FULTON FAMILIES — Labor of love: The Mirabitos celebrate a century in Fulton

The Mirabito family has lived through about a century of ups and downs in Fultons. Today, Jim Mirabito is a successful grocer in Hannibal. Back row, left to right: Ann, Jim and Dan; front row: Sue, Steve and Sara.
The Mirabito family has lived through about a century of ups and downs in Fultons. Today, Jim Mirabito is a successful grocer in Hannibal. Back row, left to right: Ann, Jim and Dan; front row: Sue, Steve and Sara.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of stories about Fulton Families.  The monthly series will tell the stories of families that have either  lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common  bond will be they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Debbie Groom,  Valley News managing editor, at dgroom@scotsmanmediagroup.com.

By Ashley M. Casey

According to Charlene Mirabito, six is the perfect number of children.

Having grown up as the only child of Polish immigrants to Fulton, she knew  that one would be lonely. But she thought two would fight, three would end up two-on-one, and four or five might gang up on each other as well. So she and her husband, Francis, settled on six: Ann, Jim, Sue, Dan, Steve and Sara.

Out of that brood of six, only Jim Mirabito remains a Fultonian. He and his wife, Cindy, own the Hannibal Village Market, which they bought from Francis back in 1996.

As a third-generation Mirabito in Fulton, he is carrying on the family tradition of engaging with the community. Continue reading

The Sportsman’s World, by Leon Archer Fur trapping

The fur trade today bears very little resemblance to that of Colonial America through the first half of the 1800s.

The most important fur in those days came from the beaver, but fur, whether from beaver, or muskrat, was destined to become felt. The felt produced from beaver fur was of the highest quality and demanded a high price.

The felt hat or “beaver” actually went into production in the early 1500s, but it grew in popularity until by the mid-1600s it was a must have item for many people and classes.

The well-recognized stove pipe hat such as we see Lincoln wearing in photographs and paintings, was an absolute necessity for the well-bred gentleman. The 17th century cardinals wore red, wide brimmed beaver felt hats worthy of their rank, and every naval officer from lieutenant to Admiral had to have his cocked hat, made of beaver felt, of course.

I do not know if any beaver fur is used for the production of felt top hats today, because silk top hats became more popular by the 20th century, in a short time displacing the beaver.

But furs have become valuable and popular throughout the past hundred years, being desired for coats, jackets and stoles. Not many folks were around when every college man or up and comer had to have a raccoon coat, but more of us can remember the 1950s when mink coats were all the rage, commanding prices in the thousands, and a trapper catching two of the critters could earn as much as a full week’s wages from their sale.

I entered the world of trapping as a boy of 11, which coincided almost perfectly with the decline of many fur prices. I trapped mostly muskrat, but I tried my hand at raccoon, mink and ermine as well.

I did fairly well with the rats, caught a few raccoon, a couple of mink, and racked up a fair number of ermine during seven years of trapping. Above all the rest, each year I looked forward to March 1, the opening day of muskrat season.

Before I started trapping, muskrats were bringing close to $4 apiece; once I was trapping, they were bringing $1.35. The most I ever got for rats in the 50s was $2.35.

I skinned and fleshed the first few coon I caught, but quit trapping them entirely after I got 75 cents apiece for the ones I sold. I caught two mink. One was a beautiful dark male that brought me $48, the other smaller one brought me $32. The ermine were a buck apiece, but they were not hard to catch or clean, and I hunted small game as I checked my traps.

I trapped a few times after that, notably two years around 1981, when fur prices were high, and I received $10 apiece for the biggest muskrat pelts. I caught a number of raccoon and averaged $32 apiece for them.

I even tried my hand at fox, getting $75 for a red and $28 for a beautiful grey.

I thought about taking my grandson, Nathaniel, muskrat trapping in the fall of 2012, but ended up not doing it. That was a big mistake, as 2012 found fur prices soaring, and spring fur prices for many furbearers was at record highs.

Muskrats, for example, were averaging $12, with some lots going as high as $17 per pelt. Prices declined a bit from those lofty heights in 2013, but the market predictions are that the big late winter sales will still bring decent prices for good lots.

Beaver are expected to reach $32, up slightly from last year, mink on the other hand may be selling at $17, down nearly half from last year.

