The Town of Bethlehem Historical Association
P.O. Box 263
1003 River Road
Selkirk, NY 12158
Regular meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 P.M., September through May, except January and February, 2 pm. In July and August, the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum is open Sunday afternoons from 2-4 pm. The museum is open before and after meetings and can be visited by appointment.
To further connect with the Bethlehem Historical Association, please like us on Facebook.
There are many exciting events upcoming, so please click here for more info: Events & Activities
Next up on September 10 is the hamlet of Selkirk.
Beginning at the Selkirk Park, hikers will walk along Thatcher Street and Maple Avenue and learn about American Revolution veteran James Selkirk, one of Bethlehem’s oldest family run business Lehmann’s Garage, and the West Shore Railroad. Enjoy a mix of old and new architecture with Victorian era homes amid the ranch styles of the 1950s. Meet at the Selkirk Park on Thatcher Street at 9:30 AM.
Cancellations will be posted here by 8 AM of the hike day. Click on the History Hike tab at left for more info about registering and about upcoming hikes.
Questions? Email town historian Susan Leath, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bethlehem Historical Association celebrates the opening day of our summer exhibit Parade of Fashion 1860s to 1960s with a free ice cream social on Sunday, June 12 from 1 to 4 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. All are welcome!
Over the winter, BHA did a complete inventory of their textile and clothing collection and re-discovered a treasure trove of apparel and accessories for men, women and children. This year’s summer exhibit, Parade of Fashion 1860s to 1960s, highlights these wonderful items.
The Cedar Hill Schoolhouse museum is NOW open Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM June 14 through August 28, 2016. Admission is free.
Many thanks to all who participated in our history paddle last night. Despite the heat and threat of storms, we had 11 boats on the water and had a nice paddle along the Hudson and Vlomankill. We'll do it again next year!
This Saturday, June 25 at 10 AM blacksmith Jim Moran will be demonstrating at the forge at Norman's Kill Farm Park. Last fall he gave an excellent talk at the schoolhouse which left us all anxious to see him in action. Please feel free to stop in. All are welcome for this free demo of the blacksmith trade.
DIRECTIONS to Norman's Kill Farm Park: Take Delaware Avenue towards Albany. Pass Tastee Freeze and go over the high bridge. Just after the bridge, turn right onto Mill Road. You'll see a sign for a veterinary clinic and, if your eye is sharp, a sign for the park with a red anvil below it. If you reach the stop light by the cemetery you've gone to far. Follow Mill Road around under the bridge. The parking lot is just up on the left. Park and walk up the road to the blacksmith shop. It will be on your left.
Scroll down for a picture of Jim at the forge.
Town historian Susan E. Leath is pleased to announce the publication of her new book Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York.
The book dips into hundreds of years of local history from pre-historic Native Americans, to the early Dutch settlement era; from our agricultural heyday to post World War II suburbanization. Articles feature historic locations all over the town of Bethlehem including the hamlets of Delmar, Selkirk, South Bethlehem, Cedar Hill, Slingerlands and Normansville. It explores recognizable local landmarks such as the Adams House in Delmar and the Cedar Hill Mansion in Selkirk. Readers will learn about the families that gave their names to such familiar hamlets as Slingerlands and Selkirk, the street names of Groesbeck and Winne, and water ways like the Hudson River and the Normanskill.
Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York, published by the History Press, is available for sale at the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall, I Love Books in Delmar, Tattered Pages in Glenmont, and many other retailers including online.
All of the author’s royalties are donated to the Bethlehem Historical Association.
Thursday evening May 19, beginning at 7 PM, is our annual membership meeting. Business includes the election of officers and trustees, presentation of the president's annual report and presentation of the budget for the upcoming year. Enjoy a special dessert buffet after the meeting!
On Thursday, April 21 at 7 PM Michael Engle will present an illustrated talk about diners in Bethlehem and the Capital District. Engle has been researching diners since 1996. A faculty member at HVCC, he co-authored “Diners of New York” and wrote “Diners of the Capital District.” His current project focuses on the history of diners in the Great Lakes states. He is passionate about Capital District diners and those built in western New York between 1921 and 1950.
The lecture takes place at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. All are welcome. Free. Refreshments and conversation will follow the talk.
Following the talk, town historian Susan Leath will be available to sell and sign her new book Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York.
Visit Mike's website at NYDiners.com
Please join us at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 7 PM. John Wemple, Jr will present a talk about the Wemples of Bethlehem. Come and find out more about a prominent Bethlehem family now remembered in the name Wemple Road.
