We hope that this correspondence finds each of you healthy and well in these challenging times.
As was true with other Little Falls non-profit organizations and the business community in general, 2020 was a challenging year for the Historical Society. For starters, our Old Bank Building Museum did not open for the season due to COVID-19 concerns. We also suspended monthly general membership meetings and programs at the WCA in late February. We instead focused most of our energy and resources on creating a strong on-line virtual presence on our website and beyond. We also kept close tabs on building maintenance and security.
As with all communities, 2020 was also a tough year for the City of Little Falls. The Cheese Festival, Canal Days Celebration, the Garlic Festival, and Christmas in Little Falls were all cancelled. Tourism was way off and perhaps most sadly, expatriates did not come back home for festivals, reunions, and family visits. We missed seeing both our in-town and out-of-town members and other visitors at the museum. The Little Falls Food Pantry and Little Falls Community Outreach continue to help needy families and children in our community.
Just as 2020 was an unusual and challenging year for the Historical Society, our 2020 Annual Report is quite different from previous years. This report will hopefully convey the spirit of flexibility and the willingness of our core group to embrace new ideas and programs.
Board of Directors Meetings – The board normally meets monthly at the museum to conduct Historical Society business, but we were forced to change. Once Moreland Park opened to the public in July, we started having our monthly meetings in the park pavilion where masks and social distancing prevailed. More recently, we have gone to ZOOM.
Sadly, our long planned for MAY 2020 PATRIOTS DAY program at the Norway Historical Society was put off until another year. This was to be our eleventh such program.
Board directors Mike Smith’s and Pat Stock’s two-year terms expired in 2020. Pat agreed to serve another term, but Mike declined. Fortunately, Mike’s wife Missy stepped up and agreed to be nominated to fill the vacant seat. Both Pat and Missy were then officially nominated and elected by the board. Thanks to Mike for his service.
Hopefully, most of our general membership has taken the opportunity to visit us on-line at least a few times. This state-of-the-art website includes:
- Many virtual exhibits often related to writing series articles authored by various Historical Society members.
- For the Historian
- Photo Galleries
- Making History Today
- This Day in History
Website designer and manager Ginny Rogers has become an integral part of our core team. It is an understatement to say that Ginny’s efforts have been transformative for the Historical Society. Without her ongoing involvement and dedication, 2020 would have been far less productive. Thank you Ginny!
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
This daily column on our website really began with an inquiry from a Historical Society member about having access to information on Little Falls history in chronological sequence. At that time, no such record existed, but longtime mainstay Louie Baum became a MAN ON A MISSION.
Those of you not familiar with our museum facilities, our main archival research room is called the Cooney Room, named after former City Historian Edward Cooney. Years ago, Cooney created eighty large, thick scrapbooks containing local newspaper article clippings about significant events from our past, thousands and thousands of articles in total.
Using this treasure trove, Louie toiled for months creating an over 200-page document with a chronological listing of summarized newspaper articles from the Cooney Files. None of us were quite sure how this document could be utilized. Then Ginny stepped up and re-organized Louie’s research document into a day by day file so that everything significant that occurred in Little Falls history on any given date could be accessed. The incredible result was This Day in History. It is the first Internet stop for many of us each day when we turn on our computers. Thank you to Ed Cooney, Louie Baum, and Ginny Rogers for the hundreds of hours of work on this incredible decades-long project. Enjoy!
Additionally, Louie Baum needs to be hereby recognized and honored for his longtime and ongoing service to our organization. During his tenure as vice-president and then president, Louie helped transform and professionalize the Historical Society while growing our membership and stabilizing our finances. His mentorship continues to inspire and guide us.
2020 WRITING SERIES – DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF HAROLD TEMPLEMAN
He Set the Bar High by DeForest Tinkler
The Battle of West Canada Creek by Louis Baum
From Fairfield to the Oregon Trail by Angela Harris
Fire Chief Alfred Munger Was a Fireman’s Fireman by Scott Kinville
Early Little Falls Buildings and Organizations by Jeffrey Gressler
The Honorable H.P. Snyder + the American Dream by Jessie Snyder Thompson Huberty
SUNY Oneonta Cooperstown + Historical Society Program Collaboration by Dr. Erik Stengler
Vintage Base Ball in Little Falls by David Krutz
Little Falls and Women’s Suffrage by Jeffrey Gressler
240th Anniversary of the Battles of Stone Arabia + Klock’s Field by Jeffrey Gressler
Centennial of the Little Falls WCA by Mena Cerone and Pat Rockwell
My Vietnam War Experiences by Schuyler Van Horn
50th Anniversary of Old Bank Building on National Registry by Pat Frezza-Gressler
A Child’s Memory of World War II by Mary Ann Mucica
1960’s Rock And Roll in Little Falls by Joe Chapadeau
*Thank you to Dave Warner for publishing our writing series articles on My Little Falls.
