1868, 150 years ago

Election campaign

The presidential campaign of 1868 begins and the eyes of the nation are focused on a city of 28,000 on the southern banks of the Mohawk River called Utica. Not only is one of the candidates from Utica, but a sidebar on the main campaign story has captured the attention of the national press and that story is unfolding in the city.

Newspapers are asking: “Who will Utica’s U.S. Sen. Roscoe Conkling support?”

Conkling is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in the Senate. He also happens to be the brother-in-law of Horatio Seymour, the Utican who is the Democratic Party’s candidate to become 18th president of the United States. Conkling also is a close friend of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero who the Republican Party has picked to oppose Seymour.

Conkling decides to work hard to be get Grant elected, but a problem has arisen.

The campaign is a dirty one with both parties slinging mud. Republicans begin the rumor that Seymour has been struggling with bouts of insanity and that insanity runs in his family. Conkling’s wife, Julia, is Seymour’s sister and the Conklings have a daughter, Bessie. If Conkling supports the Republican claim, he is admitting that there is a bit of madness in the blood of his wife and daughter

So Conkling decides he will campaign for Grant, but only attack the Democratic Party platform and not get involved in his brother-in-law’s personality. This is a difficult decision for Conkling for he and his brother-in-law are not the best friends

1918, 100 years ago

Auto club action

Officials of the Utica Automobile Club of Utica have been waiting for weeks for the state to repair dangerous holes on North Genesee Street as it approaches the bridge over the new Barge Canal. The repairs are a state matter. Several motorists have complained about broken auto springs because of the holes. This week, several club officials – armed with shovels and crushed stone – fill in the holes. The club warns motorists, however, that the repairs are not permanent and continues to ask the state to take action.

1943, 75 years ago

Arnold visits

Gen. Henry (Hap) Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces during World War II, visits Rome Air Field (later renamed Griffiss Air Force Base) and tours the depot there. He inspects the engineering shop and supply warehouses and says he is “well-pleased with the progress being made” at the new field.

1968, 50 years ago

Costly fire

Utica firefighters used 2,216,100 gallons of water to extinguish the fire at the Sunset-Philip Thomas Lumber Yard on Kemble Street on July 25. It was the city’s first three-alarm fire in 13 years. Capt. Harold Luley says the fire caused an estimated $1 million in damage to the lumber yard and several nearby houses and garages. Since the fire, there have been six other alarms at the lumber yard to extinguish small pockets of fires. To date, it has taken 1,540 man-hours to fight the blaze.

Among the youngsters who are winners in the John Mott Memorial Tennis Tournament at the Parkway in Utica are: Dwight Evans, Dody Bullwinkle, Mary Pat Dougherty, George Falinski, Sam Calabrese, Rudy Pugliese, Bob Evans, Meg Gere and Zyn Jackiw.

Robert Jones is guest soloist with the New Hartford Citizens’ Band at its final concert of the season at the entrance steps of the Oxford Road School. Kenneth Fryer is director.

1993, 25 years ago

Proctor name

The Utica school board changes the name Utica Senior Academy to Thomas R. Proctor Senior Academy. Many Uticans lobbied board members to change the name back to “Proctor” – the original name when the high school was founded in 1936. They said the change would pay tribute to Proctor and his family, the city’s great benefactors.

The annual celebration of Old Home Day at Bethel Church, on Route 12 just north of Remsen, take place. A service is led by the Rev. Patricia H. Lawrence, pastor of Plymouth-Bethesda United Church of Christ in Utica. Music is provided by Susan Heuser and Kathy Roberts.

Col. Michael Kudlacz is the new commander of Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome.

Frank Viola is elected president of the East Side Senior Day Center. Others elected include: Rose Miller and Charles Biasi, vice presidents; John Robertaccio, treasurer; and Mary Giruzzi, secretary.

Jay Frisillo of Utica wins the Summer Sizzle five-mile road race at Mohawk Valley Community College in 26 minutes, four seconds. It’s sponsored by the Utica YMCA Roadrunners. Beth Herder, of Utica, leads the women in 30:37. There are 169 entries and 154 finishers.

2008, 10 years ago

Nole named

Robert Nole is appointed superintendent of schools in the New Hartford Central School District. He has been the district’s assistant superintendent for business affairs since 2003.

Trivia quiz

John F. Kennedy was the fifth president of the United States who was a graduate of Harvard University. He earned his degree in 1940. Who were the four before him? (Answer will appear here next week.)

Answer to last week’s question: Seven presidents were born in Ohio: Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, Taft and Harding.

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino. E-mail him at ftomaino@uticaod.com.