The Dr Asa Fitch Historical Society was organized in 1975 to assist in the celebration of the US Bicentennial Year. The society has continued to dedicate itself to the promotion and preservation of local history.

Its namesake, Dr. Asa Fitch (1803 - 1879) was born, educated and died in Salem. After his college education at RPI, he returned to the family home at Fitch's Point where he studied agriculture and noxious insects. He was eventually appointed by the New York State Legislature as the first professional Entomologist of the New York State Agricultural Society. Thus making him first entomoligist in the state and nation. During his celebrated career, he received many honors for his work and became a model for entomoligists around the world.

Likewise, he became a noted historian, writing seven voluminous journals about 1700 and 1800 events in Salem and around the county. His historical writings stand alongside his scientific writings, and today are considered one of the finest sources of historical and genealogical information around. His notes became the basis of much of the historical journals and books written in his time. More can be read about Dr. Asa Fitch in Jeffrey K. Barnes' biography Asa Fitch and the Emergence of American Entomology, 1988. Fitch's house and lab can be seen on Route 29 at Fitch's Point, just east of East Greenwich.

Since organizing, the society has published its own local history works: The Salem Album and The History of Salem. Furthermore, live historical events have become a standard for the society. These line events, such as the Civil War Encampment in July 1995, which commemorated the 30th anniversary of the return of the 123rd Regiment NYSV, recreate the atmosphere and excitement of history. It was at Salem's Camp Washington that the ten companies of the 123rd were organized. In September 1862, they boarded passenger coaches and left the Salem depot for the war, not to return until 1865.

In 1997 the Civil War Encampment was held May 30, 31, June 1 at the White Church in Salem and featured drills, a parade, music and a high tea. The Champlain Rifles reenactors of the 123rd New York State Volunteers (The Washington County Regiment) were encamped on the lawn of the White Church on West Broadway, accompanied by their wives and children in authentic period dress. These events by the Champlain Rifles are held annually in the local communities and are open to the public at no charge.
Read Letters of a
Civil War Soldier

The Cruikshank Civil War Letters:
A collection of photos and letters has been made available to Salem by Barry A. Cruikshank the grandson of Everett Cornell Cruikshank who was born in Salem in 1871 and was the son of Robert Cruikshank, the writer of the letters. The narrative is in the words of Barry Cruikshank.

I've broken the letters down into four sections by year, 1862,1863,1864 and 1865 to make them easier to read.

Civil War Letters - 1862
Including an introduction and an account of his departure from Salem

Civil War Letters -1863

Civil War Letters - 1864

Civil War Letters - 1865

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