Tag Archives: Agricultural History

The Farmers’ Museum Sugaring Off Sundays Slated


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The Farmers’ Museum will play host to a springtime tradition with Sugaring Off Sundays. Held every Sunday in March (March 4, 11, 18, and 25), the event features historic and contemporary sugaring demonstrations, children’s activities and more. A full pancake breakfast is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with other activities scheduled 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In the Museum’s historic village, children find activities — not homework — at the Filer’s Corners Schoolhouse. Everyone learns about spring tonics and treatments in the More House, and the blacksmith is demonstrating his craft at the Peleg Field Blacksmith Shop. Visitors are invited to have a taste of jack wax, hot maple syrup poured over snow.

On March 18 only, Native American educator and storyteller Mike Tarbell tells stories from the Haudenosaunee tradition.

The Empire State Carousel, a favorite attraction at The Farmers’ Museum, will be open. Local maple products will also be for sale.

Admission to Sugaring Off Sundays is $8 for ages 13 and up; $4 for children age 7 to 12; and free for children 6 and under. Admission includes full breakfast. No reservations are required. Visit FarmersMuseum.org for more information. Sponsored in part by Bank of Cooperstown, Otsego County Maple Producers, Sysco, and Quandt’s Foodservice Distributors.

Photo: Blacksmith Steve Kellogg demonstrates age-old techniques to visitors during last year’s Sugaring Off Sundays event at The Farmers’ Museum. (Photo by Zach Winnie)

Wind Power Has A Long History in America


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Scores of gigantic wind turbines in the Adirondacks’ northeastern and southwestern foothills are a startling site amidst historically bucolic scenery. The landscape appears “citified,” with structures nearly 40 stories high where the largest buildings rarely top 3 stories. It is a dramatic change, and a far cry from simpler days when family farms were prevalent. Few realize that in those “simpler days” of dairy farms, windmills were actually quite common across the region.

Of course, the windmills once dotting the North Country’s landscape were nothing like today’s behemoths, which stand nearly 400 feet high from the ground to the tip of a skyward-pointing blade. And, the windmills of old weren’t always efficient machines.

Wind technology took a tremendous leap forward in the 1850s thanks to Daniel Halladay, a Connecticut machinist. Halladay’s windmill not only pumped water, but automatically turned to face into the wind as it changed directions. Almost as important, he devised a way to control the speed of the blades (windmills are prone to destruction from within when operating at high rpm levels). Halladay established the US Wind Engine & Pump Company, setting up shop in Illinois. From the start, the business flourished.

Though his sales were focused on the country’s expansion westward, New York State was also experiencing dramatic growth, particularly in the remote northern Adirondack foothills, where pioneers faced a harsh climate and difficult living conditions. Halladay’s invention eventually helped turn some of those weather negatives into positives by taking advantage of wind patterns across upper New York State.

In 1874, the railroad was expanding north from Whitehall towards Plattsburgh. Since steam engines require water, the line generally followed the shore of Lake Champlain. Tanks were constructed along the route where the rails approached the lakeshore. Steam pumps or windmills were used to fill the feeder tanks, which had a capacity of 33,000 gallons each.

As settlers moved north on both sides of the Adirondacks, windmill technology crept northward with them. Farming was necessary for survival, and the enormous workload was eased by mechanical devices like windmills. The description of one man’s operation about 18 miles south of Lowville was typical of the times: “… a beautiful farm of 280 acres, milks 35 cows, and is a model farm. House, barns, windmill pump, all systematically arranged.”

In situations like that, windmills often filled tanks placed on the upper floor of a barn. The water was then gravity-fed to the livestock below and piped to other locations as needed. The machine was also used to grind various grains. Early models were mounted on wooden frames, but many fell victim to the very power they were trying to harness, toppling before raging windstorms. Eventually, steel frames supported most windmills.

Wind power wasn’t just for individual homes and farms. In July 1879, H. H. Babcock & Sons of Watertown was hired to install a windmill at 1000 Islands State Park. Water was drawn from the St. Lawrence River to large tanks near the dining hall, and from there was conducted to the various cottages by galvanized iron pipe.

And at Hermon, a contract for $6,595 was signed with Daniel Halladay’s company to install a new waterworks system. Included were a wooden tank of 50,000-gallon capacity, a windmill with a wheel diameter of 20 feet, and more than a mile of piping. The frost-proof tank was 24 feet in diameter, 16 feet high, and 3 inches thick. It sat on a trestle 20 feet high, while the windmill stood on a trestle 80 feet high.

Many hotels, including the Whitney House in Norwood and the Turin House in Turin, used windmills to power their water systems. At Chazy, windmills pumped water from the quarries; at Port Henry, they filled water tanks for the trains; and at Saranac Lake, they fed the water supply of the Adirondack Sanitarium.

