3rd Annual Artists on the Street Returns to Historic Huguenot Street

Kevin Cook-Courtesy of HHS

NEW PALTZ, NY (July 24, 2015) – Historic Huguenot Street has announced the return of Artists on the Street, an all-day plein air event showcasing the talents of over 20 renowned Hudson Valley artists. The annual event, which is taking place for the third time on August 8, is an opportunity for the public to watch and engage with local artists as they work, creating paintings and watercolors inspired by the landscape of the National Historic Landmark District.

A number of artists from previous years are returning for this year’s event, including Kevin Cook, Mira Fink, Jim Adair, and John A. Varriano. Maps will be available denoting the location of each artist across the site.  In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to view the Portrait Gallery in the 1799 House (54 Huguenot Street).

“We are proud to host this engaging event year after year,” said Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming at Historic Huguenot Street. “It is a testament to the exceptional and diverse talents of our local artists.”

At 4 pm, artists will bring their work to the DuBois Fort (81 Huguenot Street) to be displayed and made available for purchase during an hour-long catered reception, sponsored by Bridgecreek Catering, Brotherhood Winery, and True Value of New Paltz. The artwork will remain on display for purchase in the DuBois Fort for one month. This event is free and open to the public, rain or shine. Saturday, August 8, 11 am – 5 pm.

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve their French and Dutch heritage.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.

Posted in Education, Museums, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County | Leave a comment

“Preservation of the Minisink Battleground in a Landscape of History Lost”

 

Today in Sullivan County history, 1779, one of the most deadly battles of the American Revolution, in terms of ratio of participants to numbers killed, took place on a hill overlooking the Delaware River just north of Barryville, NY.

 (Last week, I briefly summarized the battle, but a more comprehensive account can be found in the 2010 work “So Many Brave Men: A History of the Battle at Minisink Ford” by Mark Hendrickson, John Inners and Peter Osborne.)

Over the weekend, The Delaware Company, in conjunction with the Sullivan County Historical Society, commemorated the supreme sacrifices made right here on Sullivan County soil in our nation’s fight for Independence, sacrifices no less honorable nor heroic than those made at the more noted battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord.

Reenactors, clergy, veterans’ groups, scout troops, historians, representatives from several chapters of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, noted officials and many others climbed the hill to remember and pay special tribute to the fallen.

Among them was Kristina M. Heister, Superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, who delivered the keynote address: “Preservation of the Minisink Battleground in a Landscape of History Lost.”

 Ms. Heister, whose previous assignment with the National Park Service was at Valley Forge Historical Park, paid tribute to the hallowed grounds themselves, pointing out the importance – even urgency – of continued preservation efforts for the Sullivan County-owned Minisink Battleground Park as well as other endangered battlefields.

Sullivan County (NY) Historian John Conway and living historian 9-year-old Elektra Kehagias listen as Kristina M. Heister, Superintendent, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, delivers the keynote address at the 236th anniversary commemoration of The Battle of Minisink. (Photo by: Laurie Ramie, Executive Director, Upper Delaware Council)

Here are her words:

The nation’s historic and cultural resources are the spiritual and physical reminders of the decisive times, people, and places in American history.   Few events loom larger in American history than the Revolutionary War — the conflict that established our independence from Great Britain. Although many eras can be said to have shaped the nation we live in today, this uncertain time gave it birth.

Battlefields, such the Minisink Battleground, whether large or small, are iconic and indelible chapters in the American story. These battlefields are monuments to American valor, sacrifice and determination. They are truly hallowed ground, home to patriot graves both memorialized and long forgotten – and nowhere is that possibly more true than at Minisink where up to 50 men lost their lives, many of whose bones are still scattered on the landscape around us.

The National Park Service is one of the many partners dedicated to the protection of historic sites such as the Minisink Battleground. Our mission is to help preserve these places—both within the parks and in communities across the nation—as tangible, living contacts with previous and future generations. Of the 410 national park units, nearly two-thirds are historical parks, sites, monuments, or memorials.

However, we protect through ownership only a small fraction of the historic sites and resources in our nation. The State of New York protects and manages 173 state parks which include many historic properties as well as 35 state historic sites and 6 state historic parks. In Sullivan County, 5 of the 6 parks owned and maintained by the County are historical in nature including the Minisink Battleground Park.

