Dan Bradt enjoys nothing more than digging up the past.
For the longtime Niskayuna resident, that could mean sitting at a desk, tracing his family genealogy back more than 300 years, or sitting in the dirt somewhere, unearthing a 17th century piece of porcelain.
“I was working as a surveyor at a construction site in Albany, digging up Fort Orange, and I realized that some members of my family had been here,” remembered Bradt, who worked with former state parks archaeologist Paul Huey excavating the 17th century fort in Albany back in 1971. “My father was born in the Schenectady area, my great-grandfather built the house I’m living in today, so history was always around my family. But at that time, I really didn’t know how deep the connection we had to this area was.”
That connection goes back to 1637, when two Bradt brothers, Arent and Albert, arrived in Albany from the Netherlands after originally having left Norway. While Albert remained in Albany and built a mill on the Normanskill, Arent came to Schenectady in 1662 and became one of the first landowners in the small village on the Mohawk River. It was those two brothers who started the Bradt family in America, and next weekend at The Desmond on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, members of the Bradt Family Society — around 175 of them — will come from all over the U.S. and Canada to honor those first two ancestors at the Bradt Family Reunion.
The Bradts held their first family reunion in 1987 and do so every five years. All of the reunions have been held at the Desmond, and usually begin on a Friday afternoon and conclude Sunday morning. The schedule…
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