Happy 117th Scotia! plus Glenville in 1820

Frances Anderson Sloan was the Village of Scotia Historian from Nov. 1959 until May 1965, when she died unexpectedly. She wrote a column twice a month for the Scotia-Glenville Journal and we have been gathering all these articles in one place as reference materials. She was diligent in her research and while new facts may have come to light since then, and there are now new ways of expressing historical concepts, her essays are still interesting and useful after these 60 years.

This year, after the big interruption of 2020, I will be “reprinting” some of these articles that relate to Glenville’s bicentennial. The town was incorporated in 1820, but the first town meeting took place in 1821; I think we can sneak this in as a bicentennial year as well.

This article discusses the Alexander Glen property, the Sacandaga Turnpike, and the beginnings of Glenville.

History Walks with Scotians
by Frances Anderson Sloan
Scotia-Glenville 1820

Originally published in the Scotia-Glenville Journal
January 23, 1964

Scotia is both older and younger than her larger sister across the Mohawk River. We are familiar with the story of the founding of a home on our side of the river by Sander Leendertse Glen in 1658. In fact, he reportedly established a dwelling of sorts on the river bank as early as 1655. Schenectady celebrated the three hundredth [now 359] anniversary of Settlement in 1962. However, we incorporated as Scotia only in 1904 so that this year we celebrate sixty years [now 117] of growth as the village of Scotia.

Much happened between the two dates that affected our development. This first of three articles will deal with the story of a toll highway less familiar to us than the Western Turnpike and the separation of Glenville from Schenectady in 1820.

To quote a rather unfamiliar comment on Glen’s settlement from his “Narrative Embracing the History of Two or Three of the First Settlers and Their Families of Schenectady” by Dr. Daniel J. Toll in 1847: “Sanders Landersa [sic] Glen in 1665 obtained a patent of Richard Nichols, first English Governor of the Province of New York for the alluvial flats opposite Dorp on the north side of the Mohawk river, then counted to be fifty morgens more or less, or one hundred acres, more or less. In 1669 and 1686 he made extensive purchases of the adjoining woodlands.” (The patent for Glen’s holdings came, of course, several years after his settlement.)

“The river occupies the very site of the first dwelling because from attrition caused by annual freshets of the Mohawk river, the main shore has crumbled and washed away. It was some distance south of the present house.”

The cluster of family dwellings called by Sander Glen “Nova Scotia” or New Scotland, for his homeland was part of the village of Schenectady since he was one of the original proprietors of old Dorp. As the settlement spread into the surrounding hills it became known as Glenville. In fact a number of places were named after the family, including Glens Falls and Glen, N.Y.

The “Camp” served as assembly ground for Indian, Colonial and British and, later, American troops, as they made their way northward to fight the hostile Indians, the French in Canada, the British in Canada, or enemy troops coming thence. The path trod back and forth to Canada by these warriors was the Sacandaga. After the war of 1812, New York State was in a ferment of opening up new turnpikes, just as a few years later there was a great criss-crossing of the canal systems in our state. The Mohawk Turnpike and “Clinton’s Ditch” are familiar but the Sacandaga Turnpike was very important at the time.

ROADS BUILT

The path of war could also serve as a trade highway in time of peace. Private enterprise, local communities built plank, stone or sand roads, maintained them and extracted fees from the travelers by turning the pike upright, thus permitting those who paid to pass. The “pike” or bar was stretched across the road at specified distances. Some of the highways were authorized by the state and money raised by popular subscription. In May, 1813, Abraham Oothout and James Bailey were appointed commissioners by the Legislature to open the books for subscribers to the Sacandaga Turnpike and Bridge Company. Mr. Isaac Groot bought shares of which the Scotia History Center has photostats. Subscribers paid a proportion of the cost at the beginning and succeeding amounts as the work progressed. Mr. Groot’s shares were paid in full but many subscribers failed to maintain their payments and lost their holdings.

June 15, 1814, after a certain amount had been raised, James Bailey and James Boyd were empowered to receive bills for building the turnpike. At first apparently the outlook was rosy and in 1816 the stockholders called for a payment of 10% on stock subscribed.

