A newspaperman’s gleanings from Altamont’s past

— From the Guilderland Historical Society

Historic Enterprise: A 1960 photo in the Altamont Enterprise building shows Marvin “Shorty” Vroman, then part owner of the newspaper, seated at the typesetting machine. James Gardner, at rear, the present owner, and James Pino, a former part owner, look on.  The weekly paper has been published continuously since 1884.


A frail blue, cardboard-covered booklet titled “From Our Files” was passed on to this historian from the late assistant town historian, Fred Abele.  It is a collection of news items put together by the late Marvin “Shorty” Vroman, who had been a part owner of The Altamont Enterprise

Vroman assembled the news items from 1978 to 1982. The news had been published from 1885 to 1891 in the issues of the local weekly paper.

The century-old news clippings give a sharp look at the beginnings of the small village of Altamont, handling its growth just as the time for electricity and cars were beginning to make transportation and community growth completely different.

This historian will begin with several of the news items of 1884 and 1885 in the tiny village then called Knowersville before it became Altamont in 1890.

Saturday, Nov. 29, 1884

Local:  Knowersville has become a ready market for all farm produce.  Over 10,000 bushels of wheat has been floured at Sand’s Mill this fall.

On account of not having space in last week’s edition, we were obliged to leave out the grand parade and clambake which took place last Wednesday evening...There were not as many present as was anticipated  (on account of the storm) yet there were enough to  devour five barrels of clams. 

The village was illuminated with Chinese lanterns and bonfires.  The Knowersville House was immensely illuminated, every window from basement to garret was differently arranged; no pen could picture what the eye could catch at a glance.

Guilderland Center: G. Young has opened a butcher shop on Maple St. We wish Mr. Young success.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 1884

Local: The one great advantage Knowersville has, the farmers can sell all their produce of this place and receive more money than taking out the expense of going to Albany. And they can buy groceries, boots, shoes, nails, and cap from our merchants as cheap as they can buy in the city.

Saturday, Dec. 20, 1884

Local: We have a little snow, not much, just a little. Children look out for old Santa Claus Christmas Eve.

Saturday, Dec. 27, 1884

Editorial titled “For 1885”: “The year of 1884 is fast drawing to a close,  and would it not be well to take one glance back over the past year and see if any improvements have been made in regard to our moral, spiritual, or intellectual qualifications, and then start the new year with a better determination; that it permitted to live to the end of next year…and make greater change for the better.

“Every year brings changes in various ways; what is Knowersville now, only a few years ago was farmland with here and there a dwelling.  The old Susquehanna, as a few years ago it was called, started for a trip to Binghamton and passed through this farming community.

“A station was built and located at the foot of the Helderbergs,  and soon a store and stores, then dwellings, hotels, church and then more dwellings etc. The people came from  surrounding towns and the capital city; they came each year and brought to this village marked improvement, and we have no doubt that during the next year, 1885,  there will be greater improvements in regard to the wealth of our beautiful village.”

Local: The sleighing is very good — good enough to go visiting. The thermometer at The Enterprise stood at 18 below zero.

Fuller’s Station: The laying of the abutment at the covered bridge causes great inconvenience to the traveling public.

A.M. LaGrange killed 37 turkeys that weighed 458 pounds when dressed.

Knowersville Market:  “Butter, 22 cents per pound, eggs, 28 cents per dozen, rye,  65 cents per bushel, oats 32 cents and new hay $7 - $14 per ton; buckwheat 50 cents per bushel, stove coal $5.25 per ton, pea coal $4.25, chestnut $5.25 and bituminous $6.00.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 1885

We are informed that a skating rink has been opened at Hart’s Hotel, Thompson’s Lake.

A.F. Dietz will build on his property purchased from M. VanAuken, a new barn and a manufacturing building for making and bottling soda, sarsaparilla etc. H. Schoonmaker has the contract.

Fuller’s Station: A passenger train with nearly 200 passengers aboard was stalled about a mile west of here Wednesday morning and remained until nearly night.

Nearly all our boys and men are shoveling snow on the West Shore. Only one track is open to date.

The Enterprise failed to make their appearance Saturday night.  They must have been stalled in a snowdrift.

Saturday, March 7, 1885

Aaron Blessing has informed us that he has already loaded and shipped over 100 carloads of hay and straw for Mr. Fuller.  He said their large barn is entirely filled with straw awaiting transportation.

Guilderland Center: A.F. Dietz of this place will remove to Knowersville where he will continue to manufacture sarsaparilla soda etc.

On Wednesday morning, the thermometer marked 4 degrees below zero.


Note: This historian will, in future columns, attend to more of early news columns assembled by Shorty Vroman.