Tag Archives: Troy

Poughkeepsie’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument


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One of our contentions at the Hudson River Valley Institute has always been that you can go anywhere by starting exactly where you are. The closest I ever came to losing this argument was at a Teaching American History conference with a gentleman from New Mexico. “It’s easy for you – the Hudson Valley has nearly 400 years of colonial history and documented prehistory before that,” he said “all we have are aliens (Roswell) and those German POW scientists from WWII.” (He had just finished a presentation about the latter). But he went on to explain that even in that state’s most isolated towns, there was at least one war memorial with the names of local soldiers who served their country, and when they shipped out, they charted a course around the nation and the world leaving a path for students today to trace through history. Continue reading

Underground Railroad Conference This Weekend


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The 11th Anniversary Conference on the Underground Railroad Movement, sponsored by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region Conference, will be held at Russell Sage College in Troy, April 13-15th. This year’s conference, “The Underground Railroad Turned On Its Head – Old Themes, New Directions,” focuses on new research on the Underground Railroad, slavery, abolition and the 19th century. Old assumptions such as “There is little documentation of the Underground Railroad”, “The UGRR was a string of safe houses to Canada” and numerous other ideas are challenged by new research and interpretations.

The conference will feature:

Friday, April 13, 2012

An Educators’ Workshop

Opening Address – Manisha Sinha, PhD
“Fleeing for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves and the Making of American Abolitionism”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Keynote Address – Barbara McCaskill, PhD
“A Thousand Miles for Freedom: A New Take on the Old Story of William and Ellen Craft, the Georgia Fugitives”

Artists in Residence – Miles Ahead Jazz Quartet

Spectres of Liberty
Experience history – step into the recreated Liberty Street Presbyterian Church of Henry Highland Garnet

Over 20 Workshops, plus Vendors & Displays

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A bus tour of UGR Sites in Rensselaer County by Kathryn Sheehan, Rensselaer County Historian.

The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region researches, preserves, and retells New York’s regional history of the Underground Railroad, highlighting the role of African-American freedom seekers and local abolitionists.

More information can be found online.

Tour Troy’s Mt. Ida Cemetery, Poestenkill Gorge


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Rensselaer County Historian Kathryn Sheehan will lead a tour of Mt. Ida Cemetery, which features some of the oldest headstones in the city of Troy, and the Poestenkill Gorge, a favorite destination for picnickers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts for centuries.

The waters of the Poestenkill collect in Dyken Pond, then make a dash for the Hudson River below. The Mt. Ida falls drop roughly 85′ into a gorge of crumbly black shale, make a right angle turn, dropping a further 75′ into a massive pool. This source of water power fueled several industries along the Poestenkill’s banks in the 19th century.

Hidden History – Mt. Ida Cemetery and the Poestenkill Gorge will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm. The cost is $15 per person and $12 for RCHS members.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) is a not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180.

Photo: Mills along the lower Poestenkill Gorge at the foot of Cypress Street including the Griswold Wire Works, Tompkins Brothers machine works, and above Manning Paper, which occupied earlier Marshall textile mill buildings. Courtesy Troy Public Library.

The Hulett Hotel Fire on Lake George


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The rise of local and specialist history publishers such as Arcadia and History Press has been a boon to local history and an opportunity part-time writers and historians to have their work published outside the vanity press. One of those part-timers is George Kapusinski, long time denizen of Huletts Landing on Lake George and publisher of The Huletts Current blog. His second effort for History Press (his previous work Huletts Landing on Lake George was published by Arcadia) has just been published, and it’s a fascinating and well-written account of the devastating fire at the Hulett Hotel 1915. Even more revealing is the well-researched tale of the trial held in the aftermath of the fire.

Broken into 12 chapters, which include short, readable and informative sub-chapters, The Hulett Hotel Fire on Lake George (History Press, 2012) features a set of unique photos of the events surrounding the fire and the fire’s aftermath, only recently discovered taped to the back of an Abe Lincoln lithograph. But this is more than the tale of the fire and the rebuilt hotel’s preeminence among early 20th century Lake George resorts. After the hotel was rebuilt, a mysterious figure claimed that the hotel’s owner, William H. Wyatt, had paid him to start the fire. Kapusinski investigates the resultant arson trial in detail, including the burning of Wyatt’s former Glenwood Hotel just three years earlier at Lake Bomoseen.

In a wide ranging narrative, Kapusinski takes us into the time period, explores the places (including Wyatt’s Trojan Hotel in Troy where he was arrested), and explores the motives and character of the those involved. A great read.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Barrage Balloons in the Adirondacks


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It’s the 1940s, and a world war is raging overseas. The fear of a homeland invasion is constant, and in communities across the nation, air wardens monitor the sky daily for enemy planes. The Adirondack Park seems like a safe haven, but just a few miles from its northwest corner, a military installation is suddenly called to action. A large aircraft has penetrated US air space, and ground damage is reported. Sheriff’s deputies, New York State police, military MPs, and foot troops spring into action.

It’s a great show of force, but it’s not enough. After several unsuccessful encounters with the vessel, reinforcements are needed. Corporal Boyd Montgomery of the 34th Armored Regiment is dispatched, speeding across the countryside in an army tank.

