Guilderland Historical Society



November 2016

"An Evening with Blacksmith Jim Moran: Questions and Answers" was our November program. Jim Moran has been an active blacksmith since 1972 and since that time,  many blacksmiths have formed groups to share the craft and learn from one another. Jim will discuss the process of forming iron /steel into useful tools or art using the same craft that has been used for thousands of years.

October 2016

       "American Stoneware: Both Utilitarian and Beautiful"will be Robert Halley's presentation for the Guilderland Historical Society's program at their Thursday, October 20 meeting. He will be discussing the assorted fired clay containers such as the crocks, jugs and churns in common use for food storage and preservation in the years before refrigeration. Often decorated by individual potters with blue designs, today surviving stoneware pieces are often prized antiques, the best now considered folk art.

September 2016
   Aaron Mair spoke about "The Battle of the Normanskill Through African-American Eyes," the story of the aid received from the 1st Rhode Island Regiment supporting local Patriots who faced a crowd of Tories at the Van Patten farm here in Guilderland. Among the members of that Rhode Island regiment were many African-Americans.  Mr. Mair's program will add to our understanding of this historic Revolutionary War event and give insight into what African-Americans were fighting for in the Revolution.

May  2016    

     Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne discussed his new book The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State's History at the Guilderland Historical Society's Thursday, May 19 meeting. Examining sixteen key events in New York State? history ranging from the 1777 writing of the state's first constitution to the more contemporary topics of building the New York State Thruway and the courage of New York City's firemen during and after 9/11, he has written a thoroughly researched book to be read by anyone with an interest in history. Two of the most interesting chapters from his book will be the focus of his presentation at the meeting.

 April  2016
       "The People of Watervliet: Unexpected Stories of Life in the Albany Shaker Community." - presented by Samantha Hall-Saladino.
"The accent on union and order in Shakerism did not produce mindless conformity" Shaker historian Stephen Stein wrote in his book, The Shaker Experience in America. Because the Shakers stressed aspects of community and unity, it is sometimes easy to forget the individuals that made up these villages. The personalities, idiosyncrasies, and life experiences of converts made up the dynamics within each Shaker family and sometimes led to surprising interactions, close friendships, or even divisions within the community. Discover the fascinating stories of some of the individual Shakers who lived at the Albany community at this program presented by the Shaker Heritage Society.

March  2016

  "An Evening With Everett Rau" will be the Guilderland Historical Society's program at their Thursday, March 17 meeting. Everett will be having an informal conversation with the audience sharing his memories of living 96 years on his family's ancestral farm. Not only will he touch on the old days and ways on the farm, but also on other incidents in his long and interesting life in a free ranging interaction with members of the audience. There will also be copies of his life story Stand Tall Against The Odds as told to Laura Shore available for purchase and autographing.

     February 2016

   Bill Donato spoke to the Guilderland Historical Society describing his activities "Recording Guilderland's Family Cemeteries". His retirement project of tracing the town?s old family cemeteries, photographing the old grave stones and then posting the photographs on genealogical websites has added documentation to sources of information about Guilderland?s founding families. He will be describing how he located their whereabouts, his interactions with their current owners and what he has found.

2014 Programs 


Program: "Sinter Claus" by Ken Felsen

      At the November 20 meeting of the Guilderland Historical Society meeting Karl Felsen will recount the transition “From Saint Nicholas to Sinterklaas to Santa Claus: The Evolution of Santa Claus in the Hudson Valley.” His power point presentation, which focuses on a mostly forgotten aspect of our area’s Dutch heritage, is jointly sponsored by the Historical Society and the Albany County Historical Association (ACHA). Mr. Felsen will familiarize us with the original Dutch custom brought to New Netherland in the 1600s (still the tradition in the Netherlandstoday) and trace its development into America’s beloved Christmas figure.


 Program: "Stopping By: Guilderland's Early Taverns and Hotels" by Mary Ellen Johnson

Mary Ellen Johnson, utilizing the historical society's extensive photo collection, will describe the town's 18th and 19th century inns offering travelers food, drink and respite from the ordeals of travel, followed later by hotels designed for businessmen and vacationers. Almost all of these have disappeared, and have been replaced by newer structures today. At the meeting, you will find out what stands in their place today as well as the story of the old hospitality spots.


Program: Town Justice Denise Randall

"Our Town Court System and the Challenges It Faces"

           Our autumn program series began Thursday, September 18 with Guilderland Town Justice Denise Randall presenting a program describing the workings of our town justice system and the challenges facing towns and their justices today. Unlike the old days in 1895 when Guilderland Justice of the Peace L.W. Osborn could place a notice in The Altamont Enterprise warning people to be on the lookout for burglars with the admonition to “keep your shootin’ irons in order and if they call on you at night let ‘em have it,” modern town justices must deal with a larger volume and variety of crimes and face constitutional issues that Justice Osborn could never have imagined.


