Tag Archives: Troy

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.

Rensselaer County Historical to Offer Walking Tours of Troy


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society will offer walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings, leaving from the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. “Our walking tours are a fun way to stretch your legs, and learn about the history that surrounds us,” explains Mari Shopsis, Director of Education for the Rensselaer County Historical Society. Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by Historical Society staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries. The tours last approximately an hour. Cost: $5 for not-yet-members of the Historical Society/members free.

HISTORY WALK: Troy’s Great Fire of 1862
Saturday, May 8, 2010, 10:30 – 11:30 am

One of the most formative events in Troy’s history happened on May 10th, 1862 when within just a few hours a major bridge over the Hudson and more than 500 buildings in the city were destroyed by a huge conflagration known even today as “The Great Fire.” Using excerpts from newspapers and the letters and recollections of people who lived through this event, you will walk back into history as you retrace the progress of this fire and see what impacts this disaster had – not only locally, but nationally.

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, May 15, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

This introduction to Troy history and architecture looks at how the city evolved from its initial founding in 1789 as a village to its 19th century heyday and on into the 20th century. The sites of many important events will be discussed along with some of the people who made the name Troy known around the world.

HISTORY WALK: Underground Railroad Walking Tour
Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10:30 – 11:30 am

Troy was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the 19th century. This walking tour will highlight the sights associated with the African American community in the first half of the 19th century. Included will be sites associated with the famous rescue of escaped slave Charles Nalle by thousands of Trojans and the now famous Harriet Tubman.

FAMILY HISTORY WALK: History Underfoot and Overhead
Saturday, June 5, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

History is everywhere in Troy. Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. We’ll look at the buildings around us for clues that tell us about the past and get hands-on with history. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!”

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, June 12, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

This introduction to Troy history and architecture looks at how the city evolved from its initial founding in 1789 as a village to its 19th century heyday and on into the 20th century. The sites of many important events will be discussed along with some of the people who made the name Troy known around the world.

HISTORY WALK: Spiritual Troy
Saturday, June 19, 2010; 10:30am – 12:00 pm

This special 1.5 hour walking tour looks at the history of Troy through the history of its houses of worship. Early settlers, increasing diversity, changing populations – all these stories are illustrated by the development of Troy’s religious institutions.

HISTORY WALK: Who Worked Where
Saturday, June 26, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

From night soil removers to buttonholers, night watchmen to steamboat captains – the occupations of 19th century Trojans will surprise and intrigue you. For this walking tour we explore the streets of downtown Troy to see who worked where – and why.

A Fugitive Slave Rescued: Paintings of Charles Nalle


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150 years ago, on April 26, 1860, escaped slave Charles Nalle was kidnapped from a Troy bakery and taken to the District Circuit Court at State and First Streets, in Troy where he was to be sent back to Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Act. Hundreds of people, including Harriet Tubman, rushed to the site where a riot ensued, allowing Nalle to escape across the Hudson to West Troy and ultimately to freedom.

On February 27, 2010 from 5-8 pm, the Rensselaer County Historical Society opens a major new exhibit, A Fugitive Slave Rescued: Paintings of Charles Nalle by Mark Priest, which will kick off an examination of this nationally important event. Artist and University of Louisville professor Mark Priest worked with RCHS staff to research the history of the Nalle rescue. His dramatic narrative paintings and drawings depict the events of April 26, 1860, immersing viewers in the emotions and issues of the day. This exhibit is presented in partnership with the Sage Colleges, which also host part of the exhibit through April 26, 2010.

Mark Priest is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Louisville. He received his MFA in painting from Yale University and has exhibited his work at museums and galleries throughout the United States and internationally. His Underground Railroad series developed from an interest in Harriet Tubman:

“I began my research in 2003 and in May of 2004 I followed the routes on which Tubman took passengers to freedom. Forever etched in my memory are an infinite number of untold stories of individuals who toiled tirelessly to attain freedom. Many events were recounted to me by noted historians, genealogists and descendants while I traveled through, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Canada; retracing the steps of many who went before me on this route to freedom. The wealth of personal experiences and detailed information I obtained is the foundation of this series or artworks. I strive to create dramatic compositions to portray the intensity of each moment. The life Tubman chose was one of uncertainty. Every moment could have been her last. She carried on undaunted and these are the ideas that I strive to portray in this series. Figures are tugging and heaving, hoisting and dragging. Figures depict the mental, emotional, and physical prowess needed to succeed on the UGRR. Every muscle is strained to the limit. Vibrant color and light are used to lead your eye through the composition.”

