The woman who answered the phone at Brookside Museum didn’t know what to tell the caller. So she handed the phone to Chuck Latham.
A museum volunteer who lives in Charlton, Latham has learned a lot about Saratoga County over the past few years. But the caller stumped him. He wanted to know about the Yuengling Brewery that had once stood in downtown Saratoga Springs.
“I told him I didn’t know anything about it,” Latham said.
That soon changed, though. Latham started looking at old county records, and he discovered that right on Broadway, above the Hotel Todd, there was once a brewery where Yuengling Lager beer was made.
“I have a book, and it shows that storefront real plain,” Latham said.
And so Latham’s vast knowledge of the area grew even larger.
Latham was named the Brookside Museum’s volunteer of the year in 2011. That’s due in no small part to the assistance he offers visitors to the museum who are trying to trace their family roots.
But beyond that, Latham has spent a lot of time looking into Saratoga history and lore, unearthing stories like the one of the Yuengling brewery and the origin of the potato chip.
Latham enrolled in the Air Force right out of high school. After his discharge, he went to work selling cars for six months.
“That didn’t work out,” he said with a laugh.
So he hooked on with General Electric for 11 years. After that, he worked for Saratoga County, and he finished is career as a military technician for the federal government.
With his newfound free time, Latham, 69, decided to explore his family’s roots. Armed with little more than his mother’s maiden name, Bullard, he went down to Brookside to see what he could find out.
As it turned out, not much. The museum was scarce on resources for Latham, so he branched out on his own. He found a wealth of information about two Bullard brothers from the area. One moved to Greenfield Center and enjoyed great wealth. The other was a doctor who died at 52 while he was out on a call.