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The Times Record from Troy, New York • Page 39

The Times Recordi
Troy, New York
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

a CA A. J. Weise Was Area's Noted Historian 0 03 11! U. I- ui Ul a. a t- By SAMUEL REZNECK Professor Emeritus of History, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute It is not uncommon for a historian who brings fame and note to his subject to remain himself little known by his own writing.

This was certainly the case with Arthur James Weise, who was unquestionably Troy's most prolific and dedicated historian, recording its annals over many years in several works. But little is known about Weise himself, not even where he came from nor when and how he appeared on the Troy scene. He was obviously an educated man. His education is indicated equally well in the quality and variety of his historical work which he produced in Troy. He became, indeed, one of Troy's principal historians.

One of his hooks, published in 1884, was dedicated to his deceased wife, Catharine V. Updegraif, hut there is no recorded evidence of any children or of a later remarriage, In one of his first publications, in 1S7G. a map of Troy is inscribed as tlic work of "Weise and Bardin, Engineers, 8 First Troy:" His work in Troy, however, was evidently that of a newspaperman; he was associated first wifli The Troy Whig and subsequently for' many years will) The Troy Times, for which he wrote long historical articles. One series, which appeared in The Troy Times, was published in 1880 by J. M.

Francis and Henry O. R. Tucker, owners of the newspaper, under the title of a "History of the 17 Towns of Rensselaer County," which is now a rare and valuable booklet. His first publication as tile historian of Troy was "History of Troy, from the Expulsion of (lie Mohcgan, Indians lo the Present Centennial of Independence." How He Did It In the preface of this work, published in 1876, Weise described his diligent efforts as 'a historian, talking with many people, copying their papers, and pursuing liis researches in many directions, "in dark garrets, unused closets, stores, offices, residences, in public and private libraries He had read newspapers dated from 1787 on, altogether perhaps 10,000 separate issues. Troy was obviously fortunate in Weise as its historian, who avoided bias and pursued the truth by painstaking research.

Ten years later, in 188S, appeared a second volume on "The City of Troy and its Vicinity," whose material was arranged in alphabetical order. He acknowledged his indebtedness to a wide range of individuals, including William and Lewis Gurley, R. H. H. Young, and other outstanding Trojans.

Weisc's principal contribution to Troy's history came in 1889. He became the prime mover and organizer of a civic celebration to mark the centennial anniversary of Hie naming of Troy in 1789. This has always been recognized as the year of its founding, although settlement actually began several years earlier, after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. As planned and executed, the "celebration of 1889 was the most grandiose and successful one in Troy's history and deserves a a here, since was perhaps his biggest accomplishment as historian. First Meeting The activity began with a preliminary eilizens' meeting on Dec.

11, 1838 in the rooms of tho Young Men's Association. Here Weife proposed a resolution thai the centennial be celebrated appropriately, which was adopted. At a second meeting a few days later, an organizalion was set up, consisting of a Committee 100 Citizens. The chairman was C. E.

Dudley Tibbils, scion of one of Troy's oldest and leading families. The membership was broad, including not only the men of what might be called the establishment, but also a representative of the Jewish community, Euianuel Marks, and a Negro, Pelcr Baltimore, who operated a barber shop and bath house. With amazing rapidity plans were laid for an extensive celebration a inanlh later, in the first week of January, 1899. It was (o last (our days, opening with a concert in Music Hall in which tile Troy Vocal Society, Troy Choral Union, Boring's Band and others participated. They sang a Centennial Hymn, written for the occasion by B.

II. Hall, lawyer, historian and poet of Troy. There were historical addresses Thursday and Friday afternoon and evening. They were delivered by some of Troy's leading citizens who turned writers for tlie occasion. Among them were J.

A. SV. Clueft on "The Future City Improvements," L. E. Gurley on "Manufactures" and W.

P. Warren on "Mercantile Interests of Troy." "Church Night" a evening a "Church Night" and twenty talks by the city's ministers on their various churches were scheduled, for which time did not sufticc and which would certainly have tried the patience even of a 19th century audience, inured to long speeches and prolonged sessions. Friday saw a Public School Festival in which a chorus of 500 children sang and prizes were awarded for student essays and poems. Friday night was "Lawyers' Night" and Troy's leading lawyers and judges spoke at great length on the glories of Troy's past. The last day, Saturday, was Troy's Naming Day, ushered in with the pealing of bells and blowing of whistles, and at sunrise a salute of 100 guns must have awakened everyone to the festivities of a long day to follow.

