“Back number” in contemporary parlance means “back issue.” Today we take for granted the availability of old newspapers and other periodicals, as well as their invaluable glimpse into our past. But this was not the case in the 19th century. [Read more…] about Back Number Budd: A 19th Century One-Man Newspaper Archive
New York City In the Roaring 20s: A Primer
As the ravages of the First World War and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic receded into the past, a new spirit gripped New York City. Energy seemed to infuse every aspect of city life, from business to leisure and everything in between. For a decade, New Yorkers by and large lived, worked and partied with abandon. [Read more…] about New York City In the Roaring 20s: A Primer
Logging, Forestry, Wildfires & Forest Rangers: William Fox’s Legacy
Driving by the Saratoga Tree Nursery, just south of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), most barely notice the state tree nursery’s rustic entrance sign – and you need to squint to see that its full name is “Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery.” The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which owns the nursery, considers William Fox the “father” of today’s DEC forest ranger program, as well at the guy who believed the state should raise young trees for later replanting.
Yet the story of the 19th century Ballston Spa native, who also served with valor in the Civil War, is little-known to the general public. [Read more…] about Logging, Forestry, Wildfires & Forest Rangers: William Fox’s Legacy
A Stroll in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1854
The following text is an except from Fifteen Minutes around New York by George G. Foster (New York: DeWitt & Davenport 1854) and was transcribed by George A. Thompson of the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
It was very warm — a sort of sultry, sticky day, which makes you feel as if you had washed yourself in molasses and water, and had found that the chambermaid had forgotten to give you a towel. The very rust on the hinges of the Park gate has melted and run down into the sockets, making them creak with a sort of ferruginous lubricity, as you feebly push them open. The hands on the [New York] City Hall clock droop, and look as if they would knock off work if they only had sufficient energy to get up a strike. The omnibus horses creep languidly along, and yet can’t stand still when they are pulled up to take in or let out passengers — the flies are so persevering, so bitter, so hungry. [Read more…] about A Stroll in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1854
Bumble Bee Queens Are Hard At Work
Hear ye, hear ye! The queens have emerged! We’re talking about bumble bees (genus Bombus). For several weeks each spring, any bumble bee you see is a queen – and very hard at work. She must construct her kingdom. [Read more…] about Bumble Bee Queens Are Hard At Work
Dutch-American History: The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847
I love to make evening walks in the town of Winterswijk, where I was born. The Dutch habit of keeping curtains open makes strolls resemble visits to a museum, with the windows framing paintings that offer ever-changing views. I like to discover routes to find new, unfamiliar places.
One evening, in December 2020, I passede the old graveyard of Winterswijk, a place that usually gives me the creeps. For some reason — I still don’t know why, — I decide to walk across the graveyard this time. I immediately spotted a brightly lit memorial: two bollards holding up a colorful plaque. The sign reads: “The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847.” [Read more…] about Dutch-American History: The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847
While planting the vegetable garden last May, I heard a repeated bird song emanating from the adjacent raspberry patch: “Pleased, pleased, pleased to MEETCHA.” Finally, the small songster perched near the tip of a raspberry cane, its tail cocked. The bird’s yellow crown, black mask, olive back with black streaks, and white breast with rusty side patches were clearly visible – the striking markings of a male chestnut-sided warbler. (Breeding females are similarly-colored but lack the black eye mask.) [Read more…] about Chestnut-Sided Warblers
The Saratoga County Family That Lost 2 Of 6 Sons During WWII
On July 1, 1944, as the Second World War raged in Europe and the Pacific, a Western Union telegram arrived at the Saratoga Springs home of Aurora Asheych notifying her of the death in combat of her 21-year-old son, U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Joseph Leonard Gagnon. Two months later, she received word that another son, Army Pvt. Victor Francis Gaynor, 19, was reported killed in action in France. Earlier that year, all six of Aurora’s sons were in the military. [Read more…] about The Saratoga County Family That Lost 2 Of 6 Sons During WWII
New York’s Anti-Rent Wars & The End of the Patroonships
In this episode of A New York Minute In History, Devin Lander and Lauren Roberts delve into the history of the Dutch Patroon system in New York State, and tell the story of the anti-rent movement of the 19th Century, during which tenant farmers banded together to (sometimes, violently) opposed the system under which they were not allowed to own their land outright. [Read more…] about New York’s Anti-Rent Wars & The End of the Patroonships
The Carpenters (Ants & Bees) Have Arrived
Why do ants suddenly appear every time Spring is near? Just like bees, they long to be close to you – especially if your home is made of wood. Carpenter ants (genus Camponotus) and the eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) both nest in wood and are frequent visitors to my log home. [Read more…] about The Carpenters (Ants & Bees) Have Arrived