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We are anxious to gain friends and members. Help us to gain 250 members by the end of the year.
Just print and fill out the attached membership form and mail to Guilford Historical Society
Box 201

Guilford, NY

Hamlet of Rockwell Mills on the National Historic Register

Guilford Historical Society and the Town of Guilford are proud to announce that the hamlet of Rockwell Mills is now the first historic deemed district for the Town of Guilford.  The entire project took over three years to complete with researching deeds and the history of the mill and the area in general. Tom Gray, Guilford Town Historian, took on a great deal of the research and with the help of a $2000 grant from the Preserve New York Grant Program part of the Preservation League of New York State, Jessie Ravage was hired as a consultant to complete the nomination documentation. On the 13th of September a letter was received by GHS from the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation that as of August 30th Rockwell Mills was declared an historic district on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the nation’s official list of properties worthy of preservation.
Such a designation recognizes the importance of these properties to the history of our country and provides them with a measure of protection.  In addition, owners of income producing property may qualify for federal income tax benefits. Properties owned by municipalities and not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for state historic matching grants.
With this announcement, GHS is celebrating the above at our annual dinner and you are cordially invited to attend on Oct. 7, 2010, 6 PM at the Old Mill Restaurant on Route 8.
Dinner Menu: Cheese and Crackers, Salad Tray and Assorted Rolls. You also have the choice of the following entrees: Chicken Old Mill, Coconut Shrimp, Honey Mustard Pecan Chicken, Broiled Haddock, Ham with Pineapple. Your waitress will ask for you choice of entrée. No need to indicate your choice before the dinner. Dinner includes dessert, coffee and tea. Other drinks separate.
Following the dinner there will be short presentations highlighting this great designation for a hamlet of the Town of Guilford.
Please reserve your place by calling (607) 895-6532, email: tgray002@stny.rr.com or call (607) 334-4155. We request your response by October 4th, 2010.

Rockwell Mills-today looking East on Rt. 8
An older view of the hamlet when rt. 8 was a dirt road
The State and National District Map

The Old Mill Restaurant

Rare Photos to be Displayed at Fun-Fest

by Tom Gray Town Historian
A number of rare photos of businesses that existed in the hamlet of Guilford will be on display at Guilford’s Fun-Fest Day Aug. 21st from 9 AM to 3 PM by the Guilford Historical Society in the large tent on the lawn on Main St. For over five years committee members have been researching the growth of the hamlet and the other hamlets of the town collecting photos shared by residents and others to add to the town’s archives.
The first business to open on Main St. was Dibble’s Tavern in 1808. This was expanded to be the Guilford House, a tavern and hotel in the 1850’s. A glass negative from the Civil War period that has been digitally converted captures this time period. Other interesting old photos on display reflect the present buildings that remain on Main St. such as the Bunnell estate, the Episcopal and Methodist Churches, Dr. Clark’s residence, the old Town Hall, the Merchant and Cable properties to name a few. Other photos include the Sherwood, Totman, Scolfield, Drachler and Burlison general stores.
It was Niram Merchant and Andrew Bradbury who formed a partnership in 1845 and opened the first foundry on Furnace Hill Road. The growth of the “Iron Works” and its inventions and resulting US Patents issued propelled the growth of new enterprises that never existed before “iron came to Guilford.” Metal waterwheel gearings, plows, stoves etc. made in machine shops and sold in stores on Main St. were now available. New farm machinery resulted as well as new wagons; sleighs and cages were just a few of these new products that produced area economic development.
With the arrival of the railroad in 1870 other businesses grew. Clothing and drug stores lined the busy Main St. and two hotels welcomed guests that now arrived by train. The milk and dairy industry grew as well as the feed and coal businesses, as the O & W trains arrived to transport Guilford’s products throughout New York and other states. These changes can be seen in the photo collections that will be on display. Also included in the society’s displays will be rare photos of old farms that were the backbone of Guilford’s growth throughout the centuries.
Stop by our tent on Aug. 21st and share with us our fascinating history. If you have any old photos, bring them along. We will have a scanner available so you can keep your treasures but, know you added to our town’s history. One mystery that has not been solved concerns the Guilford Iron Works. Only a sketch in an old newspaper shows the building that contained a two story machine shop and adjacent to it the “Furnace” structure where the crude iron was processed. The first photographer of Guilford was Purley Merchant, brother of Andrew Merchant who owned the Iron Works after his father died. Purley made the glass negatives of Main St in the 1860’s but where is the photo of his family’s business? The Iron Works endured until 1919 but no photos of it have surfaced. If you have a photo of the foundry, bring it with you to share with us and you will be the first one who solved the mystery and bring home a free gift from our society.

