The Little Falls Historical Society’s Tuesday, November 26, 7:00 pm meeting at the WCA will include a short business meeting, organization elections, and a digitized slide presentation on historic images of Little Falls.

The Historical Society’s nominating committee has submitted a slate of candidates for all four officer positions and for the two board seats with expiring terms. Society members can also nominate additional candidates from the floor prior to elections.

Following the completion of elections, Historical Society member Mike Potter will display and narrate a number of historic pictures from a bygone era in Little Falls.

Light refreshments will follow Potter’s presentation. All Historical Society meetings and presentations are free and open to the public.

The Little Falls Historical Society Museum
will hold its annual
Holiday Luncheon
at the Travelodge
Wednesday, December 18 at 12 noon.

This is always a great time to enjoy time together during the holiday season.

Please call Jeff Gressler at (315) 823-2799 for tickets.

Longtime Little Falls resident Maynard Blask will be the guest presenter at the Tuesday, October 22, meeting of the Little Falls Historical Society. The 7:00 PM meeting is free and open to the public. 

Blask’s presentation will focus on the 1970’s era renovation of Veterans Memorial Park and the Little Falls Mets. Maynard wants his presentation to be interactive in nature and questions and audience involvement will be welcomed. Additionally, St. Johnsville resident Bob Failing’s extensive collection of New York Mets memorabilia will be on display and available for viewing.

Blask’s presentation will be preceded by a short business meeting of the Historical Society. Light refreshments will be served afterwards.

The Little Falls Historical Society will hold a 2019 season-ending reception at their Old Bank Museum from 5:00 – 7:00 PM as part of Third Thursday activities on October 17. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

A fundraiser for the Little Falls Historical Society Wednesday, September 25, 2019
$120.00 per person
Reservation on or before September 11, 2019

Make Checks Payable: Little Falls Historical Society Mail payment to: 319 S. Ann St., Little Falls, NY 13365

Arrangements by Tours By Design

Based on the beloved television show, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is an interactive experience which transports you to post-Edwardian England, where the characters and the iconic house come to life. You’ll be immersed in the fascinating social history, culture, and some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run.

Tour includes deluxe motorcoach transportation, admission to the Downton Abbey Exhibition, and lunch on own at Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.  Contact Barb Mielcarski for reservations 315-866-0481


The general public is cordially invited to attend the Little Falls Historical Society’s 2019 opening reception at their 319 South Ann Street Old Bank Museum on Tuesday May 28 beginning at 7:00 PM.

The museum opens for the season on Wednesday May 29 and will be open on Tuesdays thru Fridays from 1:00 – 4:00 PM and on Saturdays from 9:00 AM – noon.

Those Little Falls athletes and teams that both won and competed in New York State level competition are part of a new 2019 museum exhibit on “Little Falls Athletics.” The exhibit also includes archival photographs of St. Mary’s Academy teams and various town and independent athletic teams from the 1890’s through the 1950’s.

Five championship banners have been won by Little Falls athletes and teams. This honored list includes the Wilbur Crisp coached 1929-30 boys basketball team all class championship, the Ted Schoff coached 1982 class C boys baseball team championship, Tess Malone’s 1997 class C-D 200 meter championship, Bret Wehrum’s and Florian Andreas’ 2000 all class tennis doubles championship and Brian Mosher’s class C-D 2001 200 and 400 meter championships.

A number of other Little Falls athletes and teams have competed in New York State level competition, the most recent being the 2018 girls soccer team which lost in the final four championship game.

These athletes and their families will be the special guests at the museum opening reception.

Other new exhibits for 2019 include “Little Falls During Prohibition,” “Camp Jolly” and “Rockton.”

The 2018 museum exhibits honoring the 133 Little Falls men who served in the Vietnam War and on pre-urban renewal Little Falls remain on display. The museum also contains a number of other permanent exhibits.

Light refreshments will be served at the opening reception.

In cooperation with the board of directors of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the Little Falls Historical Society will host a 2019 Patriots Day program at the church on Saturday May 18 beginning at 11:00 AM.

The church is located on Albany Street in Little Falls. The event is free and open to the public. 2019 marks the tenth Patriots Day observance that the Historical Society has hosted. 

The one hour program will be highlighted by a series of short oral presentations by different speakers from both Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Historical Society members related to local history during the Revolutionary War and after. Topics will include “The Little Falls Grist Mill Attack,”

“From Herkimer to Franklin,” and “The Patriots Buried in Yellow Church Cemetery.”

The Astenrogen Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will place a commemorative wreath following the speaking portion of the program. Dr. Oscar Stivala and Robert Schmelcher will provide musical accompaniment as part of the event.

