Central New York Research. The eclectic ramblings of doing genealogy and growing up in that part of Upstate New York that is the central and Finger Lakes regions. With ancestors all over the northeast and beyond, there will be forays outside the area with trips and news on family history as well as local history.
Pulling into the driveway of a mansion on Cayuga Street, the main thoroughfare in Seneca Falls, one might imagine that they have arrived for a visit at a millionaire’s mansion. In a sense, you have. Wilhelmus Mynderse, the founder of Seneca Falls, first built the 23 room historic mansion. He was in his time the equivalent of a millionaire today. A visit to see the home or a tea party or other activity is still a possibility as this is now the home of the Seneca Falls Historical Society.
A subsequent owner had it for sale for $40,000 in the 1960s when she found out the historic society was interested in owning it and moving their offices there. Seneca Falls Historical Society was offered it and bought it for half price- $20,000 since they would be preserving the home as a museum.
The building is a museum, but also has a research room open to the public that has books and other resources about the local area. There is parking in the gravel driveway behind the mansion and an entrance off of the driveway takes you into the back of the house where the gift shop and office for the society is. The research room is located on the second floor and contains a wide assortment of materials on the history of the village and the people that inhabited it over the years.
For the research room you need to pay $10 or if you don’t want to visit and instead would like to contact them to do research for you, they charge $25. Once you find something you are looking for, it costs 50 cents if you want to make a photocopy of that page.
The British Red Coat
The first room on our tour of the mansion itself had a display of Revolutionary War era clothing including a red coat. A red coat? It was one of the infamous red coats worn by the British during the war! Thus we began. Room after room of not only the furnishings of a typical Victorian mansion, but also many oddities that had been collected as well as items that are unique to the area can be found within the mansion. One room contained various items once (and sometimes still) manufactured in the area. There were pumps galore. Something you might not often think about unless yours isn’t working, but once there were multiple manufacturers in Seneca Falls, most well-known being Gould’s Pumps. One thing that Seneca Falls is famous for which there was little of in the museum was information and items about women’s suffrage. Of course, just a little way down the street is a whole national park site dedicated to that subject!
Just a few pumps
A tour of the museum itself with all of its displays gives you much background on the area in a fun expedition.