Newark Valley Historical Society

PO Box 222
Newark Valley, NY 13811

Phone: 607-642-9516
Email:
nvhistory@stny.rr.com

 

Guilds

GUILDS are special interest groups that operate under the umbrella of the N.V. Historical Society. We offer these guilds to our members:

Placeholder image Black Powder Guild -- “Old Hickory Long Guns” Whether you own a flintlock, percussion, or side-lock, there is something for you at our Black Powder Guild! Our “Black Powder Only” & Primitive Archery range is open to guild members at the Bement-Billings Farmstead every Wed. afternoon from April until October. For more info on weekly shoots, contact Bob Waite: (215) 688-0614, batbrown146@gmail.com. For more info on Public Shoots, contact Joe Cavanaugh: (607) 723-8405.

Placeholder image Blacksmith Guild -- This group’s primary mission is to collect, preserve, and exhibit tools, skills, and traditions of the blacksmith and his trade. As one of their past projects, the guild produced hand-forged hardware and hinges for the Herrick Barn. Contact Doug Dayger at (607) 669-4489; dayg2@frontier.com



Placeholder image Cooking/Guides Guild -- Join this guild to learn more about open hearth cooking techniques and food history. Volunteers provide tours for the public and for school groups that are regularly scheduled in the spring, summer, and fall. They have workshops for cooking, guide training and costuming; speakers; trips; and social events. Guild contact: Charlotte Williams (607) 642-5387 or cwilliams3@htva.net. For tours: Jane Fischer (607) 862-4602 or Jefisch@mindspring.com

Placeholder image Shuttles & Spindles Guild -- This guild is dedicated to spinning, weaving, and textile arts. In the past they have done a variety of projects including rug braiding, bronze powder stenciling, indigo dyeing, tape weaving, and cardboard loom weaving. Contact Denise Tarbox at (607) 642-5568 sdtarbox@frontier.com

Placeholder image Woodwrights Guild -- The primary focus of this guild is to preserve historic woodworking techniques. The Woodwrights played a key role in the old-fashioned barn raising of the Herrick Barn, our three-bay threshing barn. Contact Skip Williams at (607) 592-5502 or bwilliams3@htva.net



Bement-Billings Farmstead Museum

Placeholder image When Asa Bement, Jr. built this house in the mid 1790’s, he was among the first settlers in Newark Valley. He brought his young family from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the 1790’s to settle here on the banks of the east branch of Owego Creek. His 350-acre farm included tilled fields, pastures, and woodlands. Asa and Abigail Brown Bement built a saw mill, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, and barns on their property. The mills and blacksmith shop served the needs of neighboring farms as well as his own. The Bement farmstead was one of the most prosperous in Northern Tioga County.

Placeholder image It had a kitchen, ante-room, pantry, bedroom, and a sleeping loft for the children. A formal parlor in the Federal style was added in the 1820’s. In 1843 Asa’s son, William, extended the house to include a second story, new parlor, and two more bedrooms on the first floor. These rooms and the exterior of the house reflect the Greek Revival style popular in the early-to-mid-1800’s. In the 1880’s the summer kitchen was added to the north end of the house.

Placeholder image In later years, the property was owned by the Ford family, and then the Billings family. In 1977, Mrs. Myrtie Louise Billings Hills deeded the house to the NV Historical Society to be preserved as a living history museum. In 1997 she gave us 90 acres of the original farm. Today the house is furnished as it was in the early 1800’s. Additional structures include a reconstructed blacksmith shop, the Herrick threshing barn, a wood shop, a carriage shed, and a Welcome Center.

Costumed interpreters demonstrate 19th century skills and trades such as blacksmithing, open-hearth cooking, spinning and weaving, and woodworking as they were done in Asa’s day.

The Trails at Sycamore Bridge

Placeholder image Placeholder image Welcome to the trails at Sycamore Bridge There are three loop trails that begin and end at the west end of the bridge. The total length of the trails is approximately 1 .5 miles.

  • The inner loop is the shortest walk (RED TRAIL). It is mostly among the trees.
  • The middle loop is a little longer (ORANGE TRAIL). It includes a mix of treed and open areas along the abandoned cornfield. It overlaps a part of both the inner loop and the outer loop.
  • The outer loop is the longest (WHITE TRAIL). It overlaps the other two loops for only a short distance as you go south. Then it separates to meander along the creek, across the end of the open field (overlapping the Orange Trail) through some treed areas, then along the active cornfield, back to the creek, and finally returns to the bridge.
  • A Connector Path allows the hiker to switch loops near the middle of the trail system. Interpretive signs along the trails help identity various trees and shrubs that grow in this unique area.

Bement-Billings House Tours

Placeholder image Open Noon- 4 PM on weekends from July through September. Private group tours can be arranged on any day of the week. Adults $2, Students $1. Call (607) 642-9516. For more information see “School Tours” page.



Have your Event in Newark Valley

Placeholder image To schedule a picnic, reunion, wedding, or other event at the Farmstead or at the Depot, call the office (607) 642-9516.





Blacksmith Shop

Placeholder image In the 1790’s, Asa Bement and his young cousin, John Rewey, built a log blacksmith shop as part of the Farmstead. Here they made and repaired iron implements such as sled runners, chains, kitchen utensils, household hardware, farm tools and horseshoes. Their shop served the needs of the surrounding area as well as the farmstead. Our reconstruction of the log blacksmith’s shop rests on the site of the original structure. Today you can watch our blacksmiths hammering red hot iron into useful tools like those made by Asa and John in the early 1800’s.

