Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Our Towne Bethlehem October: The Streets of Glenmont

 

With all the work on the Glenmont Roundabout project, I am back to thinking about street names. What is a feura bush? Is life particularly jolly on Jolley Road, or extra brightly lit on Beacon Road? And what is a glen-mont anyway?

One spoke on the wheel of the new traffic circle is Glenmont Road. Sometimes I catch myself calling it Glenmont Hill Road. It goes east, down the proverbial hill, to River Road and to what is historically the hamlet of Glenmont. Glenmont takes its name from the old Hurlbut estate. Judge Hurlbut’s mansion was at the top of a hill (the mont or mount) with a beautiful view east towards the river valley (the glen) and, so inspired, he named the place Glenmont on the Hudson.

Another spoke of the new roundabout is Route 9W, parts of which were once known as the Stone Road. South of the roundabout, it was the South Bethlehem Plank Road, incorporated in 1851. The tollgate was about where the gas station is now. Mrs. Babcock, the first tollgate keeper, collected the toll, for example, six cents for a carriage drawn by two horses and twelve cents for a four-horse coach. Also, it was literally paved in planks of wood, a system that did not last and the surface was soon covered with other materials including crushed stone.

The last spoke is Feura Bush Road. Sometimes, you’ll see this as one word on old maps, Feurabush. Think of this as the road to the hamlet of Feura Bush, now in the town of New Scotland, but in the town of Bethlehem until 1832. Back then it was known as Jerusalem. But what is a feura bush anyway? A 1914 article on Albany County place names defines it thus:

FEURABUSH, Hamlet. Dutch: vurenbosch (pronounced vurrebosch), fir-bush, or woods …now known as Jerusalem, the name Feurabush being attached to the railroad station.

A look at Google adds the translation “pine forest” to vurenbosch. Former Bethlehem Historian Allison Bennett wrote that Feura Bush means “fire bush” which is also a possibility. Google Translate says vuur in Dutch is fire in English. But Bennet concluded with “no one seems to know exactly how the little village received this name.” Personally, I like the idea of a pine forest, but maybe the fire is the red and gold foliage of autumn?

Other local roads in Glenmont include Beacon Road. Did you know there was an actual beacon on Beacon Road? It was installed by the United States Lighthouse Service about 1929. One might think the Lighthouse Service would focus on watery aids to navigation, but in 1926 an airway division was established.

The Glenmont light beacon was installed to guide planes on the New York to Montreal airway during a time when visual navigation was used. A lighted beacon was essential for night flying. Such dependence on the visual would lessen as radio navigation came into play. About the same time as the Glenmont airway beacon was installed, a pilot named Jimmy Doolittle made the first successful flight using only instrumentation to take off, set course and safely land his plane. While the exact date of when the Glenmont beacon was de-commissioned is not known, an article entitled The Evolution of Airway Lights and Electronic Navigation Aids (centennialofflight.net) states that “the last airway light beacon from the system begun in the 1920s was shut down in 1973.”

The Beacon Road roadway itself is found on maps as early as the 1850s and likely developed from the lane that connected the Schoonmaker farm to what we know as Route 9W. John Schoonmaker, Jr leased approximately 143 acres here from the Patroon in 1792. Just to the north, Jacobus Schoonmaker leased 224 in 1806. One of their descendants built the stately brick home (circa 1840) which still stands on modern-day Wemple Road near its intersection with Beacon Road.

One can think of Wemple Road, like Feura Bush Road, more in the way of the road to Wemple. And Wemple, the old hamlet and station on the West Shore Railroad, is, of course, named after the Wemple family. The family homestead was on Wemple Road near where the railroad tracks cross. John Gilbert Wemple (1831-1911) was particularly well known.  He was elected Bethlehem’s supervisor in 1875-76 and served as sheriff of Albany County from 1877-1883.

