Dear Rowena…

Greetings! This is Ashley Trainor, senior at SUNY New Paltz majoring
in history with a minor in anthropology, and Zachary Rousseas, junior
at SUNY New Paltz majoring in history and women’s, gender, and
sexuality studies with a minor in political science, and we have both
been interning at Historic Huguenot Street for multiple semesters.
During this time, we have had the pleasure of working with a
phenomenal collection of primary documents donated to the site this
past fall by Elaine Ryan. These are the letters of Jacob DuBois
HasBrouck, a direct descendant of the families of Historic Huguenot
Street. Working with these original letters has given us insight to a
piece of the Civil War that can only be seen through such documents.
Allow us to share this unique narrative with you. A portion of these
unique letters can be found on the Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH)
site.


Jacob DuBois HasBrouck
Jacob DuBois HasBrouck, born in New Paltz Landing (currently Highland,
NY) on August 25, 1838, married his loving wife Rowena Caroline Deyo
the day after Christmas in 1860, just before the Civil War began.
Their love for each other survived through the war. They kept in
contact often through letters that they wrote to each other while
Jacob was in the south fighting in the 156th regiment of the New York
Volunteer Army. The letters between this husband and wife bring
forward a piece of history that can only be seen through such primary
documents. They tell a tale of the hardships of war, mainstream
thoughts of the time, attitudes towards race and gender, and the love
the two had for one another. His sentiments can be seen in this
excerpt from a letter he wrote to Rowena on February 2, 1863: “I often
think of the pleasant times we [used] to have I think the time is not
far distant when we will live as we once did in peace and harmony.”

The Civil War began to engulf the country in the early 1860s. It was
around this time, specifically 1862, that Jacob at the young age of 24
was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant of the 156th regiment[1]. He was
stationed around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, but traveled
throughout the south, to even as far as Key West, Florida.

During his time with the Union Army, he would frequently check in with
Rowena using the steamer that would come down to Louisiana to write to
her. Often, Jacob wrote in the few free moments he would have
throughout the day. His letters were honest and spoke about the
hardships of the war, yet he remained cheerful about returning home to
New Paltz to his loving wife and young son, Herman.

Jacob’s career with the Union came to an abrupt halt when he was
wounded in battle and then discharged in March of 1865[2]. It was then
that Jacob moved back to the Hudson Valley and reunited with his wife
and son.

Unfortunately, the letters from Rowena to Jacob are not in the
Historic Huguenot Street collections and we only have one side of the
story between the two, but we can infer what she was writing about
through references in his letters. Yet, it remains up to our
imagination to know exactly what she was telling him. While Jacob
DuBois HasBrouck may be listed in historic publications as a noble
fighter who served with the Union Army, his letters illustrate a
picture of a young American man who had an everlasting love for his
wife.

On January 23, 1863 Jacob DuBois HasBrouck gives us a really
insightful glance into how race, enslavement, and emancipation were
viewed. HasBrouck writes: “[…] I will bet before a year the negroes
will wish themselves back on the old plantation.” This quote is
important because often the Civil War from a northern perspective is
painted as a fight for emancipation for enslaved people. This quote
allows us to infer that abolition was not the primary reason for
fighting. HasBrouck also states that it is his priority of sorts to
keep the union together and that more than anything else is his reason
for fighting.

On March 30, 1863, HasBrouck shares how deep his love for Rowena is:
“I think about you every hour in the day & sometimes I get homesick
all for you […].” This shows how immense their love for each other
was. The readers gain an interesting perspective on gender and a
softer side of masculinity during this hyper-masculine wartime.

[1]Hasbrouck Family Association Newsletter June 2013.” Hasbrouck
Family Association Journal (June 2013): n. pag.
http://www.hasbrouckfamily.org. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

[2]”Hasbrouck Family Association Newsletter September 2013.” Hasbrouck
Family Association Journal (September 2013): n. pag.
http://www.hasbrouckfamily.org. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

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Book Talk: John Nagy on Espionage in the American Revolution

John Nagy Invisible Ink Spycraft of the American RevolutionSaturday, March 15, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Historic Huguenot Street‘s Deyo Hall
Broadhead Avenue
New Paltz, New York, 12561

Award-winning author John A. Nagy will speak about an intriguing, secret part of the Revolutionary War based on his book Invisible Ink: Spycraft of the American Revolution. Explaining cyphers, codes, paper masks and hidden compartments, Nagy tells stories of the Revolution’s unsung heroes, including several based in the Hudson River Valley.

Tickets are $8 at the door ($5 for seniors, free for students). Contact visitor services with questions.

