Norman Dann spotlights Peter Smith of Peterboro at OPL Book Talk

Oneida Public Library

Norman Dann spotlights Peter Smith of Peterboro at OPL Book Talk

On Thursday, March 15, at 2:00 p.m., Oneida Public Library will play host to Dr. Norman K. Dann as he introduces his new book, “Peter Smith of Peterboro: Furs, Land, and Anguish,” and talks about the fabulous career of one of Madison County’s earliest white settlers.

Peter Gerrit Smith (1768-1837), founder of the Village of Peterboro and the Town of Smithfield circa 1795-1806, came out of obscurity as a shopowner when he teamed up with John Jacob Astor in fur trading and, most importantly, in land speculation in the territories of the Iroquois Nations. Starting with a purchase from Astor of some 18,000 acres in the Mohawk Valley, Smith in 1793 purchased 50,000 acres from the Oneida Indians, thanks in part to his friendship with the Oneida Chief Skenandoah.

In what is the first full biography of Peter Smith, Dann also explores Smith’s mental and emotional degeneration due to personality disorders. In 1819 Smith handed over his business dealings to his son Gerrit, though he retained for himself the rental income, and took to traveling. Over the years, he became increasingly manic and obsessed by evangelical Christianity.

Dann, professor emeritus at Morrisville State College, is the author of the recent biography “Ballots, Bloomers and Marmalade: The Life of Elizabeth Smith Miller.” He is also the author of several other books concerning the Smith Family of Peterboro: “Greene Smith and the WildLife” (2015), “Cousins of Reform: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gerrit Smith” (2012), “Whatever It Takes: The Antislavery Movement and the Tactics of Gerrit Smith” (2011), “Practical Dreamer: A Biography of Gerrit Smith” (2009) and “When We Get to Heaven: Runaway Slaves on the Road to Peterboro” (2008).

Dann is a founder and member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro, a steward of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and an active member of Peterboro Area Historical Society, the Peterboro Civil War Weekend Committee and the Smithfield Community Association.

Copies of “Peter Smith of Peterboro” will be available for sale and signing by the author at the book talk.

For more information, stop by the Oneida Library, 220 Broad St., or call (315) 363-3050.

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