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)