HISTORY OF THE PARMA HILTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
This initial offering of the early formative years of your society is done in what I call a chronological tid-bit format. That is to say I’m going through past records, some good, some not so good, starting at the first utterance of PHHS and highlighting activities that have now been in a continuous state of growth for nearly fifty years. Ed Gable, Curator Emeritus, PHHS
And in the Beginning….
March 12, 1969: At the home of Mrs. Dennison Wright, with twenty-five citizens in attendance, a meeting was held with the purpose of organizing a historical society. A motion was made and approved to name the group the Parma Hilton Historical Society with yearly dues of two dollars. It was further suggested the group incorporate themselves and to that end elected Leigh Wright President pro tempore along with Shirley Husted as Secretary. Mrs. Helen Fox was appointed Chair of the By-Laws and Incorporation committee – and thus the Parma Hilton Historical Society was on its way.
April 10, 1969: The second meeting of the society was held in the Free Methodist Church located in Parma Center. Helen Fox read the draft of the By-Laws and amendment requests were made and sent back to committee for review. The “Purpose” document was read and approved for use. Mr. Paul Wadsworth was elected Treasurer pro tempore. Charter Membership was defined as those active no later than the November 1969 meeting.
July 6, 1969: The meeting opened with a reported $84.00 in the treasury. The By-law committee reported on their revisions and, being found acceptable, the Parma Hilton Historical Society By-Laws were approved for use. A nominating committee was appointed with Mrs. Walter Quinn as Chair. With the Society’s purpose in mind, Shirley Husted moved that the Parma Hilton Historical Society arrange for a historical display in the Parma Library window.
August 26, 1969: After a report of the Nominating committee, their slate was accepted and the first Officers and Directors of the Society were elected thusly: President Mrs. Dennison Wright, Vice-President Mrs. Edward Gable, Secretary Mrs. C. J. Koenig and Treasurer Mr. Paul Wadsworth. As Directors: I.M. Jones, Mrs. Richard Husted, Mrs. William Watters, Mrs. John Barclay and Mr. David Hooper. Mrs. John Barclay made a plea for a list of historical artifacts that could be loaned to the Historical Displays committee to be used at various locations.
October 23, 1970: Parma Hilton Historical Society received it’s Absolute Charter to operate as a historical society from the State of New York Regents.
February 1976: Parma-Hilton Bicentennial begins with six months of celebration throughout the year. PHHS offers exhibits, lectures, a banquet, showing Native American artifacts and a Fire Department display.
April 1979: The Society held its 10th Anniversary Banquet at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
1980 though 1990’s – The Society faced difficulty finding a suitable home for meetings and to display the artifact collection that continued to grow. The group moved from individual homes, leased rooms in Hilton’s village office building, the West Avenue school and finally the Hilton Central School District bus garage. Clearly a definitive plan was needed.
1989: John Barclay was chairman of the society’s first Strawberry Festival that would become an annual event for the next 28 years.
February 1990: PHHS Leases the “Board Room” (a previous classroom at the West Avenue School) for $1.00 to display artifacts.
August 1991: First use of a computer as Paul Wadsworth uses his own PC to manage membership records.
January 1994: Monthly membership meetings at this time were held at the Parma Hilton Library on West Avenue. The Society begins negotiations with the Town of Parma regarding erecting on Town property a small Ranch House sized building for storage, meetings and offices. Town Supervisor Rick Lemcke and the town board were enthusiastic and very helpful planning partners.
September 1994: Plans are firming up to build the history building on the North end of town property just south of the playground. PHHS has secured $11,000 of the required $32,000 cost. Tom Burger is heading a fund raising committee. PHHS volunteer labor reduced that cost. A ground breaking ceremony was held April 1, 1995.
1994 to 1995: Paid membership in the society doubles from 80 to 162 members as a result of the enthusiasm for the new building.
May 1995: PHHS By-laws are amended and artifact administration policies generated and approved by New York State Regents, allowing PHHS to manage collections and eventually operate a Museum.
April 10, 1996: The society’s first Curator, Paul Wadsworth, is appointed.
