Auburn Prison Reform

Auburn State Prison was built in 1816, as a model for prison reform. Its disciplinary system was based on silence, corporal punishment, and “congregate” (group) labor. Tiered and single cells were also some of these reforms from this time period. Americans at this time felt crimes came from the industrialization of America.

Thomas Mott Osborne, (1859-1926), was instrumental in further changes to the prison system after reading an account of an inmate from San Quentin Prison in California. He was from a family of anti-slavery and suffragette reformers in the Central New York area. Their fortunes came from farm equipment innovations which eventually became the International Harvester Company.

He entered Auburn Prison for 6 days as an inmate and was treated as such. Later he wrote and spoke to groups of his experience and was appointed Warden of Sing Sing Prison. He worked tireless to reform the prison system continuing his prison reform efforts even after his resignation from Sing Sing.

He died in 1926, and is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.

Cazenovia, New York

What a beautiful small town! Cazenovia came through the efforts of John Lincklaen, who with 10 families came to live in the spring of 1793. It was well placed with the creek for energy to develop mills, timber and farmland. Now, its beauty remains in renovated buildings, small shops, restaurants, and a college, Cazenovia College.

Here are some of the sites.

The Cazenovia Library

The Lincklaen House- a historical landmark since 1835, notables such as President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, and John D. Rockefeller, dined and lodged here.

Other shops and historic sites..

Antique Stores

Another lovely Inn.. The Brae Loch Inn


Taken from the Cazenovia Lake Community Bulletin Board site.

Final Mention: Lorenzo State Historic Site – another must see on the beautiful Cazenovia Lake.

EV Charging – NYS Thruway, Turning Stone Casino and Oneida, New York

You never know where life will lead.

Today I journeyed back in time to visit Oneida, New York, where I had worked for several years. The area was a farming community, small town, with friendly folks when I worked there.

Drove the New York State Thruway to my destination. Stopped to use the EV chargers at the rest stop. Found them problematic, and their foreign customer service folks clueless. I left without a charge but much fodder for an email to the New York State public servants. Hope this helps to improve this service. Sad to hear that this contract service is using this brand of EV chargers at all rest areas.

Seems the chargers installed by the contract service at these sites are unable to accept charge cards, and being in the cold attempting to access this service for 20 minutes with assist from a gift shop attendant was not pleasant. The company’s foreign customer service folks were pleasant, but clueless. I left upset, and without a charge. Was hopeful Turning Stone Casino would have bountiful resources, however, found all 4 EV chargers for my vehicle in use, but the 10 Tesla chargers available and empty. Another helpful email was sent to Turning Stone this a.m. I left without visiting but met a helpful Valet Parking Manager who knew of nearby charging stations.

Luckily, these were in the direction of the route I was taking, and available.

Turning Stone Casino has become a complex of monoliths since visiting over 35 years ago. Some pictures:

The Casino has definitely created an impact in this area. Many new strip malls, fast food places, housing, and apartment dwellings have cropped up since last visit over 35 years ago, and how the little town of Oneida, N.Y. has changed.

Am grateful our indigenous population has blossomed in this enterprise.

Next stop: EV Charging, and was grateful to have helpful Anthony from the EV charging company able to get me hooked on for a charge. Found a movie theater in the adjacent strip mall and spent my next 3 hours viewing 3 of the 2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films. Here they are:

  • How Do You Measure a Year? In this 29 minute film a father films his daughter annually till her 18th birthday. Interesting how much insight a child has.
  • The Elephant Whisperers – A couple dedicates their lives to 2 orphaned elephants. What a beautiful story and a must see. It is a photographic masterpiece.
  • Stranger at the Gate – A man who visits an Islamic Temple to murder the inhabitants is transformed and becomes Islamic.

And in closing a picture of Chittenango Falls, another part of the visit..

Walking With Harriet Tubman

What a fascinating tour given by Justin Harris of:,


for reservations and more information.

We met at the NYS Equal Rights Visitor Center walking 90 minutes through Auburn. Here’s some snippets of what I learned on this tour.