The local Historical Society has been hosting Patriots Day observances since 2009 at significant local historic sites; past events have been held at Yellow Church Cemetery, Herkimer Home, Fort Herkimer Church, Indian Castle Church, Snell’s Bush Church, the former Masonic Temple, Herkimer Reformed Church, Historic Trinity in Fairfield and in 2018 at Paines Hollow Church. Their goal is to raise awareness of both the unique role that our ancestors played in our nation’s quest for independence and the many well preserved historic buildings in our area.

At 7:00 PM on Tuesday April 23, Little Falls Historical Society member Byron Roff will make a presentation on the role of DNA evidence in conducting family genealogical research.

Roff’s presentation will take place at the WCA, located at 534 Garden St. and is free and open to the public.

Roff has extensive experience in this field, having conducted genealogical work and made similar presentations and lectures across central New York and in the Hudson Valley. His presentation at the WCA will focus on his own experience of using Ancestry DNA and on the relative advantages and disadvantages of both DNA and paper-based genealogical research.

The evening’s presentation will be preceded by a short Historical Society business meeting andrefreshments will be served afterwards.

The first meeting and presentation of the Little Falls Historical Society for the 2019 season will take place on Tuesday March 26 at 7:00 PM at the WCA located at 534 Garden Street. The presenter is  Historical Society member Mike Potter who will display and provide narration for old photos of Little Falls streets and various modes of transportation from a bygone era.

Mike and Gail Potter have been hard at work for the past few years digitizing the Historical Society’s large collection of old picture slides. Many of these photos have not been displayed publicly for many years. Mike’s presentation will use many of these newly digitized photos.

This presentation will be preceded by a short Historical Society business meeting. Light refreshments will follow the presentation. All Historical Society meetings and presentations are free and open to the public.

Patriots Day Little Falls Historical Society Museum Little Falls NY

Patriots Day 2019
Saturday May 18
11:00 AM
Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Patriots Day is celebrated each year in most of New England to commemorate the April 15, 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord which marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

The first Patriots Day was declared in 1894. In 1938 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts established the third Monday in April each year as Patriots Day and it has become a civic holiday. Lexington and Concord have battle re-enactments and the City of Boston swells with activity and celebration.

At the urging of the Little Falls Historical Society, the City of Little Falls, under the leadership of Mayor Robert Peters, established a local Patriots Day in 2010 to be celebrated each year on the third Saturday in May. This is in recognition of our local ancestors’ contributions to America’s quest for independence.

Each year, the Little Falls Historical Society honors Patriots Day by hosting an event at a local historical site. We have commemorated Patriots Day at Yellow Church Road Cemetery, at Herkimer Home, at Fort Herkimer Church, at Indian Castle Church, at Snells Bush Church, at Herkimer Reformed Church, and last year at Historic Trinity in Fairfield.

From the Archives: The Case for a Mohawk Valley Patriots Day

by Jeff Gressler

Originally published May 22, 2010.

Presidents Day in February, Memorial Day in May, Independence Day in July and Veterans Day in November are four American holidays paying unique tribute to democracy, freedom and liberty.  These are all national holidays, and well they should be. A uniquely New England regional holiday is celebrated each year on the third Monday in April. This holiday is Patriots Day and it commemorates the April 19, 1775 beginning of the Revolutionary War when American Minute Men and British troops skirmished at Lexington and Concord. Perhaps we here in the Mohawk Valley have similar reasons to celebrate our local ancestors’ critical contributions to America’s success in our War for Independence.  

Anyone who has attended Patriots Day activities in Boston can attest to the emotions that are raised. The viewing of the somber bagpipe-led procession as it snakes its way through the streets of Boston on its route to pay proper tribute at the graves of Revolutionary War heroes with rifle salutes is indeed a moving experience. Patriots Day also includes a number of reenactments at key Boston Revolutionary War landmark sites along its historic red line. The running of the Boston Marathon and the Red Sox home opener add to the celebratory mood.  

Our local Revolutionary War era patriots may have lacked the formal education and national stage that produced the oratorical eloquence of New England’s John Adams and Pennsylvania’s Thomas Paine or of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. But, heroes and patriots they were, our heroes and patriots. Certainly we can safely liken the courage of the Palatine Committee of Safety in drafting its May 21, 1775 Declaration of Independence-like document to the July 4, 1776 decision by our national Founding Fathers in issuing our more famous Declaration of Independence. These were our local founding fathers and they acted more than a year earlier than our national Founding Fathers!  

