The Rough Writer

News for and about the Volunteers at Sagamore Hill
Volume 23, Issue 3
July 2021
The Rough Writer is a volunteer newsletter, not an official National Park Service publication. It should not be used for historic research. 

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"In civil life we need decency, honesty . . . we are not to be excused as a people if we ever condone dishonesty.” 
Theodore Roosevelt July 4, 1903, Huntington, NY
For most of us, the past 16 months have been shrouded in a kind of fog – pandemic shutdown fog – in which “old normal” routines morphed into “new normal” adjustments and changes. This has been particularly true for the staff and volunteer corps at Sagamore Hill. Furloughed for over a year and anxious to get back to our old duties, members of the Volunteer Advisory Board met with Superintendent Jonathan Parker, Park Guide Laurel Brierly, Acting Museum Curator Victoria Cacchione, and Acting Chief of Interpretation Shannon Moeck on Tuesday, July 29, to ask questions and hear details about the Park’s plans for a gradual re-opening and the future role for volunteers.
Unlike some State guidelines for opening historic buildings, stricter Federal regulations regarding social distancing, public health priorities, and the unique spatial constraints within the TRH (Theodore Roosevelt House) prevent, at present, our offering guided tours on the same scale as in the past. For the immediate present, however, tours will be offered on a limited basis beginning this July. Leading the weekend-only tours, Park rangers will offer four tours per day (Friday-Sunday); tours will be limited to the first floor hall only. Visitors must reserve tickets online, and each tour will be restricted to six visitors. Specific reopening dates and other special events information for visitors will be posted on the Park’s website. Volunteer-led guided tours will not resume during Phase I of this gradual re-opening, and the Old Orchard Museum will remain closed for now. However, there will be abundant volunteer opportunities in the interim.
Along with continuing to need volunteers to greet visitors in the Information Tent on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, volunteers are also needed to walk the grounds to answer questions and offer additional information about TR and Sagamore Hill to curious visitors. Volunteer Mike Sassi, who has been a “rover” for several weekends, says the opportunity to interact with visitors has been exciting and encourages others to get involved. Laurel Brierly will be sending volunteers sign-up and scheduling forms for these activities.
Other updates included news that the old Visitor Center will finally be dismantled within the next few weeks. Porch and railings at the TRH will be repaired this summer, and the door knob on the front door of the TRH will be examined by a conservator and repaired. In addition, three of the porch awnings will be rehung. The house is being thoroughly cleaned, and the artifacts polished and ready for viewing.
Finally, Laurel and Shannon have been working on plans to help us with re-entry. These include volunteer training workshops that will help us review and orient ourselves both to tighter tour-time requirements, to the TRH itself, and to interpretive techniques. Volunteers in both interpretation and curatorial divisions will be included in these training sessions.
The meeting on the 29th was wide-ranging, and Superintendent Jonathan Parker and the staff spoke directly to our concerns and questions, and though the “fog” of the past 16 months has left many of us feeling somewhat adrift in terms of our volunteer activity at Sagamore Hill, the fog is gradually lifting. The goal of reopening has been, and continues to be, a complicated task for the entire Park staff; but as Covid conditions and restrictions change, the “old normal” will evolve into a more energized future for all of us at the Park as we look forward to sharing the story of the Roosevelts of Sagamore Hill with our visitors once again.

