Friday, August 15, 2014

Festival Time

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

Cruisin' Night 2006

It is that time of year again.  Festivals are everywhere.  If there is anyone who can’t find something to do on a weekend in the Finger Lakes they must have their eyes closed and their cell phone glued to their ear.  Just recently in the area surrounding Geneva there was a garlic festival, a sauerkraut festival and the eclectic Park Ave. festival in Rochester.  From the start of the summer until the unofficial end on Labor Day there will be music, art, food, beverage and craft fairs and festivals. 

As I write this Walnut Hill Farm Carriage Driving Competition is going on as well as Empire State Farm Days.  While neither is technically a fair or festival the atmosphere surrounding both events resonates that of a fair. 

Walnut Hill is a very elegant affair filled with fine food and beverages, highly polished carriages and equipment, and absolutely beautiful well trained horses, and ponies.  The drivers and grooms are immaculately dressed and one day spent there can send you back in time 150 years.  

Empire Farm days is more of a “car show” for new agricultural equipment.  People arrive in jeans or shorts with entire families in tow.  What it may lack in elegance it makes up for in interesting displays and free samples.  The food is plainer but no less tasty and one day there can catapult you into the future of agriculture 25 years from now!

Unity Festival 2002

What do these two disparate events have in common? People, food, animals, equipment, and skill development.  I have attended both of these wonderful “fairs” and had a wonderful time at each.  I have also, at various times in my life, attended The Clothesline Art Show, the Corn Hill Festival, the Park Avenue Festival (all in Rochester, NY); the Native American Dance and Music Festival at Ganondagan in Victor, NY; The Highland Games near Dundee, NY; The Hemlock “Little World’s” Fair, in Hemlock, NY; the Monroe County Fair, near Rochester, NY; The Wayland Potato Festival, and the New York State Fair to name a few.

Seneca Lake Whale Watch

I have paid $2 for a side show (definitely not worth it), eaten funnel cakes, cheese burgers, tacos, hot dogs, butterfly chips, sugar waffles, and innumerable fair specialty foods dedicated to the fair or festival’s theme such as potato ice cream and candy or bison burgers. I have watched milking contests where some people who participated barely knew the head of the cow from the “business end”.  I have had a sweater sleeve eaten by a large Brown Swiss cow.  I have stood next to a 17 hand high (5’ 8” at the horse’s withers/shoulder) draft horse with a 7 year old sitting on him braiding his mane. I have walked through a variety of suspicious smelling liquids at agriculture fairs (and a few at street fairs).  I once even asked a vendor to write an “excuse” for me when I purchased a pretty expensive handmade teddy bear at a juried art/craft show.  There are only two things I generally don’t like about fairs and festivals. The parking is usually expensive or very far away and porta-potties.  Both leave a lot to be desired but are better than nothing.

Unity Festival 2003

Geneva had fairs in the 1800s and still has its “fair” share of festivals today.  Many of the churches run carnivals and fairs in the summer and I have been to several excellent ones.  The city hosts a fabulously fun event called Crusin’ Night, and more than one cultural event like the Italian Festival at the Sons of Italy and the Latino Festival.  We have had musical events like Whale Watch and even the Mussel Man Triathlon, which takes on a festive air.  

The first year I came to work in Geneva I attended the Whale Watch.  What fun!  There was the usual assortment of vendors for foods and souvenirs.  The Historical Society had a booth and took publications to sell.  We brought games for the children to play and taught them activities like “Graces” where decorated hoops are thrown and caught with pointed dowels.  There was even a cardboard boat race! And all of this took place on the shore of Seneca Lake. 

One year I attended Cruisin’ Night and encountered my cousin who had brought his race car to the event.  He and two friends, who had also brought their racing cars, were parked on the northwest corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets  where the antique tractors were set up this year.  Periodically, each of them would start the engines on the racers, starting from the least powerful to the most powerful sounding.  Even after I went home that evening I could hear the revving of these powerful motors in the distance.  For me, this is part of the joy of Geneva.  When Crusin’ Night is happening, everyone knows it even if they don’t attend.  Some might find this a joyless intrusion on their space, but I think of it as proof that something vibrant, fun and positive is happening in our city.  Geneva is Alive!

I urge all of you to take some time this summer to discover some of the wonderful events that occur in the Finger Lakes.  Every lake, every city has different and exciting things to do.  You can visit a festival any place you want in New York State you only need to take the first step and explore. Wine, cheese, apples, grapes, tomatoes, garlic, peppermint, onions, music, arts and crafts and more are all waiting to be discovered in Geneva’s backyard.  Don’t let all this summer fun pass you by!

Cruisin' Night

Friday, August 8, 2014

Currency, Finance and the Civil War

By Anne Dealy, Director of Education and Public Information

Banking in the early years of the American Republic was decentralized, inefficient and disorganized, leading to frequent panics and depressions. While attempts were made to resolve these problems, none were substantial or comprehensive enough to put the nation on a solid financial footing. As in many other areas of national development, it was the Civil War which prompted radical change in the country’s financial system.

To pay for the men and material needed to fight the war, the government needed to increase revenue. There are three ways to do this: increasing taxes, borrowing funds, or printing money. The U.S. Congress took action quickly, increasing the tariff (the main source of government income to that time) and passing the first federal income tax in August 1861. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase started the first war bond program in American history to provide loans to the federal government. He sold government bonds both to financiers and ordinary people. By the war’s end, he had sold $400 million worth of “five-twenties”—6 percent bonds that could be redeemed between five and twenty years after issuance—and $800 million worth of 7 percent bonds (“seven-thirties”).

Newspaper ad for 6% bonds

Newspaper ad for 5-20 bonds
Ads for the new bond programs appeared in the Geneva newspapers. The local agent was at the Bank of Geneva.

The most controversial action was the 1862 passage of the Legal Tender Act, which allowed the government to print paper money (greenbacks) to pay its bills. Up to this time, the federal government had minted gold and silver coins but did not issue currency. The central government had last issued paper money when the Continental Congress printed dollars during the Revolution, which had become worthless by the end of the war. Fears of inflation, as well as constitutional doubts about the right of the government to print currency, led many Americans to oppose the Legal Tender Act

Greenbacks issued in 1862 were the first U.S. currency issued as legal tender.

The paper money in circulation before the Civil War was issued by individual banks, usually regulated by the states. There was no nation-wide uniform currency and no centralized control of the money supply. Bank notes could be redeemed at an issuing bank for specie (gold or silver coins). Since banks issued more notes than the amount of gold they had in reserve, a bank could easily go bankrupt if too many people tried to redeem notes at the same time (see our previous blog post  "Banking in Early Geneva").

Bad news on the war front in late 1861 led people to hoard gold. Those who had bank notes exchanged them for gold coins. By early 1862, both private banks and the Treasury were running short of reserves and had stopped paying out gold in exchange for their notes. Though Secretary Chase was uncertain of the constitutionality of the Legal Tender Act, he considered it an emergency measure, writing to Congress in February 1862, “Immediate action is of great importance. The Treasury is nearly empty.” Passed as a war measure, the action was viewed as temporary.

The legislation made greenbacks legal tender for all debts, except custom duties and interest on government bonds—these payments had to be made in specie to shore up the Union’s supply of gold reserves. To maintain these reserves, the new federal currency could not be exchanged for specie. Concern over these unprecedented acts on the part of the federal government actually led many Americans to clamor for higher taxes to pay for the war, rather than printing currency. “Resort must be had to taxes, direct or indirect, or both, to place the government upon a basis of credit which will enable it to command the required means [to fight the war].” Geneva Gazette, January 24, 1862

Secretary Chase cranks out greenbacks in this political cartoon criticizing the administration. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

The change to currency laws enabled the Union to pay its expenses with money it printed. It stopped the run on reserves, but caused inflation. Though far less severe than in the Confederacy (80% compared to 9000%), complaints about the Union’s actions appeared in the press:

Rise in Prices.—Almost every article of domestic consumption has doubled in price within the past two years, and in some instances has trebled; and upon those who depend upon fixed wages, for the support of themselves and family, have fallen heavily. There is no probability, so far as human foresight can see, of any change for the better. Just so long as Government keeps printing greenbacks, in almost fabulous amounts, just so long will prices tend upward of everything that can be bought and sold. A greenback representing one dollar is now worth only about 68 cents.—Geneva Gazette, November 20, 1863

Metal was in short supply for minting coins. Both banks and the Treasury had to resort to printing fractional currency so merchants could make change.
The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 consolidated and expanded on the changes to the financial system introduced in 1862. Based on New York’s Free Banking Law of 1838, these Acts had three primary purposes: to create a system of national banks under federal regulation, to create a uniform national currency, and to provide a market for government bonds to help finance the Union’s war expenses. The new National banks were required to purchase U.S. bonds equal to one-third of their capital, thus ensuring buyers for the bonds. They were to accept bank notes from other national banks at par or face value, and to circulate Treasury notes (greenbacks) in place of their own bank notes. A 10% tax on bank notes issued by other banks was added in 1865, effectively ending the use of state and private bank notes.

