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Kingston, NY; a Book in the Postcard History Series

          Image  Released in March of 2013, the Arcadia Publishing Company has added, Kingston, to its Postcard History Series. This newest pictorial history book was curated and written by life-long Kingston resident, Patricia O’Reilly Murphy (no relation to this author). Her unique work contains over two hundred images and postcards of Kingston throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

            Kingston is formatted in a way that is appealing and easily understandable. Readers can enjoy an array of images such as postcard depicting the first automobiles being driven on Kingston streets in 1900. A great aspect about this book is that included with each photo is a brief passage about the portrayed scene. This combination provides readers with a valuable opportunity to not only learn about Kingston, but to also visualize it.

            After reading this work, it becomes clear that its purpose is to portray the significance of Kingston as a part of the larger history of New York State. Readers can learn about a variety of important events that took place in this city. For example, this book contains pictures such as one of a home where New York State’s first elected Senate met in 1777. Thus, this work also contains an underlying message against the demolishment of old buildings and homes without a meaningful justification and careful scrutiny. This work promotes the idea that such buildings and homes have historical significance.

            Although Kingston is a valuable pictorial source, historians and students should only use this work with the goal of retrieving basic or supplementary information. Due to the structure of this book, it lacks a thematic depth. This work focuses on exposing bits and pieces of information about Kingston through what is being revealed in its pictures and postcards. As a result, it does not have a continuous organization that explores themes in a larger manner.  

            If you are interested in purchasing Kingston it is available through a number of outlets for $21.99. You can find this work at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.

  – Kaitlin Murphy, Marist ‘14

The Vanderbilt Mansion: Hyde Park, NY

ImageThe Vanderbilt Mansion is an incredibly prestigious and historical landmark in the Hudson River Valley that I got the pleasure of touring this past weekend. I have visited the grounds many times before, but never took an official tour inside the house. The house was built in the late 1800s by the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Fredrick William Vanderbilt who lived in Hyde Park during the fall and spring seasons with his wife Louise Vanderbilt. My initial impressions of the house, grounds and staff were welcoming. The grounds were very clean and well kept by the Nations Park Service. The house was well preserved from the outside, maintaining the integrity of the original structure and keeping with the original architectural designs. The staff was extremely helpful, informative, and funny, keeping all the tour members attention.

The tour provides a brief background on the Vanderbilt family, their money, and their legacy in the northeast United States. The National Park Ranger, who served as a tour guide, also provided a background on the dimensions of this house, the land, and other houses that they own. This particular Mansion was originally 700 acres of land, now a little over 200 acres, and was sold to the National Park Service in 1939 as per President Roosevelt’s suggestion.

 After we entered the house, we were allowed to explore the rooms on the first level. The design clearly indicated which time period it was created in and the type of lifestyle that the Vanderbilt’s maintained. The house was very ornate with large marble columns and accents, imported furniture and wood, fireplaces, and large sculptures. All of the ceilings in the rooms are hand crafted with different patterns and designs and the National Park Ranger explained what a normal dinner party would be like at a house like this. From the center of the first floor, you can look up to see the balcony area of the second floor, where many bedrooms were.

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The ceiling of Vanderbilt’s bedroom

Upon going up, there is a similar design of extravagant sculpture, ceiling artwork, ornate features that demonstrated the prestige and power of the Vanderbilt’s. Fredrick’s room has a crown on the ceiling and over his headboard. This clearly shows just how Fredrick viewed himself, especially in society. The other rooms are just as beautiful and ornate. Though the tour did not go up to the third floor, where there were more bedrooms, it was clear what the third floor would look like based on the trends of the first and second floors. The purpose was to demonstrate the immense power and money that the Vanderbilt family had and what they chose to do with it. The National Park Ranger indicated to us as we descended to the basement, that we are leaving the ornate behind and going to see where the other half lived.

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The other half, as in the 70-90 servants who worked in the house at any given time, lived downstairs where there were bedrooms, bathrooms, a washroom, laundry room, and the preparation kitchen. The basement was a vast area for the servants to prepare for the day before the Vanderbilt’s even woke up.  The National Park Ranger indicated that of the servants who worked in the Hudson River Valley, the servants who worked for the Vanderbilt’s were making roughly $1.25 to $1.50 a day, whereas others were only making $.50 to $.75 a day. The Vanderbilt servants were seen as far better off than others in the area, which was an interesting concept when thinking of servitude and its history in the United States.

