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Some of the items on display in the bicentennial exhibit at the Warrensburg Museum of Local History.  Photo: Andy Flynn
Some of the items on display in the bicentennial exhibit at the Warrensburg Museum of Local History. Photo: Andy Flynn

Adirondack Attic: Warrensburg celebrates its bicentennial

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Andy Flynn travels to Warrensburg for the next "Adirondack Attic" segment. The southern Adirondack town is celebrating its bicentennial this year. Andy examines some historic artifacts at the Warrensburg Museum of Local History and has the story behind the spelling of the town's name.

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Andy Flynn
Adirondack Correspondent

Andy Flynn: Today we’re in Warrensburg at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History with director Steve Parisi and we’re looking at the bicentennial exhibit. It’s the bicentennial of Warrensburg, isn’t it?

Steve Parisi: It’s the town of Warrensburg, which came one month before Warren County. Warrensburg was originally part of Thurman, which split in February of 1813 into the towns of Athol and Warrensburg. For a few years Thurman itself disappeared. One month later Warren County was created out of part of Washington County.

AF: And you’ve got an exhibit that celebrates the bicentennial of the town, right?

SP: That’s right, just the town. And it has been confusing because most people are focused on the county. And we have to tell them, “No, this is Warrensburg, we were here before the county.”

AF: Well I have to tell you Steve, when it comes to spelling Warrensburg, you keep the H at the end when today it ends with a G, Warrensburg ends with a G. What’s the deal there?

SP: Good question. It’s very controversial in town. There are people that want to restore the H because that’s the historical name of the town. But it was back around 1896 that the U.S. Post Office decided to simplify the language and nationwide planned to drop the H from any town that ended with GH, unless that particular town or city said, “No we want to keep the H.” As you know, Plattsburgh kept the H, Pittsburgh kept the H, Warrensburg did not. After 1896—without the H—before that we spell it with the H. The museum, because it’s a historic location and the Warrensburg Historical Society have chosen to keep the H.

AF: And we have some artifacts here, can you explain what these are?

SP: Well shortly after we opened the bicentennial exhibit, a woman brought in her mother’s basketball uniform. Her mother was Frida Bruce, who graduated from Warrensburg School with honors in 1931. She was the captain of the girls’ basketball team. So we’re very happy to get this uniform. People who have looked at it said, “They don’t make uniforms like this.” It’s a beautiful… I guess it’s silk? But the stitching and everything have been admired. Like I said, they don’t make them that way anymore. So we’re very proud to have this particular artifact on display.

AF: Warrensburg #66 is what she was. But are these the traditional colors that they still have today, the blue and the gold.

SP: Blue and gold, that’s Warrensburg’s colors.

AF: And there’s another artifact in front here. This looks like a musical instrument?

SP: Well it was conceived to be a musical instrument, I guess the closest thing that you could describe it as is a base fiddle. It’s made with a washtub, and painted on the bottom is "weary little kid." The weary little kid was none other than our great town personage named Davey Culver. Davey died not too many years ago, but he was a factor in the town from the 1930s. He died in 1993 at age 82. He was a musician but he was also a flagpole painter. He served in WWII as an army sergeant fixing airplanes in California. His later years, you would see him walking up Main Street with a couple of shopping bags. He would glean the too-old food from the Grand Union (with their acknowledgement) and he would bring it to some of the poorer families in town. He was a one-man welfare system.

AF: Well I see a picture of Davey right there, and he’s playing the banjo, so he played more than one instrument?

SP: Oh absolutely. As far as I know, he played the banjo. I’m not sure what other instruments he might have played, and I’m not sure that this base fiddle actually worked, but I imagine he did get some sound out of it. He’s shown, and we do have a photograph of him, playing it with a large mitten on his right hand, so he was also a bit of a comedian.

AF: It looks like there is only one string.

SP: Well, I guess you can get some sound out of that depending on where you put your left hand!

AF: This is a wonderful collection at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History celebrating not only the bicentennial of Warren County, but the town of Warrensburg here in 2013.

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