Mayor Sarah Slingerland was joined by city, county and state officials Sunday afternoon as the city kicked off its 250th anniversary celebration at St. Patrick’s Lodge on North Perry Street. The hour-long event was the first of 15 anniversary events planned this year.
The city unveiled a poster to commemorate the anniversary that featured a portrait of the city’s founder, Sir William Johnson. Founded in 1758, the settlement was originally named “Johns-town” after Johnson’s son.
“As a study of history, It helps us define who we are and give us direction to the future,” Slingerland said. “It really gives us a sense of who we are and where we’re going, and that’s helpful.”
A flag that flew at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., last year was given to the town by the office of Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, to celebrate the anniversary. Slingerland said that she plans to have the flag fly above City Hall for the rest of the year starting on Tuesday.
“At its most basic, history is about people,” said Assemblyman Marc Butler, who was one of many officials to speak at the event. “The courage, dedication, the imagination of so many people have built this wonderful community.”
Johnstown remained a town until it became a village in 1808. It has been incorporated as a city since 1895.
The theme of Sunday’s event was “Time Marches On.” Other events planned this year include a tree planting for Arbor Day in April and a parade in September.
“My wife Teri and I have been here for the past six years, and we feel like we came home after the first six months,” said the Rev. Ted Monica from St. John’s Church, who also spoke at the event.
The state Senate and Assembly both adopted resolutions this month recognizing the city’s anniversary.
“This celebration is very important and very much deserved,” Butler said. “It pleases me that the history of this community is being acknowledged.”
Several speakers recognized three women who were important in the history of the city. Holly Brant, the Mohawk Indian wife of Johnson, was important in keeping peace between the American Indians and the British settlers. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and businesswoman Rose Knox were also acknowledged.
“We’re just beginning to make plans for the future,” Slingerland said. “It’s just real important that we keep track of where we’ve been.”
According to City Historian Noel Levee, officials mark the beginning of the settlement at 1758 because records show that crop harvests were reported as early as 1760.
“The birth and growth of Johnstown is without a doubt analogous to the birth and growth of our nation,” he said. “Sir William Johnson would have been proud to see how much this little town in the woods has progressed.”
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Categories: Schenectady County