The collection of letters to Santa that appeared in this space last week epitomized life in the rural regions of northern New York a century ago. At Christmastime, children from families living a common, low-income existence asked Santa for the simplest of items: a pencil and notepad, candy and nuts, or clothing to keep them warm in the winter. Toys and playthings were often secondary requests if they appeared at all.
But the simple desires from long ago reflected something other than just poverty. A good number of rural folks were self-sufficient, and all family members, even young children, took part in the daily chores of life: working the fields and garden, milking cows, collecting eggs, adding logs to the fire, and so on. An early understanding of the effort behind daily sustenance was evident in children’s annual humble Christmas yearnings for pencils, books, and treats for the tummy, suggesting an appreciation for things in general, and gifts in particular.
Among those who came to the Adirondacks and developed a deep admiration for this rustic lifestyle was Samuel Coplon, who embraced the people, reciprocated their generosity, and in time became a nationally known hero of North Country Christmases, earning him the title Santa Claus of the Adirondacks. Continue reading
Last fall a rusted old military bayonet was unearthed on private property just east of Loon Lake in Warren County. It was taken to David Starbuck, a noted local historical and industrial archeologist who has written extensively on Fort William Henry on Lake George.
Coincidentally, on that day Jesse Zuccaro, a student who has focused his studies on early bayonets, happened to be visiting Starbuck. Together they inspected this new find. After careful examination they concluded it was French in design and probably dated between 1728 and the 1740s. Twenty thousand of these bayonets were made and sent to New France prior to the American Revolution. Continue reading
SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury is offering a credit course in the history of Warren and Washington counties for the 2016 Fall semester.
The course spans from Native American occupation and the Colonial Wars, to the establishment of communities by Europeans and African-Americans, finally covering the homefront of the World Wars, the suburbanization, and the rise of tourism.
The story goes that, in the summer of 1970, a Town of Johnsburg highway crew was straightening a Garnet Lake Road near Crane Mountain in Northern Warren County in the Adirondacks. While removing some of the ancient corduroy logs that once carried the road across a swampy section, they discovered what appeared to be an old cannon.
Vincent Schaefer had the cannon dated at the Watervliet Arsenal and it was determined that it was a swivel gun of the type probably used by Benedict Arnold’s troops during the battle of Valcour Island. Continue reading
On Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21 the Warrensburgh Historical Society will be conducting a walking tour of the early residential and civic district of the village, led by architectural historian Delbert Chambers.
The tour will pass more than 30 historic properties and is one of four walking and two driving tours being developed by the Society’s Preservation Committee. Continue reading
Late spring of 1845 found , a leader of the Liberty Party, touring the North Country in search of disaffected “Whigs and Democrats, whose intelligence and Christian integrity will not permit them to remain longer in their pro-slavery connections.”
Smith, from Peterboro, in Madison County, traveled from Saratoga Springs, through Glens Falls and then into Essex and Clinton counties on his quest to build a credible third party, a devoted anti-slavery party. His report, printed in the Albany Patriot in late June, details the villages his visited, the people he met, and the difficulties he faced. Continue reading
Last week in this space, I addressed the subject of cross-burnings in the North Country, which became common in the 1920s during a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Throughout the region, meetings were conducted by Klan leaders, and thousands of followers were added to their ranks. For many of us, it’s an uncomfortable part of Adirondack history, but there is another side to the story. Despite widespread intimidation spawned by secret meetings, robed figures, and fiery crosses, New York’s citizenry rose in opposition to the Klan policies of bigotry and exclusion.
Speaking out against the KKK carried inherent risks for average folks, and for politicians as well. Between 1915 and 1922, more than a dozen senators and government officials in Washington were acknowledged members of the Klan, and the organization played a role in the national elections of 1924 and 1928. But in spite of their rise to power behind claims of patriotism and “Americanism,” the KKK was judged by many as a blight on society and distinctly un-American. Continue reading
Following five years of planning, research, writing and design, the Warrensburgh Historical Society has released Warrensburg, New York: 200 Years of People, Places and Events (2014) in honor of the town’s Bicentennial Celebration.
Spearheaded by Town Historian Sandi Parisi, the effort involved more than 20 volunteers. The 184-page soft-cover book, laid out as an encyclopedia of Warrensburg history, contains more than 300 photographs and a 19-page index with over 2,300 listings. Continue reading
Culminating with the success of the summer’s Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition, Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, The Hyde Collection is reporting a twelve-month regional impact of 2.3 million dollars, calculated from September 1, 2012 through September 31, 2013.
In 2000, RKG Associates was retained by The Hyde Collection to assist in developing an estimate of its impact on Warren County’s economy. This model was updated by staff in 2013. Economic indicators include direct impacts, such as direct employment and wages of the staff and purchases of goods and services pertaining to the operation of the Museum’s business, as well as the impact of commensurate levels of employment (direct and indirect) which the purchases from Warren County vendors support. Continue reading
Two Graveyard Walks are planned for Warrensburg Cemetery. Characters expected to put in appearances this year represent people from Warrensburg’s earliest history, including the woman who hosted the first Town Board meeting and others.
The Graveyard Walks and Dinner have been sponsored by the Warrensburgh Historical Society since 2001, with sold-out audiences every year. The public is encouraged to make their reservations early, as space is limited. Continue reading