Stay in touch,
Nancy and Charlotte
Scenes from the VAB meeting:
Nancy, Victoria, & Wayne
Laurel & Shannon
by Jonathan Parker, Superintendent
Earlier this week marked the official beginning of summer and we’re eagerly looking forward to a variety of significant milestones and activities at Sagamore Hill in the weeks and months ahead. Some of these milestones are years, if not decades, in the making. Many represent the realization of numerous preservation priorities for Sagamore Hill including restoration of the historic landscape, exterior rehabilitation of the Theodore Roosevelt Home (TRH), and an exciting archaeological project.
The demolition and removal of the non-historic Visitor Center (ca. 1956) is slated to begin very soon. Its removal will ultimately permit the park to rehabilitate this highly visible area as a historic farmyard, achieving a long-standing goal of the park’s current General Management Plan. The removal of this building will enhance the view within the historic core of the park, raise the prominence of neighboring historic structures such as the Carriage Shed, and enable visitors to visually orient themselves to the TRH from the western end of the parking lot.
The restoration of the TRH porch, railings, and foundation is also scheduled to begin in the weeks ahead. This $190,349 project will address the water damaged posts, columns, balustrades, and railings on the porch including removing and replacing all rotten materials, utilizing Dutchman repairs where applicable to ensure that all non-water-damaged materials remain present. The removal and replacement of failing mortar will improve the integrity of the entire building envelope and protect the foundation.
Last, but not least, a team of National Park Service archaeologists and students will conduct a two-week archaeological investigation and excavation at Sagamore Hill from August 2-14. The group will excavate portions of the Stable and Lodge site, conduct a survey of the Rifle Pit/Firing Range, and assist with surveying aspects of the Historic Garden. Portions of the archaeology project will be open to the public. Volunteers and visitors can directly observe the work and speak with the archaeologists to understand both their findings and learn more about their investigative methods.
As we all continue to emerge from a challenging first-half of 2021, we want to inform each of you of these important upcoming projects and invite you to safely observe these unique activities while they are underway. (As of this writing we’re awaiting official start dates for the demolition and TRH projects, and we’ll make these dates available once confirmed.)
We’re also looking forward to marking – and celebrating – these positive milestones with each of you in the months ahead.
Volunteers help out park staff at the information tent set up on weekends.
Lois Lindberg & Joe DeFranco
Mike Sassi, Martin Moffit, & John Fetter
Like the Roosevelt family, deer and other wildlife take full advantage of the natural environment of Sagamore Hill, especially wandering through the cool wooded acres. Mike Sassi encountered a doe and a Great Egret while on weekend "roving" duty.
Shannon Moeck, Acting Chief of Interpretation

Prior to her coming to Sagamore Hill as Acting Chief of Interpretation in late spring, Shannon Moeck has been an interpretive ranger at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park in Middletown, VA since 2010. Inspired by her completion of the NPS GOAL Academy (Generating Organizational Advancement and Leadership) in 2018, she went back to school and earned her BS in Leadership and Organizational Management from Eastern Mennonite University.
At Cedar Creek, Shannon works closely with partner, Belle Grove National Historic Park, uncovering the history of the enslaved and freed people in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. This partnership extended to working with “Coming to the Table,” the NAACP, the Josephine School, and the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project as well as with programs and events. Shannon also manages the Park’s VIP program, its website and social media platform, and the bookstore among other duties. When she isn’t at work, she enjoys traveling in Europe and looks forward to more travel and enjoying the history, food, and wine of the countries she will visit – post-COVID.

NOTE: You can reach out to Shannon at
Shannon presenting "Free at Last: The Complicated Road to Freedom for Emmanuel Jackson" during the Inalienable Rights event with the Slave Dwelling Project
Shannon in Croatia enjoying mussels and wine
Victoria Cacchione, Acting Museum Curator
Hello Friends and Partners of Sagamore Hill NHS! I am Victoria Cacchione, the Acting Museum Curator. My home park is Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains, GA where I serve as the Interdisciplinary Cultural Resource Specialist. My background is in historical archaeology having received my MA from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2018. I have been with the National Park Service since 2017 working at the Northeast Museum Services Center, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and the Southeast Archaeological Center. My main duties at each of these locations included cataloging archaeology and museum objects as well as preserving the historic structures and cultural landscapes present.
Since arriving at Sagamore Hill in late April, I have been working closely with Laura Cinturati and Lindsay Davenport to support their care of the Theodore Roosevelt Home and the expansive museum collection. We have many exciting conservation projects in the works that will help preserve the house and its contents for years to come! I have also worked closely with Jonathan Parker to implement some of the treatment recommendations from the Cultural Landscape Report to return the grounds of Sagamore Hill to their historic character. Some of these projects include the restoration of the historic garden and the chicken yard. While these projects will not come to fruition during my time here at Sagamore Hill, I will be on hand to oversee the archaeological excavation of the Stable and Lodge and metal detection survey of the firing range. This is scheduled to take place in the first two weeks of August, and I encourage everyone to stop by to view the progress!
It has been a wonderful experience being involved with such exciting projects here at Sagamore Hill. I am grateful for the warm welcome and the opportunity to work at such an amazing site!

