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

Summer  2021

 ** 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.

Museum

The museum is now open to all visitors on Tuesdays, 9-4. Visits to the Museum or for research can be arranged with advance notice.

Coming Events

22 August: Member’s Meeting,
    Fellowship Hall of the Congregational Church
    5:30 Pot-luck supper, followed by the Members’ business meeting.
    Presentation by Dave and Sue Markowski on the developing hemp industry in Vermont.

4 September: Pittsford Day
    The PHS will be participating, offering glimpses of Pittsford’s past and some of our merchandise.

19 September: Book Signing
    1-3 pm, Eaton Hall.
    Rutland journalist and author Tom Haley will present his book, Maple Mayberrys and Other Sweet Spots.

17 October: Annual Members’ Meeting
    5:30 pm Pot-luck supper, followed by the business meeting. This is the occasion on which members elect the officers for the coming year.
    Presentation by Tom Browe on the marble quarries in Florence.

PHS Member Activities

May 22: Crown Point Road Excursion

Bill Powers and Jim Rowe arranged a joint Crown Point Road Association/PHS excursion to visit points of Revolutionary-era interest in Pittsford. The Crown Point Road (1759-60) was first built during the French and Indian wars (1756-1763, part of a global conflict that also played out in India). In the early 1760s the route was adjusted. The place where the road crossed the Otter Creek – a ford, not a bridge – gave the town of Pittsford its name, referring to ‘Pitt the elder’, Prime Minister in England at the time. The tour was guided by logistics rather than chronology, because the sites lay along Rte. 7 with traffic considerations. All involved survived the crossings of that active road.

The first stop was at the Split Rock, where Betsey Cox was kidnapped by Native Americans in 1780 and then released. *

The caravan then moved north to the site of Fort Vengeance, near the monument to Caleb Houghton, a soldier killed by Native Americans allied with the British (hence the name of the fort). The monument has been cleaned recently, thanks to a donation to the Pittsford Historical Society. Cars parked in the driveway of Mike and Kerry Merrill, by kind permission. Fort Vengeance was built in 1780 on the land of Caleb Hendee; it was a picket fort, i.e. a trench was dug into which upright posts were placed and aligned, extending 15 feet or more above the ground, and occupied an acre of space. The fort was commanded by Ebenezer Allen. In later years it became a tavern, until it fell apart.

The caravan then moved south to the Rasmussen farm on the west side of Rte. 7. Several hundred yards west from Rte. 7 was the accepted site of Fort Mott (built in 1777). This fort was set on the east bank of the Otter Creek, and is described as ‘high breastwork of hemlock logs set endwise in the ground. Participants observed the site from a distance.

The final stop was Pitt’s Ford, at the end of River Road, off West Creek Road and behind a sewer-system pumping station. The group made its way through woods, fiercely attacked by mosquitoes at all times. Only one participant had the appropriate screening attire; Dale Christie claims to have swatted 5 mosquitoes at one blow, which puts him in the league of Grimm’s ‘Brave Little Tailor.’

I have to say that the river did not look particularly fordable at that point.There were high banks on either side.

* see Grace Anderson’s book, In the Shadow of Cox Mountain. Available through the PHS.

June 19: Cemetery work

Tim Giffin of the Vermont Old Cemeteries Association had organized a restoration event to start in the cemetery of the Congregational Church. Some twenty volunteers turned up, not all residents of Pittsford. The volunteers tackled the aged stones with special cleaning agents (D-two) scrubbing the sides with writing. They raised up fallen stones, bracing them with a cement-like product (Sur-Pak?) Rebecca Davenport provided an amplitude of refreshments, including rhubarb muffins (a specialty). Ivy Dixon brought along an 7-month old grand-daughter, who proved a distraction for some. The rain, a possibility in the forecasts, held off. There will be a second session on July 17.

Other Activities

May 6, 2021: Plant sale
    The PHS has a tradition of plant sales, at irregular intervals but going back for decades. Curiously, no one has recorded lists of the plants for sale. There were flowers and vegetables. There were garden-related items (including a statuette of St. Francis, if the bird on the arm is an identifier). Quite a few visitors stopped and then carried off trays of small potted plants or other articles. There was no rain, although considering the sale items, rain didn’t matter.
May 29, 2021: Plant sale II

There were, apparently, enough plants left over to inspire a second, unannounced ‘Pop-up Plant Sale’ (no, don’t think of magical bean-stalks). It came on a reduced scale (no tents were raised), and as it happened was in competition with a plant-sale in Brandon. The take on the two events was around $1,000.

Membership notes

We have not recently described the community of the Pittsford Historical Society, and perhaps an update would be appropriate. The mailing list for the newsletter is something over 130 addresses. Of these, 11 count as institutional: the Rutland Historical Society, the Vermont Historical Society, the Principal of Lothrop, etc.

48 current members are residents of Pittsford (including Florence). Another 30 members live in Vermont.

And the other members live in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississipi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington state and Washington DC, and Texas.

Books for Sale

The sales counter of the PHS now counts two new titles.

The first is a book by Tom Haley, a long-time reporter for the Rutland Herald, noted principally for coverage of local sports. The title is Maple Mayberrys and Other Sweet Spots. It is in the genre of Jean Davies’ Neighborhood Notes, offering vignettes on a wide variety of Vermont towns. Pittsford appears in relation to the 1961 Basketball championship. It is available on Amazon and Google, and through the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester; the PHS also has some copies for sale.

The second has nothing to do with Pittsford, except perhaps that it was written in Pittsford. It is an adventure novel (almost a fairy-tale) set in west Africa around 1900, grounded in mythology and folklore. The author also writes the PHS newsletter (NOT fairy-tales), and our Curator encouraged him to mention it. It is available on Amazon or from the publisher, Van Velzer Press, and at a reduced price in Eaton Hall.

Town Notes

Covid

Vermont leads the nation in controlling the pandemic. We reached an 80% vaccination rate (news sources reported the counting-down: 1,300 needed and ...) and Governor Scott then removed all restrictions (although health-related entities still require masks). The town will therefore be celebrating Pittsford Day in September. Out of concern for the children, not yet vaccinated, the Fire Department has decided not to hold the Haunted House.

Schools

Lothrop processed its students out through a series of tents in the playground. Graduates from Otter Valley were honored by banners (with photos) attached to the phone poles through Pittsford and through Brandon.

June 19th (Juneteenth)
The day was busy with a variety of events unrelated to the new holiday: the cemetery restoration noted above; a Pittsford Rec Area open house, a Crown Point Road activity in West Rutland. The Blanchards hosted a fireworks display in the evening, behind the Congregational Church, that was well-attended and much appreciated. As a new touch, some-one launched a drone that hovered safely away from the bursting rockets.

Select Board
Under the radar, and with considerably less publicity than last year’s endorsement of a Second Amendment resolution, the Select Board approved a statement of inclusion, decrying discrimination on multiple grounds. A number of towns in the area have adopted this statement; Rutland is a hold-out, and is also caught in disputes over the name of the high school team mascot (Raiders/Ravens)

Mosquitoes
The weather conditions of the spring were good for mosquitoes, and less so for the humans attacked by the females (male mosquitoes make good with nectar from plants). The BLSG Mosquito Board (and as of this year, Pittsford becomes a fully paid-up member) has been dealing with a vote in Salisbury not to fund the BLSG; lawyers are of course involved, but the hope is to avoid court proceedings. Out-of-state property owners around Lake Dunmore (where Madeline Kunin famously fled from a lake-shore visit in the 1970s) will have to take their own measures.

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