Karen Noonan named Youngstown's new historian

Oct. 30—The Village of Youngstown officially has someone making sure its history is documented and kept alive.

Resident Karen Noonan has been named the new historian for the village, who will document the current happenings and educate about its history.

Mayor Rob Reisman met with her last week and said Noonan is very knowledgable and passionate about the role. The village has not had its own historian for a few years, despite the state requiring that every municipality have one.

"I'm looking forward to being able to promote Youngstown history," Noonan said, who is particularly interesting in using the area's history to promote area tourism. "That's one of the functions of historians, to promote community history."

A retired administrator from the University at Buffalo with training in archeology, Noonan relocated to Youngstown when the village was just beginning to begin working on bicentennial celebrations for the War of 1812, her first involvement with the village. She was part of a walking tour for 4th-graders featuring costumed actors talking about different locations in the village.

Noonan helped to co-author a history book titled "From the Mouth of the Lower Niagara River," where historians from Youngstown, Lewiston, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Queenston documented the history of the four communities for the War of 1812 Bicentennial. Noonan's work there documented the stories of the Youngstown women who contributed to the American war effort.

Noonan's research would later turn toward the Underground Railroad, with Niagara County being an important destination for escaped slaves journeying to Canada. In 2020, she was involved with Gretchen and Dennis Duling and Pauline Goulah to create a sign at Constitution Park commemorating those who traveled through Youngstown and went across the Niagara River to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

A member of the Town of Porter Historical Society, Noonan also did research and co-authored a book about the people who lived in Porter during the War of 1812 and wrote a play for the town's bicentennial celebration. That group handles local genealogy requests.

There is another bicentennial event coming up in 2027 commemorating when New York state abolished slavery, which Noonan said the village plans on celebrating.

"I thought it would be worth my while to do more research on what it meant for the community and what happened here," Noonan said.

The village historian documents the current happenings of the village, with Noonan saying that she had already taken photos of a house along Main Street that caught fire two months ago and plans to document when a new building will go up.