The event takes place at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. All are welcome. Free. Refreshments and conversation will follow the talk.
The above map is from 1891 and shows what was the hamlet of Wemple along today's Wemple Road.
Following the talk on the 17th, town historian Susan Leath will be available to sell and sign her new book Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York.
On Thursday, February 18 at 2:00 PM performer Bonnie Mion presents a talk and storytelling about Women’s Suffrage that includes the suffrage activists in our local and regional area. During her research, Mion was pleased to discover that two of her great grandparents were active suffragists working as organizers, fundraisers and speakers. Her great grandfather, Nathaniel Schmidt, was often an honored speaker, giving talks and holding tent meetings alongside such leading lights as Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Reverend Anna Shaw, and Harriet Mills May.
Bonnie Mion is professional dancer and storyteller and a retired psychotherapist. She is a member of the Storycircle of the Capital District and the Capital Advanced Toastmasters.
The talk will be held at the Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar. All are welcome. Free. Refreshments and conversation will follow the talk. Please note the venue change from our usual location.
On Thursday afternoon January 21 at 2 PM the Bethlehem Historical Association presents Gene F. Gore’s talk The Northern Home Front in the Civil War. Gore will draw from his knowledge of his Tufts and Newman family ancestors using them to explore the common experience of Northerners during the Civil War.
Gore is currently writing about his great uncle, Caleb Tufts. Tufts was a Union soldier with the 31st and 27th Massachusetts, was captured at the Battle of Drury’s Bluff near Richmond, VA and was held in four different Confederate prison camps. Tufts survived the war and died at age 78 in 1919.
Gore has identified eight other ancestors who were Civil War soldiers. He is a member of the Bethlehem Historical Association, the Hatfield Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Capital District Civil War Round Table.
The lecture will be held at 2 PM on January 21 at the Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar. All are welcome. Free. Refreshments and conversation will follow the talk. Please note the venue change from our usual location.
The above illustration is from the book Twenty Million Yankees:the Northern Home Front, volume 14 of the Civil War, Time-Life Books.
Join us and see the schoolhouse all dressed up for the holiday season. Cozy Plaids and Sparkling Lights is the theme. Come Sunday for the Silver Tea and tea time treats. Enjoy the decorations on Monday along with punch and cookies. Both days are 1 to 4 PM and are free and open to the public.
Blacksmithing: Yesterday and Today
Blacksmith Jim Moran presents Blacksmithing: Yesterday and Today at the Bethlehem Historical Association’s monthly meeting on Thursday, November 17 at 7 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk.
Moran has been blacksmithing for over 40 years. Many weekends he can be found at the forge at the Norman’s Kill Farm Park working and shaping iron and steel into useful objects. He is an active member of the Capital District Blacksmiths Association and enjoys sharing the blacksmithing skills he has acquired over the years.
All are welcome; free and open to the public. Join us for refreshments and conversation after the talk.
Below: Jim Moran adds coal to the forge at Norman's Kill Farm Park.
Explore the history of Bethlehem's hamlets including Delmar, Slingerlands, South Bethlehem, Selkirk and Cedar Hill. History Hikes are led by Susan Leath, Bethlehem's town historian and will resume in May 2016.
Sponsored by the Albany County Historical Collaborative in honor of New York State History Month, this talk takes place at 7 PM on Wednesday November 4 at the Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar. Free and open to the public.
Inventors and Inventions of the Capital District overviews the importance of the Capital District as the 19th century "Silicon Valley" of the East. Mr. Rittner will give an illustrated talk about a number of inventions and inventors that reveal how important our area was in the development of American Technology and its impact over the last 200 years.
The Capital District is one of the oldest continually settled areas in the United States and many of the everyday items we take for granted, such as fluorescent lights, were invented here. Albany, Schenectady and Troy were major industrial powerhouses during the 19th century.
Celebrate BHA's 50th anniversary and Archives Month by visiting the Bethlehem Public Library and enjoying an exhibit of Bethlehem images from the 1950s and 60s. The show continues until October 31, 2015.
The next regular meeting of the Bethlehem Historical Association highlights an important era in our history. On Thursday, October 15 at 7 PM, Dr. William Batt will give a presentation about the New York Rent Wars of the 1840s. Join us at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road in Selkirk. Free and open to the public. Refreshments and conversation to follow the lecture. Visit our website at BethlehemHistorical.org for more info. Click to add text, images, and other content
Bethlehem Historical Association members are invited to read the draft bylaws presented at the September 17, 2015 membership meeting. Please click here Documents to go to the PDF.
