Guy Park Manor Should Be Restored As Historic Site Not Hospitality Destination

By Daniel T. Weaver

I have mixed feelings about the newly revealed plans by Governor Cuomo for Guy Park Manor and Lock 11 in Amsterdam, NY. I am fine with illuminating the lock and dams at night. I also do not have a problem with the pedestrian bridge, which will be relatively inexpensive because it will make use of the infrastructure that already exists. It will not have to be built from scratch. Continue reading “Guy Park Manor Should Be Restored As Historic Site Not Hospitality Destination”

Be Happy When Stuck Behind A Modern Snow Plow – Your Ancestors Would Have Been

By Peter Betz

In an article surveying travel conditions when a heavy gale blanketed the Mohawk Valley on February 14th, 1923, the Gloversville Morning Herald described the storm’s aftermath. “In Gloversville, the Street Department got out its snow-fighting apparatus early and the streets were kept open. The new tractor helped mightily in clearing the streets.” Transportation beyond the city, however, was worse off. Continue reading “Be Happy When Stuck Behind A Modern Snow Plow – Your Ancestors Would Have Been”

Live Fast, Die Young. The Short Life of Mile-A-Minute Lewis Strang

By Daniel T. Weaver

Lewis Putnam Strang, born on August 7, 1884 in Amsterdam, New York, won the first auto race ever held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 21, 1909. He also won the G&J Trophy, which was the feature race of that first event. Strang set a new speed record of 64.67 mph, and the Indianapolis News wrote, “The performance of Strang was the most spectacular of the two days of racing.” Continue reading “Live Fast, Die Young. The Short Life of Mile-A-Minute Lewis Strang”

The Cop Who Dared Ticket A NYS Gov

By Daniel T. Weaver

Around 11:50 a.m. July 26, 1912 City of Amsterdam police officer, Charles A. Davis, spotted a touring car tearing down East Main Street at nearly 30 mph. He pursued the vehicle on his Indian motorcycle, overtook it on Guy Park Avenue and notified the driver he was under arrest for speeding. In 1912 speed limits were so low that driving in excess of 30 mph for more than a quarter mile was presumptive evidence of reckless driving. The speed limit within the city at the time was 15 mph. Continue reading “The Cop Who Dared Ticket A NYS Gov”

Death of Marcus Mendel and the Founding of Temple of Israel Cemetery

By Peter Betz

On May 31st 1887, referring to a major Little Falls fire, the Utica Weekly Herald noted, “There has been no similar excitement in that village since the death of Mark Mendel, the Amsterdam fireman, accidentally shot during a target practice on the flats at a fireman’s tournament.” My curiosity was naturally aroused by this casual observation. Continue reading “Death of Marcus Mendel and the Founding of Temple of Israel Cemetery”

British PM Boris Johnson & Donald Trump Have New York Roots

Both the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and the prime minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson, have roots in New York State. Both men were born in New York City. Trump was born in Queens in 1946 while Johnson was born in Manhattan’s upper East Side in 1964. Johnson’s father, Stanley, was studying economics at Columbia University when Boris was born. Continue reading “British PM Boris Johnson & Donald Trump Have New York Roots”

Roaring 20s Gloversville Stolen Car Ring Helped People Turn Cars Into Cash (History)

By Peter Betz

During the summer and fall of 1924, more than a few automobiles began disappearing from the streets of Gloversville, NY. In all, before a local car theft ring was broken, fourteen cars went missing, some with the connivance and blessing of their owners. The Gloversville car thieves were wrong, however, in thinking neither the insurance companies nor the police would notice the increase of auto thefts and the insurance claims that rapidly followed. Continue reading “Roaring 20s Gloversville Stolen Car Ring Helped People Turn Cars Into Cash (History)”

“Underwear, Underwear, Send a Pair.” Brief History of Chalmers Knitting Mill.

By Daniel T. Weaver

Once upon a time, both men and women wore long underwear. These were in the form of one piece “union suits” and were often uncomfortable. There lived in Amsterdam a man named Martin J. Shaughnessy, not to be confused with the notorious saloon keeper by the same name, who invented a revolutionary knitting process that left small holes in the material used for underwear which allowed a person’s skin to breathe. Continue reading ““Underwear, Underwear, Send a Pair.” Brief History of Chalmers Knitting Mill.”

Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Herman Melville, one of New York State’s greatest authors whose 200th birthday we are celebrating this year, had multiple sources to draw from for his greatest work, Moby Dick. One was the sinking of the Essex, a whaling ship, by a whale. Another source was an aggressive white whale known as Mocha Dick. A third inspiration for his novel may have been the story of a white whale that swam up the Hudson to Fort Orange, now the city of Albany, New York. Continue reading “Herman Melville & the White Whale That Swam to Albany (History, Literature)”

Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

Sir Winston Churchill’s maternal grandfather, Leonard Jerome, studied law for three years with Marcus T. Reynolds, an attorney born in Minaville, NY. Reynolds, a Union College graduate, was the first person to practice law in Amsterdam before moving to Albany where he became one of New York State’s top attorneys. Before studying law with Reynolds, Churchill’s grandfather attended Union College in Schenectady, graduating in 1839. Continue reading “Winston Churchill’s Upstate New York Ancestors (History)”

When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

It was a summer night in 1765 at a tavern in Stone Arabia (now the Town of Palatine, New York), and Guy Johnson had drunk all his companions under the table. One of them, Capt. Cornelius Cuyler, was so drunk he “gott into bed with the Landlady…She Cryed out—alarmed the Family—& sett us all a going!” So wrote Lord Adam Gordon in a letter to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Division, on July 2, 1765, in which he apologized to Johnson for the behavior that had occurred. Johnson was there but slept through the “riotousness.” Continue reading “When Guy Johnson Drank Everyone Under the Table & Other Stories From Stone Arabia (History)”

Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History

By Neil B. Yetwin

One of the most enduring and intriguing of Schenectady’s many antiquities is the mounted cannon at the end of North Ferry Street in the Stockade’s Riverside Park. For nearly a century this imposing piece of ordnance has stood watch eastward over the Mohawk River as if expecting to defend the city against any who threatened the peace and security of its inhabitants. Schenectady historian John J. Birch suggested in 1961 that the cannon’s history “is a mystery which undoubtedly will never be solved.” Yet physical clues and scattered anecdotal evidence might shed light upon those mysteries that have shrouded the cannon for more than two centuries and perhaps help restore it to its proper place in Schenectady’s history. Continue reading “Made in Canada: Schenectady’s Historic Colonial Era Cannon Silent Witness to History”

Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)

by Daniel T. Weaver

Thanksgiving Day 1893 was not a happy time for many people in Amsterdam. The Panic of 1893 was a financial crisis which lasted four years and had a negative impact on the city. Many newspapers blamed the crisis on free trade or the removal of tariffs on American goods. The city of Amsterdam was used as an object lesson for the “blighting effects” of “the tariff wreckers.” In an account in the Amsterdam Daily Democrat published the day after Thanksgiving, Amsterdam was described as a city where “Nearly every mill is shut down. Thousands of men and women, who a year ago were employed, are on the the brink of want. A recent Amsterdam dispatch declares that the Aid and Benevolent society is attempting to care for several thousand destitute families. People daily go from house to house begging for food. Local trade is at a standstill. Various charitable organizations are making constant appeals for help. Numbers are deserting the town.” Continue reading “Thanksgiving Day 1822, 1893 & 2014 in Amsterdam, NY (History)”

Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)

By Daniel T. Weaver

The sentence of the five man court was that the prisoner “be carried to the place from whence she came + to be brot from there to the Place of Execution and there be burnt till she is dead.” The five Tryon (later Montgomery) County, New York justices were Jelles Fonda, (ancestor of Jane, Henry, Peter and Bridget), Adam Loucks (later a Stone Arabia tavern keeper), John Butler (notorious Tory raider during the Revolution), Joseph Chew (his son was Sir William Johnson’s god-child) and Peter Masten, Continue reading “Burning Slaves at the Stake in the Mohawk Valley (History)”

Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)

While wealthier residents of colonial Johnstown, New York afforded custom tailoring, almost everyone else wore clothing that itched, chafed, bagged up, or was too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter. Settler’s clothing mostly derived from sheering their sheep, spinning the wool into cloth, and sewing that into ill-fitting, patched breeches and shirts. Meanwhile, the Johnson family quartet – Sir William Johnson, Sir John Johnson, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus – plus others of wealth and prominence, enjoyed clothing that actually fitted and was reasonably comfortable, being ‘tailor-made.’ Good tailoring has always been appreciated by those who can afford it and envied by those who can’t. Continue reading “Lord & Tailor: Sir William Johnson and his Clothier (History)”

Samuel Downing One of Last Veterans of American Revolution (History)

Things were relatively quiet in the Mohawk Valley of upstate New York during 1782, even though the American Revolution was not over. Men like Private Samuel Downing of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment stationed at Fort Plain, also known as Fort Rensselaer, spent a lot of time cutting firewood, going on routine patrols and foraging for food. Late in life, Downing recalled one of those days when he was in Johnstown foraging for food. Continue reading “Samuel Downing One of Last Veterans of American Revolution (History)”

Rip van Winkle from Mohawk Valley some Say (History)

Washington Irving’s famous story, “Rip Van Winkle,” about a fictional man who returns to his village after mysteriously disappearing for twenty years, takes place in the Catskill Mountains along the Hudson Valley. Some people theorize, however, that in real life the story might have been influenced by a man from the Mohawk Valley—Petrus (Peter) Groot of Cranesville, about 25 miles west of Albany. Continue reading “Rip van Winkle from Mohawk Valley some Say (History)”

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