Lock 52 Historical Society

of Port Byron, NY
Strategic Plan
for the 2015 Calendar Year
and Beyond



The Lock 52 Historical Society and the Future
“It’s kind of a transform-or-die model,” said Michael A. Jehle, the executive
director of the Fairfield Museum and History Center. “You need to demonstrate relevancy. You need to demonstrate your role in the cultural needs of
your constituents. If you’re a historical society that tells the same creaky
story, people are not going to pay much attention.”
From an article in the New York Times, October 23, 2014, “These Fusty Names Are History”

Summary of Where We Are Today (2015)
As Board Members of the Lock 52 Historical Society, we face a couple major challenges. Our
biggest challenge is that the people who first came together and served as the heart of the Society have aged and moved on, and we need to be turning over the Society to a new generation of
We are now entering into the second or maybe even the third generation of leadership, and the
people we will be looking to carry on the work of the Society do not have the sense of history
that the first and second generations had. They come from a much different world then what
was here in 1978.
Our second challenge is that the world of museums and historical societies today is far different
then it was back in 1978. The statement above came from an article in the New York Times. It
really says it all. We are at a time when the Society needs to take stock of the future and our
role in it. Back in 1978, the role of the Society was to be a very local organization serving a
population that was mainly comprised of the village and town, and the occasional visitor looking for information on a past generation.
We are seeing a change in the way people visit museums and what they expect to get from their
visit. Static displays and photographs don’t excite people anymore. People really want to be engaged during their visit. They want to touch things and feel things. As museum experts have
said about the new Erie Canal Park now being built in Port Byron; “Today people don’t want to
visit another old house museum! There are enough old houses set up as museums, and many of
those that are set up as museums are failing, going broke, and closing down.”
Back in 1978, a person who was researching their family had to rely on the local historical societies to fill in the missing gaps. They guided people to local sources and helped with local
folklore. Today, all that and more can be found in minutes on the internet. The Society can still
help to fill in the holes of someone’s research, because we collect the personal artifacts, stories,
and photographs that don’t make it into the newspapers or journals.
We also face a challenge in that the Village and Town budgets are increasingly scrutinized for
cuts, and as a non-critical social expenditure, we are in danger of losing our funding. (About
90% of our budget comes from the Town and Village.)



To plan for the future, we need to take a critical look at our current situation, and then look out
a few years to see where we wish to be as a Society. Then we need to make plans on how to get

Goals for the Future
The following goals were discussed at the February 2015 meeting of the Board.

Build membership
Develop projects and programs that engage the community
Develop projects that will attract visitors to the community
Make repairs to house so that building is suitable for meetings and collection.
Actively collect artifacts, photos and papers that relate to the history of village and town.
Develop fund raising for larger projects.

The following is a discussion of the goals, giving a background as to where we are today and
the suggested actions for the future.
Goal 1)–Build membership
The Society was begun by people who wanted to preserve the history of the village and town.
Those who are at least 60 years old or older recall a real downtown in Port Byron, where a family could shop in a department store, at the same time they went to the pharmacy, shoe store, or
meat market. They may have expected to meet their spouse here, find work and raise a family
somewhere nearby. The younger generation has grown up and experienced a Port Byron far different. They grew up with a worn out downtown that had little to offer them, and most likely
saw from a car as they passed through. They went to school in Port Byron and planned on leaving as soon as they could. With this background, it is hard to get them excited about helping to
save the memories of a worn out area that they really just wish to leave as soon as they are able.
If the Society is to survive and grow, it will need to engage this younger generation in some
way that makes them want to serve as a Board Member and volunteer.
People join the Society because they value the work of the Society, they enjoy history and nostalgia, they enjoy sharing time and memories with like minded folks. Members will come from
people who enjoy their life in Port Byron, and enjoy sharing with their friends.
We can also look to build membership by demonstrating a worth to the community. People who
see a response to our efforts to promote history and tourism may consider supporting the Society if they see a return for their investment.
In addition, our membership fee structure is undervalued. We maintain a $5.00 membership because we are afraid to ask people for more, and in doing so, we undervalue our worth. It costs
around $1.00 to send out a reminder, so in effect we have a $4.00 membership.
Suggested Actions;
1) Increase membership to $10 for singles and $15 for families.
2) Brainstorm the mailing list for people who should be asked to join.


