Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News - Fall 2016

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
Regular visiting hours are 9 am to 4 pm.

During this time, volunteers gather for a variety of constructive activities, and company is always welcome. Visitors to town outside normal hours should contact our Curator, Anne Pelkey, or Steve Belcher, for access to the museum.

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 - Fall 2016

Museum Hours

The museum will be closing for the winter in early November, and the extra Sunday hours will stop soon. Anyone wishing to visit the museum can still arrange to do so by contacting Anne Pelkey, the curator, or Steve Belcher (see directory at end of newsletter), preferably with some advance notice.

Upcoming Events

October 23: Members' Meeting and Program
Time: 5:30 pm Pot-luck supper followed by the business meeting; ca. 7:00 pm the program
This is the Annual Meeting at which we elect officers for the coming year. A nominating
committee led by Barb Willis and Rebecca Davenport offers the following candidates for the
positions whose terms are expiring: for President, Bill Powers; for Vice-President, Ernie Clerihew; for Treasurer, Terri Davis. All these are incumbents. Rebecca Davenport has also served notice that she does not expect to continue as Recording Secretary for much longer, and so anyone willing to help in that capacity would be welcome.
The program will be a talk on ‘Dr. Henry Haven Swift and the Pittsford of his Time,' given by Steve Belcher. Dr. Swift took over Dr. Caverly's practice, and is remembered for his many photo-albums as well as the lively social activity at his camp on Furnace Brook.
The Society will also be represented at the Christmas Bazaar at St. Alphonsus, and will try to
participate in other town activities as they arise.

Society Activities

Tag and Bake Sale: July 23
We would like to thank the many donors, known and anonymous, who contributed goods for sale. We also thank the volunteers* who devoted time and acumen to sorting and pricing the goods, and who also then showed remarkable stamina through the day in managing the boxes and dealing with the customers. Besides an eclectic assortment of kitchen-, table- and glassware, the offerings included an assortment of dolls, a child's pin-ball table, books and videotapes, plants, camping equipment, baskets, an impressive assortment of old tools that may have belonged to Dooner Conway, spiky plants (Ivy Dixon, as last year), and edibles.
We were lucky: the rain held off until the end of the day after the tent had been taken down and just as we were getting a tarpaulin over the assemblage of unsold articles. Over the next few days the goods dispersed (the tarp was saved: thank you). The combined total was around $1,200, which helps greatly.
* Rebecca, Barb, Ivy, and Monica whose cell phone allowed her to double-check values for intriguing objects.

August 21: Members' Meeting and Presentation
Howard Banow made a presentation on Wright Stevens (1896-1997), a Pittsford native who took to writing poetry at the age of 85, after the death of his wife. The poetry is unpublished, but has a certain local interest. For Howard Banow and Elizabeth Simpson, who bought the Florence chapel as a summer home, the immediate connection was Stevens' poem on the Florence chapel, that begins:
The little Florence Chapel
So gracefully on the Grounds -
Many people went there
From places all around.
Howard presented a biography and an insightful appraisal of Wright Stevens' character. Stevens had worked his way up through the marble industry, at the Florence Mill, at a time when Vermont was furnishing marble for the monuments and buildings in Washington DC. Pittsford's Second Century mentions that he supervised the preparation of the columns in front of the Supreme Court. Howard concentrated on the character revealed in the poems: reflections on his father, on life, an Aesopic poem about a mouse and a rat, reflections on philosophy and days gone by. And to support his interpretation, he was joined by Joan Thomas of Brandon, who had known Wright Stevens well as a neighbor.
Wright Stevens appears in several PHS publications: a 1909 photo shows him with a 5-day catch of skunks and other fur-bearing animals, and PSC gives excerpts of verse (e.g. on the pleasures of riding a buggy into a covered bridge, which might afford a hug or even a kiss). Here is another excerpt:
The old man loves his Flowers
that beautify his home
Many hours he has time to spend
As now he lives alone ...
He's always in good humor.
He's four score and seven
With His Flowers and Kind Thoughts
He will surely land in Heaven.
Let us hope the wish came true, and thanks to Howard for bringing back this wonderful
personality from Pittsford's past.

Historic Markers and Memorials

At last writing, the new historic marker for the town green had been retrieved from Plymouth Notch. We are delighted to report that the new marker has now been erected and dedicated. There were several phases to the operation, which involved sequential communications among the Historic Society, the Town manager’s office, and the state of Vermont. The Historic Society, after some discussion, decided to schedule a dedication ceremony on Sept. 24, to coincide with the Harvest Fair and the Maclure Library book-sale. Steve Belcher and Ernie Clerihew, equipped with a photocopy of the newspaper photograph of the dedication of the previous marker on Samuel Hopkins (which took place in 1956; Joe Kamuda’s older sister Victoria, was enlisted to unveil the marker), were able to identify a spot close to the original site, yet some distance from the probable waterlines under the ground. The town of Pittsford received approval from the state Highway Dept.

So at the end of August, Chad Eugair and Josh Towne proceeded to erect the pole with diligence and a back-hoe. Chad managed the back-hoe; Josh worried about hitting water-pipes, and later went off to fetch the shovels they should have brought. He spent more time in the hole than Chad. They fastened a cross-bar to the pole, for stability, measured the depth, and planted the pole. They verified the verticality with a carpenter’s level, largely pro forma, for Josh has a keen eye. Two days later they retrieved the marker from the vestibule of Eaton Hall and placed it on top of the pole. The markers are fastened by screws with hexagonal indents, by the way.

On September 24, the marker was dedicated. President Bill Powers presided. His introductory remarks noted that where Rutland and Brandon have markers commemorating natives who went elsewhere and then achieved fame (John Deere and Stephen Douglas, known respectively for agricultural machinery and for debating Abraham Lincoln in Illinois), the marker on Pittsford’s iron industry honored a local achievement and a tradition of industriousness. John Haverstock, the town manager, then spoke of the process that led to the placement of the marker. And Peg Armitage then spoke of the history involved. She had interviewed Pat Mooney, who had worked at the furnace in the last years before it closed, and she quoted Pat on the working conditions and hours, which were not easy.

The memorial to veterans has now been placed in front of the town offices; dedication ceremonies are planned for Nov. 11. The town is still raising funds to cover costs, and should anyone wish to make a contribution, the address would be:

Veterans Memorial Fund
Pittsford Town Office
Box 10
Pittsford, VT 05763

Town Notes

Pittsford Day in August was not favored by the weather. At one point many burly firemen were seen holding down one tent in fear of windy gusts (the other tent that sheltered the musical entertainment was anchored by large cement blocks). The face-painting of children moved into the Fire Station. Even so, many people joined the fun, especially after 3:00 pm (when ice-cream was served) and later when the food poured forth.

Pittsford Historical Society Directory

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.


Street/Apt. #

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 since 1960