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Mt. Pleasant latest to offer local history book
By Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy   - 03/05/2009

The Journal News

More Info on This Book: Mount Pleasant

As lifelong residents of the town, George and Claudine Waterbury have lived through much of its history.

At the age of 86, George Waterbury serves as town historian and president of the Mount Pleasant Historical Society. His wife, 84, is the society's secretary.

Tonight, the couple, along with the Historical Society's lead trustee, Bert Ruiz, will debut as co-authors of a pictorial book detailing the town's history.

"Images of America: Mount Pleasant," published by Arcadia Publishing, is part of a series that chronicles communities throughout the United States.

All proceeds from the sale of the books, retailing at $21.99, will be donated to the Historical Society, said Waterbury, who also serves as a trustee of the Westchester Historical Society.

"We knew a lot of the history," said Waterbury, who was born in Pleasantville and has lived in Thornwood since 1954. "And we discovered a few more things during our research."

The book traces the history of the town starting with the paintings of some early inhabitants of the land, the Weckquaeskeck.

It journeys through the early years, mentioning Henry Hudson and Philipsburg Manor, and visualizes the impact of the railroad and the Rockefeller family in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The book includes the history of local churches, including the 1818-built First Methodist Episcopal Church, which collapsed in a heavy ice and snowstorm in January 1948.

"It was a blizzard, and there was just too much snow," said George Waterbury, who was baptized there.

The book also tells the story of Rose Hawthorne, daughter of author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

"I didn't know Hawthorne (the hamlet) had three other names before," said Claudine Waterbury, a retired advertising agency executive.

In 1787, it was called Hammond's Mill. In 1818, the name was changed to Unionville to make it more "patriotic-sounding," she said.

The area was called Neperan in 1851, in honor of the American Indian name for the Saw Mill River.

The hamlet was finally renamed Hawthorne in 1901 after Rose Hawthorne established the Rosary Hill Home for terminal cancer patients.

"We just love this area; we attended the local schools and have been part of the community for a long time," said Waterbury, who served in the Navy during World War II as a bombardier and retired as the chief financial officer of a food brokerage company.

Many of the pictures for the book have come from peoples' attics, said Lynn Beahm, the public relations coordinator of Arcadia Publishing.

"It's a great way to preserve and capture history," she said. "People find it enjoyable to look at old photographs and learn about their communities."

Buy It Now: Mount Pleasant $21.99




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