1996: PHHS opens its first Eagle Scout project and seeks applicants.
December 14, 1996: On a cold but bright sunny day the Parma Hilton Historical Society and the Town of Parma have a Grand Opening of the new Building. PHHS, Town and Village officials opened the building with much fanfare, ribbon cutting, cake cutting and congratulatory speeches. Success was due to great cooperation between PHHS and the Town of Parma as well as untold number of volunteer labor hours by both groups and by citizens off the street saying “how can I help.” The project ended fully paid and with zero debt!
August 9, 2000: The Society was once again running out of room for their collection. The Town of Parma, needing space for their collection. The Town of Parma, needing space for their Historian’s Office, artifact storage and displays, began discussions on adding a 40 foot addition to the East of the existing PHHS building.
April 2002: After continuing talks both sides agreed to a building addition except now to extend by 80 feet and to include the Town of Parma Historian’s office. PHHS will use a $10,000 donation from the disbanding Brockport Odd Fellows organization to fund a portion of the cost.
June 2002: PHHS joins the Town of Parma website and goes on-line with their first dedicated web pages.
May 2004: Tom Burger is appointed Town of Parma Historian and a long and beneficial period of cooperation between the Town of Parma Historian, the Village of Hilton Historian and the PHHS begins that is still enjoyed today.
June 2004: Demolition of the east end of the current PHHS building begins to facilitate the new 80 foot addition.
March 2006: After the beginning of society secretarial services, first by Mary Koenig, then Jean Wadsworth for over ten years, followed briefly by John Barclay, a new era begins with the election of Nancy Kuhn to scribing duties that morphed into a lady of all trades for the next 13 years.
May 2006: The building addition is going well with Tom Burger’s Town of Parma Historian’s office the first to be occupied.
February 2008: A delay in finishing the new 80 foot building addition and converting it from storage to a museum display area gets the attention of Town officials. The PHHS Board alters its management structure to better meet the needs of providing a display area for local historical artifacts.
July 2008: The Town of Parma, in recognition of his 40 years of service to the PHHS, names the original building hall the “Paul D. Wadsworth Meeting Room” and erects a permanent plaque to that effect.
August 2008: The museum addition is now being populated with artifacts owned by both PHHS, the Town of Parma and some items on loan by members of the community.
September 2008: Curator Don Stilson announces the museum is now open to the public on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., with PHHS members acting as guides.
December 2008: Work begins on the new 2009 “Barns of Parma” calendar.
May 2009: The PHHS Museum was pleased to host the first bus load of Hilton 4th grade students to tour the museum, a tradition that continues today.
July 2009: The Town of Parma erects signage at Rte 259 announcing the museum location.
June 2010: Don and Jim Stilson appointed Curator and Assistant Curator for a second term. The museum continues constant growth with permanent and rotating displays and ever increasing Sunday visitation. Guide volunteers are a dedicated group but the quantity is never too much.
June 2010: Much work is done by both the Town of Parma and the PHHS to sort and document artifacts stored at the old Meeting House now owned by the Town.
July 2010: At this time regular membership meetings and monthly programs were conducted in the Wadsworth Meeting room at the museum. With a reputation for good programming and a growing membership, the space was becoming way too small for the 40 plus level of attendance.
November 2010: Membership peaked at 102 paid members.
March 2011: PHHS acquires a new computer and the Town of Parma buys professional museum management software; PastPerfect Version 5. A major inventory and documentation of the PHHS and Town of Parma artifact collection begins.
April 2011: Regular PHHS membership meetings and programs are moved to the 2nd Monday of each month with a venue change to the large meeting room in the Parma Town Hall building. That arrangement continues today.
March 2011: After many years of barely meeting needs of adequate use, the old Bus Barn storage building is emptied of stored collectables and items are moved to the Parma owned Meeting House on Parma Center Road.
September 2011: Jean Wadsworth, Charter Member, long time Secretary, and a multi-tasking event and display coordinator during Applefest and other times of need for traveling exhibits, passed away. A large portion of this Historical Society Time Line is only possible through her meticulous record keeping.
