On Display: 19th Century Oil Painting of New Paltz Patentee Descendant Deborah Bloomer DuBois

19th Century Oil Painting of
New Paltz Patentee Descendant 
Deborah Bloomer DuBois
Restored and On View at Historic Huguenot Street

Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce the restoration of a 19th-century oil on canvas portrait of Deborah Bloomer DuBois, made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and Greater Hudson Heritage Network Conservation Treatment Program. The restored painting may be viewed at the DuBois Fort Visitor Center during regular weekend hours now through December 18.

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“Yet to be attributed to a specific artist, this portrait is a charming representation of demure femininity and ably replicates the clothing, hairstyles, hand-made lace, and jewelry common in the 1830s in the Hudson Valley,” said Josephine Bloodgood, HHS Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs.

According to Bloodgood, the painting was donated to the HHS Permanent Collection in 2015 by Nathanial DuBois Clark. When the painting was first received, the name of the sitter was unknown; however, based on the paintings provenance and through genealogical research in the HHS Archives, the subject was identified as Deborah Bloomer DuBois (1800-1861), wife of Nathanial DuBois, a third great grandson of Louis DuBois (1626-1696), one of New Paltz’s original patentees. Nathanial was also the grandson of Revolutionary War Major Lewis DuBois who, around 1760, established a farm in Marlboro, New York in the southeast corner of Ulster County. While specific details about Deborah Bloomer DuBois herself are yet to be discovered, the portrait helps tell the story of how descendants of Huguenot Street migrated beyond the original New Paltz patent in search of new opportunities and eventually established homes throughout the Hudson Valley.

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Since its acquisition by HHS, the painting was cleaned, relined, and stabilized by Yost Conservation, LLC. Yost Conservation specializes in fine oil paintings from the 18th through 20th centuries, having provided services for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, as well as the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Florence Griswold Museum. Over the years, Thomas Yost and his team have conserved over 20,000 paintings from across the United States that represent all major schools of American Art.

The Conservation Treatment Program is a partnership of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network that provides support for treatment procedures by professional conservators to aid in stabilizing and preserving objects in collections of museums, historical and cultural organizations in New York State.

From the Head to the Heart: The Sentimentality of Hair Art

This week’s object is a sculpture of a floral bouquet made almost entirely out of human hair. Although we might see it as bizarre today, hair art was very popular in the 19th century. Nowadays, we view hair that is no longer on our heads with certain distaste. When we find hair of unknown origin lying around we cringe and if we were to happen upon a lock of hair carefully stored away, we would probably be filled with a feeling of creepiness and chills. Surprisingly, hair has not always been viewed in this way. In fact, it once held a very dear and lovely position in cultures around the world.

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For centuries, hair has been used as a sentimental symbol of love and devotion. The practice of exchanging a lock of hair with a loved one or a dear friend has appeared in many cultures around the world in one form or another. Hair has also been used in the mourning process. People would often cut off a piece of hair from a deceased family member and keep it as a memento. You might be wondering why hair was chosen to be used for these purposes. Hair doesn’t decay for a very long while, a few centuries at least, and it often remains looking like it did the day it was taken from its owners head for years after as well. Therefore, hair is the perfect enduring symbol for remembrance.

The practice of using hair in art dates back to as early as the 12th century. During the middle ages, people would take hair that they saved from a deceased relative or friend and weave it into pieces of jewelry such as rings and brooches so that they could always wear the token of remembrance with them. During the 19th century, however, hair art really took off.  People during the Victorian Era were very sentimental. Mourning rituals became a common practice due to the tragic deaths of soldiers during the Civil War and the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. Mourning clothing became staples of mainstream fashion and sentimental practices having to do with the commemoration of death, such as hair art, increased in popularity.

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At the same time hair art evolved into a popular pastime among middle and high class women. Women would get ideas and patterns from magazines and books to make their own creations. They created the traditional jewelry, but many also created floral wreaths and bouquets that could then be displayed in their homes. To create these floral arrangements, they would often take hair from different family members, both living and deceased, and weave them together into one art piece. This symbolized family unity and the bond that all of the members shared. They would sometimes leave room to expand the arrangement for when their family grew.

