By Jeffrey Harris

It is with deep sadness that I announce the death of Anne Cipkowski. Anne, a native to our area (Copake Falls), served as director of the Austerlitz Historical Society for three years.
In the spring of 2020 Anne informed me that she had not been feeling well. After many doctor visits and what seemed like endless tests, she was eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite the diagnosis, I was amazed at her grace and calm. Anne loved the Historical Society and it’s members and continued working for as long as she could. She would often call me with concerns about this-or-that at Old Austerlitz but eventually I had to tell her “Anne, these things are really not so important.” I think that Anne knew this better than I, but she felt a sense of responsibility to her position. In the summer, she finally had to resign.
When I asked Anne if she had adequate support to handle her health situation she replied, “I have so much support, I could not have asked for a better husband and children—they are right there with me.”
I had my first real conversation with Anne at a Blueberry Festival. She was new to the job and what a way to begin! As many of you know, planning and executing the festival is no easy task. She was running here and running there: making sure that vendors were in their proper places and happy, as well as making sure there was enough room for the ducks! I had just stepped out of the shop, when Anne approached me still glancing at her clipboard. “How do you think it’s going?” she asked. The festival looked beautiful, and I told her so. “Look around Anne, I have never seen so many people and they’re all smiling.” She gave me that big Anne grin. I knew she was proud, and deservedly so.
Anne’ s gift was her love for people and conversation, and the two almost always go together. She spent many hours talking with Bob Herron (one of the Society’s principal founders) learning about Austerlitz history, soothing Bob’s concerns, and figuring out what not to do! Whether talking with members, book club participants, or visitors who happened by, Anne would leave everyone happy that they had a conversation with her.
Anne is survived by her husband, Todd Hoyt, her six children: Sabrina, Kayla, Whitney, Alec, Dylan, and Lucas, the many children to whom she served as a foster mother over the years, and her brother Ken Burdick.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to Todd, and all of her children and family. We are so thankful for the time we had with Anne, she will be greatly missed.

Anne in her garden


The Shop at Old Austerlitz all ready for the holidays
Get some of that holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving! This Saturday and Sunday (November 21st and 22nd only) the shop will be open from 12 noon until 4pm.
There are lots of great gifts and wonderful bargains. We have some unique items for Christmas and Hanukah, as well as art, jewelry, toys, stocking stuffers, vintage and antique items – and most important, chocolate gold coins! The place is absolutely packed! (Just remember to bring your mask.)

Thanksgiving Food from our past (some a bit questionable)

We love vintage ads, they are actually great historical documents. Here we’ve picked a few Thanksgiving ads from the 1940’s thru 1970’s. Please note that we have not tested any of the recipes, so you’re on your own.

Why bother with all those pesky fresh vegetables? Simply throw everything together into one loaf!
A new way to serve cranberries:
It probably tastes great (with all those marshmallows), but we’ve seen better presentations.
If you’ve waited too late to buy that turkey, there’s always Spam.
Yet, more ways to serve cranberries. We have never seen a recipe quite like this one — surely it deserves some kind of an award!
Who knew that Dr. Pepper could be served as a warm punch?
This may be a better option:
Jello is always festive and offers the best solution as to what to do with all those leftovers.
When all else fails, there are always good old-fashioned TV dinners.


Mrs. Frank Rundell, Sr. wrote a column for The Chatham Courier, focused on life in Spencertown, from the 1940’s through 1972.
The store was filled with Thanksgiving shoppers when a woman was heard to say, “Oh I almost forgot the cider! Can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without that!” So the lady goes happily on her homeward way, her jug of pasteurized cider snuggled in between the frozen turkey, prepared dressing, various mixes, frozen vegetables, five pounds of potatoes, and three pounds of apples.

One’s mind, however, goes back to the days of yesterday when fertile farms of the Punsit Valley had filled the barns with hay and grain, the cellars with apples and vegetables, nuts were in the attic, corn was in the bin, and several cider mills were running full time. Load after load of apples were being shoveled into bins from which they rolled down and were caught between two rollers studded with nails. The ground-up apples with the juice were emptied into a huge vat which, when full, was allowed to stand overnight. Then it was pressed between wooden racks and layers of burlap. (The best cider was made by using rye straw instead of burlap.)

When the barrel of cider was brought home from the mill it was put in the backyard and the bung taken out. Here it remained until it worked itself clear, usually so timed that by Thanksgiving the cider was a cold, clear, breezy, sparkling drink… “fit for the Gods!”
However, there was another angle to this cider making. Not every barrel was brought home; some were left at the mill and allowed to turn into hard cider or applejack. The rule for making the latter was “frozen twice and twice drained.” Since in some homes a man’s wife would not allow either of these drinks in the cellar, the friendly cider maker helped the individual in whose home such a condition existed by storing his extra barrel of cider in his own cellar. Each barrel or keg had the owner’s name on it. Each had a glass on top, and, on occasion, when coming to town or drawing logs to the mill on a cold winter day, a man would stop by, go down the cellar…the outside way…draw a glass of his special brew and from a bag of eggs which he had stored there, take one, break it in the cider, and drink it down.

