The historical heritage of a town and a village is not, nor should it be, in the hands of one person or single group of people. Pride in one’s native folklore and historical fact is an inherent characteristic. To strengthen this characteristic state governments have made a local history unit obligatory in the school curriculum. Early enough to develop youthful interest in one’s community and late enough to insure an understanding of local events in relation to national and world history.
Whitehall has such a rich heritage — a French and Indian fort, the events of the wars of the Revolution and 1812, lake boat days, canal era, railroad period, industrial rises and declines, a melting pot of nationalities with their rich backgrounds. People themselves are a part of our heritage. There have been sailors and soldiers, senators, representatives, judges, and countless others who have gone out from Whitehall to “make good” In the outside world – – and of these so many whose pride In Whitehall has called them back in retirement or visitation. With the coming national bicentennial it is natural to stress Whitehall as the Birthplace of the United States Navy. The Town and Village Planning Boards included this part of Whitehall’s history in its plans for the restoration of the 1775- 1776 shipyard.
Too big an undertaking? No. Remember the 1959 celebration – – that successful event made possible by the cooperation of the whole citizenry? It can be done again and on a larger scale. The slide program “Whitehall — Birthplace of the United States Navy,” offered to organizations last year, has even produced a bank account of $25 in the name of Whitehall’s Bicentennial; small, yes, but it can grow.
You have read the Planning Boards’ letter sent out to organizations asking for an expression of interest in these bicentennial plans. Whether Whitehall will have the services of the State Office of Planning Coordination for a pioneer project of feasibility will depend on the attitude of Whitehall’s citizens. Here is an opportunity for individuals to show concern for, an important development in Whitehall’s future — for her historical and tourist attractions will have much to do with her development. Put your support in writing and later into action for our country’s bicentennial and Whitehall’s benefit.
Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times
– October 7, 1971