"Reminiscences of Saratoga"
compiled by Cornelius E. Durkee

Reprinted from The Saratogian, 1927-28

Cornelius E. Durkee, who has the distinction of being one of the oldest residents of Saratoga Springs has written a series of over 200 articles especially for The Saratogian in which he gives the chronological history of Saratoga Springs starting with the year 1819. Mr. Durkee has been a resident of Saratoga Springs since 1849, when he came here with his parents, as a young boy to make his home. His father was the late Paoli Durkee, one of the first schoolmasters in Saratoga Springs.

May 22, 1928, he celebrates the ninety-first anniversary of his birth. Throughout his long life he has been deeply interested in preserving the history of this community, and he still has in his possession, scrap books of the greatest value for a history.

Mr. Durkee has taken a deep pride in the preservation of the old records in the early cemeteries of the county and as a young man made copies of the tomb stones in all the cemeteries of the county. The records of Putnam cemetery, the first burial ground in Saratoga Springs, which he made has been of particular value to Saratogians. These records in the beautiful handwriting of Mr. Durkee, which is clearer, perhaps than printed material, are preserved in the state library at Albany.

Some years ago after the fire which destroyed rare records in the State Library at Albany, Mr. Durkee was approached by officials of the library, who endeavored to secure some rare manuscripts, which Mr. Durkee had the foresight to preserve. These Mr. Durkee then turned over to the state, and they are now carefully preserved. Mr. Durkee's sense of the value in preservation of such records, has made possible a complete record of the surrogate's records in Saratoga County from the years 1791-1806. He found them in an old ash heap years ago, where they had been thrown and discarded as worthless.

When Putnam cemetery was placed in condition some years ago by the city, and an iron fence built around it, the record which Mr. Durkee had made of the cemetery years previous, and which was on file in the State Library was searched out, and aided in the restoration of the cemetery and the location of certain plots. Mr. Durkee says that it took him a period of three years to complete the record of the cemeteries in the county, and his completed work consists of five volumes of 600 pages each beautifully bound, all in his own hand-writing.

The preface of the records of the cemetery, made in 1876 by Mr. Durkee, stated that the Putnam cemetery then was in disreputable condition. Of the 232 graves recorded by Mr. Durkee, less than 50 headstones were standing when the cemetery was restored in 1921.

The scrap books and other manuscripts which Mr. Durkee is still working upon, he has provided should go to Skidmore College library for preservation on his death.

Mr. Durkee is especially fitted because of his interest in the historical data of the community, to write its history, and for this reason these reminiscences in book form will be cherished.

Besides being a lover of books, Mr. Durkee is a lover of birds, and flowers, and he finds the radio his best friend. He spends a portion of each day with each.

The Saratogian takes pleasure in preserving these records compiled by Mr. Durkee in book form.

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