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Looking Back

Facts and Artifacts and Historical Highlights;
a history of our newsletter

Sand Lake Historical Society


Click on images to see larger versions. Click on links in the text to view or download the entire newsletter, from our collection of Back Issues.

December 1974 issueFacts and Artifacts, December 1974. This is one of the earliest newsletters for the then-newly formed Sand Lake Historical Society. At this point, the major focus was on the upcoming Bicentennial of the US, and a Town of Sand Lake Bicentennial Commission had been formed to celebrate in the community.

Elsewhere in this two-page issue, it was noted that “CHARTER MEMBERSHIPS are still available through May, 1975. 89 persons have joined in the seven months of our existence.”

Facts and Artifacts continued as the newsletter name for several more issues. But the September/ October 1975 issue bore the name Sand Lake Historical Society News (Facts and Artifacts). Notable in that issue was the fact that a dinner was to be held to celebrate the granting of the Society’s Provisional Charter on June 27, 1975!

Things continued either as …News or …Newsletter until July 1977, when Facts and Artifacts returned! The April 1978 issue hinted at more change: “We have decided to give the newsletter a new name. Details of the selection of a name will be published shortly. It’s time to put your ‘thinking caps’ on!”

January-June 1979 newsletterIndeed, Historical Highlights appears to have debuted with the October, November, December 1978 issue. The January-June 1979 issue featured the President’s Annual Report. The past 12 months had been busy ones for SLHS!  A loose-leaf history book was produced. The Society collaborated in “researching, digging and selling pieces of Sand Lake Glass.” Proceeds from the sale were donated to the Sand Lake Ambulance Association.

1979 was also the first year of memorial scholarships given for excellence in history to a boy and girl graduating from Averill Park High School. Awards were given in memory of Sanford Young. Also that year were a house tour and plant sale! Meetings during the period featured programs on such topics as charcoal burning, advertising tin containers, “The Role of the Town Historian,” and a roundtable discussion of “The Way it Was” with Myra Wehnau and Helen Crape Guy.

Later that year (1979), the Sand Lake Historical Society was granted an Absolute Charter by the New York State Board of Regents on November 15!

Pat Brock sketch of a charcoal burnThere wasn’t all that much to the April 1984 Historical Highlights beyond notice of the 9th Annual Dinner, Annual Meeting and Election of Officers, to be held May 8 at Salem UMC in West Sand Lake. However, this sketch of a charcoal burning pit, drawn by Patricia Block, was reproduced in that issue.

Jun 1985 Historical HighlightsWe're not sure what prompted it, but the June 1985 issue of Historical Highlights was reproduced in blue ink, a refreshing change from the usual black ink! Announcements in that issue included two Memorial Scholarship awards to high school seniors of $100 each, well up from the $25 each given first in 1979.

The May 1988-February 1989 issue noted the availability of both bronze house plaques to identify historic structures in the Town and flag kits. Elsewhere it was noted that the Society’s own Library had been relocated to the (then still fairly new) Sand Lake Town Library at 43 Mall, a move that allowed much greater access to our collection (rather than having to wait for a monthly meeting)!

Historical Highlights Fall 1994By 1994, the Society had moved solidly into the late 20th century via a newsletter created entirely on a computer and utilizing word processing software for easier formatting and more of a “typeset” look! By this time as well, Historical Highlights regularly had a feature article on some aspect of local history.

The Fall 1994 issue feature was “The Wynantskill Hydro-Electric Co. – as I saw it grow” by D. Robert Hastings (originally copied by Stanley Buck on February 29, 1988, from notes by Mr. Hastings).

Historical Highlights Sprin 1999The Spring 1999 issue featured an article on the house once owned by Dr. Smith Boughton. The new owners had chosen to name it “Calico House” in honor of Boughton and his “Calico Indians,” featuring so prominently in the mid-19th century Anti-Rent Wars in Rensselaer County.

Another article went into detail of Boughton’s involvement in that movement.

Historical Highlights Spring 2004The year 2004 saw two significant anniversaries: it was the 30th anniversary of the Sand Lake Historical Society; more notably, it was the 75th anniversary of the Averill Park Central School District. Most of the Spring 2004 issue of Historical Highlights was devoted to a look back — in both words and pictures — at the schools in the Town prior to 1929. Most of these were one-room schoolhouses, but a few were slightly larger.

The article also mentioned a number of private schools in the Town through the years. That list included: Select School known as Gregory’s noted to be “nearly opposite E. Renderts” in 1825; Select School at Sliter’s Corners (present hamlet of Sand Lake) noted to be “by Dr. Elmore’s” in 1854; Select School in basement of Second Lutheran Church (on Route 43) in 1854; Sand Lake Academy in Gabler Hotel (Lakeview Hotel) in 1843.

Historical Highlights Spring 2004 page 2Also, Brookside Institute in 1860s located next to the Fox Mansion; Sand Lake Female Seminary - a boarding school in 1880s (Lakeview Hotel); Scram’s Collegiate Institute - a boarding school for boys located on site of Church of the Covenant from 1852-75 (the building had served as a hotel before and after the Institute; it burned in 1921); A private school opened by Miss Nellie Clark noted to be “where Boarer’s Hotel  is”; and Miss Fannie Howard conducted a private Day School in Averill Park (in a building behind the first house on Johnnycake Lane) in 1889.

Issues in 2009 — our 35th year — continued to feature interesting history-related articles.  The Winter issue detailed baseball great and “hometown hero” Elroy Face. The Spring issue brought a feature on Cemetery Care, as well as articles on continuing restoration of the old West Sand Lake Fire House, note of a new historical marker on the site of the 1776 “log church,” and information on the rescue and restoration of the cupola from the old West Sand Lake Post Office, as that building and several others made way for the new Rite Aid store (now Walgreens).

Looking back through these issues of our newsletter is a trip through all sorts of history…the history of our town and surrounding areas, and those who inhabited the area. It’s also a history of not only those times but the times during which these newsletters were produced. Some may well have been typed on mimeograph stencils and reproduced that way.

Fortunately, xerography replaced the mimeograph machine and became not only very popular but quite inexpensive and of increasing reproduction quality starting in the 1970s and 1980s. Later on, computers, word processors, scanners and much better (and cheaper) printers enabled very attractive copy to be produced.

Above all, though, we owe much to the efforts of so many over the years who contributed to these, those who typed, cut and pasted (or, ultimately, computer-generated) these, and even those who copied, collated, stapled, addressed and mailed them. And now many of you receive this electronically! The evolution of our newsletter is indeed history itself! -- from Historical Highlights, Volume 40, Number 3, Spring 2014.

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Created 3/17/2022; last revised March 17, 2022 -- asm. © 2002-2022 Sand Lake Historical Society; all rights reserved.