A View from the Steeple , a new history of the village of Clinton and the founding and growth of Hamilton College, has been written by Marjorie (Midge) Bakos.

Midge, a direct descendant of one of the earliest of area settlers, tells how she developed her interest in historical research by assisting the former Stone Church secretary, Peggy Weldon, in fulfilling requests for dates of baptism, marriage etc.  As she recounted, “One particular morning while on such a search, I came upon the name Zebulon Peck who was a deacon in the early church from 1801 to 1808, ten years after the founding of the church in 1791. Oh my! It dawned on me that my grandmother had tried to tell me several times that he was my g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather from Bristol, CT…. Now the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together and I looked through more material. I had papers and books everywhere….”

This interest in Clinton area history expanded and continued and for nearly 20 years, Midge has written monthly historical articles for The Cornerstone, the Stone Church monthly newsletter. Selected articles have been organized into the book,  A View from the Steeple,  which is a history of the founding and growth of the village of Clinton and the origin, early years and expansion of Hamilton College as viewed from Stone Church, whose stone exterior and lighted Rose window serve as village landmarks. 

This carefully researched book is a treasure-trove of people, places and events. The historical information in A View from the Steeple is based on Midge’s meticulous research which she expanded, augmented and personalized with decades of familiarity with Clinton area “old-timers,” and with miscellaneous bits and pieces that are part of Stone Church’s archives of photographs, handwritten notes, correspondence, memorabilia, and meeting minutes dating from the 18th century onward.

Even a fairly quick perusal of the book reveals pages filled with lively nuggets of viewpoints and information that highlight the hardships and joys that are part of Clinton’s history, as well as offering insight into the people and events connected to the founding, expansion and growth of Hamilton College and Stone Church. The resulting book truly captures and brings life to the decisions and events that made these places what we see today. A View from the Steeple makes it obvious that all three- Hamilton College, Stone Church and the Village of Clinton – and their histories are now immutable landmarks to this corner of the Mohawk Valley.  

Midge never intended for her work to be collected into a book. Her interest was neither in compiling an exhaustive history of Clinton nor in creating a chronological account of noteworthy events.  But she is interested in the people, events and special subjects that provide insight into understanding the past and present of the Clinton area. 

Consequently, A View from the Steeple offers insight into the lives of diverse  people connected to Clinton such as Grover Cleveland, Thomas Hastings, Hamilton College professor Edward North, generations of the Bristol family, Howard Cheney,  missionary to Siam (Thailand) Alice Ellinwood, and many others.  Additionally, she has examined noteworthy and diverse local events ranging from the early settlers’ arrival and the 1791 founding of three local churches by Jonathan Edwards, the perseverance of Samuel Kirkland and Samson Occum that started Hamilton College, the tremendous efforts of the Utica firemen during the fire of 1876 that destroyed “the old Stone Church,”  the drowning of Merab Tuttle and the history of the Old Burying Ground  and the 2020 conclusion of the Stone Church clock and bell tower reconstruction that has enabled the Village of Clinton’s continued reliance on the Town Clock and carillon.  

These fascinating pieces are not the only types of information Midge develops for the readers.  Intriguing additional information ranges from the history of the Seth Thomas 8 day clock now residing at the Clinton Historical Society, to the engineering of the Stone Church Steeple removal in 1923,  to a inside and out examination of the church’s Hook and Hastings  pipe organ. (Did you know that, until 1920 when it was electrified, a small person, usually a child, had to crawl inside the console to “blow the organ” while it was being played.

Copies of A View from the Steeple are available from the Fair Trade Shop, located in the lower level of Stone Church, at Almost Local  on West Park Row and at the Clinton Historical Society. . The cost of the book is $19.95.  The Fair Trade Shop is open Thursdays and the second Saturday of the month from 10 AM to 4 PM.* 

A View from the Steeple is also available at a higher price from Amazon books as a paperback ($24.95) and also as a Kindle e-book. It will also be available in hardcover at $29.95.  Beyond availability through these locations, arrangements for purchase may also be made by contacting the Stone Church office at 315-853-2933 or by e-mail stonepres@stonepres.org

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used for the care and maintenance of the interior and exterior of the Stone Church building and for the archival preservation of historical materials.

* Note: The Fair Trade Shop will also be open for the annual Shopper’s Stroll on November 24, 2023, and from 10 AM to 4 PM every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas.