Posts tagged Luykas Groundhog
Posts tagged Luykas Groundhog
I just wanted to stop in today to wish a very happy birthday to the 8th President of the United States, Martin Van Buren. Today would have been his 231st birthday! Van Buren was a Columbia County native, from here in Kinderhook. His home, Lindenwald, is right down the road (today NY Route 9H, back then, the Albany Post Road) from the Luykas Van Alen House. He had a farm on his property, so maybe my ancestors who lived behind the Van Alen House even munched on the former president’s veggies :).
Since fall means back to school time, I thought you might be interested to learn a little about the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse.
The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse is one of the historic buildings preserved by the Columbia County Historical Society, and run as a museum. Each year, visitors of all ages, including modern school kids, come to learn about life in a one-room school.
The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse was built around 1850, and served as a school until 1945, as Kinderhook District Number 6. The name “Ichabod Crane” comes from the character in the Washington Irving story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Irving was a frequent visitor to Kinderhook, and the character of Ichabod Crane was inspired by his friend Jesse Merwin, who was a school teacher in Kinderhook. Jessie Merwin didn’t actually teach in the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse… it was built to replace the one-room school that he taught in!
One-room schools, like the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, were built all over the county. Before school buses, schools had to be close to where students lived. In larger cities or towns, some larger schools were built, with classes for different grades, like we are used to today. In the country though, schools were small. At the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, one room held students in grades one through six!
The class was seated with the youngest students in the front, and older students in the back. Some times the teacher would work with the whole class all at once. Other times, students were asked to do seat work at their desks (independent work) while one grade at a time was called up to the lesson bench in the front of the room for a lesson.
When students got to school, they would drop off their hats, coats, and boots in the cloakroom. The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse has one cloakroom for boys, and one for girls (You can see the doors to the two cloakrooms in the photo above, located at the center, and right side).
School desks were a little different than the ones we use in schools today. Each seat is attached to the desk behind it. This desk has a little pot that would hold ink. Students would write with a pen dipped in the ink. Here I am, practicing my penmanship! Sometimes, a naughty student would dip the ponytail of the student sitting in front of him into the pot of ink!
There was no running water inside the schoolhouse. If students needed to go to the bathroom, they went outside, to an outhouse. For drinking water, a student was sent outside to fill a bucket at a well or stream. Students might drink out of a dipper (think of all the students drinking out of one dipper… what germs!), or bring their own collapsible cup from home.
There was also no furnace in the schoolhouse. All of the heat came from a wood burning stove. Students’ families were asked to supply wood to the school to keep the students warm. Sometimes students today are asked to bring a box of tissues to share with the class… aren’t you glad you don’t have to bring firewood?!?
What do you think, would you like to go to a one-room school like the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, or do you prefer school like it is today?
This weekend, I went to check out the New Kinderhook Farmers’ Market. I enjoyed checking out all the fresh veggies that were grown in Columbia County (yum!) and tasty baked goods that were made here (yum!). On July 27th, I will be back at the market with CCHS’ educators, manning a table with a fun activity for kids- print and make your own seed packets, just like those that the Shakers made many years ago in Mount Lebanon. Come say hello that day- the market runs from 8:30 to 12:30, at the Kinderhook Village Square.
Also, a note for my teacher friends: the CCHS educators will also be presenting a workshop, called Whaling in Hudson, In Documents and Places, as part of the Teaching the Hudson Valley Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is a great place for teachers, school administrators, museum educators (like my friends at CCHS), and environmental educators to learn about ways to teach about the great resources available in the Hudson Valley. If you’re interested in the history of whaling in Hudson, want to learn about starting a research project with your students, or are interested in using real documents to teach within the Common Core curriculum, think about registering for the day. I think I might just check it out myself!
A couple weeks ago, Jan Franz van Hedgehog-Orange-Ekaert invited me to visit him at his home, Stoddard Corner bookshop in Hudson. I love books (you can read about my visit to the Hudson Children’s Book Festival here and here), and Jan Franz told me they had lots of interesting historical books and documents, so I decided to check it out. Here I am with my hosts, Jan Franz the hedgehog and Peter Pherson, the shop’s proprietor (owner).
I had a lot of fun exploring the shelves. There were little books, that were my size…
…and big books that I might need some help reading!
There were familiar books (many of the books in this photo were published by the Columbia County Historical Society) about local history.
