Tag Archives: Schenectady County

Schenectady County Public Library Local History Collection Unavailable

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Due to an asbestos abatement project on the second floor of the Central Library, the storage collections of the Schenectady County Public Library will be unavailable from now until approximately the middle of June, according to Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

The shutdown will affect the bulk of the libraries local history collection, including most of their yearbooks and some of their city directories. The newspaper microfilm and the city directories on the main floor will remain accessible, as will the library’s Ancestry and HeritageQuest subscriptions.

Oldest Dutch Farm in Mohawk Valley Seeks Interns

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The Mabee Farm Historic Site on the Mohawk River in Rotterdam Junction, Schenectady County, is considered the oldest house in the Mohawk Valley. The Schenectady County Historical Society is continuing to develop the farm site as a museum and educational center for the community and holds Colonial events, workshops, tours and educational programs which reflect the historical significance of this early Mohawk River farmstead. Continue reading

Adirondack Research Library’s Adk Chronology

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Fans of Adirondack history will want to check out the Adirondack Chronology. The Chronology is a project of the Protect the Adirondacks!’s Adirondack Research Library at the Center for the Forest Preserve in Niskayuna. The Chronology consists of a chronological listing of significant events (natural or human-made) over the years and centuries, back to prehistoric times, that have taken place directly in the Adirondacks or which directly impacted the Adirondacks. The document, available as an online pdf, stretches to more than 300 pages and covers everything from the Big Bang (15 billion years before present) to a sunspot cycle in 2012 and 2013 that is predicted to causing major impacts on global electronics. The Chronology also includes an extensive and useful bibliography of relevant sources.

The Chronology is easily searched using the pdf search function, making it one of the most important documents for Adirondack history. Here is a short description of some of the kinds fo things you’ll find there from the Chronology’s introduction:

The Adirondack Chronology deals with all aspects of the Adirondack region to best suggest the various causal processes at work; several examples: forest exploitation leading to forest fire, in turn leading to protective legislation; trails of the Haudenosaunee leading to roads fostering development and then protective legislation, and so on. Crucial events also often occur well outside of the Adirondack region, e.g. invention of the snowmobile, the building of coal burning plants in the Mid-West, the growth of nickel-copper smelting in the Sudbury region of Ontario, the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, federal and state legislation, the introduction of the European Starling in New York City, the painting of a great picture or the writing of an inspirational poem.

The Chronology, last revised and enlarged in November 2009, is edited by Carl George, Professor of Biology, Emeritus at Union College, Richard E. Tucker of the Adirondack Research Library, and newest editor Charles C. Morrison, Conservation Advocacy Committee, Protect the Adirondacks!

The Adirondack Research Library holds the largest Adirondack collection outside the park boundaries. The library’s collections include maps, periodicals, technical reports, photos, slides, video and audio tapes, and archival materials from prominent Adirondack conservationists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo: The Center for the Forest Preserve, located in Niskayuna, NY, is owned and operated by Protect the Adirondacks!

Managing Your Historical Photographs Workshops

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The New York State Archives is offering two new workshops on managing historical photographs. The first, offered at three locations around the state in October is intended to present strategies for taking physical and intellectual control of photographs to ensure their long-term access and use. Participants will hear methods of organizing and making accessible photographic material, and preservation guidelines for photographs, along with reference, exhibition, and outreach strategies will be outlined. The workshops are free and open to the public. The second workshop in the two part series, “Digitizing Your Historical Photographs,” will be available next year.

Schedule and Registration

October 13, 2009, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hanford Mills, East Meredith, NY
Presenter Ray LeFever, Coordinator of Archival Advisory Services, NYS Archives Register by downloading a registration form from Upstate History Alliance

October 20, 2009, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
New City Library, New City, NY (Rockland County)
Presenter Ray LeFever, Coordinator of Archival Advisory Services, NYS Archives
Register by emailing Dianne Macpherson at Greater Hudson Heritage Network.

