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July 7-Celebrating the Installation of Historic Markers

Town Historian- Tom Moreland

The Town and Historical Society are hosting events this Sunday in connection with the installation of markers in Austerlitz and Spencertown celebrating their designations as Historic Districts on the National Register of Historic Places. These designations bring honor to the communities, and the placement of the markers warrants a celebration.

These two related events will be informal affairs with brief remarks, a few photos, and then some refreshments at the old Town Hall.

Specifically: At 3 pm we gather at the Austerlitz Historical District marker, which is being installed on the Dan and Shani Palladino property, formerly Sally Light’s, at 11622 Route 22 (east side). Brief remarks will be made, surely including reflection on the sad loss of Bob Herron, and a photograph or two taken for the historical record.  

At 3:30 pm. we gather at the Spencertown Historical District marker, being installed just outside the old Town Hall. Again, brief remarks and a few photos. After which we enjoy some refreshments at the old Town Hall.

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Special Events

Revolutionary War Reenactment

May 17th, 9:00 am-12:00pm


CANCELLED-DUE TO RAIN




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Special Events

Community Tag Sale at Austerlitz Historical Society

On Sunday June 9th, The Austerlitz Historical Society will host a Community Tag Sale . Come look for bargains or rent a table and space and sell your own items. Tables can be rented inside the barn or on the lawn. Call 518-392-0062 to reserve a space.

Inside Barn-$25.00
lawn space – $20.00

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Bicentennial Celebrations

AUSTERLITZ CELEBRATES ITS BICENTENNIAL ON JUNE 9-10

Established in 1818, the Town of Austerlitz will celebrate its bicentennial with a gala weekend on June 9 and 10. Jere Wrightsman, chair of the Town’s Bicentennial Committee, has announced the  schedule of events for both days, all events free of charge.

Events on Saturday, June 9, in Spencertown, will include a parade starting at 11 am on Route 7 to the new Town Hall on Route 203, dedication ceremonies at the Town Hall (noon), a free community picnic with live music at the town park (1- 4 pm), historical exhibits at St. Peter’s Church and the Spencertown Academy, and a talk on the history of Austerlitz by town historian Tom Moreland (Spencertown Academy, 4 pm.). In addition, several historic houses will be open for visits from 1 to 4 pm.

Events on Sunday, June 10, in the hamlet of Austerlitz on Route 22, will include an old car/vehicle show and free cookout, presented by the Austerlitz Fire Company (10 am – 3 pm), and historical exhibits at Old Austerlitz. The historic one-room school house, the 1852 Christian Church and historic houses will be open for visits from 10 am to 1 pm.

The new town hall in Spencertown is the building constructed as the Methodist Church in 1836. It has been acquired by the town and converted into the new town hall through generous funding provided by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, headed by Jack Shear.

The town hall dedication ceremonies on Saturday will also celebrate the listing of the hamlets of Austerlitz and Spencertown as historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. The Austerlitz Historical Society spearheaded these historic district applications, which were funded by a grant from the Preservaton League of New York State.

The dedication will also feature the introduction of five new historical markers, to be placed in front of the houses of pioneering female physician Dr. Mary Clark (1845-1937) and Revolutionary War veteran and town leader Col. David Pratt (1738-1828), the house site of Peter Wheeler, an escaped slave who settled in Spencertown around 1825, the corner store building in Spencertown at Elm Street, and the Harvey Hotel/Columbia Inn on Route 22 in Austerlitz. The markers have been funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

The bicentennial weekend will also see the introduction of new local history book published by the Austerlitz Historical Society: The Old Houses of Austerlitz. The book, funded in part through a grant from Furthermore, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, is the culmination of a six-year research project. It includes a history of the Austerlitz area from the 1750s to today by town historian Tom Moreland, an analysis of local architectural styles by Michael Rebic, individual histories of the 168 old houses and other buildings in the town constructed from 1760 to 1888, and short articles on such topics as one-room schoolhouses, turnpikes, huckleberry picking, slavery, and famous and infamous Austerlitz residents, such as poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (famous) and the “Austerlitz cannibal” Oscar Beckwith (infamous).