But matters did not progress very quickly. In April, 1820, the stockholders met at the house of “Bernard Cramer, Innkeeper in the fourth ward of Schenectady” (Cramer’s Tavern was on Ballston Road, near the junction of Mohawk Avenue) to consider what to do next. Schenectady decided to sell its interest, at least in part. In November of that year the Corporation of Schenectady decided to sell “not exceeding $7,000 in amount of Corporation, including the old gaol (jail) and lot on the corner of Union and Ferry Streets, the corporation part of the old College building and lot together with some Mohawk Bridge, Sacandaga Turnpike and Bridge Company and Schenectady water works stock if a suitable price is offered.”

Some correspondence exists indicating an attempt by Mayor Joseph Yates and partner to purchase Sacandaga Turnpike and Bridge Company for about 40% of its evaluation but research uncovered no development of this idea. The legislature was still worrying with the Sacandaga Turnpike. There the research trail seems to fade and becomes interesting speculation.

TOWNS FORMED

Schenectady had another problem in 1820. At that time Rotterdam was ward 3 and Glenville ward 4. The busy little Dorp had interests at variance with those of the farmers of wards 3 and 4. It was difficult to manage the fast growing community as an entity. “At a meeting of the citizens of Schenectady for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of applying to the Legislature to set off the third and fourth wards into separate towns, held December 31, 1819, John Sanders, Esq. was called to the chair and Nicholas F. Beck was appointed secretary.” This quote is from the “Cabinet” of January 6, 1820.

They were successful in their application for an act was passed by the Legislature, April 14, 1820. “Whereas the inhabitants of the city of Schenectady, by their petition to the legislature of this state, and also the Mayor, Aldermen, and commonality of said city, by their petition, under the corporate seal of the said city, have represented that from the vast extent of territory comprised in the third and fourth wards, of the said city and the diversity of interests between the inhabitants of those wards, who are generally farmers and the citizens residing in the compact of the said city, as well as from various other causes, great and increasing difficulties have been experienced in the transaction of their public concerns and in the management of their common property and have applied for a law to have the said third and fourth wards erected into separate (sic) Towns and to authorize a division of their common lands and property in the manner here in after mentioned: therefore (I) Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York represented in Senate and Assembly that from and after the first Tuesday of January next, all that tract of country—now known by the name of the third ward of the city of Schenectady shall be erected into a Town by name of Rotterdam. (II) And be it further enacted that all that tract of country contained within the limits and bounds of what is now known and called by the name of the Fourth ward of said city, shall be and hereby is separated from said city and erected into a town by the name of Glenville.”

It was necessary to hold many meetings to divide the holdings equitably, first between the corporation of the City of Schenectady and wards three and four and then between wards three and four individually. The representatives for wards 3 and 4 were appointed January 1820. The “Cabinet” quaintly reported, “At a meeting in the third ward a respectable number of very aged farmers of the third and fourth wards, Laurence Schermerhorn was appointed chairman and Aaron Van Antwerp secretary.” Seventeen meetings are recorded within the next year. Of interest is that among the items received by Glenville and Rotterdam equally January 23, 1821 were 42 ½ shares of the Sacondaga (sic) Turnpike Road.”

 

A Look Back: 2020 at the Flint House

In 2020, of course, the Flint House was not open for Office Hours after March, and no events were scheduled. Research continued, and I was able to assist people with email and with some outdoor meetings. Hoping for better times later in 2021.

The spring blossoms put on another beautiful show.
In May we planted two of the Glenville Bicentennial trees on the Flint House grounds. (We didn’t know then that all of the bicentennial events would be cancelled.) I teamed up with Dr. Steve Jones to do archaeology test pits as we dug the holes for the trees.

New community gardens were added this year, and I planted a plot of broomcorn.
There were beautiful fall days, but the transition to winter brought a lot of cloudy and dull weather.

December brought one big snowstorm–almost 30 inches–and its quick melting brought an impressive set of icicles. And the clouds parted enough to deliver a beautiful winter solstice sunset.

