Preserving Easton’s Past to Share with the Future

The office of the Historical Society of Easton is tucked neatly behind our town’s public library. Most of our newest residents probably aren’t aware that we even have an office. That is something we hope to change.

As Covid-19 is at least temporarily waning, we are pushing forward with our proposed Demolition Delay Ordinance for the oldest and most significant of Easton’s historic buildings.  On March 17th, we will give a presentation to the Board of Selectmen and hope to bring this motion to a town vote soon.

While working on this legislation, we have been transforming our facility into a digital learning center where residents can discover Easton’s past. Make no mistake about it, this is a slow and costly project.

Throughout the pandemic we have been able to do a great deal from our home offices. Emails back and forth fill our inboxes and consume more of our volunteer time than we care to think about. Getting back into the HSE office this spring will make it easier to coordinate our efforts as we turn paper documents into digital format. Processing hundreds of pages of delicate hand-written journals that date back as far as the 18th century is tedious work that has been greatly helped by our new book scanner that protects the spines of some of our oldest and most vulnerable registers.

Digitizing our most fragile ledgers and journals will allow their contents to be viewed online at the UConn Library

As our collection’s curator, Elizabeth Boyce has begun a pilot program for high school volunteers to scan documents for upload into the public online resources of the University of Connecticut. The long-term advantage of this will be 24/7 access to fully searchable files containing Easton’s history. Imagine wondering how many students attended Samuel Staples Elementary School in 1940 and what they were studying with only a few taps of the keyboard and a few minutes of your time.

Our goal has always been making it easier for residents to learn about Easton’s past. There is so much of what has happened over the years that shapes who we are today. Easton is fortunate to have its abundant protected land and soon people will be able to go online and read about how a relatively small water company’s long-term planning led to our town becoming a major source of water for much of lower Fairfield County. The resulting natural beauty and protected wetland and wildlife habitat continues to benefit our town as well as our greater Connecticut community.

Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, we have continued to provide intern opportunities to both university and high-school students for community service hours as well as research projects. These students have provided us with needed help and in turn we have given them an opportunity to learn a little about the town they live in. We are pleased to report that some of them appear to have been bitten by the history bug and wish to continue learning more about Easton’s past.

We are also beginning to amass information and photos for our new series about immigrants who made the long journey to America in search of a better life and ended up in Easton. The number of artists, writers, and inventors is much higher than most might imagine. Almost all the people who made the trek to Easton became vital members of the community. From the first English settlers to the waves of Eastern Europeans who came in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they all helped make Easton the town we know and love today.

Anna and Stephen Kochiss Sr. settled in Easton in the early 20th century after emigrating from Slovakia.

If you have stories and photographs of immigrant ancestors who called Easton home, we invite you to share them with us so that we may tell the story of their journey, their struggles, and their success.  We can further research their past and help put together a cohesive story about their contributions to the town. You can send information and ask questions by contacting us at hsectresearch@gmail.com.

Interior of the 1850’s Adams’ Schoolhouse that was restored by the Historical Society of Easton.

Since 1968, the Historical Society of Easton has faithfully served the community as a non-profit organization without taxpayer funding. Currently all subscription costs to research database services are self-funded by our volunteer team. And while some of our office equipment has been generously upgraded through donations, software and additional technology costs are ongoing expenses we struggle to afford.

As we push forward with our digital advancements, we are also continuing to maintain two historic properties in Easton. One is the Bradley Hubbell House and Barn that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the other is the 1850’s Adams’ Schoolhouse located on Westport Road.  Covid-19 had kept the Adams Schoolhouse closed for much of the past two years, but we have recently begun holding open houses by appointment with interested school groups and families without charge.  The upkeep and normal repairs of these structures do require constant funding, so we ask if you appreciate and enjoy what we are doing, please consider becoming a Patron of the Society by offering a donation of $99 or more. Smaller contributions are always welcome and can be made electronically using either a credit card or your PayPal account at: Donations and Patrons – Historical Society of Easton Connecticut (historicalsocietyofeastonct.org)

Stay informed and enjoy our posts on Facebook at: Historical Society of Easton, CT | Facebook where you can also use the donate button.

Thank you for your support!

image_pdfimage_print