The tour was very thorough about the house and the people who lived there. The National Park Ranger covered all of the important details and answered everyone’s questions very nicely. It was a rather enjoyable tour and allowed for both “on your own” exploration and a guide to what you were looking at. Anyone who is ever in the area, I would highly suggest going to the Vanderbilt and taking a tour, in addition to taking in the wonderful scenery of the Hudson Valley. Though it was a cold day with a lot of wind, it was still an incredibly interesting and valuable educational experience, providing more history into the Hudson River Valley, a place that I have called home for the past four years.

 -Kaitlyn Walsh, Marist ‘14

Thanksgiving in the Hudson River Valley

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Each year, we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.

This year on November 28th, families and friends will unite and engage in the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving dinner. This feast customarily will feature turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and sometimes pumpkin pie. On Thanksgiving, families open up their homes not only to share a dinner with loved ones, but to also communally reflect and give thanks for everyone’s blessings. Although most people usually associate this national holiday with their specific family, Thanksgiving is also celebrated in large scale among communities. In the Hudson River Valley, counties are holding different Thanksgiving events in order to celebrate the holiday in a communal manner.

DUTCHESS

If you are from the Dutchess area, take part in the excitement of the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club’s Turkey Trot road races. You and your family can choose to participate in either the kids free one mile race, the two mile fun run, the five mile, or the 25k on Thanksgiving Day at Arlington High School. If you are interested in partaking in one of the Turkey Trot races be sure to register before the deadline on Tuesday, November 26th. However, the great part about the Turkey Trot is that it is not only serves for the purpose of road races, but also as a drive for local families in need. Whether or not you want to participate in any of the day’s races, come and join in the Thanksgiving spirit by dropping off donations. This year Turkey Trot will be collecting crayons, diapers, coloring books, non-perishable food, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, and socks in all sizes. To find out more information about the Turkey Trot or to register for the event visit http://www.mhrrc.org/.  

ULSTER

If you are looking to get some exercise before sitting down to a big feast on Thanksgiving Day or just want to be in the presence of over two thousand families, friends, and neighbors come and check out the 11th annual Family of New Paltz Turkey Trot in New Paltz. This event features a Mashed Potato Kids Fun Run, a 5k walk/run, and a plentiful of spectators cheering community members on. Bring your loved ones to the Turkey Trot not just for the races, but for the additional family entertainment. Your family can watch a performance by the Fuzzy Lollipops, get your faces painted, take pictures in photo booths, and possible win a fifty-fifty raffle! All proceeds from this fun event will go towards the Family of New Paltz Food Pantry, which seeks to provide food to community members throughout the holiday season.

There are also two other small-scale Turkey Trots in Ulster County taking place in the spirit of Thanksgiving. On Saturday, November 30th you and your family can check out the third annual Phoenicia Turkey Trot. The proceeds from this event will go towards funding for a much-needed new roof for the Pine Hill Community Center, which provides essential community-building activities. Or, you can take part in the Kingston Turkey Trot that takes places on Thanksgiving Day. This event is hosted by the Junior League of Kingston and the events proceeds go towards rebuilding the Kingston Kinderland playground at the park.

To get more information about any of these exciting events, visit http://www.ulstertourism.info/landing/turkey-trots-become-ulster-county-tradition.

And even before you have finished your left-overs, Sinterklaas will be coming to Kingston!

Join the Hudson River Maritime Museum on Friday November 29th from 11-4 or Saturday 10-2 for a family workshop to create crowns and other decorations for their young “kings and queens” to wear for a parade with Sinterklaas on Saturday afternoon when he boards a tugboat to sail for Rhinecliff. http://www.hrmm.org/event/sinterklaas-workshops/

ROCKLAND

If you are a resident of Rockland County and have small children, consider visiting Jill’s Ceramics in West Nyack on November 25th and 26th. Jill of Jill’s Ceramics invites children of all ages to come and make something special for the holiday table. Children can pick from a variety of Thanksgiving pottery items. You and your family can spend an enjoyable day painting holiday-themed ceramics. For more information visit: http://www.nymetroparents.com/rockland/listing/Jill-s-Ceramics.

