Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News - Fall 2015

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
Tues: 9 am–4 pm; April – until mid-November;
And on Sundays 1PM- 4PM until Oct. 13

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: Doris Hoare 483-6470
Newsletter Editor: 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 - Fall 2015

Museum Hours

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 802-483-2852.

Upcoming Events

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 trustees.

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.

Related Event

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 needed.

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 Curiosities.

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 post-card. ]

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.

Museum Visitors

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 versions:

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 the society.

officers and trustees


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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A 501(c)(3) organization since 1960