Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
April 15, 2017
Section 1199 of the Education Law of the State of New York requires that all counties and towns in the state appoint a person designated as ‘historian.’
The law was passed to avoid loss of valuable records, including those of the United States soldiers, sailors and marines, as in many instances occurred in the First World War, together with records of WACS, WAVES and SPARS.
Mr. Fred M. Beckwith was appointed the first historian in Warren County when the Department of History and Archives was formed on March 1, 1944 by the Board of Supervisors.
The law states that, “A local historian shall be appointed for each city, town, or village.” One of Mr. Beckwith’s first responsibilities as the newly appointed County Historian was to see that each municipality in the county had an appointed local historian.
In his first report to the board of Supervisors on February 12, 1945, Mr. Beckwith indicated the following appointments to the position of Town Historian had been made:
Town of Caldwell – Mrs. Hartwell L. Smith
Town of Bolton – Mrs. H. F. Seaman
Town of Chester – Joseph Johnson
Town of Hague – Joseph Johnson
Town of Horicon – Boyd A. Kelly
Town of Johnsburg – Parthenia Whitaker
Town of Luzerne – Lovisa S. Beattie
Town of Queensbury – Grace Richardson
Town of Stony Creek – Effie Frye
Town of Warrensburg – Ann Cushman
Town of Thurman – VACANT
(due to the death of Eloise Cameron)
City of Glens Falls – Earl C. Hitchcock
Warren County – Fred M. Beckwith
The State of New York specifically directed that each county historian was to, “secure in his county the service records and history of all the persons in the United States military who are residents of his particular county.”
Mr. Beckwith reported that with the ‘fine cooperation of the town and city historians,’ the project was well under way. “The work is being carried on and will be continued until our country’s sons and daughters in service have received their honorable military discharges…. There are between 4,000 and 5,000 of our men and women of the military from this county.”
To help with this project, the Board of Supervisors purchased an “Electro-Copyist” machine and equipment which was used to make exact copies of the original military discharges.
The original discharge was stamped and signed by the county clerk and then by the use of the electro machine and equipment, copies were made.
At the time, the Board of Supervisors provided vault space at 200 Glen Street for these military records as well as other valuable historic documents. Today all materials kept by the County Historian are stored in the Municipal Center Records Storage Center.
Today the local public historians continue to be a force in the county. Warren County historians include:
Town of Bolton – Ted Caldwell and William Gates
Town of Chester – Donna Lagoy
Town of Hague – Sally Rympka
Town of Horicon – Colleen Murtagh
Town of Johnsburg – Jo Ann Bates
Town and Village of Lake George – Margy Mannix
Town of Lake Luzerne – Pam Morin
Town of Queensbury – Joan Aldous
Town of Stony Creek – Cynthia Cameron
Town of Warrensburg – Sandi Parisi
City of Glens Falls – Wayne Wright
Warren County – Stan Cianfarano
Any of the historians would be happy to help you with your historical inquiries!
What does the historian do today?
The Association of Public Historians of New York State defines the role of the historian to be, 1) Research and Writing, 2) Public Presentations, 3) Historical Advocacy, and 4) Organizational Advocacy. In addition, most historians would maintain these areas are only of portion of what they do.
In addition, most historians engage in collections work – caring for historic objects and paper – sorting, organizing, and filing, arranging displays, answering genealogy questions, historic building and organization research, maintaining vertical and surname files, and advocating for historical markers while most are involved with local and regional historical societies and museums.
When the phone rings in the historian’s office, there is no predicting what kind of request may be coming from the other end of the line.
This article was prepared by Warren County Historian Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society. It was inspired by a newspaper article found in the historian’s files.