Town of
Pompey Historical Society

    Established 1976


Sylvia Shoebridge - Her Life and Times

      On this page are excerpts and anecdotes from our Winter         2013 Newsletter featuring a review of Sylvia's life and contributions to the Town of Pompey.

Sylvia Berry Shoebridge

      On March 2, 2013 a reception was held at the Pompey Town Hall to celebrate the 90th birthday of Sylvia Shoebridge, former Town Historian and author of a definitive 2-volume history of Pompey. In a sense, Sylvia represents Pompey for all of us. Her love of this town and her enthusiasm for researching its past has helped countless others understand and appreciate Pompey's history.              Sylvia was born in Pompey but was sent to Philadelphia to live with an aunt for her 7th and 8th grades and then attended the prestigious East Philadelphia High School.  Sylvia recalls these years with mixed emotions; the education was superior but she sorely missed the country.  Once, when a 9th grade teacher assigned an essay about a summer event, Sylvia wrote about hunting and killing a woodchuck.  She was reprimanded for making up the story and not given credit for the assignment!


      Every summer she came back to her first love - the farm.  There wasn't a chore she could not perform.  She recalls that once a cousin remarked primly, "Isn't it a shame that Sylvia isn't a boy?"  To which her father replied. "I am quite satisfied that she is a girl!

      At right Sylvia maneuvers a team of horses and wagon. 


elphi -this pretty village in the south-east corner of the town has wonderfully improved within the last ten years, in all that tends to the progress of society. The streets are fine and the sidewalks first rate. The ladies of this place, whose energies are only exceeded by their beauty, have, with commendable zeal, raised money enough to purchase plank, and have laid sidewalks over the entire village. This example might be followed with a great degree of credit by nine tenths of the villages in the county.

      In 1975 the Pompey Historical Society was formed and Sylvia threw herself into the research for the book Pompey, Our Town in Profile.  She chaired a committee of five that pored over records, archives, and private collections to produce a book and pictorial documentation on the origin of the town.  Wendall Tripp form the NYS Historical Association wrote about the book, "The work was researched and written with affection, but also with consummate intelligence." 

      At left are the current Town Historian, Ruth Hotaling, Sylvia, and Town of Manlius Historian Barbara Rivette..

House Tours and Cemeteries – Sylvia also did architectural research on the homes in Pompey choosing houses that people might not look at twice but were most representative of Pompey's history. 
She reported on the lives of the people who built the homes and who lived in them.  From 1978 through 2003 she led summer tours that allowed us to see what may have seemed "ordinary" in an extraordinary way. These are the stories of early Pompey and what she refers to as "the fabric of the Town."
      In addition, she understood and appreciated cemeteries as valuable research resources and moved to preserve some as part of the Town's history.  About ten years ago she and a handful of enthusiastic Pompey friends inventoried, mowed, cleaned, repaired, and reset gravestones in several abandoned Pompey cemeteries.  The Pompey Historical Society printed two books under her direction; Epitaphs in Pompey Cemeteries and Stencils in Early Pompey Homes and Two Churches.
      Sylvia continues to do research but now her focus is on her generational history.  Every Thanksgiving the whole family gathers at Maple Hill - her ancestoral home.  It has become a tradition that she prepares a toast to an ancestor she has researched.

      At right Sylvia addresses those on the tour of a home in Pompey.     



      When asked about the sheep that she had in her yard last summer, Sylvia said - as she often does when she talks about something in her life - "but that is another story."  Sylvia has so many stories, we have been fortunate that she has shared so many of them with us.  So, Happy Birthday, Sylvia, and many more - as we are sure there are many more stories to be told!

      At left the cake cutting ceremony begins as friends, family, and Town officials gather around in appreciation of Sylvia's contributions.  Nearly 100 people attended the event to honor Sylvia.










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