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“Ode to Petersburgh”

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Petersburgh NY History and Reminiscences

Reprinted from the Petersburgh Press, July 14, 1995

Dear Alex,

In the July 14 edition of The Press you speak of Ann Sweet’s Hill. The brochures of the Beers’ Fox Festivals used to refer to it as Aunt Sweet’s Hill. To an old time Petersburgher like myself, it is Anse Sweet’s Hill, named for George Anson Sweet (1833-1916), always familiarly called Anse. He lived and raised his family at the old Sweet Homestead at the top of the hill, sometimes called “The Pointed Window”. Several generations of Sweets lived there, and the last one was Anse. He was a respected member of the community, his wit enjoyed by many.

You often publish poetry, and it is a feature much enjoyed by your readers. I have had a copy made of an Ode to Petersburgh written by him. Maybe you can find space for it. I feel it has a lot to say about the beauty of the town, the character of its people, and the man who wrote it.

Also in that-edition-of the paper you speak of the John Hall Pond Road. Well, historically that is the Josh Hall Pond, named for Josh Hall who was drowned there. Sometimes owners of property there have attempted to choose a prettier name for a beautiful area, but the name never stuck. It has always been the Josh Hall Pond. I never knew Josh Hall, but I can remember “Uncle Anse” Sweet, and I presume I am the only resident of present-day Petersburgh who can.

I enjoy your paper very much. It keeps me informed about the issues we face today.

Sincerely Yours,
Victoria A. Green

[Mrs. Victoria Allen Green, a lifelong Petersburgh resident and daughter of NY State Sen. Victor Allen, is a descendant of the Allen family, one of Petersburgh's founding families.]

The editor (of the Press) wishes to thank Mrs. Green for taking the time to correct the Press's blunders, and especially for the graceful and charming way in which she does so. I am eager to hear the history and lore of the town, as I believe many of my readers are, and we are grateful to the old-timers who will share their memories with us. The passing of stories from one generation to the next is surely one of the most crucial of cultural chores. Here is the poem (below) by Anse Sweet mentioned in Mrs. Green's letter:

 


ODE TO PETERSBURGH

by George Anson Sweet (1833-1916)


Dear Petersburg, my spirit thrills
As I pronounce thy name.
I look upon thy lofty hills
With pride and not with shame.

Though strangers scorn thy rocky face
And pass thee coldly by,
I can but love my native place
Do strangers ask me why?

I love it for its country men,
Whose honest toil and pride
Have changed to rich and fertile fields
The rugged mountain side.

And all its men, and women, too,
With energy have striven,
By patience and by industry
To improve what God has given.

All honor to dear Petersburg,
The land that gave me birth,
No spot more fair, more beautiful,
On God’s green beauteous earth.

The everlasting hills are His,
The fields with verdure green,
The streams, the rills, the rivulets
Which wind the hills between.

Dear Maker, until life shall cease,
And there’s a call for me
To pastures green, by waters still,
To home and Heaven and Thee,

Grant Lord, ere I am called to go,
I may not need to roam
From the place I’ve ever held most dear —
My home, my fair sweet home.

- G.A.S.



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