The Newark Valley Historical Society preserves and interprets the past of Newark Valley, Northern Tioga County and New York.
The Society operates two historic sites and a nature trail:
The Bement-Billings Farmstead is a living history museum which interprets domestic life, agricultural practices, and the natural environment of the early 1800's.
The NV Railroad Depot is the site of our Depot Friday Nights entertainment series and other community activities.
Members receive free admission to the Bement - Billings Farmstead Museum
(excluding festivals) and our newsletters, and are welcome to join our guilds: Black Powder,
Blacksmith, Cooking/Guides, Jane Bement Arts, Shuttles & Spindles, and Woodwrights.
Your membership dollars help us keep history alive by offering school tours at the Bement-Billings
Farmstead Museum and Depot Museum; Apple Festival; Depot Friday Nights; and other public programs.
Click here for Membership Form
Volunteers at the Newark Valley Historical Society have the opportunity to learn about the past in a living history setting, study 19th century skills, work with groups of children and adults, and make new friends. Behind the scenes activities include office support, care of collections, and committee work. Our volunteer staff operates year round.
GUILDS are special interest groups that operate under the umbrella of the N.V. Historical Society.
We offer these guilds to our members:
Black Powder Guild -- “Old Hickory Long Guns” Whether you own a flintlock, percussion, or side-lock,
there is something for you at our Black Powder Guild! Our “Black Powder Only” & Primitive Archery range
is open to guild members at the Bement-Billings Farmstead every Wed. afternoon from April until October.
For more info on weekly shoots, contact Bob Waite: (215) 688-0614,
For more info on Public Shoots, contact Joe Cavanaugh: (607) 723-8405.
Blacksmith Guild -- This group’s primary mission is to collect, preserve, and exhibit tools,
skills, and traditions of the blacksmith and his trade. As one of their past projects, the guild produced
hand-forged hardware and hinges for the Herrick Barn. Contact Doug Dayger at (607) 669-4489;
Cooking/Guides Guild -- Join this guild to learn more about open hearth cooking techniques and food history.
Volunteers provide tours for the public and for school groups that are regularly scheduled in the spring, summer, and fall. They have workshops
for cooking, guide training and costuming; speakers; trips; and social events.
For tours: Jane Fischer (607) 862-4602 or
Shuttles & Spindles Guild -- This guild is dedicated to spinning, weaving, and textile arts.
In the past they have done a variety of projects including rug braiding, bronze powder stenciling, indigo dyeing, tape weaving,
and cardboard loom weaving. Contact Denise Tarbox at (607) 642-5568
Woodwrights Guild -- The primary focus of this guild is to preserve historic woodworking techniques. The Woodwrights played a key role in the old-fashioned barn raising of the Herrick Barn, our three-bay threshing barn. Contact Skip Williams at (607) 592-5502 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When Asa Bement, Jr. built this house in the mid 1790’s, he was among the first settlers in Newark Valley.
He brought his young family from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the 1790’s to settle here on the banks of the east branch of Owego Creek.
His 350-acre farm included tilled fields, pastures, and woodlands.
Asa and Abigail Brown Bement built a saw mill, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, and barns on their property.
The mills and blacksmith shop served the needs of neighboring farms as well as his own.
The Bement farmstead was one of the most prosperous in Northern Tioga County.
Fun at the Farmstead Tri-Fold
It had a kitchen, ante-room, pantry, bedroom, and a sleeping loft for the children. A formal parlor in the Federal style was added in the 1820’s. In 1843 Asa’s son, William, extended the house to include a second story, new parlor, and two more bedrooms on the first floor. These rooms and the exterior of the house reflect the Greek Revival style popular in the early-to-mid-1800’s. In the 1880’s the summer kitchen was added to the north end of the house.
In later years, the property was owned by the Ford family, and then the Billings family. In 1977, Mrs. Myrtie Louise Billings Hills deeded the house to the NV Historical Society to be preserved as a living history museum. In 1997 she gave us 90 acres of the original farm. Today the house is furnished as it was in the early 1800’s. Additional structures include a reconstructed blacksmith shop, the Herrick threshing barn, a wood shop, a carriage shed, and a Welcome Center.
Costumed interpreters demonstrate 19th century skills and trades such as blacksmithing, open-hearth cooking, spinning and weaving, and woodworking as they were done in Asa’s day.
Welcome to the trails at Sycamore Bridge There are three loop trails that begin and end at the west end of the bridge. The total length of the trails is approximately 1 .5 miles.
Open Noon- 4 PM on weekends from July through September. Private group tours can be arranged on any day of the week. Adults $2, Students $1. Call (607) 642-9516. For more information see “School Tours” page.
To schedule a picnic, reunion, wedding, or other event at the Farmstead or at the Depot, call the office (607) 642-9516.
In the 1790’s, Asa Bement and his young cousin, John Rewey, built a log blacksmith shop as part of the Farmstead. Here they made and repaired iron implements such as sled runners, chains, kitchen utensils, household hardware, farm tools and horseshoes. Their shop served the needs of the surrounding area as well as the farmstead. Our reconstruction of the log blacksmith’s shop rests on the site of the original structure. Today you can watch our blacksmiths hammering red hot iron into useful tools like those made by Asa and John in the early 1800’s.