NOTE: You can reach out to Victoria at
by Charlotte Miska
On July 4, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and his party sailed aboard the presidential yacht Sylph from his home at Sagamore Hill into Huntington Harbor. The President went to Huntington to participate in the 250th anniversary celebration of the town’s founding. The Sylph arrived shortly before 3 pm. The Sylph’s launches were lowered and the President and his party were rowed to shore. They landed at the small pier beside the Nathan Hale Memorial boulder at the end of Vineyard Road where they were met by the reception committee. The President and Mrs. Roosevelt and William Loeb, the President’s personal secretary, were escorted to a horse-drawn carriage. Other family members, including Alice Roosevelt, followed.
They proceeded to the speakers’ stand where the President would address the large crowd gathered for the 250th anniversary celebration. The route to the speakers’ stand was thronged with people. On New York Avenue the Presidential party was met by members of the Grand Army Post in carriages and the Seventeenth Separate Company, NGSNY, acting as the official escort. The stage was set up in an empty field which is now a Town of Huntington municipal parking lot on the west side of New York Avenue just north of Gerard Street. A historical marker was placed there in 2018 to commemorate TR’s visit.
In his speech President Roosevelt expressed not only “thankfulness for the nation’s mighty past, but to join with you in expressing the resolution that we of today will strive in our deeds to rise level to those deeds which in the past made up the nation’s greatness.” He went on to say “we must not treat greatness achieved in the past as an excuse for our failing to do decent work in the present.” You can read his entire speech here:
They daylong celebration featured a parade, speeches, a gala dinner, and an exhibit of colonial artifacts. The artifacts where gathered by a committee of local women and formed the basis of the collection of the Huntington Historical Society. President Roosevelt was the second – and last – sitting president to visit Huntington. (George Washington was the first during his 1790 tour of Long Island.)
The Library of Congress’ collection includes a 3-minute silent film clip of TR on stage in Huntington and his departure by the same horse-drawn carriage that brought him to the site. You can view the film here:. https://www.loc/item/99407348.

The Long Islander, July 3 and 10, 1903
Town of Huntington website:
Huntington School District website:
President Roosevelt addresses crowd at Huntington 250th Anniversary Celebration

Presidential Yacht, Sylph
Historical marker noting TR's speech
by Paul Cecere, Chief of Preservation and Maintenance
In 1956, the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA) constructed a Souvenir Shop and Canteen southeast of the Chicken House and Farm Shed. Floor plans designed by Chapman, Evans, & Delehanty, 1956 showed the east elevation (Room 103) of the Chicken House to be converted into storage for the Canteen. This was a significant alteration to this historic structure and, in its current state, still reflects the renovation from 1956. The addition of the Canteen and Souvenir Shop included a considerable amount of interior changes to the Chicken House, as well as the window and door scheme.
The area west of the Souvenir Shop and Canteen and south of the Chicken House was turned into a picnic area. The addition of the new building in relation to the existing historic structures created a group of buildings that appeared to be historically related but did not exist during the Roosevelt period. The addition of the Souvenir Shop and Canteen altered the Chicken House and the surrounding farmyard that had been such an important part of life at Sagamore Hill.
In 1986, Pettiford & Pettiford prepped, primed, and painted the renovated Souvenir Shop, as well as the Chicken House and Farm Shed. Photographs indicated that prior to the painting the connector between the Chicken House and the Canteen had been removed. That work probably coincided with the renovation of the Canteen as public restrooms, which occurred in 1984.
The project to remove the Visitor Center and restrooms has stirred up a plethora of conversations as to the relationship between the Chicken House and the now Visitor Center/Restrooms. The General Management Plan (GMP) recommends that the Souvenir Shop and Canteen be removed and the area around the Chicken House be brought back to its original use and be interpreted as the chicken yard.
You can look forward to the first phase of this enormous task happening this summer. Once the park has solid dates for the demolition of the non-historic structure, we will be sure to report out and photograph the changes as they happen.
Stay tuned.
by Nancy Hall
When talking with visitors about the many articles of interest in the Library of the TRH, it’s easy to overlook the small coal hod on the far left of the mantle. However, the story behind that miniature coal hod and Roosevelt’s intervention in the coal strike of 1902 is one worth retelling.

Last September, mid-COVID and pandemic shut-downs, the Friends of Sagamore Hill sponsored a well-received virtual book discussion of Susan Berfield’s The Hour of Fate, moderated by TR specialist and author, Clay Risen. Berfield, subtitled her book “Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism”. She asserts that the 1902 anthracite coal strike was “one of the greatest labor actions in American history . . . a confrontation between the past where power was concentrated [in the richest Americans] and a future where it was shared.” TR’s controversial interventionist approach and the emerging power of unionized labor had far-reaching consequences that we still experience today. This issue of the Rough Writer will present the background to the coal strike (Part I); the next issue will present its consequences for the American Labor Movement (Part II).

