It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the 4th of July, and now all of a sudden the trees are just starting to creep towards their own annual fireworks display.
We’re sometimes asked about the origin of the names of Putnam County and Putnam Valley – here’s your chance to learn about our namesake! Join us for the next installment of Our American History on September 14th as we welcome author and historian Robert Ernest Hubbard to the Putnam Valley Library to discuss Major General Israel Putnam: Hero of the American Revolution.
Also coming soon – you loved them as Hamilton and Burr, now see them as Nixon and Kennedy! Our dear friend and past board member Phil Keating and Putnam Valley Town Historian Dan Ricci will be back for our annual meeting on October 20th at 1:00pm to re-enact the Nixon-Kennedy Presidential Debate of 1960. The meeting will be held at the Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Headquarters on Oscawana Lake Road. Look for the formal announcement with all the details including this year’s award recipients in the coming weeks. Invitations will be mailed to all members.
And finally – Halloween! We’ll be trying something different this year. Instead of having a guest speaker the Wednesday before Halloween, this year we’ll be having two small events on Sunday the 27th at the museum. In the afternoon, we’ll be having a pumpkin-egg hunt (think Easter egg hunt, but with tiny pumpkins instead) and games in the yard for the younger kids, followed by a haunted house inside the museum after dusk for the older kids and adults, and possibly a spooky ghost story about the history of our town.
First, an update on the pumpkins.
It seems the rabbits have discovered them. The very cute, tiny hopping bunnies along the back fence appear to have munched away at the biggest leaves. Not sure what that means for the livelihood of the rest of the plants, but we’ll get more seeds in the ground this weekend and try to block them off.
Second, an update on Our American History. We have a change in the topic for July. Sarah Johnson will still be our speaker, but we’ll be hearing about Putnam County in the Great Depression – the relief efforts, how our residents coped, and what they did to help their neighbors.
We’ve also updated the yearly schedule for Our American History. Our award winning organizer has added a date in August (the 10th at 10:00am) for The Space Race: “Houston…the Eagle has Landed”. For those of you old enough, do you remember that amazing summer of 1969? What were you doing when man walked on the moon?
Somehow, it’s already June!
Friday June 14th is Putnam County Day and every year, area folks and organizations are recognized on Putnam County Day for their contributions to and efforts concerning local history. This year we are very pleased (and proud) to announce that our very own Michael Bennett, member and super volunteer, will be recognized for organizing the Our American History program/lecture series.
And speaking of Our American History, it’s the second Saturday of the month again! The last time we had the pleasure of sitting down with local author Deborah Rafferty Oswald, it was a cold and snowy March morning. She shared her research methods and inspiration for writing her book The Girls of Haviland. Haviland is a school for girls inspired by the old Drew Seminary in Carmel. Deborah’s since written a sequel, and we’re welcoming her back during much nicer weather! Join us this Saturday morning as she shares her continued research methods and updates us on what’s happened in the life of Jay McKenna.
We opened for the year this past Saturday, on a what seems to be becoming an increasingly rare sunny day! We’ll be having 3 somewhat smaller exhibits this year, each lasting about two months. First up is Putnam Valley: The Prohibition Years (1919 – 1933). Turns out it was a pretty okay time to be living out here in the country. Our population grew very quickly towards the end of the period, we centralized our schools, new roads increased accessibility to the area…come to the museum and check it out! The room is also semi-set up as a classroom again. It’s a work in progress.
Our American History was happening at the same time as the museum opening. Many thanks to Mr. Vincent Dacquino, who revisited us to share his new book, Patriot Hero of the Hudson Valley: The Life and Ride of Sybil Ludington. It was one of our most well attended OAH sessions to date, and we had the pleasure of meeting another young Sybil!
And bringing up the rear of this post, our pumpkins have started growing! Well, some of them, anyway. Out of five patches, 2 took off. Hopefully now that the weather seems to have changed it’s dial to spring, the rest will catch up. We’ll plant more this weekend just to be sure.
See you soon!
We are just a little over two short weeks away from our exhibit opening for 2019. On Saturday May 11th, after you go to the PV library to listen to local author Vincent Dacquino share the story of Sybil Ludington…
…you can head on over to the museum to check out Putnam Valley: The Prohibition Years, our first exhibit of 2019. We’ll be trying something different this year that seems to have worked many years ago – more than one exhibit per year. Every two months (coinciding with Our American History dates, so you can make it a day of local history), the topic will change while still being loosely connected to the first exhibit. This will give us 3 different exhibits to share with you, and give you at least 2 more reasons to make a repeat visit to the museum.
Also new this year, in an effort to attract younger crowd, we’ll be planning a few programs at the museum geared towards school aged children. Each program will last approximately 45 minutes and include a take-home item. The first program will be announced in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out here and on Facebook. Our members will also receive information in the mail.
And since it’s never too soon to be thinking about Halloween, pumpkins seeds were recently planted at the back of the museum property. Hopefully, right around Town Day, we’ll have a nice crop of pumpkins in the yard. What will we do with all of them? That’s a surprise you’ll have to wait for – only 153 days until the first day of autumn!
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.
This coming Wednesday evening at the museum! Please join us!