Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
by appointment. Current special exhibits include a carry-over from last fall, on World War I, and we are adding another exhibit on the 1961 Pittsford High School Class ‘M’ Basketball Championship (See Newsletter below).

Located in Eaton Hall, 3399 US Route 7.
Address mail to:
PO Box 423, Pittsford, VT   05763
(802) 483-2040

Curator: Anne Pelkey 483-6178
Membership: Steve Belcher
Newsletter: Steve Belcher, spbelcher4@myfairpoint.net 483-2852


Pittsford Historical Society, Inc.

 PO Box 423, Pittsford, VT 05763    802.483-2040    www.pittsfordhistorical.com

 

Winter 2019-2020

Museum Schedule

Eaton Hall, our Museum at 3399 US Rte 7, has closed down for the winter, but visits can be arranged (contact our Curator, Anne Pelkey, or Steve Belcher for arrangements). Beginning in mid-January, volunteers may be returning to the Museum on the usual Tuesday (mornings rather than afternoons) to continue their work and to prepare the next exhibits. We welcome company.

 

Annual Meeting Reports

October 20: The Annual Member Meeting

Some thirty members of the PHS gathered for the Annual Meeting on October 20th. Barb Willis, Vice-President, read the President’s report (given below) and summarized the Treasurer’s report. Anne Pelkey delivered the Curator’s report (also given below). Steve Belcher noted membership figures and recognized deceased members. The members present approved the proposed slate of officers; the only change is that Tom Browe will replace Joe Gagnon as a Trustee.

            Steve Belcher then offered a presentation on ‘Pittsford Painters of the 19th Century.’ He acknowledged visitors such as Frederic Church and James Hope, and less professional local artists such as Samantha Rand. The core of the talk was the partnership of Lucia Gilbert and Martha Wood Belcher, whose collective efforts started with an artists’ camp in the hills above Pittsford (below the Gorge/Ice Caves area) in 1872, and continued, following Martha’s 1873-5 trip to Europe, with a sort of production studio copying European masters onto slate and other materials, along with art lessons and portraits. Their joint effort lasted until Martha got married, in 1880. It proved successful enough that she could build a house in Pittsford for her mother and sisters. Other painters included Mary Woods, wife of a local doctor, who has left a number of Pittsford landscapes, and Samuel Burbank, who took up painting later in life and painted some stage curtains for the town hall. This building burned down in 1921 (a total loss, per Pittsford’s Second Century), but it seems possible that the backdrop to the 1914 Pittsford High School class photo may show part of the curtain.

 

President’s Report

Thanks to all members everywhere who have supported the Society in the past year.  Thanks also to those volunteers who show up regularly on Tuesdays to help preserve and display our collections.  Especially exciting is the ongoing work by Barb Willis and Ivy Dixon to digitize the more than 1200 glass plate negatives that were taken around Pittsford by professional photographer Mary Randall Allen, between 1895 and 1915.  Mary lived in the old Blittersdorf home in the Village.

            On April 6th, 2019, our founding mother Peg Armitage passed away.  Peg was the first president of the Society from 1960 -1962.  She contributed greatly to Pittsford’s Second Century and produced an expanded index to Caverly’s History of Pittsford and was recognized as an authority on genealogical questions.

            Our current exhibits include the continuation of one on World War I and a new exhibit on the Championship 1961 Pittsford High School Class “M” Basketball team.  We are still looking for the names of Pittsford military veterans for inclusion on the marble display wall in the town offices.  Please contact Anne Pelkey or Steve Belcher if you have such information.

Our Member Meetings thus far have included speaker Brian Kamuda, who spoke about Kamuda’s Country Market.  Brian is the 3rd generation owner of this store in the heart of the Village.  Reg Charbonneau, owner of CDL Rutland, a maple sugar equipment supplier, spoke about the maple industry. He taps thousands of trees currently and spoke about the all phases of the maple business.  His business is located on the former Tuffy Toys site on RT 7.

