Off-site programs and activities for Canal Days of the Little Falls Historical Society Museum

The officers and directors are proud to announce that the Historical Society worked with the Little Falls Central School District to award 2022 scholarships to two members of the Class of 2022.

The officers, directors, and entire membership of the Little Falls Historical Society are proud to announce the publication and availability of their new book BEYOND OUR BICENTENNIAL.

The Little Falls Historical Society and the Norway Historical Society will hold a partnered Patriots Day observance program beginning at 11:00 AM on Saturday May 14 in Norway Rural Cemetery, also known as Four Wars Cemetery. 

This cemetery has a storied past and is located near the intersection of Military Road and the Newport-Gray Road in the Town of Norway.

The Little Falls Historical Society’s annual Patriots Day programs pay tribute to our ancestors’ role in the Revolutionary War. Past programs have been held at Yellow Church Cemetery, the Herkimer Home historic site, Fort Herkimer Church, Indian Castle Church, Snells Bush Church, Historic Four Corners in Herkimer, the former Masonic Temple in Little Falls, Historic Trinity in Fairfield, Paines Hollow Methodist Church, and in 2019, in Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Little Falls. There were no Patriots Day programs in 2020 or 2021 due to Covid health concerns.

Each year’s program consists of a number of short addresses by various local historians on area history topics, the placement of a Daughters of the American Revolution cemetery wreath, and the playing of “Taps” by Dr. Oscar Stivala. This year’s program will also include an honor guard rifle salute and a short prayer. Programs last about one hour.

The program is free and open to the public. The rain date for this event is Sunday May 15 at 11:00 AM.

Please be advised that Norway Rural Cemetery is somewhat hilly and has no paved roadways. There are no bathroom facilities. Attendees may want to bring their own chairs.

Helen Dunteman
Helen Dunteman

The officers and directors of the Little Falls Historical Society are proud to announce that their 2022 writing series will be dedicated to former Little Falls social studies teacher Helen Dunteman.

In 2020, this writing series was dedicated to former Little Falls high school English teacher Harold Templeman and the 2021 writing series was dedicated to former Little Falls high school social studies teacher Hector Allen.

The Little Falls high school graduating class of 1958 dedicated their yearbook to Helen Dunteman by noting that she had taught for forty years during which time she was both a teacher and friend to many Little Falls students. Helen passed away in 1984, but she is still remembered by several Historical Society members as an outstanding teacher who helped shape their lives in a positive manner.

The first 2022 writing series article will appear in the news on our website and in MyLittleFalls.com on Tuesday April 26.

The Little Falls Historical Society much appreciates the opportunity to work with the SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program of Museum Studies. Some background history about Little Falls will add perspective.

The City of Little Falls is a community of around 4700 residents situated in southern Herkimer County astride both the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal. Little Falls’ development and rich industrial history were impacted by geology and topography, particularly its waterside proximity.

The first inhabitants of the immediate area around Little Falls were members of the Iroquois Confederacy, primarily the Mohawks, one of the five tribes making up the Confederacy. The Mohawks were the keepers of the Eastern Gate of Iroquois territory. They called the area “Astenrogan” or “tumbling waters.”

The region’s first European visitors in the early 1600’s were Dutch and French traders and French Jesuit priests all in pursuit of favorable relations with Native Americans. The French first referred to the area as “little falls” to distinguish it from the “big falls” at Cohoes. In 1664, England seized New York from the Dutch

England used Palatine Germans in their upper Hudson Valley naval stores project; the Palatines eventually migrated into the central Mohawk Valley in the early 1700’s. Divided loyalties, largely based on ethnicity, characterized the entire region during the Revolutionary War.

The six lock Western Inland Lock Navigation Canal began operation in 1794 in order to make easier waterway passage around the Little Falls rapids. Little Falls was incorporated as a village in 1811. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and Little Falls began to thrive as the industrial hub of the central Mohawk Valley. Little Falls was later chartered as a city in 1895.

In 1833, the present Old Bank Museum, made of native rock and cut limestone, began operation as the first bank in Herkimer County. The building was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1970 and it is the present home of the Little Falls Historical Society.

Fast forward to 2018 when Dr. Erik Stengler resided in Little Falls with his family for a short period before taking up residence in Cooperstown. During his stay in Little Falls, Dr. Stengler became enamored with the community’s history. He was the first to conceptualize of Little Falls history as a potential area of study for his museum studies students. In 2019, Dr. Stengler reached out to the Historical Society to serve as an educational partner for his students.

The board of directors and officers of the Historical Society responded most favorably to this overture and this collaborative partnership was born and the byproduct of this collaboration is this book. Please enjoy this wonderful piece of work that has been generated by this fine group of students.

Jeff Gressler

Growing Up on the Southside 1957 – 1970

(By popular demand SATURDAY November 06, 2021 for the 1st FALL TOUR!)

WHEN: Saturday November 06, 2021 

Sign In begins at 8AM  (Registration, Questions, Safety Briefing), and the Tour STARTS at 9AM.

Allow 2 to 3 hours, but participants can leave at any time (Please inform Tour Guide when leaving). 

PANDEMIC CONCERNS – This tour is outdoors with social distancing. We will adhere to all NYS and CDC guidelines in effect at the time of the event. 

Other personal protective measures such as masks are optional based on your personal comfort. 

