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Half-Shire Historical Society News – July 26, 2013

During the hot and humid days of mid-July a dedicated corps of volunteers spent extra time in the cool main hall at Half-Shire’s Richland headquarters sorting and copying the Widrig obituaries.

The Widrig collection is comprised of more than 30 boxes of pasted up clippings regarding the deaths of more than 15,000 individuals from the region.

Begun in the early 1900s by Avis Donovan Widrig, the collection was kept up by her son, the late George Widrig, who died in 2011.

Since George’s death we have been trying to get a hold of the organization of the obituaries, most mounted on 5 x 8 index cards.

When Pam Kellogg came home for the summer in June she took the task on as a priority.

The results will be much more user friendly for researchers, each obituary has been entered into a master index, copied and placed in an archival sheet protector in alphabetical order.

Curator Erma Schroeder and her sister, Shirley Purvis, along with Barb Monette have been working side by side with Pam for the past four weeks, often on hot or rainy days.

The foursome deserves an enormous debt of gratitude from all who use these clippings for research.

Pam’s husband, Les Kellogg, was here for a week to spend time with his wife and see to the burial of his late father, Harris Kellogg, a long-time member of the society.

During this time, Les took on the task of “cleaning up” our circuit panels and ensuring all breakers are of the proper load and labeled correctly.

Les also made arrangements with his long-time friend, Jim Soule, to replace the outside light that had become disconnected this spring.

Les planned out the electrical installation for the new central air system also, working with Trustee Phil Rombach who is sponsoring the project to ensure our humidity levels remain within optimum archival numbers.

These tasks have ensured that the building has remained open seven days a week, so far with few exceptions.

During this time we have welcomed many new members and assisted countless researchers.

Last week, Linda Taylor and daughter were down to work on the Claflin, Miller, Hogan and Trumble families.

LuAnn Tanner Dobson, a longtime member from Baldwinsville dropped in unexpectedly on the 20th.

We were pleased to see Lu and to show her around the building and get our several volumes on her Tanner and Richardson ancestors.

Robin Caster of Phoenix has been in twice this past month in preparation of the Caster family reunion that will be held this August.

Taking breaks from the morgue files, Erma and Shirley have copied many reams of old clippings and family records from the Percy Caster family, the Nichols family, the Hiltons and also many stray families from Fulton historian Peter Palmer.

On July 20, Shawn Doyle spent a 12-hour day of research with member Chris Sheldon of Seneca Falls, helping area men with applications to join the Sons of the American Revolution.

Two local men are applying under the service of Phinehas Stewart, whose son, E (a)thol Stewart, settled Richland and Sandy Creek.

Another gentleman from near Massena came to Half-Shire to swear out his application as a direct descendant of Paul Revere’s brother, Thomas.

The Syracuse Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution covers the central part of the state including Cortland, Onondaga, Oswego, Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

The chapter will meet at Half-Shire in October for a luncheon and to observe the marking of graves of patriots in the area.

Entergy Corporation volunteers who are members of Half-Shire have logged in more than 1,000 hours at the society this year, making many of them eligible for volunteer grant monies to be awarded to the society.

President Doyle and Rick Telian of Pulaski, Celia Potter of Redfield, Margaret Sullivan of Parish, Craig Donohue of Kirkville, Rob Jones of Mexico and Mark Wallace of Oswego have all completed the minimum required hours to request grants that now total more than $5,000.

Among the work done: Rick Telian and his companion, Katie Quaintance, have been working on the upcoming society cookbook, culling through 100 years of old recipes and typing them in.

Craig Donohue and wife have spent many days inventorying books and LP records, newspapers and other items.

Celia Potter has become our new photo repair expert, scanning thousands of old photos from various collections, enhancing and repairing where needed.

All have assisted with newsletter preparation, photo identification and even grounds and building work.

Two other Entergy employees, Tim Bullock and Chuck Balcom of Pulaski (now retired), have also helped us through this program.

Chuck has logged more than 400 hours himself this year as he restores the old library on the second floor with his own funds.

The society sincerely thanks Entergy Corporation for its generosity with this great community connectors program!

The Half-Shire newsletter, somewhat late, is being prepared for mailing as we write this.

To ensure you receive this interesting 12 page letter our $12 annual dues are a bargain.

Half-Shire can be reached at P.O. Box 73, Richland, NY 13144 and is located at 1100 County Route 48 in Richland.

www.halfshire.org and “Half Shire” on Facebook.

Phone 315 298-3620.