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  • Town Historian

Every Month is History Month

As we have been recently observing Black History Month and Women’s History Month, I have been thinking how fortunate we are in the Town of Wheatland to be able to celebrate our history every day of every month. From the early days to the present, the people of Wheatland have valued their rich and unique heritage. Some of our early residents left us valuable resources for appreciating our past.

Donald McKenzie, one of the early Scotsmen in the Mumford area, kept meticulous records of his activities and the development of the area. His original documents are housed in the Wheatland Historian’s Office, the Big Springs Museum, and other collections.

Francis X. Beckwith was a furniture maker on Main Street in Scottsville between 1830 and 1850. His handwritten diaries and journals and the artifacts he kept give a detailed picture, not only of Wheatland history, but his view of the whole world in his day. The Rochester Historical Society holds his diaries, and the Wheatland Historical Association collection includes some of his journals and papers.

George E. Slocum’s Wheatland, Monroe County, New York was published in 1908. He had been keeping records of the early settlers and the establishment of the town up until that time. Carl F. Schmidt continued the story in his History of the Town of Wheatland published in 1950. The Slocum book is available on-line, and both of these histories have been reprinted and are available from the town historian or the Wheatland Historical Association.

George Skivington was a successful attorney who lived at 7 Rochester Street, Scottsville from 1923 until 1953. He was a history buff and amassed a huge collection of local documents and artifacts. His collection was given to the Wheatland Historical Association when it was chartered in the 1970s.

The Town Historian’s Office, the Cox Local History Room of the Scottsville Free Library, and the Skivington Collection of the Wheatland Historical Association are all repositories of fascinating historical information. The historian’s office and the Cox Room are both open on Tuesday afternoons, and we welcome your visits to peruse the materials available there.

Our exciting news is that the Skivington Collection of the Wheatland Historical Association is now available on-line as a "Digital Collection" accessible via the Rochester Public Library website, The collection includes school records of Wheatland schools, tax rolls, and election records from the 1800s that show the names of early residents. Of special interest are the six volumes of scrapbooks that George Skivington put together based on George Slocum’s book but expanding upon it with many original documents and articles. Another notable scrapbook contains clippings from the Caledonia Advertiser written 1936 – 1940 by F. F. Keith. He told little-known stories from the early days of the settlement of Caledonia and the surrounding area.

My personal favorites to peruse are the scrapbooks of William Wilkinson, an early 1900s Rochester resident with ties to Mumford and Caledonia, who collected clippings and memorabilia and combined them with his own original drawings to provide an entertaining history of the area. Shown to the right is his drawing of the Lima Seminary Building.

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Website Revision 6.46 September 9, 2020