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See Also: Schenectady in the Revolutionary War

A History of Schenectady During the Revolution:
Prefatory Note and Introduction

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[This information is from A History of Schenectady During the Revolution by Willis T. Hanson, Jr. (Brattleboro, VT: E. L. Hildreth & Co., 1916). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 H25, and copies are also available for borrowing. Thanks to Norm Goldman for scanning part of this book.]

To my mother this work is affectionately dedicated.

Prefatory Note (p. v)

The history of Schenectady during the troublesome times of the Revolution is so closely linked with the affairs of the whole Mohawk Valley, and with the tides of the border wars that laid waste the surrounding country almost to her gates, that, in dealing with the history of the one, one must necessarily touch to a large extent upon the history of the other.

Introduction (pp. vii-ix)

While in the title of this work I have made a distinction between the town of Schenectady and the Schenectady District, which included both the present townships of Glenville and Rotterdam and because of its proximity to the district, for military organization, Princetown, and while I have laid stress for the most part on the activities of the town proper, it will be seen that by reason of the men of the district sharing as they did with the inhabitants of the town the burden of civil and military service and the creation of the activities to which the following pages relate, the history of the town in reality becomes the history of the district.

In gathering material for this work I have been struck with the scarcity of available manuscript sources of information.

In the minutes of the various Committees of Safety which rightly form the base upon which the history of the early years of the war is built, wide gaps appear and the only manuscript records of these boards now known to exist are those covering the period from January 15, 1777, to February 17, 1778, deposited in the Library of Congress (Force Collection), which, being wrongly labeled and catalogued, were discovered by the writer only by the merest chance.

Judge Sanders, writing in 1879, had before him a record book of one hundred and sixty-two closely written pages covering the minutes of the first Board and its successors, but unfortunately he has given us but a few scattered extracts of the valuable and interesting data which it contained. Judge Yates, writing some twenty-three years later, intimates that he also had access to these records, but more unfortunately still, instead of making use of the rare opportunity afforded, such passages as he has given us are identical with those transcribed by Judge Sanders.

Fortunately for posterity, before the record book became irrevocably lost it came to the attention of one who with considerable labor and expense has given us, in a little magazine which he called the American Antiquarian and Quarterly Genealogical Record (note 4, p. 18), the minutes from the first meeting of the Board on May 6, 1775, to and including the minutes of the meeting of May 27, 1776.

While, without a doubt, many of the records of our early days were destroyed in the fire that in 1819 swept the lower part of the town, it is mainly to negligence, carelessness and a lack of appreciation of historical value that we owe our present lack of manuscript sources of information.

Papers found in old trunks and boxes stored away in the garrets of houses dating back to the early days are constantly coming to light to bear their testimony to the truths of the past. That there are many more such trunks and boxes in many more such garrets is not an unreasonable supposition, and that we may not find ourselves guilty of that negligence that has been responsible for the loss of so much valuable data in the past it becomes our duty to make available for posterity such pertinent matter as we may chance upon, either by depositing it with libraries and societies formed for the safe keeping of such material or by calling it to the attention of some historian whose interest in his subject should be an assurance of a proper use being made of it.

Willis T. Hanson, Jr.

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See Also: Schenectady in the Revolutionary War updated March 30, 2015

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