Martinsburg Historical Society

President's Corner

     The Martinsburg Historical Society is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. A meeting consisting of six community members was held at the William H. Bush Memorial Library on February 18, 1976 for the purpose of forming the society. By-laws were adopted and the following officers were appointed. President, Warren Foote; Vice-President, Arthur Moore; Secretary, Dawn Manzer; and Treasurer, Margaret Ransiear. The other two charter members were Doris Thisse and Mildred Arthur. Dawn Manzer is the only remaining charter memberFormed in response to President Gerald Ford’s request that communities across the nation do something in recognition of the bi-centennial of the United States, the original members set a course for the collection and preservation of artifacts and documents pertaining to the history of the community.
     Early activities of the society included restoring the Hogsback Cemetery, the town’s oldest, in the spring of 1977. Unfortunately, maintenance of the cemetery was neglected requiring another complete restoration by the society starting in 2011.  On April 9, 1988, the society signed a 99-year lease with the Martinsburg Water District and the Martinsburg Fire District, renting the brick structure built in 1847 to house the Lewis County Clerk’s office. A complete restoration was completed and the building was used for several years as a meeting room for the society. The society was able to purchase the building in 2011, thanks to a generous donation from a now deceased member. Currently, it serves as a museum containing many artifacts of the community.
     In April 2013, the society purchased a one-room school house, thought to have been built in the 1830s, and hopes to complete the restoration of it this year. In addition, this anniversary year will find the society continuing the restoration of the West Martinsburg Cemetery and the Strader Cemetery, as well as sponsoring its many annual activities promoting the town. 
     Anyone wishing to join this active society can use the contact information provided on this website.        Nelson Schwartzentruber

Historian's Office :
The Martinsburg Town Historian's Office is open each Tuesday from 1:00-4:00 pm. The office is located in our Historic Town Hall which was built in 1811. Our historian, Sue Adsit, is also Secretary of the Martinsburg Historical Society. Sue can be reached at 315-376-0156 or 315-376-7219. Please leave a message. 
Dues to belong to the Martinsburg Historical Society are S5.00 per year or $50.00 for a lifetime membership. All who are interested are invited to join. Any donation to the MHS will be used towards ongoing projects or for projects as designated by the person making the donation.
Send membership or donations to:
Mary Kelley 
 c/o Martinsburg Historical Society
PO Box 17
 Martinsburg NY 13404 

MARTINSBURG, NY THE WAY WE WERE is a publication by the Martinsburg Historical Society. We are currently sold out but you are always welcome to special order a copy. Sue Adsit has worked more than 3 years to gather information about Martinsburg and the many of the families who live or have lived in Martinsburg. Copies can be ordered in the historian's office. The 364 page book is priced at $35 (plus shipping).


The Martinsburg Historical Society was busy this last year- very busy! It's quite exciting to see all that we accomplished as well as all we have on our "bucket list" to work on during the 2016 season. 

January 9, 2015- The MHS held its Annual Meeting and had election of officers. We had our winter program in the Town Hall with a program proved to us by Charlotte Beagle. A very entertaining skit was provided for the audience based on a visit from Susan B. Anthony to Martinsburg. The audience and the participants had a laughable time and were also able to view the updates and work being done at the Town Hall.

One Room School House Update: The one room school house that the society purchased in 2012 is nearing completion of the restoration project. The inside and outside have been painted thanks to Eloise Davey. Fred and Janice Ramos continue to work on the grounds around the building. Sue Adsit has spent countless house researching and planning for our open house events. ​MHS has hosted an Open House each year and with each open house we get more and more visitors. Last year's Open House was on May 6, 2015. We will have an open house on May 14 , 2016 from 1:00- 4:00 pm. This year we will have a special event towards the end of the summer at which time we will unveil our "historic designation road sign" that we were able to acquire thanks to the Pomeroy Foundation in Syracuse, NY. More information on this project will follow on our "Projects" page.   

The Anna Gert Walk Event: June 20, 2015 was our very first "Anna Gert Arthur Walk" starting at the library to Ms. Arthur's home in the village on the corner of Route 26 and Cemetery Road. The return walk from the house was to the site of the school house where Ms. Arthur taught many students (many generations) through the years. Participants in the walk were former student and family members. Refreshments were served in the Bush Library and many of those in attendance shared their fond memories of Ms. Arthur as a teacher. One such story was that Ms. Arthur, when walking to school daily, would come out of her house and the children would join in on the walk to school. They looked like ducklings following their mother. At lunch time the children going home for lunch would follow their teacher and drop out of the line when they we at their door. The same process was followed back to school for the afternoon and home again. 

​The MHS is going to have the same walk this year on June  18, 2015 with the intention of making this an annual event.

Hough's Cave Documentary: Also, in June, the LCHS had a brown bag lunch meeting where a documentary film was shown about Hough's Cave. our own member, Irene Uttendorfsky, was involved in the making of the documentary. A pitch fork found in the cave was donated to the MHS and is now on display in our museum room. 

Permanent Charter for MHS: Sara Jastremski, from NYSED came to Martinsburg on July 15, 2015. Ms. Jastremski toured our society's displays and visited the one room school on Ramos Road, the Historic Town Hall, and the 1st County Clerk's Office. She was given a briefing on our completed and on-going projects. It was a wonderful list and she was very complimentary to the society. We received word after her fist that in October 2015 our permanent charter as a society was granted. It was a lot of work but very worthwhile.

