THE 1876 START OF A CHENANGO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY(CCHS)

     A Chenango County Historical Society was started in 1876.  The one that we belong to today was organized on February 17, 1938 (Drucker).  However, an earlier attempt to form a CCHS was first reported on September 7, 1876, by anonymous authors in the Chenango Telegraph and the Chenango Union.  Six progress reports were published in the ensuing weeks.  The October 19 article appears as a letter to the editors written in the first person and signed as “K”.  Of all the names mentioned in the previous three articles, none begins with a “K”.  K reveals that he has been a member of a historical society which has been active for over fifty years.  Unfortunately, K not only remains unnamed, he does not disclose the identity of his historical society.

     The following quote by K sounds like what I am preaching today.  “They (the society) should collect without delay the statements of the ‘oldest inhabitants’ –“.  Italics are K’s.  K also advocates the preservation of furniture, utensils, relics, art, and animals.

     The CCHS was formally organized on Tuesday September 16, 1876, and a committee was formed, as reported by Worman, the Secretary.  H.H. Beecher was President, according to an article signed by him and Worman on January 6, 1877.  On January 11, 1877, an anonymous article in the Chenango Union tells the difficulties getting adequate attendance for meetings.  That was the last article I could find.  What happened?  Why did a good idea start but not materialize?  Was lack of attendance a problem?  Local history was a hot issue in the 1870s and 1880s.  In fact, it was a big business then as large books were published for many counties in New York.  Smith’s History of Chenango County was published in 1880.  However I could not find any mention of a historical society in that book.

     Whatever the cause, the 1876 start of the CCHS never got very far.  Until more evidence is uncovered, we can only speculate why.

  • DONALD A. WINDSOR

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