Behind the legend of Natty Bumppo

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BENNINGTON — Two historians will discuss "Natty Bumppo, a Walloomsac Legend," at a meeting of the Bennington Historical Society on Sunday, Sept. 15. The presentation will take place at 2 p.m. in the Ada Paresky Education Center of Bennington Museum.

Nathaniel Shipman, a noted hunter and trapper, came to Walloomsac, New York, around the close of the French and Indian War. He was a close friend of the Mohican Indians and respectful of their culture and fought on the English side in the war. When the American Revolution broke out he did not join the colonists since he did not want to fight his Indian friends who remained loyal to the British. As a result, his neighbors did not approve and tarred and feathered him.

He fled to Cooperstown, New York, and it was there that James Fenimore Cooper heard about this frontiersman and used him as the prototype for Natty Bumppo, the hero of Cooper's "Leather Stocking Tales." One of those tales, "The Last of the Mohicans," has been turned into several movies, the most recent one starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Bumppo, as well as a Masterpiece Theater presentation.

Joyce Brewer, the director of the Hoosick Township Historical Society, and Corinne Eldred, a volunteer with the society, will talk about Shipman/Bumppo at the Bennington Historical Society, which is a program of the Bennington Museum. They will discuss the real person behind the myth and talk about the struggle the Hoosick Falls Historical Society went through to have an historical marker erected near his grave. The museum is located at 75 Main St. All programs of the Historical Society are free and open to the public.

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