Harriet’s Early Beginnings

At 6, Harriet was leased to an owner where her tasks were chores in the day, and caring for the owner’s children at night. She was warned if she did not keep the children quiet she would be whipped. Since this did not occur, many whippings ensued. Harriet also had a 2 pound weight thrown at her neck later causing epilepsy for the remainder of her life. Her injuries left her unable to learn how to read or write. Weak from these injuries she was unable to be sold off.

Justin beginning the tour at the Center

Years as a Young Woman

Later in her life she fell in love, and married a free man, John Tubman. Though not a legal marriage, as she was not allowed to legally marry as a slave, with John’s assist she became stronger. During this period she hired herself out for $60/year to purchase her freedom. She saved and prayed, fearful she would be sold.

When her owner died his wife acquired his assets, and Harriet made a plan to flee through the Underground Railroad. She and her brothers began the journey, however, her brothers returned to the plantation. Harriet continued and made it to the Mason-Dixon Line where she acquired work as a housekeeper in Philadelphia. Her husband did not leave as this would threaten his status as a free man.

A year later Harriet returned, as she missed her husband, and family, however, her husband had legally remarried to a free woman. During her absence Harriet was unable to contact family due to possible reprisals.

The Underground Railroad Journeys

It was after this time she began to work with the Underground Railroad taking others North for over a decade. She made contacts through this work meeting many prominent people. William Seward, a prominent Auburn citizen, and later Secretary of State under Lincoln, was one of these contacts. His home was an Underground Railroad Stop. Throughout Auburn there are Lanterns marking Underground Railroad Station sites.

These “Lanterns” designate stops on the Underground Railroad.

Later Years

There was much information given on this tour, and recommend others to check it out if in the area. Besides a conductor on the Railroad, Harriet became involved in the Civil War, working as both a spy and a nurse. She also worked behind the scenes for women’s rights along with other suffragettes in the area.

We ended our tour at the historic Fort Hill Cemetery where Harriet and her family are buried.

Harriet – The Moses of Her People

NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center

Today I made the time to visit the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center, which I have known of since my first days in Auburn but didn’t visit. I should have visited this spot on my first day, but recall they were closed, and never believe in “shoulding” on myself.

Harriet has a little snow on her, which made the statute even more beautiful, and perhaps more representative of her journeys.

This building has a wealth of information on the area with friendly and eager staff to assist. Julianne gave me so much information I may never be able to accomplish all, but, will attempt. Here’s some of the amazing posters of the facility.

Was also grateful to hear Joe has Harriet Tubman on tap for 2024 inclusion on our $20 bill. Here is a beautiful artistic rendering from the museum.

Will be attending this walk so look forward to hearing more of this amazing woman…

National Banana Bread Day

It’s February 23rd and what a day to celebrate bananas! Our bodies love them and they are especially good for our hearts providing an excellent source of potassium, maintaining normal blood pressure and keeping all in order. They also provide fiber thus keeping our cholesterol in check. Only 100 calories they are the real deal!


Here’s a recipe for your baking pleasure..

Didn’t want to retype this for fear of loosing an ingredient. Also, can add some walnuts for a little more nutrition.


Spiritual Meaning of Fruit Flies

Did you ever look up the spiritual meanings of animals which come into your life? I began this when every journey I took was surrounded by deer. Was an awakening.

Right now my new abode is plagued with fruit flies. While not plentiful, annoying enough to have one or two fly past as I write this blog. Vinegar cures do not seem to work, nor chemical sprays. However, after reading this spiritual interpretation shall take them as a sign and a very positive message.

Here’s what Auntie Google has to say..

Fruit flies are the perfect symbols of spiritual growth and development, because they represent the process of metamorphosis. In the spiritual realm, a fruit fly is an individual who has undergone a profound transformation. They have gone from one state to another, and they are now able to see things in a new way.

Think I’m getting a powerful message.

Emerson Park

Emerson Park

Right across the street from the Ward Museum is the beautiful Emerson Park with its walkways surrounding the stellar Owasco Lake.

Also here is a playhouse which I must investigate further.

Wonder where the merry-go-round is? Have to check this out at a later date..

The Playhouse.

A memorial to servicewomen overlooking the lake. Nice touch.

