are completely absent, and that is heartbreaking.

            And that is what I carry with me as I think about a murder that took place on an Indian reservation seventy-two years ago. The children—I find it hard to believe that all three of them slept through the slaughter—in one vicious night lost both of their parents.  I can only imagine their pain, confusion, and anger. And that of Mrs. Smith–Catherine–as she attempted to fight off her killer.  People on the Onondaga Nation said “they could hear her scream all the way down the road.”

Goodbye, Columbus

This past Thursday, the Onondaga Nation issued a statement on the notorious statue of Christopher Columbus located in Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse. They did so at the invitation of a Syracuse Inter-Faith Commission, and as a contribution to the 23-member panel that will issue recommendations to the mayor about what to do by the end of the summer. The Onondaga Nation’s statement is worth your time and attention.

The Nation expressed their hope that “through diplomacy, discussion, and open minds, these discussions will lead to a positive solution for the future of Syracuse with inclusion for all people to live in peace as neighbors and brothers.” They looked forward to “an outcome that will encourage peace, understanding, and the united brotherhood exemplifying the foundation of cooperation, peace, and equality for the generations yet to come.” They reminded Syracusans that the city stood in the heart of what was once their homeland, the site of the central council fire of the Haudenosaunee, and that the Onondaga Nation “carries a great responsibility in the continued existence of our sovereign government.” The Nation’s “traditional teachings are morally dignified and highly principled in peace and democracy and our way of life means being ever thankful for the many gifts of our mother earth. We are,” the statement reads, “people culturally mandated to respectfully live as caretakers of Mother Earth and as equals to all beings within the natural realm.” Anyone who knows anything about the history of Syracuse knows that the City and its people have seldom lived up to these ideals.

The statement struck a conciliatory and diplomatic tone in addressing the City’s Italian-American community, which has raised money to keep the Columbus statue right where it is.

We fully understand the wishes of the Italian American community to honor their heritage, but it is burdensome for the people of Onondaga to see Christopher Columbus memorialized with a statue.   Within our lands and hearts, finding equality and peace is difficult knowing the hardships our ancestors endured as a consequence of his campaign. Our own monuments, beautiful lakes, streams, rivers, and the earth itself, has suffered greatly as a direct result principle of the Doctrine of Discovery to which Columbus used to claim the lands in the name of the Spanish crown.

The power of the pen favors the writers of history. In truth, what was “discovered” on this continent we know as Turtle Island were well established independent nations of indigenous peoples.  People living within their respected ways of life in accordance with their individual cultures. As indigenous people, we are taught of the exploits of Columbus while our own history was being unheard, misunderstood, and often erased.

The Onondagas thought it best that the statue be removed. The space it occupies might be repurposed to better ends.

At this crucial time in our joint history with the need for unity and compassion at hand, we ask ourselves is honoring the heritage of the Columbus righteous and just? Should we continue to ignore all the different peoples who suffered enumerable atrocities? We think not. We know we are not responsible for the transgressions of our ancestors, but it is never the wrong time to do the right thing. The Onondaga Nation does not wish anyone’s culture or heritage to be affronted in the manner ours have suffered; but to find a way to allow the space currently occupied by the Columbus statue to be reinvented and reenergized into a symbol of unity for all.

The statement concludes with a call to find a good mind, to come together and find a consensus and a solution “in which all the peoples who call Syracuse home may find a way to continue to honor each other’s heritage and cultures.”

There is a lot going on in this document. Columbus appears in it as both myth and symbol, as something more than a historical figure. I have written about this “mythical Columbus,” and the functions these myths serve, on this blog in the past. For Italian-Americans Columbus serves as a symbol of freedom and a hero whose experience shows that Italians are important in American history, and that Italians were present at the very creation of the American Nation. In reality, we know that Columbus was an aggressive slaver who never set foot in North America. For Native peoples, Columbus is made to stand in for all the burdens suffered by Indigenous peoples. To the Onondagas’ charge that Columbus was responsible for “the hardships our ancestors endured as a consequence of his campaign,” a historian might argue that Columbus never came close to the Longhouse. He did nothing to you, and neither to “the lakes, streams, rivers, and to the earth himself.” Those who followed him did loads of damage, but that is a longer and more complicated story. “The Doctrine of Discovery,” which according to the Onondaga Nation Statement “Columbus used to claim the lands in the name of the Spanish Crown,” was as much a justification for colonization drawn up centuries later than it was license for empire: Indigenous peoples paid no attention to papal bulls and colonial charters, and the European “Ceremonies of Possession,” as historian Patrica Seed called them, were performed for other Europeans, not native peoples. The work of colonization was brutal and violent, but the process in North America especially was a remarkably unintellectual process. The Doctrine of Discovery mattered little on the ground in the Americas, where Native peoples retained the power to ignore it. Indeed one can find many instances of Haudenosaunee orators dressing down Europeans and their pretentious claims to discovery and conquest.