A man whose father once operated a cider mill in Spencertown and who obligingly came to the rescue of his restricted brothers by harboring their barrels of secret sin, said, “I never lost the opportunity of going down the cellar with these men when they came in for their drink, for I was completely fascinated watching the yolk of the egg go down their throats.”

Since the eggs used in this drink were secretly acquired, they were obtained by devious means. Fall and winter eggs were scarce, and the farmer’s wife knew which hens were laying and just about how many eggs she might expect to find in the nests. So, one Thanksgiving morning in a home where the Missus frowned upon any cider drinking that was more than four weeks old, friends and relatives were gathering to celebrate this national holiday with its traditional dinner. The farmer had unharnessed the minister’s horse and was tying it in an unused stall, a spare so to speak, when glancing down, he saw underneath the manger a nest of eggs. He gathered them in his hat, one dozen there was, with the bloom of fresh egg still on them.
He stood viewing his find and began arguing with himself. Mary had wanted more eggs for Thanksgiving cooking, but it was too late now. He didn’t dare buy eggs at the store…somehow she would find out. Hadn’t the minister’s horse led him to them? Wasn’t he supposed to be thankful today for his blessings? Well, this sort of blessing.
Then came the thought of the cold barrel of apple beverage and he closed the argument by hiding the eggs in the oat bin. He walked briskly to the house and as he took his place at the head of the Thanksgiving table, this good man, loving husband and father, kin and obliging neighbor and friend, with a twinkle in his eye and a song in his heart, said, “Dominie, will you ask the blessing?”




By Mrs. Frank Rundell, Sr.

As time goes on, the old natural methods of foretelling the weather get more and more impossible. The signs upon which the “setters” in Palmer & Sawyers and William Higgins’ stores at Spencertown depended on for prophesying what we might expect for the coming winter are gone.
The thickness of the burrs on the nuts once foretold the severity of the winter, but the hickory and chestnut trees that once grew along stone walls and in fields are no more.
Turkeys, too, were watched for signs of the weather. It was noted…did they roost on a fence rail or, indicating deep snow, high in a tree. Today they live in a wire cage, their natural instincts bred out of them so they’re just plain dumb.

The farmer of today with his corn harvester pays no attention to the thickness of the corn husks or whether or not they completely cover the tip end of the cob. The farmer of yesterday who sat in the field husking his corn by hand knew about this unfailing prediction.

There are only four natural ways left to predict the weather. Watch the cows in the pasture; note the way they face as they usually head into the wind. If they face south, it usually means rain, but if they face north it could mean cooler and clear weather. Observe the chipmunk and see how he carries his tail. If it’s low, it is said to mean a light winter, but if it sticks up straight in the air it could mean a deep snow. Keep an eye on the direction of the wind during a line storm and if those furry caterpillars are very dark in color it indicates we’re in for a rough winter.

Gone these many years, however, are three of Spencertown’s weather predictors, who were better than today’s forecasters. Tam and Hen Dean, along with Thede Chace, were experts. Young folks never even made plans for a picnic unless they first asked one of these men.

Mrs. Rundell wrote a column for The Chatham Courier, focused on life in Spencertown, from the 1940’s through 1972. Reprinted from the book of her collected columns, And So It Was: Yesteryear in the Punsit Valley, Griswold Publishing, 1993. A very special thank you to Jim Rundell for his generous donations to the society.
We were looking for some natural autumn decorations and came across the idea of waxed leaves! It is very inexpensive, easy to do, and looks beautiful. The leaves will keep their color and shape throughout the season. Here we have a simple arrangement in the Morey-Devereaux House.

Items Needed:
Autumn leaves with stems, in a variety of shapes and colors;
Paraffin wax (available where canning supplies are sold: grocery stores, hardware stores);
A double boiler (a pot within a pot) or a mini crock pot will do the trick;
Waxed or parchment paper to dry the leaves on.
We improvised the above double boiler using a pouring pot within a larger pot. Place a few inches of water in the outer pot and place several blocks of paraffin wax in the inner pot. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to low so that the wax slowly melts. (If using a mini crock pot, place the wax directly in the pot.) When all the wax is melted turn the heat to warm.

