(Revamping the blog. Please excuse the odd headings. Working on it!)

Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

The blog of Cindy Amrhein

Historian - Author - Abstractor

Silver Lake, NY at Sunset

Photo by Zach Amrhein

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Book to Die For - 02

Well I skipped a few weeks of Weekend Writing Warriors due to edits, but now the new mystery continues! If you've liked my posts of The Milk Carton Murders, you should like this tale too. It was written to predate MCM and includes Sheriff Nazzaro and Pepper Black as well as other characters, from MCM.
The docks at Silver Lake, NY and the inspiration for Spirit Lake in my mystery.
 We last left off in the first installment of A Book to Die For with Sheriff Clayton Nazzaro and Coroner Herbert Wilde leaning over the decapitated body of a young woman found along a hedgerow between two farm fields. They identified the girl as Margie Webster who worked at McCormick's Boat Rental, but they were confused by the simple girls flashy clothing. Her body was taken to the morgue to be identified by her parents. Sheriff Nazzaro is thinking below. And now the snippet:

***

Sure, he had to notify parents before, but not like this. There was no easy way to tell them their daughter had been beheaded—so he didn’t. He told himself the reason was that he didn’t want that piece of information to end up in the Lamont Weekly Times.

Alice’s hands wrung the sides of her dress into tight balls. She didn’t look up. Her husband had his arm around his wife's shoulder holding her close but Clayton doubted she was cognizant of it. Clayton would have to handle this next part as delicately as possible. How to start?


Check out the other Weekend Writing Warriors---where a sampling of a variety of great writers is only a click away!

And in other news. I revealed the cover of my upcoming book with the History Press on my Facebook page this week, and here it is! Release details coming soon. 

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Sunday, October 04, 2015

A Book to Die For -01

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors! Many of you are familiar with The Milk Carton Murders. I won't be posting more of that because I was getting to close to revealing too much. This story, however, was written to predate MCM and includes Sheriff Nazzaro and Pepper Black as well as other characters  from The Milk Carton Murders, and is set in the same rural town of Lamont.
Twenty-five-year-old Margie Webster’s body was found along a hedgerow between two farm fields—a place where she would have no reason to be. 

She had been a beautiful woman in life. If it wasn’t for the polka dot scarf around her neck it would be obvious her head was no longer attached to her body.  An adze lay only a few feet away embedded in a partially hewn log. Sheriff Clayton Nazzaro walked over to the hedgerow where the coroner, Herbert Wilde, was crouched down near the body.

“So, the murder weapon you think, Herb?” asked Clayton, with a tilt of his head towards the log.

“I’m not guessing on that one until I get her back to the morgue,” said Herb, “and not until your forensic guys have that adze removed. No mistaking who she is though.”

“Nope. Jack Webster’s daughter,” said Clayton, “worked up at McCormick’s boat rental last I heard. Quiet girl--what do make of the clothes?”

Check out the other Weekend Writing Warriors---where a sampling of a variety of great writers is only a click away!
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Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for WYOMING County Historian's Office

Wyoming County Historian's Office
This is where I work as Assistant County Historian. We do genealogy requests, track down the history of abandoned cemeteries or an old building. We even found descendents to pass some silverware along to. You just never know what we will be asked to do.

The office of county historian has been around since 1947 collecting information on the county's history. We are open Monday through Friday 8-noon and 1-3:30 at 26 Linwood Avenue in Warsaw, NY 14569. All those file drawers on the right contain family files. We also have atlases, census records, copies of military pension records, cemetery records... well lots of stuff. Come visit sometime! Oh yes! We also produce a quarterly publication called Historical Wyoming, also since 1947 (except a few years in the 70s till they found another printer.) A subscription is only $10 a year for 4 issues of 28 pages, and no ads (send to address above). Click here for a free PDF issue.


Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for VICTORIAN

Queen Victoria, 1867. Library of Congress
Not very attractive was she? Fashion, architecture, clothing styles housewares on many continents revolved around her during her rule from 1837-1901, the Victorian Era. Below are some free Dover clipart images.


Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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Friday, April 24, 2015

U isfor UFO


TRI-COUNTY TIMES (Arcade, NY)
Oct. 24, 1973 (Wednesday)
Wyoming County, NY had its share of UFO sightings in the 1950s-mid 70s.  We even made the government's "Project Bluebook" which is now available, with much redacted, through the freedom of information act. The government blamed far too many sightings on Venus or weather balloons. Below are some of our encounters:

PERRY HERALD
August 28, 1952
FLYING SAUCERS HERE

    It’s happened in Perry. A local resident, who asked that her name be withheld, reported sighting two flying saucers over Perry last Monday. Fearful that her story would not be credible in view of the discussion centering around the saucers the lady reported that the two objects were plainly visible during the daytime.
    The report here coincides with a report from Watkins Glen that a pair of flying silver balls had been sighted at Watkins Glen. The local resident had no knowledge of this report at the time she reported seeing the flying saucers here.

***
Buffalo Evening News 
August 29, 1952

WARSAW AUDIENCE REPORTS SAUCERS ‘PLAYING TAG IN SKY’

Special to the Buffalo Evening News
WARSAW, Aug. 29 - Residents of Murray St. in the center of this village, saw strange objects in the sky at intervals from 9:30 to 10 o’clock Thursday night.
    A group of boys, 12 to 14 were the first to spot the “saucers” darting through the northwestern sky. Douglas Rudgers, Gorden Abner, James Alfieri, Richard and Harold Lee and David Webster and Donald Webster Jr. were greatly impressed. So were their elders. Mrs. Rudgers, mother of Douglas, remarked: “I never believed in ‘flying saucers’ until I saw those things last night.”
    She pointed out that they didn’t streak across the sky and disappear but darted back and forth through the cloud formations “as though they were playing tag.”

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for TITLE Search


An 1829 tavern I researched in Barre, NY. Here are folks that are part of an archaeology dig.
A title search is basically the genealogy of a piece of property. It is most often used by abstract companies to create a chain of title (ownership) for the property for a lawyer or bank when people are buying, selling or taking out a mortgage. It is often used when someone is seeking historic landmark designation for their building or the property as a whole.

I'm a historian that used to work for an abstract company, and now I just research historic properties or Indian land. If you are researching your house, aside from looking in the usual places like deeds, mortgages, atlases, etc here is a few tips to keep in mind while you are looking. It is what I call my 50 year rule of thumb:

If you get to a point and you can't find the next deed back, look up to 50 years ahead after the owners death. Why? Because families often do what they want and not what they should. Here is my made up example.


Joseph Bolton lived in Alabama in the 1850's.  In fact he lived there most of his life.  Joseph had a wife named Sally, and one son named Charles.  Poor Sally died however leaving Joseph and Charles to run the farm all alone.  In 1865 Joseph decided to move to Michigan.  Charles had married and decided to stay on at the farm in Alabama with his wife Beth, and son Michael. 

     In 1870 Joseph dies in Michigan, but he did leave a Will.  In his Will he leaves the farm to his son Charles.  (You however have no probate file to check because he died out of state.  You might get lucky and find a duplicate here, but in this case it did not happen that way.)  No Executor's Deed was ever filed transferring the property from Joseph's estate to his son Charles. Charles just figured well it was in my father's Will, so I guess it's mine now. 

     Michael grows to adulthood, marries, and has a son named George.  Poor George won't see his grandparents very long because Charles and Beth Bolton die in a train accident in 1901.  Charles left a Will as well and "willed" his property to his son in the event that his wife was already dead.  Again no Executor's Deed was filed.  Michael figured the same thing as his father did.  Well I guess now it is mine.

     In 1910 Michael Bolton decides to sell the property.  He of course ends up hiring an attorney to clean up the mess his family has created.  Finally in 1911 the original deed of Joseph Bolton from 1858 is filed at the Clerk's Office, and several affidavits’ explaining the whole messy affair.  The title is now clear, and Michael Bolton sells his land in 1911.  The deed to the new owners not only has the usual stuff; it is also clearly written as to how the property exchanged hands.  This is nice if you are doing genealogy.

