Posts tagged Luykas Groundhog
Posts tagged Luykas Groundhog
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!
Read about the first part of my visit to the Columbia County Fair here.
After I finished up my shift working at the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative booth in the fair house, I had some time to explore a little more of the fair. My first stop was the Heritage Village. In the Heritage Village, a variety of talented craftspeople demonstrate historic and more modern crafts. It was a lot of fun to watch them, and see how things are made!
Here I am with John Clum, learning how to make baskets. Baskets like the ones he makes might have been used by farmers in the earlier days to bring their produce to the fair.
I learned a bit about rug hooking from Joann Pino. She makes beautiful wall hangings and rugs by pulling pieces of recycled fabric through holes in a piece of burlap. For example, that beautiful gray color that she was working with might have originally been a pair of gray wool pants.
I got to visit with my friend Jacob Kuhnan, a blacksmith (I first met him at CCHS’ Civil War Encampment). It was nice to see him work this time in a full blacksmith’s shop, instead of just on a portable forge.
I also got to meet Dick Brooks.Dick is a very talented wood carver, and also a bit of a local celebrity. He writes a very funny column that appears in the weekend edition of the Register Star and Daily Mail! Here he was showing me a piece he was working on, a small gnome-like creature. Once he finishes carving his pieces, he paints them, and they are very beautiful.
After I made my way through the Heritage Village, I checked out some of the other exhibitions at the fair. Agricultural exhibitions have always been a huge part of the fair. They include the animals I got to meet. In fact, the fair was created as a way for farmers from all over the county to get together, learn about new practices on their farms, and even compete.
Craft and art exhibitions are also a big part of the fair. I started out by checking out the photography exhibition.
I also checked out displays by the garden clubs from different towns, some beautiful quilts, and some very tasty looking foods (next year, maybe they will ask me to be a judge, so I can taste the pies, pickles, cakes, and other goodies).
Next, I headed over to the wool building. As you can probably guess by the name, the exhibits there all have to do with wool… wool that has been sheared off of sheep, wool that has been spun into yarn and dyed, wool knitted items, felted wool things, and wool hooked rugs.
Here I am with some of the fleece from the sheep:
If it hadn’t been so hot out, I might have jumped right in, it looked so cozy!
There were lots of beautiful animal themed hooked rugs, but sadly none with a groundhog.
Finally, I have to show off this beautiful pair of knitted wool socks. They were made by one of CCHS’ volunteers, Sue Charboneau! Sue also makes beautiful hooked rugs, and helps with the setup of all the wool items in the wool building.
Another CCHS volunteer, Paula Van Meter, also had a fantastic rug on display, but I didn’t get a good picture. Its neat that we have such talented volunteers though!
After I finished checking out the exhibitions, it was time to check out one more important part of the modern Columbia County fair… the rides!
Sadly, I wasn’t tall enough to ride.
Did you go to the fair this year? What is your favorite part?
Last Friday, I got to attend my first ever Columbia County Fair! I did a little research on the history of agricultural fairs in Columbia County last week (you can read a bit about it here). I learned that Columbia County had at least two fairs in its history, both of which started in the 1800’s. The current Columbia County Fair, which is held each year in Chatham, was the first of two… it was first held in 1841! In fact, it is the eight longest consecutively running (happens every year) fair in New York State. For a while, the fair was held in Hudson. Then, in 1852, it moved to the village of Chatham. You can read even more about the history of the Columbia County fair here. There is also a new book about the history of the fair (which I meant to check out at the fair, but I got too busy! An article was just published in the paper about it.).
Here I am giving my special “exhibitor” ticket to the gentleman at the gate. Although I got to have some fun, this was a working trip too. The special ticket was because I had promised to work at the LVC booth in the Fair Building… but more about that later.
A major part of the history of fair has always been the animals! While there were no groundhogs (in fact, I overheard some farmers grumbling about groundhogs… oops), the fair has always included exhibitions of different kinds of animals, including cows, horses, sheep, pigs, and chickens.
My first stop was the ducks and geese. This is a pair of Toulouse Geese. They were named after the city of Toulouse, in France, where they were originally bred. They are a pretty rare breed in the United States- there are fewer than 5000 breeding pairs. Their sign said that they were quiet and gentile, so I though I would have a chat. Quiet was right though- you can see that the one in front was more interested in preening than talking to me!
Next I checked out the calves and cows. Here I am with one of the calves and the young farmer who helps take care of it:
Speaking of cows, there was one special treat that everyone recommended that I try… a freshly made milkshake!
It was delicious!
After seeing all those nice animals (I visited the sheep too, but they has just been through sheering, so they didn’t want their photos taken), and quenching my thirst, it was time to go to work for a while. Here I am at the booth that represented the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative, or LVC for short. The LVC is a group made up of many of the museums and tourism organizations in Columbia County… in other words, a lot of people who love history, just like me! Its members include CCHS, Clermont State Historic Site, Steepletop (The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society), Frederic Church’s Olana, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, the Shaker Museum and Library, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Columbia County Tourism, and the Columbia County Lodging Association. My job was to encourage visitors to the fair to visit all of our great historic sites. You can also see a giant map of Columbia County behind me. We asked visitors to add their history story to the map- people definitely had some neat stories!
I did get to see more of the fair after my work shift was over… more on that tomorrow!
Do you know what today is?
It is the start of the Columbia County Fair! I’m looking forward to my first fair as a history ambassador. I’m planning on visiting on Friday evening… I promised my co-workers at CCHS that I would help out at the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative booth, in the main Fair House (the big yellow building). You can come say hello to me from 4-7:30pm on Friday. I hope to get there early so I can walk around and check out the sites (and visit some of the many animals that are there!).
Getting ready to go to the fair got me thinking about the poster, above, from CCHS’ collection. It was part of the exhibition Inked Over, which was held at the museum in 2010-2011 (the exhibition was all about things that were printed). The poster was an advertisement for an agricultural fair that was held in Hudson in 1860. As you can see, the fair was put on by the Columbia Agricultural and Horticultural Association. This was not the same as the fair that is held in Chatham each year, which has been put on by the Columbia County Agricultural Society since 1841… for a while, Columbia County had two fairs! The fair that is advertised in the poster took place at a fairgrounds in Hudson, located near the present day intersection of Fairview Avenue and Parkwood Boulevard. You can see it here in the 1873 Beer’s Atlas:
Here is a modern view of Hudson, with the fair ground pictured in the 1873 map placed in its correct location:
The fair poster lists some of the attractions that could be expected at the fair in Hudson… some of them are very similar to things you can find at the Chatham fair today! Just like today, there were also exhibitions of “Cattle, Sheep, Swine and Poultry, Farm Implements, Household and other Manufactures, Products of the Dairy, Orchard, and Garden, Fine Arts and Mechanical Products.” The poster also lists a “trial of speed” for horses… a horse race. Horse races were part of the Hudson and Chatham fairs, but are no longer included in the fair schedule.
My favorite part of the fair poster is the engravings of the animals:
Perhaps I will get to meet some of the descendants of these animals when I visit the fair on Friday? I promise, I’ll have lots of photos to share with you, and a little of the history of the Columbia County Fair!