Town of Ballston Logo
Search our Site


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


The Librarian from the Town of Ballston Community Library, Karen DeAngelo, and Ballston’s Town Historian Rick Reynolds have been working for about 5 years at uploading images and information about documents and objects that are significant in Ballston’s history. The results, so far, of that work can be seen on a website called New York Heritage, which showcases information from all over New York. Check out what has already been uploaded to the Ballston website by going to this web address: The site will continue to grow as we add more images to it-- so check back on a regular basis.


  • The Town Historian’s Office now has a Facebook page.  If you belong to Facebook, search for “Town of Ballston NY Historian’s Office” and see what news and stories are there.  Please indicate that you “like” the page and feel free to post a comment as well.  If you are not on Facebook, type in the web address and you can see all the postings and announcements from the Historian’s office as well as comments made by other people who are members of Facebook.

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.