Pittsford Historical Society Inc.
News - Winter 2016-7
Regular visiting hours are 9 am to 4
During this time, volunteers gather for a
variety of constructive activities, and company is always
welcome. Visitors to town outside normal hours should contact
our Curator, Anne Pelkey, or Steve Belcher, for access to the
Located in Eaton Hall, 3399 US Route 7.
Address mail to:
PO Box 423, Pittsford, VT 05763
Curator: Anne Pelkey 483-6178
Membership: Steve Belcher
Newsletter: Steve Belcher, firstname.lastname@example.org 483-2852
Genealogy Research: Peggy Armitage 483-2108.
Pittsford Historical Society, Inc.
Box 423, Pittsford, VT 05763
Newsletter - Winter 2016-7
The Museum is now closed for the winter, although volunteers will probably
still gather on Tuesdays for preservation and sorting activities. Visitors
are welcome and the museum can be opened on off-hours, by pre-arrangement,
for out-of-town travelers who pass through. Please contact Anne Pelkey or
Steve Belcher (contact info at end of newsletter).
The last members’ meeting of the 2016 year was held on Oct. 26, later than
usual (but we were trying to avoid conflict with other local festivities).
The members ratified the slate of candidates. Bill Powers will continue as
President, and Ernie Clerihew as Vice President. Each of them now enters a
third year in office and must step down in October 2017, so we invite
members to consider whether they might present themselves for those
positions (and openings on the Board of Trustees) in the next year.
Once again I was honored to be reelected president of the Pittsford
Historical Society (PHS). This past year the society’s volunteers expanded
its ability to make Crockett greeting cards available to the public at
large. This has proven to be a boon to Pittsford residents and an excellent
way to support the operating expenses of the PHS.
The PHS contributed to the placement of two historical markers in town that
pay tribute to the industrious nature of Pittsford residents.
Congratulations to all Pittsfordites!!
I encourage your support to help identify Pittsford veterans that have been
honored by the new Veterans’ Monument erected by the town this year. The PHS
is the repository for the information on the veterans. Let us know about
Come join us in the coming year for our events. Once again, we want to bring
Pittsford’s honored past to you.
William (Bill) J. Powers, Jr.
Eaton Hall continues to be a place where visitors come in to look at our
exhibits, donate items with Pittsford significance, and research family
genealogy. I wish to acknowledge the following donors who contributed to the
museum’s collections in 2016:
$ William Neil, son of Barney Neil who was born in Pittsford in 1923,
donated a beautiful military display case which holds his father’s very
impressive collection of WWII medals and ribbons, one of them being the
Distinguished Flying Cross. Barney served in the U.S. Air Corps from
$ Diana (Dickerman) Massarenti who lives in the state of Washington sent us
seven daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of her great great great grandfather
Orlin Smith’s family. She also sent Orlin’s 1834 family bible. The museum is
very fortunate to have several artifacts from Orlin’s family, among them a
beautiful dresser made for Orlin and Mary Smith when they got married in
Pittsford in 1831.
$ Jeff Gagnon of Connecticut and Florence Vt. donated four climate ledgers
found in his Florence home on West Creek Rd that belonged to his great-great
grandfather Thomas Denny Hall. Thomas recorded the weather for the Town of
Pittsford and the ledgers date from 1885-1915. It appears that Thomas’s son
David Dorr Hall also made entries both before and after his father passed
away in 1903. These ledgers were of great interest to Pittsford’s Dr. Alan
Betts, the state’s leading Climate Scientist, who at the suggestion of board
member Monica Freson was asked to take a look at them. He was sure the state
climatologist at UVM would be very interested in the data they contained,
and has taken them to UVM to have them scanned and recorded and will return
them to the museum once the process has been completed.
$ Sylvia Kallen donated her late husband Charlie’s PHS basketball uniform
from the mid 40’s. Charlie began his career for the US Postal Service in
1947 and served as Pittsford’s Postmaster from 1969-1982.
$ Our recording secretary, Rebecca Davenport brought in a dear little photo
album that belonged to her grandmother Ida Heath Mahler who was born in
1880. The pictures are only an inch square and it is likely the smallest
photo album we have in our collection.
We received several sports photographs from Lothrop teacher Audrey Alaire
daughter of the late Bob Sharrow, who was a teacher and coach at Pittsford
High School and Otter Valley. Most of the photos are of the 1960-1961
basketball games when the team was competing for the State title. In March
of 1961 the team went on to win the first and only state championship in
At the October Meeting, Steve Belcher offered a presentation on Dr. Henry
Haven Swift and his times. The presentation was inspired by an item in the
Society’s collections: a ledger of accounts that we at first thought was Dr.
Swift’s (it had his card pinned in the front). But the dates did not match:
they were too early. Our investigations uncovered a mixed family history and
transition: the young Henry Swift came to Pittsford in 1877 to visit a
relative (Charles Thomas Colburn) and met Abiel Caverly, the doctor and
Pittsford historian. Dr. Caverly inspired the young Swift to study medicine
at UVM, from which he graduated in 1881. One may wonder whether Dr.
Caverly’s daughter Caroline may not have swayed the young man’s preference;
he married her in 1881, two years after the death of Dr. Caverly. He then
took over Dr. Caverly’s practice (which explains his card in the ledger).
Dr. Caverly’s son Charles also became a doctor and rose to become President
of the Vermont Board of Health. He died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.
