As the Hudson Valley looks back 400 years to the European explorer who first charted its banks, the river valley itself was an integral part of another celebrated anniversary America's War of Independence.
The Fourth of July holds even deeper meaning for one resident whose great-great-great grandfather served in the Revolutionary War and settled the very hamlet he lives in today. Ron Selkirk is a direct descendent of James Selkirk, whom the southern hamlet is named after and who fought in the Battles of Saratoga.
James Selkirk was honorably discharged by Gen. George Washington after serving in the war. His descendant has an official copy of his ancestor's discharge papers encased in a glass frame at his home, which he and his wife, Judy, affectionately refer to as the Back 40," because it sits on 40 acres of undeveloped former farmland.
"This farm when I was a kid was a hundred acres," Selkirk said of his property along Maple Avenue and River Road. "We raised chickens for eggs. They used to have very good egg routes in the city, not house to house, but the restaurants and the stores. At that time they had over 4,000 birds and we moved up to 7,000 when I got into the business."
Selkirk's father, Robert Selkirk, retired from the family business in 1965, and Selkirk took over, but it wasn't as profitable as it once was.
"In eight months, I made only a couple of nickels," he said about the family farmland that was eventually sold to a man from New Jersey who built a truck stop near the newly built state Thruway.
Selkirk, 75, is five generations removed from James Selkirk (1756-1820), who immigrated to the Colony of New York from Scotland and served in the Second Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He participated in the war's turning point 232 years ago while fighting near Stillwater in a group of battles that eventually became known as the Battles of Saratoga.