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Jerusalem lauds Toaspern for Historic Marker Trail

John Christensen
The Chronicle-Express

JERUSALEM — “Annette Toaspern is a marvel when it comes to tracking important historical sites in our Jerusalem community,” says her neighbor, Anita Maroscher, and Anita wanted to make sure the Town Board knew that. She nominated Annette for a Jerusalem “Good Citizen Award” as the founder of the Jerusalem History Club in January 2011, and as Jerusalem’s “History Sign Lady.” 

Anita Maroscher, Annette Toaspern, and Jerusalem Town Supervisor Jaimie Sisson, who presented Toaspern with the town’s “Good Citizen Award” at the Rte. 54A overlook above Keuka Lake near Branchport. This is just one of eight stops on the Jerusalem History Trail established with Annette’s leadership and the work of Jerusalem History Club members and others.

“In nine years she has inspired and created a Jerusalem History Trail with help from other town residents,” says Maroscher.

Since forming the Jerusalem History Club in January 2011, Annette has spearheaded the installation of eight history signs in the Town of Jerusalem. These signs have created a virtual history trail as an attraction for visitors and residents to follow. 

Annette Toaspern

“This public service was done at no additional expense to our town,” says Maroscher, “and yet it has enhanced our community in being a subtle attraction for exploration, and at the same time teaching the history and arousing interest of this wonderful place.”

Map of Jerusalem Historic Markers.

These signs are:

• Three N.Y.S. Blue and Gold Markers, including “Trolley Depot” placed at the Branchport Library, “John Beddoe” placed at the Rte. 54A overlook, and “Toll Plank Road” placed near Seneca Farms on Rte. 54A in Indian Pines. The wording of the signs was approved by the Town of Jerusalem historians, Bob Evans and Ellen Chirco. The signs were provided by the William G. Pomeroy Marker Foundation with grants from 2014 to 2018.

• The Beddoe-Rose Cemetery National Historic Site Marker was provided by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to the Keuka Lake State Park. This marker is located on West Bluff Dr. at the beginning to the White Trail which leads to the Beddoe Rose Cemetery. At the cemetery site, N.Y.S. Parks, under the direction of Manager Jim Zimpher, made a wooden sign with the name Beddoe Rose Cemetery. Annette and her husband, Keith Toaspern, added a trail box containing information and a trail sign-in and note book, three of which have been filled by thousands of visitors since 2011.

• Two graphic design signs on the area’s history and geology. Toaspern formed a committee with members of the Jerusalem History Club including Kent and Anne Salisbury, Chris Trombley, Martha Johnstone, and Tom Close. Help came from Bob Gillespie and others for expert knowledge in history and geology, and Kent Salisbury applied his expertise in graphic design. Many of these people are also members of the Bluff Point Association (BPA) which paid for the project. The signs and two miles of Rte. 54A are also maintained with the help of Annette who has led the BPA Road Pick Up Program for several years.

The Chestnut Playground sign installed in August at the Keuka Lake State Park. From left, Ellen Chirco, Jerusalem Town Historian; Annette Toaspern and Martha Johnstone of the Jerusalem History Club; and Fred Bonn, Finger Lakes Regional Director of N.Y.S. Parks.
“It takes a team effort to get a historical sign or marker in place. This sign took perseverance and nine years from idea to finish with more than we four to keep the effort moving forward,” says Annette.

“These signs have been a huge success for tourists and locals, and it is often mentioned how many people visiting Jerusalem have stopped to read the sign,” says Maroscher. 

• The Chestnuts Playground sign at Keuka Lake State Park was installed in June of 2020. Annette followed up on an idea introduced to the Jerusalem History Club by Jim Zimpher in 2011 to make a sign to name the children’s playground at the park in memory of the Rose Family’s home, “The Chestnuts,” which was removed by the state when the park was established during the 1960s. Annette took this idea one step further to add the history of the site from the time when the three log cabin homes of John Beddoe were removed and the Rose family built the Chestnuts. She researched and requested a graphic sign to detail the site’s history from Fred Bonn, N.Y.S. Finger Lakes Regional Parks Director, who approved the project. In 2019, the money and the sign became a reality under the direction of Josh Tetter, Environmental Educator II and Finger Lakes Region FORCES Program Manager, and the N.Y.S. Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Environmental Education, and Stewardship Office. Martha Johnstone, Ellen Chirco, and Annette edited and helped Josh to create the finalized version of this graphic sign.

Detail of one of the signs.

The formal dedication and a Jerusalem History Club program are being postponed until the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19. But with the sign in place at the Chestnut Playground, this is a perfect time for people to travel to all eight of these historic markers to learn local history. Each sign is able to be accessed and viewed safely from a car and/or a short walk.