Events to highlight anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s death

JOHNSTOWN – Johnson Hall State Historic Site’s events this year will highlight the 240th anniversary of the death and funeral of Sir William Johnson.

“Death and Diplomacy: The 240th Anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s Final Council, Death and Funeral” will be held Saturday and Sunday, a news release said.

A re-enactment of the final July 1774 diplomatic Indian Council and the death of Johnson is scheduled for Saturday, along with trade and blacksmithing demonstrations, an open house and a lecture on “The Wampum Chronicle: A Rotinonhsoinni Cultural History” at 11 a.m. by Darren Bonaparte, Mohawk storyteller and author.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, Johnson’s funeral procession from Johnson Hall to St. John’s Church will be re-enacted, as will the funeral service at the church. Johnson Hall will be draped in period mourning for an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. The hall will remain draped in mourning through Sept. 14.

Parking for the weekend event will be at Johnstown High School. A shuttle service will operate between the two locations. Regular hall and grounds tours will not be given this weekend.

The annual Anniversary Lecture Series will begin with Bonaparte’s lecture Saturday, and continue on Aug. 2 with “Sir William Johnson’s Death Diplomacy” presented by University at Buffalo history professor and author Erik R. Seeman. On Sept. 6, author and former Union College history professor Robert Wells will speak on “Alleviating ‘that undissembled sorrow’: Ritual and the Two Funerals of Sir William Johnson.”

The lecture series will conclude Sept. 27 with “The End of an Atlantic Life: The Death of Sir William Johnson in Imperial Context, 1774,” presented by Cornell University associate professor of history and author Jon Parmenter.

Johnson Hall opened for the season May 14. It offers tours of the historic mansion Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The last tour of each day begins at 4 p.m.

Beyond the Mansion guided walking tours are offered Saturdays at 1 and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Those tours highlight the historic grounds and outbuildings once located on the estate and the people who lived and worked there, the news release said.

Tours cost $4 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. Tours are free for children ages 12 and younger. Group tours are available by advance reservation.