UPDATE: Thank you BHA members. The By-Laws were approved at the Sept. 17 meeting.
BHA begins their new program year with a talk by New York State Archaeologist Dr. Christina Rieth. Dr. Rieth will speak about Twenty-first Century Archaeology in New York State. Join us on Thursday evening September 17 at 7 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Refreshments and conversation to follow. Free and open to the public.
Dr. Reith oversees a collection of over 4 million items of Native and Euro-American manufacture. It includes the largest Dutch Colonial archaeological materials in North America. Her research of late Prehistoric populations of the Northeastern United States and Canada has led to greatly increased understanding of the movement of settlements, their trade and interactions with their environment and each other.
Click here for more info Events & Activities
The Bethlehem Historical Association’s Cedar Hill Schoolhouse museum highlights a variety of exhibits this summer. Circa 1965 looks back at the Town of Bethlehem during the era in which the organization was founded. It features photographs and memorabilia from around town as well as colorful posters from the Slingerlands Players. One Hundred Years Difference: Clothing from 1865 to 1965 explores 100 years of changing clothing styles. The adjacent Toll Gate building features What’s All the Buzz, a look at bee keeping.
The exhibit continues through August 30, 2015 with the museum open Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM.
Stop by for a visit!
All are welcome to join us Opening Day Sunday, June 14 from 2 to 4 pm, for a free Ice Cream Social. Make your own sundae courtesy of Stewarts Shops.
DATE: Saturday, August 22
TIME: Arrive in time to unload and be on the water by 9 AM
Henry Hudson Park boat launch
Join Town Historian Susan Leath for a guided kayak paddle along the Hudson River and Vlomankill. Learn about Bethlehem’s historic river connections from the unique perspective of actually being on the water. Experience the historic Nicoll-Sill House, Winne’s dock, Parda Hook and, if the creek is passable, the waterfall on the Vlomankill.
Participants must bring all of their own gear and be proficient paddlers. Ms. Leath will provide the history info, but is not a boating instructor. High tide is predicted for 9:43 AM.
In case of inclement weather, check the Bethlehem Historical Association’s website at BethlehemHistorical.org for cancellations. Info will be posted by 7:30 AM the day of the paddle.
Questions about the tour can be directed to Susan Leath, email@example.com.
Arrive at the park with enough time to be on the water by 9 am sharp.
Our Fiftieth Anniversary Dinner Meeting will be at the Mansion at Cedar Hill on Thursday, May 21. Doors open at 5:30, dinner is served at 6:30 with the annual meeting to follow. Please contact Kathy Newkirk at 767-2980 to reserve your spot. The cost is $20 per person.
Are you researching a Bethlehem family? Join us at the Bethlehem Public Library, Tuesday May 12 at 7 pm, to learn about local resources. Presenters are town historian Susan Leath and BPL librarian Frank Somers.
Thursday April 16, 7 PM is our regular monthly meeting. As we celebrate our Golden Anniversary, we’ll be reminiscing about BHA’s 50 year history with charter member Norma June. We’ll also have on display photographs of Bethlehem circa 1965. Join us for a trip down memory lane!
Bring those items that you think might be valuable to the Bethlehem Historical Association’s second annual Antiques Appraisal Day to be held at Bethlehem Town Hall on Saturday, April 18, 2015 between 10 AM and 2 PM.
This year our professional appraisers are Russell Carlsen, Deirdre O’Callaghan and Lynne Phelps.
Russell Carlsen is the proprietor auctioneer of Carlsen Gallery Inc. Antiques in Greenville. Carlsen has been conducting auctions of estate merchandise and antiques in the upper Hudson Valley and Albany area since 1984. The gallery is one of the oldest established auction services in this area and specializes in 18th and 19th century American furniture and accessories including oil paintings, furniture, porcelain, and Oriental rugs.
Deirdre O’Callaghan is the owner of Partridge Hill Antiques which has two locations in Ballston Spa – Stone Soup Antiques and the new Doubleday House Antiques. She is the third generation of women antiques purveyors, following her grandmother and mother. O’Callaghan has particular interest in the areas of American and European silver, pottery, furniture and small items.