Bender Road is named after the family of Christian and Elizabeth Bender. Christian (1732-1808) served under Col. Phillip Schuyler in the 3rd regiment of the Albany County Militia during the American Revolution. After the war, he leased 300 acres in the vicinity of modern Bender Road. He and Elizabeth (the former Elizabeth Cramer, 1739-1806) raised a family of nine children on their homestead and there are many Bender descendants around today.

Hugh Jolley (1721-1804) arrived here from Scotland in 1772. He was also Revolutionary War veteran. He and his wife Eleanor are buried at the Nicoll – Sill cemetery in the Cedar Hill section of town. Jolley Road originated as the lane to the Jolley family’s Crystal Farm. It is unclear whether this is Hugh and Eleanor’s farm or one founded by his son Hugh, or Hugh’s son Henry. The dates line up for it to be Henry’s farm as the 1851 Pease map has the location as “Heirs to H. Jolley”. By the 1866 map and onward, it is clearly the farm of Samuel Jolley and his wife Caroline Rosekrans. Samuel (1833-1917) is Hugh and Eleanor’s great grandson who, according to his obituary, was born, raised and died at Glenmont.


A 1928 stamp showing an airway beacon.

The beacon on Beacon Road is marked on this 1953 U.S.G.S topographic map.

In the 1940s, the roof of the old Security Supply building on Maple Avenue in Selkirk had a giant arrow directing pilots to Albany.



The Wemple Station on the West Shore Railroad.
(Courtesy of the book Along the Old West Shore by John M. Hamm)


Flashes and Dashes

October is the last month of regularly scheduled Sunday openings at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum, home of the Bethlehem Historical Association. Be sure to stop by to learn more local history! BHA has also resumed in person lectures on the third Thursday of the month. On October 21 at 2 pm, David Hochfelder will talk about the Telegraph and 98 Acres in Albany.

 My history hikes continue with a History Hike in Selkirk on October 16 followed by a walk at Bethlehem Cemetery on November 13. Sign up with the town’s parks and rec department.

And October is New York State History Month.  Stop by the Bethlehem Public Library for a look at my exhibit called Historic Bethlehem (with dogs and horses.)  It is up until the 31st.




Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Our Towne Bethlehem September 2021: Back to School

Students have been heading back to school in the fall for a good long time. During the Common School Era of the 1800s, Bethlehem had 14 one-room school districts. Elsmere, District No. 15, was added in 1911.

Are you curious as to why modern-day school districts in Upstate New York do not follow town lines? It is because in the 20th century, groups of common school districts banded together to provide better education. One-room school districts only had grades one through eight. If a family desired a high school education for their children, they had to go elsewhere. In the Delmar area, that was into Albany. In the Selkirk area, that usually meant going into Ravena. In 1930, seven districts combined to form the Bethlehem Central School District (BCSD). In 1947 districts in Bethlehem’s southern portion combined to form the Union Free School District which eventually merged with Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central Schools (RCS).

Here’s the whole list of Bethlehem’s one-room schools. Noted in parentheses is the area’s current school district.

District No.1 Cedar Hill
Cedar Hill boasted the first school in town in 1720 at the Nicholl Farm. The building that stands on River Road at the corner of Clapper was constructed in 1859, and enlarged in 1907. It was used as a school until 1961. The building is now owned by the Town of Bethlehem and is home to the Bethlehem Historical Association. (RCS)

District No. 1 - Cedar Hill

District No.2 Selkirk

Built about 1850 on what is now Old Ravena Road, Selkirk’s original one-room school was destroyed by fire. The school still standing on Thatcher Road was built in 1928. (RSC)

District No. 3 South Bethlehem
South Bethlehem’s one-room school stood on Bridge Street near the fire house. It was replaced by the school that now stands on South Albany Road. The South Albany Road school building, erected the early 1920s, is now a private residence. (RCS)

District No.4 Jericho
The Jericho one-room school is now a private home on Creble Road. It was replaced by the school that still stands on Old School Road. That one is now apartments. (RCS)

District No. 5 Niver or Church
The District No.5 school still stands today on Route 9W north of the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem and next to the former Niver family homestead. It is now a private residence. (RCS)

District No. 5 - Niver or Church

District No. 6 Van Wies

The Van Wies Point one-room school still stands on River Road at the corner of Bask Road. It closed in 1947 and is also now a private residence. (BCSD)

District No. 6 Van Wies Point, circa 1940. Miss Williams, the teacher is in back. Left to right in front are Betty Snyder, Shirley Snyder, Mary Bruce, maybe Ruth Kerra, Nancy Scharff, maybe Anna May Kerra, John Scharff, Louis Storm, Bill Stapf, Bill Delong and Robert Weiler.