2016 is not only the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service but also the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 is the fundamental charter of our national historic preservation policy. It is premised on an explicit choice by Congress that that the aim of the federal government should be to encourage the private preservation of “the Nation’s historic built environment”.

This program is implemented through partnerships with States, Indian tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. It is organizations such as the Minisink Valley Historical Society, the Sullivan and Pike County Historical Societies, and the Sullivan County Parks and Recreation Department that Congress envisioned as the “private” leaders of the effort to save our history.

The memorial monument, indicating the site of the militia's "last stand," was erected by the Minisink Historical Society on the centennial of the Battle of Minisink, 1879.

The National Park Service administers the federal component of many of these partnerships through programs such as the National Register of Historic Places. Through these partnerships, many historic and archeological sites have been provided recognition and some level of protection through a notice, review and consultation process.

Today there are more than 90,000 listings on the National Register of Historic Places across the country. 6000 sites are in New York and 71 are in Sullivan County. Although being on the National Register provides few protections on private land – it is an important protection for the future of the Minisink Battleground Park and other historic sites on public land.

Unfortunately, this and other protections for historic sites, don’t appear to have come in time or be enough to protect and tell the full story of the American Revolution.

As Jack Warren, executive director of the American Revolution Institute said in 2014, “Many of our Revolutionary War battlefields were lost long ago — buried beneath the concrete and asphalt of Brooklyn and Trenton and consumed by the sprawl of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. This statement was based in part on the findings of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study (2007).

This report indicated that of 243 potentially nationally significant battlefields associated with the American Revolutionary, 141 – almost 60% – were lost or extremely fragmented. Although 100 battlefields retained important features and lands from the time of battle, on average, only 37% of the original historic scene remained.

Even when the battlefield itself is saved – much of its history and what that history can tell us remains underground. In 2013, the New York Times published an Op Ed called “Open Season On History” describing the fact that people with metal detectors who collect artifacts for profit or fun are erasing those stories that remain only in the soil. Removal of artifacts from their historical context causes serious and permanent loss of information and our historical data.

In 2012 at Richmond National Battlefield, for example, a relic hunter with a metal detector was finally caught after removing over 9,000 artifacts from the park. His finds included things like 5 buttons in one place – an important piece of historical data which suggests that a previously undiscovered body of a soldier had been buried there. If 4 of 5 buttons are removed our interpretation of that location may be much different. How many buttons in one place could be discovered at Minisink Battleground to identify the locations of lost patriots? How could the distribution of artifacts across the site contribute to our understanding of the battle itself? How many of these artifacts have already been removed? Sometimes protecting just the land itself may not be enough.

Perhaps less tangible than the threat of being paved over or the removal of artifacts by relic hunters, but I believe of equal magnitude, is what we call the “corrosion of neglect” as support for historical expertise itself has withered. Since 1997 there has been a loss of almost 30 percent of cultural resource management positions in our national parks. The result of not having enough well educated historians and other cultural resource staff combined with reduced funding to support cultural resource programs is that many of our cultural resources are in “poor” or “fair” condition.

A similar scenario exists within the New York State Park System which was described in the 2015 New York State Historic Preservation Plan as having “been gradually eroded by decades of neglect and decay.” This is likely the biggest threat to the Minisink Battleground Park as well. In 2015, the Sullivan County budget is over 201 million dollars. Of that less than 0.25% (< $500,000) goes to the Parks and Rec Department and of that amount <1% – a total budget of $4,160 – is dedicated to the Minisink Battleground Park. Additionally, very little funding goes to support County and Town historians in New York and throughout the country. How far can the existing funding and expertise go toward maintaining the Minisink Battleground  in “good condition” and have we defined what “good condition” is – an often undefined state in many parks but a critical element of obtaining sufficient resources and achieving successful long-term management.