Lynn Phelps, a Bethlehem resident, has been a specialist in antiques and costume jewelry for 30 years.
Each item will be appraised for $6 each or three items for $15. All proceeds will benefit the Bethlehem Historical Association and especially its efforts to preserve artifacts relating to the Town of Bethlehem.
Members of BHA with long-held expertise in a variety of areas will also be on hand to advise attendees. Galen Ritchie has an encyclopedic knowledge of coins and stamps. He is a long time member of the American Philatelic Society, the American Numismatic Association and the American Numismatic Society. Arthur Young is also highly qualified to evaluate stamps and first day envelopes, as well as provide assistance with genealogy questions. Ann Vandervort is well-known as a specialist in general 18th and 19th century items, particularly dolls. Rob Halley, another long-time collector and dealer, will again be on hand to display and explain fascinating antiques from the Hudson Valley region. In addition, there will be an opportunity to purchase quilt raffle tickets.
David Chinery will speak about the Lighthouses of the Hudson River during the Bethlehem Historical Association’s March meeting. The date is Thursday March 19, 2015 7 PM. The place is the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Free and open to the public.
Chinery’s illustrated program provides a brief look at lighthouses on the Hudson River in order going north, starting at New York City, and includes lighthouse which still exist today as well as those no longer standing. Chinery will explore the history, characteristics and operations of each lighthouse and some of the most notable lighthouse keepers.David Chinery is a resident of Schodack, NY and is the president of the Historical Society of Esquatak. He earned degrees in Plant Science from Rutgers University and Ohio State University, and is the horticulturist for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County.
Below is the Hudson Athens Lighthouse from the Historic American Building Survey.
The modern understanding of New York State prehistory was principally arrived at through the research of archaeologists Arthur C. Parker, William A. Ritchie, and Robert E. Funk. With his talk entitled Three Twentieth Century Archaeologists Who Revealed the Prehistory of New York State BHA member Galen Ritchie will discuss what they did and how they did it.
All are welcome to our regular monthly meeting Thursday February 19 at 2 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Free and open to the public.
Also in February
BHA is pleased to announce that the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse museum will be OPEN every Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 during the month of February. Enjoy a slice of local Bethlehem history with our new exhibits. No admission charge.
Due to the harsh weather forecast for this Sunday, February 15, 2015, the museum will NOT be open. Hope you are enjoying our good, old-fashioned winter this year!
All are welcome to our regular meeting on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 2 PM. The program will feature Bill Brandow, Project Manager John G. Waite Associates, Architects in Albany, talking about "Governor Martin H. Glynn of Albany and Bethlehem." As always, free and open to the public.
This meeting WILL take place at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse. We had plans to meet at Glynn's summer home across the street from the schoolhouse, but those have fallen through.
Below: Gov. Glynn (right) leaves the capitol with Sec'y Tierny.
Free and open to the public. All are welcome to come down to the schoolhouse and catch some holiday spirit!
On Thursday, November 20 at 7 PM Albany City Historian Anthony Opalka and Bethlehem Town Historian Susan Leath will illustrate how the boundary line between Albany and Bethlehem has changed over the years. The City of Albany evolved from Fort Orange and Beaverwyck; Bethlehem from Rensselaerswyck Manor and the Town of Watervliet. Bethlehem was divided in 1832 to form the Town of New Scotland and Albany has annexed many sections since then. Discover more during Opalka and Leath’s talk at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Free and open to the public.
We had a great season of history hikes in 2014. We'll be back with a full roster next spring. Questions? Email town historian Susan Leath, firstname.lastname@example.org
“people of the waters that are never still"
During our regular monthly meeting Bethlehem resident Emerson Martin, Jr. will frame his talk about his ancestors, the Mohicans, with a series of questions. Who are we? Where are we from? What are we doing here? What did we do? Are we still here? Martin is a sanctioned Mohican Veteran with Native American ancestry on both his grandmother and grandfather’s sides of the family.
The meeting takes place on Thursday October 16 at 7 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Come early for a look at the museum displays and stay late for refreshments. Free and open to the public.
Our first regular meeting of the new program year features Denis Foley speaking about the notorious prohibition era gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond. Diamond's attorney Dan Prior lived across the street from the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse. The meeting is Thursday September 18, 2014, 7 pm at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk. Free and open to the public.
NOTE: The complete listing of 2014-2015 programs can be found by clicking the Events & Activities button on the left.
We had a great time this summer sharing Bethlehem history with our visitors!
