Adirondack History And Campfire Stories


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Layout 1If you’ve spent any time rambling New York’s north country roads, you may have wondered how Eagle Lake got its name, or how little towns like Schroon Lake and Chateaugay and Redford came to be before the north became a tourist haven. Where is that Cold River hermit that your grandfather told you about? What about the weird beliefs of early Adirondack days? Maybe you’re still holding out for the possibility of a sea serpent in Lake Champlain, or hoping you’ll chance upon a legendary lost silver mine while you’re out enjoying a hike in the balsam wood.

This is the sort of interesting and sometimes unusual information that readers of Adirondack Memories and Campfire Stories (2014) will find fascinating. William J. “Jay” O’Hern has compiled first-hand stories from a series of little quarterly magazines that native Adirondack archivist, historian, and folklorist George Glyndon Cole published from 1946-1974. Few complete collections now exist, in less than a handful of North Country libraries, but back then readers eagerly anticipated each new issue. Some readers will remember reading North Country Life, later called York State Tradition, from cover to cover. It was exciting indeed to read about one’s own rural region, especially when the articles came straight from the pens and hearts of one’s neighbors. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Stokely Carmichael: The Bronx to Freedom Summer


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Stokely CarmichaelFifty years ago, civil rights activists from across the country came together in Mississippi to fight entrenched racism and voter repression. To mark the anniversary of 1964’s Freedom Summer, the Museum of the City of New York will examine one of its key players at a talk titled Stokely Carmichael’s Journey: From the Bronx to Freedom Summer on Thursday, August 12 at 6:30 p at the museum, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, NYC. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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13th Catskills Preservation And History Conference


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Conferencephoto2013The Liberty Museum & Arts Center has announced the schedule for their 13th annual Catskills Preservation and History Conference, to be held at the Museum in Liberty, Sullivan County, NY, on Sunday, August 24.

The theme of this year’s conference is “500 Hotels! Tourism in the Sullivan County Catskills: Past, Present and Future.”  The full day event includes a driving and walking tour in the morning, and programs and panel discussions throughout the day, culminating in the presentation of the Second Annual Catskills Preservation Award and the opening reception for the “Pollack’s Hotel Exhibit” at 7 PM. Continue reading

French And Indian War Event At Chimney, Crown Points


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DSCN0735On August 9 and 10, 2014, some exciting mid-1700s military activity will take place at the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, as part of the annual Crown Point, NY, annual French & Indian War Encampment.  At about 10:30 am both days watch for French and British soldier reenactors to cross the Lake Champlain Bridge or travel by reproduction boats, weather permitting, from New York into Vermont.  By 11:00, if conditions allow, they will engage in a military tactical on the lawn and beach south of the Chimney Point tavern building. Continue reading

Festival to Commemorate Woman Suffrage Anniversary


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Susan B Anthony festivalThe 2014 Susan B. Anthony Festival will take place on Sunday, August 17, from noon to 5 pm in the Susan B. Anthony Park between Madison & King Streets in Rochester, NY. This annual event celebrates the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women throughout the country the right to vote.

Live music & entertainment will be provided throughout the afternoon in the Park. Local artists include 6-time Grammy nominee and 2012 Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester  “Artist of the Year”, Chet Catallo & the Cats, who will perform at 3 p.m. Also performing are Cammy Enaharo, the Raging Grannies, and the Spiritus Christi Choir. Food vendors and unique artisans will also be on hand. Continue reading

Merger Recalls Nyack Medical History


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NSL150_Nyack-Hospital-Revised-397x600In June, Nyack Hospital and Montefiore Health System issued a joint press release announcing a merger. When the process is complete, Nyack will have a medical institution informed by over two centuries of history in health care. Will the philanthropic and progressive impulses that characterized the creation of nonprofit hospitals in nineteenth-century America endure?

A moment of reflection seems to be in order. Here’s a snapshot of the origins and early days of each health care institution that may provide some prologue and set expectations for what will follow. Nyack Hospital was incorporated in 1895. Initial funds were raised by an initiative called “Kirmess,” that drew inspiration from medieval festivals that used merrymaking to accomplish good. Continue reading

Downton Troy Courtyard Party August 12th


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RCHS Downton Abbey EventThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is hosting a Downton Troy Courtyard Party on Tuesday, August 12th from 5pm to 8pm.

Inspired by the popular television series, Downton Abbey, RCHS will be hosting a summer evening party in the courtyard of the Historical Society in Troy, NY. Attendees are invited to adopt 1920s attire and/or accessories for the evening to complement the theme of the party. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Photographs Linked to Fort Plain


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SamuelDowningThe Fort Plain Museum has announced that researchers have located several early photographs (called a carte de visite or CDV) of two Revolutionary War soldiers who served at Fort Plain.

Private Samuel Downing of Captain John Dennett’s Company, Colonel George Reid Commanding, 2nd New Hampshire Regiment, was stationed at Fort Rensselaer/Fort Plain from February 20, 1782 until September 20th that same year when the regiment was transferred to Johnstown. Downing had his picture taken in 1863 as one of the last surviving veterans of the war for American Independence, a time when the American Civil War was at its height. Downing, who had made Edinburgh, NY his home after the Revolution, passed away there three years later in 1866 at the age of 105. Continue reading

Peter Feinman:
Unexpected Deaths and Historical Memory


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The General Slocum disaster memorial in Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York City, which was once in Little GermanyHow should we remember 9/11? I began to think about this more as the date for the opening of the 9/11 Museum neared. By coincidence, I was invited by City Wonders to take one of its tours and I chose the 9/11 Memorial Tour. This was just prior to the opening of the museum in May.

