Colchester History Connections Newsletter

March 1, 2012                      Colchester Historical Society, Box 112, Downsville, New York 13755
Volume 2, Issue
1                   Preserving the history of Downsville, Corbett, Shinhopple, Horton and Cooks Falls

New Beginnings

Our member volunteers have been busy at the two scheduled Work Bees, January 18th and February 15t.h.  We attacked the boxes of assorted historical materials that have been accumulating in our storage areas.  We spent hours sorting the materials by type, subject and into our separate villages. We found photographs, postcards, deeds, political and voting records, posters, advertising, service pins, personal memoirs, interviews and newspaper articles from the 1800’s to the present. 

We are following the advice of Ray LaFever, Delaware County Archivist, by photocopying the newspaper articles.  Why?  Because today’s photocopy paper is now acid free and the paper will preserve the materials much longer than the original newsprint which contains acids that will deteriorate the paper.  These newspaper articles are very interesting and really show the development of each of our villages.  It is fascinating to see what businesses were in the villages, how people spent their leisure time, what the government issues were, what was happening at the local schools, how the weather affected the area, how the transportation changed through the decades and what impact the railroads and construction of the Pepacton Reservoir had on Colchester.

We hope that you will visit us and take some time to look through the village notebooks.  The Historical Society Room is open the third Saturday of each month from 11 to 3 PM and also by appointment.  Please call our Town Historian, Kay Parisi-Hampel at 607-363-7303 for more information.

The Colchester Historical Society is currently displaying an exhibit of materials showing the history of the D & E and D & N Railroad.  This exhibit shows a timeline of the development of the railroad line from East Branch to Arena and how it impacted the businesses and travel of our residents.  Did you know that the 1920 silent film, Single Track, starring Corinne Griffith, was filmed here on the D & N tracks?  Visit this display on the first floor of the Colchester Town Hall and find out other interesting facts about our railroad history.  This display will be on view until May 1, 2012.

  Train Display1Train Display2


Join Us

Our monthly meetings begin this month; please join us in the CHS Room in the basement of Town Hall.  The schedule for this year is:

            March 27, 2012 at 10 A.M.                     April 24, 2012 at 7 P.M.                         May 29, 2012 at 10 A.M.
            June 26, 2012 at 7 P.M.             July 31, 2012 at 10 A.M.                        August 28, 2012 at 7 P.M.
           September 25, 2012 at 10 A.M.               October 30, 2012 at 7 P.M.                    November 27, 2012 at 10 A.M.
                                                              December 18, 2012 at 10 A.M.           
We need to elect new officers to continue to do our work.   Won’t you consider helping to grow our Historical Society and lend your talents to the group?

Members Work

Our Obituary Files have been updated.  Obituaries from the past can be an important part of present day genealogical research. Genealogy has become an increasingly common pastime for many, and is greatly aided by the Internet. Genealogy is one of the more common online searches.  Searching the obituaries of our ancestors can lead not only to knowing the facts about their lives and something about their stories, but also the names of relatives, the place of interment, and more.  The names of mourners and pallbearers, for example, could provide clues to family relationships.

Our on-going projects for this year will be the revision of our By-Laws, election of officers, updating of our website, placement of historical signs to be put throughout our villages, and creation of an Emergency Management Plan.


Membership renewals for 2012 are now due, if you haven’t sent in your dues please take a moment and send your check to: Colchester Historical Society, Box 112, Downsville, New York 13755.  Membership forms can be found on our website:   or at the CHS Room, Town Hall and at the Colchester Visitors Information Booth on River Street in Downsville.

We just received a donation from Donald MacLeod who lives in South Orange, New Jersey, who made a discovery after purchasing a picture frame from his local antique shop. Inside the frame behind a board he found two perfectly preserved marriage certificates.  The certificate pictured on the left was from the marriage of Charles A. Schupper and Gallena O. Johnson that took place in Downsville on July 9, 1879 and the certificate on the right recorded the marriage of Ulysses L. Johnson and Rebecca Low which took place in Middletown on December 1, 1887.  We appreciate the effort Mr. MacLeod made to contact us and to give these beautiful certificates a home in our collection.

Marriage Certicate1                      Marriage Certificate2

We would also like to thank Linda Mills for the donation of Digital Photo Converter which converts photographs into digital formats.  This equipment will be very useful in copying photographs that are being loaned to the Historical Society and for converting our photographs and postcards for use on our website.

Downsville’s Chris Jones has posted a seven minute video on YouTube entitled Hometown, Hometown.wmv by jonespnh that he created for his Empire State College history course.  He has done an excellent job and shows the loss of the towns that are under the Pepacton Reservoir and the impact on Downsville. The Historical Society appreciated a credit that he gave us at the end of his video.  If you would like to know more about the lost towns of Pepacton, Shavertown, Union Grove and Arena visit us and look through our Reservoir collection.

Wilma Champlin passed away on February 29, 2012, she was a founding member of the Colchester Historical Society and historian for the Colchester Community Church for over twenty years. Wilma dedicated hours of love and attention on the preservation of the history of Colchester.  We send our condolences to her family.
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