Sorry, Computer malfunction

Walter Cronkite

Fred and Portland Allen

Leo Carrillo…AKA Poncho

The Old Mill Restaurant

Rockwells Mills

I feel really bad that I haven’t updated since last August. I haven’t been able to get on the blog. I could bring it up but not sign into our account. So, today I am on the laptop. Hurrah!! Access.

Now for the update.

What do Leo Carrillo, Fred Allen and wife and Walter Cronkite have in common?

Answer: They all came and ate at the Old Mill Restaurant. In fact Fred and Portland helped lay the corner stone when an addition was added to the building. How cool is that? You may ask how do you know that? They signed the guest book and photos of Fred and Portland were taken with the divider stones which appeared in local papers. Of course only us oldsters would remember those famous people, but we know the Old Mill in Rockwell’s Mills. And speaking of Rockwells Mills, the GHS received a grant to help put the hamlet of Rockwells Mills on the NYS historic register. It’s a tedious process. We have been researching deeds to provide information of who may have owned the homes before the Civil War up until the mill closed in the early 1900’s. Then a comparison to be done of the names of those folks who owned the property to who may have been mill employees. So, if and when you may be or live in the area stop at the Old Mill Restaurant. They will be open in April. As you enter, you are entering the portion that was part of the original mill. Then begin to reminisce of days gone by. If your not a history buff and even if you are you will still be delighted with the delicious meal and the excellant service, just as the old timers above were. To learn more of this history contact us about a book “The Mill and the Mansion” written by Tom Gray, Guilford Town Historian. GHS, Box 201, Guilford, NY 13780.

Guilford Community Fun-Fest Aug 22, 2009

This could be Yours!!


Some of the photos of Farming to be displayed at the Klee House by GHS
Guilford Community Day is back with a new name. Now known as the Guilford Community Fun- Fest, it is hoped that this year is bigger and better than ever before. You won’t believe all that is in store for you August 22nd from 9:00 in the morning all the way through until 10:00 pm. Yes that’s right! 10:00 at night. However, most of the activities take place from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Included in that time frame are: Number One: House tours. There will be approximately 5 or 6 homes to tour. There is a charge. Meet at the Methodist Church at 10:00 am to begin a fantastic voyage through some of the beautiful homes of Guilford.
Number 2 on the list are Crafters and Vendors lining Main St. and the Methodist Church. Get your Christmas shopping done early with wonderful hand crafted items including jewelry, wood crafts and Indian crafted items and much more. Along the same line at the Methodist Church the Church Ladies have organized a White Elephant sale, basket extravaganza and home made candy sale. There will also be a quilt show there. So, bring your hand crafted quilts or antique quilt and description and/or history thereof and be eligible for a prize for the most favorite quilt.
It’s not without saying, that the Guilford Garage/Lawn sales play an important part in the usual community day events and this year is the same. So be prepared to wander the streets of Guilford and be sure to pick up a map of where they are located at the Methodist Church or the Klee House next to the stone church. Anyone who is having a sale and wish to be on the map contact Elaine Pikul at (607) 895-6325.
We are now up to number 3. A cancellation stamp has been designed for the day. Take your letters and cards to the Guilford Post Office window to receive the special Community Day Fun-Fest cancellation stamp. Hours are 8:00-12:00.
The fourth item, not to be missed, is at the Klee House-next to the stone church. The Guilford Historical Society is sponsoring a great display of Guilford Farming. The display is intended as a salute to the farmers of yesterday and today with photos depicting some of the old and new farming technologies. It is an on going project for GHS and we are still in the process of collecting farming photos. If you have any old and/or new photos, please bring to the Klee House for us to scan. The GHS will also be selling the Guilford Crocks and Guilford history books. There will also be raffles during the day. There is a 50-50, a jewelry box, 3 beautiful hand-made afghans and a calf. Yes, that’s right a real calf. The tickets for these items will be available at the Klee House and the Methodist Church. The GHS also would like to help in supporting the Klee House as it is a great place for many groups to meet. There will be a novelty table set up with many unique (antique and new) items for sale to support the Klee House overhead.
During all the activities you may feel hunger pains and have we got a deal for you. Stop in at the Guilford Firehouse for their famous BBQ Chicken and the Methodist Church for your salads and baked beans. If you prefer hot dogs, hamburgers or sausage, those too are available at the Methodist Church. Also, be sure to check out the Farmers market for home-grown produce.
Now last but not least, is the reason for the 10:00 pm close of the day’s events. For a donation of a non-perishable food item as admission, box or canned good, you may enter the Methodist Church at 6:00 pm and attend a dance. The dance will be emceed by our very own Guilford DJ, none other than Scott Parsons. From 6:00 to 10:00 you can dance the night away to all your old favorite tunes and feel your youth come back, at least for awhile, and know you had the best time at the Guilford Fun-Fest and who knows, you may take home a prize or two besides all the goodies you bought.