Road Trip to Scotia, California

Time for a Road Trip to Scotia, California

About this time last year I was traveling in northern California, and—who could resist?—took a slight detour through the town of Scotia. It’s about 250 miles north of San Francisco in redwood country, on the Eel River, not too far from the coast. Scotia started in the 1880s as a company town for the Pacific Lumber Company. The lumber company is now the Humboldt Redwood Company, which runs a sawmill there, and the town is transitioning into a municipality with private property ownership.

There’s a town park with towering old-growth redwoods, a small downtown with businesses, and streets of bungalow-like single-family homes. There’s an outdoor fisheries exhibit with aquariums to visit.

Take a trip to their website and learn all about this interesting town!
https://townofscotia.com/

With Covid-19 We Are All Historians

Even though we might be feeling a little stuck in place, spring is moving right along; many things to observe in our walks around the neighborhoods. (Flint House spring pictures below.)

There has been a lot in the media lately about recording the personal details of this pandemic for the future. We tend to think we’ll remember everything, but of course we’d be wrong. Especially with all these indoor days running together, it’s never been easier to lose track of time and events.

Here are some suggestions about keeping your memories for your family and for the community.

If you are not a journal keeper normally, try it now. It doesn’t have to be extensive, or even every day. Just jot things down as they occur to you.
Who’s in your house with you? What is your extended family doing?
Working? Furloughed? Uncertain?
Has your family been directly affected with illness? Do you know any of the people who have died?
What are the biggest changes to your daily routines, both positive and negative? Write down one day’s schedule of activities.
New crafts or cooking projects? What were those jigsaws you worked on? Maybe you made masks.
Take some screen shots of notable social media posts or news articles.
Are there family stories about the 1918 pandemic? If not, maybe you wish you knew what they were thinking back then. More inspiration to write down your feelings now.

And sometimes photos are even better!

At some point in all this there will be calls to share your memories. Here are some ways to do it now or in the future.

APHNYS is the Association of Public Historians of New York State. This article has some ideas about documenting what is going on. If you have a Google account there is a form to fill out and submit for future researchers.
http://www.aphnys.org/historians-start-documenting-covid-19/

Podcast
Devin Lander, New York State Historian and Lauren Roberts, the Saratoga County Historian, host the podcast, A New York Minute in History. In the latest episode, “Documenting a Pandemic in Real Time,” they talk with colleagues about how they are saving today’s history for future generations.
https://wamcpodcasts.org/a-new-york-minute-in-history/
http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/state-history

Gazette (Schenectady)
“Local historians seek COVID-19 stories”
https://dailygazette.com/article/2020/04/14/duty-now-for-the-future-local-historians-seek-covid-19-stories-info

The New York Times
“What Historians Will See When They Look Back on the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/us/coronavirus-pandemic-historians-archive.html?referringSource=articleShare
“The Lost Diaries of War”
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/15/arts/dutch-war-diaries.html?referringSource=articleShare
(I was able to read both of these by signing up with a free account—you’ll get a sign-up screen when you open the link—but I can’t guarantee it will always work, or that it will work for you.)

Schenectady County Historical Society
This post has an essay about why we need to collect your stories, as well as a form you can use if you have a Google account.
https://schenectadyhistorical.org/event/help-schs-build-an-archive-of-covid-19-stories/

The Town of Glenville is requesting your contribution to the Bicentennial time capsule to be opened in 50 years.
https://www.townofglenville.org/home/news/town-launches-glenville-2070-project

I would also be happy to collect information directly related to Scotia. You can email me or send any hard copies to the Village Office, 4 N. Ten Broeck St., Scotia.

New York’s Municipal Historians Start Second Hundred Years

New York’s Municipal Historians Start Second Hundred Years

The first Scotia Historian was Charles P. Sanders, appointed on September 6, 1919. Sanders died in 1923, and, though on hold until libraries reopen, I’m still researching who came between him and Neil Reynolds who was appointed in 1949. So more on all the Scotia Historians at a future date.