In 1889, George Baltz of Watertown handled the Halladay display at the Jefferson County Fair, demonstrating that windmills furnished cheaper power than steam engines and could run a feed mill, a circular saw for cutting wood, or pump water.

Though Halladay’s products were widely known, he did have competitors. Some added their own modifications, and some were “copycats.” And they weren’t all products from afar. In 1882, an advertisement touted a windmill “warranted to take care of itself in high winds, equal to the best western mills, and is sold for half the money. It is manufactured at Potsdam.” It featured a self-regulator, and appeared to be based on Halladay’s own successful model.

In the late 1890s, most of the windmills in the Ticonderoga and Lake George area were products of the Perkins Windmill Company, which had already installed more than 50 units across the lake in Vermont. Though windmills in the Midwest were primarily for irrigation, most of those in the North Country supplied water to homes, businesses, and farm animals.

Wind power did face competition from other sources. Gasoline engines became more and more common, offering a reliable alternative. However, they were expensive, noisy, and costly to run. An operator had to be present to start and stop a gas engine, while windmills employed a system of floats to start and stop filling the tanks automatically. A once-a-week oiling was the only required maintenance. The biggest problem at the time was that gas engines ran when you wanted them to, but windmills depended on the weather.

The giant turbines we see in northern New York today are not a new idea. In a peek at the future, Charles Brush of Cleveland, Ohio demonstrated in 1888 the first use of a large windmill to generate electricity. As early as 1895, observers noted that windmills were “destined to be much used for storing electricity. We predict an immense future for the windmill industry.”

In 1910, a farm in America’s Midwest employed windmills to charge a bank of batteries. Wind power provided electricity to light the farm and operate the equipment. When the wind didn’t blow, the farm ran on battery power for a few days.

By 1925, wind turbines had been used to run refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and power tools. And in 1926, the NYS Fair urged farmers to purchase windmills, using a 12-foot-high model to show the benefits they might enjoy. It was an enticing glimpse at the potential of electricity. Ironically, the popularity of windmills soon became their undoing.

Though they were a wonderful source of cheap power, the main problem was intermittent operation. When the wind didn’t blow, the tools didn’t go. Battery storage systems were only good for brief periods, and people wanted power WHEN they wanted it. Soon, another overriding factor arose—the growing need for huge amounts of electricity.

By the late 1930s and 1940s, constantly flowing electricity was the goal, relegating wind power to the background of the energy battle. It was still used, and advancements were pursued, but success was limited. One notable effort was the huge Smith-Putnam windmill installed atop Grandpa’s Knob near Castleton and Rutland, Vermont, in 1941.

Though less than half the size of today’s models, it was still large, featuring a 16-ton, 175-foot steel rotor that turned at 28 RPM. Occasional use ended abruptly in 1945 when metal fatigue caused the blade to snap, hurling a huge section 1000 feet down the mountain.

In the North Country, windmills have returned after a long hiatus. They stand ten times taller than their predecessors (in 2012, the new ones will be 492 feet high), and now pump electricity instead of water. Where potato, hop, and dairy farms once dominated, the wind farms of today stand above all others.

Photos: Above, windmills 400 feet tall at Churubusco (and another under construction in the foreground). Middle Right: Typical use of windmill to fill railroad water tanks. Middle Left: Halladay windmills were offered by George Baltz of Watertown. Below, advertisement for Halladay’s company.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

33rd Annual Harvest Fest at Farmers’ Museum


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The Farmers’ Museum’s 33rd annual Harvest Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with live music both days and new activities for children.

This popular fall event brings together a wide array of artisans, vendors, performers, and exhibitors to the Museum’s alluring 19th-century setting. Guests will enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides; craft activities for the entire family; artisan demonstrations; and an abundance of delicious foods from the season’s harvest including samples of McCadam/Cabot cheese, roasted corn, baked goods, ice cream, and more. You can even try out wood planes, hand drills, and other antique tools from their large collection.

This year, the Museum again welcomes members of the Southern Tier Alpaca Association. Owners and breeders will display their animals and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.

Children will enjoy agricultural activities that include building a haystack; corn shelling and grinding; apple cider pressing demonstrations; ropemaking; apple bobbing; and 19th-century games in the schoolhouse. Not to mention the alpaca and canine agility courses.

Witness or take part in the excitement of an old-time pie eating contest – both Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m., sponsored by the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard.

Over 25 vendors and artisans will supply everything the season has to offer including beeswax candles, shaker oval boxes, early American tinware, baskets, Windsor chairs, and more – with demonstrations of soap making and woodworking.

Tap your toes the sounds of “Clemens Tradition,” an old time fiddle and classic country music group based in Osceola, New York, featuring the 2002 New York State Inductee to the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and Museum – Jackie Hobbs and other special guests. They will perform in the Cornwallville Church, located in the center of the Museum’s historic village, each day at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. The shows are free with paid admission to the event.

