History of "Historical Wyoming" magazine



Years before the ring of the axe broke the stillness of the forest, only moccasin feet walked the land which today is Wyoming County. These Iroquois Indians left their mark upon the land. The names they bestowed upon their waterways and trails still remain today. With the signing of the Big Tree Treaty of 1797, the way was paved for pioneer settlement. In 1802, four adventurous and pioneer spirited men set out on foot from their native New England homes to become the first settlers of Wyoming County. Settling in the towns of Bennington and Middlebury, their rude log cabins were the first buildings erected. This pioneer spirit lead to the unique heritage that abounds within the boundaries of this county.

It was this unique heritage that fascinated a native son, Harry S. Douglass - born in Perry, raised in Curriers, taught school in Arcade. Harry loved the people and the history of Wyoming County. During the 1930's, Harry began writing biographical sketches and other historical accounts for the County Weeklies. In 1944, he was named the first Arcade Town Historian by the Town Board and soon after Arcade Village Historian. As historian, Harry soon became part of a movement within New York State to preserve the heritage of New York State and of his native county.

In 1947, individuals in Attica, Warsaw, Castile and Middlebury, together with historical groups, solicited the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors to make an appointment of a County Historian. Several persons contacted Harry Douglass to fill the post, reluctant at first but he soon agreed to take the position. Harry S. Douglass became the first Wyoming County Historian and brought with him a dream.

The new county historian envisioned an historical publication to be issued periodically as a means of preserving and disseminating Wyoming County historical heritage. The plan was approved and with the advice and help of Robert W. McGowan of the Arcade Central School Commercial Department and the students of Arcade Central, Historical Wyoming was born. The first issue was published September 1947. In 1962, Historical Wyoming earned an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Harry, writing many of the articles himself, continued to publish Historical Wyoming until July 1968. He retired in 1974. Historical Wyoming for 21 years was published free with the financial backing of the Wyoming County Supervisors.

Upon the retirement of Mr. Douglass in 1974, John G. Wilson was appointed Wyoming County Historian assisted by his wife, Mary who held a degree in Literature from Columbia University. With the encouragement of their fellow historians, in July 1975 Historical Wyoming was again being published. But due to rising printing costs a small subscription rate had to be implemented. On December 13, 1979, Mrs. John G. Wilson died very suddenly and a void was created in the publication of Historical Wyoming. Anita Ripstein (Hayes), a colleague of Harry Douglass and the Wilsons and a noted historian in her own right, was asked to step in and fill the void. John G. Wilson and Anita Ripstein served as Co-Editors until March 1990 when Ms. Ripstein retired from Wyoming County. Since, Doris Bannister has served as Co-Editor. Upon the semi- retirement of John G. Wilson, Raymond Barber was appointed Wyoming County Historian and continues the heritage of Wyoming County and Historical Wyoming.

For over 50 years, Historical Wyoming has been published preserving the Heritage of Wyoming County. If your family ever lived in Wyoming County, their lives in one way or another have made the pages of this noted publication.