Tag Archives: Dutchess County

Talk Planned On Staatsburg Estate Owners


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Staatsburg BookAnthony Musso, author of Staatsburg: A Village Lost in Time (2014), will give a talk entitled “Staatsburg: Its Estate Owners and Their Impact on the Village” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site on April 11, 2015.

The tiny community of Staatsburg was once the home of several large estates.  As Musso writes in his book on Staatsburg, each of the estates “had an impact on the character, finances and preservation of the village and its surroundings.”  Continue reading

Willa Skinner Recognized As 2015 ‘Woman of History’


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FSHSHH_WS_MtGulianGalaEach year, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site sets out to recognize one woman’s demonstration of the character traits of Martha Washington. Throughout the American Revolution, including the time she spent with her husband at Headquarters, Newburgh, Martha Washington partook in activities displaying a myriad of traits that would cement her unique position as a woman of history.

Since 2003, fourteen leading women of the Hudson Valley have been chosen to receive the “Martha Washington Woman of History Award.” This year’s recipient was Town of Fishkill Historian Willa Skinner. Continue reading

Hudson Valley Docs From 1911 Fire Being Digitized


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document_reinforcementAT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.

The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading

Heritage Tourism Lessons from the Tappan Zee Bridge


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designOnce upon a time America was known for its building projects, for its infrastructure, for its vision of a better tomorrow. New York was in the forefront of such optimism and achievement. Think of the Erie Canal which helped make us the Empire State, the Croton Aqueduct, the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscrapers from the Woolworth Building to the Empire State Building to the Twin Towers, and, of course, Robert Moses. Now the new Tappan Zee Bridge bids to join this pantheon of larger than life achievements made in New York.

Besides all the other concerns related to the bridge, there is the issue of tourism. Back in June, Mary Kay Vrba, tourism director for Dutchess County and leader of the Hudson Valley Path region, spoke to 50 people at “Destination Rockland: Blazing New Trails in Tourism.” Visions of jingling cash registers filled the heads of the participants who envisioned tourists by foot, bike, and later a revitalized bus system bringing people from the east side of the river to Rockland County. Alden Wolfe, chairman of the Rockland County Legislature convened the conference as a “launching point” for future discussion on this subject. Continue reading

Report: ‘Great Estates Region’ Brings $65M in Economic Benefits


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Great Estates RegionA new study has found that New York’s historic “Great Estates Region” brought approximately $65 million in economic benefits to Dutchess County.  The study, “The Economic Importance of the Great Estates Historic Sites & Parks,” focuses on the positive economic impacts that 12 federal, state and private nonprofit historic sites and parks bring to Dutchess County and other parts of the Hudson River Valley region.

Expanding the picture beyond Dutchess County’s borders, the study finds that in 2012, nearly 1.7 million paid visitors came to the region’s historic sites, spending about $60 million in the area, including $47 million from non-local visitors. The study, which was organized by the Taconic Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, was completed pro-bono by Urbanomics, Inc., a Manhattan-based consulting firm. Continue reading

Lower Hudson Valley Public Historians Meeting


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APHNYS-Regions-Map1The Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), Region 3, will hold its 2014 meeting on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 9:45 am to 2:00 pm at the Westchester County historical Society, 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY. Region 3 includes Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties.

Registration for the 2014 APHNYS Region 3 Meeting should be mailed to: Suzanne Isaksen, APHNYS Region 3 Coordinator, 10 Windrift Lane, Walden, NY 12586-1524. Include the names and titles (e.g. “Town of Montgomery Historian”) of attendees, along with telephone and e-mail contact information. A fee of $10.00 per person is being charged to help defray costs of lunch and refreshments. Make checks payable to APHNYS. Continue reading

Grant Supports Dutchess County Driving Tour


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CESOC2005P4The Hudson River Valley Greenway has announced that it has awarded Dutchess County and the Town of Clinton a $9,500 matching grant to “fund driving tour enhancements that will encourage more tourist activity in the northern reaches of the county.”

“With these improvements, Dutchess County hopes to offer a more complete tourism experience in these rural communities, particularly to motorists already visiting major attractions in the better publicized southern half of the county, such as the Culinary Institute of America, Vanderbilt Mansion, the Roosevelt sites, and the Dutchess County Fair,” the announcement to the press said, adding: Continue reading

Hudson Valley Heritage Area Awards Grants


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hudson river valley heritage areaThe Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley Greenway highlighted five National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants awarded to historic and cultural institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley last week.

The National Park Service calls the Hudson River Valley “the landscape that defined America.” These small National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants are expected to support a wide range of historic and cultural projects, including installations, demonstrations, and public outreach and education projects that will connect more people with the rich tapestry of heritage and cultural experiences in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Spies:
The Lower Hudson Valley’s “TURN”


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Turn American Revolution TV ShowThe Revolutionary War spy drama “Turn” on the AMC cable TV network is a much fictionalized version of the activities of a real life American patriot, Ben Tallmadge who headed the “Culper Spy Ring” based on Long Island.

However, Westchester and the surrounding counties of Dutchess, Orange and Putnam have their own connection to Revolutionary War espionage story in the persons of John Jay, Elijah Hunter, and Enoch Crosby. Continue reading

New Hudson River Greenway Trails in Dutchess County


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Hudson River Valley Greenway has announced the designation of four Dutchess County trail segments as “Greenway Trails” and part of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail system. The trails were designated at a recent meeting of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Board.

