"History Alive!"

Our popular "History Alive!" lecture series covers a variety of topics that bring history to life.  These events, by engaging presenters, are free and open to the public.  We hope you will bring a friend and join us.  You can even enjoy dinner before or after each lecture at one of our wonderful local restaurants!

Our 2017 "History Alive!" Series

To print the series schedule, CLICK HERE.

All About Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird

A presentation by John Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Bluebird)

Wednesday, May 25, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

During this presentation, John Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Bluebird, will discuss our beautiful New York State bird.  Rogers has maintained a trail of bluebird nest boxes for four decades and estimates over 13,000 bluebirds have fledged in boxes he has personally monitored.  His presentation includes the life history of the eastern bluebird, other birds that nest in bluebird boxes, and nest box management.  The focus is on bluebirds, but Rogers also shares his passion for the natural world.  His PowerPoint presentation includes beautiful photographs and sounds which compliment his enthusiastic presentation style.  This program is of interest to anyone who appreciates nature.

John Rogers is a co-founder of the New York State Bluebird Society.  He is a retired banker and biology graduate from SUNY Oswego.  Rogers has received numerous awards for his tireless commitment to bluebird and nature education including the Lane Bluebird Conservation Award from the North American Bluebird Society and the Hero of Conservation Award from the Syracuse Post-Standard.

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The Sodus Bay Phalanx and Women's Suffrage

Votes for Women

A Presentation by Rosa Fox

Sunday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Pavilion, 7606 North Ontario Street, Sodus Point, NY

"What in the World Does the Sodus Bay Phalanx Have to Do With Women’s Suffrage?”  This question will be the topic of a presentation by Town of Huron Historian Rosa Fox as she explores the local connections to women’s suffrage through abolition, socialism, spiritualism and romance. Recent research on a 19th-century Huron resident has uncovered local connections to women’s suffrage with ties to Seneca Falls, Rochester, and the Sodus Bay Phalanx. 

Town of Huron Historian Rosa Fox is the author of the 2016 Arcadia Publishing Postcard Series book Great Sodus Bay. She is a member of the Sodus Bay Historical Society Board of Directors and serves on the Lighthouse Museum's curatorial and membership committees. She is involved with "Wayne County Women’s Suffrage: 1848-1920,” a research project made possible by Humanities New York, enabling local Wayne County historians to discover the roots of women’s suffrage and learn about the women and men of Wayne County communities who led this reform movement.


This event is part of New York State's Path Through History Weekend

This event is part of New York State's Path Through History Weekend. Click the image above for more information.

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The Underground Railroad in Wayne County, NY

 Harriet (Cooley) Williams

A presentation by Marjory Allen Perez

Wednesday, July 19, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Marjory Allen Perez’s new book, Final Stop, Freedom!, tells the stories of brave individuals involved with the quest for freedom during the years of slavery in the United States.  The personal stories of these brave local men and women will resonate with all in the area.

Marjory Allen Perez is the former Wayne County (NY) Historian.  She likes to tell the tales of everyday people, whose stories have not been heard.  This book is the culmination of many years of research on the Underground Railroad in Upstate New York.

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19th Century Rural Life in Wayne County, NY

The William Patton Irwin House, Sodus, NY

A presentation by Edith Farrington

Wednesday, August 23, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Based on a treasure trove of diaries found by accident, local history enthusiast Edith Farrington will describe what life was like on a Wayne County farm in the 1800s.  The story of how the diaries were found adds to the charm of this engaging program.

Edie grew up in Clyde, New York, on a dairy farm; she met her husband at Auburn Community College and later SUNY Brockport. She then taught first grade in the Hilton Primary School for almost 30 years.  They have two adult children, a son and daughter who live in Rochester.  She is now happy to be close to family in Lyons and Newark.  Edie and Bruce love their retirement in Sodus Point and especially enjoy the people, history, water, and serenity of this small village!

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Wayne County's World War II Prisoner of War Camps

A Presentation by Annette Harris

Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

During World War II, German Prisoners of War were housed in many places in the United States, and Wayne County, New York, was no exception.  During this presentation, local historian and writer Annette Harris will describe these camps and tell stories from the people who were involved with them.

Annette Harris has been actively involved in researching and preserving the history of Wayne County for many years.

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Past programs from the 2016 season:

Churches of Huron and Sodus

Loreen Jorgensen--Churches of Sodus and Huron

A presentation by Loreen Jorgenson

Wednesday, May 25, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

How many churches are there in the Town of Huron?  Where is the oldest church in the Town of Sodus?  Which denomination is the most prevalent in these two Wayne County towns?  Find out fascinating facts about the buildings that have served as spiritual centers around the Sodus Bay area and the people involved with them throughout history.

