Pittsford Historical Society

Pittsford Historical Society Inc. News

Eaton HallMuseum Hours:
by appointment. Current special exhibits include a carry-over from last fall, on World War I, and we are adding another exhibit on the 1961 Pittsford High School Class ‘M’ Basketball Championship (See Newsletter below).

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


Pittsford Historical Society, Inc.

PO Box 423 Pittsford VT 05763 www.pittsfordhistorical.com   802-483-2040
A 501(c) organization since 1961

Winter 2021-22

 ** PLEASE NOTE! **

Given the preventive measures against Covid-19 currently in force, all scheduled events, including the opening hours of Eaton Hall, are subject to change. We shall do our best to provide a two-week notice of any changed dates.

Winter Newsletter



Museum Notes

The Museum ended its regular visiting hours after Veterans’ Day, and will remain closed, probably until April, although visits may be arranged with advanced notice, to ensure a host to unlock the building and also that the thermostat has been turned up a bit. The volunteer crew still turns up on Tuesdays


Annual Meeting

We had some 25 member present for the supper and meeting. Reports were presented and an election was held, with two changes: Tamara Hitchcock becomes Vice-President, and Barb Willis becomes a Trustee.

Tom Browe then made a presentation on the ‘Marble Industry in Florence.’ He started with a questionable etymology for Florence, alleging that in the 1600s an Italian of the name of Bro wandered New England and came to a part of what is now Vermont on the west bank of what is now known as the Otter Creek, and was so struck by its resemblance to his home region in Italy that he exclaimed, repeatedly, ‘Florence.’ The Native Americans among whom he lived preserved this name (the Italian name of Florence is actually Firenze). Tom offered no proof that an Italian Bro was the source of the name (he also short-changed the Fowler who was involved with the marble industry in Florence ca. 1900, thanks to whom the area was known for a while as Fowlerville. Cf. Grangerville, near the Pittsford Furnace).

He was better supported with evidence for the rest of his presentation, thanks largely to the mastery of digital imagery (not CGI) of Bill Powers, and so described a series of small (might we say originally artisanal?) quarries through the Florence region that eventually were subsumed by larger marble companies. He and Bill tramped for hours through the woods of Florence, seeking old quarries (but not falling in, thank goodness) and are still unsure of what they saw and what they missed. Back in the day, workers were brought in (many from Italy) to work the quarries. He described the machinations of Redfield Proctor, first of a Vermont dynasty, to take control of the industry and to stifle worker unrest. At one point in time, the Hollister Quarry – now a forgotten spot on a side-road – had state-of-the-art set of equipment, and ran deeper than any other quarry. It was an enthusiastic, informative, and entertaining presentation. The Society has a sound-recording of the event, and the slide-presentation prepared by Bill Powers.

President’s Report:

Bill Powers offers a succint account of the Society’s various activities and thanked the volunteers involved.


Curator’s report by Anne Pelkey

I would first like to thank all the volunteers who give up their Tuesdays to assist me at Eaton Hall. Without the help of Rebecca Davenport, Ivy Dixon, Barb Willis, Elizabeth Simpson, Tammy Hitchcock, and Tom Browe, there’s no question that the museum could operate as efficiently as it does. Artifacts need accessioning, visitors need greeting, researchers need help in looking up their Pittsford roots, newspaper clippings need to be copied and filed. This group performs these tasks very efficiently. Requests for genealogy are answered either on line or in person by President Bill Powers. This year, he has helped descendants of the Matson, Phillips, Gibbs, & Rich families find answers to some, if not all of their questions. Bill is very thorough in his research, and I know how much time he spends on these queries, which in many cases, leads him to the Pittsford Town Office researching old deeds.

We continue to learn about Pittsford’ss rich history through the donations we receive throughout the year. The following donors have contributed to the Museum’s archival collections:

Sarah Dopp donated two vintage celluloid ‘art deco’ crown style hair combs from the 1920's that had belonged to Joyce Bates Daniels. Joyce, who passed away in 2018, was the daughter of Doug & Anna Bates and they lived at the end of Blackberry Lane in Pittsford. When originally produced, such combs were meant to take the expensive and elaborate combs of the rich and famous and make them available to the lower class. This was done by utilizing a new invention: celluloid, an early form of plastic. Ours are amber in color and have birds and flowers in the design.

