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!

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.

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.

Gazette (Schenectady)
“Local historians seek COVID-19 stories”

The New York Times
“What Historians Will See When They Look Back on the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020”
“The Lost Diaries of War”
(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.

The Town of Glenville is requesting your contribution to the Bicentennial time capsule to be opened in 50 years.

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


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:

Books on the Schenectady Digital History Archives:

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



Thinking about the dark?

Thinking about how early it?s getting dark now? Before kerosene became an affordable fuel that gave a bright light?thanks to oil refining in Pennsylvania?which wasn?t until the 1860s, people experimented with many types of fuels and lamps to brighten up the evenings.?

Tallow candles, which could be made at home, were smelly and smoky. Beeswax was harder to get, but brighter. The paraffin wax candles, like we have today, came from refined crude oil, just like kerosene. But everyone used candles.

The pictures come from a wonderful demonstration of antique lighting at Hyde Hall on Otsego Lake. Since this house was built in the 1830s, about the same time as the Flint House, these were the types of lamps that the Reese family might have used. As well-off farmers, they could no doubt afford many of the more exotic and expensive items.

Most utilitarian were the lamps using lard as fuel; the more elegant?and brighter?used vegetable oils and whale oils. Argand lamps used a new type of burner, as well as the glass chimney, to provide a steadier and brighter flame.

In the 1830s burning fluid, called camphine (sometimes spelled camphene), a combination of turpentine and alcohol, was invented. It gave a bright light, but was also prone to exploding and injured people. Still, it was very popular, and a new type of lamp was invented for this fuel. These had two wicks set at an angle (like two little horns) to minimize some of the risks, and they had little metal caps to extinguish them so you didn?t have to blow them out.

The main part of camphine was alcohol that was supplied by distilleries, which kept them in business no matter how much liquor people were drinking.

In the first photo you can see the flame in the Argand lamp. A whale oil lamp, with a single wick, is just to the right of the candle.

The second photo shows the angled wicks of the camphine lamp burning on the left.

For more info try https://aoghs.org/products/camphene-to-kerosene-lamps/, or Wikipedia is always good for this kind of general information.


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