3) Create a mail out a newsletter twice a year that will engage the membership and other funders, such as the Village and Town.
4) Engage the businesses of the village and town to highlight our work and possible membership support.
Goal 2)-Develop projects and programs that engage the community.
We must recognize that not every person will become a member of the Society, however, we
can strive to impart a sense of place and pride by sharing our common bonds brought down
through the history of the village and town.
Suggested Actions;
1) Create a space in the Pine Street house that is welcoming and set up for programs. People
should not feel confined when they attend a meeting or program.
2) Hold a program each month May through October that highlights the history of the town
and village, its citizens, or businesses.
3) Have available audio visual equipment that will accommodate the latest technology.
4) Develop displays that can be shared with the public at the library, offices, post offices and
Goal 3)–Carry out projects that will attract visitors to the community
The Society should be making the history of the village and town easily accessible to potential
visitors and tourists. Projects should highlight historical attractions that are accessible in times
when the Society building is not open to the public. We have the Canalway Trail that brings
people into the village and town almost every day during the summer and fall. A report of the
Economic Impact of the Erie Canalway Trail shows that 80% of tourists have some interest in
the canal history and they will be looking for sites that highlight this history.
We should also be engaging the business owners of the village and town to help them make the
connection between history, tourism, and the potential economic impacts that could result in
greater promotion.

Suggested Actions;
Continue with the development of a guide book that can be used for self tours. This could
be sold at various outlets in the village.
Continue to build outreach to potential tourists by way of websites, blogs and other social
Develop compelling stories that will attract people and make Port Byron a must see in their
Develop signage at critical areas that will highlight the history of larger events, places and

Goal 4)-Make repairs to house so that building is suitable for meetings and collection
The house at 73 Pine Street dates back to the 1840’s, and serves as the Society’s headquarters,
where it provides storage, display and programming spaces. The house has many limitations
that limit what the Society can do.
Suggested Actions;
1) The basement should be remodeled into a space that is safe and dry for the collection of the


2) Structural deficiencies should be repaired to make the house safe and secure for the members and guests.
3) Old windows should be replaced.
4) Utilities should be updated.
Goal 5)–Actively collect artifacts, photos and papers that relate to the history of village
and town
The stated mission of the Society is to collect items that help to tell the story of the region we
serve; the town of Mentz, and the village of Port Byron. Over time, the Society has become a
place for all old things, even though it may not related to the mission. The collection has been
kept in a manner not suitable for long term storage.
Suggested Actions;
1) Review the collections policy. The policy should reflect the mission of the Society.
2) Market the Society as a place for donations of materials.
3) Share new findings with the public to raise awareness that we wish to be the “communities
4) Store the collection using archives safe materials and standards.
Goal 6)–Develop fund raising for larger projects.
Over the past few years, the Society has had a very good fund raising committee to help raise
money for operational needs and small repairs. However, due to the lack of someone who
wishes to pursue grants, the Society has missed out on the opportunity to apply for many small
and large grants that could help with improvements to the programming and house.
Suggested Actions;
1) Try to find a Board Member who is willing to learn about grant writing.
2) Since grants tend to run in cyclical terms, begin a list of possible grants, even if it’s application time has passed for the current year.
3) Network to learn about grants.
4) Develop a boiler plate history that can be used for all grants.

Moving Forward; Setting Goals for 2015
Building on the goals and accomplishments of 2014, the following action list was created. (Not
in order of importance, except for #1.)
1) Membership– It is the primary goal of the Society to increase the membership base. It
should be the overarching goal in almost everything we do as a Society. However, it should
not be an over bearing presence in our lives.
A. The membership dues should be increased with different levels of support, to begin
at $10 per year. With this increase, we should be mailing two newsletters a year to all members.
B. Collect emails address to make a list for quick contact with members.
2) House Work. Continue with 2014 goals.
A. Office space in kitchen area. Set up office to accommodate library of books, study
guides, work area.
B. Remodel bathroom by removing tub.