 

District No. 7 Bethlehem Center

A brick one-room school used to stand on 9W at the corner with Feura Bush Road in Glenmont. In 1925 it was replaced with the larger school which still stands and houses the Bethlehem Preschool. (BCSD)

District No. 8 Houk’s Corners
Houk’s Corners is the old name for the intersection of Feura Bush Road and Elm Avenue. The one-room school for this district is just west of the intersection and is a private home. (BCSD)

District No. 9 Slingerland
Slingerland’s original one-room school was replaced by the one that is still standing on New Scotland Road. It is was converted to apartments in the 1940s. (BCSD)

District No.10 Delmar
Delmar School began with a brick, one-room school that was replaced about 1909 with the building that now houses the Masonic Temple at the corner of Kenwood Avenue and Adams Street. (BCSD)

District No. 10 Delmar

District No. 11 Normansville

The Normansville School was located on Delaware Avenue on the bluff overlooking the Normans Kill. (BCSD)

District No. 11 Normansville.  The student with an X over his head is Malcom Baxter.

District No. 12 Kenwood

The district No.12 school in Kenwood was located on South Pearl Street in the vicinity of modern-day Old South Pearl Street. This area was annexed by the City of Albany in the 1916.

District No.13 Hurstville
Hurstville was located in the area of modern-day Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue. It was annexed by Albany in 1967.

District No.14 North Bethlehem
This one-room school is now a private residence on Krumkill Road near where Schoolhouse Road comes in. Today, students in North Bethlehem attend Guilderland schools.

District No.15 Elsmere
As the Normansville school became overcrowded, District No.15 was created in 1911. A one-room school on West Poplar Drive was built and enlarged just a few years later. Elsmere continued to grow and the present Elsmere School on Delaware Avenue was built in 1927. Eventually the Poplar Drive school was removed to make way for the American Legion Post. (BCSD)

 

FLASHES AND DASHES

The Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum, home of the Bethlehem Historical Association, is open Sunday afternoons through the end of October. Stop by and check out their one-room school exhibit. It includes a map and pictures of all the schools above.

Second Saturday history walks continue this fall. September 11 is walk at Elmwood Cemetery and October 9 is a history hike in the hamlet of Selkirk. 

Visit the BHA website for more details.  Register for the walk with the Bethlehem Parks Department.

https://bethlehemhistorical.org/

https://register1.vermontsystems.com/wbwsc/nybethlehem.wsc/splash.html

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Delmar Station and the Library of Things

 Shout out to the Bethlehem Public Library and their Library of Things.    I checked out their slide scanner and took a couple of slides home from the archive to experiment.  Look at the results below - pretty cool!




The rest of the story...

Someone, back in 2001 judging by the numbers on the slides, made a Bethlehem History slide show that included these two slides.  The top one shows the Delmar train station (on the old D&H Railroad, now the rail trail) in the 1930s. The bottom is a modern, circa 2001, view of the same street.   And below is the modern, modern view, circa 2019 from Google street view.  Enjoy!



PS: I should say we are looking down Adams Street towards the rail trail. North Street and Hudson Ave are in the distance. 








Sunday, August 1, 2021

Our Towne Bethlehem August 2021: Sports!

 I am keeping it simple with this month's article as I am working on another project (teaser - it involves Katherine and Henry Hudson!). So below are some sport pictures for your August enjoyment.  

Need more local history this summer? How about a visit to the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum, home of the Bethlehem Historical Association? They are open Sundays from 2 to 4 pm, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. 

