Alfred B. Street And The Rise of Foliage Tourism


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StreetWhile the tourism industry has prospered in Sullivan County, New York for more than 150 years now, the concept of fall foliage as a tourism tool is relatively new.

The idea of promoting the changing colors of the leaves on the trees to encourage tourists to visit an area did not exist much at all before the late 1930s, and although both the Berkshires in Massachusetts and the Poconos in Pennsylvania were promoting fall foliage tours as far back as the 1940s, the Catskills did not begin to cash in on the idea until the 1950s. Continue reading

The 2nd New-York Provincial Battalion (1775)


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philphotoOn Thursday, October 8, 2015, at 6:30 pm, Philip D. Weaver will give a presentation on the 2nd NY Provincial Battalion in the American Revolution. Several soldiers of this battalion came from the Mohawk Valley area especially the Palatine District.

Phil will discuss how only a small number of this regiment would continue in the Continental Army after the disastrous Canadian Campaign and even fewer would serve until the end of the war. Continue reading

The State of Orange County’s History Community


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Orange County NY HistorianThere’s a crisis in historical societies and historic house museums across the nation. Membership dues and visitation are in decline. The costs of maintaining buildings and collections is exhausting resources.

Volunteers are under pressure to digitize archives and make resources more widely available to the public without having the expertise or budgetary supports that would be necessary to do so. Exhibits and programming are stagnant while trustees work tirelessly to triage the symptoms. And the public is largely unaware of the treasures that these institutions have to offer. Continue reading

Celebrating The End Of The American Revolution


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Washington and Clinton Enter New York City after the American RevolutionOctober 17, 2015 marks the 238th anniversary of the British surrender at the Battle of Saratoga and October 19, 2015 marks the 234th anniversary of the British surrender at the Battle of Yorktown.

Although one would assume these two most important American Victories in the Revolutionary War might be widely celebrated in the City of New York, where the winning generals are buried, until recently they were not celebrated at all. Continue reading

18th Century Material Culture Weekend Planned


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large_GarmentsFort Ticonderoga will host its annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” the weekend of November 7-8, 2015. The event focuses on the material culture of the 18th century and is intended for people with an interest in learning more about objects of the 18th century and what they can tell us about history. “Material Matters” takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga and is open by pre-registration only.

A panel of material culture experts comes to Fort Ticonderoga for the weekend to share their knowledge of 18th-century material culture in a series of presentations. Designed for those who want a deeper understanding of the everyday objects that help tell the story of life and the contests for control of North America during the 18th century, the weekend’s informal approach enables attendees to interact with presenters and provides an opportunity to examine 18th-century objects up close. Continue reading

Enemy Captives of the War for Independence


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the day-to-day experiences of British and German POWs during the War for Independence with Ken Miller, Associate Professor of History at Washington College and author of Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Cornell, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/048

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RIP The Path Through History Taskforce


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Path Through History FailOnce upon a time, as all good fairy tales begin, there was a New York State Path through History Taskforce. Some of you may even remember it. August 28, 2015, marked the three-year anniversary of the failed project and since the NYS Historian who was a member of that taskforce has resigned, it is beneficial to examine the fate of this taskforce for the lessons it teaches about what happened. Will we learn from the past or are we condemned to repeat it?

At the kickoff event for the Path project, attendees received two glossy, multicolored booklets. One had a list of the “iconic highway signage” which was to be produced; the other had the conference agenda, a description of the regions with a listing of the selected sites, and the taskforce bios. Continue reading

Classroom Resources: Hudson River Valley Heritage


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Hudson River Valley HeritageAs the school year approaches, history teachers are looking for new classroom resources, especially primary sources for inquiry based lessons.

Many teachers want to make that local connection with their students who are sometimes unaware of the importance their area might have played in larger American History. There are a plethora of local sites and museums that are terrific jumping-off points for dynamic lessons, but I’d like to focus attention on a very useful site for educators, Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH). Continue reading

Joseph Thoms: Defending America’s Chinese


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Old Fulton NY Post Cards   By Tom TryniskiThe first Western-trained Chinese physician to practice in the U.S. lived most of his life in Brooklyn, where he established America’s first modern hospital for Chinese patients. A strong civil rights advocate at a time when his community could boast few of them, he spoke out frequently and forcefully against the injustices to which Chinese in America were subjected.

China-born Joseph Chak Thoms (1862-1929), known in his native Cantonese dialect as Tom Ah Jo, arrived in California as a teenager in the mid-1870s. He had a gift for language and soon mastered English with hardly an accent. After being baptized by a Presbyterian missionary – which earned him a beating from his uncle – he took a job as a cabin boy and sailed around the world on a steamer, visiting Japan and India before returning to America. Continue reading

Converting the World in the Early American Republic


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ben_franklins_world

After the United States secured its independence from Great Britain, many Americans looked at the world and wondered about their place within it.

What role would early Americans play in shaping the world around them?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore early American conceptions of the world with Emily Conroy-Krutz, an Assistant Professor of History at Michigan State University and author of Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Cornell, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/047

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Sullivan County: The Milkman and Murder, Inc.


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AshkenasNewsAs the summer of 1936 faded into fall, New York State Police and local authorities in Sullivan County were trying desperately to uncover new leads in what had turned out to be a particularly perplexing murder investigation.

It had begun just before six o’clock in the morning on Saturday, September 5, when a young milkman from Hurleyville was making a delivery to the Paramount Manor hotel, just a short distance from the hamlet on the road to Liberty. As Dave Margolin neared the main gate, he came upon a stopped car, blocking the long driveway to the main house. Even in the faint early morning light he could make out that the driver’s side door was open. As he left his truck and approached the car, he noted it was a taxi, a dark-colored Lincoln sedan, New York license plate number 034-657. And then he saw something that he would never forget. Continue reading

England and the American Revolution


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features British journalist Nick Bunker, author of An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America. (Vintage Books, 2015). The book is a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Bunker takes a detailed look at English politics, economics and culture before and during the American Revolution. Listen at “The Historians” online archive here.
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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Knapp’s Folly: Sullivan County’s Columbia Hotel


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ColumbiaAerial1940Many of the participants at the 14th Annual Catskills Preservation and History Conference at the Liberty Museum & Arts Center in Liberty, NY last month were quite surprised to see and hear about the magnitude of Sullivan County’s resort industry during its heyday.

The opening presentation featured an in depth retrospective of the Delano Hotel in Monticello by Marvin Rappaport, grandson of the founder. Continue reading

Teddy Roosevelt Being Feted In Newcomb


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TR Weekend logoThe Town of Newcomb will celebrate author, statesman, naturalist and historian Theodore Roosevelt at the annual TR Weekend, September 11-13, 2015.

The event includes re-enactors portraying TR (Joe Wiegand) and his mother, wife, two daughters, and niece (portrayed by five Newcomb Central School seniors). Also scheduled are free guided tours by horse-drawn wagon of Great Camp Santanoni, a bike tour of the Essex Chain Lakes, tours of the Upper Works mining area, a woodsmens’ demonstration, fishing tournament and other events for children, an ice cream social, and fireworks. “Meet The Roosevelt Women” will take place on Saturday at 6:30 pm at the Newcomb High Peaks Overlook on Route 28N. Continue reading