Can’t wait to see what theatrical events are available here for the summer and catch that merry go round.

What a wonderful conclusion to a perfect day.

One final picture..

The Ward O’Hara Museum – Agriculture and Country Living Museum

As with all my adventures, you never know what you will find! Here I spent a fascinating 2 hours discovering how folks in the New York State farmlands once lived and worked.

There are many replicas of the era to see in this fine restoration. Let’s start with the Blacksmith Shop

In each area there is a video to explain the display.

The School House

Teachers in this era certainly had stern rules to live by. Take a read.

The store- This was the center of the community. Here people visited with others, got their mail, news of the day, and supplies.

Equipment of the era

Have wondered how Auburn became such a wealthy area.  Got my answer from a friendly docent.  Farmers often became industrialists with the inventions they created to ease their workload.  Things such as parts for carriages, and farm equipment, rope, then there is the Burroughs adding machine, piano makers, time clocks and time pieces, steam agricultural and train equipment … All these ideas and inventions came from those in the Auburn area. There was even a woman inventor who developed a posture assistant.

An Auburn made piano.

Other pieces of equipment.

Beginnings of the Museum..

And now to Ward O’Hara the instigator of this fine museum.  He began his career as a farmer then started a John Deere dealership in the area.  He later became a congressman and with all the jewels he had received from his farmer friends (and stored) in his barn he had the makings for a museum. In his role as a legislator he developed the proposal for the museum, obtained the lands and viola the Ward O’Hara Museum was begun. Thanks, Ward.

His Model T Vehicles..

1922 Model T Ford


Also in the museum is Ward’s 102 year old Ford Truck which is still used for the museum’s June museum festival, occuring the first weekend.  Sounds like fun and the docent gave me an invite for a ride during this event.

Some other interesting facets of the museum not to miss.

What an interesting visit.  The Museum is open to school groups again starting in March, so glad to hear this.  Kids need to experience the past.

One final blast from the past – the milkman truck.  He delivered door to door.

Willard Memorial Chapel – the Tiffany Treasure of the Finger Lakes

Have been remiss in reporting on my visit to the Willard Chapel. Here is a bit of its history, but, to get the most information visit the Chapel web site, and if you ever get a chance to visit – it is a must see. They also offer weddings in this Tiffany treasure. These weddings must be a stunning site and the cost reasonable.

Let’s start with the history of this amazing Chapel.

The daughters of industrialists Sylvester and Jane Frances Case Willard, had the Chapel built in memory of their parents at a cost of $50,000. in 1892, (constructed from 1892-1894). In today’s monies this would be $2 million, which is now the worth of one of the 14 Tiffany windows. The windows are protected on the outside with glass.

The Chapel and its decor is modern.

Some of the signature Tiffany green glass

The complex surrounding the Chapel was built in 1821 when there was a need for trained ministers. There were 76 students at the time who paid $1 a week for food and $5 for utilities monthly. By 1930, this rose to $6.5 board and $50 utilities. By 1939, the seminary was abandoned and transferred to NYC Union Seminary. After this time the buildings were used for Army training and later apartments for returning vets. By 1959, the seminary buildings were mostly demolished and others purchased the buildings, one being the 7th Day Adventists. When the Adventists decided to sell others proposed purchasing the Chapel for a bowling alley and/or disco. Recognizing the need to maintain this piece of history the community came to the rescue and bought the property.

Currently, the Chapel is undergoing a $5 million renovation project.

The Pulpit

The pews and flooring were designed by Tiffany. Each square of flooring was hand laid by women from the area.

Tiffany Lanterns

Tiffany designed chairs

This stained glass is a representation of Christ and St. Peter on the Sea of Gailee with the side panels the tree of life. There is no color in the glass, nor painting of glass. Tiffany technique used layering of glass to create color. Jesus in this Tiffany work was made to resemble Tiffany’s father. Tiffany never visited the Chapel, and the work was created and managed by Jacob Adolphus Holzer, with assist by Clara Driscoll, a Tiffany manager who managed the elite group known as the Tiffany girls.

The theme of the Chapel is faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest is love.

All in the Chapel is Tiffany except the organ. The Chapel is a National Historic Landmark.