Tag Archives: Montgomery County

Public History Lessons from Dutchess County

dutchess county 1829If there is one county where local history should loom large on the political landscape that should be Dutchess County. It was less than a century ago when it had arguably the most famous local historian in America, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That historical legacy contributed to the disappointment over the fact that Dutchess County did not have a county historian when I began writing at New York History.

In a series of posts surveying the various New York State history community constituencies I devoted one post to the County Historians. I noted that some counties were not complying with the state regulations. Dutchess County was one violator, but I anticipated that would be rectified following the County Executive election for since both major-party candidates endorsed filling the position. There is a story to be told in how that happened that sheds light on the position of county historians throughout the state as well as with implications for the Path through History project. Continue reading

Book Discussions Focusing on Slavery Set

paul_nathaniel_speech_cover“On August 16, 1781, Murphy Stiel, a sergeant in the Black Pioneers, a British paramilitary group based in New York City, had a remarkable dream. Stiel was sleeping in the Pioneers’ barracks on Water Street when he heard “a Voice like a Man’s but saw no body.”

The voice commanded Stiel to deliver a message to Sir Henry Clinton, commander in chief of the British forces, that he should order General George Washington to surrender “himself and his Troops to the Kings Army.” Failure to do so would mean God’s wrath would fall upon the Americans. Stiel warned that all the “Blacks in America would rise up against Washington’s forces….For…the Lord would be on their side.” Continue reading

Johnstown: St. Patricks Masonic Lodge

St Patricks Lodge 2008-1I noticed that there was a report in the Leader Herald on the Johnstown Masons of St. Patrick’s lodge, so I thought this bit of history might be timely:

St. Patrick’s Lodge No. 8 (now called St. Patrick’s Lodge No. 4) in Johnstown, NY, founded by Sir William Johnson, is one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in the State of New York. Sir William Johnson was raised a Master Mason on April 10, 1766, in Union Lodge No. 1, located in Albany, New York, (now Mount Vernon Lodge No. 3).Augustine Prevost, a brother of the Union Lodge, wrote to Johnson a few weeks earlier, on March 23, 1766, informing him that Johnson’s friend and fellow Masonic brother Normand McLeod, had formally notified Union Lodge of Johnson’s desire to be a master of a lodge in Johnstown. Prevost noted in the letter: Continue reading

Nellis Tavern: War of 1812 Songs and Stories

The historic Nellis Tavern museum east of St. Johnsville (Montgomery County) will present performer and researcher Dave Ruch on Saturday, May 5, in a special concert entitled “The War of 1812 – Songs and Stories from New York and Beyond.” The program will begin at 2 p.m.

With guitar, mandolin, banjo, jew’s harp, bones, and voice, Dave Ruch interprets the traditional and historical music of the New York State region. For this program, Ruch presents a ringing portrait of the War of 1812 through the songs and stories of the people themselves.


Ruch has dug deeply into archival recordings, diaries, old newspapers and other historical manuscripts to unearth a wealth of rarely-heard music which, alongside some of the classics from the war period, offers a rounded and fascinating picture of this “second war of independence.” Special emphasis is given to New York State’s important role in the conflict.

By the War of 1812, the Nellis Tavern, originally built about 1747 facing the Mohawk River, had been enlarged and faced the recently completed Mohawk Turnpike (NYS highway 5). The turnpike was an important thoroughfare during the war, and the tavern served a host of travelers, military and civilian alike. Ruch will perform music which might have been heard in the tavern two hundred years ago.

Ruch travels widely from his home base in Buffalo, giving hundreds of performances each year for schools, museums, historical societies, libraries, festivals, community events and more. He will appear at the Nellis Tavern as a Speaker in the Humanities sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the Palatine Settlement Society at 518-922-7051.

Lecture on Fultonville’s Starin Place

Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site will offer a program entitled “Fultonville’s Starin Place” on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm at the historic site’s Visitor Center, 129 Schoharie Street, Fort Hunter, NY. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Schoharie Crossing and presented by Karen Chapman, director of Fortroyale Preservation Society in Fultonville, Montgomery County, and owner of the Starin Place.

Starin Place is a six hundred-acre estate which featured in its prime, a stately mansion, a racetrack, a zoo, hot houses, nurseries, a trout pond, carriage houses, barns, a gazebo and other buildings. Located high on a hill on the south side of the Mohawk River the estate offers a magnificent view of the valley.

