2023-24 Annual Report

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HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 1 The Historical Society ofRockland County Annual Report 2023–2024 Annual Membership Meeting of The Historical Society of Rockland County April 1, 2024 THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ROCKLAND COUNTY 20 Zukor Road, New City, NY 10956 (845) 634-9629 Phone (845) 634-8690 Fax www.RocklandHistory.org info@rocklandhistory.org

Our Mission

The Historical Society of Rockland County is an educational organization dedicated to engaging diverse audiences in promoting and preserving the history of Rockland County. To fulfill its mission, the Society:

A. Collects, catalogues, preserves and exhibits artifacts and archival materials that reflect the diverse history of Rockland County and the Lower Hudson Valley.

B. Sponsors educational programs and publications based on sound scholarship to promote the appreciation of history and cultural heritage of the people of Rockland.

C. Promotes through programs, services and example the preservation, restoration, continuing and adaptive use of the historic buildings and sites in the County.

D. Develops and maintains the financial, professional and human resources necessary to achieve the purposes and goals of the organization.

COVER IMAGE: Waxwork, “Wax World,” in large black box, filled with wax flowers, a white house with red roof, human figures and a model of the solar system. Created by Caroline Van Riper Campbell (1807–1892), gift of her great-granddaughter Betty N. Gessler, 1979. Paperwork about the waxwork recently came to light during deinstallation of the 2022–23 “Uniquely Rockland” exhibition.

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Annual Membership Meeting of The Historical Society of Rockland County

April 1, 2024 * 6:30 PM Agenda

Call to Order & Pledge of Allegiance

President’s Annual Report

Review of Annual Report with Committee Reports

Report of Nominating Committee & Election of Trustees


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20 Zukor Road, New City, NY 10956

(845) 634-9629


Board of Trustees

Veronica DeMeo Boesch, President; Stephen Beckerle, 1st Vice President; Judge Alfred J. Weiner, 2nd Vice President; Sue Ferreri, Treasurer; Anthony Benedict, Secretary; Judge Victor J. Alfieri Jr.; Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky, Thom Kleiner; Jennifer Lorenzo; Janet Oravec; Hon. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick; Doris-Renée Weiner; Lea Wolinetz


Susan Curry Deeks, Executive Director

Jennifer Rothschild, Director of Programming

Robert Carroll, Caretaker

Marjorie Johnson, Editor, South of the Mountains

Marianne B. Leese, Senior Historian

We thank you for your continued support of your historical society!

In addition to contributions from members, friends and the business community, the Historical Society of Rockland County received funding in 2023–24 from the Office of the Rockland County Executive, Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Town of Ramapo, and the Village of West Haverstraw.

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The Historical Society of Rockland County 2023 Annual Membership Meeting

April 4, 2023 * 6:30 PM


Pledge of Allegiance: Ronnie Boesch led the pledge and called the meeting to order.

Attendance: Judge Victor Alfieri, Stephen Beckerle, Anthony Benedict, Ronnie Boesch, Thom Kleiner, Jennifer Lorenzo, Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Janet Oravec, Jennifer Rothschild. Also present: Richard Anderson Susan Deeks, Executive Director; Marianne Leese, Senior Historian; Vic Miranda; Jon Oravec; Adele and Bob Schnell.

President’s Report: Ronnie Boesch referred to the printed Annual Report booklet distributed to all in attendance. She stated that as a history teacher in Rockland for many years, she always loved history. She read her written President’s Report.

Events: During the past year, there were some notable events including the dedication of the Helen Hayes House in Nyack as a Literary Landmark. Three bus trips took place last year, as well as history hikes and walking tours.

Annual Appeal: Ronnie Boesch thanks everyone who contributed to the Annual Appeal.

Annual Dinner: Ronnie Boesch notes that the HSRC has not held an annual dinner in the past three years due to COVID. She hopes to schedule a combined event merging the Historic Preservation Awards with the Annual Dinner.

Executive Director: Sue Deeks directs attention to the printed booklet. In it there is a Collections Report. She states that the Collection gives the HSRC the basis for exhibitions. Ronnie

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thanks Marianne for her many years of service. Sue reads from the list of activities including “Flashback Friday,” which is handled by Clare Sheridan. The exhibition “Uniquely Rockland” will remain open.

Staff: Sue reports that two staff members have left their positions. She advises that the Board consider the salary/benefits package. The Personnel Committee needs to meet.

Financial Report: Sue turns her attention to the centerfold showing the Annual Appeal and other financial information. She states that the Cares Act Employee Retention Fund contributed to the financial health of the HSRC during the COVID years; however, expenses have risen recent due to inflation. Nonetheless, there was a $38,000 surplus for the year, and the Endowment closed at over $3 million dollars.

Board of Trustees Elections: Chair of the Nominations Committee Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky was unable to attend tonight’s meeting. The Nominations for 2023 are included in the printed booklet. Motion to approve the slate of candidates by Thom Kleiner; Judge Alfieri seconds. Motion carries; slate is approved.

Next Board of Trustees Meeting: April 19 at 7:15 p.m. in the Community Room.

New Business: Judge Alfieri states that he has compiled a list of all judges who have served in Clarkstown over the past 200 years. Copies were made available to all in attendance.

