Happy New Year!

We’re nearly a month into the new year – here’s what’s been happening behind the scenes.

  • Plugging along with the picture scanning. We are well past 2,000 and the more I dig through files, the more I find. I would not be surprised if when all is said and done, we end up with 4,000 – 4,500 digital pictures. This does NOT include the documents that have been scanned (more on that below). We don’t know yet if all of these images will be available online in the future, or if we’ll just have the database available with a smaller, rotating digital album. Stay tuned.
  • Genealogy files – another project that sounds simple,until you open the first folder (Adams, in case you were curious) and see that it’s not just genealogy papers inside. That’s been taking some work. Do we scan everything and call it a day? Do we just list what we have available for each name? How do we know what’s in there if we don’t list every individual name? Do we (way in the future – like, next year in the future) create family trees for each family? I’ve settled on a combination of scanning everything and making a very basic list for now.
  • Updating the site here. If you click around, specifically on the Historic Putnam Valley menu at the top, you’ll notice there’s a new posting about the History of Putnam Valley. It’s a brief but informative writing from our past town historian Mr. Crimmins. Another document that we have 400 paper copies of that is now available to everyone. It was written 31 years ago so there are some things missing, namely the high school.Within that post (or if you hover over the menu) is a link to Historic Lake Peekskill. This was an oral history given by Bertha Gragert to Gladys Gragert Muller in 1990. I’ve started inserting pictures into the two pages, and more will be coming in the next few months. Another one of our back projects is getting all the old VHS tapes of the senior interviews onto the computer, and I’d like to get some clips of those up here and create a separate personal history section. That’ll probably happen over the summer or fall.
  • Document scanning. We have everything from dental work receipts from when a “full upper and lower” was $30.00 and could be paid in installments (my guess is early 1900s) to original school tax receipts ($0.38 tax + $0.05 collector fee) and copies of wills. And that’s just in one genealogy folder! This will definitely end up being a later rather than sooner project, since the documents aren’t just in the genealogy folders but in our regular archives as well. And the scrapbooks of newspaper articles. So many newspaper clippings.
  • Working on our upcoming exhibit. More on that in a few weeks. The opening is May 6th at 10:00AM at the schoolhouse.

Snow Day!

The museum will not be open today due to the snowy, soon to be sleet-y and icy conditions. Today would have been our last day of the year anyway, so the museum will not be reopening until May 2017. See you then! (There will be a longer post tomorrow or Monday – just wanted to get it out there that we are not open today)

Closing out the year

ETA: Check out this article by Tom Renner of the Putnam Daily Voice about this weekend’s guest speaker Craig Nelson!

Our final two events of the year are coming up this weekend. On Saturday the 10th we’ll have our last Our American History program of 2016 on Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness with Craig Nelson at 10:00AM at the Putnam Valley Free Library.


Also this weekend is the second half of our Holiday Boutique. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10:00AM – 4:00PM we’ll have a few new items this weekend, and Santa will be at the museum on Saturday the 10th at 11:00AM. See you there!

Next up…Holiday Boutique

We had what I believe is our best turnout yet for Our American History – over 35 of you joined us this past Saturday to learn about Bannerman Castle. Many thanks to Thom for his enjoyable, very informative presentation.

Apologies for the sideways pictures. They are uploaded in the upright position and get flipped when inserted.

Every. Single. Time.

Moving on, we have our next event coming up in a few short weeks – the annual Holiday Boutique! Stop by the museum, do some holiday shopping…there’s even a rumor Santa may be swinging by one of the days. There’s still some room for vendors, if you’re interested send an email to putnamvalleyhistory@gmail.com . The museum is still open on Saturdays but be aware the exhibit has come down and the holiday decorations are going up. holiday-boutique-2

As you can see, the boutique will be open during the next installment of Our American History. You’ll also see below that there’s been a change in topic for next month. We’ll now be hearing from Craig Nelson as he discusses Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness on Saturday December 10th at the Putnam Valley Library.


See you soon!

Bannerman Island, Oregon Corners, a Presidential connection, and…Santa?



Everybody’s heard of it, but what do you know about it? Join us at the Putnam Valley Free Library on Saturday November 12th at 10:00am, when guest speaker Thom Johnson tells all there is to know about this history of this local site.

Thanks to all that braved the torrential downpour and joined us for our Annual Meeting and Awards Reception this past Sunday. If you weren’t able to join us, there was a sneak peek at some more pictures that have been scanned in. Hopefully you’ll recognize the building! They were at the bottom of the fall update “newsletter” that was printed out for each table, these are probably much easier to see. (They were scanned in from large negatives and didn’t *quite* fit the negative portion of the scanner, so the very tops and bottoms were cut off.)

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We’re very close to ordering our new fireproof file cabinets. In going through the existing file cabinets to figure out how to best empty them, I came across the genealogy folder for the Adams family. Aside from the cemetery plot listings and obituaries in the folder, there were also several handwritten notes from the 1980s from people trying to figure out if our Adams family of Putnam Valley were descendants of one Mr. John Adams, second president of these United States. Of course all this work was done well before the internet was readily available for such research quests, and there wasn’t a definitive yes or no. It shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out now with so many genealogical resources available, and during our winter lull it will definitely be researched. Unless somebody already has the answer…please let us know!

Now that November is here, we’re also shifting gears and starting our annual Holiday Boutique set up. There are whispers of a certain jolly someone stopping by the museum –  we’ll let you know when he’ll be making an appearance, so get your lists ready!

Annual Meeting Invitation

Apologies for the confusion with our Annual Meeting and Awards Reception invitation. If you did not receive an invitation by mail and would like to attend – anybody is welcome to attend – you can send us an email to putnamvalleyhistory@gmail.com or leave a message on the answering machine at the museum  (845) 528-1024, and pay at the door on the 30th.