Power lines are downed by the aircraft, but Montgomery continues his pursuit. Two miles into the chase, he employs a bit of ingenuity to bring the craft down. It is soon nothing more than a flattened heap.

That’s how it happened in July 1943. It’s all true, but with a few details omitted. The craft that was spotted actually was huge (75 feet long) and it did come from a foreign land (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). The damage was no less real―a dangling cable tore down power lines between Evans Mills and Philadelphia in Jefferson County. Lawmen from several agencies did pursue the craft, but three times it slipped from their grasp.

The military installation was Pine Camp, later expanded and renamed Fort Drum. And it was an Army tank that provided the solution, driving atop the 1800-foot-long cable after a two-mile chase, forcing the vessel to the ground until nothing was left but a flattened balloon.

That’s right … a balloon. But this wasn’t just any balloon. A staple of defense systems around the world, this was a Barrage Balloon. If you’ve never heard of them, you’ve probably seen them in photographs but didn’t realize what you were seeing at the time. Though they weren’t ever deployed in the Adirondacks, they did pay the area a few surprise visits during the war.

The primary use of Barrage Balloons was to prevent attacks by low-flying aircraft, and it was in WW II that they became ubiquitous. A heavy cable was used to tether the gas-filled balloons, and when hovering from a few hundred to 4,000 feet high, the effect was often deadly. Any dive-bombing aircraft had to avoid the cable tether, which could easily tear a wing off and cause the plane to crash. Besides negating low-level attacks, the balloons forced other planes to fly higher than intended on bombing runs, thus affecting their accuracy.

Many tethered balloons were flown simultaneously, and the result was multiplied when several additional cables were suspended from each balloon, providing a veritable curtain of protection from strafing aircraft. The Germans countered by equipping their planes with wing-mounted cable-cutting devices, and the British responded with explosive charges attached to many of the tethers, set to detonate on contact.

The balloons caught on in a big way in England and were often used effectively. During one of the two major German onslaughts on London during the war, 278 Flying Bombs were intercepted by the balloons, surely saving many lives.

In summer 1941, British officers warned America that Nazi planes could fly at 20,000 feet and reach the US mainland within 12 hours, with no defense system to greet them. Months before the United States entered WW II, the Navy established two Barrage Balloon squadrons with more than 150 balloons.

Intended to protect American fleet bases from air attacks, the balloon strategy was very popular for another reason: cost. Building a large coastal hangar for planes involved an expenditure of $600,000; a more secure underground facility carried a price tag of $3 million; but each barrage balloon cost only $9,500.

After the assault on Pearl Harbor, America employed an extensive balloon defense capability. Attacks were feared by the Germans on the East Coast and by the Japanese on the West Coast. San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle were among the cities protected in part by Barrage Balloons, along with Norfolk, Pensacola, and New York City in the east. Vital facilities in the Great Lakes were also shielded.

Many North Country men were assigned to Barrage Balloon outfits, and it was anything but a cushy job. Since troops as well as installations needed protection, balloon men were often among the first ashore, as was the case in several beach landings in Italy and North Africa. And on D-Day, Barrage Balloons dotted the sky above the invasion fleet.

Back home in America, balloons occasionally broke free and floated towards the North Country, causing a bit of excitement. Sometimes rogue balloons escaped capture for extended periods (the Fort Drum balloon was loose for more than a week).

In March 1943, a hulking Barrage Balloon 65 feet long and 30 feet in diameter toured the Central Adirondacks, damaging power lines before snagging in a balsam tree a few miles south of Indian Lake, where a crew of men managed to deflate it.

To raise public awareness of the war effort and relieve anxiety about the occasional balloon escapee, the military dispatched a road crew in an army jeep with a smaller, 35-foot balloon strapped to the roof. In summer 1944, they visited Troy, New York. The craft was inflated and floated at 300 feet for an entire day while the men fielded questions. It was the same model as those used to defend the city of London and the beaches of Normandy.

Towards the end of the war, German capabilities of long-range attacks drastically reduced the effectiveness of the balloons, and in 1945, Britain ended their Barrage Balloon program, which at one time had upwards of 3,000 in use. The same was done with the US system, which once featured more than 400 balloons at home besides those deployed overseas.

Photos―Top: Barrage Balloon on the cover of LIFE magazine. Middle Right: The training facility on Parris Island, South Carolina (1943). Middle Left: Barrage Balloons above the Normandy shore (1944). Bottom: German plane equipped with a cable-cutting device.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

New School Break History Programming in Troy


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced new school-break week programming for 2012. Each day includes activities, projects, crafts and games. Children will also have time to tour the Hart-Cluett House and explore downtown Troy. The programs are for children in grades 3 – 6. The programs run from 9:00am – 4:00pm (early drop-off and late pick-up, and extended care are available for an additional fee). Each program includes materials, craft supplies and daily snacks (though not lunch). The cost for RCHS Members is $225; Non-Members, $275. Early-bird registration provides a 10% discount if you register before January 27, 2012 for February’s program and March 16, 2012 for April’s program. To register call 518-272-7232 x.12 or visit www.rchsonline.org for registration materials.

If These Walls Could Talk
Tuesday, February 21, – Friday, February 24, 2012

Buildings, buildings, they are all around us but how many times have you really looked at a building? In this program, students will explore the many sides of buildings and participate in scavenger hunts in downtown Troy looking for Lions, Bells and Faces, design their own dream home, build a model city and more.

Trail of Hope – The Underground Railroad
Tuesday, April 10 – Friday, April 13, 2012

Who were the people who made up the Underground Railroad and where did it take place? Students will take a walking tour to sites that are connected to the Underground Railroad, view an art exhibit, make their own pieces inspired by history, and perform a play about a dramatic rescue.

Rensselaerswijck: Life on the Hudson’s East Bank


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) and the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC) are partnering to present a day of lectures and a tour of a private home to highlight the history of Rensselaerswijck, the colonial estate owned by the van Rensselaer family that was located in what is now mainly the Capital District.

The program will be held on Saturday November 5, 2011. Lectures will take place at the RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY. Cost is $25 for the day, $23 for RCHS and NNRC members. For more information or to make your reservation, call 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org. Space is limited for the house tour.

Highlights of the day include an address by Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars and a chance to tour one of the oldest homes in Rensselaer County, Hoogebergh. Dr. Ruijssenaars, the New Netherland Research Center’s first Senior Scholar in Residence, is the founder of Dutch Archives, a historical research firm in Leiden, the Netherlands. Although a specialist in the history of Russia and the Netherlands, he is also a scholar of the Brontë sisters in Brussels and has published two books on the subject. Currently he is researching the life of Abraham Staats. Hoogebergh is a private, family owned property in which eleven generations of the Staats family have lived. The earliest sections of the home date to the 1690s.

SCHEDULE

9:00am – Coffee and Registration at RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY

9:30 am – Welcome
Ilene Frank, Executive Director, RCHS & Charly Gehring, Director, NNRC

9:45 am – Native Americans Along the Hudson
Andy Krievs, Project Director, Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc.

Through the years, Hartgen Archeological Associates has conducted several excavations that include Native American sites. Mr. Krievs will talk about several sites found along the Hudson River that date back to the Woodland time period and even earlier.

10:30am – A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats
Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars, Senior Scholar in Residence, NNRC

In 1642, surgeon Abraham Staats and his wife emigrated from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s estate, Rensselaerswijck. Staats’s not only treated ailing residents but he also advised the Patroon and served as a magistrate of the court, resolving disputes both inside and outside of court. Well respected, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquian Indian language and acted as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. His commercial interests placed him in contact with New Amsterdam’s leaders, such as Peter Stuyvesant.

11:30am – Going Dutch: The Influence of Dutch Culture in the Upper Hudson Valley
John Scherer, Historian Emeritus, New York State Museum

New York’s unique Dutch heritage was reflected in its material culture long after the colony was taken by the English in 1664. By that time New York, formerly known as New Netherland had been heavily settled by the Dutch and new settlers continued to arrive from the Netherlands. These early settlers and their descendants attempted to replicate their native land in the new world. This Dutch influence continued to exist in the Upper Hudson Valley well in to the nineteenth century.

1:00pm – Tour Hoogebergh
Join us for a special tour of Hoogebergh, a private, family owned property that has remained in the Staats family for eleven generations. The stone house was begun in the 1690s or before and lengthened in 1722. Other additions have been made, but the older parts are little changed. Space is limited, book early.

Illustration: The Hudson River Valley c 1635.

Hudson River Ramble Features Rensselaer Co History


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is offering five special programs as part of the Twelfth Annual Hudson River Valley Ramble in September. The Ramble is sponsored by the Hudson River National Heritage Area, Hudson River Valley Greenway, the New York State Department of Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. On the weekends of September 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25, 2011, more 180 events will be hosted from Saratoga in the Capital Region to New York City.



For more information about the programs at RCHS, call: 518-244-6846 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org. You can also visit RCHS’s website at www.rchsonline.org Programs presented by RCHS include:

Walk in the Footsteps of Uncle Sam

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10:30am – Noon

$7 / $5 for seniors & students / FREE for RCHS members

50 years ago, Troy was designated by Congress as the Home of Uncle Sam. Join us on this 1.5 hour walking tour of sites in downtown Troy associated with Samuel Wilson, the “real” Uncle Sam. Included is a visit to the exhibit at the RCHS museum, which includes artifacts from Samuel Wilson’s life and images of our national symbol. Tour leaves from the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market.

A Federal Townhouse is Born

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2:00pm – 3:00pm

$5 / FREE for RCHS members

From its completion in 1827, the house at 59 Second Street was recognized as something unique for Troy. Referred to as the “marble house in Second Street,” this elegant townhouse was once the most valuable property in the city. This 1 hour tour focuses on the Hart family, who constructed the home for their growing family. Come explore this wonderfully preserved example of federal architecture. Tour leaves from RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY.

History Walk – Amazing Architecture

Saturday, September 17, 2011

10:30am – 11:30am

$5 / FREE for RCHS members

Stroll downtown Troy and you’ll find a rich built environment. This 1 hour walking tour showcases Troy’s architectural gems and range of styles. Tour leaves from the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market.

History Walk – History Underfoot and Overhead

Saturday, September 24, 2011

10:30am – 11:30am

$5 / FREE for RCHS members

Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!” Tour leaves from the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market.