Located on the east side of Route 38, Old Hickory Long Guns Guild members and guests shoot muzzle loaders each Wed. 6 PM until dusk, May until October. ($1 per target, 3 target shoots each week.) Black Powder Range is also open at times for Public Shoots 10 AM-Noon. Call Joe Cavanaugh: (607) 723-8405 for more information.
The Gift Shop in the Bement-Billings House is open on summer weekends from 12-4 PM, and during festivals. It holds hundreds of items including pottery, old-fashioned candy, traditional toys, books, T-shirts, candles, baskets, colored glassware, tin punched items, miniatures, and note-cards.
According to old maps, the Bements built their threshing barn across the road from the house. It was destroyed by fire many years ago. The barn we have now was built in the early 1800's by the Herrick family of Candor, New York. It was disassembled and reconstructed on the farmstead property in the late 1990's. The frame was re-erected at a traditional bam-raising during the 1999 Spring Festival.
The first official freight train of the Southern Central Railroad pulled into Newark Valley on March 8, 1870.
Passenger service started within one month. Thus began over 100 years of service to the communities on the east branch of the Owego Creek.
Today the depot has been restored to the 1910 period, and contains a variety of railroad artifacts and memorabilia. The Depot is home to an HO scale railroad depicting the northern Tioga County segment of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and a real restored caboose. The waiting room displays are changed from time to time.
June through September; doors open at 6 PM, free events start at 7 PM; refreshments are available. Come enjoy a free concert or lecture and some delicious food. Many favorite entertainers are scheduled, as well as some new groups. We would love to see you Friday night! See the Depot Schedule for details on each event.
Looking for a place to have a party, a shower, a reunion, a breakfast, or a dinner? Consider the Depot! We have a kitchen, ample dining space, a 15-foot screen and video projector system, and a stage. Call the NV Historical Society office (607) 642-9516 for more information.
The Newark Valley Historical Society is proud to offer an educational program designed specifically for school tours and community groups. Our volunteers work hard to preserve the area's history and invite your organization to participate. Call or e-mail us to get started. (See top of web page.)
What was life like for a family living on a farm in the early 1800ʼs in upstate New York?
That question is answered when school children visit the Farmstead. In May, June, September, and through mid-October
costumed volunteers welcome hundreds of school children in grades 2-6, as well as home-schooled children and Scout groups.
A hands-on experience is provided for all during the 2.5 hours at the Farmstead.
Agriculture has played an essential role in the formation of this community. At the Bement-Billings Farmstead students explore their connection to the farm through interactive communications with trained museum guides, the study of 19th century artifacts, and five selected hands-on activities. The children are given a brief history of the Bement family before their adventure begins.
Their activities may include: churning butter in a real pre-Civil War kitchen while our cook presents information about cooking on an open hearth; learning lessons in a one-room school; carding and spinning wool into yarn; visiting a woodworking shop where they learn about historic tools and they make a tin punch ornament; learning about the uses of herbs and wild foods; designing a quilt square; and watching a blacksmith work at the forge. Our program satisfies the New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies I, 2, 3, 4, 5; English/Language Arts 1, 4.
The visit can be finished with a picnic lunch and a chance to play with old-time toys. If you have the time, or want to come back to the Farmstead with your family, you can take a leisurely walk across the bridge and enjoy our 1.5 miles of Sycamore Bridge Nature Trails. For more information about the tours, or to join our volunteer staff, call (607) 642-9516. Training will be provided.
Create a class scrapbook of your field trip. Each student can prepare one page which may include a poem, short story, or essay. Photographs, drawings, and captions will enhance the project. Encourage your students to use imagination and creativity.
Because we are an all volunteer organization, we are trying to make volunteering a little easier and more predictable for our volunteers who plan to help at our school tours this year. We'll be offering 16 dates on a first come/first served basis. Our dates for 2020 are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and two Fridays during the months of May and June. Cost per student is $5.00.
Tours will begin at 10:00 AM after a brief introduction, and end by 12:00 noon if we have 4 stations, or they will begin at 10:00 AM and end by 12:30 PM if we have 5 stations. Because our presentation spaces are small, we need to limit our station group size to no more than 12 students. So, if your school will have 48 students total on your date, we will run 4 different stations. If your group has 49-60 students total on your date, we will run 5 different stations. The station activities we may offer on a given day are: kitchen, parlor (quilting), wood shop, school (barn), blacksmith, or games. We cannot handle groups of more than 60 on a tour day.
If you're grouping students from among several schools, please be sure you've divided your students prior to arrival at the Farmstead to be sure each station has no more than 12 students. Your timely arrival allows us to begin the tours on time, which allows your students time to have a picnic lunch in the picnic area after their tour.
If you would like to schedule your class, please contact Jane Fischer at 607.862.4602 or at 607.727.8214. Thank you!
School Tour Dates for 2020
May Tuesdays: 5/5/20, 5/12/20, 5/19/20, 5/26/20
May Thursdays: 5/7/20, 5/14/20, 5/21/20, 5/28/20
May Friday: 5/15/20
June Tuesdays: 6/2/20, 6/9/20, 6/16/20
June Thursdays: 6/4/20, 6/11/20, 6/18/20
June Friday: 6/5/20
The cost of our program is $5.00 per student. We prefer payment in the form of a check presented on the day of the tour. Checks should be made payable to Newark Valley Historical Society. Teachers scheduling through the BOCES program may use the procedures set forth in the BOCES brochure.