Provision for each municipality in New York to have a municipal historian was included in a bill signed by Governor Al Smith on April 11, 1919. Concerned that government records were being lost, and that local stories of the Great War (World War I) and myriad other local stories were not being recorded, Assemblyman Louis Martin worked with State Historian James Sullivan to draft the bill. (The office of State Historian was established in 1895.) New York was the first state to establish a law like this, and today only a handful of states have anything similar.

Local historians (there are 1641 separate municipalities in NY that have, or should have, historians appointed) work with their communities and other local museums and libraries on a variety of activities. They may do research and writing, present educational programs and events, work with students and adults to answer questions, and provide resources to those interested in local stories. Every community is different, and historians do different things in different places.

Our Schenectady County historians are:

County Historian​​: Bill Buell
Assistant County Historian​: John Woodward
Alplaus: ​​​​Jessica Polmateer
Delanson​​​: Mary McLaughlin
Duanesburg: ​​​Howard Ohlhous
Glenville: ​​​Joan Szablewski
Niskayuna​​​: Denis Brennan
Princetown​​​: Robert Jones
Rotterdam​​​: Jim Schaefer
City of Schenectady: ​​Chris Leonard
Village of Scotia: ​​​Beverly Clark

 

One Hundred Years Ago at the Village Board, September-December, 1919

One Hundred Years Ago at the Village Board, September-December, 1919

Sept. 6, 1919
Hearing to be held Oct. 6 about paving, curbing, and grading Vley Rd.
In accordance with Chapter 181 of the Laws of 1919, Mr. C.P. Sanders is appointed local Historian for the Village of Scotia, and notice will be sent to Jas. Sullivan, State Historian, upon acceptance of the office by Mr. Sanders.
Mr. Crouse, representing the Aeroplane Service & Aviation Field, is permitted to place not more than 3 signs, to be approved by the President of this Board.
Resolution adopted relative to plans for the Schenectady-Scotia bridge approach in Scotia.
Ordinance prohibiting the planting and directing the removal of all poplar trees within 50 feet of any water or sewer main in the Village of Scotia, because of damage caused by roots growing into pipe connections. 1. Planting on public streets within 50 feet prohibited; 2. All now planted on public streets to be cut and roots destroyed within one year; 3. Street Commission to serve notice to any owner with poplar on private land within 50 feet of any previously clogged pipes to remove the trees; 4. Penalties described.
Bond issue on approach to bridge deferred until next meeting.
Payroll and bills approved.

Sept. 22, 1919
Board to advertise for bids for construction of the sidewalk on Fourth St. which is not yet completed.
Reschedule meeting about Vley Rd. paving project to Oct. 20.
Plans for Sacandaga Road improvement to village engineer to examine and report. To include estimate of cost to Village above amount from State Highway.
Resolutions about Sacandaga Rd.: All water and sewer connections between Mohawk Ave. and Toll St. must be made by Oct. 30 before the concrete paving project begins.
Information about financing the paving project—special election to be held Oct. 10 about borrowing $24,000.
Extend water main on 5th St. easterly to lot #53.
Street committee can spend up to $200 on curbs and crosswalks.
Resolution: Village of Scotia to issue bonds to raise $50,000 for its share in constructing the approach to the new bridge. Public sale to be held Oct. 20, interest to be raised by taxes.
Sanitary sewer line in Ten Broeck, 50 ft completed by Joseph H. Wright in accordance with Village plans.
Water committee granted $350 for supplies.
Payroll and bills approved.

Oct. 6, 1919
Bids were opened and the contract goes to D. R. Wollcott for sidewalk on 4th St. between Huston and Sacandaga; at 20 cents/sq. ft. plus 70 cents/cu. yd for grading.
Petition of property owners on Douglas St. [now 5th St. between Vley and Wallace] for sanitary sewers in 1920; referred to Sewer Committee.
Payroll and bills approved.

Oct. 10, Special Meeting
Request to New York State to modify the Sacandaga Road improvement plans.
Also a request to modify the Schenectady-Scotia bridge approach plans; changes to the width of streets and angle of approach, not to exceed $50,000 above the Scotia share from the Town of Glenville sale of the present toll bridge.