This example of hair art that we have in our collection certainly seems to be an example of a nostalgic homemade creation. It is of an unknown date, but we do know that it was owned by Mrs. John LeFevre Deyo who lived from 1823 to 1911. We do not know for sure if she created it herself, but it was displayed in her parlor, so there is a good chance that she is the artist. We also do not know if the hair used was taken from specific family members, but the care and detail present in the intricate fashioning of each flower and stem shows that this piece was clearly dear to whoever made it.

Sources:
Hudson, Rachel “On Display: A Curious Art” Historic Huguenot Street. www.hhscollections.wordpress.com. 8 October, 2014. Web.
Luke, Walter “The Lost Art of Sentimental Hairwork” www.victoriangothic.org. 4 February, 2012. Web.
Palka, Lindsey  “Victorian Hair Art and Mourning Traditions.” www.thetoast.net. 25 July 2016. Web.
“History of Hair Art.” www.leilashairmuseum.net. Accessed 17 November 2016. Web.

The Power of the Vote!

By Joseph Rochez

Through most of American history, participating in government decision through voting was limited to only a portion of the American population, which in itself is very undemocratic for a nation that prides itself on being a democracy. Before the Civil War, it was mostly property owning white males who enjoyed the privilege of voting. It was not until the end of the Civil War that African Americans were given that right to vote through the passing of the 15th Amendment. Even then, southern Democrats for the next 80 years made it difficult for people of color to vote. Southern states such as Georgia and Tennessee issued literacy tests and poll taxes to hinder basically most of the Black population from voting. These were just a few methods that were used to keep people of color from voting.  It wasn’t until the 1920s that women were given suffrage in what was known to be a progressive era in the United States.

Even with the progressive era closing some inequality among gender, African Americans and other minority groups still suffered some limitations at the voting booths which gave White people the edge when it came to voting. The Civil Rights movement in the 1950s as well as the burden of the Cold War put pressure on the federal government to act on the inequality and injustices towards African American communities that were guaranteed to them as citizens under the court of law and the constitution. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson eliminated barriers at the state and local level which made it unconstitutional to restrict voting by using literacy tests and poll taxes. At this time in history, the Democratic party has become increasingly liberal and progressive while marginalizing the conservative and racist dixiecrats (Southern Democrats). This legislation came following the violence that occurred in Selma, Alabama during a peaceful voting rights march where state troopers violently beat many of the protesters to near death.

In 2016, we see greater minority participation in local and federal elections. Although this is encouraging, voter turnout is low. Only about 53% of the general population votes in presidential elections. It’s even less for congressional elections. In a nation like Britain, voter turnout is 61%. Voting is essential to democracy. Throughout the 20th century we can see that American society makes an effort to show that it is a true democracy and urges Americans to vote. This pin in the HHS Permanent Collection is from 1952, urging Americans to vote from Chicago and was distributed by the American Legion, a wartime veteran’s organization that was formed in 1919. Promoting the vote is probably what led to an increasing amount of Americans eligible to vote to do just that. It is probably the reason why Dwight Eisenhower won on a landslide over Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952. There is a saying; ‘when you want something that badly, you go and get it’. The change you want isn’t going to happen unless you act on it.

I pledge to vote

Click here to see more 20th century campaign pins from our historic collections.

Sources:

Desilver, Drew. “U.S. Voter Turnout Trails Most Developed Countries.” Pew Research Center. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts. Web. 2 August 2016.

History.com Staff. “Voting Rights Act.” History.com. A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 1 November 2016.

The Importance of Voting.” MassVOTE. Boston: MassVOTE, 2013. Web. 1 November 2016.

Ooicu812baby. Vtg Antique Estate Very Rare 1952 I Voted Flag Pin Back Button LJ Imber Chicago.” eBay Inc. Web. 1 November 2016.

