Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking For Something To Do This Summer? Take an Adult Class or Send Your Kids to Camp at GCV!

 Still looking for something to do this summer?

If you thought it was too late to sign your kids up for Summer Camp think again! We still have a few spots avaliable in many of our Summer Sampler and Earth Camps!  We have classes and camps avaliable for kids 4-17 and something for almost every interest! 

This might also be the summer for you to try your hand at something new too as we have many adult classes and experiences that you can take part in.

To View/Download our Youth Camps Catalog Click Here. 

Click Here for a listing of our Adult Classes and Experiences.

For questions or to register, you may contact Maria Neale at (585) 538-6822 ext 216.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Historic Paint Colors Make Their Debut On Foster-Tufts & The Jones Farm

Foster-Tufts New Look
This year we are making great strides in returning some of our buildings to their original and authentic paint colors.

Wonder how we determine what colors to use on the buildings?

Steve Jordan, our conservation specialist and historic paint expert takes small pieces from the houses where paint would have accumulated over time and then studies the layers of paint under a microscope. Along with the sequence of paint colors he is also able to tell us approximately how long a building was bare wood before being painted as well as if a certain sections have been replaced with newer wood.

Once the original colors are determined a decision needs to be made on what color to use. Many factors are weighed when making the decision such as the paint colors popular for the time period that the building is being interpreted as, as well as the current use of the building in the village. For instance, at one point in time our town hall had been a red tavern. It's use as a town hall necessitates a color other than red!

Jones Farm
One of the most notable changes is the dramatic color change to the Foster-Tufts house. You may also notice that the large hinges on the sliding door to the left have been painted over. This is not a mistake but what would have been the norm in the 19th Century! The Jones Farm has also been given a new (old!) look and the Brooks Grove Church is currently being painted.

In addition, this season we will be changing the shutters on many of the buildings in the village square to bright green, a popular color in the Mid 19th Century. These shutters are already visible on St Feehans Church and the Romulus Female seminary.

Green Shutters On The Seminary
For those interested, the paint colors used on Foster-Tufts and The Jones Farm are:

Foster Tufts:
Main Color-Grand Teton White-Benjamin Moore

Jones Farm:
Main Color: Edgecomb Gray-Benjamin Moore, Historic Color Collection
Doors: Spiced Berry-Dunn-Edwards Paints
Trim: Alexandria Beige- Benjamin Moore, Historic Color Collection

Monday, June 28, 2010

W. Grieve Brewery Profiled on YNN!!!

Our Brewers!
 Check out this wonderful video that YNN in Rochester did about our new brewery!  It's a very nice piece that features one of our brew masters Edward Girard explaining the brewing process as well as the history of beer in the Genesee region! 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just 3 More Days to Enter to Win Our Stonware or Tickets Giveaway!

Just a reminder that there are only 3 days left to enter our Giveaway from a new 1803 Fat Ox Ale Growler or 2 tickets to the museum!

Click here for the official contest! 

Stuart's Musings-Hyde House and Heatlhcare in the Mid-19th Century

Hyde House & Healthcare in the Mid-19th Century
Hyde House, Also Known as The Octagon House 

In the early years of settlement in the Genesee Country, there were no doctors. But as hamlets and villages grew, some young medic from the East might set up practice in a doctorless community. There would be plenty of work for him. He would go about setting fractured limbs, stitching up cuts and slashes, patching up broken heads, assisting in difficult confinements, lancing boils and carbuncles, giving doses of calomel, and doing what he could for other ailments. 

But there was little any country doctor knew that could help those settlers stricken with ague and the racing high temperatures and chills of Genesee Fever. Indeed, Genesee Fever (not yet recognized as mosquito-driven malaria) took an indiscriminate toll among the pioneers.