Diana (Dickerman) Masserenti (in Washington state) is the great-great granddaughter of Rollin Smith. Rollin was a Pittsford farmer, school and music teacher and at one time school superintendent. Diana sent a beautiful raised beaded watch pocket made by the Tuscarora Indian Tribe, part of the Iroquois League. It would be hung on the wall beside the bed for a man to put his pocket watch in at night. The Tuscarora beadwork was made between 1850 and 1920 and sold to tourists who visited Niagara Falls. Diana isn’t sure which member of her Vermont family owned the watch pocket, but we are very grateful to have this beautiful example

Mary Anderson stopped in the museum last month to give us a ladies parasol that belonged to her great aunt Ada Potter. Ada’s mother was Agnes Belle Cooley, a descendant of Caleb Cooley, brother to Benjamin, one of the first settlers in Pittsford.
Rebecca Davenport gave two dolls, a Raggedy Ann & Andy, made by her mother Hila for Rebecca in the late 1940s. Hila made the dolls from scraps of cloth left from clothes she made for her family and sold them in the Mahler’s Store that later became the Crimson Buggy. The dolls sold for $3.50 each. The museum also has an upside-down doll that Hila made which sold for $3.00 each in the store. Hila would give these dolls as gifts to family and friends. Rebecca also gave us a family photo album that has a dear baby picture of Rebecca’s grandmother, Ida Heath Mahler in it.

Dave & Steve Hammond, sons of Emil and Anne (Bogue) Hammond, donated a chair believed to be over 200 years old. Taped to the bottom of the chair is its provenance which reads: ‘this chair left in house on Parsons Farm at Pittsford, Vt. by Elder William Harrington when he sold farm to Thomas Fitch Bogue early 1820.’ When Thomas Bogue’s daughters, Sarah and Jane sold the farm, they built the Victorian Home on Elm St. in 1890; Emil and Anne inherited the estate in 1967. Steve remembers the chair always being in the Hammond house.
Our treasurer, Terri Davis, gave several pieces of ‘bank memorabilia’ from her many years working at what in 1994 was a branch of the First Brandon National Bank, then the Lake Sunapee Bank (a New Hampshire connection) and now the Bar Harbour Bank (Maine). Barb and Ivy mounted a very nice exhibit on the history of the bank displaying the mugs, pens, mouse pads, hats, desks signs, etc. that Terri collected.


The Crown Point Road Marker

The Crown Point Road was laid out during the French-and-Indian Wars of the 1760s, and crosses Vermont diagonally from Brattleboro up to southern Lake Champlain. The Crown Point Road Association is devoted to documenting, and on occasion retracing, the course of that road. Over the years, they have placed markers on the course of the road. One such marker was misplaced, on Depot Hill Rd., and has just been removed. It was delivered to the back yard of Eaton Hall along with its concrete base; Jim Rowe and Bill Powers have applied effort and powerful machinery (multiple drilling holes) to strip off the concrete base. The marker will be repositioned along Whipple Hollow Rd. The last newsletter neglected to report the heroically destructive efforts put forth by Bill Powers and Tom Rowe.


Town Notes

Energy Projects and Construction

The Oct. 6 Select Board meeting was heated and ran long. Two energy-related projects were presented, followed by discussion of the proposed rearrangement of the junction of Rte. 7 and Rte. 3.

A. A proposal by Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind (represented by Sam Carlson, but also linked with a commercial enterprise run by David Blittersdorf) for a commemorative windmill on Grandpa’s Knob, just below the communication tower, where in 1941 Palmer Putnam erected what may have been the first electricity-generating windmill connected to the grip. Mr. Carlson claimed that as there was an existing maintenance road for the communication tower, the environmental impact would be minimal. But they could not answer questions about the extent of groundwork needed for the foundation of the proposed windmill, claiming that they had not yet conducted the surveys for that information. They wanted to bring the idea before the towns before proceeding.

