The Children's Room is filled with local history — from a child's point of view. There are antique, vintage, and retro toys, clothes, books, and dolls of all kinds. Many were brand new in the 1800’s. Among the toys and dolls are shelves with Scout uniforms and some early Physical Education uniforms. Toy banks were very popular and we have a few examples.

 

The small rocker was donated by a woman who worked for the Kinney family. It had belonged to Harold Kinney, the son of Bert Orrin Kinney, who founded the Kinney Drug Company. It is in very excellent condition, compared to the tricycle from the early 20th century that obviously was so well used, the rubber is almost completely worn off the metal wheels.

On a mirrored shelf, you see wonderful examples of children’s tea sets. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see. On a hangar on the shelf, is what looks like a green dress with white piping. This outfit was worn by James Otis Sheldon, the son of Henry and Martha Thompson Aldus Sheldon, and the grandson of Timothy Sheldon. Timothy came to Gouverneur in 1808. He had a farm three miles from the Village of Gouverneur on the Richville Road. Next to James’ formal costume, is a white toddler smock that was once worn by Edward Goulding. Edward married Martha Robinson of Gouverneur in 1938. Learn more about the children's clothing.

 

And the dolls. In the Children’s room, many eyes watch you while you explore the room. But don’t be startled; think about the little children who once loved and played with those dolls. Those children are all grown and probably gone from this world. These toys and dolls are a link to a past. And even though they were brand new a century or more ago, they didn’t get discarded; they are being preserved and cared for. They are having their best life here at the Gouverneur Museum.

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We have a wonderful example of a stereoscope. It was donated by Edna Ackerman. We call it the first 3-D device. It wasn't the very first, but it is an example of a Holmes Stereoscope. "In 1861, Oliver Wendell Holmes created, and deliberately did not patent, a handheld, streamlined, much more economical viewer than had been available before.

 

The stereoscope, which dates from the 1850s, consisted of two prismatic lenses and a wooden stand to hold the stereo card. This type of stereoscope remained in production for a century and there are still companies making them in limited production currently." Wikipedia

The Children's Room has many articles of child-sized clothing. We even have some early Physical Education uniforms.

 

Brian Leonard Gallery

In the hallway, we have a tribute wall for Brian Leonard, GHS graduate and professional football player. Brian Leonard starred in the Rutgers football renaissance from 2003-06 while collecting academic accolades and becoming a major force in the community.
 
Named a Freshman All-American by the College Football News, the Gouverneur, N.Y., native earned First-Team All-America honors for three consecutive years from Pro Football Weekly while also becoming a three-time All-Big East selection.

 

A second-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2007, he made starts at fullback and running back in his rookie NFL season. He subsequently played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
 
A community service stalwart, Leonard plays active roles with the American Cancer Society, Read Across America, the Special Olympics and several children’s hospitals. Leonard annually hosts a local football camp for children and the “Rally at the Alley,” a bowling fundraiser that has benefitted the Embrace Kids Foundation since 2010.  

 

From the Professional Football Foundation website.

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In the 1920's, this happy little character once belonged to a little girl named Martha Willenbacher. Martha was born on November 6, 1923 when the Campbell Kid dolls were very popular.

Campbell Kids were first used in 1906 as advertising mascots for the Campbell Soup Company. The Campbell Kid baby was born in 1919. It had curved legs and wore a white dress, under garment and baby bonnet.

This doll has the unmistakable face of one of a Campbell Kids Dolls : the painted eyes, glancing to the side, composition head, cloth stuffed with cork body, and jointed at arms and hips. The doll was based on artist Grace Gebble Wiederseim Drayton's illustrations.

 

The sculpted design was created by Helen Trowbridge. In 1928 Horsman lost the licensing rights for the Campbell Kid to American Character who manufactured Campbell Kids dolls under the "Petite Doll" label. Martha's doll is an authentic "Petite Doll."

Martha Willenbacher grew up on a farm outside of Gouverneur. At the age of 16, she moved to the village to attend high school. She lived with the Sprague family on Barnes Street. A dear friend of hers described her as a "pack rat" who kept everything she ever owned until she was compelled to weed her collections as she had to downsize her living quarters.

 

A remarkable and interesting person, Martha had thousands of slides which she regularly shared with community groups. She taught Sunday School at the Methodist Church and was a loyal member of its congregation. She was also an avid member of the Gouverneur Business Women's Organization. The Tribune Press (June 24, 1987) wrote a story about Martha's collection of over 800 pigs. She said her "hobby had become a collection." 

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© 2019 by Gouverneur Historical Association

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30 Church Street, Gouverneur, NY 13642

315-287-0570  |  315- 323-2654

The museum has stair chairs to the exhibit floors for accessibility and is wifi enabled throughout.