Exhibition-Related Events:

Russell Sage College Reception with Mark Priest
Thursday, February 25, 2010, 4-6pm
Schacht Fine Arts Center Gallery
Division & Front Streets, Troy
Free & Open to the Public
(518) 244-2248

High School Student Artist Gallery Talk with Mark Priest

How does Mark Priest get inspired to create his art? What is the life of a professional artist like? High School artists are invited to attend a free workshop and gallery talk with artist Mark Priest and get answers to these questions and more. This workshop is offered as part of the 2010 Art of History Competition, however students need not be preparing work for the competition to participate in the student workshop. Pre-registration is required – call or email Mari Shopsis at 272-7232, x17 / mshopsis@rchsonline.org or register online at http://artofhistory.eventbrite.com/ .

Thursday, February 25, 2010, 5-7 pm
Rensselaer County Historical Society
57 Second Street, Troy
(518) 272-7232, x17

Exhibition Opening & Book Signing
Saturday February 27, 2010; 5-8 pm, remarks at 6 pm
Rensselaer County Historical Society

Join RCHS and the Underground Railroad History Conference attendees for a reception at RCHS celebrating the exhibit of artist Mark Priest’s Charles Nalle paintings and the release of author Scott Christianson’s new book, Freeing Charles, The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War. Freeing Charles is the culmination of 18 years of research into Nalle’s life, escape from slavery, and the operation of the Underground Railroad. In this book, Christianson follows Nalle from his enslavement in Virginia through his escape via the Underground Railroad to his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War. Christianson also presents a richly detailed look at slavery culture in antebellum Virginia, and probes the deepest political and psychological aspects of this epic tale. His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South. Both Scott Christianson and Mark Priest will speak briefly at 6pm and will be available for discussion and book signing afterwards. Light refreshments served.

Photo: “The Altruist,” Mark Priest, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 7.5’ x 7.5’ – shows Charles Nalle struggling to break free from a mob at the corner of Second and Congress Streets, Troy. Portions of what is today the Russell Sage campus are visible in the background.

RCHS to Host Monthly Travel and Tourism Book Series


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In a unique collaboration, the New York Council for the Humanities has joined forces with the Rensselaer County Historical Society to offer Reading Between the Lines: Travel and Tourism Narratives of the Empire State, a monthly reading and discussion series that runs from March through June, 2010.

“Reading Between the Lines offers an unusual twist on the standard book group format with focused thematic discussions led by humanities scholars,” says Council Executive Director Sara Ogger. At the Rensselaer County Historical Society, the discussion leader will be Shealeen Meaney, Assistant Professor of English at Russell Sage College.

Meaney will lead four discussion sessions each focused on a book related to the series theme: Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Tales, by Washington Irving; The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862, by Carol Sherrif; The Second Greatest Disappointment: Honeymooning and Tourism at Niagara Falls, by Karen Dubinsky and Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges.

Mari Shopsis, Director of Education at the Rensselaer County Historical Society adds: “The Rensselaer County Historical Society is very pleased to host this Reading Between the Lines program. Groups like this provide an important venue for civic engagement and social interaction, and Professor Meaney’s work on women’s travel writing and the Historical Society’s collection of travel diaries, postcards and letters are an interesting counterpart to the books being discussed.”

Participants in the series read works of non-fiction and works of literature that are discussed within an historical context. The program is free and open to the public, although pre-registration is required. The group will meet on the third Thursday of the month – March 18, April 15, May 20, and June 17 from 7-8:30pm at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second Street, Troy, NY. For more information on the program, visit http://www.rchsonline.org/programs.htm#RBTL or contact Mari Shopsis at 518-272-7232, x 17 or at mshopsis@rchsonline.org.

