Public should remember Fort Bull historian’s impact

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It is with great sadness that I write this post to inform you of the passing of the Fort Bull Research Group’s founder, Ray Barber. Ray died in Norwich on Sunday, February 20, 2022.

Ray had a passion for history, especially the history of Fort Bull and the Oneida Carry. While working at the Erie Canal Village, Ray enjoyed presenting the story of the attack on Fort Bull to the thousands of school children on field trips to the village. He began to single-handedly clear away the brush and trees that had covered all but the parade ground of the 1756 earthen remains of the Fort Wood Creek site.

In 2011, Ray started the Fort Bull Research Group, whose members began to assist him to clear this unique historical site that the Rome Historical Society had allowed to be lost to the wilderness. By 2019 the group had the site looking like a golf course. Ray also enjoyed educating the public of the history of the Oneida Carrying Place by doing presentations for various groups and also conducting public walking tours of the fort site.

Another contribution that this man from Norwich made for the city of Rome was to initiate the process for nominating the fort site to the National Registry of Historic Places. It took several years but eventually the site was placed on the registry. It always struck me as odd that it took someone from Norwich to come to Rome to save this historic site. No one from Rome ever took the initiative to do so.

To me his greatest success was the formation of the Fort Bull Research Group, which resulted in the building of friendships of people who didn’t know each other until they joined the group. Every once in a while you meet someone who has a profound impact on the course of your life. For me, Ray was one of those people. He will be greatly missed. Thank you, Ray.

— John Carmody, Rome, president of the Fort Bull Research Group

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