May 27, 1988

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The Progress of the

Crooked Lake Historical Society


Bill Treichler

The first general meeting of people who wished to start a historical society was held April 29, 1984, at the Presbyterian Church in Hammondsport. General discussions were held regarding chartering, a name and possible fund raising projects. A second general meeting was held on May 20th at the Presbyterian Church and committees were established with the following people accepting responsibility: Gordon Herrick and Lindsley Dunn to plan for a constitution and by-laws; Dick Sherer and Don Rowland for chartering; Glen Scutt for funding; Myrna Marshall for publicity and hospitality; Terry Pennise to look for a repository; Pam Shaw for building preservation; and Jeff Monroy and Lindsley Dunn for oral histories. The people present at this meeting selected a name for the society. The Hammonds Port Historical Society, The Keuka Historical Society and The Crooked Lake Historical Society were names that were suggested. There was considerable discussion about a suitable name. The title Crooked Lake Historical Society won a majority count after three ballots were taken.

The minutes of the third general meeting held on September 30, 1984, are missing but the first officers were elected at this meeting held in the Methodist Church. They were: President, Jeffrey D. Monroy; Vice President, Pamela Y. Shaw; Recording Secretary, Jill R. Whitman; Treasurer, James A Conklin; Corresponding Secretary, Helen Forenz; and Curator/Genealogist, Gordon R. Herrick. These officers were inducted into office at a joint meeting held with the Steuben County Historical Society in the Pleasant Valley Vault Reception and Dining Room at the Taylor Wine Company. Dr. Herbert Wisbey, Director of Mark Twain Studies at Quarry Farm was the guest speaker that day and spoke on Jemima Wilkinson, The Publick Universal Friend. This was the first annual meeting.

In 1984 Richard Sherer began publishing a newsletter for the Society, usually sending out five issues each year. The first three issues reprinted Robert Beck's description of Hammondsport in the 70s and 80s. Later issues in addition to carrying Society reports and announcements always reprinted some bit of local history, such as an episode from J. W. Wheeler's "Early History of North Urbana" that appeared in the August 23 ,1876, issue of The Hammondsport Herald . Another reprint was an item contributed by Richard Hamilton from the Genesee Farmer of December 7, 1833, that gave directions for making a corn husk mattress. Editor Sherer reprinted others: "Incidents of the Early Settlement of Pulteney" by J. W. Prentiss and a story about the fabulous steam yacht "Madge" that would go "eighteen miles per hour with ease."

At the next general meeting held on January 20, 1985, twenty members were present. Jerry and Ginny Wright presented a slide program on "The Treks and Tracks of Williamson". The general meeting of May 11, 1985 was again at the Pleasant Valley Winery and Ted Henry from the Yates County Historical Society's Oliver House in Penn Yan gave a program entitled "The Barns of Yates County".

A picnic meeting was held at Taylor Park on August ninth and the annual meeting was held at St. James Episcopal Church on October 26 with 31 members attending. Merle and Bea Wheaton spoke on "Marcus and Narcissa Prentiss Whitman—150 years later."

At the annual meeting Dick Sherer had suggested that the Society have reprinted The History of Hammondsport to 1962 by Laura Swarthout and another booklet, the History of Hammondsport by F. I. Quick. A decision was made at the board meeting held on November 18, 1985, to order 500 copies of each of the histories for a total cost of $624 from the Painted Post Press.

At the board meeting held on December 9th Brian Flynn was appointed to prepare the Society's application for a provisional charter. Plans were made then to sell hot dogs at the Hammondsport "Christmas in the Park" celebration.

The Society was successful in 1985 in placing the "Old Mill" on the New York State Historical Site Register.

Twenty two members attended the meeting held at the Masonic Temple on March 9th, 1986, and James Conklin presented the Society's constitution in final form. It was approved unanimously. Already 150 of the new booklets had been sold. The speaker for the program that day was Richard Hamilton who talked and showed slides about "Our Agricultural Heritage".

The petition for a provisional charter had been prepared and was ready for signatures at the April 29th, 1986, board of directors meeting. At this meeting Lindlsey Dunn suggested that the Crooked Lake Historical Society work together with the Curtiss Museum in the preservation of local history and said that the Society might utilize a room in the museum building for a meeting and display place. A general meeting of the Society was held on July 19th at the Curtiss Museum with 36 members present who toured the Museum's rooms and saw the exhibits.

At the March, 1986, meeting William Garrison had suggested that the Society sponsor a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in the square as a part of Hammondsport's Fourth of July celebration. He carried through his proposal and on July 4 the first reading of The Declaration of Independence in Pulteney Park, Hammondsport, occurred.

