CARMEL, N.Y. - Friday, June 12, marked the 208th birthday of Putnam County, a celebration of a new county in a new country. Unfortunately, the annual observation of Putnam County Day at the Historic Courthouse had to be canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the Hudson Valley region strives to reopen. However, a virtual celebration is available online.

“This traditional day of ceremony and celebration was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Putnam County is rich in history and this year is no exception given this unprecedented time,” said Michael Bartolotti, county clerk.  “I am happy to report that the Historian’s Office has been busy working with local historians, historical societies, and schools to record the experiences of this time. We are truly living history and this year’s virtual celebration will be yet another record for the archives.”

Putnam County Day is an annual event that typically includes a ceremony, historic presentation, and awards for outstanding people, projects and publications that enrich and record Putnam County’s history. 

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“This year we observe Putnam County Day virtually,” said Bartolotti.  “The Historian’s Office has created a video presentation that features great history, special guests, and the unveiling of the Charles Sherwood Hill, Jr. collection at the Historian’s Office.” 

The Hill collection features an array of turn of the century farm diaries, photographs and ephemera from the Hill, Dykeman, Bloomer and Townsend families from Carmel, Kent, and Brewster. It includes a stunning and rarely, if ever, seen photo of the Tilly Foster area in the Town of Southeast. This video is available to the public on the county website, www.putnamcountyny.gov.

This year’s celebration was dedicated to Gregory Amato, a long-time volunteer with the Historian’s Office who persuaded Charles Hill to donate his family’s collection.  Amato passed away in April.

Fifth-grade students from across the county were recruited to take part in the virtual ceremony by attending classes online or by recording themselves during their time spent in “distance learning.” Their projects including leading the ceremony in the Pledge of Allegiance, providing history on the founding of Putnam County, creating a special COVID-19 time capsule entitled “Living History,” such as Austin Road Elementary, and even singing “Happy Birthday” to Putnam County! The 10- and 11-year-olds were asked to participate based on their age.

 “They will hopefully be the ones around to tell the story of how Putnam County fared during the pandemic 50 years from now,” said Bartolotti. “They play an incredible role in this celebration.

“I trust that with time and the continued dedication of medical experts throughout our country we will once again gather next year at the Historic Courthouse to celebrate our great history,” he added.

Article courtesy of Putnam County Historian’s Office & Archives

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