Jack Warren also said that, “Those unspoiled landscapes that remain are precious reminders of the struggle to achieve independence and create a republic dedicated to the liberty of ordinary people,” Minisink Battleground is one of these unspoiled landscapes. One of the primary reasons this site is on the National Register is that the wooded and rock-strewn battleground retains a high degree of integrity and remains largely undisturbed. What does high degree of integrity mean? It means that today, over 230 years later, visitors can still stand at Hospital Rock and feel the agony of American militiamen as Brant’s forces overran and killed them. You can smell the smoke from muskets and hear the whinny of horses on the stone covered terrain in-between Hospital Rock and Sentinel Rock where the heaviest fighting took place. You still have an opportunity to experience an environment that is very similar to what the men who fought and died here would have experienced. It is this “sense of place” that helps visitors and future generations to understand and appreciate what happened here and to continue to want to protect it.

The need for protection of historic sites and commemoration of the valor and sacrifice of local patriots was recognized by the residents of Sullivan County long before passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. In this case it was the efforts of County residents that led to Minisink Battleground being placed on the National Register rather than the National Register leading to its protection. It was never concrete and asphalt that threatened this site.  At Minisink it was the extensive bluestone quarrying operations that threatened the Battleground and it was the Minisink Valley Historical Society that initially established the park in the 1890’s and then turned over its care to the Sullivan County Parks and Recreation Commission in 1955.

Today, our population is aging, our local youth are moving away, understanding of the sacrifices made during the American Revolution is fading into textbooks, visitation to many of our historical sites is declining or is now for the purposes of walking the dog instead of remembering history, and funding and staffing may be insufficient to keep the relic hunters away, keep acid rain from degrading the 1879 monument, and non-native, invasive plants from taking over and obscuring the rock strewn battlefield – changing the ability of visitors to experience that “sense of place” that makes Minisink so special.

The best way to honor the men who sacrificed their lives at the Minisink Battleground and keep their memory alive is to make sure we care for and protect this site and to continue to educate this and future generations about what happened here and how it relates to the birth of our nation.

In the future we must continue to ask ourselves whether preserving the actual land associated with the Battle of Minisink, commemorating the sacrifices of the men here each year, mowing the trails and other activities are enough over the long term to ensure that this important piece of history is not lost or diminished. What are the threats to this site today and what does success look like? Only when we understand these things can we really understand what additional actions may be needed.

Members of the Navasing Long Rifles (Kai Moessele, left, Dan Hogue Jr. and Anthony Domingo) are among the living historians who pay annual tribute at the commemoration of the Battle of Minisink. On Saturday, they accompanied representatives of area chapters of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution who placed memorial wreaths at the monument , then read the names of the fallen patriots. (Photo by: Laurie Ramie)

With limited funding and staff available from the County, this effort must focus on maintaining and strengthening the partnerships between organizations such as the Sullivan County Historical Society, Pike County Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, veterans organizations, the National Park Service, and others who coordinate and participate in this event each year on both sides of the river and provide interpretive programs and other services.

This effort must also include the residents of Sullivan and Pike Counties that both love history and that visit this site – folks who can let people with metal detectors know that activity isn’t allowed here, people who can volunteer to clear invasive plants from the battleground, historians and archeologists who are interested in discovering more about the stories in the soil, and people who remember and pass on the story of Col. Benjamin Tusten and the brave men who fought here.

Ultimately, in the same way the Minisink Battleground was initially saved we will be successful in making sure it’s history is not lost as so many battlegrounds of the American Revolution have already been.”

 

Posted in Catskill Mountains, Historic Sites, Landmarks, Monuments, Orange County, Revolutionary War, Sullivan County, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joint Program by the Newburgh Historical Society and St. George’s Church Continues with History Talk

Rev. John Brown Courtesy of St. George’s Cemetery

NEWBURGH, NY – During the first part of their partnership, over 100 members of the public joined the Newburgh Historical Society and St. George’s Episcopal Church for a tour through the historic St. George’s Cemetery, founded in 1838 by the subject of a new talk, the Rev. John Brown.

The second part of the joint program continues on August 2nd at 3:00 p.m. with the history talk titled, “A Man for Our Time: The Rev. Dr. John Brown, D.D.,” presented by Madelaine Piel, historian, genealogist and a Rev. Brown descendant.

The Rev. John Brown’s life spanned the birth of the nation and through the Gilded Age. He founded the Newburgh Horticultural Society, was involved in the founding of St. Luke’s Hospital, welcomed American Revolutionary War General Lafayette during his visit to America in 1824, and from his garden on First Street bloomed the historic neighborhood known as “Quality Row.”

