Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
Tuesdays from 9 am to 4 pm, April through October.

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 - Winter 2017-2018

Museum Notes

The Museum is closed for the winter, although visits can be arranged; contact Anne Pelkey or Steve Belcher, preferably in advance, to set up the time. The Museum will reopen in early April.
The Board will be meeting early in 2018 to set up the schedule of activities for the year, and that information will be presented in the Spring Newsletter.

Member Meetings

We held the annual Members’ Meeting at the end of October, carefully scheduled to avoid conflicts with meals planned by local churches. The members present voted in new officers to replace those whose term limits had been reached. Ernie Clerihew has become the President, replacing Bill Powers, who deserves our thanks for his three years’ service. Barb Willis has been elected Vice-President. Bob Welch was elected to the Trustee seat being vacated by Barb Willis. Terri Davis is continuing as Treasurer, as do Rebecca Davenport in the role of Recording Secretary, and Jane Welch as Corresponding Secretary.

Steve Belcher gave a presentation based on scrapbooks in the PHS collections, that had been explored by Barb Willis, Ivy Dixon, and Rebecca Davenport. The earliest in our holdings seem to have been made by Samuel Burbank (1844-1917), who in 1879 opened a hardware store in Pittsford with Carlos Hitchcock; he became town treasurer in 1901, and then in 1910 Town Clerk. One of his books (pasted into the Rutland County Court Calendar for 1868) was a sort of ‘Hints from Heloise.’ Another mixed news items and poetry (clipped from newspapers). Helen Patch Kingsley (1910-1980, sister to Harold Patch) created a number of entertaining books, filled with illustrations from children’s literature and schmaltzy jokes, as well as memorabilia: the program and menu for her senior prom in 1927, a season ticket to the Pittsford Basketball games for 1937, her grade sheets (she did better in business school than in high school).

Katherine Mills Bates (1891-1970) left several books, one of them, curiously, a catalog for a funeral home into which she pasted her materials. She was interested in Vermont history. Flora Weeks left the Society an impressive number of notebooks that qualify in a sense as scrapbooks: they do contain clippings along with her detailed genealogical notes on families far and wide. Many scrapbooks contained advertising: One, long before the Tesla era, offered a home-charging system for electric cars. One news item showed how little things have changed: the clipping title proclaimed that Congress had determined that atomic tests were not responsible for changes in the weather.

A Message from the President

Thank you to all members who supported the Pittsford Historical Society (PHS) locally and from far away. Your participation continues to make the PHS a valuable repository for research, scholarship, and sharing Pittsford’s past.
Come see the pre-Revolutionary War silver shoe buckles from the Cooley family in Pittsford. The 2017 Fall Newsletter provides the details. They are now on display so that you can appreciate the local craftsmanship of the 18th Century.
The museum’s displays are continually updated!! Come see what you haven’t seen before!
Crockett Cards have proven to be a boon to Pittsford residents and an excellent way to support the operating expenses of the PHS. We appreciate your continued support.
I encourage you once again to help identify Pittsford veterans that have been honored by the Veterans Monument erected by the Town of Pittsford in 2016. The PHS is the repository for the information on the veterans. Let us know about Pittsford veterans!!!
Come join us in the coming year for our events. Once again, we want to bring Pittsford’s honored past to you.
Thank you.
Bill Powers

Curator’s Report by Anne Pelkey

The following donations add to the rich history of Pittsford stored at Eaton Hall, and I wish to acknowledge the following donors who contributed to the museum’s collections in 2017:

Jim & Tina Prior from Pittsford donated two copies of the Brandon Union Newspaper dated Aug. 23rd & Aug. 30th 1873. They both contained articles related to the dedication of the Caleb Houghton Monument on the site of Ft. Vengeance which took place on Aug. 23rd 1873.

Bonnie (Blittersdorf) Hawley, daughter of Harold (Blittö) Blittersdorf (1922-2017) brought in a blue tie with a vintage red fire truck logo and a Pittsford Inn Holiday card, both designed by Harold. He was a 1947 charter member of the Pittsford Fire Dept., and the fire truck logo could possibly be a picture of the first truck purchased in 1947,a 1937 Chevrolet fire truck which pumped 300 gallons a minute! In 1948 Harold founded the Vermont Art Studio in Pittsford Village and owned it until his son John took over in 1983.

Tina (Keith) Reed daughter of the late Ed & Joey Keith of Pittsford, donated her mom’s business sign: “Joey’s Beauty Shop.” Joey operated the shop in her home from 1954 to 2002. Also donated were her grandfather James Matthew Keith’s 1917 Pittsford High School Diploma, and her brother Jimmy’s distinguished Military Student Award from Norwich University in 1972.

Benjamin Cooley Shoe Buckles ca. 1764 were purchased from David Beckley of Lapeer, Michigan as the result of the generosity of several society members. David’s late wife Faith Sutherland was a descendant of Benjamin and Ruth Cooley’s daughter, Naomi, who married Col. Andrew Sutherland. The buckles were made from silver ornaments worn by an Indian chief whom Samuel Beech, Benjamin’s brother-in-law, killed in a battle during the French and Indian War.

