Remembering Marjorie Addis, Suffragist to Editor-in-Chief, and everything in between

In the fall of 1917, Marjorie Lobdell Addis marched into Central Park in New York City carrying a banner and the list of enrollments for Putnam County Suffragists.  Alongside Mrs. C.A. Hopkins, Miss Kate de F. Crane, Miss May Fowler and  her sister, Barbara Addis, Marjorie Addis was part of a local contingent of New York women fighting for their right to vote.  The Women’s Parade for Freedom was considered one of the most important events in the Suffrage Movement and “the most striking and significant parade ever seen in New York City” according to The Brewster Standard.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and reflection on the women that worked tirelessly to further the equality and rights of women locally and nationwide puts Marjorie Addis in the forefront.  Born in Brewster on September 11, 1890, “Marj” as she was known to family and friends, was a 1907 graduate of Brewster High school and Smith College in 1911.  She received a master’s degree at Columbia University School of Business and attended New York University Law School.

Her dedication to public service didn’t stop with equal voting rights for women.  In 1918, while working for Edith Diehl as her secretary at the Woman’s Land Army in Wellesley, Massachusetts,  Marge was called to Federal service, appointed confidential secretary to Dr. H. W. Draper, Assistant Surgeon-General of the United States Public Health Service, who was sent by President Wilson to direct the campaign to stamp out the flu pandemic in Massachusetts.

In 1922, Addis came back to Brewster for good following the unexpected death of her father Emerson W. Addis, publisher and editor of The Brewster Standard.  Never one to back down from a challenge, Marj, along with her brother, dedicated her life to providing fair and honest news to her community.  In a 1976 interview with Jane McMahon of The Reporter Dispatch, she describes her early newspaper days when she was met with great opposition from the Ku Klux Klan, “They broke my window because we supported the repeal of Prohibition.”   She also resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1939 after African American contralto Marian Anderson was turned away from performing in Constitution Hall because of her race.

In addition to running the paper, Marj continued to represent the Village of Brewster and Town of Southeast as a founding member of the Women’s Republican Club of Putnam County, a trustee of the Brewster Library, member of the District Nursing Association, and supporter of the Southeast Museum.

Alexandra Johnson, niece of Marjorie Addis and part-time Brewster resident, has fond memories of her Aunt Marj and of events in the Village of Brewster.  She says her aunt rarely, if ever, reflected on the early days. “She was humble, I never knew she was a suffragist and she never spoke of her work the Women’s Land Army, Red Cross, or Victory Gardens either.”

“My Aunt Marj was an acquaintance of Eleanor Roosevelt, and one time Mrs. Roosevelt came to speak at the Wells Casino in Brewster,” says Johnson, “Aunt Marj told me to go sit on the sidewalk with my dog Taffy and wait, because Mrs. Roosevelt loves dogs.  So, I did, and sure enough, Eleanor Roosevelt walked down the path toward me, patted my dog on the head and chatted with me. I will always remember that day.”

16 year-old Brewster High School junior, Skye Johnson along with her 13 year-old brother Samuel, can appreciate what their great-grandaunt contributed to the movement and her community. “I’m proud to have such an interesting history to my family. She obviously did something very important for women,” says Skye.

Southeast Museum Director, Amy Campanaro adds,  “The Brewster Standard, under Marjorie Addis’ direction, captured the everyday lives of community members, as well as the community’s reaction to local and national events.  This created the best gift a historical researcher could wish for, a complete picture of who we were as a community and how we rose to challenges.”

Marjorie Addis died on her 95th birthday in 1985 and The Putnam County Courier stated in her obituary; “Miss Addis was known for her independent thinking and her strong principles, which were evident in her editorial policies.”

Thanks to these principals, Marjorie Lobdell Addis contributed to many worthy causes, from women’s right to vote, to responsible journalism, and everything in between.


Image caption/credit

Samuel (13) and Skye (16) Johnson hold The Town of Southeast Bicentennial book, featuring their relative, Marjorie Addis.  Photo courtesy of Erik Johnson.


