Our History 

Town History

History of Northumberland:

  • 2017 Town Historian Report part 2*
  • Northumberland was formed from Saratoga March 16, 1798.

    It lies upon the Hudson River, North of the Center of the County. The surface is level and broken by deep ravines. A line of clay and slate bluffs 30-100 feet high extend along the river. Snookkill and it's tributary Beaver Dam Creek are the principal streams. The soil is generally light sandy loam. Agriculture remains the Town's largest industry.

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     In 1700 Mohican Indians had two villages here.


    We believe the name Northumberland which means border town has a Scottish origin. In 1765 James Brisbin a native of Scotland came here when we were part of Saratoga. He settled 1 1/2 miles westerly of Fort Miller, towards Bacon Hill a hamlet in Northumberland that became the hub of activity with the Hudson River nearby. The river was a major asset and one of the main reasons pioneers settled here was for the water power. Fort Miller was built in 1755 under the direction of Colonel Miller, it was located on the flat, above the rapids. A State marker is on site. The Western shore of the river was the theater for border warfare common to all this valley. According to Sylvester's History of Saratoga County indian scouting parties climbed these hills. Farmers still find arrowheads and cannon balls (I have a cannon ball retrieved from a farmers field in our Archives) as they dig deeper with more modern equipment into these Historic soils. In 1823 the Champlain Canal opened. The D&H Railroad opened in 1834.


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    A Tory named Hugh Monroe built the first sawmill...


    at Gansevoort but he was compelled to flee to Canada during the Revolution and his property was confiscated by the government. He destroyed his mills before he left. Afterward, Colonel (later he became General) Peter Gansevoort, the hero of Fort Stanwix discovered the old mill sites and when he purchased the property after the war he erected a new sawmill and grist mill. Peter was our most illustrious citizen and his family name is being honored in the naming our hamlet Gansevoort. It is here that the Town Municipal Office conducts town business in an old school building #6, that has a town marker at this location on Catherine Street (named after Peter's wife). Many of our street names honor the Gansevoort family. Our park in the village was given to the town by the Gansevoort family. Our Highway Department and Gansevoort Post Office is on Leonard Street, named after another Gansevoort member.


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    We have many Historic sites within the township.


    6 with State Markers. Saratoga County Communities An Historic Perspective, published in 1980 by the Saratoga County Planning Board lists our town( along with all other towns in County ) with a picture from George Bolster's Collection of Historic Stark's Knob (which has recently been blessed with new Historic Signage parking area, flags with the help of Friends of Starks Knob and funding from grants and Town of Northumberland and the Adirondack School.). The book gives some History, a description of the sites and a map of the Town. Other pictures include Colonel Sidney Berry House (Northumberland's first Supervisor); The oldest Church in town, the Bacon Hill Church c. 1820; Vanderwerker Farm c. 1840 ( a pioneer family home and they were honored on the "envelope" at our town's 200th Birthday Celebration in 1998. Lois Vanderwerker Taylor spoke about their family heritage); Captain Martin Burke Home c.1820, he was a hero of the Mexican War.; and the Gansevoort Mansion prior 1800-1813, not really known who built it. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the home of Peter's son Herman. It had extensive repairs and renovations in 1835 and various owners have done more since. There are state markers at John MCCrea Home, he was the brother of murdered Jane MCCrea in 1777; Site of British Ovens on West River Road on former Lewis-Thompson-Griffen Farm; General John Stark Marker on Rte 32 near the Stark's Knob Road that has the Knox Trek Marker; Fort Miller Marker on West River Road. The book does an excellent job of describing these Historic Sites. Saratoga's first County Historian, Grace Vanderwerker, (and our first town historian) wrote articles for the Saratogian Newspaper in 1928 and in 1938 they were made into 3 booklets, finally a book which was reprinted in 1994 with an index and biography added on the author, by Alice Zetterstrom. Grace was born in 1884 and died in 1980. The same year I became Northumberland's 5th Town Historian. Her writing is my bible for the Town. From her work as historian and for those of us who have followed her we kept a record of Cemeteries, some genealogical data, scrapbooks of material clipped from local newspapers of local interest, historical documents, albums of photos (which include old houses, country scenes of farming land, celebrations, people, places and things all around Northumberland) stories, tidbits of information on people and events that make up the fabric of our town. I keep an inventory and every year a Historian's report goes to the Town, The County Historian and The State Education Department. Other reference books I use are Sylvester's History of Saratoga County 1878 (reprinted in 1979 by Saratoga County Historian Violet Dunn who also was Editor in Chief of Saratoga County Heritage compiled in 1974.; Gazetteer of New York State 1860; Directory of Saratoga County and Queensbury, New York 1871. All these references help to put the peices together that help preserve the memories of years gone by. If we know where we have been we are better prepared to plan for the future.


