When Grant Played Checkers at Oswego
To the Editor of The Post-Standard:
I read your editorial concerning Grant at Galena with interest. Your request for stories of Grant while stationed at Sacket's Harbor brought to mind a story I have heard my father tell. He told that my grandfather played checkers with Lieutenant Grant while he was at Sacket's Harbor.
My grandfather was Loyal R. Brown, who lived in Oswego for a great many years, dying about 1892. He was an enthusiastic checker player and was recognized as the champion of Oswego in the early days. He was a shoemaker, and his shop was "checker headquarters."
Many sailors on he lakes in those days were checker players, and they, with checker player visitors to Oswego, eventually ended in "Dickie" Brown's shoe shop to try their luck with the local champion.
When busy, he often put one of his sons on the checker board in his place, and the, while cutting out a pair of shoes, he would direct the play on the board. My father learned to play checkers in that way, and he won many games while a small boy by following his father's instructions from the shoe bench.
According to the story as I recall it, Grant was quite a checker player at Sacket's Harbor, and he came to Oswego for a series of matches with officers stationed at Fort Ontario. Having vanquished the Fort Ontario players, Grant was pitted against my grandfather.
Whether the games were played in the shoe shop, which was then located on West First street near Seneca, or at Fort Ontario, I do not know for sure, but I think they were played in the shoe shop.
After several draw games, Grant was finally beaten by my grandfather. I believe at some later time a return match was played at Madison Barracks, although I am not positive. If my father were alive he could undoubtedly add a great many more details, concerning this checker match.