2021 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE LITTLE FALLS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
In 2021 the Historical Society had a mixed bag of results. On the good side, our virtual footprint was expanded once again and our annual writing series produced nineteen articles by seventeen different authors. Two new historic markers were put in place, a second year of successful collaboration with the SUNY Oneonta Cooperstown Museum Studies program took place, and a second book of writing series articles is about to go to press.
We also maintained our close working relationship with the Little Falls High School Alumni Network and established a membership with the online publication New York Almanack.
On the other hand, museum attendance was limited once again by COVID concerns. Just when it seemed that we might be able to begin more normal operation, the Delta variant struck in early July and renewed caution returned. We all hope for a return to more normal operation in 2022.
Our board directors and officers devote much time at each meeting to museum operation and looking after the health and safety of our volunteers and the general public who might wish to visit the museum. Our small core group of aging volunteers is a bit more cautious than the general population regarding the pandemic. We wish to apologize for any inconvenience that this caution may have caused.
There have been no monthly general membership meetings or presentations since 2019 due to COVID concerns. Terms in office expired for all officers and board directors in 2021. Thankfully, our directors and officers all agreed to have their terms of service extended for one year using Article 5, Sections 3 and 4 of Little Falls Historical Society bylaws.
The Historical Society is fortunate to have a strong membership base that supports our programs and contributions to the greater Little Falls community. At year’s end, Society membership included 236 individual and 30 business / corporate memberships. We have 49 Regular, 53 Family, 45 Sustaining, 89 Patron memberships, and two Memorial memberships.
Historical Society members reside in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Germany. The 92 out-of-state members are primarily Little Falls natives, expatriates. We do not currently have members in Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi. Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia.
We have set a goal of having members from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Can you help us?
*Accolades to Little Falls Historical Society member Lou Parrotta for being named Oneida County History Center volunteer of the year.
BUSINESS AND CORPORATE MEMBERS
- Adirondack Bank
- Beardslee Castle
- Burrows Foundation
- Chapman-Moser Funeral Home
- David Chlus – Morgan Stanley
- Dick’s Wheel Shop
- Empire Fibreglass
- Enea Family Funeral Homes
- Floor & Furniture Restoration
- Funtech Providers
- George Lumber Company
- H & H Accounting
- Hummel’s Office Plus
- Kress Physical Therapy
- Law Office of George Aney
- Little Falls Dental
- Little Falls Veterinary Clinic
- Luminati – Daniel Preston
- Mike Evans Racing
- One Leaf Genealogy
- Paca Gardens
- PEMS Machine & Tool
- Pohlig’s Enterprises
- RD’s Mountain Trucking
- Read Accounting
- Ruggerio’s Trattoria
- Stewart’s Shops
- Twin Rivers Paper Company
- Van Meter & Van Meter
- White Rose Bakery
- Little Falls Dental
The Little Falls Historical Society remains on solid financial footing. In 2021, income ($33,823) more than doubled expenses ($15,001). This was accomplished solely through the generosity of our membership as the Historical Society receives no public funding. Donations ($24,623) were triple those of 2020 ($7932) and 2021 membership dues ($9130) were up from 2020 ($8195). 2021 expenses were down from 2020 ($16,262). 2021 expenses included utilities ($5514) and website maintenance ($3760). We added most of the 2021 surplus to the Historical Society annuity fund.
Looking forward, the Historical Society is well positioned financially for funding future program projects and for the care and upkeep of our beautiful museum. Thank you, members!
WEBSITE, FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
The Historical Society’s virtual presence expanded in 2021 beyond our fine website. Our Facebook account was upgraded and an Instagram account was added. Website manager Ginny Rogers reports that our website and Facebook account had a combined total of 21,056 contacts in 2021, up from 8675 in 2020.
EXPANDED RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Our expanded virtual footprint has significantly increased the number of research requests on a wide array of topics. To accommodate this increase, a more formalized research committee was created in 2021. Dozens of research requests were met in 2021.
This committee and other volunteers are also hard at work creating a series of audio self-guided walking or driving tours of significant homes in Little Falls. Nearly 100 houses are being mapped and grouped by proximity. These tours will focus on the historical and architectural significance of each house. The first such tour will be available in 2022.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
The Historical Society provided valuable assistance to two families in their quests to get their respective houses placed on the National Register. Society members Ginny and Jim Rogers were successful in getting this distinction for their Van Slyke House (1860). The Van Slyke House was important to the operation of the Little Falls cheese market in the late-1800s.
We are also assisting Society member Tom Overmann and his wife Mary Ellen McGillan in their efforts to get their home (1824) built by John Bellinger on the National Register. John’s father was Revolutionary War veteran Adam Bellinger who is buried in Yellow Church Cemetery.
