For the Holidays, Limited Edition Local History Gifts

November 25, 2020, Brewster, NY – The Putnam County Historian’s Office has released a holiday gift guide with two limited edition items direct from the Archives, gifts sure to please any fan of local history.

“The 1829 David H. Burr map of Dutchess and Putnam counties is a really unique gift idea,” says Melinda Miller of the Historian’s Office.  “It is based on the oldest original map in our collection and it is a beautiful piece of local history!”

The color print map of the counties of Dutchess and Putnam features town lines by color, stage roads, county roads, villages, post office, flouring mills, manufacturers, forges, marble quarries, sawmills, and churches. The New York and Albany railroad lines, lakes, creeks, ponds, and mountain areas are included on the map, as well as a 1300-foot high notation at Sugar Loaf Hill in Philipstown.

The original map, now secured in the Putnam County Archives, was digitized by The Highland Studio, a family owned and operated business in Cold Spring, New York.  “They are our go-to in Putnam County for the highest quality scanning and professional treatment of our important and sometimes fragile maps and images,” says Miller.

In 2020, a limited number of 24 x 36-inch reprints were authorized by Putnam County Clerk Michael Bartolotti who is also the Records Management Officer and oversees the Archives.  Large format printing was executed by another family-run Putnam County business, Millennium Printing & Graphics in Brewster, New York.

The high-quality prints are available this holiday season in black or brown frames for $54.99 and available for pick up and by appointment only at the Historian’s Office, located at 68 Marvin Avenue in Brewster, NY.  Prints can be ordered for $29.99 (includes first class USPS shipping).

For those looking for a smaller sized gift, the limited edition of the Collaborative History of Putnam County, New York is a great resource book for new and old county residents alike. This hard cover book, produced by the Putnam County government to celebrate the County’s 200th birthday in 2012, contains over 375 pages of local history.  It is on sale this holiday season for $25.00 (includes USPS media mail shipping).

“The nice thing about this holiday offering is that proceeds to the map sales go to preservation efforts for the Historian’s Collection and historic marker restoration throughout Putnam County,” says Miller.   “We’re happy to offer a unique, safe and socially distanced gift buying opportunity this holiday season.”

Please note there are limited quantities and it is first come, first served by cash, check or money order payable to Putnam County Historian’s Office.

For more information contact the Historian’s Office at 845-808-1420 or email historian@putnamcountyny.gov.

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Image Captions:

  • Framed color prints of the 1829 David H. Burr map of Dutchess and Putnam counties available for a limited time from the Putnam County Historian’s Office
  • Collaborative History of Putnam County, New York from 2012, now on sale through the Historian’s Office

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

 

Honoring Putnam County Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day 2020, the Putnam County Historian’s Office has released a video slideshow featuring images from the Putnam County Service Medal Ceremony from June 2019, featuring World War II and Korean War Veterans.

“It’s nice to remember a time when we could all safely gather for a ceremony honoring our heroes,” says Michael Bartolotti, Putnam County Clerk, who is also a member of the Service Medal Committee.  “Although many of us cannot be together for traditional Veterans Day ceremonies during the pandemic, we’re pleased to offer this virtual experience as a tribute to those who participated in that historic event.”

In 1919, Putnam County issued a service medal to recognize the service of its residents in World War I, the war to end all wars.  One hundred years later, Putnam County, solely through private donations, commissioned a recreation of a service medal to honor recent veterans. That original medal, featuring a Native American, was redesigned by local sculptor Michael Keropian of Kent, NY, in the likeness of Chief Daniel Nimham, the last sachem of the Wappinger People of the Hudson River Valley, who, along with his Stockbridge Warriors were among the first American veterans, fighting for the Patriots during the Revolutionary War.

The images from the first Putnam County Service Medal Ceremony have been added to the enormous photographic image collection at the Putnam County Historian’s Office and Archives.  Todd Gianguzzi of Gianguzzi Photography generously donated his time and talents to photograph the event and now digital copies are stored in the archives for generations to come.

Select images have been set to the music “Fanfare for Freedom”, composed by Quincy Hilliard and performed by the West Point Band and is featured on their album, United States Military Academy: 200 Years of Excellence.  “We were quite pleased that we had the opportunity to partner with West Point on this project,” says Melinda Miller of the Putnam County Historian’s Office.

“This is just one of a number of virtual exhibits we have been working on during the pandemic.  We hope to provide another compilation of the 100th anniversary medal ceremony from November 2019 where many more Putnam County Veterans were awarded their service medals,” says Miller, “and Todd was right there again, donating his time to photograph another historic event.”

For more information on applications for service medals, or to make a donation to ensure the continuation of this program, please contact the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency at 845-808-1620 or visit www.putnamcountyny.com/vsa/

Historic Putnam County & the Birth of the American Circus

The Putnam County Historian’s Office, in partnership with Southeast Museum, recently debuted “Historic Putnam County & the Birth of the American Circus”, a virtual exhibit hosted and narrated by Putnam County’s well-known journalist and skilled storyteller, Eric Gross.  This lesson in local history can be found on the County’s YouTube channel as part of the virtual events to celebrate Path Through History Weekend at Home, October 10-12, 2020, a semi-annual event through New York State Tourism.

The video tells the story of circus evolution from the early days of “Old Bet”, the elephant rented out by Nathan Howes of Southeast, New York, to development of menageries, and Seth B. Howes’ inclusion of acrobats and clowns, eventually all performing in a ring, under the big top.  In the 19th Century, many people from Putnam County were part of it – from menagerie shareholders, to side show barkers, slack wire walkers and blacksmiths and carriage makers alike – local Putnam County citizens were part of the birth of the American Circus.

“We are pleased to be part of a program that helps tell the story of the people and places that shaped American history,” says Jennifer Cassidy of the Historian’s Office about the Path Through History opportunity. “The birth of the American Circus has deep roots in Putnam County, and although our 21st century perception of circuses throughout history differs from earlier days, we must remember that people in the 19th century were seeing these wonders for the first time…long before radio, television, the internet and social media.”

Images and documents to help interpret the story of the early circus came from a variety of sources including the Putnam County Historian’s Collection, the archives of the Southeast Museum, Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the Library of Congress and New York Public Library.

Path Through History Weekends showcase New York State’s fascinating history. Although this weekend is different based on restrictions due to COVID-19, it still includes virtual events beyond Putnam County including museums, historic sites, and cultural institutions.  For more information visit www.iloveny.com.

Images:

  • An early 20th Century circus wagon parading through Main Street, Brewster, NY (from HC548 Linda & Jim White Collection)
  • A portrait of Seth B. Howes, renowned circus magnate and Southeast resident (from the Historian’s Office Photograph Collection)
  • Examples of early Howes Circus advertisements and posters from the 19th Century

Archives Edition – Series 100: A Stallion’s Family Tree

Series 100 in the Putnam County Archives, Stallion Records, includes the County Clerk filings for their registry via public notice. These interesting records range from 1887-1906, and include one from 1909. They come printed in the form of newspaper notices or handbills and typically advertise the horse’s pedigree, farm and former and present owners, physical description, and may include availability for stud along with its record of notable ancestors and offspring as featured in this notice for the blue ribbon winning, “Doctor Travis” of Tompkins Corners (Putnam Valley, NY).

Also, included in this post is a public notice of the Light Bay Clydesdale, King George that was printed in the Putnam County Republican in 1909 and used for his stallion registration the same year.

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.”

 

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Captions:

  • 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: www.putnamcountyny.com/countyhistorian

  • 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, www.putnamcountyny.com.

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 historian@putnamcountyny.gov.

 

Images:

 

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