From the Historian: An update from the History Department

Anita Mance

As I write my second column as historian, I realize I should have written this column first — to introduce myself and reintroduce readers to our local history department.

As Jim Burlingame mentioned in his column of Jan. 14, the torch has been passed to me.  Like Jim, I have lived in East Rochester my whole life. And like Jim, my family were village pioneers, with my father’s family coming from Cape Vincent (1,000 Islands area) around 1906. My grandfather came to work at the carshops. For many years my parents owned a grocery store on Main Street, next to the old Municipal Building/Fire Hall. My dad was a member of the Fire Department, Ambulance Corps and ER School Board, and also sponsored a little league team and women's bowling team. My mother helped with the Girl Scouts and PTA, as well as working in the store.

I graduated from our high school in 1965, and after earning my college degrees I worked with children as a teacher and librarian. I retired from being our elementary school librarian in 2010, and three years later became Jim’s assistant here at local history. Along the way, I have volunteered in several organizations, including the ER Alumni Foundation Board, Public Library Board and alumni boards at SUNY Potsdam.

And now, to our local history department. We are fortunate in East Rochester to have had a place for our history since 1962 — starting in a room in the Fryatt Memorial building at 901 Main St., expanding to the whole first floor and part of the second floor there, to our current space in the Eyer building. It all began with someone who cared about our village and its history — Mrs. Lucile Saunders, a retired history teacher. Through her efforts, people told their stories of our village’s beginnings (which she wrote by hand) and donated items for display. Throughout the years, others continued to help. And so, we now have space for displays, artifacts, memorabilia, files of biographical information, photographs, newspapers, CDs, tape recordings, bound books of newspaper articles, yearbooks, maps and original documents. And throughout our village there are 22 historic markers located on sites significant to our past.

We have also shared our history through school visits and presentations to various community groups. There are many ways to access our holdings. Through our website (, you can view over 5,000 photographs. If you have a specific question, our hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays-Saturdays. You may send an email or call us at 585-381-3023.

While volunteers and I are here to help with your research, we look to you to help us — perhaps by interviewing family members about their history in our community or donating articles or photographs of our past. Remember, our history is always changing as present events become our future history. 

Anita Mance serves as historian for the town/village of East Rochester.

Anita Mance.