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


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.


The Museum: Eaton Hall

The Museum has closed down for the winter. Volunteers will probably continue to gather, once the holiday season is over, to continue work on the collections, and visitors can be received by arrangement (contact the Curator, Anne Pelkey, or Steve Belcher). With masks, of course; Vermont has strict guidelines.


President’s Report

The COVID 19 virus has affected everything we do for the past few months, including the goings-on at PHS.  All planned programming was disrupted, including town-wide events like the Memorial Day parade and celebration as well as the Pittsford Day gathering at the Fire Station.

In spite of this, Eaton Hall has been open and humming with historic preservation activity thanks to our volunteers.  Early July brought an unscheduled Tag Sale with a generous donation of items from Adrian Oulette.  This sale netted over $1400 for the Society.  In addition, our annual Tag and Bake sale was held July 25th.  We thank all who donated items for this successful event, which garnered over $1000.  The people who attended these sales were asked to maintain 6 foot personal distances and to wear masks.

On Sunday, September 20th, the Historical Society celebrated its 60th anniversary.  Exhibits were prepared which documented the Society’s history.  The weather was beautiful and the attendees were many.  Copies of Pittsford’s Second Century were offered free of charge.  Owing to the COVID virus, masks were required and much of the activity was held outdoors.  Curator Anne Pelkey led visitors through the exhibits at our museum 4 at a time.  An excellent article about the Historical Society’s celebration was featured in the September 16th issue of The Brandon/Pittsford Reporter.

On the next Sunday, Sept. 27, Steve Belcher opened his ancestral home to the public so they could view the interesting interior as well as paintings by artist Martha Wood Belcher and her daughter Hilda, also an artist.  Again, small groups of guests were taken through the house in observance of not spreading the virus.  The house has been in Steve’s family since Martha built it  in 1880.  We thank Steve for his effort and his hospitality.

The PHS Annual Members’ meeting was held on October; per our by-laws, this is the occasion on which we vote on a slate of Officers and Trustees for the coming year.  Ernie Clerihew will be stepping down as President.  Past President Bill Powers is slated to be our new President.  At this time we need to thank longtime Recording Secretary Rebecca Davenport and Past President (and current Trustee) Bob Welch for their many years of service to the Historical Society.  Rebecca’s seat will be vacant until filled, but she will act as a substitute until a replacement is found.  Bob Welch is retiring from his Trustee’s position to be replaced by Ivy Dixon.


Curator’s Report

 There’s no doubt that 2020 has presented a set of challenges to historical societies and museums both big and small throughout Vermont.  Even though our membership meetings had to be cancelled or rescheduled and participation in Town Events was put on hold, still, when it was safe to do so, the core of faithful Eaton Hall volunteers showed up eager and ready to work.  A sincere thank you goes out to Rebecca Davenport, Ivy Dixon, Barb Willis, Tom Browe, Tammy Hitchcock, Elisabeth Simpson, & Steve Belcher.  Bill Powers continues to research family queries that come in through our website. 

            We are extremely grateful for the very generous donations from the trust of Norma and Ralph Hathaway, and from New Hampshire resident Betty Emerson in memory of her grandmother Sarah (Loveland) Seward. Norma passed away in 2017 and was a Pittsford Historical Society life member.  In the 1990's she videotaped many PHS events and these tapes, located at Eaton Hall, can still be played on our VHS machine! She and Ralph owned Hathaway Sand & Gravel, and Norma was the bookkeeper.  Ralph, who passed away in May of this year, was a milk tester in his teens, operated a construction & excavation business from 1952-1968, produced maple syrup, operated a garage in Pittsford, and donated both time & equipment in building the Pittsford Recreation Area.

            Betty’s grandmother, Sara, (1877-1966) was the daughter of Robert and Emily Loveland of Pittsford.  She raised Betty for 14 years, and Betty told me hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t ‘talk’ to her beloved grandmother. Betty’s grandfather, Rollin E. Seward (1872-1926) along with Rollin’s brother Walter, both served from Pittsford in the Spanish American War. Thanks to Betty, we have several Loveland/Seward photos and family genealogy.

            We continue to learn about Pittsford’s rich history through the donations we receive throughout the year, and I would like to acknowledge and thank the following donors:

* The burial flag that draped the coffin of Dr. Harry Leslie Frost at his funeral in 1943 was given by Bill Gladski.  Dr. Frost served as a Captain in the U.S. Medical Corp in WW1.  The flag had considerable mold on it and was brought to Paul’s Cleaners in Rutland where it was beautifully cleaned at no charge.

* From the home of Elizabeth Frost we received a WWII German helmet brought back from the war by Elizabeth’s uncle Malcolm Frost.  Malcolm served in the US Army Air Corps from 1942-1945.  Also acquired was a walking cane from the 1939 New York World’s Fair which belonged to Christine Gulick Frost, wife of Dr. Frost.

* From the estate of Peg Armitage who passed away in 2019 we received an antique bed warmer and a mahogany two drawer drop leaf side table. Both pieces had been in Peg’s family for several generations. The table belonged to her great grandparents, Sophia and John Randolph Hutchinson.

* Tom Brown, owner of Tom’s Treasures in Pittsford, donated a digitally reproduced fine art framed print of Frederic Edwin Church’s “View of Pittsford.” Church was an eminent  American Landscape Artist and the PHS was given permission in 1996 to reproduce his 1848 painting which appears on the cover of Pittsford's Second Century.

