When Samantha Hall-Saladino was in fourth grade in the Gloversville school system, she had to do a social studies presentation on Fulton County history.
Her father took her on a drive to the Old Drum House and site of the Battle of Johnstown.
“That’s really what got me interested in history to begin with,” she said. “All that Revolutionary War stuff in our area.”
Now, three college degrees later, Hall-Saladino will step in as the new caretaker of Fulton County’s long and dramatic past. At a meeting last week, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted to hire the Gloversville resident as the new county historian, with a start date set for mid-December.
Earlier this year, longtime county historian Peter Betz lost his job after being arrested for allegedly making off with a coffee maker from the grand jury room of the county office building.
Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead said quite a number of qualified local history buffs applied for the 10-hour per-week, $6,256-per-year job, but Hall-Saladino was the best option.
“She’s highly qualified,” he said.
Hall-Saladino has undergraduate degrees in English and history and a master’s in museum studies, but Stead said it was mainly her ideas for utilizing county history that won her the job.
“She’s of a generation that understands social media,” he said, “and she plans to use it to get people involved.”
The area has major history going back to British Colonial days. According to Stead, the past is one of Fulton County’s greatest resources and could be leveraged for tourism dollars.
“I live in the hamlet of Fish House,” Stead said. “It’s named that because Sir William Johnson had a fishing lodge there before the Sacandaga Reservoir was created and flooded it out. Everything up here is connected to history.”
Hall-Saladino said area history is under-utilized. In her first few months on the job, she plans to get a website up and running. It’s not an earth-shattering project, but she said even a simple Facebook page to promote events would be a step forward.
Over the long term, she plans to put on pop-up museums, which she described as a sort of adult show-and-tell. A place, time, and general theme is announced and attendees bring pieces of family history.
“I’m interested in the untold stories of the area,” she said, “what happened to people who didn’t make it into the books.”
Hall-Saladino already works full time at the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany. She doesn’t really need the extra work, but said she feels the need to bring her love of history back to the area that started it all.