In today’s census, New Hartford is generally considered to be nearly ethnically homogeneous and nearly entirely white. However, this is a modern view of ethnicity, quite different from that of a century or more past. A glance at the phone book reveals an array of last names from across Europe.
The first settlers of New Hartford were not, by and large, immigrants as the majority of them came from families who had moved to New England in earlier generations. The vast majority of the families in the town’s first century were of English, with some Scottish and Irish, descent. Strikingly, under the modern definition of ethnicity, the early town also had a diverse population: a small, but well known, community of Native American and African families lived in the town.
In the 1800’s the larger immigration patterns began to shift due to the combination of unrest in Europe and increasing opportunities in North America. Following the general trend, New Hartford had an influx of Irish families in the mid 1800’s. These families primarily found work in the factories, and established the Upper and Lower Dublin district off of Holcomb Hill. The street of Upper Dublin still exists and several outstanding examples of factory row houses remain.
The Irish immigration was followed by Italian and, somewhat unusually, French Canadian. The French Canadian immigration, taking advantage of long standing trading links running north to Montreal, is a particularly interior New England trend. Unlike the Italian and Irish immigrations, which embraced most of North America. In New Hartford, the French Canadian group was and remains very large. The establishment of the Catholic CHurch, along with the former nunnery and Catholic school the latter two formerly stood on Town Hill next to the Immaculate Conception Cemetery, owed a great deal the French Canadian population. This group primarily settled in the village center and established a number of long running businesses, such as Roberge’s shoe store.
During the late 1800’s through to the mid 20th century, a steady influx of East European immigrants, primarily Polish but also German, Czech and Slovakian, settled in New Hartford. Many of these families took up farming. One of the last big dairy farms in town, Intervale, which milked over a hundred head until nearly 1970, was run by Hal Glowski, a Polish immigrant who bought the property in the mid 1930’s.
Obviously, these are general observations!