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Gloria Johnson slated to retire as Morristown Town Historian

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MORRISTOWN - Gloria Scott Johnson, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday at a ceremony at the Gateway Museum, is retiring from her role as Town Historian at the end of the year.

Born and raised in the village, Mrs. Johnson has served as historian for the past seven years and has enjoyed the post.

“It’s not a lucrative job,” she said, but it’s one that has her interacting with lots of people from the region.

Just recently Mrs. Johnson said she consulted with two local professors working on articles related to the history of the town.

“I get calls for genealogy research,” she said. “I do a lot of research for the [Gateway] museum too.”

Although Mrs. Johnson spent time in the suburbs of New York City and Cleveland, Ohio, during the 1950s, 60s and 70s while her husband, Richard, worked in the newspaper industry, she said she never really lost touch with Morristown.

“I visited every summer,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson said the town changed drastically over the years with the railroad that used to cut through the village ending service in the late 1950s and the ferry that ran to Brockville across the St. Lawrence river halting services at about the same time.

Once those services ended Mrs. Johnson said just getting basic amenities became much more difficult for the residents of Morristown.

“It still is a terrible inconvenience,” she said. “You still have to go [to Ogdensburg] for everything, practically.”

When Mrs. Johnson returned to the town in 1978 she became very active in local politics, serving as a village trustee and chair of the planning board during the 1980’s. She was also the chair of the town Republican Party during that time.

“Morristown was in pretty bad shape when we moved back,” she said. In particular she was shocked to see the village’s sewage emptying into the Morristown bay.

Mrs. Johnson said her biggest accomplishment was helping to install a village-wide sewer system.

Whoever takes over the role of Town Historian will have their work cut out for them, Mrs. Johnson said.

Most people are only interested in town history as it relates directly to them and their family, she said, and the next historian will spend a lot of time doing genealogy searches.

But she sees room for growth, particularly online.

The collection of newspaper clippings kept by the town historian, for instance, should be digitized and put on the internet, Mrs. Johnson said.

“The internet has changed everyone’s lives drastically,” she said. “The older people just don’t do it.”

The town is currently looking for people interested in taking over the office of Town Historian. The position is appointed by the Town Council. Anyone who is interested should submit a letter to the Town Clerk in person or mail it to PO Box 240, Morristown, NY 13664.

People can also call the Town Clerk at 375-6510 for more details.

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