But there is a problem with these arguments. One of the things that has struck me as I have worked on a history of the Onondaga Nation is the Nation’s willingness and ability to speak for Indigenous America writ large, and to have Native North America listen. The Onondagas always have carried more influence than their relatively small numbers would lead one to believe. And for the Onondagas and their allies, the problem with the Columbus statue in Syracuse is precisely the things he has come to symbolize for all Indigenous peoples: the well-documented and undeniable brutality of European colonization, and a campaign erasure, violence, and exploitation that has lasted centuries, from 1492 to the present. With its feet on the heads of Indigenous peoples with Plains Indian Headdresses, and with its friezes depicting Columbus as both hero and conqueror, the statue is a grotesque and graphic celebration of five hundred years’ of genocide, and an white-washing of the viciousness of the Columbian Encounter in the Caribbean.

The Onondagas would like to see the statue removed. They are not alone in this. But they spoke to the people of Syracuse as neighbors. They acknowledged the position of the city’s Italian-American community. But in terms similar to what has been done with the Skä۰noñh Great Law of Peace Center, which repurposed an old living-history museum representing the Jesuits called Ste. Marie Among the Iroquois, the Onondagas spoke of working together in a unified manner to give new meaning to the space occupied by the Columbus statue, to allow it to “be reinvented and reenergized into a symbol of unity for all.”

When the Onondagas filed their “land rights action” more than fifteen years ago, they stated their wish to “bring about a healing between themselves and all others who live in this region that has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time.” At a time when groups like Upstate Citizens for Equality were ginning up white peoples’ fears of being dispossessed by Native Americans in Cayuga and Oneida territory, the Nation made clear that it wanted justice and an acknowledgment of their rights to the lands taken in violation of United States law, but that “we will not displace any of our neighbors—the Onondaga know all too well the pain of being forced to leave our homes and do not wish that on anyone.”

There is a long history informing the Onondaga Nation statement. In its demonstration of the Nation’s leaders’ diplomatic skill, and the tactfulness with which the Nation’s leaders assert their will, and in its call for cooperatively defining and sharing space, it echoes themes that run throughout the long history of the Onondaga Nation, and especially in its relations to the non-Indigenous community of what has become over time Central New York. In the relationship between Syracuse and the Onondagas over many, many years, the Onondagas have often been been better neighbors to the City than the City has been to them. The City has expressed a willingness to listen, but acting on what it hears might be difficult. There are many who want the statue preserved. Let’s hope that the Mayor’s commission approaches its work with a good mind, and a desire to be good neighbors to the Onondaga Nation.

Covid-19 and Writing History: The Stories We Tell

What stories will we tell about this pandemic spring, and how will this time of dislocation, isolation and, in places, overwhelming grief, shape the stories we historians tell about those pasts we choose to investigate? The answers to these questions are always more connected than we care to admit.

There are of course the daily stories of the blundering incompetence of our most craven President, who fiddled while the virus burned up much of what seemed familiar and comfortable.  There are his brazen lies, his attempts to rewrite the past and erase his many denials of the magnitude of the health threat we all face, and his failure to deliver even a fraction of the testing kits he asserted would be ready by now.  Beside the stories of this president’s cowardice and malfeasance, there are the stories of heroic health care workers, doing battle against the virus often without the equipment that might allow them to do their work with less risk.  Of course there are the stories of those who have suffered and died, and those who grieve these deaths. There are many more of these stories yet to be written, I am afraid.  Anyone with the eyes to see knows this to be true. These stories can overwhelm if we let them.

            At home, I attempt to steal away moments here and there to work on the book project that has kept me busy for many years now.  It may be my last book.  Sometimes I feel that way when I consider the scope and scale of the project. The project gets bigger while my world, in a sense, becomes smaller. I work from home. I no longer encounter my students face-to-face, bump into colleagues, or visit libraries and archives. I keep my distance from others to keep myself safe. The world seems limited and constrained.

            When I attempt to look at this project in all its breadth, I find myself distracted, restless and anxious. Working on a project this broad requires me to think of the future, to make plans and set goals. I feel strange doing that now. It is only when I step back and slow down, and when I take a look at the small stories, that I am able to focus and devote some energy to my research.  I look at the smallest pieces of the puzzle, the most interesting pebbles on a beach of enormous expanse.

In January of 1907, Harrison Hill, a teenager from Onondaga shot and killed his brother-in-law Elijah Peters on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, located about halfway between Rochester and Buffalo in western New York.  Hill had attended the Thomas Indian School on the Senecas’ Cattaraugus reservation beginning when he was eight years old.  I have not been able to reconstruct all his movements. He left Thomas after four years.  A half decade later he got himself into some kind of trouble, and ended up at the state industrial school in Rochester.  The school’s records are housed at the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester, but the archives are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.  All I know for sure is that once he got free or escaped or finished his term, he made his way to Tonawanda to live with his sister and her husband.  His mother joined him there shortly thereafter. 

