MILTON – “Anything you can do to promote the history of a town is a good thing,” says Milton Town Historian Kim McCartney.
While many locals a short distance north were planning multiple events throughout this year to celebrate the Town of Wilton’s bicentennial, which includes a special magazine scheduled for publication in early April by Saratoga TODAY, McCartney and fellow historian James Richmond have been busy producing a hefty book of their own.
Titled, “Milton, New York: A New Town in a New Nation,” the 278-page tome is available at the price of $18 through Amazon. It includes 120 images and extensive source notes.
McCartney and Richmond have scheduled special presentations and book signings for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3 at Milton Town Hall; and again at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa.
McCartney indicated that, so far, 60 copies have been published. They are available at Brookside Museum or the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs.
“I grew up around here, so it’s pretty interesting,” said Milton Supervisor Scott Ostrander, admitting this week that he already has finished reading the book and passed it along to women in his family.
McCartney said she hopes the April 3 event will lead to the creation of a “history roundtable” that will further explore early life in Milton and surrounding municipalities.
Richmond had published another book in late 2016 titled, “War on the Middleline.” Shortly afterward he and McCartney agreed to start a more comprehensive project, focusing on people and events between the Revolutionary and Civil wars and how Milton developed in that time period.
Through the course of 18 months, as residents were celebrating Milton’s 225th anniversary last year, McCartney and Richmond were assisted in researching and writing “A New Town in a New Nation” by lifetime Saratoga County resident Karen Staulters.
“I think the most compelling reason to buy the book is the stories of the local people, living out their lives in a long-forgotten time,” offered Richmond in an email, when contacted for comment.
“In many ways,” he added, “we were able to see that despite our differences, people 150 years ago struggled with the same basic issues—how to make a living, bring up their families, respond to the bigger issues confronting them in politics, religion and war.”
“Our goal is to expand historical literacy among residents and create a foundation for future historians to build on,” Richmond explained, noting how the only comparable “general history” of Milton was published in 1907.
According to McCartney, most researchers interested in learning about Saratoga County start with a book published in 1878 by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester. He was commissioned to write multiple similar county histories around the time of the nation’s centennial in 1876, she added.
McCartney, Richmond and Staulters used that book as a source, but did a lot of legwork locating old property deeds and other documents preserved by Saratoga County.
“The proof-reading was the worst part,” McCartney confessed.
The population of Milton was about 5,000 during the years covered by “A New Town in a New Nation.” That number has grown to nearly 20,000 today due to “significant growth in the last 40 years,” Richmond said.
Overall, McCartney said, she is satisfied after making the effort. She and Richmond funded the book’s publishing independently at no town expense.
“That’s all I do, research and reading. I love it, though,” McCartney said. “You’re always learning something new.”