Category Archives: History

New York History

Winslow Homer Scholar Addressing NYSHA Thursday


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homer_395Dr. David Tatham, professor emeritus of fine arts at Syracuse University, will address members of the New York State Historical Association at its 111th Annual Meeting. The meeting, held Thursday, July 17, at 4:00 pm in the Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium in Cooperstown, New York, is open to members of the association.

Dr. Tatham’s books on painting in nineteenth-century America include Winslow Homer and the Illustrated Book and also Winslow Homer and the Pictorial Press. An exhibition of Homer’s works, Winslow Homer: The Nature and Rhythm of Life, from the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, is on display at the Fenimore Art Museum through August 24. Continue reading

A Walking Tour Of Newburgh’s East End Historic District


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99MontgomerySt_FinalOn Sunday, July 20th at 1:00 P.M., a walking tour through Newburgh’s East End Historic District will start from the Captain David Crawford House, the headquarters of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. Members of the Society will guide the public through a one mile walk as they peel back the image of the present to showcase the city’s past.

Newburgh’s historic district is the second largest in the State of New York, comprising of over 1,000 buildings. The Society’s tour is a concise sample of local history covering businesses, cemeteries, churches, residences, and schools. An itinerary was organized to show the community the part Newburgh played in design, development, and the story of the area. Along the way, Newburgh’s characters will be discussed and buildings highlighted in their context. Continue reading

Remembering America’s Fallen In Every Community


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800px-American_military_cemetery_2003There is a special group of people who are remembered by a society. These are the fallen, those who die in battle on behalf of something larger than themselves. In the Bible there is an infrequently used term “nephilim” from the verb “to fall.”

Based on the archaeological evidence, the Nephilim appear to have been part of group who were remembered in Canaanite societies in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (second millennium BCE). These fallen warriors were remembered in feasts and stories just as warriors who have fallen in battle are still remembered today. It’s part of the human experience. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Borden Family of Wallkill


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John G. Borden House-Clay County ArchivesI have worked across from the old Borden Estate for over 10 years. Only recently have I started to gain a real appreciation of the role of the Borden Family not only in the history of Wallkill, NY, but also the education of its children.

The Borden Family used their fortune to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. Nowhere is this made more evident than with Penelope Borden. Her many accomplishments are often overshadowed by her sister Marion as well as her father John G. Borden. Continue reading

NYSHA Annual Publication Awards Announced


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Armory Show BookThe New York State Historical Association will announce the winners of its three annual publication awards at its 111th Annual Meeting on July 17.

The winner of the 2014 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogs of Distinction in the Arts is The Armory Show at 100: Modernism and Revolution by Marilyn Satin Kushner, Curator and Head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections at New-York Historical Society and Kimberly Orcutt, Henry Luce Foundation Curator of American Art at New-York Historical Society. Continue reading

Remembering an Old Friend: John Briant


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JBriantNYHA year ago, I wrote about a regional writer of fiction and nonfiction who had passed away. At the time, he was among the elder statesmen of Adirondack authors. His books include One Cop’s Story: A Life Remembered, which details his service in New York State Police Troops B and D. To share one person’s perspective and to help preserve his memory, here is what I wrote about a man whose presence is missed by many. A year after his passing, I still occasionally receive contacts from people who recall him fondly.

The Adirondacks lost a longstanding member of the regional writers’ community when John Briant of Old Forge, known far and wide for his Adirondack Detective series of books, passed away on May 14, 2013. I’m not a religious person, and I can’t say to what extent John was, but if he was devout, he probably looked forward to reuniting with his beloved wife, Margaret, who passed away the previous June. Continue reading

Free Directory of Canal Sites and Museums Available


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ErieCanalwaySiteDirectory_map-cover-montageErie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has produced a new directory of canal sites and museums to introduce New York State residents and visitors to more than 45 sites all along the NYS Canal System. The directory is available at numerous canal sites and visitor centers along the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain Canals.

Each site showcases a different part of the canal’s legacy—from its famous locks and low bridges, to its transformation of New York State, to the prominent role it continues to play in shaping communities along its shores. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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HDC Responds To NYC Historic Preservation Study


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REBNYThe Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is at it again! To welcome newly appointed New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivan on her first day, the trade association and lobbying group released yet another study claiming that landmark designation inhibits the development of affordable housing and is at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration’s goals of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years.

REBNY’s complaints are nothing new, they are based on the group’s long-held and often-repeated premise that building on a landmarked site is so expensive and arduous that no one would ever want to do it. Continue reading

Study: Fort Ticonderoga Generates $8.9M Impact


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Heilman 4Fort Ticonderoga has announced today the findings of a report that concludes the Fort generates $8.9 million annually in state and local economic impact.  The total includes visitor spending from tourists; spending by the Fort Ticonderoga Association in its daily operations; the indirect and induced impacts created by labor income as it flows into the regional economy; and tax revenue generated by that spending.

In 2013 the Fort Ticonderoga Association of Ticonderoga, NY commissioned Magellan Strategy Group to perform the study which utilized data provided by guests visiting Fort Ticonderoga in 2013 and IMPLAN software. According to a statement issued to the press “The study employed a conservative approach to measuring guest spending that evaluated only those expenditures that occurred as a result of visiting Fort Ticonderoga.” Continue reading

Hudson Valley Heritage Area Awards Grants


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hudson river valley heritage areaThe Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley Greenway highlighted five National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants awarded to historic and cultural institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley last week.

