Knox history is yours for a $10 donation

— Illustration from Knox Historical Society

Who drew the pillbox factory and surrounding basswood wreath on the cover of Knox's sesquicentennial booklet in 1972? While preparing the booklet for re-issue, members of Knox Historical Society discovered the name of the illustrator. The 2014 booklet, naming the artist, will be for sale, starting Memorial Day, May 26, at the Saddlemire Homestead on Route 156 in Knox. The homestead, which serves as the society’s museum, will be open on May 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To the Editor:

Historical research often answers one question but poses another. The Knox Historical Society confronted just such a question this spring as it readied the 1972 sesquicentennial booklet for re-issue.

Who drew the charming illustration of the small pillbox factory on the cover? The 1972 booklet doesn't credit the creator of the pen-and-ink drawing, featuring careful hand lettering and a wreath of basswood leaves.

John Elberfeld, treasurer of the society, spearheaded the project, scanning the pages of the old booklet, substituting photos when the originals couldn't be found, and working with a local printer. Society members proofread the copy, while other members sold ads to local businesses and individuals to help offset the cost of printing. However, the name of the illustrator remained a mystery.

The sesquicentennial booklet details the history of Knox from the early days to 1972. The 2014 re-issue follows the same format, while providing clearer photographs and correcting errors made in the days before computerized spelling checks. 

The society will have the 124-page booklet for sale starting Memorial Day, May 26, at the Saddlemire Homestead museum, 2190 Berne-Altamont Rd. (Route 156) in Knox. The museum will be open on Memorial Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The price for the booklet is a $10 donation to Knox Historical Society.

Booklets may also be ordered from Charlene Stevens, 868 Township Road, Altamont, NY 12009. You can reach her by phone at 861- 8393 or by e-mail at There is a $3 shipping charge for mailing the booklet.

So who was the mysterious illustrator? As I was doing one of several “final” proofs of the copy, I noticed a similar pen-and-ink drawing of Knoxville Academy with a minuscule name almost concealed in the bushes. Could it be the same person? Is that modest artist still alive? Some genealogical research and a few e-mails confirmed my suspicions and gave us a name.

The answer to our mystery lies within the 2014 re-issue booklet, available Memorial Day. I invite you to stop by the Saddlemire Homestead to discover the answer for yourself.

Jane B. McLean, vice president
Knox Historical Society

Editor’s note: Jane B. McLean is married to John Elberfeld who spearheaded the reprinting of the Knox sesquicentennial booklet.