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Town of Princetown
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Historian's Notebook

(Reproduced from PrincetowNews Spring 1998 with permission of Irma Mastrean, Town Historian)

PRINCETOWN...1798-1998

On March 26, 1798, an Act was passed to erect Corry's Bush, together with the Church land adjoining the patent of Schenectady on the south side of the Mohawk river into a separate town...Princetown. Together with the City of Schenectady, we are the oldest municipalities in Schenectady County. Duanesburg was incorporated in 1765, Niskayuna in 1809, Glenville and Rotterdam in 1820.

The town minutes for 1798 mentioned a Supervisor, a town clerk and tax collector, three assessors, three commissioners of highways, eight overseers of highways, and two fence viewers.

For those early settlers, the ax was the most important tool, since clearing the land for crops was the first priority. Those were hard years with lack of food the main difficulty. Between 1793 and 1800, the average age of death was 34!

The population of the United States was 5,121,000. Most houses were valued at $100 or less. Only one American in 10 lived in a house valued at $700 or more and only one in 100 lived in a dwelling of $3000 or more.

The president of the United States was John Adams, a Federalist (1797-1801). He was the first president to live in the White House. It was first referred to as the White House in 1798, after it was painted with white wash. George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the United States Army. The Department of the Navy was also created in that year.

The Cherry Valley Turnpike, also known as the Great Western Turnpike (now Route 20), was chartered. It followed the old Seneca Indian Trail and was favored by drovers, teamsters, and stage lines. Toll gates were located every 10 miles.

A yellow fever epidemic killed 2086 people in New York City. Edward Jenner published the results of his successful inoculation for smallpox. The Schenectady newspaper was the Mohawk Mercury, a weekly.

BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION SCHEDULE

We have several activities planned. The first important date is June 7 when a Heritage Day will be observed at the Town Hall from 1-4. This will be a remembrance day for senior citizens who live or have lived in our town. We plan to videotape the stories of the "old timers" for a video history of the town. All are welcome. Other tentatively scheduled events include a night at the races at Saratoga in the summer, a night at Proctor's Theatre, and a full day celebration on October 3 at the Tree Farm restaurant. More information on these activities will be included in future newsletters. See you there!

Irma Mastrean, Town Historian

Town of Princetown
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Updated 11/28/98
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