* A beautiful painting, a copy of Murillo’s ‘Madonna’ made by Martha Wood Belcher (Steve Belcher’s great-grandmother) was donated, on behalf of Lucy Anderson, by her daughter Dianne Wilson. We have contemporary newpaper reports of the exhibit of this painting in Pittsford in 1875.

* To commemorate the house’s 140th anniversary, Steve conducted  house tours where visitors got to see not only the acclaimed works of Martha Belcher, but those of her daughter Hilda as well.

* Lorrie Byrom, owner of Camp Betsey Cox, donated two of her Aunt Jean Davies’s photo albums. The albums feature several pictures of Jean’s father Leone Smith and his Boy’s Club, that was active from 1916 through the 1920s.  The home of the Boys Club was Eaton Hall and many of the pictures show the boys woodworking projects in Eaton Hall’s basement.

Membership Report

Lost Members.


Omissions and Corrections

PHS Anniversary Celebration

We neglected two significant, paired, presences at the event. Ernie Clerihew (in his straw boater) brought his vintage Model T, not offering rides, but simply parked facing Rte 7 as evidence of the historical nature of the event. This vehicle was soon joined by another Model T, modified as a truck. It had belonged to Russell Shortsleeves, a local farmer many years back. He modified it and later sold it. Steve Shortsleeves tracked it down and bought it back, and restored the wooden frame on the back that made it a truck.

Primary Elections

Focussed on the mechanics of the election operations in these challenging times, we neglected the actual results. Few races were actually contested; ambition for local office seems limited. The one serious challenge was to Butch Shaw, for the Republican seat in the State House, from Dave Soulia. Butch won the nomination.


Pittsford Notes


Out-of-State members may not know that all Vermonters received absentee ballots by mail. These could be mailed back, delivered by hand, or junked should a voter choose to visit the polls. The Secretary of State, Jim Condos, arranged for the votes to be tallied as received (early votes were fed into scanning machines that did not reveal the totals), and this is why Vermont was the first state to be called with certainty on Election night.

            The margins changed. In 2016, only one vote separated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This time, the margin was decisive: 896 for Biden, 784 for Trump (and Biden carried Rutland County, by 4,000 votes out of some 35,000 cast). Kanye West did get six votes in Pittsford.


Vermont still ranks lowest among US States for Covid infections. Pittsford, however, has not been immune, and prior statements may have been inaccurate. On the Vt. State Health Department’s tally, Pittsford and Proctor seem to be combined as one township (despite the separation in 1887), and so the Proctor report includes Pittsford (as it should not). The Police Academy recently recorded 18 infections, out of 23 cadets, and that figure now appears on the Proctor/Pittsford tally.


Pittsford observed Halloween with two events (the Haunted House was cancelled, because the preparations were risky).

A. Tractor Parade

Jeff Carleton, of Pittsford, had the idea of a tractor parade, and in collaboration with the Village Farm, organized the event. Some 30-40 tractors assembled on the green of the Village Farm off Elm St., and then, led by a police car and the Boo-Mobile of the PFD, rumbled down Arch St. to the Fire Department, turned left onto Pleasant St., and then right onto Rte. 7. Then left onto Furnace Rd. and up to Plains Rd. ending at the Town Offices. The range of vehicles was most impressive. In size, they varied from lawn tractors (riding mowers?) to a behemoth Krone ‘Big K.’ The brands included Deere, of course, but also Farmall, White, Oliver (grouped with different models), International, and others. A red Farmall hauled a trailer from which Mr. and Mrs. Claus waved to Pittsfordites. After the last tractor in the procession turned onto Furnace Rd, the police opened up Rte. 7 to allow the traffic to pass. One pick-up truck was observed hauling two tractor tires, and two tractors, at least, arrived late.

B. Trunk-or-Treat

The Fire Department did their best to reproduce the entry-way to the Haunted House in the field uphill from the Town Offices, and there was a line of cars through the field offering car-trunk/truck-bed Halloween displays (one offered a skeleton spider, although in fact spiders are contained within an exo-skeleton. But on Halloween the rules of nature are suspended). Cars threaded a path around the town offices, back onto to the road leading to the Caverly Pre-School, and then left through the FD entryway to proceed past the open trunks: Beetlejuice, the Maclure Library, the Sprouts Club, where Laurie Kamuda in a fetching witch’s robe offered up spiders or bats from her cauldron, past the Grange Fair, and finally to a Viking ship impressively recreated in the back of a pick-up truck, and an Indiana Jones-themed Amazonian display (the Connaughtons at cross-purposes, apparently), where the Librarian Shelly Williams, in orange jail-jumpsuit, and Lothrop Principal Deb Alexander dispensed candy, rather than bats, from containers.


The Fox Farm on Corn Hill Rd. has acquired a Christmas Jersey Cow, bedecked in festive ornaments. Their usual stock is dour Angus beef cattle. This one seems a GMO: the body an oil tank, painted in Jersey black and white, with seasonal accessories. The T-Rex on the outskirts of Rutland now has a Christmas tree in its jaws.


Christmas decorations have been appearing well before Thanksgiving, which seems a solecism but people may be confused about time. The Town has announced a competition for seasonal house-decoration, which probably means that Pittsford will blaze out in photos taken from the Space Station.




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