Two national banks were started in Geneva in the 1860s. First National Bank of Geneva was begun in 1863 by several men with Canandaigua banking connections. Three years later, Alexander Chew, Phineas Prouty, Corydon Wheat, Thomas Hillhouse and Thomas Raines bought out the bank and made Chew President. Shortly after, First National constructed a building on the southeast corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets for doing business.

First National Bank of Geneva stood on the south corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets.

The Bank of Geneva, which dated back to 1817, was re-chartered as Geneva National Bank in 1865. The director was Samuel Verplanck, a former cashier at the Bank of Geneva. The bank was located in the newly constructed Bank of Geneva building at the northeast corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets, directly across from its rival.

Geneva National Bank was across Seneca Street from First National, on the north corner at Exchange Street.

The changes brought about by the crisis of war were the beginnings of the banking system we have today. Questions about monetary policy and economic control of the growing and urbanizing nation would dominate post-Civil War politics, particularly in years when the system failed to cope well with economic upheavals. The next major change to the financial system would emerge at the turn of the 20th century with the Aldrich Act of 1907 and the construction of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

Articles on banking and currency at Wikipedia, including:

Grossman, Richard S. “US Banking History, Civil War to World War II.” EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. March 16, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2014.

Jaremski, Matthew. “State Banks and the National Banking Acts: A Tale of Creative Destruction.” November 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2014.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet the Neighbors: John Delafield

By Alice Askins,  Education Coordinator at Rose Hill Mansion

When the Swans moved to Rose Hill in 1850 their neighbor to the east was John Delafield.  Most of our information about John’s life comes from the Centennial Historical Sketch of Fayette by Diedrich Willers, published in 1900.  John was born in 1786 on Long Island.  After graduating from Columbia College in 1805, he found work in a dry goods store. In 1808, his firm made him super-cargo on a brig going to the West Indies and other ports. A super-cargo managed trade for his firm.  Basically, he sold merchandise at the ports the ship sailed to and bought goods to bring back home.  A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts.  Used by merchants and the navy, brigs were fast and maneuverable.    

John’s voyage was not uneventful.  His brig’s captain died of yellow fever in Cuba, and the mate died two days after they left Havana.  At this point, John took charge of the ship.  Several days later, the crew mutinied and tried to kill him.  One of the crew helped him subdue the mutineers and the two men managed to get the ship to Corunna, Portugal.  At this time, Europe was in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, and France and England were wrangling over Spain and Portugal.

The USS Niagara is a wooden-hulled brig that was the relief flagship for Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The Niagara is one of the last remaining ships from that war.  It is usually docked at Erie, Pennsylvania, as a museum exhibit. It also often travels the Great Lakes during the summer. 

I have not found whether John’s ship was originally supposed to go to Europe from the West Indies, or why he sailed north after leaving Portugal in 1809.   He must have done so as Mr. Willers tells us the ship met a violent storm off the coast of France, and limped into Bristol, England, with a lot of damage.  There was tension at the time between England and the US that would eventually result in the War of 1812.  Mr. Willers says,

Mr. Delafield was here thrown into prison for some alleged violation of the revenue laws and although soon released he was detained within bounds of thirty miles around Bristol, a stranger and without money. He employed his time, however, in working for a cabinet maker, and in a drug store, remaining thus under British surveillance until the close of the war with the United States.

Eventually John was allowed to go into business for himself, and he married a Bristol woman.  When his wife died in 1820 he returned to New York City.  In New York John became a teller in the Phoenix Bank and ten years later he became the bank’s president.  John was an early promoter of the Hudson River Railroad, a director of the University of New York, and an organizer of the Philharmonic Musical Society. He retired from banking in 1841, and two years later he bought a farm of 352 acres near Rose Hill.  He called it "Oaklands," and dove into the improvement of farming.  He became president of the Seneca County Agricultural Society in 1846, and remained president until he died except for 1851.  That year he was president of the State Agricultural Society, and ran the State Fair in Rochester.  Oaklands won county and state awards.