The lecture will be part of the April meeting for the Friends of Schoharie Crossing and will be followed by refreshments and the business meeting. All are welcome to attend- the meeting and lecture are both open to the public.

For more information about this event or how to join the Friends of Schoharie Crossing, please call the Visitor Center at (518) 829-7516. For more information about New York State Parks, visit our website or on Facebok.

Illustration: Starin Estate from History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, F.W. Beers and Co., 1878.

Civil War Lectures Set for Schoharie Crossing

Schoharie Crossing State Historic site’s Enders House (adjacent to the Visitor Center at 129 Schoharie Street, Fort Hunter, NY, five miles west of Amsterdam, off Route 5S) will host a series of lectures on the Civil War, Wednesdays in April, 7:00 pm.

On April 4, the lecture series will begin with Montgomery County Historian Kelly Farquar, who will discuss “The Abolitionist Movement in Montgomery County,” a topic of her latest publication.

The series continues on April 11 with Bob Arnold, an instructor at the College of St. Rose whose talk is entitled “New York State and the Civil War.” Arnold is also the former Albany County Historian. On April 25 the lecture series concludes with Matt Zembo’s talk on “Civil War Weapons and Strategy.” Zembo is an instructor at Hudson Valley Community College and is a military reenactor.

The fees for these lectures are $3.00 adults, $2.00 seniors and $1.00 for children under 16. Please contact Tricia Shaw at Tricia.Shaw@parks.ny.gov or 518-829-7516 for more information.

Photo: Schoharie Aqueduct, showing the canalway (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Mabee Farm to Host 1700s Colonial Festival Dinner

The Mabee Farm’s in Rotterdam Junction will play host to prominent 18th century citizens of the Schenectady area during a Colonial Festival Dinner, the featured event of the Schenectady Heritage Area’s Annual Schenectady Colonial Festival.

Participants are likely to meet General Schuyler, soldiers on campaign, a Sachem of the Mohawk Wolf Clan, merchants or land speculators working for the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, and several members of the Mabee Family and their household. Part of the Mabee’s farm in Rotterdam Junction, the inn was frequented by military leaders, Native American traders, bateau men and many others traveling the Mohawk River. Continue reading

Old Fort Johnson Flood Recovery Events Planned

Amsterdam City Hall and Old Fort Johnson National Historic Landmark will bring history and creativity together as local area businesses, designers, organizations and individuals craft festive wreaths for all seasons that will decorate Amsterdam City Hall. All the wreaths will be available for sale at a silent auction, and all the proceeds will go to Old Fort Johnson’s Flood Recovery Fund.

It has been over two months since Old Fort Johnson National Historic Landmark was damaged by devastating floods. Approximately five feet of water rushed into the Old Fort, reaching the tops of the mantels on the first floor. The Visitor’s Center had close to two feet of water inside, and the 18th century privy was tipped on its side. Restoration costs have been high and there is still much work that needs to be done.

The event will kick off on Saturday & Sunday, November 26th & 27th with an open house at Amsterdam City Hall where there will be a children’s craft activity, holiday refreshments, local items for sale and wreath hunt to locate the many mini-wreaths hidden throughout City Hall. You can also do a little holiday shopping.

Amsterdam City Hall will be decorated with almost 50 wreaths of all types and for all seasons. Many include gift cards or other items. For example, Dolci Bake Shoppe’s “Sugar and Spice, Emerald Cinemas’ “Experience the Magic of the Movies”, Oakes Framing and Art Gallery’s Ebeneezer’s Redemption”, and the Marching Rams, Boosters and Alumi’s “All That Glitters” all have gift certificates included with their wreaths. Damiano’s Flower’s wreath “Pine Cone Greeting” has a matching table centerpiece. Other wreaths include Rulison Honey Farm’s “Sweetness and Light”, Get It Done Construction’s “Sweet But Don’t Eat” , Kara Reed’s “Christmas at the Cape”, and Mary Lou Kristie’s “Four Seasons” to name just a few of the wreaths that will be a part of this fundraising event.

On Saturday, November 26, local author Bob Cudmore will be on hand from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm to sign his latest book &#8211 “Stories from the Mohawk Valley: the Painted Rocks, the Good Benedict Arnold and More”, a great holiday gift. Also, Rachelle Cotugno will be providing musical entertainment singing holiday carols. On Sunday, November 27, the Amsterdam High School Select Chorus will be performing at 3:00 pm.