Stoddard Corner carries many old books and manuscripts (a book or document written by hand, not printed— that means there is usually one one of them! For example, diaries, letters, and even hand-written pieces of music are manuscripts). As you can see by the top book in the photo below, I got to see some autograph books. In the 1800s and early 1900s, people kept autograph books, and would have friends sign the pages (kind of like we do with school yearbooks now). Maybe I should get myself an autograph book and collect signatures from all the great history loving people I meet!
There were diaries in the shop, including several that were kept by farmers. It was not uncommon for farmers to keep a daily log, with notes about the weather and their crops. It would have been neat (and very helpful, if you were a farmer trying to figure out when to plan seeds) to be able to look back at records of what the weather was like on a particular day for the previous ten years!
A big thanks to my friend Jan Franz van Hedgehog-Orange-Ekaert. I had a great time checking out the books and manuscripts at Stoddard Corner!
In honor of women’s history month, I thought I might introduce you to some important women in Columbia County history, and artifacts from women in Columbia County. First up, Samantha Littlefield Huntley.
As you can see from her photographed portrait, Samantha Huntley was an artist. She was born Samantha Littlefield, but her family called her “Mantie.” The family home was in Watervliet, just to our north!
In 1884, she married Frank Huntley, and they had a son, named Grant, in 1887. Samantha Huntley then began her career as an artist. She studied art in both New York City and Paris.
Huntley liked to paint portraits. She painted New York Governor Martin Glynn (who was from Valatie… I’ll write about him someday too!). She also did portraits of children, military officials, and archbishops. You can see a scan of a catalog from an exhibition of her paintings that was held in 1911 (online here).
So what does Samantha Huntley have to do with Columbia County? In 1923, she built a home and studio on William Street in Kinderhook! During her years in Kinderhook, she even painted a portrait of a prominent Kinderhook resident… Postmaster Jul Johnson.
I love all the details she included in the background. Could you guess that Jul Johnson had something to do with the Postal Service if I hadn’t mentioned it first?
P.S. The education team here at CCHS wanted me to mention that both the photograph of Samantha Huntley, and the portrait she painted of Jul Johnson, are included in a lesson plan that is available online! Visit the Columbia County Historical Society’s website, then go to “Education,” “Online Resources,” and click on “Portraits”
Since it is my first year not hibernating through the winter, I’m learning about some of the fun things people have done in Columbia County to pass the time in the cold weather. One way that people had fun (and still do!) when it got cold was ice skating. Columbia County has many lakes and ponds that are perfect for ice skating once they froze over.
Skating was such a popular pastime in Hudson that the Hudson Skating Club was formed in the middle of the 1800s. In fact, skating was really popular all over, and many towns and cities created skating clubs. The Hudson Skating Club published rules for proper behavior on the skating pond in the Hudson Weekly Star newspaper on January 11, 1862. The rules stated:
I guess most of the rules would still be pretty useful at the skating pond today!
Here is a pair of ice skates that are in CCHS’ collection:
They were made some time between 1875 and 1900. They look a lot different from the skates people use today, don’t they?
This postcard shows people skating on “Lake Underhill” in Hudson (today, it is called “Underhill Pond”):
The postcard is from 1910. If you look closely, you can see that the people are dressed quite differently than we might to go ice skating today- most women wouldn’t wear long dresses to go skating!
Do you like to ice skate? Do you go to Hudson to skate on Oakdale Lake (which is right near Underhill Pond, and still hosts ice skating in the winter), or do you have another favorite spot?
Happy Groundhog’s Day… and Happy Birthday to me! (and also a very Happy Birthday to our library volunteer, Vieve!)
Groundhog’s Day is the day that people look to highly trained meteorologist (a person, or groundhog, who studies the atmosphere and weather patterns) groundhogs for the weather report. They want to know if we’ll have six more weeks of winter, or if spring is on its way.
As you can imagine, I get asked all the time about my predictions… but I study history, not weather! It got me thinking about how weather in Columbia County is documented in our archives.
Maybe, like Phil predicted, we’re due for an early spring:
Which, of course, would lead us into a beautiful summer:
Or maybe cousin Mel is right, and we’re due for six more weeks of winter, and Kinderhook will look more like this (plus those great snow sculptures that appear around town now!):
At least if winter stuck around a little longer, we could have more winter fun like this:
As I said, predicting the weather is not my skill… but I hope Phil is right, I’m ready for spring!
