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Area Residents Enjoy Jefferson History Day

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

A model of the old Charlotteville School House that was on display at Jefferson History Day Saturday, June 8. Photos by Chris English.

Jefferson Historical Society President Kevin Berner (center) leads a walking tour of West Main Street businesses and community buildings during Jefferson History Day on Saturday, June 8.

Visitors take in the displays at Jefferson History Day on Saturday, June 8.

By Chris English

JEFFERSON — Luke VanCleef decided to boost his knowledge of local history on a recent weekend morning, and he wasn't disappointed.

The Jefferson resident, his wife Jennifer and daughter Brielle were among dozens of area residents who dropped in on Jefferson History Day Saturday, June 8 at Col.Stephen Judd Hall and other locations in the town. The event featured displays from more than a dozen local historical societies and museums.

"I think they've done a great job," said VanCleef. "Very nice displays. It's very nice to honor the history of the town. I think it would be great to do it every year, would be a nice way to draw people in."

That's the plan, said Kevin Berner, president of the Jefferson Historical Society that organized Saturday's event.

"We decided over the winter we wanted to have a gathering of a wider variety of historical groups here," he explained. "It's a good way to get historians together and people who are interested in history in general. It's also a means of getting people to visit the museum upstairs."

Berner was referring to the Nicholas J. Juried Museum of Jefferson History, on the second floor of Judd Hall.

This was essentially the first annual Jefferson History Day, Berner added, and said the hope is for the event go be held every year and grow bigger.

"Many years ago we did something at the Maple Museum," he noted. "Next year, we will probably do it at the Maple Museum but we couldn't this year because there was construction scheduled there and we didn't know exactly when that would be."

Among the many groups represented at Jefferson History Day were historical societies from Jefferson, Stamford, Schoharie, Middleburgh, Esperance, Charlotteville, Sharon, Sharon Springs, Harpersfield, Carlisle, Schoharie County, Schoharie County Colonial Heritage Associaton, and the Gilboa Museum and Iroquois Museum in Howe's Cave. Included in the many items on display were dozens of old photographs and other historical materials depicting various phases of local history, and a model of the old Charlotteville School House that operated from 1894 to 1951.

In addition to the displays and activities at Judd Hall, Berner led a walking tour of West Main Street businesses and community buildings, with each participant provided literature with capsule histories of each building and other information. Keynote speaker Dr. Charles Ver Straeten, Curator of Sedimentary Rocks at the New York State Museum, gave a talk on local history at the Jefferson Methodist Church.

Gilboa Historical Society President Gerry Stoner, representing the Gilboa Museum, talked to people about the rich variety of fossils and other items of interest at the museum. Next to Stoner's display was one staffed by Vic DiSanto of the Iroquois Museum that featured coin bronze duplicates of medals given to Iroquois code talkers of World Wars I and II, an Iroquois headdress and otter, beaver and muskrat pelts.

"This outfit is unbelievable," said Stoner, pointing to DiSanto and the Iroquois Museum table. Stoner added he thought Jefferson History Day was a great event he hoped would become an annual tradition.

Jefferson Heritage Day is scheduled for Saturday, July 13. The event is billed in a sign in front of Judd Hall as an "all day fun filled free event, rain or shine."

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