Shared from the 4/30/2021 The Daily Gazette eEdition


The remarkable Matthew Winne Jr.


Top: An 1856 Fagan Map segment showing Saw Mill on Lisha Kill, the M. Winne Sr. farm at 3009 Troy Road and the Matthew Winne Jr. home at 3483 Rosendale Road, lower right, adjacent to Brick Yard.



Above: A Google Maps overview photo of the Original Winne Farm at 3009 Troy Road.

In January 2020, I wrote my first article in this series called “History Hiding in Plain Site” chronicling the saga of the home at 3483 Rosendale Road. Situated a few dozen yards east of the former Niskayuna train station, alongside the bike path, this home was built in the 1840’s, by Matthew Winne Jr. (1806-1897). Much of my account was based on a document entitled “Finding Home in Niskayuna,” written by current homeowner Denise Stringer. Since writing my article, I uncovered many tantalizing new findings about Mr. Winne as I further researched this incredible man.

Delving into primary historical documents, including maps, census records, newspapers, city directories, even Shaker diaries, plus old deeds with the assistance of historian Denis Brenan, I gained further insights into Matthew Winne, Jr. The fellow was into so many activities it boggles the mind.

With little fanfare, Winne became Niskayuna’s wealthiest citizen in the mid nineteenth century. His wealth was embodied in hundreds of acres of prime property ownership and sales, plus numerous other business endeavors.

The 1856 Fagan Schenectady County map shows a brick yard adjacent to Winne’s Rosendale home where he leveraged local clay rich soil to make bricks used to construct his home. A January 1856 Shaker journal entry by Phebe Buckingham corroborates Winne’s brick making endeavors. The same 1856 map also denotes Winne’s saw mill located along the Lisha Kill. Again Buckingham’s journal substantiates Winne’s wood/mill business in an October 1853 entry. Further an 1840 Utica, NY, Observer paper lists Winne as a local contact for mill-style water wheels.

A June 1859 Albany Evening Journal references Winne regarding a State Street Pier canal boat sale. Winne’s occupation is also listed as “boat builder” in a Schenectady City Directory from this period. Following a Mohawk River ferry drowning accident, an1878 Saratoga Springs Sentinel story described Matthew Winne Jr. as “owner of the ferry”.

Winne also found time among his many undertakings to serve the public and his church. He was a Whig Party Delegate in 1846 and in 1854 was elected to the NY State Assembly representing Schenectady County. Beginning in 1869 he served a number of years as Niskayuna Postmaster. Winne was elected President of the local Christian Endeavor Society in December 1894. He also was appointed a Niskayuna Reformed Church deacon in December 1895.

When I recently visited 3009 Troy Road, Winne’s childhood farm, the experience felt a bit surreal. Likely this sentiment was because Holly Griffin, who is Winne’s great, great, great granddaughter accompanied me. Holly, who currently resides on the estate, explained that a neighbor still farms fields on her property.

Upon entering the battered barn, still stoically standing, I was impressed at how well it has withstood climatic extremes of the past two centuries. The barn is a time capsule containing artifacts from the 19th century intermingled with more modern yard equipment. In one corner, old bridles and collars lay piled as remnants from a time when horses were vital for transport, plowing, cultivation and hauling. So much history embodied in the place, yet only a few tidbits have been uncovered.

Despite the passage of 124 years since Winne’s death, visiting the estate somehow infused a new perspective in my research. It seems fitting he now rests, alongside his wife Gertrude and other relatives, in the family burial plot of the Niskayuna Reformed Cemetery adjacent to his boyhood farm — on land he likely donated.

As a result of these investigations town historian, Dr. Denis Brennan and I plan to apply for a Pomeroy Foundation historical marker grant. If successful, following town approval, we will install the marker alongside the bike trail adjacent to Winne’s former Rosendale Road home for trail users to view and appreciate.

We encourage any past or present town residents to contact the Niskayuna Town Historian at regarding any information, resources, or stories they might like to share about Niskayuna’s distinctive history.

See this article in the e-Edition Here