Historic events planned in Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN – Organizers of three history-themed downtown events this year urged city officials Monday to help with permitting and public safety.

Johnson Jog organizer Ron Robinson of Hall Avenue and Johnstown Hall State Historic Site Manager Wade Wells gave presentations to the Common Council at City Hall.

Robinson noted the Third Annual Johnson Jog – what he termed a “very successful” 5K run/walk fundraiser – will be conducted at 9 a.m. May 17. The event involves a course that takes runners, joggers and walkers past Johnstown’s various historic sites, where re-enactors in period dress cheer on participants.

“What we’re seeking is the support from the city of Johnstown, as you have the past two years,” Robinson said.

He thanked the city Police Department for its past help, and he requested Mayor Michael Julius kick off the event.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of Johnson Hall and A&E Sports, assisted by the Fulmont Roadrunners Club. All proceeds support programs and improvements at Johnson Hall. Wells said Johnson Jog is “our primary fundraiser.”

Wells said a second downtown event being conducted involves the 240th anniversary of the death of Sir William Johnson on July 20. In 1774, during a tense battle with 600 Native Americans at Johnson Hall, Sir William collapsed and died.

“Everybody will be in period clothes, recreating Sir William’s funeral,” Wells said.

He urged the city to approve the parade application he submitted for the procession, which he hopes will attract 100 to 150 people. He said the original procession attracted an estimated 2,000 people.

Wells also detailed what will probably be the biggest of the three events on Sept. 20-21. He said the event will involve 350 people at encampments at Johnson Hall, the Burning of the Valleys Military Association, and re-enactment of the Battle of Johnstown on Sept. 21 through the downtown area. It was last done in the 1990s. He said he also submitted a parade application for the battle reenactment.

“This will literally be a running battle through the city,” Wells said.

The Battle of Johnstown was one of the last battles in the northern theater of the Revolutionary War, with 1,400 soldiers engaged in Johnstown on Oct. 25, 1781. Local American forces led by Col. Marinus Willett defeated British Crown forces under the command of Major John Ross.

Wells said Main, Green and West State streets will need to be blocked off, as the battle “rolls” through the city. He said soldiers will only be using powder and muskets, as they battle about 45 minutes from roughly William Street to Hall Avenue.

“We don’t expect to be in the city very long,” Wells said.

He said “umbrella” organizations have already invested $3,500 in the upcoming events.

“I think it’s great to know you’re looking to do events that have a promise of bringing so many people into Johnstown,” said 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin.

Events

History-themed events planned for Johnstown this year include:

May 17 – Johnson Jog.

July 20 – Sir William Johnson’s funeral re-creation.

Sept. 20-21 – Encampment and Battle of Johnstown re-enactment.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.