I've also got some upcoming History Hikes and Paddles. Saturday, August 10 is a kayak on the Vlomankill and Saturday, September 11 is a walk at Elmwood Cemetery (one of my favorites - you'll hear the story of the Niver brothers, Selkirks, and more!) Visit the BHA website for more info.  https://bethlehemhistorical.org/   

Oh, and if you need more local history, there is a new self-guided walk of Delmar Four Corners and Elsmere that is on the Historian’s page of the town’s website.

https://www.townofbethlehem.org/DocumentCenter/View/13406/Four-Corners---Elsmere-Historical-Walk?bidId=

Now, enjoy some sporty old pictures!

Mrs. Nelson Pernil takes a swing at Woolfert’s Roost on July 1, 1928. 


Edith and Ann Tolman at the ready with their tennis rackets circa 1926.  The Tolman’s had their own tennis court on their property on Mullens Road in Slingerlands. 




Brian Miller of Bethlehem keeps his grip on the ball while being guarded by Mark Darrick of Shaker on January 6, 1975. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Brisee)

Bethlehem player Adam Perry steals home as Burnt Hill catcher Brice Van Allen, with his eye on the ball, leaps out of the way.  The game was played May 18, 1992.  (Photo courtesy of Adrian Brisee)


Edie Eyres of Bethlehem reaches for the basketball as Debbie Kazzaka of Mont Pleasant comes in for the block, March 23, 1978. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Brisee)


The Delmar football team poses in 1905 with Captain R. Smith kneeling at the center holding the ball. 








Thursday, July 1, 2021

Our Town Bethlehem July 2021: Revolutionary Thoughts

Have you heard of a semiquincentennial? How about a sestercentennial? Both of these terms have been used to describe the 250th anniversary of an event, specifically the day that the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. With the anniversary just five years away, Congress has already appointed a Semiquincentennial Commission. Their website goes by the much simpler America250.org.

Bethlehem of course has many connections to the wider story of the American colonies’ rebellion against Great Britain. And in the way that history threads often come together, two of those connections have surfaced in recent months. One is about James Selkirk. The other, the story of three Teunis Slingerlands.

Our hamlet of Selkirk is named after the Selkirk family who trace their roots to James Selkirk and Elizabeth Henry. James and Elizabeth were married January 12, 1786 by the Reverend John McDonald under the auspices of the First Presbyterian Church of Albany. They first met twelve years earlier aboard the Gale, the ship carrying them from Scotland to the American colonies. James was a young man of about 17, Elizabeth, a child of about eight traveling with her parents James and Nancy, older sister Christy and younger brother William. After the ship landed in New York, James made his way to Galway and his eventual service in the Revolution. The Henry family ended up settling in the Bethlehem area.

James Selkirk first enlisted with Col. John Nicholson’s Continental Regiment of the New York Militia. After spending most of that term in ill health, he mustered out in Albany. Because of his ability to read and write, Selkirk was able to re-enlist as a quartermaster sergeant under Col, James Livingston. Selkirk served throughout the war. He received his discharge papers from the Second Regiment of New York on June 7, 1783. The papers, signed by George Washington, are a family heirloom.

After the war, James rekindled his friendship with the Henry family, moved to Bethlehem, and eventually married Elizabeth. The couple raised ten children while James worked as a farmer and tailor. He died in 1820. Records indicate that Elizabeth continued to collect James’ war pension until her death in 1844. Sometime in the early 1800s, James began to write “A New and Complete History of the American Revolution in Three Parts” and worked to sell subscriptions in order to publish the work. Part One would be “The Author’s life and services in the War… being a continual actor in the great scenes that are described.” His memoir details his experiences including the battles at Saratoga in 1777, the horrible winter encampment at Morristown in 1779-80, and the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

While Selkirk’s efforts to publish never came to fruition, the original documents survive in the family. It has been transcribed by family members and copies are on file with the Historian’s office. Which brings us to that semiquincentennial. Wouldn’t it be great to finally get Selkirk’s memoirs into print with a scholarly treatment as a way to celebrate Bethlehem’s Revolutionary War connections? Maybe five years is enough lead time.

