Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Month of History Events

This month there have been quite a few history events here in New York's Capital District. Here's a list of the ones I have attended:

- Sunday, September 14, 2014: 90th Anniversary Celebration of the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany. The DSSA was founded in 1924, in connection with the celebration of the tercentenary of the settlement of the City of Albany. Its mission is to: perpetuate the memory of the individuals who resided here during the time it was a Dutch colony; collect and preserve records and information concerning the history and settlement of Albany and its vicinity, including genealogical records of the settlers and their descendants; and to foster the study of the early history of the City of Albany.

The anniversary luncheon took place at the Stockade Inn in the city of Schenectady, with fifty members and friends in attendance. The Mayor of Albany, the Honorable Kathy Sheehan, was an honored guest.  A speaker from the Historic Albany Foundation gave an illustrated talk on what the city of Albany was like in 1924, when the Society was founded. Attendees found the table of DSSA memorabilia an interesting trip through the Society's history. An album of photos taken at the celebration can be found here.

Friday, September 19, 2014: Talk and book-signing by Professor Susannah Shaw Romney, at the Albany Institute of History and Art, about her recently published volume, New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America. I found a brief mention of my ancestor Cornelis van Slijck in her book, so I could not resist purchasing it!

Saturday, September 20, 2014: New Netherland Institute Seminar, at the New York State Museum. The Seminar featured speakers from several universities in the United States as well as from the Netherlands. There were 150 attendees this year, who filled the auditorium with their enthusiasm. Following the seminar, attendees enjoyed a dinner at Albany's historic Fort Orange Club.

Indian Statue in Schenectady Stockade Area
Saturday, September 27, 2014: 54th Annual "Stockade Walkabout" in Schenectady, NY's historic stockade district, sponsored by the Stockade Association and the Schenectady County Historical Society. The buildings on the self-guided walking tour represent three centuries of local architecture and history. Of course, there are few, if any, buildings that date from the 17th century left, but there are indeed several that were originally built during the early 18th century. In contrast with nearby Albany, Schenectady's business sector moved away from the area of the original settlement, leaving the oldest part of the city mostly residential, which surely saved many old homes from being torn down to set up businesses.

I was particularly interested and intrigued to see the names of a couple of my ancestors on historical plaques adorning homes along one street. The plaques indicate where the original homes were, but are on structures that were built later than those inhabited earlier by the original settlers:

And another plaque indicated the location of Jacques van Slijck's early tavern, near a narrow street known as Cucumber Alley:

One of the oldest houses in the city of Schenectady is the Yates house; it dates from the early 18th century:

Abraham Yates House

Halve Maen Replica Ship
Sunday, September 28, 2014: Early Albany Hudson River Festival. At this day-long festival and encampment, the replica ship of Henry Hudson's 1609 voyage of exploration, the Half Moon, or "Halve Maen" in Dutch, lay at anchor in the river. We also saw demonstrations of 17th-century handcrafts and technology, such as a cooper, blacksmith, and broom-maker. Members of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Native Americans were also present to interpret current and past practices of their tribe.

It was right around the third week of September 1609 that Hudson's ship reached the area near present-day Albany, in the heart of what was then the main population area of the Mahican Indians. As the replica ship floated near the riverside park, it was tempting to try to visualize what the scene may have looked like four hundred years ago. The replica ship is a floating museum, with a multinational crew of volunteers and student sailors.

Mahican Wigwam Replica at Hudson River Encampment

The Half Moon will still be docked in Albany for the next couple of weekends. Perhaps I'll have an opportunity to tour the ship to get an idea of what it must have been like aboard for Hudson and his crew. 

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