Tag Archives: Johnstown

Slave to Fiddler: Utica’s Joseph Pell


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pelldeathI wrote an article about early black musicians in New York State back in December, but I decided to omit Joe Pell from that piece for two reasons. He seemed never to have been a full-time musician (as were the other performers in the article), and, in December, nearly all the information I had on Pell came from his obituary, and obituaries are not always the best place to locate objective, unbiased information about a person.

I have since been able to confirm much of what was written upon his passing, and I present here an annotated obituary of this talented and beloved black performer. My annotations appear within square brackets. Continue reading

In Johnstown, Hope for Votes for Women Trail Funding


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piano-72-LittleIt’s late afternoon in Johnstown, NY, magic hour, right before sunset when filmmakers capture the best lighting. Nancy Brown, a fifth grade teacher, is waiting to take us to the local historical society and out to dinner with three other board members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association.

This is the town where well-known women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up. The place is also loaded with history of the American Revolution, plus generations of tanners and workers in the glove industry who lived and worked here. We can’t get to the Johnstown Historical Society at 17 North William Street without passing sites of major historical interest. It’s as if everybody is related in some way to this historical community. It looks like classic small town America, made in America. Continue reading

Johnstown: St. Patrick’s Masonic Lodge


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St Patricks Lodge 2008-1I noticed that there was a report in the Leader Herald on the Johnstown Masons of St. Patrick’s lodge, so I thought this bit of history might be timely:

St. Patrick’s Lodge No. 8 (now called St. Patrick’s Lodge No. 4) in Johnstown, NY, founded by Sir William Johnson, is one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in the State of New York. Sir William Johnson was raised a Master Mason on April 10, 1766, in Union Lodge No. 1, located in Albany, New York, (now Mount Vernon Lodge No. 3).Augustine Prevost, a brother of the Union Lodge, wrote to Johnson a few weeks earlier, on March 23, 1766, informing him that Johnson’s friend and fellow Masonic brother Normand McLeod, had formally notified Union Lodge of Johnson’s desire to be a master of a lodge in Johnstown. Prevost noted in the letter: Continue reading

Johnson Hall Opens for 2012 Season


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Johnson Hall, the 18th century baronial estate of Sir William Johnson and his family, has opened its doors for the 2012 season. Through Sunday, October 14th, the State Historic Site will offer guided tours on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, and on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.

Tours will generally begin on the half-hour, with the final tour of the day beginning at 4pm. Pre-registered group tours and Site special events may alter this tour schedule. The historic house will also be open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
Johnson Hall was the 1763 Georgian estate of Irish-born Sir William Johnson and Mohawk Indian Molly Brant and their family. Sir William (1715 – 1774) was the single largest landowner and most influential individual in the colonial Mohawk Valley. His success in dealing with the Six Nations had a lasting impact on their relationship with the English, and largely influenced England’s victory in the Anglo-French struggle for control of colonial North America. The main house and flanking stonehouses, originally surrounded by a 700 acre farm, now interpret the Johnson family through guided tours of the period room settings, educational programs and special events.

Admission fees are $4.00 for adults and $3.00 for senior citizens and students. Children 12 years of age and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Groups of 10 people or more, as well as school groups, must register in advance. Group fees are $3.00 per person, while the school fee is $1.00 per person (regular school year only). Special fees for Site special events may apply.

The 2012 Site calendar of events will be announced shortly, highlighted by the annual Market Fair on July 14th and 15th , which will feature an 18th century cricket demonstration, live performances, vendors, encampment, an open house and much more.

The Friends of Johnson Hall, a not-for-profit support group, will host the Johnson Jog 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, May 19th. More information on this major fundraiser, which will support the education and preservation programs at Johnson Hall, visit www.friendsofjohnsonhall.org or call (518) 762-4459.

For more information on Johnson Hall State Historic Site, visit www.nysparks.com or Facebook, or call (518) 762 – 8712.

Celebrating the Holidays in 18th Century Johnstown


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The goal of every museum and historic site is to make history come alive in the imagination of the public. The past few days have witnessed a number of celebrations of holiday greenery, music, and feasting, commemorating early festivities in the Mohawk Valley. Most of the greenery and more usual trappings of holiday spirit that are near and dear to our imaginations and hearts did not become common in household celebrations until the nineteenth century. More common in the 18th century secular celebrations were simple gifts of trinkets or money and feasts involving food and drink. There were additional rituals in colonial New York German and Dutch households where ceremonies were brought over from their countries of origin. Continue reading

Wanda Burch: 18th Century Bed Rugs


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The question was raised on “what are bed rugs?” in a recent living history association [ALHFAM] on-line thread. Bed rugs, often spelled “bed ruggs,” were common bed coverings that appear in both 18th and 19th century house inventories. Bed rugs were inventoried in Johnson Hall in Johnstown, NY, in a 1774 inventory of household goods by Daniel Claus. Johnson Hall was built in 1763; but the inventory was completed in 1774, a common recording for wills and cataloguing household goods. Continue reading

Johnson Hall to Host Visit From Ben Franklin


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Johnson Hall State Historic Site will host “A Visit from Ben Franklin” this Saturday, September 17th at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Paul Stillman will provide the first-person portrayal of Benjamin Franklin, including a performance on the glass armonica and presentation of scientific instruments of the period, an interest Franklin shared with Sir William Johnson.