A 19th Century American Girl

By Carly Benedict

This week, our object is a doll that dates from the mid to late 19th century and belonged to Gertrude Van Order DuBois. The doll is an African American woman wearing clothing typical of the period. She is dressed in a pink blouse and floral skirt, a white apron, and a wide-brimmed brown cap. She is made entirely out of cloth and stuffed. Her head is knitted and has beads for eyes and sewn-on facial features.

Dolls have not only been a part of American culture since the country’s founding, but they’ve also been a worldwide staple for thousands of years. Humans have always been fascinated with images and the visual portrayal of their own species, so it makes sense that dolls became common in almost every culture.

The earliest dolls were made out of materials that we would find unusual today.  In ancient Egypt, dolls made out of pottery were common and in ancient Greece, dolls were made out of baked clay and wood. Amazingly, dolls in ancient Greece and Rome often had articulated limbs that could be moved around and posed. More modern dolls didn’t have moveable limbs until the 19th century! Along with clay and wood, bone, fur, and wax were also common materials.

Early dolls were used as playthings but could have other uses as well. They were often used for educational purposes or as elements in religious and magic rituals. It seems like dolls were used mainly by girls in most cultures throughout history. In ancient Greece when girls got married, they would dedicate their dolls to the local goddess as a way of marking their passage into womanhood.

Dolls continued to be made all throughout history around the world up into the 19th century. Dolls were usually made at home, but during the Industrial Revolution, they began to be mass-produced in factories. The mass-produced dolls were quite expensive due in part to being made out of porcelain, so doll making at home was still a common practice up until the early 20th century. Dolls made at home were often made out of whatever scraps of fabric were lying around at the time. They were also often crudely rendered because they were made by ordinary people who didn’t have access to the best materials.

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African American dolls have a particularly rich history in American folk art as well. Originally, cloth rag dolls were made by slaves for their children to play with. These dolls were highly prized and cherished, for slave children didn’t have many other things to play with. African American dolls were not mass-produced until after the Civil War, when their popularity in both America and Europe increased. These factory-made dolls were very far from perfect, however. The dolls were often offensive caricatures of the appearances of African Americans. Often times, porcelain doll makers would take the heads of the white dolls and merely paint them black, resulting in a bizarre looking doll with dark skin and Caucasian features. These offensive dolls promoted racism against African Americans and the appalling blackface iconography that became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The first mass-produced African American dolls with realistic facial features didn’t come out until the 1960’s. If African American children during the mid to late 19th century wanted a doll that actually looked like them, then they would have to make one at home.

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This doll in our collection is a beautiful example of a homemade cloth doll. It seems that whoever created it was meticulous in their craftsmanship and took time and care while making it. The lovely clothing and delicate rendering of the face gives the doll an appearance of being a normal every day woman which is much nicer than the highly offensive dolls being manufactured at the same time. Any child, but more importantly any African American child, would be proud to call this doll their own.

Sources:

Dolls from the Index of American Design.” National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art: Washington, DC. Web. 20 October 2016.

Interesting History of Dolls.” History of Dolls. Web. 20 October 2016.

Unkenholz, Tim. “If You Think Dolls Are Creepy Now, Just Wait Til You See Their Origins…ViralNova. Web. 20 October 2016.

“Dolls and Dollhouses.” Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.: New York. Web. 20 October 2016.

U.S. Springfield Model 1863 Type I Rifle Musket

By Joseph Rochez

This gun was primarily used in the United States Civil War by the Union to fight against Confederate armies. This rifle musket was manufactured at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Springfield Armory – now part of the National Park Service – has massive historic value, as it was used to supply firearms to the US military from 1777 until its closing in 1968. Following the American Revolution, there was a decline in military use. Henry Knox, the Secretary of State at the time, established the armory as a weapons development and storage facility due to a surplus of metal, lumber, and oil.

