A Teaspoon of Huguenot History

The object that I’m analyzing is a pair of silver teaspoons made by Tunis D. DuBois, a descendant of the original Huguenot family. He was a silversmith based out of New York City. At first glance, this pair of teaspoons doesn’t seem too significant. The story of their use are displayed by the worn and battered look of the handle and oval bowl of the spoon. These spoons were probably made just for utilitarian purposes, but these little marks tell a deeper story. They reflect a time when our items were still custom-made, before mass production and manufacturing. The maker would leave little hints, traces, messages on their products—a proud symbol to accredit their work.

Physical Description:

The teaspoons are made out of silver and are 5 and a half inches in length. They have a pointed oval bowl and a pointed arch drop. The space between the spoon’s oval and its handle becomes very narrow, before opening back up into a straight oval handle. On the handle on the front part of the spoon is a simple pattern, a few straight line indents made, one on top of the other, that get smaller as they move up the handle towards the narrow stem, with smaller indented lines coming off of the main ones. This pattern is reminiscent of a plant or flower, which relates to DuBois’ signature wheat sheaf. The teaspoons aren’t in perfect shape—but that’s the point. The bowl is worn and dented, and the silver is tarnished. However, these imperfections are what give these teaspoons character. They weren’t “perfectly” made by a machine in a factory. They required time and labor—they were touched, molded, and crafted by human hands, back when we put a little piece of ourselves into our items. These teaspoons serve as an index—they contain an evidentiary quality that marks a trace of the real—the hands of the maker. DuBois left his signature on the back of the handle of the spoon with three rectangles. One with his initials, TDD, and two wheat sheafs in the other two rectangles. The wheat sheaf symbol typically represented harvest, fertility, and a long life. This was a popular motif to be used at the time (Laidlaw, 42). These marks can be seen on other works by DuBois. The teaspoons reflect a time when quality products were created with care and a unique touch.

Provenance:

These teaspoons were donated by Muriel Pulver, a resident of Rhinebeck. She was born in 1897. Her mother was Magdalena Elting—the Elting’s are another prominent New Paltz family. They weren’t one of the original 12 patentees, but their family intertwines with the founders, and “in almost any one of the original families one finds a connection with the Dutch Elting,” (Bevier-Elting Family Association). Magdalena was born in 1872 to Phillip and Harriet Hasbrouck Elting, and was a New York City native, before residing in Ulster County. This family donated a lot of items, so it can be surmised that they were collectors. The year range for these items is estimated between 1796 and 1799. (Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection).

Narrative:

The Huguenots were known to be skilled craftsmen. However, when they were residing in France in the late 17th century, the patronage of goldsmiths was forbidden by King Louis XIV (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). Around this time is also when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, the document that maintained most of the Huguenots’ rights in France (“Huguenot”). The renewed persecution against the Huguenots led to a mass migration from France to London, where they joined a network of persecuted craftsmen that was already beginning to take shape (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The first two generations of craftsmen in London represented different styles and appealed to different audiences—the first generation made products for the aristocratic class and began to earn a reputation, whereas the second generation craftsmen appealed to a wider audience, including other craftsmen, and they were able to achieve an even greater reputation (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The Huguenots took pride in their work, and valued their peers whom they made their products for—“The network which the Huguenot silversmiths maintained amongst their own community and the care with which they nurtured their patrons, created a monopoly which provoked a hostile reaction from native silversmiths,” (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The native smiths began to take on Huguenots in order to sustain their business. The silversmith in our narrative, Tunis Dubois, carried out a similar style of interacting with his customers. DuBois’ records show that he made silver products for a consistent base of customers, and for fellow silversmiths as well (Laidlaw, 28 & 35).

The Huguenots also found their way into other parts of Europe and America, where they established themselves as craftsmen as well. They were able to freely worship and carry out their skills as artisans. The Huguenot silversmiths that moved to America began to diverge in their style. Their work is “usually very simple and lacks the ornate decoration and details of execution characteristic of French silver during the first part of the 18th Century,” (Ormsbee 2009). This can be seen in DuBois’ teaspoons, which contain just a few ornamental details, but is more functional than decorative.

Tunis DuBois was born in central New Jersey, in Freehold Township, in 1773. His father, Benjamin DuBois, was a reverend of mixed Huguenot and Dutch descent, which can serve as an explanation for DuBois’ affinity to be a silversmith, as this craft was popular among these groups. Especially among the Dutch, solid silver spoons “were considered very precious objects” according to George Way, a well-known collector and author of 16th-17th century Dutch and English furniture, paintings, and decorative objects (“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Holds Closing Reception with George Way”). Way discusses that these spoons were not only highly regarded as works of art in their own right, “but were an indication of great wealth.” It’s part of Dutch custom to give spoons to mark births, deaths, and other momentous occasions (“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Holds Closing Reception with George Way”).

Tunis and brother Jospeh DuBois signature on abck of spoon, with wheat sheaf and bird’s head pseudohallmarks.

What sets DuBois apart from the rest, was his business model—one that could be seen as being ahead of his time. He produced his goods to be sold on a wholesale basis. (Laidlaw, 25) This, of course, was before the mid-19th century industrial boom, when manufacturing goods like this was the new form of production. However, DuBois was still able to maintain his craftsmanship and leave his unique mark on each good, while selling to a larger audience. He followed the footsteps of his brother, Joseph, and moved to New York City to pursue a profession as a silversmith. Soon after, Joseph took him on as a junior partner, and they began to create hollowware and flatware pieces together. Among their more intricate pieces were a neoclassic cruet stand, a sugar bowl, and a teapot.  For most of his career as a silversmith, DuBois’ business was successful. However, the yellow-fever epidemic in 1798 began to take a toll on his business, and he decided to move back to New Jersey, where he acted as both a farmer and a silversmith. This did not deter DuBois to continue his profession. He was still a successful silversmith miles away from New York City—he increased his wholesale sales to his highest levels thus far and continued to attract new customers from the city. DuBois did all this, while still maintaining local business, although these sales made up a smaller portion of his work. Dubois was different than most rural smiths, who tended to only make products for their local customers, whereas he sold his products to shops in New York City. However, where DuBois aligned with his fellow rural smiths was in the manufacture of spoons, which made up almost his entire production. Spoons were almost entirely made by village and small-town silversmiths, as they appealed more to the rural audience than hollowware, which would be commissioned by silversmiths in the city. Dubois stopped making silver around his 40s, and turned more of his attention to farming, until his death in 1843 (Laidlaw 1988).

DuBois was able to carry out his wholesale model without employing a whole team of people—he wasn’t operating in a workshop with a large workforce. DuBois made most of his spoons himself (Laidlaw, 45). This is another testament to DuBois’ craft and skill, and his ability to be ahead of the curve, while still maintaining his personal touch on his items. This kind of handmade craftwork is a lost art. These teaspoons go beyond their function, they tell a story of an earnest silversmith who took on an ambitious and new business style, while still being able to care for his work and his customers.

