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)

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

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. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

[2]”Hasbrouck Family Association Newsletter September 2013.” Hasbrouck
Family Association Journal (September 2013): n. pag. 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 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:

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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

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How did they think of those names?

lake 1850

1850 Census

lake mapWhile creating a Family Tree for Jacob DuBois Hasbrouck, a local New Paltz Civil War soldier, I stumbled upon a pretty peculiar family. Rowena Deyo (b. 1812), daughter of Julia Kelsey (1780-1854) and Joseph Deyo (1776-1834), married a man named Stephen Lake (b. 1809) in the mid-19th century in New Paltz Landing right on the Hudson River.  The names the couple created for their children were a pretty interesting, yet, bizarre way of showing pride in the United States. Their children were named: Erie Lake, Huron Lake, Superior Lake, Michigan Lake (Superior and Michigan were twins), Seneca Lake, Ontario Lake, Oneida Lake, Lamar Lake, and St.Clair. Searching to verify that these were in fact the names of the children of Rowena Deyo and Stephen Lake, we found it amusing to see their names appear on several Federal Censuses. The New York Federal Census for 185o appears above. Sadly, Stephen is gone (most likely died) before 1870 and Rowena appears incorrectly as Loena on the Poughkeepsie 1870 Census.

All of these Lakes, the water masses, are either the Great Lakes or are lakes found in central New York.  I think that Rowena Deyo and Stephen Lake had an interesting and certainly unique means to pay homage to the country that they were from. Our work with the New Paltz families is far from over, so stay tuned!

~Zack Rousseas, intern
N.B.I’ll be back for next semester

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Calypso, Who Called Herself “Victoire”

calypsoMy name is Zachary Rousseas, I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz currently pursuing a double major in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies with a minor in Political Science.  This is my first semester interning at Historic Huguenot Street.  My current focus of investigation has been a woman who ran away from enslavement named Victoire in the late 18th century.  I have been researching the experiences of enslaved women through historical journals; examining newspaper articles pertaining to runaway enslaved people, looking through 18th century maps of New York City, as well as doing some groundwork research on jails in the late 18th century.

Throughout my project thus far, I have mainly used primary sources to discover more about the experience of Victoire during her historic moment.  My first step was to transcribe the Daily Advertiser article titled “Eight Dollars Reward.” dated April 15, 1795, which was about Victoire, the reward for her capture, and her experience running away in Manhattan.  The article has a few points that captured my interest; first, Victoire, the 18 year old girl, changed her name during her time of enslavement.  It was not uncommon for enslaved people to refer to themselves as a different name than their master had assigned to them; it was a way for enslaved people to re-humanize and gain a sense of agency for themselves.  Calypso, who changed her name to Victoire did so to pay some sort of tribute to the princess of France at her time in history.  Princess Victoire was royalty in France from her birth of May 11, 1733 to when she died of breast cancer on June 7, 1799.  Victoire changing her name would have made sense because the newspaper article also makes mention of her ethnicity of French and African descent.

Her mixed ethnicity and “pale complexion” led me to think that her father was most likely a white man and may have been her master.  It is documented that many enslaved women were sexually assaulted by their masters. Rape was often a reality for enslaved women since the children of enslaved women were by law enslaved themselves; the white-male masters would not have to claim the children as their own.  Furthermore, the dehumanization of enslaved women allowed for white masters to take control of their enslaved women’s reproductive rights, this in a macabre way, to a degree, incentivized the rape of enslaved women; because the masters could sell these children or work them as enslaved people.



Another point that caught my attention was that the article makes mention of “the king’s evil” which had scarred her neck.  At first glance it was assumed that this was possibly a scar left by a shackle that had been put around her neck.  Upon further research I found that “the king’s evil” was actually a form of tuberculosis that would affect the lymph-nodes of the infected person.  We can assume that Victoire had a serious case of tuberculosis because of how in depth the article goes to describing her “remarkable scars.”

An additional detail that fascinated me was the depth that the article goes into when describing her escape in Lower Manhattan.  I was able to find a map from The New York Times that dates to about the same time of Victoire’s escape.  With this map I was able to highlight the exact route that Victoire ran through to her freedom.

map nyc

1836 map of NYC

Despite my efforts, it is impossible to gain a comprehensive understanding of the mindset of Victoire when she was enslaved and during her flight through the streets of New York City.  Upon completing my research, I was left wondering whether Victoire had ever been caught.  Finding that information out would be an extremely fulfilling part of my research.  Ultimately, I realized that studying Victoire through these historical documents can only leave me with so much information; and I may never find the conclusion to Victoire’s flight to freedom.

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Masters of the Trowel

Dr. Diamond at site

Dr. Diamond at site

Since 1998, Dr. Joseph Diamond, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at SUNY New Paltz,has been leading an Archaeological Field School on Historic Huguenot Street (HHS). Over the past fifteen years, archaeological investigations performed by both undergraduate and graduate students, have yielded numerous interesting finds including pottery, human burial sites, beads, and a palisade wall running along Huguenot Street.  Original buildings have also been discovered including an earthfast house, which is a structure consisting of woven posts covered with dried mud.

The Field School

The Field School

This year for the first time, Dr. Diamond and his students are digging on property owned by The Reformed Church of New Paltz which is located directly across from the HHS library located at 88 Huguenot St.  It is speculated that the original Huguenot church is buried somewhere on the property.

Dylan with Spike

Dylan with Spike

Eleven students including field crew chief Dylan Lewis, a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, are working at the site this year in groups of two or three within five units. Units are 2m x 2m digging squares, and are worked through in layers called “contexts” that consist of 10cm increments.  Within each context a “cultural context” can be found which is a section identified for having a specific function. For example, Unit 222 contains a Native American hearth.  All units are dug down to the yellow subsoil and unique objects are often found along the way. Unit 224 has uncovered a rock line, Unit 223 has unearthed some prehistoric pottery and building materials, Unit 221 has discovered metal chunks, building materials and a number of animal bones, and Unit 220 has found construction debris. The field school will be wrapping up soon, so I will keep everyone posted on final discoveries.  Of course, all are welcome to come by and see the site!

A bucket of food remains and artifacts

A bucket of food remains and artifacts

Measuring a section of the palisade wall in Unit 224

Measuring a section of the palisade wall in Unit 224

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