The Johnstown Historical Society began as an idea, on Thursday evening on the 26th day of May, 1892, when eleven civic-minded citizens of the village gathered in Harwood Dudley’s Law Office.
Those men who assembled there realized that Johnstown possessed a unique and precious historical heritage. Yet, it was being methodically mutilated and destroyed.
The cemetery of their forebears had degraded into a village dumping ground where a skin mill was spreading pelts to dry over the gravestones. The stately 18th century Georgian Mansion of Sir William Johnson had been converted into a Victorian home with bay windows, ornate porches and roof-top cupolas. One of the flanking forts, after being gutted by a fire, was demolished and its stones carted away for cellar walls.
Because there was no available repository in Johnstown for receiving and preserving artifacts, it was no uncommon for families to relegate relics and old documents to the ash heap. It has been said that when people cease to care where they came from, they soon cease to care where they are going.
Thus, the eleven had come together with a determination to provide a means of preservation for the historic heritage of their community. The decision was to from a Johnstown Historical Society. Thereby, there would then be persons actively engaged in the discovery and preservation of sites and materials of our own impressive past.