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March 14, 2016

Symposium Features Talks about War-time Family Life and Oswego's Early Days

OSWEGO - Come to the sixth annual Oswego International War of 1812 Symposium to hear local and international speakers talk about events and activities that shaped our community and the way of life of people living along the northern U.S. border during the war.

The conference begins with a student presentation contest at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 1 continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and wraps up from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 3 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26. E. First St., Oswego.

"We're featuring a new component in this year's symposium that celebrates the county's bicentennial," said Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear, chairman of the Oswego International War of 1812 Symposium Committee. "Over the last five years, the symposium has highlighted the importance of this area as a major theater of action during the war and it was just two years later that the county was established.

"Throughout the weekend, there will be several presentations exploring the events that led to its creation as well as the life and times of people living in this area and along the northern frontier in the early 19th century."

Dr. Gary Gibson, naval historian and author, discusses the early days of Oswego as a port city on Lake Ontario. His talk, "Shipping and Shipbuilding at Oswego, 1804 to 1820" describes the growth of the port in the years following the British abandonment of Fort Ontario in 1796. As lake traffic steadily increased in the early 19th century, Oswego became a major port through which salt, potash and provisions were shipped and, by the 1820s, it was the busiest American port and shipbuilding site on Lake Ontario.

Dr. Gibson is a retired computer scientist who has researched the naval history of the War of 1812 for more than 20 years. He has digitized much of the primary source material he collected, which is now available at Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, Sackets Harbor, N.Y. A trustee and past president of Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Dr. Gibson has authored several publications, including the second edition of his, "Service Records of U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Officers Stationed on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812," and has presented numerous papers on his research at symposia and meetings in the U.S. and Canada.

Author and consultant Dianne Graves will address issues confronting the residents who lived along the border during the war in her presentation, "Raids, Alarms and Excitement: the Experience of Civilians in Border Communities during the War of 1812." She will explain how the war disrupted family life on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border with foreign attacks, food shortages and price inflation. Graves will share their stories using their own words as referenced from their diaries, records, memoirs and correspondence in early 19th century North America.

Graves is a native of Kent, England and studied modern languages before embarking on a public relations career in the fields of international education and travel. She is the author of "In the Midst of Alarms: The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812," "Crown of Life: The World of John McCrae," and "Redcoats and River Pirates." She has consulted for a number of heritage and film projects including the WNED documentary film, "The War of 1812," and continues to write and research. Graves and her husband, military historian Donald E. Graves, continue to work on a variety of historical and heritage projects together.

Dr. Peter Rindlisbacher, historical marine artist, will partner with Paul Lear, superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site, to present "The 1814 Battle of Oswego: A Tale Told in Field Sketches." It displays some of Dr. Rindlisbacher's work in which he used a series of digital sketches to re-create the details of the engagement at Oswego and give the viewer a sense of what it might have been like to witness the attack first-hand. As the audience takes in each scene, Lear will narrate and describe the illustrations of this dramatic and pivotal British offensive.

Dr. Rindlisbacher works closely with historians and researches primary sources and other materials, such as maps and models, to portray War of 1812 subjects in many of his works. A self-taught artist and model-maker, his images have appeared on various book and magazine covers, as well as in a number of video productions for The History Channel and National Geographic. Museums, historic sites and the military in the U.S. and Canada have purchased his oil paintings and limited print editions of his work have sold at fundraisers for a variety of heritage groups.

Lear has served as superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site since 1999. Earlier, he worked as a curator of education at New Windsor Cantonment, Washington's HQ's in Newburgh and Fort Ontario State Historic Site. A historical archeologist, Lear also worked for the New York State Museum's Cultural Resource Survey and the Archeology Unit of the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites. He currently serves as chair of the Oswego County War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee and on the Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council.

Registration for the three-day symposium is $50 per person or $35 for students with a valid ID. The registration fee includes Saturday's lunch, refreshment breaks on Saturday and Sunday and workshop materials. One-day registration is also available: $35 for Saturday, including lunch or $25 for Sunday. For students with a valid ID, one day rates are $20 for Saturday, including lunch or $15 for Sunday.

Advance registration is required and may be paid by check or credit card through the Friends of Fort Ontario. Contact Paul Lear at 315-343-4711 for credit card payments Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Checks should be made payable to "Friends of Fort Ontario - 1812" and mailed to the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 East Fourth Street, Oswego, N.Y. 13126.

Special room rates for symposium attendees are available at the Best Western Plus Captain's Quarters Hotel, 26 E. First St., Oswego. Please call the hotel at 315-342-4040 and mention the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium.

This year's symposium is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Ontario, Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council, The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, New York State Archives Partnership Trust, Pathfinder Bank, JP Jewelers, Ensign Heritage Group, SUNY Oswego, The Palladium-Times, Man in the Moon Candies, Oswego County Today, Oswego Elks Lodge #271, City of Oswego, and the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

For a complete schedule or to register online, go to www.oswego1812.org. For more visitor information, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com or contact the Oswego County Tourism Office at 315-349-8322.

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