Historic Treasures: The Pandemic’s Silver Lining

November 23, 2020, Brewster, N.Y. – Recently, the Putnam County Historian’s Office hosted a virtual Historians’ Roundtable where members of local historical societies and museums discussed the interesting and increasing trend of donating ephemera and artifacts during the past eight pandemic-riddled months, all while local and former Putnam County residents have been staying home to curb exposure to COVID-19.

“There has been a noted uptick of in-kind donations to the Historian’s Collection during the pandemic,” says Jennifer Cassidy of the Putnam County Historian’s Office. “We’ve received an 1897 copy of F.W. Beers’ Commemorative Biographical Record of Dutchess and Putnam Counties, high school yearbooks, and many photographs that range from historic homesteads and families, to class pictures from the 1970s, and even more recent digital images that cover Black Lives Matter protests taking place in front of the Historic Courthouse in Carmel.”

Many residents have been cleaning up and sorting through, and sometimes deciding to donate family photos, papers, militaria and other ephemera that could be of significance to local history, rather than relegating these treasures to the garbage heap.  The local historical organizations view this as an opportunity to assess and gather important items and documents for their collections, while utilizing best practices of safety through social distancing, wearing masks, and sometimes using contactless drop off and pick up.

Over at the Putnam History Museum in Cold Spring, John Duncan, PHM’s Collections Manager, recently received donations from Anthony and Taylor Mike Belcher, former longtime residents of Garrison, NY and descendants of Henry White Belcher, owner of the Garrison and West Point Ferry Company.  The Belchers, now living in Florida, shipped local history artifacts to the Museum.  “One exceptional item is a seal stamp for the West Point Ferry Company, which operated from approximately 1854 to 1900 along the shores of the Hudson River,” says Duncan.

The Belchers also sent a selection of photographs of Garrison Landing dating back to the 1920’s and 30’s which feature a variety of unique views of the landing and surrounding areas.  The importance of photographs like these is never lost on historical organizations – they not only help tell the story of local history, but also help interpret the past, and sometimes fill a void.

“These images fill a gap in our collection since most of the photos we have of the landing are from the late 19th century, or post-1960’s. This time period is an amazing addition and comes from a family with strong roots in the Garrison Landing community,” says Cassie Ward, Executive Director of the Putnam History Museum.

Donations vary from the formal to the decidedly off-beat. Back in September, Village Trustee, Mary Bryde, contacted the Southeast Museum, located in the Village of Brewster, about a set of cobblestones. “They were once part of Main Street before the street was paved with asphalt,” says Museum Director Amy Campanaro.  “We don’t even have pictures of the Village with cobblestone streets, but here’s physical proof! We cannot wait to construct an exhibit around these historic objects.”

The stones were donated by Bryde’s friend, Ruthann Platz, daughter of the late Mayor Richard Mitchell who was a trustee of the Village from 1963 to 1969 and mayor from 1969 to 1977.  But her roots don’t end there: she’s also the granddaughter of the Village’s first clerk and great-granddaughter of an immigrant miner who worked in the iron ore mines that were once located in the village during the 1870’s.

Aside from the museums in Cold Spring and Brewster, other towns throughout Putnam County have historical societies that collect significant items relating to their towns including Patterson, Carmel, Kent and Putnam Valley.

“Donations documenting local history have been a silver lining during the pandemic,” says Cassidy, “Putnam County’s local historical societies and museums depend on donations they receive from supporters near and far.  These non-profits need the community’s continued support through financial donations and membership too, so that they may care for these historic treasures in their collections.”

Cassidy noted that the most ideal setting for collections is in climate-controlled storage facilities like the County Archives, but they are expensive to build, maintain and upgrade.   “We are fortunate to house not only our archived records but also papers and photographs from the Historian’s Collection in our humidity and temperature-controlled archives room,” says Cassidy.  “We have a wonderful facility and partnership with the Records Department and County Clerk’s Office, all working together to protect Putnam County’s history for the future.”

For more information on Putnam County’s local history organizations and museums and how you can help, please contact the Putnam County Historian’s Office at 845-808-1420 or email historian@putnamcountyny.gov.


