Viola Williams

February 7, 2013

Hudson, NY


Suzanne Snider

Suzanne Snider
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Viola Williams is the Stockport Town Historian. She was born on September 22, 1928 at the Hudson City Hospital and has lived in Stockport for 84 years. Her grandfather, Sylvester Cook Vandenberg, first settled on a vineyard across the river. Viola’s mother grew up in Massachusetts, and later moved into the Vandenberg’s farmhouse after her own mother passed away.   

Viola’s parents owned one of the first garages in Stockport in addition to an airport field. The airfield was the site for air shows, which drew as many as 2,000 cars and spectators. While growing up, Stockport was moderately prosperous with mills, fur trading, farms, and several docks used for transportation. In this interview, Viola touches upon two paper mills: the Midvale Paper Mill, and the Van De Carr Paper Mill, owned by the prominent Van De Carr family. Viola’s grandfather worked as their gardener. She laments the recent demolition of the Van De Carr’s historic home.

She describes the Italians coming to Stockport, followed by the Polish. The Italians lived in the brickyard. Viola narrates a story of workers at the brickyard becoming ill with smallpox in 1900. Members of the Hudson Armory enforced a quarantine order. Viola also mentioned the government’s implementation of “The Federal” Plan. 

Viola recounts what it was like being a student during WWII. In 1948, she began to work at the confectionery store on Third Street in Hudson. Once the confectionery was sold, she began working as a seamstress in Philmont. She later worked at the A. & P.

In addition to being Town Historian, Viola owns a few historic properties in Stockport. In 1951, she purchased an 1816 house, which was built by Captain Seth Macy. One prominent historical attribute of the house is its Chinese wedding-scene wallpaper. She also owns an historic Church.

During the interview, Viola discusses her regrets that the Stockport Footbridge was not restored. She also discusses the relocation of the Soldier’s Monument off Route 9, and the closing of the nearby road.

Interviewer Bio:

Suzanne Snider

Suzanne Snider is a research-based artist currently immersed in the worlds of sound, writing and experimental education. She is the founder/director of Oral History Summer School, a hands-on oral history training program that spans the realms (and motives) of advocacy, media-making and art and is the co-founder (with Allison Lichter) of the Trauma and Journalism Work Group, which supports journalists reporting on trauma and violence. Her recent oral history workshops have brought her into collaboration with the National Public Housing Museum, the National Library of Kosovo and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, among others. She has taught oral history at Columbia University’s Oral History Masters Program and New York University and is currently a Part-Time Associate Professor at the New School’s School of Media Studies.

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