Madelaine Piel is a member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, served as its Vice Chair and as a member of its Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. While researching her own family’s genealogy, Piel discovered she is a descendant of the influential reverend.

Architectural drawing of St. George's Church. Photo provided.

The talk will take place in the John Brown Room of St. George’s Church, located on 105 Grand Street, Newburgh. Admission is $5 per person and money collected will be directed to the care of St. George’s Cemetery. Reservations are suggested.

Please call (845) 561-2585 or visit their website, http://newburghhistoricalsociety.com/, to make a reservation. Additional information about the event and directions may be found on the Society’s website.

Refreshments will be provided by the St. George’s Cemetery Committee.

 
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands was launched unofficially when the Hasbrouck House (Washington’s Headquarters Newburgh) was in danger of demolition after the Revolutionary War. The current Society, incorporated in 1884, has always been an advocate for Newburgh’s history. The Society’s headquarters, 1830 Captain David Crawford House, was purchased in 1954 to save it from demolition and symbolizes their dedication to preserving and protecting Newburgh’s assets.

The Crawford House, a historic house museum and Society’s headquarters, located at 189 Montgomery Street within the City of Newburgh’s Historic District is open for tours on Sundays between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. or by appointment. View the “Growing Up In Newburgh” exhibit, a community exhibit featuring the photographs and memories of Newburgh from the 19th century through the 20th century. For more information about admission, tours, or programming please call (845) 561-2585.

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Introduction to Papermaking by Women’s Studio Workshop at Gomez Mill House

Gomez Mill House. Photo provided.

MARLBORO, N.Y. – On Sunday, July 26, at 1pm, Ann Kalmbach will present an introduction to “Seed to Sheet,” a project aimed at material sourcing for handmade paper.

Ann is a co-founder and Executive Director of Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW), an artists’ workspace centered on printmaking, papermaking, photography, book arts and ceramics. It is the oldest and only residency program for women artists in the country.

Ann engages with state and regional arts agencies to construct artist centered programming to build the creative economy as a central tenant of economic development. She has also produced 15 artists books with her longtime collaborator Tatana Kellner, and has been an artist in residence at: Sirius Arts Center, Ireland; Hessische Landes Museum in Darmstadt; Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY; The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH; and the University of Southern Maine.

The WSW hand papermaking program began in 1978. Since then, WSW has become the largest publisher of hand printed artists’ books in the US. After years of making handmade books and stationery, WSW developed “ArtFarm,” a research and experimentation project to grow papermaking plant fibers and discover indigenous and invasive plants that artists can use to enhance their work. This process is “Seed to Sheet.”

This presentation features a selection from “Seed to Sheet” hand papermaking projects WSW has supported over the years, and includes information on the WSW youth oriented arts education program, “Hands-on-Art.”

For more information contact the Gomez Mill House office at (845) 236-3126, email gomezmillhouse@gomez.org or visit www.gomez.org.

The Gomez Mill House Museum and Historic Site is located at 11 Mill House Road, directly off 9W, in Marlboro, NY. General admission to the Museum is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors 55 or older, $4 for students with ID and children age 7 to 17; children under age 5 admitted free. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more.

 
The mission of the Gomez Foundation for Mill House is to preserve the 300 year old Gomez Mill House—the oldest standing Jewish dwelling in North America and home to Patriots, Preservationists, Artisans and Social Activists—as a significant regional and national-ranked museum, and to educate the public about the contributions of the site’s former owners to the multicultural history of the Hudson River Valley.

Posted in Landmarks, Lost Landmarks, Museums, Press Releases, Town of Newburgh | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Battle of Minisink

It was just about mid-day on July 20, 1779. The residents of the small Mamakating valley settlement known alternately as Peenpack or Minisink were going about their daily chores, farming, cutting timber, milling grain. Carefree children played quietly among the small homes.

The serenity of the afternoon was abruptly broken by the shrill war whoop of a party of Mohawks and Tories, swooping in from the northwest. Led by Colonel Joseph Brant, the marauders soon had several buildings, including the church and a grist mill, in flames, and began to kill and plunder with impunity.

