Hyde Hall

Mary Gale Carter Clarke – Founding Member of the General James Clinton Chapter of the DAR

In 1778 destructive raids by American Loyalists and Iroquois Indians created such fear along the Pennsylvania and New York frontiers that the settlers began retreating to safer areas further east.  Among the most infamous raids was the one on nearby Cherry Valley in November where many women and children were massacred, the town burned and 80 captives taken to Canada.  The raid effectively ended all settlement in the area.  General George Washington determined to break the Iroquois Confederacy, which he considered the source of the raids, and committed 4,000 troops from the Continental Army to eliminate the Indian settlements and force them to surrender or drive them further west.

Gen Clinton Monument Rt 20 & Contintenal Rd 3-sm
Gen Clinton Monument Rt 20 & Contintental Rd.; Photo by John Bower, © 2015 Hyde Hall.

Washington appointed General John Sullivan to lead the expedition with Brigadier General James Clinton second in command.  In 1779 Sullivan moved up the Susquehanna River from central Pennsylvania, while Clinton gathered 1,500 men on the Mohawk River in New York.  Setting out from Canajoharie, Clinton moved south to Otsego Lake, the headwaters of the Susquehanna, to follow the river and link up with Sullivan near the New York-Pennsylvania border.  It took Clinton’s men two weeks to cut a primitive road through the forests from the Mohawk Valley to a location on the Otsego Lake just below the current site of Hyde Hall.  The approximate route of Clinton’s road is now known as the Continental Road, named after the Continental Army.

It was a challenging feat to portage 250 bateaux and supplies through the wilderness to the lake.  The troops then floated south to where the village of Cooperstown now stands and built a dam across the head of the Susquehanna River.  Waiting over a month, Clinton broke the dam in early August, clearing away most of the debris on the river and his troops traveled 160 miles down the river to meet with Sullivan.  The combined forces moved westward into the heart of Iroquois country.  The campaign fought a series of skirmishes, but burned all the towns and crops in their path.  With neither food nor shelter, the Indians fled to Niagara and Canada and Sullivan successfully carried out Washington’s goal.

The Sullivan Clinton Campaign was the major effort of the Continental Army in 1779 and the only major action in the Revolutionary War in the area of Springfield.  Mary Gale Carter Clarke and her mother-in-law, Anna Maria Gregory Clarke, were charter members of the General James Clinton Chapter of the DAR and Mary Gale was the first regent.  With evidence of an important historical campaign literally at their feet at Hyde Hall, they were leaders in having the event commemorated.  The monument erected to the memory of James Clinton was dedicated on June 30, 1906.  It stands at the intersection of Continental Road and Rt. 20 set behind a handsome cast-iron fence.

Gen Clinton Monument Rt 20 & Contintenal Rd 1-sm
General James Clinton DAR Monument
Location: Junction Continental Road and Rt. 20 Junction, Springfield, NY.
Inscription: This Monument is Erected to the Memory Of Gen’l James Clinton Born 1736 Died 1812 & marks a point on the line of march of his troops from Mohawk River to Otsego Lake in June 1779
GENERAL JAMES CLINTON CHAPTER DAR ÆDIFICAVIT
Photo by John Bower, © 2015 Hyde Hall.

THE HAUNTING OF HYDE HALL BEGINS

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Springfield, New York—Many people have passed through Hyde Hall over the years—five generations of the Clarke family and their friends and servants—each with their own history of love and loss.  Some of them never left, or so say the legends that have grown up over the last 150 years around the venerable pile of stone that took George Clarke almost 20 years to finish.  The 2015 edition of The Haunting of Hyde Hall spotlights three family members and one family friend whose lives ended tragically.

The first vignette focuses on a tragic summer afternoon, when a young man suffered the unbearable rejection of his love.  On the afternoon of July 31, 1884, a cousin of the Clarkes, Theresa White was being rowed home by her friend and would-be beau, Edward Steers.  Steers was a handsome, vibrant young man summering in Cooperstown who, according to some accounts, proposed to Ms. White after debarking their rowboat.  Subsequent events are still being debated!