See the winners from this year’s Junior Livestock Show as they make their way through the Museum’s historic village during the Parade of Champions – both days at 1:00 p.m.

To view a full listing of all the event’s activities, see our schedule online at FarmersMuseum.org/harvest.

Sponsored by KeyBank and McCadam/Cabot Cheese. Supported in part by the Southern Tier Alpaca Association and the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. This event is made possible withpublic funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Admission to the event: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children(7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free. For more information on any of our programs, visit FarmersMuseum.org/harvest.

Senate House Hosting Apple Heritage Day


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Join Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston, NY for Apple Heritage Day on Sunday, September 25, 2011 from 12pm – 5pm in conjunction with Ulster County Cultural Heritage Week. Enjoy a variety of 18 century apple related activities to celebrate Ulster County’s long history of apple growing. Afternoon activities include pressing apples for apple cider, making apple butter over an open fire, baking apple sauce cake in a Dutch oven and making dried apple wreaths and dolls. At 1pm and 3pm enjoy the 18th century magic of Bob Olson A.K.A. Mr. Bayly and featured at 2pm and 4pm are children’s puppet shows.

Also throughout the afternoon enjoy 18th century music performed by Rural Felicity and help Senate House wish Johnny Appleseed a happy birthday, born September 26, 1774. Admission to this event is free and as usual Senate House will be open for tours. Fees to tour Senate House are $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and children 12 and under are free.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage Upcoming Events


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What follows are descriptions of three upcoming tours in Gloversville, Willsboro, and southern Clinton County, hosted by Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) that still have space available. AARCH also has a golf benefit at the end of the month in Ticonderoga.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondacks’ unique and diverse architectural heritage.



Early Industry and Architecture in Gloversville

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The city of Gloversville, unsurprisingly, developed around the glove industry, relying on the tanneries that were so abundant in the southern Adirondacks to provide leather. With the departure of this important industry, the city is now working to build a new identity. Fulton County Chamber of Commerce President Wally Hart will lead this walking tour of downtown Gloversville, exploring a stunning collection of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in various stages of rehabilitation and learning about the city’s rich history. We’ll also visit the ornate Carnegie Library and the Glove Theater, formerly one of three theaters in town owned by the wealthy Schine family. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m. The fee is $30 for AARCH and Chamber members and $40 for non-members.

The Clarks of Willsboro Point

Saturday, August 20, 2011



During the late 19th century Orrin Clark, and his sons Solomon and Lewis, operated a successful quarry on Ligonier Point in Willsboro, providing “bluestone” for a number of regional buildings, as well as the Champlain Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to the quarry the Clarks ran a dairy farm and a shipbuilding business. This tour will visit the quarry remains; the Clarks’ homestead, Old Elm; the quarry master’s house, Scragwood; and the surrounding grounds. These buildings have remained nearly untouched since the Clarks’ occupancy, providing a rare view of life at the turn of the century. You will also be able to explore the family’s history through extensive documents meticulously organized in a private collection. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee is $35 for AARCH and $45 for non-members.

200 Years of Farming

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farming has been important to the Champlain Valley for more than two centuries. On this southern Clinton County tour, we will explore a series of homesteads and farms from the early 19th century to the present day, which will collectively show how farming has changed over time. We’ll begin the day at the Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum, then visit the Keese Homestead (c. 1795) built by Quaker settlers in a community called The Union. Other stops include Remillard Dairy Farm, family owned for three generations; Forrence Orchards, one of the largest McIntosh orchards in the state; and finally Clover Mead Farm, where we’ll see how organic cheese is made and sample their exceptional line of farm-fresh products. Led by AARCH’s Steven Engelhart, the tour begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee is $35 for AARCH and $45 for non-members.

Golf Tournament to Benefit AARCH

Ticonderoga Country Club

Monday, August 29, 2011

Join us for our third annual golf Tournament. This year’s event will be held at Ticonderoga Country Club. This scenic course is set in the historic Lord Howe Valley and features an open yet challenging layout. The day will include a buffet lunch; a round of golf with cart; and the opportunity to win great prizes.The format will be a four man scramble with a shot gun start. The cost is $100 per person.

Photo: Downtown Gloversville.

In Wilimington: ‘Adirondack Tools and Tales’


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The Wilmington Historical Society will host a program with historian and author Don Williams entitled “Adirondack Tools and Tales” on Friday, July 15th at 7 pm at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington (Essex County). Early Adirondack settlers had to live and survive in a rugged mountain environment with a harsh climate. Mr. Williams will explain how the tools they used were critical to that survival.

Don Williams grew up at the ingress of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail and on Route 30. He has authored nine books of Adirondack and local history and has written over 250 articles for magazines including Adirondack Life and the Journal of Outdoor Education. He served as Adirondack regional editor for New York Sportsman Magazine for twenty years. His “Blueline” newspaper column has appeared weekly in four newspapers since 1989. He also hosted the television program Inside the Blueline in Gloversville and Glens Falls for a total of six years.