Peg Armitage provided us with several items having Pittsford significance: a jade ring with cobra head settings that belonged to Peg’s Aunt Mary (Randall) Allen, and a tiger’s eye pendant with a chatoyant effect from Peg’s great-aunt Jane Pinckney. A black long handled toaster used by Jane’s husband, Dr. John Pinckney on his camping trips was also donated. Peg remembers it cooked everything from toast to steaks!

Joyce Bates Daniels from Essex Junction, who turned 100 years old in 2017, donated several items made by her grandfather, George Douglas Bates and her father Douglas Brigham Bates, both accomplished Pittsford Woodworkers. Among the items are four keepsake boxes made by George who had his Cabinet and Job Shop on Corn Hill ca. 1876-1910. At least one of these boxes was a gift to granddaughter Joyce. Doug Bates, who was 97 when he died in 1981, owned a house and workshop on Blackberry Lane. His specialty was lathe-turned table lamps made from birch, cherry and tiger maple. Joyce donated three of her father’s beautiful lamps.

Collection Notes

An inquiry from Gary Forsburg in Arizona about fly-rods made by Ed Smith, who had a workshop on Furnace Road that still stands, led to a flurry of activity and observations that may be entertaining. The centerpiece is a diary, left to the PHS by Anna Smith, that records Ed’s sales. The diary went through several hands over a period of time. It is dated 1880, January is blank, and then it contains a daily record of the activities of a sawmill (Sundays are also blank).
A man named Charlie Wetmore seems to have done much of the work. For instance, on May 11 he sawed 629 ft. of fence boards, 124 ft. of carstakes (?), 221 ft. of two-inch, and 2590 ft. of bill stuff. Other men are identified by familiar local family names such as Trombly and Shelvy (now spelled Trombley and Shelvey). In 1889, Ed began to use the diary to record his sales of fly-rods, on the blank January pages, along with sales of charcoal. Later, his daughter Anna used it, first to do her arithmetic homework (in pencil) and later to copy poems she wished to keep. She has thus preserved the work of Julia Dorr, Rachel Velma Prouty, Frances M. Frost, and John Edward Colburn, among others.

Membership Notes

Our thanks to Julia Petersen, of Wichita, KS, who answered an inquiry about the eclipse with the report that since Wichita lay a bit south of the full occlusion, she and her husband traveled, with deck chairs, 35 miles north to view the full eclipse in comfort. For those who plan far in advance, please note that there will be another eclipse in 2024, and the path, apparently, will follow the Appalachian trail and include Vermont.

We also wish to note the loss of members this year:

Louise Belcher Lynne Smith Washburn
Jane Tucker Donald Poljacik
Joey (Josephine) Keith Norma Hathaway
Jocelyn Frost

Please forgive (and correct) any omissions.

Town Notes

The town celebrated Veterans’ Day at the Town Offices, in front of the new memorial. The day was cold, but not so blustery as last year’s dedication ceremony. John Haverstock served as MC; music was provided by Robert Berardo and Brian Greenfield, who later admitted that it’s more fun to play in warmer weather. Father Houle gave the blessings, and Keith Arlund (Lt. Col., US Army and Army Reserves, ret.) gave the keynote speech.

In early December, the Lothrop School hosted a ceremony in honor of Tom Hooker, who is stepping down from 50 years’ service with the Pittsford Fire Department, including 37 as its chief. They may have fooled him with the pretext of a fire alarm that he was to oversee. When all the children were assembled on the basketball court behind the school, they broke into song and dance.

The town’s infrastructure is a current issue. As noted in the last newsletter, the Forrest Farm (across Elm St. from Kamuda’s store) has been purchased and members of the community are trying to devise a plan to make it into a public amenity of some sort.

A proposal to place a Dollar General store at the corner of Rte. 7 and Plains Rd. has been revived, to some opposition. This is the site where some years back the owner of the property hoped to move the Post Office.

Across Otter Creek, the town repaved two miles of road on Fire Hill, thus shortening the drive home for people who live beyond the road but irritating the two families who live along it and had enjoyed their isolation.

A town plan is also being prepared, with meetings scheduled for discussion and input. Again, there are some concerns. The plan can be found in the documents section of the Town of Pittsford website (http:pittsfordvermont.com).

Pittsford has made the front page of the Rutland Herald at least three times in the past months. Two mentions, unfortunately, came in connection with a death. A plane flying from Massachusetts to Middlebury crashed, somewhere near Cox Mountain; Norman Baker, the 89-year-old pilot did not survive. Rescue teams found the site much more quickly than in the case of the Air Force plane that was the subject of a talk by Bill Powers earlier this year.

The second occasion involves the Christmas tree, a balsam fir, that was raised in front of the State Capitol in Montpelier: it was planted as a seedling in 1991 by John Paul Eugair, foster-child of Pat and Diane Eugair, of Pittsford. John Paul died of cerebral palsy four years later. The OVUHS chorus went up to Montpelier for the decoration and lighting of the tree.

The third mention was photographic: Joe Kamuda and his son Brian were pictured in front of Kamuda’s store. Brian has moved back from Florida to Pittsford, leaving the world of basketball merchandising, to take over the store from his parents, which will give us a third generation of Kamudas at the center of town.

We are currently not enjoying, but surviving, a deep cold spell. It keeps the snow fluffy, and we can hope it will affect the tick population (Vermont’s moose are in trouble because of these parasites).

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.


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A 501(c)(3) organization since 1960