Stillman has performed over 25 years as a first-person historical interpreter. He presents many characters to schools, libraries, museums and organizations, including Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Civil War soldier Byron Scott and Revolutionary War soldier Thomas Stillwell. The performances feature ongoing question-and-answer opportunity to help the audience understand the vocabulary of the period. These performances, complete with visual aids, entertain and educate all ages by bringing history to life.

The presentation will be held inside the historic mansion, where seating will be limited. While there is no admission fee, donations to support the program will be appreciated. Due to this special program, there will be no guided tours of Johnson Hall on this day.

“A Visit from Ben Franklin” is made possible in part by a Decentralization grant of public funds awarded to The Friends of Johnson Hall by the New York Council on the Arts, administered by the Tri-County Arts Council.

Johnson Hall State Historic Site is located at 139 Hall Avenue in historic Johnstown, just off West State Street (State Highway 29 West). For more information on special events at Johnson Hall, visit www.friendsofjohnsonhall.org, or write darlene.rogers@oprhp.state.ny.us to be placed on the Site’s emailing list.

Johnson Hall to Host 18th Century Market Fair


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Johnson Hall State Historic Site in Johnstown will host an 18TH century market fair this weekend, Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. both days with an evening contra dance on the lawn at 8 p.m. on Saturday. This is an event first established by Sir William Johnson in 1772.

Entertainment throughout both days will include magic by Robert Olson performing as 18th century magician “Mr. Bayly;” period music by Liaisons Plaisantes; a Punch and Judy Show by the Punchbowl Sisters, period games for children [and adults] led by Shari Crawford; and a new treat – scenes from the 18th century play “The Beaux Stratagem” led by Bernadette Weaver. There will be sutlers [vendors] from the period and re-enactors with domestic encampments. Parking will be available at the Johnstown High School with shuttles to Johnson Hall.

Schoharie: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Roots


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Schoharie Crossing Visitor Center at 129 Schoharie Street, Fort Hunter, five miles west of Amsterdam will be hosting a lecture entitled “Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Roots” to celebrate Women’s History Month, on Wednesday, March 16, at 7:00 pm.

Noel Levee of the Johnstown Historical Society will explores Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s early years in Johnstown and how her thoughts were shaped by the people around her. The route of the Erie Canal was a hot bed for social and political change throughout the 19th century which included the Women’s Rights Movement getting started in Seneca Falls, only a stone throw away from the Erie Canal. Continue reading

Mettawee River Theatre at Johnson Hall


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The Friends of Johnson Hall State Historic Site, 139 Hall Avenue, in Johnstown, NY, will host the Mettawee River Theatre on Thursday evening, August 5, 8:00 p.m., on the lawn under the black walnut trees – this popular annual theatre company presented their first production at Johnson Hall over 30 years ago. This year’s 35th anniversary production is an Iroquois creation story. Bring chairs, blankets, snacks, and bug spray – but no pets, please.

Mettawee’s outdoor production for the summer of 2010 is The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, which was originally produced in 1997. It is drawn from the Iroquois creation tale in which the Sky Woman falls from the spirit world and lands on the back of a turtle. Water animals bring up mud from the bottom of the sea so the earth can grow. The character Sapling creates all the earth’s delightful things; his brother Flint brings us mosquitoes and thorns and sharp rocks. The abrupt arrival of Hodu’i, a whimsical crack-pot who claims to have created it all, spells the readiness of the earth for the arrival of human beings. The production will incorporate many puppets representing the spirits and creatures of this young world.

According to Mettawee Artistic Director Ralph Lee, “At this time, when serious concerns about the state of our environment weigh heavily on us, it’s nourishing to hear these clear voices from the beginning of the world, reminding us of the gifts we’ve been given.”

For further information, contact Wanda Burch at 518-762-8712 or wanda.burch@oprhp.state.ny.us

Symposium: Early Transportation in The Mohawk Valley


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The 2009 Western Frontier Symposium, “Moving Frontiers: Early Transportation in the Mohawk Valley,” will be held this weekend, October 17 – 18, 2009, at Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnstown. This year’s symposium will explore the ways that transportation changed the culture, economy and social life in the Mohawk Valley from 1700 to 1890. As turnpikes, canals and railroads made it easier to move people and goods, New York¹s colonial frontier became the central corridor into America’s midlands.

The events keynote speaker will be Daniel Larkin, noted author of books on railroad and canal engineering, and editor of Erie Canal: New York’s Gift to The Nation. He will talk about the central role of Mohawk Valley transportation and technologies in shaping the New York State we know today.

Other symposium scholars will present fascinating insights into various aspects of the region’s transportation history – from native American trails and early canals, through the glory days of the Erie Canal and into the railroad age and the first bicycle craze.

Participants can learn about early roads, the businesses that served merchants and travelers, and the impact of these movements on the Palatine and Dutch settlements of the Mohawk Valley and then spend a day at historic sites throughout the region, viewing special exhibits related to transportation history and discussing specific topics with additional speakers in the field.

All presentations are free and open to the public, thanks to the generosity of the New York Council for the Humanities a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tickets for Special Events & Packages are available for a fee. (Pre-registration required.)

The event is sponsored by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, NYS Archives Partnership Trust, Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor & related Mohawk Valley historic sites

For additional details visit the website: www.oldfortjohnson.org/symposium.html