From football to genealogy, history is all about people. So is Matthew Urtz ’02, M ’05, who was recently appointed historian for Madison County in Central New York.
The Oneida native’s time in Oswego included internships at Fort Ontario and the Football Hall of Fame in Ohio.
“Anything in sports — a lot of people focus on the numbers. But baseball, football, all of them have amazing social aspects,” Urtz said.
Today he assists historians in each of Madison County’s 16 municipalities, fields questions for a “Stump the Historian” newspaper segment and handles numerous requests from genealogists near and far. l
1) Greatest moment in football history: Most historians point to the Giants-Colts NFL championship. But for me personally it was probably “The Drive” by John Elway. That was when football started to overtake baseball as America’s pastime, in my opinion.
2) Greatest moment in your history: The day
I married my wife.
3) Best History Channel program: MonsterQuest, Modern Marvels and Cities of the Underworld
4) Little-known Madison County fact: It is home to Gerrit Smith, one of six men who helped fund John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. It is also home to Colonel William Smith, who was one of George Washington’s top aides.
5) Something we didn’t know about SUNY Oswego: SUNY Oswego’s original name was Oswego Primary Teachers’ Training School.
6) Favorite Oswego myth: If you are under 100 pounds and it’s windy, you get excused from class.
7) Tough Oswego class: Econ 200: Principles of Macroeconomics
8) Most interesting query since becoming historian: Anytime you get into criminal requests prior to 1900, the stories can be quite humorous.
9) Most interesting thing about being a historian: I love the people, anyone researching their personal history has a great energy and excitement that makes the process very fun, and if you find information they were looking for, it’s very rewarding.
10) What makes Oswego home to you? Good friends, great experiences and a cheeseburger sub from Oswego Sub Shop.