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The Springfield Model 1863 rifle musket was produced to fight the US Civil War. There were two variants. This gun differs from its model II as the barrel bands are sealed by screws rather than springs. The Springfield 1863 Model I was one of the first rifle-muskets to be built. Production of rifle-muskets began in 1855 and continued throughout the Civil War. Because there were more screws on the rifle rather than springs and nuts, it would have had less recoil when shot, which meant a faster shot and more accurate shot than muskets manufactured earlier in the century. Although this gun has a more accurate shot, this was still a close range type of gun, where the shooter would have to get within a 50-100 meters of their target.

The butt of the gun has a hand carving of a clover. The clover implies that the soldier who owned the gun originally was a part of the Union army 2nd Corps, the regiment of the Union army which was in service the longest and sustained the greatest casualties in the war of the 100 regiments.

The 2nd Corps was in service from 1862 to 1865 and fought in famous battles such as Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Farmville. The casualties in this regiment suffered almost 2,000 men lost in action throughout its three years in action. The soldier who owned this gun must have seen unprecedented violence on a daily basis where he might have lost a brother, cousin, or close friend. One can only wonder how personal fighting in the Civil War must have been. The casualties suffered in this war overall was staggering: in all the wars the United States have fought, the civil war was known as the bloodiest war in American history and suffered the greatest percentage of men lost on the field. This is a time in history which cannot be forgotten.

Every soldier has a story to tell such as the soldier who held this gun.

Sources:

Model 1863 Percussion Rifle-Musket Type 1.” Fine Military Americana. Horse Soldier: Gettysburg, PA. Web. September 2016.

Springfield Armory U.S. 1863.” Rock Island Auction Company. Rock Island, IL. Web. September 2016.

U.S. Springfield Model 1863 Type II Rifle Musket.” NRA Museums. The National Rifle Association of America: Fairfax, VA. Web. September 2016.

Hickok45. “1863 Springfield Civil War Rifle (Original).” Online video clip. YouTube: 21 September 2014. Web. September 2016.

Union Army 2nd Corps from Fox’s Regimental Losses Chapter VIII.” Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War. CivilWarTalk Network. 23 February 2002. Web. September 2016.

 

Meet Andrew McCord

By Carly Benedict

This week’s object is an intriguing little portrait of New York congressman Andrew McCord. Not much is known about this specific piece, but it still tells us a lot about artistic practices and tastes in the early years of America’s history. It’s also extremely interesting too look at and study visually as well!

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What we do know is that this portrait was created using etched gold leaf under glass with a black paper board as the background. We also know who made this piece, as the name A.B. Doolittle is signed on a bottom border. McCord’s name is written under the portrait and next to it is written the year 1778. This is most likely not the year in which the portrait was made, seeing as Doolittle was active in his craft during the early 1800’s. More likely, this year is referencing a time in which McCord was active in his career, or perhaps this portrait is based off of another portrait created that year.

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Andrew McCord is not very well known today, but he was very active in the New York government during the American Revolution and in the years after as well. He was a local man, born in the area that is now Stony Ford in the Wallkill Township of Orange County, New York. In 1775 he was a delegate to a convention in New Paltz that was held to choose men from the area to serve as delegates to the Second Provincial Congress of New York. During the Revolution, many colonies set up their own provincial congresses as a pro-American alternative to the more loyalist assemblies. New York’s first congress was assembled in April of 1775 and the second was assembled in December of the same year. In addition to helping decide who would represent the local area at the second congress, McCord also served as Quarterman, later Captain, of the Ulster County militia. He served many years in the state assembly after the Revolution and even served as speaker in 1807. His greatest achievement, however, was being elected as a Republican representative to the eighth United States congress from 1803 to 1805.

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The portrait was made by A.B. Doolittle, who worked primarily in New Haven, Connecticut. It seems a little odd that a Connecticut artist would want to make a portrait of a New York politician, but not much is known about Doolittle himself, so his true intentions for this piece are unknown. From the little records that are available on Doolittle, we do know that first worked as a maker of profile portraits in Philadelphia in 1804 and later moved his shop to New Haven. He was known for being a miniaturist, profilist, engraver, etcher on glass, and jeweler. He may have been related in some way to Amos Doolittle, a successful engraver and metalsmith who also worked in New Haven, but we don’t know for certain.