Adjournment: Motion by Richard Anderson, seconded by Bob Schnell, to adjourn at 7:05 p.m. Adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

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President’s Report

Thank you for your interest in the Historical Society of Rockland. Our Society was founded in 1965 by people whose passion was local history. Some were Rockland-based history teachers. Others were people determined to preserve the memory of our community’s bygone generations: first, the indigenous peoples who developed their societies from the riches of our rivers, streams, land, and mountains; and afterward, our early pioneers who sought a better life for their families during the colonial era. These groups paved the way for the development of the area, which became known as “South of the Mountains.”

Our mission is to make the history of our county come alive for those who are living here today. We are back on track after the events of the past four years. We hope to be able to continue in our mission by our endeavors to educate students about our history, geography, and achievements.

Our hope is for more individuals to learn about our offerings and visit our galleries to view our exhibitions and talk to our staff. This past year, in addition to our gallery visits, we have provided tours of our 1832 Dutch farmhouse. The Blauvelt family lived in this home for generations, and our tours bring to life their day-today activities. In our meeting room we have held lectures and talks by authors, teachers, collectors, and anyone with a connection to Rockland and its people. Our bus daytrips are popular and will continue this coming year.

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The past year has also seen the passing of one of our most respected and cherished members. James Cropsey was an active member of our Board of Trustees for many years. He and his wife, Pat, have given generously to the Society. As active volunteers whenever and wherever they were needed, their efforts helped us carry out our mission during in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Pat is still living in their farmhouse in New City. Our efforts to achieve our mission would not be as fruitful without our members and the donations made to our Annual Appeal. Again, we thank all who generously contributed this year.

This coming season we are resuming our Annual Dinner and the County Preservation Awards. Our Dinner and Awards presentation will take place on May 19th at the Paramount Country Club. We hope to present an enjoyable evening for our honorees and guests.

Respectfully submitted,

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Reports from the Committees


The 2023–24 committee consisted of Stephen Beckerle (chair), Gordon Wren, Richard Anderson, Dan Garcia, Art Gunther, and Veronica Boesch.

The Historical Society was fortunate in that the house and grounds required little beyond regular maintenance in 2023–24. We thank Curti’s Landscaping for continuing to mow the lawns and trim the edges; Mr. K’s Gutter Service for clearing and cleaning gutters; Second Nature tree service for tending our endangered hemlocks and otherwise examining our aging trees; and the Town of Clarkstown for keeping the parking lot plowed in winter. Caretaker Bob Carroll continues to tend the ornamental garden; clean the interior of the History Center, Blauvelt House, and Barn-Carriage House complex; and clear walkways and driveways after snowstorms.

Respectfully Submitted,


The 2023–24 committee consisted of Anthony Benedict, Veronica and Bob Boesch, Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky, Jennifer Rothschild, and Gordon Wren. The committee enjoyed formulating and carrying out four events in the 2023–24 fiscal year as the So

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ciety continued its recovery from COVID-19 restrictions.

There were two bus trips, one Hike through History, and one Local History Meetup, with a total of 100 participants. The four events in 2023–24 were:

 Hike through History: Claudius Smith’s Den, May 6

 Local History Meetup: The Lustron House, Closter, July 8

 Bus Daytrip to West Point and the Historic Thayer Hotel, September 20

 Bus Daytrip: Boscobel and Historic Cold Spring, October 18

All of these events promote the HSRC as an organization and fulfill our local history mission. They raise funds to support that mission, build friendships and goodwill, and increase membership. We generally offer discounts for members on fee-based programs.

The events are spread out fairly evenly throughout the year, giving the HSRC visibility in advertising and community discussion. These events also keep us involved with other nonprofit organizations and businesses throughout the county and region.

Respectfully Submitted,

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Serving on the 2023–24 Collections Committee were Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky, Thom Kleiner, Jennifer Lorenzo, Marianne Leese (Chair), Janet Oravec, Winston Perry Jr., Elijah ReichlinMelnick, Clare Sheridan, Judge Alfred Weiner, and Doris-Renée Weiner. Due to work and personal schedules, most of the committee’s work was done via email.

Dianne Macpherson, a retired archivist, continues to volunteer on Thursdays; Chinelo Ezeilo volunteers one Thursday a month; and recently Sparkill historian Larry Vail began helping in the collections. Dianne and Chinelo, along with Director of Programing Jennifer Rothschild, were helpful in creating an inventory of quilts in our collections in preparation for the exhibition to open in April. They also tended to the clothing that got wet when heavy rain on July 4 caused water to leak from an electrical conduit in the ceiling of the textile storage room onto several boxes of stored clothing and flags. Everything was laid out to dry and repacked in new archival boxes, and Caretaker Bob Carroll plugged the conduit. So far, we’ve had no further water problems.

From 1988 until 2009, a full-time curator of collections was on staff. For the past 15 years, management of the collections has been a volunteer effort. For the size and scope of the collections and the professional work that went into it in years past, the Historical Society needs to find sustainable means to hire a curator of collections.

Frank Eberling Mail Wagon, ca. 1904, HSRC 2007.0.315

In the fall of 2022, the Board of Trustees approved restoring the Frank Eberling Mail Wagon that had sat, minus wheels, on the floor in the east wing of the Blauvelt Barn since the 1970s. Frank Eberling (1886–1948) of New City used it when he began delivering mail to rural residents of the New City postal district in 1904. He switched to delivering mail by automobile in 1917 and continued to serve as the New City mail carrier until 1934.