As background, some ten years ago there was a proposal for a chain of 20 windmills along the mountain ridge from Grandpa’s Knob to the South that brought immediate, fierce, and successful opposition. In response to the proposal, many of the towns in the area rewrote their development plans to exclude windmills on mountain-tops.

This new proposal also brought fierce and heated opposition. One line of argument was that a monument to Palmer Putnam should be placed at the bottom of the hill, with informational material and perhaps a scale-model of the original windmill. The second was that this proposal is an attempt to eviscerate the town plans: if one windmill gets approved, arguments against others then collapse. The second argument seems stronger. The organizers did not first approach the towns to discuss how to commemorate Palmer Putnam and his achievement. They first approached the State to obtain a guaranteed price that would make the windmill profitable.

Such conduct on the part of David Blittersdorf, whose mother Lois was a mainstay, and past President, of the Pittsford Historical Society, seems disappointing.

B. The Select Board then heard a Zoom presentation by George Yan of DG Vermont Solar for a solar array on meadows above Adams Rd., in the area through which the ‘Split Rock Trail’ passes. This proposal has now been complicated by the fact that the owner has put the property up for sale.

C. The Select Board then briefly discussed the revised plans for the intersection of Rtes. 3 and

7. The bridge over Furnace Brook is to be rebuilt; there will a temporary bridge and reconfiguration of traffic. In 2015, the AOT offered a plan by which after the bridge is rebuilt, traffic will return to the old configuration with a Y-junction onto Rte. 3for the south-bound traffic on Rte. 7. The new plan calls for a turning lane with a right turn, eliminating the little green triangle on which – many years back – there was a kiosk. The Select Board, and many town citizens, oppose this revised plan.

The Second Annual Tractor Parade, 23 Oct. 2021

48 tractors participated in the parade. They gathered at the Village Farm and then, as in the first parade, proceeded down Arch St., up Pleasant St., on to Rte. 7 for 100 yds, and then up onto Furnace Rd. and then to Plains Rd. For some reason, there was no traffic control, and so the south-bound tractors were interspersed with cars. There were no monsters, like last year’s Krone behemoth, but there was a wide range of sizes, ages, and makes (Deere, Oliver, Cockshutt, Farmall, Case International, and others unnamed). The end of the parade brought floats in tow: Halloween- or harvest- themed, one with inflated animals (pig and chicken and cow) that apparently also contained humans, and in a valiant challenge to Macy’s parade, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The parade was led by the Fire Department’s Boomobile and closed by the Pittsford Ladder 1 truck, flashing its lights.

The Halloween Trunk or Treat

The weather that weekend was wet, and Rutland called off their Saturday night parade. Pittsford still held a Trunk-or-Treat at the Town offices, rearranging the displays from the past drive-through format and placing them in the Town Office parking lots to allow foot travel. There were perhaps a dozen trunks open, displaying many skeletons of many species. Visitors included a number of dinosaurs, horses, and unicorns (many of these the newly-devised inflatable costumes, that had the added advantage of being water-proof). Many spacemen, princesses, ghosts, witches of all size and coloring visited. Informed (=younger) observers explained that many of the costumes were modeled on ‘Minecraft,’(an on-line game). At least the Star Wars characters were recognizable. There were also several Little Red Riding Hoods, marking a revival (? is there a movie we haven’t heard about?) of older figures.

Veterans’ Day

Clement weather brought a crowd to the observances. Joel Tate, whose Methodist congregation has now resumed occupancy in the former Methodist Church on Rte. 7, offered the prayers. Lori Keith, of the Navy, offered impassioned advocacy of support for the constitution. Lothrop singers led the attendance in patriotic songs. The weather was mild enough that coffee and snacks were offered in the parking lot.

Pittsford Historical Society Board of Directors 2020-01-01


Memberships

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