In 2009, Ron Selkirk celebrated his Scottish heritage at the installation of the historic marker honoring his ancestor James Selkirk. That's me on the right. 

As a side note, doing a little internet research to track down the original memoir led to the interesting story of Elizabeth and James’s son William Selkirk. Raised in Bethlehem, William married Matilda Hallenbake. After she died, he left his small children with his brother and headed west to Texas. Selkirk arrived in the fall of 1823 and he became a surveyor for the Austin colony. He gained title to land in Matagorda County which became known as Selkirk Island. His descendants owned Selkirk Island until it was subdivided in the 1970s.

Now to the story of the three Teunis Slingerlands. But first some background. The lead up to the American Revolution was a difficult time. While some tried to remain neutral, people had to choose a side. Were you going to support the British crown or were you going to join the rebellion? Patriot? Loyalist? When members of the Albany Committee of Correspondence came knocking on your farmhouse door in the summer of 1775 asking you to pledge your loyalty to the American cause, would you sign the Association document?

Along Creble Road in Bethlehem there is a historical marker noting the burial spot of two “Soldiers of the American Revolution” one of whom is Teunis W. Slingerland (spelled Tunis on the marker.) Teunis was born in November of 1750 and died in 1795. According to Daughters of the American Revolution records, he served under Col. Stephen Schulyer. There is another Teunis Slingerland in their records, born 1722, died 1805, who is buried in Jerusalem Cemetery in Feura Bush. While the service records of these two often get mixed up, both are recognized to have served in the Revolution. But the Teunis I want to tell you about is not found in any D.A.R. record.

This marker is located on Creble Road, up an embankment and hidden by shrubbery. 
Thank you Chris Philippo for the picture. 

This Teunis Slingerland was born in 1723 in Schenectady and married Clare Clute in 1751 in Albany. They had at least six children, all born in on the West Manor of Rensselaerswyck, Albany County, probably in the modern-day towns of New Scotland or Bethlehem. This Teunis chose to remain loyal to the crown. He was an officer of the Albany Battalion, a division of Adam Vrooman’s company of Butler’s Rangers. Butler’s Rangers fought mostly in western New York and in to Pennsylvania. One family history describes his service thus “He was taken prisoner by the rebel forces. His lands were plundered and looted. He was harassed and persecuted upon his release so fled to Canada with his wife, four sons and one daughter in 1783.”

Teunis and his family ended up at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, the winter encampment of Butler’s Rangers, and still home to this day of his descendants. And his lands in Albany County? Confiscated because he was a loyalist in a judgement signed July 14, 1783.

Now, I will leave you to wonder about the whys of how these Slingerland cousins, all three related to the Teunis, trader at Beverwyck, who arrived here in 1650s, came to serve on opposite sides of the American Revolution. A topic surely discussed when the far-flung Slingerlands have their next family reunion at which I am sure the topic of the American semiquincentennial will come up.

FLASHES & DASHES

The Bethlehem Historical Association’s Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum is open Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM. You can also sign up to enjoy Family Time at the Museum on Saturday’s by calling Linda at 518-439-1686. https://bethlehemhistorical.org/   While you are there, check out the upcoming dates for history hikes and paddles.

There is also a new walking tour of the historic Delmar Four Corners and Elsmere area. Go to the Historian’s page on the town’s website to download a copy. 

 http://www.townofbethlehem.org/DocumentCenter/View/13406/Four-Corners---Elsmere-Historical-Walk?bidId=


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And a P.S. 

Don't you just love the word semiquincentennial?  Is not even in the dictionary!  Semi is half and quincentennial is a 500 year anniversary.  So have a semiquincentennial is 250 years.  We could also call it a quarter millennial - that is 1/4 of 1000 years, so again 250.  At any rate pop over here for the America 250 site

https://www.america250.org/

And if you are like me, you are wondering what might happen at the New York or Albany County or Town of Bethlehem level.  No idea.  Some grass roots organizing is needed soon!

