Thursday, October 16, 2014

Exploring the Haunted Past of Schenectady's Stockade

This ghoulish group of skeletons was unearthed in the backyard of a home on Front Street in Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood in 1902. The skeletons were thought at the time to be remains of some of the people killed in the 1690 Schenectady Massacre. Photograph from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


This blog entry is written by SCHS's Assistant Curator Kaitlin Morton-Bentley.

The Stockade Historic District is full of stories, some of them documented and some passed down over time. As the Halloween season is upon us, we’ve been researching stories of a haunted nature for our Candlelight Walking Tours. Here are some stories of ghosts from the past.

Late at night at 4 South Church Street, some say the sound of pacing footsteps can be heard. The number of paces is always the same – 22. In the 1870s Henry Horstmyer owned this house and every night around midnight, he would hear someone pacing back and forth in the living room. He counted 22 paces, but when he examined the room, found that it was only 18 paces wide. He hired carpenters to find an explanation but they could find none. Older inhabitants were able to provide the answer. During the Civil War a sixteen year old boy was hoping to enlist. He was afraid he would be rejected because of his small size, and so on the night before he was to report for duty he spent the night awake, pacing the floor back and forth. He was accepted into the army and later died at Gettysburg, but it is said that his spirit returned to the house to pace his small 22 paces for eternity.


Image of 4 South Church Street, where Henry Horstmyer heard mysterious pacing footsteps. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


In the 1700s Riverside Park was lined with small fishing docks and natives would routinely sell fish to settlers. One of these natives was an old Mohawk who was well-known in the area for his fishing and hunting knowledge. One day he visited the Stockade and gave a large present of fish to one of the townspeople without asking for any money in return. "The Great Spirit calls me," was his response when asked why. He returned to the river in his canoe. Boys swimming in the river reported that though his canoe was traveling against the current, they could not figure out how, for the Indian sat erect with his arms folded, not touching the paddles. His canoe was found floating in the river without him, and no body was ever found. A Dutchman traveling down the river thought he saw his friend on the shore, but as soon as his boat touched the bank, the Mohawk turned his head and disappeared. For some time after the Mohawk was seen sitting near the river, his knees pulled up to his chin, but whenever someone spoke to him, he disappeared.


A spooky moonlit image of the Mohawk River near Riverside park. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


Some ghosts are uneasy, some mysterious, and some, apparently, are rather generous. A poor shoemaker and his wife lived in an old house where the Erie Canal used to run. One evening as the shoemaker sat out on his porch as the sun was setting, an old man dressed in a gray coat passed by and motioned for the man to follow. The shoemaker was afraid and stayed on the porch, and then the man disappeared. The shoemaker told his wife the story, and she determined they would sit on the porch the next night and this time, they would follow the man if he appeared. The next evening they sat together as the sun went down, and again the man in the gray coat appeared. He beckoned to them, and this time the shoemaker and his wife followed. He led them through a garden gate to the back yard by an apple tree, then pointed to the ground and disappeared. The shoemaker’s wife marked the spot and the shoemaker found a shovel and started to dig. To their astonishment they dug up a pot of gold coins, buried long ago. It was the lost treasure of one of the victims of the 1690 Schenectady Massacre, and now the ghost could rest in peace knowing his lost gold was now found.


Interested hearing more tales of the supernatural and spooky in the Stockade? Register for one of our Candlelight Walking Tours on Friday, October 17 and Friday, October 24. Tours are held at 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (a 7:15 p.m. tour will be added to both dates if demand requires). Cost is $10.00 per person, which includes refreshments after the tour. Pre-registration is required and spots for the tour are filling up fast! To register, purchase your ticket online, email our Assistant Curator, Kaitlin Morton-Bentley, or call 518-374-0263, option 4. Proceeds from the Candlelight Walking Tours benefit the Schenectady Heritage Foundation and the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pulaski Day in Schenectady

Monument to Revolutionary War Hero Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, friend of America in the Revolutionary War. The monument can be found near the intersection of State Street and Nott Terrace in Schenectady. Photograph from the private collection of Phyllis Zych Budka.  


This blog entry is written by SCHS Member Phyllis Zych Budka.