A New Era for the Marble House

Saturday, September 24, 2011

2:00pm – 3:00pm

$5 / FREE for RCHS members

What happens to a house when new owners arrive? The Cluett family took possession of 59 Second Street in the 1890s. They renovated, made additions, and used the home differently than the original owners. Investigate with us the changes that occurred as a new family began to call the Marble House home. Tour leaves from RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY.

The Ramble aims to bring people outside to enjoy our distinct cultural heritage and the natural resources of the Hudson Valley during the Northeast’s most beautiful time of the year. Nearly 200 environmental, land conservancy, trail and historic preservation organizations, New York State historic sites and parks, as well as the National Park Service participate by offering events, and many are free of charge and family friendly. Guided hikes, cycling and kayaking tours, historic site walks, festivals and river explorations are an example of some of the types of events that will be available for every ability level.

For a complete listing of events, visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com. The Ramble brochure is one of the most comprehensive regional recreational guides and can be used as a reference throughout the year. Copies of the program guide can be found in the August issue of Chronogram magazine or at various tourist destinations throughout the Hudson Valley. Program guides may also be downloaded from the website.

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is presented by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway, in partnership with the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and over 180 organizations hosting Ramble events throughout the Hudson River Valley. The 2011 Ramble is sponsored by the NY-NJ Trail Conference and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Turkeybush Fund.

A Driving Tour of Historic Hudson Dam Sites


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A guided driving tour of historic dam sites on the Hudson River, organized by the Chapman Historical Museum, will take place on Saturday, August 13, from 9 am to 1 pm. The tour, which will be lead by Jeanne Williams, will include stops in Schuylerville, Mechanicville, Cohoes and Troy. Participants will learn about Victory Mills, the Mechanicville hydroelectric dam built in 1898, the great falls at Cohoes and the Burden Iron Works on the Poestenkill.



Jeanne Williams, who also is Director of the Feeder Canal Alliance, was a consultant for the Chapman Historical Museum’s summer 2011 exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson, a history of the development of hydro power on the upper Hudson River. For each site she will share background information and historic photos collected in the course of her research for the project.

Participants will gather at the Cooper’s Cave parking area in South Glens Falls at 8:30 and start the tour promptly at 9 am. Participants are expected to provide their own vehicles; carpooling is encouraged. A brochure with driving directions and other necessary information will be supplied. A bag lunch is recommended, but should people wish to eat out at the conclusion of the tour, a list of suggested restaurants in Troy will be provided.

For reservations or more information, call the Chapman Historical Museum at (518) 793-2826.

Photo: The Federal Dam at Troy, the first obstruction to shipping on the Hudson River. Photo courtesy The Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Upcoming Events at Rensselaer County Historical Society


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced their August schedule of events. RCHS was established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. RCHS is the largest collecting institution in Rensselaer County. The organization owns two 19th century townhouse buildings, the National Register listed Hart-Cluett House and its Carriage House, servicing as a historic house museum and the adjacent Carr Building housing a research library, galleries, and meeting spaces.

RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180. Reservations can be made by calling 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org

2nd Saturday House Tour – Highlighting Galusha’s Furniture
Saturday, August 13, 2011
2:00pm
$10 per person
Elijah Galusha’s high-style furniture distinguishes him as the preeminent cabinetmaker of Troy, N.Y., from the late 1820′s through 1870. His furniture can be found in museum collections across the country. RCHS has several examples of his work including a suite of furniture for the Hart-Cluett House’s parlor. This tour will focus on his construction and decoration techniques and highlight the many pieces that exist in the collection.

Mornings at the Museum – Let’s Make Butter
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
10:00am
$5 per child, adults free
Bring your pre-schooler to our monthly program where we introduce children to the museum through storytime, exploring an item from the collection and participating in a hands-on activity. August’s theme is butter and children will be have a chance to make their own fresh butter.

Hidden History – Knickerbocker Mansion
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
4:30pm
$15 per person, $12 for RCHS members
The Knickerbocker Mansion located in Schaghticoke was built by Johannes Knickerbaccker III around 1780. The house was lived in by generations of the Knickerbocker family but fell into disrepair in the 20th century. A dedicated group of volunteers began restoration and after decades of work the building has been almost completely restored. Join RCHS staff and Knickerbocker Historical Society members as we get a special tour of one of Rensselaer County’s oldest buildings.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) offers walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings this September. Tours depart from and return to the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by RCHS staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries.

September’s History Walks are part of the Hudson River Ramble. The Hudson River Valley Ramble celebrates the trails, the river and the historic and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. For more information about the Ramble visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com

Cost: $5 per person/ RCHS members free. Reservations can be made by calling 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org . For more information, visit www.rchsonline.org

Saturday, September 10 – Uncle Sam’s Life in Troy
10:30am – Noon
50 years ago Troy was designated by Congress as the Home of Uncle Sam. Join us on this 1.5 hour walking tour of sites in downtown Troy associated with Samuel Wilson, the “real” Uncle Sam. Included is a visit to the exhibit at the RCHS museum, which includes artifacts from Samuel Wilson’s life and images of our national symbol. Tour is not recommended for children under 10. Total distance covered is about 1.5 miles

Saturday, September 17 – Amazing Architecture
10:30am – 11:30am
Stroll downtown Troy and you’ll find a rich built environment. This 1 hour walking tour showcases Troy’s architectural gems and range of styles. Tour is not recommended for children under 10. Total distance covered is about 1 mile.