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    In 1975 the Country Celebrated it's Bicentennial...


    and Northumberland became a Bicentennial Community. We had a big celebration with Bernard Shaw Chairman his committee produced a booklet commemorating the events that took place and Historian Mildred Shaw entered Town History that she had gleaned from reference books and passed along. In 1998 we celebrated our Town Bicentennial with 3 days of celebration that took us to all three hamlets and we compiled a Booklet that featured Highlights from our History plus timelines for History from 18th, 19th and 20th Century; pictures of Historic Houses; Messages from Edgar King Town Supervisor at the time, and me, Town Historian still. Keith Bemis was our Publisher and the Bicentennial committee helped with contents, with reports on our March Event 1998 when we had our Post Office Cancellation Day at the Town Municipal Center on March 15, 1998 and Ecumenical Service at the Bacon Hill Reformed Church on March 16,1998 with the Fourth of July Weekend at James Heber Air Park on July 3, Exhibits at Town Park on 4th with Bill Gifford's Parade and childrens Activities at the Bertha E. Smith Youth Park and firetruck displays and E.M.S demonstrations and a Chicken Barbeque at the FireHouse. Paul Bolesh Councilman and Penny Gifford Hargett co-chaired the event. Three of the photos I took of people at the events are in the book "A Year In The Life of Saratoga County" which was printed in 1999 by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors as part of our Year 2000 Celebrations. Town Markers at the Municipal Center and Bertha E. Smith Youth Park were also part of Celebration 2000 events along with a Rock Monument for our Town Park in Gansevoort. We had a display set up in the County Historian's tent at the Saratoga County Fair, Gansevoort Mansion Replica was our main feature and Historical tidbits in a display case. Richard Colozza Councilman at that time was chairman of 2000 Celebration Committee.


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    Northumberland has many diverse businesses located here.


    Some and not in any specific order I'll name: A&A Excavations, Alpha Omega Construction, Reed's Country Store, Stewarts, Roberts Garage, N.S.Associates, Hebers AirPark and Airway Meadows Golf Course, Saratoga Flag Company, Kobor Brewing, Stonebridge Iron Works, Emotional Rescue Hair Salon, Reeds Hydraulics, Clear Echo Farm, Barbers Farm, Ellithorpe's Greenhouses, Welcome Stock Farm, King Ransom Farm and Bed and Breakfast, Saratoga R.V. Park, Brownville Pub, The Horse Maids, Heslins Collision Service, American Safety Products, Town & Country Auction Service, Morning Star Septic Service, Thomas Poultry Farm, Harry Thomas Farm. We also have 3 active churches: Bacon Hill Reformed Church c.1820, St. Teresa's Catholic Church and Maranantha Church.


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    Earliest town records were lost from the first town meeting in 1799-1838.


    We have some records dating to 1839 but not all of the records are complete. Many officials kept records at home and were not always passed on the newly elected officers. In 1839 the pathmaster started records, today this officer is the Town Highway Superintendent. In 1872 we have some School Trustee and School District records. In 1887 Town Clerks records, in 1899 the Justice of the Peace and in 1902 the town board kept records of their meetings and still not all of these are complete. The first town hall was the old Borden Plant Building purchased in 1935, part of which is used today by the Town Highway Department. Since the Town bought the old 2 room school (the original burned but was rebuilt into a 3 room school, see town marker at site) in 1973 many renovations have taken place. It currently houses the Offices of Town Clerk; The Town Board; The Assessors; Building Inspector and Clerk; Zoning and Planning Boards; Court Justices and Clerk; 911 Coordinator; and the Youth Commission; Northumberland Senior Citizens; as well as a sub-station for the Saratoga County Sheriff Department. The Town Constable lives at 11 Catherine Street. AsTown Historian I have always had an office in my home at 9 Catherine Street. My hours are open. I can be reached by phone or E-mail or leave me a message at the Town Clerk's Office and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Upon request a Research Materials Available an Historian's List could be provided that titles the 20 reference books at my disposal; genealogical Material Aids Available and what Folders on various subjects of local Interests I have researched, such as: Fire Department; Post Office; Supervisors List 1791-1998; Genealogy on file; Past Officials and Unsuccessful Bids for Office; Military File and Military Burial Records etc.; Some old school records; church records; Folders on People that made a difference in Northumberland; Cemetery Records 1875 to present; Old Homes and properties; Celebrations; Scrapbooks from 1935 to present; information on former Historian's; Census notes; unofficial statistics on Birth and Death records from clippings and indexes; my Historian's reports from 1980; 3 Saratoga Landfill Scrapbooks with time line; many photo albums from 1900's to present. Notebooks of works in continuous progress include profiles of local officials; residents who have made or are making a difference; Town meetings and minutes (some incomplete); Cemetery and military records upkeep; clippings on births, deaths and people related to people in Northumberland. Copies of my Inventory and a Copy of my Research Material's List is on file at Town Clerk's Office.

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    Town Historian of Northumberland

    Georgia Ball
    9 Catherine Street, Gansevoort, New York 12831-2004
    Telephone: 793-2017
    e-mail: gball8@nycap.rr.com

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