The area which is now Austerlitz was first settled in the 1750s under an 1756 deed from the Mohican Indians to 75 New England families, who formed the proprietorship of Spencers Town (12 of the deed grantees were Spencers). For many years this was a much disputed area, known as the “land of contention.” Both New York and Massachusetts Bay colonies claimed jurisdiction, and the area was within the patent granted by New York to the Van Rensselaers, who viewed the New England settlers as squatters. The disputes even led to violence, as a contingent of British soldiers attacked Spencers Town in 1766 seeking to compel the settlers to leave or submit to the Van Rensselaer claims. They did neither. Not until 1804 were these disputes put to rest, in a settlement arranged by founding father Alexander Hamilton, shortly before his death at the duel with Aaron Burr.

By the time the Town of Austerlitz was created in 1818 this was a prosperous area, intensively farmed and with active commerce in both hamlets. But in the 1840s-50s the railroads bypassed the hamlets and local farming came under increasing competition from easier fields in the west. Commerce shifted to Chatham, and farms were gradually abandoned, first in the eastern hills and later elsewhere.

By the mid-twentieth century the forests had returned and the farmers had left.  The town reached its all-time population low of 626 in 1940, only a quarter of its population in 1820 of 2,355.

But there has been a resurgence since then, today’s population standing at about 1,700. Newcomers have come, many as second homeowners or retirees, now neighbors to families with deep roots in the town, some with ancestors who came here in the 1700s. Many would agree with Edna St. Vincent Millay’s description, speaking of her beloved Steepletop in the eastern hills: “Here we are, in one of the loveliest places in the world ….” (Letter to her mother, June 22, 1925).

 

 

 

 

 

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Special Events

Paint & Sip on Sunday, June 11th (Cancelled)

Explore your inner artist as you paint (and sip) inside our iconic Morey-Devereaux Barn. Your subject matter: the landmark Church and One-Room Schoolhouse on Route 22.

Pleas join us in the fun… while you support the Austerlitz Historical Society.

 

Sunday, June 11th at 2pm.
Cost is $35 (includes all materials)
BYOB (“light” refreshments are complimentary)

TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT: Call (413) 205-8346 or go to berkshirepaintandsip.com

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Special Events

WEDDINGS & Private Events

Wedding-Holding Hands

Old Austerlitz is home to the Austerlitz Historical Society.  The Society, organized in 1988, celebrates the heritage and rural beauty of Austerlitz, New York.  The bucolic grounds are perfectly suited for your country wedding or other private event.  Our historic buildings dating from the 1790’s to the early 1800’s will provide the backdrop for your special day, from our interfaith Country Church to an old fashioned one-room Schoolhouse.  The 1794 Morey-Devereaux House is appointed with fine furnishings and decor to take you back in time to the days of a simpler life.  We are close to the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the Capital Region of New York and the spectacular Hudson Valley, and a short 2-hour drive from Manhattan or 3-hour drive from Boston.

“Brian & Amy’s Wedding”

Photos courtesy of Turnquist Photography

Slideshow may take a little time to upload…  Scroll down for photo gallery.

 Other Private Events

Old Austerlitz Grounds
Old Austerlitz Grounds

In addition to Weddings, please consider us for your Graduation, Anniversary, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Cocktail Reception, Private Party, Business Outing, Reunion, or other special event.  Please contact us to discuss the many options available to you. 518-392-0062


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Special Events

Barn Weekend – Aug 23 & 24

Weekend Event:  “In Celebration Of Barns” August 23rd and 24th

Saturday August 23rd 1pm to 5pm

barnThe public was invited to a reception from 1:00 to 5:00pm at the Morey-Devereaux Barn, where framed photographs of barns taken by members of the Columbia County Photo Club were on exhibit.

Also on display were several barn-themed short stories and exercises written by area children at the Austerlitz Historical Society’s first Children’s Writing Workshop on July 12th.

Live music was provided by High Country, an old-time group from the Finger Lakes.

Free!

 

Sunday August 24th 1pm to 5pm

Barns-of-New-YorkDoors opened at 1:00pm. Guests viewed framed photographs of barns taken by members of the Columbia County Photo Club, as well as barn-themed writings from local children.

A brief annual membership meeting was held at 2:00pm, followed by Cynthia Falk’s featured presentation on barns.

Ms. Falk, Associate Professor, Material Culture at The Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta, discussed her book, Barns of New York: Rural Architecture of the Empire State (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012), which “explores and celebrates the agricultural and architectural diversity of the Empire State-from Long Island to Lake Erie, the Southern Tier to the North Country-providing a unique compendium of the vernacular architecture of rural New York.” The talk was illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation of Ms. Falk’s collected photographic images. The presentation took place in the Morey-Devereaux Barn, whose features served as direct visual reference points.

Refreshments were served and participants had another opportunity to view the photographs and examine on-site barns.

Live music was provided by High Country, an old-time group from the Finger Lakes.

 

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Special Events

AHS Receives Columbia County Heritage Award

The Austerlitz Historical Society is the proud recipient of a 2008 Columbia County Heritage Award. The award is given by the Columbia County Historical Society in honor of our extraordinary accomplishments in preserving the Town’s history.

The award to the Austerlitz Historical Society was accepted by the Society’s Vice President, Denise Dunne. The award noted that although the Society has no paid staff, we continuously offer consistently high-quality programs and that we have set some very high goals; goals that we are well suited to meet entirely on volunteer support.

The Columbia County Historical Society recognized the Austerlitz Historical Society, the Red Rock Historical Society, Peter Stott, and Priscilla Frisbee. “The unifying theme in this year’s awards is volunteerism, the societies and individuals honored today are inspirational role models for others in the county,” remarked Board President Russell Pomeranz.

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Special Events

The Austerlitz Powderhorn – A Treasure Comes Home

The April AHS Board of Trustees meeting was winding down when Bob Herron mentioned a call he received about a fine 19th century powder horn with Austerlitz inscribed on it. It had been in an important show and was for sale. Were we interested? That got us on the edge of our seats.

We already have a selection of 1830’s period items, but very few are actually from Austerlitz. As families died out or moved, their possessions were often divvied up or sold, and scattered across the country. Part of our Society mission is to collect and preserve artifacts from Austerlitz, and the powder horn could be used in education programs, another part of our mission. We decided to act quickly to add it to our collection before it was sold to someone else.

powderhorn

Powder horns were very important to our early residents. They were the container for black powder (a mixture of sulphur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate or saltpeter) which was used as the propellant in firearms of the period. A good basic powder horn had to be a convenient size for a person to carry and might hold about a pound of powder. If the powder got damp or wet it would not ignite, so the powder horn had to be rain proof and sealed so it could be dunked in water while fording a stream or if a boat overturned.

They were most often made from cattle or buffalo horn. These horns are sheaths that fit over the protrusions of bone from the animal’s head and have a network of material inside called pith, which was scraped out. After cleaning, a horn was dried and cured. The end of the narrow tip was cut off and a hole was drilled into the hollow part of the horn so the powder could be poured out. Then the area before the tip was sanded down, leaving a raised ridge of horn where the sling could be secured. The wider end of the horn is the butt, and this was trimmed so a plug, usually of wood, could be inserted. The plug was sealed into the butt to make it watertight and provided a place for a ring or fastener used to secure the other end of the shoulder sling.

This was the basic, functional powder horn. From there they could be embellished with carvings, names, figures, dates, designs, and non-ferrous metals (iron can cause sparks and ignite the powder.) They are classified as folk art, and vary according to the skill of the maker. Some artisans were exceptionally talented and might be commissioned to make a powder horn rather than it being made by the owner.

Our powder horn is inscribed with Austerlitz, June 24, 1825 and the name N. F. Griswold, with the “N” facing backward. He was Norman Francis Griswold, born in Spencertown on May 15, 1805, to Jabez and Anna Spencer Griswold. He was about 20 years old when the horn was made, and we do not know the significance of the June 24 date or whether he made the horn himself. In 1827 he married Deborah Richmond in Chatham and remained there throughout his life. According to census records, Norman and Deborah had four sons (George, Norman Delmar, Crawford and Stephen) and three daughters (Julia, Cynthia, and Phebe). At least two of their sons, George and Crawford, registered for the Civil War. George appears to have moved to Illinois, Norman Delmar to Ohio, and Crawford to Indiana.

