Tag Archives: Schenectady County

Schenectady Event: Mohicans Making History


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On Saturday, January 15, 2011, at 2 P. M., Shirley W. Dunn will present a lecture at the Schenectady County Historical Society at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady. The lecture will be based on her most recent book, “The River Indians: Mohicans Making History” (Purple Mountain Press, 2009). A major part of the talk will be about Arent Van Curler’s close connections with Mohicans living around Beverwijck, connections made through a village, his farm at the Flatts and various purchases of Mohican land. Also included will be details of Mohican sales to the Dutch along the Mohawk River which indicate that the site of Schenectady, as well as the Cohoes Falls, were in Mohican territory prior to a Mohican concession to the Mohawks in 1629. Refreshments at 1:30 pm will precede the talk.

Schenectady Digital History Archive Expands


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Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive is reporting that the online archive’s obituary index now includes over 65,000 citations.

In addition to the [Schenectady] Daily Gazette and assorted historical Schenectady
newspapers, for the last several years the index has covered current issues of papers from the greater Capital District area, such as the Glens Falls Post-Star, the Gloversville Leader-Herald and the Saratogian.

Digital History Archive Adds Important Volumes


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Bob Sullivan, of the Schenectady Digital History Archive, has announced that the first two (historical) volumes of Nelson Greene’s four-volume history of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties, History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 is now online.

Included are more than 300 photos and maps, and a biographical section – more than 2000 pages so far, are online. Greene’s History joins the Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, a four-volume set with more than 1300 family entries from Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington Counties.

NY Military Museum Director to Speak


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Michael Aikey, Director of the New York State Military Museum, and a founding member of the Capital District Civil War Round Table, will give a talk on November 13th at the Schenectady County Historical Society. His topic is the collections of the New York State Military Museum housed in the historic Saratoga Armory building. The museum preserves the military history of New York State, and the history of New York State’s National Guard. Aikey’s talk will be a special introduction to the museum located in Saratoga Springs.

The museum was started in New York State in 1863, during the Civil War, and moved to several locations before finding a permanent home, in 2001, in the Saratoga Armory at 61 Lake Avenue, Saratoga Springs, New York. The museum houses over 10,000 artifacts from the Revolutionary War period to the present, including historic weapons, artillery pieces, uniforms, flags and artwork. The museum has a gallery, a library, a gift shop and offices for the Veteran Research Center, an oral history program. Aikey’s talk will be of particular interest to anyone interested in the military history of New York State, and the place in history of New York State veterans, including the history of the New York Army National Guard.

Michael Aikey has been working for the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) since 1996 serving as the Director of the New York State Military History Task Force, Librarian/Archivist, and Deputy Director, before moving to the directorship of the New York State Military Museum/Research Center in 2002. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany’s School of Information Science and Policy, with experience working in both public and academic libraries before going to DMNA.

Mr. Aikey was a founding member of the Capital District Civil War Round Table, has published articles on military history, guest curated several museum exhibits and worked as an NEA grant consultant. He lectures on New York State military history and the Civil War. Currently he serves on the Capital District Library Council’sboard of directors. His spare time is frequently involved in historical research, and tinkering with classic British cars.

This program is free and open to the public. There will be refreshments at 1:30 pm on Saturday prior to the talk at 2:00 pm. The Schenectady County Historical Society is located at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305. The building is wheel chair accessible with off-street parking. For more information contact Katherine Chansky at (518) 374-0263 or email librarian@schist.org. Find directions to SCHS at www.schist.org.

Schenectady ‘Genealogy Day’ Event Saturday


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On Saturday November 6th the Schenectady County Historical Society will explore the many possible ways to uncover your family history during Genealogy Day, an event that will feature several speakers along with open hours in the library. Frank Taormina, a retired teacher and long-time Schenectady resident, will describe the history of the ethnic communities of Schenectady as he shows us the City’s many places of worship: churches, synagogues and mosques. Bob Sullivan, librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library and webmaster of Schenectady Digital History Archive, will explain how to mine the wealth of the Internet to locate historic newspapers on the Internet. During the lunch hour Kim Mabee, a community volunteer and tireless family researcher, will share the story of her own research on the Mabee Family of Rotterdam, NY.

The afternoon of Genealogy Day offers participants the choice of sitting in on a beginning genealogy class or exploring the resources of the Grems-Doolittle Library. Nancy Curran, a genealogical consultant, will be on hand in the library to field research questions. Curran is an experienced researcher well versed in using the New York State Department of Health vital records indexes at the New York State Archives. Katherine Chansky, librarian at the Historical Society’s Grems-Doolittle Library, will talk about ways to begin a genealogy project. She will share some tips on organizing family records, suggest Internet sites to visit, and demonstrate
Family Tree Maker software.