This brief sketch of a country doctor’s busy life might well apply to John W. Sterrick, resident physician here on Maple Street. In that little shop are deployed some of the tools of his trade—a scales, a mortar and pestle, an assortment of medicine bottles, vials, and tubes, a small saw, some crutches in a corner, some human bones in a cupboard, an 1874 doctor’s journal, a cupping kit, a leg brace, a doctor’s bag, and a patient’s chair. It was here the country doctor bled his patients and dispensed purgatives. 

In the doctor’s office, perched on a shelf, is a phrenological head, an indirect reminder of a colorful couple in Friendship, New York. Corporal Erastus Hyde returned to Friendship after the Civil War, briefly returned to farming, acquired an interest in a shingle factory, a young wife, and a new eight-sided house. Hyde became interest in phrenology—that pseudoscience which maintains that character and mental capacity can be determined by the conformation of a subject’s skull. Such theory was later debunked by neurologists who considered phrenology a form of quackery. 

But phrenology was championed by Orson Squire Fowler, a native of the Genesee Country village of Cohocton, Allegheny County. (Historical note: Orson Fowler left his father’s farm to study for the ministry at Amherst College. While at Amherst, his interest switched to phrenology. With his brother and sister, Fowler published tracts extolling phrenology and clairvoyance, and a diet of vegetables, while warning against coffee, tea, spirits, and tightly-laced dresses. In1848, Fowler published “A Home for All,” in which he announced that the octagonal with its eight sides enclosed more space that a square one with equal wall space.)

Erastus Hyde and his wife joined a spiritualist group. Julia, an accomplished musician and an ordained Methodist minister, held séances (it was said) in her parlor. In the meantime, Erastus became a homeopathic physician. Homeopathy, as you know, is a system of medicine whose fundamental principal is the law of similars—that like is cured by like. It had been observed, for instance, that quinine given to a healthy person causes the same symptoms that malaria does in a person suffering from that disease. Therefore quinine became the preferred treatment for malaria. When a drug was found to produce the same symptoms as did a certain disease, that drug was then used in small doses to treat the disease. 

It is curious, isn’t it, that with his house and his practice of medicine, Erastus Hyde had a double dose of Orson Fowler?  When Julia died within four days of her husband, the belief—even among sensible people—that their departed spirits frequented the old oddly-shaped house.

The old place lay empty after a fire burned the guts of the old stairwell and, of course, it was known locally as “a haunted house.” The house was dismantled, board by board, for transport to Genesee Country Village in 1975. It is now a favorite of many museum visitors. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

War of 1812 Encampment / Regency Civillian Weekend June 26th and 27th

Please join us this weekend for our War of 1812 Encampment & Our Regency Civilian event this coming weekend. We have so much planned!

Visitors can enjoy a variety of live demonstrations, talk with the special 1812 village residents and witness life in the time of war in the pioneer settlements of the Genesee Country and Niagara Frontier.

The historic village will come to life with reenactors portraying shopkeepers, housewives, merchants and soldiers. Start the day off with a morning parade. Enjoy lively entertainment, military drills, live fire artillery demonstrations, military music, Austen-era dancing, games and lots of crafts and trades, many of which are unique to this era. Included among these will be the Museum's peddler's wagon! Those looking for some personal insight can even visit a Tarot card reader! Each day ends with an evening parade and Saturday evening there will be an after hours dance in the Village Square.

There will be many special ongoing activities in the village that include tailoring uniform coats, cartridge box construction, uniform and canteen construction, knapsack construction, frontier living, officer's quarters, period cooking, hornsmithing, a commissary and more.

We will also be debuting several pieces from The Greene Collection in the meeting center. Along with these pieces there will also be a display of regency costumes and military uniforms.

If you get hungry a light period tavern meal is avaliable at Hosmer's Inn for a donation. If you get thirsty, don't forget to stop in our Depot and Freight House restaurants where you can purchase our 1803 Fat Ox Ale by the pint or by the growler!

For a tentative schedule of events, click here.

A Tale Of Two Dresses

Today's features from the Greene Collection are two beautiful early 19th century ladies dresses.