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NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Opens New Chapter By Hiring Noted Public Historian To Direct Strategy

img_0103NEW PALTZ, NY – Historic Huguenot Street has kicked off a new chapter in its history with the appointment of Dr. Taylor Stoermer, formerly of Colonial Williamsburg and Brown University, as Director of Strategy, Development, and Interpretation. He is responsible for managing an ambitious strategic planning process over the next nine months to establish a new, sustainable foundation for Huguenot Street that strengthens its ties with the past, with modern guests, and with the broader regional community. Dr. Stoermer also oversees all historic interpretation, programming, marketing, fundraising, public communication, and political affairs. Rebecca Mackey remains at Huguenot Street in her recently announced role as Director of Operations, responsible for all administrative, site improvement and restoration, financial, and day-to-day operations of the site.

Dr. Stoermer is an alumnus of Tulane University in New Orleans, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he earned his doctorate in early American history. He has taught at the University of Virginia, Brown University, and the College of William & Mary, and published on a variety of subjects from the political education of George Washington to religious history in the 18th century.

His most recent appointment was at Colonial Williamsburg from 2010 to 2013, where he wrote the “Revolutionary City” master narrative and implementation plan, oversaw interpreter education, was half of the team that reinterpreted most of the organization’s public programs, was the spokesperson for historical affairs, managed the fellowship program, and assisted with fundraising, among other responsibilities.  He also was one of the creators of Colonial Williamsburg’s RevQuest: Save the Revolution! alternate reality experience, which is that institution’s single most popular program for kids and families, and is the author of the forthcoming Official Guide to Colonial Williamsburg.

“For a public historian, it is the chance of a lifetime to help lead an institution like Historic Huguenot Street, which has such a rich history of its own and practically unparalleled historical resources in its original buildings, its extensive collections, and in the extraordinary stories of the people who made it, from the original settlers to their modern descendants,” said Stoermer. “The potential is tremendous for Huguenot Street to be a beacon for historic sites around the country in connecting with modern audiences and the surrounding community in relevant, engaging, and innovative ways. I simply cannot think of a better, more exciting place for a public historian to be than right now on Historic Huguenot Street.”

“The opportunity to add a historian of Dr. Stoermer’s caliber, with his unique blend of experience and expertise, to lead Historic Huguenot Street into an era of growth and creativity was not one to be missed,” said Mary Etta Schneider, President of the Board of Trustees.  “His energy, vision, and stature not only introduces a new, infectious enthusiasm on Huguenot Street and in the Hudson Valley, it also validates our site’s national importance and creates nothing but excitement for the opportunities presented in developing a strategic plan for the future.”

Due to Dr. Stoermer’s frequent appearances in print and electronic media, from the BBC to C-SPAN, at which he remains an adviser for history programming, and his broad activity online and in social media, Dr. Stoermer has become a recognized expert on the American Revolution and in the field of public history, especially regarding the business and interpretive management of historic sites. Prior to pursuing his PhD, he was an aide in the U.S. House and Senate, worked in senior capacities on several congressional campaigns, and was communications director for a national political organization.

Over 2014, Historic Huguenot Street will refresh the entire guest experience, including new methods of interpretation, an expanded range of public programming and other events, a greater attention to historical foundations, and broader community involvement. With staff expansion and targeted investments, Huguenot Street aims for greater visibility and visitation as the Strategic Planning process commences. Set to be launched in March, a Strategic Planning committee, guided by Dr. Stoermer and including national and regional leaders in tourism, history, interpretation, art, museums, and site planning, will then proceed to hone Huguenot Street’s mission and develop a workable master plan that will lay a firm institutional foundation for decades to come.

For more information and media requests, contact media@huguenotstreet.org.

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EVENT: Historic Huguenot Street Highlights the Experience of Enslaved Men and Women with Special Events on Sunday, February 2

On Sunday, February 2, Historic Huguenot Street will present two programs that emphasize the contributions and sacrifices of the enslaved men and women who were a critical part of Huguenot Street’s—and America’s—past.  The events begin at 2:00 pm at the Historic Huguenot Street Burial Ground with a public commemoration of the recently interred remains of an African male who likely lived his life in slavery on Huguenot Street.  At 3:00 pm, the attention turns to Deyo Hall and the faces of freedom as distinguished historians Barbara Krauthamer, of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Deborah Willis, of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, discuss and then sign their acclaimed book, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery.  Their work brings together more than 150 photographs that powerfully evoke the lives of free and enslaved African Americans.

