Saturday, September 8, 2018

Fall, History, Travel to Palatine Church......

This week has been busy with stacking wood and getting ready for winter & our upcoming Fall Festival Event.  In my heart however, I wanted to be on the road again visiting my favorite places for fall travel...The one I love the most is the old Palatine Church on the historic Mohawk trail to Albany near Nelliston.  I take people to it whenever we are driving by.... it is probably the most notable German Palatine structure in upstate New York.

Rising off the highway it stands on a hill near a spot that was once the settlement of Fox’s Mills. The limestone church dates to 1770 when it was erected by the subscription and the labor of a number of families in the area. The Garoga Creek, which flowed near by, provided waterpower for a number of mills and businesses in the small community, now gone which is today called Palatine Church.

Most notable among the families of the area was that of Hendrick Nellis who not only donated the land it stands on, but helped build the church with other community members.

Nellis and his grandson however remained loyal to the Crown at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and had to flee to Canada. Other members of the family remained so typical of the division of loyalties at that time.

History has it recorded that in October of 1780, when the Tory forces under Sir John Johnson dropped down from Canada with the allied Native Americans to burn the farms and harvest of the valley, the church was saved by a British Officer who stopped it saying he had promised Nellis.

The site is also a historic marker site as it was the camp of the American Army under General Van Rensselaer after winning the Battle of Clock’s Field retreated to this site to make camp. Van Rensselaer refused to pursue the Tory forces, an act for which he was later tried for treason.

Today the church has been restored including its famous raised pulpit with sounding board and has had its organ rebuilt by noted organ builder Robert S. Rowland. Rowland built it in the style of old colonial organs. The inside has many historic artifacts on display as well as a rare 13 star American Flag that was found during the renovation.

Visitors from all over the world come to what is today call “The Shrine of Lutheranism in the Mohawk Valley”, and all passing it on Route 5 still admire its Colonial beauty! I love it! For more info on Fall Festival visit our Facebook page at Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Some History on the Families of Eaton, Pilgrims, & Fall Festival.

The Fall is coming on us quickly, and while getting ready stacking wood and thinking of our next museum event, " Fall Festival History Weekend" followed by our November Pie Sale...I dug this up and thought you might enjoy reading it again!

Many of our original settlers in Eaton date back to the Mayflower and the settlers of Natick especially the Morse, Leland, Kent and Stowe families.  Eaton followed much of the tradition of Natick so I thought I would include some wonderful history on Thanksgiving and Governor Bradford who Grandma Clark was a direct relative of. 

  The first Thanksgiving was truly different from what we see portrayed today on TV and in the movies.  In actuality, the Pilgrims who had invited the Indians over to thank them for their help in cultivating corn, in fishing and in hunting, and for basically keeping them alive for the first year, were stunned when the Indians arrived for the feast in numbers far beyond what the Pilgrim’s could feed.  So, the Indians left and hunted for deer and fowl and returned with the food necessary for the feast to last three days…yes, three days.

     This occasion was unusually frivolous for the stern Pilgrims and comprised of continuous eating, the marching of Myles Standish’s little band of soldiers, bow and arrow competition etc…  The feast meanwhile was tended to by five of the eighteen women who survived the first terrible winter.  Imagine trying to fix a feast for 140-150 people over an open fire, and then stretch it to three days.

     The great Governor Bradford delivered this prayer on the first Thanksgiving and I thought I would include it for us:

     Oh give thanks unto the Lord; sing unto him; sing praises unto him, for the precious things of heaven for the dew, and for the deep that couches beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth from the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the everlasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and its fullness.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord, Praise ye the Lord.

     Of interest, I think, are a number of passages from “Of Plimouth Plantation” by Governor Bradford, which mention the colony’s success only by acts of what he referred to as “God’s divine providence”.

     Bradford mentions windfalls of corn from unexpected quarters, a mysterious voice that warned the colonials of a store-house fire, showers that came just in time to save the crops, even the turning back of a ship that would foreclose on the colony.  These quotes show the success of the colony having been squarely laid on the cornerstone of faith.

     This faith led Bradford to guide the colony through all of its terrible trials and gave him the moral capacity to do what was right for all without wish for personal gain.  From his first election in 1622 until 1639, he received nothing for dining the court during their monthly sessions.  One comment I received after the piece on the “Common Good” read “too bad things could not be like that today!”  To this I say, “Amen!”  The word “altruism” is too seldom used to describe our modern leaders.

     The key word in our pursuit of the history of the Pilgrim’s is DEMOCRACY.  Democracy, is the basis for the Pilgrim’s government, carried through both the church and the state, something we need to concentrate on today I think.

Fall Festival will be the first weekend in October and will close for the season at the end of the month.