October 20, 2009 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Schenectady County Library Schenectady, NY
Presenter Denis Meadows, Regional Advisory Officer, NYS Archives Region 4
Register online with the State Archives.

For more information e-mail ARCHTRAIN@mail.nysed.gov.

Photo: Bart Warren and helper in his blacksmith shop, West Sand Lake, NY c. 1900

Upcoming Events For New Adirondack Book

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There are several book signings and other events for the new book Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack beginning this weekend. I hope you’ll come out for one of them.

August 8: An informal talk about Adirondack blogging, trends in local media history, the new book, and their connection to Hulett’s Landing at 7:30 pm, this Saturday, August 8th, at the Hulett’s Landing Casino.

August 9: Book signing at The Adirondack Reader in Inlet, NY on Sunday, August 9th from 1-3pm

September 12: Book signing at The Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady on Saturday, September 12th from 1-2:30pm.

September 19: Book signing at Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid on Saturday, September 19th at 2:00pm.

William F. Fox, Father of NY Forest Rangers

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Last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a ceremony to honor William F. Fox, the “father” of the state’s modern-day forest rangers, on the 100th anniversary of his death. Fox was born in 1840 in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1860. He served in the Civil War as Captain, Major and then Lieutenant Colonel in the 107th New York Volunteers and later wrote a number of books on both the Civil War and forestry. Fox’s 1902 History of the Lumber Industry in the State of New York, written under the auspicious of Gifford Pinchot, is considered the first authoritative work on the logging industry in New York.

Fox became New York’s “Superintendent of Forests” in 1891. He quickly came to the conclusion that the then-current fire patrol system — which used “fire wardens” (firefighters who only worked when there were fire emergencies) and local ad hoc firefighters — couldn’t handle the job of forest protection. He wanted a paid staff – a new “forest guard” service — to cover the Adirondacks and Catskills.

Fox wrote a report to state leaders outlining how he’d organize the patrols: each ranger assigned to a township seven-miles square, residing in a log cabin built near the center of the township — but in the woods, not a village. This forest guard “would keep a sharp watch on any skulker who might be a possible incendiary.” In sum, Fox said he wanted to shift the emphasis from reacting after fires started to patrolling the woods before.

Despite Fox’s advocacy, the state Legislature did not act immediately. Meanwhile, towns became reluctant to enlist local firefighters because of costs. Then came massive fires in 1903 (500,000 acres burned in the Adirondacks) and 1908 (605 fires over 368,000 acres across the state), finally prompting elected officials to take action. In 1909, Gov. Charles E. Hughes signed legislation that brought sweeping changes to the Forest, Fish and Game law that included the creation of a fire patrol service in Adirondacks and Catskills. Fox died shortly thereafter at age 69.

Further legislation followed, replacing the “Forest, Fish and Game Commission” with a “Conservation Commission” and creating the title “forest ranger” in 1912. Though he didn’t live to see his vision fully carried out, Fox is still credited with being the father of the forest rangers. One hundred years later, the DEC, which evolved from the Conservation Commission, today employs a statewide force of 134 uniformed Forest Rangers. Their mission of protecting the state’s natural resources remains consistent with Colonel Fox’s vision.

The ceremony was held at Fox’s graveside at the Village Cemetery in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County.

This story was cross posted at Adirondack Almanack, the leading online journal of Adirondack culture, history, politics, and the environment.

Newspaper Vital Records Index Reaches 50,000 Entries

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Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive at the Schenectady County Public Library has announced that the organization’s obituary index has passed the 50,000-citation mark. The index includes scattered records from Schenectady newspapers before 1822, more complete coverage from 1822 to 1858, some later 1800s, 1902, 1993 to mid-1995, and Dec. 2005 to date. Some other papers from neighboring areas are also included from 2005 to date including regional papers such as the Saratogian, the Gloversville Leader-Herald and the Glens Falls Post-Star. Also available are some years of the Hamilton County News, the Business Review, the Jewish World and the Evangelist.