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Image Captions and Credits:

  1. John Duncan, Putnam History Museum’s Collections Manager studies acquisitions received during the pandemic. Image courtesy of Putnam History Museum
  2. The 19th Century seal stamp from the West Point Ferry Company, which was operated by Henry White Belcher of Garrison, NY. Image courtesy of Putnam History Museum
  3. Cobblestones donated to the Southeast Museum dating back to early days in the Village of Brewster. Image courtesy of Southeast Museum
  4. L to R: Jennifer Cassidy and Melinda Miller review Garden Street School class pictures dating back to the 1970’s, now in the Historian’s Collection at the County Archives. PCHO
  5. Class pictures donated to the Putnam County Historian’s Collection in memory of Dorothy Weizenecker, a former Garden Street Elementary School teacher. This school was built in 1927 but closed in 2012 due to dwindling enrollment and restoration needs. PCHO


Stand With Us – Putnam County’s Fall Prevention Expo

Putnam Seniors were thrilled to be able get together when the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources hosted 2 live outdoors events during this past Fall Prevention Week.  These events were aimed to educate and inform Seniors on the risks and dangers of falls and to develop fall prevention skills and awareness. They also served to bring seniors together after many months of isolation due to the corona virus.

Over 60 seniors attended the events Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park on Tuesday, September 22nd and Wednesday, September 23rd at Putnam Valley Town Park.  The events were supported by the Putnam County Department of Health, Nuvance Health Putnam Hospital Center and New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital.  Events featured balance and tai chi exercises by instructors Naomi Cohen and Kim Cercena, and lectures and fall risk assessments by hospital physical therapists Kirsi Vera of Putnam Hospital and Jaclyn Cameron of Hudson Valley Hospital.  Discussions on the impact of nutrition, medications, and home environment obstacles were  led by OSR’s nurse, Michael Lambe.  Lunch was provided and served by OSR’s nutrition staff.

This was the first in-person event hosted by OSR since March and it was blessed with sunny weather. Safe practices were readily adopted by the participating seniors – all wore face masks and readily maintained social distancing throughout the event.  Originally planned as a virtual program, Michael Cunningham, OSR Director, saw an opportunity to promote live programs with the prospect of more comfortable weather and the availability of large covered pavilions.  The idea was also adopted by neighboring Dutchess, Rockland and Orange Counties.

Putnam County asked for and received a Proclamation from New York State’s Office for the Aging and the Governor’s Office which highlighted:

  • Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults
  • Annually, in the U.S., there are 2.8 million injuries treated in ERs, over 800,000 hospitalizations, and more than 27,000 deaths
  • 26% of New Yorkers are 65 years of age or older and one-fourth will fall each year
  • The financial toll that results from falls may reach $101 Billion by 2030
  • The personal toll is equally serious with falls leading to social isolation, depression, and losses of mobility and financial independence
  • Falls were identified as a largely preventable community health problem and that efforts to provide exercise programs to improve balance and strength, medication management, vision improvement, reduction of home hazards, and fall prevention education are critical

The prevention of 1 fall could result in cost savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency medical treatment, hospitalizations, in-patient rehabilitation and convalescent care, and subsequent home assistance.  Multiply that by the numbers of seniors who participated in these 2 events and others statewide and the payback on the investment of time and effort in organizing these Fall Prevention Expos could be staggering.

Save Lives on Organ Donor Enrollment Day!

On Thursday October 8th, Putnam County Clerk’s Office will be joining forces with LiveOnNY to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. ​

​Did you know that nearly 10,000 children and adults in New York are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant? These are our friends, family, and neighbors who need our help. Every day, a New Yorker dies because the transplant they needed did not come soon enough.  ​

To help change this, we will join LiveOnNY and hundreds of others for New York’s sixth annual Organ Donor Enrollment Day. This year, the event will be virtual and asks everyone to consider becoming a lifesaving organ donor. It’s easy to do online and only takes a couple of minutes.​

We have been challenged to be the #1 organization in the greater New York metropolitan area to enroll the most New Yorkers on October 8th. Help us rise to the challenge. Consider signing up as a lifesaving organ donor and encourage friends and family to do the same. Together we can help save even more lives! Click on the below link and take 2 minutes to help. One organ donor can save up to eight lives!​

Fact Sheets: 

Make Your Drive-Thru Flu Clinic Appointment Online!

Putnam County residents who would like to attend the October 16 drive-thru flu vaccination clinic can now make their required appointment online. Find out how our drive-thru clinics works and make your appointments by visiting https://www.putnamcountyny.com/seasonalfluclinic/.

The October 16 Drive-Thru clinic is being offered at the Putnam County Department of Health, located at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster from 1 pm to 6:30pm for Putnam County residents, 18 years of age or older.

Consent form must be completed and signed prior to the clinic, and presented at the time of the clinic, along with proof of residency (Driver’s License). Consent forms will not be available at the clinic. Forms are available here.

Appointments are required and residents must comply with COVID-19 precautions. All residents must remain in their vehicle with a face covering. Short sleeves are necessary for vaccine administration.


Cost of the flu vaccine is $25. For persons age 65 and older or with a Medicare card, flu vaccine will be free. High dose flu vaccine will be available for those 65 and older.

