Austerlitz, at 200, has plenty to celebrate

SPENCERTOWN–The Town of Austerlitz marked its 200th birthday starting Saturday, June 9. Perhaps the crowning moment was Town Historian Tom Moreland’s 90-minute talk on the old houses of Austerlitz, including five new historic markers courtesy of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

Mr. Moreland‘s six-year labor of love, the book “The Old Houses of Austerlitz: The history and early architecture of a rural New York Town” was available during the weekend courtesy of the Austerlitz Historical Society.

Jere Wrightsman, chairman of the Austerlitz Bicentennial Committee and a member of the Austerlitz Town Board, was on the scene bright and early along with an army of volunteers. The Austerlitz Historical Society led by President Michelle Lagonia, Director Anne Cipkowski, and Secretary Margaret Hover offered copies of Mr. Moreland’s book and bicentennial memorabilia, including t-shirts and coffee cups, for purchase by those attending.

The parade down Main Street was led by the Ghent VFW Color Guard, whose members paused at the Spencertown cemetery to salute veterans buried there, including 33 from the Revolutionary War.

Ethan Mesick and his traveling piano was a hit with the crowd, as were vintage cars owned by Jack Howes, Robin Howes, Michael Kreiger, Paul Mesick, Dan Rundell and Peter Wenk. Other parade participants included: The Ghent Band, Tower Club of St. Peter’s, Spencertown Fire Company, Austerlitz Historical Society, Cullen family performers, Chatham High School Band, Austerlitz Highway Department, ABATE motorcycle contingent, and the Austerlitz Fire Company.

Dedication of the new Austerlitz Town Hall on state Route 203 started with the “Star Spangled Banner” played by the Ghent Band sung by Sandy Fischer. Rev. Lynn Horan, Bicentennial Chairman Wright, and Town Historian Moreland. Austerlitz Supervisor Robert Lagonia thanked the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for their generous funding of the project. Highlight was the listing of Austerlitz and Spencertown on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mr. Moreland presented the five historic markers funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The markers include:

Residence of Dr. Mary Clark, 1845-1937, a pioneering physician, county Route 9

Residence of David Pratt, 1738-1828, civic leader and Revolutionary War veteran, state Route 203

Site of cottage of Peter Wheeler, 1789-1842, former slave whose autobiography was published in 1839, Dugway Road

Harvey Hotel/Columbia Inn, Route 22.

Austerlitz resident Nancy Jane Kern, who writes the Through the Woods for this newspaper, reported that 50 descendants of families living here in 1818 live in Austerlitz today. Direct descendants trace their roots back to one of these six ancestors: John Griswold and Eunice Calkins; Jabez Griswold and Ann Spencer; Samuel and Lucy Rundell; David and Sarah Spencer; Hosea Varney and Loviscia Crippen; Theophilus and Hannah Westover.

Sunday festivities were highlighted with a vintage car exhibit and cookout sponsored by the Austerlitz Fire Company, whose members had responded to a serious accident on the Taconic Parkway the day before.

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