I thought I would share this postcard from our collection, and some historic Halloween games with you today.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween parties were a popular way to celebrate the holiday. On Halloween, people thought that the spirit world and the living world were closer than usual, and that it was a good time to try to tell your fortune, or get a glimpse into the future. Fortune telling games were popular at parties. Here are two that you can try today:
1. Learn your future from a bowl of seeds or beans, from the Kiddies’ Halloween Book, 1931
-Fill a bowl with dry pumpkins seeds, dry beans (lima beans, pinto beans, split peas…), m&m’s… something small and dry.
-Dip a spoon into the bowl, and fill it with seeds.
-Recite this poem, reading one line for each bean in your spoon. The line you end on is your fortune:
One seed shows you’ll get a letter,
Two a dish you’re going to break.
Three seeds, you’ll hear some good news,
Four, a ride you soon will take.
Five, you will be disappointed,
Six, you’re going to meet a friend.
Seven brings you a surprise,
Eight some money you will spend.
Nine shows there’s pleasure coming,
Ten, you’ll have something to wear.
Eleven, you will take a trip,
Twelve, some good luck you will share.
Thirteen seeds, you’ll have a fright,
Fourteen, your future days are bright.
#2: Learn your future through some objects you can find around the house!
-Fill saucers or small bowls with the following objects: a key, a stone, a rubber band, dirt, and water.
-Put on a blindfold, or close your eyes (no peeking!).
-Slowly wave your hand over the saucers, while you recite the alphabet. Stop your hand when you get to “z.” The saucer that your hand is over will tell your fortune:
A key: good luck
A stone: you will build a house
A rubber band: you will live a lively or “snappy” life
Dirt: you will make a trip by car
Water: you will have clear sailing and a happy life
I hope everyone gets a good fortune, and has a happy and safe Halloween! I guess I should go figure out a costume to wear… I was hoping for some candy, but the staff at the museum told me that you only get candy if you have a costume! Maybe I can recycle my Mardi Gras mask?
On Tuesday, I wrote about the first part of my visit to Crailo State Historic Site for Harvest Faire… my tour through the house. Today, I thought I would focus on the great people I got to meet who were there for the festival.
First up, the tinsmith, Art Thorman:
The CCHS staff tells me that Art has been a part of a CCHS event at the Luykas Van Alen House before, but it was before my time, so it was nice to finally get to meet him. Art is a tinsmith, and makes many useful items out of sheets of tin. In the photo below, you can see some of his wares that were for sale: a funnel, a ladle, an ear trumpet (a tool that was used by people who were hard of hearing… they held it up to their ear, and it amplified the sound), several different styles of wall sconces (candle holders that hung on the wall, and reflected the light from candles), and some cups.
I also met Tom Hooker Hanford, who is a musician and storyteller. Tom studies music from different periods in history, and put on a beautiful show with singing, storytelling, and puppets, based on 16th and 17th century songs. He even sang a song about Pinkster, a Dutch holiday that was celebrated in Albany (and elsewhere). I loved getting to meet Tom’s beautiful puppets!
Next I met Stuart Lehman, who told me a bit about early medecine. Below, you can see me with some of the remedies that would be used by doctors to heal all sorts of ailments. I’m not sure how much good all of them did for humans, but I certainly learned that it was not a good time for groundhogs. Can you believe that a powder, made from groundhogs, was used to treat some illnesses!?! Yikes!
Stuart also brought some leeches, which were used for bloodletting. Placed on a patient, leeches would suck out the patient’s blood. This was believed to help treat many different diseases.
Herbs were frequently used in the home to treat illnesses. Here I am with a selection of some of the common ones that might have been found in a house like Crailo:
I left the back yard at Crailo very happy that I live in a world with modern medicine!
In the front yard, I met Arthur Kirmss, who showed me how wampum was made. Wampum are white and purple beads made from shells. They were used as a type of currency for trading between the Dutch and the Native American groups in the area. To make wampum, Arthur starts with a piece of shell. The purple and white ones are from the Quahog clam. Since the pieces of shell are so small, he uses a special stick, with a notch cut in the end, to hold onto them. He adds water to a flat piece of stone, and rubs the shell pieces round and round, until they become smooth and round.
Once the shell pieces are the right shape, he has to drill holes in them to make beads. He uses boards drilled with holes to hold the beads, and a special drill made with a stick and a sharp metal point.
A bow is used to make the drill spin.
Once the holes are drilled in the beads, they are polished. Then they could be strung into strands, or woven into belts.
Arthur also brought along some historic Delft tiles… just like the ones in Crailo and at the Van Alen house!
I met some very friendly reenactors, who portray Dutch life in the 1600’s & early 1700’s. They do a lot of demonstrations about Dutch food and cooking.