            It is not clear to me exactly what happened next. I am certain that after some sort of confrontation that involved Hill asking Peters for money, Peters asked Hill to leave his house.  Some time later, Hill shot Peters as he exited the house, delivering to his brother-in-law the fatal wound.

            In every account Hill is described as educated and stunningly good looking. But sullen, and angry, as well.  After the shooting, he ran for it. Neither his sister nor his mother claimed to know where he had gone, but the police never believed them. They thought that he could be hiding in Syracuse, or on the Onondaga Nation territory, where he still had relatives. The police offered a reward for his capture, and two days later a sheriff captured him near the farm of a guy named Byron Gardner in Wyoming County.  According to the report in the Buffalo Courier, Hill “was walking in the road when he met the officer, armed with a loaded revolver from which two cartridges had been fired, and the sheriff believes that had the prisoner known him he would have had difficulty capturing him.”  Hill did not know that Peters had died.  The Courier reporter wrote that

 Hill is nineteen years of age, bright and intelligent looking, neat in appearance and speaks good English. He at one time attended the Carlisle Indian School and wore several pins on his coat, one of which was a fraternity pin from Carlisle. On arriving at the jail, he made a complete confession of the crime.

There is no evidence that Hill ever attended Carlisle.  It is hard to say where he got these pins, but undoubtedly he had family members who had spent time in Pennsylvania.  The description of Hill’s confession paints a vibrant, if incomplete picture, of a young man who found himself in a great deal of trouble:

He says that on the morning of the day of the shooting Peters turned him out of the house and he has a very quick temper it made him very mad and he determined to get revenge by shooting him.  He says he went to Peters’ house in the evening and concealed himself behind a clump of bushes near the rear of the house and that when he saw Peters coming from the barn he took aim and fired the bullet.  He says he fired but once and then ran, and after going to his room at Johnson’s and getting a package he walked that night to Oakfield and Batavia, and then to LeRoy and south to Pavilion.  He says that Tuesday and Wednesday nights he slept in barns and finally reached Gardner’s farm where he found a job cutting wood.  He stayed at Gardner’s Thursday night.  When asked if he was sorry for what he had done he said he was not; that he did not care much. He takes his arrest cooly and does not appear to be at all concerned over his fate.”

Many Onondagas attended boarding school.  Some went to Thomas, the state-run institution that remained open into the 1950s. Others went to the infamous Carlisle School in Pennsylvania.  A small number went to schools elsewhere—Lincoln, in Philadelphia, or the Haskell Institute in Kansas, and some others that I cannot think of. Some of them struggled when they came home. Some put their skills to use and did well for themselves.  For many, attending Carlisle was a badge of honor—even Harrison Hill who never went there wore Carlisle pins on his jacket. 

            I do not know how Simeon George felt about his time at the boarding school  He arrived at Carlisle in 1893. His student record is sparse, little more than a couple of information cards.  He attended sporadically, going home at his parents’ request between each May and October. After May of 1896, he never returned to the school. As a 22-year old, he was too old to attend the school any longer.

            I have not been able to find out much about George and his life at Onondaga.  He doesn’t show up in the newspapers. I cannot travel to the Nation territory to talk to people there about him until the pandemic subsides.

            What I do know for sure that is on April 21 1907, while Harrison Hill sat in jail awaiting trial on charges of murder, George was in his home on the reservation, eating supper. A knock at the door. George answered It was a sheriff’s deputy from Madison County, Michael Mooney.

            Deputy Mooney told George to finish his supper, but to come outside when he was done. Mooney told him he would wait.  George finished his meal quickly, and grabbed his coat.  He placed a loaded revolver in his pocket. When the deputy put his hand on George’s shoulder, he pulled out the gun and fired, wounding Mooney in the shoulder. As Mooney fell, George fired again, hitting him in the back.

            George ran into the house, leaving Deputy Mooney for dead.  He told his nineteen-year-old wife Lydia Billings, who he had married ten months before, that he was going to kill himself.  He ran from the house and headed toward an expanse of woods to the south.  “It was believed at the reservation yesterday that George had carried out his threat,” the Syracuse Post Standard reported.  That is what Lydia believed. She told police that one of George’s brothers had committed suicide four years earlier.

            But where was his body?  Police searched the woods for a couple of days.  People from the community, I imagine, must have helped out. They found nothing. By the 26th, police began to suspect that George was alive, that his announcement of his intent to kill himself was an attempt to throw the police off his tail.  Keep them busy, looking for his body, while he fled from the reservation.  A mail carrier in East Hamilton, about 45 miles east of the reservation, reported seeing an Indian who matched George’s description going door-to-door begging for whatever the residents might spare.