The first is an entirely hand stitched turquoise green with copper roller-print on white cotton ground. It has a high waist, a gathered bust, and drawstrings at the center and base of the short sleeves and around the bust. It has a frill around hem and has a slight trained effect. Interestingly the back frill was not hemmed.

This would have been a simple day dress. It is considered important for the collection because of the use of the roller print in a day dress. For more information on roller printing, click here.

Our second dress, from the same time period (1815-1820) is also entirely hand stitched icy green plain weave silk. It has a very high waist and very long tubular sleeves which would have been worn slightly ruched on the arm. The skirt is in 3 panels and slightly gathered in front and pleated in the back.

It has a Vandyked neckline of little triangular tabs in the sleeve, forming a gorgeous cap effect which is accented with little white ribbon bows.

The stitching on this dress as well as the fact that it is made of silk indicates that this would have been considered a "good" dress and would have been worn for special occasions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Genesee Country Village & Museum Wins Photo of The Week at

Head over to where The Genesee Country Village & Museum was chosen as their Photo Of  The Week which includes a nice write up about the village!
Gozaic, is a neat travel planning resource for cultural and heritage travelers and contains a lot of places that our blog readers would probably really appreciate and enjoy! They encourage you to post reviews and pictures so if you have any of ours you want to share check it out!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Extreme Makeover-Romulus Female Seminary Edition

As many of you are aware, we have made many changes to the Romulus Female Seminary this year. If you have not yet been out to take a look at the new classroom we think you will be amazed at the transformation. We've taken this building from being a relatively similar exhibit each year and created a gorgeous hands on 19th century classroom!

For more about the seminary and the hands-on activities click here for an earlier post.
Cloak Room With Hand Grained Paneling

Handmade Wash Stand

Student's View

Teacher's Desk
Historic Reproduction Maps
Wall of 19th Century Educational Materials

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baseball Season Kicks Off & Fathers Get in Free On Sunday

This Sunday, in celebration of Father's Day, all Dads get free admission to the museum!

This Sunday also marks the kickoff of the men's 2010 Baseball Season with a doubleheader of 1865 base ball at Silver Base Ball Park that begins at Noon. Our ladies league kicks off their season at 1pm on Saturday.

The museum boasts 4 mens teams and 2 ladies teams. We have our very own baseball park and all of our players wear vintage uniforms and play by old time rules. It's a great time to compare today's game to the one played in the 19th century. From no gloves, to no infield fly rule (and who can remember that one anyway?) it's entertaining and educational at the same time.

Period costumes, rules and etiquette are meticulously adhered to by our four local teams and visiting opponents. The hawkers ply vintage snacks. Boys man the scoreboard. And unattended ladies are asked to sit in the appropriate section to avoid scandal!

Our Silver Base Ball Park is the first and finest 19th-century replica ball park in the nation!

For more information about our Father's Day Celebration check out our website.

Mens 2010 Baseball Schedule
Ladies 2010 Baseball Schedule

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Midwifery at The Museum

We are excited to announce that our Midwifery program at Kieffer's Place begins this week!

Rules for Midwives
Adapted from From: A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Midwifery, by W. Smellie, M. D., 1766
To become a midwife, one must be:
  • Sensible
  • Decent
  • Of middle age
  • Able to bear fatigue
  • Knowledgeable of the basic anatomy of the organs involved and how they change during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Skilled in examining and understanding the differences in labors.
  • Able to live in friendship with other midwives, competing only in knowledge, sobriety, diligence and patience.
She must avoid all reflections (criticism) of male practitioners, and candidly seek their help when at a loss. When he comes, he is to understand that she is just a woman (Understand that what that phrase means is a woman is not possessing the mental capacity to deal with important matters), and quietly fix her mistakes. This will keep the patient from becoming upset, but will also silently rebuke the midwife. Since no male practitioner is completely perfect all the time, and may sometime also make a mistake, he will be glad he treated her nicely in such circumstances and expect her to treat him kindly in return.
To learn more about Midwifery (Midwives did much more than just deliver babies!) in the 19th century please visit our new midwives at Kieffer's place. Our midwives will be avaliable to discuss whatever ails you Thursday through Saturday, weekly.

