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April 14, 2017

Sgt. Alvin York's Infantry Manual will be displayed at Fort Ontario Conference April 22 -
Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Conference Set for April 21 - 23 in Oswego

OSWEGO - Sgt. Alvin York's World War I Infantry Manual will be displayed among the artifacts at the Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Conference Saturday, April 22, at the Lake Ontario Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

The conference features a roundtable discussion and student paper presentation on Friday, April 21, presentations by several local and international historians and archeologists, Saturday, April 22, and a bus tour of French and Indian War sites in Oswego County on Sunday, April 23.

In addition to the speakers, Continental Arms Collectors of Oswego will host a special centennial exhibit on uniforms, weapons, medical equipment, personal items, and field equipment of World War I on Saturday. The featured artifact in the exhibit will be the Infantry Manual for Non-Commissioned Officers of Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated U.S. Army soldiers of World War I. York received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, seizing 32 machine guns, killing as many as 25 enemy soldiers, and capturing 132 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France in 1918.

"Sergeant York," a 1941 film starring Gary Cooper about York's actions during World War I, is credited with enhancing American morale during U.S. mobilization for World War II. In addition, Larry Ruth, author, expert, and collector will display part of his collection of .30 caliber M-1 Carbines.

"The Fort Ontario conference explores new perspectives on warfare and human conflict in the United States and Canada, from its first appearance in the archaeological record around 5,000 BCE, to the present war on terrorism," said Fort Ontario Historic Site Manager Paul Lear. "Local and international historians and archaeologists were invited to speak at this annual conference and will participate in an event that showcases Oswego's great and unique history and share their latest research, publications, and field work."

The schedule for the conference has been updated to reflect a change in speakers. Harold Youmans will replace George Bray on Saturday at 9 a.m. Youmans will speak on the life and career of George Mitchell, medical doctor, army officer andcommander of Fort Ontario during the 1814 Battle of Oswego, and as a Congressman and farmer from Maryland who invited Lafayette to tour the United States in 1824-25.

Youmans served as an officer in the United States Army Infantry for 30 years before retiring with the rank of Colonel in 1998; he holds degrees from the University of Tampa (B.S.), the University of South Florida (M.S.), and the University of Florida (Juris Doctor). The former editor of the "Quarterly Journal of the War of 1812," Colonel Youmans travels the U.S. and Canada lecturing and has published numerous articles on the War of 1812.

The conference begins Friday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. with pre-registration and a historical presentation on the history of the Spanish influenza epidemic at Fort Ontario in 1918 by SUNY Oswego student Erica Wong. Wong, from Flushing, NY, is an intern at Fort Ontario and sophomore at SUNY Oswego majoring in anthropology with a minor in forensics/biocultural. She is interested in studying the effects of communicable diseases on human populations and hopes to pursue a master's degree with the goal of becoming a medical examiner.

A roundtable discussion of Oswego in the French and Indian War and the War of 1812 with public participation will follow Wong's presentation. Expert historians René Chartrand, Donald Graves, Richard Weyhing, and other speakers will answer questions from the audience, and Lear will moderate.

"This is a rare opportunity to speak directly with some of the world's greatest living historians," said Lear.

There is no charge to attend Friday night's activities. Light refreshments will be served.

On Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., six local and international historians and archaeologists, including Harold Youmans, Dr. Joseph Diamond, René Chartrand, Dr. Douglas Pippin, Anthony Gero, Dr. Richard Weyhing, and Donald E. Graves, will speak on subjects including the archaeology of 17th century Dutch stockaded villages, the French and Indian War battles of Oswego, Lake Ontario Revolutionary War forts archaeology, the seamy side of the War of 1812, and the military history of African-American soldiers in New York State.

On Sunday, April 23, at 8:30 a.m., Dr. Richard Weyhing of the SUNY Oswego History Department, and Lear will lead a guided bus trip from the Lake Ontario Conference Center in Oswego to sites of French and Indian War military activity in Oswego County.

Pre-registration and payment is required for Saturday and Sunday activities. Registration for Saturday's program is $30 for adults, and $15 for students and includes lunch. Registration for the bus tour on Sunday is $25 and also includes lunch. Registration for both Saturday and Sunday, including lunch, is $50 for adults, and $40 for students.

Special room rates for conference attendees are available at the Best Western Hotel, 26 E. Bridge Street, Oswego. Call the hotel at (315) 343-4040 and mention the Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Conference.

For a complete conference schedule or other details, visit the Friends of Fort Ontario Website at http://historicfortontario.com/event/fort-ontario-history-archeology-conference/, the Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=fort%20ontario%20conference%20on%20history%20and%20archaeology, or contact Paul Lear at (315) 343-4711, or Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov.

For more about Oswego County's history or visitor information, call (315) 349-8322 or go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/.

Major-General James Wilkinson was very ill and believed to have been under the influence of opiates during his disastrous American invasion of Canada down the St. Lawrence River Valley in the fall of 1813. "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll during the War of 1812" is the subject of Canadian historian Donald E. Graves' presentation at the Fort Ontario Conference Saturday, April 22.

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