Category Archives: History

New York History

Marquis de Lafayette’s Visit To Fort Hunter


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220px-Gilbert_du_Motier_Marquis_de_LafayetteIf you visit Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, you will be following in the footsteps of Marquis de Lafayette, who visited by canal boat in 1825.

A French aristocrat, Lafayette fought with George Washington’s army during the American Revolution. At some point while in America the Frenchman visited Johnstown and was entertained by the families of Jacob and Thomas Sammons, who leased the former Johnson Hall for four years after the Loyalist Johnson family fled to Canada. Lafayette played a key role in the British defeat at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Continue reading

The State Historian and the Future of New York History


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Seal of New York StateThe position of New York State Historian was created in 1895. The Historian was appointed by the Governor until 1911, when the position was moved to the State Education Department. Since that time, it has been located in a number of offices including the Office of State History (1966-1976), and since then, in the State Museum.

State Historians’ job descriptions and priorities have varied over the years as well. The first State Historian, Hugh Hastings (1895-1907), had been a New York Times reporter and concentrated on documentary publications. The next one, Victor Hugo Paltsits (1907-1911), a librarian and expert in colonial history, was known for meticulous editing of published editions and laid the basis for expanding the position into the area of archives. Alexander C. Flick (1923-1939) edited and led the publication of a multi-volume history of the state. Louis L. Tucker (1966-1976) held the titles of State Historian and Assistant Commissioner for State History in the Office of State History and, in the early 1970’s, was also Executive Director of the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Continue reading

Ella Frances Lynch: Adirondack Maven of Early Education


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1aEFLynchBeginning here is the story of an unknown but truly remarkable woman, an educator from Adirondack history. But first, some related information is helpful for perspective. For starters, here’s a sampling of complaints about our educational system: low graduation rates; undeserved diplomas; graduates lacking in real-world skills; students woefully unprepared for college; students without self-discipline, and more. Those are all issues today, but the very same items were also cited in 1970.

Since that time, our spending on education has risen by about 85 percent, but we’ve improved very little, still stymied by the same problems. In the meantime, we’ve fallen far behind many other countries, while still spouting that we’re the greatest country in the world. If we don’t find the answers soon, the hollow ring of that claim might well become deafening. Continue reading

Mohawk Country Heritage Association Forms


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Picture1The Fort Plain Museum is taking the lead in organizing a new marketing association for the Mohawk Valley’s numerous 18th century historic sites.  The new association will work to promote eight historic sites in western Montgomery County all within 4 to 6 miles of Exit 29 on the New York State Thruway.

Billed as “Mohawk Country, America’s First Frontier” the association’s first marketing effort has targeted the month of July. Continue reading

Grant Proposals Sought From Champlain Basin Communities


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image004(1)The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) is seeking proposals for local grants to support the implementation of the long term management plan for Lake Champlain, Opportunities for Action.

The LCBP anticipates awarding up to 80 grants totaling over $1 million dollars. Funding for these LCBP awards originates from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the National Park Service through agreements with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. Continue reading

Adirondack Philosophers’ Camp Talk In Saratoga Springs


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The Story of the Philosophers CampIn 1858 some of the leading lights of American art, literature, and science camped together on Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake at what is now known as the Philosophers’ Camp.

The gathering was organized by Willam James Stillman, artist and editor of acclaimed art magazine of the time, The Crayon. It included transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet James Russel Lowell, Harvard scientist Jean Louis Agassiz, and others.

The meeting at Follensby was widely covered in the popular press of the time and fueled an interest in the Adirondacks and retreating into the wilderness to write, make art and discuss the issues of the day. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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George Whitefield: Race and Revivalism


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Jessica Parr, author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (Mississippi, 2015). Whitefield was a founding father of American evangelicalism in the 1700s. Parr looks at his missionary career and his effort to reconcile his disdain for some plantation owners with his belief that slavery was an economic necessity in the American South. Listen at “The Historians” online archive here. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Andrew Cuomo On The State of New York Tourism


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Empire-StateTC-RP24260Just before the July 4th weekend, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release on the state of tourism. The release covered tourism in its totality and did not address specific sectors like adventure tourism, winery tourism, historic tourism, and LGBT tourism, the four pillars of I Love NY promotions. It also did not differentiate between business, vacation, or shopping travelers. (Macy’s chief executive Terry Lundgren in 2013 called Macy’s “ a tourist place” with roughly 6,000,000 tourists a year).

