H.W. Kathan gave a “unique” wedding gift to Anna, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ottis Ellithorp of Conklingville, in Saratoga County: a Sandy Suffolk pig. [Read more…] about Pig Tales From Historic New York Newspapers
Schenectady County is in a state of revival. New events, businesses, initiatives and people have been coming to the city and surrounding communities to make their mark on one of the oldest settlements in New York State.
As a native to the area, I see two sides to this; it is great to see a new swing of development, making Schenectady attractive to those who don’t already call it home. However, as developers seem to be changing the cityscape ever faster, it is interesting to note where nature has taken its course. [Read more…] about Forgotten Farms of Schenectady County
2020 was an unusual year for the Saratoga County Fair. Due to the corona virus pandemic, the Saratoga County Agricultural Society, operators of the Fair, felt they had to enact changes. When large public facilities began to close and large public events were canceled, the Society’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to cancel the fair. They did however, open the grounds to the public and some food vendors with no entrance fee.
Another important issue that occurred in 2020 was discussions about the fate of the Fair’s historic grandstand, which was in very poor condition. [Read more…] about Saratoga County Fair: A Tumultuous Two Years
Owners of historic barns (built before 1946) may be eligible for New York State’s new Historic Barn Tax Credit program for qualifying expenses to rehabilitate or maintain their barns.
The 25% credit, available to barn owners who pay New York State income tax, can be applied to qualifying barn rehabilitation and/or maintenance expenses incurred in the previous five years. [Read more…] about NYS Historic Barn Tax Credit Program Informational Session
California’s 8th Governor and long-time Senator Leland Stanford, namesake of Stanford University and one-time president of the Central Pacific Railroad, has a unique connection to New York State’s Capital District.
Leland was born in Watervliet in 1824, the son of Josiah Stanford and Elizabeth Phillips. Among his seven siblings were New York Senator Charles Stanford (1819-1885) and Australian spiritualist Thomas Welton Stanford (1832-1918). The elder Stanford was a wealthy farmer in the eastern Mohawk Valley before moving to the Lisha Kill in Albany County where Leland was born. [Read more…] about Leland Stanford, The Bull’s Head & Albany’s 19th Century Cattle Market
Few New York State farms had electric power in the 1920s. Even as late as 1930 ninety percent of farm families nationwide had no line-run electricity. On long winter evenings city dwellers could read and sew long past sunset, but farm families sat in near darkness and did chores, such as milking the cows, in the dim light of kerosene lanterns.
Some farmers used Delco-Light Plants made up of ranks of glass-jarred lead-storage batteries located in dirt-floored basements for electric power. As Delco’s slogan was, “Delco systems sell best by night,” Delco salesman cleverly arrived at dusk with small Delco systems to demonstrate to farmers how these DC-units, when sufficiently massed, could bring to the farm what folks in the cities enjoyed. But Delco systems were expensive, and the batteries had to be recharged with a generator powered by a gasoline engine. [Read more…] about The Night the Lights Came On: Electricity on New York State Farms
Historical research using old newspapers fascinates but also frustrates me. Had you read the March 5th, 1936 edition of The Cazenovia Republican you would have learned that the historic Gerrit Smith mansion in Peterboro, New York, burned to the ground two days earlier. [Read more…] about The Destruction of Gerrit Smith’s Mansion
The butter trade was once so important to dairy farmers in Orange County, NY that the bank in Goshen, the county seat, printed its currency on yellow paper. Popularly known as “butter money,” this currency symbolized how significant the trade in butter was to dairy farmers in dairy regions across the state prior to the introduction of refrigerated railroad cars to ship raw milk, first using blocks of ice and then mechanical cooling.
The original shipment of milk from Orange County to New York City is believed to have taken place in the spring of 1842 via the New York & Erie Railroad. Prior to this raw milk could be transported only short distances by farm wagon.
Butter, however, could be transported to markets many miles from the farm or factory where it was produced. As symbolized by “butter money,” blocks of butter were once as good as gold. [Read more…] about Crimes Against Butter: The Oleomargarine Controversy
I joined the faculty of Syracuse University in 1975. I was surprised to learn that my institution once had a farm and hopes for a college of agriculture.
To my chagrin, I learned that my school lost out to Cornell back in 1904 when Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) bested Syracuse University’s Chancellor James R. Day in getting legislation passed in Albany to provide Cornell with state funding for an agricultural school. [Read more…] about Cornell Agricultural Dean Liberty Hyde Bailey: A Man for All Seasons
The Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum at what is now known as the Great New York State Fair opened officially on April 30th, 1928. Daniel Parrish Witter, a long-time New York State Assemblyman representing Tioga County was born in 1852 at Richford. Witter assumed the greater responsibility for working the family farm after his father became disabled, one of his older brothers was killed in the Civil War, and two others were seriously wounded in the same conflict. [Read more…] about The Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum: A History