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Wilmington Historical Society
Minutes of Meeting
7:00 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2005
E.M. Cooper Library


Karen Peters
Merri Peck
Steve Connor Guy Stephenson, Jr.
Doug Wolfe
Bob Cressey
Nancy Cressey

Karen Peters called the meeting to order. Steve Connor made a motion to accept the minutes of the March meeting as read. Guy Stephenson seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

Karen reported on communications. Clinton County Community College is offering two historical workshops this summer. ”Off the Beaten Path” will be held July 11-15, and on July 25-29 they are presenting “Exploring the History of the Adirondacks.” Both workshops are open to the public.

The Underground Railroad Historical Association is holding a planning meeting in Plattsburgh April 28th.

Karen sent a thank you letter and certificate to Julie Robinson in appreciation of her presentation on antiques and collectibles.

The Westport Historical Society is reorganizing their group. We will exchange minutes with them. They are also looking for local people to give historical presentations at their meetings. We hope to have them do the same for us.

The regional Roundtable workshop is being held Saturday May 14th from 9:30 to 1:00 at the Plattsburgh Library. The topic for discussion is Outreach and Volunteers. There is no fee, but advance registration is required by May 10th.

The Northern New York Library Network now has a number of historical newspapers for the area on line. The website is http://news.nnyln.net. This site has a lot of good information.

The Adirondack Community Trust is offering a seminar on the rule changes for corporate governance for non-profit corporations. The seminar will be given May 5 from 9:00 to 11:45 at the Mirror Lake Inn on May 5th. Cost of the seminar is $30. Doug Wolfe made a motion to approve the $30 expense, Guy seconded and it carried unanimously. Karen will attend the seminar.

We received a mailing from AASLH soliciting monetary contributions over and above the member fees. No action will be taken at this time.

The North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association sent an invitation for us to become a member of their organization for $25. We decided that it would be more appropriate to delay this until we have had time to complete more research on Underground Railroad activity in our area.

Bob Cressey gave the treasurer’s report. The bank balance is $2,781.84. Memberships are still coming in slowly. Guy introduced a motion to accept the Treasurer’s report and it was seconded by Doug. All voted in favor.

Merri Peck reported for the Library, Museum and Historic Sites Committee that several members met at her house on Tuesday, May 3rd. They were able to sort and organize a couple more boxes of historical society materials. At some point we will have to remove all the WHS files from Merri’s house since she is planning to move. The Town records that are now in our possession should be returned to the Town Hall. The WHS is still looking for property or a small building which could be moved to house our collections and provide much needed office space. Karen will write a letter to the town board outlining our needs so that it will be on record. The building should have a display area, an archive area, an office, bathroom, humidity and temperature controlled vault, and it should be centrally located in town. Ideally it should have a large lecture or meeting room which could serve multiple purposes for the town.

Doug reported for the Publications and Programs Committee that he has had requests to repeat his talk on the 1980 Olympics—Getting the Program Out to the World. He is willing to give the presentation again, probably with less emphasis on the Olympics. He would like to do it sometime in August on some night other than Wednesday. Doug also has a lead on another speaker who is an archaeological researcher. She has a talk about excavating and examining sites for historical artifacts. This presentation could possibly be scheduled for September.

Guy is working on compiling history of area mines. He may lead a guided walk to one of the mining areas on a Saturday in August or September.

Merri suggested we ask Julie Robinson to set up a booth along with us at the Festival of Colors on September 17th to do informal appraisals of items that people bring from home.

Karen suggested that we need to develop a walking tour map of the town. Sites on the map would be numbered and we could write a brief history and description for each site shown. She advised that Holly Aquino can do this type of thing for $150 plus the cost of printing. A color map would be more money. We should look into the possibility of getting a grant for this and we should also check to see what the town already has in the way of maps and surveys. Karen and Doug will meet to discuss what should be on the map and where we might apply for a grant.

Doug recommended that we put some present day pictures on our website along with the historical ones.

Doug suggested that we could try to get the Visitor’s Bureau to sponsor a bike ride commemorating Major Reuben Sanford’s famous ride. This ride is described in Adeline F. Jaques book “Echoes from Whiteface Mountain, a Brief History of Wilmington” as follows:

“Reuben Sanford was one of the most important men in the North Country in the 19th century.”
“He has been described as a man with a pleasing personality and of great physical endurance. Mr. N. B. Foot, his former clerk, gave this account of his employer: “I recollect a time when he left Wilmington at 7AM on horseback, and went to Clintonville, from there to Cook’s Forge which was two or three miles out of his way, bought twelve axes, and brought them back to Clintonville to put on board one of his teams, went on to Keeseville, did his business at the bank, and then to Westport and from there to Elizabethtown. He was a member of the Board of Supervisors, and he met with them that day. After the session, he rode to Wilmington. As I was putting up the shutters of the store, which was usually at 9 o’clock, he rode under the shed on his return.
“In speaking the next day of the distance he rode, we figured it up together and made it 99 ½ miles. He thought it a pretty good journey for the horses, but claimed no fatigue for himself. This shows you somewhat his endurance as late as 1828.”

