New Paltz and the Dance Fan

 

 

hand fan image 3

Here is a hand fan showing all the signatures from various men that signed during the dances. Some of the repeat names are interesting in that it shows a probably acquaintance or friendship with our mystery woman.

The hand fan seen above dates back to around 1901/1902, based on the dates inscribed in pen and pencil beside the names. It is made of wooden sticks stacked on top of each other and fastened with a metal rod, loose enough so that they can fan out and spread out the papery material attached to the wooden sticks—which look like longer, thinner popsicle sticks but are probably much more classy. On each “web” and stick of the fan are written names on the paper of various men who attended Village Hall dances in 1901 and 1902. Some names are written on the wooden sticks above the paper. On the rounded edge of the fan, it says: “Dances held at the Village Hall, given by the social club of New Paltz.”

While the fan originally came from New Paltz, it somehow found it’s way to Wooster, Ohio. It was then donated back to Historic Huguenot Street by Cecil Leslie in 2010, who found it in his possession (Graham). Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the woman who owned this fan, bScreen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.49.07 AMut the names that adorn it are more than ordinary. Some of the wealthiest, most famous names of historic New Paltz are written here; the last names Hasbrouck, Deyo, Lefevre, and Elting, among others, are a marker of this fan’s importance and its role in history.

 

 

 

hand fan image 1.jpg

When our unnamed woman entered the Village Hall of New Paltz in 1901, she would have brought with her this fan. The building into which she entered, now the Goodwill Church, formerly Barnaby’s Steakhouse, acted as a meeting place for New Paltz’s society in the early 1900’s.

The building itself is a physical manifestation of the history of New Paltz; one can see just by the various manifestations of its space all the evolution of New Paltz that has happened over the last 116 years. Yet what it interesting about this object is not the building that it is tied to, but the essences of the people who touched it that it preserves.

This hand fan was used by a nameless woman from 1901-1902. Over a hundred years old, we will probably never know the name of the woman that carried it. What we do know, however, is that this fan was used to mediate a courtship dancing ritual. To make sure every women who attended these dance parties at the Village Hall had a partner, they would use these fans. The woman would allow the man to inscribe his name on the fan, plus the type of dance, and sometimes the date they danced. When asked to dance, if she wanted to accept she touched the fan to her right cheek. One can imagine in these rituals (where just a simple “yes, thank you” would do) a kind of elaborately Pride-and-Prejudice-esque ball (the 2005 version).  

Unfortunately, our Elizabeth is lost to us forever. What we do have is our Darcys—though perhaps some of them were Mr. Collinses. Among the names on the fan are some of New Paltz’s famous gentlemen: Walter, Morris, and Bruyn Hasbrouck, A.P. Lefevre, Victor Deyo, Mr. Eltin, Phillip Dubois, and Pierre Deyo. These names populate the streets and buildings of New Paltz, our version here of royalty. Among these is Easton von Wagernen, who would not be quite old enough at this time to have served, but whose father by the same name served in the Civil War for the Union. Many of these names appear multiple times, indicating a close relationship with some of these men, a family connection, or perhaps even indicating that our woman had a stalker or two. The exact connections are hard—perhaps impossible—to parse out; the probability that the fan belongs to one of their wives is high.

It is ironic at best, indicative of women’s lives at worse, that the artifact of a woman survives, yet she continues on in memory nameless. What survives are the man that led her around the ballroom. She held this fan throughout 49 dances, but we know nothing about her except that she liked to dance.

We do know, however, that this is not an isolated object; this particular fan comes from a long tradition, dating back to Egypt, 4,Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 1.00.27 AM000 years ago (“A Brief History”). Hand fans have been used for many different purposes, a sort of multi-use tool for women across ages and cultures. It seems to be one of the most ubiquitous female objects in the world, and yet I’m sure even the innate feminine quality of the fan could be questioned, made more complex.

The origin of the fan is Eastern, becoming a European trade good around the sixteenth century (“A Brief History”). Of course, because of the exotic nature of the object, the fan was considered a marker of class status, as well as monetary wealth. As many “exotic” objects were, the fan was appropriated into the European lifestyle. However, it became so common throughout history that there are only faint signs in today’s culture that point back to its origins, the movie Mulan being one of them. Dance fans in particular came with a hook that attached to the woman’s dress and also was able to hold a pencil, so that the man had everything he needed to sign and dance: the woman, the fan, and the pencil (“A Brief History”).

This particular fan is somewhat a mystery to us, and will always be that way. It is unlikely anyone will be able to figure out who which woman the fan belonged to without major detective work. But we do know some other, maybe just as important things. One, that New Paltz in the early 1900s was very fashionable. Given that fans were generally a sign of status and money. We know for sure that these dances were fashionable; the remnants of the families who attended still linger in New Paltz today on street signs and building names. This object, above us, is a reminder that even in 1901, people in New Paltz were still having fun and dancing. Perhaps it is a reminder to us that we should never stop dancing, or forget how to.

 

Works Cited

Graham, Katie. “Dancing Queen.” Object of the Week. Historic Huguenot Street, 6 Aug. 2014, https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/dancing-queen/. Accessed 15 May 2017.

“Online History – A Brief History of the Hand Fan.” Purdue University, https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~salvo/@SEA/exhibit/history.asp#nogo. Accessed 15 May 2017.

A History of Sorority Objects

My final blog post for this semester is about my favorite part of SUNY New Paltz: my sorority, Alpha Kappa Phi.  Whether we realize it or not, objects are a huge aspect of who we are and how we represent ourselves to others.  Through objects, my sorority has developed its own, unique identity and has been able to pass down traditions for generations.  In examining a handful of sorority objects, I hope to reveal our history and some of our most important traditions, both the old and the new.

The Spoon Pin

I’ll begin with the blog post that started it all: the spoon pin. When I officially became a member of Alpha Kappa Phi in the Fall of 2015, I went to Florida for Winter break.  There, my grandmother approached me with this pin. She told me it was her sister pin while she was an active sister (meaning while she was in the sorority at New Paltz).  It’s shaped like a spoon, is approximately one inch tall, and has our sorority crest at the top of the handle.  On the back is the needle used to pin the spoon onto whatever clothing a sister is wearing.  The pin is something you receive upon becoming an official member of a Greek organization.  When I became a member of Alpha Kappa Phi, I received my own sister pin: simply the Greek letters ΑΚΦ small and in gold.  I was so proud to hold it, to have my first true letters. The pin, to me, represents that I am part of something bigger than myself. The spoon pin also represents something similar; you are truly a part of the organization. However, when I asked my grandmother why it was in the shape of a spoon, she told me it was to represent hospitality.  Apparently, sororities used their houses to help those who may have needed a place to stay. They were to always be charitable and to give back to the community.

Sister Pin

Spoon Pin with Crest

What I found through my original blog post is how traditions both change and remain the same over time. While we don’t use the spoon pin anymore, we still believe in community service and charity. Any time Relay for Life or some other charitable organization comes to the area, we are there to support the cause, and we are always raising money for our philanthropies.  While the physical object may have changed, its meaning has not.

 

Link to original blog post: https://npobjects.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/not-a-spoon-you-eat-with/

Tikis

Tiki

Standard tiki for ΑΚΦ

The objects you see here are called tikis.  A tiki for a Greek organization is usually a wooden block of letters on a long string that you can wear as a necklace. Alpha Kappa Phi has four sorority colors, navy blue, robin’s egg blue, white, and gold, and our symbol is the anchor. The style of tiki we use incorporates all of these representations, depicted in the image on the left.  The tiki below belongs to a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, and it looks quite different from Alpha Kappa Phi’s tiki. It is black in the shape of a rectangle, with the Greek letters ΤΚΕ going vertically downwards.  On the top of the tiki are the Greek letters ΒΑ, and the bottom displays the number 283.  The whole tiki is wood and is custom for the person who owns it.