Outline for Community Discussions on Reform and Reinvention of Policing in Putnam County

This outline is provided for community discussion and comment. Please use our Question and Answer section to provide comments. Download Here

Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources Over 3,000 Food Bank Grocery Bags Delivered to Seniors

This past Thursday marked the 3,000th grocery bag delivered by the Office for Senior Resources staff to the seniors of Putnam County. In addition to the daily home delivered meals and program materials transported to homebound seniors, OSR’s drivers bring a special package every Thursday. Those seniors who come to one of OSR’s 4 Friendship Centers to pick up a Grab n’ Go lunch during this pandemic also share in the bounty and receive a weekly grocery bag.

This bounty is courtesy of the United Way of Putnam and Westchester and the Food Bank of Hudson Valley under the direction of Food Drive Coordinator Faith Butcher. Each week the bag is different, and it might contain pieces of fruit, vegetables, onions (lots of onions!), yogurt, snacks, coffee, tea, a beverage, canned goods, eggs, bread, cheese and other items. Each Thursday morning, dozens of volunteers from the United Way, local food banks, other community organizations and local government come together to sort and bag truckloads of goods. The response of the Putnam County community to those in need during this coronavirus pandemic has been extraordinary and it is most appreciated by our seniors who look forward to each weekly surprise.

Our seniors are most at risk to dangers of the coronavirus, and the daily Home Delivered Meals, daily Grab n’ Go lunches, and the weekly United Way Food Bank Grocery Bag programs all work to help minimize the amount of shopping and the subsequent public exposure risk to our seniors. OSR has focused not only on the nutritional needs of Putnam County’s seniors during this crisis which has forced the temporary closure of its senior Friendship Centers but also on combating the dangers of loneliness and social isolation through a variety of telephone and internet video programs: Coffee and Conversation, Brain Fitness, Virtual Bingo, Zoom Dancing, Book Club Chats, Caregiver Support Groups, Online Exercise Classes and is working on more creative resources. 50 classes a week are offered! Any seniors interested in finding out more are invited to call the Office for Senior Resources at (845) 808-1700.

Prevent Heat Related Illnesses

Temperatures are expected to be close to 90°F several days this week. Prevent heat-related illnesses by:

  • Staying cool
    • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing
    • Stay in air-conditioned places as much as possible
    • Take a cool bath or shower
    • Limit outdoor activity to the morning and evening when it is cooler
    • Take frequent breaks if you must be outside and stay in the shade as much as possible
    • Protect yourself from the sun if you go outside. A sunburn can dehydrate you and affect the way your body cools itself.
    • Eat light meals
  • Staying hydrated
    • Drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks.
    • Make sure children, older adults and pets are also drinking more fluids
  • Staying informed
    • Know the signs of heat-related illness and act quickly
    • Sign up for NYAlert to notify you of extreme heat
    • Follow your local officials on social media

Remember to never leave a child, disabled adult or pet in a car on a hot day, even with the windows open.

View the Latest Storm Watch : 8.7.2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Recovery Update with County Executive MaryEllen Odell

View the Latest Storm Watch : 8.7.2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Recovery Update with County Executive MaryEllen Odell

Putnam County EOC remains open. Over 16,500 customers are still without power. Comfort stations available. Water and Dry Ice available from local municipalities


County Executive MaryEllen Odell and the ICS Team continue to meet at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) monitoring the cleanup and restoration efforts from Tropical Storm Isaias.

“While we have seen a little more than half of impacted customers get their power restored, we still have over 16,500 without” said County Executive Odell, “NYSEG reports that expect to see significant progress by the end of the day and that they will continue to work around the clock to provide restoration”.

The County Executive has remained in close contact with Carl Taylor, President & CEO of NYSEG and Michael Kopy, NYS Director of Emergency Management to keep the restoration efforts moving forward. NYSEG reports they have brought in additional crews from across the United States and Canada. They have restored all transmission lines which allows work to move forward on the distribution system which supplies electricity to the customer. NYSEG expects 95% their customers restored by Monday, August 10, 2020.

Dry Ice and water is being made available to customers impacted by the outage. Residents should contact their local municipality for distribution information. Each municipality will establish their own location and schedule.

The entire region has seen cell service issues including inability to make phone calls and no internet. This has been reported by all carriers. They are working to restore service. Cell towers from New Jersey into our region sustained major damage and will require service. No ETA on complete restoration.

Residents are reminded about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Bureau of Emergency Services Commissioner Ken Clair reports that there have been 51 calls for carbon monoxide alarms since the onset of Tropical Storm Isaias. “Of great concern is that of the 51 calls, all 51 of them actually had high carbon monoxide readings”, said Commissioner Clair, “imagine if just one of those alarms hadn’t gone off”. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death and is produced whenever a fossil fuel, such as gasoline, propane or natural gas, are burned. “All residents should have working carbon monoxide detectors in their residence, it is the only way to detect carbon monoxide” continued Commissioner Clair.

