On Display: Marking the Occasion

Marking the Occasion:
Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman

DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
October 1 – December 18, 2016

hhs-dutch-spoon-2Historic Huguenot Street celebrates the abiding influence of the Dutch New Netherland colony in the Hudson Valley with Marking the Occasion, an exhibit centering around 17th- and 18th-century Dutch silver spoons from the collections of Jonathan Z. Friedman and George Way. The catalogue of these ornate and fascinating objects and accompanying remarks were prepared by Kevin Tierney, Silver Consultant for Sotheby’s.

When the French Huguenots who founded New Paltz first arrived in what was then New Netherland, they initially settled in the Dutch town of Wiltwijck (today’s Kingston) in the 1660s and 1670s. The Dutch influence on the Huguenot settlers is apparent in the architecture of the stone houses on Huguenot Street, as well as in its collections of artifacts, recipes, legal documents, and furniture.

Individual spoons became plentiful in Holland in the 17th century and later. They were given as presents to mark births and marriages, but also death and special events. For each occasion, appropriate finials were chosen, with favorites including Plenty or Bounty (a female figure holding a bouquet and frond), Charity (with its family symbolism of mother and children), Hope (a female figure with an anchor), William and Mary (suggesting patriotism), and Apostles (chosen for a new child’s name). The finials were cast from molds which were used for years. Spoons fashioned in the towns of Friesland had a similar range of finials, but often had openwork stems frequently decorated with cherub heads. The shape of the bowls moved from fig shape to egg shape, the latter resembling the bowls of tablespoons.

The exhibit is enhanced by the inclusion of comparative examples of spoons of varying types from England, America, and elsewhere, as well as carved wooden spoon racks and four period Dutch paintings. A selection of Delft pieces from the collections of Mary Etta Schneider and Sanford Levy further enrich the display.

Marking the Occasion: Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman will be on display in the DuBois Fort from October 1 through December 18 during regular open hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Documenting Slavery in New Paltz

Hello, my name is Joseph Rochez and I am a student of SUNY New Paltz studying History and minoring in Political Science. As a student of Afro-Latino descent, I believe it is essential to understand American history through the lives of those that are unrepresented. The people that have dealt with the most oppression and under-representation throughout American history have been African Americans. From being property to fighting against various inequalities in today’s modern age, black people have been through various stages of tribulations that don’t seem to end. One thing that is never really talked about in American history is the fact that slavery was prevalent in the north as well.

Usually when one thinks of slavery, the southern states tend to be synonymous with the term, but there is astonishing proof that slavery prevailed in the north up until the first couple decades into the 19th century. This record from 1810 shows that there were bounty hunters who were looking for runaway slaves in the Ulster County area, which could have very well been runaway slaves from the town of New Paltz. This letter stated that the reward for the capture of a slave was at $14 a day of travel under 60 miles and $16 a day for travel over 60 miles from home. The bounty hunter would end up getting a sum of $30 dollars, which doesn’t seem a lot in today’s standards but, was worth a lot two centuries ago. This is the document that shows the advertisement of slave capturing:

Society of Negroes Unsettled

Society of Negroes Unsettled Signatures

The investment in capturing and maintaining the enslaved also meant that the institution was very important to the development of New Paltz as it contributed to the local economy as well as provide a labor force for infrastructure. There was also a society of slave owners dedicated to keeping slaves from running away and escaping known as ‘The Society of Negroes Unsettled’. In fact, the institution of slavery itself is what allowed the town of New Paltz to be sufficient and stable as the population in the town was generally very small for the most part of the first two centuries.

Because the institution was important to the well being of the town, there was also incentive to keep things the way they always were. A main precaution that was taken from the slave owners in New Paltz was making sure that there were no uprisings of Africans, which was a pretty common fear amongst whites living in the Hudson Valley. One thing that made uprisings pretty uncommon in the north is the way the system is practiced. Unlike southern plantation owners, households rarely owned more than four Africans, which contrary to popular belief made it a more dehumanizing practice in the north than the south. This made it almost certain that families were separated following purchase. In fact, life was probably boring and lonely as slaves could not interact with slaves from other households and worked close to the slave master. Africans were integrated into the white community, with a status that is inferior and worth less than a poor white peasant. The living conditions for enslaved Africans were unbearable. Owners often kept Africans in the basement of homes or even barns. Ceilings were short and the basement was often cold, wet and dusty. The Bevier-Elting House on Huguenot Street is a prime example of what conditions were like during the 19th century. One could imagine the back problems that Africans would have developed later in life due to having been subjected to such conditions for so long. The term “slave” is an unjust one and no human being should ever have to be looked at as property. However, slavery is part of the history of New Paltz as there is documentation and evidence of this system being in place. It is imperative that the inhabitants of this town acknowledge that slavery existed and embrace the role of Africans in the development of the town of New Paltz and Ulster county area.