TKE tiki

ΤΚΕ Tiki

Functionally, the tiki is very convenient. For us, whenever we are partaking in some event, we are required to show up in letters to represent the organization.  If you forget to wear a lettered T-shirt that day (it happens), having a tiki in your bag is a really easy way to just put on letters for the moment. They essentially just serve as another form of letters.  The ΤΚΕ tiki on the right also can serve as letters, however each tiki is unique to each person.  For this one, the letters ΒΑ stand for “Beta Alpha,” which is this person’s pledge class.  A pledge class is a group of people who work together while in the process of becoming a new member.  His pledge class or group is called the Beta Alpha class.  Someone in a different pledge class would not and could not have BA on his tiki. The number 283 means that he was the 283rd brother to be initiated into Tau Kappa Epsilon’s chapter at New Paltz, the Sigma Nu chapter.  Each part of the tiki represents varying levels of the organization, from the individual all the way to the organization as a whole. This one object connects him to all of these varying levels. Our tiki is slightly less elaborate, however what both tikis do is connect the individual to the organization.

A Mug

This is a mug. More specifically, it’s a sorority beer mug.  That crest on there is our crest. The words printed on it say “Alpha Kappa Phi,” “State University of New York, New Paltz,” “Julie” (my grandmother’s name) and “1954.”  There’s no denying that this beer mug is associated with New Paltz and Alpha Kappa Phi.  Underneath the mug “Nassau China Trenton NJ” is inscribed into the material, perhaps the locations it was made.

As my grandmother showed me this mug, she told me that she, her sisters and other members of Greek Life would go to the bars after classes with their mugs and use them instead of the glasses at the bars. At first I didn’t think much of this story, until later when I realized that an activity like that would never be permissible now.  Ever since I’ve become a member of this organization, alumnae have drilled into me this message: “We are a sorority but we are also a business.” We always strive to maintain professionalism, and that means absolutely NO drinking in any attire that has letters. If I did something illegal or silly with having “Alpha Kappa Phi” all over my shirt, the organization will look bad and unprofessional.  However, clearly this issue didn’t occur to my grandmother or any of the other active sisters in the 1950s. It’s interesting to see how attitudes about professionalism and drinking have changed throughout the past sixty or so years.

Our Song Book

The object here is my grandmother’s song book, one of the original books.  It’s light blue, our color, and the text says, “Alpha Kappa Phi presents Agonian Melodies.” It also has a large anchor (our symbol) with a rose in the center (our flower) along with our Greek letters.

Song Book 2

The song book represents something unique about Alpha Kappa Phi: we are a serenading sorority.  Traditionally, Alpha Kappa Phi would meet up with other organizations and sing to them. I believe that other organizations, including fraternities, would do the same.  We have a position called the Song Leader and her job is to lead the women in the songs as well as to create harmonies.  When my grandmother was active, the Song Leader and the sorority would create whole new songs, usually to preexisting tunes (for example, one song is sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”). While we don’t always sing every single song anymore, it is still a requirement for all new sisters to learn some of the songs, particularly the important ones.  Some of the lyrics and melodies have changed over the years as well, but these songs have been passed down for at least 80 years.  This is my absolute favorite part of my sorority; I have never seen another organization do something like this, and this is what I think sets us apart from some other organizations.

A Banner

BannerThis banner is one that we often use for tabling events, such as Meet the Greeks or the club and involvement fair.  It’s approximately six feet tall and made of felt with some lace trims.  It features our Greek letters and our full sorority name along with our founding year and a detailed crest. Not visible in the photo are the words “Alpha Kappa Phi” directly above our Greek letters.

There are groupings of names beginning with a heading painted all over the banner, the first one on the left side being the 65th Treasure along with six names.  These names and headings are the reason I chose to use this object.  A “treasure” is analogous to what other organizations call “new member classes” or “pledge classes,” which I briefly explained in the paragraph on tikis. We call them “treasures” because we consider each group of new members a treasure to the organization (cheesy, maybe, but after seeing three treasures cross in my time at New Paltz I must wholeheartedly agree that each group has been a treasure to us). What I think this banner represents about us is not just the fact that it uses all of our colors and depicts our crest so perfectly, but that it also demonstrates a piece of our history that other objects perhaps don’t.  The names on the banner represent the people who not only made this object but also made this organization. A sorority can’t function without people.  Every single person who spent their college years in Alpha Kappa Phi has contributed to who we are now.  We do our best to represent ourselves through objects, but by far the best way to do so is through the amazing individuals who are my sisters.

Letters

T ShirtThe last set of objects I’m using for this project are one of the best parts of being in any Greek organization: custom letters.  The picture on the left is a t-shirt all of us active sisters recently purchased. It’s a simple, black t-shirt with “Alpha Kappa Phi” printed in glitter-gold.  Underneath that is a picture of New York State, also in glitter-gold.  The New York State picture not only looks cute stylistically but also represents our unique tie to New York since we are only located here.

The set of pictures above are of the sorority jacket.  The color is always navy blue and the back always has 6-inch Greek letters ΑΚΦ in gold with “Agonian Sorority Inc.” written in script beneath them.  The left sleeve always says “Κ chapter” (“Kappa chapter”).  The right sleeve always has the sister’s treasure and semester crossed and the front always has her pledge name written in script.  A pledge name is the name you recieve from your big sister, chosen because the meaning represents you in some way.

The jacket is important and traditional in that every sister, including almost all of the alumnae who attended New Paltz after 1996, has this jacket custom-made for her.  While owning the jacket isn’t a requirement for membership, it is simply a tradition – albeit a new one – that unifies us.  The t-shirt is not tradition but still serves a similar purpose. We recently decided to all buy the same shirt to wear to community service events, in black because it doesn’t show dirt.  All of us active sisters currently have this shirt, and it is one more thing to bind us all together for something we all care about: giving back to the community.  I don’t expect this shirt to become akin to the jacket in terms of traditions.  However, both of them unify each of us to the bigger picture.

 


 

To wrap up this long blog post, I want to end with this concept of tradition.  What has become clear to me through examining all of these objects is that each of them at one point were representative of a tradition in Alpha Kappa Phi.  Each object was replicated and passed down to the next generation of sisters, and through these objects the organization became more and more defined.  But as objects have changed over the years, so have traditions. My grandmother and other alumnae who graduated before the 1970s have no idea what a “treasure” is; that title for a pledge class was created in the 1980s and 1990s.  My sister pin looks much different from the 1950s sister pin.  However, they both have the same meaning; I can wear either interchangeably, and both still represent my relationship to the sorority.  What I have found, then, is that just because an aspect of a tradition changes, or even a tradition dies out entirely, that doesn’t mean that the organization as a whole changes. Each Greek organization has a core “essence” about it that makes it unique.  These objects that I’ve examined closely are all attempts at representing the essence of Alpha Kappa Phi, and as long as we still have members, that will never change.

Composite 2

Alpha Kappa Phi, 1954 composite. Grandma Julie is circled in light blue.

Chaos + Clutter + Change = Beauty: A Study of the Artist’s Creative Space


An artist’s creative space informs their process greatly. (Here, “artist” refers to anyone who works in visual, literary, culinary, or performing arts, or any similar expressive craft.) Michel de Montaigne, the highly influential French essayist, provided an example of this in action. Montaigne had quotes from classical writers and philosophers, as well as from the Bible, painted onto wooden beams in his library’s ceiling, so that when he needed inspiration, all he had to do was observe the room around him (see A. A. Balkema’s Les Inscriptions dans la bibliothèque de Montaigne).

This final project for The Materials of History, Thought, and Art presents a collection of the creative spaces of students and one professor at SUNY New Paltz. They were asked to describe and reflect on their spaces and their creative processes within their spaces. In each artist’s section of this project, their space is represented in two ways: as a collage and through a collection of photographs. The collages, made up of keywords from the artists’ interviews, convey how they perceive and experience working in their own spaces. The photographs of their spaces are unedited and unpolished, the intention being to reflect how creativity is rarely neat and clean, as well as to emphasize that disorder (present in some form in the majority of these spaces) is valuable. In this same vein, Balkema describes Montaigne’s space as ever-changing: from time to time Montaigne had quotes switched out for others—all part of the constant but messy evolution of the artist’s space that, in the end, benefits their creative process (Balkema 8).


