Brown, Elsbree, & McNeil to be recognized on Chenango’s Heritage ‘Wall of Honor’

NORWICH, N.Y. – Beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, the Chenango County Historical Society (CCCH) will host several commemorative programs in celebration of Path Through History weekend, including an exhibit opening featuring the art of Alice Hudson, as well as the semi-annual commemoration of Chenango’s Heritage “Wall of Honor.” Dale M. Brown, Nancy Elsbree, and Bernice Symonds McNeil will be recognized during a brief ceremony, during which their names will officially be added to the “Wall of Honor” plaque.

In 2019, the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Freeman declared that Time-Life Author and Editor Dale M. Brown’s “American Cooking,” first published in 1968, endures as one of the five best books on American food. The first chapter celebrates the culinary heritage of South Otselic, immortalizing Brown’s great affection for the North Pitcher farmstead which has remained in his family for more than 200 years. In sharing childhood epicurean inspirations, Brown made the nation’s food vocabulary synonymous with Chenango County.

Characterized as “the ultimate mother and homemaker,” Nancy Wendolyn Webster Elsbree enjoyed camping, cooking, gardening, and photography. Elsbree and her husband, Bill, spent winters in Florida where they owned and operated the Oasis RV Park for 24 years. Known as a “talker” who always showed a genuine interest in others, she encouraged all she met. Elsbree’s gift of finding humor in any situation is shared by her brother, Bruce Webster, a current member of the CCHS Board of Trustees.

Bernice Symonds McNeil’s résumé included several noteworthy Chenango County companies – Bennett-Ireland and Gaines Dog Food Factory – among others. A beloved community volunteer, McNeil was active in St. Paul’s Catholic Church, including the Altar and Rosary Society, Monday Evening Rosary and Novena Group, and Mother Club. Known for fastidious record-keeping, this skill transferred over to McNeil’s genealogical hobby as well. Her love of history inspired many, including daughter Mary Pat Lanfair, a former member of the CCHS Board of Trustees.

Chenango’s Heritage “Wall of Honor” is a meaningful way to recognize someone and a thoughtful way to support the mission of CCHS. A donation is made in honor of a recognized individual, and their name is then displayed on the commemorative plaque inside the main entrance of Ward School No. 2. Additional information on each of these honorees will be featured in an upcoming virtual experience.

During Path Through History weekends, special events are held to highlight historically and culturally significant sites, and offer new perspectives on New York state’s heritage. (All visitors must follow standard contact-tracing, mask-wearing, and social-distancing guidelines.) For more information, visit or call (607) 334-9227, ext. 2.

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