Civilian Conservation Corps Camps


Join the Kent Memorial Library and the Kent Historical Society as they welcome Martin Podskoch of East Hampton, Connecticut on Saturday, March 11, at 2:00 p.m. at the Kent Town Hall, 41 Kent Green Boulevard, Kent. He will discuss and sign copies of his newly published book, Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy.

Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy is the definitive book that records the CCC experience for the men who helped support their families during the Great Depression with days of hard work, Army discipline, and camaraderie.

This volume is the second state CCC project Marty has completed.  New York State was the first. He learned from the first research effort the skills needed to complete such an all-encompassing history. He interviewed many old men whose fond memories of their youth in the CCC remained vivid. In his interviews Marty found that these men felt great pride in their work with the CCC, that it was a good time in their lives – – for some, the best. Most agree they learned how to get along with many types of people. As you read what each man said you will come to know something of the time, to reach into the past and know what it was to be in the CCC!    

The CCC was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It targeted young men and veterans in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression, providing unskilled manual labor related to environmental conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands.

Volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways. In nine years, 2.5 million young men participated in restoring morale and public appreciation of the outdoors.

These young men worked in 21 Connecticut CCC camps while some traveled to Western states to do conservation projects. These interviews and hundreds of marvelous photos of camp life capture the vitality of the young men who worked so hard to improve our forests, which had been ravaged by fires, lumbering, and storms. We must not forget their labors in the woodlands and state parks that continue to be enjoyed by millions today.

Podskoch’s book describes the history and projects of the 21 camps located throughout the state. Camps were located at Housatonic Meadow in Sharon; Stones Ranch in Niantic; Natchaug State Forest (SF) in Eastford; Nipmuck SF in Union; Squantz Pond in New Fairfield; Meshomasic SF in Cobalt and Portland; Pachaug SF in Voluntown; Black Rock SP in Thomaston; Tunxis SF in East Hartland; Mohawk SF in West Goshen; Burr Pond in Paugnut SF;  American Legion SF in Barkhamsted; Salmon River SF in East Hampton; Wooster Mountain SF in Danbury; Shenipsit SF in Stafford Springs; Experiment Station Land in Poquonock; Macedonia Brook in Kent and three camps in Cockaponset SF in Killingworth, Haddam, and Madison.

Enrollees signed up for six months and worked a 40-hour week for $30/mo. The government sent $25 to the enrollee’s family and the enrollee received $5. The young men received good food, uniforms, and medical care. At first they lived in tents; later they lived in wooden buildings. These young men and special camps for war veterans were able to help their families and gain a sense of worth.              

There are hundreds of pictures of the boys at work and at camp, sometimes laboring mightily, other times clowning around or playing on camp teams.

There are excerpts from camp newspapers of cartoons, poems, doggerel, and songs that will delight the reader for this unique window into their lives.

Since most of the boys quit school after 8th grade to help their families, the Army organized evening classes for those who wanted to get a GED, learn vocational skills or just hobbies like photography. In precise detail the reader will see what the boys studied in the education classes, a wide variety of classes from Accounting (practical) to Drawing and Music (entertainment), and life skills.

Scores of interviews with CCC veterans tell each man’s story from early life in a large family trying to help during the hard times. Angelo Alderuccio, from Bristol, worked at the Cobalt CCC camp in 1934. He said, “I was happy joining the CCCs because my mother was going to get some money, and it took me off the streets.”

CCC enrollee, Ed Kelly of Woodbury, said: “I was interested in the CCC because there were no jobs and I had cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. There were eight children in my family and the money I earned helped my parents.” 

You will follow boys from city and village as they learn of the CCC, enlist, travel away, and become the muscle and bone that built the state parks, water projects, planting trees, and so much more. Their stories continue, most often through WW II, a return home to begin to use what they’d learned. There are stories of their families and their professional lives. After reading one boy’s life journey it is clear how much the CCC helped each one develop the character and purpose they carried through life.  

Marty Podskoch has authored six other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, Northern Districts and also Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches. His travel book, The Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport & Guide to the North Country, was published in 2014.

This event is free & open to public. His book Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy will be available for purchase & signing after the talk. Please register. For more information, call the Library, 860-927-3761; email; stop by the Library; or visit the Library’s online calendar at

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, visit or call 860-927-4587.