Norman made his living as a merchant and died in 1873. It is interesting that Norman Francis was the younger brother of Sherman Griswold, the subject with his wife, Lydia Dean, of the well-known painting “Salting the Sheep” (painted by James E. Johnson) which is in the possession of the Columbia County Historical Society.

The powder horn is about 11 inches long and on the smallish size of the 12 inch+ length of most powder horns. The quality of workmanship and carving makes up for its size. It is beautiful. There are figures of birds (probably a swan and eagles), a ship, a steamboat, stars, a whale, possibly a castle, and a pine tree. The tip has a raised ridge of horn made to hold the shoulder sling. The butt end has a protruding, rounded wooden plug studded with brass tacks, and a brass knob for attachment. There are more tacks through the horn, possibly to hold the plug securely in place. Grasped with the tip end down, it looks like an ice cream cone sprinkled with brass M&M’s. The overall color is light yellowish and brown. The usual technique was to stain the whole horn with something like butternut, then add a darker stain rubbed into the carving to fill in the lines and make them stand out.

This is an outstanding artifact to add to our collection at Old Austerlitz. As usual, Bob Herron has come through for the Society, and we appreciate his years of experience in the antiques world and the contacts that brought this opportunity to us.

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Special Events

Aug. 24th 2013 – 1st Old Austerlitz Music Festival

Join us on Saturday, August 24 at Old Austerlitz, when the “First” Old Austerlitz Music Festival welcomes all those interested in old time music.
Our beautiful property is located at 11550 State Route 22 Austerlitz NY.

Click HERE to view our Music Festival flyer


The day will be filled with opportunities to participate in both large group performances and small group music gatherings. Bring your instruments, your voices, your enthusiasm! Enjoy the company of fellow music lovers, singers and musicians. We cordially invite you to join in — or simply stop by and listen.

The event is free and open to adults and children.

In addition to a day filled with music, an old time Contra Dance will top off the evening.
The cost for the Contra Dance is $10 per adult – children are free.
11:00am to 4:00pm — Gatherings for musical instruments and/or voice
4:00pm to 6:00pm — Jam Session in our new Barn
7:00pm to 8:00pm — Lessons in Contra Dancing for Beginners
8:00pm to 10:00pm — Contra Dance in the Barn –
More program and schedule information will be forthcoming.

Music and dance will take place in our large, newly raised barn, as well as in renovated Old Austerlitz buildings and on the Society’s lawn and grounds.

We hope you will be able to join us for a day of music-making and dance!

Sponsorship, Advertising and Underwriter opportunities are available for all events.
Please call 518-392-0062 to inquire.

A Special Thank You to our Underwriters who contribute to the success of our event!

1794 Heritage Circle Level – $1000
Robert & Luise Kleinberg
Norma Edsall
Alice Corbin
Suzanne Mugler
Anthony & Gail Cashen

Historian Level – $500
Joseph & Connie Mondel
Robert & Barbara Willner
Robert Herron

Benefactor Level – $250
Alice & Edwin Leason
Michael Rebic & Jeff Harris
John & Denise Dunne
Rebecca Greer
Aari Ludvigsen & Barbara Gaines

Supporter Level – $100
Ellen G. Scott
Donna & Joseph Santoro

General Support
Walter Smythe

Corporate Underwriters – Advertising Support
Click an image to visit the underwriter’s website






Corporate Underwriters – Diamond Support – $1500
Click an image to visit the underwriter’s website
Your name & logo displayed here for your $1500 contribution

Corporate Underwriters – Platinum Support – $1000
Click an image to visit the underwriter’s website

Corporate Underwriters – Gold Support – $500
Click an image to visit the underwriter’s website
Your name & logo displayed here for your $500 contribution

Corporate Underwriters – Silver Support – $250
The Lofgren Agency
Herrington’s
Dells’ Plumbing, Heating & A/C, Inc.
Chatham Wine & Liquor

Corporate Underwriters – Bronze Support – $100
Valley Energy
Kinderhook Bank
Countryside Dental

Corporate Underwriters – Other Support
Kleeber Agency Insurance

Logistic Support for our Cavalry Camp