My favorite, the lowly muskrat, is expected to bring about $10 with some possibly going as high as $16. Other fur prices are equally impressive to me. I wish I was younger and a bit more agile, I’d be out there with a line somewhere.

One of the problems that arises whenever fur prices get to these levels, especially when the economy is a little lackluster, is that trappers work hard at locking up areas for themselves (which I am not opposed to by the way) but it does make it harder to find areas to trap.

State areas that are open to trappers get hit pretty heavily, even though the DEC limits competition by allowing only so many trappers on some game management areas.

The other problem that I ran into when trapping was paying good money, and to a lesser extent in poorer years, was trap thieves. There are always lowlifes out there who will steal animals from your traps, but the worst of them take your traps too.

One thing I know is that trappers earn their money. If they are like me, they enjoy being good at their craft as well. As long as I cannot be out there with them, I’ll wish them the best of luck and top prices, because trapping and the fur trade lives on.

Oswego County sheriff named to association executive committee

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd has been named to the executive committee of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association.

The association held its election of executive committee members at its 80th Annual Winter Training Conference last week at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.

Todd will work with the newly elected president of the Association, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, and sheriffs from across the state, to further the efforts of the sheriffs’ association to enhance public safety across New York state through professional training and accreditation programs, public safety programs and advocacy.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation, formed in 1934 to assist sheriffs in the efficient and effective delivery of services to the public. It comprises all of the elected and appointed sheriffs of New York state.

Shirley S. (Young) Bird, owned Bird Farm in Volney

Shirley  S. (Young) Bird, 73, of Volney, NY, passed away at home on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 with her family by her side.

Born in Syracuse, NY to her late parents, Mildred E. (Drumma) and Roy  J. Young, Sr. on Dec. 22, 1940, she was the owner/operator of the Bird Farm in Volney, NY.

Shirley was predeceased by her late husband of 45 years, William Lamar Bird in April of 2006; a daughter, Sally  A. Satusky in April of 2009; her siblings, three brothers, John, Roy Jr., and James; six sisters, Janet, Joan, Beverly, Rosemary, Patricia and Marilyn.

Surviving are her daughter, Susan A. (Larry) Benjamin of Phoenix, NY; three sons William S. Bird of Southport, NC, Randy M. (Katy) Bird of Kapolei, HI, and Timothy P. (Gloria) Bird of Baldwinsville; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two brothers, Bud Young and Richard Young; three sisters, Jean Cook, Barbara Johnson and Ruth Whorrall; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A private burial will take place in the summer.

Contributions in Shirley’s memory to: American Heart Association or the Alzheimer’s Association.

Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Homes, Inc., Phoenix, has care of arrangements.

Anita “Cathi” Ramacus, collected angels

Anita “Cathi” Ramacus, 57, of Fulton, died Thursday Feb. 20 at Oswego Hospital, Oswego after a long illness.

Cathi was born in Syracuse, NY and she has been a resident of Fulton for most of her life.

Cathi was a very spiritual person and she enjoyed collecting angels.

She is survived by her children, Antonita “Toni” Ramacus of Syracuse, Frances “Franny” Ramacus of Fulton, Ramsey Ramacus, and Gregory Ramacus both of Syracuse; two sisters, Rita of Clay and Terry of CA; 10 grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours were held Tuesday Feb. 25 at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. Second St. S., Fulton. Burial will be held privately.

County GOP endorses Hanna; Todd announces he’s running for reelection

The Oswego County Republican Committee members from Congressional District NY-22 unanimously supported Rep. Richard Hanna for re-election.

Also at the meeting, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel “Moe” Todd and his wife Val announced Todd would seek re-election as Oswego County Sheriff.

“Tonight was a wonderful evening for Oswego County uniting behind Rep. Hanna and giving Sheriff Todd a standing ovation when he announced his candidacy for re-election,” said County Republican  Chairman Michael Backus.

“Truly we are lucky and thankful to have both Rep. Hanna and Sheriff Todd serving Oswego County and there is no doubt that the OCRC will be in strong support of both of them this fall,” Backus said.

Hanna, of Barneveld, Oneida County, has served as a member of Congress since 2011 and has represented the Eastern half of Oswego County since 2013.

