A big item in the files at the museum are the minutes of all the Historical Society meetings from its start in 1967. Minutes include reports on what was said and done during meetings and also descriptions of programs. Because of this, we have additional insight into Rochester’s past often provided by residents who have passed on. At different times the society would have meetings where members would recount memories from the past or bring items of historical interest.
At one meeting in 1969, Edgar F. Randall, born in Rochester in 1883, shared memories of his boyhood. The minutes of another 1969 meeting included ” Guest Stories.” Marion Pierce recalled that the first library in Rochester was upstairs in the building that is now the first Congregational Church’s vestry building. Mr. James Hartley spoke of a shoe shop at Sherman’s Corner where farmers would leave their leather and the shoemaker would work on it in his spare time. He also told how he walked to school unless the weather was bad and then he would drive a team. A Mr. Weld offered the use of his barn for his horse which “young Jim” accepted until his horse ate an entire bushel of turnips.
In 1974 at a meeting, Elizabeth Florindo told how a Mrs. Pratt owned the first car in town. Mrs. Pratt, as the story went, told her chauffeur “to run right over the ducks that were always in the road.” She also said that Mr. Pratt had traveled to the west and returned with an Indian blanket and a diamond ring. You can also find extensive information for the planning of various “centennial” celebrations, including the nation’s bicentennial.
For our first Historical Society meeting since 2019, we hope to get everyone together to discuss the future of the Historical Society and catch up with each other with our own “Memory meeting” where people can share a story, a picture (like the one with this article that shows 1954 hurricane damage), or an item of that is of historical interest.
We’ll meet at 7:00 pm on September 15 with plenty of space and ventilation. Also, masks are required, except when enjoying some delicious refreshments.
By Connie Eshbach