A.B. Doolittle’s work in profile portraiture, etching, and engraving was very congruent with the artistic style and tastes at the time. In the early 1800’s, Americans were still feeling the effects of the Age of Enlightenment that occurred in the 1700’s. The Enlightenment was a time of rational thought, logic, structure, and natural science. Many thinkers of the Enlightenment were inspired by the philosophical, political, and artistic ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as they too followed order and logic that the thinkers so desired.

Profile portraiture became popular during this time and continued being used during the early 1800’s because it reflected these principals. The profile emulates a sense of austereness and restraint. It is a visual representation that is certainly rational and easy to understand. It isn’t overshadowed by superfluous artistic decoration. Profile portraits were also often used on the coinage of ancient Greece and Rome, which might be another reason why artists during the Enlightenment favored this form. This profile portrait of Andrew McCord certainly depicts him as being a composed and stoic politician, which was the most favored depiction during this time.

The materials and process that A.B. Doolittle used to create this portrait are an interesting departure from the typical painted portraits of the same time. Gilding and etching in gold leaf on glass is a precarious endeavor, but Doolittle seemed to have done this type of work a lot, becoming quite skilled. First the extremely delicate gold leaf must be carefully adhered to the class using a mixture of gelatin dissolved in water. When dry, the design can be etched into the gold leaf in reverse. Sometimes a background is put behind the gold leaf to protect and make it easier to see on the other side of the glass when it is displayed. Doolittle worked with a small piece of gold leaf-less than 5 inches by 3.5 inches-and expertly etched the extremely fine details of McCord’s hair, face, and clothing to create the portrait. What we’re left with is a tiny yet striking and effective portrait of the politician. The shimmery gold contrasts drastically with the black background, creating an effervescent image that resonates in the eyes of the viewer.

This fascinating portrait is small and enigmatic, yet it allows us to infer a lot of information about the subject, the artist’s possible intentions, and how it fits into the artistic culture of early 1800’s America. It also makes a large visual impact despite its small stature. It is a fitting symbol of McCord’s legacy that also reflects the enlightenment ideals that shaped the governmental and social sphere in which he lived and worked

Sources:

A.B. Doolittle (XIX).” Artprice.com. Groupe serveur. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Avery, Kevin J. “Late Eighteenth-Century American Drawings.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

McCord, Andrew, (ca. 1754-1808).” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. History, Art & Archives. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Techniques in Glass Gilding.” Goldreverre. Australia: Goldreverre. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Woven History

Hello!  My name is Carly and I am one of the curatorial interns at Historic Huguenot Street for the Fall 2016 semester. My first object of the week is about this woven coverlet in our collection. This coverlet was owned by Ida DuBois Brink, a descendant of the DuBois family, one of the founding families of Huguenot Street. The exact date of creation is unknown, but it can be said with certainty that it was made before Ida DuBois Brink married Egbert Brink in 1844. It was graciously donated to us by Audrey Coons Foster, the great, great granddaughter of Ida DuBois Brink.

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Woven coverlets, such as this one were used to decorate and cover the tops of beds, but they were much more than just a mere household adornment. The creation of coverlets was a crafting tradition that began in the earliest days of the American colonies and continued through the 19th century. The woven textiles were not easy to produce. Their patterns were created by weaving fiber (mostly cotton and wool), row by row, on a large loom. Therefore, woven coverlets were a symbol of craftsmanship and skill for the creator, wealth for the owner who could afford to commission one. In addition to these aspects, they also served as a mode of documentation. They often included patterns and motifs that give us clues as to what the values of the patron were, which in turn gives us clues of the historical context. Woven coverlets often included an inscription on the border that included the name of who the coverlet was made for and the place in which it was made.

