Tag Archives: Agricultural History

Grain Dust Dreams: A Short History Of Grain Elevators


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Grain Elevator HistoryGrain Dust Dreams (SUNY Press, 2015) tells the story of terminal grain elevators – concrete colossi that stand in the middle of a deep river of grain that they lift, sort, and send on.

From their invention in Buffalo through a present-day operation in Thunder Bay, Ontario, David W. Tarbet examines the difficulties and dangers of working in a grain elevator – showing how they operate and describing the effects that the grain trade has on the lives of individuals and cities. Continue reading

Heritage Hops Benefit Madison Co Historical Society


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Madison County HopsPotted hop plants are available to benefit the Madison County Historical Society in Oneida, NY for at least a five dollar donation. Hop plants are ready to be planted now.

Available hop varieties include Cascade and “Hedgerow Hops” from the wild stock of the old hop yards near Bouckville, NY where commercial hop growing was introduced to Central New York in 1808. These hedgerow hops are a hardy plant, having survived over 150 winters. Continue reading

The Historic Apples of New York


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adirondack appleEvery two years I gather together some friends to make hard cider. None of us have apple orchards. From the time the buds break throughout the summer, until after the first couple hard frosts, we scan the roads and fields of the Adirondacks. We look for abandoned orchards and clumps of neglected trees in yards and inquire with their owners.

Right up until the last gallon goes into the fermenter we have endless debates about the best way to pick our finds. We prattle on about the best timing, their sugar content, texture, and flavors. Inevitably the question is raised: “well, what do you think it is?” Now, a new book has been published that we can turn to in trying to figure that out. Continue reading

Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company


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NY Taylor wineDrawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.

In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history. Continue reading

The Orphan Train Experience In NYS


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Christina Baker Kline, author of the novel Orphan Train (William Morrow, 2013).

Kline’s book is the 2015 book selection of Amsterdam Reads, based at the Amsterdam Free Library. The orphan trains transported destitute children from New York and other Eastern cities to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. Some of the children were placed on farms in upstate New York, according to Kline. The orphan trains operated between 1853 and 1929, relocating about 250,000 children.

Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
Continue reading

Areial Photos: New York Rural History From Above


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aerial photograph centered in Syracuse Onondaga County New York 1938Aerial photos can be helpful research tools for historians. Google Earth, which provides access to a vast collection of aerial photography stretching back 20 years, is just a sampling of the many aerial photos that have been made since French balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as “Nadar”, took a photo over Paris, France in 1858.

Much of New York Sate was photographed with the camera pointing straight down, an oblique presentation that is less useful to some historians. An effort to capture all of New York in an orthophotographic perspective (corrected to a uniform scale) started in 1936 with a contract to C.S. Robinson of Ithaca, NY. These images are particularly valuable resources for historians of all stripes. Continue reading

Farmers’ Museum Conference Celebrates Agriculture


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Farmers Museum Agriculture Conference“A Celebration of Our Agricultural Community”, a conference on food and farming at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, will inform and inspire farmers and the public, unifying and driving the agricultural economy in Central New York. The conference takes place Saturday, November 15 from 9:00 am-5:00 pm and is free to the public.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Richard Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Addressing the topic of food systems will be Jason Evans, Assistant Professor of Agriculture, SUNY Cobleskill. Doug Thompson of G&T Farm will speak on the impact farming has on our communities and economies, as well as pasture management. Continue reading

Farms And Food:
Teaching the Hudson Valley from the Ground Up


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WoodstockDayJune2014Educators and the public are invited to discover new and innovative ways to learn about the region’s culture, history, and future at Farms & Food: Teaching the Hudson Valley from the Ground Up, a conference to be held July 29-31 at the Henry A. Wallace Education and Visitors Center on the grounds of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

The keynote address, “Educating our Next Generation to Eat with Consciousness,” features Pam Koch, associate professor of nutrition education and executive director, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, & Policy, Teachers College, Columbia University.  In addition, Koch will lead a workshop, “Empowered Eaters: Making Connections through Food and Nutrition Education.” To see Koch cooking with her own children, visit Kids Cook Monday. Continue reading

Mount Lebanon Heritage Herb Festival Planned


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PostcardHerbFest copyThe third annual Mount Lebanon Heritage Herb Festival celebrates the illustrious past of herbs in town history as well as the Native American and Shaker traditions in the heart of the Lebanon Valley of New York, considered the birthplace of the herbal pharmacy in the United States.

The event takes place on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the historic grounds of Darrow School, at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.   More than eighteen talks, walks and workshops explore the role of herbs in food, gardens, medicine and health from the early days of the Native Americans to current practices. Continue reading

Mount Lebanon Shaker Museum Adds 61 Acres


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new lebanon shaker museumThe Shaker Museum – Mount Lebanon, in New Lebanon, Columbia County, NY, has completed the acquisition of 61 acres of land adjacent to its North Family site, part of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Society National Historic Landmark District.