The Morse House today and before!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Lecture, Emily Chubbuck, Fanny Forrester and the Missionaries of Eaton

The Historic Eaton Church 1833

At that time it was incorporated the Congregational Church's founding members included two of the original incorporators of the Baptist Theological Seminary that became Madison University and today's Colgate University.

The step which bore the inscription still sits in front of the church, but has been broken up and can no longer be read.  But the churches history has followed that of the Eaton Hamlet and has in fact helped the history of the United States.  

In 1848 the church hosted the Congregational Society’s yearly northeast meeting at which time the Congregational Society officially adopted an anti-slavery stand.  Some information on this is in the Cornell College Library.

The church had many noteworthy pastors including its first installed minister the Reverend E D Willis, a friend of Gerrit Smith and a noted abolitionist.  I became interested in Willis because he lived in my house, a house that Allen Nelson Wood and his wife would buy on their return to Eaton.

The church’s members at that time included Allen Nelson Wood founder of the Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works and both his partners Loyal Clark Taber and Walter Morse.

Other famous Eatonites who attended services were Melville Delancey Landon and his family. Landon became a well known as both a writer and as a lecturer. Many rich and famous people attended the church during the Victorian era during what time Grover Cleveland’s brother; the Reverend William Cleveland was its pastor.

The church still today houses a historic Meneely Clock and Bell, and the churches windows which bear the names of some of Eaton’s greats... still grace its interior; an interior that sports hand turned pillars turned by Allen Wood himself.

During the Civil War the Eaton Churches banded together and held services attended by each other patrons during the week to pray for the wars end.

Eventually, the Congregational Church became part of the Federated Churches of Eaton and then later became a Community Church under the Pastor Thomas Clark who improved not only the building, and but helped institute a fabulous AWANA program. During the time he was pastor the congregation also built a large activities build that is used today for youths to play basketball and games and to host special functions.

One of the best stories I have about the church is one that ended up involving me.  Melville Landon wrote a story on Mr. Wood and the Rev. Cleveland for one of his books. In the story Mr. Wood is hawking hymnals for sale in the back of the church while Rev. Cleveland was announcing the following weeks Baptism Service for children.  Wood only had one child and so when the minister said for the parishioners to bring their children… Mr. Wood piped up, thinking he was talking about the hymnal that “they could have as many as they wanted for 50 cents each.”

I wrote about this story for the Mid-York Weekly newspaper and the next week I received a package from Pennsylvania…it was the sermon handwritten that Rev. Cleveland delivered that day!...

History always returns to Eaton…so visit the museum soon and see the document for yourself…we are going to be open on Sundays 1-3 pm in the summer. Also be sure to attend the Lecture on Wednesday the 29th...rain date on Thursday of that week.  Subjects include Emily Chubbuck, Jonathan Wade and more!

Here's a video of the church!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hops, Fall is coming, Eaton & hops history!

 As they say.. everything old is new again...and that goes for the history of an area and its products. As I was getting ready to pick my hops plants I decided to blog on here it is!

“In 1808 James D. Coolidge planted the first hops field in Madison County. By 1859 NY supplied 87 percent of hops grown in the U.S.”  

That is an unbelievable statement but it is true. Madison County grew hops and the crop was a bumper crop that made many of the farmers in the area, but it also destroyed some.

The Hop commodities market was actually moved to Waterville where hops were bought and sold with the fluctuating hops market.  Many an Eaton Farm grew hops and held hops to get the best value at market. They also welcomed the pickers in season because in town the money flowed from outside to in.
Many a farm put families up during the “season” and stories of fun and friendships made abound… a more simple time.  My own mother recalled taking the canal to Madison County where her family would pick hops.  She as a small child remembered hiding under her mother’s skirt on the trip.

The hop fields of Samuel Coolidge ran between Madison and Eaton near the Summit level of the Chenango Canal.  The field crops were called by some locals, as filled with “the Devil’s weed”… because of Hops addition to beer to make it bitter or to add flavor and aroma.

Hops would later disappear from the hills of Eaton and Madison County because of blight and because of white or blue powdery mold.  Another problem “Temperance” played a large part.

Another facet of hop production were the numerous attempts to patent labor saving devices.  A few out of Eaton and the area are pictured in the back of the book.

One was a “HOP-PICKER’S BOX” designed by Frederick A Fargo of Pine Woods, New York it was Patent No. 949,915 dated November 22, 1881. (Fargo Corners in Eaton today).  He states that: “My invention consist of a hop-picker’s measure or box having such construction that it may be easily taken apart for stowing away in small spaces and for transportation, and easily set up for use.”