William Rodriguez
Sculptorwill-wordart.jpg

Will’s studio space in the Fine Arts Building


Leighann Martone
Jeweler/PainterLeighann

Leighann’s workspace in her house


Nancy Saklad
Actor/ProfessorNancyIMG_4136IMG_4137
IMG_4138

Professor Saklad’s preferred studio in Parker Theatre, Parker 103


Rachel Rienecker
Costume DesignerRachelIMG_4139IMG_4140IMG_4141

The costume shop in Parker Theatre serves as Rachel’s creative space


Jessica Schrüfer
PainterJessica.jpg

The half of Jessica’s living room dedicated to art


Yoshi Abe
Theater DesignerYoshiIMG_4143.JPGIMG_4144

Together, the paint and scene shops in College Theatre make up Yoshi’s creative space


Jennilee Vasquez
Graphic ArtistJennileeIMG_4147

Jennilee’s dorm room


Bea Vera
Painter
Bea

IMG_4151IMG_4152IMG_4153

Bea’s painting studio in the Smiley Art Building

Revenge of Analog Assignment

For my analog experience, I decided to do a one-week experiment: a friend would function as my personal alarm clock. I chose one of my staff members and friend, Jennifer, to wake me up every day at 8:30am by knocking on my door. Jenn was the perfect candidate because she had 9:30 classes every day and would wake up at 8:15 to get ready and grab breakfast before class. I figured she would not mind manually waking me up since we live in the same residence hall. At first, I thought the experiment would go smoothly because as someone who suffers from chronic insomnia I assumed that I would have no trouble waking up at all.

With this experience, I wanted to continue my tradition of writing about alarm clocks and see where it would take me, and how it would change my perception of time. The first 2-3 days of the experiment was almost comical. On the first day, when Jenn knocked on my door I woke up and looked at the time on my phone and immediately decided to fall back asleep because I assumed it was a resident knocking on my door. I am a resident assistant in my hall so I always have residents knocking on my door. Some days I ignore them because I either get lazy or too tired. You can imagine my surprise when after an hour of sleep, I woke up in complete horror because I had completely failed my experiment on the first day. Not only was I disappointed but I was also shocked. I had realized that my self-reliance and self-confidence about being a morning person was completely based on the fact that my phone was my savior. Even though I still have the alarm clock my father gave me years ago, using my phone as an alarm clock had become instinctual because hitting the snooze button did not require me to leave my bed. Essentially, my phone had turned me into a completely lazy and dependent person.

The following days were much better, and to my surprise quite fun. Once Jenn knocked on my door, I would wake up and open the door to let her know that I was awake. Because I was forced to leave my bed to answer the door, I lost interest in using my phone and instead got my day started right away. In those days, I had an epiphany of sorts. I had come to realize that because I did not spend a lot of time on my phone right after waking up, my days started much earlier and felt more productive. I felt a boost in confidence because I would get work done and still have enough time to grab breakfast and go to class feeling prepared. What was meant to be an experiment had now turned into a life changing experience. While I have always known that our perception of time is partly psychological, I never really understood or appreciated this fact until after I finished this experiment. The saying “time flies” became a myth during this experiment because time did not seem to fly, time felt stable and under my control. This was a completely new experience because after three years of being in college, time always seemed to be against me. Assignments and deadlines would always seem to creep up on me and everything felt out of my control. This assignment made me realize that time is what we make of it and how we decide to use it has the ability to change how we go about our days and ultimately make us reassess our priorities.

A Study in Scarlet: Historic Huguenot Project

 

 

 

Caption

The object I chose to research and analyze for our Historic Huguenot project is a quilt made by Sarah M Lefevre (11/12/1825 – 3/4/1902). Sarah was married to Joseph Hasbrouck, a notable figure of the time in New Paltz. Both decorative and functional, the quilt can be seen as both a piece of art and a bed covering.  

Object Description

Object description: The quilt has a simple and cohesive pattern, laid out horizontally and vertically, consisting of a white background with pink and green design. There are feathered stars alternating with diagonally crossing oak leaf pieces making up the pattern that spans the entirety of the quilt. In the center of each feathered star there is also an additional 6-pointed star applique. The quilt’s backing is is made of white muslin, white seams, and a cotton backing. The quilt’s front is made of cotton; pink, green, and beige. The border surrounding the quilt is single, with butted corners. On the very end of the front “Sarah M Lefevre 1847” is appliqued in pink. All hand sewn and stitched.

The Fascinating History of Turkey Red

After looking into the unique history of quilting, and how the art played an important role in the lives of 19th Century people, I grew interested in the industries surrounding quilting and textiles, specifically regarding how different textiles were valued and used over others. I researched further into Sarah’s quilt and discovered that many of the colors she used were actually considered very popular at the time, specifically the greens. I also discovered that the pink fabrics she used were at one time originally red, specifically “turkey reds”, and were part of a very complex system of old/new world economics.

“Turkey red” was a very distinguished and vibrant color of red that was very popular in Britain during the 18th and 19th Centuries. The color was used in many different textiles to add vibrancy and opulence to designs, and proliferated quickly through the textile industry, especially in Scotland. Popularized originally as a color-fast red dye that could withstand frequent washing and sunlight, Turkey Red was a long-standing ambition of dyers in eighteenth-century Britain. Coined “Turkey Red” because it originated from the Levant region of the Middle East (the Red Sea). The color’s original dying process, which was time-consuming and expensive, was based on the extraction of alizarin from the madder root, which was then fixed to fiber using oil and alum, as well as a number of other ingredients such as sheep excrement, bull blood, and urine. Because of its high-quality, in conjunction with its arduous and time-consuming processing, the color became extremely valuable and sought after, and subsequently caused a competitive and aggressive industry to emerge, all surrounding one simple shade of red(Tuckett, Nenadic, 2017).

According to the National Museum of Scotland, from their exhibition “Turkey Red: A Study in Scarlet”, The Turkey red dyeing and printing industry in Scotland was concentrated in the Vale of Leven, Dunbartonshire, and was brought to Scotland in 1785 by a Frenchman named Pierre Jacques Papillon(Tuckett, Nenadic, 2017).   Papillon was hired by David Dale and George Macintosh, both prominent businessmen of Glasgow, and worked together with other manufacturers who saw the potential profitability of Turkey red. The color soon popularized, and a was printed for fabrics made for clothing and furnishings and, unlike tartan, another textile which was popular among Scots, many of the Turkey red fabrics were intended for foreign markets such as India, China, the West Indies, and North America. The Scottish firms at the forefront of the industry went to great lengths in ensuring their designs would be catered to foreign markets. They wrote regularly to agents in different countries and stuck to designs they knew were popular. For example, the “Peacock” was a pattern or motif made of Turkey Red which was popular throughout the nineteenth century and was often produced for saris and shawls for the Indian market(Tuckett, Nenadic, 2017).

As markets became more and more competitive, synthetic versions of Turkey Red began emerging to keep up with high demand; and all for lower prices. However, instead of remaining bright and vibrant over time as the Turkey Red was widely known for, these synthetic versions would turn a brown/pink color as they would age. This brown/pink is what we can see in the Sarah Lefevre Quilt, and delineates the demand and prestige of Turkey Red in the 19thy Century, as a sign of wealth and indulgence. Even though at that time, many of the people who must have seen Sarah’s quilt must have thought the Turkey Red was real. But now that some time has past, and the color has faded, we can tell now that it was fake.