Tunis DuBois’ signature: TDD and two wheat sheaf pseudohallmarks. These same markings are also found on the teaspoons I analyzed.

References

“Bevier-Elting Family Association.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/bevier-elting.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Editors of. “Huguenot.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2016.

Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection, May 2019.

Laidlaw, Christine Wallace. “Silver by the Dozen: The Wholesale Business of Teunis D.DuBois.” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 23, no. 1, 1988, pp. 25–50. JSTOR,             http://www.jstor.org/stable/1181161.

“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Hosts Closing Reception with George Way.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/news-release-hhs-hosts-closing-reception-with-george-way.

Ormsbee, Thomas Hamilton. “The Huguenot Silversmiths, 18th Century Refugees.” Collectors Weekly, 13 Mar. 2009, www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-huguenot-silversmiths-18th-century-refugees/.

“‘The Huguenot Silversmiths of London,” a Lecture by Dr. Tessa Murdoch.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/calendar-of-events/2018/5/10/the-huguenot-silversmiths-of-london-a-lecture-by-dr-tessa-murdoch.

Two Rocking Horses


The rocking horses shown above are believed to be from the late 1800s and are primarily made of carved and painted wood, which includes the bodies of the horses as well as the curved bases which allow the horses to rock. While both horse bodies are painted yellow, the bases differ in color and have different landscapes painted on the center squares. Both horses are adorned with gray manes and tails and other features such as the eyes and nose are painted on. The original saddle, stirrups, reins, and even ears of the pieces were made of leather, though the yellow rocker is missing many of these details.

These rocking horses, likely handmade and not produced at a very large scale for the time, have many intricate details. As mentioned, the horses and bases themselves were carved out of wood. However, the horses’ bodies are hollow which was a technique learned in the Victorian era to make the toys less top-heavy, and therefore safer. The exterior of the bodies are painted yellow, though it is probable that it is not exposed wood which was painted but rather a few layers of gesso. This material, which is usually used in fine art paintings, was found to be both easier to sand a created a shinier surface to paint and decorate. Painted details cover the hind quarters of the horses in the form of saddle blankets and landscapes at the base of the rockers. The saddles, stirrups, and reins are all made of real leather, another costly adornment for a child’s toy.

This set of rocking horses, which were used by brothers Winne and Henry Hornnbeck in their childhood years, were donated to the Historic Huguenot collections by the estate of Ida M Hornbeck in 1976. She had died the previous year in 1975 and had left many of her family’s items and historical artifacts to this collection as well as other local historical collections. When tracing her relation to Winne and Henry Hornbeck I discovered that she was their older sister. Neither her brothers nor her sister Lela ever had children therefore I believe that these rocking horses were purchased directly for the family and never left the hands of the siblings. I infer that these items are purchased new as their father Louis Dubois Hornbeck was one of the largest merchants in the area, having owned a large general store in Napanoch. However, it is also possible the family employed craftsmen to create these pieces.

Although these objects were not primarily used in the town of New Paltz, their ties to historical New Paltz and its socioeconomic structure can be easily connected. I see these pieces as a mark of status and luxury; they are not the everyday doll or trinket. Instead, these objects were most likely bought new, possibly from the large general store which their father ran. However, we cannot know for certain how and when these rocking horses were made as there is no apparent makers mark on them. Therefore, it is also possible that these were handmade by someone in or close to the family. These pieces function as both furniture and toys, and as they were both clearly well worn I believe these were pieces that would’ve been put out in the main room as their own pieces of furniture. Toy horses and specifically rocking horses became popular as toys and furniture among the upper middle class after Queen Victoria established that they were her favorite. They were made in many different styles and colors and some had clear inspirations from imagery and forms found in carnivals and fairgrounds, which was a popular source of entertainment of the time. However, during the 1900s the production of rocking horses, especially the intricate handmade ones which had thrived during the Victorian era, were declining due to the Great Depression and the World Wars. The survival of these pieces is extraordinary and gives great insight into the lifestyle of the Hornbeck family who owned them as well as the social culture of the time.

When looking into both their family story as well as their extended genealogy, I found a few evidences of the family’s enriched status. First, as previously mentioned, Louis Hornbeck ran the largest general store in Napanoch, with a very comfortable house–which he owned–connected. His wife Catherine Freer Dubois did not work and I also found evidence of there being a young servant living with the family for a time. This was not uncommon for the area including New Paltz for families with luxurious lifestyle. Additionally, it appears that both Ida and Lela Hornbeck never married and never had to hold a job but were rather able to live off of the estate of their family for the rest of their lives. Brothers Winne and Henry Hornbeck did both end up marrying but neither had children in their lifetime. When looking further into the ancestry records of both the siblings mother Catherine Dubois Freer and their father Louis DuBois Hornbeck I was able to find that their mother was a descendant of Hugo and Isaac Freer, the original patent holders for the town of New Paltz. The Freers had been given 1200 acres to settle on in New Paltz and continued that line of wealth well into their descendants. While this is an interesting fact about their family it is also important to note that both mother and father had previously come from the Dubois family. It was very common in New Paltz among the wealthy families to intermarry children and cousins of the wealthiest families to keep the money close. This is one of the reasons that although the Hornbecks did not live in New Paltz, their prominence in the area was well established. These rocking horses are a symbol of the level of class and financial status of which this specific Hornbeck family was a part.

References

Heidgerd, Ruth P. The Freer Family: the Descendants of Hugo Freer, Patentee of New Paltz (Frear, Fraer, Frayer, Fryer, Etc.). The Huguenot Historical Society, 1991.

“History of Rocking Horses.” History of Rocking Horses | Victorian Rocking Horse | Stevenson Brothers Rocking Horses, http://www.stevensonbros.com/history-of-rocking-horses.

Hornbeck, Shirley Elro. Hornbeck Hunting (the Book) & Descendants of Warnaar Hornbeck, Born c1645. S. Hornbeck, 1994.

Terwilliger, Katharine T. Napanoch: Land Overflowed by Water. Ellenville Public Library and Museum, 1982.

Terwilliger, Katharine T. Wawarsing, Where the Streams Wind: Historical Glimpses of the Town. Rondout Valley Pub. Co., 1977.

Ulster County Directory, for 1880-’81: Containing a Historical Sketch of the County. D.S. Lawrence & Co.

A Victorian Civil War Revival Candlestick

The object I’m analyzing is a 19th century brass candlestick, known as a girandole, with a white marble platform. However, this isn’t an ordinary brass candlestick—there’s an entire scene depicted within the base of the candlestick. There is a Revolutionary war veteran in military garb, with a peg leg, standing next to a small, what looks like female, child under a tree. Both of the figures are wearing hats and holding a long, cylindrical object—the man’s looks like a cane, and the young person’s is of a similar shape but harder to tell what it may be. There are flowers and leaves at the feet of the figurines, and vines that adorn the tree, which stretches up to the base of where the candle goes. Right above the head of the soldier are eight faceted cut glass prisms that hang from the brass support in the shape of wood vine. The candlestick is 15 inches tall and about seven inches wide.