Black Powder Range

Placeholder image Located on the east side of Route 38, Old Hickory Long Guns Guild members and guests shoot muzzle loaders each Wed. 6 PM until dusk, May until October. ($1 per target, 3 target shoots each week.) Black Powder Range is also open at times for Public Shoots 10 AM-Noon. Call George Buskey at (607) 863-4217 for more information.

Gift Shop

Placeholder image The Gift Shop in the Bement-Billings House is open on summer weekends from 12-4 PM, and during festivals. It holds hundreds of items including pottery, old-fashioned candy, traditional toys, books, T-shirts, candles, baskets, colored glassware, tin punched items, miniatures, and notecards.

Herrick Barn

Placeholder image According to old maps, the Bements built their threshing barn across the road from the house. It was destroyed by fire many years ago. The barn we have now was built in the early 1800's by the Herrick family of Candor, New York. It was disassembled and reconstructed on the farmstead property in the late 1990's. The frame was re-erected at a traditional bam-raising during the 1999 Spring Festival.



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Train Depot Museum

The first official freight train of the Southern Central Railroad pulled into Newark Valley on March 8, 1870. Passenger service started within one month. Thus began over 100 years of service to the communities on the east branch of the Owego Creek.

Today the depot has been restored to the 1910 period, and contains a variety of railroad artifacts and memorabilia. The Depot is home to an HO scale railroad depicting the northern Tioga County segment of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and a real restored caboose. The waiting room displays are changed from time to time.

Depot Friday Nights

Placeholder image June through September; doors open at 6 PM, free events start at 7 PM; refreshments are available. Come enjoy a free concert or lecture and some delicious food. Many favorite entertainers are scheduled, as well as some new groups. We would love to see you Friday night! See the Depot Schedule for details on each event.

Have Your Event at the Newark Valley Depot

Placeholder image Looking for a place to have a party, a shower, a reunion, a breakfast, or a dinner? Consider the Depot! We have a kitchen, ample dining space, a 15-foot screen and video projector system, and a stage. Call the NV Historical Society office (607) 642-9516 for more information.





School Tours

Placeholder imageThe Newark Valley Historical Society is proud to offer an educational program designed specifically for school tours and community groups. Our volunteers work hard to preserve the area's history and invite your organization to participate. Call or e-mail us to get started. (See top of web page.)

What should I expect?

Placeholder imageWhat was life like for a family living on a farm in the early 1800ʼs in upstate New York? That question is answered when school children visit the Farmstead. In May, June, September, and through mid-October costumed volunteers welcome hundreds of school children in grades 2-6, as well as home-schooled children and Scout groups. A hands-on experience is provided for all during the 2.5 hours at the Farmstead.

Agriculture has played an essential role in the formation of this community. At the Bement-Billings Farmstead students explore their connection to the farm through interactive communications with trained museum guides, the study of 19th century artifacts, and five selected hands-on activities. The children are given a brief history of the Bement family before their adventure begins.

Their activities may include: churning butter in a real pre-Civil War kitchen while our cook presents information about cooking on an open hearth; learning lessons in a one-room school; carding and spinning wool into yarn; visiting a woodworking shop where they learn about historic tools and they make a tin punch ornament; learning about the uses of herbs and wild foods; designing a quilt square; and watching a blacksmith work at the forge. Our program satisfies the New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies I, 2, 3, 4, 5; English/Language Arts 1, 4.

The visit can be finished with a picnic lunch and a chance to play with old-time toys. If you have the time, or want to come back to the Farmstead with your family, you can take a leisurely walk across the bridge and enjoy our 1.5 miles of Sycamore Bridge Nature Trails. For more information about the tours, or to join our volunteer staff, call (607) 642-9516. Training will be provided.

Making the most of your visit:

    Placeholder image
  • Students should be dressed for outdoor activities, including warm, waterproof footwear.
  • You may wish to bring moist towelettes for hand washing, a simple first-aid kit, and a cell phone. If any students require prescription medications, these need to be carried in their original containers.
  • Students should be assigned to smaller groups of 10-15 before they arrive at the Farmstead. Color-coded name tags or stickers are useful for identifying groups.
  • We suggest that one adult chaperon accompany each group of students.
  • If a scheduled lunch period will be part of the field trip experience, students should bring labeled “brown bag” lunches which include beverages. (Include a few lunches to spare for those who forget.) We appreciate efforts to carry out trash.
  • Students are welcome to photograph their day at the farmstead.
  • Chewing gum and candy are not allowed inside any of our historic structures.

Suggested Field Trip Follow-up Activities
(appropriate for all grades)

Create a class scrapbook of your field trip. Each student can prepare one page which may include a poem, short story, or essay. Photographs, drawings, and captions will enhance the project. Encourage your students to use imagination and creativity.

Availability

The Bement-Billings Farmstead offers this program to school groups weekdays during May, June, September, and through mid-October. We welcome community groups May through mid-October. Reservations can be made by calling the business office at (607) 642-9516 or by e-mail nvhistory@stny.rr.com. Groups visiting the Farmstead may extend their stay to include a lunch period. Please inform our staff if you choose this option.

Program Cost

The cost of our program is $5.00 per student. We prefer payment in the form of a check presented on the day of the tour. Checks should be made payable to Newark Valley Historical Society. Teachers scheduling through the BOCES program may use the procedures set forth in the BOCES brochure.