An undated image of Marjorie Addis sitting at her desk in The Brewster Standard office. Photo courtesy of The Southeast Museum.

Remembering Osceola Archer: Summer Stock Director and Equity Advocate

When the summer days and nights of New York City grew too hot for Broadway shows, Osceola Archer could be found directing summer stock theatre at the Putnam County Playhouse on Croton Falls Road in Mahopac, New York.

Her birth name was Osceola Marie Macarthy and her married name Adams, but she was known in her professional career as Osceola Archer.  Today, she is best remembered for being a pioneer as an African-American woman involved in directing, acting and as a noted teacher of dramatic arts.  The Putnam County Playhouse was her summer home for nearly a decade.

Archer was educated at the Albany Normal School in Georgia and attended Howard University where she was a member of the Howard Players and, according to the book American Women Stage Directors of the Twentieth Century by Anne Fliotsos and Wendy Vierow, made her stage debut as Pauline in Edward Bulwer Lytton’s play The Lady of Lyons, in 1913.  That year she also became a founding member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, one of the nation’s largest black fraternal organizations. Archer was one of 22 founders who marched in the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. alongside honorary sorority member Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the NAACP and an activist for women’s rights.

Osceola married Dr. Numa P. G. Adams, the first black dean of Howard University, and they had one son named Charles.

She continued her studies at the Master School of Design while she lived in Chicago.  Later, she attended New York University and by 1936, is said to have received a Master of Drama degree.  At this time, she took the stage name Osceola Archer.  According to Fliotsos and Vierow, Archer was of African, European, and Indian descent and her lighter skin sometimes made it difficult for her to get cast.

Archer’s husband died in 1940 and she found her way back into theatre life in New York City.  She was active in Actors Equity promoting equal opportunity for blacks and other minorities.  During World War II, she was on the executive committee of the Stage Door Canteen with the American Theatre Wing, where servicemen could enjoy dancing, entertainment, food, and nonalcoholic drinks free of charge, right in the heart of the theatre district.

She taught at the Studio Theatre school of drama, part of the American Negro Theatre (ANT), from 1940-1949 and some of her students included Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis, and other up and coming stars. Around this same time, from 1946 – 1956, she collaborated with Jill Miller of the Putnam County Playhouse, regionally popular for its part in the “straw hat circuit”.  Archer directed and acted in over 24 productions including Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie which received rave reviews.  In 1948, Archer directed the production of Katherine Garrison Chapin’s play Sojourner Truth at the ANT with an integrated cast that featured Miller and a relative newcomer, Harold Belafonte, another one of her ANT students.

In the recent past, author and genealogist Cliff McCarthy connected with the Putnam County Historian’s Office to research the Putnam County Playhouse Collection (HC702) that was donated by Peter Bruenn, son of Jill Miller’s husband Laurie (Laurence).

McCarthy, a Massachusetts resident, discovered his relation to Osceola when he connected with her son Charles in 1994. Although they never met in person, the two were able to determine that they were cousins, Charles’ grandfather and Cliff’s great-grandfather were brothers.  “My grandfather had passed as a white man after his time in the Navy and never looked back,” says McCarthy.

Charles died in 2000 with no heirs.  He left his estate to his church and some of Osceola’s materials went to the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. The remainder of boxes of family papers and memorabilia went to McCarthy, who was deemed “next of kin”.

Included in these boxes were images of Osceola acting on stage at the Putnam County Playhouse and something else very special. “Way down at the bottom of a box, I found a small framed portrait of a woman I didn’t recognize,” says McCarthy.  “When I opened the frame, I found the name of Charles’ great-grandmother, Matilda, the enslaved woman who was our common ancestor.”