Loreen Jorgensen retired from Wayne Central School after 30 years as school librarian. She then began volunteering at WXXI and the Museum of Wayne County History.  In 2010, Loreen became interested in church history while researching and photographing churches for a museum exhibition.  She began researching Wayne County churches in earnest and decided to turn the research into a multivolume book.  She plans to have the first volume (1787-1858) ready for publication early next year.

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Vikings in Sodus Bay:  Evidence Behind the Legend

A Presentation by Joe O'Toole

Sunday, June 19, at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Pavilion, 7606 North Ontario Street, Sodus Point, NY

For many years, people believed that Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot in the "New World."  However, in 1960, the remains of a Norse settlement were discovered at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, by two Norwegians--husband and wife team of Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad.  This revolutionary discovery changed what we knew about the European exploration of America.  But did the Viking explorers stay in Newfoundland, or did they travel farther south--perhaps all the way to Lake Ontario?  Joe O'Toole will discuss this possibility while presenting a short history outlining the Norse "discovery" of the "New World." 

Joe O'Toole is the Director of the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum and the former director of the Museum of Wayne County History.

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The Psychic Highway:  How the Erie Canal Changed America

Michael Keene--Psychic Highway--The Erie Canal

A presentation by Michael Keene

Wednesday, July 27, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Michael Keene’s new book uncovers how the Erie Canal opened up vital passageways that led to the advent of the major social, political, and religious movements that swept through upstate New York during the 19th century.  “This powerful waterway carried a flotilla of radicals, visionaries, social reformers, and prophets bent on the idea of creating a new society. It was as if a bolt of electricity struck Western New York, lighting it up as fertile ground for ideas and lifestyles that had never been expressed or attempted before.”  The Erie Canal delivered people to important places for important reasons: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott arrived in Seneca Falls for history’s first women’s convention; hundreds visited Rochester to meet and support abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Gerrit Smith, and Harriett Tubman or to witness the Fox Sisters summon spirits with their eerie knockings; and many more people on the temperance bandwagon hurried to the Burned Over District so Charles Finney could save their souls.  Keene delves into the canal’s inspiration, evolution, and impact on American life and how the canal bridged the gap of communications and travel, setting the stage for history altering events. 

Michael Keene worked for twenty-five years in the financial services industry as a financial planner. In addition to The Psychic Highway, he is the author of Murder, Mayhem, & Madness: 150 Years of Crime & Punishment in Western New York; Folklore and Legends of Rochester: The Mystery of Hoodoo Corners & Other Tales; and many other books on local history. He also is the award-winning producer of Visions, True Stories of Spiritualism, Secret Societies & Murder.

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The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Walter Gable--The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

A Presentation by Walter Gable

Wednesday, August 31, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

The influenza epidemic of 1918 killed more people than were killed in the fighting and destruction of World War I, taking over 21 million lives--with some estimates of as many as 100 million--and affecting over one-half of the world's population.  It was the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history.  More Americans died in this flu epidemic (approximately 675,000) than were killed in the Civil War, both World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Iraq War combined.  Known as the "Spanish Flu," this global disaster lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands.  From a historian's standpoint, this epidemic raises these big questions:  "Why has this epidemic received so little emphasis in basic history?" and "What lessons are to be learned from this flu epidemic?"

Walter Gable has been the Seneca County Historian since August 2003. A lifelong resident of Seneca County, he is a graduate of the Romulus Central School District and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Syracuse University. He taught high school social studies for thirty years at Mynderse Academy in the Seneca Falls Central School District. 

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A Recent Environmental History of Lake Ontario

Susan Peterson Gateley

A Presentation by Susan Peterson Gateley

Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Lake Ontario has shaped local and regional culture, architecture, agriculture and other economic activity for over two hundred years (and continues to do so today). It has influenced weather, shoreline climate, business, and trade.  For over three centuries upstate New Yorkers have worked, navigated, played, lived, and died by and on this Great Lake. Our unique position as a lakeshore county on an international border has resulted in an unusual history of legitimate and illegitimate commerce through the years. Even the Erie Canal construction was a reaction in part to our “frontier” status on an international body of water. Susan Peterson Gateley has written a new book and created an educational video detailing the lake's many influences—past present and future—on our county and surrounding region.