The trustees approved contracting with Tad Fallon of Fallon and Wilkinson, LLC, of Baltic, Connecticut, to do the restoration. Since October, the mail wagon has been at his studio . Initial cleaning and integration of the paint has been done. The tattered

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canvas roof has been removed and will be replaced. Mr. Fallon has found the mail wagon to be structurally sound and is excited to be working on this project.

Grandsons Ray and Frank Eberling have continued to work closely with the Historical Society on the project. Frank, a professional videographer, is documenting the progress made on the mail wagon. In October, Ray, with Frank’s assistance, gave a talk at the HSRC about his grandfather and life in New City during the first half of the 20th century; Ray also wrote an article for South of the Mountains, entitled “My Grandfather Frank Eberling: New City’s First Rural Free Delivery Mail Carrier.” The talk and the article prompted donations toward the restoration. Attending the talk were members of the Pavia family. The late Dr. Anthony Pavia, DC, purchased the Eberling home on South Main Street in 1964. The sale included the barn in which the mail wagon was stored. In the 1970s, Dr. Pavia donated the mail wagon to the Historical Society. We have him to thank for saving the mail wagon and the Eberlings for keeping alive their memories of Grandfather Frank Eberling and his mail wagon.

Members of the Eberling family have generously donated toward the restoration. Friends also have generously made donations, and this spring a $1,000 challenge match was met.

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Accepted by the Board of Trustees for Deaccessioning

 HSRC 2011.11.20, Tan Silk Dress of Lillian Rose Perry. The silk was shattering badly when handled. Deteriorated beyond usefulness and identity, it was thrown out.

 HSRC 2020.5.1, Roberts’s Wicker Phaeton. The phaeton is taking up valuable space on the floor of the Blauvelt Barn. Prior owners were Richard and Edith Roberts, who raised horses and lived in the sandstone house at 1 Roberts Road, New City. After their deaths in 2015 and 2006, respectively, Eric and Donna Eisold purchased the property and offered the phaeton to the HSRC. The phaeton will be sent to an auction house in Copak, New York, where an active group of carriage enthusiasts are interested in bidding on it.

Accepted into the Collections

 Haverstraw 400th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion and Drawstring Pouch. Gift of Clare Bowes Sheridan.

 1951 Site Plan for Lake DeForest, showing property owners along the Hackensack River, 24” × 39”. Given by Barbara G. Iatrecchia, Rock Tavern, New York, in memory of her mother, Nancy Moore.

 Poster for Maxwell Anderson’s Play HighTor , 12” × 8”, produced by the West Branch Conservation Association, held at High Tor State Park, 2010. Given by Barbara G. Iatrecchia in memory of her mother, Nancy Moore.

 Twelve Button Pins—political, Ramapo High School, Fish & Game, Arts Council of Rockland, “I Have a Dream.” Given by Naomi Kleinberg, New York City.

 Hudson-Champlain Celebration Souvenir Coin Half Moon depicted on one side, good for 50 cents till October 16, 1959. Given by Robert Schnell, Pearl River.

 Hudson-Champlain Celebration Souvenir Coin Orangetown Fire Company, 125th Anniversary depicted on one side, good for 50 cents till July 13, 1959. Given by Robert Schnell.

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 Haring-Demarest Collection, containing, in part, tintypes, a 19th-century photo album, cyphering books from 1681 to 1824 (the oldest belonging to Abraham Haring and written in Dutch), almanacs dating from 1814 to 1864, a get-well letter to Willie Demarest from his school chum in 1902, an indenture selling a portion of the Haring-Demarest Scotland Hill Farm on South Pascack Road, South Spring Valley (Chestnut Ridge), 1909 Gold Medal Flour cookbook. Given by Meredith Lee Bittler, Mercer, Pennsylvania, grandniece of Bessie and William Demarest, who lived in the ancestral home.

 Colored Postcard of Iona Island, Government Powder Station and Bear Hill, viewed from the Hudson River, never mailed. Gift of Robbie Vaughn of Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

 1936 Signature Quilt, made by members of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Airmont. The church began in 1715 in Mahwah, New Jersey; moved to Airmont around 1850; and disbanded in 2020. Familiar local surnames are written on the quilt. A member of the church who had the quilt moved to Pennsylvania. When she died, the lawyer of the estate gave it to the Wayne County (PA) Historical Society. Gift of the Wayne County Historical Society.

 British 69th Regiment Brass Coat Button, found along the Hudson River shoreline in Haverstraw. How the button got there is a mystery, since there is no evidence that the British 69th was ever in Rockland. On reverse side is the name of the manufacturer: Smith, Kemp & Wright, Birmingham. Gift of Mark Garrahan, Garnerville.

 Notebook containing handwritten copy of “Records of Session of Haverstraw,” 1817 (First Presbyterian Church, est. 1780): Membership Roll, 1817–1832, and Baptismal Records, 1817–1838. Copyist unidentified, but likely J. Elmer Christie. Gift of Winston C. Perry Jr., Upper Nyack.

