Author Gloria Waldron Hukle has more than one story to tell. She has thousands.
Early American settlers like Resolved Waldron, one of the writer's ancestors who was a pivotal figure in New Amsterdam, and Margaret Vandenberg, the daughter of a wealthy 18th century New York landowner and his native second wife, surfaced through Hukle's historical research. Along the way, she encountered footnotes on cobblers, farmers, soldiers and slaves.
Hukle didn't originally intend to become a novelist, but she thought the voices from the past she uncovered needed to be heard.
"I was trying to find a way to respect all these people and make them come alive," Hukle said.
What began as an inquiry into her family's genealogy turned into an extensive quest to uncover the history of New York, starting well before the American Revolution.
The author weaves her research with fiction in a series of three books that take readers from the 17th century through the 1970s. "Manhattan: Seeds of the Big Apple" is the story of lower Manhattan in 1653 and the Dutch who lived there, including Resolved Waldron. "The Diary of a Northern Moon" follows a 26-year-old advertising executive in 1976 as she journeys through the Adirondacks looking for clues to her family's past. "Threads: An American Tapestry" tells the story of Margaret Vandenberg and the struggles she faces in the early 18th century because of her gender and mixed ancestry.
"It's not a ‘Roots' kind of thing. It's a story that's all connected together but set apart by centuries," Hukle said.
According to Hukle, her interest in the topic began years ago while visiting an elderly relative in North Creek, the hometown of her father, Bill Waldron.
"My father died when I was 8 years old, and I didn't know much about my father's family. All the grandparents were dead," she said.
A hand-written genealogy passed to her by a cousin intrigued her, and she began to look for more information.
"I started to go to libraries to do all the research to find out all I could," Hukle said.
The genealogical search turned into a history lesson.
After a while, it wasn't even the connection to me. It was the people who interested me," she said.
In addition to reading about the early Dutch colonists, Hukle visited the sites where they had lived, including spots around Manhattan.
"I just wanted to feel what they had felt. I like to feel history," she said.
So standing in the very spot where Dutch colonists had stood centuries before, Hukle tried to imagine their lives.
She wanted to bring both the prominent people who are mentioned in history books and the names that only anecdotally appear hidden away in antique volumes in libraries back to life.
"I am drawn to these characters, and someone needs to tell about their history and let everyone feel what was here," she said.
Hukle has found that few people today know much about New York before the American Revolution.
"This place is very different from most other states because of our very unique history," she said.
"It doesn't matter if you just immigrated to this country two weeks ago or if you have lived here your entire life, you should know about this country."
With the recent celebration of the 400th anniversary of explorer Henry Hudson's arrival in New York, Hukle has found a greater interest from the public in the information she has been researching for decades.
"When I started this,
no one cared about the early Dutch. I was really a voice
in the darkness. This past year, suddenly people are fascinated in the early beginning of New York state," she said.
Hukle hopes her books can be a launching point for people to learn more about the origins of the region.
"I wanted to really bring people together," she said. "I want to introduce and excite readers about New York and all the kinds of people who lived here."