A later 19th century brass candlestick (girandole), reminiscent of both the Victorian and Colonial Revival eras, depicting a Civil War veteran standing next to a young child, underneath a tree

This object was located in the Deyo House on Huguenot Street. It was donated around 1958 by an eighth generation Deyo, who also contains some LeFevre heritage, Elizabeth Tallman Winne—her mother was Jane LeFevre Deyo. Winne lived in Kingston for most of her life. Winne made this donation along with a lot of other mid-19th century Victorian objects. By analyzing the objects she donated, it can be surmised that Winne was a collector of Deyo family items and of 19th century objects.

This candle stick is from the later 19th century, and characterizes the Victorian and Colonial Revival eras.

The eight faceted cut glass prisms hanging from the brass support wood vine. This is a stlye that is characterized by many girandoles of this time.

Rococo Cast Iron Hot Water Radiators inside the Deyo House

What is considered in today’s standards as a basic amenity, central heating in the late 19th and early 20th century was a luxury for Americans. Nestled underneath the two east windows in the Music Room of the Deyo House, the gold painted Rococo cast-iron hot water radiators – manufactured in 1894 by the American Radiator Company in Detroit, Michigan, and subsequently sold to the Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store, a local 19th century heating and plumbing business, formerly located at 101 Main Street, New Paltz, New York – served one integral function for the Broadhead and LeFevre families: showcasing affluence for guests.

Background Information:

When analyzing objects from the 19th century, I often envision objects strictly for affluent families: automobiles, phonographs, telephones, or cameras. I never would have considered a 19th century heating system inside a former Dutch style stone house as an object of any significance. This type of mentality can be explained by the fact that amenities such as central heating, running water, and refrigeration have been fully integrated into modern life in the United States, where people no longer notice the essential role these utilities fulfill every day. Throughout my extensive research in the Historic Huguenot Street collaborative project, I have developed a fundamental understanding of how the gold painted Rococo cast-iron hot water radiators inside the Deyo House served one integral function in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: displaying a family’s opulence for guests.  

Originally constructed in the 17th century, the Deyo House was a Dutch style stone house consisting of one story. Over the course of 200 years, five generations of the Deyo family would live in this house before it received its first renovation (The Huguenot Historical 7). Displayed in Figure 1 is a photograph of the Deyo House in the late 19th century, before the first renovation.

Figure 1: The Deyo House in the late 19th century (The Huguenot Historical 7).

In 1889, Abraham Deyo Brodhead acquired the property; shortly after in 1894, he authorized the first wave of significant changes to his ancestor’s home (The Huguenot Historical 7). As shown in Figure 2 is the Deyo House after the 1894 renovation.

Figure 2: The Deyo House after the 1894 renovation (The Huguenot Historical 11).

The notable additions to the Deyo House included electric lighting and a central heating system. While these changes were significant for the time, when the Deyo House was sold to Frank J. LeFevre on November 3rd, 1915, the LeFevre family immediately began the house’s second renovation, purchasing “a new heater and a number of new radiators” (New Paltz Independent). All the gold painted radiators currently inside the Deyo House are from the 1894 and 1915 renovations.

Physical Description:

The gold painted radiators I decided to analyze are located inside the Music Room of the Deyo House, the room immediately to the right after walking through the front door. The Music Room is “heated by two ornate cast iron hot water radiators (3’-6” wide by 1’-10 ½” high) located in front of the two east windows” (The Huguenot Historical 55). For each set, there are seventeen individual sections, and each section measures at 2.5” wide by 1’-10 1/2” high, with the capability of housing a half gallon of water. Displayed in Figure 3 is a set of gold painted radiators inside the Music Room.

Figure 3: A set of Rococo radiators located inside the Music Room of the Deyo House.

In an attempt by the Broadhead and the LeFevre families to display their opulence, all the cast iron hot water radiators in the Deyo House were coated with a layer of gold paint. According to an article published by the United States General Services Administration, the technique employed to paint cast iron hot water radiators in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is called bronzing (1). The required materials for bronzing consist of “bronzing liquid and bronzing powder to achieve a metallic surface appearance” (Refinishing a Radiator 1). While the exterior of the radiators may have been aesthetically pleasing inside the Deyo House at the time of the installation, showcasing affluence and sophisticated technology, the one major caveat with bronzing radiators is that the composition of the paint contains lead, a toxic chemical that can wreak havoc on an individual’s brain and central nervous system.

Regarding the exterior design of the Rococo radiators inside the Deyo House, they followed a design commonly employed during the Gilded Age. Attached in Figure 4 is a detailed photograph of the exterior design of the Rococo cast iron hot water radiators.

Figure 4: Exterior design of the Rococo cast iron hot water radiators.

For example, according to the Historic Resource Study of the Vanderbilt Mansion located in Hyde Park, New York, “by the 1880s, manufacturers could easily cast metals into decorative design and so radiators abounded with scrolls and other cast decorative elements” (215). In other words, the radiators inside the Vanderbilt Mansion, an estate owned by one the wealthiest families in the United States of America at the time, and the Deyo House followed a standard, late 19th century design.

Provenance:

While analyzing the Rococo cast iron hot water radiators inside the Music Room, I noticed the words AMERICAN RADIATOR COMPANY were inscribed on each section. Displayed in Figure 5 is an image of the inscription.

Figure 5: One of the Rococo cast iron hot water radiators with AMERICAN RADIATOR COMPANY inscribed on the side.

Established in 1888 as the Michigan Radiator and Iron Manufacturing Company, and then reincorporated in 1892 as the American Radiator Company, the company manufactured in 1894 “the first boilers [and radiators] for house-warming purposes” (Burton 598). The epicenter of manufacturing for the American Radiator Company at the time was Detroit, Michigan. While the American Radiator Company did own other manufacturing plants across the American Midwest, the radiators installed in the Deyo House in 1894 and 1915 were most likely produced in the automotive city.

The American Radiator Company throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries forged business partnerships with local distributors and small businesses across the United States of America. An example of this would be the cooperation between the American Radiator Company and the Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store – a local 19th century heating and plumbing business, formerly located at 101 Main Street, New Paltz, New York (Johnson 79). According to an advertisement published on May 23rd of 1903 in the New Paltz Independent, the Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store was trying to notify the residents of New Paltz about the new heating technology they were selling. Attached in Figure 6 is the advertisement from the New Paltz Independent.

Figure 6: A Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store advertisement in the New Paltz Independent.

Even though there are no financial records from the 1894 and 1915 renovations of the Deyo House, it is likely that Abraham Deyo Broadhead and Frank J. Lefevre supported a local family owned business by purchasing the Rococo radiators from the Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store. While there is no documentation of the price the Hasbrouck and Weismiller Store was selling the Rococo radiators, a Sears, Roebuck catalog from 1910 offers some insight as to how much the Broadhead and LeFevre families paid. Attached in Figure 7 is a page from the Sears, Roebuck catalog, in their heating section.