Another interesting invention out of Morrisville is a Vine Trellis.  The Trellis was submitted by Andrew S. Hart and is Patent number 495,673, dated April 18, 1893. Hart says: “The object of this invention is to provide a trellis for training chiefly hop-vines, and which shall be permanently erect on the ground to afford ready access to the uppermost parts of the vines.”

The time of hops passed and became a time of cows and corn that have in recent time given back land to the cultivation of Hops in Eaton and in Madison County.  It is interesting to note that at Fargo Corners today you can see a new “hop field” located on today's  Mosher Farm.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Emily Chubbuck -AKA- Fanny Forrester, Harriet Beecher Stowe & a Lecture

The Summer Lecture Series will come to an end this month ... thank you to all who have attended. I promised to try and do a lecture on Emily Chubbuck, as well as Eaton's famous missionaries with its links to Colgate University that included Nathaniel Kendrick, its incorporators, Jonathan Wade, and the many others. so it will be Aug. 29th at 7 pm at the Old Auction barn.

Most interesting to me was a visitor to the old stone museum who  actually knew who Emily Chubbuck Judson was.  Of course the woman was a writer and journalist... but still…Emily dates back to 1817.

Born in Eaton Emily became a writer of children’s stories under the pen name Fanny Forrester.   She started writing articles for the newspapers and put them together as a book of famous short tales about the Eatonbrook .  The Eatonbrook is a little stream still runs today through Eaton and behind the Old Town Museum today.  Then it was call the Alderbrook and her stories of  “Alderbrook Tales” put together as book sold very well.  Emily of course became famous in the mid-1840s when she married Adoniram Judson the American Missionary to Burma.  Her life and her writings about Judson’s earlier wife made quite an impact on the Baptist world in her time.

Certainly the most famous woman writer of her time and a woman credited with moving America toward abolition was Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The Old Town Museum contains information on her family and her husband’s family as they are directly related to the Stowes and Morse-Bigelows who settled Eaton.

Harriet’s book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, like Chubbuck’s “Alderbrook Tales”, was also a serial book first carried in the periodical "National Era".  Later as an actual book it was translated into different languages and became a best seller in many countries.  In the United States the only book that sold more copies in its day was the Bible.  In its first year it sold 300,000 copies here in the USA and 200,000 copies in England.  It effected a change that some feel led to the Civil War.  It certainly stirred the sentiment of a great swath of the country toward abolition.

Another woman later did the same thing with her only actual full-length novel, a book in part based on an actual experience that happened in her early life called “To Kill A Mocking Bird”.

With the release of this book… Harper Lee became an overnight sensation.  The 1960 book won her the Pulitzer Prize and was rated in England by librarians as “a book every adult should read”.  The story in a way contributed to social change since it addressed race relations, equality and life in the “Deep South”... among other things.  A book used in classrooms and made into a movie…it has never been out of print.

So women…get out your pens…start writing…there are a whole lot of social issues that need to be addressed today.  Remember it only takes one book to make a difference.  Wish I could make a difference with my blog…but if I got someone else to write the big book…. I will have.  SO WRITE!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Summer Solstice, my Wednesday talk & Strawberry History

Well the days have finally become warmer and longer…could summer be lurking ready to overtake the cold of spring ... finally!

As I was getting ready for my “lecture” on Wednesday night to honor the Summer Solstice, I was drawn back to thoughts of childhood and going about the woods near our home picking a handful of wild strawberries.  It was a wonder to me … and eating a few was fun.

Those strawberries that I am now allergic to, were a great treat to the early settlers and to the Native Americans who could finally warm themselves with the sun after the cold winter.  As a matter of fact Iroquois Tribes (Seneca) celebrated a Strawberry Festival each year…the same as our Strawberry Socials today.

In June the children and woman would scour the fields much as we children did…gathering the little berries to get ready for that special festival.  The berries were mashed and readied for a drink made with honey and water.  Then at the appointed time all would gather for fun and food with two chosen children bringing the drink around to be sampled by all members … Fun

Of course, then other berries were gathered and made into cakes or that were dried and saved for food to later be reconstituted to eat or to travel with.  Dried like much of the food they preserved for future use.

As I thought on this, I decided that this year our little history group, Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum, could do a Summer Solstice celebration by taking rhubarb and strawberries and turning them into our traditional “Pie of Spring”… Strawberry Rhubarb.  Of course, we will add ice cream or serve it plain, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate the Solstice.  (We will also have other pie as well!)

So come out on Wednesday night at 7pm, to the old Auction Barn in Eaton on route 26, and taste our Strawberry Solstice treat and listen to stories from the past… including the history of salt, Hiawatha, and the once inland sea that is today’s Onondaga Lake... once the home of Sturgeon, Whitefish, the Onondaga Nation and CNY’s Salt industry!

A video of today's Onondaga Lake Park and Salt Museum!