The first week of September 1859 at the Kennedy farm, where John Brown (wearing a short beard as a disguise and using the name Isaac Smith) and his growing band were gathering, was a time of indecision and internal conflict. From Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Brown’s previous hideout, arms and supplies were being brought by wagon. Those at the Kennedy farm had known that they were to attack Virginia, but when Brown told them the target would be a federal armory, several balked. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Black Soldiers
During the turmoil of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), many Protestant Germans from the Middle Rhine region of the Holy Roman Empire fled to England, with the largest group of refugees – some 13,000 – arriving there in 1709.
The arrival of these “Poor Palatines” caused a rise in opposition to immigration in England. Most were quickly sent to Ireland, but nearly 3,000 were sent on 10 ships to the colonial Province of New York (a group about a third the size of the population of the city of New York at that time). [Read more…] about The Palatines Along Hoosick Road in Rensselaer County
Castor canadensis is North America’s largest rodent and the second largest in the world — which was driven to near extinction in the Adirondacks around the turn of the last century, but whose reintroduction was astoundingly successful.
Although they had once been a major Adirondack economic force by anyone’s estimation — it was reported in 1671 that Dutch traders delivered 80,000 pelts a year to Europe — there was a dearth of information on the beaver once they had ceased to be profitable. [Read more…] about A Short History of Adirondack Beaver
This is the story of the October 16, 1859 anti-slavery raid, during which John Brown led 19 men in an attack on the Harpers Ferry Armory.
He was afterward charged with murder, conspiring with enslaved people to rebel, and treason against Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state) and after a week-long trial was sentenced to death in early November.
Brown was hanged on December 2nd (John Wilkes Booth snuck in to watch) and his body was afterward carried to North Elba in Essex County, NY to “moulder in his grave.” [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: August 1859
The Poesten Kill is a mid-sized stream that flows off the Rensselaer Plateau in western Rensselaer County toward the Hudson River. It tumbles through Barbersville Falls and winds its way through the towns of Poestenkill and Brunswick, before reaching the Great Falls above Troy. Below there it’s channeled into a long-abandoned canal (hence Canal Street in Troy) that flows into the Hudson.
In the earliest recorded times, fresh drinking water was acquired from the Poesten Kill and from a spring on Hollow Road in Troy (now Spring Avenue, later the farm of Stephen J. Schuyler). [Read more…] about The Poesten Kill: Healing & Healthful Waters
The city of New York plans to tear down most of the historic buildings on Hart Island, where more than one million people are buried in unmarked graves. The city declared an emergency, which bypasses cultural resource and environmental reviews.
New York State designated the entire island off the coast of the Bronx eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2016. About 20 institutional and residential structures remain at the mile-long site, including a women’s insane asylum built in 1885 known as “The Pavilion,” a 1912 electrical generating dynamo building, and a 1930s Catholic chapel – 18 are planned to be demolished. [Read more…] about NYC Plans to Demolish Historic Hart Island Buildings
Two whales that ascended the river and were stranded during exceptionally high water in the Hudson in 1647 died there. In 1654 flooding all but destroyed the West India Company’s garden below Fort Orange and in 1666 Jeremias van Rensselaer reported that “fully forty houses and barns have been carried away, among which our house in which we lived, the barn and the brewery, the new as well as the old are lost also, so that hardly any traces can be found of where they have stood.” [Read more…] about Rensselaer County Floods: A Short History
Between the more formidable island of Papscanee (previously spelled Papsickene, now a peninsula nature preserve) and where the Hoosac River meets the Hudson, more than a dozen streams flow into the Hudson River. Only at the Poesten Kill, which flows through Troy, was there enough farmland, room to grow, and sufficient water-power for the earliest industries. [Read more…] about Early Dutch Farms at Troy
Among the many hundreds of steamboats plying the Hudson River when that waterway served as a primary method of moving people and freight, a few stand out as unusual. The most remarkable of these is perhaps the railroad transports, used to ferry railroad cars.
Also known as train ferries, or car ferries (not to be confused with auto ferries), they were fitted with railway tracks and doors at each end to allow for loading and unloading. [Read more…] about Train Ferries: The Hudson River’s Most Unusual Steamers
The institution of a permit system at the Ausable Club’s Adirondack Mountain Reserve surprised and confused some hikers and would-be hikers. Many didn’t realize that third most popular High Peaks Wilderness Area access point, through the Club’s lands in the Upper Ausable Valley, was privately owned.
A similar situation holds at the Johns Brook Valley, another popular access point just northwest. That area is owned by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), it faces similar parking challenges and is just as susceptible to a future permit system. [Read more…] about Adirondack Park Permits: Could Johns Brook Valley Be Next? Some History