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 “The Centennial Jubilee of the Nanuet Baptist Church including the History of the Church,” 1898, 16 page booklet. Inserted is a newspaper article pasted on a sheet of paper: “Nanuet Church Will Celebrate 125th Birthday.” Gift of Winston C. Perry Jr.

 “One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Anniversary, 1798–1923, “Nanuet Baptist Church, 1923, 16-page booklet. Gift of Winston C. Perry Jr.

 Tin Cup from Letchworth Village, plain, no markings. Gift of Jacquelyn Drechsler, Valley Cottage, and Frances Lapins.

 Key to a Dead Latch Used at Letchworth Village, 1971, made by Accurate Lock & Hardware, Stamford, Connecticut. Gift of Jacquelyn Drechsler and Frances Lapins.

 Joseph B. Komonchak (1904–1975) Collection, containing, in part, material revealing the activities in which Mr. Komanchak was involved, such as the Rockland County Republican and later Democratic party, Rockland County Committee of the National Recovery Administration in 1930s, Nanuet and later West Nyack fire department; binders containing newsletters of the fire departments (1943–1945, 1953–1954), which he edited; binder of original and photocopied letters, written by members of the West Nyack fire department while serving during World War II; autobiographical manuscript “I Turned Back the Clock to Yesterday,” about his life growing up in Haverstraw; booklet, I Had a Train-load of Bosses: Memories of Life on the 20th Century Limited, “The World’s Greatest Train,” 1974. Mr. Komanchak was court stenographer for Rockland County Court, 1935–1970; part-time stenographer in local courts, NYS Supreme Court and federal court; and court clerk to all Clarkstown justices of the peace, 1946–1949. He worked for the Pullman Company as stenographer on the 20th Century Limited, 1927–1932. Gift of Fr. Joseph A. Komonchak, Bloomingburg, New York.

 Four Tallman Photographs, 1858–1860s Tunis Tallman (1790–1868); his wife, Altjie Tallman (née Hopper) (1794–1877), lived in Tallman; Cornelius Tallman; his wife, Mrs.

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Cornelius Tallman (unable so far to find information about them). The writing on back indicates the photos were given to John A. Tallman Jr. (1912–2007), and the images were of his father’s great-grandparents. Research revealed that a son of Mr. and Mrs. Tunis Tallman married a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Tallman. John Tallman died in Oregon, and the images came into the hands of an art dealer who sold them to the donor, a collector of early American images. Gift of Jules Martino, Silverton, Oregon.

 Life-size Oil Portrait of NYS Senator Eugene Levy, 65” × 30”, painted by his son William Levy. Eugene Levy was elected to the New York Senate in 1984 and served three terms before his death of leukemia in 1990. He served in the 84th District, covering all of Rockland County and parts of Orange County. Born in Brooklyn in 1926, he grew up in Spring Valley. He was a well-respected, well-liked, well-known person. Gift of William B. Levy, Sarasota, Florida.

 Church Commemorative Plate, First Congregational Church of Spring Valley, 1956 70th anniversary; history of the church printed on the back. The church merged with the Reformed Church of Spring Valley in 1980 to form the United Church of Spring Valley. The Congregational church building was sold to the Haitian Church of God.

 Colored Postcard of Good Samaritan Hospital when it was in the former Suffern-Maltbie-Messimer mansion on Orange Avenue. The hospital was established in 1902. Printed in Newburgh, the postcard was mailed from Thiells in 1928 from Maud to Miss Cora Love, Jasonville, Indiana. Maude writes about seeing the sights of the Hudson River, driving along Storm King Mountain Highway, and visiting George Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh. “The scenery is grand,” she wrote.

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 Rockland County Fair Poster, 1884 41st Annual Fair of the Rockland County Agricultural Society at Spring Valley. Gift of Craig H. Long, Suffern.

 World War II–Era Snapshot, three men sitting on a cot and the message, “Look who’s on my sack again.” Addressed to Pop, June 17, 1945, from Ted. Ted writes, “Here is the photo you so graciously consented to pose for with the rest of us grease balls. Right off hand I’d say it came out swell. Not much news. Have been alerted for the move to Germany but still here. Assume that you are home & free already.”


 1780 Haring-Demarest Kas.

The kas, a large Dutch cupboard or wardrobe, was donated to the HSRC by Bessie Demarest on the condition that it would remain in the family home until her brother William’s death. Miss Demarest died in 1983; Mr. Demarest in 1993. However, the HSRC already had a similar kas in better condition in the parlor of the Blauvelt House that was donated by Leland R. Meyer in the 1970s. The HaringDemarest Kas was taking up valuable space in the collections storage room and needed work done on it. The kas was offered to other historical societies and museums and was gratefully accepted by the Upper Saddle River (NJ) Historical Society. It has been restored and now occupies the society’ s Hopper-Goetschius House Museum in Upper Saddle River. The kas was built in 1780 by Bessie and William Demarest’s fourth -great-grandfather Daniel A. Haring. Their mother was a Terhune who grew up in the 1810 John H. Terhune house at 361 West Saddle River Road, Upper Saddle River.

Continued on page 20

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N.B. The Finance Committee reports are current as of March TK, 2024. They are not audited financial statements; nor do they include income or expenses received in the final week of the fiscal year. As such, they are preliminary and subject to change.

FY Income was $ versus a plan of $ . This outcome was due to .