The National Park Service calls the Hudson River Valley “the landscape that defined America.” These small National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants are expected to support a wide range of historic and cultural projects, including installations, demonstrations, and public outreach and education projects that will connect more people with the rich tapestry of heritage and cultural experiences in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Sailor Jack Allen: World Taveler, Philosopher, Killer


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Sailor Jack AllenIt was in October of 1887 that itinerant laborer Abel John Allen was arrested for the brutal murder of Ursula Ulrich in Jeffersonville, NY.  Nine months later he became the last man ever hanged in Sullivan County.

His murder of the widow Ulrich notwithstanding, the man known as Sailor Jack was a complicated fellow who packed a lot of living into his 34 years. He spent his time in the Sullivan County jail – awaiting first his trial and then his execution – writing about forgiveness, redemption, and having a “right heart.” Those writings reveal a world traveler, an astute observer of the passing parade, a philosopher. Continue reading

Long Island Traditions Annual Freeport Bay House Tours


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Beers Bay HouseOn Saturday August 16 and September 13, Long Island Traditions will sponsor its annual bay house tours in Freeport, NY. The tour will include conversations with local bay house owners and will be hosted by folklorist Nancy Solomon, director of LI Traditions. The trip will visit area bay houses on the 1½ hour tour on a traditional flat bottom boat.

The bay houses have a long history, dating from the mid-19th century when baymen harvested salt hay for the farmers during the winter. The bay houses provided shelter, along with storage for fishermen’s traps and duck decoys. The bay houses were originally built by fishermen and baymen and have been passed down from generation to generation within many families. In the Town of Hempstead two of the approximately 20 bay houses that either survived Superstorm Sandy or have been rebuilt during 2013-14 will be featured on this year’s annual tour. Continue reading

Solomon Northup Day Planned For Saturday, July 19th


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Solomon Northup in a Sketch from Twelve Years a SlaveThe 16th annual Solomon Northup Day, an afternoon of activities inspired by a powerful memoir of enslavement and eventual freedom, will take place on Saturday, July 19, from 12:30 to 6 pm in Filene Recital Hall at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The story of Solomon Northup, an African-American man abducted into slavery in 1841 and transported to Louisiana, is now known internationally thanks to the acclaimed 2013 film based on Northup’s autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave. But a grassroots effort to raise awareness of this compelling story has been going on for the past 15 years, in particular through Solomon Northup Day, an annual event launched in 1999 by Saratoga Springs resident and Skidmore College alumna Renee Moore. Continue reading

Theatre: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg


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Ari Butler, Adrienne Moore, Tracy Michaelidis. Ethel Sings.Cold warriors of the 1950s achieved one of their most macabre victories by frying Ethel Rosenberg in the electric chair, not for sharing atomic secrets, but simply as leverage to coerce her husband Julius to reveal sources.

Joan Beber’s play, “Ethel Rosenberg Sings: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg” at the Beckett Theatre until July 13th probes gender politics and personal story. This lively and intelligent exploration doesn’t flinch at setting Ethel’s story to music, since as a smart Jewish girl from the Lower East side bursting to escape the confines of immigrant horizons Ethel (Tracy Michaelidis) saw herself on stage “hitting a high C.” Undercover Productions and Perry Street Theatricals give this rendition of “straight from the spy files” of history an imaginative twist by framing it with prison politics and interracial casting that bounces the themes in an echo chamber of past and present. Continue reading

Civil War Weekend Planned For Robert Moses State Park


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2nd Michigan on the fieldThe St. Lawrence County Historical Association will hold its annual Civil War Reenactment Weekend at Robert Moses State Park in Massena Saturday and Sunday July 26-27. The Civil War Reenactment Weekend is part of the SLCHA’s Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which began in 1861.

Union and Confederate reenactors will stage mock battles, perform military drills, talk about camp life, and demonstrate such skills as coffin-making, cooking, cannon firing, and medical practices. There will be a fashion show of Civil War-era clothing, a basket auction, historical displays and period music. Continue reading

Lawrence Gooley: Advice for Aspiring History Authors


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RegionalBookImageNYHMany self-publishers offer plenty of encouragement to both capable and less-than-capable writers, and for good reason. Their business plan is not unlike the NYS Lottery’s “Hey, you never know” program: highly successful by playing your emotions against overwhelming odds. I’m not saying the lottery isn’t fun, but here’s a heads-up: they do know. Both the lottery people and publishers know that nearly everyone who pays into their systems will receive no return other than a few anxious moments.

To begin with, e-book publishers would rather we didn’t know that the great majority of e-titles sell only a few copies—usually to the writer’s family and friends. Several years ago, self-publisher Lulu’s average book sold 1.8 copies. Obviously, sales statistics provided by such companies are skewed by the occasional breakout title that sells hundreds or maybe thousands of copies. Most of them don’t. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Specialty Tours Offered This Summer


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImmerse yourself in the epic history and incredible natural beauty at Fort Ticonderoga with richly informative and entertaining guided specialty tours this summer. Thrill at the power of artillery during Guns by Night tour; discover the History Within the Walls in the 1826 Historic Pavilion house tour; walk in the steps of great generals during the Armchair General tour; and discover the legends of the past while taking part in the Garrison Ghost Tour. All prices are in addition to Fort Ticonderoga admission and advanced purchase is required. Space is limited for tours. To learn more about our specialty tours visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821. Continue reading

Remembering Ancestors:
Evolution of American Cemeteries


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DSCF0002We remember loved ones. We remember those about whom we care and who are now departed. We remember our ancestors for one, two, and maybe three generations if we are lucky enough to have known them. Beyond that memory becomes difficult, figures become blurred, and people are forgotten.

We do not simply dispose of the body when death occurs, we perform a ritual. Whether or not the ritual aids the one who has died is beyond the scope of this post; the ritual certainly is intended to aid the living to continue their journey in this life. Continue reading