Join us for our regular meeting on Thursday April 24 at 7 PM for a talk by noted local author Paul Grondahl about the Corning Estate. The meeting is at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk, and is free and open to the public.
The museum will be open Sundays in February from 2-4 in the afternoon.
Exhibits highlight our town's history and we are pleased to feature
Farming in Bethlehem.
As always a visit to the museum at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse is free. Families are welcome and we are featuring a Please Touch Table. The dates are Feb. 2, 9, 16 & 23.
Presenting at our regular meeting on Thursday February Feb. 20 at 2 PM are Dr. & Mrs. Stuart C. Lyman speaking about Working With Farm Animals. You might be familiar with their farm on Meads Lane.
Instead of a regular meeting at the schoolhouse, we are trying something new in January - a trip to Schuyler Mansion. The date is January 16, 2014, 2 pm.
About 25 of us visited Schuyler Mansion yesterday. Going on a "field trip" was a nice change of pace.
Click here for more info about the Mansion
Please join us for our annual Silver Tea this Sunday and Monday. Drop in between 1 and 4 PM and enjoy the decorations and savor the treats. All welcome. Free and open to the public.
Randy Bushart and David Hamilton tell us about the Selkirk Yards and Nearby Railroads on Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7 pm at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse.
The program is free and open to the public.
Thank you for a great History Hike season. We'll be back in 2014!
Town Historian Susan Leath makes a point during November's history hike in Delmar.
Five Rivers, the History of a Special Place is the topic for our next meeting on Thursday October 17, 2013, 7 pm at the Schoolhouse. Presenter is Co-author Rose Ann Fogarty.
Wood Duck Marsh courtesy of http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/1835.html
It is here! Click on the Events and Activites button at left to make the jump for the complete listing.
PLEASE NOTE THE TIME CHANGE FOR THE MEETING - 7:00 PM except in January and February.
We'll be open June 23rd for our summer exhibit from 2-4 pm. Come join us for a relaxing afternoon listening to the "Rural Felicity" singers and of course a dish of ice cream compliments of Stewart's Shops. The center of the museum will be transformed into a park like setting that will showcase our newly acquired clothing from the 1890s. We look forward to an interesting and colorful summer exhibit.
Our annual meeting this year is May 16, 2013, 7:30pm at the schoolhouse. Officers for the year 2013-14 will be elected. We'll also enjoy a program by John Anson called "Fire Engines, Mastodaon and Batteau: My Career at the New York State Museum." Join us! Free and open to the public.
Matthew J. Kirk will enlighten us about the deeds of Captain Stewart Dean during and after the American Revolution. Thursday April 18, 2013, 7:30 PM at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse. Free and Open to the public.
(Thank you New York State Museum for the picture of Dean.)
"Sparks from the Captial Fire of 1911" is the title of Stuart Lehman's talk scheduled for 7:30 pm Thursday March 21, 2013. Join us! Free and open to the public.
(Thank you New York State Library for the photo.)
Join us on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm to hear Judge W. Dennis Dugan's talk "Lincoln in Albany: The Strange, Twisted and Mysterious Connections Between NY's Capital, Ford's Theater and Garrett's Farm."
The Cedar Hill Schoolhouse Museum will be open Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM on February 3, 10, 17 and 24, 2013. Bring the family. Admission is always free. Featuring our winter exhibits: Toys from the Attic and Ice Harvesting on the Hudson plus a "touch table" where you can examine old and new objects.
Karen and Kathleen with the Please Touch Table.
Ice harvesting tools.
The schoolhouse was built in 1859 as a one room school for District No. 1. In 1907 it was redesigned by Marcus Reynolds into the present two room configuration. Indoor plumbing and electricity were added. The building was used as a school through 1962. In 1965, the Bethlehem Historical Association was chartered and the museum opened.
Town historian and BHA member Susan Leath has learned more information about the Winne family photo on the cover of her new book Bethlehem. The women across the front are, from left to right, Alice, Nancy, May, Ida and Adeline. All have the last name Winne. In the rear on left is Esley Winne, father of John (on the horse), Nancy and May. The three young men on the right are, from left to right, Amos, Aaron and Jessie, possibly step sons of Esley. Esley’s family home still stands near the former Winne Lane (now Village Drive). It currently has a Carriage Road address.
Bethlehem is on sale now at the Bethlehem Town Clerk’s office, I Love Books, Tattered Pages and other local and online retailers.