The second half of the presentation turned on another item in our
collections: a photo of the guests at the 25th wedding anniversary of Dr.
Henry and Caroline (Caverly) Swift, showing some fifty people assembled at
the Swift camp on Furnace Brook and identifying a few of them, after also
giving some account of the Swift family members and their subsequent history
(although not down to current generations).
The audience participated: the Swift camp still stands, recognizable by its
magnificent fireplace. A photo of Dr. Swift with a medical team and patient
was located by Bill Gladski, who identified the well-windowed porch as that
of the hospital in Proctor. And the speaker was immediately corrected when
he mis-dated the relocation of the Rutland Regional Medical Center as having
happened around 1947; a chorus of audience members corrected the date to the
1950s. The relocation occurred under the supervision of Dr. Swift’s son
Charles, on whom we have very little information in our files.
Of Monuments and Markers
Veteran’s Day came on Nov. 11th, and with it the dedication of the new
marble monument in front of the town offices on Plains Rd. Close to 100
people turned out for the event, although it was a gusty and chilly day,
requiring coats and gloves and ear-muffs. On occasion, the wind swept the
leaves into vortices that surrounded the speakers before flying off into the
woods. The Town Manager, John Haverstock, presided. Maj. Bill Powers (USAF,
ret’d., and incidentally our President) spoke on the meaning of the day,
with particular reference to the Vietnam war veterans. Hank Pelkey
identified and thanked the various groups and companies that had made the
monument possible: Omya, for donating the marble and for providing
refreshments at the dedication; Liz Willis and Josh Towne, who gave
permission to remove the marble from their property in Florence; Markowski
Excavating, for donating time and the equipment to haul the marble blocks to
Center Rutland, and then back to Pittsford; to Phil Gawet of Gawet Marble
and Granite, who was responsible for the saw-cutting of the components; and
Brent Wilson of Proctor Marble, who cut and split the main stone and did all
the engraving of the monument and the assembly of the outside benches. There
are still costs to be defrayed, so contributions remain welcome. (Veterans
Memorial Fund/ Pittsford Town Office / Box 10 / Pittsford, VT 05763).
PHS Curator Anne Pelkey and her brother, Commander Robert Birmingham USN
(Ret’d), laid the wreath. Vermont Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer
Kevin Carvey gave the keynote address. Cameron Silloway played taps; the
other musicians involved were Robert Berardo and Brian Greenfield who
despite the cold managed to provide guitar backing for a choral singing of
‘America the Beautiful.’ Rev. Pat Jackman, of the Congregational Church,
provided the opening and closing prayers.
The inscription on the marble is appropriately general, covering 240 years
worth of wars. The plan is to have some listing of individual names,
probably determined by place of residence at time of enlistment. The PHS, in
the meantime, is trying to maintain a record of all persons who served and
who had some connection with Pittsford, although our current listing does
not include all the Revolutionary War soldiers who may have served for 5-6
days as required, nor the 104 men from the Pittsford area who answered the
call in 1814, when British forces from Canada invaded New York. This last
contingent arrived two days after the battle had been won, and so were
dismissed. Shelly Williams at the Maclure Library is expanding our list,
using internet databases. The current tally runs around 1300. We continue to
welcome photographs (of all periods) and information on current members of
the armed forces.
The month following the autumn equinox was spectacular for weather and
foliage. There was then an abrupt change to the cold. At this writing, we
seem to have a January thaw that is melting what snow had covered the
The Pittsford Sheep Festival came in October, with exhibitions of
sheep-herding using cunning border collies, sheep-shearing, demonstrated
this year by Tom Bilodeau, who has made a pilgrimage to that Mecca of
sheep-shearing, New Zealand (ok, Australia is a competitor too). There were
woolen wares, a token rabbit, and new-fangled spinning wheels. And the
‘Leaping of the lambs,’ intended as a competition between two lambs on
parallel tracks and complicated by a sheep’s tendency to follow another
sheep, so one course had to be re-run.
There was also an election in November, as all of you will have noted. You
may be interested in the official results for Pittsford:
Voters: 2,334 registered, of whom 1570 were checked off as voting.
Donald Trump and Michael Pence: 669
Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine: 668
Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 65
Jill Stein (Green) 19
Bernie Sanders 72
Nicole Elnicki 1
(there were 19 other write-in names).
(no, Mickey Mouse was not listed. Nor any Pokemon figures).
Otherwise, Peg Flory (Senate) and Butch Shaw (House) were easily re-elected;
surprisingly, the twelve names listed for the twelve Justice of the Peace
positions also won.
We have lost a number of members this year; we offer condolences to their
families and mourn their absence.
Kay Killoran, Rita Searles, Judi Reynolds, Eddie Keith, Henry Hoare, Emerson
We enclose a membership renewal form with the newsletter. The first
newsletter for 2017 should come in March and should have the planned
schedule of activities for the year.
Our best wishes to all for the New Year!
Pittsford Historical Society Directory
Membership in the Society extends over a calendar year. Your dues support
the annual operating expenses of Eaton Hall. Please send your check, payable
to Pittsford Historical Society to: (Welcome to the new Membership Chairman)
Stephen P. Belcher IV. Send dues to
Stephen P. Belcher IV
PO Box 423
Pittsford, VT 05763
We thank you for your continued support.
Town, State and Zip
Please check amount enclosed:
Single $15_____ Family $20 _____ Contributing $25_____
Sponsor $50_____ Life Member $200 (per person) _____
A 501(c)(3) organization