After spending nearly four decades chronicling the historical accounts of the Town of Lansing, Town Historian Louise Bement will forever be a part of the town’s history after the Town Council passed a resolution on July 17 permitting the naming of a road in the town Louise Bement Lane.
Louise Bement Lane will be a part of a four-way intersection with Auburn Road (New York State Route 34/24B) and will connect with Woodsedge Drive. The new road will provide access to the Milton Meadows housing project once that is officially constructed. It will also be the address of Salt Point Brewery’s new facility.
“I was really pleased and flattered to have a road named for me,” Bement said. “I work really hard at being a town historian, and sometimes I say to myself, ‘Boy, I do all this work,’ and that’s why they named a road after you, because I do contribute a lot to the town.”
In 1969 Bement and her husband moved from Horseheads to Lansing, where she eventually began a 19-year fourth grade teaching career at the Lansing Central School District. In 1976, Bement and her students wrote a book called ‘Portland Point Memory Book’ for the Bicentennial. It was about the history of the Portland Point housing complex, built by the Portland Point Cement Company. Over the next couple of years, Bement and her students wrote books on the International Salt Point—known now as just Salt Point—Cayuga Lake and the rock salt mine industry in the town.
It was writing these books that led to Bement’s desire to become the Town historian, which she eventually did in 1981.
“I was always trying to find the Town historian,” she said. “We had a couple of Town historians, and they didn’t do anything. They were in charge of the archives, and I needed to use the archives for research.”
“So I went to the Town board and…I said, ‘Can I be town historian,’ and [the Town supervisor] said, ‘At the end of the town historian’s term we’ll appoint you town historian,’ which was January 1, 1981. The town historian they had was really glad to get out from the job because she didn’t like it, and that’s when I became Town historian so I could do my research.”
Even though she is retired from teaching elementary school students, Bement said she has never really stopped being a teacher.
“Once a teacher, always a teacher,” she said. “I’m retired, but I love to teach people. So as town historian, I’m teaching all the time.”
She said some of her fondest memories from being the town historian thus far have come from giving tours of the local cemeteries.
“It is fun going to the cemeteries and having picnics with people by their ancestor’s grave,” she said. “I sometimes I do a walk-and-talk—take people around the cemetery and explain things to them. Cemeteries are lovely places. I have a lot of friends I never met because they’re dead.”
Researching is one of her favorite aspects of being a historian, but making individuals happy is her ultimate favorite part of her job.
“I mail out a lot of my books to people,” she said. “I just mailed out the rock salt [mining] book to somebody whose great uncle worked in the mine, and she was just thrilled to get that book, and I knew she would be when I mailed it off.”
“I say I’m a ‘goodwill ambassador’ for the Town of Lansing because usually I make people happy when they call,” she said.