Reservation are recommended. Participants will be asked for a 5 dollar donation to benefit the Historical Society. Lunch is bring your own bag lunch; cold beverages and homemade desserts will be provided by Grems-Doolittle Library volunteers.

Genealogy Day Schedule Saturday Nov. 6th :

10:00 am – 10: 45 am Churches of Schenectady by Frank Taormina. This PowerPoint presentation by Schenectady resident Frank Taormina, will explore the ethnic character of the City of Schenectady’s places of worship. Taormina was a social studies teacher for ten years, a school administrator and for many years the principal of Niskayuna High School. He has been president of the Schenectady County Historical Society and is a frequent speaker at SCHS events.

11:00 am – 11:45 am Digital Newspapers Online by Robert Sullivan, reference librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library and Trustee of the Schenectady County Historical Society. Bob will give a survey of assorted Internet sites where the public can find digital historic newspaper collections. He will also discuss the wealth of information available through Newsbank and Google/Gazette.

12:00 noon to 1:30 Lunch Break Guest Speaker, Kim Mabee, Mabee/Mabie/Maybee/Maybee: Soup to Nuts. Kim Mabee has spent years adding her own genealogy research to the extensive Mabee family genealogical record. A member of the Maybee Society, she describes herself as a “professional volunteer.” Kim has taken leadership roles
in a variety of area organizations including president of the Sacandaga PTA, President of the Schenectady County Historical Society, and Volunteer registrar for the Highland Soccer Club. She has received awards for her community service and takes pride in being a life-long student and self-taught scholar. From the summer into the fall season Kim is the “butter lady” at the Historic Mabee Farm in
Rotterdam Junction, NY, teaching hundreds of school children on farm tours how to make homemade sweet butter and giving lessons in farm-based traditions of the Mohawk Valley.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Beginning Genealogy by Katherine Chansky, Librarian/Archivist for the Grems-Doolittle Library. Katherine Chansky has been working in local history and genealogy for over 10 years. She will share suggestions on organizing your family records, setting up files in Family Tree Maker, and identify several Internet
website for the beginning genealogist.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Library Open Hours with Nancy Johnsen Curran. Curran is a genealogist and experienced researcher. She will be available in the library to brainstorm answers to your genealogy questions.

On any project, a thorough search of the Internet may lead to intensive local research in nearby counties’ courthouses, historical societies, libraries and churches.

An important resource is the New York State Library and Archives, one of the leading repositories in the country. For 20th-century research, New York State’s vital records are familiar territory. Other holdings consulted may include colonial wills, tax records, military records and prison records, as well as the unique documents
in the Manuscript Collection. Nancy Johnsen Curran brings many years experience locating family history in these records in the Capital region. She is a member of the board of trustees of Schenectady County Historical Society and the New Netherland Institute, the membership organization in support of the New Netherland Research Center. Curran brings to genealogy research a discipline instilled by many years in print and electronic journalism. Experience as a feature writer and
columnist is called into play, as she presents factual history in readable, interesting form. Her website address is www.nancycurran.com.

The Schenectady County Historical Society is located at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305. The building is wheel chair accessible with off-street parking.

For more information contact Katherine Chansky at (518) 374-0263 or email librarian@schist.org. Find directions to SCHS at www.schist.org.

Study of Schenectady Development Online


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“Shovel Ready: Razing Hopes, History, and a Sense of Place: Rethinking Schenectady’s Downtown Strategies” is now available at the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

A thought-provoking discussion of downtown development in Schenectady in the second half of the twentieth century, “Shovel Ready” is Christopher Spencer’s master’s thesis in city planning (MIT, 2001) and analyzes the reasoning behind Schenectady’s development plans from the 1924 report of the City Planning Commission to the Downtown Schenectady Master Plan of 1999, which is also available at the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

The Schenectady Digital History Archive is a service of the Schenectady County Public Library and a member of the NYGenWeb, USGenWeb and American History and Genealogy Projects and the American Local History Network, dedicated to making information about Schenectady’s heritage more accessible to researchers around the world.

Faces of Schenectady Seminar Announced


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Due to the interest generated by the exhibit “Faces of Schenectady: 1715 – 1750” as well as brand-new research, support from the First Reformed Church of Schenectady, and generous grants from the New York Council for the Humanities, and Schenectady County, the Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) is offering a two day seminar this October.

Participants will be able to experience, first hand, new research related to eighteenth-century art, politics, and culture in Schenectady County. Along with one-of-a-kind lectures, SCHS is also offering a one-on-one gallery talk with co-curator Ona Curran and a 17th century Dutch Luncheon made possible by the Glen Sanders Mansion!

