Tag Archives: Rita Hooper

In and Around Hannibal

Rita Hooper



The year is 1865, the American Civil War is ending, and in Hannibal, the Congregational Church and Methodist Church were meeting in their new buildings and the Baptist Church was undergoing extensive repairs.

The Masons were formed with 16 members and had moved into the former Congregational Church building which they had purchased and had moved down to the downtown corner…where parking for Kim’s is now. The official population of Hannibal was 3,322, representing 709 families. The population of the village was 470.

The township had 638 dwellings and 93 miles of public roads. In the last census by the way the town population was 4854, the Village 555. The village had 3.11 miles of roads and the Township 56. Common thinking is that the county and state has taken over some of those original 93 miles of roads.

Hannibal was a happening place. In October of 1866, the first newspaper was published in Hannibal by Dr. George V. Emens, the local dentist. It started as a monthly sheet known as the Hannibal Reveille. Dr. Emens lived on Oswego St. next to the Hannibal Hotel and had his dental business there as well. He also sold insurance, jewelry and watches and held stock in the Hannibal Peat Company…oh he also produced his own toothdrops which he sold at the local drug store. He served in the Civil War and was active in the Masons and Dental Society. He was married three times and had four daughters, death didn’t slow him down as he was buried twice!

In February of 1869, the paper was late and he offered this apology: The month of February is usually the least busy of all the year with us; but this year it has been crowded day and night with work belonging to our profession. During the past month, we have made 18 sets of artificial teeth and filled 56 cavities besides other work which can not be mentioned in this connection. Anyone can see from this report that not much time for editing a paper could have worked in.”

By January 1873, the Reveille was being published weekly and in July of that year it was sold to A.N. Bradt.

Meanwhile, Charles H. Parsons and Clarence B. Brower started the Hannibal News in 1876. In less than a year, Parsons dropped out and N.B. Brower joined his son in the newspaper business.

A.N. Bradt bought the Hannibal News and consolidated the two papers into the Reveille and News, and then he sold the newspaper to his brother who six months later sold it to Clarence Brower. He built it into a 28 columns weekly that represented the businesses and social interests of the town. Within several years, Brower sold the paper to Stewart Guthrie who sold out to a Fulton Newspaper.

Since time immemorial people have always had a need for the news. Some societies “drummed” the news to the countryside and some like the old joke “told a woman.” Our country forebears have seen fit to protect our right of freedom of speech, including the freedom of the media. Those rights protect us from government interference.

On the other side of the coin, media is not to communicate anything that falls into the categories of slander, libel, obscenity, sedition, copyright violation or classified information. Reminds me of the witness stand: the truth and nothing but the truth.

I for one am thankful that I live in a country that has protection for the media. Would we have gotten to the truth of Watergate if it had not been for the press?  I’m not thrilled with the current Snowden happenings but I don’t think he lived up to his half of the bargain on the responsibility side of the issue.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397


In and Around Hannibal: July 13, 2013

InAndAroundHannibal1by Rita Hooper 

The “wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round all about the town!”

That’s how a good number of the children of Appalachia receive their dental care. The ToothBus, the size of a large mobile home, is staffed by volunteer dentists and dental assistants from Mission Children’s Dental, a part of Mission Children’s Hospital.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital soon found that tending to children’s oral health had vast benefits for their overall health.

Medicaid reimbursement to dentists is too low for dentists to be able to take many Medicaid patients. The ToothBus began operating 18 years ago.

Statistics from 2004 show that in the nation, there are 59 dentists per 100,000 people. In the distressed counties of Appalachia that number drops to four dentists per 100,000 people.

I wonder what the statistics are for Oswego County.

A recent study shows that North Carolina is one of five states that is failing in its efforts to prevent tooth decay. The ToothBus delivers convenient care to children who may have limited access to dental resources.

Each year, 500 to 600 children receive three to four visits from the ToothBus for regular dental check-ups, cleanings, sealant care and oral health education.

Since the bus began its travels, 7,500 children have received help and 20,000 visits have been made all across western NC working with the local school systems. This service is free and open to every child whether they are documented or not, receive Medicaid, have no insurance or parents can’t take the time off from work to take their children to the dentist.

They specialize in distraction techniques so that the child’s fears are lessened; the children also receive toothbrushes and a good dose of dental education. As one parent said, “I lost my teeth at 30 and I don’t want that to happen to my children.”

