'Hunted down and hanged': George Washington angered by Americans who sell to British

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1778, 244 years ago

Greed runs rampant among some American merchants and farmers who see the Revolutionary War as an opportunity to get rich.

While American soldiers are freezing and starving at Valley Forge, some merchants and farmers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are sending wagonloads of food and supplies into Philadelphia where the British army is spending the winter. They are paid handsomely in solid coin by the British while the American army offers valueless paper money.

The practice angers General George Washington who fears the war profiteers more than he does the British army. He says he would like to see the profiteers “hunted down and hanged.”

George Washington
George Washington

Meanwhile, Washington sends General Nathaniel Greene and 2,000 men into the countryside in Pennsylvania and New Jersey searching for food and supplies for his men at Valley Forge. He doesn’t like taking property from loyal Americans, but he has no choice. Those whose property is taken are given receipts. Greene does not like his assignment. “The inhabitants cry out and beset me from all quarters,” he says. But, he is able to send some food and supplies to Valley Forge to ease conditions there.

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J.B. Wells & Son (on the left) was a “quality department store” and its neighbor, Neisner’s, was a “5 cents to a $1” variety store. They were located on the east side of Genesee Street in downtown Utica between Elizabeth and Devereux streets. Wells had 35 departments on its five floors. It was founded by John Breed Wells in 1841. Neisner’s was founded in 1910 in Rochester by Abraham and Joseph Neisner. It opened its store in Utica in 1930. It occupied the ground floor and a basement where there was a toy and hardware department, a beauty salon and shoe repair shop. A lunch counter also was in the basement and later moved upstairs. When the two stores closed, the building became the home of the Macartovin Apartments.
J.B. Wells & Son (on the left) was a “quality department store” and its neighbor, Neisner’s, was a “5 cents to a $1” variety store. They were located on the east side of Genesee Street in downtown Utica between Elizabeth and Devereux streets. Wells had 35 departments on its five floors. It was founded by John Breed Wells in 1841. Neisner’s was founded in 1910 in Rochester by Abraham and Joseph Neisner. It opened its store in Utica in 1930. It occupied the ground floor and a basement where there was a toy and hardware department, a beauty salon and shoe repair shop. A lunch counter also was in the basement and later moved upstairs. When the two stores closed, the building became the home of the Macartovin Apartments.

1915, 107 years ago

Barrymore in Utica

Ethel Barrymore, famous stage actress, attracts a large crowd to the Majestic Theater on Lafayette Street in Utica. Barrymore – sister of famed actors Lionel and John Barrymore – stars in “The Shadow,” a three-act play by Michael Morton and Dario Niceodemi. She is applauded repeatedly by the crowd.

1947, 75 years ago

DeMolay elects

William G. Boyce is elected master councilor of the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the Order of DeMolay. Other officers include: John McIntyre, senior councilor; Edward Butterworth, junior councilor; William Ruch, senior deacon; Jack Gulick, junior deacon; Robert Jones, treasurer; Theodore Clark, scribe; Harold Roberts, junior steward; Thomas Clark, chaplain; George Hughes, sentinel; Kenneth Ball, master of ceremonies; and Charles Bach, standard bearer.

1972, 50 years ago

CYO officers

The Greater Utica High School Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) elects Robynann O’Shea as its president. She is a junior at St. Francis de Sales High School. Other officers include: Jim Firlit, a sophomore at Notre Dame High, vice president; Gail Belden, a junior at Utica Catholic Academy, secretary; and Cathy Blazek, a freshman at St. Francis de Sales, treasurer.

The Utica Champlin Tire Wreckers beats the Auburn Finger Lakes Pros, 154 to 123, in a game before 500 fans in the Notre Dame High School gym. It’s the Wreckers first win in the New York State Basketball League. The Jim Klein-coached team gets 40 points from Phil Schoff, 34 from Luther Green and 31 from Tony Jackson.

1997, 25 years ago

Miss America

Tara Holland, who was crowned Miss America last September, cuts the ribbon at the Utica Community Action’s new headquarters at 253 Genesee St. in downtown Utica. She has been crisscrossing the country promoting literacy. Community Action is a non-profit group that helps the needy and is part of a network of organizations that promote literacy.

In high school hockey, New Hartford edges out Proctor High, 3 to 2, in a Section III, Division II East game. Nick Weaver scores with 2:55 left to play to give the Spartans the win. The winners also get goals from Adam Foote and Kyle Stevens and 20 saves from goalie Andy Hill. Proctor gets 53 saves from Jerry Sangiacomo and goals from Chris Hameline and Shaun Brennan.

The Mohawk Regional Dietetic Association elects Ellen Kleppang as its president. Pat Palmisano is vice president, Jenile Seelman is secretary and Lori Johnson is treasurer.

2013, 9 years ago

St. Marianne Cope

Area Roman Catholics celebrate the 175th birthday of St. Marianne Cope with a special Mass in St. Joseph-St. Patrick Church in West Utica. The Vatican elevated the Utican to sainthood on Oct. 21, 2012. She was born on Jan. 23, 1838 in the village of Heppenheim in southwest Germany. She was two years old when her family moved to West Utica. She grew up in Utica in a house on Schuyler Street and St. Joseph Church was her home parish.

The fourth annual James Blackshear Memorial Prayer Luncheon attracts a large crowd to the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre in downtown Utica. The event benefits Hope Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, on South Street in Utica, where Blackshear worshiped for more than 40 years. He died in 2000.

He was executive director of the Cosmopolitan Community Center in Utica for more than 20 years. David Mathis, event chairman, says, “I find it interesting that in the week where we had the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a presidential inauguration honoring two national figures that we can continue the tradition here on a local level today. James was not only an important figure in the Black community, but for all of the community. To me it is symbolism.”

Trivia quiz

Only one president of the United States is buried in Washington, D.C. He is (a) John Quincy Adams, (b) William Howard Taft, (c) Woodrow Wilson or (d) John F. Kennedy. (Answer will appear here next week.)

Answer to last week’s question: Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989, is the only president born in Illinois. He was born on Feb. 6, 1911 in Tampico.

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino. E-mail him at ftomaino221@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: George Washington angered by Americans who sell to British army

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