            The mail carrier, it turned out, had spotted someone who was neither George nor an Indian.  On the 29th, as Detective Mooney slowly recovered from his wounds, officers found George’s body, a bullet wound in his head, his revolver by his side.  They found him in the wounds a short distance from his house where he said he would go.

            Whatever his own demons, whatever he had done, Simeon George was loved.  His funeral took place at the reservation Wesleyan Methodist Church.  200 people attended, “the little church crowded to the doors.”  The entire twenty-one members of the Onondaga Indian band performed in his honor.  They performed a dirge entitled “Forest Home,” composed in 1898, and another piece called “Religioso.”  His life, about which it is so difficult to learn much at all, mattered immensely to those people at Onondaga who knew him.

Harrison Hill’s trial began three weeks after George’s funeral at the United States District Court. His attorney argued that Hill shot Peters in self-defense and never intended to hurt him.  Hill had gone to Peters’ house to ask for some money to help his brother, Moses Hill, who was incarcerated in the Onondaga County Jail on charges of grand larceny. Peters went after Hill, who fired the gun in an effort to frighten him. Hill took the stand in his own defense, and was “subjected to a sharp cross-examination on the part of the people, but in the main struck to the story given in his direct examination.” 

            The judge overseeing the trial, in his instructions to the jury, told them that Hill was entitled to a fair and impartial trial, “but that you must not be influenced by sympathy for his youth and must not consider it in your deliberations. There should be no prejudice against his race or color,” the judge said, “and nothing about his manner of testifying should influence you. You know,” he continued, “the nature of the Indian is stoical and any hesitations in answering questions should not militate against him.”

            I have not had a chance to try to find the trial record. The jury believed Hill. He was acquitted on all charges. I do not know what happened to him after that.  But I did find this story in the Rochester  Democrat and Chronicle seventeen months later: 

Robert Hill, 20 years old, an Onondaga Indian, was brought to jail last night by Railroad Detective Elliott. Hill was arrested on Thursday morning by Constable Charles Platt, of Gates, who arraigned him before Justice of the Peace Leddy on charges of burglary and larceny.  Hill was caught after he had broken into a freight car in the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburg yards in Lincoln Park.  …..Hill is a bad Indian.  Despite his years he has seen a good deal of the country. Some nine months ago he shot and killed his brother and law in an Indian settlement near Batavia. He was tried, but was acquitted. Next he was accused of having stabbed a brakeman in Salamanca.  He got away, and at Wyoming took off his coat and flagged a train. He rode into Rochester where he was arrested by Detective Spillings and railroad Detective Elliott. He wasn’t held long, as it was impossible to prove that he had done the stabbing.  Thursday morning Constable Platt found the red man industriously breaking open packages in a freight car in the Lincoln Park yards. When he started to place the Indian under arrest the latter drew a revolver. Platt didn’t wait for him to use it, but laid his flat on the Indian’s nose. The blow was so straight and so effective that Hill surrendered without further ceremony.  Director Whaley caused Hill to be photographed yesterday. He thinks the Indian is wanted in some Western state.

The details do not match up completely, but you have to admit that there are some similarities between the story of Robert Hill, a 20-year old from Onondaga arrested in October of 1908, and Harrison Hill, a 19-year old arrested in 1907.  It is a question I have not been able to investigate. Lydia Billings, Simeon George’s young wife, left the reservation after his suicide and found work at the Columbia Hotel in Niagara Falls as a domestic.  When the upper floors of the hotel caught fire in January of 1909, she jumped from the fourth floor to save her life.  According to the Buffalo Evening News, she “sustained a broken rib on the right side, a fracture of her right wrist and a fracture of the left ankle.”  I have many more unanswered questions, but for now, the trail has grown cold.

There has been in our profession a flourishing “microhistorical turn” over the span of the past decade or so.  I expect more of us will be drawn to these small stories if the suffering caused by the coronavirus continues and increases, as every informed person says it will.

The historical record left from these years will surely highlight the incompetence of the executive branch in the face of a global crisis and the grotesque self-dealing of the arrogant bunglers.  We will have numbers and charts and data, telling the story of the pandemic’s spread, and the damage it did as it slashed its way around the world. What might not show up easily in the archives of the future will be the brutal but quiet reality that this pandemic will have been the most important event in the lives of millions of Americans. It was this virus that took from them their lives and their loved ones, or led them to lose their jobs, their homes, or their businesses.  Dreams shatter.  The cord breaks in the spring of 2020, and nothing for these many people will ever be the same again.

            We historians look for the significance in the events that we write about. We do not simply recount the past. We identify and explain why it mattered.  We might find significance in a battle, an election, and act of Congress or an act of God.  Perhaps with this pandemic more of us will recognize that the events that make us who we are can be as small as a death in the family.