And so the “wheels on the bus continue to go round and round all about the town.”

Now to bring the story back to Hannibal: Once upon a time, Hannibal schools provided a dental hygienist for the students. As best we can figure, that service ended in the early 1970s due to budget cuts.

The last one in Hannibal was Mavis Nihoff, whose job it was to clean every students teeth once a year (1,400 students is the number I heard.) Her daughter, Kathy Gilbert said she used something that “tasted awful…maybe it was ashes!” If any of my readers would like to add to the story, please let me know!

Keep brushing and don’t forget to floss! Everyone has a right to a smile!

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Sterling Valley Community Church’s annual ice cream social will be today at 5 p.m.  There will be food, including hot dogs, hamburgers, soda, ice cream and cake, popcorn and cotton candy. There will be a bake sale and lots of things for kids to do. The highlight of the evening will be music by the blue grass band “Different Brothers.”

Hannibal Senior Citizens will be meeting at noon for dinner. Come early for coffee and news or to work on the jigsaw puzzle or  cards. Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation at 564-5471. This week’s menu is:

• Monday, July 15: Barbecue turkey on hamburger roll, au gratin potatoes, vegetable, and tropical fruit. Monday will also be hobby day.

• Wednesday, July 17: Hoffman hotdog on roll, baked beans, seasonal salad, juice, and cookie. Wednesday will also feature music with Deanna Hubbard and bingo after lunch.

• Friday, July 19: Goulash, Italian blend vegetables, juice, and pineapple tidbits. Friday is also game day.

The Jammers will meet at the American Legion Monday evening at 7 p.m. If you play an instrument or sing, blue-grass, country, or Gospel come on over and join the fun.  Listeners are always welcome, too!

Summer reading at the library for children has begun. The sessions are Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m. for six weeks. This year’s theme is “Dig into Reading.”  Remember children are great copiers; if mom and dad read, the odds are that children will too.  Parents, check out what the library has in books that interest you!

Thursday, July 18, three will be a free concert, featuring Jeff Sawyer with Rick Bush, on the Hannibal Library lawn from 6 to 8 p.m. Friends of the Library will be serve ice-cream sundaes and the Elderberries will cook hot dogs and serve drinks. Come for supper or dessert. In case of rain, and we’ve had plenty of that, we’ll move everything to town hall.

An upcoming yard sale and bake sale to benefit Hannibal Home and School will be held at the Hannibal Library July 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All proceeds go to Hannibal Home and School.

The Hannibal Summer Recreation Program has begun its summer season at the Hannibal Town Hall Park and Pavilion. Hannibal students in grades K-4 are welcome. Parent supervision is required and siblings in grades 5 and 6 are welcome to participate. A free breakfast and lunch will be provided if ordered a day in advance at 806-9542). The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. The program will run for six weeks until Aug. 16. Registration is not required (but do call in advance for the meals) so children are free to miss a week to go on family vacation or whatever! Sounds like there are many interesting activities planned.

The Hannibal Resource Center has changed its hours. The center will no longer be open Thursday nights. They will continue to be open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and  will now be open Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. The center is located at Our Lady of the Rosary, across from the high school and is supported by the three village churches.

Your church or youth group can still have a booth at the SOS FEST July 19-21 at the Hannibal Fireman’s Field in Hannibal. Sell food, have a bake sale, set up games, activities, or mission display,; your group keeps all your money. Non-profit mission booths are free! Crafters and Vendors pay only a small fee. Those seeking more information may visit www.cabin3ministries.org.

The Hannibal Nursery School is celebrating their 40th year this upcoming 2013-2014 school year. July 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at the nursery school, 162 Oswego St., they will celebrate with games, crafts and face painting. If you or your children were involved in the Hannibal Nursery School, it would be a good time to come to the reunion. There will also be an opportunity to meet the new teachers. Enrollment is open for the 2013-2014 school year. They will also be having an open house Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.

In and Around Hannibal: Mission to Appalachia

Rita Hooper 



As some of my readers know, I have just returned from nine days in Appalachia, specifically Tennessee and North Carolina.

I was there on a church-sponsored Mission Tour to learn about the culture and history of the area, the part the Presbyterian Church USA played and continues to play and the challenges faced by women, children and families.

I will be traveling during the next two years to talk about what I saw and learned. I went with 22 other women from all across the country, including Alaska. It was not a pleasure trip, but with 23 women, we managed to find ways to have some fun and a lot of giggles.

