The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, Then and Now


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USA-Stamp-1929-Sullivan_ExpeditionOn October 11 at 6:00 pm at the Unadilla Historical Association Robert Spiegelman will present the lecture “The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, Then and Now”.

During America’s Revolution, George Washington ordered Generals Sullivan and Clinton to launch the biggest operation to date against sovereign peoples in North American history. Most Iroquois are uprooted from their homelands, making way for the Erie Canal and Westward Expansion. Strikingly, though Sullivan/Clinton has the most historical markers in New York, it has been nearly forgotten. Spiegelman’s lecture combines fresh research, visuals, and animated maps to attempt to answer why. Continue reading

Institutional Cemeteries Web Project Seeks Input


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Institutional CemteriesSteve Seim is a volunteer researcher attempting to catalog cemeteries established for residents of asylums, poorhouses, poor farms, prisons, orphanages, and similar institutions – in other words, cemeteries for the unclaimed.

Most of the individuals laid to rest in these cemeteries were forgotten in their own lifetimes. It is his hope that they will not be forgotten to history. Continue reading

The State of Municipal Historians in New York


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new-york-county-mapNew York State requires every municipality to have a historian. This means every village, every town, every city, every county, and, of course, at the state level. Hamlets can ponder “should we or should we not have an historian, that is the question” but they are not legally obligated to have one. Nor are neighborhoods. That might seem self-evident outside New York City, but one should realize that the neighborhoods in the city can be substantially larger than even some cities.

Naturally, even when you are required to have a historian by state law there is no assistance from the state in support of that position. It is an unfunded mandate.

Let’s examine the state of these municipal historians. Continue reading

N-Y Historical Society To Open 1914 Time Capsule


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unnamed(26)In 1914, a time capsule marking the tricentennial of the New Netherland Company charter was put on deposit at the New-York Historical Society by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association.

It was intended to have been opened in 1974. As the opening date passed without notice, New-York Historical’s curators and historians decided to open it in 2014 to mark the quadricentennial of the New Netherland Company. Continue reading

Dramatic Tours Recapture Harrowing Night at Cherry Hill


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murder-at-ch1On Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25, Historic Cherry Hill will present a dramatic tour reliving the infamous 1827 murder that occurred at the Cherry Hill mansion, one-time home of the Van Rensselaer family.

The public is invited to step into the experiences of the Cherry Hill household on the evening of May 7, 1827, when a hired hand murdered a household member. The dramatic tour will investigate the scene of the crime and the differing perspectives of those who were there on that fateful evening. Actor James Keil will appear as Jesse Strang, bringing to life the murderer whose violent act was motivated by romantic attachment to his victim’s wife. The murder resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Continue reading

Holloween Event At The Farmers’ Museum


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bump_night_slide“Things That Go Bump in the Night” at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown is an “eerie tour” led by museum interpreters about the shadowy grounds to hear the many mysteries and ghostly happenings that have occurred in the museum’s historic village.

Afterward members of the Templeton Players bring a classic ghost story to life. These tours are held on three nights only: Saturday, October 18; Friday, October 24; and Saturday, October 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Continue reading

Amsterdam Mayor Arthur Carter Was An FDR ally


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Amsterdam Mayor Arthur Carter 1933During the 1920s, Arthur Carter from Amsterdam worked as an auditor for the State Comptroller’s Office in Albany and got to know Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt became President in 1933. Later that year, Carter was elected mayor of Amsterdam, defeating incumbent Republican Robert Brumagin by 1,169 votes.

The nation was gripped by the Depression. An estimated ten thousand people turned out in Amsterdam on a raw and windy November 9, two days after the city election, to parade for economic revival. Continue reading

Johnny Dempster: New York’s Checkers Master


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P2A Checkerboard wikiUndaunted after the tough loss to August Schaefer, Dempster remained in New York City and continued working on his game. Competitive teams representing the city were chosen from a pool of highly skilled players, which included Johnny. When the world champion, Wyllie, came to town again, he played against nine of the region’s best competitors and vanquished all but one, who managed a tie. The next two best finishers against the great Wyllie were Schaefer and Dempster.

While John continued to win big matches, his efforts were now focused on memory development. The skills he learned, combined with the influence of matches he once played against Yates, steered him toward a new career: playing blindfolded. He went public and demonstrated just how adept he had become. Continue reading

Preservation League Names ‘Pillars of New York’


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Preservation League of New York State LogoThe Preservation League of New York State will present its most prestigious commendation, the Pillar of New York Award, at the 2014 Pillar of New York Awards gala on November 12 at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Since 1992 the Preservation League has presented its Pillar of New York Award to individuals and organizations “whose work in the field of historic preservation makes them role models for others throughout the state and nation.” Continue reading

Events Mark NYC Ties to Battles of Saratoga, Yorktown


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Trinity_Church_Cemetery_NYC_A ceremony commemorating the American victories at the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown will be held on Sunday, October 12, 2014 in Manhattan’s historic Trinity Churchyard.  The cemetery holds the bodies of General Horatio Gates, the commanding general at the Battle of Saratoga to whom a 10,000 man British force surrendered on October 17, 1777, and Alexander Hamilton, who led the charge against Redoubt 10 at the Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Both men are buried within a few yards of each other.

