SULLIVAN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
HISTORY MAKER AND HISTORY PRESERVER AWARDS
The individual biographies are original script from the Award Ceremony Programs, which were distributed at the time the awards were made.
To preserve the integrity and meaningfulness of the award, no editing has been made to the original script.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 2001
Emma Cooke Chase (1869 – 1944)
Educator & Child Advocate
An Oneonta, New York native, Emma C. Chase would become a household name in Sullivan County, New York a world away from her hometown.
A woman of vision, tremendous focus and tenacity, she became the first female Superintendent of Schools in New York State and the first Superintendent in the Third District in Sullivan County. Having graduated from high school in 1884 at the young age of fifteen, Miss Cooke was refused admittance to Albany Normal School (to become Albany State College), due to her age. Although profoundly disappointed, she applied for and was awarded a Third Grade Teaching Certificate (see notes) and began teaching school. She would continue to teach, subsequently renewing this 6-month certification several times and then receiving an annual Second Grade Certification, until gaining admittance to Albany Normal in 1888.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2001
Mary Edith Curtis
In the 1750’s, land hungry residents of Connecticut formed the Delaware Company to move westward and to settle in new land along the Upper Delaware River. Included in the company were John Calkin and Moses Thomas who in 1754 left the settled world of Connecticut to face the perils of life on the frontier. They, of course, had children in their new home. Two of them, Oliver Calkin and Hannah Thomas, eventually married and started a family which not only survived, but flourished in this new world and is represented today by our History Preserver honoree, Mary Curtis and her two brothers, Edward and Robert, the eighth generation of that union. Hannah had a no-nonsense introduction to life on the frontier. A family tradition records that at age six she was stationed on the barricades of the stockade located on the Delaware River and was instructed to fire the muskets handed up to her by the women below who loaded them. The point was to provide a constant firing from the fort which would persuade the Indians that the forces inside the fort were too strong to be attacked. Those who know Mary would say that she has inherited Hannah’s spunk. Indeed, as Mary has reflected on the two and a half centuries her family has been in the Valley, the idea has formed of writing a book about the remarkable women who preceded her: a history to be entitled, Generations of Strong Women.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2000
Delbert Van Etten
Delbert Van Etten was born in 1927, attended Liberty schools and graduated from Liberty High School in 1945. He joined the army almost on the day that Japan surrendered and was sent overseas to serve in the Army of Occupation in Germany. Though Del recalls that at the time he did not know one drink from another, the army, for some bizarre reason, put him in charge of a bar, but Del’s real talents were eventually discovered and he was sent to a school to be trained to be a draftsman. Though his army career was brief, that training had a long-term effect on his life. After returning to civilian life he worked for almost fifty years as a draftsman with several local engineers such as Olney Borden and Dolph Rotfeld. In 1962 he married Rita Stewart and they had two children, Sarah and John, who have twice made Del and Rita grandparents.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 2000
Francis S. Currey
Congressional Medal of Honor - WWII
Currey was born in Loch Sheldrake, New York, on June 29, 1925. After being orphaned at age 12, he was raised by foster parents on a farm in nearby Hurleyville. He joined the Army in 1943, one week after graduating from high school. Although he completed Officer Candidate School, at only 18 years old his superiors felt that he was "too immature" to be an officer and denied him a commission.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 1999
Walter A. Rhulen (1931~1998)
Early in this century, Max Rhulen found himself at age four in the strange world of New York City. He had been born in Russia, but his father Harry decided to move the family to America to escape the poverty and prejudice of Russia and the threat of having his sons drafted into the Czarist army.
His mother wanted her family to assimilate as quickly as possible and Max and his three brothers responded to her encouragement and worked hard to find their niche in this new world.
The family did not like New York City and about 1911 decided to move to Woodridge where they lived on the farm of Harry’s sister-in-law, a Mrs. Golub. While attending Monticello High School, Max met Eve Margolin, the daughter of Lewis and Anna Margolin, who owned the Kiamesha Lodge and Country Club which had evolved from a small farm and was located at the present site of the Hebrew Day School. After graduating, they both continued their education: Max attended New York Law and Eve was one of two women graduates of St. John Law School’s first graduation in 1928.