We will occasionally cook period German food there as well as create authentic "Cures" from plants in our midwife's garden and from around the village.

Changes at Kieffer's Place

In anticipation of our new Midwifery program we revamped Kieffer's place for the experience.

The walls were whitewashed which give the space an authentic and much brighter look inside. The interior doors (which, along with the hardware, are original to the house) were painted a brilliant blue. This blue, was one of the original paint colors as determined by our resident historic paint expert Steve Jordan. The kitchen area was outfitted with a new kettle from Colonial Williamsburgh that our blacksmith forged a handle for and the pantry was stocked with pottery, brooms and a churn from our village artisans.

The ropes were taken down from the front rooms so visitors may now explore the entire first floor.

Outside, a garden was planted on the right side of the house which includes herbs that a midwife would have used in her practice.

Now all we need are patients! Any takers?

*Note-Broom making, which had been taking place in the building, has been moved to the Shaker's Trustee building.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing The Greene Collection!

Last week I spent some time with Patricia Tice, curator of the John L. Wehle Art Gallery and Sabrina Henneman, our collections registrar to discuss and view our recent exciting acquisition, the Greene Clothing Collection. The Greene Collection includes over 2214 pieces (it's estimated that there at at least 2300 pieces total) of 19th century clothing collected by Susan and Bruce Greene over a 25 year period.

The collection is important and special on many levels. It includes, not just dresses, but shoes, gloves, hats and much more. The collection can be easily assembled into complete outfits and things that have matching pieces, come with their matching pieces.

It is a complete collection as it contains men's and children's clothing as well. Generally men's clothing does not hold up as well as women's clothing and collections have typically focused on women's clothing because it's considered pretty and nice to look at. (Although we think the entire Greene Collection is quite nice to look at!) In addition, this collection focuses more on every day wear than formal wear which makes up many other collections.

The collection is in excellent condition and while there are a few pieces that may be in less than pristine condition, they are included because they are unusual or rare. Most have provenances that originate to Western NY and New England, as many of the New England settlers moved to the Genesee Region.

The collection came photographed and cataloged with information about each piece including historically relevant details and origins when known.

As a part of our War of 1812 Encampment, June 26th & 27th, we will have at least 20 pieces of the collection on display (and possibly more) in our meeting center. This will be the first time the museum has displayed any of the pieces publicly. Parts of the collection will also be featured in an upcoming book by Susan Green on printed dress fabrics.

This week starts our look at individual pieces of the collection.

White Cotton Dress With Tassel Ties, 1815

The first piece of clothing from the Greene Collection that we are highlighting is a gorgeous White Cotton Dress with Tassel Ties, 1815.

This dress is entirely hand stitched fine white cotton. It has a stomacher front opening with a very high waist and long tubular sleeves and a small collar. The skirt is gored and the plied string ties with tassels fasten in the front. It has domed Dorset buttons which are a masterpiece themselves!

This dress is from an Interlaken antique dealer. There are many pieces from this dealer in the collection and they all came from the same attic!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Giveaway at The Genesee Country Village & Museum

For the month of June we are hosting our first giveaway ever!

In honor of our new beer, one lucky person will win a new stoneware salt glazed 1803 Fat Ox Ale beer mug made right here in the village by Mark Presher our resident potter OR 2 free passes to the Museum!


You can enter between June 13th-30th, 2010 at 9am EDT. The winner will be announced July 1st!

There are THREE ways you can enter. You can do 1 or all 3. Doing all 3 will get you three entries! Open to adults over 18.

*Enter a comment on this post.


*Send us a question about the museum for our monthly Q & A Column-Please use the email link of the right of the blog.