John was crucial to the farming revolution that John Johnston brought to North America.  When Mr. Johnston was installing drain tile on his farm Viewfields, his neighbors were skeptical.  They assumed that an underground system could never work.  Many thought the system would clog up and the tiles would all smash from draft horses or oxen walking over them.  Ten years after Mr. Johnston put his first tile lines down, he uncovered one of them, planning to increase the capacity of that drain.  While he had it open, he asked John to come see it.  It looked just the same as it had when it was buried in 1838.  John decided that under-draining could work after all, and he imported a Scraggs Tile Machine from England.  Benjamin Whartenby of Waterloo was the potter who had been hand-making drain tiles for John Johnston.  John gave Mr. Whartenby the machine, in return for one quarter of the tiles produced with it.  This machine inspired the spread of under-draining in North America – once one machine was here, someone else imported a second one, a third man copied the first, and so on.

In 1850, John published a history and survey of Seneca County.  It was the most extensive and accurate account that had yet been published.  The work he was most devoted to, though, was the establishment of an Agricultural College for New York State.  He was involved with that at the time of his sudden death in 1853, at the age of 67.  John was survived by his second wife, whom he married in 1825, and by three sons and two daughters.  John’s sons became successful businessmen in New York City and elsewhere.   

The agricultural college was to have been centered at Oaklands, but after considerable time and debate it was located at Cornell.  The Agricultural Experiment Station, part of Cornell, is still with us in Geneva to remind us of John Delafield.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Herendeens and the Summer of 1914, Part 1

By John Marks, Curator of Collections and Exhibits

A common quip in my profession is, “I’m a historian. I read dead people’s mail.” Even more revealing are the diaries and journals that have been given to the historical society. A particularly interesting collection is the diaries of Francis (Frank) Herendeen from 1914 to 1929.

In 1868 the Herendeen family began making farm implements and steam boilers in Geneva.  Frank was the secretary of the Herendeen Manufacturing Company, which became part of the U.S. Radiator Corporation in 1910.  After 1910 Frank’s role in the radiator company is unclear, but apparently he had time on his hands. In 1914, he decided to take his wife Annie and only child Frances (Fannie) to Europe for the year. (Genevans will remember the daughter as Fannie Truslow, wife of Tommy; they lived next door to the historical society on South Main Street.) Catherine Rankin, their live-in domestic, also traveled with them.

Annie Boynton Herendeen, Frances (Fannie) Herendeen, Frances (Frank) Herendeen
Both Frank and Annie had traveled before their marriage.  Frank noted in his 1914 diary that he had not been to Europe since 1900. Part of his desire to travel again was to expose their seven year-old daughter to the world while being tutored. He was particularly impressed with German educational methods as Fannie had received German lessons in Geneva.

The family left Geneva just after New Year’s 1914. (I should mention that Annie also kept a diary. While she wrote of exhaustion from packing for a long trip, Frank mentioned packing in passing and said that everyone had been busy.) Sailing from New York, they spent time in Spain, Algiers, Monaco, and Italy.  In June they moved to Austria. Their first stop was Botzen in the Tirol mountains. (I am using the spellings as found in Frank’s diary.)

Fannie Herendeen posing in the Borghese Gardens in Rome, April 1914
Annie was not feeling well and Frank brought in “the best Doctor here to attend her.” The diagnosis was “thin blood” and the prescription was two raw eggs in milk every two hours and daily arsenic shots. Surprisingly, she did gain more strength.

As his wife was bedridden for several weeks, Frank spent his time exploring the area with Fannie. He hired a local woman to walk with Frances every morning and talk in German with her. He recorded his days in great details. The day that caught my attention the first time I read his 1914 diary was June 28, 1914. He wrote of the weather, his activities with Fannie, Annie’s health, and then:
“This eve at 7 o’clock at dinner, the news came of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand heir to throne of Austria & Hungary & of his wife the Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo, the Capitol of Bosnia, by a student of Servia, one Prinzib.”
A few days later Frank mentions the town mourning the Archduke with black streamers, but otherwise there is no mention of political events. They moved to a higher, cooler altitude at Karersee once Annie felt strong enough to travel. On Friday July 24, at the end of an entry about a day trip to San Martino, Frank wrote,
 “Ret[urned] to Karersee at 9 p.m. found the Hotel excited over the 48 Hour ultimatum of Austria to Servia – the news of which had just arrive. It may mean war.”
Frank’s entry the next day reflected the chaos of uncertainty:
 “Nothing was discussed so much today as the probability of a great European war & of the immediate importance of the visitors here leaving at once, in such case for their homes...The dispatches are posted as received & seem contradictory – First that Servia had protested – then later that she had agreed to all of Austria’s demands. When this came there was immense relief and happiness all around….About 10 p.m. came the next telegram that King Peter had fled & Austria had declared War…Many people are now preparing to leave tomorrow…We may soon leave here too.”
Needless to say, things got more interesting in Europe very quickly. I will pick up the story in next month’s blog.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