The Kent Memorial Library’s mission is to enrich the lives of individuals and the community by providing materials, programs, and services to encourage reading, learning and imagination. The Kent Memorial Library is located at 32 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut. Visit for more information.


“Camps of Kent” Wins Award of Merit

Camps of Kent” Exhibit Wins CLHO Award of Merit


The Kent Historical Society 2015 Exhibit, “Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer” has been honored by the Connecticut League of History Organizations with their Award of Merit. The award letter declared, “The Committee highly commends the Kent Historical Society for creating an exhibit that explored this previously undocumented aspect of the town’s history. The committee was impressed with the amount of original research that was conducted and the extra effort that was made to reach out to the community to collect and share the stories and artifacts of both the camps and the campers who came to Kent.”

Marge Smith and Melissa Cherniske co-curated this exhibit  and did a tremendous job, particularly guest curator Melissa Cherniske. Her personal experience and passion for the camp experience shone through every facet of the exhibit.

For more information on the award-winning exhibit please click here.


Annual Fund

 Why does the Kent Historical Society need an Annual Fund?

The Kent Historical Society is embarking on something brand new this fall – the Annual Fund for the Kent Historical Society. Many of our members are probably asking why the organization would need this and why they should donate, when they already pay membership dues.

You’ve probably recognized that recently the Society has increased its public programming and expanded what it offers to both the town and the region. The Board of Trustees has consciously been planning to increase the financial backbone of the Society.

About a year ago we hired fundraising consultant Nancy Baker, a longtime resident of the Northwest Corner and the former Director of Development of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.  She has been guiding us through the process of developing a more sophisticated fundraising program that includes funding from a variety of sources. We’ve revamped our membership renewal process so that your membership is now on an annual basis, rather than based on our fiscal year. For example, when you become a member in July, your membership renewal is due in July.  I’m pleased to report that 22 members renewed at a higher membership level than they had the previous year.  

Fund raising for a non-profit must come from many different sources and we are cognizant of this and are working hard to expand the income streams. We have increased our contacts with state and local foundations and applied for multiple grants.  We have been successful with two during the past year. We hope to hear in the upcoming months on at least two more.

The new Annual Fund is another important source of funding for the Society. The purpose of these donations will be to support the mission of KHS through donations to augment our operating budget: “Our mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage.”

In the next couple of weeks you’ll receive a letter encouraging you to give to the Annual Fund. I hope that you will consider the important work that the Kent Historical Society does for the town as well as the region and decide to make a gift in support of the organization, in addition to your annual membership dues so we can continue to add new programming, exhibitions and events to our calendar.  Your support is deeply appreciated.

Lynn Mellis Worthington, President


Award of Merit presented for Iron Exhibit

Society Wins an Award of Merit for 2014 Iron Exhibit


The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) bestowed upon the Kent Historical Society June 1, 2015, an Award of Merit for the exhibition Iron, Wood and Water: Essential Elements in the Evolution of Kent.  

“The committee was very impressed by the exhibit and commends the Historical Society on successfully highlighting the roles and human stories of everyday workers involved in Kent’s iron industry. From the outdoor history hikes to the resourceful installation, the Historical Society connected Kent’s past to the community today and has helped the community understand the origins of the town,” the League said in its letter announcing the award.

Marge Smith, the Society’s Curator, said it was gratifying for her to see her personal vision presented and receive honors.

“We were thrilled to have our hard work and creativity in this exhibit achieve this recognition,” Smith said. “This was a personal project of mine, but it came to fruition because of the energetic participation of our Board of Trustees.”

Large panels highlighted the personal stories and encouraged visitors to “imagine” themselves in the person’s shoes. These panels were designed by Board President Lynn Mellis Worthington and Trustee Melissa Cherniske.

“This exhibit was presented in a new format for the Society with large photographs and text. We are thrilled that our efforts in presenting this in-depth look at the iron industry were recognized on the state level,” Mellis Worthington said. “It was very exciting to be one of 10 organizations receiving awards this year.”

So often, local histories are told through the lives of the wealthiest notable citizens. This exhibit was unusual in that its focus was on workers and their daily lives in what was the high-tech industry of its era. Iron, Wood and Water was the summer exhibit in 2014 and was open from July to September.

For more information about the awards, see the League’s web site,

Whittle A Walking Stick

Whittle a Walking Stick with Noted Educator and Woodworker Joe Brien

One of life’s great satisfactions for any child (or adult, for that matter), is tramping along a path with a well-balanced walking stick, using it to lean on, or swat weeds, or push aside sticker bushes. The feeling is even more gratifying for walkers who whittled the stick with their own hands.

