Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Bones of Cooperstown

This is the first in a series of posts by guest blogger, Michele Harvey. Fenimore Art Museum will exhibit new work by Harvey in the exhibition Watermark: Michele Harvey & Glimmerglass, beginning April 1, 2010.

I needed to see the bones of Cooperstown.

The Fenimore Art Museum had requested I put together a landscape show with a sense of place. I had been to Cooperstown many, many times, but wanted to dig deeper. The scenery and history are unique. This presented an opportunity to explore and enlarge my understanding of this historic town. I turned into a tourist of the out-of-the-way. It is a place to capture the imagination. Each foray would present a different understanding, which would feed my creative vision.
As fate would have it, one of the first things to catch my eye was a Candlelight Ghost Tour of Cooperstown. Being open but skeptical, I waited on the corner of Pioneer Street and Main, for my host. The night was chilly and misty and I was the only soul to brave the weather. Bruce Markusen (a docent at Fenimore Art Museum by day) was my dauntless guide and led me through an interesting, eerie romp of the town. An excellent storyteller, Mr. Markusen captured my attention from the first footstep. Being a historic tour, I was free to satisfy my interest with a side of a Cooperstown rarely seen. I will not give away the punch line, but Cooperstown will never seem the same in broad daylight again. I did walk the same route, the next morning. There it was. The town was decidedly different.
This led me to my next stop. A park oddly named Indian Grave. From the street it appears an unremarkable greensward, dotted with old trees. But the roadside plaque tells the tale and invites invitation. Inside an iron gate, the landscape alters. Looking back upslope, to the street, one clearly sees the sharp outline of a large burial mound. Here the bones of an Indian had been discovered, disinterred and reburied with honor in 1874. It's very close to the Susquehanna River. Near where other Native American graves were known to exist. One may only guess, it being a choice location, that there was some reason behind such a regal tomb for the remains. After all, it was only a block away from the busiest part of the Ghost Tour and it's spectral sightings.

In my next post, I hope to enchant you with a tale of Fairy Springs and it's surrounding haunts.

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