Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News - Winter 2015-16

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
The Museum is now closed for the winter, although volunteers occasionally gather for activities. The Museum can be opened by arrangement; anyone who wishes to visit should contact our curator, Anne Pelkey. the Museum will reopen in April.

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
Genealogy Research: Peggy Armitage 483-2108. peggy.armitage@gmail.com

Pittsford Historical Society, Inc.

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


Newsletter - Winter 2015-16

Museum Hours

The Museum is now closed for the winter, although volunteers occasionally gather for activities. The Museum can be opened by arrangement; anyone who wishes to visit should contact Curator Anne Pelkey (483-6178). The Museum will reopen in April.

Annual Members’ Meeting

The members met on October 19th in the Congregational Church. The business of the day was the election of officers. Bill Powers and Ernie Clerihew, having agreed to continue on as President and Vice-President, respectively, were re-elected. Joe Gagnon and Monica Freson were elected to replace the out-going Trustees Mark Mooney and Bob Welch, whose terms had expired and whom we thank for their service.

Bill Powers gave the presentation for the meeting: “'Aunt Jennie' (Dutton) Rickert (1856-1934), a child of the Forestdale region who spent time in New Hampshire while her son and husband worked in a mill before returning the to Brandon area to work in the boarding house attached to the Newton Thompson sawmill on Lake Dunmore. In 1920, she opened a tea-house in an area near the approach to the Falls of Lana, that ran until 1934. Her son, Paul opened an "Aunt Jennie's" restaurant in Brandon, but it burned down in 1929. She counts as one of the many now-forgotten people who in their time were a significant part of the local landscape, and Bill has devoted much effort to bringing her back to us.

A Message from the President

I was honored to be reelected president of the Pittsford Historical Society. This past year the society’s volunteers made an extraordinary effort to obtain, preserve, catalogue, and make available the famous Crockett greeting cards to the public at large. This was truly a momentous effort by many helping hands. Income from the sale of the cards will offset some of the society’s operating expenses.

I encourage your continued support to the society, and solicit your help and aid in the planned digitization efforts of the society’s photograph collections. Our goal is to make our collection available to you and the public. History does not belong in a dusty archive. We aim to bring it to you!!

Thank you.

William (Bill) J. Powers, Jr.

A Message from the Curator

Eaton Hall continues to be a place where visitors come in to look at our exhibits, donate items with Pittsford significance, and more often than not, research their family genealogy. I wish to acknowledge the following donors who contributed to our museum collections and family files:

Rosemary Clark from Rutland donated two WW11 scrapbooks that belonged to her sister Pauline Woodbury (1924-2010) Pauline, a longtime resident of Pittsford lived on Arch St. and was the daughter of Perley and Anna Greeno.

John Ojala, treasurer at Proctor Pittsford Country Club, brought in a painting by Albert C. Williams that hung over the fireplace for many years at the clubhouse on Corn Hill. It’s a large oil painting of The Fredetteville Bridge, more commonly known as the Cooley Bridge, built in 1849 by Nicholas Powers. Tom Brown, owner of Tom’s Treasures offered to hang it up in the museum’s workroom where it’s enjoyed by everyone who comes in.

Kathie (Rantanen) Wyman gave six pieces of tinware made by Michael Connolly. The Connolly Brothers, James and Michael, were listed in the 1881-1882 Town of Pittsford Business Directory as dealers in hardware. Kathie’s mother, Mae Rantanen, was John Mullin’s granddaughter. John was known as the Tin Peddler and sold the tinware made by Michael Connolly. Pete Whittemore eventually bought the building in the 1940’s and he and his wife Viola opened Whittemore’s Cash Market.

Peg Armitage donated a snow shovel (Owosso Manufacturing) & outdoor thermometer (Roger S. Pike General Insurance) that belonged to her grandparents, Robert E.L. & Minnie Hutchinson. In 1909 they moved into the house on Blackberry Lane where Peg lives now, and according to Pittsford’s Second Century, it was the first Pittsford house wired for electricity during construction. Peg also gave a stunning black beaded jacket that belonged to Mrs. G. F. Hendee.

Joan (Wheeler) Rost gave a postcard album ca. mid 1800’s to early 1900’s that belonged to her mother Doris Wheeler. The album features vintage postcards of the Village Green, Maclure Library, Lothrop School & Pittsford Mills.

Robin & Wayne Rowe donated several items belonging to Wayne’s father, Richard, while he was active in the Lion’s Club. Dick was a charter & lifetime member and held many positions. Among the collection was Dick’s vest with over 150 pins on it, a testament to his devotion and commitment to the organization.

Report on Genealogical Research

Inquiries directed to the Pittsford Historical Society website end up with Peg Armitage, who has been performing the research in response to queries. Asked to describe some of her activities, Peg provided the following sampling:

Rutland Historical Society Links

This is perhaps the place to note an omission from earlier reports. Bill Doyle’s ‘Vermont History and Government’ class at Johnson State College has produced a short DVD, “Life in Rutland County”, available through the Rutland Historical Society. The DVD features an interview with Peg Armitage.

Also, in October, Cliff Giffin of the RHS welcomed Anne Pelkey and others for a short demonstration on how to scan glass negatives. The PHS has a substantial number of these in the Mary Randall collection; some years ago, we got a small grant to get a number of the negatives printed (they can be found in a pair of binders in the exhibits room). But technology moves on, and it now seems a good idea to scan the images, which will make them more easily available. Our thanks for Mr. Giffin and the RHS.

A Lothrop Outreach Effort

The Fall Newsletter should have noted a PHS initiative, inspired by Melanie Clerihew, who has dedicated much thought and effort to making the students in Pittsford aware of the local heritage and history. The Society gave each sixth-grader a copy of Pittsford’s Second Century (17 in all, we hear). This seemed a more appropriately-targeted action than earlier thoughts of giving the volumes to graduating seniors at Otter Valley.

Accession #2007.019

As can be understood from Anne Pelkey’s note above, the Museum’s collection derives almost entirely from items of local historical interest donated by benefactors. The items on display in the exhibition room at Eaton Hall are only a small selection of the Society’s holdings. One of the challenges facing the curator is the preparation of new exhibits, drawing on this hoard and illustrating different aspects of Pittsford’s history. The Museum catalog is an essential tool in this task, and over the years it has developed. The original card catalog (3,000+/- index cards) has now given way to a computer program. In this program, the accession number is the basic reference, leading to a screen that identifies the donor and the provenance and describes the object. The number itself also provides information: the example given in the heading, 2007.019, identifies the object as having been the 19th accession in 2007.

This particular number refers, in fact, not to one object, but to a collection donated by Simone Carvey: a wonderful series of the Lothrop/Pittsford Elementary School annual photo albums, spanning a period from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. It is not a continuous series (we are missing the volumes for 1968-69, 1979-80, and 1983-84), and to our disappointment we do not have names for all the faces in the photos. But our computer program does allow us to record the names we know, and then indexes them.

This accession also highlights the challenges and solutions involved in the collection. We might try to display the albums: we could coat the walls with the pages taken from the albums, and provide visitors with high-powered binoculars to examine the pictures at the top (binoculars are not standard equipment in museums, even large ones such as the Louvre with long hallways).
Such a collection therefore impels us into new media. The photos have now been scanned, and so supplement an earlier scanning effort that covered class photos for the Pittsford High School from 1905 to 1961 (with some gaps).

In such an operation, the scanning is only the start. Equally important is the identification of the persons in the photos, and the entry of that information into the computer data-base. Kathy Swahn helped identify a number of the classmates of one of her siblings; we would be grateful for other assistance. There is a certain appeal in observing the changes in the faces of the students over their six years at Lothrop (the teachers, of course, remain invariable, as though embedded in amber).

Member News

The Society notes with regrets the passing of a number of members:

Judith Topp Krummel
Barbara Senecal
Virginia Field
Louise Sanderson

Our condolences to the families of these members.

And the Society takes pleasure in welcoming the following new members:

Fred Pond of Barre, Vt
Bill Davenport of Kilbourne, OH
Sylvia Kallen, Pittsford
Kathie Wyman, of Ipswich
Lynn Washburn of Rutland
Robert and Karen Webster, of Chittenden (and a link with the Chittenden Historical Society)
Helen McKinley of Pittsford
Judith Bischoff of Galloway, OH (Life Member)

Pittsford Historical Society Officers and Board Members


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:
Single $15_____ Family $20 _____ Contributing $25_____
Sponsor $50_____ Life Member $200 (per person) _____

A 501(c)(3) organization since 1960