Your Tour Guide has received the three Covid-19 Vaccination doses.

WHEREMeet at the Rotary Park Terminal Building on Southern Ave by NLT 8:30 am. We will start on time. Parking and rest rooms are available at the Terminal. NO REST ROOMS ALONG THE TOUR!

Special Needs:  The walk includes unpaved dirt paths, uneven surfaces, outdoors, etc.

Moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Pets:  Please do not bring your pets, as we may encounter other “pets” that are not under owner command or on a leash.

REGISTRATION: Advance registration is requested and appreciated. Please register by phone or email.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Gary.  Southside Territory Details list available upon request.

Gary T. Staffo

Phone: 703-336-7241

Email: 6226gardenroad@gmail.com

(NOTE:  This is an independent event and is not an official program of the Little Falls Historical Society.)

Helen Dunteman

Helen Dunteman was a highly respected social studies teacher in the Little Falls school district for many years, retiring in 1962. Helen was both a lifelong Little Falls resident and a graduate of Oneonta State Normal School. She passed away in 1984.

This author admits upfront that he is both a local history nut and a diehard New York Yankees fan. The intertwined paths of baseball and American history resonate with me. Older readers of this piece will likely recall watching Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and the transformational impact of Jackie Robinson. This author’s baseball roots trace to Willie Mays, Duke Snyder and Mickey Mantle, ah, The Mick, my favorite. I grew up assuming that the Yankees would always play in the World Series each year.

2021 Canal Days Celebration included the return of vintage base ball to Little Falls in the form of a three-team, three-game, round-robin tournament. The newly formed Little Falls Alerts competed against the Catskill area Bovina Dairymen and the Mountain Athletic Club, all retrieved names from the earliest days of American baseball. 1860’s, 1880’s and 1890’s era base ball game rules were in place at different times during the three games. 

Early era Little Falls base ball teams included the Rough and Readys and the Pastimes in the 1860’s, the Excelsiors in the 1870’s and the Rocktons and the Alerts in the 1880’s – 90’s. The Alerts took the field in the north end of Ward Square in the 1880’s-90’s for most of their games. Games were heavily attended. 

I watched most of the first game between the Alerts and the Bovina Dairymen and the entire third game between the local nine and the Mountain Athletic Club. I was not present for the second game between the two Catskill region teams.

Authenticity, gentlemanly conduct, high-spirited competitiveness and inter-team camaraderie graced the daylong tournament. The local nine may have lost both of their games to the longer-established downstate teams, but their athleticism and baseball acumen were in evidence throughout; an important foothold was re-established and another Little Falls tradition has been reborn. Vintage base ball is back in Little Falls after a long hiatus. The new Alerts will now carry forward our vintage base ball banner. Three cheers for the Alerts!

Vintage base ball both resembles and differs from our modern national pastime. The players do not wear ball gloves, hit balls caught on the first bounce are still outs; the difference in rules is too complex to be fully captured in this piece. Vintage base ball equipment, including bats, balls and catcher’s gear is also quite different. 

The Little Falls Historical Society has provided financial sponsorship for the Alerts, including the purchase of four high-quality bats hand-turned to perfection by local craftsman Ian Giudilli who labeled each bat “made in Little Falls” and “Rough and Ready.”

In conclusion, Little Falls vintage base ball is back and being roundly embraced by a talented group of local athletes eager to call themselves Alerts. The Little Falls Historical Society and the Little Falls Family and Youth Center have partnered to back the Alerts and the City is eager to provide the ballfields for games. Hopefully, Canal Days Celebrations will feature an annual vintage base ball tournament. Long live the Little Falls Alerts!

The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Herkimer County has forced our board directors and officers to rethink our Canal Days Celebration calendar of events and museum operation. Foremost in our thinking is public safety. We regret any inconveniences that these adjustments may cause.

The CHURCH STREET CEMETERY TOUR was scheduled for Friday August 13 at 6:00 PM. Due to concerns over crowd density and social distancing, the event has been cancelled. We have made provisions so that people can individually enjoy self-guided tours. You can either pick up a tour brochure from the sealed plastic container that has been placed on the visitor bench near the caretaker’s cabin inside the main Monroe Street entrance to the cemetery or download the cemetery tour from our website. The brochure’s thirty-five graves have all been marked in sequence by stakes with surveyor’s tape. The tour begins at gravesite #1 in the area behind the African American monument nearby the caretaker’s cabin.

HISTORICAL MARKERS DEDICATION CEREMONIES  –  Twin dedication ceremonies for the Old Bank Building historic marker and the 1782 Gristmill Attack historic marker will begin at 10:30 AM at the base of the west ramp off Burke Bridge near the intersection of West Mill Street and the industrial park roadway. There will be no historic marker dedication ceremony outside the museum that had been scheduled for 10:00 AM.

VINTAGE BASE BALL TOURNAMENT  –   Games for the three-team, round-robin tournament will be played at 10:30 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM on Field #3 behind the main field at Veterans’ Memorial Park. The Historical Society is the primary financial sponsor of the Little Falls Alerts, one of the three tournament teams.

MUSEUM VISITATION APPOINTMENTS are not being accepted at this time. Please visit our website linked below.

We urge all persons attending any of these events to follow CDC COVID-19 safety protocols regarding mask wearing and social distancing.