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!
Just a reminder – next Sunday we welcome Lou Del Bianco for Out of Rushmore’s Shadow during our annual meeting. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP using the Paypal link on the top right here ($40 includes a buffet lunch with beer and wine available) or send us an email at email@example.com if you’d prefer to pay with cash or check at the door.
As mentioned earlier, Our American History for the month of October will be during our annual meeting and reservations are required as it is a catered affair.
Please note – there are newer flyers for our annual meeting that say “luncheon” instead of dinner. We’re meeting at 1:00pm and a buffet will be available (it’s included in the $40/person). For some it may be breakfast or brunch (second breakfast, anyone?), for some it may be lunch or linner, or maybe even dinner. Or supper, we suppose. And lets not even get started on whether the chicken parm is served with sauce or gravy. Regardless of what meal you consider to be in the early afternoon or what you call the delicious red stuff on top of chicken parm, we hope you’ll join us. There’s still time to reserve your spot – you can pay via PayPal in the top right section of our website, send a check in the mail, or drop by the museum on a Saturday to pay in person. Kindly RSVP by October 6th.
Another Town Day has come and gone! Thanks to everybody that stopped by our table – we were happy to meet the two couples who will be moving to Putnam Valley, and pleased with the interest in the “1976” booklet. We’ve decided to reprint it for our holiday boutique this year, which was also a common topic yesterday. If you don’t know what booklet we’re referring to, in 1976 the historical society had printed up a paperback booklet of photos of old Putnam Valley. The inscription on the inside cover reads
The primary purpose of this booklet is to foster enjoyment of our past through a visual record.
An attempt has been made to present an overall picture of Putnam Valley in a more placid era.
Several histories of the town have been published before. We felt that a photographic record would be appropriate for the bicentennial year.
It was difficult to choose from so many photographs made available consequently we plan to have several exhibits at the Schoolhouse Museum in the future.
We acknowledge with thanks the following people who gave or loaned us their precious old pictures:
Bruce Adams, Louise Croft, Clement Gorley, Madeline Holla Knoll, Cliff Lent, Fred Lent, Walter Levino, William Nohai, Bess Perry, Gwen Schauer, Paul Schmittman Sr., Sadie Tompkins Sheldon, John Sinclair, Audrey Toohey and special thanks to the Bicentennial Commission for their financial help and encouragement.
The Putnam Valley Historical Society
We absolutely love that their is a renewed interest in this little booklet. If you have any pictures of old Putnam Valley or Lake Peekskill that you’d like to share with us and possibly include in the reprint, please let us know as soon as possible!
A reminder that this coming SUNDAY at 1:00PM will be the next installment of Our American History. Michael Adamovich will give his Basically Baseball presentation at the Putnam Valley Library. Our Annual Meeting featuring a special presentation by Lou Del Bianco is coming up after that on October 14th (see a few posts down for more information). Invitations have been sent out to the members, but all are invited. Since it’s also our 50th anniversary, there will be a small display about the museum and society and of course, cake. Who doesn’t like a good celebratory cake? You can reserve your spot in the top right of the website, mail in your payment or stop by the museum on a Saturday.
Last, but certainly not least, our Halloween event. Since Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, we’ll be holding it the week before on Wednesday the 24th of October. Meet us at the museum at 7:00pm for a presentation by local author Vincent Dacquino.
For more information about Mr. Dacquino and his work, head over to his website for a list of his books, television programs, and more. We are asking for RSVPs (email, phone, Facebook) for this one because we are planning on holding in the museum. If you’re not familiar with the building and plan on making this your first visit, our building has a small visitor capacity and parking is in the dirt lot across the street from the museum.
Putnam Valley Town Day is tomorrow, and we’ll be there celebrating. Not quite sure where on the field, but we’ll be there with our tent and wooden sign. We’re bringing the new t-shirts, the tote bags, information about Basically Baseball and our Annual Meeting, and we’ll announce our Annual Halloween Event there as well!
Because all of that has to get set up, we’ll be closing the museum at 12:30 tomorrow (the 15th) so we can head over to Town Park.
Our new shirts are here! We think they look pretty snazzy. We have sizes ranging from kids ($12) XS to adult ($15) XXL. They’d be great to wear on the tour of the Cornish Estate on September 8th. The kids shirts are a slightly brighter blue, the adult shirts are slightly darker. Think Mets blue vs. Yankees blue. And if you’re a baseball fan, you don’t want to miss Our American History: Basically Baseball with Michael Adamovich in September – it’ll be on the 23rd at 1:00pm at the library. We’ll have them available for sale at the museum and will bring some to Town Day, along with tote bags featuring a very similar design.
Our Annual Meeting and Awards Reception will be held on Sunday, October 14th at 1:00PM at the Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Corps Headquarters on Oscawana Lake Road. In addition to recognizing two community members, Putnam Valley Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel and decorated veteran Richard Knapp, this year our meeting will also feature guest speaker Mr. Lou Del Bianco. He tells the story of his grandfather Luigi Del Bianco, the chief carver of Mount Rushmore. Yes, that Mount Rushmore. The four impressively massive stone heads gazing out upon the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota Mount Rushmore.
The afternoon affair includes a luncheon, silent auction, and a brief meeting. It is $40/person to attend, and while invitations will be mailed to members, the meeting is open to all. Payment can be made online (on the right side of the screen, you’ll see the little payment widget at the top), or by cash or check (made out to the Putnam Valley Historical Society). You can either mail in your payment along with the names of all attendees or as always, you can stop by the museum on a Saturday between 10:00AM and 2:00PM to pay in person and look at our current exhibit on the Revolutionary War.