A few weeks ago I went to a wonderful Strawberry Social at a local church and found on each table a lovely centerpiece with 3 brightly colored fans standing like straw flowers in a garden.  The note on the basket encouraged the people sitting at the table to use the fans for their comfort if they were warm and requested that when they leave they replace them in the centerpiece so the next diner could use them.


Those fans brought to mind the old song about the “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” and how very glad I am summer days are here.  I know quite a few folks who dread the summer heat, but not me.  The summer warmth reminds me of the days of back yard swimming pools which killed your grass (until someone dropped a snapping turtle in them and the pool was punctured), fireflies, raspberries picked right off the bush and warm from the sunshine, dusty dirt roads by summer cottages, and swimming in the lake from the end of May until the beginning of October. 

I love the way the warmth embraces me when the humidity is just right so that the air feels “soft.”  I love the smell of warm roses, warm honeysuckle and warm earth.  I love to see things grow!  Tomatoes, cabbage, yellow beans, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, and potatoes just spring out of the ground.  Strawberries, blueberries, and melons arrive in abundance, while cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums ripen on the trees and bend the branches toward me so I can pick them.  The grass not only requires lots of mowing, but also beckons me to walk through it in my bare feet and feel the carpet of green blades between my toes.

Firemen's Parade, 2007
I remember days spent on a lake with my dad fishing, canoeing, and boating.  I remember nights spent toasting marshmallows by campfires.  I love the freedom of no boots, coats, scarves or mittens.  I enjoy watching my cats sit in the windows as dusk falls relaxing comfortably on the windowsills and sampling the smells on the night air circulating the neighborhood. 

Cruisin' Night
Do any of these memories from my childhood on a different lake in a different New York State town relate to Geneva?  Oh yes!  I now watch the fireflies infiltrate the back yard behind my apartment and the sound of the Pulteney Park fountain plays gently on the air with the songs from the Methodist Church carillon drifting through my window.  I share ice cream with friends at one of several ice cream/frozen yogurt stores and cookouts and chicken Bar-B-Qs abound.  I thoroughly enjoy the fireworks display the American Legion puts on at the end of their carnival each year.  I love the local church carnivals, the parade on Memorial Day Weekend, the Firemen’s Parade, the Sons of Italy Festival, the Latino Festival, the Plein Air Festival, Crusin’ Night, Music on Porches, the Garden Walk, the Tour of Homes, Geneva Music Festival, Medley of Tastes, Jane Austen Day at Rose Hill, Farm Heritage Day at the Johnston Farm, and the Rose Hill Mansion Food and Wine Celebration.  Wow, that is just a partial list.  I am overwhelmed with the wealth of summer fun that abounds in the Finger Lakes region.  There are cheese trails, wine trails, brewery trails, farmers market, stands and stores selling homemade ice cream, the list just goes on and on.  I don’t think it matters where you are in New York State, you will find many activities to participate in that will remind you of summers past.  And with a little effort you can encourage your children to make memories that they can fondly look back on each time summer roles around anew. 

Pultney Park, 2006
I hope each of you steps out into this bountiful and beautiful area we call the Finger Lakes and make a memory today.  Don’t pass up the chance to eat ice cream, go swimming, see wildlife, visit a local museum, smell and taste the summer.  We have about 3 months to recharge ourselves before winter; last one to the lake is a rotten egg!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Workers at Rose Hill Farm

By Anne Dealy, Director of Education and Public Information

Photo of men, wagons and barrels of potatoes in an orchard
Workers harvest potatoes in the apple orchard at Rose Hill, c. 1885.