*Become a follower of this blog.

We will pick a name at random and then mail the prize of your choice to your home! You do not need to live locally to win this contest!!

Good Luck!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

1803 Fat Ox Ale Now Avaliable!

We are pleased to announce that our W. Grieve Brewery is up and running! We will brew for the first time this coming Saturday and are excited to share it with you.!

In addition, our 1803 Fat Ox Ale is avaliable in our Freight House and Depot Restaurants.

Pints are $3.75 and Glass Growlers are $15 the first time and $10 for each fill up after that.
Initial tasting yielded great reviews!

1803 Fat Ox Ale in One of Our New Glass Growlers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reader Question & Answer Column-A 9 Year Old Girl Wants to Work In The Village!

This month starts our first ever reader question and answer column.

Our question is from Olivia, a 9 year old girl.

Question: Can kids work at the Genesee Country Village & Museum? At Laura Ingalls Wilder Day last year there were kids who looked like they worked there?

Answer: Well Olivia, there are a number of volunteer opportunities in the village for children! Volunteers need to be at least 10 years old and volunteers that are 10 & 11 need to have a parent or guardian present. Children 12 and up can volunteer on their own.

Kids can volunteer:
  • At our historic baseball program to act as bat boys or roustabouts in the stands. We also have kids placed in the stands with baskets of 19th century toys to share with the crowd.
  • Working in the kitchen alongside out interpreters in one of our newest kid friendly hands-on spaces in the MacKay kitchen.
  • Helping out in the kitchens on tasting weekends and special event weekends such as the Laura Ingalls event.
  • Helping out in Thomson's tavern with period games & toys.
  • For those a little older, you can apprentice as a potter, tinsmith or at the Altay store.
Anyone interested in the youth volunteer program may contact Gail Fowler at

Have a question? We would be happy to answer it! Just click the email link on the right hand side of the blog!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stuart's Musings-Bells Around The Village

Two Bells and a Couple of Towers
By Stuart Bolger 
Bell: A hollow metal device used for making a more or less loud noise.
 The earliest bells were probably not cast but fashioned of metal plates riveted together. By the Middle Ages, bell makers had gradually worked out the principles of bell construction, mixtures of metals, lines and proportion. 

Bell-metal bronze is a mixture of copper and tin in the proportion of 4-1. The thickness of the bell’s edge is 1/10 of its diameter and the height is three times its thickness.

Our cherished Liberty Bell was first hung in Philadelphia in 1753 and bears the inscription “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25.10) Thus it was fitting in July 1776 to proclaim the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Taken to Allentown, Pa., it was hidden during British occupation of Philadelphia (1777-78) For a time after the bell was returned to Philadelphia, it was housed in a brick tower. It cracked in 1853, and now rests, as you know, as an exhibit in Independence Hall. More about another once-hidden bell in a moment. 

Brooks Grove Church with Bell Tower
The influence of bells in the evolution of church architecture is evident in church tower construction and can be seen in the village. At first scarcely rising above the roof and intended for lanterns to light the sanctuary, they were heightened to accommodate the church bell, so that its sound could be heard at greater distance. From the three-stage classical tower of The Brooks Grove Church, its bell once sounded across the near Livingston County countryside on religious and social occasions.

In 1972, when the Brooks Grove congregation disbanded, the bell was bought by the Zen Buddhists and removed to their retreat above Honeoye Lake. When the Buddhists learned about the relocation and restoration of the Brooks Grove Church in the village they gallantly sold the seriously sounding bronze bell to the Museum, where the bell sounds forth on special occasions. The curators have warned it should be used sparingly. Thus the bell rope is out of reach of fourth-graders. 

There is no rope to pull the bell in the Town Hall. It is mechanically activated by a clockworks recycled from the Buffalo Roman Catholic church. The bell itself was recycled from one fraternity house to another on the U of R campus.