Driving past Pulaski Plaza at the intersection of Nott Terrace with State and Albany Streets in Schenectady, my thoughts do not turn to the military exploits of Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Pulaski honored in a granite monument, but rather to a lost era in my own cultural heritage, Schenectady’s citizens of Polish descent. The monument, erected in the fall of 1953, was the location of annual October ceremonies honoring this Polish hero who fought for freedom in both Europe and the fledgling America, ceremonies that my family and I participated in as I was growing up.


Pulaski Day Essay Contest Winners, October 1955: Phyllis Zych (Budka), 8th grade, St. Adalbert’s School, and Lawrence Ott, 8th grade, St. Mary’s School. Left to Right: Rev. John Harzynski, Assistant Pastor, St. Adalbert’s Church; Lawrence Ott; Schenectady Mayor Archibald Wemple; Phyllis Zych; Unknown; Rev. Ladislaus Guzielek, Pastor, St. Adalbert’s Church; Unknown. The photograph was published in the Schenectady Gazette. Photograph from the private collection of Phyllis Zych Budka.


The discovery among my mother’s keepsakes of the photo of the Pulaski Day Essay Contest I won in the fall of 1955 brought a flood of memories. Luckily, the Schenectady Gazette caption reminded me of the long-forgotten contest topic, the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz. My sister, Elizabeth Zych Kislinger, provided another, slightly later, photo of ceremonies at Pulaski Plaza.

These photos gave me a sense of loss for my cultural heritage that cannot be shared with my children and grandchildren. They also made me curious about the history behind the Schenectady Polish American community’s efforts to commemorate Casimir Pulaski in such a prominent place in the city.


Pulaski Day Celebration, ca. 1956. Pictured are Schenectady city and Polish community dignitaries as well as my sister (first row, far right), my cousin Marjorie Norris Brophy (2nd from left) and my grandmother Victoria Korycinski (back row, right, between flags). Photograph from the private collection of Elizabeth Zych Kislinger. 


In researching the origins of Schenectady's Pulaski Day celebrations on the historical newspaper website www.fultonhistory.com, I was surprised to find a Gazette entry from 1929:

Anniversary of Pulaski’s Death Celebrated in School Auditorium, Large Crowd Attends Exercises Honoring Polish Patriot

A fitting climax to the exercises commemorating the 150 anniversary of the death of Count Casimir Pulaski, which have been in progress here since Thursday when Schenectadians filled the big Schenectady High School Auditorium to capacity to pay tribute to the Revolutionary War hero. (Gazette 10/14/1929, p. 11)

According to a 11/16/53 Gazette article, the Polish Welfare Council petition to the Schenectady City Council to erect the Pulaski monument was adopted on November 15, 1948. The city of Schenectady donated $2,000 toward the nearly $15,000 cost of the monument. The monument is 34 feet long and 14 feet 6 inches high at the center. The General’s statue is 7 feet high.

The Pulaski monument was dedicated on November 18, 1953, complete with a parade from the Polish National Alliance Home on Crane Street to the Pulaski Plaza. Representatives from Syracuse, Utica, Amsterdam, Watervliet, Cohoes, Troy, Albany and Poughkeepsie participated in the festivities, which also included a banquet.

Below are the words inscribed on the monument, words which ring true even today:

Pulaski
Union makes valor stronger

Count Casimir Pulaski, friend of America in the Revolutionary War, distinguished himself on General George Washington’s staff in the Battle of Brandywine, commissioned Brigadier General. Fought at Germantown and other battles in winter 1777-78. By resolution of Congress was authorized to form the Pulaski Legion. Mortally wounded at Savannah, Georgia, and died October 11, 1779.

To the memory of an immortal hero who gave his life in the cause of freedom and thereby left a living message to all Americans. May God grant that the liberty of mankind, which only brave souls win and only vigilance can guard, shall live on with greater vitality. Dedicated by the people of Schenectady.

This memorial made possible by Americans of Polish descent.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Our New Mobile Compact Shelving


Row of mobile compact shelving units seen from the center of the library's storage area. 


The Grems-Doolittle Library is proud to announce that we recently received a donation of mobile compact shelving, with a maximum storage capacity of over 1,500 cubic feet, from Legere Restorations in Schenectady.


Opening up an aisle in the mobile compact shelving. 


