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Five Things to Learn About Troy, girls basketball title host

The state girls basketball championships get underway today at Hudson Valley Community Valley in Troy. Fredonia opens the action from a Section VI perspective with at 11:45 a.m. game.

Since high school is supposed to be educational, here are five things about the host city you may not have known.

1 - At the beginning. Killiaen van Rensselaer was a successful Dutch merchant in the 1600s, and he bought the land from the Natives that Troy now sits on. By the way, Dutch names are common in the Albany area, reflecting those roots.

2 - RPI. It's not just a basketball rating system. Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, a top engineering school in Troy, has that name. Stephen Van Rensselaer gave the college its start in 1824.

3 - The Collar City. Troy was for many years famous for the manufacturing of shirts and collars.  That's why you see that old nickname around. The last such factory left in the 1980s, although most of the industry was long gone at that point.

4 - Big league, briefly. Troy once had a major league baseball team. The Troy Trojans played in the National League from 1879 to 1882. The NL decided late in the '82 season that Troy was too small and would lose its team after the completion of the schedule. On Sept. 28, only six fans turned out for a game - the smallest such "crowd" in baseball history. The franchise was granted to New York City and eventually became the Giants. When San Francisco won the World Series in 2010, it celebrated its roots by bringing the World Series trophy to Troy.

5. Uncle Sam is buried here. His real name was Sam Wilson, and he was an actual person who lived from 1789 to 1854. Wilson was in the meat-packing business, and he would stamp his shipments "US/EA." Some of the workers for Wilson's company became troops fighting in the War of 1812. The EA stood for Elbert Anderson, who distributed the goods. Somewhere after Wilson's death, soldiers began to tell the story that US stood for "Uncle Sam."

A cartoon featuring a man with white hair, goatee, and red/white/blue clothes was drawn around World War I, and became something of a symbol for the country and its government. It was used in World War II as well. Mr. Wilson is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, not far from Hudson Valley CC. There are plenty of signs directing visitors to his grave.

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