FY Expenses were $ versus a plan of $ . This outcome was due to .

Balance Sheet Summary as of March TK, 2024

*Endowment Fund value as of February 29, 2024

18 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report Actual Plan Better/(Worse)
Year Income Expense Total
Bank Account Amount Fund Type Sterling/Webster Money Market $ Capital Fund Capital (1) Subtotal $ Raymond James Endowment $ Endowment Fund* Endowment Subtotal $
Checking $ Operating Fund
Money Market $ Cash Reserves TD Bank Money Market $ Cash Reserves Operating Subtotal $ Total $3,268,738.57


N.B. The Endowment Report is based on the calendar year (January 1–December 31, 2023). All other reports are based on the fiscal year (April 1, 2023–March 31, 2024).

The Endowment Fund opened the calendar year at $2,891,404.10, and closed at $3,122,449.20, for a positive net change in portfolio value of $231,045.10.

As of December 31, 2023, the portfolio consisted of 30% fixed income securities, 3% cash and cash equivalents, and 67% equities.

It is managed by The Mahoney Group, with Raymond James as custodian.

Respectfully submitted,

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Additions to the Research Library

 Book, Confessions of a Hayseed DA , by Robert R. Meehan, ed. Kathleen Meehan Do, 2022.

 Book, ADoctorRecallsthePracticeofMedicineinNew City,1935–39 , by George Bialkin, MD, 1992. Gift of Barbara G. Iatrecchia, Rock Tavern, New York, in memory of her mother, Nancy Moore.

 Book, StitchedandWoven:BergenCountyQuiltsand Coverlets 1800–1976 , by Peggy Norris and Kay Yeomans, 2020. Contains image of Jacquard coverlet in our collection.

 Book, TheNewYork,OntarioandWesternRailway , by Joe Bux with the Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society, 2009. From the Estate of Robert P. Knight.

 Book, LifeintheOldDutchHomesteads,SaddleRiver, NJ, from 1708 , by John Hosey Osborn, 1967. From the Estate of Robert P. Knight.

 Map, Sites of Indians Settlements in Rockland County, 2023 copy of original map in the collections that was copied by John Scott from frayed and tattered maps in the Budke Collection at the New York Public Library.

 Map, Allied March South, 18 August–7 September 1781, 2023. Attributed to William Ferraro, PhD, managing editor of The Papers of George Washington, University of Virginia.

 CD, TheBlauvelts:AnAmericanJourney, produced by the Association of Blauvelt Descendants, documenting the Blauvelt family, 2005.

 Print, “Tappan Zee Bridge, 2013–2019,” 20” × 16”, on card stock, of a pen-and-ink drawing of the New Tappan Zee Bridge near completion, by Nyack artist Bill Batson, 2018. Gift of Jacquelyn Drechsler, Valley Cottage, and Bill Batson.

 Wooden Plaque, on which is mounted copy of letter to Mrs. Geraldine Levy, dated July 31, 1990, from President George H. W. Bush, extending condolences on death of NYS Senator Eugene Levy. Gift of William B. Levy.

Respectfully submitted,

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Several school groups came to the HSRC for our Lenape education program. In October, a private school in Westchester County brought fourth-graders here. Groups from area public schools included two from the Viola School in Suffern in November and two from Sloatsburg in January. Teen Leadership Rockland visited on an evening in December for presentations by visiting educators from the Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site and HSRC Director of Programming Jennifer Rothschild, followed by a tour of the Jacob Blauvelt House.

Adult groups that visited in 2023-24 include the Jewish Foundation and Federation of Rockland County, who came in October for a presentation about Rockland’s Jewish history; tours of the “Uniquely Rockland” exhibition and Jacob Blauvelt House; and a luncheon in the History Center’s Community Room. Leadership Rockland also visited in October for its annual History Day program of tours, talks and lunch. A group from the Rockland Psychiatric Center visited in January for a tour of the “Winter Wonderland” exhibition and a the Jacob Blauvelt House decorated for the holidays.

Other education outreach programs included a hands-on craft table at the annual Fall Festival in West Nyack; taking a table at the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Ramapo High School; visiting the Tappan Senior Citizens Club; and judging at the regional National History Day competition, held at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill.

Respectfully Submitted, Jennifer Rothschild, Director of Programming


In April, we reopened the History Center to the public with the exhibition “Uniquely Rockland: Important, Iconic & Oddball Objects from the HSRC Collection,” showcasing objects from

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the HSRC collection that tell stories about the people, places, or objects that existed (and may still exist) in Rockland County. Some of these stories were important in ways that reach well beyond Rockland, touching national and even world history. Some were iconic to our unique corner of the universe. And some were just so odd or unusual we wanted to share them.

Also in April we reopened the semi-permanent “Rockland Voices” exhibition, which illustrates the county’s rich history by highlighting key objects from the HSRC collection. From April through August, we again highlighted the special display “Mariel Farlow—Being of Light,” curated by Clare Sheridan, an exploration of one of the most controversial public sculptures in Rockland: Being of Light, installed on the grounds of the County Courthouse in New City in 1980.

