Lecture highlights local history

WHALLONSBURG - An upcoming presentation will provide those in attendance with a peek into the lives of some of the earliest residents of this area.

Shirley LaForest, town historian for the town of Essex, will deliver an illustrated talk entitled "Settlers and Settlements" at the Wadhams Free Library Feb. 11. Her presentation will center around the villages of Whallonsburg and Wadhams during the late 19th century and a few people who called those places home.

LaForest was inspired to put together the lecture after being shown a set of diaries written by Charles Stafford, a farmer who settled in Whallonsburg. The 18 diaries starting in 1856, included detailed accounts of what Stafford did for work, play, and self-improvement.

"I wanted to show what life was like for this young man who was able to become a very successful farmer," LaForest said.

A review of Stafford's activities naturally led to exploring the villages, since he and his contemporaries depended so heavily on the churches, mills, and stores present there.

Through a powerpoint presentation with several photographs of 19th century Wadhams and Whallonsburg, LaForest will give a detailed account of the services and infrastructure from that time.

"A lot of those buildings are still there," she said, going on to describe the many ways in which the villages have, or haven't changed since the days when Stafford lived there.

In addition, LaForest will share some background on Luman Wadhams and Daniel Payne, two men who were instrumental in the development of Wadhams and Whallonsburg in the 1800s.

"The two villages were very, very similar," she noted, "and they were used interchangeably."

The presentation begins at 7:30 and admission is free. Call 962-8717 for further information.

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