As we saw last month, the Swans at Rose Hill relied on female workers to do much of the housework and childcare. Running the farm operations required male workers. The farm consisted of about 350 acres for most of the Swans' residency. The primary crops were wheat and oats. Livestock raised included cattle and sheep. Searching for information about the farm workers is slightly easier than finding out about the domestic workers because the men never changed their names and are usually identified by occupation in the federal census. In addition, while women are rarely listed in the Geneva Village Directories, but most men are.

Many more male workers are also mentioned in Robert's personal and business papers. The account book mentioned in my post on domestic workers has far more men listed. This account book is not organized as the record of a modern business might be. It includes comical sketches of Robert's brothers, a list of personal expenses for 1846, a prayer, and payments to workers and suppliers, as well as signed contracts with some workers. The farm records date between 1852 and 1862. Robert also kept a memorandum book, or farm journal, which has brief notices of what was being done on the farm and includes the occasional personal comment. He wrote in this book between 1851 and 1858, mostly during the winter and summer months. Occasionally a worker is mentioned in a family letter, but this is rare.

Robert Swan employed workers to do a variety of tasks on the farm. Some plowed, planted and harvested the crops sold at market or grown to feed livestock. Most of these crops were grains and other grasses which had to be cut, tied and dried in stooks (stacks) before being drawn into a barn and threshed. Men hauled manure and plaster and spread them on the fields and dug and removed stones from fields. They cut and hauled ice and timber, hoed and weeded the garden and fields, and built and repaired fences, rails and buildings.They also washed and sheared the sheep, slaughtered pigs and fed the livestock. A large part of their work was just hauling things from place to place. Although Robert Swan used a reaper, and employed threshers with a threshing machine, his workers also used manual scythes and did many tasks by hand.

Illustration of man lowering drain tile into a ditch.

A major project Robert undertook during his first few years on the farm was draining the fields using the principles he learned from his father-in-law, John Johnston. Workers were hired to dig drainage ditches, bring the drain tile to the fields, lay it in the ditch and cover it over. By the end of 1853, these men dug, by hand, over 17 miles of 2-foot-deep ditches around the farm. The pay for this back-breaking work was about $40 per mile per man. Labor was so cheap relative to materials, that it actually cost Robert Swan more to buy the tiles and have them delivered to the farm than to pay men to dig the ditches.

Contract engaging John Hopkins to work for Robert Swan.

The farm work was done by a variety of men. Some seem to have been neighboring farmers or their sons looking for extra work. A few were specialized workers, like the threshers, but the overwhelming majority were Irish immigrants. Many were hired for a specific task or period of time. Men were hired for haying and harvest. Some were hired just for ditch digging or threshing. A major category of employment on the census during the 19th century was "farm laborer," "day laborer" or just "laborer." Some of the men hired stayed on for a year or more. Many of those were given a contract of sorts, written up by Robert and signed or marked by the employee. Most contract workers were paid $8 to $10 per month for a year's work. Contracts specified that pay would be pro rata if they left early, and included provisions like: "I Patt McGuinis do hereby agree to work for Mr Swan...and do further agree to be faithful in my duty & to do anthing [sic] Mr Swan tells me, & to be pleasant, to keep sober & not to have drink or liquor in my house."

Many of the workers lived on the property. Two are listed in the 1860 census as residents of the household; others occupied one of the three tenant houses located on the farm, often with family members. John Hopkins lived next door in 1850, with his wife, two daughters, another farm laborer and his wife and daughter.

The 1850 Census lists the members of John Hopkins' family in the house right next door to the Swans at Rose Hill.

Swan didn't seem pleased with Hopkins's work, writing at the end of the contract, "John Hopkins time is up to day and I have paid him off & am glad to get quit of him." Hopkins may have lived in the house prior to the Swan purchase of the property and his contract stipulated that he would give up the house without trouble. Several others were let go without regret, two for requesting higher wages, one for being impudent, and another for missing work. There seems to have been no shortage of workers.

One of the tenant houses at Rose Hill, c. 1885

Based on the sources we have, Robert Swan actively managed the farm during his first ten years there. In 1860, however, he began to have health problems, and he listed the property for lease in the Geneva newspapers. It is unclear whether he ever went back to full time farming. Though the farm continued to be worked, we don't know how involved Robert was in the day-to-day activities and management. His account book, which contains contracts with his workers, only extends to 1862. In that year, he leased the farm to a Mr. Henderson, an arrangement renewed in 1863, when he noted receiving $2100 annual rent from the man. Mr. Henderson is also mentioned in other material later in the 1860s and must have leased the farm for several years.