Our busy season is starting up!

We have a few events coming up in the next several weeks!

Wednesday, October 26th at 7:00pm is our annual Halloween Event. This year, join us as we hear from Paranormal Investigator Penny Ann Osborn who will share her tales of local investigations and haunted houses. This is a free event for all, and will be at the Putnam Valley Grange as it can accommodate a larger group of people than the museum.


Our Annual Meeting and Cocktail Reception is October 30th at 3:00pm at Char Steakhouse on Bryant Pond Road. It’s not too late to RSVP – send us an email and you can pay at the door.


The Story of Bannerman Island with Thom Johnson is on Saturday November 12th at 10:00am at the Putnam Valley Free Library.


And after all that…our Holiday Boutique will be the first weekend in December, the 3rd and 4th. If you sell handcrafted or locally sourced items and are interested in being a vendor, send us an email or message us on Facebook!

Our American History and Who are we?

Edited – This was a post from two weeks ago that never got published! It was in the drafts when I logged in this morning to publish today’s post.

Just a quick reminder – this Saturday October 8th is the next installment of Our American History. This time we’ll be learning about the origin and history of Camp Smith with Paul R. Martin, III. Join us at the Putnam Valley Free Library on Oscawana Lake Road at 10:00AM to learn about this important part of our region’s history. It’s also the last day of our exhibit on 70 Years of the  Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department, so stop by the museum afterwards if you want to check it out.

If you take a peek at our Facebook page, you’ll notice that a new album (and project) was started. Who are we? is an ongoing album of the unlabeled, unidentified photos in our collection. Most are carte de visite photographs about 150 years old, but there are a few tintypes mixed in as well. Some have little notes in the old handwritten database that they were found in the attic of the Tompkins Corners Store, but nobody seems to know who they were. Most were taken at studios in Peekskill, but there’s a bunch that were taken in New York City or New Jersey.  We’ll be adding to the album every couple of weeks, and eventually will have a similar album for old house and building photos in our collection.

If you’re not on Facebook, the album (and the rest of the pictures on there) should still be visible.

See you Saturday!

But what do you have there?

Our next program is coming up on October 8th – The History of Camp Smith. Please join us and afterwards, if you haven’t yet checked out our exhibit on 70 Years of the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department, stop by the museum as the 8th is the last day it will be on display.


Moving on…

What do we do at the museum? What do we have there? Of course, we’ll tell you about all the cool things we have with much enthusiasm, but many people don’t get why we love it.

Our main room is where the seasonal exhibit is displayed, where we have meetings, where visitors can sit down to look through old records, documents, photos, etc. and where we set up the Holiday Boutique. Just off the main room is a small closet, restroom, and office space. The office space was formerly a permanent kitchen display but as the museum and Historical Society grew and computers and other technologies came into existence, the room was converted to an office space. To the left of the office is a permanent general store display. The door leading to our records room is to the left of the stack of hat boxes.

To look at our records room right now would make you scratch your head and wonder, “…What? That’s exciting?”


What you can’t see are the thousands of pages of Putnam Valley history. There are store receipts and ledgers over 100 years old , family trees, report cards and attendance records, meeting minutes and newsletters from now defunct clubs and organizations, old newspapers (Putnam Valley Post, anyone?) and obituaries, maps, scrapbooks…and we are still finding things buried and misfiled. The file cabinets are getting replaced with fireproof models in the coming weeks. As mentioned above, the exhibit in the main room will be coming down after October 8th so we’ll have room to empty out the cabinets, bring in the new ones, do a rough sort of everything that came out, then refile it… with our fingers crossed that everything will fit back in the new cabinets.


Down the road, we’d like to replace the shelving system that currently holds our photo collection (still scanning as we go – all the beige boxes on the bottom two shelves are full, and every single photo is scanned so far), glass slide collection (completely scanned), photo negatives, and binders. The binders that, by themselves, hold probably an additional couple thousand pages of information. Some of them are transcriptions of old documents, some of them are copies of those old transcriptions, and some of them are holding papers that just didn’t have a home anywhere else. The shelves continue on down the wall past the window on the left and hold those binders and books. There’s also interviews on cassette tapes, video tapes, and a textile collection housed in the small closet within the records room.

And then there’s the attic. Off limits to the public, it’s full of more collection pieces, past display boards and posters, and spiders. Outside there’s an outbuilding and garden area. If you ever came to the museum as a child on a class trip, you probably ate your basket lunch in the garden. And yes, we have pictures of some of those class trips.

There are several upcoming events scheduled for the rest of the year. The Our American History series continues on the second Saturday of the month (see the Events menu for the dates and details); our Halloween Event and  Annual Meeting are at the end of October, and the Holiday Boutique finishes out the year in December. We hope to see you soon!

A successful program this weekend – thank you!

The program yesterday had a great turnout! (There would have been a post yesterday when I got back to the museum but the internet wasn’t cooperating.) We had to put out more chairs and we ran out of coffee, always a good sign – we’ll have more of both ready next time. It was also great to see many new people attending, as well as a few younger folks. We received positive feedback about the program, and we’d like to thank Debra Palazzo, Cynthia Kauffman, and the Daughters of Liberty’s Legacy for their wonderful presentation. This was also our first time running the program at the library – it offers a larger, more comfortable space with more parking and we look forward to holding The History of Camp Smith there on October 8th.


This coming weekend you can find us at Putnam Valley Town Day at the town park. The museum will be open its regular hours (10:00AM – 2:00PM) and then we’ll be at the park from 4:00 – 6:00pm with some of our gift shop items, a small display of past town celebrations, information regarding up coming events, and more (we’ll have ice cream!) See you then!