Cayuga County Historical Society Collection
The Cayuga County Historical Society (CCHS) was officially founded by a charter signed on January 23, 1877. The origins of the Society spring from the interest aroused in planning the celebration of the US centennial in 1876. A petition signed by over 200 residents of the towns of Aurelius, Cato, Fleming, Genoa, Ledyard, Mentz, Moravia, Owasco and Scipio led to a March 22, 1876 meeting and the establishment of an organization whose purpose was to:
- Collect and preserve local history
- Collect a local history library and museum
- Organize a centennial celebration
The Society was reorganized on a more permanent basis in the next year, with the establishment of a charter and bylaws. This collection contains the records of the Cayuga County Historical Society, beginning in 1876 and ending in 1976.
Handwritten record book
The Cayuga County Historical Society preserved objects and memories of early Auburn. The Society’s collection includes such material as General John S. Clark’s papers and John L. Hardenbergh’s journals, as well as personal accounts from members of growing up in Cayuga County. Members of the Historical Society presented papers on research and gave public addresses and monthly educational talks during the exhibition year. The book pictured is a handwritten copy of papers written by members.
“Jane Clark” by Julia Ferris, 1897
Jane Clark, born Charlotte Harris, escaped slavery and made her way from Maryland to Auburn. She arrived in Auburn in 1859 and became a live-in domestic worker for the family of Charles G. Briggs, a cashier at the Auburn City National Bank. During her time with the Briggs, a young local school teacher, Julia Ferris, boarded at the Briggs house. Ferris did not write Clark’s story until 1897, suggesting she knew Clark for over 30 years. Ferris’ story tells of Clark’s escape from slavery in this paper presented to the Historical Society in 1897.
Certificate of Incorporation of the Cayuga County Historical Society 1877
The Cayuga County Historical Society (CCHS) was officially founded by a charter signed on January 23, 1877, and was reorganized on a more permanent basis in the next year, with the establishment of a charter and bylaws.
Illustration from a handwritten copy of “A Partial Catalog of the ‘Birds of Central New York,’ from observations taken by H.G. Fowler.” Dedicated to the Cayuga County Historical Society by Frank Rathbun, 1877
H.G. Fowler and Frank Rathbun, two admirers of ornithology, made an extensive study of birds in Cayuga, Seneca, and Wayne counties, as well as studying the specimens collected by J.B. Gilbert of Penn Yan. Their observations were originally published as the “Rathbun-Fowler List” in the Auburn Daily Advertiser in 1877. This handwritten copy was turned into a printed publication in 1879.
Cayuga County Historical Society publication “The Inventors and Inventions of Cayuga County New York” by Cyrenus Wheeler Jr., 1882
Cyrenus Wheeler Jr. (1817-1899) was a well-known Auburnian, and Mayor of the city in the 1880s. Wheeler was also heavily involved in the establishment of Auburn’s water plant and was made the first Water Commissioner. His study of inventors and inventions of Cayuga County was a popular Historical Society paper.