Saturday, September 24 – History Under Foot and Overhead
10:30am – 11:30am
Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. Tour encourages children to look at tops of buildings and bottom of stairs to find architectural details often overlooked. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!”

New Troy Genealogy Database Goes Online


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The Troy New York Daily Whig for the years 1834 to 1838 is the sixth set of newspapers recently added to the Troy Irish Genealogy Website. There are 821 reported deaths and 1,749 names on the reported marriages during this period. These records will be of great interest to genealogy researchers since the information in this data base predates the 1880 New York State law requiring the reporting of death and marriage records.

You can view these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website (click on PROJECTS then THE TROY NEWSPAPER PROJECT). These records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.



While 492 of the marriage records showed no indication of residence, those records where the residence was reported are of interest as they show numerous cities and towns throughout New York State as well as other states and even foreign countries.

At the time of the 1840 census, Troy was the fourth wealthiest city in the USA on a per capita basis. This may account for the numerous individuals from across the United States coming to Troy to be married.

Two other transcription projects are currently being completed by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. Over 28,000 death and marriage records reported in 40 years of the Troy Daily Whig for the years 1839 to 1878 will be added to the TIGS website in the next few months along with over 4,000 records of interment in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy.

Upcoming Lectures at Albany Institute


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The following is a listing of upcoming lectures appearing at the Albany Institute of History & Art. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information.

Friday, May 6, 2011, 6:00 pm
Dahl Taylor and William Westwood: Graphic Design Presentation

As part of 1st Friday activities, the Albany Institute will host free presentations on graphic design by two of the Capital Region’s leading designers, Dahl Taylor and William Westwood. In a career spanning more than 25 years, Taylor has created paintings for illustration projects ranging from Broadway play posters to corporate annual reports. He has painted canvases for commemorative limited-edition prints for national memorials and has a 36-foot mural installed in the library of a state university. A board-certified, professional medical artist, William Westwood has more than 25 years of experience creating award-winning medical illustrations (digitally and traditionally), models, anatomical posters, animations, and presentations—all designed to teach anatomy, depict surgeries, educate patients, inform physicians, and promote new drugs and medical products for clients in almost every market in the healthcare industry. The presentations begin at 6:00 pm are free and open to the public.

Sunday, May 8, 2011, 2:00 pm
Ellen Lupton: How to Do Things with Typography: Introduction to an Art

Ellen Lupton, Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and Director of the MFA Graphic Design Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, will explore examples of contemporary typography and discuss how artists, writers, and designers employ typography as a tool for expression, communication, and action. Lupton is the author of Thinking with Type, 2nd Revised and Expanded Edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) and many other guides to design. The lecture and book signing is free and open to the public.

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:00 pm
Paul Shaw: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Paul Shaw, an award-winning graphic designer, typographer, and calligrapher in New York City, teaches at Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts. Shaw will speak and sign copies of his newest book, Helvetica and the New York Subway System (MIT Press, 2011). For years, the signs in the New York City subway system were a bewildering hodgepodge of lettering styles, sizes, shapes, materials, colors, and messages. Efforts to untangle this visual mess began in the mid-1960s, when the city transit authority hired the design firm Unimark International to create a clear and consistent sign system. We can see the results today in the white-on-black signs throughout the subway system, displaying station names, directions, and instructions in crisp Helvetica. The lecture and book signing is free and open to the public.

Sunday, June 5, 2011, 2:00 pm
Jeanne Winston Adler: The Affair of the Veiled Murderess

Set in 1853 Troy, New York, Jeanne Winston Adler’s latest book, The Affair of the Veiled Murderess: An Antebellum Scandal and Mystery (SUNY Press, 2011), draws on newspapers, court documents, and other historical records in an attempt to uncover the truth behind an unsolved murder. In the process, she addresses a number of topics important to our understanding of 19-century life in New York State, including the changing roles of women, the marginal position of the Irish, and the contentious political firmament of the time. The lecture and book signing is free and open to the public.

For more information about these lectures and other events, call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org.

Books: A History of the High Peaks and The 46ers


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A remarkable book of Adirondack history has been published. Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks is a collection of well researched essays on the highest Adirondack peaks, written by 18 members of the storied Adirondack 46ers, along with a short history of the club.

Part meticulously footnoted history of the mountains, trails, and the club itself, and part trail guide, this new volume is a landmark in Adirondack history. Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! is a long-awaited update of Russell Carson’s Peaks and Peoples of the Adirondacks, first published in 1927.

The book is a bit of an homage to the popularity of Carson’s earlier work and the three subsequent 46er volumes that followed, as much as it is to the 46er legends who grace it’s pages. Jim Goodwin’s son Tony Goodwin offers an Introduction that provides insight into why this book is so important. With a hat tip to Carson, who was instrumental in spreading the 46er gospel and “who research gave life to the peaks we all climb”, Goodwin points out that new research opportunities and the rich history since the 1920s “has allowed authors to provide the reader with the most comprehensive histories of the peaks ever written.” I agree.