Don Williams has appeared regularly as an Adirondack lecturer and storyteller at schools and organizations throughout the northeast for over forty years. He appears in the PBS documentary, The Adirondacks. A former school principal and licensed Adirondack guide, he has taught “The Adirondacks” at grade schools, libraries, high schools, colleges and elderhostel. Don lives in his “replicated Great Adirondack Camp” with his wife, Beverly, in Gloversville.

The “Adirondack Tools and Tales” program on July 15th is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at (518) 524-1023 or Merri Peck at (518) 946- 7627.

Hudson Valley Farm Photo Exhibit at Olana


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Olana has announced the opening of a new exhibition by photographer Brandt Bolding entitled FARM: Agricultural Life of the Hudson Valley. The exhibit in the recently restored Coachman’s House Gallery at Olana State Historic Site.

In 1860, Frederic Church purchased approximately 126 acres of farmland and immediately set out to build a new “farm house” for his family. The artist expanded his land holdings over the next ten years and ultimately moved his family to the larger stone-and-brick house he built near the summit of the hill, but he continued to work on and operate a farm at Olana for the rest of his life. Church was proud of his farming accomplishments, writing friends and family of the success of his orchards, vegetables, and livestock.

The FARM exhibit coincides with extensive farm restoration work about to begin in Olana’s historic farm complex. The Olana Partnership and Olana State Historic Site have secured two major grants to focus on restoring Frederic Church’s farm. Over the next several years, meadow and orchard restoration projects will return the neglected farm to potentially active agricultural use. “According to a report of the American Farmland Trust, every hour we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch land in the U.S.,” reports Olana Partnership President Sara Griffen. “By focusing on the restoration of Olana’s farm we hope to play a small role in ensuring the agricultural future of Columbia County.”

Photographer Brandt Bolding states, “through extensive travels photographing and documenting the farms of northeastern America I am attempting to bring awareness of just a small part of what is at stake. Nowhere is this more of a concern than in the Mid-Hudson Valley…where citizens, and civic organizations large and small rally to preserve the irreplaceable beauty of our landscape from less than circumspect development.”

The photos included in the exhibition will be printed by the photographer in a limited edition of twelve and are available for purchase in the Olana Museum Store. The exhibit will be open every day through October 30, 2011 at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York.

About Brandt Bolding:

Brandt Bolding’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and have appeared in newspapers, journals, and publications by various preservation organizations in New York State. His work on agricultural life will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY, later this year. Two of his photographs appeared in the book entitled Old Homes of New England: Historic Houses in Clapboard, Shingle, and Stone published by Rizzoli in April 2010.

Photo: Level Acres Cornfield, Route 82, Columbia County. Courtesy Brandt Bolding Photography.

Sustainable Living, Historic Hudson Valley Style


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What can our past tell us about better living today and for the future? A free festival of demonstrations, tours and living history interpreters, presented at Senate House State Historic Site on Saturday, May 14, offers some out-of-the-ordinary suggestions. Designed for the whole family, this outdoor event will offer ways for people of all ages to learn about practices of the past and their relevance to choices we make today. This free event is perfect for families and people of all ages, and occurs rain or shine. For more information, please call (845) 338-2786, or visit www.nysparks.com.

Friends of Senate House is partnering with the Kingston Land Trust and Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture to offer presentations on colonial gardening and cooking, herbal medicinals, creative darning of textiles, special tours of Senate House on the theme of sustainable building practices, hands-on activities for kids, and free admission to the Senate House and the site museum.

The Kingston Land Trust will present master gardener Allyson Levy of Hortus Conclusus who will be on hand at 11:30 and 1:30 to speak on the contents and uses of a colonial woman’s dooryard garden, and present the historic garden she created.

Dina Falconi, practicing herbalist and author, will speak with visitors about her own herbal preparations and medicinals, and present examples of her creations and the plants used to make them.

Rob Sweeny, member of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, will give special tours of Senate House at 10:30, 12:30 and 2:30 on the theme of historic building practices and house-holding in 17th- and 18th- century Hudson Valley.

Peter Cutul, a history educator with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at Fort Montgomery, will present on historic land-use, farming and food preservation practices, with objects and samples for all ages to explore.

Dawn Elliott will offer a creative darning clinic, so bring your textiles for a consultation and possible repair.

Scions of Patria, re-enactors of 17th Century Dutch life in the “New World,” will present hearth cooking of traditional foods and other colonial activities and traditions.

Hands-on activities for kids: Children can practice writing with the “green” writing tool of the colonial period (a quill); learn about the history and uses of a plant, and pot a seedling to take home.

