Tag Archives: Paul Lear


Flag Day event to include 1,000 elementary students

Children will learn the history behind the many flags displayed at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at the June 14 Flag Day observance. Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate.
Children will learn the history behind the many flags displayed at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at the June 14 Flag Day observance. Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate.

Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate in an official observation of the national Flag Day holiday at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at 10 a.m. Friday, June 14.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from across central New York will participate in ceremonies commemorating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America June 14, 1777.

Fort Ontario was the site of two French and Indian War and two War of 1812 battles. The official Flag Day event will feature a recreation of the British turning Fort Ontario over to the United States in 1796, a hands-on history of the origin of the American flag by the Oswego Elks with participation by students, a history of flags that flew at Fort Ontario by Americorps volunteers, living history and musket demonstrations by members of the Continental Arms Collectors Association, World War II re-enactors, historic games, and self-guided tours of the fort.

The fort will be open to the public during the Flag Day with a special admission price.  School groups must register in advance to participate. Those looking to register may e-mail Ian Mumpton at imumpton@gmail.com.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen will lead visitors in the Pledge of Allegiance. Fort Ontario Superintendent Paul Lear will provide historical background for the event.

“This year marks the beginning of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, a war in which New York State and Oswego played a prominent role,” said Lear.  “Warehouses were built at Oswego during the war to store vast amounts of vital military supplies and equipment was forwarded to military operations along the Niagara frontier and Sacket’s Harbor.”

During the War of 1812 Fort Ontario guarded the supplies stored at and moving through Oswego; one British attack on Oswego in 1813 was driven off.  In May 1814 a larger and more powerful British fleet, intent on crippling American ship construction at Sacket’s Harbor, took Fort Ontario after a two-day amphibious assault.

The 1814 Battle of Oswego-Fort Ontario ended with a stubborn defense of the US flag which had been nailed to the flagpole; it resides in the ancestral castle of the British land commander during the battle.

The 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, USAR, now deployed to Afghanistan, maintains a reserve center on the old Fort Ontario Military Reservation.

“The members of the 444th proudly carry on a 258-year history of military occupation of the old army post,” said Lear.  “A Corps of Engineers and US flag carried with the 444th during their 2007-08 service in Iraq will be displayed at the fort during the Flag Day event.”

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego.  

War of 1812 Symposium returns to the Port City

The Oswego War of 1812 Symposium returns to the Port City for its third year.

It runs from Friday, April 5 to Sunday, April 7 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

The event continues the bicentennial commemoration of the historic war that firmly established America’s independence from Great Britain and confirmed its national identity.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear is the chairman of the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium Bicentennial Steering Committee and will emcee the event.

“The symposium has grown significantly in size and scope over the last two years, leading us to relocate and expand the program to better accommodate participants,” said Lear. “Once again, we will offer a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss a variety of themes about the war and its effects along the New York-Canadian border.”

The weekend kicks off with a meet-and-greet social with cash bar, a presentation of the painting of the U.S. Brig Oneida by Oswego artist Tim Ames, and early registration from 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, the day begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome from emcee Paul Lear and a presentation by nationally-acclaimed historical marine artist Dr. Peter Rindlisbacher, “In the Wake of the Few: Portraying 1812 Marine History on Canvas.”

Dr. Timothy Abel, historian and adjunct professor of anthropology at Jefferson Community College and SUNY Canton, presents “The Days are Cold and the Nights Much Colder: the Archaeology of Colonel Zebulon Pike’s 1812-1813 Winter Encampment at Plattsburgh.”

Dr. Gary Gibson, noted historian and author, makes his third appearance at the symposium. This year, he discusses “Target of Opportunity: The Two Battles of Sackets Harbor.”

There will be an hour break for lunch, followed by a presentation about War of 1812 shipwrecks such as the Hamilton and the Scourge from Jonathan Moore, senior underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service. Col. Clayton Nans returns to the symposium with a new talk about the U.S. Brig Oneida and the establishment of the U.S. Navy on Lake Ontario.

Award-winning author and noted historian Sandy Antal offers his perspective, “For Want of a Strategic Horseshoe: How Isaac Chauncey Won the War in the West,” as Dennis Connors, author and curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association, closes out the day with his presentation, “You Never Know Where a Cargo of Salt Will Lead You: Daniel Dobbins, Salt Trader and the War of 1812 on Lake Erie.”

Sunday, Lt. Col. Michael McGurty, superintendent of New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters New York State Historic Sites, begins the day at 9 a.m. with, “Lambs Prepared for Slaughter: General Winfield Scott’s Training Camp at Buffalo, Spring 1814.”

Matthew MacVittie, assistant curator of history for the Onondaga Historical Association, also returns to the symposium with a new presentation, “Spy vs. Spy: Cross Border Espionage on Lake Ontario During the War of 1812.”

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site Manager Constance Barone presents a talk about daily life during the War of 1812 in the North Country, followed by a speaker’s roundtable discussion, “Winning and Losing the War of 1812,” before the event closes at noon.

“The Great Lakes and northern U.S. border were major theatres of action during the War of 1812,” said Lear. “This year, the seminar was expanded to give an overview of the important role that these areas and their people played during the war.”

There is a registration fee to attend. The registration fee includes Saturday’s lunch and workshop materials. One day registration is also available.

Advance registration is required and may be paid by check or credit card through the Friends of Fort Ontario at 343-4711.


‘Ghost Tours’ to be held at Fort Ontario

“Ghostly Refuge,” an episode of “Ghost Hunters” filmed at Fort Ontario last summer, aired Wednesday on the SyFy Channel.

Paul Lear, Historic Site Manager at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, said members of the “Ghost Hunters” cast and crew filmed in the officers’ quarters and other buildings at Fort Ontario for several days and nights last June and interviewed several people who had witnessed unusual sights and sounds at Fort Ontario.

Featured cast members include Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Adam Berry.

The Friends of Fort Ontario, assisted by the Central New York Ghost Hunters, will host the annual Fort Ontario Ghost Tours Oct. 19 and 20 starting at 7 p.m. Groups will leave every 15 minutes until 11 p.m.

Those seeking ticket information may go to www.fortontario.com.