In a series of in-depth profiles of each of the 46 High Peaks, each author draws on a range of sources from reports, journals, and diaries of the explorers, scientists, philosophers, writers, and other anecdotes describe the geology, history, flora, and fauna. The book is illustrated with a remarkable collection of over 150 photos and illustrations.

It’s not all high peaks. In a substantial first section Suzanne Lance surveys the history of the Adirondack 46ers beginning in 1918 with Bob and George Marshall and their guide Herb Clark, who was recognized with the first spot in 1939 when “the list” was created. The full roster of 46ers now includes more than 7,000.

The strength of this section is in illuminating the contributions of folks like Ed Hudowalski (#6), Grace Hudowalski (#9), and the Troy minister Ernest Ryder (#7), but also the recognition and response of the club to the impacts of the many Adirondack peak-baggers they helped inspire.

By the 1970s, as visitors began to flood into the High Peaks, Glenn Fish (#536) and Edwin “Ketch” Ketchledge (#507) helped shepherd the club away from its strictly social approach toward a stewardship role. Summit ecology and alpine environments, wilderness conservation education, trail maintenance and management, and search and rescue have all benefited from the subsequent efforts of dedicated Adirondack 46ers.

Copies of Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! are available online.

Until you get your copy, you’ll have to settle with this short excerpt on the formation of the Forty-Sixers of Troy:

During the early 1930s Bob Marshall’s booklet, “The High Peaks of the Adirondacks,” and Russell Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks captured the attention of a small group of outdoor enthusiasts from Grace Methodist Church in Troy, in particular the church’s pastor, the Rev. Ernest Ryder (#7), and two parishioners, Grace Hudowalski (#9) and Edward Hudowalski (#6)…. Ed and the Rev. Ryder had not, originally, intended to climb all 46. According to Ed, their goal was 25 peaks, but when they hit 27 “by accident,” they decided to climb 30. After reaching 30 they decided to climb all of them. The two finished arm-in-arm on Dix in the pouring rain on September 13, 1936. They shared a prayer of praise and thanks for their accomplishment.

Less than six months after the Rev. Ryder and Ed finished their 46, the duo organized a club, comprised mainly of Ed Hudowalski’s Sunday School class, known as the Forty-Sixers of Troy. It was Ryder who coined the name “Forty-Sixer.” The term first appeared in print in an article in the Troy Record newspaper in 1937 announcing the formation of the hiking club: “Troy has its first mountain climbing club, all officers of which have climbed more than thirty of the major peaks in the Adirondacks. The club recently organized will be known as the Forty-sixers…

New Troy Newspaper Project Database


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The Troy Newspaper Project has made considerable additions to their database that includes a multi-volume Index of Death and Marriage Records, transcribed from various Troy, NY newspapers.

The Troy New York Daily Post for the years 1846 to 1851 is the FIFTH set of newspapers recently added to the Troy Irish Genealogy Website. There are 2,343 reported deaths and 2,143 names on the reported marriages during this period. These records will be of great interest to genealogy researchers since the information in this data base predates the 1880 New York State law requiring the reporting of death and marriage records.

You can view these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website and clicking on PROJECTS and then click on THE TROY NEWSPAPER PROJECT. These records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.

One of the interesting deaths reported is the one for John Jacob Astor. Johann Jacob Astor was born July 17, 1763 in Walldorf, Palatinate, Germany and died March 29, 1848 in New York City. At the time of his death he was one of the wealthiest people in America with a fortune of 20 million dollars which is equivalent to 110 billion dollars in 2006 dollars. He is buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York City.

While 1,339 of the marriage records showed no indication of residence, those records where the residence was reported are of interest as they show numerous cities and towns throughout New York State as well as other states and even foreign countries. Some specifics are:

Most of the records were for the Capital District Area. Areas with the greatest number were Albany-51 records, Troy-888 records, Lansingburgh-29 records, Watervliet-12 records, Waterford-17 records, Schaghticoke-15 records, Sand Lake-40 records, Pittstown-20 records, Greenbush-15 records, Brunswick-41 records, Cohoes-9 records, West Troy-53 records, Berlin-16
records, Grafton-15 records, Hoosick-23 records, Schenectady-7 records, and Petersburgh-12 records.

There were a sizable number of records from the neighboring states of Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. Connecticut has 14 records, Massachusetts had 58 records including 11 from Boston and Vermont had 59 records including 32 from Bennington.

For the New York City area, there were 5 records for Brooklyn and 43 records for New York City.

Residence was also indicated from the following states and Washington, DC: Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Of interest is the number of records for the state of Wisconsin which had 13 records. Six of the records were from the Wisconsin Territory which was prior to Wisconsin becoming a state on May 29, 1848.

Foreign countries listed as the place of residence were Ireland, Scotland and Canada.

Two other transcription projects that are currently being worked on by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. One of the projects is another Troy Newspaper, the Troy Daily Whig, covering the years 1834 through 1878. While the data entry has already been completed on these 44 years of newspapers, the files have to be analyzed and combined before they are posted to the website.

The other project being worked on is Book 1 of the interment records for St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, NY. Data entry of these interments, covering the years 1900 to 1910, is almost complete.