Date of Creation Narrative

Tying the quilt back into the story of New Paltz, it’s fitting to understand its creator, Sarah Lefevre, in a wider context. Sarah was born on November 12th 1825 and died March 4th 1902 at 76 years old of heart failure (Hasbrouck, 2012). Sarah was married to Joseph Hasbrouck, a superintendent and Elder in the New Paltz community, making them very wealthy. They had 4 children, Henrietta, Ann, Elizabeth, and one unnamed who died at birth. Sarah and her husband Joseph were landowners west of Walden, Orange County, and played an influential role in their community. After her husband died in 1895, Sarah moved in with her son Philip Hasbrouck, where she lived until her death.

It can thus be inferred that because of their wealth and status, the Sarah Lefevre must have had a lot of time on her hands. Because quilting was a large and emerging leisurely activity, it must have been something she practiced. With textiles imported to three major commercial centers in America, mainly New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, it is possible that Sarah Lefevre would most likely have come into contact with her Turkey Red from one of these areas, and included them in her quilting designs. As imports from the Old World grew steadily over the course of the 17th and 18th Centuries, the distribution of textiles in New England became increasingly spread out. Even more so, during the 19th Century, the “mechanization” of manufacturing made textile prices deflate, and subsequently more readily accessible and cheaper in America (Shammas, 1994). Sarah Lefevre must have used this to her advantage, and purchased her textiles to use for quilting during deflation. During this time, quilting also became a leisurely activity, growing as a common household hobby for women (Jirousek, 1995). Rather than simply making quilts for pure function, women would make them for fun, and typically incorporate personal touches like their names and dates onto their pieces. This is evident with Sarah’s quilt, which can thus be seen as a hobby piece or something of leisure.

Course Connection

Relating back to our class and much of what I have written about thus far regarding my own textiles and Oxford shirts; image, prestige, and ostentation played a large role in the popularization and proliferation of Turkey Red. As I have written previously about my own predilections to well known brands and quality textiles, Turkey Red found itself in the hands of many people because of its reputation, rarity, and prestige. Sarah Lefevre and other wealthy women of her time must have known this, and incorporated it into their quilting patterns. I find it interesting to think about how Sarah was not immune to our seemingly 21st Century craze of branded goods, elucidating a connecting between our time and hers.

 

References

Yule, Graeme. “Turkey Red: A Study in Scarlet” National Museum. Edinburgh, Scotland. June 11, 2017. Retrieved from http://blog.nms.ac.uk/2012/06/22/turkey-red-a-study-in-scarlet/

Tuckett, Sally. Nenadic, Stana. “Colouring the Nation: ‘Turkey Red’ and Other Decorative Textiles in Scotland’s Culture and Global Impact, 1800 to Present”. National Museum. Edinburgh, Scotland. 2017. Retrieved from  https://colouringthenation.wordpress.com/

Tuckett, Sally. Nenadic, Stana. “Turkey Red and the Vale of Leven” National Museum. Edinburgh, Scotland. 2017. Retrieved from https://colouringthenation.wordpress.com/turkey-red-in-scotland/

Jirousek, Charlotte. “Art, Design, and Visual Thinking: Textile Materials and Technologies.” Cornell University TXA. 1995. Retrieved from http://char.txa.cornell.edu/ppeamericatex.htm

Shammas, Carole. “The Decline of Textile Prices in England and British America Prior to Industrialization.” The Economic History Review, vol. 47, no. 3, 1994, pp. 483–507.  Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/2597590

Hasbrouck, Donna. Find a Grave Memorial Obituaries: Sarah Maria Lefevre Hasbrouck. April, 27th 2012. www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=89207489

 

Learning about Where I Do My Learning

Object Description

My object is van den Berg Hall.  As a business major, most of my classes are in this building, as it is the current home to the School of Business.  The van den Berg Learning Center is located in the northwestern corner of the SUNY New Paltz campus.  It shares a border with Plattekill Ave. and is directly adjacent to Hasbrouck Park.  The exterior of the building is made largely of brick, along with a metal roof to prevent fire damage (more on that later).  The building itself has a vast area of 67,700 square feet.  While ground was originally broken for the building in 1930, multiple renovations have been made to the building.  Most intensively, these include the replacement of the original clock tower and large technological infusion that occurred in the mid-2000s.

Van_den_Berg_Hall_-_SUNY_New_Paltz

A photo of the front of van den Berg Hall – the home of the School of Business

Vandenberg_2_930x470_72dpi

The contracting company’s photo of new van den Berg classrooms, there is a projector that can be turned on and off remotely or at the touch of a button.

Historical Context

The current home of the School of Business, van den Berg Hall, is the second oldest building on campus, only behind Old Main (1909). As many would know, the educational institution now known as SUNY New Paltz was founded in 1828. At the time, it existed as the New Paltz Charter School. In 1933, it became New Paltz Academy, and then in 1885, the New Paltz Normal School was founded. New Paltz Normal existed as a school and training program / facility for young professionals and high school graduates to learn to become teachers. The school’s principals may sound familiar; Eugene Bouton (1886-1889), Frank S. Capen (1889-1899), Myron T. Scudder (1899-1908), John C. Bliss (1908-1923), Lawrence H. van den Berg (1923-1942).

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 7.41.25 AM

Lawrence H. van den Berg circa 1923 – when he was appointed principal of New Paltz Normal

At varying times during the first 45 years of its existence, New Paltz Normal grew and expanded, but during the 1920s, there became a need for a new training facility. In 1929, Principal van den Berg approved the architectural design for a new school. As perhaps one of the most interesting events attached to this story, a ceremony was held for the breaking of ground on this new project in October of 1930. The speaker at this event was Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt (who actually had trouble getting in as the crowd was so large in size). In 1932, this new school opened its doors, and in May of 1934, it officially became the Lawrence H. van den Berg School of Practice. The program offered slowly began to evolve as the improvements to the training process were implemented, and students began attending classes at the New Paltz State Teachers College. This new entity was founded in 1942, and van den Berg was the first president. Six years later, New Paltz was one of the founding members of the SUNY system. This new program served as a school for students ranging from Nursery school ages all the way through eighth grade. In 1982, the van den Berg school closed its doors to students, as the final graduation was held that June.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 8.13.00 AM

An old photo of the van den Berg School of Practice, featuring a view of Hasbrouck Park, where children are ice skating… Not something seen there anymore

vdb_1990

The 1990 Clock Tower Fire

vdb_2005

Installation of the new clock tower in 2005

 

Narrative

After the van den Berg Learning Center closed in 1982, the building served as the home for the Children’s Center.  In 1987, SUNY New Paltz created an accounting program, effectively laying the framework for what would later become the School of Business.  One would speculate that given my father’s personal experience in van den Berg as a student from 1988-89, that van den Berg housed this program.  In 1990, van den Berg Hall became an academic building under the umbrella of SUNY New Paltz, housing the School of Business. In May of 1990, there was a fire in the clock tower that caused damage in the building, but this was limited due to the fire retardant nature of the metal roof of the building. It is important to note that in the history of SUNY New Paltz (dating back to 1828), the primary building housing its programs had experienced severe fire damage, so it is likely the metal roof was planned as a precautionary measure to avoid a third occurrence. The new clock tower was installed in 2005.

 

Impact on New Paltz

There is a clear impact van den Berg Hall has on New Paltz, as it is an academic building on campus.  The building served as the home of the school prior to the founding of the SUNY system, so it gave New Paltz a platform to be a site for a public entity of the state when the system was established in 1948.  Now, van den Berg Hall houses the School of Business, which is why I’m here… So if nothing else, it is largely responsible for this blog post.  The SUNY New Paltz campus leans on an integration of its history and the future to create a strong academic environment.  When the van den Berg Learning Center closed, the education program shifted into Old Main, where it remains today.  At the time, the institution was named the State University College of Education at New Paltz, its name did not change until the academic programs became more diverse, officially changing to the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1994.  Since re-establishing van den Berg as a member of the campus, SUNY New Paltz has grown to encapture the spirit of New Paltz Academy and the Normal School; all of the dormitory buildings are named after former school presidents.  SUNY New Paltz is stronger than ever, creating more academic buildings and a firm place in the SUNY system, as one of the top schools in the state.  Integration of van den Berg Hall back into the SUNY New Paltz family was one of many steps that allowed the school to strengthen its reputation in the last 25 years.  Now, the institution is nearly 190 years old, and some of its richest history has occurred in, thanks to, or because of van den Berg Hall and its place in the New Paltz community.

