Columbia County: A Lecture On Copake History

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Pelholm barn with Ezra PellsLocal historian and author Howard Blue will present talk on the history of Copake, Columbia County, at the Roe Jan Historical Society in Copake Falls on Sunday, May 18 at 2:00 pm. Blue’s program is based in part on interviews of local residents from whose family albums he was allowed to copy old photos.

The presentation will focus primarily on the town’s and county’s first settlers, the Mohican Indians, and the 90-year-long, sometimes violent conflict between the Livingston family which at one time owned almost all of Copake and the family’s tenant farmers. Blue will also discuss Martin Van Buren’s role in Copake’s anti-rent movement, Copake in the Revolutionary war years, the existence of slavery in Copake, and Copake’s Civil War era bond issue that helped buy out from the draft some of Copake’s young men.

Blue’ s first program was seen by standing room only crowds at the Roe Jan library, so arrive early to be guaranteed a seat. In the past, Blue has interviewed a variety of literary and political figures including Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet Prime Minister, and two Nobel Prize winners.

Blue has also done public speaking in Britain, Canada, Poland and throughout the U. S. and has been interviewed on radio or TV stations in Britain, and the U.S., including Puerto Rico. His book, Words at War was the subject of a radio documentary produced in Germany.

Photo: A Copake farm circa 1930.

4 thoughts on “Columbia County: A Lecture On Copake History

  1. Dorris Sickels Smith

    My gr. gr. grandmother, Margaret Silvernail Reynolds, lived at Livingston Manor ,Columbia Co. N.Y. In letters to her daughters she related the yearly trip to the Livingston Manor House to pay rent with butter & flax seed, the great feast & how kind Mrs. Livingston was to the children. Madam Livingston always wore black & a white bonnet upon her head.
    I visited the area years ago before the property was posted, a German couple living in a cottage where the Manor House once stood, nothing remained but foundations of the Manor House & the kiln. It was a beautiful view of the Hudson River. I returned some time later to visit the German couple only to find all posted. The Silvernail family departed from New York to Wisconsin via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes after the Anti- Rent War.

    1. Howard Blue

      I would very much like to talk to you about the letters that your great-great-grandmother wrote to her daughters about the Livingston manner. Would you please contact me.

      Howard Blue Or phone 718-570-4833


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