            In Native American history, we have become more attuned to historical trauma as a force shaping indigenous communities. Often we tie this to a history of violence, dispossession and disease.  In my own attempts to understand the history of the Onondagas, an indigenous community that would have disappeared long ago if their white neighbors had their way, I find immense meaning in these small stories, a way of knowing and seeing this history not often available in the conventional sources, conventionally read. If the coronavirus pandemic continues to inflict trauma as some people fear it might, these small stories will not only offer an essential means to view the history of this country during this ear, but an important means for speaking truth to power. There are those like this President and his craven supporters, for instance, who will attempt to distance themselves from the destruction their incompetence has wrought. These millions of small stories will stand as witness against them.  Perhaps it is true what one of the very wise Geneseo students who accompanied me to Oxford last year had to say: the bigger the issue, the smaller you write.

Indigenizing the American Revolution

This past weekend, I flew to Atlanta to participate in the conference hosted by the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. It was, as I indicated in an earlier post, the first time I presented any of the research from my current project to an academic audience.

I was part of a round table discussion called “Indigenizing the American Revolution.” While some of the panelists presented rather straight-forward papers, my goal was to suggest some changes in thinking about how we approach the Revolution, and to provoke some discussion. What follows is a distillation of what I said.

I spend a lot of time talking about the American Revolution with students who know less about it than they should, or whose understanding of the Revolution is ensnared in so much myth and legend that, despite their considerable interest, and infectious enthusiasm, they sometimes have trouble separating fact from fiction. In New York schools, if they learn anything at all about native peoples and the Revolution, it is the long-since discredited “Iroquois Influence Thesis,” which like all things from the ‘80s, still has a few remaining adherents. 

When I have a class in front of me, and I will be teaching the Revolution again in the fall for the first time in what seems like a long time, I begin by asking the students a number of questions: What was the Revolution? When was it? Where was it? Why was it a thing? And Who was it?

Let me be clear: I teach in western New York, in a picturesque village built over the burned remains of the Seneca town of Chenussio destroyed during the Sullivan-Clinton campaign of 1779. The Groveland Ambuscade, the site of an actual battle involving Tories and Senecas attempting to pick off an advance party sent by Sullivan, sits near the campus, as do grisly and myth-encrusted sites associated with violence committed upon whites like the Boyd-Parker torture tree. There, the story goes, two of Sullivan’s scouts were tied with their own intestines by “savage” Senecas. The sites we commemorate in the vicinity of Geneseo, then, are sites of indigenous violence where white people play the starring role. Meanwhile, the sites of the burned Seneca towns are less well-known, their stories seldom told. As a result, even at a college that sits near the site of Chenussio, the answers students provide to my questions almost always do not include native peoples. 

   So to fix this problem, to indigenize the American Revolution, we need to construct from the surprisingly rich and abundant sources new narratives about the Revolution.  Despite the fantastic work being done by so many of our colleagues, this won’t be easy to do, and those of us who work with educators and local historians can expect some push-back and resistance. We must, after all, ask them to redefine and replace in important ways a story that has become comforting and familiar for one that is unsettling and disturbing.

          Still, if you will allow me, very briefly, I will try to provide some answers to these questions, inspired by this idea of indigenizing the American Revolution. These answers I base upon my current research project, a history of the Onondagas from the time when that young woman fell through a hole in the sky to land on Turtle’s back to something very closely approaching the present. It’s a big project, of which this is a small but important part.

For the Onondagas, there were no grand constitutional questions at stake in the Revolution. For them, it did not reduce to tidy dualisms like the questions of “home rule” or “who shall rule at home?” A conflict between Tories and British Regulars, American militiamen and Continental soldiers, that they hoped to avoid became for them a fight for survival, a nightmarish series of raids and counterraids that resulted in the burning of their town in the spring of 1779 by Goose Van Schaick, the death of Onondaga soldiers, and the rape and murder of Onondaga women and children. It marked the beginnings of a diaspora, the effects of which native peoples still feel today, and that the forces of colonialism have in very meaningful ways inscribed on the very geography of New York and two Canadian provinces.

When was it? Obviously that question becomes more complicated when we attempt to indigenize the Revolution. The Onondagas’ revolution does not fold easily into the time frames familiar to most historians.  The Revolution unleashed upon the Onondagas’ territory hordes of land-hungry settlers, avaricious speculators, and government agents determined to gobble up and seize control of their estate, their lands, and the valuable Onondaga salt springs. The same people who encroached upon, speculated in, and obtained through fraudulent means the Onondagas’ lands were the same men who called for the burning of their town and the destruction of its people during the war. The Onondagas’ revolution continued long after the fighting stopped. Onondagas moved between the British post at Niagara, and then Buffalo Creek, Grand River, and Onondaga, and other places still, struggling to hold together their communities in the aftermath of revolution, warfare, disease and dispossession, and they continued that struggle long after the “Miracle at Philadelphia” or other conventional signposts that mark the end of the revolutionary era. Indigenizing the Revolution requires us to step outside from Anglo-Centric and nationalist chronologies.