 

Works Cited

Mid-Hudson Library System. Campus School programs : annual commencement programs, International Night programs, music concert programs, Children’s atre Workshop programs, also various brochures, newsletters and miscellaneous material from events held by the Campus School.n.d.: n. pag. Print.

“College History Collection – SUNY New Paltz Timeline .” Sojourner Truth Library. SUNY New Paltz, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.

“History of the Campus.” SUNY New Paltz. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

“New York State Education.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

“Rehabilitation of van den Berg Learning Center.” SUNY New Paltz. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.

Simons, Joshua. “Historic Preservation Commission.” Van den Berg. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

 

Tools of a Trade

img_4524.jpg

There is much to this object at first glance: the tattered case, the various tools within, the licenses approaching a century of existence; this set of tools speaks on behalf of a dying art, an art that has enabled feats of engineering inconceivable for us to live without.

img_4528.jpg

 

Battered and torn, decrepit and worn, the old brownishcase sat among three similar objects on the table of the Research Library at Historic Huguenot Street. Immediately I took an interest in it above the others; there was something about this one. A greater amount of associated information, of course, was notable to me, and certainly played a role in my selection of the object; but there was something else, something I couldn’t ascribe to a single feature—the whole pulled me more than any of its parts. It was just begging to be chosen. The other objects that the lady working there had retrieved for me were fine, but only this one intrigued me. So completely and utterly worn – and not just from age, either; it was clear that this wear was from decades of use – it almost felt as if this tool set was so incredibly accustomed to being employed in all sorts of endeavors that it longed to be touched, inspected, handled, used in some way, any way; even if only for a minute before being returned to the dark, solemn archive that must offer it such an uneventful subsistence.

Slowly and carefully, the lady assisting me folded back the flaps of the case, revealing the century old instruments within. There was no rigidity at all; not in the least. The flaps had been opened and closed so many times that they fell along their folds as if they were paper—folded back and forth along a crease so many times that separation seemed imminent. Written in thick black ink on the bottom right of the inner case that holds the tools is a name, “H. Keator,” a place, “Kingston N.Y.,” and a year, “1908.”

But we are ahead of ourselves. What is this thing? —this “tool set,” as I’ve called it.

Before the widespread availability of computer simulation services and computer aided design in general, it was necessary that professional engineers and land surveyors master the process of drafting. This now nearly extinct practice is patently artistic, requiring an array of different tools, all tailored to specific purposes, as well as a high degree of patience, dexterity, and a well-developed capacity for mental imaging. The instruments required in order to draft successfully are organized into drafting sets, and the object of this research is, indeed, one of these sets. This particular set contains space for ten tools, one of which is missing: from the shape of its space, the missing tool seems to be a smaller version of the one directly below it. The set is comprised of several sizes and varieties of compass, used to make circles and certain other shapes; as well as a few dividers, used primarily to segment lines. Also in the kit is a small metal container of Red Top Eversharp pencil leads.

In theory, this drafting set could have been used by anyone for just about any purpose requiring clean, exact drawings or schematics; the set itself is not enough to tell us about its history. Luckily for us, however, the set contains a few research leads. Firstly, and most significantly, inside of the case there are two licenses: one is stapled to the right hand flap, the other is free. The licenses, pictured below, certify one Harold E. Keator as a professional engineer and land surveyor for the years 1926 and 1935, respectively. The licenses and the inscription are enough to deduce that Harold E. Keator was the owner of this drafting set; perhaps the man can give us some hints about the history of the object.

IMG_4525

Research indicates that Mr. Keator was born around the year 1888 and lived in Kingston, New York. He had a wife, Adelaide, and a son, Harold E. Keator Jr. (Ancestry, 1940 Census). An attendance report from the 1912 meeting of the Society of Automobile Engineers at Madison Square Garden lists Keator’s name, followed by “Draftsman, Wyckoff, Church & Partridge, Kingston, N.Y.” (SAE Transactions). Wyckoff, Church & Partridge was a New York City based automobile company that took over the W. A. Wood Automobile Company in Kingston in early 1911 (W. C. & P. Reorganizing without Stearns). Being a resident of Kingston, it is likely that Keator worked at the Wood manufacturing plant, as opposed to at W. C. & P. itself.

Further research revealed much more about Keator. I was able to uncover a grayscale PDF of the Wednesday, March 23, 1960 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman, which contains the obituary of Harold E. Keator Sr. of Lake Katrine, NY. According to this obituary, Keator – or “Knobby,” as he was apparently called – died on 3/23/1960 after being ill for a short while. Further information about his family is included: his mother’s name was Carrie, his father’s, Edgar; and his son, Harold Jr., had two daughters, Christine and Kathleen. Most relevantly, the obituary confirms that the Harold E. Keator in question was, indeed, a professional engineer, and that he retired from the New York Central Railroad sometime during 1953—for me, this statement removes any doubt of this being the same Harold Keator who owned the drafting set. Keator was also very active in his community: he was a member of the Kingston Kiwanis, several rod and gun clubs, as well as the Ulster County Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (Local Death Record).

Though the obituary confirms that Harold Keator was a professional engineer employed with the New York Central Railroad, the story may go a little deeper. The New York Central Railroad was a massive railroad conglomerate, buying dozens of smaller rail systems and individual railways and incorporating them under the NYCR umbrella. Indeed, one of the rail systems purchased by New York Central was the West Shore Railroad, in 1884, which, under its umbrella, controlled the Wallkill Valley Railroad.

The Wallkill Valley Railroad was operational from 1866 to 1977. It ran from Kingston, through New Paltz, and down to Montgomery (Wikipedia). Though currently defunct, much of the railroad was converted to foot trails, the Rail Trail running through New Paltz being one of them.

Harold Keator was born over a hundred and thirty years ago and was not famous, so it is difficult to reliably determine the course of his professional career. So, based on the information obtained during the course of my research, I want to speculate on what I feel to be the most likely trajectory of the professional life of Harold Keator, and, thus, the working life of this drafting set.

Recall that the date written on the set itself is 1908, when Keator was twenty years old. As a young man just starting out, it is conceivable that the drafting set was gifted to him by family or friends: perhaps he had just gotten the job working at the Wood automobile plant, which we are reasonably sure that he was working at only four years later. It is likely that, as a draftsman for an automobile manufacturer, Keator would have used his tools to draft designs of either cars themselves or of car components. I was unable to find any information bridging the gap between Keator’s years with Wyckoff, Church & Partridge and the beginning of his employment with New York Central, unfortunately; but, based on the date of the first license (1926), I am inclined to speculate that it was at least sometime during the 1920’s, perhaps the early 30’s. I suspect that he would have needed prior certification in order to begin working for New York Central, so I don’t think it was any earlier than that.

Now, as mentioned earlier, New York Central was gigantic, and thus to work for New York Central did not necessarily imply that you worked for any of its main branches or offices; indeed, as a resident of Kingston, it is highly probable that Keator, during his employment with NYCR, actually worked on the Wallkill Valley Railroad. If this is indeed the case, then the drafting set of my research may have been used for a variety of different purposes as Harold Keator worked to maintain and improve the Wallkill Valley Railroad, and he would have been doing so during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, when the railway was bringing characters of all walks of life from New York City and elsewhere to and through the New Paltz/Kingston area, many of whom were likely vacationing to the Mohonk Mountain House.