New York Heritage Weekend will showcase the Empire State to residents and visitors alike and to help kick off the summer tourism season; it offers the opportunity for participants to enjoy historic site programs that highlight the significant historical, cultural and natural resources of New York State. In anticipation of this statewide celebration, a new website has been unveiled: please visit www.HeritageWeekend.org.

This special event is sponsored and financially supported by the Friends of Senate House, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in partnership with the National Park Service.

Farmers’ Museum Spring Workshops Begin


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Beginning April 9, The Farmers’ Museum will offer a series of spring workshops on topics ranging from making the freshest butter to blacksmithing. These fun, hands-on workshops will not only give you opportunities to learn new, novel skills, but will also feature current trendy hobbies—like heirloom gardening and raising chickens.

Discount pricing for NYSHA members. All workshops are held at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. Registration is required. For more information and reservations, please call Sara Evenson at (607) 547-1461. Find more information at FarmersMuseum.org.

2011 Spring Schedule

Gardening with Heirloom Vegetables

April 9, 10 am – 2 pm / Fee: $40 non-members; $35 NYSHA members

Learn about heirloom variety vegetables and how to grow them in your own gardens. You will help set up a hot frame in one of the museum’s gardens and plant it with heirloom seeds. You’ll also take a visit to the Lippitt Farmhouse to see and learn about differentmethods of vegetable storage. Other topics, including seed propagating and cloning, will also be covered during the workshop.

Happy Healthy Hen House

April 16, 9 am – 1 pm / Fee: $40 non-members; $35 NYSHA members

This half-day workshop will introduce participants to techniques and information about the care and housing of chickens. Learn both about historic and contemporary methods of breed selection, nutrition, housing, management and general care for raising your own backyard flock. Come prepared to work in The Farmers’ Museum’s barnyard.

Introduction to Blacksmithing

April 16-17, 9 am – 4 pm / Fee: $150 non-members; $140 NYSHA members

This class covers the core skills of blacksmithing. Try out blacksmithing for the first time, or expand your existing skills under the supervision of our master blacksmith. Practice managing a coal fire and forging skills such as drawing out, bending, twisting, and punching. Projects include making decorative hooks, fireplace tools, nails, and hanging brackets. No previous experience is necessary. (Fee includes materials and information packet.)

Intermediate Blacksmithing

May 5-6, 9 am – 4 pm / Fee: $150 non-members; $140 NYSHA members

This class requires students who already have core blacksmithingskills. Work with more complex forging projects. Skills practiced include hot punching, mortise and tennon joints, forge welding, and reproduction of historic ironwork. Students should have taken Blacksmithing 1 or have prior permission of the instructor. (Fee includes materials and information packet.)

Spring Beekeeping

May 7, 9 am – 1 pm / Fee: $40 non-members; $35 NYSHA members

Are you interested in learning about the ancient art and science of beekeeping? This hands-on workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals of keeping bees. We will discuss the different ways to get started as a beekeeper and prepare you for the tasks involved. You will also learnsome of the history and folklore of beekeeping.

In the Medicine Cabinet

May 14, 10 am – 1 pm / Fee: $40 non-members; $35 NYSHA members

This workshop will cover growing, harvesting, and wild crafting of about fifteen herbs. In addition, instruction will be given for producing medical preparations from the various herbs. Preparations will include oils (hot and cold infused), ointments, compresses, tinctures, infusions, and decoctions.

Intermediate Blacksmithing

May 21-22, 9 am – 4 pm / Fee: $150 non-members; $140 NYSHA members

This class requires students who already have core blacksmithingskills. Work with more complex forging projects. Skills practiced include hot punching, mortise and tennon joints, forge welding, and reproduction of historic ironwork. Students should have taken Blacksmithing 1 or have prior permission of the instructor. (Fee includes materials and information packet.)

Introduction to Blacksmithing

June 9-10, 9 am – 4 pm / Fee: $150 non-members; $140 NYSHA members

This class covers the core skills of blacksmithing. Try out blacksmithing for the first time, or expand your existing skills under the supervision of our master blacksmith. Practice managing a coal fire and forging skills such as drawing out, bending, twisting, and punching. Projects include making decorative hooks, fireplace tools, nails, and hanging brackets. No previous experience is necessary. (Fee includes materials and information packet.)

Udder to Butter

June 11, 8 am – 12 pm / Fee: $40 non-members; $35 NYSHA members

Join the farm staff in a unique opportunity to participate in the process of transforming milk into butter. We will start in the barn where you will try your hand at milking the cow and end in the kitchen enjoying our freshly made butter on toast. Participants will separate cream and churn butter using historic and contemporary methods.

This post is brought to you by Cheap Flights to New York.

Plowline: Images of Rural NY Project Launched


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In 1960, New York State was home to 88,000 active farms; today that number has decreased to roughly 36,000 farms – a decline of nearly 60% in 40 years. In response, The Farmers’ Museum in historic Cooperstown, NY is assembling an exciting collection of original photography to chronicle and preserve the changes in agricultural practice, rural life, and farming families of New York State from the 19th century through the present.