County Response

Putnam County Has Declared a State of Emergency

On August 5, 2020 at 12:00 a.m., County Executive MaryEllen Odell declared a State of Emergency for Putnam County. This declaration remains in effect through August 9, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This declaration can be extended or revoked as the situation dictates

Putnam County Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The EOC is currently at Level 2. The EOC is partially activated with Incident Command Team staff as well as specialists from other County departments, State agencies, Municipalities and utility companies. The EOC is on an extended workday schedule with round-the-clock monitoring

Comfort Stations

The County has established the following comfort stations: Comfort stations can be used by residents to recharge their phones and other electronic equipment and spend time in a warm/cool environment

Open Name Location
10 AM – 4 PM


Friendship Center of Philipstown

(Former Butterfield Hospital Site)

1756 NY-9D

Cold Spring NY

10 AM – 4 PM Knights of Columbus 10 Fair St

Carmel NY

10 AM – 4 PM German American Social Club 11 Kramers Pond Rd

Putnam Valley NY


Water & Ice Distribution

Please check with your local municipality for the availability of dry ice and the current schedule


Brewster Village Town Hall
50 Main St

Bottled Water


Knights of Columbus
10 Fair St

Dry Ice and Bottled Water


Kent Police Department
40 Sybil’s Crossing

Dry Ice & Bottled Water
24 Hrs


Roller Rink Parking Lot
740 Rt 6

Bottled Water


Town Hall
1142 NY 311

Dry Ice Bottled Water
9:00 AM – While supplies lasts

Putnam Lake

Scott’s Putnam Lake Wines
74 Fairfield Dr

Dry ice & Bottled Water
10:00 AM – While supplies lasts

Putnam Valley

Putnam Valley Fire House
265 Oscawanna Lake Rd

Dry Ice and Bottled Water


Town Hall
1360 Rt 22

Dry Ice & Bottled Water 9:00 AM – While supplies lasts

Traffic and Road Conditions

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports that we are seeing normal traffic patterns. Most traffic lights been returned to normal power or are operating on generator power. Most roadways are passable however motorists should use caution due to scattered debris and trees still entangled in wires

County Facilities

All County facilities are on their appropriate normal working schedule


NYSEG – 15,500 without power. Expected that 95% of customers will be restored by 11:00 p.m. Monday, August 10, 2020

Central Hudson – 746 without power

Bureau of Emergency Services

Putnam County 9-1-1 remains fully staffed. The 9-1-1 Center reports a dramatic increase in the number of Carbon Monoxide calls. Residents are reminded to use caution when operating a generator, fumes from the improper use of a generator can KILL IN MINUTES. NEVER run a generator indoors or in a partially enclosed area like garages, car ports or under patio awnings. Generators should be placed outdoors far from windows, doors, crawl spaces, etc.

The public is reminded that 9-1-1 should only be used for EMERGENCY requests for Police, Fire or EMS.

Fire & EMS

All Putnam County fire & EMS agencies have been briefed regarding the event. Call volume has returned to a normal level

Highways and Facilities

Highway crews are continuing with debris removal and restoration efforts


The fixed route PART System and the Croton Falls Commuters System are operating on a normal schedule for today, Friday, August 7, 2020

Putnam Hospital Center

Putnam Hospital Center has returned to normal power.


Remember to check on neighbors, friends and family during this difficult time.

NYSEG Outage Website: https://outagemap.nyseg.com/

Central Hudson Outage Website: https://stormcentral.cenhud.com/

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon Monoxide Can’t Be:

  • Seen
  • Heard
  • Smelled

But It Can Be Stopped!

Install CO detectors today!

Keep your family safe and install CO detectors (battery powered or battery backup) near every sleeping area in your home. Check the CO detector regularly.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without warning. CO claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill. CO can be produced by common household items including gas and oil burning furnaces, portable generators, and charcoal grills.

  • Remember to have your furnace or boiler inspected every year
  • If operating a wood-burning stove or fireplace, be sure it is properly ventilated and has been professionally cleaned in the last year
  • Ovens, stoves and outdoor grills should NEVER be used to heat your home. Aside from causing a serious fire hazard when improperly used as a home heating source, these appliances can also cause a potentially lethal build-up of carbon monoxide gas
  • Never use a generator inside your home (including basement) or garage even if you open the doors or windows
  • Only use a generator outside more than 20 feet from your home, doors, windows, awnings or attached car ports

View the Latest Storm Watch : 8.6.2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Recovery Update with County Executive MaryEllen Odell

View the Latest Storm Watch : 8.6.2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Recovery Update with County Executive MaryEllen Odell