            On May 27th, we helped celebrate Memorial Day in town.  Our speaker was Dave Trombley, Pittsford native and Vietnam Veteran.  Other events were Our Tag and Bake Sale in July. Thanks for all those who donated items to make this event a success.  Also in July, the Crown Point Road Society organized an excursion to Albany, NY to visit historical sites and museums associated with the Crown Point Road.  The Crown Point Road was a military road from the French and Indian wars of 1758-1763, part of which runs through Pittsford.

The Pittsford Historical Society will participate in several local holiday craft shows and sales, offering historical books by local authors and of course, a large selection of greeting cards from the Katherine Crockett enterprise.  These sales are: at Lothrop School on Nov.16th and at St. Alphonsus on Nov.23rd.  The Congregational Church will have a basket raffle on Dec. 7th.

Thanks to all who helped support the Society throughout 2019.

            Ernie Clerihew, President

 

Curator’s Report

I would like to begin by thanking the faithful core of volunteers who show up on Tuesdays and assist me in the many tasks that need to be carried out at the Museum. Rebecca Davenport, Barb Willis, Ivy Dixon, Elizabeth Simpson, and Tammy Hitchcock help to catalog, file, conduct family research, and show visitors our Museum. I’m very thankful to Bill Powers for his research expertise. When people visit our Museum to research their Pittsford roots, we help them as much as possible on-site, and then Bill uses his many online resources to continue their search.

            I like to boast about the fact that we have the original questionnaires that Dr. Caverly sent to Pittsford families in 1870, requesting their genealogy for publication in the 1872 History of Pittsford. And even though most of this info is in his book, which is now available online, the look on the face of a great-grandson or great-granddaughter when they realize they are looking at their ancestor’s actual handwriting is priceless. All of these questionnaires have been photocopied and placed in family files, so they are easily accessible.

            Tom Browe has been coming on Tuesdays to work on the Veterans’ Project. On Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, we were able to post , on the marble panels in hall of the Town Office, the paper lists of Pittsford veterans who served in the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and both World Wars. We continue to work on the list of names for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, along with Korea and Vietnam, to the present day.

            We continue to learn about Pittsford’s rich history through the donations we receive throughout the year, and I would like to acknowledge particularly the following (please keep in mind that this is by no means a complete list):

            Diana (Dickerman) Masserenti, who lives in Washington state, is the great-great granddaughter of Rollin Smith (1839-1930); he was a farmer, school teacher, music teacher, and school superintendent in Pittsford. Diana donated his daughter’s wedding book, which is over 100 years old and in pristine condition. Rollin’s daughter Fannie Smith married Ira Spurling on Sept. 14th, 1904. Diana also donated a grammar book dated 1880 that belonged to her great-grandmother Fannie along with her French dictionary.

            Tommy and Mary Bushey donated the jacket and pants worn by Mary’s father, Robert Patch, when he was a member of the Pittsford Fire Department. Bob was instrumental in starting the PFD, and was elected Chief in 1948. Mary and Tommy also added to our exhibit on the 1961 Boys’ Basketball Team by donating Mary’s cheerleading outfit. Mary was the Team Mascot for the 1961 PHS Varsity Cheerleaders.

            From the estate of Evi Parker, we received 12 of her paintings. Evi was the daughter of Perley Parker, who with his brother Fred operated the Perley Brothers Meat Market in Pittsford.

            Nelson Washburn brought a sweater that his late wife, Lynne Smith Washburn, wore while attending the PHS. Lynne was a member of the last PHS graduating class in 1961, before the Otter Valley Union High School opened.

            From the estate of Peg Armitage, we received a kerchief that is over 200 years old and was worn by Peg’s great-great-great-grandmother. The kerchief is displayed in a frame, with an inscription that reads “This kerchief once belonged to Mary (Rowley) Mott, who was Margaret [Peg] A. Willard’s great-great-great-grandmother. Her husband, John Mott, was the commandant of Fort Mott in Pittsford in 1777. Besides its connection with the history of Pittsford during the Revolutionary War, the kerchief is also special: perhaps the only 18th century item in our possession from a woman. I have contacted a textile conservator in southern Vermont who will come to the Museum, examine the kerchief, and advise us how to preserve it for perhaps another 200 years. It joins a foot-warmer and a burl maple cup, also belonging to John Mott, that Peg donated some years ago.