SPONSORSHIP OF VINTAGE BASE BALL TEAM
The Little Falls Alerts took the field during Canal Days Celebration for a three-team, round-robin tournament on field three at Veterans Memorial Park competing against the Bovina Dairymen and the Mountain Athletic Club, two longer-established teams from the Catskills area. Although the local nine lost both of their contests, they showed solid improvement during their two games. It is hoped that additional vintage base ball teams will compete in tournaments during future Canal Days Celebrations. The Historical Society co-sponsors the Alerts along with the Little Falls Youth and Family Center. There are two vintage base ball articles on our website.
SELF-GUIDED CHURCH STREET CEMETERY WALKING TOURS
Our last walking tour of significant graves in Church Street Cemetery was during Canal Days Celebration in 2018. We were close to finalizing plans for a similar 2021 tour, but with the surging pandemic, our directors and officers decided to change plans from a formal live event to informal self-guided tours. We provided programs and cemetery maps which were used by numerous people to make their way around this beautiful cemetery.
During Canal Celebration 2021, formal dedication ceremonies were held for the two new NYS historic markers. The first was for the marker located near the bottom of the west ramp off Burke bridge acknowledging the 1782 gristmill attack and the second was in front of the Old Bank Building Museum commemorating the 1833 building itself. Thank you to the Kasner Family Foundation for funding the second marker and to Society member Harold Blovat and Friends of Mohawk Valley for funding most of the cost of the first marker.
We have also secured funding for a third historic marker through the William Pomeroy Foundation to be placed sometime in 2022 at the site of the guard gate for the 1795 Western Inland Navigation Lock Canal. The Historical Society is also working with City government to help locate another marker commemorating the 1825 visit of Marquis de Lafayette through Little Falls on the Erie Canal. Discussions continue for other historic markers as well.
In recent years, the Historical Society has orchestrated the replacement of three Little Falls Cheese Market pedestal signs on South Ann Street. Plans are in the works to also replace two other deteriorated pedestal signs near the South Ann Street and Main Street intersection, one sign recognizing the historic contributions of the Burrell family and the other being an old-time postcard collage of Little Falls.
ARTIFACTS, ACCESSIONS, AND RESTORATIONS
The Historical Society continues to be the recipient and repository of various Little Falls artifacts donated by many people. Society volunteers also purchased a number of significant items at a June estate sale. Two of these items, one a panoramic photograph of the Finks Basin extension bridge and Mohawk River looking westward towards Little Falls and the other a most unique late-19th century chromatic lithograph print of Little Falls. Both of these important items have been professionally restored and added to our collection.
CHRISTMAS IN LITTLE FALLS
Although we were unable to open the museum for this community event due to Covid concerns, we were able to help with the event by setting up an outside wintertime exhibit on the museum portico. This exhibit included a number of antique winter recreational artifacts, principally an oversized homemade snow sled donated to the museum. Also featured were a large number of vintage wintertime photos of Little Falls. Pictures of this exhibit can be viewed on our website.
2021 WRITING SERIES
2021 was a banner year for our annual writing series which dates back to 2008. Nineteen articles were published in MyLittleFalls.com, on our website, and in the Mohawk Valley Express this year, bringing the 2008-21 total to over 130 articles written by over sixty different authors. The Historical Society is extremely proud to serve as the publication center for quality writing by creative authors on a wide array of community historic topics. The 2021 writing series included:
- 2021 Writing Series Dedication – Hector Allen by David Krutz
- Sometimes Distributing Vaccinations Easier Said Than Done by Schuyler Van Horn
- Patriots Day Honors Those Who Were Not Sunshine Patriots Jeffrey Gressler
- Mayor Hadley Jones: Saint or Sinner? by Louis Baum
- A Sun Shower Without End by Ray Lenarcic
- The Little Falls 1916 Lock 17 Dedication Ceremony by Angela Harris
- A Child’s Memory of World War II by Mary Ann Pellerito Mucica
- Long Ago from a Faraway Land by Jessie Snyder Huberty Thompson
- Dairy Farming in New York: The More Things Change by De Wayne Perry
- “Surviving Childhood” A Memoir And Interview with Jan P. Hollick by Cynthia Hollick Foley
- He Still Sustains: Pitt the Painter’s Studio Loft by Laura Laubenthal
- South Side Cigar Stores by Gary Staffo
- A Pizza Story by Jim Papaleo
- Burwell Street Namesake And Moreland Park Visionary by Jeffrey Gressler
- Growing up on the South Side in the 1950s – 1960s by Donald Staffo
- Every Legend Has a Beginning: The Hubie Brown Story by David Dinneen
- The Magnificent Mile by Louis Baum
- The Palatine Germans in Search of a Place to Call Home by Ginny Rogers
- The Old Bank Building Survives And Thrives by Pat Frezza-Gressler
Once again, we are indebted to the services of Dave and Deborah Warner for publishing our articles in both their on-line My Little Falls newspaper and Mohawk Valley Express electronic and print copy newspaper. In 2021, the Historical Society began submitting vintage newspaper articles to the Mohawk Valley Express. Thank you also to our website manager Ginny Rogers for her artful posting of these same articles on our website. Our 2022 writing series will commence with the publication of articles beginning in late-April.