Mrs. DuBois Brink’s coverlet is a beautiful example of a figured and fancy, or jacquard coverlet. Woven coverlets were originally made into linear geometric patterns that could easily be made using the cumbersome loom. However, with the invention of a new loom attachment that made more complex patterns possible, the fancy and figured style was born. In this style, the patterns are curvilinear and more realistic, and include various different motifs such as floral, animal, and architectural. Although the production of these coverlets was made easier by the new technology, the process was still complicated. Therefore, most figured and fancy coverlets were produced by professional weavers, the majority of whom were male immigrants who trained their craft overseas in countries such as England and Ireland.

This coverlet has many interesting details that tell us a little about who the patroness was and what the time period in which she lived was like. One of the first striking things about the object is its color. It is a deep, rich red contrasted with cream stitching that makes up its patterning. In New York, formal and stately designs using blue and white and red and white were common for this type of coverlet. These colors, our national colors, must have something to do with how people viewed America and their relationship to it. During this this time in American history, the a free country and the revolution were still fresh and present in people’s minds. Americans were proud of their heritage and the bravery of their forefathers. This manifested itself in the production and display of any and all works of art and household decorations that had to do with patriotism and our nation’s history. Perhaps Ida DuBois Brink chose this color for her coverlet to show off her own patriotism.

Following with this idea, the coverlet also includes another similar motif. Repeatedly woven throughout the textile is the federal eagle, the official seal of the United States. Underneath the eagle, one of the nation’s mottos, “E pluribus unum,” is woven. This Latin phrase roughly translates to “Out of many, one” and, along with the eagle, evokes patriotism and harkens back to the Revolutionary days, when the people of the colonies banded together to create one nation.

Another motif found in the coverlet, the strawberry motif, diverts from this nationalistic theme and tells us more about Ida DuBois Brink herself. The strawberry has been used for hundreds of years in many different religions and cultures to symbolize different things. It can symbolize spring and rebirth, righteousness and love, and passion and purity among many other things. We cannot say for sure which of these things she wanted express by having them included in her coverlet, but we can assume with some certainty that she did want to express something about herself and show herself in a positive light to all who viewed this object.

Probably the most telling part of this woven coverlet is the inscription on its border. The inscription reads “ULSTER COUNTY. N-Y. IDA DUBOIS. LIBERTY-VILLE”. Right away, this tells us two things: who the coverlet was made for and where it was made. It was made, of course, for Ida DuBois, but more importantly, since it just includes her maiden name, it was probably made before 1844 when she married Egbert Nelson Brink, allowing us to roughly date it by the inscription as well. The fact that it was made in Ulster County in Libertyville tells us a lot as well.  Libertyville is a small hamlet in the Town of New Paltz, not far from Historic Huguenot Street. It originally was a farming community, and the DuBois family was one of the main farming families. Therefore, Ida DuBois Brink had some familial connection to Libertyville as well. In this hamlet ran the Libertyville Woolen Mill, which specialized in fancy coverlet weaving. Therefore, that was probably the location where this coverlet was made. Also, interestingly, the mill was run by both the Lowe family and the DuBois family, making an even deeper personal connection between the client and her coverlet.

This stunning coverlet is a treasured addition to our collection and an excellent example of the American tradition of woven coverlets. It demonstrates how these pieces were much more than just bed covers. They were examples of the highest level of craftsmanship. They were personal and customized objects that showed off the values and beliefs of the owner and were representative of times as well. They were truly objects of pride and the centerpieces of many American households. So next time you happen upon one of these coverlets, don’t dismiss it as just a nice decoration. Take a closer look and unlock a treasure trove of history!

Sources

“What is a Coverlet.” The National Museum of the American Coverlet. The National Museum of the American Coverlet website. The National Museum of the American Coverlet. Bedford, PA. Web. 8 September 2016.

“What do Strawberries Symbolize.” Reference.com. Web. 8 September 2016.

“Woven Coverlets Tell Story of Past.” The History Center. Tompkins County, NY. Web. 8 September 2016.

“Town of New Paltz Hamlet Histories: Libertyville.” Historic Preservation Commission. New Paltz, NY. Web. 8 September 2016.

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