Haynes Hotel by Tom Gray

Milk Can
Shelton’s hardware sign
2nd floor rooms
When Paul and Betsey lived there
Haynes Hotel 1900
In January at our regular monthly meeting, Guilford Town Historian Tom Gray presented the following history with photos using power point.
History of the Haynes Hotel
Jan. 2009
The Haynes Hotel lasted for 70 years from 1840 to 1910.It was sold to Mr. Richards who sold to Ralph Shelton in 1918. Ralph made the hotel into a Hardware Store buying goods from Frank Yale.

When it was hotel, the first floor had an entryway and to the right was the barroom. There was also a parlor with a piano. A milliner from Norwich came in the spring and fall to display her hats etc. on the piano. The second floor had 10 guestrooms. The third floor had 5 smaller guestrooms and appears from the construction there were at one time dormers for each room. Around 1900 an addition was added to the back of the hotel with more rooms to accommodate an increase in business. There was also a carriage house in the back of the hotel that later served as a garage. An acetylene generator in the back of the hotel supplied lighting for the hotel. The gas was piped into the hotel rooms using two inch copper pipes. In the hotel were many large scenic and historic paintings elaborated framed. There was also a framed painting of an Indian that was perhaps used as a tobacco sign.

The rooms on the second floor were converted into small apartments in the early part of the 20th Century. Ruth and Glenn Trip rented one apartment. Glenn was the O&W station agent at that time. The second apartment was rented by Earl and Nettie (Kniffen)) Murray. Earl worked for the town and was also a clerk in Totman’s Store.

Ralph Shelton had his Hardware Store from 1918 until his death in 1966. His son, Paul Shelton then took it over and continued the hardware business. When County Route 35 was being completed through Guilford in 1971 the building was moved back by Dexheimer Movers and the back section of the hotel was demolished. The hardware store closed around 1975. Since then and until the death of Paul and his wife Betsy it was kept as a residence. As of 2009 it was up for sale.

In the summer and fall of 2008 I was invited by the family to tour the building and take photos. As a result, Fred Shelton, son of Paul and Betsy, donated a number of artifacts to the Guilford Historical Society.

“Great Graves” Topic of Guilford Historical Society Social

Join the GHS for a great presentation by author Chuck D’Imperio on the “Great Graves of Upstate New York”. It all takes place on Saturday, February 14th at the Guilford United Methodist Church at 12:00 – 3:00. There will be socializing and luncheon from 12:00 to 1:00 with the presentation beginning at 1:00. The program highlights Chuck’s research for his book and his presentation of the subject is sometimes funny although the topic seems grim. As we know, many people, as we have done, actually enjoy strolling through a cemetery. There are few spots as peaceful and well kept, and they can lend the visitor a sense of the past and thoughts of eternity. They can also teach about history and biography. It’s amazing who you can meet there (in a manner of speaking).

Chuck D’Imperio has visited cemeteries large and small across upstate New York. His quest (he refers to it as a hobby) began after the interment of his 99-year old grandfather at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, just down the path from Mark Twain. Soon Chuck was plodding through small country graveyards and leafy, expansive memorial gardens across upstate New York to find the notable as well as those noteworthy but forgotten. His book “Great Graves of Upstate New York” tells about seventy legendary individuals, from actresses Lucille Ball (buried in her hometown of Jamestown) and Helen Hayes (in her adopted community of Nyack) to industrialists George F. Johnson (Endicott) and Andrew Carnagie (Sleepy Hollow), writer Rod Sterling (Interlaken), aviator Glenn Curtiss (Hammondsport) and abolitionist Harriet Tubman (Auburn).

Some of the persons profiled by D’Imperio had obvious ties to New York, like author James Fenimore Cooper (Cooperstown) and Governor Samuel Tilden (New Lebanon). But there are also many whose New York connection is not often appreciated. The Wells Forgo stagecoaches opened America’s western frontier and the company is still headquartered in San Francisco, but William Fargo (Buffalo) and Henry Wells (Aurora, close to the campus of Wells College, which he founded) started their business with a delivery route between Albany and Buffalo.

“Big Chuck” D’Imperio (who is alive and well and living in Oneonta) is a broadcaster and writer. He and his wife Trish also operate Cooperstown Walks providing guided tours of that historic village.