FRIDAY October 15

Exhibit Tour with Gallery Lecture Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue Schenectady NY 12305

Registration 1:30

2:00 – 3:15 Ona Curran Nehemiah Partridge: His style, use of mezzotints, English influence Clara Clack van Beek – Account ledger of Annatje Beck, tavern keeper and seller of dry goods

3:30 – 4:30 Ona Curran Peter Vanderlyn and John Heaton

Schenectady Portraits – Susanna Truax and Deborah Glen Other portraits – Albany, Hudson Valley, The Van Bergen Overmantel, the Oliver portrait

5:30 – 7:30 Evening Fare and Folklore (Additional $10.00 Fee) First Reformed Church of Schenectady 8 North Church Street, Schenectady NY 12305 Buffet and Story Telling Joe Doolittle

SATURDAY October 16

Exhibit Open 9:00 – 9:30 Schenectady County Historical Society

Registration 9:00

Lectures First Reformed Church of Schenectady

9:30 – 10:15 Susan Blakney, 17th Century Double Wedding Portrait

10:15 – 11:15 Nancy Hagadorn Ph.D., Laurens Claese Van Der Volgen Cultural Broker and Interpreter

11:30 – 12:30 John Townsend The Mohawk Prayer Book

LUNCHEON 12:30 – 2:15

2:15 – 3:00 Karen Hess The Indomitable Ariantje Coeymans: Bangles and Beads – Jewelry in Portraiture

3:00 – 3:45 Rod Blackburn Scripture Paintings

3:45 – 4:30 Rod Blackburn and Ruth Piwonka The Data Base of early 18th century paintings

4:30 – 5:00 Questions and Closing Remarks

Register online here.

Faces of Schenectady 1715-1750 Exhibit Opens


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The recent acquisition by the Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) of the portrait of Laurens Van Der Volgen attributed to Nehemiah Partridge lead to the exhibit “Faces of Schenectady 1715-1750” running now through November 1st at the SCHS. Portraits of Schenectadians who were neighbors of Van DerVolgen in “Old Dorp” (now the Schenectady Stockade historic district) are included in the exhibit.

These twenty portraits have never been shown as a group before. Three are in the SCHS collection. Most of the portraits are in other museum collections and four in unknown locations. The portraits are attributed to Nehemiah Partridge, Pieter Vanderlyn and John Heaton. The sitters in addition to Laurens Claese Van Der Volgen include Gerrit Symonse Veeder and his wife Tryntje Otten Veeder, Caleb Beck and his wife Anna Mol Fairly Beck, Jacob Glen and his wife Sarah Wendell Glen, Deborah Glen, John Sanders, Catherine Van Patten and Adam Swarth, Helena Van Eps and Tobias Ten Eyck

Laurens Claese Van Der Volgen was an important figure in colonial New York history. He was captured by the Mohawks as a young lad during the infamous attack on Schenectady in 1690 and taken to Canada where he became immersed in native American customs and ways and learned the Mohawk language. He returned to Schenectady about ten years later. His
knowledge of the customs and language of the native Americans made him a valuable asset to the New York Provincial government. He was appointed by the governor of the province as interpreter and liaison between the natives and the New York provincial government a post he held until his death in 1742.

Laurens translated part of the Dutch Reformed Prayer book into the Mohawk language. The prayer book was printed by William Bradford an early printer in NYC in 1715. The
portrait of Laurens, another portrait of a young child and other family memorabilia were donated to the SCHS by a descendant of Laurens Claese Van Der Volgen.

There are several Schenectady portraits from this period that are known to exist but their location is unknown e.g. Barent Vrooman, John Dunbar and his wife Jeanette Von Egmont Schermerhorn and Cornelius Van Dyke. The Vrooman portrait is attributed to Pieter Vanderlyn, the other three are attributed to Nehemiah Partridge. The Society would appreciate hearing from you if you know of their whereabouts.

Ona Curran is guest curator of the exhibit and author of the catalog. Kate Weller is curator. A seminar scheduled for mid October is in the planning stages. Topics will include the portraits, the artists and the sitters, the use of mezzotints in early portraits, the use of engravings from the early Dutch bibles in paintings, early printing and the Mohawk prayer book and the role of the interpreter in colonial New York relations with the native Americans. If you have questions contact Ona Curran ocurran@nycap.rr.com or Kate Weller curator@schist.org

The Schenectady County Historical Society is located at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady NY 12305. Hours are M-F 10a.m. – 5 p.m., Sat. 10a.m. – 2 p.m.

‘Why New Netherland Matters’ Lecture by Joyce Goodfriend


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The prevailing history of the Dutch settlers in America has been illustrated with depictions of quaint Dutch villages, and tales of characters such as Rip Van Winkle and St. Nicholas . Dr. Joyce Goodfriend offers a new look at the story of the Dutch settlement called New Netherland.

