In the fall of 2012, my wife and I vacationed in New York State. We spent several wonderful days in downtown Manhattan and then headed off to upstate New York. Our major destination, there, was the town of Cooperstown, a place very familiar to our son-in-law who grew up not far from there. I was well aware that Cooperstown was the home of baseball’s Hall of Fame and that the town was connected with the author of the classic Leather-Stocking Tales, James Fenimore Cooper. Among his great book titles in that series are The Last of the Mohicans, and The Deerslayer.
What I was not prepared for was the charm and beauty of the town and its surroundings. The downtown heart of Cooperstown is not very large, although the surroundings stretch well beyond the town center. The Hall of Fame is located right in the middle of town, and, except for the times when special baseball events are held there, blends-in surprisingly well with the small-town ambience. During those spring baseball events related to the Hall, all but the most rabid baseball fans and folks who love crowds would be advised to stay away.
One of the most interesting sights in the heart of town is the old Pomeroy House which still stands regally on the corner of Main and River Streets. In 1801, George Pomeroy arrived in the area from Albany, New York. He was the first druggist in the town (and the county), and he quickly became enamored of seventeen year-old Ann Cooper, the daughter of the town’s founder and early settler, William Cooper.
As a wedding gift to the couple, Cooper had a beautiful stone house constructed in 1804, at its present site. The building is a stone-mason’s work of art in the herringbone pattern. Under the eastern gable, are the intertwined initials in stone representing “George Ann Pomeroy Cooper.”
Ann was the sister of James who adopted his mother’s maiden name, Fenimore, and become known to the world as James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper went on to pioneer the genre of American fiction with his rough-hewn tales which were so influenced by the landscape in which he lived. And, yes, there were Indians all around the region at that time. The Deerslayer, one of his best titles, takes place prominently in and around Lake Otsego, several miles from the town center.
We spent our last evening there, overlooking the lake. That following October morning when we left, the air was a chilly 25 degrees, and a mist hung over the lake. We were worried about snow…but that would have been a sight to behold.
All of this is wonderful history, frontier history, and it could not have taken place in a more beautiful setting!