The author spent a decade touring upstate cemeteries to write “Great Graves of Upstate New York.”. So join us February 14th at 12:00 noon to 3:00 at the Guilford Methodist Church for a free luncheon, socializing, raffles-valentine cake and more, displays and GHS sale items.

Report on the Wreath Project

At last nights meeting Tina showed photos of the wreath laying. Betsey Murray was chair person of the project,Tina Cemetery Committee chair, Scott president of the society, and Dave Hubbard, Veteran project chair. Thanks to them for enduring the cold to place the wreaths that Betsey collected. A great project with a lot of meaning. The following is a report from Scott and Tina.
Scott’s Report:
As you all know, our latest project was inspired by the national Wreaths across America program. The program’s goal was to place a wreath on as many veterans’ graves as possible on Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 12:00 pm. Since this was pretty much an impossible goal, GHS decided to place the wreaths on the gates of the major cemeteries within both Guilford and Mount Upton.
GHS was first introduced to the project at our November, 2008 meeting when Doris Camp, President of the VFW Post 1371 Ladies Auxiliary, gave a brief presentation. Immediately after the presentation, Betsy Murray volunteered to start collecting donations. Tom Gray prepared a letter to take to local businesses asking for donations, and the group did obtain two wreaths from Pires Flower Basket in Norwich. Wilma wrote an article to put in the local papers to increase project awareness. The group set a date of December 10 as the cutoff point for donations, although there were more after that. It was stressed in the article that anybody who wanted to participate was welcome to do so, and if they desired to place a wreath on a grave of a loved one, that too was encouraged.
As November moved along, Tina, who is head of the GHS Cemetery Committee, indicated that she would like to participate in the laying of the wreaths at the cemeteries. She actually set our itinerary because she’s familiar with all the local cemeteries.
As head of the GHS Veterans Committee, David Hubbard also became involved in the project. He became aware of a wreaths sale at Lowe’s, where he works, and made us aware of it. Through him, we purchased five wreaths total for the project.
By December 10, the project had seventeen wreaths to place at local cemeteries. Two of the wreaths were made by Ruth Tompkins, and five came from Lowe’s. The main source for wreaths however, came from a trio of friends, Joanne Gray, Michelle Gray, and Helen Ritchey. Their contribution to the project was a total of eight wreaths, all homemade!
A few days before Wreath Day, as I called it, Betsy brought up a very important point. She thought that it would be a good idea to identify the wreaths as having come from GHS. As a result, Mary Ellen Parsons, Shirley and David Hubbard created an identification tag to attach to the wreaths. David created the cards and printed them out, while Mom, Shirley and Betsy put them on the wreaths. Betsy’s idea was to put the tags in little sandwich bags and then seal them, thereby keeping them dry. Once they figured out how to put them all together, the three ladies went to work just like an assembly line!
By the arrival of Saturday, December 13, 2008, the Wreaths Committee met at 9:30 AM to begin our journey. Tina’s excellent summary describes our trek out into the cold and snow to go to the main cemeteries around Guilford and Mount Upton. Fortunately, Tina and David both took their cameras, thereby enabling us to take pictures at each spot where a wreath was placed. It was truly an exciting and humbling experience to honor our local veterans. David had to leave us shortly after noon because he had to go to work, so Tina, Betsy and I carried on with the project, but we didn’t finish it completely. After our fun, we returned back home, and all thawed out with hot chocolate and cookies. It was a perfect end to a picture perfect day.
Tina’s report:
On December 13, 2008 the Guilford Historical Society celebrated their first Cemetery Wreath Project. Modeled after the Wreaths Across America concept we
decided to honor our deceased veterans as well as our historical cemeteries this holiday season. In 12 degree weather on an icy Saturday morning, GHS president Scott Parsons, veteran David Hubbard, cemetery chair Tina Pabst, and GHS member and project head Betsy Murray set out on their mission. Armed with 19 wreaths, they spent 4 1/2 hours and traveled 45 miles to accomplish their goals. Wreaths were placed in the Guilford and Mt. Upton parks, as well as Sunset Hill, Gospel Hill, Yaleville, Yale, Cooper, Ives Settlement, East Guilford, Maplewood, Lady Upton, North Guilford, Godfrey, Guilford Center,and Dorman cemeteries. It was both a lot of fun and a time for reflection. The cemeteries were beautiful with the sparkly snow and ice encrusted tree branches. In a small way we acknowledged the huge sacrifices of our ancestors, pioneers, and current veterans.
Thanks to all who donated wreaths and their time. It was much appreciated.

Be sure to view the following video and click on the sound to turn on and you can view it full screen. Many thanks to Tina for the photos. This may be the first year for the project and hopefully will continue as a yearly event.