     This type of thing, of course, is an Abstractor's worst nightmare; but it is an excellent lesson in genealogical searching!  So always check ahead at least fifty years.  When it comes to family conveyed property assume they will make a mess of the title.

***

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

The list to the other A-Z bloggers is here.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for ST. REGIS

A State law was passed in 1816 to allow the State to purchase land from the St. Regis Indians based on whatever the Governor considered a reasonable amount.  There were three articles to the treaty of 1816.

The first article was to convey the one mile square on Salmon River and 5,000 acres off the east end of the St. Regis reserve (Fort Covington then called French Mills).
Article two: states that the Governor agrees to pay an annuity of $1,300 “forever hereafter” on the first Tuesday of August next, and every year thereafter.
Article three: that the St. Regis will authorize three of its chiefs or principal men to receive the annuity. “And the receipt of the said chiefs or principal men, so deputed, shall be considered a full and satisfactory discharge of the people of the State of New York, from the annuity which may be so received.”

Article three is rather odd.  Does it mean they are discharged for the year, or that once the St. Regis actually take the money in August of 1817, New York would be discharged of their obligation, period?  That is an unknown without access to records of payments. ...

More of the above excerpt will be discussed in my book Indian Land Title in New York to be published later this year by The History Press.
***

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Grass RIVER

Grass River. Akwesasne


The Gassy Meadows along Grass River is one of the areas I will be covering in my book, Indian Land Title in New York, (to be published later this year by The History Press). Below s an excerpt.

TREATY WITH THE ST. REGIS 1845 – GRASSY MEADOWS
Whereas by the act entitled "An Act in relation to certain tribes of Indians " passed May 25, 1811 the Commissioners of the Land Office are authorized to make such treaties contracts and arrangements with any tribe or Nation of Indians or with any parry or portion of them or with any Individual Indian or Indians who have any claim upon any lands in this State for the purchase of any portion of such lands as the said Commissioners may deem just and proper: And Whereas the said St. Regis Indians own certain lands in the County of St. Lawrence known and distinguished as the Indian Meadows or Grass River, on both sides of the said river or as Islands in the said river, which meadows were reserved in and by the Treaty made with the said Indians on the 31st day of May 1796 ....

... . It appearing by a map made by Amos Lay in the year 1801 now on file in the Surveyor Generals Office that the said Indian Meadows and Islands contain in the whole the quantity of Two hundred and ten acres and four tenths of an acre: It is therefore agreed that the sum of four hundred dollars be now paid to the said Indians and when the Survey aforesaid shall be made and returned to the Surveyor General the remainder of the consideration money at the rate aforesaid shall be paid to them in full. ...
***

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for QUARTER Century

Which is exactly as it implies, 25 years. 

Here are some quarter century events from 1925.

Jan 5th - Nellie Taylor Ross becomes the first woman governor in the US for the state of Wyoming.

Feb 21st - The New Yorker magazine is published for the first time.


Apr 10th - The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is published.

The first ever motel is created in San Luis Obispo, California, originally called the Milestone Mo-Tel.

Al Capone muscles in and takes over bootlegging in Chicago.

***

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

P is for PROHIBITION

Perry Herald - October 31, 1917
The 18th Amendment on Prohibition was proposed by the United States Senate on December 18, 1917, and took until 1920 to pass-- but New York State already had their own liquor laws in place. Since before the turn of the century organizations were already active in their effort to curb crime and protect family values that were being deteriorated by, as they saw it, alcohol.

On the other side of the coin, by 1920 New York Governor, Alfred E. Smith, wanted no interference by the federal government in the matter of liquor sales as the state and county governments collected a large amount of revenue through liquor tax. Obviously, saloon operators were against it as well as legitimate liquor manufacturers. It would also cause a confusing problem for drug manufactures, pharmacists, and doctors as alcohol was often a main ingredient in prescriptions in the early 1900s.