Additionally, Historical Society members Harris, Krutz, and Gressler also authored articles for the Herkimer County Historical Society’s book “Murders and Mayhem in Herkimer County.” Krutz also authored an article for the County Historical Society book “Wicked Herkimer County” due out in March.
NEW PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES
SUNY ONEONTA COOPERSTOWN GRADUATE PROGRAM IN MUSEUM STUDIES PARTNERSHIP
A phone conversation with SUNY Oneonta professor Dr. Erik Stengler in September 2019 launched the Historical Society into a collaborative program with Stengler and his Cooperstown graduate students using Little Falls for field study work on the impact of our waterways, industry, and technology on our community’s historic development.
The Old Bank Building Museum became the focal point for student research efforts into this rich history. Stengler and his students and our core group worked collaboratively from mid-January thru late-February when COVID-19 made further work sessions impossible. The 2020-21 school year for SUNY Oneonta is now centered on remote instruction, so initial plans for further joint work have been put on hold, but hopes are high that this will become a multi-year partnership. Please visit our website to view Erik’s writing series article on this partnership.
SPONSORSHIP OF VINTAGE BASE BALL TEAM
In January, 2020, we hosted a meeting at the museum regarding a request that the Historical Society help sponsor a Little Falls vintage base ball team that would compete against other already-established teams in games governed by 1890’s rules.
Team members met with our directors and officers to discuss the specifics of sponsorship. It was eventually agreed that the Historical Society would foot the bill for special vintage base ball equipment, including bats, catcher’s gear, and balls. Unfortunately, a scheduled four-team tournament to be played at Veterans Park during Canal Celebration Days had to be put off until 2021. David Krutz’s article on vintage base ball in Little Falls can be viewed on our website.
NEW YORK STATE HISTORIC MARKERS
As you have seen in a previous e-mail, we have been hard at work on two new NYS historic markers. The blue and yellow signs marking the site of the 1781 Little Falls Grist Mill attack and the Old Bank Building itself are the result. We have even personalized these markers with a likeness of the museum at the top of each. The grist mill marker was put in place in early-November near the bottom of the west ramp off Burke Bridge at the approximate site of the grist mill. Thank you to Mayor Mark Blask, City Engineer Chet Szymanski, and the DPW for their assistance. Louie’s article on the grist mill attack can be viewed on our website.
The Old Bank Building marker will eventually be placed in front of the museum. At some future date we will hold official dedication ceremonies for both historic markers.
THREE NEW MUSEUM SIGNS
In recent years, all three of our exterior museum signs had lapsed into deteriorated condition. An anonymous Society member motivated us to make plans to replace all three signs by steering us to an experienced sign maker from a nearby community who was moved by our Vietnam War exhibit honoring the 136 Little Falls veterans who served in that war. This gentleman hand-crafted three beautiful duplicate replacement signs and donated them anonymously to the Society in the name and memory of all Mohawk Valley veterans of that war. Much thanks to both of these generous individuals.
A NEW BOOK OF WRITING SERIES ARTICLES
Most of you are likely familiar with our “Towards our Bicentennial” book of articles that we published in 2013. This collection includes fifty-four articles written by various Historical Society members and others on a range of topics all related to Little Falls history.
Since 2013, our annual writing series has generated close to fifty additional articles that we have committed to including in a second book of articles that we are now working on getting ready for publication in 2021.
ST. JOHN FISHER PROGRAM ON UPSTATE NEW YORK WOMEN’S SUFFRAGISTS GRAVESITES
In September, the Historical Society was invited by Society members Tom and Mary Ellen Buccafurno to participate in this St. John Fisher College project. We submitted both photographs of women’s suffragist Zaida Zoller’s gravesite in Fairview Cemetery and a written piece on the history of Little Falls residents in events leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The 2020 writing series article on Little Falls and Women’s Suffrage can be read on our website.
VINTAGE SNOW SLED
Society members Richard and Janet Morgan gifted a large-size 1940’s era “homemade” snow sled to us in October. The sled’s original owner was Eaton Eysaman and it was used in wintertime to propel as many as six or seven people (most likely thrill-seeking kids!) down various city hills. David Krutz worked hard to restore the sled to its original grandeur and we will feature it in some future exhibit. A most interesting artifact.
ROY RICHIE’S “RECOLLECTIONS”
In 2020, History Society member Roy Richie published a 46-page autobiographical book on growing up in Little Falls. The book is an excellent sociological study of time and place. Our editorial staff worked closely with Roy on his book. It can be purchased at the Little Falls Public Library, at the Little Falls Community Co-op, and through Ganesvoort House Books.
Following in the footsteps of Richard Buckley with his book “Unique Place, Diverse People,” Roy has generously donated all of the proceeds from his book’s sale to the Society. Thanks Roy. The Historical Society arranged for several of Roy’s books to be donated to the residents and staff of Alpine Nursing Center.