# # #



  • Picture of Osceola Marie McCarthy Archer Adams, courtesy of Cliff McCarthy
  • Osceola Archer on stage in “The Arbitration” at the Putnam County Playhouse 1947, courtesy of Cliff McCarthy
  • A cartoon drawing of the playhouse from a magazine clipping in Jill Miller’s Scrapbook, courtesy of Peter Bruenn
  • A newspaper advertisement for Putnam County Playhouse’s production of “The Country Girl” directed by Osceola Archer in 1954 from Jill Miller’s Scrapbook in the Historian’s Collection.
  • A portrait of “Matilda”, courtesy of Cliff McCarthy

From Carmel to Clemson: Remembering “Marie”

Putnam County Archives, February 19, 2020 – Recently, the Putnam County Historian’s Office was contacted by Mari Rosalie Noorai, Curator of Education & Interpretation, Department of Historic Properties at Clemson University, South Carolina. She was pursuing the identity of “Marie”, an African American servant featured in a photo in Clemson’s archives. Noorai’s department researches black history and interprets stories about African Americans in the “narrative of the total life experience” as it relates to the Clemson and Calhoun families of South Carolina.

In August 1871, “Marie” took baby Isabella Floride Lee upon her knee as they sat for a photograph. Years later, this tintype would be donated to Clemson University by Margaret Calhoun, the daughter of the baby in the picture, and great-granddaughter of Thomas Green and Anna Calhoun Clemson who bequeathed their Fort Hill plantation to South Carolina to found Clemson University. Far from that original southern plantation, this photograph was likely taken in an unlikely town – Carmel, New York.

Baby Isabella was the daughter of Gideon Lee, the son of another Gideon Lee who was a New York City mayor and a U.S. Representative, and Floride, daughter of Thomas and Anna Clemson. They were married in 1869 and moved to the large Hazen Hill farm in Carmel, where they built “Leeside”, a stately, 17-room colonial mansion overlooking Lake Gleneida, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, woods and orchards.

Just weeks before the photo was taken, young mother Floride died and Gideon depended on Marie as his daughter’s nurse for the next nine years. When Gideon eventually remarried, Marie returned south in 1879 to work with another family, while the Lees remained in Carmel. “Marie” was the only name on record for her in the Clemson and Calhoun families’ collection.
Gideon Lee died in 1894 and his will is on file in the probate records at the Putnam County Archives. Even though many years had passed since Marie had left Putnam County, Gideon remembered her in his will, leaving an annuity to “Marie Venning, my daughter’s colored nurse.”

With the information from the Putnam County Historian’s Office, Clemson University was able to match Marie Elizabeth Venning’s name to the bequest dated 1871 in the will of Anna Clemson, who, following the death of her daughter Floride (the baby in the picture) left an impressive sum to Marie in gratitude to the woman who had cared for her only grandchild, as “a token of our appreciation of her devotion and fidelity.”

“This story is just one example of the importance of our archives and partnership with other historic institutions,” says Michael Bartolotti, Putnam County Clerk and Records Management Officer. “It’s a long way from Carmel to Clemson, but our records have now added to the narrative of Clemson University.”
For more information on the Putnam County Historian’s Office and Archives, visit:

  • Photo caption:  “Marie” and Isabella Floride Lee.
    Photo Credit: Fort Hill: National Historic Landmark Collection, Clemson University
  • Photo caption:  “Leeside”, Gideon Lee’s home, located on Hazen Hill, Carmel, NY.
    Photo Credit: Putnam County Archives
  • Photo Caption:  Will of Gideon Lee, Series 34, No. 3390
    Photo Credit: Putnam County Archives


Putnam County Day 2020 a Virtual Celebration

Friday, June 12, 2020, Carmel, New York – Today marks the 208th birthday of Putnam County, a celebration of a new county in a new country.  Unfortunately, the annual observation of Putnam County Day at the Historic Courthouse has been canceled this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the Hudson Valley region strives to reopen. However, a virtual celebration is available online!