9/11 and that tour are responsible for the recent series of posts on remembering the dead. For me, it is important to understand 9/11 in context. That means not only the historical context in which the event occurred but the historical context in which we remember historical events. Our Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Passovers aren’t the same as our ancestors, nor is Memorial/Decoration Day. As a result, I began to write about different ways and circumstances in which we remember those who have died. Continue reading

C.L. Churchill Named ‘Tug of the Year’


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Churchill from lcmm 4 without railingThe C.L. Churchill, a 50 year old wooden tugboat, has been named Tug of the Year for the 2014 Waterford Tugboat Roundup.  The Roundup is an annual three-day event in Waterford, NY highlighting the area’s heritage of waterborne commerce.

The C.L. Churchill is the accompanying tug to the Lois McClure, a replica canal schooner of the type which operated on some of the canals of New York State and Lake Champlain in the 19th century. The Roundup bestows the honorary Tug of the Year title to a different tug each year, typically one that brings its own unique history to the event. Continue reading

World War I And The End Of The Gilded Age


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image001(10)To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914, Staatsburgh State Historic Site will debut a new tour, “World War I and the End of the Gilded Age.”

Staatsburgh was the home of prominent social hostess Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband, financier Ogden Mills.  The 79-room mansion showcases the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy elite of the early 20th century.  This special tour will explore how the cataclysm of World War I brought an end to the extravagant excesses of the Gilded Age. Continue reading

A Monticello Merchant, And A Founder Of The NY Times


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danielbennettst.johnHe was the Supervisor of the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County, a member of the New York State Assembly, a State Senator, member of Congress, and New York’s first Superintendent of Banking, as well as one of Monticello’s most successful merchants. And in 1851 he joined with seven others in founding what would become one of America’s most respected newspapers.

He was Daniel Bennett St. John, and he was one of the original owners of the New York Times. Continue reading

Dump Day: A Little Garbage History


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CasellaO-SortMachNYHHere’s an unusual item that’s part of just about everyone’s personal history if you’re 50 or older. Remember that long-ago weekly ritual, the trip to the dump with Dad? I’m talking about the 1960s, and maybe in some cases the 1970s. If you’re not old enough to look back that far, you’ll be amazed (appalled) at how trash, garbage, and another-man’s-treasures were disposed of by most folks. It was a part of small-town life that we can now be thankful has largely vanished. From a child’s perspective, the dump was a mysterious and somewhat scary place that you couldn’t wait to visit, and soon enough couldn’t wait to leave. Continue reading

An Explosive Musical On The Atom Bomb


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JeremyKushnierSnazzy musical numbers, snappy dialogue and souped-up friction between bureaucrats and scientists make Atomic: The Idea that Shook the World a sizzling treatment of the history of the Manhattan Project.

Leo Szilard is not the best-known maker of the Atomic Bomb but his dramatic story highlights the high-pressure situation from 1936 to 1945. The play’s run off-Broadway at the Acorn Theater ties to a surge of public interest in the Cold War era. This week is the 75th anniversary of the August 2, 1939 Einstein-Szilard letter to Pres. Roosevelt alerting him to the necessity to move quickly to beat the Nazi regime to the development of an awesomely powerful new weapon. Continue reading

Inside Ocean Hill–Brownsville: A Teacher’s Education


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Inside Ocean Hill BrownsvilleIn 1968 the conflict that erupted over community control of the New York City public schools was centered in the black and Puerto Rican community of Ocean Hill–Brownsville. It triggered what remains the longest teachers’ strike in US history.

That clash, between the city’s communities of color and the white, predominantly Jewish teachers’ union, paralyzed the nation’s largest school system, undermined the city’s economy, and heightened racial tensions, ultimately transforming the national conversation about race relations. A new memoir, Inside Ocean Hill–Brownsville: A Teacher’s Education, 1968-69 (SUNY Press, 2014) has been written by Charles S. Isaacs, a teacher who crossed the picket lines. Continue reading

War of 1812: The New Brunswick Regiment of Foot


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The 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot in the War of 1812Best known for its perilous Winter March through the wilderness of New Brunswick to the battlegrounds in Upper Canada, the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot was a British unit originally raised to defend the Maritimes, with members drawn from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Upper and Lower Canada, and the British Isles.

In 1813, the regiment was sent to raid the American naval base in Sackets Harbor, New York, and then moved to the Niagara Peninsula to continue its fight against the invading Americans. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Environmental History:
Prestonia Mann’s Polluted Stream


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The Willey house - Keene NyIn 1896, New York City resident Prestonia Mann purchased an Adirondack estate in Keene and set about to create a summer community based on the 1840s Massachusetts Transcendentalist utopian experiment, Brook Farm. She sent an invitation to her circle of acquaintances – mostly progressive social reformers and educators – describing the place she named Summer Brook in homage to the earlier colony:

It includes a large common hall, a cottage, and about twenty acres of land traversed by a fine trout brook. The region—at the northern end of Keene Valley—is in the noblest part of the great wilderness. The land lies 2,000 feet above the sea, upon a small plateau jutting out from among the foot-hills of Mount Hurricane, in the midst of wild and rugged scenery, commanding a splendid mountain range from Whiteface on the north to Tahawus on the south.

Unfortunately, a hotel upstream, The Willey House, was dumping all of their raw sewage into the same “fine trout brook”, known as Gulf Brook. Continue reading