Doug said he talked to Brian Delaney of High Peaks Cyclery about the feasibility of such a ride and he confirmed that it could easily be done. It would even be possible to have two different routes—one for road bikes and one suitable for mountain bikes. Karen agreed to talk to Bert Yost about this. The WHS would provide the historical information and possibly have someone dressed as Reuben Sanford.

Nancy Cressey reported for the Membership and Nominations Committee that the 2005 memberships are still coming in slowly. There are still a number of people that have not yet renewed.

Karen requested nominations for President, Vice-president, Secretary, and the Trustee position currently held by Guy Stephenson. The incumbents were nominated for all four positions and nominations will remain open until our annual meeting on June 15th.

Karen reported that she met with Rarilee Conway about the postcard fundraiser project. They selected 25 photos and Karen provided Rarilee with all the pertinent copyright and deed of gift information.

Doug mentioned that the bookstore in Lake Placid has a large collection of postcards. He will look for Wilmington postcards.

Steve had nothing new to report on the cannon. Doug brought up a point of concern. Any artifacts that are stamped “U.S.” may have been stolen.

Karen mentioned that she found a connection between Custer and the 93rd Regiment in her research.

Merri reported that there is a problem with the computer. The CD ROM drive is not working and it is preventing the computer from booting up properly. Karen said she would ask her husband Bob to look at it to see if the problem could be easily fixed. If not, we need to think about getting a new computer.

Merri also suggested that we should have Patrick McIntyre add a link on our website to the northern NY historic newspapers.

Guy has been working accumulating information about the history of the dam. He said he has some more pictures of the dam. Bob will arrange to meet with Guy and take digital photographs of the pictures to add to our collection. Merri will take the poster board display of dam photos that we already have to the Town Hall and ask them to display it upstairs.

Doug agreed to set up a meeting regarding the Haselton Cemetery sign project.

Merri reported that Dr. Hinds has three more books coming out soon. We need to make the books available for sale at all of our events.

Karen reported that we have several new accessions. Nancy Gonyea donated some photos—views of Wilmington taken from Quaker Mountain. Roberta Lil Spinella donated a signed copy of a book written by Oliver Winch, “Wilmington of the Adirondacks, a Brief History”, and Holly Chabbot donated a letter written by Noah John Rondeau, the Adirondack Hermit to Mr. Skip O’Hare.

The deadline for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation Assistance Grant is May 16th. This would be a good source of funding for preservation of the original Wilmington Town records. The town would like to have our help in obtaining a grant. Merri mentioned that Ed Hood is willing to help with the researching and writing of grants. Karen will contact him.

Karen mentioned that there is a copy of the book “A Brief History 1918-2001 E M Cooper Memorial Library” by Dana Peck available for the WHS to purchase for $20. Steve said he has a copy which he would be willing to donate when we have a suitable location to keep the collection. Karen pointed out that it would be a good idea to have a second copy. Bob made a motion to purchase the book for $20 and it was seconded by Guy. All voted in favor.

There was some discussion of what materials we want to give to the library. In general we would like the library to have copies of what we have. The WHS will keep originals with the intention of putting them in a research/archive room when we have a building. We talked about the possibility of donating a set of Dr. Hinds’ Wilmington books to the library but decided to take no action at this time. We should ask Essex County if they are interested in buying a set of these books.

We had previously advised Margaret Gibbs that we would not enter a float in the May 30th Parade in Elizabethtown, but we would be willing to provide a static display. She would like to know what we have in mind for the display. It would be Wilmington dam photos and Whiteface Memorial Highway construction photos on a freestanding double sided display. Doug volunteered to transport the display to Elizabethtown.

Steve brought up the idea of a benefit banquet as a possible fundraiser. Karen suggested that we write to Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward for help in fundraising.

Doug reported that there will be a public hearing on the Wilmington Wild Forest Management Plan on May 12th at 7 PM in the Whiteface Ski Center. We should have representation to insure that historic trails are maintained.

Steve made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Doug seconded the motion and all voted in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Nancy Cressey


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