The Place Beyond the Pines II: Local Historians Present Schenectady County's Past

Dates: 4/4/2023, 4/11/2023, 4/18/2023, 4/25/2023, 5/2/2023

Time: 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Location: Online via Zoom Webinar

Course Description

Local historians, Denis Brennan (Town of Niskayuna), Bill Buell (Schenectady County), Beverly Clark (Village of Scotia), Chris Leonard (City of Schenectady) and James Schaefer (Town of Rotterdam), with guest presenters Michael Davi and Ellen Apperson Brown, will again present local history as a reflection of the lives of ordinary – and extraordinary – local people. Week 1 “Fraternal and Social Organizations: Service to the Community:” The villages, towns and city in Schenectady County were more than individuals seeking personal or family success; many community organizations were created to promote civic improvements, celebrate common philosophies and organize social events. Week 2 “The Healing Arts:” Medical treatment is certainly not a modern concern only. Disease and physical ailments were constant companions of development and progress. These presentations will examine the growth of medical societies, hospitals and treatments, as well as medical providers who left a mark on Schenectady County. Week 3 “When the Frontier Moved West:” U.S. history can be understood as the serial conquest of frontiers. In truth, as the American frontier moved west of Schenectady, change altered Schenectady’s life and character, creating new challenges and new energy. Week 4 “Beyond Schenectady: Influence Outside its Borders:” The second smallest county in New York State has exerted an impact beyond its county lines that is certainly worthy of recognition and celebration. Week 5 “Cast of Characters:” No town or community that has been in existence for as long as the towns of Schenectady County is without significant, influential and unique personalities. This session will identify several of those who qualify.

Coordinator: Bob Saltzman


Denis Brennan earned a Ph.D. in American History from the State University of New York at Albany in May 2003; his dissertation, “The Printer’s Stand: William Lloyd Garrison and the Liberator,” received the Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award.  He later expanded his research, and the dissertation was published under the title The Making of an Abolitionist: William Lloyd Garrison’s Path to Publishing The Liberator.  After adjunct teaching at several local upstate colleges, he became Visiting Professor and Lecturer in American history at Union College from January 2004 until his retirement in June 2019.  He has served as  Niskayuna Town Historian since August 2018; has enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the community as a public historian, which provided a welcome chance to preserve, communicate, and advocate Niskayuna’s distinctive history.


Ellen Apperson Brown

  • Public Historian; author of dozens of articles and books about John Apperson and his environmental activism in the Adirondacks
  • BA in Music (Sweet Briar College – 1972); MAT German (U. Va.-1977); MLA (UNC-Asheville - 2001); and in MA in History (Virginia Tech - 2003).
  • Teacher; museum administrator; journalist; editor; genealogist.
  • Creator of a digital archive (Adirondack Activism), featuring photographs, essays, and transcripts of about 2,000 letters from the Apperson collection
  • Email:

Bill Buell retired from the Daily Gazette in April of 2019 after 41 years with the newspaper, and continues to write two or three stories a month for the Gazette as a freelancer. He has won numerous awards for his newspaper work, including the 2017 New York Press Award for the Gazette series on the history of the General Electric Company. Named Schenectady County historian in May of 2019, Buell is a Glenville native who attended the Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake Schools. He also attended SUNY-Schenectady and the University at Albany where he earned a degree in history. He has written three books, "Historic Schenectady County," "Historic Albany County," and most recently, "George Lunn: The 1912 Socialist Victory in Schenectady."

Beverly Clark 

  • Village of Scotia Historian
  • Music degrees from UMass Lowell, SUNY Potsdam
  • Museum administrator, museum/environmental educator (retired): locally with Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum, Ulysses S. Grant Cottage, ECOS
  • Email address:

Michael A. Davi

  • Member - Town of Niskayuna Historical Committee
  • BS Mechanical Engineering RPI, MS Industrial Admin UNION
  • 40-Year GE Career in Engineering, Technical Sales, Project Leader
  • Published Author of “PrivileGEd” (
  • Contributing Columnist Schenectady Gazette
  • Email:


Chris Leonard

  • City of Schenectady Historian
  • BAs in English and History, and an MA in English from SUNY Albany
  • Board Member of the Schenectady County Historical Society and Historic Vale Cemetery.
  • Author of Schenectady’s General Electric Realty Plot
  • Series Editor of Schenectady Genesis, Volumes I and II.  
  • Daily Gazette columnist, New Tales of Old Dorp.
  • Email Address:  

James M. Schaefer is a native of Schenectady. He is a graduate of CBA, University of Montana, BA, SUNY Buffalo, MA, Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology (with Distinction). Senior Fulbright Lecturer, Sri Venkateswara University, India, NIAAA Biomedical Research Fellow, University of North Carolina Medical School. Professor of Anthropology University of Montana, Director, Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, University of Minnesota System’s 5 Campuses & Director, Office of Alcohol and Drug Prevention SUNY System’s 64 Campuses. Research Professor of Anthropology, Union College, Director, Iroquois Museum. Author of numerous scientific papers and books. Currently has an estate sale business, works at the Saratoga Track, summers, Royal Mountain Ski Area, winters. Jim was appointed Rotterdam Town Historian in 2020.



Tuition (Membership Required)



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For questions or help with registration, please contact us by phone at 518-388-6072 or by email at

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