Thank You!

The Ghent Band performs at the Blueberry Festival 2022
A note from Jeffrey Harris, President, Austerlitz Historical Society:

On behalf of the Society, I wish to thank the wonderful volunteers, musicians and entertainers, demonstrators, and vendors who participated in the successful return of the Blueberry Festival 2022! We weren’t sure if anyone would show up and boy were we surprised! Including volunteers, vendors, etc., we estimate that over 2,500 people attended and participated. Over 1,750 adult tickets were sold (children enter for free). We were certainly overwhelmed with cars and had to scramble for parking spaces. We even parked folks on the front lawn (a first). The scramble meant that a number of visitors entered the grounds from various points, and we lost some ticket sales — we’ll work to improve that at the next festival.
Chris and Hilary Ferrone, and Greg Vogler getting those pancakes started.
There was a small group of people who worked so diligently on the prep work, I hardly know how to thank them. First, and foremost, was Margaret Hover, our AHS Secretary and Manager of Operations. Margaret did everything from recruit volunteers and vendors, put up tents, travelled all over the area picking up supplies, lifted heavy equipment — you name it, she did it! Please, if you get a moment, send Margaret a thank you note. She is truly an amazing person.

Margaret’s husband, Kevin Johnson, worked like a dog (to put it bluntly). Cutting grass, planting flowers, putting up tents, picking-up benches, filling gas canisters, moving chairs and tables, etc., it was rare to not see him covered in sweat!

Donna Peterson, came all the way from her new home in Florida to take over the kitchen (and a whole host of other things). Many of you know Donna, and quite frankly the festival would not have occurred without her.Her institutional knowledge saved us many times and she even helped me put up fencing! If that wasn’t enough, she then cleaned and brought needed order to our supply basement.
Ever wonder how Donna mixes all those buckets of pancake batter?
The dreaded pancake breakfast line.
Michael Rebic was determined that we would have blueberry pies this festival and personally made 35 of them! He was joined by Dodie Wheeler (who also ran around picking up needed supplies and managed the blueberry tent), Wendy Diskin (who helped despite having a family wedding that weekend!), Margy Quinn, and Emma Jensen. We also want to especially thank all those who baked many other items for the bake sale — we sold out!
Blueberry pies cooling in the Morey-Devereaux House.
Jim Newberry and Maureen Wilson went well beyond the call of duty and put together our new griddles and cleaned the old ones. I can picture Jim now in the hot summer sun, sweating, but determined — it was hard work (those griddles are heavy). Jim also flipped pancakes and Maureen helped with the bake sale.
Vivian Cunningham, looking like a chemist, in the kitchen.
Vivian and Gary Cunningham were absolutely amazing! They showed up whenever help was needed which meant that they moved supplies, helped put up tents, moved furniture, cleaned, etc. Gary took on the new lemonade booth (ever clean hundreds of lemons?) and we discovered that Vivian had spectacular organizational skills. She was also rather a wiz in the kitchen!
Jeff O’Donnell never stopped working. We asked him to do so many things, I am amazed that he came back to help with clean-up! And he cooked in the pancake tent. Thank you, Jeff.

The very successful tag sale was managed and set-up by Barbara Perlmutter. She worked a lot of hours collecting and arranging the many donated items. After the festival, I walked into the barn and it was magically cleaned-up. Thank you also to intern Lucy Sanchez for all her help with the tag sale and so many other tasks.

Gale Stockman and Brenda Tamez worked in the office making sure we all got tickets, sales boxes, ipads, etc. And of course, the bookkeeping before and after the festival. Gale also made sure the advertising signs got out into the community (and were collected after).

Thank you to Mary Neufeld who did an amazing job setting up and working the pancake tent and even convinced her nephew to help set up those tables and hundreds of chairs!

And Roy Carney who came in and adjusted our fencing, put out parking signs and guides and helped us get more cars into that field than we ever thought possible.
Tag Sale in the large Barn
And to all those who volunteered for the day of the festival, we give you our sincere thanks — what a wonderful job you did (and thanks for stepping up when issues presented themselves). A special thank you to the extended Dunne and Ferrone and Murphy families (Denise, Tim, Hilary, Chris, Fiona, Joanne, and Eryl) who came en masse to take on the pancake breakfast, the Mugler family and friends (Shirar, Nicola, Jack, Wil, and Ellis), the Palmer family (Bill, Ruth and Joy), and the Avenia family (Margaret, John, and Emma).