If you and your loved ones are interested in making a truly memorable Thanksgiving morning, join in the Rockland Road Runners’ 5 mile Turkey Trot at Rockland Lake. Over the past years, this event has become the largest event in Rockland County, attracting over 3,000 participates annually. Come and run alongside your neighbor and help raise money to support the efforts of the Marisa Fund to eradicate childhood cancer. Also, do not forget to bring perishables for the Turkey Trot food drive to benefit People to People. If you interested in signing up for this exciting event, register on November 25th, 26th, or 27th from noon-8:00pm at Modell’s at the Palisades Central Mall. Also, to get more information visit:  http://rocklandroadrunners.org/races/TT/.

WESTCHESTER

If you are from Westchester County take part in the Saw Mill River Audubon Turkey Mountain Hike. Come and burn off those excess Thanksgiving feast calories on Friday, November 29th.  You and family will enjoy a scenic hike up to the top of Turkey Mountain in Yorktown. If you are interested in this post-Thanksgiving workout make sure you pre-register for this event! For more information visit www.sawmillriveraudubon.org or call 914-666-6503.

 On Saturday, November 30th gather your entire family and take them to the Great Turkey Walk Off in North White Plains. Take a refreshing walk through Cranberry Lake Preserve and see the remains of the nineteenth century farmhouses and twentieth century stone-mining operations.  This is a fun way to burn off Thanksgiving calories! For more information visit www.westchestergov.com or call 914-428-1005.

 The Cranberry Lake Preserve will offer a “cultural outing” with artist David Licata to view his glass orchids that have been installed along the trails on Saturday, November 30th starting at 10:00. Visit www.westchestergov.gov/parks or call 914-428-1005 to learn more.

 GREENE

 There will be tree-lighting ceremonies, art openings, gallery talks, holiday craft fairs and more throughout Greene County. Durham will hold its 16th annual tree-lighting ceremony on Saturday November 30th starting at 3:00. The Prattsville Art Center will hold a combination art show and holiday gift fair that same afternoon starting at 1:00, followed by an evening program from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Tannersville will host a Holiday Craft Fair on the 30th with activities for the whole family from 10:00 till 4:00 and a tree lighting at 5:00.

 Learn more about these and other things to do around the county at: http://www.greatnortherncatskills.com/events.

 By Kaitlin Murphy, Marist ‘14

 

 

James M. Johnson receives the Sarah Cornelia Tappen Clinton Award

 James M. Johnson recieves the Sarah Cornelia Tappen Clinton Award

The Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association (FMBSA) recently named Hudson River Valley Institute Executive Director James M. Johnson the 3rd recipient of the Sarah Cornelia Tappen Clinton Award. The Clinton Award acknowledges and honors those individuals who have shown commitment to preserving the Hudson River Valley. Previous recipients were Mrs. Stella Bailey, Executive Director of the FMBSA, in 2011 and Mrs. Barbara Brinkley, a direct descendant of Governor George Clinton in 2012. Colonel Johnson is a long-time member of the FMBSA and served on the Fort Montgomery Plan Team, which oversaw the development of Fort Montgomery as a New York State Historic Site in 2002.

CENTURY-OLD SLAVE REMAINS LAID TO REST ON HUGUENOT STREET IN NEW PALTZ, N.Y

HRVI Executive Director Jim Johnson and his wife Lois joined HRVI Advisory Board member Mary Etta Schneider at the Huguenot Burial Ground for the re-interment of the skull of an African slave originally exhumed in 1900.

HRVI Executive Director Jim Johnson and his wife Lois joined HRVI Advisory Board member Mary Etta Schneider at the Huguenot Burial Ground for the re-interment of the skull of an African slave originally exhumed in 1900. (photos by Lois Slusser Johnson)

A crowd gathered on Saturday, November 9 at Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) to rebury a human skull that had been uncovered there more than a century ago. The skull, determined to be an African male, was interred in a private ceremony at the Huguenot Burial Ground in New Paltz, roughly 90 minutes north of New York City; it was buried alongside the remains of the street’s original white setters and their descendents – the first African remains ever to be interred here, and the first interment in this cemetery since 1864.