The ceremony will be preceded by a two hour walking tour beginning at 12:30 p.m. sponsored by Open House New York in which walking tour historian James S. Kaplan, will lead a group through sites of Revolutionary War importance in Lower Manhattan, ending at Trinity Churchyard. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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The Historians: Ghosts of the Past and a Dedicated Drummer


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians”, Jerry Snyder of Historic Amsterdam (N.Y.) League on their Ghosts of the Past Tour; Barry Wygel of Time Warner Cable News on the 100th anniversary of the Glove Theatre in Gloversville; my story of two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, one black and one white, who fought in the Civil War

In the second half of the show I talk with Angela Cave, author of the book Keeping Time, the remarkable story of 98-year old drummer Fred Randall from Schenectady.

Listen to the whole program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/

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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Campuses Celebrate NYS Wilderness Act Connection


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image0035Through the efforts of a statewide grassroots committee, public and private colleges and universities throughout upstate New York have been spending this fall commemorating the Empire State’s role in inspiring federal wilderness preservation.

These activities are occurring in celebration of the anniversary of the signing by President Lyndon Johnson of the National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964, legislation that created the legal definition of “wilderness” in the United States and now makes provisions for wilderness management on more than 109 million acres of federal land. Continue reading

Finger Lakes Museum Receives Gift of Land


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Townsend-Grady Wildlife PresserveThe Finger Lakes Museum has more than doubled the size of its campus in Branchport.

Thanks to a generous gift of land donated by sisters Anne Salisbury and Molly Sujan and to a cash contribution from their neighbors Rolf Zerges and his wife Lynda Rummel, the museum now owns the 16-acre wetland adjacent to Crescent Beach at the north end of the west branch of Keuka Lake. The parcel comes with more than 1,400 feet of water frontage on Sugar Creek, which is a navigable inlet to the lake. Continue reading

Guest Essay:
Path Through History Highlights Historic Assets


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PrintWhat follow is an guest essay by Mark Castiglione – Acting Executive Director, Hudson River Valley Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Path Through History Workgroup Liaison; and Ross D. Levi – Vice President, Marketing Initiatives, Empire State Development

Even though few states have had as much impact on history or are home to as many authentic historic attractions, New York State has not always come to mind for history lovers as quickly as places like Boston, Philadelphia, and Virginia.   In an effort to help change this perception, Governor Cuomo created the Path Through History [PTH] initiative to draw attention to New York’s unparalleled history and grow heritage tourism throughout the state, and through it promote economic development and create jobs. As we conclude the busy summer travel season, it’s worth noting how far we have come in promoting heritage tourism in New York as well as the future opportunities that exist to expand the effort. Continue reading

Johnstown: Serial Killer Robert Garrow Talk Thursday


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Robert GarrowThe Fulton County Sheriff’s Association will offer a public review of the case of convicted Adirondack serial killer Robert Garrow tomorrow, Thursday, October 2 at the Johnstown Eagles Club, 12 S. William St., at 7 pm. The presentation will be given by regular New York History Blog contributor Lawrence P. Gooley, who is the author of Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow.

Garrow, an abused Dannemora child turned thief, serial rapist, and killer who admitted to seven rapes and four murders (although police believed there were many more). Among his victims were campers near Speculator where Garrow escaped a police dragnet and traveled up Route 30 through Indian Lake and Long Lake and eventually made his way to Witherbee where he was tracked down and shot in the foot. Claiming he was partially paralyzed, Garrow was shot and killed during an attempted prison escape in September 1978 – he had faked his paralysis. Continue reading

NYS Open Space Conservation Plan Comments Sought


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NYS Open Space PlanThe Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) have released the 2014 State Open Space Conservation Plan for public comment.  The plan guides State Environmental Protection Fund investments in open space protection.  Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted from until December 17 and a series of public hearings will be held across the state from October 21 to October 23.

What follows is a recently issued press release: Continue reading

Casino Push Recalls 1960s Catskills Nuke Project


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Sullivan County Nuclear PlantEven those who are not particularly astute observers of the current battle for casino licenses have recognized that the struggle has devolved into one in which some of those in the running have resorted to pointing out how desperate they are.

Sullivan and Ulster Counties seem to be in the lead in this dubious category, and although it will likely be worth it if it lands a casino for one or both, it remains to be seen what the long term impact of such reverse promotion will be, especially if no casinos are forthcoming. Continue reading