They were also working on a dyeing project. I was especially interested to hear about the dyeing because we just did a project during our “Summer History Days” program, where we dyed cotton fabric using red cabbage. The ladies at Crailo were dying with walnuts. They were experimenting with small pieces of different kinds of cloth- cotton, linen, wool, and silk. You can see the chart next to the dye pot, where the four different cloths were tested for different amounts of time, or in different dye pots.
There were also some reenactors making household items from wood. How do I look in the wooden shoes?
Finally, before I finished my day, I checked out the wares that were for sale from the suttlers (traveling sales people). It was a little cool and breezy by the river, and I rather liked this wool work cap!
I had a great time visiting Crailo State Historic Site for Harvest Faire, and learning about Dutch life in the 1600’s and 1700’s. Thank you to the staff and volunteers for inviting me, and making me feel welcome!
This weekend, I took a little road trip to Rensselear County, to visit Crailo State Historic Site. Crailo is a Dutch house (like the Luykas Van Alen House), but it was built a little earlier (around 1707 for the first part), and it is a bigger house than the Van Alen house (at least after a couple of additions and changes early in its life). I choose to visit this weekend, because Crailo was holding their Harvest Faire… and I love a good festival!
Crailo is located in the city of Rensselear, right on the East bank of the Hudson River. That is the city of Albany that you can see on the other side (or Beverwyck, if we were in the 1600’s).
Crailo was part of the manor owned by the Van Rensselaer family. The house was built by Hendrick Van Rensselaer. As different generations lived in the house, they made updates, changes, and additions.
Here is the front of the house. You can see the Dutch door was half open- useful for letting in a little breeze, but keeping out any animals wandering by (luckily, they let me in!). Look closely at the windows, and you can see the leaded diamond pane casements (each window is made up of small, diamond shaped pieces of glass, held together by pieces of lead). It is likely that the windows at the Van Alen House originally looked like this. There are lots of other details in the architecture of Crailo that are similar to the Van Alen House, if you look closely: the shutters on the windows, the soldier bricks above the windows and doors (bricks that are set vertically, over openings in the house, to make them stronger), and even the brick bond (the pattern that the bricks are laid in) with rows of headers (the short end of the bricks) and stretchers (the long side of the bricks).
I decided to start my visit to Crailo with a quick tour of the house. Unlike the Luykas Van Alen House, Crailo is mostly set up with exhibitions, rather than rooms that look like someone was living there. The first exhibition I checked out was about archeology. It explained how archeologists have learned a lot about life for the Dutch in the area in the 18th century by looking at the layers of stuff they left in the ground! Bits of ceramics and glassware, metal objects like shoe buckles, and leftover bits of food like oyster shells, animal bones, and seeds, can all tell a lot about people who lived long, long ago. Below, you can see a diagram that gives an idea of how archeologists look at the layers they find in the ground. Things that are at the top (closest to the ground level today) are the newest, and things that are further down are older.
Upstairs at Crailo, there is an exhibition that tells about what it was like to be a child growing up in New York in the 1700s. My favorite part was seeing the clothes children would have worn… can you imagine dressing like this every day? In many ways, clothing was less practical than it is today. There were no zippers, snaps, velcro, or even safety pins to hold your clothes together, so instead, they used ribbons or chords (tied together), buttons, or even straight pins (ouch!). There was one item that I think is great though. Look at the hat that the mannequin all the way on the left is wearing. It is called a pudding cap, and is like a padded helmet for toddlers. When they were just learning how to walk, a pudding cap would keep their heads safe if they fell down or stumbled into something- smart!
The exhibition also had doll and instructions on how babies used to be swaddled. In the 18th century, babies were wrapped very, very tightly, in many layers of fabric- so tightly that they could not move at all! Unfortunately, all that tight wrapping led to a lot of injuries and illness. Today, we still swaddle babies, to help them sleep, but not nearly so tight! How do you think I did with my 18th century style swaddling?
There is one room at Crailo set up to look like it might have in the 18th century. In this photo, you can see the jambless fireplace (without sides), lined with Delft tiles, just like we have at the Van Alen House! (sorry for the blurry photography, I was being a good museum visitor, and not using the flash on the camera)
After my tour of the house, it was time to check out all the other offerings at Harvest Faire. More on Thursday…
P.S. If you get a chance to visit Crailo, make sure to keep an eye out for some photos from the Luykas Van Alen House… they were used in one of the exhibitions, and in the video!