The 47th Annual Holiday Exhibition, “Winter Wonderland,” opened in December. Curated by Director of Programming Jennifer Rothschild, with assistance from trustee Janet Oravec, President Veronica Boesch, Senior Historian Marianne Leese, and Caretaker Bob Carroll, it celebrated winter and its holidays by showcasing items from our collections, including children’s toys, books, and games; holiday cards and décor; snow-themed works of art; and more.

The 2023-24 exhibitions were underwritten in part by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Office of Rockland County Executive Ed Day. We’re grateful for the support!

Respectfully Submitted,

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There are currently 490 active members, which represents a 2% decrease from last year:

Our effort to increase membership in 2023-24 included:

 Continuing solicitation to social media followers to become active, paid members.

 Sending gratis issues of South of the Mountains to lapsed members with their renewal notices.

 Offering memberships in all event and program journals.

South of the Mountains continues to be the most popular tangible benefit; discounts on trip and event fees are also a welcome membership benefit. We thank Marjorie Johnson and Marianne Leese for editing the journal and the contributing authors for making the publication unique in our region. We also thank Jennifer Rothschild for tracking memberships and all volunteers–notably, Richard Anderson, Ronnie and Bob Boesch, Carl Ferraro, Kay Levinson, Marcia Norton, Isa Ochman, Larry Vail, and Jeanne Zeitvogel who helped with envelope stuffing in the course of the year.

Respectfully submitted,

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2023-24 2022–23 2021–22 Blauvelt Fellow 15 13 11 Centurion 61 49 44 Family 101 114 128 Individual 112 116 114 Libraries 16 17 17 Lifetime 7 7 8 Museum Patron 0 0 0 Presidents Circle 3 3 3 Senior/Student 175 183 183 Sustaining Patron 0 0 1 490 502 509


The Nominating Committee offers the names of the following Historical Society members:

Trustees nominated for a three-year term (Term 2028):

• Hon. Victor Alfieri, Congers (second term)

• Rev. Richard Baker, West Nyack

Father Richard Baker was named parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack in 2022. He is a former pastor at Saint John Nepomucene Church and Saint Malachy’s–The Actors’ Chapel, both in Manhattan. Father Baker is a longtime member of the Historical Society of Rockland County. He is a graduate of Nanuet High School, and holds a master’s degree in liturgical music from the Catholic University of America.

• Diane Buell, New City

Diane Buell is a registered professional archaeologist whose passion for history began in childhood attending Pearl River schools. She has served as an education program volunteer at the Historical Society of Rockland County and is currently serving on the Rockland County Historic Preservation Board. Diane has given talks on archaeology to students in local schools and is a strong advocate for making local history interesting and accessible to both children and adults.

• James F. Higgins Jr., Congers

James (Jimmy) Higgins is the director of operations at Dr. Davies Farm in Congers. A highly dedicated and focused farm manager with in-depth agriculture experience, he holds a bachelor of science in business economics and finance from the State University of New York, Oneonta. He is currently the Rockland County president of the New York Farm Bureau and a member of the Congers Civic Association’s Executive Committee.

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• John Resanovich, New City

Born and raised in Rockland, John Resanovich has always felt a strong connection to the county and its history. He has worked at several historical and cultural institutions, including as assistant to the director at the Bear Mountain Trailside Zoo and Museum; historic site interpreter at Historic Hudson Valley’s Phillipsburg Manor and Sunnyside; and instructor and intern coordinator in the Education Department of the Bronx Zoo. He is currently an educational technology facilitator with Southern Westchester BOCES and has volunteered with several community organizations, including Keep Rockland Beautiful and Cropsey Community Farm.

Term 2025

• Stephen Beckerle, Stony Point

• Thom Kleiner, Sparkill

• Jennifer Lorenzo, Stony Point

• Doris-Renée Weiner, Wesley Hills

• Lea Wolinetz, Suffern

Term 2026

• Anthony Benedict, Airmont

• Veronica DeMeo Boesch, Airmont

• Sue Ferreri, New City

• Hon. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Nyack

• Judge Alfred J. Weiner, Wesley Hills

Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky of Monroe and Janet Oravec of Pearl River have completed their terms. We thank them for their Board service!

Respectfully submitted,

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 25

2023–24 Programs and Special Events

Thursday, April 20, 2023


Fiber Arts with Celeste Sherry

Before the industrial revolution, fiber and textile arts were a vital part of farmwork for families like the Blauvelts. Celeste Sherry, an expert spinner and living historian, as she discusses the history of spinning and textiles from the Stone Age to the nineteenth century. Following a demonstration of fiber spinning on her antique and reproduction spinning wheels, attendees can try their hand at wool picking, combing, carding, and spinning with a variety of natural fibers.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


The Germond Family Murders

In this special presentation, Dr. Vincent Cookingham discusses his forensic investigation into this long cold case, which resulted in the publication of The Germond Family Murders: A Forensic Conclusion to a Cold Case. Dr. Cookingham brought more than 50 years of investigative and forensic science experience as a law enforcement officer, consultant, and university professor to his examination of crime scene photographs and files that had not been examined by a qualified professional for more than ninety years.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Annual Dinner and Historic Preservation Merit Awards

At the 2023 Annual Dinner, held at Nyack Seaport, we honored Marjorie H. Johnson, editor, South of the Mountains, with the Lifetime Service Award; Judge Victor J. Alfieri Jr. of Congers with the

26 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report

Community Service Award: and Dr. Arlene Clinkscale of Nanuet with the Living Landmark Award. We also celebrated the winners of the 2020/2023 Historic Preservation Merit Awards: the Haverstraw Brick Museum Center for Historic Preservation (Preservation Leadership Award); the Town of Clarkstown and Stephen Tilly, Architect, for the Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House, West Nyack (Preservation/Restoration Award); Andrew Asgar, CPA, for the former St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pearl River (Rehabilitation Award); and Justin Duerr on the publication of Herbert Crowley: The Temple of Silence (Special Commendation). Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, award presentations and musical entertainment.

