TOWNSHIP OF PERTH
County of Fulton
This history is taken from the booklet published in 1976 for the town's Bicentennial and compiled by the Bicentennial Committee, 1975. It was graciously donated to the site by Jeanne Galway and transcribed by Allyn Hess Perry.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN THE TOWN OF PERTH FOR 1976?
The Town of Perth from their first organizational town meeting have remained active and concerned not only with their own town’s participation, but have contributed and attended a number of our county functions as well. Their History Committee has been most active and have compiled a wealth of information from as far away as California. Most of the History Committee attended the County History Class of Dr. Robert M. Palmer, our County Historian, at the Fulton County Museum.
Perth has compiled and are at present having published their Town History, a lasting and needed town project for the Bicentennial year. Their concern and participation has added to overwhelming county Bicentennial unity.
The Town’s Bicentennial Committee has coordinated with its Town Volunteer Fire Department as well in their festivities, and have worked closely with their Town Historian who as well serves as the Town’s Bicentennial Chairperson. The Town had representation on the Fulton-Montgomery County Barge Committee.
Perth Town Historian and
Town Bicentennial Chairperson,
Mrs. Mary (May) Yost
Supervisor- Mr. William Zierak
PERTH was formed from Amsterdam, Montgomery Co., April 18, 1831. Parts of Mayfield and Broadalbin were annexed February 17, 1842. It is the south-east corner town of the County. It has a gently rolling surface and is watered by Chuctenunda Creek and several other small streams. The soil is chiefly a clay loam. Limestone crops out in some places, but the prevailing rock is slate.
West Galway, (p. v.) situated on the border of Perth, Broadalbin and Galway, (Saratoga Co.,) contains three churches, two stores, a hotel, a skin mill, a glove and mitten factory, a shoe shop, several other mechanic shops and about 30 dwellings.
The Skin Mill of James R. Calderwood turns out about 75,000 skins annually.
The Glove and Mitten Factory of the same turns out about 5,000 dozen annually.
The tannery of George Donnan turns out about 800 sides of leather and about 500 skins annually.
Perth Center, (Perth p. o.) in the north part, contains a church, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, a cheese factory making 50,000 pounds annually, a saw mill and about a dozen dwellings.
West Perth, (p. o.) contains about a dozen dwellings.
The first settlement of the town was commenced about 1760, on the road from Tribes Hill to Sacondaga. The first settlers of whom we find any record were Charles Mereness, Richard Bowen, Marcus Reese, Michael Swobe, Francis Frey and ___ Davis, all of whom settled previous to 1770. Among those who settled soon after the Revolution were Lawrence E. VanAllen, Henry VanValkenburgh, Ira Benedict, Conrad and Francis Winne, Derby Newman, James and William Robb and Peter Vosburgh. Daniel McIntyre was one of the first settlers at Perth Center, and James Ford and ___ McMartin at Galway.
A Congregational Church was organized in 1790, and in 1793 adopted the Presbyterian form of government and has since been known as the First Presbyterian Church. The present membership is 122.
The United Presbyterian Church was organized in March 1867 with 26 members, and the church edifice was erected the next year. The present membership is 37.
The Evangelical Dutch Church, in the north-east corner of the town, was organized in 1867 with about 50 members; the present number if about 60.
The population of the town in 1865 was 1,053 and its area, 16,305 acres.
As told by Mr. Harold McQueen submitted by May Yost, Perth Historian –
When I have returned to visit the Perth Road in recent years the residential and business development with the accompanying traffic increase on the highway itself, presents the most impressive change. However even before the building boom was under way, I began to miss the trees. First of all the magnificent elms, which stool isolated and spectacular by the side of the highway and along farm fences, are now gone. Then too much of the highway was lined with other trees, particularly maples. In front of our farm on each side of the roadway was a line of maples. Most of them fell victim to road widening. Also, nearly every farm had a fine apple orchard fronting on the highway. They were a beautiful sight in the spring when covered with white blossoms, and again in the fall when loaded with fruit. In addition, there were other fruit and nut trees in the area close to nearly every farmhouse. Our home had a wonderfully large butternut tree on the front lawn with long arching branches overhanging the roadway. I remember after the first frosts of the fall of picking butternuts off by ground by the basketful.
One autumn morning I had just filled a basket when our neighbor, William Alfred Stearns, driving by stopped and offered me a dollar for it. That looked like a lot of money to me and I sold them. Then I felt guilty, that I had been too hasty, for I had not asked my parents if I could sell those butternuts. Fortunately I found plenty more beneath the tree to satisfy our needs.
My Uncle Dan Nare over on the Log City Road (now named McKay Road) had a small grove of hickory trees where we could collect a supply of hickory nuts for the winter. These nuts were hard to crack and picking out the meats was a slow procedure but we had plenty of time for this on the long winter evenings. My playmate, Ralph Brown, would take me with him to his uncle’s farm on the Johnstown Road at the Black Street corner and there after the first frosts we could pry chestnuts out of burrs which had fallen under a row of beautiful chestnut trees. And then on our farm on the edge of the woods to the north and close to our house stood a magnificent beech tree. The woodsy area under the branches of this huge tree was one of my favorite retreats. In the fall I would hunt out beechnuts under the carpet of leaves beneath the tree. Beechnuts are ordinarily too small to bother with but this was an unusual tree for the nuts were large and very tasty. On one of my visits home in the late 1900’s I was quite saddened to find that this wonderful big beech had been cut down just to supply firewood.
The Gilslider family who had owned our farm before us had been very successful with fruit trees. They had grown two large apple orchards, one on each side of the highway. The Gilsliders were skillful in grafting and we had trees with two or three varieties of apple on the same tree and even one tree with apples on one side and pears on the other. We also had several pear trees, greengage plum trees, a cherry tree, a black walnut tree, and a couple of grape vines.
From the two orchards we harvested a dozen or more varieties of apples. The Northern Spies were probably the most popular. They were highly esteemed as a cooking or pie apple and a prudent farmer planned to have at least a barrel of them in his cellar for the winter. At that time green fruits and vegetables were not imported from warmer climates as they are now. In the winter our green food was limited to the apples and pears plus some cabbage and root crops which would not last long into the winter. Hence the importance of having a cellar well stocked with apples when the cold weather came. The MacIntosh were always a favorite eating apple. I like the russets because they were so sweet. And particularly I remember the harvest apples which in late summer were the first to ripen. The Red Astrakan was the most common of the apples. I especially remember a tree of Strawberry apples. The fruit was small but of unusually fine flavor.
There is little left now of the Perth orchards. A series of hard winters decimated them and with the spread of the codling moth apple growing became unprofitable for the average farmer. Seventy years ago spraying for pests was unnecessary and practically the only care required for a grown orchard was a light pruning each spring.
The elms and chestnuts have succumbed to disease. Road widening has eliminated most roadside trees, at least along the main highways. Lumbering has reduced the stands of tall pines which once caused “The Pine Woods” to be labeled for several areas in Perth. There are many other trees, of course, trees grown well in the moist Perth climate and it is likely that because of the abandonment of many formerly cultivated fields, the total wooded area in the town is larger now than it was seventy years ago. There are still many trees but the favorites of my boyhood are gone.
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Copyright ©, 2002 Jeanne Galway
Copyright ©, 2002 Allyn Hess Perry, Jeanette Shiel
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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:13:59 PDT