 

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July 6, 2021  hey look what I just saw... NY state is setting up a commission.

https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/shelley-b-mayer/new-york-state-lawmakers-pass-new-york-state-250th


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Our Towne Bethlehem June 2021: The Delmar Progress Club

In a roundabout way, my recent obsession with street names has led me to the Delmar Progress Club. Read on for news about this community organization that is celebrating 125 years.

 

On the evening of Monday February 13, 1905, after her daughters, toddler Mary and infant Dorothy, were put to bed, 24-year-old Lulu Mochrie hosted her fellow members of the Delmar Progress Club at her Hudson Avenue home. Her husband, Charles was likely resting from his labors clerking for the nearby D&H Railroad. In 1904-1905, there were 20 club members, most of whom were young women with a yen for personal and community improvement.

 “A Year in England” was the theme of study for that season. The women gathered in Mrs. Mochrie’s parlor heard Aimee Allen present about Rugby. She left her three young daughters back at the parsonage of the Delmar Reformed Church with husband the Rev. Henry Bacon Allen. Ada Ticknor presented about Warwick Castle. She left her infant son Roland with husband William, also a clerk with the D&H.

Inspired by a visit to the Women’s Club of Cobleskill in 1901, Elva Hinman established the Delmar Progress Club “for the mental, moral, and social development of the members and the betterment of the community.” At the time Elva was 25 years old and had been a schoolteacher for several years. She grew up in Delmar, daughter of Clara and Nathan. In 1896 and 1897 she was teaching in Delanson, and in 1899, amazingly, was nominated on the Albany County Democratic ticket for school commissioner for the first district (Bethlehem, Coeymans and New Scotland). The Political Pointers column of the November 4, 1899 Albany Argus newspaper notes that in her examination for her state teachers’ certificate she passed 90% in the subject of school law. The writer continues, “It is very doubtful if the Republican candidate for school commission knows there is such a thing as school law.” While Elva did not win that election, her legacy with the Delmar Progress Club is vast.

Elva Hinman Dyer, probably about the time the club was founded.
 (Courtesy of Findagrave.com)

How to summarize 125 years of women working for the improvement of our community. The list is long and varied. Do you enjoy visiting the Bethlehem Public Library? It was organized by the women of the club as the Delmar Free Library. One way they raised funds for books and building was to create the Delmar Family Directory in 1913. They also held food sales, card parties, masquerades and dramas. All proceeds went to the library. How about improved train service and the banning of smoking in D & H depot? Done. How about naming and numbering streets in order to get home mail delivery. Done. Town ordinances for garbage pickup, controlling fireworks and prohibiting use of firearms in town (apparently there was a rash of bullets shattering windows) were all promoted by the women of the club and their Civic Betterment Committee. And we are only up to about 1940!

Mrs. Stuart S. Belcher and Mrs. Harlan Raymond, Delmar Progress Club members,
enjoy a meal in 1954. (Town of Bethlehem archive)


In addition to their work improving the community, the club sought to improve their minds with intellectual presentations and discussions organized around the year’s theme like the previously mentioned “Year in England” in 1904-05. Another example is 1928-1929 “American Art and Music.” By the 1930s, the club’s membership had grown into the hundreds and the study groups Homes and Gardens, Modern Literature, Government and Drama were added.

Local papers are full of clips about the doings of the Delmar Progress Club, holding dramas and fashion shows, raising funds for various charities and scholarships, supporting environmental causes, and one of my favorites, the 1965 Know Your Town Driving Tour. I am finding it nearly impossible to summarize the good work of so many dedicated women in so short a space. To learn more about the vibrant and very modern-day Delmar Progress Club, please visit their website at DelmarProgressClub.org.

The cast of the drama What Became of Parker? a farce comedy presented by the Delmar Progress Club in the fall of 1915 to benefit the library fund. Women of the club played all of the characters including Mrs. Gregg as Otto the waiter, center of the photo with serving tray held in the air, and seated in front of her is Mrs. Johnson as Fred Parker, the title character.
(Delmar Progress Club archive.)


