Huletts where the heart is: Volunteers seek to create personalized history of hamlet

The history of Huletts Landing is being told one family at a time.

The Friends of Historic Huletts Landing is in its third year documenting the lives of people who call the lakeside hamlet home.

The goal of the oral history project is to add to the community’s permanent record by capturing the stories of how people came to live in Huletts Landing and the memories they forged once there.

“We’re interested in old families, people who have been here awhile, who they are and how the came to be here,” said Marian Knight, the organization’s secretary and one of the volunteers helping lead the effort. “Some families are very interesting. Each has their own interesting things to tell.”

“There are several very old families that have lived in Huletts Landing for over 100 years.”

Knight is one of roughly a dozen volunteers who agreed to devote some of their time interviewing different people within the community. She said an average interview about one hour to complete, although some may be shorter or longer depending on who is being interviewed.

Questions can range from what people did for work, why they came to Huletts, how long have they been there and what they enjoyed doing while they were there. Anything that helps paint of picture of who they are and by extension helps personalize the story of the community.

Knight is part of a family that has lived in Huletts for decades. Her husband’s family purchased their camp on Bluff Head Road around the turn of the 20th century.

She said the family used to hold a regatta on Labor Day every weekend and the kids would practice their swimming and diving all summer.

“There were no electronics at the time. They played their own games,” Knight said, illustrating the type of stories interviewers are hoping to capture.

When the organization decided to do the project three years ago, volunteer had very little experience putting together an oral history project so they reached out to Jill Breit, executive director of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, a nonprofit organization in Canton dedicated to showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of upstate New York.

As executive director, Breit’s responsibilities include the implementation of interpretative programs for her organization, through which she had experience with oral history projects.

So the group asked her if she could train interviewers and she agreed. Training sessions have been held on annual basis since, the most recent being Monday. The organization has also received three Rockefeller Foundation grants to help pay for the cost of materials and transcribing the interviews.

Volunteers have completed approximately 20 interviews to date and hope to complete several more this year, Knight said.

Once the interviews have been completed, they are transcribed, edited and then made available to be viewed at the Huletts Library and Gallery. Organizers hope to also publish the transcripts on the group’s website.

She said the project has been well received by members of the community thus far.

“I’ve found that people really enjoy telling their stories,” Knight said.

Knight said the group is looking for volunteers to help with the project, whether it’s people to transcribe and edit interviews, conduct interviews, or suggestions of whom to interview.

Anyone who has lived in Huletts, especially if their family has been there for a considerable period of time, is welcome to have their story recorded.

“It has nothing to do with status,” Knight said.

Anybody who is interested in volunteering is encouraged to contact Knight at 499-2955.

“It’s a lot of fun to listen to people’s stories,” she said.

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