In one of the more controversial situations I have ever witnessed in a small town, it was the Roe Jan Historical society slide show/lecture by Howard Blue on “A History of a small Hudson Valley Town Part1” that seemed to really liven up things on an otherwise boring November Saturday afternoon at the brand new Roe Jan County library on rt.22 in Hillsdale, New York.
Affluent and notable historian, Howard Blue who also maintains the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Copakehistory gave a two hour lecture and slide show showcasing some of the rarest and interesting small town facts and photos on the history of Copake dating back to roughly 1850 or so.
Some of the many interesting topics included, Martin Scorsese’s filming an early project in the town of Copake with a very young Harvey Keitel, rumors of Mr. Hedges running a speakeasy in the basement of the Copake general store during prohibition, The Copake landing strip and the building of the” Silver Streak” airplane in 1929, The man who would go up to Bash Bish Falls and collect Rattlesnakes for research every Fall, and the evidence of slavery in Copake at some point in the 1800’s. (Howard Blue gave a disclaimer at the beginning of his slide show that these were historical images not meant to offend anyone)
Howard Blue has spent years meticulously researching and piecing together the intricate and delicate nature of his historical lecture and it is obvious that he has spent a lot of time digging through family photos in order to put his lecture together, and I respect him for it.
Mr. Blue was very clear that his only proof was in one photo of a young African American male in which at one point he accidentally referred to the slave as an “it” instead of a “him” which caused some very uncomfortable chatter in the library lecture hall.
There were a few Copake family descendants sitting in the lecture halls who were chiming in during the slide show with bits and pieces of information on some of the popular Family names that originated in the area over the last 150 years. No major family fights broke out, like with the politics in the Lower Rhoda Lake Association who donated money to make the library happen.
Many notable donors were in the audience for the lecture and the library is always looking for funds to keep their many charitable and educational classes continuing into the future. Please see the website for more information http://www.roejanlibrary.org/.