Troy Underground Railroad Conference This Weekend


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The annual Capital District Underground Railroad Conference will be held this weekend in Troy, NY on April 8, 9 and 10th at the Russell Sage Campus in celebration of the conference’s tenth year presenting workshops, music, and stories about the historic struggle to escape slavery.

In the words of the conference founders, Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the conference activities are, “a fresh interpretation of an Old Story. “ This is the story of the heroic men, women and children who escaped from slavery and who traveled to new, free, lives along the Underground Railroad.

The international conference is titled, “Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: the ‘Underground Railroad’ in the Americas, Africa and Europe, and its relationship with us today.” Several hundred attendees are expected at workshops, art exhibits, and musical events. The conference is organized by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc., (URHPCR) co-sponsored by Russell Sage College and the College’s Department of History and Society. Several non-profit groups are collaborating: Rensselaer County Historical Society, Museumwise, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

On Friday April 8th, 2011 the Opening Address will be given by Dr. Robin Blackburn at 7:00 pm, Bush Memorial, Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, “The International Struggle to End Slavery and the Slave Trade and Its Ramifications Today.” Dr. Blackburn, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex in England and Visiting Professor of Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, will describe the international slave trade which fueled the American Colonial economy and he will explore the ramifications for today of the struggle to end slavery. Performing are Kim and Reggie Harris.

Blackburn has taught in England at King’s College, Cambridge University, FLACSO (Latin American Social Science Faculty); in Ecuador, and at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He has studied and taught at the London School of Economics and Oxford University. He is the author of many books and scholarly articles on historical sociology and critical social theory. Two of his most important books are The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800, and The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848. In recent years he has written several influential articles on slavery and resistance. He is the founding editor of The New Left Review and an editor at Verso Books. Blackburn’s Opening Address at the conference will bring a high level of scholarship and an international perspective to discussions about the historical struggle for freedom from slavery in the United States.

The Underground Railroad Conference in Troy is a venue for African American art exhibits, storytelling, history workshops, and programs for educators and people of all ages. A Workshop for Educators on Friday April 8th is followed on Saturday April 9th with speakers, workshops, a raffle, art exhibit, reception and evening award ceremony. Keynote speakers on Saturday are Dr. Franklin Knight, Stulman Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, speaking about slave societies. His talk opens the conference at 9:00 am and is titled, “Of Slavery and Abolitions: Perspectives from the World of Slaves.” After the morning workshops at 1:00 pm Tony Burroughs, internationally known lecturer on genealogy, a guest speaker on many television talk shows, will participate in a panel discussion called, “Heritage Preservation Through Genealogical Research, Song and Storytelling.” Joining him on the panel are singer, MaryNell Morgan and storyteller, Miki Conn. Saturday afternoon workshops conclude at 5:00 pm followed by an evening reception and art exhibit held at the Rensselaer County Historical Society located at 57 Second Street, Troy, NY.

The conference continues on Sunday April 10th at 2:00 pm in Russell Sage College’s Bush Memorial Hall with programs devoted to music and performance. There will be performances by the Hamilton Hill Dancers, Garland Nelson, MaryNell Morgan, Eshu Bumpus, Magpie, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Graham and Barbara Dean, the musical group Peter, Paul and George, the Hamilton Hill Dancers, and the Hamilton Hill Drummers.

The conference is possible thanks to leadership from co-founders Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the contribution of volunteers with the URHPCR, Inc., and conference donors and supporters: M & T Bank, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Russell Sage College, Kate Storms, The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s Standish Family Fund, The Alice Moore Foundation, Museumwise, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, New York Council for the Humanities, Pioneer Bank and Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation.

Find conference information and register online at www.ugrworkshop.com. Contact Paul Stewart at (518) 432-4432.

Rensselaer County Surrogate Records Index Goes Online


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An index of 31,325 Rensselaer County Surrogate Court Records from 1786 to 1917 has now been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy (TIGS) website. These records, especially those prior to 1880 will be of great interest to genealogy researchers. The information in this data base was copied from a file in the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second Street, Troy, New York.

To view these records go to the Troy Irish Genealogy website and click on PROJECTS and then click on RENSSELAER COUNTY SURROGATE COURT INDEX. These records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.

For each name in the on-line index there is a Surrogate Court Record folder that may contain various original source documents such as Wills, Letters of Administration, Guardianship Papers, Invoice of Property, Depositions Concerning a Person’s Death, etc. The on-line index shows the following information for each record which may help you identify those records that will be of interest to you:

1. NAME – Last, first, middle name or initials if any, and titles like Dr., Rev., etc.

2. FILE NUMBER – Used to locate the files at the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

3. LOCATION – Gives name of city, town or state of residence.

4. DATE – May be year of death or year of legal issue.

5. INV. – Indicates when there is an inventory of household goods in the record. An invoice may be in the records EVEN if this column is not checked.

6. COMMENTS – This column will have an interesting comment for each name. Some comments may show marital status (bachelor, spinster, widow, widower), while other comments may show maiden names, occupations, name of street residence, relationships (wife, husband, mother, father, son daughter, etc.) and number of children.

Copies of any original source documents that are contained in the file folder for each name can be requested from the Rensselaer County Historical Society. The TIGS website has a PRINTABLE FORM that can be used when requesting copies from RCHS. For each request there is a $5.00 fee which will cover RCHS’s cost of locating and pulling a singular file folder from the archives. After the file folder is located, RCHS will contact the requester about the contents of the file to see which documents they want copied at a cost of .25 cents per page plus postage for mailing.