“This traditional day of ceremony and celebration has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Putnam County is rich in history and this year is no exception given this unprecedented time,” says Michael C. Bartolotti, County Clerk and RMO.  “I am happy to report that the Historian’s Office has been busy working with local historians, historical societies, and schools to record the experiences of this time.  We are truly living history and this year’s virtual celebration will be yet another record for the archives.”

Putnam County Day is an annual event that typically includes a ceremony, historic presentation, and awards for outstanding people, projects and publications that enrich and record Putnam County’s history.  “This year we will observe Putnam County Day virtually,” says Bartolotti.  “The Historian’s Office has created a video presentation that features great history, special guests, and the unveiling of the Charles Sherwood Hill, Jr. collection at the Historian’s Office.”  The Hill collection features an amazing array of turn of the century farm diaries, photographs and ephemera from the Hill, Dykeman, Bloomer and Townsend families from Carmel, Kent, and Brewster. It includes a stunning and rarely, if ever, seen photo of the Tilly Foster area in the Town of Southeast. This video is available to the public on the county website,

This year’s celebration has been dedicated to Gregory Amato, a long-time volunteer with the Historian’s Office who persuaded Charles Hill to donate his family’s collection.  Amato passed away in April 2020.

Fifth grade students from across the county were recruited to take part in the virtual ceremony by attending classes online or by recording themselves during their time spent in “distance learning”.  Their projects including leading the ceremony in the Pledge of Allegiance, providing history on the founding of Putnam County, creating a special COVID-19 time capsule entitled “Living History” and even singing Happy Birthday to Putnam County!  These 10-11-year-olds were asked to participate based on their age.  “They will hopefully be the ones around to tell the story of how Putnam County fared during the pandemic 50 years from now,” says Bartolotti. “They play an incredible role in this celebration.”

“I trust that with time and the continued dedication of medical experts throughout our country we will once again gather next year at the Historic Courthouse to celebrate our great history.”

About the Historian’s Office

The Historian’s Office preserves, interprets, and promotes the history of Putnam County as a local government office.  According to New York State criteria, the work of the Historian’s Office includes: research and writing, teaching and public presentations, historic preservation, and organization, advocacy and tourism promotion. To support these efforts, the Putnam County Historian’s Office has been collecting historical records, maps, books, photographs, and periodicals since 1953.  In 1992, the Putnam County Archives was established in the Historian’s Office to preserve, arrange, describe, and make accessible the governmental records of Putnam County.

For more information call 845-808-1420 or email




A sampling of the “farm diaries” and photographs included in the Charles Sherwood Hill Jr. collection in the Putnam County Historian’s Collection.


A rare, early 20th century view of the one room Tilly Foster schoolhouse and children at play, overlooking the

Middle Branch Reservoir and former Tilly Foster community and mine store from the Hill Collection (HC561).


Charles Sherwood Hill, Jr., donor of the collection of diaries, photographs and ephemera from the Hill, Dykeman, Bloomer and Townsend families from Carmel, Kent, and Brewster.


“Living History” COVID-19 Time Capsule participants Christopher and Kevin, representing Austin Road Elementary School in Mahopac, NY.


Eric Gross unveiling the Charles Sherwood Hill, Jr. collection at the Putnam County Archives.


Title Slide for “Living History” a virtual celebration for Putnam County Day 2020.

Pierson Cemetery Stones

Mahopac, NY — It was a special family reunion of sorts when former Mahopac resident Brad Smith recently visited his ancestor’s family plot at the now abandoned Mahopac Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, located off McMahon Place, the site of the original 1826 Methodist Church.

“My great grandparents, Nelson and Johanna Pierson, immigrated around 1880 from Sweden and settled in Mahopac. They were dirt poor but invested in a family plot but could not afford a headstone,” Smith says of the shady northeast corner of the cemetery. Until recently, the Pierson family plot had been simply marked off by iron rods with no family name or headstones to commemorate the lives of his great grandparents and approximately 5 other family members buried there.