Susan Peterson Gateley is a native upstate New Yorker, former teacher, and icthyoplankton taxonomist, who single-handed the wooden sloop “Ariel” in search of stories for boating and nature magazines for 17 years. Her articles about Lake Ontario have run in numerous local and national publications, and she has written eight books about the lake. She has a master’s degree in fisheries science and has worked in Massachusetts and on the Chesapeake Bay. She currently sails on Little Sodus Bay aboard a 32-foot Chris Craft sloop, “Titania,” and on a 38-foot Tancook schooner, “Sara B.”

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Past programs from the 2015 season:

From Rosie the Riveter to Harriet the Happy Homemaker:  Women on Screen During and After World War II

A presentation by Rob Edelman

Wednesday, May 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Before World War II, women were expected to marry and remain at home where they cooked meals and raised children, while their husbands were the breadwinners. During the war, however, the role of women in American society changed. Women now were manning assembly lines, entering the military, and experiencing personal and economic freedom that previously had been the exclusive domain of men. With peacetime came a return to "normalcy," and the expectation that women would cheerfully exchange their paychecks for aprons, regain their lost "femininity," and return to their traditional roles within the American family. The changing roles for and expectations of women are depicted in the era's Hollywood movies. This lecture was accompanied by a range of clips from films of the 1940s and '50s, all of which illustrated the manner in which women were expected to act during and after the war.

Rob Edelman is a Lecturer in film history at the University at Albany. He offers film commentary on WAMC (Northeast) Public Radio and is a longtime contributing editor of Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide. His books include Issues on Trial: Freedom of the Press, Matthau: A Life, and Meet the Mertzes, and he has written for a range of publications (from Women Filmmakers and Their Films to Base Ball: The Journal of the Early Game to The Political Companion to American Film).

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In the Good Old Colony Days:  Songs of Early America

A presentation by Linda Russell

Sunday, June 14, 2:00 p.m. at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Pavilion, 7606 North Ontario Street, Sodus Point, NY

Music played a major role in the lives of 18th century Americans. It served as communication in both military and civilian life: Broadsides were "singing newspapers" - topical songs about the latest shipwreck, political ideas and battles won, while in battle, the fife and drum were essential in relaying commands. Music was a companion to labor: Women sang ballads as they worked a spinning wheel or dipped candles. Men hoisted sails to the rhythm of sea chanteys. Hymns were a spiritual comfort and dance tunes enlivened community celebrations. Babies drifted off to sleep with the crooning of lullabies and taverns rang with all manner of men belting out drinking songs. This program explores the many ways music was part of life in the Colonial and Revolutionary War era. Linda Russell brought our Early American past to life accompanied by the hammered and mountain dulcimers, guitar ,and pennywhistle.

For 30 years, Balladeer and Musical Historian Linda Russell has explored America's past through song. She served as 18th century balladeer at Federal Hall National Memorial in NYC. Now, her performances are in demand at historic sites, schools and community centers around the country. New York venues have included Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Out-of Doors, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art's American Wing. She has recorded eight albums of traditional and historical music, including: Stephen Foster Songs on Albany Records , The Good Old Colony Days on Prairie Smoke Records and Christmas Past, on Helicon Records.

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The Chimney Bluffs:  From Glaciers to Bootlegging

A presentation by Joe O'Toole to celebrate New York State's Path Through History Weekend

Sunday, June 21, at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Pavilion, 7606 North Ontario Street, Sodus Point, NY

We may think of the Chimney Bluffs as a nice place to hike on a warm day, but what are these unique cliffs in Wayne County's Town of Huron on the shores of Lake Ontario?  These bluffs were formed by glacial action thousands of years ago, and they are constantly changing.  The Chimney Bluffs also played a role in rum-running during the years of Prohibition. Mr. O'Toole relayed tales about Peg-Leg Jones and how many an area resident got to enjoy a stiff drink during dry times. 

Joe O'Toole is the Director of the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum and the former director of the Museum of Wayne County History.

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The Canal That Never Was:  History of the Erie and Sodus Canals

A presentation by Russell Andrews

Wednesday, July 15, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Mr. Andrews discussed the history of New York State's greatest engineering feat--the Erie Canal.  This waterway created a worldwide market for New York's agricultural and manufactured goods, bringing an influx of wealth to upstate canal towns and making New York the Empire State.  Plans were made to connect Sodus Bay to the Erie Canal, thereby creating a shipping port.  Find out why this never happened.