Thanks to the generous support of our membership, the Historical Society fared well financially in a difficult year. Our income was $16, 553 and our expenses were $16,262, a surplus of $291 was realized. Our primary major expenses were: website reconfiguration and maintenance ($2700), roof maintenance ($1568), security system enhancement ($1275), and museum utilities – heat, electric, internet, water/sewer ($3700). Nearly 100% of our income was derived from membership dues and donations. No gift shop income was generated as the museum was closed. The Society also donated $250 to Preserve Our Past (POP) to help out with their restoration efforts of the Burke Park bandstand.
Additionally, we both refused the usual $1000 from the City of Little Falls and chose not to send out “soft reminders” mid-year to members who did not renew for 2020.
BUSINESS AND CORPORATE SPONSORS
|Adirondack Bank||A.M. Blask Realty||Bassett Health Care|
|Beardslee Castle||Bonita’s Sandwich Chef||Burrows Foundation|
|Canal Side Inn||Chapman-Moser Funeral Home||Copper Moose Ale House|
|David Chlus, Morgan Stanley||Dick’s Wheel Shop, Inc.||Dunteman Corporation|
|Empire Fiberglass Products||Fall Hill Bead And Gem||Feldmeier Equipment, Inc.|
|Floor And Furniture Restoration||Funtech Providers||George F. Aney|
|George Lumber Company||H & H Accounting And Tax Services||Harry And Kevin Enea Funeral Homes|
|Hummel’s Office Supply||Kress Physical Therapy||Little Falls Dental – Dr. Yallowitz|
|Little Falls Veterinary Clinic||LP Services LLP||Mike Evans Racing|
|My Little Falls, LLC||One Leaf Genealogy||Paca Gardens|
|PEMs Tool And Machine||Pohlig’s Enterprises||Price Chopper|
|RD’s Mountain View Trucking||Revella||Ruggerio’s Tretoria|
|Showcase Antiques||Stewart’s Shops, Inc.||Travelodge|
|Twin Rivers Paper Company||Van Meter And Van Meter||White Rose Bakery|
In recent years, the Historical Society has put together a number of meaningful museum exhibits and outside programs.
Our main 2016 main exhibit honoring the 1688 men and 69 women from Little Falls who served in WW II was extremely well received and our 2017 main exhibit on the 1960’s golden age of rock and roll in Little Falls was interesting and cool, but our 2018 main exhibit honoring the 136 Little Falls men who served in the Vietnam War and our 2015 successful effort to place a monument demarcating the African American section of Church Street Cemetery truly stand out. Honoring our community’s Vietnam veterans provided long overdue recognition of their service to country and resonated deeply.
The African American monument provides historical recognition for the dozens of individuals buried in mostly unmarked graves and atones in part for past injustice. What do these three museum exhibits and outside program have in common? Social history, the stories of a community and its people.
IN CONCLUSION, our board directors and officers wish to convey our collective gratitude to our membership for your ongoing support. We are fortunate. 2020 was a difficult year for all Americans. Hopefully, 2021 will bring us a receding pandemic, economic recovery, and a return to more normal times.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
|BOARD OF DIRECTORS||OTHER OFFICERS|
|Louis Baum – past president||Anita Dulak – secretary|
|Jeffrey Gressler – president||David Krutz – treasurer|
|Scott Kinville – vice-president|
|Gail Potter||Ginny Rogers – website designer and manager|
|Missy Smith||Pat Frezza-Gressler – membership chairperson|
|Mary Anne Terzi|
Sadly, Historical Society members Louis Colangelo, Dr. Jack Connor, Colonel Anthony Gabriel, Mary Anne George, Christina Plant, and Roger Stock all passed away in 2020.
Top left: New Historic Marker.
Top right: Closeup of Historical Society Image on Historic Marker.
Middle right; Hansen’s Renett Sign on Loan from David Cassulo and Neil Rosenbaum.
Bottom left: Louis Baum Researching for “This Day in History”.
Bottom right: Old Bank Museum Historical Register Sign.
Top left: “Artist with Mask” Dr. Oscar Stivala*.
Top right: New Museum Sign in Front Museum Window.
Left middle: “Respect” painting by Joanne Morotti*.
Bottom row: July Board of Directors Meeting at Moreland Park.
*COVID-related art on display in museum front windows.
Top row: SUNY Oneonta Cooperstown Graduate Students with Historical Society Volunteers.
Middle row: Society Member Dick Gloo (Dick’s Wheel Shop)with Restored 1897 H.P. Snyder Bicycle, Closeup of 1897 Bicycle Insignia, October Board of Directors Meeting at WCA.
Bottom row: Dr. Erik Stengler with SUNY Oneonta Cooperstown Students at Route 167 Overlook.
Little Falls Historical Society Museum Exhibits
OLD BANK BUILDING MUSEUM 2023 SEASON
The Museum is currently closed for the season.
Open by appointment only. For appointments, please call
Louie Baum at 315-867-3527
Mary Ann Terzi at 315-823-1502
Jeff Gressler at 315-823-2799
PLEASE CONTINUE TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR UPDATES ON OUTDOOR EVENTS, VIRTUAL TOURS & NEWS.
319 South Ann Street, Little Falls, NY, 13365