What’s in a Name?
“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”
Have you ever wondered about the name of Gardiner, your hometown? Or the names of places around town and its many ancestral families? Carrying out some simple research about the history of Gardiner is fun, and sources are plentiful and easy to find.
Whether it be historical cemeteries you are looking to visit or historical markers you are counting, your first steps can be taken online. Let’s start searching right at home—take a quick online visit to the town website (www.townofgardiner.org) for historical sources, where a simple search gives this brief synopsis of the evolution of the name Gardiner:
“…GARDINER, in its numerous varieties of forms, can be traced back in English history to William the Conqueror and …was first introduced into the British Isles as DES JARDINE. In the areas more heavily populated by the Britons, Danes and Saxons, it appeared in the Twelfth Century as De Jardin, Jardin, Gardin, etc… In Scotland, for example, GARDINER was known as Gardenkirk. In Wales it was spelled Gardynyr. Across the line in Gloustershire it was slightly altered to read Gardyner.”
After clicking on numerous other links to local history on the town site, consider taking time to appreciate some of the many historical photos on the walls in our town hall during your next visit there. A trip to the Gardiner Library is also a must for local history research—be sure to ask at the desk for materials in addition to those on the shelf. The book The Road to Gardiner by Ed Thompson gives an interesting explanation of how the family surname of Decker was arrived at: Roofers in the early days in Europe were commonly known as “deckers”; those who travelled to the New World on the sailing ships’ decks where they ate and slept became known as “deckers”; and relatives of a well known family in Holland were named deDecker.
If you prefer to do all your research online, there is no shortage of sites providing access to Gardiner in days gone by. For a brief, fun description of Gardiner written in 1871 go to http://history.rays-place.com/ny/uls-gardiner-ny.htm. Among other interesting facts you will find that in 1871 there were 813 children of school age, that the number enrolled in school was 465, and that the average attendance was 198.”
Also visit www.hrvh.org, where you can access hundreds of historical newspapers throughout our region. It is sponsored by the Southeastern NY Library Resources Council and Hudson River Valley Heritage.
It’s nice to get a sense of perspective on the way we live today, so enjoy dialing back a couple of centuries in time.