History Walks with Scotians
by Frances Anderson Sloan
(published in the Scotia Journal Feb. 20, 1964)
[Frances Sloan was Village Historian from November, 1959 until she died in May, 1965.]
Happy Birthday, Scotia!
Sixty years ago Scotia was finally incorporated as a village.
We have traced our development from the first settlement in 1658, through our years as the fourth ward of Schenectady, our separation from that city in 1820 to become Glenville. We now come to the incorporation of Scotia as a village within the Town of Glenville. It all began in 1901 when Mr. Charles P. Sanders and a group of civic minded Scotians decided to push for the incorporation of our village. We are fortunate to have thirty-six original documents pertaining to the more than two year struggle, given to the village by Mr. Glen Sanders.
Mr. C.P. Sanders appeared at a hearing before the supervisor of Glenville, December 4, 1901 to present the territory to be included and a list of names of over three hundred inhabitants. The incorporation of Scotia as a village was voted at an election held January 4, 1902 in the Good Templars Hall in Scotia. This incorporation was vigorously opposed by Miss Katherine M. Sanders, daughter of Jacob Glen Sanders and Jane Ten Eyck Sanders, who lived in the Sanders home on East Sunnyside Road. It was also strongly resisted by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad which owed a section of highly taxable tracks. The petition to become a village had remained in the clerk’s office without appeal till the time for appeal had expired. It was later discovered that the tax agent of the New York Central, whose identity was not then known, had examined the papers.
However, an appeal from the election was taken in February by James Collins and David Maynard at the request and interest of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company. Over Mr. Sanders’ signature is the statement that “The said county Judge of the County of Schenectady, after taking testimony for several days and hearing S. W. Jackson, counsel for the appellant (the railroad company) decided that the election was sustained. Thereafter an appeal was taken from the decision to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court State of New York. The appellate division on the 9th day of July, 1902 decided that the decision of the County Court thereon should be affirmed.” What a bitter battle each side fought to establish its aim!
Sues Town Clerk
The Railroad sued the town clerk, James J. Hoyt, Jr. because of some supposed irregularity in showing the territory to be incorporated and because the territory was more than a square mile in extent. The state law of 1897 in reference to villages prescribed that a village was to incorporate territory “not exceeding one square mile.” Miss Sanders joined in this complaint. There was a summons to Hoyt to appear, 8 pages of complaints against him and one page affidavit that “The area is greater than one square mile.” A sheet of figures, apparently those of a surveyor, upholds this contention because the figures show that Scotia was 1.39 square miles. We must remember this was when the section from Sacandaga Road was Reeseville.
A notice of retainer by the citizens promoting the village, signed by Charles P. Sanders and dated July 16, 1902 carries a name for the Glen-Sanders home never before found by your historian. It was “Glen Place” and seems a very good title for the house. Before you dismiss the account of the struggle to found Scotia as a bit of a bore, let your imagination bring to life the determination, the continual thought of the keen minds on both sides. The justly famous firm of DeRemer and Angle, the fine Jackson family of lawyers, and the eminent squire of Scotia, Charles P. Sanders fought with every ounce of their being. They were gentlemen with all, and known to each other. There are letters back and forth, adjusting an error in the amount of the judgment against the railroad, and as late as March 1904, a letter from Samuel Jackson to C.P. Sanders requested “a call at my office within a couple of days to see if we cannot agree upon a settlement of the case.”
Sanders fought for Scotia
Mr. Sanders fought devotedly for Scotia, withstanding the attacks made by his opponents again and again. Every decision was in favor of Scotia and every time the railroad lawyers appealed. At a special term of the Supreme Court action was ordered referred to Honorable Judson S. Landon as sole referee. (You may remember his account of the Republican nominating convention in Chicago, 1860, when as a youth, he represented Schenectady at the time Lincoln was first chosen. The youth of 20 had become a most respected Judge by 1903.) Judge Landon appointed May 3 for trial action before him after which he rendered the following opinion. “The claim of the plaintiff is that the proceedings for the incorporation for the village of Scotia are void because the territory sought to be incorporated exceeds one square mile. The contention (question) is not whether the incorporation would exceed one mile, but whether due provision had been made for a legal hearing and whether the railroad, being a taxpayer, had brought up the area in the hearing as an objection so the supervisor might decide whether the proposition for incorporation complies with the statute in fact as well as in form.” (From the above quoted material they had not done so at the time.)
“It follows that the complaint must be dismissed on the merits, with costs.” Another hand written account directs that the Defendant recover from the plaintiff “the sum of one hundred and ninety dollars and seventy five cents.”
Again the railroad appealed and a final hearing was to be held at the September, 1904 term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the old Convention Hall at Saratoga Springs. According to the documents both Miss Sanders and the New York Central and Hudson Railroad were to bring action against Mr. Hoyt, Scotia Clerk. The material Mr. Glen Sanders gave the village did not contain any evidence as to whether the trial took place or whether settlement was out of court, as requested in the above mentioned letter from the Railroad attorneys to Mr. C.P. Sanders, but as result of this prolonged, bitter struggle Scotia was born.
Mynderse first president
At first Scotia had a President and Board of Trustees of three men. Dr. Herman Mynderse had played an important role in the struggle and became the first President. At this time Scotia had 3,000 inhabitants. It was a progressive place and in 1906 established water and sewer systems. The First Reformed Church was proud to be the first such building to have electricity, running water and a paved sidewalk. Dr. Mynderse remained as President until 1910. In 1907 there were four trustees on the board which number has remained until now, with the exception of the last part of 1963 until our March, 1964 election.
Dr. Mynderse was followed by Messrs. John Miller, William R. Williams, John E. Gillette, Augustus H. Lasher, Arthur B. Laurence, Harry Christian, Robert E. Doherty, A. C. Spitzer, Adson J. Haight, John Sible, William N. Turnbull, R.F. Berning and E.E. Campbell. In 1923 the title of President was changed to that of Mayor. The political party of the mayors for five years could not be ascertained because the party is not designated in the official records, but the fifty-five years of office holding by mayors whose political affiliations are recalled show some interesting facts. No mayor seems to have filed his expenses for campaign as a Democrat but the Independent non-partisan title usually indicated Democrat leanings. Of the 55 years accounted for, there have been four mayors registered as Independent-non-partisan. Mr. Berning was Mayor for only a few months but the other three totaled twenty-six years; Dr. Mynderse, 6; Mr. Spitzer, 8; Mr. Sible, 12.
Eight men were registered Republican and served for 28 ¾ years. With the exception of Mayor William Turnbull (16 ¾ years) no one of them has served more than two years so far.
Fifty years ago, according to Judge William Nicoll, we had “no saloons and no paupers and no police.” The years have indeed seen change. We have grown, though not so populous as the optimistic plan of 1931 hoped we should be. We have the great challenge of the foresight and daring of the first settlers as well as the dogged devotion of those who sought our development. Do we accept the challenge or does our heroic story end here?