            Anne Pelkey, Curator

 

Membership Notes

We note with regret the loss of some members this year: Margaret (Peg) Armitage, Roberta Scarcello, and Carl Fuller.

 

Research Resources

FYI: Sarah Willis has created a Facebook webpage for the PHS.

Also: Vermont residents with access to the internet (an ongoing issue for the outlying areas) can create an account at myvermont.gov. It is intended to facilitate access to services, and also offers access to some research tools. When signed in through the portal, residents may search Newspapers.com (an internet site with a huge collection of scanned newspapers) or work on Ancestry.com. In both cases, the access is limited to Vermont documents. Still, it proves a useful tool. One may learn, for instance, that on Jan. 20, 1889, a sleigh carrying John Leonard and his wife along with Samuel Burbank and his wife, overturned (they suffered no harm). Or that in 1895, for the first time, women (including Mrs. Leonard, who had presumably been riding in the overturned sleigh) were allowed to vote for the School Director. They elected Miss Elanor [sic] L. Manley.

 

Town Notes

Halloween

Oct. 31 was a rainy day and a dreary evening. Still, there was a Trunk-or-Treat event, hosted this time in the gym of the Police Academy (no mud). The shift to an inside venue, given the weather, was a very sensible idea. Tables were arranged around the perimeter of the gym. The costumed trick-or-treaters passed through a pair of police vehicles to enter the gym and were met by an ancient Egyptian display, at which King Tut and Nefertiti (the Connaughtons) dispensed the first treats. As they progressed, they encountered a bee-keeping display, the Maclure Library (green-faced witch with an amazingly cooperative black cat) and on to a lurid cemeterial display. Then round to the haunted farm-house, the fire department’s table (weird spider-like creatures emerging from a pumpkin) and the Grange display. In terms of visitor costumes, the most notable was certainly the Star Wars X-wing fighter (reduced scale). There were also light-sabers in evidence, and at least one duel. Candy ran short before the scheduled end of the event.

Veterans’ Day

It was, inevitably, a chilly day. Observances were outside the Town Office, facing the memorial,  and presided by John Haverstock. Fr. Maurice Moreau, of St. Alphonsus, delivered the invocation (a sweeping prayer for veterans past and present) and the final benediction. Music was provided by a chorus of Lothrop students, conducted by Carolyn Bruce. They sang ‘My Country, t’is of thee’, and later ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘It’s a Grand Old Flag’. The choice of vocal music, rather than frozen-fingered guitarists, was well-advised. Dave Trombley (Vietnam, former Pittsford Selectman) delivered a concise and apt recognition of the occasion. And then everyone went inside for warm drinks and edibles.

The Maple Museum

At the end of the last holiday shopping season, the Blanchards decided they couldn’t continue operating the Maple Museum (north end of town, opposite JR’s) and it closed. The Museum has now been bought and reopened by Rhonda and Tom Gadhue, who are active in maple-sugaring elsewhere in the state.

Village Farm

The Village Farm (the old Caverly-Swift house, and then the Forrest Farm) now has two tenants: Fleece on Earth, a weaving studio run by Bonny Dutton, and the Twin Elms stained-glass studio, run by Hallie Richards-Monroe. The stained glass studio is still being set up (no kiln as yet), but plans to offer classes. The Village Farm has a Facebook page with up-to-date info and pictures.

Weather

The fall foliage was delightful. Not gawdy, but rich and harmonious over the hillsides around Pittsford and neighboring areas (Whipple Hollow road offered some spectacular golden vistas). Then came a storm that knocked the leaves off trees. Right after Veterans’ Day, we were visited with 3-4 inches of snow and temperatures in single digits at night (the wider phenomenon was reported in national news; this was not a micro-event). Christmas, however, was not marked by travel-impeding weather.

 

Pittsford Historical Society Board of Directors 2020-01-01


Memberships

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.

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Please check amount enclosed:
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Sponsor $50_____ Life Member $200 (per person) _____

A 501(c)(3) organization since 1960