GENESEO – The solid cast iorn sign that commemorates one of the most historic land purchases in New York State history will be restored to its former glory early next week after a long disappearance.
Charles ‘Dutch’ Van Ry, who is taking on the project, says that the original sign was set up in 1948 on Mary Jemison Drive to commemorate the signing of the ‘Treaty of the Big Tree,’ which transferred some 36,000 to 37,000 acres of land west of the Genesee River, including all of what would become Livingston County, from the Seneca Nation to Robert Morris.
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“When I was in college in the ’60’s it was always there,” said Vanry. “Somebody stole it, apparently a drunken person. Three years ago it wound up on the steps of the cobblestone Livingston County Museum. I’m sure the people who stole it and had it all these years aren’t too proud of what they did.”
The sign was badly damaged when it was recovered, and Vanry had to find the right people with the skill to properly repair and paint it.
“It was broken in half, and it’s made of metal so it was quite a project to find somebody to weld it back together,” said Vanry. “Fortunately I was able to find just the guy, and Tevye Scherline put his skills as an artist to work with an amazing paint job.”
Vanry added that the sign will be set up on Mary Jemison Drive on the property of SUNY Geneseo. He said that the college has been very cooperative and supportive of the project.
“I must say, Kirk Spangler with the college has been very, very cooperative, as well as the historical society,” said Vanry. “I offered to restore the sign not knowing how involved a project it was, but I am delighted to do it.
Vanry said that there are still some loose ends to tie up before knowing an exact schedule, but the sign will most likely go up early next week.