A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in Schenectady for a PRSA meeting, that I took pictures, and that I'd share them later. Later is now.

Schenectady is one of those towns I've always heard of but don't know why. I just remember the name, but not why the place might have been significant. Maybe it's because Grace Adler was from Schenectady, but I doubt it. All of the other popular references are ones I wouldn't have known, but I can't imagine that I paid attention that closely when watching Will and Grace.

Regardless, I knew the name before I moved here.

It's about a half hour drive from our house to the downtown area of Schenectady, where we have had lunch, enjoyed a show, and I have had some meetings. It's a cute downtown area, with historic buildings along a very walkable main street called State Street.

The place where we had our PRSA event is called Urban Co-Works. It's an interesting flexible office space that allows non-profits, con…

Back Roads of Massachusetts

As I was leaving Holland this morning, I checked two boxes on my GPS settings: Avoid Toll Roads and Avoid Highways. It was time to see a little countryside.

One of the things I wanted to make sure I did this time was stop and take pictures of this church in Palmer. It is my favorite building on the way to my friends' home, and I have never taken the time to get a photo.

St. Paul's Church was founded as a Universalist congregation in 1876. I guess I just assumed that it was something else first, but after looking into the history I found that it has always been a Universalist congregation. The church building was built in 1879 out of Monson granite, quarried just a few miles to the south of Palmer.

Rather than turn north at Palmer to get on I-90, I continued through the town and its historic homes to take Highway 181 toward Bondsville. Passing white-washed fences that skirted red barns and silver-gray silos, I took in the charming Massachusetts countryside. As I neared the comm…

Troy, New York

Originally posted on my Quest blog.

I've been working on a new brochure for the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. In the process, I've been looking at old photos of Troy. This city is one of the most interesting ones in this area, in my opinion. Looking at the skyline from the Hudson River is like stepping back in time. The church spires tower above a crowded matrix of row houses and historical 19th century buildings. It looks much like this, even today.

This afternoon, I was going over to Troy to register for a drawing class at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, a gift from Kef. As I was sitting at the stop light to turn right onto River Street, my eyes were drawn to the Market Block building rising up at the corner of River and Fulton. The light changed, so I couldn't take a photo, but you can see it here on a Google Map street view. This amazing structure is characteristic of many buildings in the Central Troy Historic District. The Wikipedia article on this area says i…

Christman Sanctuary

Originally posted on The Quest blog.

Our destination this beautiful July holiday was the Christman Sanctuary, a nature preserve near Duanesburg in Schenectady County, New York. The land was, as you might guess, donated by the Christman family. The earliest map I could find that included landowners' names, the 1866 Stone & Stuart, shows the land belonging to S. Christman. I found that to be Spencer Christman, father of William Weaver Christman, in whose memory the land was donated (by his youngest son, Lansing Christman). According to the obituary on Find-a-Grave, Spencer Christman purchased the land in 1848, where he farmed, raised his family, and died at the age of 86. This line from the memorial gives you a glimpse into the life of this family's patriarch: "His integrity, his sterling Christian character and his kindliness of heart won for him from a wide circle of acquaintances, a place not easily filled."

William Weaver Christman, Spencer's son, was a far…

The Pruyn House

There are many historical sites in the Capital Region that I've wanted to visit. Today, I was out in Albany Rural Cemetery doing some headstone photography. As I was wrapping up my work I noticed the Pruyn family headstones. This reminded me that I had not yet visited the Pruyn House, a historic site that's just down the road from home. So, rather than going straight out of the cemetery to go home, I turned right and made my way to Pruyn House. (For those of you, like me, who are not accustomed to seeing "uy" in names, it sounds like a long "i"... so imagine that the name is spelled "Prine House" and you'll be pronouncing it correctly in your head.)

This home was built between 1825 and 1830 on land owned by the Van Rensselaer patroon. The home belonged to the patroon's land agent (i.e. rent collector), Casparus Francis Pruyn. He was the sixth generation of Pruyns to live in America, the first having arrived in the 1660's.

Although you …

Lee and Stockbridge

Yesterday afternoon, my sister said, "You need to be ready to leave the house at 9:30 tomorrow morning." And thus began another of Kef's surprise outings to wrap up my birthday week. She loves doing this sort of thing... loves keeping secrets and surprising people with the most perfect kind of unexpected, amazing day.

We headed East toward Massachusetts, and my only clue of something major was that we continued past East Greenbush. Which means we weren't staying local. At first I thought we might be headed to Holland to see the Horn-Eldreds, but we took the Pittsfield/Lee exit. So then I thought we might be going to one of the museums that I'd mentioned that are over here. There are several.

As we turned onto the main street in Lee, I was immediately in love with this picturesque little town. It is very typical of New England, of course, which is why I adore this area. I haven't been through a town in the Berkshires that didn't have great historic buildin…

The Shenandoah Valley

I started my day at a leisurely pace, making the decision to get off of the Interstate for a while. From Knoxville, I took US 11, which dovetails with Tennessee 1, the first state road in Tennessee. I thought this might be a good way to follow the likely route of early settlers, although it was constructed 100 years or more after my people would have come through there. I made a couple of stops in Kingsport, which is quite a charming little town along the Holston River. It has a beautiful green belt along the river, as well as a branch of the Abingdon Olive Oil Company, which was the purpose of the detour. Kef had purchased some olive oils at the Art of Oil in Boone a few years back. Although Boone wasn't on my route, this place was. So I stopped in to pick up some "necessities." Finally, I added the nearest Zaxby's to my route before heading on to Virginia.

The purpose of my shorter trek today was to stand on ancestral lands. By getting off of the major highway, I w…