Pittsford Historical Society, Inc.
Box 423, Pittsford, VT 05763
Newsletter - Fall 2015
Tuesday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm through mid-November
Sunday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, ending on Oct. 11.
Please note that the museum can be opened by appointment, especially for
out-of-state visitors. Call Anne Pelkey at 802-483-6178 or Steve Belcher at
Members Meeting and Program
The final Members’ meeting for 2015 is scheduled for Sunday Oct. 18,
beginning at 5:30 pm in the basement of the Congregational Church. This is a
pot luck supper meeting.
The business to be transacted includes the election of officers for the
Society for the next year. A nominating committee, consisting of Rebecca
Davenport, Bob and Jane Welch, and Barb Willis, is assembling nominations.
Anyone interested in running for office, or nominating a candidate, should
contact them. The current President, Vice-President, and Treasurer are
willing to continue in their functions, but there are two vacancies among
The program for the evening will be offered by Bill Powers. His topic is:
“Aunt Jennie (1856-1934).” Aunt Jennie lived in the Brandon/Lake Dunmore
area and was known for her Tea House near the Falls of Lana. She also had a
stall at the State Fair in Rutland, and for a time a restaurant in Brandon.
The presentation features the film-clip of a short plane-ride.
Tuesday Oct. 13, 6:00 pm: The Chittenden Historical Society invites
members of the Pittsford H.S. to their pot luck supper and program at the
Grange Hall in Chittenden. The speaker is Greg Sharrow, and his topic is: ‘A
Sense of Place: Vermont’s Farm Legacy.’
Tag and Bake Sale
If we named our years, rather than numbering them, the PHS might call
2015 the ‘Year of the Obstructed Museum.’ In March the museum became
inaccessible because of the Katherine Crockett card materials deposited
there. In July, it became virtually impassable because of the boxes of
generous donations for the tag sale. Items included VHS tapes that did not
sell, glassware in profusion, luggage in various forms and designs, books, a
significant quantity of Christmas-related material, etc.
The reporter’s favorite was a child’s pedal-push car, but we should also
note a pedal-powered sewing-machine table, without the machine. The baked
goods, delivered on the day of the sale and so not obstructing the museum,
included many pies, cookies, and cupcakes. The day of the sale also brought
an array of frighteningly thorny plants from Ivy Dixon that innocent
customers actually purchased.
Kudos to the volunteers who helped sort, price, and present the items for
sale: Rebecca Davenport, Barb Willis, Monica Freson, with extra thanks to
Monica who used her cell-phone to verify values.
The day was also marked by extraordinary luck. While Rutland was being
deluged by rains, Pittsford stayed dry for the duration of the sale. We had
put up an extra tarpaulin, as well as the usual tents, but they were not
The tally reported to our Treasurer, Terri Davis, was $925.63 for the tag
sale and $146.00 for the food. Thanks to all who made donations and helped
with the event.
The Hooker Garage Visit
Bob Hooker and Greg Sharrow hosted a visit by PHS members and friends on
Sunday, Sept. 20, for a discussion of the history of the house and the
families involved, ending with a tour of what is truly a classic Cabinet of
The property, on Mechanic St., involved two buildings, one of them moved
down from another location in the 19th century. The establishment began as a
blacksmith shop, soon included wheel-wrighting, and Greg Sharrow described
being able to trace the transformations of the business over the years from
their mastheads: Blacksmith and Wheelwright, to which later was added
vulcanizing and then battery service. The ground floor of the residence
served as a garage in the time of George Hooker (1930s-50s), and after his
death became an all-purpose space, including a dance-studio and eventually a
storage space for the family, while the grandmother, Nellie Hooker, lived in
the upstairs apartment.
The building was saved from a dire fate. Mrs. Hooker woke up one night
because the house seemed to be collapsing under her. A daughter dismissed
the concerns. A son came to examine the situation, and found that the house
was really collapsing: years of neglect in the basement had led to a
build-up of water and rot, eventually destroying the beam that ran the
length of the building supporting the first floor, and the floor split,
spilling the stored contents into an already-full basement.
The house might have been condemned as a total loss, but Greg Sharrow
bought it and then engaged in salvage activities – at times resembling
underwater archaeology, as he discovered a box of china from which the box
and the wrapping papers had all dissolved over their submerged years,
leaving the china stacked. The grounds have been enhanced by salvage from a
local miniature golf operation that folded, and now offer 5 small covered
bridges ensconced in admirable and overwhelming greenery.
The occasion also entailed family reminiscences. Nellie Hooker was a
phone operator, and first called out the volunteer firefighters in 1928. She
was also the person who sounded the 6 pm fire horn in Pittsford until 1981.
[An apology to out-of-state members: this event came together after the
last news letter went out, and so in-state members were notified by
Of Monuments and Markers, continued.
We have word from Matt Goguen of the Division of Historical Preservation,
of the approval of a replacement highway marker, commemorating the iron
furnace and the Granger stove company in lieu of the now-questioned potach
patent of Samuel Hopkins. They have altered the PHS-proposed wording
somewhat, reverting to a 19th century source who stated that the Granger
Company shipped 300 tons of stoves per year. The PHS committee had followed
the authors of Pittsford’s Second Century, who suggested 300 stoves per
year. The question, clearly, is by what unit you measure your stoves, and we
may need a way-back machine to settle it.
The Pittsford’s Veterans Memorial is underway. The stones for the
memorial have been delivered. Hank Pelkey believes the work will be finished
by next Memorial Day. The marble is being cut into pieces by the Gawet
Marble and Granite company, and as Hank reported in an earlier newsletter,
will then go on to the Proctor Marble Company for carving. The PHS is one of
many groups in Pittsford accepting donations towards the work.
The museum receives a steady traffic of visitors interested in family
research as well as our exhibits, and we do not report them all. This
foliage season brought a combination that deserves note: two couples from
California, each interested in Revolutionary-war era ancestors. One couple,
delegated from our long-time member Cynthia Henry, had been sent to look at
Hendee materials and to deliver some welcome transcripts of letters. They
had also hoped to photograph the interior of the Congregational Church,
having a seating diagram showing the Hendee pew, but alas, the Hendee-era
building is lost. Another couple came looking for information on the Stevens
family. And as the newsletter goes to press, a visitor from Arizona is
researching the Stevens family.
A note on Caverly’s History of Pittsford
One item that surfaced in the tag-sale collection was a Kessenger reprint
of Abiel Caverly’s 1872 History of Pittsford. Members interested in this
volume should know that it is now available online, although not through our
own efforts. Various other print-on-demand outfits now offer the book as
well, in a paperback format, at varying prices in the $35-50 range; the one
original printing found for sale (on
www.abebooks.com, a network of booksellers) was priced at $120. The
following web-site offers access to at least one listing of the online
The PHS reprinted Caverly’s history as a national bicentennial project,
and at the same time reworked the index. Since then, Peg Armitage has
produced a revised and expanded index, available for $15 plus postage from
Membership in the Society extends over a calendar year. Your dues support
the annual operating expenses of Eaton Hall. Please send your check, payable
to Pittsford Historical Society to: (Welcome to the new Membership Chairman)
Stephen P. Belcher IV. Send dues to
Stephen P. Belcher IV
PO Box 423
Pittsford, VT 05763
We thank you for your continued support.
Town, State and Zip
Please check amount enclosed:
Single $15_____ Family $20 _____ Contributing $25_____
Sponsor $50_____ Life Member $200 (per person) _____
A 501(c)(3) organization