During the Region 1 schools’ Spring Break on Saturday, April 11, 2015, educator Joe Brien of the Lost Art Workshops will lead a whittling session at the Kent Historical Society’s Art Barn, located on the flagship Seven Hearths Museum property at 4 Studio Hill Road in Kent, Connecticut. Participants will learn how to choose the right sapling and transform it into a rugged hiking staff that can help propel the walker up steep hills and across rushing streams. It is designed for children aged 8 and above, accompanied by an adult family member.

All tools, materials and workstations provided. No pixels are involved–it’s far more real than a video game. Building a meaningful object with a family member is a warm reminder of a day spent together. This will be tremendous fun while learning important, practical, useful skills.

Perhaps the singer Leon Redbone captured it best in his droll song, “My Walking Stick”:
Without my walking stick, I’d go insane…
I can’t look my best, I feel undressed, without my cane.
Must have my walking stick ’cause it may rain
When it pours can’t be outdoors without my cane….”

The program is free, and pre-registration is necessary — be sure to sign up early. Online registration is at

The program is underwritten and co-sponsored by Housatonic Youth Services Bureau. The Art Barn at Seven Hearths is the site of several art and enrichment programs during the summer.

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, contact: Brian Thomas, Executive Director, 860-927-4587,

Hidden History of Litchfield County

 A Sunday Series “Extra”
Peter Vermilyea speaks on
Hidden History of Litchfield County

The Kent Historical Society and Kent Memorial Library presented local author and prominent educator Peter Vermilyea as he discussed and signed his new book “Hidden History of Litchfield County” on Sunday, February 8, 2015.

In his book and presentations, Vermilyea uncovers abundant clues all around us, and shares them with audiences and readers throughout the region. His curiosity takes him all over the local landscape, and he constantly turns up instances of history that still linger, if you open your eyes to see them.

Stonewalls and graveyards summon numerous stories from Vermilyea. He points out weed-choked railroad tracks that crisscross the county, in Kent and beyond, and brings our attention to a ruined cinderblock bunker in Warren that was once a crucial radar station during the Cold War. He reminds us of a catastrophic fire that devastated Winsted in 1908, forcing residents to flee the Odd Fellows boardinghouse in fear of their lives. In Bantam, art deco chairs made by the Warren McArthur Corporation were so appealing and comfortable that the War Department ordered bomber seats from the company during World War II. Vermilyea explores these and other juicy tales from the history of Litchfield County, Connecticut.

A resident of Litchfield, Mr. Vermilyea teaches history at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Connecticut, and at Western Connecticut State University. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he is the director of the student scholarship program at his alma mater’s Civil War Institute. He is a member of the Litchfield Historical Society Board of Directors. He is the author or editor of three books and more than a dozen articles and maintains the Hidden in Plain Sight blog. In fact, the book grew from Vermilyea’s fascinating blog, which can be found at “Hidden History of Litchfield County” boasts five-star reviews on Amazon, with such comments as, “extremely well-written and impressively researched,” and “it is amazing how many remnants of the nation’s past the author has uncovered…”

Vermilyea’s lecture was geared to Kent and its citizens. A long-time friend of both the Kent Historical Society and Kent Memorial Library, Vermilyea made ample use of the society’s archives in researching this book. Readers will find a handsome acknowledgement to the Kent Historical Society’s Curator, Marge Smith, on page 8.  His book, “Hidden History of Litchfield County” is available for purchase at Kent’s House of Books


Learning History From Quilts

Learning History From Quilts


A special donation of a historical quilt linked to Kent spurred the Kent Historical Society to offer an event dedicated to quilt history.  Sue Reich of Washington, an author and lecturer on quilt history, demonstrated the use of quilts as a historical research tool as part of the Kent Historical Society’s Sunday Series on Jan. 19, 2014 at the Kent Town Hall.

 Reich has been a quiltmaker since childhood. She lectures widely on many aspects of quilt history, and is a certified American Quilt Society quilt appraiser. She co-authored “Quilts and Quiltmakers Covering Connecticut” and authored “Quilting News of Yesteryear: One Thousand Pieces and Counting,” as well as “Quilting News of Yesteryear: Crazy as a Bed-Quilt”, “World War II Quilts”, “Quiltings, Frolicks and Bees” and “World War I Quilts.”