It was Brant’s second excursion into the Mamakating valley and he aimed to make the most of it. The previous fall, a similar attack on this same settlement had yielded considerable bounty, but fewer scalps than hoped for, as the residents were able to huddle in the stone block houses before the devastation was complete. The British-educated Mohawk chieftain was determined to leave even more carnage in his wake this time.

Joseph Brant from the portrait by William Berczy

“After destroying twenty-one dwellings and barns, together with the old Mahackamack church and a grist-mill, and killing an unknown number of patriots, the enemy disappeared, loaded with spoil,” James Eldridge Quinlan wrote in his History of Sullivan County almost one hundred years later. “They did not attack any of the block-houses, of which the red men entertained a wholesome fear. Brant marched hastily back to Grassy Swamp Brook, where he had left a portion of his followers.”

Brant again expressed disappointment in the raid. He had hoped to attack before daybreak, but had been late in reaching the settlement. And many of the cattle he had hoped to procure from the farms had dispersed into the woods and could not be rounded up.

“We have burnt all the settlement called Minisink, one fort excepted, round which we lay before about an hour, and had one man killed and one wounded,” he wrote later. “We destroyed several small stockaded forts, and took four scalps and three prisoners, but did not in the least injure women or children. The reason that we could not take more of them was owing to the many forts about the place, into which they were always ready to run like ground hogs.”

A handful of settlers, unable to make their way to the safety of the block house, fled instead to Goshen, some fifteen miles distant. There they were able to alert Colonel Benjamin Tusten, leader of the local militia, of the raid. Tusten, the village physician, immediately issued orders that all officers under his command were to gather the following day at the store house of Major Decker (in present day Port Jervis) with as many men as they could enlist.

The Goshen militia, made up of farmers and merchants and clerks and what Quinlan later described as “some of the principal gentlemen of the county,” was soon on the trail of the marauding band under Brant’s command. The traveling was slow and torturous, the terrain nearly impassable in places. Still, the militia pressed on, determined to recapture the plunder and exact a toll on the enemy that would cause them to think twice before embarking on any future raids.

“The excited militia men took up their line of march, and followed the old Cochecton trail seventeen miles, when they encamped at Skinner’s mill, near Haggie’s Pond [present day Loch Ada], about three miles from the mouth of Halfway Brook,” Quinlan recounted. “This day’s march must have nearly exhausted the little army. How many men of Orange and Sullivan, in these effeminate days, can endure such a tramp, encumbered with guns and knapsacks?”

Despite the rigors of the pursuit, the militia was in high spirits, according to historian Isabel Thompson Kelsay, in her book, Joseph Brant: Man of Two Worlds. They were full of contempt for the Native Americans they were chasing, and were confident Brant’s men would abandon their loot and run when confronted.

“On July 22, two days after the raid, the two parties were close enough together to be aware of each other’s presence,” Kelsay writes. “They had come about twenty-seven tangled, rock-strewn miles. On the right a mountain rose darkly and on the left was the rippling Delaware. In the distance loomed the far-ranging Catskills. There was not a wilder, lonelier place on the whole frontier, a place where the wolves gathered by night, but men are seldom seen.” 

Hours of fighting, first with rifles, and then hand to hand, left the Colonials routed and Brant and his force, smaller by just three men, resumed their journey to the Susquehanna Valley. Six more of his men, wounded in the battle, would die on the way.

Forty-four colonials, including Dr. Tusten, were killed that day. (He had the opportunity to escape the massacre, but chose to stay with the wounded he was treating.) Sadly, their remains were left on the desolate battle field for more than four decades before they were recovered for burial. That gruesome detail merely serving to punctuate the devastation of the Battle of Minisink.

Quinlan wrote that “for 43 years the bones of those who had been slain on the banks of the Delaware were permitted to molder on the battle ground. But one attempt had been made to gather them, and that was by the widows of the slaughtered men, of whom there were 33 in the Presbyterian congregation of Goshen. They set out for the place of battle on horseback, but finding the journey too hazardous, they hired a man to perform the pious duty, who proved unfaithful and never returned.”  