Reading Between the Lines is designed to promote lively, informed conversation about humanities themes and strengthen the relationship between humanities institutions and the public. Reading Between the Lines series are currently being held in communities across New York State. The project is supported by the We The People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about Reading Between the Lines: Travel and Tourism Narratives of the Empire State, visit www.nyhumanities.org/discussion_groups.

State Museum Showing Major Stoneware Exhibit


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“It’s a prime example of American folk art, probably one of the best collections of decorated stoneware in the country,” is how John Scherer, Historian Emeritus of the New York State Museum characterized the Weitsman Stoneware Collection. The over 200-piece collection was donated to the museum by Adam J. Weitsman, one of the leading collectors of 18th and 19th Century stoneware.

Forty unique vessels from the collection titled Art for the People: Decorated Stoneware from the Weitsman Collection are currently on exhibit at the Albany museum’s New York Metropolis Gallery. The show was recently extended due to popular demand through the summer of 2010. “We are delighted with this collection. It attracts a lot of visitors to the museum. They are very, very impressed and almost overwhelmed by the quality of the collection,” said Scherer.

The exhibition features decorated stoneware vessels, including jugs, crocks, pitchers, jars and water coolers. The designs are considered premier examples of American folk art. Most were created in New York State and many are “presentation pieces,” oversized and often richly decorated with cobalt blue designs and folk art illustrations. Decoration tools, early pottery related graphics and photography complement the exhibit.

After the exhibition, it will become a permanent part of the New York State Museum. The collection is also the subject of a color, coffee-table format book being published by the museum that will be released this spring. The book is being funded by the generosity of Mr. Weitsman.

“We had a few important pieces of stoneware, but nowhere near the quality that Adam donated. The Weitsman Collection is supreme,” said Scherer.

Adam Weitsman collected his first piece of stoneware in 1980 at age 11 and the experience sparked his passion for the genre. Since then he acquired rare pieces at antique shows, estate sales and auctions. One example was a water cooler decorated with a portrait of a Civil War general and his wife. He purchased it at auction for $88,000 which set a record price for American stoneware at the time.

In 1996, Weitsman donated 100 pieces to the museum to ensure his collection would be preserved. From those and pieces acquired subsequently, 40 were carefully selected for the current exhibition. Most have never been publicly displayed.

Stoneware was vitally important to the development of New York State and its central role in western expansion of the country via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and its network of feeder canals, and through the Great Lakes to the western river systems. Stoneware was in high demand for storage and preservation for things like drinking water, milk, butter, eggs, beer, ale, whisky, pickles and salted meat. Clay deposits ideal for making stoneware were found in what is now South Amboy, New Jersey, lower Manhattan and eastern Long Island. As a result, New York State became a large stoneware producer.

Potters sprang up along the Hudson River and throughout the New York State canal system making vessels of various shapes and sizes. During kiln firing, salt was applied to vessels that combined with clay silica to create a smooth, lustrous finish. Chocolate brown Albany Slip, named for where the clay was mined, was used to coat the insides of vessels. To identify or decorate the vessel, a painter applied a metallic oxide clay slip that turned a rich blue when fired. Sometimes manganese that turned purplish-brown was used. Simple identification included the makers’ mark and the vessel’s capacity. Elaborate designs and highly creative illustrations such as those found in the Weitsman Collection represent the sublime expression of this folk art period.

Historically significant of examples of stoneware from the Weitsman Collection include:

A Jar made by Paul Cushman of Albany in 1809–Weitsman acquired it from the personal collection of PBS’ Antique Road Show host Leigh Keno.

A Jug created by William Lundy & Co. of Troy, New York in the 1820s that depicts cobalt blue caricature of a merman, a male version of mermaid.

Crocks displaying a prancing zebra and a camel were inspired by the traveling circuses of the era.

A Jug displaying a fisherman with a pole on a lake signed Nathan Clark, Lyons, NY.

A Crock decorated with a Dutch or German-style church with a gambrel roof and round tower and a weather cock, signed W. A. Maquoid, Little West 12th Street, New York City.

A two-gallon crock made by Charles W. Braun of Buffalo around 1870 is decorated with what appears to be a caricature of Buffalo Bill.