After signing his name to the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin stated:  “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The same fate would surely have awaited the Palatine Committee of Safety signers if America had not succeeded in gaining independence from England. They were all traitors alike in the eyes of English authorities. The whole nation celebrates July 4 as Independence Day, and this is appropriate.  A parallel recognition and celebration of the beginning of the spirit of independence in the Mohawk Valley is here being called for.  Possible dates for consideration will be discussed near the end of this article.

Additional parallels between local and national Revolutionary War era events and people can also be drawn upon for greater regional recognition. 

Once the British military evacuated Boston in March, 1776 and soon after began the occupation of New York City, the physical threat to New England colonists generally vanished.  The physical safety of Mohawk Valley residents was threatened for a far greater length of time than other regions of Colonial America, with the possible exception of New York City itself. The Walter Butler and Joseph Brant led tory and Indian raids in our area went on almost as long as the Revolutionary War itself. Perhaps the most notorious of these actions were the September 17, 1778 German Flatts Raid and the November 11, 1778 Cherry Valley Massacre. Death and destruction were a constant  presence in patriot life. Our ancestors lived on the western frontier of the Revolutionary War. The threat to local safety really did not lessen until the October 30, 1781 death of Walter Butler on the banks of the West Canada Creek. Some historians refer to this encounter as the last battle of the Revolutionary War. The June, 1782 tory and Indian raid that destroyed the Little Falls gristmill occurred some eight months after Cornwallis had surrendered British forces to George Washington at Yorktown. Indeed, death and destruction were pervasive in the Mohawk Valley for a long period during our quest for independence.

During this extended period, no Mohawk Valley patriot felt safe from tory reprisal. The “Sunshine Patriot” that Thomas Paine condemned in his “The American Crisis,”  read to George Washington’s beleaguered and deserting troops at Valley Forge, would seem an appropriate reference. There were few “Sunshine Patriots” remaining in the Mohawk Valley during this time.  Incredible courage was exhibited by the individuals and families who took refuge at Fort Herkimer, Fort Dayton and Fort Klock as the war dragged on. Our ancestors were killed, scalped, and generally brutalized for a longer period of time than any other Americans during the Revolution. Perhaps we need to better recognize and celebrate this courage and these contributions. How better to educate ourselves about our collective heritage and to pass this appreciation along to our children than by having more formal annual recognition of these frontier patriots?  

It does not require a great leap of imagination to compare Adam Helmer’s heroic run to warn the residents of German Flatts of the approach of 450 tories and Indians with Paul Revere’s more famous Midnight Ride warning the residents of Lexington and Concord of the approach of British forces. Helmer saved dozens of Mohawk Valley residents from brutal deaths.   

As we visit historic cemeteries at Fort Herkimer, General Herkimer Home, Yellow Church Road and elsewhere, the emotional grasp of history is powerful. We need to realize that as we stand before the graves of Nicholas Herkimer and Jacob Klock and before the family plots of the Bellingers and the Snells that we are, in actuality, reaching for the legacies of our local founding fathers. Their names were not Washington, Jefferson or Adams, but greater appreciation and celebration would seem to be in order.  

Our area already does a great job of promoting much of our local history. Each autumn Fort Herkimer holds its living history weekend and the General Nicholas Herkimer state historic site continues to be one of the finest Revolutionary War sites in the state. Additionally, the Herkimer County Historical Society does a fine job with its ongoing efforts in celebrating our Revolutionary War era heritage. This writing is suggesting more of a focused effort on the annual celebration of a New England-like Patriots Day.  

As a member of the Herkimer County Historical Society, the Little Falls Historical Society and the Salisbury Historical Society,  this author would urge each of these organizations to petition our county legislature to make this declaration. Local communities and schools could have greater reason for celebration and appreciation for the crucial role that our ancestors played in the outcome of the Revolutionary War. This brings us again to the question of an appropriate date for such an annual observance.

The third Monday in April would duplicate the already existing New England holiday, but this date would seem to be too early in the season for our area. A case can be made for the third Saturday in May as a connection to the earlier discussed May 21, 1775 action of the Palatine Committee of Safety with their declaration of independence. This date would seem to compliment the last Monday in May observance of Memorial Day in that each would recognize the service of patriots and veterans. Another date to consider would be the first Saturday in August to forge a connection to the crucial August 6, 1777 Battle of Oriskany. This author would favor the May choice as it could serve to be an early kickoff to the summer season. Many area residents are away on vacation in early August, perhaps making the later date less attractive.  

Boston in particular and New England in general does a wonderful job of promoting their regional significance in our nation’s founding. Saratoga also effectively promotes the critical Battle of Saratoga as part of its vacation destination appeal.  Is it not time for us to rival these ranks by taking greater local pride in our own Revolutionary War legacy? Happy Patriots Day!