Saturday, September 30, 2023


The Murals: The Story of the Uptown Post Office Murals and Sullivan, Sandburg, Poor

To commemorate the birthday of Rockland artist Henry Varnum Poor, the Rockland Center for the Arts and HSRC screened The Murals. This new documentary film explores how and why the New Deal–era Uptown Post Office Murals in Chicago were made by Henry Varnum Poor; why they feature Carl Sandburg and Louis Sullivan; and how they inspire people today. A panel discussion with the filmmaker, TG Jamroz of Chicago, followed the screening.

Thursday, October 26, 2023


The Eberling Mail Wagon, with Ray and Frank Eberling

Since the 1970s, when it was donated to our collection by the late Dr. Anthony Pavia, of New City, the HSRC has had in our pos-

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 27

session the horse-drawn wagon used by Postman Frank Eberling to carry mail on New City’s Rural Free Delivery routes at the turn of the 20th century. His grandsons Ray and Frank Eberling are now working with the HSRC to restore the wagon for display at the museum. In this special presentation, Ray and Frank talked about about the wagon’s history, the planned restoration, and how HSRC members and the wider community can get involved.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

10th Annual Fall Festival




In celebration of Rockland History Month in October and to continue our focus on collaboration and preservation, the HSRC teamed up with Heritage of West Nyack and the Town of Clarkstown again for the annual Fall Festival. The one-day event was held at Germonds Park in West Nyack to raise awareness of ongoing efforts to preserve the historic Vanderbilt Budke and Traphagen farmhouses, now owned by the Town of Clarkstown and under preservation.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023


George Washington’s Leadership Prior to the Siege of Yorktown: Marching from New York to Victory

Presented by Dr. William Ferraro

The 2023 Annual History Luncheon cosponsored by the Northwest Bergen History Coalition and HSRC featured William M. Ferraro, Research Associate Professor and Editor of The Papers of George

28 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report

Washington, University of Virginia, as the guest speaker. Most recently, the Washington Study Group has been focused on the Yorktown campaign and British surrender during the Revolutionary War. Professor Ferraro has published scholarly articles and book chapter focused on Grant, Washington, James Monroe, and John and William Tecumseh Sherman. His numerous posts on nuances of Washington’s correspondence and aspects of documentary editing can be found at washingtonpapers.org.

Saturday–Sunday, December 2–3, 2023


Each year since 1961, the HSRC has welcomed children of all ages to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. This traditional program is a highlight of the holiday season, and many adults who enjoyed the event as children now bring their own families. This year, 54 children accompanied by 79 parents, grandparents, and other adults enjoyed the eight St. Nicholas Day performances. Special thank go to Richard Anderson (St. Nicholas), Jennifer Brooks (storyteller), Caroline Higgins, Kay Levinson, Jennifer Rothschild, Joette Yore, Jeanne Zeitvogel, and other volunteers who helped our guests learn about early Dutch holiday traditions; visit with St. Nicholas; enjoy spiced cider and ginger cookies by the open hearth; and discover holiday treats left in the children’s shoes.

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 29

Sunday evenings, December 10 & 17, 2023, and January 7 & 14, 2024 Candlelight Tours of the Jacob Blauvelt House

Eight-five adults and children joined us this holiday season for special Candlelight Tours of the decorated Jacob Blauvelt House, experiencing Dutch American holiday traditions of the 1830s. Although inclement weather forced us to cancel the tours scheduled for January 7, two tours were held each evening on the Sundays of December 10 and 17 and January 14. We thank Jacquelyn Drechsler for again providing nineteenth-century flute music for the tours. Candlelight Tours require a great deal of volunteer support. Special thanks in 202324 are due to Richard Anderson, Ronnie and Bob Boesch, Eti LeMoullec, Stephanie Patiris, Jennifer Rothschild, Adele and Bob Schnell, Robin and Gordon Wren, Joette Yore, and Evelien Zonneveld.

30 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report


HSRC in Print SouthoftheMountains

The history quarterly South of the Mountains is the flagship publication of the HSRC and a tangible benefit of membership in the Society. Highlights from 2023–24 issues include “William Doherty’s Donation of Civil War Records”; “The Rocks of Rockland: The Other Stone Houses,” by Carole Morrill; and “My Grandfather Frank Eberling: New City's First Rural Free Delivery Mail Carrier” and “New City in the Early 20th Century,” by Raymond A. Eberling.

South of the Mountains, a winner of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network Award for Excellence, is published in four issue per year, thanks to editor Marjorie H. Johnson, consulting editor Marianne Leese, and our many contributors.

HSRC on the Radio Crossroads of Rockland History

Our monthly radio program broadcast on WRCR 1700 AM and streaming on www.WRCR.com entered its twelfth year in 2023–24.