A percentage of the general public, who enjoyed tipping one now and then, was against the idea for obvious reasons. Although many members of anti-alcohol groups were religious minded church goers, it soon became a conundrum behind the pulpit since wine was used during religious services by several denominations.

Most towns in Wyoming County, NY showed no great increase in crime during 1918-1933. There had always been laws in one form or involving liquor in regards to selling without a license or public intoxication, and since the advent of the automobile—driving while intoxicated.  This was the first time, however, laws restricted having alcohol in your home, druggists in their ability to prescribe medication that contained alcohol, and wine during church services. Residents of a dry town, who were essentially good citizens, were now considered law breakers for having alcohol. ....
 ***
 You can read my upcoming release as a short on Prohibition in Wyoming County later in 2015.
***

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O is for Milo H. OLIN, Inventor

Milo H. Olin is one of Wyoming County, NY's many inventors.
WINDSHIELD WIPING AND CLEANING APPARATUS 
Milo H. Olin, Perry, N. Y.
Application July 25, 1950, Serial No. 175,739

A wind shield wiper mechanism which can be controlled by a foot pedal, and which does not require the operator of the vehicle to remove his hands from the vehicle for starting the Windshield wiping operation. The apparatus is for wiping a windshield and for applying a cleaning liquid thereto which is so constructed that both operations are controlled by a single foot pedal.

The apparatus for wiping and cleaning a windshield which the driver can operate wholly with his foot, and which does not require him to remove either hand from the steering wheel. The only hand operation required is to stop the movement of the wipers by pulling on the knob 90. Furthermore, it will be seen that with the apparatus the cleaning liquid is delivered onto the windshield at its top.
***

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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N is for Elizabeth NIMSKER, Spiritualist

At a special meeting held on October 1, 1934 Elizabeth Nimsker forms the First Christian Spiritualist Church of Warsaw, NY. These incorporation papers list an address for the church of 245 South Main Street in the village of Warsaw. Rev. Elizabeth Nimnsker of Warsaw was the acting Pastor. The charter was delivered to the members of the new Church at the Moose Hall on Main Street in Warsaw on Sunday, October 21st.Many out of town Spiritualists were present for the celebration. Regular Spiritual Circles were held every Thursday evening at 800 p.m. at 245 South Main Street.

The following year, trance lectures were held on Sunday evening, message meetings on Thursday nights, and private reading on Thursday afternoons. On July 25, 1935, Rev. Nimsker held a home coming celebration at her residence. It seems by other news items Elizabeth did not operate her church out of her home. In the August 19, 1935 issue of the Wyoming County Times it announced that the church had moved from 245 South Main street to 25 Center Street, and lists Rev. Fed T. Ide as Pastor. Fred and Elizabeth parted ways and Fred Ide took over the regular Spiritualist Church from Clara Rebbo but kept 25 Center Street address.

In July of 1936 Elizabeth moves the church to 31 Butternut Street, still in the village of Warsaw. It is unknown if this house also served as her residence. During the year of 1939 there is not much mention of the Spiritualist activities of Elizabeth Nimsker. It appears after she met Ira Kemp (whose wife had died on March 24, 1936) her focus changed. Elizabeth Nimsker married for the third time, Ira J. Kemp of Silver Springs on April 24, 1942. They were not married by a Spiritualist Minister, but at the Methodist Church in Castile. The only reference to Spiritualism after her marriage to Ira was a week long trip to Lilly Dale in July of 1949. Ira Kemp died in January of 1968 and is buried in Warsaw Cemetery. Elizabeth died May 23, 1969 in Silver Springs. Her obituary has no mention of her being a Spiritualist. She is also buried in the Warsaw Cemetery. 

***

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

M is for Murderesses

Syracuse Journal
Wed., March 23, 1927

Executioner Has Taken Lives of 3 Women as Murderesses

By Universal Service.
 NEW YORK, March 23―
  
Three women have been executed for murder in New York State. Three others were sentenced to death, but were granted pardons or commutations.

Roxalana Druse, first woman executed, was hanged in Herkimer jail yard February 27, 1887, for the murder of her husband.