With the generous support of the Gipson Family, Plowline: Images of Rural New York is a resource not only for the scholarly community but also for the public to learn more about the rural heritage of New York State. Cooperstown photographer and museum visitor Andy Baugnet comments, “We cannot turn back the hands of time. However, the Plowline collection will allow us to view the past and experience how agriculture left its mark on New York State’s economic and cultural landscapes.”

Plowline presents beautiful black and white 1950s photographs of New York farm scenes such as harvesting the fall bounty, maple sugaring and horse-pulling. The collection also includes important aerial photographs of regional communities, including the construction of the New York State Thruway. Over 100 lantern slides from Cornell University’s Dairy Department, which instructed dairy farmers in the 1920s about how to operate an efficient farm, are featured in the collection. In addition, Plowline highlights snapshots chronicling an Orange County farm family’s life over a 30 year period. Finally, contemporary works by New York photographer Daniel Handel document the current farming revival in Upstate New York.

In 1942, The Farmers’ Museum’s founders set out to collect objects of American farm and rural communities and to display those in a method accessible to all interested. To enhance their accessibility, the photographs collected through Plowline will all be posted online. In addition, powered by Omeka, a free and open source platform developed by The Center for the Future of History Museums, the Plowline website has integrated Web 2.0 technology. “Thus,” says curator Erin Crissman Richardson, “the website encourages user participation and allows visitors to comment on records if they know something about the history of an object or what is happening in a particular photograph. Visitors can also share items with friends via Facebook, Twitter and other social media.”

Plowline, as a collecting initiative, will be continually adding photographs and will become a significant portion of the annual additions to The Farmers’ Museum collection. “We anticipate that Plowline will be the foremost resource of images of the 19th, 20th and 21st century rural imagery,” explains Vice President for Education Garet Livermore

Lectures: Albany’s Political, Landscape History


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The Albany Institute of History & Art will host two free lectures and book signings in November which look at the city’s past from different perspectives. On Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 2:00 pm Warren Roberts will present “A Place in History: Albany in the Age of Revolution” Then, on Sunday November 14, 2010, at 2:00 pm Robert M. Toole will present “Landscape Gardens on the Hudson, A History”

These lectures are free and open to the public. Admission to the lectures does not include admission to the museum.

In 1998, Warren Roberts took a bicycle ride into the heart of the city in which he had lived for 35 years, beginning a 10-year journey into the history of Albany. Reading about the city’s past, poring over old maps, and returning again and again to the city’s historic sites with a camera, Roberts found that the more he delved into Albany’s history, the more he uncovered about the city’s important role in three larger historical narratives: the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the construction of the Erie Canal. A Place in History examines how the events that unfolded along the Hudson River between 1775 and 1825 saved one revolution, caused another, and transformed Albany and the state of New York.

Landscape gardening is a hidden but unequaled historic resource along the Hudson River, exhibiting some of the most significant designed 19th-century landscapes in America—a legacy that continues today with the design of America’s urban parks and nearly every rural or suburban home. The first comprehensive study of the development of these landscapes, and the important role they played in the cultural underpinnings of the young United States, Landscape Gardens on the Hudson explores the Hudson Valley’s role as the birthplace of American landscape architecture.

Tractor Fest at The Farmers’ Museum This Weekend


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The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown will hold what it hopes will be an annual Tractor Fest on Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tractor Fest will offer visitors an opportunity to see classic tractors from John Deere, Ford, and other manufacturers – representing the growth of farming technology from the 1920s until today. The Museum provides an ideal setting where visitors can learn about the world of tractors and how they powered America’s farms.

Families will find Tractor Fest to be an appealing weekend destination. Kids, ages 7 and under, can compete for prizes in a Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull contest on both Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. There will be wagon rides around the Museum’s Historic Village – pulled by a Ford Golden Jubilee Tractor on Saturday and Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. See a “hit and miss” engine powering a grinding wheel and Mr. Whipple operating his steam engine near the Blacksmith Shop. There will also be thrashing demonstrations, rides provided by Cooperstown Carriage Rides, The Empire State Carousel, craft demonstrations and more.

Discover classic and modern tractors throughout the Museum’s grounds. Springfield Tractor will display compact tractors with backhoe & front-end loaders and Cazenovia Equipment will demonstrate satellite controlled farm tractors.

For those with a deeper historical interest in tractors, Syracuse University history professor, Milton Sernett, will give a talk titled How the Ford Tractor Changed the American Family Farm: 1920 – 1940, on Saturday, October 9 at 12:30 p.m. in the Cornwallville Church located on the grounds of the Museum. This lecture is free and open to the public. It is made possible through Speakers in the Humanities, a program of the New York Council for the Humanities. Speakers in the Humanities lectures are made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Legislature, and through funds from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Tractor Fest is sponsored in part by Northern Eagle Beverage. Admission to the event: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children (7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free. Admission to the lecture is free. Food and beverages will be available throughout the day. Please visit our website at FarmersMuseum.org/tractorfest for more information and a full schedule of events.

