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Naming history

Marker in Bleecker reminds viewers of the past of Lake Edward

July 24, 2011
By RODNEY MINOR , The Leader Herald

BLEECKER - Earlier this month, a little piece of history was unveiled.

On July 16, the Bleecker Historical Society revealed a marker on Lake Drive that tells some of the history of Lake Edward.

Lorraine Bleyl, a member of the society, said she was inspired to ask about getting a sign placed because she remembered how upset people were years ago when Vandenburgh Pond became Lake Edward.

Article Photos

From left, Lorraine Bleyl, Bonnie Howard and Eleanor Brooks are shown at the unveiling of the marker depicting the history of Lake Edward/
Vandenburgh Pond on Lake Drive in Bleecker on July 16. Brooks, the Bleecker town historian, said Bleyl and Howard did most of the research for the sign.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

"I love [the sign]," she said, looking at the white and black sign. "I think its beautiful."

Amy Winnie, the president of the historical society, said the idea of putting the sign up was around before she became president. She liked the idea so she encouraged the members to proceed with it.

"I did know that the lake was called Vandenburgh Pond, many of the 'natives' still call it that," she said in an email.

Town historian Eleanor Brooks said she swam in the water when it was still Vandenburgh Pond. While she knows it is Lake Edward, she sometimes still thinks of it by its other name.

At the ceremony July 16, Brooks read from a book about the town's early history. Hiram Vandenburgh was noted for owning large lumber tracts and having two sawmills.

By 1872, as the sign notes, what had been known as the Tannery Pond was then called Vandenburgh Pond.

However, in 1958, the name was changed to Lake Edward after a man who owned much of the land around the water, Edward Seeley.

Bleyl noted that some maps to this day still list the body of water as Vandenburgh Pond, not Lake Edward.

For example, as of Wednesday, the website Wikipedia listed Vandenburgh Pond as being a small lake east of Bleecker village, but did not list Lake Edward.

"It seemed like it might be worth noting what happened and what the name is," Bleyl said.

Bleyl said the society did a number of fundraisers to help pay for the roughly $1,200 sign.

Raising funds

Winnie said for a number of years, the club has held fundraisers including ice-cream socials, raffles and selling photographic history books.

Michael F. Gendron, Gloversville 3rd Ward supervisor, was at the ceremony along with about two dozen other people. He was impressed that a small group from a small county was able to do the fundraising they did to get the sign built.

"They don't lack for initiative in Bleecker," he said.

Brooks said she was pleased with the turnout at the event. She noted from her experience that some of the newer residents are interested in how the town developed the way it did.

"I think some of the newer residents are more interested in the history [of the town] than some of the older ones," she said.

Peter Betz, the Fulton County historian, spoke at the event, but noted he was not involved in putting the sign together.

"Local history cannot go away," he said. "This will help preserve it."

He noted some of the oldest monuments in the county are from 1933. They are still standing tall and proud, he said, telling people about local history.

"It will remain for decades," Betz said, gesturing toward the sign, shining under the summer sun along Lake Drive.

The sign, unlike the blue and yellow New York state historic signs people are used to seeing, is black and white.

Winnie said it actually stands out more because it is white with black writing, which is not what people are used to seeing.

"It is as unique as the people of Bleecker are," she said in an email.

The historical society has an ice cream social scheduled Aug. 6 at the Old Schoolhouse Museum on Lily Lake Road.



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