Figure 7: Heating section from the 1910 Sears, Roebuck catalog (STEAM AND HOT 99).

Based in Chicago, Illinois, the American Heating Company designed and manufactured the AMCE radiators shown for sale in Figure 7. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the American Heating Company was the American Radiator Company’s rival in the heating industry (Burton 598). While the prices of the American Radiator Company radiators are not advertised in the Sears, Roebuck catalog, analyzing their competitor’s prices for a very similar product offers some insight as to how much the Broadhead and LeFevre families paid. Based on the dimensions of the Rococo radiators inside the Music Room of the Deyo House – 3’-6” wide by 1’-10 ½” high – they would correspond to the 20-Inch Height column, as shown in Figure 7. For each cast iron hot water radiator inside the Music Room there are 17 sections, so with a little math, the total theoretical price for the 17 sections in 1910 would be $4.68 (STEAM AND HOT 99). However, these are not the only radiators inside the Deyo House. Accounting for all 123 sections purchased during both renovations, the total theoretical cost for the entire package of Rococo cast iron hot water radiators in 1910 would be $33.83 (STEAM AND HOT  99). In the late 19th and early 20th century, this was a significant amount of money to invest in a household utility. According to officialdata.org, $33.83 in 1915 is equivalent to $851.45 in 2019 (1). Considering all the radiators inside the Deyo House are identical, this sheds light on the obsessive and compulsive nature of Frank J. LeFevre to match the other gold painted radiators.

Narrative:

The late 19th century was a transformative era in the United States of America, where mass industrialization and exponential technological growth gave rise to the materialism and consumer culture of the 20th century. Innovations such as electric lighting, automobile manufacturing, camera design, audio recording, and central heating systems were developed. Like most first iterations of a consumer product, these material items were very expensive, where only affluent families could even consider purchasing these products. The Broadhead, LeFevre, and Vanderbilt families, through their rapid spending on luxurious, non-essential technology, are early examples of Americans immersing themselves in material culture.

In stark contrast to most Americans in the late 19th century, the Broadhead, LeFevre, and Vanderbilt families enjoyed the luxury of owning a low maintenance central heating system. The rationale, however, behind purchasing gold painted radiators was significantly different for each family. For example, the primary reason Abraham Deyo Broadhead and Frank J. LeFevre purchased gold painted radiators for the Deyo House was to display their affluence. During the 1894 and 1915 renovations, the Broadhead and LeFevre families were attempting to emulate the lifestyle of the Vanderbilt’s, but since neither family accumulated as much wealth as the Vanderbilt family, the Broadhead and LeFevre families had to express their wealth through other means. One method the Broadhead and LeFevre families employed was installing decorative, gold painted radiators. When the Vanderbilt’s purchased their radiators in the late 19th century, they deemed it “unnecessary… to purchase fancy radiators [from the American Radiator Company] because they [the radiators] appeared only in the service areas” (Albee 215). Even though the Vanderbilt’s cared about displaying their wealth, as shown by their luxurious 211-acre summer home in Hyde Park, New York, they did not care about expressing their wealth through smaller material items.

In addition to emulating the Vanderbilt’s lifestyle, the Broadhead and LeFevre families, through the purchase and installation of golden radiators, wanted to impress wealthy families in the local Hudson Valley. An example of this would be the countless events the Broadhead and LeFevre families hosted at the Deyo House. Articles published on March 1st and March 6th of 1895 in the New Paltz Independent discussed an event the Broadhead family hosted on February 27th, 1895, where high profile families from the neighboring towns of Kingston and Newburgh attended. According to these articles, significant emphasis was placed on the electric lighting and the Rococo gold painted radiators in the Deyo House (New Paltz Independent). In stark contrast to the high maintenance heating system most Americans owned at the time – a coal burning oven or a fireplace – the Broadhead family wanted to communicate a message to their local community of their vast collection of wealth.

When analyzing this period of American history, it is important to understand how material culture influenced regions such as the Hudson Valley. After nearly 200 years of Deyo’s living in a one-story Dutch style stone house, Abraham Deyo Broadhead authorized in 1894 a complete transformation of the Deyo House. The final product left the house unrecognizable, as seen in Figure 1 and Figure 2, and equipped with, at the time, sophisticated technology – electric lighting and a central heating system. While the gold painted radiators did fulfill a function in providing heat in an efficient, low maintenance manner, their intended purpose was to showcase the wealth of the Broadhead and LeFevre families. In contrast, the Vanderbilt’s focused on the practical application of a central heating system, rather than focusing on the optics of owning state-of-the-art technology. The Huguenot Historical Society and the National Park Service have preserved these objects so they can serve as a reminder to people of the consumer culture of the late 19th and early 20th century. I firmly believe that the preservation of these radiators inside the Deyo House has contributed immensely to the rich history of New Paltz.

Works Cited

Handmade Doll Belonging to Gertrude Van Order Dubois

A Homemade American Girl Doll that belonged to Gertrude Van Order DuBois
A Homemade American Girl Doll that belonged to Gertrude Van Order DuBois

At first glance, one may not be particulary interested in what appears to be a typical antique ragdoll. Closer inspection, however, reveals an interesting glimpse into the history of American doll making and an aspect of New Paltz History too often over looked.

Description:

This homemade doll dates back to mid to late 19th century and once belonged to Gertrude Van Order DuBois. The doll is an African American woman dressed in clothing typical to the period. Her pale pink dress is slightly faded, accented by a once-white apron that is now yellow-tinged. The top of her blouse is accented by lace trim and a “bow” of white string. Her wide-brimmed bonnet sports the same pink and lavendar floral pattern as her skirt. Black woolen hair peaks out from underneath the bonnet, knitted tightly to the bottom of her cap. She is made entirely out of cloth, with a knitted head, sewn on facial features and beads for eyes. The left side of her face has some slight discoloration, likely a product of aging.

004
003

Provenance:

There is little information available on Gertrude. The wife of Herman Dubois, she was born in 1874 and died in 1950. The Dubois family and other Huguenot families of New Paltz were slave owners. Louis, one of the founding Dubois family members, purchased two slaves at public auction in Kingston 1674. The 1755 census shows Solomon DuBois as owning seven slaves. It is reasonable to surmise that this doll once belonged to a slave child and eventually fell into the hands of young Gertrude.

Narrative:

The earliest dolls were often crafted from pottery (common in ancient Egypt), baked clay or wood (two mediums used frequently in Ancient Greece). Bone, fur, and wax were also common materials. Dolls in ancient Greece and Rome often had articulated limbs that could be moved around and posed; notably, most modern dolls didn’t have moveable limbs until the 19th century.

Early dolls were often used for educational purposes or as elements in religious and magic rituals. When women married in ancient Greece, they would lovingly dedicate their dolls to the local goddess–a symbolic “rite of passage” into womanhood.