We visited a hospital and toured the Toothbus, we visited food pantries and clothes closets, we checked out individual water systems, met with people who offer free legal services and have 300 lawyers that volunteer their time.

Interesting to note that much of their time is spent getting people the help they are entitled to but can’t work their way through the system. We spent an afternoon in a poverty simulation which helped us to understand why the ‘system’ doesn’t work.

We sat in small groups trying to determine which housing repair applications we would accept for a group that works with volunteers that do home repairs.  These were actual applications.  The choices were not easy ones to make.

Though not mentioned specifically you can see that one of the underlying threads weaving its way through poverty is drugs.  I think the same can probably be said about our area.

We had a presentation by two pharmacy grad students from East Tn. State University who work with the program Generation Rx – a program to prevent the misuse and abuse of drugs.

Four out of the top five drugs abused by 12th graders are prescription and non-prescription medicines. Seventy percent of the folks currently abusing drugs are getting them from family and friends.

The statistics are mind boggling but probably not so very different from other states.

Another one of those threads is education. We spoke with a young woman in prison because of drugs. She has managed to get her first two years of college under her belt while incarcerated. She hopes to be a drug counselor when she’s out.

But her first words were, “Education is the key!” I wish high school kids could hear her.  She has been able to reconcile with her children and is counting her days until she’s free. She is turning her life around.

Another thread is the part politics is playing in poverty.  The sequester is bad enough but the budget cuts especially in North Carolina will have devastating effects on the poor. We have seen some of those effects in Oswego County and New York State as well.

Cutting programs to the poor doesn’t generate income and costs more in the long run. It’s cheaper to have a Toothbus go to the schools and provide dental exams and routine care for the children than it is to take care of mouth and digestion problems in the future!

There is so much to say and so little time…


To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or call 598-6397 to subscribe

In and Around Hannibal: A difficult week

Rita Hooper 



It’s been difficult to think of something to write about this week – the bombing at the Boston Marathon has taken the wind out of my sails so to speak.

Couple that with the rental truck at Oklahoma City that was briefly under suspicion, reminiscent of the bombing there in 1995 and the ricin letters to the senator and president, it’s been a tough week and it’s only Wednesday.

The country is on heightened alert. For a news junkie, it’s even a bit too much to assimilate – which reminds me, I haven’t heard anything on the North Korea threat since Sunday, I guess they haven’t sent off any nuclear bombs as was the suspicion they would do on Monday.

Life does go on for most of us.  Some of us will never be able to forget and will live with the losses as long as they live.

I have no sage words – but prayers can never hurt – for those who lost their lives and their families and friends — for those hurt so severely — for those first responders, volunteers, medical staff and law enforcement that helped so quickly making the loss of life less than it might have been — for our leaders that cool heads prevails — for ourselves that we not jump to hasty conclusions and loose faith in our fellow man.

The eight-year old who died Monday made a poster a year ago that read “Stop Hurting Each Other” and “Peace.”

Perhaps that’s one thing we can all do — stop the hurt, whether it’s bullying or mean words, not so good business practices or disharmony in families.

Maybe it’s making amends, maybe it’s reading and getting to know people that aren’t “just like us.”

In this season of new life, think about what it is that you and I can do to stop hurting others and bring that peace we all seek.


To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe to The Valley News by calling the office at 598-6397 or follow the link on our homepage.

In And Around Hannibal: September 22, 2012

by Rita Hooper

“For Brave Men and Adventurous Women,” a play written by Hannibal resident John Donohue about the famous Yukon Gold Rush will be performed at St. Clare’s Theater, 812 N. Salina St., Syracuse, Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets are discounted if you’re in costume.

What was Hannibal like in the times of the Yukon Gold Rush?

The population of Hannibal Town was 2,148 people.

Hannibal Fire Co. was incorporated in 1910; Rienza Bradt was the first fire chief and remained in that position until 1923. He operated a flour and feed store in the Village. They purchased a two wheeled, hand drawn, chemical cart for $500 from American LaFrance Fire Engine Co. Jay Campbell put it in a Ford Chassis.

Joel Sprague was master of the Golden Sheaf Grange #587, which had been formed in 1889 with a charter membership of 40 “in response to the deep felt need of many people of Hannibal and vicinity for a more abundant social and intellectual life.” The Hannibal Center Grange formed in 1912.

James V. Burt was president of the village.