Photo by Frank Forte.

Farmers’ Museum Annual Harvest Fest


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The bounty of the harvest will be celebrated at The Farmers’ Museum’s 32nd annual Harvest Festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. with live music Saturday evening from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. This year, the Museum again welcomes members of the Southern Tier Alpaca Association. Owners and breeders will display their animals and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.

This popular event brings a wide array of performers, exhibitors, and farm animals to the Museum’s alluring 19th-century setting. Guests will enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides; historic games and craft activities for the family; artisan demonstrations; and delicious foods from the season’s harvest including samples of McCadam/Cabot cheese, roasted corn, ice cream, and much more.

Over 20 vendors and artisans will supply everything the season has to offer including beeswax candles, cedar hand carved decoys and birds, Early American tinware, quilts, stained glass, Windsor chairs, and more.

Activities include an alpaca obstacle course, a pie-eating contest with pies supplied by the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard (Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Sign up until noon in the Main Barn), a canine agility course, and a free family concert with live bluegrass music by the band “Gravel Yard” on Saturday evening from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. To view a full listing of all the event’s activities, see our schedule online at FarmersMuseum.org/harvestfestival.

Admission to the event: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children (7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free.

Down on the Farm With The Adirondack Museum


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Join the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York for a field trip to Adirondack farms and a local farmer’s market. Field trip farms include Rivermede Farm at Snowslip, Lake Placid, N.Y., Tucker’s Taters Farm, Gabriels, N.Y., and the Ponderosa Poultry Farm, also in Gabriels. The day will include a stop at the Saranac Lake Village Farmer’s Market, as well as lunch at the Eat ‘N Meet restaurant in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

The Farm Field Trip will be held on Saturday, August 21, 2010. Pre-registration is required. The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Lake Placid, N.Y. and end at 5:00 p.m. in Gabriels.

Participants will use their own cars or carpool with others. Driving directions will be sent upon registration. Sensible clothing and sturdy shoes are suggested. The cost will be $50 for museum members and $55 for non-members. For additional information or to register, please contact Jessica Rubin at (518) 352-7311, ext. 115 or at jrubin@adkmuseum.org.

The field trip day will begin with an introduction and presentation, “Adirondack Farming History,” by museum Curator Hallie Bond at Rivermede Farm at Snowslip.

A tour of Rivermede will follow. Rivermede Farm at Snowslip is owner Rob Hasting’s “new” farm. Hastings has been farming at Rivermede in Keene Valley, N.Y. for over twenty years.

The group will then move on to Saranac Lake, N.Y. and the opportunity to explore and enjoy the Saranac Lake Village Farmer’s Market.

Lunch will follow at the Eat ‘N Meet restaurant where chef and owner John Vargo is committed to using local foods. The menu at Eat ‘N Meet represents time-trusted recipes and classic European technique – with South American, Caribbean, African, and Asian influences.

At 2:00 p.m. the tour will visit Tucker’s Tater Farm in Gabriels, N.Y. Tucker Farms has been a family enterprise since the 1860′s. Steve and Tom Tucker – 5th generation owners – have diversified the farm to alleviate ebbs and flows in the economy. They have added specialty variety potatoes to their list of crops including “All Blue,” “Adirondack Blue,” “Adirondack Red,” and “Peter Wilcox” – a purple skinned yellow flesh variety.

The day will come to a close at Ponderosa Poultry Farm, also in Gabriels. A chicken and duck ranch, the farm includes lupines, dahlias, gladiolas, and a small garden.

18th-Century Day at the Historic Schuyler House


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On Sunday, August 8 from noon to 5pm, the 1777 Schuyler House on Route 4 in Schuylerville, will be the setting for dozens of artisans demonstrating their crafts much as they were plied over 200 years ago when many things for the home were handcrafted. Visitors to the 32nd annual Eighteenth Century Day will be able to enjoy free tours of the Schuyler House, listen to music of the period, see Punch and Judy puppet shows, plus stroll around artisans demonstrating 18th century crafts and showing their wares. Tinsmithing, blacksmithing, broom-making, basket-making, rope-making, beer brewing, spinning, dyeing, weaving, rug-hooking, butter-making and carpentry are among some of the arts to be demonstrated. There will also be colonial-era farm life activities such as discussions of farming methods, medicinal treatments and leather-working.

This traditional event is organized by the Old Saratoga Historical Association, a non-profit educational organization that provides furnishings for the Schuyler House and promotes interest in the history of Old Saratoga, Schuylerville, Victory and the Town of Saratoga areas, from Native American occupation, through modern times.