C. Continue to develop remodeling plans for basement, estimate cost projections, pursue
D. Develop a “to do” list of needed repairs.
E. Clean basement.
F. Repair floor joists in kitchen.
G. Replace windows in kitchen.
3) Public Outreach. This now includes all efforts to connect with the membership and general
A. Writing articles for Citizen and other papers.
B. Social media; Facebook, blog
C. Traveling displays.
D. Programs that highlight local history. This could be developed in conjunction with
traveling displays, housing the display in the house and then moving to library, post office, drugstore.
E. Port Byron Minutes, video series.
F. Word of mouth. Simply speaking up when someone says nothing is happening in Port
Byron. Let the business owners or friends know what we are doing, Tell the Village and
Town Boards know that we are doing things.
G. Host rest stop during Cycling the Erie Canal bike ride. Hand out water, cookies, and
information about Port Byron.
H. Write an article for publication in a travel magazine
4) Working with neighboring societies to increase visibility and outreach. Collaboration is key
to success. How can we help them and how can they help us?
5) Economic / community. The Society should be looking at ways to tie the mission of the
organization to the economic well being of the community. The Society can help the community by promoting the history, which will result in increased tourism awareness. The Society
should also be advocating for historical preservation and documentation.
6) Build on the increase in activity that will come as a result of the Erie Canal Heritage Park. It
is likely that the building activities around Lock 52 and the Erie House will result in increase in
activity related to interest in what Port Byron has to offer. We should position our efforts to
make use of this increased visibility.
7) Build a website that connects our information, blogs and video series.
8) Grant seeking for remodel of basement



Survey of Membership Benefits Offered by Other Organizations…..8
The Difference in the Generations, an Overview …...9
How to Make History Interesting by Ray Notgrass….10
Goals Laid Out in 2014……..12
List of Current Officers and Active Members…..14



Member Benefits
I surveyed a number of historical societies on the internet, and I found that all organizations
struggle with this, and many look to boost their membership by offering additional “goodies”.
Here is a list of what I found;
*Free admission
*Member only benefits
*Traveler benefits (if the Society holds tours)
*Discounts on purchases
*Tax deductions (501c3)
*Business discounts (where a local business will give the member a discount on services
or purchases)
*Discounts on printing
*Free parking
*Website access, and access to past publications
*How to clinics
This is a sampling and not every group did all these things. Larger organizations were able to
provide more benefits, while the smaller organizations offered the basics, free admission and
parking. Again, all tried to make the case for, “Join because we are doing good”, but it is
unlikely this works. And this is not to say that we need to offer a goodie in return for membership, but it is included here to make the point that many organizations are doing everything they
can to get people to join.



The Difference in the Generations
This is included as it helps to define the different generations and how their expectations can
and will impact the Society.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) Boomers are hard working, loyal, confident, and competitive. They
want to help, they like to join organizations and have meetings. The youngest Boomer is now at
least 50 years old, and 10,000 are retiring each day for the next 19 years. Boomers have been
the backbone of all organizations.
Generation X’er- (1965-1981) X’ers have different life experiences and expectations. They
were brought up by parents who may have been divorced or with each working. X’ers had to be
more self dependent, and were brought up watching TV. Right now, they are dealing with family and employment issues. They have little time for volunteering.
Generation Y’er- (1982-1995) Y’ers also have different life experiences and expectations, even
more so than the Y’ers. They have been brought up with technology and frankly have a completely different school experience than the Boomers. They like to exchange ideas by way of
texting or other digital means. They dislike meetings. They want to know how they will benefit
from their association with the Society. Instead of “what can I do for you” they want to know
“what can you do for me”.
We can all point to exceptions to these rules. Certainly some people enjoy being a part of something larger and enjoy volunteering, but as a whole, the above descriptions do seem to express
how the generational groups differ.



How to Make History Interesting by Ray Notgrass
Theodore Roosevelt suffered from severe asthma as a child. He overcame this difficulty by a
strong determination to succeed. He attended Harvard and was elected to the New York state
legislature. Then in 1884, within a matter of hours and in the same house, his mother died at the
age of 48 and his wife died at the age of 22 after giving birth to a child.
Roosevelt left it all and went out to the Dakota territory. He raised cattle and took up hunting in
the daytime, then read classic literature by the campfire in the evenings. He finally found himself, returned to New York, remarried, and entered politics. As police commissioner of New
York City, Roosevelt often patrolled the streets at night.
He became a reform governor of New York, then in 1900 was nominated for vice-president to
run with William McKinley. Some speculate that Republican politicians in New York encouraged his nomination to get him out of the state and out of their way. When McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the cowboy-philosopher became President of the United States.
Somehow I find this more interesting than simply reciting the facts of Roosevelt's presidency. I
imagine you do, too.
Ken Burns, award-winning producer of PBS series on the Civil War and other topics, has said
that the key to making history interesting is to engage the emotions. If we can find some personal, moving connection with history, we will want to learn more.
The last five letters of the word explain it: history is a story. We all love stories, and we relate
better to stories than to a listing of facts, dates, and wars. History is our story. It is the shoulders
on which we stand to see farther in our own day. The story of human beings, of people who
have courageously become immigrants, used their God-given abilities to produce great inventions, and given their lives in a noble cause, is not boring.
Here are some suggestions on how to make your study of history come alive.
1.Don't depend on textbooks. Textbooks try to organize and arrange the material for the
convenience of the teacher, not necessarily for the enjoyment of the student. At one of our
seminars, a homeschooling mother in Alabama told me that she had started studying Alabama history with a standard textbook. Both she and her daughter were bored to tears. She
put aside the textbook and began checking out library books that told about people and
events in the state. They both love it and now find history fascinating. It is helpful to have
some overall framework in which to place people, events, and trends; but I encourage you to
find a source that is a good narrative of the story of history and not simply an outline of
facts. Supplement this with real books, living books, that make the story personal.
2.Emphasize individuals. The one hundred people who came to America on the Mayflower
were one hundred individuals, each with a story. Today the Mayflower Society is composed
of descendants of the passengers on the Mayflower. They know personally what that courageous voyage meant. World War II to me is not just a big war that started with Germany
and Japan being aggressive. My dad served in World War II. He landed in northern France
the day after D-Day. He endured the Battle of the Bulge and enemy bombings. It was while
he was stationed in England before the D-Day invasion that he met the woman who became
his wife and my mother. World War II is personal to me. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
in Washington, D.C. is perhaps the most vivid example of making history personal. On the