There were still workers on the farm after this. In a photograph album of the 1880s we see some of these anonymous men at work harvesting potatoes in the orchard or working in the hay barn, unfortunately we know little else about them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Herman Ten Eyck Foster, Part 3

By Alice Askins, Education Coordinator at Rose Hill

At the end of December 1843 Herman Foster became engaged to Pauline Lentilhon.  Pauline may have been related to the Smiths who appear so often in Herman’s diary.  We first hear of Pauline when Augustus Smith was reading a letter from her in the cutter that spills Herman, Augustus, and William into a snow bank.  After they were engaged, Pauline wrote to Herman frequently.  He probably wrote back, but he does not mention that in his diary.  In April 1844, Pauline came to stay with the Smiths, escorted by Charles Owen of the farm where Herman learned his profession.  I don’t know how it came about that Charles assisted Pauline on her journey; if he happened to be in her home city of New York at the right time, she might have asked him to escort her as an acquaintance of her future husband.  Women seem not to have traveled on their own.  As a married man, a Quaker, and a friend of Herman’s, Charles would have been an eligible protector.  Mrs. Smith, probably William and Augustus’s mother, was staying at the boys’ farm, and her presence would have made it acceptable for Pauline to stay there.  On Sunday, April 5, Herman wrote After dinner I rode over to Canoga and had the pleasure of once more seeing P.”

Every weekend through the summer he rode over to Canoga.  On May 29 he wrote, “Afternoon the Boys, Mrs. Smith and Pauline came over and took tea.”  In August, Herman mentioned that he took Pauline home to Canoga; she must have come to visit, perhaps to see the work on the farm.  During this period Herman continued to improve the place.  He brought a washing machine over from Geneva, and built an ice house.  On September 16, Herman went to Canoga and “helped them get off” – apparently Pauline and some traveling companion(s) had started back to New York.  On September 25, Herman followed.  On Thursday October 17 he wrote, “We reached home in the evening.”  “We” seems to mean Herman and Pauline, were Snow married.

Pauline and Herman's washing machine may have been this kind of device. 

Over the next few days, Herman wrote about unpacking furniture and fixing window blinds.  “Thomas [a hired man?] came over to boys, took back a wad of Pauline's things.” She must have left them there from her summer visit.  Meanwhile, the social niceties were being observed – “23rd Wednesday. Great many persons have called on Pauline.  26th Saturday. I went in [to Geneva] and took Pauline – first time she ever was there. Called on Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Bogert & Grosvenor.”

By November, after various references to lead pipes in dirt-filled boxes, and to forcing pumps, “At last the water runs as it ought to do – to our great joy.”  At the end of the month, the boys brought over a piano.  That must have made the house really feel like home for Herman, who had to have music.  There are two later diary entries that Herman even brought in a piano tuner. 

“December 25th Wednesday. Christmas day. . . Went to Seneca falls in morning in sleigh. . . Got some ice and made ice cream. Fired pistols at mark. Had grand supper in evening. . . .

26th Thursday. Fired pistols all day long, very much to P's chagrin.  She fussed in kitchen.

30th Monday.  P fussed in kitchen all day, making cake, etc., in anticipation of New Year.”  New Year’s Day was often devoted to visiting.

On November 4, 1845, “Pauline gave birth to a fine daughter at 6 minutes past ten P.M.”  This was the first of three children (two daughters and a son).  Sadly, Pauline died four and a half years after she married Herman.  Robert Swan of Rose Hill mentions Herman in his own journal, and says once that he went to visit Herman because it was his (Herman’s) wedding day.  We assume that he needed company on his anniversary.  He never remarry.  After an accident with a 500-pound block of ice Herman himself died in 1869.  His leg was broken and a large blood clot was found in his windpipe and another in a lung after he died. 

Ice Cutting.  You can see why you would not want a block of ice to fall on your leg.

The Geneva Gazette said “Mr. Foster was a positive man – there was nothing negative in his character.”  A former president of the New York State Agricultural Society, A. B. Conger, noted that Herman won farming awards from the county and state societies, and established and ran a Sunday School for the poorer families in his area.  His diaries give us a strong impression of a lively man with a sense of humor.   I tend to forget his social position, but one of his daughters married Henry Algernon DuPont and lived at Winterthur in Delaware.  That is why Winterthur owns his diaries, and again we are indebted to them for sending us the transcripts.