Smith, now living in Connecticut, reached out to the Putnam County Historian’s Office to find out about cemetery records and tips on how to start arrangements for a family headstone. During this exchange he noted that two of his great uncles who served in World War I are buried there. Arthur Nelson Pierson served in Battery D and Charles Oscar, or Oscar Charles as everyone knew him, served in the 49th infantry in France. He also wanted to see to it that their graves be marked with flags in honor of their service.

A short time later, Brad arranged for free government issued granite headstones for both unmarked graves of his great uncles through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Lorraine Hanner from Hillside Memorials then worked with Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt to secure approvals to set the headstones in the cemetery.

Recently, while attending his Mahopac High School 50th reunion weekend, Smith was joined by Allan Warnecke, former Putnam County Historian, and Mike Troy of the Putnam County Cemetery Committee to visit the new stones marking Arthur’s and Oscar’s graves. Warneke was able to regale the group with a story of the last Pierson family member burial that took place in 1969 when the cemetery had been neglected and had become so overgrown that Albert Pierson’s casket had to be carried over a stone wall. Since then, the cemetery has been cleared and is maintained by the Town of Carmel with support from Putnam County. Smith hopes to raise funds to set a Pierson family stone to commemorate all of his ancestors buried there. In the meantime, Warnecke, who places an American Flag at each Veteran grave in that cemetery every Memorial Day, will add the Pierson brothers to his list.

Brad Smith’s new contribution of the Pierson family members buried at the Old Methodist Cemetery will help build on the last listing done in 2002 by Karl H. von Ahn for his Eagle Scout Project while in Troop 1, Mahopac, NY, housed in the research library of the Historian’s Office

Just in time: Local History Holiday Gift Guide

BREWSTER, New York — Looking for a unique holiday gift that promotes hometown pride and supports a great cause? Well, look no further! The Putnam County Historian’s Office has curated a gift guide in support of local history, and related historical societies, non-profits and museums. These gifts include T-shirts, mugs, historical prints suitable for framing, books on local history and historical fiction, and the all-important membership packages that help keep these organizations up and running during their pursuit of preserving Putnam County’s rich history.

The organizations include: Boscobel, Carmel Historical Society, Kent Historical Society,
Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast, Patterson Historical Society, Putnam History Museum in Cold Spring, Putnam Valley Historical Society, and Southeast Museum in Brewster.

“The Local History Holiday Gift Guide not only provides great gift tips but important information on each organization and their mission,” says Jennifer Cassidy of the County Historian’s Office. “Supporting them with the purchase of a T-shirt, book or membership package, all aid their missions of preserving and presenting Putnam’s past.” Complete contact information for the Historian’s Office, societies, and museums is included in the guide.

Book highlights from the guide include: “Vignettes of Patterson’s Past”, a collection of Patterson’s histories by the Society in a hardback book illustrated with maps, photos and more; “History of Putnam County, New York”, by William S. Pelletreau, the quintessential linen bound, local history book reprinted by Landmarks Preservation Society; and the respective societies offer Bicentennial profiles of Town of Kent and Historic Carmel, Mahopac & Mahopac Falls.

Mugs and a wonderful selection of local history books and exhibit catalogues are available at Putnam History Museum while the Southeast Museum offers iconic reprints of the village of Brewster from 1867 and 1870 as well as local historical fiction titles by Putnam County author Deborah Rafferty Oswald.

Know someone who loves baseball? The Putnam Valley Historical Society has a limited run of rare images of Babe Ruth playing baseball at Lake Oscawana, suitable for 8” x 10” framing.

2019 Putnam County Gift Guide – County Historian


The guide can also  be viewed online at the Historian’s website and a limited amount of printed copies are available upon request by calling 845-808-1420 or emailing

Music and Songs of Yesteryear

The Historian’s Collection features a number of interesting music and song ephemera from local musicians, groups and events. These items range from advertisements of music festivals held at Birch Hill Ski Area in the 1990s, to Judge Samuel B. Hickman’s early music career, and rare images of yesteryear including a photograph of the Patterson Cornet Band from September 1889 at the County Fair in Carmel, NY.

