INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Endwell author publishes biography of Harpur namesake
By : By Ingrid Husisian
Anne Herbert’s fascination with history didn’t begin until she learned that little was written about the life of one of New York state’s most influential historians. In 1960, she was involved with the design of a small museum in Harpursville and found that there was almost no material available about the town’s founder and Harpur College’s namesake, Robert Harpur.
During the 1970s, the still-unfinished Harpur exhibit set her on a quest for information. As sources came forward and documents were unearthed, she realized she had a story that needed to be told. However, Robert Harpur’s New York wasn’t a work she created overnight. It became a process of years of study and scholarship.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Herbert resides in Endwell where she operates her own interior design business. In the 1960’s, she wrote the weekly column Exploring the Past, which appeared in the Windsor Standard and Afton Enterprise newspapers.
Robert Harpur’s New York follows one of America’s early pioneers from his boyhood in Ireland to his arrival in America and from his career as a mathematics professor and librarian at King’s College in New York City in the 1760s, through his activities during the Revolutionary War. It describes his responsibilities in the early New York government and as secretary of the state’s first Board of Regents, to his enterprises as a land developer and country squire.
Herbert paints a vivid picture of life in the late 1700s, illustrating housing, architecture, education, commerce, government, politics, family, travel by covered wagon and agriculture. It is against this rich backdrop that she tells the story of Harpur’s life. The book is not only a historical timeline; it is a thorough account of New York’s beginnings.
The book’s cover is a photo of a “View of the Highlands from West Point” by John Ferguson Weir in 1862. Herbert selected the image because the scene was typical during Harpur’s many travels up and down the Hudson River, what Herbert jokingly referred to as an “early-American super highway.”
Weir was part of the Hudson River School, a group of painters who created Romantic images of the American landscape along the Hudson River Valley.
The book depicts Harpur’s support of America’s struggle for independence from England and his service to New York’s ea
Endwell author Anne Herbert has published the first novel written about Harpur College namesake Robert Harpur. Her book, Robert Harpurs New York, is available at the University bookstore.