About HSM: Who We Are
The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown is a non-profit membership organization chartered by the New York State Education Department in 2005. Our Absolute Charter was granted in 2015.
Our headquarters is at 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville in a building that originally served as the clubhouse of the Izaak Walton League, a sporting/conservation organization. In 1965, the IWL moved the building to its present location from NYS Route 30 just north of the Village of Margaretville.
In 1995, the property was given to the New Kingston Valley Grange, which in turn gifted the hall and seven acres to HSM in 2012. Exhibits, programs and special functions are now held there, and an archives facility is planned to house our impressive collection of historic materials that have been donated to or otherwise acquired by the society.
Funding for our programs, preservation projects and other activities comes from member dues, donations, fund raising events, the Town of Middletown, the Village of Margaretville, foundations, granting agencies and other generous supporters.
The Board of Trustees 2021-2022
The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown was formed in 2004 after 25 people attended an initial meeting in April of that year to see how much interest there was in establishing an organization focused on local history. Indeed, there was plenty of interest – and 28 ideas were proposed for projects and programs. $100 was donated as seed money and a bank account was established. An organizational meeting was held May 22, and an advisory group began working on a Constitution, By-laws, Mission Statement and program planning.
On July 10, the first program – on one-room schools — was held at the Stone School House, and 40 people attended. The next program, on the New Kingston Valley Comprehensive Historic Resources Survey, was held in August. More than 70 people attended.
That autumn, the advisory committee settled on a name for the organization, and adopted By-laws, a Constitution, and a Collections Management Policy, and elected the first officers. They included Diane Galusha as President; Carolyn Konheim, Vice President; Marilyn Pitetti, Treasurer; Patricia Adams, Secretary; and Philip O’Beirne, Trustee.
In November, a petition for a Charter from the NYS Board of Regents was submitted. Our Provisional Charter was granted in March of 2005, and HSM became a tax-exempt organization in August of 2005. Following an initial membership appeal in early 2005, more than 40 people became Charter, or founding members.
The Margaretville Covered Bridge, which spanned the East Branch of the Delaware River on Bridge Street from the 1860s until 1933, became our symbol, representing the ‘bridge’ we hope to make between the past and our contemporary lives.
In addition to holding dozens of talks, workshops, panel discussions, tours and other programs on local and regional history, HSM has actively worked to preserve and promote the town’s heritage:
The Catskill Mountain News, 1902-1973, was microfilmed, digitized and posted on the web for research by anyone, anywhere with access to a computer. Additional years will be added as funding and circumstances allow. The original bound volumes of the newspaper are stored at Fairview Public Library.
Cemeteries: Friends of Middletown Cemeteries, an informal group of volunteers, inventoried headstone inscriptions at several cemeteries and restored the Arkville Cemetery. A self-guided Driving Tour of Middletown Cemeteries were developed in 2017. Beginning in 2012, HSM began producing annual Living History Cemetery Tours using costumed players in area burial grounds to tell the stories of former residents of our communities.
Oral History: Interviews of more than 65 area elders have been recorded as part of an ongoing project to preserve individual and family stories. Many recordings have been transcribed. Another 13 people were digitally interviewed in 2020 as part of our effort to document the Covid-19 pandemic and its local impacts.
Roadside markers have been erected by HSM at several important local history sites. Five other markers were installed by other community groups.
Civil War: In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the start of the US Civil War, a database of Civil War veterans from Middletown was compiled, providing military and personal records of 243 soldiers.
Farms: A map of family farms in the Town of Middletown, c. 1950, was created in 2007 with the help of elders from each part of the town. In 2009 an exhibit on the dairies and creameries servicing those farms was produced. And 2010, a photographic survey of standing barns was completed to preserve a record of these fast-disappearing agricultural icons.
Schools: HSM collected documents, photographs, first person accounts and memorabilia to compile information on schools in 30 districts in Middletown and adjoining areas of Roxbury, Shandaken, Hardenburgh and Andes which were operated jointly with Middletown.