Wednesday, July 20, 2016

South Bethlehem and the Horton Sisters

Last Saturday morning was a fine day for a history hike in South Bethlehem.  The group included Alan Baumes, a descendant of the prominent South Bethlehem family. He told wonderful stories about his great aunts who lived on Willowbrook Avenue.  More about the Baumes family in another post.  For now, I want to introduce you to the Horton Family. 

One of my favorite things that sometimes happens during history hikes is when property owners come out to talk.  At first I think they are just wondering about, and maybe suspicious of, all these folks standing in front of their house.   So I always give a cheerful good morning and introduce myself.  If we're in luck, they start telling stories about their home.  

So, walking along Willowbrook, a gentleman comes out and says, "You know, this is where the Horton Sisters used to live."  And I was like, "What!  The Horton Sisters!"  When I first was town historian, nine years ago this September, I came across a flyer for the Horton Family Orchestra from South Bethlehem.  It has been in a file ever since. Forgotten. 

How could I forget the Originators of Real Rhythm and the Horton Girl Unit?!

From what I gather, they were popular in the 1930s and 40s. I've found ads for their performances in Gloversville and Corinth as well as Guilderland and Albany.   Interestingly, I couldn't find them on the 1930 or 1940 US census.  Anywhere.  So, they will remain a bit of a mystery until more research gets done.  

April 12, 1940 Altamont Enterprise

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slingerlands Elementary School 75th Birthday Party

Calling all alumni of the Slingerlands Elementary School - did you know the Union Avenue school building is 75 years old this year?  It was built in 1941, replacing the old schoolhouse over on New Scotland Road.  I am planning on telling the whole story in my September then and now for Our Town Bethlehem.

In the mean time - the group is planning a celebration on September 25 and is looking for alumni to share their stories.  Yearbooks and snapshots would also be appreciated.  I am told the info is pretty good from the late 1970s onward, but not so much for the 40s, 50s and 60s. 

Visit this website and please help spread the word!

And, just for fun, here are some Slingerlands graduates from 1907. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thomas and Eliza Pierce

July’s then and now article for Our Town Bethlehem looks at a simple farm house on Old Quarry Road built about 1859.  

Pop on over to to read the article.  

As always, I ended up with more questions than answers.  Here are a few loose ends I am still wondering about. But let's start with a cute dog. The current owners are lucky to have been given a large envelope of old documents and photos after they purchased the home.  I couldn't use them all, but  don't you just love this pup named Fluff? 

Moving along, Thomas and Eliza Pierce, original owners of the property, immigrated from Ireland around 1840.  How did they end up out in the boondocks that would have been Old Quarry Road in the 1860s?  I find it interesting that the 1870 census shows Edwin (age 21) and Elizabeth (age 19) Malone living next door to the Pierces.  They were both from Ireland and married less than a year.  He is working on the railroad as is Thomas Pierce. I imagine a cute young Irish couple – were they relations of the Pierces?  What is the story?!

It appears that Thomas and Eliza were part of the massive waves of Irish immigration that occurred in the 1840s, 50s and beyond.  Between 1820 and 1860 almost 2 million Irish arrived.  The Pierces are part of that story.  

And finally, what is the story of the old quarry on Old Quarry Road?  Love these USGS maps that show where a bite was taken out of the hillside.