 Finally, in 1822, “a committee was appointed to collect the remains and to ascertain the names of the fallen. The committee proceeded to the battle ground, a distance of 46 miles from Goshen, and viewed some of the frightful elevations and descents over which the militia had passed when pursuing the red marauders. The place where the conflict occurred, and the region for several miles around, were carefully examined and the relics of the honored dead gathered with pious care. The remains were taken to Goshen, where they were buried in the presence of 15,000 persons.”
A monument was erected to mark the mass grave, upon which was inscribed the names of the 44 men killed in the battle.
Unfortunately, as meticulous as the search for remains had been, only 300 bones were recovered, far fewer than had been expected. Nature and the denizens of the forest had no doubt disposed of the rest.

The Minisink Battle Monument was erected on the site of the militia's "last stand" and was dedicated in 1879 on the centennial of the battle. It is built of native bluestone and capped by a rounded glacial boulder.


This sad occurrence moved the Monticello poet Alfred B. Street to write in the final stanza of his 10-stanza commemorative of the battle:
   

 ”Years have pass’d by, the merry bee
Hums round the laurel flowers,
The mock-bird pours its melody
Amid the forest bowers;
A skull is at my feet, though now
The wild rose wreathes its bony brow,
Relic of other hours,
It bids the wandering pilgrim think
Of those who died at Minisink.”

********************

The 236th Anniversary of the July 20,1779 Minisink Raid and the July 22, 1779 Battle of Minisink will be commemorated Saturday, July 18th. At 1:00 pm Pike County (PA) Historian George J. Fluhr will lead an oberservance at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier in Lackawaxen, PA, on the bank of the Delaware River between the Roebling Bridge and the Zane Grey House. At 4:00 pm, Sullivan County (NY) Historian John Conway will emcee a ceremony at Sullivan County’s Minisink Battleground Park on County Route 168, off NYS Route 97, across from the Roebling Bridge in Minisink Ford, NY. Kristina M. Heister, Superintendent Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, will deliver the keynote address: “Preservation of the Minisink Battleground in a Landscape of Lost History.”

Both services are free and open to the public.

Posted in Catskill Mountains, Historic Sites, Monuments, Revolutionary War, Sullivan County, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Resource: The Ulster County Historical Society

Col. George W. Pratt Library of Congress

Located on Route 209 in North Marbletown is the Bevier House. It is within the walls of this structure that the Ulster County Historical Society has made its home. The Ulster County Historical Society has existed for over one hundred and fifty years.

The Ulster County Historical Society was founded by New York State Senator George W. Pratt in 1859. His involvement in the society would be short lived because he was killed during the Civil War. He was a colonel in the 80th New York State Volunteers. Colonel Pratt was killed at The Second Battle of Bull Run. Unfortunately, with his death, the society entered a “dormant stage” for the next three decades, until Judge G.V.D Hasbrouck helped resurrect the society.

Today, the site is a museum that is open to the public from May to October on Saturdays as well as Sundays from 11:00-5:00 PM. It not only houses an awesome collection of Hudson Valley furniture, tools as well as other artifacts. In fact, it boasts the largest public display of Civil War artifacts in Ulster County. In addition, the museum has a small library, but with some notable documents.  These include maps, land records, diaries, letters, and even a copy of Captain Jonathan Hasbrouck’s Last Will and Testament. He later became a Colonel in the American Revolution, and commanded the 4th Ulster County Militia.

In addition to the great array of furniture and other artifacts, the Ulster County Historical Society also hosts many interesting events. These events range from lectures, to demonstrations, tours, and local author fairs. Last year they even held a contest to create your favorite landmark out of gingerbread.

Posted in Civil War, Education, Historic Sites, Landmarks, Museums, Town of Marbletown, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

FDR and His Connection to New Paltz

FDR in Car-Library of Congress

NEW PALTZ, NY (July 13, 2015) – Historic Huguenot Street Director of Strategy and Historic Interpretation Thomas Weikel will give a lecture at Deyo Hall on Saturday, July 25, on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Huguenot Street ancestry and stories of his visits to the street. Weikel previously presented this lecture in Hyde Park in March as part of the “Fireside Chat” series at the historic St. James’ Chapel where Roosevelt was baptized.

