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

Spring  2021


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.


Eaton Hall will be open to the public (with masks) as of April 6 for visits to see the collection or to research whatever topics interest the visitors. Regular visiting hours are Tuesdays, from 9 to 4, but visits can be arranged outside that period; contact Curator Anne Pelkey or Steve Belcher (contact info at end) for an appointment. If you call ahead and specify your interests, Anne will do her best to identify and lay out the relevant materials.

PHS Member Activities

The first two planned events are not actually meetings (Covid precautions), but outdoors activities in which members are invited to participate.

May 22: 10:00 am. Crown Point Road Association Excursion
The Crown Point Road was built during the French and Indian Wars, ca. 1760, to allow the British to counter the French coming down from Canada/Quebec. Parts of it passed through Pittsford. Members are invited to join the excursion. Starting at 10 am at the parking area of the Pittsford Congregational Church, participants can expect a history lesson about the Pittsford area. Bill Powers of the Pittsford Historical Society will co-lead with CPRA historian Jim Rowe. There will be a combination of driving and walking. We will visit a variety of locations that include the former forts Mott and Vengeance and the original crossing of the Otter Creek that led to town's name. Wear hiking shoes, bring water and a lunch. For more info, call Jim at (802) 434-7415

June 19: 8:00 AM. Vermont Old Cemetaries Association
Meet at the Congregational Church cemetery. Tom Giffin, of the Vermont Old Cemeteries Association, who was on the schedule for last year but scratched because of COVID, is planning to try again. The activity will involve volunteer work in Pittsford cemeteries, and the opportunity to study the memorials to early settlers. Participants are encouraged to bring rakes and such tools for the grounds cleaning, as well as nylon-bristle brushes (not steel!) for stone maintenance. Tom plans a second session on July 17, a date that coincides with the PHS Tag-and-Bake sale.

Later events, including the annual meeting, are planned but await confirmation.

Other Events

Saturday, May 8, 9:00 am-2:00 pm: Plant Sale at Eaton Hall
Various members are planting and potting (n.b. NOT plotting; the PHS does not endorse sedition). We ask friends of the PHS to donate plants and unneeded gardening items. You may find some of your plants crowded and in need of thinning; you may have been given a better pair of clippers for Christmas; you may have gotten new trowels for a birthday.

Monday May 31: Memorial Day: no celebration planned.
Bill Hemple, the Fire Chief, thinks the Covid situation makes it inadvisable to plan a large gathering, and so the ceremonies will be suspended this year.

** Revised Date ** Saturday July 10, 9-2: PHS Tag and Bake Sale
Donations in either category will be gratefully accepted; we hope, of course, for good weather, and for all involved, good health.

Collection Connections

The Pittsford Movie

Some years ago, Fred Pond, now with the Library of the Vermont Historical Center in Barre, made inquiries about the short propaganda film shot in Pittsford in 1949, ‘A Town Solves a Problem.’ The Historical Center expressed renewed interest earlier this year, and Amanda Guskin has put together a podcast using materials from Pittsford and elsewhere in the state; the theme is the role and value of the town meeting.
The url for the podcast is: https://www.beforeyourtime.org/ 
(although you may have to search past more recent episodes by the time your receive this newsletter).

To remind members: the film presents a problem (a teacher who wants hot lunches for her students, in the Furnace Rd. one-room school-house), the community mobilization, the practical negotiations, and finally the Town Meeting at which the people voted. The problem was real, and approved at the Town Meeting in 1949. The incident came to the attention of a U.S. Army service charged with preparing materials illustrating democracy to be sent out to the countries of the recently-defeated Axis (and particularly Japan). So they contracted out and a team came up to Pittsford to reenact events. Leone Smith took pictures of filming as it occurred in the center of the Village (not far from his front door). The Pittsford connection, Pat Belcher, sent a 4-page single spaced letter to Mary Randall laying out the circumstances. Many years later (the 1970s), after the film had emerged from the National Archives, the PHS put together a hand-written list of the Pittsford participants in the film and the roles they played.

Town Notes

Town Meeting

The Monday evening event was held on Zoom, and the Zoom tally of participants offered a maximum of 24, many without video. This number does not include the well-spaced crowd in the meeting room of the Town Office. No voting took place. The meeting was presided by Alicia Malay, Pittsford’s second chairwoman of the Select Board. Given the format, there were no interruptions from the floor. We heard from Stephanie Jerome on current efforts in Montpelier and from Butch Shaw on transportation projects (he is now the ranking Minority member of the Transporation Committee in the Vt. House). Further segments of the Rte. 7 plan are scheduled for the next year or two, but work in the Village is unlikely to be considered for at least 5-6 years. The bridge over Furnace Brook in Pittsford Mills (a separate project) should be starting in a year or so.

The next day, those who had not sent in their ballots or delivered them early voted in the Fire Station, emptied of its trucks. By Town Clerk Helen McKinlay’s figures, there were 616 voters. There were no contested races, and one (Library Trustee) with no candidate. David Mills and Tom Hooker easily won their seats on the Select Board; Tom Hooker and Helen McKinlay were both elected Trustees of Public Funds, and Elizabeth Soulia, thanks to write-in votes, continues her term on the Library Board, representing the towns.

The more serious question was of course that of the budgets, passed in previous Town Meetings by voice vote by a tiny fraction of the town’s voters and now subject to wider consideration. Both General Expenses and Highway Expenses were passed (344-265 and 370-241 respectively). The Otter Valley budget was also approved (the School Board had the only contested seat on the ballots offered to Pittsford voters). School budgets in Vermont are sometimes rejected (Brandon has had to resubmit their budget to a vote several times, in past years), but this year only three budgets, state-wide, were rejected although some towns have postponed the vote until April.

Weather, moving to mud
So far, March has offered us nighttime temperatures in single digits (with more to come) and in the past days, weather in the 60s F. The sheets of ice that had formed over the ground are melting away (helped by leaves: they absorb the heat and melt leaf-shaped depressions in the snow/ice cover). Depot Hill Rd. has been closed, due to flooding, on various occasions. Seasonal migratory birds such as red-winged blackbirds and starlings are reappearing; resident birds such as goldfinches are shading to mating colors (such as gold). Robins have been around, clicking. The ground is beginning to thaw, so worms may soon be available.


The State maintains its honorable position at the bottom of the national state charts for total deaths (211 at writing), although adjusting for population Hawaii is lower, as are various US Territories. Vaccines are being distributed and injected, and the eligible age groups or categories are expanding. Pittsford, per the State Health Agency, has suffered 65 cases, with no data on deaths.

Pittsford Historical Society Board of Directors 2020-01-01


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