"LEANING INTO THE STORM" presented by Robert Arnold 

     Intense Protestant religious revivals across Upstate New York during the 1840's resulted in many men and women adopting the idea of perfectionism, the attempt of an individual to live without sin. As the decade progressed, the moral focus shifted to attempting to improve society by reforming its abuses. Numerous reform movements, and in particular, the anti-slavery movement, attracted many.

     When the storm broke with the conflict between the North and South, idealism and anti-slavery attitudes motivated many of the Northern men who volunteered to fight. Mr. Arnold will examine perfectionism, reform, and their influences on attitudes at the outbreak of the Civil War. 

April 2014

This program was a lively one starring Uncle Billy's Balladeers performing a program of Civil War Camp Music from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. The lyrics and music were authentic to that time, and though some may not be politically correct today, the words give you insight into the attitudes of Americans of that era.

Founded in 2007 by Richard Sherman, Uncle Billy's Balladeers first performed in the historic Gallupsville House. The late Bill Frueh was an important member of the group and his wife Nancy continues to be actively involved with the ensemble. The group performs authentic songs from other periods of American history, but their Civil War songs program is the most popular.  

 March 2014

Our March program Speaker was Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor of The Altamont Enterprise. Her program was "130 Years of The Altamont Enterprise: Then and Now".

First published as The Knowersville Enterprise in 1844, the weekly newspaper has been recording happenings in Guilderland and nearby towns ever since, serving as an unofficial repository of local history through war times, prosperous times, economically hard times and recent times of growth and development. Over those 130 years, drastic changes have occurred in news gathering and writing information, what constitutes news, printing technology and strategies for a print publicationt to deal with  the internet, challenges that have faced the editors over the decades. 

February 20, 2014 


The Guilderland Historical Society’s 2014 program series began February 20th with "A Visit From Henry Hudson," a living history portrayal by Norman Bauman, costumed for the part. Mr. Bauman described "his" sailing career and especially the exploration of the river eventually named in "his" honor.

Well qualified for his presentation, Mr. Bauman’s experience sailing his ketch "Old Friend" on the Hudson River for many years has made him very familiar with the river and its variable conditions, giving him insight into what Henry Hudson would have experienced in 1609. Mr. Bauman worked as a tour guide with the Albany AquaDuck Boat tours for several years before those ended and has also acted both as an Albany City guide and as a guide for Hudson River cruises.

2013 Programs: 

November 21st, 2013 

OPEN MIKE NIGHT - In place of a Program Speaker, we will allow GHS members to speak to the other  members of the Society about a significant event or ancestor that influenced Guilderland history in some significant way. Or you may wish to share a story about an event that happened in the past. You may also want to bring photos to enhance your story.

October 17th, 2013

Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad by Paul and Mary Liz Stewart

During the years prior to the Civil War, the Capital District had numerous Abolitionists, both White and Black,actively involved in aiding escaped slaves who sought safety and freedom in the North. The program provided details about routes and hiding places in and around the Albany area, focusing on local free African-Americans who acted as "conductors" and "stationmasters".

The Stewarts founded the Underground Railroad Project in 2003 to increase awareness of the history and participants in the Underground Railroad.

September 19th, 2013 

Civil War Medicine:Myth and Reality by Matthew Farina, MD

Dr. Farina explained that some advances in medicine were made during the Civil War, which resulted from doctors' experiences treating the sick and the wounded. As part of the program, he will a display a reproduction amputation kit and other medical items of the period. 

May 16th, 2013  

This program was given by authors John Elberfeld and Jane McLean, and was based on their Arcadia Press book Helderberg Hilltowns. Using vintage photographs of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville and Westerlo, their powerpoint presentation will illustrate that area’s history and heritage. Jane McLean will personalize the story with the tales of four hilltown women of different eras meeting the challenges of their lives.

Very rural with rugged terrain, the hilltowns cover 40% of the western section of Albany County, yet contain only 4% of its inhabitants. John Elberfeld and Jane McLean, having researched hilltown families and history for many years, are well equipped to tell you why the area is so sparsely populated and the special circumstances these people have faced during their history.




April 18th, 2013 7:30 pm

"Baseball During the Civil War" - presented by Matt George

     Few people connect our national game with Civil War armies, yet both Union and Confederate soldiers frequently played baseball when they were in winter quarters or in camp between campaigns or battles. Baseball had become popular in the years just before the outbreak of the war, especially in the northeastern states, and ball players who had become soldiers saw no reason to stop playing when they had the opportunity. While it is recognized today that Abner Doubleday wasn’t baseball’s inventor, as a Union General he actively encouraged men under his command to play the game, part of the reason his name was linked with baseball’s origin for decades.

