The Last of the Mohicans was published this day in 1826. A romantic novel set during the French and Indian War. The book was written by one of the world’s most famous and respected authors of his time, James Fenimore Cooper.
The novel described by many as a “masterpiece” is Volume 2 of the Leatherstocking Tales.
The blog today is primarily about James Fenimore Cooper and the novel. I write about both due to the close familiarity I have had over the years with Cooperstown.
James’ father William Cooper was the founder of Coopersville. Today, known as Cooperstown. He was a man of wealth. Spent some years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Cooperstown area.
Cooperstown sits at the southwest end of Otsego Lake. The elder Cooper built Otsego Hall there. James spent his early years living in the house. Left for many years. Returned to spend his last 15 years in the home.
During the away years, James was off to school, joined the Navy, traveled the world thereafter, lived in New York City and Europe. All before returning to the family home in 1834.
The house was in a state of disrepair. James renovated it completely. It became a show place. The mansion burned down in 1857, never to be rebuilt.
James was a bit of a prankster. His deeds caused him to be expelled from Yale in his third year. One of the pranks blowing up another student’s door. The more humorous, locking a donkey in a recreation room.
The Last of the Mohicans is an exciting story set in the 1750’s. The British and colonials were engaged in a war with the French and their Indian friends.
The novel has been described as “romantic.” Several relationships involved in the story.
The key characters are Hawkeye, a colonial sometimes British scout. Two noteworthy Indian characters. Chingachgook, last chief of the Mohicans. His son Uncas who is the last of the Mohicans. And the two Munro sisters who were part of the love aspect.
My hometown Utica and Cooperstown are relatively close. Cooperstown is south of Utica. Thirty five miles separates the communities.
Which means I was fortunate both in my youth and later adult life to have been a frequent visitor to Cooperstown.
Cooperstown is the home of many places of historical interest.
One is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I was lucky to attend the induction ceremonies many times over the years. My grammar school class made the trip the first time. I belonged to several youth organizations which got me there many times thereafter. Watched first a professional game at Abner Doubleday Field. Then the induction ceremony followed by a tour of the Museum.
Even in my adult years, I visited. Merely to walk through the Hall of Fame again. On occasion with my children and grandchildren.
Near where the house that James’ father built and James lived, now stands the Farmers’ Museum. The name misleading. It is a whole community. Designed back in the lifestyle of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. A home, barn, doctor’s office, lawyer’s office, drug store, newspaper, etc.
People were smaller/shorter back then. The size of rooms and furniture were actual for those days. Befitting the time. A person today could not for example sleep in a bed or chair. Much too small.
I always enjoyed walking through the Farmers’ Museum.
I had my twin grandson’s Matthew and Michael with me once. They had to be all of 6 or 7 years old. It was during the time Clinton was involved in the Monica Lewinsky matter.
We were in the drug store. A rado was on and talking about what had occurred. When we were back outside, Matthew looked up at me and said, “Poppa, he did a bad thing.” I nodded my head yes.
Part of the Farmer’s Museum included an area for livestock. A horse was near a fence. I was with two of my granddaughters. I don’t think they were more than 5 years old.
All of a sudden, the horse had an erection. A big one. The girls were staring. I immediately swept them away. I said nothing, they said nothing. Fortunately, I would not have known how to handle that one.
Sometime back in he 1930’s, the Fenimore Art Museum was built. A lovely neo-Georgian structure. The grounds, art work, etc. beyond compare. The only way to describe the place.
Several times I attended cocktail parties at the Museum. The perfect setting for such an event.
The owner of a small railroad had a home in the center of Cooperstown. The name of the railroad and his name escape me.
My Congressman for years was Sherry Boehlert. His district included Cooperstown and Utica. Each summer he would throw a cocktail party for his supporters at the house.
Another magnificent Cooperstown structure, a tour of the home was always given. The tour guide’s comment to one of the bedrom’s was: “This was Gene Tierney’s room. ” Gene Tierney was a famous movie star in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The Otesaga Hotel. Huge. Sits on the golf course and lake. A wrap around porch covers half the building. Rocking chairs all over. The perfect place to sit and contemplate.
Cooperstown is the home of Glimmerglass Opera. I am ashamed to say I never got to attend.
Cooperstown today is a small lovely tourist town. Street side cafes, interesting boutiques, exquisite dining places. Stores selling tourist items, including tee shirts. One difference from Key West. No “dirty” ones. All the shirts relating to baseball heroes, etc.
Hope you enjoyed today’s blog. I appreciate I got carried away. What began as a tale involving The Last of the Mohicans turned into a travelogue up to today’s time.
I enjoyed writing it. Hope you enjoyed reading it.
Enjoy your day!