It is fun to think of Mr. Keator toting this humble drafting set up and down the lengths of what is now our beloved Rail Trail; and though he is a stranger to me in time and in relation, I imagine him at work, perhaps reclined against the base of a tree alongside the tracks, his trusty drafting set opened up on a rock next to him as he sternly sketches the course of the track—perhaps it was a particularly rainy spring and the track must be slightly diverted around unstable ground. Absorbed in his drawing, he sets his compass down next to him in haste as he reaches to grab a more suitable tool before he loses the image in his head, and next thing he knows the one he set down has vanished, never to be seen again. Please excuse my wildly speculative narrative; obscurity invites invention.

Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain any information about the chain of ownership of this object: the documentation that I received from the Historic Huguenot Street staff did not indicate the donor, though I do know that it was received by HHS in 2013. I allow myself to speculate one last time, however, as it seems to me most likely that, after Keator’s passing, the set collected dust for half a century, eventually being donated by one of his children or grandchildren. Regardless of its journey from Keator to HHS, this object fascinates me, as do its connections to New Paltz and the surrounding area, vague as they may be; and together they demonstrate to me the importance of conducting research into the materials of history.

  1. SAE Transactions, Volume 7, Part 1. Vol. 7. New York, New York: Office of the Society of Automobile Engineers, 1912. Part 1.Google Books. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
  2. “Harold Keator in the 1940 Census.”Ancestry. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
  3. “W. C. & P. Reorganizing without Stearns.”The Automobile. Vol. 24. N.p.: n.p., 1911. 752-53.Google Books. Web. 3 May 2017.
  4. “Local Death Record.”The Kingston Daily Freeman 23 Mar. 1960: 10. Web. <http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2010/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201960%20Grayscale/Kingston%20NY%20Daily%20Freeman%201960%20Grayscale%20-%201501.pdf&gt;.
  5. New York Central — Historical Information, Mohawk & Hudson Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. Ed. Ph.D. Steve Sconfienza. N.p., 10 May 2001. Web. 03 May 2017. <https://web.archive.org/web/20060717080407/http://www.crisny.org/not-for-profit/railroad/nyc_hist.htm#westshore&gt;.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallkill_Valley_Railroad

 

 

 

Lincoln and His Family

 

 

image1

Lithograph on the wall in the office of the Deyo House

Description

This is a lithograph entitled “Lincoln and His Family”, which currently resides in the office of the Deyo House. It was made in 1866 by William Sartain and engraved from a painting of the same name by S.B Waugh. It shows Abraham Lincoln sitting at a table with his one arm around his youngest son, Thomas, and his other arm resting on the table. Thomas is sitting next to Lincoln with one leg and arm pushed back and his opposite leg lunged forward and other arm relaxed on his father’s leg. His oldest son, Robert is standing behind the table with his arm resting on an empty chair and other arm resting at his waist. Mary Lincoln, his wife, is sitting to the left of Lincoln and Thomas. Her right elbow is resting on the table and her hands are in her lap. They are all in elegant clothing; Lincoln in a suit, the boys in a nice shirt and pants, and Mary in a large gown. On the left wall, light is coming in through a window, which through the Capitol Dome can be seen. Next to the window is a bust of George Washington. On the center back wall is a portrait of William, Abraham and Mary’s son who died from Typhoid Fever during Abraham’s first term as president. On the table rests an elegant looking tablecloth and on top of it sits a vase of roses, magnolias, sweet clematis, and Virginia creeper (Lincoln Collection). This current print has been shifted in its frame and hides the engraving,  “Lincoln and His Family” on the bottom.

tumblr_inline_nz08881KzF1se3si9_540

Full image where the engraving “Lincoln and His Family” can be seen

Historical Context

This print is particularly interesting since it’s not based off any actual photo of the Lincoln family. There has never been a photo of the entire Lincoln family together. Mrs. Lincoln had taken a group photo with both William and Thomas and Lincoln has only had a picture with Thomas. After Lincoln’s death in 1865, many artists wanted to show they’re grievances by painting pictures of him and his family, yet since there was no full family photo, they had to combine multiple photos to form one. By doing this, they somewhat alter history, making Lincoln seem more like a family man than he really was. But romanticizing the “great” presidents like this wasn’t uncommon during the colonial revival period when this was made. They also idealized his looks; Lincoln was a bit rough around the edges looking and often was self-deprecating about his appearance. Yet after his death, painters created a more flattering image than reality, bringing more color into his skin and smoothing his complexion. (Holzer)

Understanding the context of the colonial revival movement is crucial in fully developing what this print means and why it was made. After the industrial revolution (1760-1840), American’s were overwhelmed by how complex the country had became. America, a once “simple land”, was now a world power filled with millionaires, factories, and new immigrants. The wealthy elites found nostalgia in the simple past, connecting it with democracy, moral superiority and patriotism. Through architecture and art the people of the time tried to re-create the past to reflect their feelings of discontent with the modern world. But most furniture or artworks created in this time were widely inaccurate. What was made was an idealized past where people tried to display middle class values in order to show their moral superiority. Artists then wanted to put those values onto the great presidents in order to make the connection that both the presidents and the middle class share the same morals. This is why both Lincoln and Washington are depicted with their family, when they were not historically family men (Connecticut History).

The Lithographer: William Sartain

While William Sartain himself may not have gone down in history as a famous artist, his surname has. Not only was his father a famous engraver, but his grandfather and uncle as well. The Sartain’s are known to be the greatest engravers of the time. William (1843-1924) was mainly a painter though. He held some resentment towards his father and didn’t want to necessarily follow in his engraving footsteps, yet he didn’t have the means to do so. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and after gaining fame from making “Washington and His Family” in 1864, he was able to leave and study in Paris at the age of 25. The success he accomplished and the move to Paris allowed William to get away from his family connection to engravings and focus on what he truly loved which was painting. While his paintings were not loved by the public eye, critics revered his work and he influenced many young artists within Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His work transcended the realist painters of America and France, as he worked in the realm of romanticism. His paintings have been compared to the like of the infamous Decamp. (Ackerman)

Symbolism

There is also a lot of symbolism in this print that can go easily unnoticed. The George Washington bust is one that connects very well to the historical Colonial Revival time. The bust is meant to show the connection between the “father” of our country and “savior” of our country.  What is also interesting is that Sartain is known for another piece called “Washington and His family” which is seen as a companion piece to “Lincoln and His Family”.

03458r

Sartain’s “Washington and His Family”

The flowers on the table are also an important symbol. The roses in the bunch are meant to represent the north while the magnolias, sweet clematis, and Virginia creepers are flowers that grow in abundance in the south. The vase is meant to be the union of these flowers, therefore stating there should be peace between north and south (Lincoln Collection).

Since “Lincoln and His Family” is a print, many have been produced but it appears to be the most popular of the Lincoln family prints made during the time. There isn’t much record on the current value of each lithograph either. Yet Saunders in American Faces: A Cultural History of Portraiture and Identity, states that at the time made, it was worth $7.25 for a print and $20 for an artist proof.

Provenance/Narrative

The print’s connection to New Paltz is practically unknown since there were many copies of “Lincoln and His Family” made and there is no known donor of this specific print. Another print of “Lincoln and His Family” was donated to an organization in Osage and the family who donated it has said that it has been passed down in their family for generations. It’s not a stretch to say this specific print could have a similar background. To own a piece of art like such at this, one must have had a considerable amount of money. Therefore, one could hypothesize that this lithograph was handed down through generations of the Deyo family (if it’s placement in the house is historically accurate), since they were a wealthy family. It also makes sense of the time period of the mid 1800’s for wealthy people such as the Deyo’s to collect items that reflect the colonial revival movement.

 

 

Works Cited:

Ackerman, Gerald M. American orientalists. Paris: ACR, 1994. Google Scholar. Web. 4 May 2017.

CTHumanities. “Colonial Revival Movement Sought Stability during Time of Change.” ConnecticutHistoryorg. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017. <https://connecticuthistory.org/the-colonial-revival-movement-sought-stability-during-time-of-change/&gt;.