          And geographically, too, when we consider “where” was the Revolution.  The Revolution, after all, did not occur solely in the Urban Crucible, or simply break into the backcountry, or follow the marches of Redcoats and Continentals. No, the Revolution occurred as well in the settled towns and villages of what imperial map-makers, even on the eve of the Revolution, knew to be Iroquoia, the “Land of the Six Nations.” That geographic entity that today we call “New York” took shape through a process of Revolution, and New York quite simply could not have become the “Empire State” without a systematic program of Iroquois dispossession unleashed by Revolution. Transforming indigenous land into American states was a critical part of America’s “revolution settlement,” and the Onondagas paid enormously the price of American freedom in 1788, 1793, and 1795, to name just their eighteenth-century cessions, all of which can justly be considered rife with fraud

          Viewed in this manner, the cast of characters expands dramatically.  If we give to Onondaga, this Native American capital city, the same level of analysis historians like Robert Gross have given to Concord, or Benjamin Carp gave to the seaports, we naturally begin to see the Revolution as something other than a constitutional struggle, a military conflict, or the story of the creation of the American Republic.  The Revolution came to different communities in different ways, and Native American communities deserve the level of treatment non-native communities have received. That is what I will attempt to do in my book. As in Gross’s Concord, the Revolution at this local level becomes something larger and smaller at the same time, something greater and lesser. It includes the story of a war fought from the Niagara to the Catskills, of families that fled to the cold fields and mass graves outside British Niagara, and on to Buffalo Creek, who only returned to Onondaga proper after 1838 and perhaps the most corrupt Indian treaty in the history of the United States. It included Onondaga refugees and Onondagas who stayed behind, Onondagas who fought to avenge the destruction of their town, the capital of Iroquoia, and those shattered by the weight of total war. When we indigenize the Revolution, the patriots remain in the story. Of course, but they look less like men of principle and more like schemers who will say and do anything to get their hands on Iroquois land.

That leaves us with “Who.” Who shall we include in the story of the Revolution? Haudenosaunee leaders like Joseph Brant obviously dominate those narratives that examine the Iroquois experience during the Revolution. Stories of Native American elites can serve as a reversal of the all-too-common “Founders Chic” genre. No Onondaga, however, left even a fraction of the documents Brant, or Red Jacket, Cornplanter, Good Peter or other well-known figures left behind. But the stories are still there, scattered across the archives and collections. Ordinary Onondagas, like the ordinary people of Concord who watched British imperial policy, who watched British soldiers search their town, and who marched own to meet them at that famous bridge, literally made history with the decisions they made during these challenging years. The documents exist. We can know the names of those Onondagas who remained at Onondaga after Van Schaick’s raid, and we know the names of many of those who fled to Fort Niagara, and then went on to Buffalo Creek and Grand River, both locations that saw rekindled Iroquois League council fires. At a fine level of detail, and with the patience that archival work requires, we can reconstruct the lives of some of the people who spent time in these communities, men and women whose lives were shaped and altered by Revolution, and whose stories ought ot be as central to that history of those whose stories have been told many times before.

A New Chapter

            Last fall I gave a number of talks on the Onondagas’ experience as students at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.  This weekend, I will participate in a roundtable discussion at the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era in Atlanta where I will share some of my thoughts on the Onondagas’ experiences during the American Revolution. I have been working on a history of the Onondagas for a number of years, and have a ton of reading left to do. Still, these are big moments in the evolution of this project: the first time I share some of this research with an audience, the first time I expose what I have been doing for potential criticism. I feel a bit like I have just set out on a new journey.

            I watch my friends on Facebook and Twitter post their daily word counts.  They participate in the “Grafton Challenge,” or work to stay in “Club 500,” as in five hundred words a day.  I admire them for this in that they find the time to write every day, something that is truly harder than it looks, and requires great discipline and an empty house. I am reminded that I need to get moving, too, but there is just so much to read and so much else to do.

            I have time, I think.  I am one of the tiny percentage of people with a Ph.D who was lucky enough to find a tenure-track job, and I have had tenure for fifteen years. But because of that good luck, I feel pressure to produce.  Hundreds of people would kill to have my job, and that imposes an obligation to do good work in the classroom and in terms of publication. If I cannot produce I should get out of the way for those who can.  Still, I have not sought out an advance contract from a publisher, though I am certain I could get one. I face no externally-imposed deadline. I am free to work at my own pace without intererence.

            My friends write about the pressures associated with being a tenure-track professor, especially those still relatively new to the job.  I have not heard the line, “Publish or Perish,” for quite some time, but the fact remains that new faculty members are required to teach, serve on committees, and conduct research. Advising students seems to require more time than ever. Answering some of the 100 emails I get every day, too requires a commitment, as does scrounging for the money necessary to get to the archives to do research.  Yes, we are lucky to have these jobs, and we are in an infinitely better spot than the growing legion of adjuncts teaching at colleges across the country, but these realities do not make the pressure any less real. 

