November 7 Society Meeting will be on Genealogy Research
Robert Hedwell of Cambridge will speak on methods he has used and resources he has found in his genealogy work. Mr. Hedwell has pursued genealogical investigations for over 6 years, which has taken him to cemeteries and historical societies, the State Museum and the Federal archives facility in Pittsfield. He will tell tales of his adventures in genealogy, and offer tips for novice genealogists. More experienced genealogists who are willing to share what they have learned in their research are cordially invited to contribute to the discussion.
The program will begin at 7 pm at the Louis Miller Museum, 166 Main Street in Hoosick Falls, and refreshments will be served afterwards.
Symposium on the Battle of Bennington October 8
The Society held a Symposium on the Battle of Bennington at the Hoosick Falls Country Club on October 8. It was attended by about 60 people, who came from as far away as Long Island.
Joe Parks of Bennington spoke about the (largely unsuccessful) efforts of several people from Hoosick Falls to document the participation of people from the immediate area on the patriot side in the battle. He spoke of Chandler Ball’s writings on the subject in the Annals of Hoosick, and of the activities of one Sylvanus Locke, a manager in Walter Wood’s factory, who alleged that a conspiracy of Vermonters was trying to steal the battle from Hoosick Falls, but who was nevertheless unable to dig up solid documentation on Hoosick Falls patriots in the battle.
Lion Miles, the second speaker, has been more successful in documenting the participation of New Yorkers in the battle, and has developed, through careful research, reasonably accurate numbers on how many men from each area and each regiment took part in the battle. He counts perhaps as many as 60 New Yorkers on the patriot side. These are greatly outnumbered by people from the local area who took part on the British side. There were over 500 loyalists altogether, and 179 of them, by Miles’ count, were in the regiment raised and led by Franz Joseph Pfister, a local landowner who gathered many of his troops from the immediate area.
The question of why loyalists were so much more numerous than patriots in this area remains an interesting area for speculation and research. Tom Barker, the third speaker, delved into some of the finer points of loyalist culture in the local area, focusing specifically on the activities of Samuel Schwerdtfeger, the pastor of the Gilead Lutheran Church in Brunswick, where Pfister was a parishioner.
All three of the speakers expressed the opinion that the Revolutionary War, at least in this region, was far more a civil war than a war of rebellion. Incidents and examples were numerous of relatives finding themselves shooting at each other in the Battle of Bennington, and of reprisals and penalties exacted long after the battle on those who fought on the losing side.
The next joint newsletter to be put out by the Town of Hoosick and the Historical Society will summarize the proceedings of the Symposium.
The program was part of State Humanities Month (October 2000), an annual celebration sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities. The Council helps New Yorkers of every age and background to learn more about their history, heritage, and culture, and offers grants and support to local institutions around the state to encourage their participation in State Humanities Month. The New York Council for the Humanities is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the presence of the humanities in the state’s cultural life.
Feasibility Study on Museum Improvements Is Underway
Bob Becker, a Hoosick Falls resident with an interest in history and an extensive background in architecture and construction, is drawing plans of the museum to evaluate the costs and benefits of various plans for improving the museum building. Becker, a volunteer, has met several times with a committee consisting of Historical Society President Ellen Scott, Museum Director Alex Brooks, Rick Ferrannini, and Margaret Frazier, to explore the possibilities. Some of the primary goals of the project are to make the museum more handicapped-accessible, to create an attractive gift shop near the entrance to the museum, and to create more display space and more work/storage space. Becker has already presented two alternative first floor plans for discussion by the committee, and more drawings are in the works.
Front Steps of the Museum Being Rebuilt
Some who have visited the museum lately have been surprised to find the front steps completely gone. They are being rebuilt by Eric Dupuis of Cambridge. The old steps were crumbling and had become a danger, with pieces of the steps rocking a bit when stepped on. We hope the new steps will be done by the time of our next Society meeting on November 7. In the meantime, everyone goes in and out by the side door, through the porch on the right side of the building.
Christmas Celebration Being Planned for Sunday, December 3
The Historical Society is working together with the Hoosick Area Chamber of Commerce to organize a downtown Christmas celebration. The plan is for festivities to begin at the museum, with a musical program and refreshments. There will then be outdoor music and caroling, and horse and buggy rides for the kids, culminating in the tree-lighting ceremony at Wood Park. The museum gift shop will also be open (with a freshly restocked collection of Grandma Moses prints) for Christmas shopping.