The addition of the mobile compact shelving, which has been installed on one side of the Library’s archives storage area, has increased the maximum storage capacity of the area by over 40%. Prior to the installation of the shelving, the maximum storage capacity of the library's archives storage area was 1,800 feet. Now, with the addition of the compact shelving, we have that much storage capacity on just one side of the storage area -- a huge increase in storage space!


The new shelving allows us lots of room to grow! Our Librarian/Archivist, Melissa Tacke, smiles across the empty shelving units, a few days after the install was completed. 


The additional space provided by the mobile compact shelving allows for the library to better care for its unique collections of personal papers, photograph collections, organizational records, and business records, and makes room for new acquisitions. The reconfiguration of the archival storage area also provides a work area for processing incoming acquisitions and storage space for paintings.


A hand-powered crank moves the shelving units to create an aisle where needed. 


Mobile compact shelving consists of shelving that is mounted on wheeled carriages that travel on rails that have been installed onto the floor. With mobile compact shelving, fixed aisles are not required between every stack; the stacks can be compressed into a smaller space and a single aisle is created as needed by rolling the stacks apart to access a specific section. The shelving, which had previously been used for document storage by Legere Restorations, was donated to the Schenectady County Historical Society in September. Legere Restorations also installed the shelving.


The reconfiguration of our archives storage area also created space for a work area. This is where collections will be processed and rehoused for archival storage.


The Library has sorely needed mobile compact shelving for our archives storage area for at least a decade, but the cost of such shelving is far out of our reach. To have it donated to us is truly a dream come true!

Another view of the rows of mobile compact shelving. 


Do you have questions about the library's mobile compact shelving or our collections? Contact our Librarian at 518-374-09263, ext. 3, or by email at librarian@schenectadyhistorical.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Art of City Directory Advertisements


In this advertisement for a tailor in the 1882 Schenectady City Directory, the entrepreneur boasts that he is "the" tailor in town. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


City directories are commercially published compilations of the names, addresses, and professions of people in a city. For history enthusiasts, directories provide a treasure trove of information about a community at a specific time. They are a tremendous resource for a number of research purposes, from genealogical and biographical research, to house history research, to a researching the history of a community, neighborhood, or ethnic enclave.


This page of advertisements from the 1862 Schenectady directory features a variety of typefaces, in addition to illustrations, to draw the eye. Advertisers in nineteenth-century directories were more apt to use a variety of dramatic typefaces, rather than images, to promote businesses. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


Advertisement for the Schenectady Lyceum and Academy, a school for boys, in the 1842 Schenectady directory. the 1842 directory was the first directory to be produced for the city. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


The advertisements featured in city directories are also useful. They not only document the businesses and services that existed in a community -- sometimes highlighting long-gone industries; advertisements in directories also provide a look at the art and style of advertising during a particular era.

This advertisement from the 1925 city directory is an early example of a directory illustration that uses a cartoonish drawing style, in contrast to more realistic drawing styles. Cartoon images are infrequent in the directories, but can be found starting in the 1920s. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


While many advertisements in directories focus on sellers of goods, advertisements also focused on services in the community. One example is this advertisement in the 1933 Schenectady directory for the insurance company Ter Bush & Powell. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 

The iconic style of the 1950s can be seen in this advertisement for the Schenectady Engraving Company, from the 1952 Schenectady directory. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


This blog entry features a number of advertisements from Schenectady city directories from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. In their language and imagery, they give modern viewers a peek into Schenectady's past, and we can compare the advertising of yesteryear to the advertising of today.

This advertisement for the Chamber of Commerce in Schenectady from the 1952 Schenectady directory is unusual in its use of two colors of ink. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 

Photographs included in advertisements in directories are useful. Many images show the front of local businesses; a few show the interiors of businesses, such as this interesting image from the interior of Alling Rubber Company in State Street in Schenectady. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 


Interested in exploring city directories in the holdings of the Grems-Doolittle Library? You can find a complete list of the directories in our holdings by clicking this link. To begin your research, visit our Library or contact our Librarian.