On Saturday, December 3rd from 1:00 pm to 4: pm Amsterdam City Historian Rob von Hasseln will be conducting free tours of historic Amsterdam City Hall. This is a chance to learn more about the building and one of the most prominent families in Amsterdam history. Participants will be able to view the wreaths and place any silent bids on ones you’d like to see in your home.

The wreath display will continue through December 6th, and wreaths can be viewed and bid on during normal City Hall business hours. All wreaths will be available to be picked up on Saturday, December 10 at Amsterdam City Hall during a closing reception at 1:00 pm.

For additional information call 518-843-0300, or visit www.oldfortjohnon.org.

Photo courtesy Old Fort Johnson.

Symposium on 18th Century Mohawk Valley Culture

An upcoming symposium, “Frontier Style: Culture at the Edge of Empire, Mohawk Valley NY, 1700-1800” looks at clothing, furniture and household decorations to see what they can reveal about a person’s cultural and social status in colonial New York.

Scholars at the 2011 Western Frontier Symposium will discuss the interactions of the Mohawk, Dutch, English, German and slave cultures within this region, their traditions of costume and household design, and their perceptions of each other.

The two day symposium will be held October 15-16 at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY. Participating experts in 18th century design and the region’s cultures include Phillip Otterness, David Preston, Timothy Shannon, George Hamell, Mark Hutter, Robert Trent, Mary Elise Antoine and others.

“Frontier Style” looks closely at daily life in the 18th century Mohawk Valley, when this region was the western edge of colonial New York, a frontier space where European and Native American communities were both neighbors and trading partners.

In that diverse multicultural world, personal objects from everyday life like painted German chests or Iroquois body art revealed cultural roots and traditions. Stylistic choices also could suggest a person’s career aspirations, as when decorating exclusively with imported British goods or wearing the latest London fashions.

Symposium presentations include the basics of Mohawk Valley “dressing for success”, local fashions for every budget, regional furniture and architecture, as well as discussion of the dominant ethnic and social cultures of the period.

Admission to the symposium is $20.00 per day with a discount for advance registration. A special symposium package available by advance registration only includes admission to the presentations, printed copies of the papers, box lunches both days, a reception with the speakers and a special 18th century dinner for $135. Registration forms can be downloaded from the web link below.

The biennial Western Frontier Symposium has presented the latest scholarly research about the history and cultures of the Mohawk River Valley since 2005. It is sponsored by a collaboration of regional historic sites and organizations: Old Fort Johnson, Palatine Settlement Society, Montgomery County History & Archives, Johnson Hall State Historic Site, Herkimer Home SHS, Schuyler Mansion SHS, Crailo SHS, Fort Plain Museum, Fort Klock, Historic Cherry Hill, Old Stone Fort Museum, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and the Costume Society of America.

More information and registration forms are available online.

Papers to be presented October 15-16, 2011 include:

* David Preston – “The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Iroquoian Borderlands, 1720-1790”

* Phillip Otterness “Neither French, nor English, nor Indians: The Palatine Germans of New York”

* Erica Nuckles – “The Dutch had a very bad Opinion of Me”

* Clifford Oliver Mealy –“ Slaves in the Mohawk Valley, 1750-1800”

* Tim Shannon &#8211 ”Dressing for Success on the Mohawk Frontier: Hendrick, William Johnson, and the Indian Fashion”

* George Hamell – “Native American Body Art”

* Scott Meachum &#8211 “Native American Calling Cards: War Clubs & Pictographs”

* Mark Hutter – “High Style in the Hinterlands: 18th Century Design for the Fashionable Consumer”

* Kjirsten Gustavson – “Colonial Clothing in Upstate New York”

* Michael Roets – “18th C Mohawk Life: Lower Castle Archeology”

* Wanda Burch – “Collecting Cultures: Sir William Johnson’s Cabinet of Curiosities”

* Cindy Falk – “Mohawk Valley Architecture: Cultures Built in Stone & Wood”

* Rabbit Goody – “Household Goods: 18th Century Fabrics for the Home”

* Robert Trent &#8211 “Mohawk Valley Interiors & Furniture: The Stylish Home‘

* Mary Antoine – “German Folk Arts in Upstate New York”

* Deborah Emmons-Andarawis – “Shades of Gentility: Philip Schuyler and Philip Van Rensselaer” (sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities)

* Ron Burch – “Music in the Johnson Family” (lecture & concert)