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 Preserver Award 1996
Otto Hillig (1874 ~ 1954)
The following biographical sketch is taken from an article written by Mr. Delbert Van Etten, the Town and Village Historian of Liberty.
Otto Hillig was born in Steinbruechen, Germany in 1874 and when sixteen years of age came to the United States as a poor German immigrant. He first worked as a street car conductor in Brooklyn, later as a bartender and still later as a laborer in a brewery in Ellenville. When about twenty-one years of age and virtually penniless, he moved into the Liberty area and while working on a farm near White Sulphur Springs supposedly found a photo magazine and decided to try his hand at photography. He went on to become the most famous photographer in Sullivan County and the owner of the best equipped studio between New York City and Buffalo. He produced over the years vast numbers of pictures of the county’s development and portraits of its inhabitants. By 1914 he was able to build a studio at 84 North Main Street in Liberty. The building, though modified over the years, is still in use and lies within the bounds of the Liberty historic district.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 1994
Marjorie Durland Smith
The December 1, 1928 Certificate of Incorporation of the Sullivan County Historical Society lists as one of its directors, Emma C. Chase, an outstanding educator of the day, who as a District Superintendent of Schools was in charge of forty-nine schools and who was subsequently honored by having the elementary school in Wurtsboro named after her. Despite the responsibilities of her family and busy job, Mrs. Chase found time to make many worthwhile contributions to the work of the Society and passed on her enthusiasm to her daughter, Gladys Chase Durland, who in turn passed on her sense of dedication to the Society to her daughter, Marjorie Durland Smith. This History Preserver Award thus really honors three generations of remarkable women.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 1994
Frederick Albert Cook (1865-1940)
Frederick Albert Cook was born in Hortonville, Sullivan County on June 10, 1865, the son of Theodore Cook, a German immigrant physician and Magdalene Long Cook. His father died when he was five and later Frederick became the breadwinner for his four brothers and sisters after the family had left the county. Despite family responsibilities, he graduated from the New York University College of Medicine in 1890. The death of his wife and infant son the same year prompted him to respond to an advertisement placed by a young naval civil engineer, Robert E. Peary, who needed a surgeon for his North Greenland Expedition in 1891. This exploration was the first of eight expeditions “Poleward” with which Cook was associated over the next twenty years.