One of the more difficult yet oddly fulfilling things about working (and volunteering!) in a historical society is that it is highly likely you’ll get distracted when looking for something, especially when sorting through stacks of folders and documents. You dive in looking for one specific thing, and find 3 other things you were looking for eons ago. As an example, and this reads a bit along the lines of the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” – this past Saturday I began pulling out our church and religion files to look for any information about the Methodist Church circuit and the ministers that came to Putnam Valley in the late 1800s. Which lead to organizing the church folder, renaming it to religion because it also includes information about the temples in town, and reading countless newspaper clippings and transcribed documents. One of those documents was a transcription of the deed for the Oregon Methodist Church (Peekskill Hollow Road, opposite Once Upon a Time – and now a private residence).
Reading through the deed, I recognized the name of a person that we received a request for information on two and a half years ago. He owned a mill, and there was a question of which mill he actually owned and where it was located. He and his mill were apparently on the property next to the property the church was built on, on Peekskill Hollow Road. I made a mental note and continued on my quest to find the circuit ministers, but was again sidetracked when I came across a program from a local fundraiser in 1938. Of course, I had to read through it and realized it was a glimpse into a time in Putnam Valley that not many people can recall firsthand. And that led to the idea that we could have an online exhibit here on the website – interesting things that are a little too complicated to explore on Facebook but don’t necessarily require a full exhibit in the museum. And thus, our online exhibit page was born. You’ll find it by hovering over the Exhibit tab in the menu up top. There won’t be a regular schedule of postings, just as I come across things of interest to the community. I did eventually find a partial list of ministers, but there’s still more research to be done.
We mentioned a while ago (and on a somewhat frequent basis) that we’re in the process of digitizing as much as we can, for ease of access and to help preserve the original documents and items in our collection. We also recently upgraded our website to allow for audio and video files to be posted. So in addition to the online exhibits, I’ll be uploading and sharing short audio and video files. This page can be found by hovering over Historic Putnam Valley, and clicking on Audio History. There’s still some fine-tuning to be done, but I pulled up a short, informal interview about the history of the library as a test run. This page will get a littler fancier down the road, but it’s a start.
So now that the website is getting updated, we’re turning our focus to the schoolhouse museum. The year is winding down and it’s time to plan for the year ahead, and what our goals for the future are. We want to offer more to our members, we want to see more of you (members or not) at the museum, and we want you to leave with a sense of “huh, that was actually pretty cool!”. We have lots of ideas – some big, some small – and some involving pumpkins. That’s right, we already have ideas for Halloween 2019. If you have any ideas, or suggestions for what you’d like to see us do or offer, please let us know! Sometime between now and the end of the year, we’ll share a general rundown of what we’re going to do for 2019 and beyond. It’s going to be exciting, and we hope you’ll come along with us.