The trails total approximately 24 miles in length, and are located in County-operated Bowdoin Park, Wilcox Memorial Park, Quiet Cove Riverfront Park, as well as the Dutchess Rail Trail, which connects to the Walkway Over The Hudson and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County. Continue reading

American Revolution:
Trouble at Poughkeepsie and Peekskill


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American Revolution ShipsA loyalist is a man with his head in England, his body in America, and a neck that needs to be stretched.  – an anonymous patriot.

Late in June of 1776, the New York Provincial Convention (NYPC) received a troubling report from the Dutchess County Committee of Safety. It said that Poughkeepsie officials and patriot warships were being threatened by loyalists, so-called Tories. Continue reading

Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?


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01679vAn ad like the one in the January 21, 1869 issue of the Malone Palladium which announced the opening of a new writing school in Malone, NY, was not uncommon during the post-Civil War era.

According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”

Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. Continue reading

Dutchess County:
Digging For An Underground Railroad Station


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3(2)No one knows when African Americans first settled at Baxtertown, but in 1848 the Zion Pilgrim Methodist Episcopal Church was built. The church burned and its roof collapsed in 1930; all that remains visible is a grove of trees on the property of Ron Greene.

Greene, a retired social worker, began researching the history of his land in 2010. “I’ve been hearing about a church here for years.” he said. What he discovered inspired him to lead the effort to get the site recognized as historically important. Continue reading

The Misnamed Columbia County ‘Battle of Egremont’


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MilitiamenA small, but important part of the American Revolutionary War took place during 1777 at Livingston Manor, Albany County (now Columbia County), New York. The few historical references about this event identify the event as the Battle of Egremont, implying that it happened in Massachusetts.

While it was customary to name a battle after its location, participants or some other feature, these conventions were overlooked in this case and the involvement of Egremont, Massachusetts militiamen seems to be the primary reason for the naming of the battle. However, many participants were from New York militia units, and the battle actually took place in New York. The battle was actually a series of four skirmishes that occurred over two-days. Continue reading

Sudden Demolition of Fishkill Landmark Criticized


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Jackson House DemolitionDutchess County Legislator Alison MacAvery will be holding a press conference tomorrow, Saturday, December 7, at 10:30 AM, to address this week’s sudden demolition of the landmark Jackson House in Fishkill, New York.

The swift destruction of one of the most visible historic structures in the National Register Historic District of Fishkill, has left some residents of this Hudson River Valley municipality stunned. MacAvery will hold the Press Conference in front of the Jackson House site, at the intersection of Main Street and Jackson Street, in the Village of Fishkill. The historic structure, once the nineteenth-century home of Dutchess County Judge Joseph I. Jackson, was a unique asset to the cultural landscape of the Village of Fishkill. Continue reading

Rehabilitated Mount Beacon Fire Tower Re-Opens


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Beacon Fire Tower Before RenovationWhat follows is a guest essay by William Keating about the opening of the rehabilitated Mount Beacon Fire Tower in June.

The colonials used the 1,400 foot north peak of Mount Beacon along the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War to set warning fires to alert General Washington at his headquarters on the western side of the river of any British presence in the valley below.  From this activity, the City of Beacon got its name.  Continue reading

Old Roads: Byways of the History Community


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US9_Freehold_NJRoute 66 is perhaps the most culturally iconic road in American history. Not to take anything away from other byways, but how many have had TV shows and become tourist destinations?

New York has its share of numbered roads with historic connections. In Westchester County where I live there is Route 1 (the Boston Post Road into New England); Route 9 (the Albany Post Road from NYC to Montreal), and Route 22  (the White Plains Post Road to the Canadian Border). These roads follow the lay of the land and have been used for centuries. We should be promoting them as access points to our history community.
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Public History Lessons from Dutchess County


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dutchess county 1829If there is one county where local history should loom large on the political landscape that should be Dutchess County. It was less than a century ago when it had arguably the most famous local historian in America, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That historical legacy contributed to the disappointment over the fact that Dutchess County did not have a county historian when I began writing at New York History.

In a series of posts surveying the various New York State history community constituencies I devoted one post to the County Historians. I noted that some counties were not complying with the state regulations. Dutchess County was one violator, but I anticipated that would be rectified following the County Executive election for since both major-party candidates endorsed filling the position. There is a story to be told in how that happened that sheds light on the position of county historians throughout the state as well as with implications for the Path through History project. Continue reading

Elijah Hunter: Revolutionary War Spy


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first baptist church ossiningSpying was a major component of the strategy and the tactics of the American Revolution. However it’s only recently that historians have focused on the intrigues, subterfuges and skullduggery that were used by all sides. Except for the spying of British Major John Andre, his collaboration with Benedict Arnold, and of the failed spying of Nathan Hale, undercover intelligence gathering operations during the Revolution is a mostly forgotten aspect of that conflict.

Nonetheless, spying was quite common in that era and George Washington was its chief proponent.  Washington made full use of the 1700s tools of the spy trade including invisible ink, hiding messages in feather quills, and small silver balls for hiding messages that could be swallowed in the event of capture. He also encouraged forging documents and making sure they fell into British hands. Continue reading