October 2011: Don Stilson retires as PHHS Curator and moves to the position of Town of Parma Historian. Jim Stilson, with years of service as Assistant Curator, immediately moves to the Curator position.
January 2012: Needing more flexibility and control of our web site, Jim Stilson arranged for the domain name “Parmahiltonhistoricalsociety.com” and, via a local computer house, put our own website on-line. Jim Stilson is Webmaster with Ed Gable as Assistant. At the same time, free Wi-Fi was installed at the museum.
March 2012: Discussion began, led by David Crumb, on what would become an $8,870 project to repair and preserve the head stones and fencing at the Dunbar Road Cemetery. The PHHS donated $2,000 to the project with the remaining coming from local businesses and individual donors. Fred and Eric Ryan repaired and built from scratch portions of the iron fence while Joe Rauber was contracted to do the headstone repairs.
April 2012: The PHHS hosted a state wide meeting where all of the 62 New York State County Historians were invited to the museum. Those in attendance were very impressed with our museum facility and the envious cooperation of local government.
August 2012: Board of Trustees generates the first annual budget process which has become an important tool in Society project management. Ed Gable generates the first budget tracking software.
October 2012: The first major update of the PHHS By-Laws, authored by Ed Gable and approved by the Board of Trustees and the membership, was initiated to bring our New York State corporate status up to date with current regulations and changing needs of the society.
December 2012: PHHS Past President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dave Goodrich, passed away. David was a no nonsense type of leader who many a time struck his gavel to keep the Board of Trustees on focus and to the point. Until… upon closing each board meeting he would pull from his pocket a small piece of paper and proceed to read a joke. Not very good jokes, but everybody left the meetings with a smile on their face.
January 2013: Curator Jim Stilson initiates a significant upgrade to the General Store and Farm displays by doubling their display areas.
April 2013: The PHHS initiates a fund raising campaign by generating and offering for sale a 1913 photo calendar titles Cobblestones of the Town of Parma. With all photographs taken by the society’s official photographer Chuck Nichols with minimal costs, the project yielded $1,752 for the society.
May 2013: Flush on the success of the Cobblestones fund raiser, the society now begins a fund drive by generating to sell a comprehensive DVD featuring fires of Hilton with emphasis on the 1965 fire where the village lost almost the entire north side of Main Street. A local youth, 16 year old Dave Waingarten, interviewed numerous people who were on scene, and produced and edited a video capturing the event. The video gathered much local praise and was used in part in the creation of the PHHS Commemorative DVD. The parents of Dave Waingarten donated generously to the project in his name.
October 2013: Don Stilson: PHHS Board of Trustees, PHHS Curator, Town of Parma Historian and Town of Parma Curator, was recognized for his years of service to the Society and the community with a plaque and Lifetime membership to the PHHS.
December 2013: Local Dentist Dr. Milton Schulman, retires after 66 years of providing local dental services in the Village of Hilton. He is recognized for his service by the PHHS and a luncheon in his honor was held by Monroe County Legislator Pete McCann. His dental chair resides in the Village Historian’s office.
January 2014: Started by Marilyn Wright six years ago, the PHHS continues to provide Native American demonstrations to Hilton 4th grade students. Today the team consists of John Corcoran, who is the PHHS/Hilton School liaison person, and Team Leader Frank Thomas with Chuck Nichols and John Adams. This program also contributed to the Northwood School’s Baccalaureate program.
July 2014: The very successful Dunbar Road Cemetery restoration project is completed with many thanks to David Crumb for his visionary project leadership and to Tom Burger for his fund raising that brought $8870 through the PHHS books making this the most ambitious and costly project to date.
July 2014: To help the society provide necessary education as part of its New York State Charter and to attract better speakers to monthly meetings and programs, a new suite of media equipment is purchased. A digital projector, camcorder, memory and batteries, along with necessary cables were assembled. At that time Ed Gable became our technical guru and will be seen setting up microphones, speakers, computers and projectors at each meeting.
December 2014: Mary Townsend, Village of Hilton Historian, passed away.
February 2015: The society starts plans to publish a fundraising 2016 calendar with the subject Hilton Fires starting in 1903. Chuck Nichols, with his very successful background on the 2013 cobblestone calendar, is editor.
