Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Help Celebrate our New Addition!

Our new museum building makes me and my hardworking little crew happy.  We are almost done, only things left are getting the word out and a few final touchups, and so a dream of getting our 501 3c and apspling for grants has paid off. So I ask you to tell everyone you know who is interested in history about our opening.
The Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum invite the public to join them for the Grand Opening of their new Agricultural Mini - Museum, located on the grounds of the Old Town of Eaton Museum at 2776 River Road in Eaton.  The new building was made possible by a grant from the Mid-York Foundation and members of Old Town Folks Inc.  

The date is Saturday and Sunday September 28 and 29, which is traditional Fall Festival History Weekend held each fall.  The hours will be from 11 until 4 both days with sales of gifts and bake goods to benefit the museum. 

The new building features the history of Eaton’s many businesses including Moses Cronk, Wood, Taber & More Steam Engine Works,  Sheffield Diary that became Sealtest, with a special feature on the first Holstein - Friesian breeding herd of  cattle to come to The United States, and much more.  

The building will have a built in tour via a video & talk given by former Madison County Historian Back Street Mary Messere.  Messere also will be there  selling copies of her many books, and of course be on hand to answer your history questions.

Messere who acts as the museums curator, notes that this is a dream come true for the small group. Messere won an award from  Museumwise for her putting on of 8 Fall Festival History Weekends that spanned 3  counties and banded small and large museums together to be open for free on the same day in the fall. This allowed people to learn history and visit those little museums that seem to be never open.  

For more information visit the museums facebook page at Old Town of Eaton Museum or on the web at

Monday, July 22, 2019

View from the back street: Summer Lectures begin with the Shakers!!

View from the back street: Summer Lectures begin with the Shakers!!: The Eaton Museum's Summer Lecture Series is set to begin on Wednesday, July 31st, in Eaton at the Old Auction Barn site... on Route ...

Summer Lectures begin with the Shakers!!

The Eaton Museum's Summer Lecture Series is set to begin on Wednesday, July 31st, in Eaton at the Old Auction Barn site... on Route 26 near the Post Office.
I will be delivering the lecture titled "Shakers, Quakers & Local History" that will start at 7pm... with refreshments available for purchase to benefit the museum open at 6pm.

Today I look back on things and believe that the days of the Shakers "simple pleasures" have dwindled for most of us.  Cute pictures up on line bought back many memories of my growing up in a world not inhibited by Television news, Facebook, video games, hand held devices, and the music and media riot of today.

Getting up early we delivered newspapers, which are now delivered most often by the Internet.  We walked to school... with no worry of molestation or drug soliciting.  We played outside in all kinds of weather and looked forward to visiting relatives for holidays and birthdays.  The phone was a luxury that we only used occasionally and then when we could get on… as we had a party line.

Now fancy clothes, expensive jeans and sneakers are needed to stay in vogue…my sneakers cost 50 cents at the five and dime.  Kids have their own cars to drive to school…we had one used family car and thought that was great.  Chores had to be done...lawns mowed, and driveways shoveled in the winter…shoveled…I still do…no snow blower or plowman.

I have been doing research on the Shakers this month and I was amazed how much I missed the simple pleasures that as children we took for granted. Their song Simple Gifts says it all. It certainly has been made recently iconic by Ken Burns in his documentary on the Shakers…and the story of the song is a great bit of history…yes, another of my “history quests”.

The “gift”of the song, as these inspirational things were called, was given to Elder Joseph Brackett who lived at the society in Alfred, Maine in 1848.  It was meant as a statement of what the “Believers” were striving for.  A sentiment of what was important in life…shunning the “Worlds Ways.”

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we out to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

With many other verses added!

Composer Aaron Copeland picked the haunting melody up 100 years later and turned into a score for Martha Graham's ballet named “Appalachian Spring”.  It was performed in 1944 for the first time at the Library of Congress.

It was originally scored for only 13 instruments and won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1945. The dance won for Graham the “Outstanding theatrical work of the 1944-45 season” award.

Everyone from Judy Collins to Yo Yo Ma and Alison Krauss have recorded the song in recent times…a song that is a tribute to simplicity in this rather schizophrenic world of money seeking and daily clutter.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

My Words of Thanks and this year's Hope for History!

What a beautiful morning...the reds and purples greeted old Eaton as the sun came up...could it be summer is about to pull this foggy, wet, dreary gause from her eyes???  I sure hope so.

This has been a cycle of four bad years for me and I too feel like something has been lifted from my eyes... as sickness and poverty have taken their toll.....but incase you wondered where my new blogs and I have been I can fill you in...terrible fall, cancer and now concussion that has lifted a bit.  So this years history and summer are eagerly awaited.

This horrible winter and spring have managed to tax everyone with heat and electric bills, car and house repairs, and lord knows what else.  But a  renewal begins....This year the museum will be hosting a number of new events and the whole crew is awaiting the arrival of our new display building, the lecture series and pie sale.  Though we have gotten a grant to help from the Mid-York Foundation...we still need money to stay open and continue repairs on the little building that has seen all of Eaton's history over the past 220 plus years.

The museum is also in need of helpers so that we can hold it open more often.  It really is easy since all of the displays have been outfitted with written explanations and a quick primer will give you many stories to tell visitors.  We also have some items to sell to raise money for the cause.

The new website is up at which is the company that has promoted Eaton history for over 20 years....and if you google Friends of the Eaton Museum it will come up with both names.

A beautiful rendition of the Eaton Church has been donated by Doug and Diane Chilson... which is gorgeous and shows this historic building as it originally looked.  The building still contains hidden from view -  a Andrew Meneely clock and bell that was donated in its early days.  The Meneely Carillon Company is one of the worlds best known companies.

