Thursday, January 29, 2015

Football Thoughts

In a bout of procrastination, and with the Super Bowl coming up, I typed in the word "football" in the Altamont Enterprise search box for the years 1884 to 1910.

The front page of the October 30, 1903 edition had this nice little piece about Normansville and a brief mention of Albany football.  Baxter, Pappalaw and Knapp are all Normansville families I have written about before.

On the same page, under these headlines

News of A Week

Paragraphic Photographs of the World’s Doings

Accidents and Casualties

Is this disturbing blurb

(and let's not even talk about poor "deranged" Mrs. Iverson.)

To end on a more pleasant note, except maybe for the "sneak work" and the "chin music", here are a couple of clippings about the Delmar football team.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Four Corners Postcard

This postcard was handed to me in the locker room at the Y last week. Really. At least I had my clothes on ;)

 It shows the spot at the Four Corners of Delmar where Key Bank is today.


 And thank you to the giver, who shall remain anonymous.  I do appreciate it!

Remembering Maria VanDusen Hendrickson

What am I thinking about historically today is murder. Specifically the murder of Maria Van Dusen Hendrickson.

While poking around on last night in search of Bethlehem gold rushers, I found a copy of this book.

 I have known of this event for some time, but hadn't given it much thought until the book popped up on the search results. It makes for fascinating reading.

District Attorney Andrew J. Colvin lays out the prosecution in three areas of evidence: moral, medical,chemical.  Attorney for the defense Henry G. Wheaton is equally thorough in his rebuttal.   The moral evidence reads like a best seller crime novel.  A young couple with a troubled marriage; philandering husband, depressed wife.  The medical and chemical evidence reads like an episode of CSI. I mostly skipped that part. Once I read about a particularly "congested, corrugated and contracted" internal organ, I had had enough of that.  Throughout the book, folks with recognizable Bethlehem last names are called to testify; names like Mead, Haswell, Slingerland, Winne, VanWie, Swinburn, Sprinsteed, Salisbury, and Houghtailing.

What strikes me is that human nature hasn't changed that much.

And in case you are curious.....the verdict; Guilty.  The sentence: Death by hanging.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gold Rush and Bethlehem?

I picked up a book the other day at the library called The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 by Edward Dolnick.  It caught my eye because I have a great, great, grand uncle, James Paige Todd, who went off to California looking for gold. I am only about half way though, but it is a good read.  

What an amazing era in American history.  The numbers are staggering. In 1849 alone some 90,000 young men (and yes a few women) swarmed to the gold fields of California.  The author notes that in the four years from 1849 through 1853, more than 1 percent of the American population moved to California.  Let me quote Dolnick because he writes it well:

"To put that number in terms of today's population, picture three million young Americans giving up their jobs, leaving their families, and rushing off to a barely known destination thousands of miles away.  Picture them on foot - though few of them had ever slept under the stars - or on shipboard - though few had ever ventured out of sight of land - and all racing headlong to, say, the most distant least known corner of South America.  All of this out of the blue."

The goal was to strike it rich and hurry back home with the profits. These were not settlers looking to establish themselves.  These were farmers, shopkeepers, clerks and others of the middle classes who could afford the steep cost of getting there.   The cost being in dollars, and in the courage and physical fortitude necessary to complete the journey.  California might as well have been on the moon it was so far away and unknown. 

As I often do, I wondered about Bethlehem's young folks.  Did any of them make the trek?  After looking through my usual sources I turned up nothing, not a mention.  Yet people here would not have been immune to the gold rush fever.  There's a local story here, I can feel it.   I wonder who in town has a letter or journal tucked away about their ancestor's Gold Rush adventure. 

If you are curious about my ancestor, you can read about him here.

And because every blog post needs a picture, here's my great, great, grand father David S. Todd who stayed home on the farm in New Boston, New Hampshire. I have a letter his brother James wrote to him from Columbia, California in 1850.   

David Starrett Todd, 1824-1897
And here's his wife too. 

Martha Dean Todd, 1833-1904