Thank you to Karen Carney, Tim Hawley, Larry Massimo, Connie Mondel, Jane Magee, Charlotte & Rupert Fennell, Ginny Nightingale, Ansi Vallens, Dan Perlmutter (photogapher), Gale Page & Frank Smith, Carole Reamer, Bill Case, Elizabeth Diggs, Emily McCully, Greg Vogler (the best blueberry dropper in town), Lynne O’Connell, Shari Tassitore, Kristen Dalton, Isabel Buckbee, Zinnia Pappas, Sue Diskin, Madaline Sparks, Keith Galluzo, Pam Renwick, Eve Zatt, Joe Herwick, Phil Palladino, Barbara Smith, Mary Gerhardt, Liz Tyski, Dorothy O’Donnell, Bruce Stockman, Julie Foehrenbach, Vicky Jensen, Lisa Meaney, Mark Diskin, Debbie Coolidge, Dorothy Muller, Libby & Tim O’Neil (They took over the shop and helped tremendously with clean-up.), Erlyn Madonia and her granddaughter Lilly, Mitzi Lobdell, Joan Gampert, and the man who became my right-hand-manScotty Quinn.

No doubt, we have missed some names (please let us know). But a sincere and heart felt thank you to all those who helped make the festival such a success. It was so wonderful to see everyone in person!

Jeffrey Harris

Let’s allow the pictures to do the talking (and if you have more great photos, please send them our way.):
Chesley McLaren & Doug Welch
Connie Mondel and Jeffrey Harris
This year a number of companies helped to sponsor the festival with donations. Please, when doing business, let those companies know that we truly appreciate their support. And a special Thank You to Stewart’s for the delicious ice-cream! See photo below:


After two interrupted years the Blueberry Festival is back on Sunday, July 31, 2022 from 9am – 3pm! (Rain or shine – we have tents.)Your favorites will still be there, but this year we have new vendors, new entertainment, and even new food. The day begins with the famous Pancake Breakfast (served from 9am until 11:30am) and ends with the rousing sounds of the Ghent Band.In between there is lots to do and see, including many demonstrations, historic displays, artists and artisans, children’s activities, tag sale/antiques, great food including the bake sale, great music, a quilt raffle and a garden raffle (don’t forget to take a look at the new herb garden) and everyone loves to watch the sheep shearing and border collies!
While the price of everything seems to be going up, we decided to welcome everyone back with the same admission cost of $8 (children under 12 are free). We love pets, but we do ask that no pets be brought to the festival.We are still looking for volunteers — particularly at the two admissions booths and the pancake tent. Don’t be shy, just email Margaret Hover at [email protected] or Jeff Harris at [email protected] or you can call and leave a message at 518-392-0062.If you are volunteering and do not know your arrival time or assignment, please contact Margaret at the above email address. This is very important as we must prepare name tags and complete the schedule.Click here for vendor info.Whether you are volunteering or coming as a guest — we look forward to seeing you on July 31st.
VOGUE:The Austerlitz Edition
The Austerlitz Historical Society continues its series of talks on Sunday, July 17 at 2pm when Phyllis Chapman presents Head to Toe: What They Wore, How They Wore It, and Why it Mattered, an exploration of the shape-shifting variety of 19th century fashions.Corsets for men? Bustles and shoplifting? Beetle embellishment? Do they get it right in the movies? This fun look at stuff that doesn’t get mentioned in history books demonstrates the wide variety of style, silhouettes and fads that kept the fashion-conscious on their toes and illustrates that we do define ourselves through dress. As Mark Twain observed, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
Chapman will speak on Sunday, July 17 at 2:00 p.m. in the Historic Austerlitz Church, NY Rt. 22, Austerlitz, N.Y. The talk is free and open to the public.Vintage Visitors is composed of Phyllis Chapman, historic interpreter, her husband, Mike Chapman, audio/visual creator and technical director, and associate Kristen Marcoux, seamstress and assistant at fashion shows and living history demonstrations.

New Herb Class



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.