February 2015: With the retirement of Don Stilson, David Crumb is appointed his replacement as the Town of Parma Historian. This makes David both the Village and Town Historian and he proves himself very capable and effective as both.
September 2015: A Fund Raising project is initiated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Hilton Main Street fire. The project grew in scale and became a 2016 calendar depicting Hilton Fires from 1874 to 1981.
May 2016: A win-win association starts as PHHS begins work with Tom Venniro and Ryan Rockeffeler, representing the Town of Parma Recreation committee, to jointly participate and plan recreational activities. The first event was the fun time Hilton Historical Scavenger Hunt followed by the July 8thHistorical Tour of Hilton.
May 2016: After many years of outstanding service to the Town and the Society, often working alongside with his brother Don, Jim Stilson announces his retirement as PHHS Curator. After four years as Assistant, Ed Gable becomes PHHS Curator.
August 2016: PHHS joins the planners and sponsors of the Hilton Main Street Antique Car Show to assist with that new annual Hilton event. The PHHS has a publicity booth and judges period costumes.
September 2016: The PHHS Board of Trustees enthusiastically renames the main museum hall the “Stilson Brothers Museum Gallery” and an appropriate sign is erected at the entrance and dedicated this date.
November 2016: Monroe County Historian Carolyn Vacca announces available grant money for area communities to join in collecting and documenting their World War 1 veterans and to tell their stories. The PHHS enthusiastically joins the program.
December 2016: Museum management structure is upgraded to reduce workload on the Curator by adding the position of Museum Registrar. Ed Gable moves to the new Registrar position and becomes in charge of artifact collection data. Ken Freeman becomes the society’s fifth Curator.
February 2017: David Crumb and Ed Gable unite to write a locally generated PHHS Program titled “The History of Hilton Schools” that proves to be very popular and the start of interest in focused local history programming. “Hilton When it had a Railroad” would follow and has been given several times to other local organizations.
April 2017: New “Parma Museum” sign is erected on the West side of the museum. Ken Mullen was the project leader who made this happen.
May 2017: In recognition of their years of service, John Corcoran, Frank Thomas, Chuck Nichols and John Adams are each awarded the Friends of Education award by the Hilton Central School Board of Education. In doing so they recognized their Indigenous Peoples study program where participants learn Native American culture.
August 2017: A major upgrade is proposed for the museum that would put down a new wood floor, double the size of the parlor, kitchen and more.
March 2018: Jim Otto is appointed Assistant Curator.
April 2018: The sponsor of the PHHS Website ceases business and our Website goes dark. Jim Stilson agrees to recreate our site and successfully starts a Go-Daddy account to make that happen.
May 2018: The PHHS achieves a major win as Mr. Steve Sasson agrees to be the main speaker at the PHHS 49th Anniversary Banquet. Mr. Sasson, a resident of Parma and the inventor of the digital camera, rarely gives public talks, but when he does it is often in Europe, Asia and at one time in the office of the President of the United States.
August 2018: Planning for the PHHS 50th Anniversary Banquet begins.
September 2018: In response to the Monroe County Historian’s request for WWI local veteran history, PHHS went over the top with the writing by Tammy and Kyle Mullen of their book “With our Boys Honor Roll.” This professionally written and researched book originally started by studying what was thought to be 100 local Parma men who appeared in local records. It turned out to be much more than that. The Mullen’s generously arranged for all book profits to be donated to the PHHS.
October 2018: The PHHS Museum initiates a new fund raiser, the “Taste of Apples” event held at the new Blue Barn Cidery on Manitou Road. Event planning was by Ken Freeman and Jim Otto.
February 2019: A major upgrade to the PHHS website is initiated by Tammy Mullen who brought a modern youthful look and easy to navigate pages to our previously vintage style. At the same time needed security upgrades of our personal data was thoughtfully safe guarded.
May 2019: The last meeting of the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee is gavelled closed.
There’s more… come back again. /Ed Gable, Curator Emeritus
The Summit Federal Credit Union is proud to support the Parma Hilton Historical Society