Refreshments will be served at Deyo Hall following the commemoration.  For more information about these programs, contact Susan Stessin-Cohn at susan@huguenotstreet.org.  

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EVENT CHANGE: Historic Preservation Talk RESCHEDULED to Sunday, Jan. 26, 4:00 pm

Due to expected severe weather conditions, Prof. Bill Rhoads’ illustrated lecture, Preserving New Paltz’s Historic Architecture: Successes and Losses, has been rescheduled to Sunday, January 26, at 4:00 pm in Historic Huguenot Street‘s Deyo Hall. Tickets will be available at the door.  Admission is free for students, $5 for Seniors and Huguenot Street Members, and $8 for the general public.  If you have questions, please contact Thomas Weikel, Director of Visitor Services, at thomas@huguenotstreet.org.

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NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Strengthens Leadership By Promoting Rebecca Mackey To Director of Operations

NEW PALTZ, NY — Rebecca Mackey has been named the Director of Operations of Historic Huguenot Street, the first in the museum’s history.  As such, she will immediately assume responsibility for the day-to-day management of the 120-year-old institution.  The Board of Directors created the new position to effectively address the increased importance of attention to organizational administration and meet the challenges of preserving buildings and collections that date to the 1600s.  Mackey will also oversee the logistical implementation of an expanded array of public programs and guest services.

Mackey, an alumna of SUNY New Paltz, began her career at Huguenot Street in 2008 as Director of Visitor Services.  She has also managed programs and tours.  The Board of Directors eliminated the position of Interim Executive Director, which Mackey had filled since October 2013.

“I am honored to have this special opportunity to serve Historic Huguenot Street and the New Paltz community,” Mackey said. “Huguenot Street is a underutilized resource for the Hudson River Valley and the state of New York, so I’m looking forward to putting my experience to work with an excellent staff and Board of Directors to help move the museum forward.  It’s an exciting time here and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

“Rebecca’s considerable experience with Huguenot Street and its daily operations makes her the perfect choice for such an important new role and we’re delighted that she has agreed to take it on,” said Mary Etta Schneider, President of the Board of Trustees. “As the museum enters a period of growth and renewal, we are certain that Rebecca, with her unique skills and talent, will provide just the kind of leadership that we need as the head of operations.”

Mackey’s appointment is the first of a series of major moves that Huguenot Street will announce over the coming weeks as the institution embarks on an ambitious strategic planning process. It will include a number of important changes, including a fresh emphases on enhancing the guest experience, highlighting the museum’s many assets, and building a solid financial foundation.

Press contact: media@huguenotstreet.org

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NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Sets New High With $15,000 for 2014 Scholarships

As a demonstration of its ongoing commitment to academic achievement, Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce the 13 recipients of a total of $15,000 in scholarships for 2014—a new high for the museum. With the collaboration of the Hasbrouck Family Association Inc., Huguenot Street has now provided $124,700 to further the education of more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students since 1998. The organization has increased its level of support in the last three years, averaging almost $14,000 annually in academic gifts.

Five different funds provide support for the descendants of Huguenot families and advance scholarly work in fields related to Huguenot Street’s mission, such as architecture and historical anthropology. The 2014 recipients reflect the reach of Huguenot Street and Huguenot descendants across America, representing institutions in six different states, from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“With these scholarships, Historic Huguenot Street is proud to increase its commitment to an educational tradition begun here more than 300 years ago” said Mary Etta Schneider, President of Huguenot Street’s Board of Directors. “We had a high number of quality applicants for this year’s awards, which made the process especially competitive and reflects the clear excellence of the 2014 recipients.”

The 2014 recipients are: Elizabeth Garland, Cedarville University (OH); Kaj Kraus, New York University (NY); Elonna Falk, Tufts University (MA); Keturah Hasbrouk, Cairn University (PA); Cate Huynen, Clark University (MA); Marta LeFevre-Levy, Macalaster College (MN); Ryan Mancini, Bowdoin College (ME); Amber McDaniel, Daytona State College (FL); David Miller, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY); Rachel Olsby, St. Elizabeth College of Nursing (NY); Amanda Ortman, Virginia Commonwealth University (VA); Isabel Sacks, Swarthmore College (PA); Anna Herscher, SUNY Empire State College (NY).

Education has been a cornerstone of the Huguenot Street experience since at least 1689, when Jean Cottin was hired as the first schoolmaster. The roots of the State University of New York at New Paltz lie in schools established by Huguenot Street families in the 1800s. For more information on the scholarships, click here.  For press inquiries, please contact us at media@huguenotstreet.org.

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