That being said, the number of travelers to the Empire State from elsewhere is impressive and the economic impact is substantial. Continue reading

Civil War Weekend at Robert Moses State Park


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2nd Michigan on the fieldThe St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s 14th Annual Civil War Reenactment Weekend will be held at Robert Moses State Park in Massena on Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26.

Military and civilian re-enactors from New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ontario and Quebec, Canada are expected to attend, including President Lincoln, as well as sutlers, vendors of period goods and clothing. Continue reading

Hudson River School Exhibit Goes Online


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Hudson River Scool Online Exhibit“What is the Hudson River School?” is the frequently asked question that prompted the Albany Institute of History & Art to present the exhibition The Making of the Hudson River School: More than the Eye Beholds in 2013. The exhibition featured 96 works from the Albany Institute’s collection of Hudson River School paintings, drawings, prints, and historical documents, along with 38 works from several private collections that had not been shown before in a public exhibition.

This exhibition, which highlights such a key component of New York State’s history and the history of American art, has been digitized and is now available as the museum’s first online exhibition, bringing the story of the Hudson River School to greater audiences. Continue reading

South St Seaport Among America’s Endangered Places


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South Street Seaport in the 1970sThe South Street Seaport has been named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places according the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since 1988, the National Trust has used this campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures.

The South Street Seaport is a designated NYC Historic District and is considered the first World Trade Center, as it was NYC’s birth place of commerce. Continue reading

Magna Carta & North America


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ben_franklins_world2015 marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Its four key principles continue to influence and inspire the governments of English-speaking countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore Magna Carta and its long legacy with Carolyn Harris, author of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights (Dundurn Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/038.

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Exhibit: Camps of the Mid-Hudson Valley


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summer camp kids postcardMud sliding, a plane dropping leaflets to open a camp’s “Color Wars,” a 14-year-old pitcher striking out a visiting Lou Gehrig, a polio epidemic, the controversial arrest of a popular camp owner, kids finding “lost” caves, folksinger Theodor Bickel entertaining campers.

These are some of the stories in the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society’s new exhibit on area camps, Swimming, Singing and S’mores: 120 years of camps in the Mid Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Chenango County African American Civil War Veterans


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Hannibal Molson“Thursday was a gala day for the colored people of [Norwich] and surrounding towns,” the Chenango Semi-Weekly Telegram reported on September 27, 1879. “The occasion being the reunion of the colored soldiers of the late war, under the auspices of the Rescue Hook and Ladder Company of this village.”

The African American fire company had been organized earlier that year and elected Civil War veteran Hannibal C. Molson its Foreman. The day’s program called for a dinner, a parade, and speeches in recognition of their honoree’s service followed in the evening by a meal at the Spaulding House, musical selections, and a ball at Concert Hall. Continue reading

Centennial Celebration of the Seal of New York City


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unnamed(9)On May 12, 2015, the Coat of Arms Foundation (COAF) in collaboration with the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) hosted a presentation by Chris M. Jones on the centennial anniversary of the adoption of the seal of the City of New York on June 24, 1915.

Designed to reflect the full heraldic achievement – arms with charges, crest, supporters, and motto – the seal went into use for “requisite purposes… on documents, publications or stationery issued or used by or in the name or under the authority of the city or of any borough or department thereof.” Continue reading

Caniskek: The Meeting of Worlds in Athens NY


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entranceImagine it is 1665. The place is the wilderness along the banks of the river whose “waters flow both ways.” The native inhabitants are the Mohicans, the newcomers wishing to settle and trade are the Dutch. Exactly 350 years ago a deed was signed for the land the Mohicans called Caniskek, a place that would change forever and evolve into the present day town called Athens, New York. Continue reading