Teachers in rural school districts were lucky to be paid $2 a day

Harry Wheeler, Rockwell Powers and Melzar Van Auken were the rural route mail carriers serving Routes 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

The Masonic Lodge in Hannibal was about 85 years old and W.C. Matteson was the Master of the Lodge and JR Chamberlain secretary.

World War I had not yet happened but Hannibal was still suffering the effects of the Civil War. The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization of Civil War veterans. O.A. Kipp was the Hannibal commander.

Other officers were A.L. Elridge, John Kennedy, Dr. D.F. Acker, and John H. Baker.

The GAR Auxiliary was organized about 1902. Helen Tucker was its first president. In order to be a member you had to be a wife or daughter of a Civil War veteran. Their meetings were held over Cooper’s store, later owned by William Shutts and operated as a restaurant…some of my older readers may have childhood memories of this!

About 400 men served in the Civil War from Hannibal. The majority of these soldiers nationally were under 18. Twenty-five of them under 10, 105,000 were 15, sounds more like children to me!

Harry Lockwood was the town’s outstanding athlete. “He acted as the spark plug for his teammates.” In 1910 and 1911, he played first base for Hannibal; in 1942 he coached Hannibal’s team onto a 18-2 record. World War II cut into his plans for a future career. During the ‘48 season he had a .320 batting average and 12 home runs. He later went on to play for Geneva in the Border League, Wilkes-Barre in Class B and later played in the Canadian League.

During this period of time, the Presbyterian Church was served by Rev. W.A. McKenzie DD an Rev. B.A. Matzen. The Baptist Church was served by Rev. Paul Brown. The Baptist Church later federated with the Presbyterian Church in 1926 forming the Community Church

The Baptist Church is the current library.

In 1910, Rev. Beldin E. Pratt was appointed pastor at the Hannibal Methodist Church, “as he was the only resident pastor, there was plenty of work for his to do.”

S.R. Lockwood was principal of the Hannibal Village School and oversaw the building of the current high school after a fire destroyed the previous one. The average graduating class size for this period was 5 – 6. I think the school colors at the time were red and black – did they become purple at centralization? One of my readers must have the answer!

Vocational agriculture and academic housemaking courses were introduced, with Hannibal being one of the very first in New York State and one of the oldest in the US.

Lena Cox Hewitt was alumni president in 1912. The Alumni Association was formed in 1904.

Electricity had not yet come to Hannibal. The roads were not paved.

The NY Central railroad served Hannibal with 3 daily trains west and 4 east. The Hannibal Agent was Lincoln Stopellben (1905 – 1938.)

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Now back to the news – the current news!

There will be no school on Monday – Superintendent’s Conference Day

The Hannibal Senior Meals program will meet this Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon for lunch. Most of the folks come earlier for cards and games, conversation and coffee. They meet at the Community Center (Library) on Oswego St. To make your reservation, please call Rosemary at 564-5471.

By the way, Rosemary is busy preparing for the Hawaiian Candlelight Dinner, set for Oct. 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Fire Department, with a great menu, entertainment and door prizes. This year’s theme is a Hawaiian one – Remember it’s always fun to dress for the occasion.

The Hannibal Historical Society will begin its 2012 – 2013 program season on Monday, Sept. 24 at the Hannibal Community Center, located across from the firehouse on Oswego Street in Hannibal. The group will meet at 6 p.m. for a business meeting, followed by the evening’s program, which will begin at 7 p.m. Kirk Coates, an adjunct professor at SUNY Oswego, will speak about “Reconstruction – America’s Second Civil War.” The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Hannibal Historical Society is planning on offering another Christmas ornament for sale this holiday season. This one is pewter and will feature the Baptist Church/Community Center on it. Its delivery is expected soon and once inspected they will be available for  purchase – hopefully by the Sept. 24 meeting. It’s not too early to be working on your Christmas list – it will help you cut down on the holiday anxiety and let us remember the reason for the season.

The Hannibal Jammers will be meeting this Monday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion on Rochester St.

TOPS will meet at Our Lady of the Rosary on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.

The Hannibal Methodist Church hosts a free chili and soup lunch Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. Good food and good people to talk with. Take-outs available.

Hannibal Music Boosters will be meeting at 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the High School Library on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The Hannibal Fire Company’s next breakfast buffet will be Sunday, Sept. 30 beginning at 8 a.m at the Hannibal Firehouse, Oswego Street, Hannibal.