Oct. 20, 1919
Petition of Charles Gilgore for 70 feet of sanitary sewer on Irving Rd, following the usual rules.
Building Committee to repair shed roof between Village Hall and the Hook & Ladder building, not to exceed $40.
Payroll and bills approved.
Bridge construction bonds for $50,000 to George B. Gibbons & Co.
Hearing on Vley Rd. paving opened; several in favor, none opposed. Discussion; hearing closed.
Deferred until report from Village engineer.
Charles W. Shaw is appointed Trustee until Mar. 22, 1920, to fill the vacancy by resignation of William F. Sneed.

Nov. 3, 1919
A delegation from Groveland asked for road work and street lights. Referred to the Street and Light Committee.
Mr. Callahan of St. Joseph’s Church asked for the crosswalk in front of the high school to be moved opposite Center St.
Mr. Peck directed Mr. Belcher and Mr. Cassady that dirt must be removed from in front of their property on Fourth St.
The Neptune Engine Co. and John Miller Hook & Ladder Co. to be paid $100 each.
School taxes on the Village property in School District 10 to be paid.
Payroll and bills approved.

Nov. 6, 1919
Special meeting relating to bridge construction bonds.

Nov. 17, 1919
Mr. Spitzer requests the board consider securing a tractor to handle the village equipment.
Mr. W. R. Williams, Supervisor Town of Glenville, and the Water Commissioners of the Town discussed the Village furnishing water to that district.
Discussion of matters related to street fund finances.
School tax on sewer disposal property to be paid.
Clerk to purchase one barrel of Renowned Engine Oil from Standard Oil Co. for 38 cents/gallon; also to purchase water meters and other related parts.
Schenectady Illuminating Co. to put 2 new street lamps on Sunnyside Rd. and 1 on Center St.
Water Committee to purchase new stove not to exceed $25.
George Buhrmaster to be employed as a utility man in the Water & Sewer Dept. at $85/month; if satisfactory raise to $100/month.
Payroll and bills approved.

Dec. 1, 1919
Discussion of bridge fund business.
Will meet Jan. 5 about constructing sidewalks on Fourth St.
Building Committee to make alterations to Hook & Ladder building not to exceed $50.
Discussion of water bond business.
Building Committee to put concrete apron around the Engineer’s residence, not to exceed $15.
Village Engineer to establish grade and easterly property line on Toll St.
Payroll and bills approved.

Dec. 15, 1919
Bids received for Water & Sewer bonds; sold to George B. Gibbons.
Extra $2 allowed for work on Hook & Ladder building.
B. H. Frisse appointed Police Officer.
Water contract with Glenville Water District #1 approved.
Local coal committee announced to work with the Fuel Administration.
Payroll and bills approved.

Glenville Bicentennial 2020!

I had originally planned a post about the bicentennial a couple of weeks ago announcing the beginning of festivities in April—obviously some changes have been made. However, the first virtual Glenville Bicentennial event is tomorrow, see below.

I will be posting most events here, but other places to go for information are:

For Facebook users, go to Glenville2020

On the Town of Glenville website, hit the News tab on the home page, scroll down to get all the postings.

The schedule for the year is posted there, but expect some changes as the next few weeks go by.

Hope everyone can stay well!

Spring at the Flint House

Spring is coming to the Flint House, and we won’t have to worry about that dead maple blowing down. But it’s not the spring we all had envisioned—office hours are cancelled for April. Hoping to resume in May; check times and any changes on the Flint House doors or on the Village website. And you can email me anytime.

While we are all focused on our families and our health these days, folks who grew up before antibiotics are not strangers to the word quarantine or the fear of disease. Both my dad and my aunt (living in different states) were quarantined as kids with scarlet fever, a very serious variation of strep. One had to stay home with grandmother, no one else allowed in the house; one was taken away to a special building just for quarantined kids on the hospital grounds and the family could only stand on the sidewalk and wave. I know it was very memorable, as we heard those stories many times. Check with your family members to see if that happened to anyone you know.