The parcel, known as the North Pastures, was purchased from the Darrow School, whose campus consists of the former Church and Center Families of Mount Lebanon’s former Shaker community. The purchase was achieved in a partnership with the Open Space Institute, a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to preserving scenic, natural, and historic landscapes, and also with funding from a 2012 grant from New York State. Continue reading

New York Tenant Farmers: Little-Used Resources


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Wheat imageProfessional genealogist Jane E. Wilcox of Forget-Me-Not Ancestry in Kingston will present a talk on New York tenant farmers at the New York Public Library in New York City on Tuesday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Wilcox’s presentation, “Looking for Your New York Tenant Farmer: Little-Used Resources,” will focus on the tenants of the major colonial manors and patents of the Hudson Valley between Westchester and Rensselaer and Albany counties. Wilcox will discuss the types of records that were created in New York’s manorial lease-holding land system and will explain how and where to find documents that recorded the lives of the tenants. Included with the talk will be a handout with genealogical resources. Continue reading

Everyone Knows Elsie:
A Short History of the Borden Company


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WelcomeBackElsieWhen you enter the Hamlet of Wallkill, you are greeted by the happy face of the Borden Company’s mascot, Elsie the Cow. The company’s website states that this mascot dates to the 1930s.

Underneath Elsie is a sign stating that the Hamlet of Wallkill was the location the “Home Farm” of John G. Borden. Thus, many commonly believe that Borden Condensed Milk was in fact invented in the Hamlet of Wallkill; however, its origins can be traced to Burrville, Connecticut and Gail Borden, Jr. Actually, the business was not originally called Borden at all – that title would come later. Continue reading

New Book Explores Life On A Putnam County Farm


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Life on a rocky farmLife on a Rocky Farm (SUNY Press, 2013) is a folksy look at farm life in rugged Putnam Valley (Putnam County) just as it was being transformed by industrialization and mechanization. The book couples Lucas C. Barger’s (1866–1939) eye for detail with a folksy, anecdotal style to provide an interesting depiction of both the traditional ways of farm life, and the challenges farmers faced as times changed.

Previously unpublished, Barger’s first-hand account of farm life near New York City begins in the late nineteenth century. Little had changed for well over a century in the hilly and rugged terrain of Putnam Valley, where Lucas grew up as a member of the sixth generation of Barger farmers. But as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, industrialization and mechanization decreased the demand for farm labor and farmers had to come up with alternate ways to make money. Continue reading

Harvest Fest, Folkways Fair at Hanford Mills Museum


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2011 millers harvest festivalArtisans, water power, local farms, grist milling, lumberjack skills, and horse-drawn wagon rides will all be featured at the Miller’s Harvest Festival and Folkways Fair at Hanford Mills Museum (Delaware County) on Sunday, October 13.

The Museum will be operating machinery in its 1869 Gristmill, which area farmers relied on for generations. The Munson Brothers Millstone, which the Museum connected to its horizontal water turbine in August, will be featured. Guided tours of the gristmill, sawmill and woodworking shop will be offered throughout the day. Continue reading

Mount Lebanon Herb Festival at Historic Shaker Village


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2nd annual mount lebanon herbfest finalThe Mount Lebanon Herb Festival will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, rain or shine on the campus of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, the historic grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

New Lebanon has a remarkable history with herbs. Its famous warm spring feeds the Shaker Swamp in the village of New Lebanon, and that supported an extraordinary collection of wild herbs long used by Native Americans. The Shakers, who based their national headquarters in New Lebanon, expanded on the uses of these herbs and created an industry around their sales. In 1824, Elam Tilden (father of politician Samuel J. Tilden) put this knowledge toward the start of one of the nation’s first pharmaceutical companies, the Tilden Company, using herbal tinctures, extracts and compounds derived in New Lebanon that were eventually marketed around the world. Continue reading

Albany Institute Event Featuring Hudson Valley Hops


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Albany BrewerThe Albany Institute of History & Art will be hosting its second event featuring Hudson Valley Hops on Saturday, April 20, 2013 from 4-7pm.

The event will be a celebration of the history of brewing in Albany and today’s craft beer industry in and around the Hudson Valley. Guests can sample the finest local craft beers, engage with experts in the field, enjoy an assortment of food and tour the museum galleries. Continue reading

Eliakim Briggs: Horse Power Inventor


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Briggs' 1834 horse treadmill BRIn the 1830s, hundreds of inventors around the world focused on attempts at automating farm equipment. Reducing the drudgery, difficulty, and danger of farm jobs were the primary goals, accompanied by the potential of providing great wealth for the successful inventor. Among the North Country men tinkering with technology was Eliakim Briggs of Fort Covington in northern Franklin County.

Functional, power-driven machinery was the desired result of his work, but while some tried to harness steam, Briggs turned right to the source for providing horsepower: the horse. Continue reading