Mrs. Martha Place, wife of a Brooklyn broker, was executed at Sing Sing, March 21, 1902, for smothering her step-child and burning out her eyes with acid. Governor Theodore Roosevelt refused to interfere in the execution.

Mrs. Mary D. Farmer, wife of Jefferson County farmer was electrocuted in Auburn prison, March 29, 1909, for beating a woman neighbor to death with an axe. Gov. Hughes refused to interfere.

The three women sentence to die for murder, but who escaped through executive clemency were Elizabeth Halliday, who killed a woman in 1894; Mary Frisch, of Genesee County, who poisoned her child in 1850, and Anginette B. E. Haight of Madison County, who poisoned her husband in 1884.

***
You can get the story of the murders of Polly Frisch here.

***

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

The list to the other A-Z bloggers is here.

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L is for LAND

1895 Atlas of New York, Julius Bien & Co - Map of land patents.
An abstractor is a person who does an abstract of title for a piece of property.  If you have ever bought or sold a house or taken out a mortgage, either your realtor or attorney has contacted an abstract company and requested a title search to make sure it is free of any debts or encumbrances to clear title. The bank requires this to protect their interest so someone can't come along later and claim a right to it.

I have researched land title for abstract companies, attorneys, private parties wishing to put their home on the National Register of Historic Places, and for my own pleasure. I have done title work in every county in Western New York as well as Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties in the northern part of the state. I have even helped, remotely from my computer, with a title search for land in Alaska (where the index to records are online), and also in Vermont. Combining my skills as an abstractor and my historian's obsession to document facts, I found my niche in researching Indian land title from an abstractor's point of view―hence the subject of my book coming out later this year with The History Press titled Indian Land Title in New York. I'm hoping it will give new perspective to land claim cases.

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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Friday, April 17, 2015

K is for KILLERS

More Wyoming County, NY History


Auburn Weekly News
May 23, 1878

AN ATROCIOUS PAIR OF MURDERERS FOR AUBURN PRISON.---William Brown and Jacob Eller were yesterday sentenced to Auburn prison for life, by the Wyoming county Circuit Court, for killing Mrs. George Minkle in December last, in the town of Bennington. The story of the murder is to the effect tat at midnight of December 22nd Mr. Minkle was awakened by some one violently rapping upon his door. He asked what was wanted, and a voice from outside demanded admittance, which was refused. He looked from the window and beheld three persons, two of whom he recognized as the prisoners now under trial. They threatened to kill him if he would not admit them, and when he again refused they beat in the door. Having gained admittance, they attacked Mr. Minkle with clubs and he was felled to the floor and rendered insensible.

Upon regaining his senses Mr. Minkle first realized the fact that the fiends were dragging his wife from the house. The woman screamed piteously, but the husband could offer no assistance, as he feared they would take his life. He accordingly ran to a neighbor's to procure help.

Upon his return his wife and the brutal wretches were nowhere to be found, and it was not until about daybreak that Mrs. Minkle's cold and lifeless body was discovered under an apple tree, a few rods distant from the house. The only clothing she had on her was her night-robe, and this was badly torn. There was evidence of a terrible struggle; locks of her hair were found on the ground near by. The Coroner's inquest, subsequently held, gave as it's verdict, "That the deceased, Mrs. George Minkle, came to her death at the hands of William Brown and Jacob Eller, and that her death was caused by strangulation and violence."

Stay tuned for more history tidbits throughout the month of April!