This ad for the Schenectady Gazette appeared in the 1980 directory. Many of the ads in the 1980s directories target advertisers in addition to consumers. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 

Full-page advertisement for the Teller & Sanford hardware store in downtown Schenectady in the 1906 Schenectady directory. Image from the collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library. 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Schenectady County Cemetery Records


Undated photograph of Vale Cemetery in Schenectady, taken from a glass plate negative. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

Schenectady County contains a number of cemeteries and burial grounds, from large cemeteries such as Vale Cemetery to small family burial plots that were once part of local farms.

The earliest known burial ground in the area appears on a 1698 map of Schenectady by Wolfgang Romer. The small plot was situated just east of the intersection of Front Street and Church Street, and ran along the south side of Front Street. This plot may have also been where bodies were buried after the Schenectady Massacre in 1690. Unfortunately, records of the people buried in this earliest cemetery have not survived.


These skeletons were unearthed from the grounds of a Front Street home in 1902, in an area were the earliest known burial ground in Schenectady was once located. Newspapers of the time suggested that the skeletons were the remains of some of the victims of the Schenectady Massacre. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

During the 18th and early 19th century, most burial grounds in American towns and cities were located in churchyards (such as the cemetery of St. George's Church on Ferry Street in the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady) or near the center of town (such as the Green Street Cemetery in Schenectady, which was situated between Front Street and Green Street in Schenectady). Meanwhile, in rural areas, church burial grounds were common, as were family burial plots on local farms.


The graveyard at First Presbyterian Church in Schenectady can be found on the church's property, next to the church building. Another early Schenectady church, St. George's, is also home to a small graveyard. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.  


Over time, the overcrowding of graves and emerging sanitation laws in cities and towns led to the rural cemetery movement. Instead of graveyards placed in city centers, new cemeteries were established on the outskirts of communities. In contrast to the simple design of graveyards, these "garden cemeteries" often featured meandering paths, creeks, art and statuary, and areas for picnicking. Cemeteries were intended not only as places to bury the dead, but also as a place for recreation. In line with these developments, Vale Cemetery was established in 1857. Burials in the Green Street Cemetery were soon after disinterred and were transferred to Vale, and the former cemetery land between Front and Green Streets was developed as residential property.


Colorful postcards promoting Vale Cemetery as a pleasant, peaceful place for recreation and relaxation were popular in the early years of the twentieth century. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Postcard Collection. 


Cemetery records can be helpful to genealogy researchers in establishing dates of birth, marriage, and death, and in connecting the generations of a family. Epitaphs and designs on a headstone can also give a genealogy researcher information about an ancestor's religious background, military service, membership in fraternal organizations, or even his or her occupation.  By studying the names, epitaphs, and ages of people buried, and by examining the placement, landscape, and architecture of cemeteries and burial grounds, local history researchers can learn about epidemics and disease, lifespans, wealth and status, ethnic groups, cultural practices, and a number of other topics related to a community's history. Analyzing the information found on headstones and monuments can also illuminate a community's beliefs regarding death, religion, family, childhood, and old age.


A tree has grown up close between headstones in a small family cemetery in Duanesburg. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.

The Grems-Doolittle Library has several printed collections of cemetery records. These records, usually compiled from information on headstones, focuses on information about individuals. Headstone inscriptions are generally included in these records. A complete list of Schenectady County cemetery records in our holdings can be found by clicking this link. Clipping files, photographs, maps, city directories, and postcard collections in our holdings also provide contextual information about local cemeteries and burial grounds. If you have questions about using cemetery records for your research or are seeking information about local cemeteries, please visit our library or contact our Librarian.



Friday, August 29, 2014

School Days from Schenectady County's Past


Students at their desks in a classroom at Elmer Avenue School in Schenectady, ca. 1910. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


For many people in the United States, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. For kids and teenagers in Schenectady County, school starts within a day or two after the holiday. In celebration of the return of school days (coming right around the corner!), we're highlighting images of school days from Schenectady County's past.

Interested in learning more about Schenectady County's past in photographs? Visit our Library or contact our Librarian.


Students congregate around Bigsbee School in Rotterdam in this 1953 photo. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


Students slated to graduate from the Union Classical Institute, a Schenectady high school, pose elegantly in this 1878 photograph. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


Students at Mohawk School in Scotia participate in a school play in this photograph from the 1950s. Image from Larry Hart Collection. 