“Congressman Hanna has been an independent voice for Oswego County since he was redistricted into our area and I am thankful he is carrying on the legacy of John McHugh and many others who went to Washington to solve problems and fight for Oswego County,” Backus said.

Todd has served as Oswego County sheriff since 1999.

“There are few individuals in elected office the quality of Sheriff Todd. He is a fighter for Oswego County and the beliefs we hold dear,” said Backus.  “I think the standing ovation he received is a testament to the service he has provided us and what he can bring in the future.”

Oswego man sentenced for killing his wife

Robert F. Moshier, of Oswego, was sentenced Wednesday to 5 to 15 years in state prison on his conviction for second-degree manslaughter.

He also was sentenced to 6.5 years and 3 years post-release supervision upon his conviction for second-degree assault.

Moshier previously pleaded guilty to these two felony offenses Jan. 29. Lawyer  Richard Mitchell, Jr. of Oswego represented Moshier throughout the proceedings.

At the time of his plea, Moshier admitted he recklessly caused the death of his wife, Theresa Moshier, by placing his arm around her throat in order to restrain her.

Moshier acknowledged his actions caused the injuries that resulted in his wife’s death, although he maintained that he did not intend to kill her.

By operation of law, the sentences will run concurrent, resulting in an aggregate sentence of 6.5 to 15 years. Moshier will receive credit for the 6 months he has been incarcerated since his arrest, so he’ll have to serve approximately 60 additional months before he is eligible for parole.

Moshier was arrested Aug. 15, 2013 by the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department.  Deputies responded to the Moshier residence in the Town of Oswego as a result of a 911 call.

On arrival, deputies found the victim showed no signs of life, and a responding paramedic pronounced her dead at the scene.

At sentencing, the victim’s mother fought tears as she told the court about the thoughtful and caring nature of the victim, who earned a master’s degree in business and worked two jobs to provide for husband and two children.

Additionally, she spoke about her daughter’s volunteer work with a local ambulance corps, which led to a paid position with Menter’s Ambulance service.

At sentencing, District Attorney Gregory Oakes noted women are more likely to be killed by a spouse or intimate partner, and such deaths often occur when the woman tries to leave the home.

Responding to prior statements of Moshier that his wife’s death was an accident, Oakes said, “When you place your arm around a person’s neck and squeeze, that is not an accident.”

Oakes stated the manslaughter conviction was appropriate, as her death was the likely and foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s conduct.

After sentencing, District Attorney Oakes stated, “The word “tragedy” doesn’t begin to describe this case.  My heart goes out to all of the surviving family.  Theresa was a kind and generous soul, and her death is a loss to our community.”

Group continues to fight invasive species

Unique habitats along with rare, threatened and endangered species in the Oswego County region are being threatened and displaced by invasive species.

To address this issue, a group of more than 15 partners in a five-county region have adopted a plan of work to mitigate this threat.

Formally known as the St. Lawrence, Eastern Lake Ontario – Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO – PRISM), this group is one of eight regional partnerships throughout New York state who’s mission is to protect economically, environmentally and socially important native habitats, biodiversity and natural areas.

Hosted by the Central and Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the SLELO-PRISM is now in its third year of addressing invasive species.

The partnership has representatives from various organizations throughout a five-county area who have developed a work plan for the 2014 field season.

The plan will address invasive species issues such as prevention, early detection, control and habitat restoration which in turn will help to preserve critical lands, waters and natural areas in the region.

“Invasive species pose a serious threat to the diversity of our natural areas, our economy and our health,” said Rob Williams, invasive species program coordinator. “Our partners have adopted a collaborative work plan that will mitigate their introduction and spread.”

Some of the target invasive species that the SLELO partners plan to address include terrestrial plants such as Swallow-wort, Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed.

Aquatic plants such as Water Chestnut and Hydrilla and forest pests to include the Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid also are in the plan.

“Some of these species are not yet found in our region, and we want to keep it that way,” Williams said.

Last year, the partnership was instrumental in protecting hundreds of acres of freshwater resources, wetland habitats, forest lands, shoreline dunes and globally rare Alvar lands.

In addition, the group treated over 141 Giant Hogweed sites reducing the health threat posed by this plant.

For more information on the SLELO-PRISM or for information on invasive species in the Oswego County area, visit the SLELO website at www.sleloinvasives.org

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