Martinsburg Day and the Twin Wide Open Golf: For the first time, Martinsburg Day and the Twin's Wide Open Golf Tournament were both held on August 8, 2015. Although the golf tournament is usually held the week before Martinsburg Day, the Manzer twins wanted to have the tournament on their actual birthday. It was a great time for all the golfers. The twins, daughter's of our own Martinsburg "star", Dawn Manzer, are full of energy and do a fantastic job organizing this yearly event. There are never enough thanks for all that this family has done to support the Martinsburg Historical Society.

Martinsburg Day was well attended. It grows each year. This year the Lewis County Historical Society teamed up with us and made this a great day for all. There were many exhibits in the town hall including our WWI era soldier in costume, enlistment posters and items of that era. A booklet was available listing all known WWI veterans buried in the Town of Martinsburg. Of course, we had our Silent Auction items out for bids as well our raffles. The load of logs for raffle are a hit each year and we must thank our donors, Mr. Pomenville and Mr. Overton for their generosity.

​Something very special this year was our "back in the day" 1950s ice-cream parlor where we sold ice cream- lots of it- and it was staffed by two young ladies dressed in the "50s era" outfits. They were a real hit and had their pick taken many times over. They happened to be Sue Adsit's granddaughters who are always ready to serve! In the kitchen, Sue had her son, Tony, and daughter-in-law, Kelly, flipping burgers and making hotdogs. It was a family affair! Around the village the vendors were selling their crafts, there were flea markets and garage sales throughout the village. The fire hall had their annual chicken barbecue and also a cake walk. They are always ready to pitch in and help on our day. A car and tractor shop was in the north parking lot of the library. 

​LCHS had the Martin Mansion open and all sort of vendors and demonstrations going on in the front and back yard of the mansion. They had 1812 solders in costume as well as a cow to milk! It was grand. 

Please view the pictures on our events page. Martinsburg Day in 2016 will be August 13 and the Twins Wide Open will be at Cedars Gulf Course on August 6, 2016. Hope to see you all. 

Cemetery Updates: The restoration of our cemeteries was in full force this past summer season thanks to many people. The LCHS, the Town of Martinsburg, the MHS, a local Boy Scout Troop and volunteers have all been supporting the restoration efforts.

The Strader Cemetery make hug progress the last season thanks to Doug Rook and his assembled volunteers. They took down trees, cleared brush and laid steps and a railing in the cemetery. The transformation is amazing. Doug's daughter, Nicole Prelacy, made an awesome sign for the cemetery telling a bit about our 1812 soldier buried in that cemetery. John Archer, that 1812 vet, is called "Cornfield John" because of family lore that has been passed down for generations. Doug Rook is a direct descendant. 

​Jim Lathan gave the boy scouts who had worked so hard clearing brush for 2 seasons, a lesson in how to clean the stone safely and gently. The scouts from troop 162 then went to work on the stones and we can't wait to see them this spring. A professional stone restoration company uprighted many of the stones. There is more to be done this year but the restoration should be complete and we plan on a late summer early fall dedication of the cemetery with many Archer family members in attendance. 

​The Hogback Cemetery had one replacement put in place during 2015 summer. The town is doing an excellent job with the upkeep. It's thrilling to drive on Route 26 and catch a glimpse of the flag flying over that cemetery where 2 Revolutionary War and 1 1812 vets are buried.

​The West Martinsburg Cemetery was surveyed at least 3 times to try and get an accurate reading from the grave stones that are still standing and being worked on in the cemetery. Thank you Sue Adsit and Jim Lathan for working on the very pleasant days as well as the rainy days and the bitter cold fall days! In 2016 we re having a memorial stone reacted listing all those that are buried there but no longer or never had a stone. That cemetery is rich in our early Martinsburg History. 

The Rector Road Cemetery, more often referred to as the Ashback Cemetery, was completed in the summer of 2015 and it looks wonderful. Some stones were cleaned but more cleaning will be done in 2016 on the stones. That cemetery represents a blend of our Tug Hill immigrants and early setters.

The Martinsburg Cemetery supports themselves financially and does not ask for any grant monies but they are always working to keep that cemetery in beautiful condition. They had replacement stones set in 2015 and plan on more in 2016. Volunteers started work on the "Martin Plot" to clean the stones of Brig. General Walter Martin, his family and his parents, Abigail Cheney Martin and Col. Adam Martin. Col Adam was in the French and Indian War as well as the Revolutionary War. Brig. General Walter Martin came to Martinsburg, found our area and was just in time to serve in the War of 1812. It seems fitting that that whole Martin plot we worked on. Volunteers are cleaning and the cemetery is funding repair work on the stones.

Sue Adsit and myself found an old cemetery marked on and 1820s old map of Martinsburg. We also saw a marking for "The Mill Road" which was a surprise to both of us. Sue and I decided to cozy on down to the area and see what we could find- which was nothing. Several of our oldest residents say they were always told there was a cemetery but never saw any old stones. It was very near the Roaring Creek bed and of course it could have been washed out over the years. They big surprise was that we found two old highway markers! Wondered what they were doing down by the creek. When we went back to the map we saw that it was part of "The Mill Road". The cemetery was the Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Our best guess is that it was plowed under and it is now a cornfield but we will continue to explore. 

Halloween: Each Halloween the MHS treats the local children to a Halloween event in the town hall. This year, because the hall was being painted, the party was held at the William Bush Library. Brandi Rogers and Sue Adsit decorated, set up games and had prizes for the children that attended. They always do a wonderful job. As they say,  "They are really in to it."