Troy’s Little Italy Midwife Records Online


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Troy area researchers will be interested in the almost 200 midwife records covering 600 surnames that have just been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy Website. These records mostly are for infants born to Italian immigrants who lived in the little Italy section of South Troy. A number of the records, however, are for Syrian immigrants. The records, which range from 1909 to 1923, were completed by the midwife Alesandra Matera, a nurse who lived at 250 Fourth Street in Troy.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, New York provided the Troy Irish Genealogy Society access to their copies of these records to develop this on-line database.

You can view these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website at www.rootsweb.com/~nytigs/ and click on PROJECTS and then click on MATERA MIDWIFE RECORDS. There are three separate files for the records covering the child’s name, the father’s name and the mother’s name. Clicking on the alphabetical listing of names on the left side of the page will bring up the individual record for that name.

Illustration: 1880 Map of Troy’s Little Italy Neighborhood.

Troy Newspaper Transcriptions Now Online


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In 1935, the Philip Schuyler Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), located in Troy, New York, documented the death and marriage records that were printed in various Troy newspapers during the years 1812 to 1885. This project, which was funded by the Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA), was the largest New Deal agency employing millions to carry out public works projects.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, New York provided the Troy Irish Genealogy Society (TIGS) access to their copies of these extensive records to develop this searchable online database. These records will be of great interest to genealogy researchers since much of the information in this collection predates the 1880 New York State law requiring the reporting of death and marriage records.

Newspaper records transcribed so far include the Troy Post (1812-1823), the Troy Weekly Whig (1834-1839), the Troy Daily Press (1833-1834), and the Troy Sentinel (1823-1832). Volunteers are currently transcribing the Troy Daily Whig covering the years 1834 to 1873. To volunteer on this project send an email to seamus@nycap.rr.com.

You can view all these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website. Click on PROJECTS and then TROY NEWSPAPER PROJECT. It should be noted that these records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.

30,000 Rensselaer County Marriage Records Online


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The Renssealer County Clerk’s office and the Troy Irish Genealogical Society (TIGS) have joined forces to put more than 30,000 early 20th century marriage records online. The Marriage Index Automation took five years to complete. The online records include a 10-volume set of indexes to marriages in Rensselaer County between 1908 and 1935. The records, which cover every person married in Rensselaer County, not just those with Irish surnames, are available online through the TIGS website.

Rennselaer County Clerk Frank J. Merola lauded the efforts of TIGS members in bringing the project to fruition, including former TIGS president Donna Vaughn, current president Kristin Cooney Ayotte, project coordinator Bill McGrath and webmaster and librarian Jeanne Keefe.

“I am very pleased to have been involved in this partnership with TIGS, and I commend them on taking the time and effort to open our historical records to the widest audience possible,” Merola told the Troy Record newspaper.

“We have made tremendous progress in restoring county naturalization records with the help of organizations like TIGS, and I am thrilled about our future projects and the future of genealogy in Rensselaer County,” he was reported to have said.

Troy: Chances to Tour ‘Limited Access’ Sites


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Hidden history will be revealed as the Rensselaer County Historical Society offers unique opportunities to tour limited-access sites around Troy. From a riverfront warehouse painstakingly renovated into an elegant loft apartment to the attic of the 1786 Melville House, the Rensselaer County Historical Society’s Hidden History programs offer the public opportunities to tour historic buildings and sites not normally open to the general public.

Participants may register for individual programs ($12 members/$15 not-yet-members) or for the whole 4-program series ($45 members/$50 not-yet-members). All tours last an hour and meet at the location specified. Call 518-272-7232, x12 to register or register online at http://www.rchsonline.org/registration.html.

HIDDEN HISTORY: 169 River Street Renovation
Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: 169 River Street, Troy

169 River Street was once home to the Wustefeld Candy Company. Now, this renovated warehouse building on Troy’s riverfront is a great example of the adaptive re-use of historic structures. Explore this former warehouse building and learn about how it was transformed into a modern loft apartment – with some wonderful traces of its industrial past remaining.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Herman Melville House
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: Corner 1st Ave and 114th Street, Lansingburgh
The 1786 Melville House was home to Herman Melville while he wrote his first two novels and is now home to the Lansingburgh Historical Society. Join us for a tour of this historic building, including its “Attic Museum” which highlights Lansingburgh’s unique contributions to the area economy.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Lighting Research Center/Gurley Building
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: 21 Union Street, Troy
This National Historic Landmark building was built in 1862 and opened just 8 months after the original building on the site burned to the ground in the Great Fire of Troy. Rensselaer’s innovative Lighting Research Center occupies floors of the building that were once home to production lines for Gurley’s world famous surveying equipment.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Rensselaer Model Railroad Society
Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: Davison Hall, RPI.

Hidden deep within the RPI campus and not normally open to the public, the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society has created a 33 feet wide by 123 feet long historically accurate railroad layout of 1950s Troy. RMRS has generously opened their doors for us to see this unique re-creation. For more information, please visit http://railroad.union.rpi.edu. Please note – the layout is not handicapped accessible and for safety reasons, is only open to ages 12 and up.