A Hyde Park native and descendant of New Paltz patentee Antoine Crispell, FDR visited the Bevier-Elting House at Historic Huguenot Street in 1942, accompanied by his son Franklin, Jr. and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Inspired by this story, Weikel will reflect on the notion that the way a group remembers their past affects their actions and values in the present. Roosevelt’s visit to New Paltz on the surface was simple – to see the stone houses that remain from the original settlement his Huguenot ancestors founded generations before. However, the connection to his past shaped his world view and influenced the decisions he made as President.

“More than just an interesting story, FDR’s visit to Huguenot Street represents something much larger,” said Weikel. “We all have our own unique historic memory – our own past that informs our present – and this is an example of one such event that would have impacted FDR’s values.”

A former intern at Historic Huguenot Street, Weikel has a degree in History from SUNY New Paltz. Upon graduation, he began work at HHS in Visitor Services and soon became the Director of the Guest Experience, where he developed a more creative and engaging experience for visitors. He now serves as the Director of Strategy and Historic Interpretation.

Coffee and tea will be served at the 4 pm lecture at Deyo Hall (6 Broadhead Avenue, New Paltz). Members $10; seniors & military $12; general admission $15.

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve their French and Dutch heritage.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.

Posted in Education, Press Releases, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County | Leave a comment

A Great Resource

Ulster County Office Building

I receive many emails, by way of the this column, asking me for help on local history research. Many of the emails are just asking me for helpful resources they can use in locating long-lost ancestors or simply finding out more information about them. One of the best places to begin is Ulster County Surrogate’s Court in Kingston, New York.

The Surrogate’s Court holds a vast archive containing probate records which includes original estates and wills. Their archive also includes what are known as Letters of Administration. When someone dies intestate, or without a will, sometimes a family member is placed in charge of the estate.  This archive is great when you are looking for documents that are 1787 to the present. If you are seeking earlier records you will need, in some cases, to go to the New York State Archives in Albany. Many of the earlier records are kept there.

This archive also holds some surprises for the researcher. Newburgh, and several other southern Ulster towns, became a part of Orange County in 1798. The town of Newburgh was one of those towns. So sometimes when researching individuals one might be tempted to look for someone who lived in Newburgh in the Orange County Surrogate’s Court, when in fact the records are in Ulster County.

There are books, such as a Gustave Anjou’s Probate Records in the Office of the Surrogate, and in the County Clerk’s Office at Kingston, N.Y. However, in some cases, transcriptions are sloppy or information in the documents have been omitted for a variety of reasons. When conducting research, whenever possible, it is essential to look at the original. One such example is Abraham Hasbrouck’s Last Will and Testament (1707-1791). One the most commonly used is the one published in Anjou’s book. Anjou left out portions of the Hasbrouck’s Will. One such example is the whole first few paragraphs as well as omitting lines in Hasbrouck’s Last Will and Testament. Anjou omitted where Abraham Hasbrouck’s house was located. He left this home to his widow Catherine. If I had not looked at the original document, I would never have known this. Hence the reason it is so important to look at originals.

Last wills and testaments are great resources for researching the lives of ancestors. Many individuals over look court archives such as the Ulster County Surrogate’s Court. These valuable documents are in most cases not only easy to access, but for a fee can be photocopied.

The Ulster County Surrogate’s Court is open five days a week. It is located on the 3rd floor of the  County Office Building’s, at  244 Fair Street in Kingston.

Posted in City of Kingston, Education, Orange County, Town of Newburgh, Ulster County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cemetery Tour Brings to Life Notable Figures of the Past

NEWBURGH, NY – Within the City of Newburgh’s historic district and around the corner from Washington’s Headquarters is the remarkable St. George’s Cemetery. Established in 1838, this burial ground that overlooks the Hudson River is filled with stories once lived by those interred, from the American Revolution through the present.

Both the Newburgh Historical Society and St. George’s Episcopal Church invites the public on a guided walking tour on July 12th starting at 2:00 p.m.

This half mile walk consists of 21 points of interest that includes a guard to General George Washington, a Medal of Honor recipient, a Newburgh citizen turned Confederate during the Civil War, a Southern born who fought for the Union, a doctor, entrepreneurs, religious figures, and many more.

St. George’s, a 7.5 acre cemetery, is a prize example of the 19th century rural cemetery style where the romantic practice of landscaping was essential to its design. Throughout this time period, cemeteries like St. George’s were often viewed as public spaces and lively destinations.