Part I – The Coal Strike
Contentious relations between owners and miners in the Midwest and northeastern counties of Pennsylvania were not new. However, this latest crisis between capital and labor began in May 1902. At a time when coal was “king” and the primary source of energy for the entire country, this strike created shortages that affected both our civic stability and our national security. By October 1902, the walk-out by miners had resulted in a drastic depletion of the country’s coal supplies, with unscrupulous businessmen buying up remaining supplies and charging four times the normal price. Some industries were forced to use sawdust to power machines, desperate people pulled up boards from sidewalks to heat their homes, the Post Office threatened to shut down, and public schools feared possible closings because the schools could not be heated. Small and large businesses closed and rents skyrocketed. Steel mills in Pennsylvania announced closings and forced layoffs. Even the newly installed electric elevator in the Washington Monument was out of commission. The nation was on the brink of a winter “coal famine”, and the public called on Roosevelt to do something, while the mine operators believed they could “handle” the strikers in their own way. So when Attorney General Philander Knox told President Roosevelt that he had no legal right to get involved, and another advised him to “forget about it," Roosevelt admitted he was at his "wit's end".
Harsh working conditions experienced by workers of all ages
Coal strike historical marker
But Roosevelt, who envisioned himself as “the steward of the people,”(Connelly) could not, and did not, “forget about it”. Even without the legal authority to compel either party in the dispute to action, Roosevelt instead “invited” mine owners, including George F. Baer, the intransigent president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, and John Mitchell, head of the newly organized United Mine Workers of America (UMW), to a meeting at the temporary White House on Lafayette Square.

Recovering from a trolley accident the previous month (see September 2020 issue of the Rough Writer) and speaking from his wheelchair, Roosevelt stated that the urgency of the situation compelled him to use his influence. Appealing to their patriotism, to the “spirit that sinks personal considerations, and makes individual sacrifices for the greater good,”(Connelly) TR sought their help in putting an end to hostilities that were crippling the nation.

Unlike the negotiated settlement of the coal strike of 1900, in which J.P. Morgan also played a role, appeals now to both the owners and miners to remember their moral duty to the nation and negotiate in good faith fell mostly on deaf ears. The owners continued to hold in contempt any effort to negotiate with “anarchists”, exaggerating miner violence and calling for military intervention. They walked out on Roosevelt, while UMW president John Mitchell, stayed behind and unlike the coal operators, ”behaved with great dignity and moderation.”(Berfield) But he refused to call off the strike.
TR (in wheel chair) in discussions with coal operators and J.P. Morgan in attempt to negotiate an end to the anthracite coal strike.
Having made previous concessions to labor demands for a wage increase in 1900, the owners, who also owned controlling interests in the railroads that carried the coal, had no taste for another public humiliation. But this time when the union threatened to withdraw the pumpmen, firemen, and engineers from the mines, leading to flooding and destruction of property, the owners didn’t back down. Violence on both sides ensued: workers were killed, “scabs”and their families were intimidated, and J.P. Morgan was again enlisted to convince the owners to settle. Even he was disgusted with the owners’ intransigence. Plus, not only were the profits from closed mines suffering but so were those of the railroads. Morgan and Roosevelt both knew that “money” sometimes spoke louder than a good sermon on morality.

But Roosevelt had another trick up his sleeve. Breaking precedent again, he allowed a rumor to circulate that he was authorizing the military to help with a government takeover of the mines. Morgan was the only one able to convince the operators that Roosevelt was serious, and if they wanted to be part of the solution, they needed to agree to arbitration. Working with Secretary of War Elihu Root, the two devised a plan calling for an arbitration commission to investigate complaints at the mines and report its findings. Morgan pressured Baer and the other operators to sign the memorandum. With the establishment of the arbitration commission, John Mitchell called off the strike.

On October 23, a tentative agreement ending the strike was reached between the mine owners and John Mitchell. The Anthracite Coal Strike Commission was composed of representatives of the owners, the union (John Mitchell), and two “neutral” members, which delivered a quasi-victory for the miners – a 10% wage increase and a reduction of the workday from 10 hours to 9. However, while the union, itself, did not gain formal recognition, the miners did return to work producing coal and staving off continued hardship for the country.