In 1900, local banker and racetrack owner Abraham Deyo Broadhead dug up the skull on his property and donated it to Historic Huguenot Street (HHS). Long assumed to be that of a Native-American, the skull was displayed for a time at the Memorial House as an Indian relic, then stored away for decades in the HHS collections department. When physical anthropologist Kenneth Nystrom, associate professor at SUNY New Paltz, examined the skull in 2011, he determined it wasn’t Indian but instead had belonged to an African male who died between the age of 25 and 50.

After the discovery of the skull’s true origins, members of the HHS board, the HHS advisory council, and representatives of the African-American academic community decided to make restitution the best way possible: to open the earth and integrate the Huguenot Burial Ground, finally welcoming this man to rest among the other 17th century residents of Historic Huguenot Street.

Susan Stessin-Cohn, Director of Education for HHS, said, “In the eighteenth century, there were enslaved people living in every single house on this street. And though it wasn’t really discussed here until recently, slavery and black history are now an important part of our interpretive and education programs.” Stessin-Cohn continued, “The stone houses here were built, families were raised, and farms were tended on the backs of enslaved Africans. Their story needs to be heard, yet enslaved people in the north left so little behind to tell us about their lives and their culture; what we know comes largely from slave sale and runaway notices. We know there were bounty hunters on Huguenot Street, we know how enslaved families were broken up, and we see evidence in their bones of how hard they worked.”

Mary Etta presided over the moving ceremony as the President of the Board of Historic Huguenot Street.   These are the first African remains ever to be interred here, and the first interment in the Huguenot burial ground since 1864.

Mary Etta presided over the moving ceremony as the President of the Board of Historic Huguenot Street. These are the first African remains ever to be interred here, and the first interment in the Huguenot burial ground since 1864.

The Rev. G. Modele Clarke, senior pastor of the New Progressive Baptist Church in Kingston, officiated at the re-interment ceremony. Rev. Clarke’s wife, Evelyn, sang a selection of traditional spirituals, and because many local runaway slave notices indicated, ‘plays the fiddle’ or ‘ran away with his fiddle,’ musician Evan Stover played early 18th and 19th century fiddle tunes that might once have been heard on Huguenot Street.

A.J. Williams-Myers, well-known author, historian, and Professor of Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz specified, “The skull will be buried upright and facing east, as it longs for its flight on the wings of eagles carrying him home to Africa; there to be back in the highlands above the mighty Niger River among family members in the shade of the baobab tree, while little ones nearby play together in among the fields of corn.”

The burial place is marked by a thick fieldstone slab featuring a carving of a Sankofa — a bird symbol from Ghana in west Africa. “The Sankofa represents the importance of learning from the past,” says HHS Director of Visitor Services Rebecca Mackey, “and the inscription beneath it is a translation from an African proverb; it reads, ‘It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.’” Burial Marker

Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures

Unknown Museums of Upstate New YorkUnknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures by Chuck D’Imperio

 Author Chuck D’Imperio took a road trip to explore the unknown museums of New York State, going over 5,000 miles and seeing over 50 museums. The museums were obscure yet fascinating places that have yet to get the attention of most of the general public. D’Imperio introduces his adventure as seeking out the most uncommon and unusual museums that he could find that would prove fascinating to all of those who had no idea that they existed. His analysis of each museum presents an overview of the museums purpose and the county of where it is located,   a “wow” factor of the museum and what visitors should take away for their visiting the museum. D’Imperio writes about each museum in a way that is clear and focuses on the exciting aspects of each museum. He also provides the practical information such as the address, museums that are located near the area, as well as other museums in the area that he did not explore but can be explored by people who are looking for extra sites.

The book as a whole is well organized and extremely interesting. D’ Imperio writes about museums that are fascinating and unknown. He writes in a way that is easy to follow and provides the reader with the essential information that they need to know and an idea of what to look for if they were to go to these museums. Each site has a history behind the town, the area, and the museum. It allows the reader to understand its foundation and purpose to society.  D’Imperio asks the director what they feel is the “wow” factor for the museum and indicates to visitors exactly what exhibit or section they should pay close attention to if and when they visit. The last part is what he calls the take away, essentially telling the visitors what they should get out of visiting these museums that are unknown and rare yet exciting. The take away is an essential part for the reader because it hints at both the purpose and why someone should go visit something as obscure as some of these museums.

