Annual Chenango Public Historian's Conference Held In Sherburne
Published: June 2nd, 2023

Annual Chenango Public Historian's Conference held in Sherburne 2023 Chenango County Historians Conference attendees, L to R: John Antonowicz, Michael Wade, Kay Baker, Jerry Sayles, A. Gail Merian, Mary Weidman, Julie Kupris, Henry J. Drexler, Michael Foor-Pessin, Charlotte Sherwood, Kurt Riegel, Vicky House, Clayton Welch, Karol Kucinski, Diane Branham, Taylor Zieno, Michael Sheridan, Sharon M. Donahe and Zachary Greenfield. Missing from the photo: Dale Pennington, Patricia F. Scott, Cindy Carter and Terry Foor-Pessin. (Submitted photo)

NORWICH —The annual conference of Chenango County Public Historians was held at the Historic Log Cabin Park in Sherburne on Sunday, May 21.

It was held by the county historian to support the work of the town and village historians in Chenango County. The event was hosted by Kay Baker, the Town of Sherburne Historian, with assistance from Lee Perrin and Charlotte Sherwood of the Sherburne Historical Society. The other historians in attendance were Mike Wade, the newly appointed Guilford Town Historian, Clay Welch, the Norwich Town Historian, Michael Sheridan, the Otselic Town Historian, Vicky House, the Oxford Town Historian, Jerry E. Sayles, the Pharsalia Town Historian, Dale Pennington, the newly appointed Plymouth Town Historian, Kurt Riegel, the Acting Coventry Historian, Julie Kupris, Historical Research Assistant, Henry J. Drexler, the Chenango County Historian and his deputy, John Antonowicz. Patricia F. Scott, a registered historian and one of last year's recognized Master Chenango Historians, was also present.

The Chenango County Historical Society was represented at the conference by its President, Taylor Zieno and collections manager, Zachary Greenfield. There were also several friends of Chenango County history in the audience, including Diane Branham, Karol Kucinski and Mary Weidman.

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Matthew Urtz, the Madison County Historian, kicked off the program, with a presentation about engaging the public with local history.

Kay Baker then spoke about the Sherburne Historical Society's recent acquisition of a collection of paintings by the Sherburne artist, Henry Plumb. She was followed by Michael Foor-Pessin of South Otselic, a local Grace Brown authority. He gave a presentation about the tragic life of Maude Wright who, like Grace Brown, was a native of Otselic and became pregnant out of wedlock. Rejected by her family, Maude was temporarily admitted to the county poorhouse and subsequently institutionalized for the rest of her life at the Newark Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women of Child-Bearing Age. Mr. Foor-Pessin's research indicates this fate was once apparently common in New York State, and throughout the United States, for similarly situated women without an independent means of support.

This year two outstanding women, Sharon M. Donahe and A. Gail Merian were recognized as Master Chenango Historians for their work promoting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Chenango County.

In addition, Scott Parsons, the long serving president of the Guilford Historical Society was recognized as a "Friend of Chenango County History" for his support of local history.

– Information from the Chenango County Historian's Office