            And the burdens are greater for some historians than they are for others. Because of the class system in American college life, some historians do their work at institutions where they may teach one or two classes a semester, with graduate students to do their grading, and an adequate supply of travel funding to allow them to do their research and attend conferences.  Others may teach three, four, or five courses a semester, have no help with grading, little money to allow them to travel to archives, and pay out of their own pockets to attend conferences.  For the latter, the burdens of this job are even greater. I have taught at both types of institutions, and there is no question that it is easier to produce at the former than the latter.

            Some are pushing back against tis.  There is talk of a “slow scholarship” movement, based on the premise that allowing scholars more time to get their work done will result in scholarship that is more valuable. If at times this argument can appear self-serving, there is no question that there can be pressures associated with this line of work.

            Research and writing is important. It is through this process that new knowledge is created. It keeps scholars fresh, and up-to-date. For most of us, it is enjoyable. It is fun. But the obstacles one must overcome to do this work are not distributed at all evenly across the profession.  We need to talk more about this. A book written by a historian with a four-four teaching load (that is, four classes a semester) is in some ways more impressive than a book written over the same span of time by a historian with half as many courses to teach, with graduate assistants, and travel money.

            I have it easy.  My colleagues approved my request for eight hundred dollars in funding to cover the costs of flying to Atlanta to participate in the CRE conference. With five kids, a working spouse, a mortgage, I could not afford to go without this assistance. My research and teaching fields coincide, so I can keep up on the scholarship while I keep my classes current. Working in a collegial department is an important advantage, I know, because I spent the first four years of my career teaching at its opposite.

I have been thinking about this project for twenty years, long before I ever began working on it. For several years I worked as a historical consultant for the Onondaga Nation on the Onondaga Lake cleanup project.  The legal work subsidized my scholarship, allowing me to spend time travelling to archives and collecting copies of the documents I might someday need in order to write. The funding allowed me to hire some talented Geneseo students to spin microfilm reels, back before so many newspapers had been digitized, collecting every relevant article on the Onondagas. I could not have considered this project without the financial support provided by this extra work, and I am still drawing upon these materials. But it was extra work: on top of my teaching, committee work, and personal obligations. Even with this assistance, I was only able to throw myself into it full time in 2017, after I completed some other projects. Since then I have slowly worked my way through the massive amount of material I had collected.  And now, a couple of years later, this work is beginning to bear its first fruits, even though I still have a couple of years’ worth of research still to do before I can begin my writing process. Presenting this material is a big step, and I look forward to seeing how the audience and my colleagues receive it.  But I also appreciate how lucky I am to have a chance to do this work, and how few of us actually ever get that opportunity.

The Onondagas and the Movies, Part III

In the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” filmmaker Michael Mann found inspiration in the famous but dreadful novel by James Fenimore Cooper.  As did the folks who made “The Iroquois Trail,” forty years before, Mann and his crew took what they wanted from the source material in an effort to construct an adventurous story that spoke to a large white audience.  The film one one hand sheds some light on the broad cultural influence of the Onondaga Nation and Americans’ changing attitudes toward Native American peoples in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It also demonstrates how limited that change really was.

In Mann’s “Mohicans,” as in Cooper’s novel, native people are either noble or ignoble, all uniquely in touch with their surroundings and with nature, but all tragic, all doomed. They appear, they do things, but clearly they will all disappear. Cooper’s novel and Mann’s film both reflect long-held notions of the “Vanishing American.” In the original novel, Natty Bumppo, or Hawkeye, along with his companions Chingachgook and Uncas escort the daughters of the British colonel Munro, Alice and Cora, through the war-scarred wilderness as they avoid the vengeful Huron Magua.  Cora, the daughter of Munro and an African slave, draws the attention of both Uncas and Magua, but Alice, whose name means “Light,” does not.  Cora, darker of skin and hair, is pursued by Cooper’s “dusky” characters, and makes statements more sympathetic to native peoples than do other characters in the novel.  She dies in a Huron attack, but Alice does not.

Mann did not address Cora’s race, and it is hair-haired Alice who draws the attention of the Indians in his version of the story. In Manning’s hands, “Mohicans” is a love story, with Cora and Hawkeye (renamed in this film Nathaniel Poe because, well, Natty Bumppo is a stupid name) occupying center stage. Alice, rather than fall into savage hands, flings herself over a cliff and dies.

“Last of the Mohicans” came out during my third year of graduate school in 1992. It was the sort of film that grad students in Early American history loved to criticize and laugh at.  Indeed, I always remembered the film most for its famous goofs and careless film-maker’s blunders.  The English leave Fort William Henry after its surrender to the French: Where will they go? Why they will march towards the two large buses visible in the shot.  How will they get there? The director with the blue baseball cap and the bullhorn will tell them where to go.  Danger awaits, however, as Magua’s warriors prepare to spring the trap, the right-handed warriors on one side, the left on the other.

