Old Stone Fort and the Battle of the Flockey

A roadside sign is all that marks the location of the first documented cavalry charge of the U.S. Army.

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The Battle of the Flockey was fought on August 13, 1777 between Tory militia forces commanded by Capt. John MacDonald (McDonnell) and American militia and dragoons commanded by Col. John Harper and Capt. Jean-Louis De Vernejoux southwest of Middleburgh in Schoharie County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory and quelled the first Tory uprising on the New York frontier.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys were divided between Patriots supporting independence and Tories supporting the British Crown. When British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne began his campaign down Lake Champlain toward Albany, British loyalists on the frontier rose up. Patriots fortified several buildings along Schoharie Creek (a Mohawk River tributary), including a stone church near present-day Schoharie.

Local loyalists led by John McDonnell, Adam Crysler, and tavern owner Capt. George Mann trapped 20 Patriots in Johannes Becker’s stone house near Middleburgh, which was later called Middle Fort. Col. Harper escaped and rode to Albany, where he enlisted help from a 28-man troop of 2nd Continental Light Dragoons commanded by French mercenary Jean-Louis De Vernejoux. He returned with the dragoons and freed the militia at Middle Fort. From there, they rode south to clear the valley of Tories.

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Boulevard Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts

Boulevard Diner, at 155 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a 1936 Worcester model, #730. The Worcester Lunch Car Company operated in this city from 1906 to 1957 and manufactured hundreds of lunch carts and classic diners. Frank Galanto and his family owned and operated the Boulevard Diner until 1969, when John “Ringo” George, an employee, took the reigns. His son, Jim, has continued the tradition. The Boulevard Diner was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

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Slavery and the Land of Lincoln

Today, Illinois is considered the “Land of Lincoln”, but prior to the Civil War, it straddled the line between slave state and free.

That Illinois would help elect the “Great Emancipator” was not a foregone conclusion. For much of its early history, Illinois had a close relationship with slavery and was openly hostile to abolitionism. Yet, by 1860, enough voters embraced the Republican Party to elect Abraham Lincoln president, a change that was hugely consequential for African American freedom, and the nation as a whole.

Populated by immigrants from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Illinois entered the Union in 1818 with strict black codes on the books. The Illinois Constitution prohibited the introduction of slavery, but permitted residents already holding slaves to keep their property. As historian Suzanne Guasco explained, Illinois was “the only state created out of the Old Northwest Territory that failed to abolish slavery outright during its constitutional convention.”[1]

Missouri, bordering Illinois to the west, came into the Union as a slave state in 1821. Kentucky, Illinois’ neighbor to the south, was also a slave state. The Mississippi River connected Illinois economically with other slave holding states to the south, and the bottom third of Illinois lay below the cultural Mason-Dixon Line. It’s a little-known fact that slave labor was used in at least one southern Illinois industry.

Though Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in Illinois, as did the Illinois Constitution of 1818, an exception was made for the Gallatin County salt mines. By 1819, the Gallatin County salines produced nearly 300,000 bushels of salt. Approximately 1,000 black slaves worked the mines and processed the salt.

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Hoss’s General Store

Hoss's General Store
Hoss’s Country Corner, at 1142 Main Street in Long Lake, New York, has been a vacationer’s destination in the Adirondack Mountains for over forty years. Ice, beer, bait, souvenirs, books, food—they sell pretty much anything you’ll need and are open year-round. Seven to ten million tourists flock to this picturesque region annually to enjoy hunting, camping, boating, and fishing in the summer, skiing and snowboarding in winter, and to see the beautiful autumn colors in the fall.

Vermont Toy Museum at Quechee Gorge Village

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Every generation has its favorite toys. When I was a kid in the 1980s, we had a lot of action figures and toys based on popular TV shows like G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, and My Little Pony. How those toys change decade by decade can be very interesting, even educational. Toys tell us something about the values of our society at the time, and what kinds of activities we want children to be interested in.

The Vermont Toy Museum at Quechee Gorge Village is a unique window into that world. The museum features action figures, dolls, comic books, lunchboxes, games, and more, plus a huge model train set. Display cases are packed with toys decade by decade beginning with the 1950s, so you can easily see how toys have changed over the years. It also has separate displays for Star Wars, Star Trek, and other popular franchises.

An entire display cabinet shows how prevalent toy guns were in the 1950s, and it’s incredible how realistic-looking toy guns were marketed to children (yet there were no mass shootings at schools back then). My favorite are the metal revolvers that fired caps, but my mom was totally against having any toy guns in the house, so I never got to play with them.

The Vermont Toy & Train Museum is located on the second floor above Cabot Cheese at Quechee Gorge Village, 5575 Woodstock Road, U.S. Route 4 in Quechee, Vermont. They are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call (802) 295-1550 Ext. 102 or email robin@quecheegorge.com for more information.

Three Brothers Diner in Danbury, Connecticut

Three Brothers Diner, at 242 White Street in Danbury, Connecticut, is a 1990 DeRaffele model diner. I love the red-trim stainless steel exterior. The letters that spell “diner” on the sign change color. It is open 24 hours on the weekend and is a favorite of students from nearby Western Connecticut State University.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

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