While waiting for your wax to melt, place enough sheets of wax or parchment paper on a nearby counter to set your drying leaves.
Once all the wax is ready, take a single leaf by the stem and gently lower the leaf into the melted wax. Be careful, the wax is very hot. This is why we prefer leaves with long stems! A single dip is generally enough to coat the entire leaf. Raise the leaf, and let the excess wax drip into the pot. Place the leaf on your paper.
The leaves will dry in about two minutes and are then ready for whatever decorating you have in mind.


While we are unable to hold any large holiday gatherings this year, we are planning to turn our shop into a Holiday Shop for one weekend (date to be announced shortly).If you are an artist or a bit crafty, and like to make holiday decorations, we welcome donations of handmade Christmas and Hanukkah ornaments and decorative items (jewelry too) for sale in the shop. All proceeds benefit Old Austerlitz and the Austerlitz Historical Society.Please contact Jeff at [email protected]


We are collecting old sheets (flat sheets, not fitted) to cover exhibit spaces and furniture for the winter months. If you have any to donate, please email Jeff at [email protected] to arrange a drop off time.
If you order from Amazon you can use instead (with your same password) and a percentage of your purchase cost will be donated to AHS.
Signing up for AmazonSmile is simple:Go to and login with your existing Amazon account, if you have an account Amazon will immediately call you with a verification code, so have a pen ready;Once logged in, scroll down and type ‘Austerlitz Historical Society’ in the box and click ‘search’;Click ‘select’ to choose the Austerlitz Historical Society;Check the box acknowledging that you must visit each time you shop in order to support the Austerlitz Historical Society and click ‘Start Shopping’.


There are only two more weekends to view the new Art Austerlitz gallery and the new exhibits at Old Austerlitz, so if you haven’t stopped by, please do. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our visitors this season, and thought we’d share a few of the things – sometimes surprising things – that people found interesting.

The first photo shows a rare multi-spout whale oil/lard lamp. Made of tin, the lamp has a sculptural quality that always surprises our guests. When filled with oil or lard, the lamp can provide a significant amount of light that will last through the night. While the lamp can be used indoors (with good ventilation), this type of lamp was often used for working outdoors and for night fishing.

The second photo above shows just a small selection from our amazing kitchen/cooking collection. This collection was largely assembled by Alice Corbin and Norma Edsall and generously donated to the society. A highlight of this year’s tour is when Michael Rebic demonstrates the use of some of the more unusual items.
We all know about the quality of French wine, French food, and French fashion, but who would have thought that a French mousetrap would cause a sensation in the late 1800’s? This sign, pointing to the floor, explains what the fuss was all about.
Here is the rather complex French “Marty Trap.” (Notice the mousehole in our exhibit space baseboard.)
This exhibit shows the difference between quill pens and dip pens. Dip pens were invented in 1822, but were not widely used in America until the 1860’s and 70’s. Both quill and dip pens almost forced the writer to write in an elegant manor — and we show several examples. Incidentally, ball point pens were not invented until 1938.
This odd contraption is a pipe rack (notice how long early clay pipes were, sometimes as long as 17 or 18 inches). “When pipes became foul with tobacco juice they were not thrown away, but were laid, as many as two or three dozen at a time, in a rack and then placed in a very hot oven until thoroughly baked, when they would be taken out quite clean and more agreeable to smoke than a new pipe.” The devices were also used on the hearth. (Thank you to Phil Palladino for the donation of clay pipes.)
Another rare item (and we have two) is this 18th century “cup dog.” Used in the hearth, the “cup” would hold small pots with sauces or porridge to keep them warm.
Entering the gallery, this 36″ x 36″ work of art is what artist Peter Bradley Cohen calls “Sugar-coated photography.” The piece is titled “Michael, 2019” and while it has been sold, it can still be viewed until September 6th.
This beautiful, intricate and delicate installation by Joan Grubin is made of paper. When a slight breeze occurs, the piece gently undulates.
Three works of art on paper by Artist Zack Neven.
Fundraising Update: As many of you know, we have set a goal of raising $20,000 this summer to help offset the loss of income from the cancelled Blueberry Festival and we are almost there. We are happy to report that to date we have raised $19,076. A list of donors is available on the website under the Support tab. THANK YOU to all who have donated. If you would like to donate please go to
Volunteer Opportunities:

Gardening: We can use a few hands to help lay black plastic in front of several buildings where we will establish or expand beds to plant bushes. We can also use a few gardeners with loppers to help clean-up the growth around the schoolhouse.
The Shop: We need a few individuals who can assist us in taking year-end inventory.
Exhibit Research: Did you know that the 1770’s was the era of big hair, or that men in the eighteenth century used curlers to style their wigs? We need researchers to assist with a new exhibit on hair. If you have a home computer, you can help us research information and images.
If you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities, please contact Jeff Harris at: [email protected]
Autumn in Austerlitz:
Due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic and the state restrictions on large gatherings, we are sad to announce that the Autumn in Austerlitz Festival will not be held this year.

