The Sheridan Historical Society will welcome Chautauqua County Historian Michelle Henry on Monday evening, June 30, for the first of this year's summer activities. The 7 p.m. program on local Civil War heroine Sarah Sinfield will be preceded by the society's annual picnic at 6 p.m.
Free and open to the public, both events will be held at the Town of Sheridan Community Center (formerly St. John Bosco Auditorium) on U.S. Route 20 in Sheridan. Picnic goers are asked to bring a dish to pass and table service.
A native of England, Sarah Sinfield and her husband, William, lived in Sheridan shortly after they arrived in the country around 1855. When the Civil War broke out, they were living in Dunkirk. William enlisted in New York's 72nd Infantry under the command of Daniel Sickles, and Sarah obtained permission to accompany her husband.
Henry will narrate the details of Sarah's service, many of which are recorded in her later pension application. Although the law normally did not allow women to receive pensions for wartime service then, Congress could grant anyone a pension by special act. Such was the case with Sarah, as Henry will explain further. Sarah's story also has connections to the Dunkirk lighthouse, for which William was appointed assistant lighthouse keeper in 1875.
The historical society's display at this year's Fredonia History Days on Saturday, July 19, will also feature women in the military, focusing on several Sheridan women who served as wartime nurses from World War I to the Vietnam War. The exhibit will be on display in the historical tent in Barker Commons, Fredonia, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The historical society also invites the public to see its extensive collection on display at the Sheridan Historical Center the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m., June to September, or by special appointment. The Center is located on the second floor of the former Sheridan town hall, on the corner of U.S. Route 20 and Center Road. Admission is free. Appointments for special visits can be made by calling 673-1822.
The final society program of the year will feature the area known as Eagle Bay in Sheridan, at a date to be announced. SHS Trustee Virginia Becker will share the story of Eagle Bay Farm and its connections to the famous Larkin Company in Buffalo, as well as the early history of St. Columban's on the Lake, which was founded in 1924 as a preparatory seminary by the Missionary Society of St. Columban. Ms. Becker's article on Eagle Bay is featured in the current edition of the society's newsletter, Now and Then, which is available at all SHS activities as well as at the current Sheridan Town Hall (at the former St. John Bosco campus) and Hamlet Farms during normal business hours.
For more information about the historical society or upcoming events, call 673-1822. All events are free and open to the public.