Members of the Slave Dwelling Project visited Historic Huguenot Street, and along with board members, staff, and SUNY New Paltz students, slept in the cellars of the Bevier-Elting House and the Abraham Hasbrouck House. The Slave Dwelling Project is a non-profit that aims to preserve extant slave dwellings by bringing people together to education, collaborate and organize resources to save these important pieces of American history. Along with this event, Historic Huguenot Street has put together an exhibit highlighting the documents and objects in the permanent collection that tell the story of Hudson Valley slavery. This document is among others like it, such as wills, estate inventories, other agreements, as well as a slave collar. Slavery in New Paltz is open to the public in the DuBois Fort until September 25. For more information about the Slave Dwelling Project, visit their website www.slavedwellingproject.org.

Sources:

Roth, Eric. “‘The Society of Negros Unsettled’: a history of slavery in New Paltz, NY.” The Free Library. Afro-Americans in New York Life and History: Buffalo, NY, 1 January 2003. Web. 7 September 2016.

Historic Huguenot Street. “The Missing Chapter: Untold Stories of the African American Presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley.” Hudson River Valley Heritage. Southeastern New York Library Resources Council: Highland, NY. Web. 7 September 2016.

On Display: Slavery in New Paltz

Slavery in New Paltz
From the HHS Permanent Collection & Archives
DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
September 9 – 25, 2016

This exhibit centers around wills and other documents dating from the late 17th century through the early 19th century from the Historic Huguenot Street Archives, as well as a late 18th century slave collar from the HHS Permanent Collection. A highlight of the display is the account book of John Hasbrouck that records his work as a freeman, as well as the wages and goods he received as payment between 1830 and 1839.

John Hasbrouck's Account Book

The first records of slave acquisition by the French Huguenot founders of New Paltz began in 1674 with the purchase of two enslaved people in Kingston. The Huguenot families who settled New Paltz are known to have enslaved Africans, as evidenced by the documents on display. Contrary to the common misconception that slavery was practiced in the U.S. only in the South, Northern states were also dependent on enslaved African labor in the 17th and 18th centuries to build their homes and communities, to work their farms, and to serve as domestic servants and skilled artisans. Slavery was practiced in what is now New York as early as 1626 by the Dutch and was perpetuated by the British through the 18th century. Even after the American Revolution, slavery was not legally abolished in New York State until 1827.

A descendant of Huguenot Street, Mary Etta Schneider, has said, “It is important to acknowledge the paradox inherent to this community’s use of enslaved African labor. My ancestors fled France for religious and political freedom. Before leaving France they saw their own families tortured, enslaved, and killed. Yet these emigrants came to the New World and, for their own personal gain, forced other human beings to labor against their will.” By exploring the narrative of Northern slavery through tours, programs, and exhibits such as this, Historic Huguenot Street hopes to reveal the true story of the street, not just from the perspective of slave owners, but from the perspective of those enslaved who also helped build our community.

E. Hardenbergh Slave Collar

Cameos: A Long History

By Meredith Salton

This week’s object is a beautiful gold ring with a tiger’s eye cameo of a man. The art of cameos are a European tradition that became popular in the American colonies. The trend has been fading in and out of history for as long as two thousand years.  A cameo is a relief image raised higher than its background and carved from one material.

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Our cameo is mysterious. While we do not know its provenance, we can make assessments based on the style. There is a Roman style man in a tiger’s eye stone, a semi-precious stone. Most times, cameos were carved into shell. Tiger’s eye is more difficult to carve into than shell, and may have taken more time and effort. While the style is Roman, this ring is likely from the 19th century.

The tradition of cameo carving has a long history in Europe. It started in Ancient Greece and Rome where they carved gods and goddess along with themes from mythology, beautiful women and biblical events. Cameos became popular again during the Renaissance. Pope Paul II was an avid cameo collector. Later, Queen Victoria also collected cameos. Cameos saw high popularity with Victorian women. In the early 19th century, many cameos of simple Roman women were created. Later, upper class women traveled Europe and collected these. The wealthy women then requested the creation of cameos that looked more like them- thinner neck, hair up, and wearing jewelry. The United States boasted fine quality cameos with Louis Comfort Tiffany’s rise during the Art Nouveau period in the early 1900’s. Though America was producing cameos, many were imported from Italy. Finer cameos were made from materials such as stone, shell, coral, Gutta-percha, bog oak, ivory, lava, or mother-of-pearl. Costume cameo jewelry was often glass or later, plastic.

Sources:

Rush, Anne Kent. “Classic Cameos and Incomparable Intaglios – Yesterday and Today.” Jules and Gem Books, 2000. Extasia. Web. 25 August 2016.

Azzarito, Amy. “Past & Present: Cameos + DIY Projects and Cocktail Recipe.” Design*Sponge, 14 September 2010. Web. 25 August 2016.

Miller, Anna M. “Cameos Old & New.” Woodstock, VE: GemStone Press, 1998. The Cameo Collection. Web. 25 August 2016.