The menu includes pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries, toast, sausage gravy, biscuits, and beverages.

Oct. 7, from noon until 5 there will be a benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project at the American Legion. Included will be a spaghetti dinner and entertainment and a motorcycle ride to several other American Legion Posts in the afternoon for those so inclined.

Oct. 10 from noon to 4 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 2 p.m., the Municipal Building will be open for people to register for voting.

The Friends of the Hannibal Free Library will be holding a book and bake sale Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be hundreds of books, videos, and CD’s for all ages and interests. There will also be a wide variety of baked goods for sale. For more information please call Faith at 564-5192.

Don’t forget too include the food pantry at the Hannibal Resource Center on your shopping list. Lend a hand to your neighbors who need a hand up – remember some day it could be you! The center is located in the basement of Our Lady of the Rosary’s rectory across from the High School.

Valley Viewpoints: Time for a change

by Rita Hooper of Fulton

I’ve lived in this county for 40 years. It has been a Republican County for those 40 years and long before that I understand.

For years, folks have said we have too many people on welfare, too much is being spent on Medicaid, our taxes are too high, there is way too much unemployment, and my children get educated here but can’t find jobs so they leave…

We have survived Republican and Democrat administrations at the state and national level. The only thing that doesn’t change is the reality that Oswego County remains a heavily Republican county.

I, for one, can’t understand why there were only three Republicans willing to stand with the Democrats to vote against awarding the contract to Info Quick Solutions for imaging services needed at the county clerk’s office. IQS was not only the highest bidder but fared lowest on an overall rating done by a committee of legislators picked by County Administrator Phil Church.

I question whose money the county legislature is looking after.

This issue has dragged on way too long with charges and counter charges too convoluted to go into in this letter. Read past Valley News articles on this to learn the details for yourself.

I’m an unabashed Democrat, I love my adopted county that my kids call home, but I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in what I’ve seen happening in this county.

Amy Tresidder has been a vocal Democrat fighting for all of us in the county legislature.

She states if it doesn’t smell right to you – it probably doesn’t smell right to her.

Our county isn’t smelling too good me anymore. She asks the questions all of us want answers, too.

Mrs. Tresidder is running for state Senate this year. I would hate to see her leave her position as county legislator but I know she will do a terrific job for us in the state Senate.

I hope my Republican friends will check the record of both Mrs. Ritchie and Mrs. Tresidder and see who falls in with your thinking and who has worked for you. See where their funding comes from and ask yourself: “Why?”

Remember the expression: follow the money. Step out of your comfort zone and pull that Democrat lever this fall. What have you got to lose?

In and Around Hannibal: Sept. 15, 2012

by Rita Hooper 

I have an early deadline this weekend so hope I haven’t missed any news. If I have, look for it next week in The Valley News.

Tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 16, Oswego County Democrats will be holding their annual steak bake and corn roast at Scott’s Pond.

There will be a county golf tournament preceding the picnic.  You can call Judy or Bill Walsh (564-5657) or Judy Prosser, (564-5630) and see if there is still an opening.

Steaks had to be pre-ordered but come anyway and eat off the menu. Several Democrat candidates or their reps will be on hand to meet and greet you.

The Hannibal Senior Meals program will meet this Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon for lunch.  Most of the folks come earlier for cards and games, conversation and coffee.

This week’s menu features beef stroganoff over egg noodles with brownies for dessert Monday; open-face hot turkey sandwiches Wednesday; and fish clippers Friday.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

In And Around Hannibal: September 8, 2012

Rita Hooper 

This passed week saw the passing of Dorothy Fresch. Dorothy was born on the family farm just west of the Village.

She taught in many of the one room school houses in and around Hannibal before centralization and retired from Cayuga Street School in 1975. She and her husband also had a mink farm at one time in the village. Dorothy was just four years short of marking 100 years.

Can you imagine the changes she saw in her lifetime? Hannibal was really a one horse town when Dorothy was born — now there are lots of horses under the hoods! She saw the advent of electricity and public water. She saw the changes from crank phones to cell phones.

She attended services at the Baptist Church and watched it transform from being wrecking ball material into the current Library and Senior Center.

This little girl, born nearly 100 years ago, became a world traveler and hosted many students from other countries through the American Field Service program.

But she never forgot her home community in Hannibal taking active roles in the Methodist Church, the Historical Society, the Senior Nutrition Program, Elderberries, Senior Council and the Community Center Board.

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