The Industrial Revolution saw a shift from home-made, labors of love playthings to the mass production of dolls in factories. Such dolls were often constructed from porcelain and thus quite expensive, so at home doll-making continued into the early 20th century. Homemade dolls were crafted out of fabric scraps, string, and straw, often crudely rendered due to a lack of materials.


African American dolls, like the one owned by Gertrude Van Order Dubois, have a particularly rich history in American folk art. Cloth rag dolls were originally made by slaves for their children to play with and were not mass-produced until after the Civil War, when their popularity in both America and Europe increased. These factory-made dolls were typically offensive caricatures of African Americans. Porcelain doll makers adopted the practice of painting the heads of white dolls black, resulting in a bizarre looking doll with dark skin and Caucasian features. Such dolls promoted racism against African Americans, including the blackface iconography that became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first mass-produced African American dolls  with realistic facial features did not exist until the 1960’s. Thus, if mid to late 19th century African American children wanted a doll that actually looked like them, they would have to make one at home.

Like much of New York, New Paltz tends to downplay the existence of slavery here. Remnants of our town’s past, like Gertrude’s doll, remind us that this area did in fact play a role in slavery–and its traces are often far different than we may anticipate.


https://www.hrvh.org/cdm/ref/collection/hhs/id/80

Dolls from the Index of American Design.” National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art: Washington, DC. Web. 23 April 2019.

Interesting History of Dolls.” History of Dolls. Web. 23 April 2019.

Unkenholz, Tim. “If You Think Dolls Are Creepy Now, Just Wait Til You See Their Origins…” ViralNova. Web. 23 April 2019.

“Dolls and Dollhouses.” Oxford Art OnlineOxford University Press.: New York. Web. 23 April 2019.

https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/a-19th-century-american-girl/

A Pair of Portraits

When I think of historical objects, I tend to think literally and picture everyday objects, like utensils, tools, and written documents. Within this mindset, I place art into its own category as I view art as more than just an object. This separation stems from the fact that I have grown up loving and appreciating art, but also due to how the term “art” is given a particular significance. Labeling something as a work of art often implies greater value, more depth, and asks for wonder and awe. However, it is through viewing pieces of art as both objects and works of art that a complete understanding can be made. For this project, I chose to research a pair of pastel portraits from the Huguenot Street Collection, to understand how they were significant both as objects and as works of art. These portraits are of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck, created by the artist Micah Williams.

The pastel portraits are of standard size for artist Micah Williams, 32 inches in height and 28 inches in width. They are done on a “stretched paper” framed together and reinforced with newspaper clippings on the back of the pastel paper (Choi & Makin 131). This was done so that Williams did not have to travel with as many supplies such as an easel. However, since these panel assemblies were makeshift they are extremely fragile and susceptible to tearing and fracturing (Choi & Makin 131). Within his portraits, Williams paid extreme attention to detail, including all the minor details that the subjects wanted; such as the jewelry, intricate clothing textures like those in collars and sleeves, and hairstyle. Furthermore, this attention to detail extends into the faces of both Jane Van Winkle Elting and Agustus Hasbrouck. They appear here looking rather serious with only small smiles, in their best clothes and jewelry. In order to succeed at such detail, Williams mixed and layered different pigments within each portrait, to individualize the facial features of each subject.

These images depict where the portraits hang now, in the Southeast Bedroom of the Deyo House. They are preserved in gilded frames and depict the couple in their best attire. Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck is wearing a black dress, and adorned in jewelry. While Augustus Hasbrouck is wearing a white shirt with a ruffled cravat, a waistcoat, and black jacket.

The portraits originally sold in the early 1930’s by descendants of the NJ Hasbrouck family, in Hurley, NY. The portraits later became a part of the Historic Huguenot collection through Fred Johnston of Kingston in 1979. Fred Johnston was an antiques dealer in located in Kingston, who turned his home into both his shop and a museum (Kirby). The Fred Johnston House was built in 1812 by John Sudam, a prominent local attorney, state senator and member of the state Board of Regents (Kirby). Fred Johnston applied for a loan and bought the house to save it from being turned into a gas station, and devoted his life to restoring and preserving the local history of the area (Friends of Historic Kingston & Kirby). Prior to his purchase of the house, it was owned by the Ven Leuven family and their descendants (Friends of Historic Kingston & Kirby).The significance of these portraits goes far beyond what I imagined. Not only do these portraits tell the story of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck and their life connected to Huguenot Street, but also of antique’s dealer Fred Johnston of Kingston, and of the artist Micah Williams of New Jersey.

Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck was a daughter of Reverend Wilhelmus Elting and Jane Houseman, who married Augustus Hasbrouck of the Shawangunks region. According to Hasbrouck, she inherited 100 acres of land in her father’s will, near the Passaic River (112). Furthermore, she created the designs for the Octagon House in New Jersey, that she and her husband lived in (Brown et. al 126). An Elting family descendant, she is an example of how her family flourished despite not being original settlers to Huguenot settlements. Furthermore, it is noted that the Elting family line was known for bring church-goers, moral, thrifty, hospitable, and blunt (Lefevre 498). Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck, was the mother to sixteen children from her marriage to August Hasbrouck, and raised them all in New Jersey farmland (Hasbrouck 113).

Augustus Hasbrouck is the son of Joseph Issac Hasbrouck and Cornelia Hasbrouck. Father to the sixteen children he shared with Jane, he was a well respected farmer from Goshen, New York (Hasbrouck 113). According to the full obituary found in the Hasbrouck family history, he died of a bladder disease on September 9, 1809 in the Hasbrouck family home (Hasbrouck 113). For the majority of his adult life, he lived with Jane and their family in the farmlands of New Jersey, until shortly before his death when they moved to New York (Hasbrouck 113). According to Hasbrouck, “the deceased was a quiet, upright citizen, who probably had not an enemy in the world” (113). Augustus and Jane therefore, had some status as they were able to have these portraits commissioned from Williams.

Through Fred Johnston, these portraits were able to remain a part of the Hudson Valley’s history and eventually return to Huguenot Street. His work as an antique dealer not only preserved history in Kingston, but also allowed for history to be preserved in New Paltz, and spread knowledge between these communities. Furthermore, his role in these portraits story allows the narrative to become larger than just Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck, by including the greater communities story.

These paintings also add another level of community history due to their creator and original artist. Micah Williams was a self-trained artist, who had previously had a career as a silver plate craftsmen (La Gorce). Known as a folk artist, he traveled from home to home across New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to complete each portrait (La Gorce). Williams and his wife had seven children together and raised them in New Jersey and some of them later in New York (Rogoff 16). Portraits by Williams would have cost somewhere between five and ten dollars at the times of their creation in the mid eighteen hundred, now cost around sixty-thousand dollars for collectors (La Gorce). Williams knew that pursuing an art career would not ease financial burdens, and was often in debt, at one point even in debtors prison (Rogoff 12). However, he did not let financial burden stop him from pursuing his art career, and his works are now desired by folk art collectors. Williams work reflects the history of the time, as portraits were the method through families were documented. Furthermore, his work demonstrates the significance of the area and of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck. These portraits represent both historical objects and incredible works of art that tell the story of the individuals within the frame, but also of those around it.