Free light refreshments will be available. Visitors are advised to dress for the weather, and to wear insect repellent and sunscreen, and to bring water.

Saratoga National Historical Park presents special interpretive events and programs throughout the year. For further information about this and other programs, please call (518) 664-9821 ext. 224 or check their website.

NYS Conference on Preserving Historic Barns


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The New York State Barn Coalition and Historic Ithaca will present the 12th Annual Conference on the Preservation of Historic Barns on October 24. This conference, open to anyone with an interest in historic barns and their preservation, will be held at Ithaca Foreign Car Service, 501 West State Street. Built in 2006, this new timber frame building houses an auto shop in the heart of downtown Ithaca. For his contribution of this extraordinary building to the downtown streetscape, owner Dave Brumsted is the recipient of a 2007 Pride of Ownership award from the City of Ithaca.

A copy of the conference agenda is online via pdf. Late registration deadline is 12pm tomorrow October 22; the cost for the conference is $40. Contact Kristen Olson at (607)273-6633 to confirm that space is still available.

Four New Diaries By Upstate New York Teenagers


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Four new books provide readers with first person narratives of rural Upstate New York teenage life in the 1860s through the 1890s. These accounts of young peoples’ lives on the farm, or in the home, offers a unique perspective and serves as an important primary resource in the study of American history.

The first is A Darned Good Time by 13-year old Lucy Potter of Taylor, New York (in Cortland County) in 1868. She writes of classes, teachers, friends, boys, a new stepmother, an invalid aunt, and complains about upstate New York weather.

Second in the series is My Centennial Diary – A Year in the Life of a Country Boy by 18-year old Earll Gurnee of Sennett, New York (near Skaneateles) in 1876. He writes of school, family life, social life, farm life, girlfriends, and hard work. His teacher gets arrested for being too brutal to children, he juggles two girlfriends, he plows, cuts hay, cleans out the horse barn….then wonders why his back hurts!

Third in the series, My Story – A Year in the Life of a Country Girl, is by 15-year old Ida Burnett of Logan, New York (in Schuyler County) in 1880. Ida churned butter, milked cows, sewed her own underwear, canned fruit, but also had time for boys and parties. She lived in the country in Upstate New York and in the whole year did not venture any farther than twenty miles from home. The book will be released soon.

The fourth (forthcoming) will be Home in the Hills by 14–year old Edna Kendall of Altay, New York (in Schuyler County) in 1891. It will be available in early 2010.

You can check out these and more publications from the New York History Review Press at http://www.newyorkhistoryreview.com.

CFP: 2010 Agricultural History Conference


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While I normally stick to New York history exclusively here, sometimes a national (or even international) conference comes up that promises to inspire New York historians toward greater understanding of the state’s history. The 2010 Agricultural History Conference – Local Stories, Global Connections: The Context of Agriculture and Rural Life – at the University of Central Florida and Rollins College on June 10-12, 2010 is one of those events thanks to New York’s important role in national and international agricultural history.

Here is the announcement:

Agriculture and rural life are tied to specific places, but those places are in turn bound to larger communities, often with global connections. The Agricultural History Society (AHS) invites proposals for papers that address the particular ways in which
people and places have shaped agriculture and rural living in their local communities as well as how rural ecosystems, production, processing, and consumption tie farmers and rural people to distant people, places, and institutions. Topics from any location or time period will be welcome. In the interest of promoting understanding of
the context of agriculture and rural life, the program committee wishes to encourage submissions of interdisciplinary and cross- national panels. We encourage proposals of all types and formats, including traditional papers/commentary sessions, thematic panel discussions, roundtables on recent books, and poster presentations, and we extend a special welcome to graduate students. We are able to provide up to $250
in travel reimbursement to each graduate student whose paper is accepted for the conference. We will consider submissions of full panels and individual papers, as well as paired or individual posters.

Submission Procedures

Complete session proposals should include a chair, participants, and, if applicable, a commentator. Please include the following information: An abstract of no more than 200 words for the session as a whole; a prospectus of no more than 250 words for each presentation; a mailing address, email, phone number, and affiliation for each participant; and a CV of no more than a page for each participant.

Individual submissions should include all the above except a session abstract.

Please send submissions, in Microsoft Word or RTF format, to Melissa.walker@converse.edu.

Alternatively, applicants may mail five hard copies of their proposals
to:

Melissa Walker, Chair
Converse College
580 East Main St.
Spartanburg, SC 29302

Please direct questions regarding the program to any member of the program committee:

Melissa Walker, Chair, Converse College, Melissa.walker@converse.edu
Joe Anderson, Mount Royal College, jlanderson@mtroyal.ca
Sterling Evans, University of Oklahoma, evans@ou.edu
Angie Gumm, Iowa State University, asgumm@iastate.edu
Cecilia Tsu, University of California at Davis, cmtsu@ucdavis.edu