During one dark night in November 1941, the iconic bell that the brothers of Delta Upsilon had liberated from an old one-room schoolhouse was surreptitiously relocated from the second floor of the Federal Revival Delta Upsilon fraternity house and buried beneath the basement floor of the nearby Greek Revival—and rival—fraternity house, Psi Upsilon.

Town Hall
Forty years later, on a fine fall afternoon in 1981, the director of the Genesee Country Museum (who had been one of the two alleged 1941 thieves) directed the bell’s unearthing. He saw to it that the bell was moved from the campus and securely hung 20 miles away in the Town Hall tower at Genesee Country Museum—well out of reach of fourth-graders as well as aged, but loyal and vengeful Delta Upsilon alumni.

Romulus Female Seminary
Museum Notes: Stuart Bolger was the director of the Genesee Country Village & Museum in 1981!
This year, the bell in the bell tower of the Romulus Female Seminary is also in working order.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

National Endowment For The Hummanities & Institute for Library and Museum Service Awards

We are pleased to announce that we have recently received two major grants that will allow us to build a state-of-the-art storage center in our John L Wehle Art Gallery for our collections of fine art and historical artifacts, including our recent historic clothing acquisition, the Greene Collection.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded us a $400,000 grant. In addition to that, we also received a $150,000 grant from the Institute for Library and Museum Service.

Currently objects must be stored in different areas across the museum campus. This project will allow us to more efficiently organize objects for research and exhibition in the renovated galleries and provide the storage and conditions we need to properly store them. The work will be done as part of a larger $2.5 million renovation of our John L.Wehle Art Gallery and will create the environmentally controlled conditions necessary for long-term preservation and collection care in a sustainable and energy-efficient manner.

"We're absolutely delighted," said Peter Arnold, our president and CEO. "Our storage facilities are very inadequate, that's our main motivation for getting this done. We'll begin construction in the fall. I assume it'll take a year."

The gallery is closed this season in preparation for the renovation.

Trained day dress of heavy watered silk, c1865
You can still see some of the Greene Collection here THIS season! Starting next week we will be highlighting items from the collection on a weekly basis as the collection will be unavaliable for public viewing until the gallery renovation has been completed.

For another sneak peek at the collection, check out, The Collecting Gene's interview with prior collection creator, Susan Greene.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Jones Farm and The Livingston Backus House Make Marmalade & Illustrate Historic Differences

This year at the Jones Farm and the Livingston-Backus house we are interpreting both around 1850 in order to show the contrast between the two buildings and their inhabitants.

The Jones Farm is a rural farm and farther from a market than the Livingston-Backus House. While they live above the subsistence level, they are not as well-to-do as the Livingston-Backus household and serve simple farm fare that they make themselves.

Recent Fare at the Livingston-Backus House
The Livingston-Backus House's original location was on the Erie canal. Not only does this make it easier to come by many different ingredients, it is also a household of higher financial standing. They would have had servants to do the cooking and would have done more entertaining.

As an example of the difference between the dwellings, our Historic Foodways staff have researched marmalade two ways. In the first recipe by Miss Isabella Beeton, rhubarb is used to economize on the cost of the expensive oranges while still keeping the nice orange flavor of "real" Scottish marmalade. Apparently the best orange marmalade to be had mid-century was from Scotland, and Mrs. Beeton's was intended "to resemble" it, at least in flavor. Calling it Scotch marmalade is sort of a play on words too. This is the marmalade that we will be making at The Jones Farm.

Rhubarb and Orange Jam, to resemble Scotch Marmalade.
The Book of Household Management 1859-61 by Mrs. Isabella Beeton

1 quart of finely-cut rhubarb
6 oranges
1–1/2 lb. of loaf sugar.