Despite the hazards of midwinter, it was a fine and even relatively mild day for the outdoor activities. The city was decorated with flying flags and bunting, and at night all buildings were illumin- aled, as only this age of political torchlight parades knew how to indulge in such civic enterprises. In the morning was a procession, in six divisions, with ten bands and several drum corps. Governor Here Gov. David B.

Hill rode in the first carriage, and oilier stale stale and ciiy officials followed. All the military iinils participated and riding at the head of one of Hie divisions was Cornelius F. Burns, inier longtime THERE ARE NO pictures or drawings available of Arthur J. Weise, Troy historian who wrote the seven history hooks in tlie above Examining the books arc Bliss Candyec L. Miller, left, anrt Mrs.

Marjoric LeClair, staff members ot The Record Newspapers. He wrote "Troy's 100 Years, 1783-1889," "Troy and Vicinity," "History of Albany," "History of I.ansinfiljurgh and Troy," "Centennial Manual," and "Firemen and Fire Deparimciils of Troy, 170G-1835." mayor of Troy and veteran leader of many such parades, usually on 'vnitc horse. In tlie evening there was another procession and fireworks lighted up the skies from several sites in the city. Big Event Thus was celebrated, as never before or since, in grand style the event which opened Troy's long history in 1789. As the moving spirit of Ihis centennial splurge civic pride, Weise also recorded it in great detail in a whole new chapter which closed his new version ol Troy's history, published in 1891 as "Troy's One Hundred Years." It wai the last ot his several works on Troy, and its mosl informative treatment.

During his years in Troy, Weise also ventured into other historical fields and won considerable, acclaim for his' achievements. In 1884 was published his "History of the City of Albany, from the Discovery of the Great River in 152-1 lo (lie Present Time." Like his Troy histories, it was illustrated profusely. II is noteworthy that Weise pushed the discovery of the Hudson River area back a century before the Dutch, to the Italian navigator, who sailed in the service ot the French. It was reviewed nationally and commended for "careful researches, historical discoveries and pleasing die- lion." Given Praise The New York Daily Tribune noted (tint "it is a singular fact, and one hardly lo the credit of Albany, that aUliongli she dales from 82-1, yet Ihis history is Hie first Adequate account of her rise and progress that has yet appeared." An even more ambitious his- torical work by Weise was "The Discoveries of America to the Year 1525." It was the product ol "eight years of earnest study and research," and was described us being ns "readable as Prescott or Irving." It carried back Hie record of American discoveries to the ancient Egyptians. One other historical work resulted from VVeise's study and writing while living in Troy.

It appeared in New York in 18S9 under the double litlc ot The worn Chronicles (1.S38- 189D), and Kctclliiiyn Chronicles (1451-1899). As a lengthy and detailed account of two American families, the Swarlouls and KiUells, which iveiil back to Dutch and German origins, it illustrated Weisc's capacity for research, which even took him lo Europe. Long Career With this apparently closed (he long and fruitful career ol Weise as a journalist, genealogist and historian. His major interest was always Troy, bill he extended his rcsciirchcs beyond il lo oilier subjects, ranging over American history. Weise apparently live on in Troy until about 1910, when he moved to St.

Barnardsvillc, N.J. No reason is available lor the choice of place, bill il may have been family. Here he lived in quiet retirement and died in January, 1921 at 83. By this time he had long been forgotten in Troy, and the polices of his death in the Troy press were, brief. The Troy Sunday Budget nolcd merely that he "was a zealous student and genial gentleman." In a real sense, he left more ot a record ot himself in his historical writings, which are a permanent monument lo him and lo Troy's past.

CLEARANCE KKOUCTIOIVS On All Men's and Boys' Winter Merchandise KicUin-While 353 B'WAY, TROY Open Tuoi. 'Tit 9 P.M For The Rest, In Laundry Service DRYWASH DAMPWASH SHIRTS-FLATWORK FINISH BUNDLE PICK UP AND DELIVERY SERVICE 10 NINTH ST. AT FEDERAL TROY --EST. IN 1 9 1 1 A 4-2320.

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