The second vignette dramatizes the fate of young George Clarke who joined the Air Force during WII, while his sister Susan flew supply missions stateside.  This year’s Haunting of Hyde Hall spotlights their fiery deaths, along with the ghostly radio transmission heard by a craftsman 40 years later that transcended time and seemed to originate in George’s plane!

The final vignette features Jane “Jennie” Cooper Worthington, whose portrait now graces Hyde Hall’s palatial dining room.  Jennie married John Worthington at age 20, and died of consumption less than six months later.  Her heartbroken husband, who knew of her illness when he urged their marriage, had the portrait commissioned posthumously and hung in Greencrest, the house he built on River Street for his second wife.  Stories rapidly circulated about the new wife’s distress at seeing Jennie’s life-size portrait prominently displayed in the main stair hall of her home.  When the second wife tried to remove the portrait, pots and pans in the kitchen rattled and flew about, doors slammed shut, and peace could only be restored when the painting was returned to its place of dominance and honor.

This popular series of evening tours is offered July 7th, 14th, and 28th, and August 4th and 11th, at 6:00pm and 7:00pm.  Tours are limited in number, so reservations are recommended.  The cost is $15 per person; call 607.547.5098 for reservations.

Hyde Hall (hydehall.org.mylampsite.com), a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site, was built between 1817 and 1834 as the centerpiece of a 60,000-acre estate inherited by George Clarke, a British-born landowner.  It was inhabited by direct descendants of the Clarke until the 1940s.  It is open for guided tours from May through September, and visitors of all ages will enjoy its beautiful grounds overlooking Otsego Lake and touring its rich collection of furniture, paintings, and decorative arts.  It is located on the grounds of Glimmerglass State Park in Springfield, New York, eight miles north of Cooperstown.

A Banner Weekend for Volunteers!

Hyde Hall’s success depends upon the hard work and goodwill of our amazing volunteers and staff.

 

On Saturday, June 13, we provided a water station for 350 runners in the Race The Lake Marathon and Half-Marathon at our Mill Road entrance, located at Mile 17 of the marathon and Mile 4 of the half-marathon.  Leigh Graham, Julia Dudley, Andrea Bell, John Bower, Jill Maney, Jarka Szabo, and Jane Prior were our stalwart water and Gatorade bearers, while Douglas Kent and Jonathan Maney lustily cheered the runners and walkers on.  In the afternoon, Hyde Hall’s Board of Directors, also dedicated volunteers, held their Annual Meeting in the Administration building, electing two new board members to four-year terms.  Finally, a full house of 69 attended our first musical program of 2015, Moonshine Revelers and Shades of Night. The program and reception were supported by Pam Wightman, who created beautiful cheese platters, and Jill Maney and Samantha Jicha, who poured beverages, stacked chairs, and repositioned Hyde Hall’s furniture after the event’s conclusion.

Hyde Hall deeply appreciates the assistance of volunteers in all its many activities; won’t you join the fun by emailing karenclements@hydehall.org.mylampsite.com and offering your talents?

Paper Treasures

The documentation about Hyde Hall and the Clarke family is an incredibly valuable resource for our work at Hyde Hall.  It guides our restoration efforts and allows us to provide historically accurate information.  Additionally, we are fortunate to have input from Clarke family members to help guide our interpretation of materials along with first hand insights.

Documents

 

“George Clarke (b.1768) had a habit of preserving every document he ever produced or received. In his will, he not only provides for the care of his family and the disposition of his real and personal estate, but also for the disposition of his papers.

“. . . I desire and direct that all titles, deeds, maps, charts, contracts, leases, writings, memorandums whatsoever relating to my estates in the United States of America be kept together in a safe and appropriate manner at my said mansion house of Hyde Hall, but so that any person or persons interested therein may upon reasonable request have access thereto for the purpose of inspecting examining or copying the same or any part thereof if it be necessary or suitable or convenient for them so to do.”

His children carried out his intent; they preserved not only their forebear’s papers, but also their own. Although it is of course impossible to reconstruct totally the original extent of the papers and to note which documents were preserved and which were destroyed, the breadth and depth of documentation of many aspects of the life of the family is remarkable for a collection of this age and extent. “

George Clarke family papers, #2800.
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library
Barry L. Wold
July 1977

 
 
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