long marble wall are etched the names of the 58,000 Americans who died in that conflict.
We visited Washington on Veterans Day weekend a few years ago. At the wall we saw legless veterans in wheelchairs who were not able to hold back their tears. We saw flowers and
notes addressed to "Daddy" at the base of the wall. History was never more personal than it
was that day. Read biographies and autobiographies. Talk to people who have participated
in history. Do some genealogical research in your own family to find your personal connection with history. Persons make history.
3.Learn the stories. Historical novels are a good way to appreciate how the lives of individuals are affected by historical events. Movies such as "Fiddler on the Roof" give beautiful
portrayals of everyday people being swept along by changes in society. You may not care
much about the Populist movement of the late 1800s, but you would love Sockless Jerry
Simpson. Simpson was a Kansas politician who ran for Congress in 1890 as a man of the
people. His opponent was a wealthy railroad company lawyer. Simpson cast his opponent as
a tool of big business whose silk hosiery showed his priorities. Simpson's opponent sneered
back that it was better to wear silk stockings than no stockings at all, a put-down of Simpson's commoner status. Simpson turned the put-down into a political asset, became
"Sockless Jerry," and won the election. Read the stories of people who lived in earlier times,
not just books about them. Read "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and see if
your blood doesn't boil at what that former slave endured. Read "Up from Slavery" to learn
the hardships that Booker T. Washington overcame. The possibilities are endless.
4.Make a connection with your interests. Let your study of history be guided by what you
enjoy. You don't have to emphasize wars and diplomacy and Congress if you are fascinated
by architecture, for instance. You might find it interesting to learn what people cooked and
sewed in earlier times. Study the history of farming or road building or doll-making if that
is where your heart is. Again, it is helpful to be learning the framework of history for perspective; but leave enough time for a topic that will click with you or your child.
5.Take field trips. This may be the most effective way to make history interesting. I can't
tell you the excitement I felt when we stood at Sycamore Shoals near Elizabethton, Tennessee, where so much early Tennessee history was made, or when we went to the place near
Kingsport where John Donelson's flotilla left on its fateful journey to help found Nashville.
The battle of Shiloh will mean more to you after you visit the battlefield. In our nation's
capital you can see the actual Star-Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and much more. We have always traveled on a tight budget, saving up for a while, making meals from groceries instead of going to restaurants, combining
sightseeing with business trips, and camping out instead of depending on motels every
night. It is possible to take great field trips on a family budget.

Plato said, "Those who tell the stories change society." It is why Jesus told
parables. It was true with Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, a
story that changed society.