Some other musical highlights in the Historian’s Collection include:

The Cold Spring Musical Society, founded by Francis Colgate Dale and Imogen James Dale

Mr. Dale received his training at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, Germany where he learned to conduct and play each instrument of a band and orchestra.  What started out as a simple trumpet lesson for his son grew into free instructions and instruments for local children.  According to Helen Jimenez’s 1957 account featured in Putnam County History “Third Workshop”, the society was founded in 1927 and they met once a month at various homes and eventually gave concerts and music for parades and other community events.  This popularity led to the committee’s solicitation of funds for the town’s open air bandstand at the Hudson River waterfront and the cornerstone was laid August 10, 1928.  Francis Dale made sure his proficient students continued their training and they were paired with professional instructors who included Max Arnold on trumpet, and Luca Del Negro, on tuba (both players in the John Philip Sousa Band), and members of the West Point Band.  (Source: HC405, Vol 3, 1957)


Putnam Valley Friends of Music and Art, founded by Israel Ben and Augusta Scheiber

In late 1938, Mr. and Mrs. Scheiber invited selected Putnam Valley year-round and seasonal residents to a meeting at their Bank Street home to form the Putnam Valley Friends of Music and Art.  With sponsorship by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Friends inaugurated a series of cultural events to coincide with the Town’s 1939 Centennial celebrations.  Programs were held at the newly-completed Putnam Valley Central School (later the elementary school).  The Friends continued to have programs each summer.  Activities were suspended during World War II but were successfully revived in 1946 and continued at least until 1949.  Mr. Scheiber was a prominent attorney who was important in the history of Putnam Valley, particularly in the consolidation of the Putnam Valley Central Schools District and the beginning of planning and zoning in the Town.  Mrs. Scheiber was a concert pianist and chamber musician.  Together, they were instrumental in bringing musical, theatrical and other cultural organizations to Putnam Valley.  (Source: HC529  Israel Ben Scheiber Papers, 1931-1957)


The Cecilian Society

On January 12, 1899, a small group of young women met at the home of Julia Roberts Rundall to organize music society in Brewster, New York. They called themselves “The Cecilian Society” after for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music.  The object of this Society was the promotion of musical culture by public & private concerts, rehearsals and lectures.  The first meeting was held on November 22, 1900, at the Casino located at the end of Prospect Street, owned by Mrs. Frank Wells.  The Cecilian Society remained active in the community for over 90 years.  In 2015, a former Cecilian member, Norma Pasquelino, donated the archives of the organization to the Putnam County Historian (HC701).

The Collection 

The Historian’s Collection also features an extensive media collection that includes video tapes of special events and local meetings that feature many elements of music and song including Richard Balla, folk musician, Native American music of Gil Crying Hawk and the Echoing Drum from Putnam County Day (c. 2001) and souvenir music from the dedication of the Chuang Yen Monastery, May 1997.  For more information on any of the items featured in the Historian’s Collection, or to donate collectible materials, please contact the Historian’s Office at 845-808-1420 or email



Image of the Patterson Cornet Band (C004, 131) September 1889 at the County Fair in Carmel, NY

Image: The Bandstand commemorative plaque unveiled in August 2019, photo by Dennis Mazzuca, courtesy of The Putnam County News & Recorder.

Image: The Cecilian Society (C2185) from the Brewster Centennial parade in August 1948 features Mary Alice McLogan, Lois Michell, Rose Truran, Jennie Lobdell, Clara Knapp, Dorothy Beal, Mrs. Shuker Armstrong, Harriet Merritt Gillchrist.

