Explore New England's Past
February 7, 2011 9:10 PM   Subscribe

"We are under obligation to A. S. Partridge of Depeyster, who obtained the following incidents last summer from N. F. Swain, his neighbor. Mr. Swain is now upwards of ninety years old, and his memory of what transpired in his younger days is especially good, and the incidents, together with the dates, places and names were so impressed on his mind that they may be relied upon as authentic."
From the History of Hammond, New York, one of about 1500 Town Histories, courtesy of Ray's Place. posted by Devils Rancher (12 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Don't say it! We can all see it! Just tell yourselves, "Substance is more important than style!"
posted by Xoebe at 10:02 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pretty cool, but I think he should have changed everybody's name in all the stories to "Ray."
posted by rhizome at 10:25 PM on February 7, 2011

I don't see Arkham, Innsmouth or Dunwich anywhere on the Massachusetts page. Time for a strongly-worded email.
posted by clarknova at 10:46 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it historical revisionism, a faulty memory, or a totally West Coast view of the world that places Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota(!) in New England?
posted by three blind mice at 11:17 PM on February 7, 2011

By chance, I was just browsing that site a few days ago, looking up some western New York history that interests me. Here's a woman reminiscing about her early days in the area:
We brought in a few sheep with us; they were the only ones in the neighborhood; they became the especial object of the wolves. Coming out of the Wilson swamp nights, their howling would be terrific. Two years after we came in with my then small children, one day when I heard the sheep bleating, I went out to see what the matter was. A large wolf had badly wounded a sheep. As I approached him he left the sheep and walked off snarling, as if reluctant to leave his prey. I went for my nearest neighbor, Mr. Stoughton, to come and dress the sheep. It was three fourths of a mile through the woods. On my way a large gray fox crossed the road ahead of me. Returning with my neighbor, a large bear slowly crossed the road in sight of us.
In the same bout of searches, I also found the Old Fulton NY Post Card Website, which has a wacky homemade-looking interface but lots of solid content if you're into reading the newspaper archives of various New York State towns.
This website is a searchable repository of many of the old Newspapers published in New York State. The old Newspapers found on this site has have been scanned by production grade Wicks and Wilson Microfilm scanners which, in the authors opinion, are the finest available. The microfilm for this site was obtained from the State of New York Newspaper Project (1970s early 1980’s) and/or from libraries, historical societies, or private individuals who wanted to share what they had.
You can download the scanned newspapers a page at a time as a PDF file.

Anyone got anything else along those lines?
posted by pracowity at 11:57 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

fultonhistory is very, very special. So few sites exist like that (so it's a shame the interface is absolute nonsense).

Try Brooklyn Daily Eagle and The Northern NY Library Network.
posted by zvs at 12:59 AM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

The part about wearing onions on your belt (it was the style at the time) was especially interesting.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:42 AM on February 8, 2011

Thanks for this. I love local histories, and plowing through what others consider dull material for something surprising.

It's out of period and place, but I recommend History of Myddle by Richard Gough (early modern England).
posted by Countess Elena at 4:27 AM on February 8, 2011

In amongst the pretty dry and dull rolls and dates, there are some very cool finds:
Clark, in his Onoridaga, gives the following account of certain caves in the vicinity of Jamesville:

"Nathan Beckwith, in sinking a well, about a mile east of Jamesville, in 1807, discovered a large cavern. It has been explored to some extent in a southwesterly direction from the entrance at the well. The depth at the entrance of the cavern may be about twenty feet; height of the cavern at the entrance, about seven feet; width, near fiVC feet. These dimensions continue six or eight rods, when the space becomes contracted to a width just sufficient for a single persou to pass through. It soon becomes broader. The size is very far from being uniform, the top in some places being not more than three or four feet from the bottom. Dogtooth spar, stalactites and stalagmites, are numerous. A small stream of water runs along the bottom.

"There is another cave, about two miles west of Jamesville, on the farm of the late Mr. Brown, which is several hundred feet deep and which has never been thoroughly explored. The opening from the top is through a fissure about three feet broad by eight feet long. After descending some twenty feet, there is an extensive opening to the great valley below. It is supposed that this cave extends all along the great ledge of limestone rock, from the western part of DeWitt, nearly to Jamesville. The ledge is usually about two hundred feet high. The cave itself is a great singularity, if not curiosity.

"At the time this cave was first made known to the settlers, tools which had been used for mining purposes were found at its mouth, and also a bar of solid silver two inches square and eighteen inches long, having a point of steel. It is also reported that a kettle of money was found about twenty rods from the cave, which was supposed to have been coined there."
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2011

Relevant SLYT?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:19 AM on February 8, 2011

Is it historical revisionism, a faulty memory, or a totally West Coast view of the world that places Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota(!) in New England?

Reminds me of this quote frommy old freshman English professor:
I spent the day in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, answering, at least to my satisfaction, where the midwest begins. Its eastern edge would seem to me to be Columbus, Ohio, after which the great cornfields appear and continue all the way to St. Louis.

- Roads: driving America's great highways By Larry McMurtry
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2011

Those Jamesville caves are intriguing. I had to wonder if they were in any way related to Clark Reservation, which is pretty amazing geologically, or if they had been destroyed as casualties of the Jamesville Quarry.

Great post. I look forward to doing some serious digging myself.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2011

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