Awaiting Orville: Hungerford exhibit delayed but momentum builds – NNY360

Dry Wall Contractor

WATERTOWN — A “world-class” exhibit, “Hungerford’s A$hes,” first announced nearly two years ago, is still on track for display at the Jefferson County Historical Society, although delays caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and building issues at the society’s headquarters have caused scheduling hiccups.

Andre J. Hungerford, an attorney based in Portland, Maine, drove overnight to arrive in Watertown in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 21, accompanied by his 21-month-old son, Preston James Hawk Hungerford. A likeness of Preston was featured in a Sept. 13, 2020, 14-by-9½ birth announcement in the Watertown Daily Times. The announcement, drawn by DC Comics artist Adrea R. Mutti, had Gothic undertones.

The birth announcement also hinted about the exhibit focusing on the life and times of Orville Hungerford, 1790-1851, a Watertown pioneer, businessman and philanthropist. He was a two-term United States Representative for the 19th District in New York, and a prominent local merchant, banker, industrialist, Freemason and railroad president, who, with the help of his wife, Betsey, envisioned the Watertown & Rome Railroad and raised money to make it happen. Orville’s railroad plan was audacious, envisioned only a few years after railroads were established in the U.S.

The Hungerford mausoleum is at Brookside Cemetery.

The Hungerford world tree comprises tens of thousands of individuals who lived (or are living) in the U.S., England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

Mr. Hungerford, a family member representing the exhibit, was in Watertown to attend the April 21 evening meeting of the board of directors of the Jefferson County Historical Society. A few hours before it, he, along with son Preston and society board president Stephen B. Bolton stopped by the offices of the Watertown Daily Times.

“It’s like a small army of people putting it together,” Mr. Hungerford said of the exhibit. “But we need to finally do it. We’ve tried to put together a world-class team.”

Mr. Hungerford was asked if the delays in getting the exhibit off the ground has resulted in any frustrations for him.

“Here’s the thing,” Mr. Hungerford said. “It took Orville Hungerford from 1832 to 1851 to raise over one million dollars for the Watertown & Rome Railroad. He went through a lot of ups and downs.”

“So, actually no,” Mr. Hungerford said of any personal frustrations. “I use him as the inspiration. Eventually, we’re going to have the exhibit. Eventually COVID will calm down. Eventually the roof will be repaired.”

The “Ashes” in the name of the exhibit refers to potash, and which led to a path of wealth for Orville Hungerford. He came to Jefferson County from Farmingham, (now Bristol) Conn., in 1804 at 14 years of age with his father, Timothy, and family. They farmed land on the northeast slope of Dry Hill.

Timothy, a pioneer, couldn’t afford to send Orville to college. Shortly after arriving here, …….


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