Hosted by Clare Sheridan, “Crossroads” featured the following programs:

 April 2023: “Getting There Exhibition at the Orangetown Historical Museum & Archives,” with Mary Cardenas, Elizabeth Skrabonja, and Steve Schwinn

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 31

 May 2023: “New Zita Johann Biography,” with author Tom Stratford

 June 2023: “Jackson Avenue: Urban Renewal in Nyack Documentary,” with filmmakers Hakima Alem and Rudi Gohl

 July 2023: “The Germond Family Murders,” with Vincent Cookingham

 August 2023: “The Murals Documentary and Henry Varnum Poor,” with filmmaker TG Jamroz

 September 2023: “Treason of the Revolution” (reprise), with Thano Schoppel

 October 2023: “The Eberling New City Mail Wagon,” with Ray and Frank Eberling

 November 2023: “Pearl River’s Soap Box Derby History,” with Jim Cassetta

 December 2023: “Winter Wonderland, the 47th Annual Holiday Exhibition at the HSRC,” with Jennifer Rothschild

 January 2024: “Nyack’s John Green House Update,” with Winston Perry Jr.

 February 2024: “Suffern’s Lafayette Theater Turns 100,” with Ari Benmosche and Craig Long

 March 2024: “The Piermont Historical Society,” with Barbara Scheulen, Dan Sherman, and Betsy Franco Feeney

To date, 158 programs and excerpts are available for download or for Podcast listening. The New York History Blog continues to pick up “Crossroads” and share it with the larger New York State History Community through their platform.

In addition to providing links under the “Podcasts” tab on the RocklandHistory.org website, we are pleased to announce that our ar-

32 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report

chived podcasts continue to be available on all of the major podcast platforms, including Apple, Google, Stitcher, and Spotify.

HSRC on the Internet Website and Social Media

From April 2023 to March 2024, 22,137 individuals visited the HSRC website at least once (up from 16,801 in 2022–23). About 12% of them were new visitors to the website, and they looked at 58,112 pages, for an average of 1.75 pages viewed per user per session. The majority (95%) lived in the United States and accessed the website via some form of broadband or satellite connection.

The number of people who “Like” or “Follow” the HSRC’s Facebook page grew again this year, from 5,447 on April 1, 2023, to 5,659 on March 31, 2024. Most of our Facebook friends live in Rockland, with the remainder in the New York metropolitan area and a few out of state and overseas.

The HSRC continued to email the “Flashback Friday” feature to members each week. The column, compiled by volunteer Clare Sheridan, curates items of

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 33

local history significance that were originally published in Rockland County newspapers between 150 and 50 years ago. Each column is also archived on the RocklandHistory.org website, under the “Research” tab.

These consistent periodic publications allow the HSRC to leverage social media to engage new audiences. Social media platforms on which we are participating include Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud, Tumblr, and Twitter. Our presence on these sites, where we share the history of Rockland County with images, text, and video, has continued to increase. Using the insights and metrics from social media our goal is to convert these casual users into active, paid members and supporters of the society. In addition, the HSRC’s online media including the “Crossroads of Rockland History” radio podcast continues to be available through the New York Heritage portal (https:// nyheritage.org), a move that brings even more history enthusiasts to our digitized collections


34 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report


Please consider becoming a member of the Historical Society of Rockland County!

Beyond the sheer knowledge that you are helping to preserve Rockland County’s legacy of land and culture, you will also receive the following tangible member benefits:

• Quarterly mailings of South of the Mountains, the only journal of Rockland County history, published continuously since 1957.

• Seasonal mailings of our Calendar of Events and/or newsletters.

• 10% discount on HSRC publications, maps, and items in our Museum Shop.

• Reduced fees for HSRC programs and services.

• Free admission to the Jacob Blauvelt House and to most of the HSRC’s exhibitions.



City, State, Zip:

Phone: _________________ _ Cell Phone:

Email (required):

Circle: Student/Senior: $25 Centurion: $100 Museum Patron: $1,000

Individual: $40 Blauvelt Fellow: $250 Sustaining Patron: $2,500

Family: $50 President’s Circle: $500 Benefactor: $5,000

Payment: My check for $_________ is enclosed.

Credit Card # _____________________________________

Expiration Date: ________ /________ CCV ____________

Mail to: HSRC, 20 Zukor Road, New City, NY 10956

Memberships are also available online at www.RocklandHistory.org. Questions? E-mail info@rocklandhistory.org or phone (845) 634-9629

HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report 35

The Historical Society of Rockland County is a nonprofit educational institution and the principal repository for original documents and artifacts relating to Rockland County. Its mission is to acquire, preserve, and exhibit objects, buildings, and sites that reflect the history of Rockland County and to research, document, promote, and publicize the county’s rich historical heritage for the people of Rockland.

The HSRC is open to the public Wednesday–Friday, 10 am–5 pm yearround and on Sunday, 12–4 pm, during exhibitions, events, and programs. Library research and tours of the Jacob Blauvelt House are available by appointment by contacting (845) 634-9629.


Special thanks to Susan Deeks and Jennifer Rothschild for the photos used in this report and archived on our Flickr site at


36 HSRC ◆ 2023-24 Annual Report

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