(Part II, The Impact of the Coal Strike on the American Labor Movement will appear in the next issue of the Rough Writer.)
Berfield, Susan. “The Coal Strike that Defined Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency.” July 15, 2020
Connelly, Scott. “The Greatest Strike Ever.” The Pennsylvania Center for the Book – Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902. Spring 2010.
Ingersoll, William, Historian at Edison National Historic Site. Interview with Mrs. Ethel Roosevelt Derby at Sagamore Hill. April 4, 1962.
July 1877 – TR writes The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks.
July 1, 1898 – TR and the Rough Riders charge up Kettle Hill.
July 4, 1903 – TR gives speech at Town of Huntington 250th Anniversary Celebration. (See article in this issue.)
July 8, 1905 – TR’s daughter Alice sets sail for Asia with Taft and other diplomatic delegates.
July 14, 1918 – TR’s son Quentin dies after his plane is shot down over France.
by Charlotte Miska
Bald Eagle
Watching a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) soaring against a blue sky always thrills me. Recently I witnessed one of these majestic raptors riding the thermals high over the Theodore Roosevelt House. Two Ospreys were harassing it in what was most likely a territorial dispute. The Bald Eagle is not really bald, but has a white head and tail which contrasts with its chocolate-brown body and wings. “Bald” comes from the old-English word “balde” meaning white. It is easy to ID Bald Eagles as they are BIG. With their 7-foot wingspan, they dwarf other raptors including the Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, and Osprey. In flight, the Bald Eagle holds its broad wings flat – like an ironing board. Some folks mistake Ospreys for Bald Eagles as both have white heads and brown bodies; however Osprey fly with a kink in its wings and its wingspan is a mere 5 feet. Bald Eagles can be found in most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico.
Bald Eagles can soar over 10,000 feet high, and their great eyesight lets them see fish up to a mile away. When they attack, they drop down at up to 100 miles an hour. Then they glide just above the water, snag a fish with their talons, and fly off to eat it. They also feed on carrion, including dead fish washed up on shore, and it steals food from Ospreys and other smaller birds.
Eagles mate for life, and will use the same nest, called aeries, built high at the tops of very tall trees for many years. Over time some nests become enormous; they can reach a diameter of 9 feet and weigh as much as 2 tons. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and both parents share incubation and guard them diligently against predators (such as squirrels, gulls, and ravens). The babies, called eaglets, are born light gray and then turn brown. It takes four or five years to develop their white heads and tails.
Eagles hold their wings flat, like an ironing board, wingspan is 7 feet
Nests can reach a diameter of 9 feet and weigh as much as 2 tons
by Ginny Perrell
The Friends of Sagamore Hill (FOSH) held its last virtual event of the Spring on June 10th when we hosted Dr. Larry Cook for what turned out to be a fascinating and informative talk covering several of our past Presidents (including TR, of course) along with a display of memorabilia from each of them. From letters to photographs to badges to programs, Dr. Cook showed us just a small percentage of the extensive collection he began amassing at age 10. Especially interesting were his personal reminiscences of his friendship with former President Jimmy Carter. Knowing of Dr. Cook’s love for historical memorabilia, President Carter gifted him his signed program that he received at the 2013 inauguration of Barack Obama. The FOSH would love to invite Dr. Cook to Sagamore Hill sometime soon for a “show and tell “lecture so that these historic treasures can be viewed in person.

We are thrilled to announce that the replica Cape Buffalo (Fred), produced by Taxidermist George Dante, Jr. of Wildlife Preservations, has been placed in its proper location over the fireplace in the main hallway of the TRH. The original will be restored, rested, and then returned to its usual spot from time to time. The Friends of Sagamore Hill paid for all of the costs related to this project.
Exact replica of the Cape Buffalo head installed over the mantle in the Front Hall
The Annual Meeting of the Friends of Sagamore Hill took place on June 17, in the Sagamore Hill picnic area. We were happy to have both Victoria Cacchione (Acting Museum Curator) and Shannon Moeck (Acting Chief of Interpretation) introduce themselves and give a short talk on their backgrounds, areas of interest, and future plans for their time at Sagamore Hill. Victoria and Shannon joined us at dinner afterwards, giving all of us the chance to get to know them better.

A date has been set for the 2020-2021 Nassau/Suffolk Police Awards. As things now stand, the event will be held outdoors at Sagamore Hill on Friday, September 10th at 11 am. FOSH will be providing the refreshments.

Next meeting: Wednesday, September 15th at 6 pm, behind the old Visitor Center, weather permitting.
You can find the Rough Writer on the Friends of Sagamore Hill website ( Simply select the More about TR menu and click Rough Writer Newsletter. You will go to a page that lists the Rough Writer issues going back to January 2020. Back issues are now readily available for your reading pleasure. Thank you Patrick Teubner for making this happen.
This newsletter is produced by members of the Volunteer Advisory Board for the volunteers of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. 
About Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, located in Oyster Bay, New York, is a unit of the National Park Service. The Site was established by Congress in 1962 to preserve and interpret the structures, landscape, collections and other cultural resources associated with Theodore Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, New York, and to ensure that future generations understand the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, his family and the significant events associated with him.

For more information please check out our website at or call
(516) 922-4788.