GUILDERLAND — The Schoolcraft House is coming into its own! Many residents that attended the Holiday Event at the House in December checked out the restoration of the historic Gothic mansion.
This entry was written 30 years ago in this author's journal of Sept. 6, 1984.
The "Holiday Event" at the Schoolcraft Cultural Center in December was a huge success as almost 200 visitors enjoyed the festive Gothic mansion with the fresh Christmas tree and the Musicians of Ma
The following incidents were recorded in the village of Altamont's Enterprise after the New Year 100 years ago. A column "From Our Files," captured by newsman Shorty Vroman in the late 1970s tells
With the beginning of the New Year 2015 in the thriving town of Guilderland, it is appropriate to look back on the early years of the town's history for new residents and students. Long before Guilderland was a town, bands of Mohawk Indians camped and lived along the Normanskill River.
On Feb. 10, 1803, a petition was filed by Nicholas V. Mynderse with the New York State Assembly asking for 58.67 square miles of land to be separated from the town of Watervliet. That land was owned by Dutch Patroon Stephen VanRensselaer and called VanRensselaer Manor.
The petition was passed by the State Assembly and emerged from the State Senate 10 days later; it declared that the town was to be hamed in honor of the patroon whose homeland in the Netherlands was the province of Gelderland. The Dutch influence remained in Guilderland for many years and still stands with the Dutch barns built by early settlers.
When Guilderland was organized, Thomas Jefferson was president, the Union flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes, the Louisiana Purchase was the first territorial expansion in the new nation, and Lewis and Clark had begun their Northwest Expedition.
Nicholas Mynderse, who had come from the Netherlands, was elected supervisor of the new own of Guilderland. His family owned many acres of land on the Albany-Schoharie Road, now called Route 146. The historic house and tavern he built then still stands in Guilderland Center, and is used today by the Guilderland Historical Society and other community groups.
Captain Jacob Van Aernam was called an outstanding patriot during the American Revolution, and Colonel Abraham Wemple was noted for his command of a regiment reported to have been at the Battle of Saratoga. Descendants with their surnames still live in Guilderland today.
The old Schoharie Road was improved, headed west, and it became the Great Western Turnpike in 1799. Agriculture replaced forests in Guilderland while turnpikes and railroads cut through countryside.
New farms and small businesses flourished along the turnpike, and the growing township of Guilderland began a school district in 1813.
Guilderland has two main water streams, the Normanskill and the Hungerkill. Water power from these streams enabled industrial complex to begin and thrive. A glass factory, a grist mill, a saw mill, and textile and woolen mills were powered by these turbulent waters.
In 1954, Guilderland's one- and two-room schoolhouses were consolidated, and new large buildings were erected. Flying over a new town hall, built in 1972, Guilderland's flag boasts an heraldic coat-of-arms of the Province of Gelderland in the Netherlands.
When the town celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2003, its Dutch heritage was acknowledged with a meeting at the Appel Inn where the Town's first meeting was held on April 3, 1803. Parades, historic meetings, and gatherings continued throughout the year.
A group of 11 town residents traveled to Holland to visit the small village of Nijkerk in the province of Gelderland. That Hanseatic town became a famous commercial center after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was also the birthplace of Killean VanRensselaer, Stephen VanRenselaer's ancestor, whose land grants by the Dutch West India Company in 1630 served as the basis for today's Guilderland. This was the homeland of the original settlers along the Normanskill or Norman's Creek.
Nijkerk's Mayor Vries welcomed the delegates from Guilderland in his handsome conference room and spoke of our communal ancestors. We were given a guided tour of his town and then arranged for the group to visit Putten, and the still-working farm of the VanRensselaers.
The farmhouse was immaculate. We walked in the back entrance, through an attached barn, between two rows of cows in stalls. A fireplace and two windows kept the caretaker warm as he could watch a cow giving birth.
A touch of our own Guilderland history enveloped us as we left the VanRensselaer farm in Putten, Gelderland across the Atlantic. (The complete story of that bicentennial visit is in my book, From The Historian's Desk, on pages 112 to 115.)
Today, Guilderland is a thriving town of 35,000 residents. Its eastern border encompasses the New York State University at Albany campus, two large shopping centers, growing business complexes and housing developments. A large school district educates students. New housing developments and businesses are starting to be built at the western end of Guilderland near the town hall.
Watching this development and writing of it has been educational and inspiring. Residents seeking additional information about Guilderland's history or local books on the subject may call me, the town historian at 356-1980, ext. 1050.