Friday, May 31, 2013

Whipple City Days are coming!

The 34th annual Whipple City Days  event is a local tradition. This year I will be in Dorr Park (Main St & Cottage St) with (hopefully) a number of other groups representing local & regional history.

So, I thought I would share with you some memorabilia I have in my office.

Button from Whipple City Days past

Program from the 1985 Whipple City Days

Below you can see the entire program from the 2nd Whipple City Days June 24th- 28th, 1981. The parade, road race, craft fair, & music in Mowry park are still present all these years later. Also, the ever popular Greenwich Free Library Book Sale! (My personal favorite.)

1981 Whipple City Days program

1981 Whipple City Days events
What happened to the tennis tournament & the revolutionary War encampment? Oooo, & the bike race!

The Greater Greenwich Chamber of Commerce will put on a great event. Hope to see you there!

Download this year's event schedule here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

St. Joseph's Cemetery

As I was snapping some pictures at Greenwich Cemetery last week, I realized I had never been in St. Joseph's Cemetery before. & it is just across the road. So, after work, I drove over & snapped some pictures there. I didn't realize how large it was, & that you can see the high school. I use to run cross country (for Schuylerville) around the cornfield on the other side of the cemetery fence.

Now for a bit of background provided by Joseph L. Shannon, who wrote Saint Joseph Parish Greenwich, New York in 1978. This book is available for research at the Greenwich Free Library & Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls (all copies are non-circulating).

History of St. Joseph's

Albany Catholic Diocese established April 1847
Visitation Catholic Church, Schuylerville founded 1847
St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Cambridge founded 1853
St. Joseph's Catholic Church founded 1870

The plethora of mills in the area brought immigrants to rural areas upstate.  In 1865, 80,000 of the estimated 134,000 Catholics living in the area covered by the Albany Diocese were Irish immigrants (Shannon, p.8) escaping the Great Potato Famine. When the Greenwich Dunbarton Mill opened in 1879, many of the 200 workers were Catholic (Shannon, p.4).

Shannon states "After the Mass of 24 January 1869, which marked the opening of the Mission of Greenwich, until the first Mass offered in the building now call "St. Joseph [sic] Church" 24 July 1870, the Fathers from Cambridge held services in various places in Greenwich" (p.15-16). The only other option was to travel to Mass in Schuylerville, Hudson Falls, Salem, or Schaghticoke.

St. Joseph's first resident pastor & proponent of the Temperance Movement, Fr. Thomas A. Field, was the one who set about founding the St. Joseph's Cemetery. Shannon writes "By Deed,  dated  6 November 1881 (Book 91, page 30) Fr. Field purchased for $1,000 two parcels of land, one  of sixty-seven acres and the other of one acre on the northern edge of the village of Greenwich from Charles Stevens and his wife, Sarah A. Stevens" (p.44).

Some of the artistry on the tombstones in St. Joseph's

The first burials (& tombstones) appear to be transferred from other cemeteries as the deaths predate the founding of the cemetery. The oldest date is 1863 (Shannon, p. 45).

Well, St. Joseph's is just a peaceful as Greenwich, except for the neighbor's dog who decided to bark at my car. But even (s)he didn't sound too upset by me being there.

St. Joseph's Cemetery, Greenwich, NY- 10 May 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Greenwich Cemetery

We have 32 cemeteries in the Town of Greenwich, the largest is, of course, the Greenwich Cemetery nestled between Main St & Cottage St. Over 10,000 people have been interred in this peaceful spot & the Greenwich Cemetery Association does a great job of keeping it nice.

I've never found cemeteries to be creepy, or scary. I've always found them tranquil, thoughtful. As an historian & lover of history, I have been to many cemeteries. My sister & I visited Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, IL when we traveled across the country in 1995. (Yes, we rubbed his nose.) I keep meaning to go to Albany Rural Cemetery to visit Chester A. Arthur's grave.

However, most of the time, I go to a cemetery to look at the graves of non-famous people, like my relatives, or random people with interesting stones. Typical iconography like weeping willows, winged angel heads & urns are typical on early New England headstones. I saw a number of these in Salem, MA last fall. A good example of the willow motif can be found here in Section F.

Greenwich Cemetery May 2013

As a kid, my younger sister & I use to ride our bikes over to the Riverside Cemetery in Fort Miller. There are a number of large pine trees shading the ground, plus it was next to the Hudson. It was always cooler there, so it was the perfect spot after a hot, dusty bike ride. Reading the stones made me appreciate my life a bit more, especially when we noticed the markers of children who died young.

Before my daughter started school, she & my mom use to visit my dad while he was working at St. Mary's Cemetery in South Glens Falls. She would lay under the trees on a quilt & say the trees were talking to her. They we eat lunch, picnic style, then head home.

The idea of picnicking at a cemetery may seem odd to some, but it was very common in the 19th & early 20th centuries for many of the reasons I have stated above.

Cemetery picnic early 20th century
If you are looking for ancestors buried in local cemeteries, check out the books put out by Historical Data Services. The Greenwich Free Library has non-circulating copies in the Gill Room. I also have a few of them in my office for research, so stop by on a Friday morning.

Also, check out Find-A-Grave. It is a very useful website to locate burial information throughout the country.