Historical Society reports achievements

Margaretville — Members of the Historical Society of the Town (HSM) of Middletown gathered at their annual meeting on Oct. 17 to mark another year of achievement and to hear a guest speaker describe a watershed period in agricultural history.
Current members of the executive committee (Diane Galusha, Carolyn Konheim, Marilyn Pitetti, Lucci Kelly and Andy VanBenschoten) were re-elected to the board. Joan Merwin of Fleischmanns joined the board as secretary.
At the annual meeting, Dr. Milton Sernett delivered a fascinating slide show on the period in the early 20th century when farmers began selling (or trading) their horses as affordable tractors became available.
President Diane Galusha gave a summary of HSM activities over the past year, and thanked members and donors for contributing time, expertise and funds for programs and projects. Special appreciation was extended to the Town of Middletown and the Village of Margaretville for supporting HSM projects.
Among those who gave freely of their time, talent and skills this year were Innes Kasanof, who painstakingly transcribed the 135 pages of handwritten diaries by Mathew Griffin, 1845-1861; and Gary Atkin, who devoted many hours to producing meticulous maps showing the locations of every known veteran in three local cemeteries.
HSM’s nascent collection was expanded by several generous donations this year, from negatives and photos to ledgers, diaries, yearbooks and memorabilia. Work will begin in 2010 to preserve and catalogue the collection. Anyone interested in serving on a collections committee to work on this is invited to call Diane at 586-4973.
HSM unveiled its first historic marker this year, in Highmount, at the site where a large boulder once held a flag announcing that this was down-rent territory during the Anti Rent War of the 1840s. On Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. the second marker will be unveiled at Hubbell Homestead Farm, Kelly Corners. A historic marker for the Hamlet of New Kingston, which was named to the state and national Registers of Historic places in 2008, will be unveiled in the spring.
The society’s attempt to document the agricultural heritage of the Town of Middletown continued with an exhibit on area creameries at last month’s Cauliflower Festival. Photos and information on 20 creameries were displayed; some of this material will be exhibited at the town hall in the near future.
Ten area veterans were interviewed in August as part of the Veterans Oral History project by the NYS Military Museum and Research Center in Saratoga Springs. Peter Molnar organized the three-day videotaping session in collaboration with American Legion Post #216. DVDs of these interviews have been added to the HSM collection.
Also in partnership with the Legion, Friends of Middletown Cemeteries and other volunteers located, listed and in some cases mapped the gravesites of 724 veterans in 18 cemeteries in time for Memorial Day this year.
Friends of Middletown Cemeteries worked on the Irish (aka Catholic Cemetery) in Clovesville in 2009. A Legislative member item of $3,000 has been awarded by Assemblyman Clifford Crouch to the Town of Middletown to support HSM in the restoration of stones and grounds at the Arkville Cemetery.
Several interesting and well-attended programs were held over the past year. Topics ranged from the re-creation of Henry Hudson’s ship Half Moon, to the Anti-Rent War to a session on old maps and roads in the Town of Middletown. A panel discussion on what makes quilters’ tick was held in collaboration with a quilt show at the Fleischmanns Community Church Memorial Day weekend. Roger Bobley produced a video of this program which is available for purchase.