Peel the oranges; remove as much of the white pith as possible, divide them, and take out the pips; slice the pulp into a preserving-pan, add the rind of half the oranges cut into thin strips, and the loaf sugar, which should be broken small. Peel the rhubarb, cut it into thin pieces, put it to the oranges, and stir altogether over a gentle fire until the jam is done. Remove all the scum as it rises, put the preserve into pots, and, when cold, cover down. Should the rhubarb be very old, stew it alone for ¼ hour before the other ingredients are added.

The Livingston-Backus house will feature a marmalade made entirely from oranges, being that they are considered expensive, and a luxury.

Orange Marmalade
Miss Leslie's new cookery book, 1857
By Eliza Leslie

Quarter some large ripe oranges, and remove the rind, the seeds, and the strings or filaments, taking care to save all the juice. Put the pulp, with the juice, into a porcelain kettle, and mix with it an equal quantity of strained honey, adding sufficient powdered loaf sugar to render it very thick and sweet. The honey alone will not make it sweet enough. Boil it uncovered, and skim it till very thick, smooth, and clear. Taste it, and if necessary add more sugar, and boil it longer. When cold, put it up in tumblers or white-ware marmalade pots, and cover it securely. This marmalade is exquisite, and very superior to any other.

This weekend you will be able to taste the "Scotch Marmalade" at The Jones Farm.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Laura Ingalls Wilder Biographer William Anderson to Participate in Our Life & Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder Event

long with Dean Butler, we have another exciting announcement to make regarding our Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder event August 7th and 8th.

Award winning historian , Laura Ingalls Wilder scholar, author and noted speaker William Anderson will also be delivering a presentation and be on hand to sign books.

This is particularly exciting because up until now the event has featured only guests involved with the 1970's TV show Little House on The Prairie, based on the series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Anderson's inclusion in the program provides a new layer of depth that will be exciting and enriching for all Laura Ingalls Wilder Fans. Those already familiar with the original 9 books will appreciate the additional insight Anderson provides on these well-loved books. Those who have only known her through the TV series will be delighted with a new level of understanding of this 19th century icon.

While a student at Michigan's Albion College, Anderson's summer job as a tour guide for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, South Dakota, included preservation work and research. He founded the newsletter Laura Ingalls Wilder Lore, which he still edit and is also the director of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association in Mansfield, Missouri.

He is the author of 13 books about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Six weeks of Want-Cup Cake aka 1234 Cake

As our six weeks of want comes to an end with the advent of new spring vegetables, I leave you with a simple cake that would have been useful for using up the butter and eggs that you would have been blessed with at this time of year.

In the village (and elsewhere) it is sometimes known as a 1234 Cake and you'll soon find out why.

In old cookbooks it is referred to as a Cup Cake.

1 Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Flour
4 Eggs

Mix together and pour into a pan and bake for an hour at 350 degrees. You can add any flavoring you wish to this and while it's nice served with fruit it is perfectly acceptable on it's own.

In the Livingston-Bakus house it was made a few weeks ago in the brick oven. To use a brick oven a fire is started in it which burns for approx 3 hours to achieve the correct 350 temp to bake with. The fire is then removed entirely as the bricks are hot enough to bake the cake on their own.

People today are still making the Cup Cake (1234 Cake). It is almost laughable that chefs from Paula Deen to Alice Waters, have versions of the 1234 cake in their cookbooks as it's a well known old fashioned recipe!

Note-This weekend in the Livingston-Bakus Kitchen we will be doing a tasting for visitors of rice pudding, another way in which cream and eggs would have been used at this time of year.

Stuart's Musing- Creating the Brewery at the Museum

Recently I had the pleasure to interview Stuart Bolger, Director Emeritus of the Genesee Country Village & Museum. The content of our discussion will be the subject of a number of posts in the upcoming weeks.

Stuart is a fascinating man, hired in 1966 by Jack Wehle, the founder of the museum, to lead the creation of the village. He was educated at both the University of Rochester and Harvard, served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific in WWII and spent 8 years in the restoration of 18th century Moravian buildings in Pennsylvania before beginning his nearly 45 years at the museum!

