Stepney Bicentennial Celebration offers a glimpse into Monroe’s past


The Save Our Stepney Task Force is hosting a Stepney Bicentennial Celebration on the historic green, at the corner of Pepper and Green streets and Route 25, this weekend with a merry-go-round and a bounce house for children, food and historical displays.

The event, which also features a cakewalk around the gazebo from 2 to 3 p.m., is still going on today from 2 to 6 p.m.

A timeline in white chalk highlights different milestones in the town of Monroe’s 200 year history, including Route 25 being the first paved road in 1912 and the 1861 Copperheads peace rally on the green to protest the Civil War. Master showman P.T. Barnum and Elias Howe arrived “by train with a group of hired ruffians to break up the rally.”

Lee Hossler, who is an historian, manned a table full of black and white photos of historic buildings. One display is called “A walk down Main Street.”

Two photos show the street maker, once used to maintain Main Street when it was a dirt road.

A color photo shows a metal street maker, which resembles a plow with wagon wheels. A black and white photo from the 1800s shows men using it on a dirt road across from where Duchess restaurant is today.

“It was driven by four oxen and two horses with guys in the back controlling the scraper,” Hossler said. “Every time it rained there was mud and they had to scrape it,” he said of the dirt roads, “all the towns had to.”

At another booth, Cathleen Lindstrom, an SOS member, showed a woman old technology, including a Rotary dial telephone, a film projector and a typewriter. The woman looked at old glass milk bottles and reminisced about having milk delivered to her home.

Rick Smith and Mary Orsilo, who dressed as Monroe’s namesake President James Monroe and his wife Elizabeth, stood inside the gazebo.

Dee Dee Martin, who serves on the Monroe Bicentennial Committee, sold Monroe Bicentennial memorabilia at a booth, including light blue T-shirts, baseball caps and ornaments featuring the old schoolhouse. The merchandise may also be purchased at the Town Clerk’s Office at Monroe Town Hall.

Deborah Heim and Joan Marr of SOS took orders for posters and sold pin sets with photos of old stores in town. Visitors to the booth spun a wheel and answered questions on Stepney’s history to win candy bracelets and kids rings.

Joel Leneker, president of SOS, designed a cornhole set donated by Board & Brush in Monroe.

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