Teacher Delta Relyea and her pupils pose outside of the Glenville District #7 schoolhouse at the corner of Swaggertown Road and Spring Road in this photo ca. 1910. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


Children line up to enjoy the slide at the Edison School in Schenectady in this undated photo. image from Larry Hart Collection. 


The 1911 Schenectady High School girls' basketball team poses for their yearbook photo. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


This 1954 photo shows the A.M. Kindergarten class at Van Corlaer Elementary School in Schenectady. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 


Students from grades 5, 6, and 7 at the Zion Lutheran Church private school in Schenectady pose with an instructor outside their school building in this 1917 photograph. Image from Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"No Roughnecks Allowed": The Schenectady Newsboys' Association

This 1916 photo shows the members of the Schenectady Newsboys' Association Fife and Drum Corps. The Fife and Drum Corps was first organized in April 1916 with 35 boys from the Newsboys' Association. By the following year, the group had grown to 58. During World War I, the Schenectady Newsboys' Association Fife and Drums Corps marched in uniform in patriotic and military parades. Image from the Larry Hart Collection. 


Around the turn of the twentieth century, local boys sold newspapers on Schenectady's city streets. In Schenectady, as in cities around the country, these boys and young men, known as "newsboys" or "newsies," were one of the main distribution means of newspapers to the public. Newsboys did not work for one particular newspaper, but were independent agents who purchased newspapers from the publishers and sold them around the city. Since they were not allowed to return unsold papers to the publisher, newsboys worked hard to sell all of their newspapers and make a profit. Boys protected their territories and competed vigorously, especially for the potential customers who headed to work at G.E. each day. Maria Giacchini, whose father was a newsboy in Schenectady, shared her recollections of her father's stories of his newsboy days: "I recall his telling of early morning routine, rising at 4:00 a.m. trying not to disturb the rest of the family while getting ready to leave the house to sell papers in the streets. When he sold all his papers, the highlight of the morning was to use some of the profit he had earned from the half-cent per paper return and stop at the baker shop for a piece of pie or a doughnut ... He gave the rest of his earnings to his mother, but she would always check his pockets to be sure he didn't forget to give it all to her."


A small group of Schenectady newsboys sell papers in the afternoon - after school hours - in this February 1910 photograph. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. Image from the records of the National Child Labor Committee, in the collections of the Library of Congress


In 1910 in Schenectady, boys as young as 10 were permitted to sell papers during the day. Teenage boys age 14 and older could sell at night. Girls under the age of 16 were barred from selling newspapers altogether. Each newsboy under the age of 14 was required to register with the Schenectady Superintendent of Schools and wear a badge proving he was registered. The law changed in January 1914, raising the minimum age for newsboys to 12 and permitting only boys age 14 and older to sell papers before 6:00 a.m. or after 8:00 a.m. Regardless of the law, some of the boys were as young as 8 when they began to sell papers. In 1914, the Secretary of the Schenectady's Board of Education reported that there were nearly 1,000 registered newsboys in the city.

The loud calls of the newsies advertising papers for sale could be heard throughout the city at all hours, a feature of city life that often prompted complaints. An article dated December 14, 1911 in the Schenectady Gazette reported, "a number of complaints have been received of the many boys who [at late hours] are on the streets at night selling newspapers. They gather about the waiting room [of the downtown trolley station] and other public places and cause considerable annoyance to pedestrians and persons waiting for cars." Other articles in local newspapers noted the complaints of Schenectadians about the shouts of newsboys on Sunday mornings in particular.


Undated National Newsboys Association membership card of Clarence White. The mission of the organization was the self-improvement of the young men; it eventually evolved into the Boys and Girls Club that exists today. By signing the membership card, a boy certifies that "he does not approve of swearing, lying, stealing, gambling, drinking intoxicating liquors or smoking cigarettes" and as such is entitled to "the respect and esteem of the public." Image from Larry Hart Collection.


Although on the whole newsboys were simply hard-working young people trying to help their families survive, they were characterized nationwide in the public mind as loud, ill-behaved, unruly boys who caused trouble, fought, and stole. Max Hutten, who at age 95 recalled his days as a turn-of-the-century newsboy, allowed that this characterization was not entirely off-base. "In those days, the newsboys were pretty rough," Hutten told Daily Gazette reporter Patrick Kurp in 1996. "We were kind of a gang, but we just fought with our fists. We didn't fight with guns like they do today."