The tour keeps within this tradition by inviting the living to enjoy the stories of the deceased, just as was intended when the cemetery was founded 177 years ago.

Refreshments will be provided by the St. George’s Cemetery Committee. The committee will also raffle off a picnic basket filled with goods and sell other souvenirs to raise funds for the care of the historic cemetery.

The tour will start at the north gate on Washington’s Street at the S. Johnston Street intersection. Admission is $5 per person and reservations are suggested. Please call (845) 561-2585 or visit their website, http://www.newburghhistoricalsociety.com/, to reserve a place on the tour. Additional information about the event and parking may be found on the Society’s website.

 
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands was launched unofficially when the Hasbrouck House (Washington’s Headquarters Newburgh) was in danger of demolition after the Revolutionary War. The current Society, incorporated in 1884, has always been an advocate for Newburgh’s history. The Society’s headquarters, 1830 Captain David Crawford House, was purchased in 1954 to save it from demolition and symbolizes their dedication to preserving and protecting Newburgh’s assets.

The Crawford House, a historic house museum and Society’s headquarters, located at 189 Montgomery Street within the City of Newburgh’s Historic District is open for tours on Sundays between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. or by appointment. View the “Growing Up In Newburgh” exhibit, a community exhibit featuring the photographs and memories of Newburgh from the 19th century through the 20th century. For more information about admission, tours, or programming please call (845) 561-2585.

Posted in Cemeteries, City of Newburgh, Landmarks, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Historic Huguenot Street Expands Popular Summer Camp

Summer Camp-Courtesy of HHS

NEW PALTZ, NY – Historic Huguenot Street has added an additional week in July to its summer Camp Huguenot schedule, which features week-long summer camps on archaeology and colonial history.Campers between the ages of 9 and 12 are invited to discover, explore, and experience the National Historic Landmark District, where they will learn about the site, its unique history, and the individuals who settled New Paltz over 300 years ago.

This year’s camps feature two themed opportunities. The popular Hidden History Archaeology Camp has been extended to include two week-long sessions; campers may register for one or both weeks. Campers work alongside trained archaeologists from SUNY New Paltz Professor Joseph Diamond’s Field School, conducting a live archaeology dig searching for artifacts left by the original settlers and the Native Americans who came before them. Through these activities, campers will learn the basic principles and practices of archaeology, as well as its modern day significance and relation to the understanding of past cultures. Archaeology Camp sessions run July 13 – 17 and July 20 – 24.

Launched last summer, Colonial Kids’ Living History Camp provides campers with the opportunity to spend a week with Huguenot Street museum staff and historic re-enactors learning about life in the 18th century and how it compares to our lives today. Campers will replicate games, chores, and activities from colonial times, experience an 18th century school lesson, try-on colonial clothing, learn about common occupations and trades, and much more. Living History Camp runs July 27 – 31.

“At Camp Huguenot, campers not only learn about archaeology and history, they get hands-on experience, interacting with museum professionals, archaeologists, and authentic artifacts,” explained Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming.

All camps run 9 am to 3 pm, Monday – Friday. After-Camp Care is also available until 4 pm for an additional fee. For more information, rates, and registration, see huguenotstreet.org/camp-huguenot. Registration is required as spots fill quickly.

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York Department of Education, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.

Posted in Education, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County | Leave a comment
  • Blog Author

    AJ Schenkman

    A.J. Schenkman teaches history in the Lower Hudson Valley. He is the author of numerous books and articles. His most recent books Include Murder and Mayhem in Ulster County and Wicked Ulster County. He is Consulting Historian for Historic Huguenot ... Read Full

    Elizabeth Werlau

    Elizabeth Werlau is an English teacher in the Hudson Valley and is the historian for the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. She has authored and contributed to several books on regional history, including her most recent publication, Murder and ... Read Full

    Debra Conway

    A former Features writer/Columnist for the Times Herald-Record and Director of Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History in Narrowsburg, Debra Conway is currently the Executive Director of The Delaware Company, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ... Read Full

    Matthew Colon

    Matthew Colon is the Director of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. He has interpreted the American Revolution at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site since 2009. He currently assists other history focused volunteer ... Read Full
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