 The main quilt discussed is a recent donation to KHS. It is a signature quilt that dates back 120 years has been returned to town. Embroidered with the date 1894, it belonged to the Rev. Benjamin Mead Wright at the time of his retirement as pastor of the First Congregational Church of Kent in 1896.

 The quilt was handed down in his family, where it remained until 2012, when KHS Board members Dick and Charlotte Lindsey met his grandson, Stanley Wright, in Norwalk. Wright felt strongly that the quilt should be returned to Kent. It was on display during that fall at the church and then transferred to the Historical Society. At the time of this recent donation it was assumed that the quilt had been made as a retirement gift for Rev. Wright by his congregation, but close examination by Ms. Reich has now led us to believe that may not be the case. The more we study the quilt, the more questions we have. We’re digging into family histories, old newspaper stories, church records and more.

 The society hopes that this presentation will spark renewed interest in the stories that quilts can tell. KHS held a Quilt Discovery Day in April 2014, to which people brought their own treasured quilts for Ms. Reich to evaluate.


Tom Hooker Hanford

Tom Hooker Hanford

Musician Tom Hooker Hanford performed on March 16, 2014, sharing a family-friendly program that he calls, “Fiddle Dee Dee: Children’s Folk Songs of Old New England.”

The musical celebration involved a number of songs from “Folk Songs of Old New England,” which was first published in 1939 by Editor Eloise Hubbard Linscott. She collected a variety of songs from elderly New Englanders. The musical pieces had been handed down for generations and some of the songs were 100 years old at the time of publication. “The old songs are fun and I’ve tried to interpret them in a way that stays faithful to the originals,” Hanford said.  Some songs, like “Billy Boy,” may be familiar favorites, while many others are less well known. “The Lumberman’s Alphabet” takes a humorous look at the life of a north woods logger. “Jolly Old Roger,” with its sign-along chorus is a droll portrait of a colonial tinker, Hanford said.

The program attracted children of all ages and their families. “I present the songs in a way that is appealing, playful and fun for all ages,” Hanford said.  Copies of his CD featuring the songs performed is available at

Civil War Medicine

Civil War Medicine

The Kent Historical Society featured a presentation on May 18, 2014, on Civil War medicine by Harwinton resident Dane Deleppo. The presentation was a preview of a large ceremony that happened in Litchfield to honor one battle in the war.

Dane’s talk focused on the care given to soldiers in the Civil War. He also shared information about the training of doctors, misconceptions about the care, as well as which medical drugs were available. Poor hygiene in camps led to disease becoming rampant, and at the beginning of the war there were no hospitals to which to take the badly wounded. Eventually orders were issued that each regiment must have a surgeon. The development of medical practice during the Civil War had many different aspects.

Deleppo is a 25-year veteran of Civil War re-enacting and is the current president of the T. A. Hungerford Museum in Harwinton. Deleppo and his wife, Carol, received the 2012 Mary Tallmadge Chapter of the DAR award for historical preservation.

The Civil War Battle of Cold Harbor was remembered on Memorial Day weekend in Litchfield with a series of events organized by Litchfield’s Morgan-Weir American Legion Post 27 and the National Park Service. Deleppo was one of the featured speakers. Other presenters included Bert Dunkerly of the National Park Service, Civil War historian Peter Vermilyea, who also teaches history at Housatonic Valley Regional High School and Western Connecticut State University, and the Connecticut Army National Guard Brass Pack. The battle of Cold Harbor was significant because so many local men were involved and because of its devastation. The 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery had trained on the Litchfield Green and suffered large losses in the battle. The organizers of the Litchfield event have a Facebook page “Litchfield County Connecticut Remembers Cold Water – 150 Year Anniversary.”

History of Farming

History of Farming

 Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 at the Kent Town Hall, we hosted John Perotti of Lone Pine Farm in Millerton, NY. He spoke about the progression of farming in the area as well as his own family farm, which is now being operated by the fourth generation in the family.

In a wide-ranging talk, he discussed his own experiences with livestock and various crops — this man really loves cows! He also had some interesting things to say about genetically modified organisms, whole milk, and organic farming.  With candor and a great sense of humor, he described the challenges farmers face today.

The audience had several Kent farmers, including Megan Haney, Bill Case and Barry Labendz, who added their perspective to a lively discussion.