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October 17, 2013

Fly Creek couple win historic award

Martins helped create FC Historical Society

By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Peter and Dorothy Martin are lifelong learners who were recently awarded for their years of dedication to the Fly Creek Area Historical Society.

The Martins are among the 13 people who helped to create the Fly Creek Area Historical Society (FCHS) 25 years ago.

“I’ve done quite a lot of work for the Historical Society. I helped to start it,” Dorothy Martin said.

Peter, 90, and Dorothy, 92, have owned their home in Fly Creek since 1952. Initially, they used their land as a dairy farm but they sold their cows in 1963 because they would’ve had to buy more land in order to make a profit.

Peter then went to SUNY Cobleskill at age 40 to study Agronomy, the science of soil management. He graduated in 1965 and then worked doing soil conservation on farms.

“I have always loved to read that was one of the things that helped at Cobleskill,” Peter said.

For 13 years the Martins lived in Tioga County but they kept their property in Fly Creek.

Dorothy Martin worked as a schoolteacher in Cherry Valley and Jefferson teaching first and second grade.

Though the Martins worked hard, Peter emphasized that they also took time to relax.

“We managed to take a vacation every year. We’ve been to every state except Nevada,” Peter Martin said.

Peter said that he always appreciated history but he didn’t have much time to volunteer until he retired. He helped start the Historical Society in Fly Creek because, “I like working with people and meeting people,” Peter said. “I like research. There’s always more to find out, more to research.” 

Peters love of reading, writing and research made his hours volunteering for the FCHS fun.

The Martins did several different tasks for the FCHS including preserving historical homes.

“Peter and Dorothy have done yeoman work in documenting the historical homes of Fly Creek and preserving the area’s natural beauty,” said Sherlee Rathbone, the president of the FCHS in the award letter.

“My wife and I started preserving the historical homes. We would go to the town court and look up the deeds and go back to the original owner,” Peter said.

The Martins helped to preserve 40 homes in their years with the FCHS. Peter said it’s sometimes difficult to find out how old a home is because there isn’t an exact record, but he estimates based on the structure’s architecture.

Though the homes are historically preserved there aren’t limitations put on those homes in terms of remodeling, Peter said.

“Some historical districts have limited things they can do with architecture. We didn’t want any of that here,” Peter explained.

Peter served as Vice President of the FCHS from 1989-1991 and from 2003 to the present year. He also served as President from 1991-1996.

Peter and Dorothy also served on the archival committee for the FCHS.

Peter said the most common thing he archives is paperwork but that he also documents and sorts farm machinery and household items.

“The hardest job is doing it and recording it the right way so it’s useful for the future,” Peter Martin said.

“It’s just like a library. Everything is numbered and that’s the only way you can keep track of where things are,” Peter continued.

Peter said that he is still an active member of the FCHS and that he mostly focus’ on the archives. He and Dorothy were happy to receive the award.

“We appreciate being recognized for the hours we put in,” Peter said.