Most of the newspapers are available in the collections of the Schenectady County Public Library or the Schenectady County Historical Society. See “What Newspapers Are Included?” and “How May I Obtain Copies?” at the top of each obituary page for more information about specific dates and holding libraries.

The index can be accessed here http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/vitalrecords/

49th Annual Schenectady Stockade Walkabout

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With a slogan that says “Party Like It’s 1662,” the Schenectady County Historical Society, the Stockade Association and the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation present the 49th Annual Stockade Walkabout and Waterfront Faire on Saturday.The Walkabout showcases the oldest continuously occupied historic district in the United States, which was designated the first Historic District in New York state in 1962. During the event, from 11 a.m to 5 p.m., you can interact with historical characters from Olde Schenectady, stroll through the neighborhood, tour privately owned 18th- and 19th-century homes, visit historic churches, view the Stockade’s only archaeological dig and join an archaeological tour or an architectural tour.

The Walkabout House Tour includes: guided tours of historic homes, churches and public buildings; an archaeological dig at a historic house garden; an architectural tour; an archaeological tour; historic boats along the Mohawk River; carriage rides along the river path and through the streets; children’s activities in the park; live music and refreshments throughout the day; an antique car exhibit; guided tours of the old Erie Canal; and Colonial artisan demonstrations and fine crafts.

Tickets for adults purchased in advance are $18, and the day of the event are $25; tickets for children younger than 12 are $7. Park free at Schenectady County Community College and other public lots.

The free Waterfront Faire features arts and crafts vendors; family activities; live entertainment and music; food and refreshments; carriage rides; Schenectady County Faire — Colonial artisans and demonstrators; and an authentic bateau and turn-of-the-century launch boat.

For more information, visit http://www.stockadewalkabout.com. You can also find information or purchase tickets with credit cards by calling 374-0263. Tickets can also be purchased at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY 12305.

America’s First Railroad Tunnel Located?

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Incredible news from the Schenectady Gazette this morning. Schenectady City Historian Don Rittner has apparently found the first railroad tunnel ever constructed buried in the historic Schenectady stockade district. The find includes a section of the original tracks:

The 15-foot-deep tunnel snakes its way across what are now a dozen or more private backyards. But in 1832, that land was a major thoroughfare — the foundation of the city’s prosperity and growth for the next century.

Hundreds of business owners and daring families rode through the tunnel on trains so experimental that they were considered too dangerous to be allowed on city streets. They could travel so fast and their engines could produce so many wild sparks that city leaders feared pedestrians would be run over and buildings burned down.

So horses dragged the trains from the Erie Canal to the Scotia bridge along a safe, deep tunnel. It was an experiment that lasted just six years, but in that time it was guaranteed a place in the history books. Not only was the tunnel the first ever constructed for a locomotive, but the entrance was the first junction of two railroad companies, according to Rittner.

Technically, the first rail road in the United States is believed to have been a gravity railroad in Lewiston, New York in 1764. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, of which the tunnel would have been a part, was the first modern-style railroad built in the State of New York; it was incorporated in 1826 by the Mohawk and Hudson Company and opened August 9, 1831. On April 19, 1847, the name was changed to the Albany and Schenectady Railroad. The railroad was consolidated into the New York Central Railroad on May 17, 1853. In 1867, the first elevated railroad was built in New York.

Schnectady County Historical Society Genealogy Talk

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Schenectady County Historical Society is Hosting a Talk by Jean Nudd of the National Archives

Revolutionary War Records at the National Archives, a talk by Jean Nudd, Archivist, NARA, Northeast Region, Pittsfield, MA, will be held on Saturday, June 28, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY.

The talk by Jean Nudd is free and open to the public. The library at the Historical Society will be open without charge to researchers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served at 1:30 p.m. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible.

For more information contact Katherine Chansky at (518) 374-0263 or via email at librarian AT schist DOT org.