The book is very interesting and is able to peak anyone’s interest. Even if you are not a history geek, there are museums in Upstate New York that require no historical knowledge and will appeal to non-museum people. Some of the most notable ones are the Jell-O Museum in Genesee County, the Kazoo Museum in Erie County, the Salt Museum in Onondaga County, Museum of Oddities in Madison County, and the Trolley Museum of New York, in Ulster County, right in our own Hudson River Valley. Though not all historical, the topics of these museums appeal to the general public and historicize something as simple as Jell-O to become a learning tool for both children and adults alike. The nice part about this book is that the museums that D’Imperio researched are not always something that the reader may be interested in. However he provides enough information about them that its sure to raise one’s interest in them none the less.

D’Imperio also does a great job of providing the essential information about price, address, tour times and hours of operation. He also provides some other information that helps visitors make the best of their visits at these places. Overall, the book is very well done and provides both historical and non-historical museums that fit everyone’s taste yet does not drown readers in information and does not completely take away from the excitement of the museum experience for future visitors.

His second to last section about the Hudson River Valley museums is interesting because it includes many of the museums that are not known in comparison to all of the very popular historic home museums that are most common to the Hudson River Valley. The historic homes overshadow some of these smaller museums and the book nicely showcases some of the important yet unknown museums that are right here in the Hudson River Valley. Not to say that the historic homes and site are not essential to Hudson River Valley history, but it is nice to see that there is more history to be offered here that is not yet know. Some of the sites that D’Imperio notes are the Gomez Mill House Museum in Orange County, “Last Stop U.S.A.” in Rockland County, National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County along with additional one’s that he did not personally visit, but are still notable to the area.

I would highly recommend picking up a copy of this book and taking a road trip to visit some of your favorite museums that he highlights. After reading this, I’ve made a list of where I would like to visit after I graduate. Enjoy!

-Kaitlyn Walsh ‘14

OUT NOW – the Autumn issue of The Hudson River Valley Review

The Hudson River Valley Review Autumn 2013 issue

The Hudson River Valley has an illustrious but ironic past. It was the key to our young nation’s fight for independence, yet as a region it has never achieved independence from the political and economic influences that surround it. Our first two articles examine the role that the region played during and after the Revolutionary War in encapsulating and disseminating a national consciousness. The third article looks at how the valley was later shaped, both physically and economically, by the business interests of out-of-state corporations and New York City investors. We present a case study in how historical research can solve centuries-old mysteries in our Notes and Documents, then visit the Madam Brett Homestead, the group camps of the Palisades Interstate Park, and revisit the founding and legacy of Scenic Hudson in our Regional History Forum. Teaching the Hudson River Valley features an adapted panel conversation on teaching future teachers about our state’s history. In other words, it’s a full issue.

You can preview the issue, read the contributors’ notes, Book Reviews, and New and Noteworthy Books online at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/.

The Hudson River Valley Review is available at select booksellers and museum giftshops throughout the region for $15.00 each. Subscriptions are available through the website at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/subscribe.html, or by calling 845-575-3052. A one-year subscription (two issues) is $20.00, save even more by subscribing for two years at $35.00.

Articles in the Autumn  2013 issue:

The American Revolution Remembered in the Hudson River Valley, David Schuyler

“The Unfortunate Major André”: Washington Irving’s Original Ichabod Crane, Terry W. Thompson

The Tontine Coffee House and the Corporate Culture of the D&H Canal, Stephen Skye

Notes & Documents

“Henry Kneeland one of Bergoines troops & defected from Winterhill,” Michael S. McGurty

Regional History Forum

“Care Enough to Take Some Action”: Storm King, Scenic Hudson, and the Local

Citizens Who Saved a Mountain and Started a Movement, 1963-2013

Madam Brett: Her Legacy and Her Homestead

A Brief Photo History of Group Camping and Nature Study in Palisades Interstate

Park, Edwin McGowan

Teaching the Hudson River Valley

Teaching New York State History

PLUS : Regional Writing, Book Reviews, and New & Noteworthy

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