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J is for JAIL

The brick building behind the monument to the left is the
clerk’s office. To the left of that (white building)  is the
jail. The illustration is from F. W. Beers, History of
Wyoming County (1880).
Sheriff Day entered the cell on Sunday, November 20, 1892, expecting to see James Collins. The sheriff had made arrangements to move Collins the next day to Auburn Prison, but he wasn’t to be found. The sheriff had originally planned to move him Saturday but decided to wait because the prisoner was allegedly not feeling well. After his court appearance the previous Thursday he felt faint and complained of heart pain. He was given some medicine which he said made him feel better and Collins said he hoped he would feel better by Monday. Because of his alleged weakened condition Sheriff Day postponed his transport to Auburn Prison. Collins escaped alone in the wee hours of the morning.
Village of Warsaw, NY 1861
A push broom that had been lying outside his cell on Saturday morning came up missing. With the use of his makeshift tools he pried up the floor boards underneath his cot. It was either luck or knowledge from former jail guests that this was an area that had been worked before and never fixed properly. A previous prisoner had made extensive headway cutting through joists of 12” x 12” timbers to make a larger crawl area. Nothing was done to fix that other than to replace the floor boards over top. This is an entirely different side of the lower floor of the jail than Robinson and Redner began cutting through in January of the same year.

Collins then tunneled nine feet and dug through the foundation wall which the newspapers described as, “seven feet of poorly constructed concrete masonry.” He stored the rubble under his cot and mattress which hadn’t been checked since Tuesday when they gave him a new mattress.  All of this he managed in only four days.



A year passed and on December 13, 1893 during the Board of Supervisors Annual Meeting, Mr. Matthews moved, “… that the county assume the responsibility and liability of the payment of the reward offered by E. A. Day sheriff, for the apprehension of James Collins, who escaped from the Wyoming County Jail, Nov. 19th, 1892.” The motion was carried. The man who called himself James Collins was never caught. Of course, clever and charming as he was, he no doubt reinvented himself with a new name and a new identity, as many of them did. 



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I is for Inventor

FRANK M. FOOTE - Arcade, Wyoming County, NY


Castilian
Oct. 24, 1918
Frank M. Foote Granted Patent

   Frank M. Foote of Arcade has been granted a patent on a devise for unloading amesite from railroad cars, especially from cars of the two pocket variety.
   This patent makes possible a savings of about $50 in unloading one car.
   It seems that amesite comes in a hardened condition in the car and must be heated in order to get it out. This has always been a troublesome job.
   Mr. Foote had a large amount of the material to put on the road he built in Castile and hit upon the plan of putting perforated pipes into the bottom of each pocket of the car before it was loaded. Into these pipes he turned steam and in a short time he had the material so that it would run out.
   While he was engaged on the Castile contract State officials from all parts of the State came to see his device for unloading the material and were much impressed with the ease with which the work could be done.
   As soon as road building operations are resumed in this country the device will be in great demand.—Arcade Herald.

Application filed May 26, 1917.
Serial No. 171,145.

   Mr Foote states, “My invention relates to freight cars, and more particularly to means for heating the contents of the cars and for controlling the discharge of the contents therefrom. ...The primary object of my invention is the provision of means for heating the contents of a car and associating such means with controlling mechanism whereby the discharge of the contents from the car may be controlled.”

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H is for Historical Wyoming


Historical Wyoming began in 1947 with the first Wyoming County Historian, Harry Douglass. As the title suggests it is about the history of Wyoming County, NY. We are the only county historian's office in the state to publish a quarterly magazine.

It was originally printed by Arcade School for free and more than four issues a year. It was only out of print for a few years in the 70s after losing the school printing department. It began operations again under a different historian using a commercial printer and has run since then as a quarterly. Click here for a free issue (shown above) in PDF format.


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Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
The History Press
Walmart

Carried by over 20 college/university libraries across the county, according to daily updates by worldcat.org, including Columbia University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, and Yale University Law Library.

BOOK SIGNING DATES:

APRIL 2nd,11-1 PM
The Book Shoppe - Medina, NY

APRIL 16th, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble - Pittsfield, MA

APRIL 19th, 7 PM
Tonawanda Indian Reservation Historical Society,
Tonawanda Indian Community Center- Akron, NY

MAY 14th, 1 PM
Seneca Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca, NY

May 17th, 6 PM Warsaw Public Library - Warsaw, NY

AUG 9TH, 7 pm Hoss's Country Corner -2016 Author's Night- Long Lake, NY

AUG 25TH 6 PM Akwesasne Cultural Center - Hogansburg, NY

More to announce as they are confirmed.

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