Image: Putnam Valley Friends of Music and Art’s program for a symphony concert dated July 1939 (HC529)

Image: Putnam Valley Friends of Music and Art’s membership card, 1939 (HC529)

Carmel Country Club Strikes Gold

As the season of tan lines and ice pops reaches its peak, we go back to a time when the blazing summer heat would drive local townspeople to their community lakes and pools.  In 1933, however, the sun was not the only reason locals flocked to the water, for it was in the town of Kent that champion diver and future Olympic gold medalist Marshall Wayne visited the Carmel Country Club, now The Sedgewood Club.  A collegian at the University of Miami, Florida, at the time, Wayne, along with swimming stars Dick Degener and Frank Kurtz, hosted a stunt diving exhibition on China Lake in front of the largest crowd the club had ever seen.  Eager spectators from the surrounding towns gathered lakeside to witness Wayne’s running front two-and-a-half somersault with a pike.  Wayne would later go on to win gold in the men’s 10 meter platform at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Additional details on the exhibition can be found in the Putnam County Courier, Volume 92, Numbers 14 and 15, available in microfilm at the Mahopac Public Library, in bound copy at the Historian’s Office, or online at  Further information about the history of the Carmel Country Club can be found in HC222 of the Historian’s Collection at the Putnam County Historian’s Office, collection courtesy of MaryAnn Smith, with images contributed by Fran Carr.


The Red Mills Historic District Celebrates the 4th!

Remembering the Red Mills &  Falls of Mahopac

Some history on the names Red Mills and Mahopac Falls

According to Charles A. Raymond’s 1976 Historic Carmel, Mahopac and Mahopac Falls: a bicentennial profile, the region’s first mill, “Kirkham Mill”, was built around 1740 located in what we now refer to as The Red Mills Historic District in Mahopac Falls. A larger mill was built around 1760 and was originally in use to make plaster for use with brick, stone, or wood frame buildings.  At the time of the American Revolution, it became a grist mill and was grinding grain to feed and supply Continental Troops. Later, a carding mill and saw mill were built near the old mill, each depending on channels of water from the local lakes. At one point, the mills were painted red and from then on the area became known as “The Red Mills.”

By 1881, New York City had secured many farms, mills, and water rights for its reservoir system and razed the largest old red mill leaving only the “falls” from the millpond that had supplied the driving force of water for the mill wheel.  At this time, the name “Mahopac Falls” came into use. By 1900, the falls were removed to re-channel the outlets of water coming from Kirk Lake and Lake Mahopac.

The Old Red Mill circa 1881, courtesy of Judy Agor from the Putnam County Historian’s Collection

Charles A. Raymond’s book on Historic Carmel, Mahopac and Mahopac Falls can be found in the Putnam County Historian’s Office Research Library as well as local history collections of Brewster, Carmel and Kent Public Libraries.

The Red Mills historic marker and gazebo at the Red Mills Historic District Park from the Putnam County Historian’s Collection

The Town of Carmel and the Red Mills Historic District Committee will hold their annual Independence Day Concert on July 4, 2019, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm in the gazebo at Red Mills Historic Park, Route 6N and Hill Street in Mahopac Falls where the  Historic District Celebrates the 4th!

Courtesy of Carmel Historian Jim Meyer, we’re pleased to share that news of the Independence Day Concert on July 4, 2019 at the Red Mills Historic District.  It will feature an outdoor concert of patriotic music by the Norm Hathaway Big Band with a reenactment performance by the 2nd NY Regiment Brigade of the American Revolution.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy. In the event of rain, the concert will be held on July 5th at 6:30 pm.  The event is free to the public and is sponsored by Tompkins Mahopac Bank.  For further information call Jim Meyer, Town of Carmel Historian, at 914-844-6050 or Allan Warneke, Chairman Red Mills Historic District Committee, at 845-628-5705.


Image credits:  The Old Red Mill circa 1881, courtesy of Judy Agor from the Putnam County Historian’s Collection

Image credits: The Red Mills historic marker and gazebo at the Red Mills Historic District Park from the Putnam County Historian’s Collection

Happy Birthday Putnam County! Celebrate Putnam County’s History June 14th

CARMEL, NEW YORK, May 14 — Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and County Clerk Michael C. Bartolotti, invite the public to celebrate Putnam County’s 207th birthday on Flag Day, Friday, June 14, 2019, at the Historic Courthouse, 44 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, NY, from  10 – 11:30 am.  In addition to local history awards, a special presentation honoring today’s local historians along with a centennial commemoration of the homecoming stories from World War I will be featured.

