The goal of every museum and historic site is to make history come alive in the imagination of the public. The past few days have witnessed a number of celebrations of holiday greenery, music, and feasting, commemorating early festivities in the Mohawk Valley. Most of the greenery and more usual trappings of holiday spirit that are near and dear to our imaginations and hearts did not become common in household celebrations until the nineteenth century. More common in the 18th century secular celebrations were simple gifts of trinkets or money and feasts involving food and drink. There were additional rituals in colonial New York German and Dutch households where ceremonies were brought over from their countries of origin. [Read more…] about Celebrating the Holidays in 18th Century Johnstown
The question was raised on “what are bed rugs?” in a recent living history association [ALHFAM] on-line thread. Bed rugs, often spelled “bed ruggs,” were common bed coverings that appear in both 18th and 19th century house inventories. Bed rugs were inventoried in Johnson Hall in Johnstown, NY, in a 1774 inventory of household goods by Daniel Claus. Johnson Hall was built in 1763; but the inventory was completed in 1774, a common recording for wills and cataloguing household goods. [Read more…] about Wanda Burch: 18th Century Bed Rugs
Please join us in welcoming Wanda Burch, New York History‘s newest contributor. Burch has an MA in History Museum Studies and has spent 42 years of in historic preservation, both in Arkansas and New York State. Early in her career she was a registrar at the Arkansas Arts Center and a curator at Arkansas Territorial Restoration. She recently retired as site manager of Johnson Hall State Historic Site and now serves as Vice-President of Friends of Johnson Hall.
Burch is the author of several articles in the NYSHA journal New York History and other publication on Sir William Johnson and was the Upstate History Alliance’s 2010 recipient of the Commendation of Merit Award for individual lifetime achievement and in the same year, the NYS Parks and Recreation Huttleston Award for outstanding achievement, the highest agency honor awarded.
She is the author of She Who Dreams (New World Library, Novato, CA, 2003); a co-presenter of Arts and Healing retreats at Great Camp Sagamore and Arts and Re-integration retreats for women veterans at Wiawaka in Lake George, NY. [www.creativehealingconnections.org].
With her husband Ron Burch she is the owner of two historic houses and author of the nomination for the Glen Historic District. Both were part of the founding committee for the Western Frontier Symposium, hosted at Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY. They also jointly authored Of Beams to Brackets, Architecture in the Mohawk Valley.
Her first piece for New York History will appear this morning.
Johnson Hall State Historic Site will host “A Visit from Ben Franklin” this Saturday, September 17th at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Paul Stillman will provide the first-person portrayal of Benjamin Franklin, including a performance on the glass armonica and presentation of scientific instruments of the period, an interest Franklin shared with Sir William Johnson.
Stillman has performed over 25 years as a first-person historical interpreter. He presents many characters to schools, libraries, museums and organizations, including Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Civil War soldier Byron Scott and Revolutionary War soldier Thomas Stillwell. The performances feature ongoing question-and-answer opportunity to help the audience understand the vocabulary of the period. These performances, complete with visual aids, entertain and educate all ages by bringing history to life.
The presentation will be held inside the historic mansion, where seating will be limited. While there is no admission fee, donations to support the program will be appreciated. Due to this special program, there will be no guided tours of Johnson Hall on this day.
“A Visit from Ben Franklin” is made possible in part by a Decentralization grant of public funds awarded to The Friends of Johnson Hall by the New York Council on the Arts, administered by the Tri-County Arts Council.
Johnson Hall State Historic Site is located at 139 Hall Avenue in historic Johnstown, just off West State Street (State Highway 29 West). For more information on special events at Johnson Hall, visit www.friendsofjohnsonhall.org, or write firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the Site’s emailing list.
Johnson Hall State Historic Site in Johnstown will host an 18TH century market fair this weekend, Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. both days with an evening contra dance on the lawn at 8 p.m. on Saturday. This is an event first established by Sir William Johnson in 1772.
Entertainment throughout both days will include magic by Robert Olson performing as 18th century magician “Mr. Bayly;” period music by Liaisons Plaisantes; a Punch and Judy Show by the Punchbowl Sisters, period games for children [and adults] led by Shari Crawford; and a new treat – scenes from the 18th century play “The Beaux Stratagem” led by Bernadette Weaver. There will be sutlers [vendors] from the period and re-enactors with domestic encampments. Parking will be available at the Johnstown High School with shuttles to Johnson Hall.
The Friends of Johnson Hall State Historic Site, 139 Hall Avenue, in Johnstown, NY, will host the Mettawee River Theatre on Thursday evening, August 5, 8:00 p.m., on the lawn under the black walnut trees – this popular annual theatre company presented their first production at Johnson Hall over 30 years ago. This year’s 35th anniversary production is an Iroquois creation story. Bring chairs, blankets, snacks, and bug spray – but no pets, please.
Mettawee’s outdoor production for the summer of 2010 is The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, which was originally produced in 1997. It is drawn from the Iroquois creation tale in which the Sky Woman falls from the spirit world and lands on the back of a turtle. Water animals bring up mud from the bottom of the sea so the earth can grow. The character Sapling creates all the earth’s delightful things; his brother Flint brings us mosquitoes and thorns and sharp rocks. The abrupt arrival of Hodu’i, a whimsical crack-pot who claims to have created it all, spells the readiness of the earth for the arrival of human beings. The production will incorporate many puppets representing the spirits and creatures of this young world.
According to Mettawee Artistic Director Ralph Lee, “At this time, when serious concerns about the state of our environment weigh heavily on us, it’s nourishing to hear these clear voices from the beginning of the world, reminding us of the gifts we’ve been given.”
For further information, contact Wanda Burch at 518-762-8712 or email@example.com