A humorous long-necked gooney bird on a six-gallon water cooler made by M. Woodruff of Cortland, New York around 1860. It was acquired from the collection of Donald Shelley, former director of the Henry Ford Museum.

A highly decorated five-gallon water cooler came from the famous George S. McKearin Collection. It was created by Julius and Edward Norton of Bennington, Vermont and shows three types of decoration commonly associated with potters at Bennington, Troy and Fort Edward, New York.

One of the rarest is a six-gallon crock made by Nathan Clark & Co. of Rochester, New York in about 1845. Decorated with the mythical phoenix firebird, it was rendered in such detail that it has a three-dimensional quality.

“I emphasized to Adam how important his collection was and how important it is to New York State. He not only donated it, but also acquires new pieces every year to add to it which is wonderful for us,” Scherer concluded.

While not engaged in collecting stoneware and fine art, Mr. Weitsman is busy with his other passion as President of Upstate Shredding LLC. With numerous locations, Upstate is the largest privately owned metal processing and recycling operation on the East Coast.

Photo: Two-Gallon Jug, (c. 1815) by Israel Seymour (1784-1852) of Troy, New York. The finely incised figure of an American Indian decorates this early ovoid jug. He carries a sword in one hand and a banner with the letter T (for temperance) in the other. Some intricately decorated stoneware pieces commemorate special events and historical figures. The Indian is believed to be Handsome Lake (c. 1734-1815), the Seneca religious prophet who in 1799 began to tell his people to refrain from drinking and doing evil.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Host Valentine Programs


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Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) for a series of valentines programs.

Tokens of Love; from lockets and hair jewelry to ornate cards people have always found ways to express their love for one another. View some of the unique expressions of love from the collection of RCHS and enjoy a three course lunch at Daisy Baker’s Restaurant.

Love in the Marble House; join us for a romantic candlelight tour of the Hart-Cluett House and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Guided tours will include the second floor rooms. All Valentines programs include a sweet treat from Uncle Sam’s Chocolates.

RCHS Valentine’s Day Program details:

Tokens of Love, Lunch & Learn. Thursday, February 11. Program 11am-12pm at RCHS, Lunch 12-1pm at Daisy Bakers.

View some of the unique expressions of love from the RCHS collection then enjoy a three course lunch at Daisy Baker’s Restaurant just a block down the street. RCHS Members $27/person; not-yet-members $30/person, includes program and lunch. Registration required by Feb. 9th.

Candlelight House Tour – Love in the Marble House. Friday, February 12, 6-8pm.

Join us for a romantic candlelight tour of the Hart-Cluett House. See the house in a different light and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Staff-led tours will include the second floor rooms. Special Valentine’s Day treat included. $15/person, $25/couple. Registration required by February 11th.

Second Saturday House Tour: Love in the Marble House. Saturday, February 13, 2-3pm. See the house in a different light and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Staff-led tours will include the second floor rooms. Special Valentine’s Day treat included. $10/person, $15/couple. Registration required by February 11th.

Pre-registration for RCHS programs is easy, Click on our website, www.rchsonline.org; call 518-272-78232 ext 12; or come in to RCHS at 57 Second Street, Troy, Thursday-Saturday 12-5pm.

53rd Annual Greens Show At Rensselaer County Historical


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will present the 53rd Annual Greens Show this December 3rd through the 6th. This year¹s version of the longstanding tradition transforms twelve rooms of the 1827 Federal-style Hart-Cluett House into “A Christmas Celebration of the Hudson¹s Gifts.” Members of the Van Rensselaer Garden Club incorporate fresh trees, greens and flowers to create beautiful history-inspired displays that are truly a feast for the senses. The 2009 Greens Show theme was inspired by this year¹s Quadricentennial celebration and features splendid arrangements that evoke Henry Hudson, the Dutch heritage of our region, and the natural beauty of the Hudson River.

The RCHS Greens Show will also offer a number of new features this year, including a special tour and lunch package, the new exhibit, “Uncle Sam: The Man in Life and Legend,” and the unveiling of the commemorative Hart-Cluett House print recently commissioned by RCHS from George E. Shear of ARCHistration.