On Saturday, June 12th, 2:00 pm, at the Schenectady County Historical Society, Dr. Joyce Goodfriend will give a talk titled, “Why New Netherland Matters.” Her presentation answers fascinating questions about our founding myths and legends, including a new look at the lives of slaves in New York. Celebrations throughout 2009 of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River in 1609 inspired many researchers, Dr. Joyce Goodfriend among them, to bring to our attention the latest research on the history of early New York.

Dr. Goodfriend’s scholarly research into contemporary traveler’s accounts and her examination of period artwork reveals a more complete picture of our nation’s early
multicultural history. Dr. Goodfriend’s talk is based on an essay by the same title, in which she writes: “New Netherland may have been dissolved as a political reality by 1674, but it remained a cultural reality well into the nineteenth century, and in this guise indelibly influenced the course of history in the mid-Atlantic region.” The audience for her talk on Saturday, June 12th, will be treated to a broader understanding of the importance of early New Amsterdam and the Dutch in New York.

Dr. Goodfriend has written extensively on the subject of New Netherland including articles on religion and women’s roles. Her books include Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730; Going Dutch: The Dutch Presence in America 1609-2009 and Revisiting New Netherland: Perspectives on Early Dutch America, as well as numerous articles in collective history on Dutch New York. Goodfriend is a professor of history at the University of Denver and received her B.A. from Brown University and her M.A. and PhD from UCLA.

Only 75 tickets are available for this event. A $5.00 donation per person is requested. For reservations call (518) 374-0263, and for more information e-mail librarian@schist.org.

History Groups Among Recipients of Canal Grants


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The New York State Canal Corporation has announced the recipients of the 2010 Canal Corporation Tourism Matching Grant Awards Program and the list includes several public history organizations. A total of $30,000 is being awarded to a total of 16 projects for local and regional initiatives to promote the New York State Canal System and Canalway Trail as a year-round recreational resource and tourism destination. A full list of the 2010 grant recipients is below, but it includes the Niagara County Historical Society, Schenectady Heritage Area, and Historic Palmyra among other groups whose goals include historical tourism.

The grant program was open to designated Tourism Promotion Agencies (TPAs), Chambers of Commerce, Nonprofit organizations and canal communities in New York State for the development of Canal System promotional material consistent with regional themes set forth in the Canal Recreationway Plan and recommendations contained in the state’s “A Report on the Future of New York State Canals”.

The grants provide up to $2,500 for the development of promotional materials that promote the Canal System and/or Canalway Trail, or specific Canal-related events, festivals or attractions.

Special consideration was given this year to applications that involved collaborative partnerships among several TPAs and/or private industry to create multi-county, regional thematic canal destinations and self-guided tours consistent with historical, cultural, urban and environmental assets and attractions contained along or within the Canal System and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Additionally, all awarded projects incorporated Canal Corporation logos and the New York Canal System’s promotional theme: “Cruise the Past, Unlock the Adventure”. Materials will be made available to the public at no charge.

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture. For more information regarding events, recreational and vacation opportunities along the Canal System, visit www.nyscanals.gov or call 1-800-4CANAL4.

The New York State Canal Corporation is a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority (Authority). Since 1992, following State legislation transferring the Canal System from the New York State Department of Transportation to the Authority, Canal operating and maintenance activities have been supported by Thruway toll revenue.

2010 CANAL CORPORATION TOURISM MATCHING GRANTS (listed by Canal)

Agency Name – Contact – Grant Award

Canal System-wide

• Canal New York Marketing and Business Alliance, Inc., Victoria Daly, $2,500.00

Erie Canal

• Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, Inc., Eric Hamilton, $2,500.00

• Schenectady Heritage Area, Maureen Gebert, $2,500.00

• Stockade Association, Lyn Gordon, $800.00

• U.S. Water Ski Show Team, Kara Pangburn, $2,000.00

• Town of Niskayuna, Lori Peretti, $500.00

• Historic Palmyra, Bonnie Hays, $1,050.00

• Fairport Village Partnership, Scott Winner, $2,500.00

• Niagara County Historical Society, Douglas Farley, $1,117.50

• Lockport Main Street, Inc., Heather Peck, $2,400.00

• Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas, Joyce Santiago, $2,500.00

Champlain Canal

• Lakes to Locks Passage, Inc., Janet Kennedy, $2,500.00

• Hudson Crossing Park, Inc., Marlene Bissell, $2,500.00

• Rensselaer County, Christine Golden, $1,427.84

Oswego Canal

• Oswego County Dept. of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, Janet Clerkin, $2,500.00

Cayuga Seneca Canal

• Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, Sarah Osterling, $700.00