In July 1915, Police Justice John J. McMullen founded the Schenectady Newsboys' Association to curb the city's youth street gangs. The police and city officials hoped to redirect these young men and give them harmless outlets for their energy. A July 19, 1915 editorial in the Schenectady Gazette posited that the organization was an excellent idea: "It should at the very least have a strong influence toward preventing various petty misdemeanors among the boys. As a means of keeping the members out of trouble it is by no means as unimportant as it may seem at first thought." The writer of the editorial further asserted that in running the organization, the boys would also learn "citizenship on a small scale."

Portrait of John J. McMullen, the local judge who was instrumental in the founding of the Schenectady Newsboys' Association. Image from History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene. Accessed via the Schenectady Digital History Archive.


The Schenectady Newsboys' Association began formally on July 23, 1915, with 28 boys in its membership. The 15-year-old president of the organization, Joseph Guarnier, remarked upon the creation of the group, "we will try to show that boys can rule themselves as well as grown people, and perhaps better ... We are going to cut out all gambling, swearing, cheating, and slang, and show the grown-ups how to act." The initial slogan of the organization was reported as being "No Roughnecks Allowed"; it would soon change to "Honesty -- Honor". A week after its formation, membership swelled to 91 and would rise to 125 by mid-September of 1915. At its peak in 1917, the organization had 225 members. In its earliest months, the organization met in the State Street clubrooms of the Women's Political Union, a local women's suffrage group, who also sponsored parties and entertainment for the boys. In September, members of the local Carpenters' Union stepped in to create space for the boys in the basement of the YMCA building, which was then at the corner of State Street and Ferry Street. Over the years, the boys added a Victrola, pool table, punching bag, and other amusements to their space. The YWCA remained the meeting place and lounge for the Newsboys' Association members until 1921, when the YMCA moved to its lower State Street location and the Newsboys' Association lost its meeting space. Having no regular place to meet, the group soon disbanded.


The first Christmas Dinner of the Schenectady Newsboys' Association, held in December 1915. Image from Larry Hart Collection. 


In the weeks following the establishment of the Newsboys' Association in 1915, articles began to appear in local newspapers citing the integrity of the newsboys in returning lost items to their owners and in breaking up fights. Newsboys were also reported as standing up for their rights. When a customer rudely snatched a paper from a newsboy and tossed a penny to the ground, another newsboy stood in the path of the customer, looked him in the eye, and said, "I beg your pardon." The customer picked up the penny, handed it to the newsboy he had treated badly, and apologized to him. In another case, members of the Schenectady Newsboys' Association chased down a fellow newsboy who had stolen a customer's change and forced him to return it. "We won't stand for any crooks among the newsboys of this city," said the organization's vice-president, Julius Goldstein, to a Gazette reporter following the incident. "Almost all the boys are honest, but any of them who tries any underhanded work is going to be punished. Every newsboy in the city has got to give the people a square deal or there will be trouble." The organization also established a peer court to address mischief and petty crimes among the newsboy ranks. One year after the formation of the group, an article in the Schenectady Gazette reflected on the first year of the existence of the Newsboys' Association: "through help given by the members of the association, Police Judge McMullen has been enabled to break up several gangs of unruly boys, who had in the past consistently committed various acts of vandalism, and now the city can boast of having one of the finest lot of newsboys of any city in the state." In addition to regulating the behavior of the newsboys, the Schenectady Newsboys' Association also provided a means for fun and recreation. The Newsboys' Association held numerous sports events, picnics, dinners, and camping trips, and visited local amusement parks. They participated in local parades and celebrations. The organization also created its own Fife and Drum Corps.

When Judge John McMullen died in March 1944, his obituary in the Schenectady Gazette highlighted his work in establishing the Schenectady Newsboys' Association. Articles claimed that the Newsboys' Association was "instrumental in the lowering of the juvenile delinquency rate in the city," and said of the newsboys that had grown into men that "many members of the original club now hold important positions in the professions and in business and industry." The pallbearers selected for McMullen's funeral were all former members of the Newsboys' Association. Although the organization lasted less than ten years, it surely shaped the lives of hundreds of local boys as they grew into men.