The new book Old Stone Fort – Guardian of Schoharie County History Since 1772 by Jeff O’Connor features over 79 maps, illustrations, and photographs that help narrate the history of one of upstate New York’s oldest and most beloved museums.
The stone building that the High Dutch, or German, Reformed Church of Foxes Town built in 1772 as a meeting house was never meant to be a fort, state arsenal, or a museum. It was intended solely to be a church that served its congregation and community. If it wasn’t for the American Revolution, that was all it might have ever been. A scar still seen today, left by a British cannon ball, secured its place in legend.
From the story of its immigrant Palatine congregation to the present, the book looks back at three events during the American Revolution: its fortification during the American Revolution, an attack by British-allied forces in October, 1780, and the capture of Major John Andre. The Old Stone Fort would become a church once again, a school, a state arsenal, the burial place of one of Andre’s captors David Williams, and, in 1889, a museum.
The book does more than just chronicle an in-depth history of the building. It highlights the architectural and ornamental elements, and provides fresh perspectives on the earliest High Dutch Reformed Churches of Foxes Dorf, the David Williams Monument, the Lower Fort, and Sir John Johnson’s Raid of 1780.
Included are the most complete histories to date of the Schoharie County Historical Society and Company B of the 108th Regiment, NYS National Guard. In addition, the appendix offers a full list of names chiseled on the façade, what a rare illustration may reveal, a salute to the monuments, a treatment of whether the fort is haunted, and a photo essay featuring the Zimmer Collection of photographs that show over 150 years of change to the fort and grounds.
Author Jeff O’Connor lives in Cobleskill, New York and has had a long association with the Old Stone Fort Museum. A former docent, he served on the Schoharie County Historical Society Board of Trustees for several terms including a time as president. He and his wife Pam operate guided tours of Schoharie County, as well as provide flag reproductions, lectures, living history programs, and more as Turning Point 1777.
The Old Stone Fort Museum will host an outdoor book signing event featuring O’Connor on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of the Old Stone Fort Museum.
This event is limited to forty people with pre-registration required by calling the SCHS at (518) 295-7192. For the safety of all concerned, state law mandates the use of face coverings and socially distancing by all in attendance. Those not registering risk not being accommodated as NYS guidelines will be strictly enforced.
In addition to signing copies of the book books, O’Connor will also present a special tour of the fort grounds. Books will be available for sale for $30 and, while admission to the tour is free, participants will be asked to register on a first come first serve basis.
The approximately one-hour tour of the museum complex will begin at 1 p.m. and will illustrate the history of the building and adjacent grounds, as well as many of the people and events associated with it. The book signing will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Old Stone Fort Museum Complex is located in the village of Schoharie at 145 Fort Road, off NY State Rt. 30, 2.5 miles south of Interstate 88 Exit 23.
More information and preregistration is available by calling (518) 295-7192.
The book is available on the Fort Plain Museum website.
Books noticed on the New York Almanack have been provided by their publishers.