Holzer, Harold. “How the Printmakers Saw Lincoln: Not-So-Honest Portraits of ‘Honest Abe.’” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 14, no. 2, 1979, pp. 143–170., http://www.jstor.org/stable/1180612.

Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection. “Lincoln and His Family.” Lincoln Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017. <https://www.lincolncollection.org/search/results/item/?q=71.2009.081.1869&item=53980&gt;.

Saunders, Richard H. American faces: a cultural history of portraiture and identity. Hanover: U Press of New England, 2016. Google Scholar. Web. 4 May 2017.

Silas Hoadley Mantel Clock

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Mantel clock made in 1820 and manufactured by Silas Hoadley. Mantel clocks are clocks that can be placed on top of a shelf or mantel)

Physical Description of Object

The clock has a pillar and scroll shelf type design. This means that there are two pillars on the sides of the clock with scroll work on top. Scroll work is a form of art that includes spirals and rolling designs. The clock is veneered in mahogany. It also has a painted wood dial along with Roman numerals. The lower portion of the clock contains an image of a landscape with homes and trees. The glass containing the image is in eglomise decorations. According to Eglmosedesigns.com, eglomise is a French word that means “‘glass gilded,’ decorating glass by painting on the back or reverse side, sometimes gilding with gold or metal leaf.” The image is contained within a border designed with leaves referred to as foliate borders. The three brass finials on top of the clock are suspected to be unoriginal (Ashley). However, images on the web show the same brass finials on the same clocks as this one. There is also the chance that they were replaced. Movement on the clock is intact, but not in running order.

Provenance

This Silas Hoadley mantel clock was never owned or used by any of the families that resided in Huguenot Street. The clock was acquired through a donation from clock collectors that are New Paltz residents. Gloria and Jerome Gilman were the donors of this clock, and they believed that this clock would help fulfill time period interpretations that Huguenot Street creates. When the clock was acquired in 2015, it was used in the Lefevre House as a part of an interpretation of a Civil War doctor that lived in the house. After some time, the outer glass that covers the numerals of the clock was broken by an employee of Huguenot Street in a minor accident. Lucky enough, the glass was replaced with glass from the same time period as the clock was made.

This clock can be found lying on a table in the Deyo House collections storage. The clock is not currently being used as a part of a time period interpretation because the Lefevre House is under construction. For now, the clock has taken a place among many other objects that Huguenot Street has acquired over time. Like most objects, this mantel clocks lays there waiting for someone to inquire about it; someone like me. Even though the clock has no direct association with Huguenot Street, it still holds significance because, as we have come to learn in this course, objects carry their history with them wherever they go. Whether or not I find the history complete history of this clock, coming across it and piecing together the little information I have gathered makes it a rather fascinating find.

Narrative

This mantel clock was manufactured by Silas Hoadley in Connecticut. Silas Hoadley (1786-1870) was an American clockmaker born in Bethany, Connecticut. He formed a clock-making partnership in Plymouth, Connecticut with Eli Terry and Seth Thomas as Terry, Thomas & Hoadley. These three clock makers pioneered the mass-production of clocks using water driven machinery to tool parts. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Terry, Thomas, and Hoadley, after about a year of setting up the required machinery, produced some 4,000 clocks in the following two years.” Those “following two years” were after 1807.   The partners gradually withdrew to create their own firms – Terry in 1810, Thomas in 1814 – leaving Silas Hoadley as sole owner. Hoadley continued to make clocks until 1849. Standard references spell his name Hoadley; however, the “e” in his name is missing from the paper label on this clock.

There is not much information on Hoadley aside from Wikipedia, but there is ample information on his partners Eli Terry and Seth Thomas. In fact, on a bidding website the same mantel clock is listed as “Rare Seth Thomas Off-Center Pillar & Scroll Clock.” The clock was in a lot with other clocks and apparently sold for $2,091. Seth Thomas appears to be more of a pioneer (he has a town named after him called Thomaston) in clock making than Hoadley who is often only referred to as a partner or employee.

  • Interesting fact: A 1992 article on the Hartford Courant mentions are revival of the old Seth Thomas factory that still exists in Thomaston.

Even though Hoadley, Terry and Thomas were pioneers in clock making during the 19th century, they were not the first of their kind in the Connecticut region. Thomas Harland was also a pioneer in clock making after he emigrated to Connecticut from England. When Harland arrived in Connecticut, he established a shop in Norwich circa 1773 where he was “repairing watches and making clock movements with brass gears and finely engraved dials” (Muller). Furthermore, Harland hired a “number of apprentices working under him” one of them being Daniel Burnap (1759-1898). Burnap was also a clock maker who ended hiring apprentices of his own, Eli Terry being one of them. During Terry’s time as Burnap’s apprentice, he learned “the craft of making brass movements in small quantities using foot-powered machinery” (Muller). After Terry had set up his own clock shop his work attracted the attention of merchants, Edward and Levi Porter, “who in 1807 contracted with Terry to produce 4,000 tall-case wooden clock movements in three years” (Muller.) It was during this three-year contract that Terry hired Silas Hoadley and Seth Thomas.

What this object tells about Historic Huguenot Street is that this place is not just an isolated, glorified space that only focuses on the history of the Huguenots and their journey to New Paltz. This object has no connection to Huguenot Street but it has a connection to New Paltz. The donors of the mantel clock are New Paltz residents who collect antique clocks. Collaborating with Huguenot Street for this project goes to show the extent with which they go to make sure that their interpretation of the New Paltz Huguenots is as close to accurate and specific to the time periods as possible. Their collections also show are more interesting and fascinating aspect of collecting and museum culture at large.

From what we have learned through Ashley Trainor and Carrie Allmendinger, a lot of the objects and artifacts in Huguenot Street are not original pieces or did not belong to family members that made that street their home. Some of these objects are like the Silas Hoadley mantel clock; they help curators like Ashley and Carrie interpret time periods for the public but have no real connection to the Huguenots. The way that this clock found its home in Huguenot Street is fairly simple, but doing research about it and the owners has proven to be completely fascinating yet unsatisfactory. There are so many more questions I have, but unfortunately the lack of information on this clock makes it hard to piece everything together to create a fairytale-like narrative, as I would like.  However unsatisfactory and frustrating not finding enough information about this clock is, it teaches an important lesson in doing academic research and writing in general: sometimes what you have is all you need to create a beautiful and worthy narrative. This is not just a story about a clock or about Huguenot Street and New Paltz, it is also a story about entrepreneurship and the beginning of mass production as a result of the Industrial Revolution in America.

 

 

A Grave Matter

The tombstones that commemorate the remains entered in the Huguenot Cemetery give off an undeniable first impression of eeriness and melancholy. The humble markers are cracked and crumbling, and one might fear that simply breathing on a stone would turn it to dust. Some of the stones are over 200 years old, and the passing of time as well as the elements brought with it have obviously taken their toll on the cemetery.

Lineages can be traced through the cemetery quite easily, as families were often buried in plots close to one another. The family that is the focus of this project is the Eltings, one of the families with the oldest stones and who have a plethora of archival documents detailing their family history. Yet, as one looks through the archives on Huguenot Street, it becomes clear that much has been muddled by time, for there are confusing gaps in generations within the cemetery that are not quite clear. Nonetheless, the presence of the Eltings in the cemetery began with the burial of Noah Elting, who was entered at the Huguenot Cemetery after his death in 1725. Providing a comprehensive family history through tombstones proved to be an interesting venture, and it provided a lot of insight into the burial practices of the Huguenots and how that exemplified their relationship with material culture.  

Physical description:

Depending on the time of burial, the tombstones are constructed of either sandstone or marble. Sandstone headstones are what the older tombstones in the cemetery are made of and they are most identifiable by their simple engravings, usually only including a name and the deceased’s age and date of death. They vary in height, but most are either about two feet tall. Marble headstones are usually gray in pallor, and they are smooth to the touch–almost too smooth, for their ability to be preserved is minimal due to their lack of durability when it comes to their contact with rainwater. All of the Elting tombstones are plotted close to one another, lining the short stone wall that borders the sidewalk on Huguenot Street.