Goals Laid Out in 2014
The Board of Trustees held a meeting on January 8, 2014, to brainstorm ideas/ goals for the future of the Society. The following 10 points were developed in no particular order. During the
2014 calendar year, a number of these goals were addressed.
1) Hold tea parties or other meetings that would show respect to our seniors. Celebrate
their lives, what they have done, etc. Update– a program was developed that highlight
the biography of those in the community who were 90 or older. This was done by interviewing the people and writing a short one page bio which was read to those at the
meeting. This was well received.
2) Work with Montezuma Historical Society on joint meetings, trips, events. Update– Lock
52 assisted MHS with a program in June, bu helping with advertising and refreshments.
A number of Lock 52 members belong to the MHS.
3) Write up articles for InPort, Blog, Citizen. In short, find ways to get the message out
there that there is a local historical society. Update– the Citizen articles have been useful
in driving people to other social media sites and in increasing awareness for the Society.
4) Continue with Blog, Facebook, other social media outlets. Mike explained that he had
set up a Facebook account and had a number of people “like” us. Free, easy way to get
noticed. Update– the Facebook site has grown to 145 likes over the year. The blog has
8800 views, although this includes “web crawlers” that drive up the total and are not
real views.
5) Pay to “Advertise” in the Shoppers Guide at least once a month, maybe twice. There is
some question about how long this paper will continue in print, but we might as well use
it as long as it is around. Update– as feared, the SG went out of business on July 4th.
6) Purchase video camera that is easy to use for recording visitors, programs, even making
videos for a web site. Update– the camera was purchased.
7) Develop projects that can enrich what we do as a Society. Photograph the village, make
videos, work on genealogy. We need to have projects that let us be seen doing things.
Update– Tina has photographed much of the village.
8) Build a traveling display that can be placed at Library, Town or Village Office, or other
public places. These should be small, easy to transport and set up in a limited space. One
display was created under the title “Faces and Places”. This was displayed in Library
and currently in Herbst. There was a request for more of these.
9) Develop budget for 2014. Update– this was done by March and needs to be reviewed
each year.
10) House work- There was considerable discussion about how best to use the Pine Street
house. A couple points came up. The first is that the house is not so much dirty, but it is
messy. We have a lot of stuff and little space for it all. The point also came up that we
must have something to show people who visit the house. Some people just drop in, and
we should have something to show.
a. Find someone to repair foundation so back room is safe and secure. Update–
completed in May by Wayne’s Construction.
b. Remodel display room. This will mean not only replacing the walls and ceiling,
but also making it better suited as a display room. The school stuff can be




packed away. Update– completed over the summer and dedicated as the Jack and
Hellen Davies Display Room at the September meeting.
Remodel bathroom. It must stay as a bathroom, but the tub can go. Update– no
work done.
Vet’s room stays as Vet’s room. Clean up by removing clutter. Update– much of
the clutter was removed to the rear storage room.
Living Room stays as public meeting space, with small vignettes, and wall decorations.
Dining room becomes study / work area / library. This will give us room for
“office” of sorts, computer, work area, books. It was stressed that we need a table for refreshments. This can be accommodated. We might need to ask the owners of some of the furnishings to take them back. Update– Little done, some stuff
Kitchen remains as old, but usable kitchen. Update– cleaned!
Back room is remodeled to be storage. Mike stressed the need for storage. The
basement is not suited for storage of paper products. It can be used for large
items. Update- Backroom done. Basement storage is in planning
Upstairs small bedroom becomes storage. Remove old bed. Organize for easy
collection access. Update– nothing done
Upstairs large bedroom remains as is.

In all areas, non display items should be cleaned up and boxed if in storage.



Lila Wilson - trustee
9197 Conquest Rd
Port Byron, NY 13140
2013, 2014, 2015

OfficersMichael Riley- Trustee, President
38 Green St
POB 302
Port Byron, NY 13140
2014, 2015, 2016

Tina Morrissey-trustee
4833 Twelve Corners Rd,
Auburn, NY 13021
(315) 224-4745
2015, 2016, 2017

Jean Stoneburg – Trustee, VP
PO Box 453
Port Byron, NY 13140

Keith McIver-trustee
2015, 2016, 2017

Hellen Davies- Secretary
PO Box 289
Port Byron, NY 13140

Active MembersRichard Martens
POB 92
Church Street Apts
Port Byron, NY 13140

Mark Emerson- trustee, Treasurer
94 Halsey Rd
Port Byron, NY 13140
2014, 2015, 2016

Anita Messina
84 Green St
Port Byron, NY 13140

TrusteesMel Carner - trustee
PO Box 385
Montezuma, NY 13117
2013, 2014, 2015

Barb Black
64 Green St
Port Byron, NY 13140

Sandy Faulkner – trustee
PO Box 806
Skaneateles, NY
2014, 2015, 2016

Rachele Wilson
PO Box 32
Port Byron, NY 13140
Evalyn Taylor
Director Port Byron Library

Chick Walker - trustee
PO Box 528
Port Byron, NY 13140
2015, 2016, 2017


Betty Smith - trustee
9116 Oakland Rd
Port Byron, NY 13140
2013, 2014, 2015