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  • Writer's pictureAngela Moonan

April 19, 2021 Column, season of loss and renewal

Half-Shire Historical Society

April 19, 2021

It has been a few weeks since we have written on our blog or column, in this time we have lost several beloved members of our society and communities.

Former US Ambassador to El Salvador H. Douglas Barclay passed away after a short illness on March 14th. Doug was a seventh-generation resident of the town of Richland, descending from Col. Rufus Price of Connecticut who settled on the banks of the Salmon River in 1808. Educated in a one room school and later advancing to Yale University, Doug was an accomplished and well-respected attorney, serving in the NYS Senate for 18 years. He was appointed by President George Bush as Ambassador to El Salvador for three years.

Throughout his life Doug’s true passion was the improvement of facilities and quality of life in northern New York, particularly the Pulaski region. He was passionate about the Salmon River and the development of its potential as a world class sports fishery, and worked his entire career to see this through. Doug led by helping Pulaski obtain a sanitary sewer system in the early 1970s, sponsoring the development of the DEC Fish hatchery, and working with private land owners such as National Grid to privatize their lands in an environmentally positive manor in the Salmon River corridor. Doug was also instrumental in the formation of the Tug Hill Commission.

Throughout the existence of Half-Shire, Doug and his family have been solid supporters of our organization and our work. The Barclay family have regularly opened their 200 years of family archives to our research, and Doug and wife Dee Dee have shown great interest in our growth. He will be very much missed by us all.

On the other side of our region, Josie Wheeler VanWinkle passed away on March 16th at her home in Williamstown. Matriarch of a large family in the eastern end of Oswego County, Josie was born in Ricard and continued to live in her native town throughout her life. Josie worked alongside her husband Jim “Bullwinkle” for many years at the desks of the Queen Central News in Camden. While many small and large town newspapers have gone by the wayside, the VanWinkle family have kept the “Queen” thriving as a great example of journalism in a small community. Josie will long be remembered fondly and with great respect by those who knew her.

The lives of these two remarkable natives of the Tug Hill region, and many others will be recounted in our next newsletter due out at the end of May.

Meanwhile, at our Richland headquarters we continue to try to get our winter renovation work wrapped up by mid-May. The southeast classroom project is expected to near completion by May 1st, with painting occurring this week, and hopefully the hardwood floor and trim installation right after this. Some wall repairs need to be made in the 2nd floor hallway and completion of the 2nd floor restroom. Many items need to be relocated to the shed and attic that are currently in the Lions room. The southwest classroom and Balcom Library are also in disarray with all the construction that has occurred.

Downstairs, Marcy Newman has completed the bulk of the Oswego Newspaper storage project with the wrapping over hundreds of bound volumes in archival paper. These have been stored in an inventoried order in the Pomeroy Library and others will be moved to the SE classroom upper shelving that will soon be completed. The completion of the 2nd floor restroom will also enable us to repair the ceiling in the 1st floor hallway. Outside, the sidewalks are slated to be replaced with new concrete this spring, pending funding.

During all of our construction we have continued to remain open, serving lunch to 37 members on March 27th, and seven for the DAR meeting on April 10th. Our next lunch meeting will be on April 24th at noon. We are open to the public most days from 11-4pm, but it is best to call ahead to ensure someone will definitely be there.

The Tug Hill Literary Review Spring edition is being edited, and we hope to print and send that out by months end. Accompanying this issue going out to all paid members of Half Shire and the Historical Association of South Jefferson will be a detailed listing of publications for sale.

Photo Below: view a potion of the Oswego Palladim Times Archives stored in the upper shelving of the Pomeroy Research Library

Half Shire can be reached At 315.298.2986 or on email at or on our new website Our Facebook site is found at Mary White Half Shire Historical.

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