Can you feel it? The subtle change in the air, the late summer wildflowers blooming, the cacophony of nighttime insects, the panic of students realizing they have to cram their summer reading assignments into the next two weeks. It’s almost time to head back to school!
As a kid, this was one of my favorite times of year. New school supplies, new sneakers and a few new outfits…it was a chance to refresh. You know, in case your New Years Resolutions didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped.
You may have noticed that our website looks a little different. It’s time for us to refresh. We upgraded a few things, and will now be able to not only post many more photos in the coming weeks, but video and audio clips. The opening ceremony and dedication of our museum, the history of the library, first hand accounts of the early development of Lake Peekskill, growing up on Lake Oscawana, and much more. The plan is to have it up by around September 5th – the first day of school here in Putnam Valley.
Over on the right side of the site, there will be a short list of upcoming events.
Our new t-shirts (kid and adult sizes!) should be in the museum by next week, and this week we’re expecting tote bags! Who can’t use an extra tote bag in the car, and what better place to get one than your local historical society?
For those tech-savvy, on the go followers of ours with smart phones, we’ll be up and running on Instagram soon. It’ll be the quickest way to show you what we’re up to, both in the museum and live(ish) from our events and goings on outside the museum walls.
Speaking of events outside the museum; Coming up on September 8, 15, and 23 you’ll find us at the following places:
September 15th you can find us at Putnam Valley Town Day at Leonard Wagner Memorial Park (town park), and the following weekend on Sunday, Our American History returns with our very own Michael Adamovich.
Our annual meeting will be held on Sunday October 14th at 1:00pm at the Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Headquarters on Oscawana Lake Road. We’ll be doing something new this year. In addition to honoring members of our community, having a silent auction and conducting our annual meeting, we’ll also be having a rather lively presentation about Luigi Del Bianco. Who is that, you’re wondering? Why, he was the chief carver of Mount Rushmore. Yes, that Mount Rushmore. It’ll be dinner and a show, if you will. Invitations will be going out to our members shortly, and of course non-members are always welcome.
Halloween’s not to far off either, and if you’ve been to any grocery stores lately you’ll have noticed the candy displays are already out. We’re working out our Halloween plans for this year but in the interest of keeping some things on a traditional, seasonal type schedule, we’ll share all that info in September.
We’ll hold off on any holiday boutique announcements until October.
There’s been a lot of “behind the scenes” things happening at the museum recently.
One box of our older documents has been scanned is ready for transcribing – volunteers are welcome! The document on the left is a vendue list (a public auction or sale) from Nathaniel Post. It’s undated, but assumed to be from the late 1700s. The prices listed are in pounds, shillings, pence. The document on the right is the indenture between Beverly Robinson and Abraham Post, signed in “the fourteenth Year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord King George the Third”, or 1774. Does the name Beverly Robinson sound familiar but you’re not quite sure why? Visit the museum! Our current exhibit is about the (now) Putnam County area during the American Revolution and you’ll find quite a bit about Mr. Robinson.
We’ve also started the process of transferring our recorded interviews from cassette tape to digital. The oldest tapes go back to the mid 1970s, the newest from the 1990s. In the coming weeks we’ll hopefully have some clips available here for your listening pleasure. The topics range from the history of the library, to the creation of Lake Peekskill, the history surrounding Lake Oscawana, Putnam Valley during World War II…and much more. Most of these also need transcribing, and again – volunteers are welcome!
Our American History is on vacation for August, but in July we had a wonderful presentation by crowd favorite Thom Johnson about the Old Cornish Estate in Cold Spring, and it was very quickly decided that a tour of the property would be an excellent outing for the historical society and our friends. Our dedicated volunteer Michael Bennett wrote a great advertisement for our class trip – who wouldn’t want to join us after reading it??
Come join the Putnam Valley Historical Society, along with local historian, educator and artist Thom Johnson, for a visit to Northgate, the Old Cornish Estate in Cold Spring, NY. Journey back in time to see the remnants of the once-great estate – and see the site’s promise for the future!
One of the most mysterious ruins in the Hudson Valley is the Old Cornish Estate, or Northgate, located in the shadow of Breckneck Ridge and part of the Hudson Highlands State Park. For many years there were no known photographs of the site prior to its destruction by fire in 1958, and there was little information available. After publication of the book Hudson Valley Ruins (Rinaldi and Yasensac 2006), descendants of Sigmund Stern, the estate’s first owner, and Edward Cornish, who purchased it in 1917, came forward with both photographs and a more complete history of the site.
Today, while only ruins remain to demonstrate its former grandeur, the location’s early history, the records of its initial construction, the identity of the many structures built on the site and their varied uses, the story of its sale and the devastating fire, and even the promise of the estate’s future remain a fascination for local historians, researchers, nature-lovers, preservationists, and artists of all types!
There is a $10 fee per person for the trip. You can pay online here or pay at the museum on a Saturday, or mail a check (payable to Putnam Valley Historical Society) to P.O. Box 297, Putnam Valley NY 10579. We will also be making carpool arrangements as the date gets closer, due to limited parking.
New t-shirts are on their way to the museum as well – we’ll be sure to let you know when they arrive so you can visit us to buy one. We’ll have them before the trip, in case you wanted to pick one up to wear that day, in case we wanted to take a group picture or anything…
You may remember him from the Bannerman Island tours, or the presentation he gave about Bannerman Island…but Thom Johnson is coming back to Putnam Valley! This time we’ll be learning about the old Cornish Estate, another local (to the county) historical site with an air of mystery and intrigue swirling about. See you on the 14th at 10:00AM!