Works Cited

Brown, T. Robins., et al. The Architecture of Bergen County, New Jersey: the Colonial Period to the Twentieth Century. Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Choi, Soyeon, and Jessica, Makin. “Treatment and Housing Techniques for Pastel Paintings on Paper: Case Studies.” Book and Paper Group Session, AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting. Book and Paper Group Session, AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting, Indianapolis. http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v32/bp32-06.pdf  

“The Fred J. Johnston House.” Friends of Historic Kingston, 19 Feb. 2018, www.fohk.org/welcome/our-properties/the-fred-j-johnston-house/.

Gorce, Tammy La. “Mysteries of an Unusual Traveling Salesman.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/nyregion/mysteries-of-an-unusual-traveling-salesman.html.

Hasbrouck, Kenneth E. The Hasbrouck Family in America. I & II, Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, New York, 1987.

Kirby, Paul.“Museum Celebrates Fred Johnston Home’s 200th Birthday in Uptown Kingston.” Daily Freeman, The Daily Freeman, 9 Apr. 2012, www.dailyfreeman.com/news/museum-celebrates-fred-johnston-home-s-th-birthday-in-uptown/article_eaf2023e-2e8e-542e-960f-774fb3a0bfe8.html.

Le Fevre, Ralph. “History of New Paltz, New York, and Its Old Families (from 1678 to 1820).” Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=J3MzN2gTQfgC&pg=PA497&lpg=PA497&dq=Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck&source=bl&ots=ps2CZC2JbP&sig=ACfU3U0_bI7gTuasMKvPvYmnsMihlFEDWg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwixtLCA2-bhAhVrk-AKHS9wAgU4ChDoATAAegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Augustus Hasbrouck&f=false.

Rogoff, Bernadette M. Micah Williams, Portrait Artist. Monmouth County Historical Association, 2013. http://media.icompendium.com/karenbri_MW-All.pdf

The Deyo House 1950’s Kitchen

After visiting the Huguenot houses with our class, the stand out for me was the 1950’s kitchen in the Deyo House. Although replicated, I couldn’t stop thinking about leaving the 1800’s Victorian dining room and walking into what was at the time, a high end kitchen from the post-war era.

According to documents shared with me by Ashley, from 1894 on, the layout of the kitchen hadn’t changed much. One of the biggest upgrades to the house was when plumbing was brought into the house. That made appliances such as the Kohler Electric Sink from the 1920’s to 1930’s possible. Cabinets were created where the dumbwaiters used to be. Woodwork was painted, where previously it had been varnished.

One of the reasons the kitchen hasn’t been brought back to the pre-renovation style is because of what it would take to remove the plumbing. Other factors are also involved.

Ashley recommended I visit the Elting Library to gather more information about the Woods family. They were the residents of the house when the current renovation took place. I will do this in the next couple of days.

Huguenot Street Cipher Books

According to the Ciphering Book Collection on the official Huguenot Street website, cipher books are handwritten workbooks that were used by students in the early times of education in New Paltz. Many students used these workbooks to learn mathematics, handwriting, spelling, and other disciplines. Most of these books date from the early 19th century and are bounded in cloth, leather or board. They are very old and the pages have turn a light brown. The cloth that was used to cover the book feels like cardboard, slightly thick. The sides of the pages have what looks like watermarks and the bottom of the pages are worn, from the constant turning of the pages. The majority of the books contain entries in English, French and Dutch. The math content in the books were typically simple operations such as addition, subtraction, measurement, and problem solving with several different currencies. As the pages go on, the mathematical operations become more complex with application problems, proportion, interest, decimals, fractions and more. Some of the application problems referred to events that occur in our history, which revealed social issues of the time. Religious and moral lessons, along with simple doodles were written throughout the books.

I was curious about how the curriculum of education began in New Paltz, so I was directly to In a Valley Fair: A History of the State University College of Education at New Paltz. According to the first few chapters of this book, the Huguenot landholders hired Jean Cottin as their headmaster when they settled in New Paltz in 1689. The school was connected to their church, and the headmasters were hired only if they were condemned as a good man, teacher, and true Christians. During the early order from the Classis of Amsterdam, schoolmasters in the Dutch colonies instructed their pupils not only in reading, writing, ciphering and arithmetic, but also in the customary form of prayers. This would explain the writings doodled into some of the cipher books. There was a mantra that was spotted in some of the cipher books, including in DuBois’ cipher book, which I will explain more later on. The school curriculum in 1812 was limited, so it was mostly reading and writing. By 1827, subjects such as math, grammar, and geography became the common branches of public education. In 1828, a group of leading citizens founded the New Paltz Classical School, which began its sessions on the second floor of the Common School. The classical school was meant for the higher class, with more money because those who supported this new school were decedents of the original families: Deyos, DuBoises, Eltings, Hasbroucks, and LeFevres. Those who attended the classical school, paid more money and were taught Greek, geography, history, natural philosophy and math. Those in the regular English schools were taught grammar, French, reading, writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping and elocution. Education in New Paltz in the late 18th/early 19th centuries was largely focused on business and commerce, and was tied in with religious rhetoric. These next two ciphering books will demonstrate this in various ways.

The first Cipher book I chose to analyze was Josiah LeFevre’s from 1822-1824. This cipher book was part of an artificial collection, meaning that the donor is unknown and the Huguenot team put the book together. Carrie from Huguenot Street believes this cipher book might have been donated by Sadie Mott, but is unsure. According to Historic Huguenot records, Josiah was born July 7, 1810 and died December 15, 1888. He married his first cousin, Catherine Maria Lefevre and had four kids. On the left side of the first page of the cipher book, he writes “last of May or the first of June; May 31, 1822” and on the other, he writes “Josiah LeFevre his Cyphernbook May the 28th 1822 Tuesday. The arithmetick Printed By Nicoles Tike in the year 1809”. I’m not sure who Nicholes Tike was, but his name was on the inside cover. Maybe it was the author of the workbook he was copying problems from. The cipher book starts off with easy mathematical operations and then they get more complex.

Their long division looks like what we currently learn in schools except they had lbs:g:lbs on top of the equation. I’m not entirely sure why they wrote that before starting the problem. However, whenever Josiah starts a new concept, he defines it and its many rules before creating word problems for the concept. As I continued flipping through the pages, I noticed that their application problems were more about how to deal with purchases of a certain product. “By inventing the order of the _____, it will be 2^n. If ____ (illegible handwriting) buy all of sugar, how much will ___ buy at that rate?”. There were other word problems that spoke about picking up pounds at certain ports and delivering it to other ports for certain rates. These math problems illustrates the business and commerce life that kids Lefevre’s age were learning in school. There were also application problems involving our past history. One word problem said, “America was discovered by Columbus in 1492 and its independence was declared in 1776. How many years elapsed between those two years?”. The next word problem mentioned the Boston massacre and the Battle of Lexington.