Schenectady Massacre and the Scotia Post Office Mural

Frances Anderson Sloan was the Village of Scotia Historian from November 1959 until her death in May 1965. She wrote a column, ?History Walks with Scotians? twice a month for the Scotia-Glenville Journal, and we have been gathering all these articles in one place as reference materials. She was diligent in her research and while new facts may have come to light since then, and there are now new ways of expressing some historical concepts, her essays are still interesting and useful after these 60 years.

This year, Glenville?s bicentennial, I will be ?reprinting? some of these articles that seem of particular interest in 2020. My comments in brackets [ ].

Notes follow the article.

History Walks With Scotians

by Frances Anderson Sloan

Post Office Mural (1690-1960)

Originally published in the Scotia-Glenville Journal, Feb. 11, 1960

We have just passed the two-hundred seventieth anniversary [now 330th] of the Massacre of Schenectady by the French and Indians on the night of February 8-9, 1690. The Scotia Post Office has a constant reminder of this event painted on the right hand wall as you enter. This painting was done by Amy BlaisJones in 1942, commissioned by the Fine Arts Section of the Federal Works Agency, Public Buildings Administration of Washington. It depicts the sparing of the life of Captain Johannes Glen and his family the morning of February 9, 1690. The moment is tense. With shotgun in hand, he awaits the approach of the French leader and his Indian followers, not knowing whether they were coming to kill or to spare his family. One of the slaves kneels at Johannes Glen?s feet while other forlorn folk huddle in the background. Smoke comes from the ruins still smoldering across the river.

Of course the story of the sparing of these lives is familiar to most of us. Captain Glen had shown kind hospitality to wayfarers in need, among them French priests, for many years. For this, Governor Frontenac, dispatcher of the invading expedition, had ordered his men to spare the family and property of Captain Glen. Another dramatic aspect of this event was also the unavailing effort of Captain Glen to arouse the Schenectadians to the possibility of such an attack. Because of a political quarrel with Albany and the association of the idea of military preparation with Albany, and also perhaps because of a bit of Dutch stubbornness, many Old Dorpians[*] felt hostile to Johannes Glen?s suggestions and made it plain that his place was across the river. It is believed that from scouts he actually had information of the approach of the enemy. An Indian woman was sent to warn the Dutch ?Hausfrauen? but they would not listen to her.

The segnel [sic] [sequel?] to the event pictured in the Post Office is also dramatic. The French and Indians allowed Johannes Glen to cross the river to pick out the members of his family from the survivors. He thus rescued about sixty people before the French and Indians began to realize they were not all relatives. Captain Glen succeeded in persuading the enemy not to take the women on the long trip to Canada where the other survivors were led; some to be tortured, some to escape. In about 1840 the artist Tompkins H. Matteson painted the scene of Johannes Glen claiming the survivors in front of the smoking Reformed Church. This was done for Gerardus Beekman of New York, a relative of the Sanders family. A small reproduction of it is the frontispiece of a local history by W.N.P. Dailey. [**]

A current edition of a Ticonderoga newspaper reports that Captain Johannes Glen gave the English name to Ticonderoga in 1690. It is interesting to speculate whether he did so after the massacre, perhaps as he may have journeyed north to see about the captives taken to Montreal by the French and Indians.

*Dorp is a Dutch term variously translated as town, village, hamlet; the term ?Old Dorp? was often used to refer to Schenectady, and you might see it often if you read older newspapers or books.

** See page 11 of Susan Rosenthal’s Schenectady book published by Arcadia Images of America. https://books.google.com/books?id=uYBOzJWyzLIC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=tompkins+h.+matteson+schenectady&source=bl&ots=xBUuRpGrMs&sig=ACfU3U2IeRhps1bHANhY3ln5oSPmqbVwaw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiWko_R_dHnAhXmUN8KHYvNDn0Q6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=tompkins%20h.%20matteson%20schenectady&f=false

Notes:

The story of the Schenectady Massacre has been told in many sources over the years, almost since the day it happened.

There are many books on Schenectady history in the public library, and here are some references you can find online:

The Schenectady County Historical Society lists several sources:
?https://schenectadyhistorical.org/search_gcse/?q=schenectady%20massacre

Books on the Schenectady Digital History Archives:
?https://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/index.html

A search of Google Books will also pull up several histories of the Schenectady area.