Jacomentje

The tombstone of Noah Elting and his wife Jacomentje is made of sandstone, with a humble inscription that reads: “Noah Elting, Esq. Died Sept. 27, 1773, Aged 57. Jacomentje, His Spouse Died August 27 1790, Aged 75.” There is a tiny brass plaque with this inscription affixed to the withered tombstone due to the natural decay of the stone in order to ensure that visitors can distinguish who is buried where, for “In an effort to preserve the names of those buried, brass plates were fixed to the stones in the late 1960s by the Huguenot Historical Society” (Schenkman).

roelof josiah

 

 

The following Elting to be buried in the cemetery was Roeloff Josiah Elting. His tombstone is made of sandstone and stands about two feet tall. The inscription on it reads: “In Memory of Roeloff I. Elting. He died the 21st July 1795. Aged 56 years, 6 months and 4 days.”

8039541_125764549507

 

The tombstone of his wife, Mary Lowe Elting, is plotted right near his. It is also made of sandstone, topped with a bell curve design. The inscription, only legible via the brass plaque affixed to the stone, reads: “Wife of R.J. Elting. Died August 24, 1800. Aged 48 years, 7 days.” Mary’s tombstone is pleasantly tall and sleek compared to some of the others in the cemetery.

 

 

 

 

josiah rev war

The next stone feels a bit out of place in the cemetery, that of Josiah Elting. It is a stout stone, made of marble and only about five inches thick. It is incredibly legible, reading: “Josiah Eltinge, 1760–1813. Rev. War.” I hypothesize that the distinguished craft work of this stone is indicative of a more Americanized burial practice associated with veterans at the time, which is interesting considering that the Huguenots are stereotyped as being as Calvinistic as they get, when in reality this stone is one of the least decorative of the Elting’s headstones.

hester broadhead elting

 

Josiah’s wife, Hester Broadhead Elting, has a lovely marble stone that stands about three feet tall. It is very plain but strikingly elegant, it’s simple geometric shape and faded inscription adds distinct Victorian panache. The stone reads: “In Loving Memory of Hester Broadhead. Wife of Josiah Elting Who Died on Oct. 11th 1848. Age 86 years, 10 months and 28 days.”

 

 

 

 

 

roelof fatherWhile I kept the stones of Josiah and Hester together, the rest of the headstones described were all erected decades before Hester’s death. The first of these stones was that of Roelof Elting, whose marble headstone stands about three feet tall and features some fascinating motifs. The face of the stone features a prominent carving of what could be a weeping willow tree. Below this decorative carving is the inscription: “Roelof Elting. Died Jan. 18 1825. Aged 50 years, 5 months and 21 days. Sorrow Not As Others Who Have No Hope.” This is the first and only time a quote appears on a Elting stone, making it an especially beautiful yet melancholy stone on display.

ann elting

 

Roelof’s wife, Dinah Elting, however, is not entered in this cemetery. She “…died March 02, 1819 in Kingston (Ulster Co.), New York” (Elting). However, two of Roelof’s children were buried in this cemetery. The first was Ann Elting, whose simple marble stone stands about two feet tall. It reads: “Daughter of Roelof & Dina Elting. Died March 2nd, 1813. Aged 5 months, 15 days.”

 

 

 

elting tree

 

Her brother’s tombstone is probably the most peculiar in the entire cemetery, for it is only about 10 inches tall and is partially grown into a tree. The size of the stone probably has much to do with his premature departure from this earth, for his tombstone reads: “Roelof Elting, Son of Dinah Elting. Died Feb. 2, 1825. Aged 11 days.” The metaphor is almost too easy to make; the necessity of death in order to create life, a kind of ouroboros that is implicit in the natural world.

 

 

Historical Narrative: 

The persecution of the Huguenots in France and their subsequent migration to America had much to do with their heterodoxy in relation to their burial practices. Huguenots often shared cemeteries with Catholics, which actually made cemeteries a site of immense religious tension during these times. The sharing of cemeteries, then, was not born out of an attempt to unify but rather due to the fact that provincial towns could not afford the construction of more than one cemetery. Yet: “Shortages of funds, however, only partially account for shared cemeteries. The notion remained powerful that a parish cemetery was common ground used by all members of a community, who buried their dead in familial tombs or in graves near ancestors, even if they had been of the opposing faith…This sense of belonging, not religious affiliation, determined one’s place of burial” (Luria). This “sense of belonging” only lasted for so long, though, and that is how the Huguenots ended up in New Paltz in the first place. But it is crucial to understand the discrimination that the Huguenots faced in their burial practices in France in order to understand their significance in New Paltz.

The widely held idea surrounding the Huguenots is that they were the opposite of materialistic, often opting for the least ostentatious option available to them. Perhaps this is true in their Calvinistic ideological views, but there is definitely something to be said for the Huguenot’s desire to commemorate the dead in a way that often called for the sparing of no expense. But, a distinction needed to be made when it came to funerals held by Catholics versus funerals held by Huguenots, so there was actually a mandate by the state that called for them to tone down their funerals, for: “In France, Huguenots were more likely to be held to simple funerals by doctrine and the need to distinguish themselves from majority Catholics, but also, and perhaps more significantly, by the state’s restrictions” (Luria). The act of mourning itself was restricted, reducing the Huguenots to the stereotype that is still thought of them today–unpretentious, plain, and unembellished.

The reality is that social class was still a very tangible signifier in Huguenot culture, simply meaning that the more money and social standing that one had, the more likely their funeral was to at least parallel the pageantry of Catholic funerals: “The most frequent contraventions of Calvinist simplicity came from members of the Huguenot elite, who sought funeral pomp commensurate with their social status. When the great were buried, the Discipline’s rules were most likely to be frustrated, for instance on the issue of funerary monuments. Although cemetery walls did sometimes carry biblical inscriptions, the Discipline discouraged tombs and tombstones. But synods had to wrestle again with local custom and with the Huguenot elite’s assertion of their status.” This bit of research is so interesting when examining the Huguenot cemetery in New Paltz simply because it contains nothing but tombstones, something that was apparently condemned in French state restrictions of Huguenot burial practices at the time. Therefore, this could mean that the cemetery itself radical because it is a place of defiance of French doctrine that attempted to marginalize the Huguenots by way of regulating their burial practices. Especially in the case of the 12 Patenees, an aura of high social class (or perhaps status?) still surrounds them posthumously. This could mean that the tombstones that marked their final resting place were not only a symbol of their status at the time of their death, but also a hallmark of a new time for Huguenots, where everyone could have a tombstone and a dignified funeral without persecution.

 
The Elting family, then, served as an interesting study in Huguenot tombstones, but their specific stones say less about the implications of Huguenot burial practices in New Paltz than the existence of the cemetery itself. Furthermore, some interesting gaps in the family tree of the Eltings have much to do with the fact that with the birth of so many children from generation to generation, that many moved to neighboring towns (or further) for marriage, business, etc. For example, Roelif Josiah Elting “…had eleven children and seventy-seven grandchildren who lived to maturity” (Elting). Needless to say, the Elting family history is immense and almost daunting, but at least those entered in the Huguenot cemetery in New Paltz can find solace in their proximity to one another, lining the stone wall bordering Huguenot Street.

Works Cited

Luria, Keith P. “Separated by Death? Burials, Cemeteries, and Confessional Boundaries in Seventeenth-Century France.” French Historical Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, Spring2001, pp. 185-222. EBSCOhost.

Elting, James W. The Descendants of Jan Eltinge: The Genealogy of the Elting/Eltinge Family. Charlotte, NC: James W. Elting, 2002. Print.

Schenkman, A.J. “Old Huguenot Burying Ground.” Historic Huguenot Street. N.p., 2016. Print.