The Ghent Masterpiece – CGCC

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 The Ghent Masterpiece

C-GCC Professor, Town Historian Pens Bicentennial History of New York Town

 

The town of Ghent, N.Y., observes its bicentennial this year, and marked its official 200th birthday on April 3.

From street-light banners to well-wishes chalked up on sandwich boards, signs of celebration have been popping up across town. None, perhaps, are quite so thorough as Ghent’s newest official historical record written by Town Historian Gregg Berninger.

Berninger, who also serves as professor of English at Columbia-Greene Community College, took on the task of writing a 54-page account of Ghent’s first 200 years shortly after assuming the post of Town Historian. His said work was bolstered by bicentennial committee members, town officials, and life-long Ghent residents alike – as well as several faculty and staff members at C-GCC including Professor of History Ted Hilscher, Associate Professor of English Kristen Isabelle, Associate Professor, Office of Counseling Diane J. Berninger, and Senior Typist Lori Mashaw.

“Telling the story of Ghent has been a high privilege,” he wrote in his introduction. “The regulation of agriculture, the education of the young, the care of the poor, the maintenance of bridges and roads, and electing those who govern were the essentials of a civil society of 1818, as they are today.”

The publication features an original illustration on its cover by late artist John H. ‘Bud’ Miller and includes seventy historic photos, maps, and documents that help illustrate the town’s notable stories – among them an early opposition to national slavery, a strong agricultural identity, and the arrival of not one but two major railways – Hudson and Berkshire and the Harlem Railroad.

Great fires ripped through Ghent in 1923, but Berninger writes that the town had resurrected itself by mid-century through the development of land, buildings, and cultural opportunities.

“This project confirmed what we already knew, Ghent is a wonderful place, and it is the people who make it so,” said Berninger, adding that he looks forward to continuing his research, particularly in the areas of early farming outfits, the town’s schools, and further conversations with his fellow ‘Ghentites.’

“Let’s use this work to start a conversation rather than read it as complete. Let’s chat sometime.”

To obtain a copy, please email historian@townofghent.org.