“100 years ago, New York Governor Alfred E. Smith established the role of local historians to help record the stories of returning servicemembers following World War I,” says MaryEllen Odell, “Since that time, our local government historians have been preserving, interpreting and presenting local history. We are thrilled to honor the role they have played, and continue to play, for the towns and villages throughout Putnam County.”

The current municipal historians include Jim Meyer of Carmel;  Jackie Rohrig of Kent;  Dr. Larry A. Maxwell of Patterson; Mark Forlow for Philipstown and the Village of Cold Spring; Dan Ricci of Putnam Valley;  John E. “Jack” Duncan of Southeast;  Danielle Cylich for the Village of Brewster; and Jonathan Bradley for Nelsonville.

A number of 2019 awards share a common theme: remembering Putnam County’s role in World War I.  “It’s quite fitting that we’ll celebrate the County’s birthday on Flag Day this year,” says Odell of the scheduling change from the County’s actual birthday June 12th to the 14th, “We will be commemorating a time in our County’s history that was at the peak of patriotism as the citizens of Putnam County welcomed home its brave men and women who served in the Great War.”

“Our Row of Honor along the shore of Lake Gleneida serves as a great reminder of what a privilege it is to celebrate Putnam County’s history, pledge our allegiance and show our continued gratitude for all those who serve.”

As with tradition, the Historian’s Office will honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to local history.  According to Michael Bartolotti, County Clerk and Records Management Officer responsible for the County Archives, “The Archives and Historian’s Office continue to be a great resource not just for research but for the arts as well.  Over the past year, elements from our records and collection have been developed into works of both nonfiction and fiction.”  Over seven different books and transcriptions will receive 2019 Local History awards.

2019 Local History Awards include:

  • Exemplary Public History in Schools:  Southeast Museum & Brewster High School for the stage production of “The Letters: Voices from the Great War”
  • Exemplary Public History – Lecture Series: Michael Bennett & Putnam Valley Historical Society
  • Preserving Local History: Mary Ann Smith for “Carmel Country Club”; Bernadette Brandon & the Brandon Family for “Sgt. Daniel Brandon’s Diary”
  • Local History PublicationPatriot Hero of the Hudson Valley by Vincent T. Dacquino; Sybil Rides by Larry Maxwell; The Girls of Haviland and Beyond Haviland by Deborah Rafferty Oswald; Putnam County Veterans of World War I by Roderick J. Cassidy;  The South Precinct of Dutchess County New York, 1740-1799 by Pamela Riccardi Paschke
  • Archival Sources Publication: Chip Rowe, transcription of “Putnam County, New York, Clerk Receipt Book, 1821-1827”, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume 149, Number 2,  April 2018 and Number 3, July 2018
  • Lifetime Achievement Local History: Marjorie Nichols Keith, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to join the historians and honorees in the lobby of the David D. Bruen County Office Building for the traditional County birthday cake and refreshments.  The public is welcome, no RSVP required. For more information about the event, please contact the Historian’s Office at 845-808-1420 or

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About The Historian’s Office

The Historian’s Office preserves, interprets, and promotes the history of Putnam County as a local government office.  According to New York State criteria, the work of the Historian’s Office includes: research and writing, teaching and public presentations, historic preservation, and organization, advocacy and tourism promotion. To support these efforts, the Putnam County Historian’s Office has been collecting historical records, maps, books, photographs, and periodicals since 1953.  In 1992, the Putnam County Archives was established in the Historian’s Office to preserve, arrange, describe, and make accessible the governmental records of Putnam County.  The Archives and Historian’s Collection are used as a resource for people in Putnam County and elsewhere.  Finding aids are available at