Mann’s film appeared two years after Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves” set a new standard for Native American involvement in movies about native peoples.  It also appeared a month before the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s “discovery” of America. The Columbian Quincentenary provoked scholars and activists alike to look once again at the catastrophic consequences of European discovery.  Popular books like Kirkpatrick Sale’s The Conquest of Paradise and David Stannard’s American Holocaust appeared, as well as special editions of scholarly journals like the William and Mary Quarterly examining the legacies of the “Columbian Encounter.” Publishers produced books for young readers providing more sympathetic treatment of native subjects.

Americans’ attitudes toward native peoples had changed, it seemed, and manifestations of this appeared all over: from the growing interest among early American historians in Native American history, for instance, to a large number of films and documentaries. Anthropologists and historians began to tell each other, even if they did not always act on their own advice, that they ought to talk to the Native American descendants of those about whom they wrote and whose histories and cultures they researched.  In 1987, under the influence of a small group of scholars in Native American Studies, the United States Senate passed a resolution acknowledging Native American contributions to American democracy, even if historians roundly criticized the “Iroquois Influence” thesis. There seemed to be an increasing amount of interest in native peoples.

Filmmakers like Michael Mann were of course not immune to these changes.  For his film to succeed, he needed the support and participation of native peoples.  Otherwise, it would be viewed as neither authentic nor acceptable.

Mann shot the film in North Carolina, a far-cry from the story’s setting in northern New York, largely on land surrounding the opulent Biltmore estate. Large numbers of Cherokees served as extras. Mann brought in actors from across Native America.  And because Onondaga remained in many ways a “Capital City” in Native America, and its leaders spoke with such authority on so many issues, Mann sought their advice and their assistance. According to a story that appeared in the Syracuse Post-Standard on August 15, 1992, “more than a dozen Onondagas, including two chiefs and a clan mother, appear in this Hollywood version of Jame Fenimore Cooper’s tale of the upstate frontier.”  Thadodaho Leon Shenandoah appeared in the film, as did Clan Mother Alice Papineau.  Dennis Banks, the great American Indian Movement leader who spent time as a fugitive at Onondaga, also appeared in the film.  The shooting took place over several weeks.  Onondagas received eighty dollars a day, plus room, board, and transportation.  It was tiring.  When the shooting ended, “sound technicians returned to Onondaga to tape voices of Indian men and women and the laughter of children.” Leon Shenandoah told the paper that “the movie’s waterfall sounds echo the falls that spill over Hemlock Creek on the reservation.”  Yet despite the hard work, those Onondagas involved in the movie looked forward to seeing the finished product.

“All the more wonder, then,” the Post-Standard reported six weeks later, “why 20th Century Fox paid little attention to upstate New York and its Iroquois nations when debuting ‘The Last of the Mohicans” in Syracuse. The film’s producers invited nearly 400 people to a special screening at the Fayetteville Mall but only fifteen were Onondagas, “most of whom scored tickets late in the day.”  According to the story, “Lynn LaRocca, the Syracuse representative of several Hollywood studios, including 20th Century Fox, said the studio sought a low-key opening but did not ignore the movie’s upstate ties.” LaRocca told reporters that she mailed complementary tickets to Leon Shenandoah, but he “was out of town and unable to pick them up at an off-reservation post office box.”  Though some were able to get their hands on tickets, most in the community would have to wait to see the movie and pay the price of admission.

Those Onondagas who did see the film at its premiere had positive things to say.  Vincent Johnson “praised the film’s insightful depiction of Colonial America, one that showed Indians and early colonists sharing similar problems with the European powers.”  He told the reporter that “It’s nice to see Real Native Americans in a movie.”

Michael Mann and the film’s producers needed Indians in the film.  They needed cooperation and assistance for reasons tied solely to the movie’s bottom line.  But they really did not want any interference or trouble.  Show up.  Do what we ask you to do.  Let us make our movie.  Collect your paychecks and then disappear.  The inattention the producers paid to the Onondagas at the movie’s premier shows clearly the limits of their respect.  They liked Indians best when they allowed them to create a fictionalized representation of the American past, a movie that became even more than Cooper’s novel, a story of white people falling in love.

A long time ago I used to assign Fergus Bordewich’s Killing the White Man’s Indian to students in my Native American survey course.  It was the first book we read.  Bordewich argued that both native peoples and white people embraced certain standards and definitions of who Indians were and what they ought to be that were extremely limiting.  One part of this was to cast native peoples as part of the past.  Mann and his crew wanted native peoples to play parts in his film, to accept their role in the story he wanted to tell quietly and without complaint.  In this sense, Mann was not unlike many, many historians who have done the same thing.  Indians existed, in Turner’s language, at the “outer edge of the wave,” and the “meeting point of savagery and civilization.” If they showed up anywhere else, in any other manner, they were a problem that could be cast aside, ignored, forgotten.