BOOK #2 – BEYOND OUR BICENTENNIAL
Many of you already possess our TOWARDS OUR BICENTENNIAL book with its fifty-four articles which was published and released for sale in 2013. Since then, our annual writing series have generated an additional seventy-seven articles authored by thirty-nine different Little Falls residents past and present. This 240-page second book entitled BEYOND OUR BICENTENNIAL will go off to the publisher in the near future and will be available for sale in the spring. This book has been dedicated to both the founding members of the Historical Society and to all Little Falls military veterans who have served our nation in times of peace and conflict.
UPCOMING IN 2022
Some graduating senior from the class of 2022 will be awarded the first Little Falls Historical Society annual scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to a graduate who will major in history or a related field in college and who has completed some amount of community service work. The amount of this scholarship has not yet been determined.
SUNY ONEONTA COOPERSTOWN MUSEUM STUDIES GRADUATE PROGRAM
We have begun our third year of collaboration with Professor Erik Stengler and his graduate students as they continue their study of the history of the interconnection between Little Falls waterways, science, and industrial development. The 2020 on-line Cabinet of Curiosity student book can be found on our website. The student-generated 2021 audio driving tour of important Little Falls historic locations is also available on our website.
As an interesting side note, all six of the 2020 students from this program who studied at our museum have gained employment at various museums in the year following their graduation.
2022 PATRIOTS DAY AT NORWAY CEMETERY
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid concerns, the Historical Society will partner with the Norway Historical Society to host a May 14, 2022 Patriots Day observance outdoors at the Norway cemetery; military veterans from the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War are interred there.
EAST MAIN STREET HISTORIC ENTRY
Little Falls is fortunate to have many great historic buildings, but unfortunately, many visitors do not see these structures. Most incoming west-bound traffic turns onto South Ann Street and then has to navigate our system of one-way streets. Imagine the change of experience if increased incoming west-bound traffic off Route 5 was encouraged to turn onto an East Main Street historic entry into Little Falls. People would first pass through a well-kept neighborhood and then past Benton Hall Academy, Holy Family Church, Ward Square, the historic district, the public library, Martin Babinec’s Rock City Centre, the former Loomis Burrell mansion, City Hall, and our east end commercial district. A different experience.
Historical Society is partnering with City government to create this historic entry.
The Historical Society is also providing background assistance to Canal Harbor employees and volunteers who are working to create an exhibit in the Rotary Park terminal building focused on the history of Little Falls canals and waterways.
Unfortunately, Historical Society members Barbara Connor, Dora Czernecki, Rear Admiral Thomas Johnson, Father Dan Lanza, Katherine Lyon (past president), Byron Roff, and Donald Sweet all passed away in 2021. These individuals were all longtime Society members whose contributions will be missed.
And so, another year of uncertainty has passed. Our officers, directors and other volunteers hope that 2022 will see a return to more normal operation. Our organization has much to be thankful for, principally the strong support of our loyal membership. Thank you.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Louis Baum – immediate past president
Jeffrey Gressler – president
Scott Kinville – vice-president
Anita Dulak– secretary
David Krutz – treasurer
Little Falls Historical Society Museum Exhibits
Little Falls Historical Society Museum
319 South Ann Street
Little Falls, NY (Get directions)
OLD BANK BUILDING MUSEUM WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON A BY APPOINTMENT ONLY BASIS BEGINNING JUNE 1, 2022.
Museum visitation appointments can be scheduled by calling either:
Louis Baum (315) 867-3527 or
Maryanne Terzi (315) 823-1502
*PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT IN ORDER TO SCHEDULE A MUSEUM VISITATION APPOINTMENT, YOU MUST BE WILLING TO:
1. Provide proof of COVID vaccination and booster.
2. Wear a high-quality, non-cloth mask at all times while inside the museum.
Appointments are limited to four people plus museum volunteer docents.
THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING THE ABOVE GUIDELINES.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR UPDATES ON OUTDOOR EVENTS, VIRTUAL TOURS & NEWS.