The Greens Show is open to the public from Thursday, December 3 ­ Sunday, December 6, 2008, from Noon-5:00 pm daily. Admission to the Greens Show is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children over five. Admission is free for children under five.

Highlights of the 53rd Annual Greens Show include:

Troy¹s Treasurers, Tour & Lunch, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons.
RCHS and Daisy Baker¹s Restaurant have partnered to offer a Greens Show tour followed by a delicious three-course luncheon for groups of 4 or more ($25/person). Call 272-7232 x17 for more information or reservations.

Holiday Arrangement Demonstration & Sale, Thursday 2-4 pm, Friday ­ Sunday 1-4 pm.
Learn how the Van Rensselaer Garden Club members create their unique holiday arrangements.

Wreath Display and Silent Auction, 12-5 pm daily.
Visit the Carriage House to view and place bids on one of 50 wreaths decorated by Van Rensselaer Garden Club members.

Free Family Night, Thursday, 5-8 pm
Make family memories together during the Greens Show Family Night. The Show will be open until 8:00 pm and admission is free beginning at 5:00 pm. Family night activities include self-guided tours of the Hart-Cluett House, craft activities for kids, and holiday stories under the big tree in the Front Parlor. Photos with Santa will be available in the Toy Room for $10.

Candlelight House Tour, Friday 5:30-8 pm
See the Hart-Cluett House as you¹ve never seen it before! RCHS staff members will lead guided tours of the house on the evening of Friday, December 4th, from 5:30-8 pm. The admission fee for this special tour is $10.00 per person

Lecture by Michael Halloran on Saturday at 2pm entitled Thomas Cole¹s Mythical River: Hudson River School paintings viewed from the bottom of the Poestenkill Falls.

Music and Merriment during the Victorian Stroll , Sunday, 2-4 pm
On Sunday, December 6th during the Victorian Stroll, harpist Lydia Zotto will perform seasonal music in the Front Parlor from 2 to 4 pm. This is the fifth year that this talented young musician has been part of the Greens Show.

Rensselaer County HS’s Uncle Sam Exhibition


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) will become the new home for Uncle Sam and his story with the opening of its new permanent exhibition Uncle Sam: The Man in Life and Legend on Wednesday, November 11, 5-7 p.m., at 57 Second Street in Troy.

Samuel ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson (1766-1854) is undoubtedly Troy¹s most famous son. Arriving in Troy in the late 18th century and participating in the community¹s early growth and success, he was also a witness to the expansion of our nation and the development of our national identity.

The Historical Society’s exhibit examines both the real man and the national symbol using objects from the museum¹s collections, including archeological artifacts from the site of one of Sam Wilson¹s houses and historical prints and images of our national symbol. Visitors will be able to see how the story of Uncle Sam evolved and learn how this real person and national icon continue to impact us today.

Fittingly, Uncle Sam opens on Veterans Day, November 11, 2009. The opening is free and open to all. A modern Uncle Sam will make an appearance at the event and RCHS encourages attendees to wear their Uncle Sam inspired attire. The event will also be the official launch of the Rensselaer County Historical Society¹s online Uncle Sam Resource Center.

Photo: WWI Recruiting Poster: ³Uncle Sam Wants You² by Montgomery Flagg. Provided by the RCHS.

Presentation On The Poesten Kill Thursday


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John Warren (yours truly) has written the first history of the Poestenkill ­which flows through the center of Rensselaer County and enters the Hudson River at Troy, will offer a book talk and signing this Thursday (October 22nd, 6:30 to­ 8 pm) at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy (57 Second Street, Troy). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Poesten Kill will be available for purchase at the event. The Poestenkill has been home to American Indians who hunted, gathered, fished and farmed along its shores, frontier Dutch farmers and traders, colonial tradesmen, merchants, millers, and lumbermen, and nineteenth century iron, steel, textile, and paper workers.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Hosts Walking Tours


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society will offer walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings, leaving from the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. The topics will vary each week ­and include the Underground Railroad, the history of Troy’s fire and police departments, and more.