There were also doodles throughout Josiah’s cipher book such as his initials throughout the book. At one point, he wrote the word “Ans” 32 times halfway down the bottom right side. Josiah also kept records of people who paid him for their bills through their bank accounts. It’s very detailed and it runs on for half a page with a chart. Josiah also compared federal money and english money as examples to a new concept. I did not understand why there was different markers on top of each amount and I wonder if that was how they distinguished their money back then. (insert pic) Midway through the cipher book, there were two pages of different measurements of products: ivory weight, avoirdupois weights (system that uses pounds and ounces), apothecaries weight (pharmaceutical measuring system), cloth and long measure, and time. The next two pages had land, square, solid, hhine, hole and beer, and dry measures. These must have been the different ways they measured the goods they traded and sold. The second cipher book was a lot like Lefevre’s, so I wonder if they were in similar grade levels or schools.

The second cipher book was written by Josiah DuBois in 1792. He was born on December 18, 1781, was baptized in New Paltz in 1732 and died March 11, 1869. He married twice and had many kids. Mr. DuBois was very successful in his early mercantile days and resumed the agriculture upon his ancestral acres, and lived for many years. He carried out his business in what is now the Jean Hasbrouck Memorial House, in partnership with Col. Josiah Hasbrouck. Mr. DuBois was also one of the original trustees of the New Paltz Academy and one of the owners of the Academy grounds. Josiah DuBois started his cipher book with the written words, “Numeration; August 20, 1792; Teacheth to read, Write, or Corprefs, any Number or turn proposed”. He then drew the place value chart up to hundred million. At the bottom of the first page, he wrote “ Josiah DuBois is my name/America is my Nation/New Paltz is my dwelling place and Christ is my Salvation/When I am dead, and in my grave and all my bones are rotten, when this you see remember me that I am not forgotten”. Unfortunately, the rest of that message was crossed out and doodled on top of and illegible. His message illustrates the closeness of the church in schools and in his life. This was the mantra that I had mentioned above that was seen in other similar cipher books. I believe that this saying was probably taught to students in schools, something they lived by, which was why it was doodled into their workbooks.

Josiah DuBois’s cipher book was similar to Josiah Lefevre’s book, except that DuBois’s book mentioned the selling of goods such as cloth and food, while Lefevre’s book emphasized on the money part of the business. In Dubois’s cipher book, there were word problems about buying or selling things such as, dog buttons at 3/6’/4 per dog. The problem asked DuBois to find the price, if he were to buy the whole. He also had two pages full of what his customers bought on a specific day. He had six different categories for who bought what. He had someone who was a cheese monger, milliner, carpenter, and baker. For example, he recorded all the products that Thomas Hantloy bought on May 19, 1793. The list consists of “raisins of the sun, malaga baifins, currants, sugars, sugar loaves, rice, black pepper and gloves”. Another interesting thing I found in Josiah DuBois’s cipher book was two poems on mathematical roots such as squared or cubed. One poem had 14 lines and the other had 20 lines, but both followed an aabbcc pattern. The first poem doesn’t make any sense no matter how many times I read it, however before the poem, Josiah wrote at the top of the page that this poem was a “Rule to be got by heart”. I can only assume he means they must memorize this poem to help them understand the rule to the concept of roots. As for the second poem, the first three lines says, “The cube of your first period take/And of its root a Quotient make/Which root into a cube must grow/And from your period taken fro, To the Remainder then you must”. I don’t understand what he was trying to say in the poem, but it looks like something that was taught in their schools to help them memorize rules and concepts. The last interesting thing I found towards the end of the cipher book was a Mariners Compass. According to Webster Dictionary, a Mariners Compass is a navigation compass that consists of magnetic needles permanently attached to a card that marks the direction and degrees of a circle. Josiah DuBois wrote down numbers related to the climate between the Equator and the poles using the compass.

Overall, both Josiah Lefevre and Josiah DuBois’s cipher books had many similar writings and methods to their education. I conclude that it was possible they could have been in similar school grades because the math was so similar. I am assuming that Josiah Lefevre’s education was more focused on the business aspect of commerce, while Josiah DuBois’s education seemed to be more focused on the actual goods they were selling. I may be wrong, but judging from the different kinds of word problems they were given, that was my conclusion. I have learned a lot in my research and I’m glad I picked cipher books as my topic of discovery because I am an Education major and learning about how schools taught back then, was fun to read through. It’s interesting to see what goes on in a child’s head as they are in school. It’s also fascinating to see the methods they used for learning and how it is compared to today.

Works Cited

Lang, Elizabeth and Lang, Robert. In a Valley Fair: A History of the State University College of Education at New Paltz, NY. 1960. 

Hedged, William. The American Decedents of Chretien DuBois of Wicres, France Part 3. Du Bois Family Association, Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, NY Inc. 1969, Revised and updated 1999. 

Roth, Eric. Cipher Book Collection (ca. 1730-1849), Published 28 August 1999, last updated 14 January 2013. 

1836 U.S. Artillery Short Sword

Today, the center focus of our society is on the present. People often tend to worry about how the choices they make today will affect themselves and those around them in the foreseeable future. History, however, is the study of the past; it helps us comprehend the wealth of information about how people and societies behave and evolve over time. Always finding history to be a fascinating academic subject, I was thrilled to be given a unique opportunity to closely research an artifact from the archives of the Historic Huguenot Collection. Due to an interest in the Civil War era, the object I have chosen to explore is an 1836 U.S. Artillery Short Sword used by Union soldiers during this time.

Description and History

A full view of the 1836 Artillery Short Sword.

The U.S. Model 1836 foot artillery short-sword was the first sword contracted by the U.S. with the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts, with production starting in 1832. Despite there not being marking on this model from the manufacturer, evidence suggests that this short-sword derived from this company due to matching physical characteristics between this model and those produced during the Civil War era. The Ames Manufacturing Company was also a major provider of other side arms, swords, and light artillery for the Union during the American Civil War. With a whooping 16,200 models produced between 1832 and 1872, this weapon played a major symbolic role for artillery regiments during this time. Although the design was impractical for actual combat, it is alleged that artillerymen put this weapon to other uses, such as creating trails and clearing brush.

In terms of physical characteristics, the iconic design of this short-sword has remained relatively consistent throughout centuries. The first iteration of this design came from the Roman gladius, the standard sword of the Roman legionaries. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, centuries later during the late 1700’s, neo-classical swords began to be revived in Napoleon’s France, and by 1831, the French army was issuing a short-swords centered on the gladius to its artillerymen as a backup weapon in the event they were charged by infantry or cavalry. Eventually, the United States were inspired and began creating their own in 1832.

A close of view of the hilt of the 1836 Artillery Short Sword from the Historic Huguenot Street Collection. The sword was donated in 1982 by Myra Wilkins and evidence suggests that her grandfather, William Ackermann, used this sword while enlisted in New York’s 10th Artillery Regiment which was stationed in Virginia. While not designed for actual combat, the weapon played a symbolic role in the events that occurred during the Civil War.
A close up photo of the tip of the 1836 model short sword from the Historic Huguenot Street Collection.

