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Town Historian


Town Historian Rick Reynolds (518) 399-6778

Your Town Historian, Rick Reynolds, has a multitude of tasks designed to help the Town remember and celebrate its past.

  • One of the primary responsibilities of the Town Historian is to interpret the past of the local area. Using town records, photographs, drawings and the townspeople themselves, the Historian presents programs of interest and works with teachers in local schools to enhance the teaching of local history.
  • In addition, the Historian is involved in research and writing, both in an attempt to preserve the memories and ideas of the past. Sometimes this may involve leading amateur genealogists towards resources that may help them locate their ancestors. Other times, it is so that the community will have well documented records to which to refer in future years.
  • The Historian is also becoming increasingly more involved in historic preservation in the community. This can involve cataloging and appropriately preserving collections of original town records or can be as large as preserving houses and other buildings that have played a major role in the community.
  • Advocacy and organization are the last basic roles of the Town Historian. He or she plans celebrations and remembrances to commemorate local events of importance. The Historian may also be involved in lobbying activities at the state and federal level.

All of this is designed to do what is most important to all of us: help the people of the town remember and celebrate its past and, at the same time, prepare the present to be someday remembered as the past as well.

For further information, stories of our Town, or to schedule a presentation, please email
Rick Reynolds
or contact him by phone at: (518) 399-6778.

News & Notices



Town of Ballston Historian Rick Reynolds now has a channel on You Tube.  To get to the channel, go to and search for “Ballston The Historian’s Perspective.”  There are currently two videos on the channel:  “Hawkwood: Digging Up the Past,” which is the story of the summer 2016 archeological digs at Hawkwood.  And there is another video called “Why is this Place Called ‘Burnt Hills’………….. and other such Name Origins.”  You can search for either or both of those videos as well.  Subscribe to the Historian’s YouTube channel while you are there, too!  More videos to come in the future…………………… Enjoy!



                                                                    Hawkwood Property around 1900

                                                            Pictured are the Bakers ~ Owners at the time


  • Hawkwood- Written by Town Historian Rick Reynolds


At a wonderful ceremony on Saturday, November 4, at Calvary Episcopal Church in Burnt Hills, the plaque designating the church as a new member of the National Register of Historic Places was unveiled and placed next to the entrance to the church. Thanks to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for providing us the money to purchase the plaque for the building.


                                   Plaque                                                              Plaque and Proclamations


The Naming of the Area Burnt Hills & the Town of Ballston, Saratoga County, NY

The original white settlers in the area we now call Ballston were the McDonald Brothers who came here in the 1760’s. These brothers established a good relationship with the Indians who lived near the area and traded extensively with them. Those Indians sometimes would burn the surrounding hillsides so as to attract the deer who would come to eat the new shoots that would sprout up from the ground. Thus, the area became known as the land of the “burnt hills,” a name we still use for the area. Some also say it was the settlers in Schenectady whi looked up at these surrounding hills and, seeing them ablaze, named them the “burnt hills.”

Reverend Eliphalet Ball came to the area we now call Ballston with a couple of dozen settlers in the 1770’s. On September 22, 1775, Reverend Ball held the first “meeting” in his church which was near his home. He became a respected citizen of the area and political meetings of all sorts were held in his building which soon thereafter became known as the Old Red Meeting House. That building eventually became the first school in the area.

Reverend Ball knew the McDonald Brothers and the folklore goes that, one time when they all met, Ball offered the brothers a quantity of rum in exchange for the rights to call the area “Mr. Ball’s Town.” We do not know if this is true or not but eventually what was originally known as “Mr. Ball’s Town” became Ballston, the name we use today.