Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News - Spring 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 - Spring 2016

Museum 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.

Program Schedule

The Executive Board met in January and approved the following schedule of activities for the year. The schedule is subject to the qualifier that Executive Boards may propose, but events will dispose.

Members’ Meetings

April 10: Members’ Meeting and Program,

starting with a pot luck supper at 5:30 pm at the Congregational Church in Pittsford.

Bob Dean will make a presentation on aerial views of the region. The Dean family has roots in the region and a tradition of phography; Mr. Dean allegedly has his own plane.

June 12: Members’ Meeting and Program, 2-4 pm.

Mary Merzac-Gerrior will host an open house in the former Roberts house, aka the Wedding Cake House along Furnace Road. Mary is an artist who exhibited in last year’s PHS ‘Pittsford Artists and Artisans’ exhibit.’

August 21: Members’ Meeting and Program,

starting with a pot luck supper at 5:30 pm at the Congregational Church in Pittsford.

Howard Banow will present the results of his research on the local poet Wright Stevens.

October 16: Annual Members’ Meeting and Program,

starting with a pot luck supper at 5:30 in the basement of the Congregational Church.

Steve Belcher will talk on Henry Haven Swift and the Pittsford of his era.

Other Activities:

The PHS continues its involvement with our Memorial Day celebrations, now held at the Firehouse on Arch St. This location causes less disruption to traffic and allows the Otter Valley HS band some shade. The speaker this year will be Jennifer Tinsman.

We plan a Tag-and-Bake Sale on July 23. Donations, edible or not, are solicited. Volunteers (for sorting pricing, and sales assistance) would be very welcome. So are prayers for sunshine.

The PHS will be represented at various town-wide events, such as Pittsford Day in August, which we trust will again be held at the Firehouse, with fireworks, and later seasonal sales.
And at least one other event remains to be scheduled (see below at ** under Monuments).

Town Meeting

For the many members who were unable to attend our Town Meeting (on Feb. 29, which has to be unusual), some report may be of interest.

The meeting was enlivened by a gentleman standing in the back, who greeted every item of business with obstreperous calls (never ruled out of order by the moderator) demanding that the Police or other entities address the question of gravel in his water supply. He failed to obtain immediate satisfaction.

The most animated part of the meeting (in terms of questions, and opinions) was the joint presentation by our State Representative Butch Shaw and State Senator Peg Flory, on current actions in Montpelier. Neither was complimentary in regards to the internet technology adopted by Gov. Peter Shumlin (‘I face bears in my underwear’) for Vermont Health Connect. One significant note, included by Butch Shaw in his letter, is that the Route 7 upgrade for that section passing through the village of Pittsford seems to be on indefinite hold.

Some years ago the many small appropriations of the town for items such as the Bowen-Walker Fund, the Maclure Library, the Pittsford Historical Society, and the like, were simply lumped into the general appropriation. We are happy to report that the budget passed smoothly, although of course we lost an opportunity to present the activities of the Society to the people of Pittsford.

One visible exception to this streamlining is a sum to defray the Pittsford Village costs through a tax on Village residents. The sum involved is $20,000. A question was raised why this sum required a separate vote, and Peter Cady answered clearly and effectively: some years back, when the Village and Township voted to merge their operations, an exception was made for those specific village expenses that cover the amenities of sidewalks and street lights. So the meeting did include a point of enlightenment on our history and budgeting. Peter Cady is a former attorney for the town who is now engaged in retaliatory actions on behalf of marmots.

An event preliminary to the town meeting was the dedication of the town report on February 17th. We learned on that occasion that our Curator Anne Pelkey is a consummate conspiratress who colluded most successfully with John Haverstock and members of the Select Board to conceal from her husband the fact that he was to be honored. The cabal wished to recognize his 15 years of impressive service with the Select Board and his dedication to the town. Hank was overcome at the time, and had to relive his embarrassment at the town meeting, when the dedications were read again. The other honorees were Rick Conway and Stan Markowski, for their combined 67 years service on the Zoning board.

How Many?

This report on the town meeting raised the question, how many have there been? What ordinal number should mark the 2016 Leap Day meeting? Alas, no quick answer is yet available. While the town was chartered in 1761, it had no inhabitants connected with the chartering until almost a decade later (any Native American residents were excluded from consideration, per the norms of the era). Abiel Caverly’s History of Pittsford notes a meeting at which a moderator was elected (surely a significant marker) in 1773. He notes further meetings (with moderators) in the 1780s, but these were meetings of the proprietors: a reminder, if needed, that suffrage was not then universal. He surmises that meetings before 1771 may have been held in Connecticut. There were meetings in the 1780s. The first meeting identified by Caverly as the ‘annual meeting’ took place in 1790, while Vermont was still a sovereign state, prior to being admitted to the Union as the 14th state in 1791. Peg Armitage adds the further information that Benjamin Cooley, who served two terms as recorder (before and after Vermont became a state), had illegible handwriting, and further, that his papers, after his death, passed to a resident on Elm St. whose house burned down. So 1790 seems the starting point, and it remains an open question whether meetings have been held continuously since then, and when suffrage was extended to others than oligarchs.

Of Monuments and Markers, ongoing

The Town of Pittsford is planning a monument to our veterans, to be placed in front of the municipal offices on Plains Road. Following is an update by Hank Pelkey:

The large marble block for the exterior Veteran’s monument has been cut and split at Gawett’s Marble & Granite in Center Rutland and transported to Proctor Marble by Markowski Excavating. The marble, quarried locally in Florence, awaits final finishing and lettering to be completed by master craftsman Brent Wilson. The original "18 ton behemoth marble block has been trimmed to a more manageable 8-9 tons. Final measurements will be roughly 4’ wide, 6.5’ high, and 1’-2’ thick. Hoping for an end of April timeframe for finishing and lettering.
The four slabs for the interior tile Wall of Honor have been cut for thickness at Gawett’s and shipped to Johnson Marble in Proctor where they will be cut to size. Eventually these slabs will contain the names of all Pittsford veterans who have served in the military dating back to the Revolutionary War. Cutting of slabs for exterior benches and pavers will occur in the next several weeks.

Installation of all interior and exterior components will begin in early summer with the dedication set for Veterans Day in November. Thanks to the efforts of John Haverstock and Butch Shaw, the town received a generous ten thousand dollar grant from the State of Vermont towards the monument’s construction. A concerted fund raising effort will begin in early May.

Should anyone wish to make a contribution to the monument, the address would be:

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

** We are also expecting to erect two highway markers this year. One is intended to replace the (possibly) discredited tribute to Samuel Hopkins and his potash system; the replacement commemorates the iron furnace and its attendant industry (Granger stoves etc.). The second marks the former site of the Kendrick dam on Sugar Hollow Brook (aka Sucker Brook). When we have word that the physical objects are available and are about to be planted, we shall summon all for the revelry. The process, especially for the replacement marker, has been marked at the state level by changes of personnel and delays in presenting the project. We shall keep our fingers crossed.

Membership Notes

Renewal notices went out a month or so ago, and we are gratified by the quick response of so many members. We would also like to thank the many members who chose to contribute more than they had before. We would love to see you come and visit the museum and share your thoughts and memories.

This newsletter, like the last one, comes enclosed in a ‘Katherine Crockett’ brand card of seasonal relevance, through the efforts of Barb Willis, Monica Freson, and Ivy Dixon. We hope you like it.

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