The U.S. model from our collection was a double-edged sword 25 inches long and was 1.75 inches wide. Moreover, the physical steel blade spans 19 inches with a small indent that runs down the middle, all with a corroded metal look due to length of time since its initial creation. Shifting to the lower part of the object, the sword has a 6-inch solid brass hilt and a 4-inch cross guard with a curricular design at each end. In addition, one of the most noticeable features is the fish scale grips that make up the hilt of the sword, along with the spherical pommel at the base of the sword with a faded image of an eagle.

Provenance

This artillery short-sword was donated to the Historic Huguenot Collection in 1982 by Myra Wilkins, an elderly resident of New Paltz. Mrs. Wilkins, who was born on January 31st, 1908, was 74 years old when she donated a vast array of weaponry to Huguenot street and would eventually pass away and be buried Union Cemetery of Lloyd years later at the age of 83 on the 15th of January, 1992. When analyzing the genealogy of the Wilkin family to determine if this sword was actually utilized during the Civil War, I came across Myra’s grandfather William Ackermann. Upon exploring enlistment records, I discovered an individual with the same name who served in New York’s 10th Heavy Artillery regiment. Although I can not say this with absolute certainty, but evidence suggests that Ackerman, who according to Census data from 1860 was 16 years old at the age of enlistment, served in New York’s 4th regiment which was eventually combined with other groups from New York into the 10th regiment that was listed earlier. According to historical records, the 10th regiment was mainly stationed in Virginia, the state with the highest slave population in the confederacy.

Narrative

The Civil War played a pivotal role in reshaping the status quo of contemporary America. Throughout the entirety of the states, the conflict truly divulged the horrors of war, racial discrimination and polarization. These effects were more than prominent in Ulster county which saw nearly 7,500 men, more than 200 of those from New Paltz itself, enlist for the war effort. As mentioned before, a majority of the soldiers who enlisted from New York eventually combined into the 10th regiment which saw most of their action in the confederate state of Virginia. Unfortunately, the Civil War was one of the bloodiest wars in American history and it is no surprise that many of these soldiers were unable to return home to their loved ones. Just from the 10th regiment, a staggering total of 267 died while serving in the military. What’s most shocking is that although this regiment fought in a total of five battles, 220 men died from disease while only a mere 47 were actually killed in combat.

Of the three million soldiers who served and fought in the Civil War, each represented a unique story waiting to be told. Although no two men shared exact same experiences throughout the conflict, whether their exploits in battle or their emotional state of mind, similar threads weaved their way through a significant number of these narratives. With nearly two-thirds of all enlistments being under the age of 21, Ackermann most likely included, the conflict not only became a test for survival due to gruesome and life-threating conditions, but also to the emotional narratives that ensued throughout their campaign.

A common misconception regarding the cause of enrollment is that Union soldiers fought to liberate southern slaves and Confederate soldiers fought to do the opposite. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that this was not what the soldiers during this time truly believed. During this conflict, Union soldiers fought in order to protect the United States and to reunite America. As a result, the underlying issue of slavery was often seen as a trivial issue by both sides of the war; for many, it seems, emancipation was not a prelude to equality.

Despite this, however, there were significant differences in the rights of African-Americans between those who resided in New York and those in Virginia. Within the former, slavery was officially made illegal in 1827, but in terms of representation, New York residents were less willing to give blacks equal voting rights. By the constitution of 1777, voting was restricted to free men who could satisfy certain property requirements for value of real estate. This property requirement disfranchised poor men among both blacks and whites. In spite of this, John Hasbrouck, born to an enslaved woman in New Paltz in 1806 and, later, as a freeman, was able to purchase land in the town. He is commonly believed to be the first African American eligible to vote in New Paltz.

Although African-Americans exhibited some rights in the north, slavery was still a strong issue throughout Virginia where Ackermann was most likely stationed. At first glance, one may think that Union soldiers would have stop to think about the cultural and socioeconomic differences between the north and the south, but to our dismay, that is not what occurred. Upon analyzing letters archived from the Historic Huguenot street, it can be seen that soldiers cared little about the lives or wellbeing of these individuals. The language of many of these letters suggested strong animosity toward the idea of equality, as many writers often resorted to dehumanizing names toward slaves they encountered.

Its important as a society to be able look back at these records and think about how much times have changed. During this era, even though there were different stances on the issue of slavery, it is undeniable that racism was heavily prevalent from both sides of the conflict. It’s no secret that Historic Huguenot street itself once owned a large slave population, and there are many items apart of its collection that continue to serve as a reminder of the past. In my opinion, I believe that the inclusion of this short sword has contributed an unprecedented amount to the nature of New Paltz’s history. This item in juxtaposition with old remnants of Huguenot Street’s early past help remind us how much we’ve progressed as a society and helps reiterate the demand for change in the near future.

Works Citied

Altschuler, Glenn C. “What the Troops Really Thought about Slavery.” Baltimoresun.com, 27 Oct. 2018, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2007-04-15-0704130145-story.html.

Burgin, Chris. “Roman Weapons and Armor .” Roman Weapons and Armor, 2008, http://www.web.archive.org/web/20080105112407/http://www.eclectichistorian.net/Roman/.

Editorial Staff. “Exhibit: Freed Slave, New Paltz Landowner John Hasbrouck.” The New York History Blog, 12 June 2017, http://www.newyorkhistoryblog.org/2017/06/exhibit-freed-slave-new-paltz-landowner-john-hasbrouck/.

FamilySearch. “1860 Census Data.” FamilySearch, 2019, http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCQQ-2WY.

Find A Grave. “William H. Ackerman .” Findagrave.com, 2019, http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27427552/william-h_-ackerman.

Find A Grave. “Myra H. Gerald Wilkins .” Findagrave.com, 2019, http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94069221/myra-h_-wilkins.

Historic Huguenot Street . “Civil War Letter Archive.” Hudson River Valley Heritage, 2019, http://www.hrvh.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/hhs.

Lanham, Howard G. “Enlisted Swords Model-1832 Foot Artillery Sword.” Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the American Civil War 1861-1865, 2019, http://www.howardlanham.tripod.com/linkgr5/link230.html.

Lanham, Howard G. “Sword Plate from the 1861 U.S. Ordnance Manual.” U.S. Army Regulations Illustration: Link 11d Swords and Scabbards, 2019, http://www.howardlanham.tripod.com/link11d.htm.

National Park Service. “Battle Unit Details.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2019, http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UNY0010RAH.

New York State Military Museum. “10th Artillery Regiment.” 10th NY Heavy Artillery Regiment during the Civil War – NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, 2018, http://www.dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/artillery/10thArtHvy/10thArtHvyMain.htm.

New York State Military Museum. “Civil War Newspapers Ulster County, New York.” Ulster County, New York in the Civil War – NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, 2018, http://www.dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/counties/ulster/ulster_CWN.htm.