March 21, 2013

"The Interconnection Among Forts, Floods and Families" by Trish Shaw of Schoharie Crossing

Ms. Shaw's powerpoint presentation will update us on recent discoveries made at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.After Hurricane Irene's flood waters receded, site personnel were horrified to see their site's parking lot destroyed, only to find that historical "treasure" lay beneath.  Archeologists have unearthed Native American, colonial and military artifacts and structural foundations there that expand our knowledge of Mohawk Valley life in the 18th century and add to the significance of this historic site, which until recently, was mainly focused on the Erie Canal.

FEBRUARY 21st: "Guilderland's Lost Landmarks" presented by Mary Ellen Johnson

"Guilderland's Lost Landmarks" was a slide talk presentation of once familiar buildings along the town's main roads, that now only exist in old photographs. Using slides from the historical society's extensive collection, Mary Ellen Johnson illustrated a variey of structures, formerly everyday sights,which are no longer standing. She explained how and why they disappeared and described what stands in their place today.

2012 Programs:

November 15th: Tom Thorpe presented "Stephen Foster, Father of American Music: His Life and Songs"

Tom Thorpe spoke about Stephen Foster's life and sang several of his songs. He explained that many of Foster's songs are wrongly misinterpreted as "racist" in modern culture and how modern singers deal with the Foster songs that 160 years later have become controversial. (See photo gallery)













October 18thMaxine Getty presented a living history program about Mary Livermore: Caring for the Civil war Sick and Wounded Soldiers

September 20th:"An Incomplete History of the American Flag in 25 Minutes or Less"

Dr. Stuart Fass gave a lively presentation explaining the history of the American flag and other related flags. See photo Gallery.













June 2012: Annual Field Trip:TOUR OF PROCTOR'S THEATER

The Historical Society was given a private tour of Proctor's Theater on June 30th. Our guides were very knowledgable and the theater has a long and interesting history. Photos are available in the Photo Gallery section. 

May 17, 2012

MURDER AT CHERRY HILL - Speaker gave slide talk about a scandalous murder that occurred at Cherry Hill Mansion in 1827 

APRIL 19, 2012

Site Manager at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. Ms. Shaw discussed the relevance of the New York State canal systems to the Civil War efforts.

MARCH 15, 2012 


Mr. Ackner spoke about the "local blacksmith", once one of the most important workers in our local communities, and the specific jobs the blacksmith did when people depended on horses for work and transportation.He brought in many examples of early iron tools and explained the history and significance of each item.

FEBRUARY 16, 2012 


The slide show for this program was accompanied by audio segments of a recording made at a 1976 GHS meeting, in which lifelong Fullers residents reminisced about life in the old days.

Once home to a railroad station and yards, a church, two one room school houses, a post office, a blacksmith, and in later years, restaurant, motel and gas stations, today this section of western Guilderland gives no sign of these once vibrant hamlets.


December 2011: Guilderland Garden Club "Greens Show" and Open House: 

The Guilderland Garden Club held  its annual "Greens Show" and Open House at the Mynderse-Frederick House in the first week of December.              

The Mynderse-Frederick House was decorated in holiday splendor.Music and refreshments were provided. The Guilderland Garden Club and other Guilderland Historical Society members were available to show visitors around and answer questions. You can see photos of this event on our Photo Gallery page and have a look at their website at

 November 2011:  "Sammy Doughboy: World War I Remembered" by Robert Mulligan 

A slide talk was given about what American soldiers experienced in 1917-1918. Some artifacts and photos were also presented. Please see the Photo Gallery page.

October 2011:  "An Evening with President Lincoln"

Peter Lindemann and friends presented "An Evening with President Lincoln."  This special program was co-sponsored by the DAR and the Guilderland Historical Society as a Civil War Sesquicentennial event, not only for their own organizations, but for members of the community. Please see pictures on our Photo Gallery page.

September 2011: "Tales of a  Journalist Historian" by Bill Buell

Buell , a  Schenectady Gazette Newspaper writer for 30 years, specializes in writing  feature articles with a local history slant. Buell discussed some of these articles at this meeting.


June 2011: Annual Field Trip.

This year, the GHS toured the Schoolcraft Cultural Center located on Western Avenue in Guilderland. Please see the Photo Gallery for pictures of the event.

May 2011: "History of Nursing in New York State: Its Importance to the Profession and the Nation" by Trudy Hutchinson

A Power Point presentation of photographs from the NYS Foundation of Nurses, as well as objects from their collection, provided insight into the history of nursing  and the nurse's role in medical care. 

April 2011: "Solving Your Mystery: Researching the History of Your House or Local Ancestors" by John Elberfeld

Mr. Elberfeld discussed the local  resources available for tracing the history of your older home or ancestors. He also discussed his own research of his home and its history.