Unfortunately, Elva Hinman did not live to see any of this progress. She married Daivd Dyer on July 23, 1902 and gave birth to their daughter on December 1, 1903. She died seven days later on the 8th at the age of 29. Her obituary is poignant. It reads in part, “Mrs. Dyer was a woman of strong personality, possessing rare gifts and graces that compelled admiration and respect a brilliant conversationalist; an entertaining and delightful companion.” It goes on to describe her work with the Progress Club, “She was the founder of the Progress Club, and was its honored secretary from the first until her death. To this she devoted much time and energy and by her own interest and zeal created much interest among the members in the study of history and classics.”

Elva’s husband died not too long after her in 1905 and their daughter Clara Dyer was raised by Elva’s mother Clara Hinman. Clara Dyer also became a school teacher. A 1936 club history provides a poem written by Clara Dyer and dedicated to the club. It reads:

Beyond the hills the pathway leads, and we
Well-poised upon the mountainside,
Pause for a moment. Far below us lie the
Green and fertile fields of our endeavor
Dew-wet and smiling in the morning sun.
All we have labored, all that we have given
Of our abundance was well spent
For this – the larger vision of our hopes
And dreams come true.
We turn rejoicing.
Foar beyond the hills the path still leads
And we have still to follow with our faith
A flam beyond us in the darkness
And our zeal a sword.

Many thanks to Progress Club members Lynne Lenhardt, Debbie Gall, and Alison Calvagno for the deep dive into club history. The club is working to preserve their boxes and boxes of records including 125 years’ worth of meeting minutes, scrapbooks, account books and drama scripts.

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You've gotten this far in the blog, wonderful!  I have a history mystery for you.  The Progress Club often presented their dramas at "Universal Hall" in Delmar.  The problem, where was this building?  It was advertised from about 1914-1919 as an event space you could rent out for dances, parties, plays, what have you.  It was on Kenwood Avenue.  But, where where???






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FLASHES and DASHES

 Explore the historic Delmar Four Corners and Elsmere with this walking tour:

https://www.townofbethlehem.org/DocumentCenter/View/13406/Four-Corners---Elsmere-Historical-Walk?bidId=

History hikes, cemetery walks, and history paddles are all happening in the coming months.  Pop over here for details: 

https://bha1965.webs.com/history-hikes-paddles

And the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum is now open Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 pm.  We've also got a special Family Time program on Saturdays. You know where to go for more info: BethlehemHistorical.org.



Bethlehem's 1885 Board of health

 Another story in the ongoing saga of things that just turn up on my desk.

For the past year's Covid time we've been hearing a lot from the  Albany County Department of Health.  Back in the day, this was a function of local boards of health, including Bethlehem of course. 

Recently a pamphlet entitled "Organization of the Local Board of Health" and subtitled "Sanitary Laws and regulation obligatory upon the Inhabitants of the Town of Bethlehem, N.Y., as Adopted April 28, 1885." came my way.

As you can see from the pictures, it lists the members of the Town Board of Health and their residences including supervisor John L. Winne resident of Adams Station and Justice of the Peace L. W. Soop of Beckers Corners, place names you don't hear so often today.

The board was concerned with the dangers to public health.  Among the duties outlined in detail in the document are (a) to receive and examine into the nature of complaints concerning causes of danger and injury to the public health,  (c) to take charge of, and provide for, the quarantine of cases of contagion and its sources, and (e) to report every case of small-pox, and to provide the means for thorough and safe vaccination of those who may need it. Interesting in light of current times.

There are many items regarding burials and burial permits, privy-vaults and cess-pools, unwholesome food, regulations regarding notification if anyone in a household has scarlet fever, diphtheria or small pox and rules about recording births and marriages.

It is all rather elegantly summed up in this item: Whatever is dangerous to human life, and whatever renders the air or food and water or drink unwholesome, are declared to be nuisances, and to be unlawful.  

So simple, yet so complicated.