The tours are being led by Historical Society staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries. The tours last approximately an hour. Cost: $5 for not-yet-members of the Historical Society; free for Society members.

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, September 19, 10:30 – 11:30 am
This introduction to Troy history and architecture looks at how the city evolved from its initial founding in 1789 as a village to its 19th century heyday and on into the 20th century. The sites of many important events will be discussed along with some of the people who made the name Troy known around the world.

HISTORY WALK: Jacob Vanderheyden and the Village of Troy
Saturday, September 26, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Before Troy was Troy, it was known as Vanderheyden, after Jacob Vanderheyden, the Dutch farmer who laid out the streets and alleys of what is now the city of Troy. Explore the one square mile area in the city’s downtown historic district where the early settlement of Troy took place.

HISTORY WALK: “To Protect and Serve”
Saturday, October 3, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Firehouses, church bells, and night constables – and a dash of murder and mayhem. This walking tour focuses on the colorful history of Troy’s municipal police and fire departments, from their volunteer origins to today’s public servants.

FAMILY HISTORY WALK: History Underfoot and Overhead
Saturday, October 10, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
History is everywhere in Troy. Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. We’ll look at the buildings around us for clues that tell us about the past and get hands-on with history. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!”

HISTORY WALK: Troy’s Amazing Architecture
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
This walking tour uses Troy’s rich 19th and 20th century built environment to explore and learn about a range of styles and types of buildings. You’ll never see it the same way again!

HISTORY WALK: Underground Railroad Walking Tour
Saturday, October 24, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Troy was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the 19th century. This walking tour will highlight the sights associated with the African American community in the first half of the 19th century. Included will be sites associated with the famous rescue of escaped slave Charles Nalle by thousands of Trojans and the now famous Harriet Tubman.

HISTORY WALK: Murder and Mayhem
Saturday, October 31, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Who knows what ghosts might haunt the streets of Troy? You will, after taking part in this walk through the more colorful stories of Troy’s past.

Rensselaer County Historical Society May Close


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society has announced that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. I will reprint here the message they sent:

We Need Your Help!
Keep the lights on and history alive!

To our members and friends,

As you may have read in [yesterday's] Times Union, RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty. The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs. What may have seemed – even ten years ago – a reasonable endowment with sustainable cash reserves has now dwindled to the point where we are no longer able to pay our bills. Without an immediate and substantial infusion of funds (upwards of $150,000), it appears that we will be required to close our doors while we work to implement a prudent fiscal strategy.

If we must close,

· our loyal and hardworking staff will be furloughed. Together these professionals have over 74 years of service to our community.

· exciting new educational initiatives, popular public programs, and long-planned exhibits would cease or be cancelled. The loss to our community – both economically and psychologically – would be incalculable. RCHS collections hold over 60,000 items of decorative arts, furniture, paintings, and sculpture. None of these items would remain available to the public. More importantly, an even greater number of documents relating to our past would be completely inaccessible. The utility bills alone for maintaining these collections are almost $6,000 a month.

· RCHS efforts as a major catalyst in highly visible efforts to use the historic fabric of our county to stimulate economic development will be curtailed. We hope to be able to continue serving – in fact inspiring – our community through these efforts.

We are beginning a public campaign to “keep the lights on and history alive!” As in the past, we are grateful for your active interest and suggestions regarding strategies to ensure RCHS’s survival. We also urgently need your personal assistance in providing immediate financial support during this financial crisis.

Our plan is to take the next three to four months to develop – in partnership with our supporters – a new business plan for RCHS, designed to ensure its long-term sustainability. We are fortunate to have Rachel Tooker, a very experienced and energizing Transitional Executive leading this effort. The dedicated members of the RCHS board are prepared to join Rachel to discuss our finances and future plans in detail. Please give us a call if you have questions or suggestions for us.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help RCHS:

Help us to spread the word about RCHS and its positive impact on the community.

Distribute RCHS membership and program brochures to your clubs and community organizations.

Hold a brunch or get-together and make a group donation to RCHS.

Give an RCHS membership as a birthday present or gift to a new neighbor.

Volunteer to help with an RCHS program or project.

Send us your ideas for making RCHS sustainable and an even more valuable part of the community.