Remember: We are open Saturdays & Sundays, Noon – 4pm through September 6th, 2020We hope to see you soon.

We Are Open

August 1st and 2nd, 2020, was opening weekend at Old Austerlitz and it was a great success!
Since we have a lot of photos, we are going to let the photos do the speaking (although, full disclosure, we’re not going to show you everything because we want to entice you to come and see for yourself). Old Austerlitz will be open every Saturday & Sunday through September 6th, Noon-4pm.

A special thank you to the following people for their amazing work in helping to get Old Austerlitz open during these unusual times:
Ryan Turley & Matthew Papas, Gale & Bruce Stockman, Michael Rebic, Phil Palladino, Penny Metsch, Vivian & Gary Cunningham, Margaret Hover.

That’s Ryan Turley at the gallery entrance.(Notice the beautiful entry hall.)
Christa Karen and her daughter Hannah Karen
Matthew Papas, Margaret Hover, and Nick Naber taking care of the money and signing up new members.
Inside the gallery
The updated Morey-Devereaux House
There are surprises behind every door!
New barn displays
The Shop at Old Austerlitz
Cellist Will Hutnick – Will is also one of the artists in the show.
Fundraising Update: We have set a goal of raising $20,000 this summer to help offset the loss of income from the cancelled Blueberry Festival and we are getting close! We are happy to report that to date we have raised $18,025. A list of donors is available via the supporters tab. THANK YOU to all who have donated. If you would like to donate, and for further information, please go to our donate tab.
Remember: We are open Saturdays & Sundays through September 6th, 2020 We hope to see you soon.


That is our goal – to raise $20,000 this summer for the operating expenses of Old Austerlitz. As many of you know, the Blueberry Festival has been cancelled this year due to Covid-19. The festival is our primary fundraising event of the year—we had expected to raise $33,000.

We are asking all of our members and friends to consider making a donation of any amount. The good news is that we have received our first donations amounting to $1,020 – we will keep you posted as donations come in.

Donations can be mailed to the Austerlitz Historical Society, PO Box 144, Austerlitz, NY 12017 or better still, while you’re thinking about it; you can make an immediate donation via our Donate tab. We thank you in advance for caring about and supporting our wonderful community organization. The names of donors will be listed on our website.

What are we doing with the money?

The funds will be spent on the maintenance of the buildings, hourly wages for our part-time employees, utilities, insurance premiums, gas for our lawn mowers, office, kitchen and bathroom supplies, etc… Any additional money will be used for our programming and special projects.

When will we open?

We are taking a leap-of-faith and planning for an August 1st opening of Old Austerlitz. Of course, this will depend on the progress we make in NY State regarding the virus and an okay from the government.

The opening means that our buildings, new art gallery and shop will be open to small groups of people – fortunately our expansive grounds allow for visitors to spread out and to view Old Austerlitz self-paced. And please remember that members and their guests are permitted, even now, to walk about the grounds and take a peek at the new exhibits being created and the new Austerlitz Bicentennial Bell, the tower is nearing completion; just remember to follow social distancing guidelines.


History Goes On

Even during these difficult times, work at Old Austerlitz goes on. Tim Hawley is creating a base to display a beautiful weathervane. Clarke Olsen is working on rustic wood stanchions for the barn exhibit, and Francene Samuels will soon begin scraping and painting the south side of the Austerlitz church.

One of the things we discovered when reviewing the period rooms in the Morey-Devereaux House is that our collection of lighting sources was woefully inadequate. Here is a recent acquisition:

Whale oil lamp by Roswell Gleason at Old Austerlitz

What is it?

It is a pewter whale oil lamp created by Roswell Gleason (1799-1887). Gleason set up shop in Dorchester, MA and created this piece circa 1825. His wares were in high demand and he sold his works up and down the east coast. And here is a portrait of the rather elegant Mr. Gleason:


As lighting was primarily provided by candlelight or oil lamps during our period, we are also looking for brass candlesticks. Of course, if you happen to own a few and would like to donate them—we wouldn’t refuse. We’ve seen a few appropriate pairs in the $45-$75 range, if you’d like to sponsor their purchase, that would be appreciated too! We are using the wonderful handmade beeswax candles made by Frances Culley of Spencertown.

If you’d like to help with some of our projects we need someone to help research the making of butter—all you’d need is a home computer. We plan a butter exhibit and would like to explain the butter making process from colonial times to about 1930. We’d also like to research butter making items that we can acquire for our collection.


Another way to contribute is to scour your basement and/or barn for old worn-out brooms—yes, you read that correctly. We would like to collect antique and vintage brooms and whisk brooms for our display on broom making. If you are interested in any of these projects contact me at [email protected]