So if you can help us in ant way email me at or visit the museum.  You will be able to see the dates it is open by looking for our new sign on front street or infront of the museum. Also listing on our website or out facebook page..Friends of the Eaton Museum. We are a Charity listed as a 501-3.

There are so many thank you needed..... but I will list a few here....Michele Kelly and Barb Keough for seeing me through my illnesses...I have had to stay with gracious Michele.  Our little group ... Jen Caloia, Doug & Diane Chilson, Shirley Zimmer, Barb Keough, Michele Kelly, and importantly Jim Monahan.

 Jim has let us use his old Auction Barn Building for our events and pie has been a blessing...thank you!

Please stay tuned into history by supporting our local museum... that contains so much of it.... both national and regional... that learning about it will surprise you!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Summer Lectures, Shakers, and the Weather!

 I have been thinking about doing a Wednesday night lecture on the Shakers this year. The Town of Lebanon was actually settle by Shaker members who left the society to get married. They settled on land that became our current Town of Lebanon. (The Shaker settlement they left was New Lebanon.) 

What added to my Shaker thoughts has been the discussions about the terrible cold damp weather we have been having.  I said to friends that it was possible some of it is caused by lingering smoke in the atmosphere from this past years wild fire, which reminded me of a history story! The date was May 19th in the year in 1780.....

The sun shown bright red in many places before that date and was followed on the 19th by a black cloud that settled over an area that stretched from New York to Maine.  It was so dark that candles had to be lit at noon and the darkness never stopped until the following night. Since there was no weather or news broadcasts in those days it brought many to the conclusion that the “World” was coming to an end as predicted in Biblical teachings.

One famous scene attributed to this was a story made famous in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.  His name and the poem are called Abraham Davenport.  Davenport was legislator in Connecticut who when his colleagues wanted to adjourn a session because of the darkness exclaimed: “I am against adjournment.  The day of judgment, is either approaching or it is not, if it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment, if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.”

The Shakers of then Niskayuna (Waterveliet) Colony were seeking new converts to their religion and were out proselytizing when the event occurred and received a record number of converts because of it.

Many years later (recently) the cause was confirmed to be massive forest fires in Ontario, Canada.  College researchers examining the scar damage on the growth rings of trees attributed the “Dark Day” to a fire in today's Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario.

The new lecture series is scheduled to begin in July, dates to be announced as we are delaying because of the stay tuned as they say!!!

Here is a video of today's work to restore the Shaker Colony of Niskayuna. Enjoy and come out to Eaton for our "Shaker Lecture:!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D- Day Anniversary and the Anniversary of the Eaton Church

Today is a special day as it is the 75 Anniversary of D-Day and in Eaton, it is the day the current Eaton Church was dedicated on June 6th in 1833.  It’s the historic sight I see while having coffee in the morning.

At that time it was the Congregational Church, its founding members included two of the original incorporators of the Baptist Theological Seminary that became Madison University and today's Colgate University.

In 1848 the church hosted the Congregational Society’s yearly northeast meeting at which time the Congregational Society officially adopted an anti-slavery stand.  Some information on this is in the Cornell College Library.

The church had many noteworthy pastors including its first installed minister the Reverend E D Willis.  I became interested in Willis because he lived in my house, a house that Allen Nelson Wood and his wife would buy on their return to Eaton.

The church’s members at that time included Allen Nelson Wood founder of the Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works and both his partners Loyal Clark Taber and Walter Morse.

Other famous Eatonites who attended services were Melville Delancey Landon and his family. Landon became a well known as both a writer and as a lecturer. Many rich and famous people attended the church during the Victorian era during what time Grover Cleveland’s brother; the Reverend William Cleveland was its pastor.

The church still today houses a historic Meneely Clock and Bell, and the churches windows which bear the names of some of Eaton’s greats... still grace its interior; an interior that sports hand turned pillars turned by Allen Wood himself.

During the Civil War the Eaton Churches banded together and held services attended by each other patrons during the week to pray for the wars end.  Prayers were also read during the Wars that followed.

Eventually, the Congregational Church became part of the Federated Churches of Eaton and then later became a Community Church under the Pastor Thomas Clark who improved not only the building, and but helped institute a fabulous AWANA program. During the time he was pastor the congregation also built a large activities build that is used today for youths to play basketball and games and to host special functions.

The Church located on Brooklyn Street is the focal point of a new display at the Eaton Museum, so come down and visit the Sunday from 1-3 pm.  Pick up a beautiful newly done portrait of the church as it looked in the 1800's, we have them for sale!

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Memorial Day Tradition in Eaton

Memorial Day Weekend is on… but the weather has not co-operated really. Many places have been too cold to plant or place flowers on graves.  

The celebrations will occur rain or shine, cold or warm…as they should, honoring those veterans who served this country.   Our little celebration in Eaton once again will honor the many men who fought in the various wars, but since Eaton is home to many Revolutionary War Veterans… some whom are buried just a short distance from our Old Town of Eaton Museum, it is always a special day.

Each year Jim Monahan and his little band of Revolutionary War volunteer cannon re-enactors honor these early settlers and veterans, men who made our Democracy now called the United States of America,

This year the ceremony will take place after 1pm above the museum near the old Gerrit Smith Building on River Road, this an old burial ground. 

The museum will be open as usual from 11 until 3 and Back Street Mary will be on hand to  tell visitors all about the soldiers who founded Eaton and the southern Madison County area… some of whom served at Lexington and Concord.

The museum is decked out with new displays for the occasion with, new information that dates the old stone structure to before 1802.

The Ice Cream Social will take place at the museum at 1 pm and… is only a skip and jump from the site, So come down to Eaton and enjoy history on this traditional “History Day”.