The performance included the arrival of the mayor and of Thomas Duke costumed as the Town Crier at the square in a horse-drawn carriage escorted by marching members of The American Legion post. John Rogerson spoke on the immediate events leading to the writing of the Declaration as well as the interesting facts of the Declaration's printing and publication.. The ceremony ended with Mr. Duke's reading and the sound of salutes fired above on the hillside.

The third annual meeting was held October 11, 1986, at the Greyton H. Taylor Museum. Twenty members attended and were shown around the museum by Richard Sherer who demonstrated the coopering tools and early wine-bottling equipment. William Garrison was elected president and the members voted to go forward with plans for again reading of The Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July in l987.

In December the Society again ran a hot dog stand for the evening of "Christmas in the Park".

A general meeting was held on March 28, l987, when the Crooked Lake Historical Society members were again the guests of the Taylor Wine Company at a sumptuous luncheon. Members of the Steuben County Historical Society and the then-forming Prattsburg Historical Society attended. The Taylor Wine Company gave all of the luncheon receipts to the Crooked Lake Historical Society and it contributed a portion of the proceeds to the Prattburg society. Craig Braak who is county historian for Allegany County spoke and showed slides of "The Postcards of Steuben".

At the April 30th meeting the board decided to purchase flags of the original 13 states and a Bi-Centennial flag for the September 17, 1987, Bi-Centennial of the Constitution celebration. The flags are to be used also for the annual Fourth of July program.

At a general meeting held at Hammondsport School on June 27, 46 members attended and heard Richard Sherer talk and show his slides in a presentation he calls "Steamboats of Keuka".

The July Fourth, 1987, celebration was held again in Pulteney Square in Hammondsport with the reading of The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Duke. The American Legion again performed as a color guard and John Rogerson spoke on the background of the Declaration of Independence. The New York Third Regiment Fife and Drum Corps dressed in colonial attire marched and played appropriate martial music. The flags of the original states were displayed and each was individually recognized.

At the fourth annual meeting on October 17, 1987, 20 members attended and heard that the Society had received a provisional charter from the New York State Department of Education. President Garrison submitted for approval a draft of a letter to send to the Bath Hammondsport Railroad inquiring if the society might acquire the "Old Mill".

The letter was sent and the railroad responded that the state is attempting to take the property by condemnation and the railroad is resisting by a lawsuit. The railroad has plans to use the property.

The Curtiss Museum extended an invitation for the Crooked Lake Historical Society to become affiliated with the Curtiss Museum and the members of the board agreed to meet with trustees of the Museum. A meeting was held with several representatives of the Museum, including one trustee, on January 28, but no decisions were made. The board decided at a meeting held February 25 that they would submit to the society's members any proposal that the museum might offer.

An evening meeting of the Crooked Lake Historical Society was held March 26th at the Curtiss Museum where Dick Sherer presented a slide and lecture program titled, "The Flip Side of Curtiss", with many old photographs of Glenn Curtiss' experiments and other exploits that took place here in the early days of aviation pioneering.

The most recent meeting of the society was held May 14, 1988, at Hammondsport Central School. Mrs. Betty Rice, historian from Perry, New York, showed slides and spoke on "The Shakers of Groveland."

The Crooked Lake Historical Society has received many favors from local businesses and institutions. The Taylor Wine Company has entertained the Society with three beautiful luncheons, printed newsletters, provided address labels, membership cards and the Society's first stationery. The Curtiss Museum has allowed the use their photocopy machine to make posters for meetings and hosted the Society members for a tour of their exhibits. Local churches have let the Society use their facilities for meetings at no charge.

(Compiled from "Highlights of the Crooked Lake Historical Society's Progress from April 29, 1984 to March 25, 1988.", prepared by Jill Flynn, Secretary of The Crooked Lake Historical Society.)

Below is the number of members in Crooked Lake Historical Society in past years.

1984 ————————— 125




The Constitution of the Crooked Lake Historical Society Article II

The purpose of this Society shall be to gather, preserve and to exhibit when practicable, all the things pertaining to the history of the Towns of Urbana, Pulteney and Wayne, Steuben County, N. Y., and its people; to provide safekeeping for and seek to prevent the destruction or loss of all such records and mementos which have historical value as source material, and all other articles which by reason of former association may be considered to be relics or souvenirs of individuals, eras or events.

It shall be the further purpose of this Society to correlate its interests and activities with the history of the State of New York and of those other states which have contributed to the formation and development of our area; to assist the Steuben County Historian, the town and village historians in the dissemination of historical lore; to cooperate with and assist chartered museums; to cooperate with patriotic groups and to arouse interest in the past by publishing historical material in the newspapers or otherwise; by holding meetings with addresses, lectures, papers and discussions; and by marking historic buildings, sites and trails

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