Russell Andrews is Chair of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

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Wicked Syracuse:  A History of Sin in Salt City

A presentation by Neil K. MacMillan

Wednesday, August 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Gangsters, train robbery, forgery, and prostitution—these misdeeds are more often associated with New York City or the Wild West, but make no mistake, Syracuse, New York, has housed its fair share of vice and sinners. A riot prompted politicians to make Syracuse a city in the first place. A man who billed himself as “Dillinger the Second” once walked ’Cuse’s streets, and a notorious gangster boasted of his desire to retire in Salt City. At the end of the nineteenth century, neither law enforcement nor fervent clergy could stop rampant illicit gambling. Local author Neil MacMillan tours the city of Syracuse, unearthing tales of its most infamous residents and their dastardly deeds—from strange murders to bounty jumpers and vandals.

Neil K. MacMillan was born and lives in Syracuse, New York. He is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Gulf War and holds a BA with disciplines in creative writing and history from SUNY Empire State College. He is a historical re-enactor of the American Civil War. In addition to writing historical articles about the Syracuse area, he recently finished his debut novel, There I’ll Be a Soldier.

The Seneca Army Depot:  Fighting Wars from the New York Home Front

A Presentation by Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg

Wednesday, September 16, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States began to prepare to enter World War II. When the army decided to build a depot in Seneca County in 1941, dozens of families were given only days to vacate the homes they loved and land they had farmed for generations. The depot provided vital jobs for residents, but it also continued to cause controversy even after it was established--all while providing critical support for the army through the Persian Gulf War. Since the base closed in 2000, the community has grappled with what to do with the property, including protecting the area population of white deer. Join local historians Carolyn Zogg and Walter Gable as they tell the story of the Seneca Army Depot and the lives it has affected.

Walter Gable has been the Seneca County Historian since August 2003. A lifelong resident of Seneca County, he is a graduate of the Romulus Central School District and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Syracuse University. He taught high school social studies for thirty years at Mynderse Academy in the Seneca Falls Central School District. 
After retiring as a national nonprofit director, Carolyn Zogg was appointed director of the Seneca Falls Historical Society and its Becker House Museum. A graduate of Syracuse University, she received her provisional teaching certificate from the State University of New York at New Paltz, New York, in art education.

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Rodrigo's Land:  A Story About the First Man to Spot Land on Columbus's Voyage

A presentation by Steven Farrington

Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Sodus Point Village Hall, 8356 Bay Street, Sodus Point, NY

Cuba, April 1514.  Fray Bartolome De Las Casas tries to forget the atrocities he has witnessed against the Taino Indians.  However, his retreat is disturbed by a group of Dominican monks.  They send him an old Spaniard, Rodrigo, to convince him to act.  But who really is this Rodrigo?  Is he indeed Rodrigo de Triana, the first to spot land on Columbus's 1492 trip?  Why had he been sent on that voyage, and why was he made an outlaw and a target of the Inquisition?  And more importantly, does he have a connection to Bartolome's past in Seville?  Why does he seem so eerily familiar?

Steven Farrington is a writer and a teacher of Spanish and French in a community college in Rochester, NY.

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Please show your appreciation by supporting the wonderful businesses that support us and make our events possible:

DIAMOND SPONSORS

Fleet Feet Sports

PLATINUM SPONSORS

Peak Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat

Finger Lakes Radio Group

GOLD SPONSORS

Krenzer Marine

Reliant Community Credit Union

SILVER SPONSORS

Bonnie Castle Farm Bed and Breakfast

Captain Jack's Goodtime Tavern

Cathy Contant

Docker's Seafood and Grille

The Heights Restaurant and Banquet Facility

Marshall Farms Group

Northwind Harbor

Wegmans

BRONZE SPONSORS

A Gentle Breeze Therapeutic Massage

Boerman Tax Accounting and Payroll

Burnap's Farm Market and Garden Cafe

Concord Ford

Fowler Farms

Lyons National Bank

Lyons Veterinary Clinic

Maxwell Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast

Mengel Metzger Barr & Co. LLP 

P.A.T.I. Fire & Safety

Paton’s Market Place

Q's Landscape Enterprises Inc.

South Shore RV Park

 

Additional generous support comes from the following:

C. H. Stuart Foundation

Claude G. and Geraldine A. Wright Family Fund

Finger Lakes Community Arts Grants

New York State Council on the Arts

Robert G. Boehmler Community Foundation

Sodus Bay Historical Society Members

Town of Sodus

Village of Sodus Point

Wayne County Community Endowment Fund