Each week he regales staff members with excerpts from The Genesee Farmer or what's come to be known as "Stuarts Musings," short paragraphs about local history, the museum or both!

As we approach the grand re-opening of our brewery, Stuart remembers back to the creation of the building back in the 1970's!

Let the lager flow!

With preparations ongoing to convert the Museum’s Brewery from an interesting exhibit to a functioning facility, we might briefly review how it all came about.

By the mid-1970s the Village layout included a church, a schoolhouse, a store, an inn, and a blacksmith shop—features common to any hamlet worth its salt—plus half a dozen tradesmen’s shops and offices for two important professionals, the doctor and the lawyer. But no brewery.

A brewery! Why not? Well, both Mumford and Caledonia boasted breweries early on. However no trace remained of either for us to rescue and haul in. But we discovered an account of one in Geneva. In 1803, Lord Selkirk was checking out industries in the young nation. The observant Briton left a sketch and a detailed description of Hall’s brewery.

This evidence was good enough for the Museum’s founder, who himself knew something about the brewing industry.
There was an obsolete brewing kettle moldering away at his plant on St. Paul Street. An abandoned house near West Bloomfield provided hewn framing timbers; planks from a dismantled house on Clinton Avenue; and building stones from what was left of the Enright Brewery on Water Street in downtown Rochester.

These were knit together to form a convincing replica of an early 19th Century brewhouse. A masonry furnace was built to heat the old brew kettle.
Alfonso Lang, chief cooper at the Genesee Brewing Company, fashioned wooden mash tuns, wooden troughs, fermenters, casks, cooling ships, and wooden tools to agitate the mash. Huge hogsheads (the oversize barrels which Louis Wehle long ago had imported from the old country) rested on racks on the ground floor, representing aging vessels for the finished product. Half and quarter size beer barrels were stacked nearby. On the main floor was the brewmaster’s office, but he never brewed any beer. Now that is about to change.

A fire in 1988 burned everything of wood above the ground floor. It was quickly rebuilt. Timbers were drawn from the Museum’s stockpile, wood sheathing and planks were donated by the Yansic Lumber Company in Arcade, and carpenter Bob VanHoute rebuilt the brew house. (The furnace and brew kettle had survived.). There was no Alfonso to replace the wooden equipage. A cooper in Rushville, NY, who worked for the Finger Lakes wineries, spent several weeks reproducing the fire-destroyed reproductions.

Note, we now have village coopers who have provided many barrels for our current brewery.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Almanzo Wilder is Coming to Town! Dean Butler to Visit Genesee Country Village & Museum

We are pleased and proud to announce that this year, for our Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder event, we will be hosting Dean Butler for our celebrity talk.

Dean, is most widely known for his role as Almanzo Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband on the TV show Little House On The Prairie.

Butler is also the the executive producer for Legacy Documentaries, a film company which has which has produced, among many other historic documentaries, a documentary about Almanzo Wilder, Almanzo Wilder, Life Before Laura as well as the soon to be released documentary, Little House On The Prairie, The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Dean will be speaking about his time on the television series as well as his interest in both the real life Laura and Almanzo Wilder. He will also be avaliable to sign autographs.

Dean has a blog!

The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder event will take place
Saturday & Sunday, August 7-8, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Opening The Root Cellar at The Pioneer Farmstead

Before Opening
Want to see what we found in the root cellar?

On opening day at the museum we opened the root cellar at the Pioneer Farmstead after a long cold winter. We were excited and anxious to see how our vegetables had fared. This is our 5th year with a root cellar and each year our results have gotten better. The first year there was absolutely nothing at all in the cellar when we opened it. And no trace of anything either!

We've improved our technique over the years by adding wood walls and a french drain of stones in the bottom.

This year we had an impressive array of beets, turnips and parsnips but lost the carrots. In another cellar we had cabbages and onions. Those are separated from the other vegetables as they give off a gas that will break down the other vegetables quickly.

Each cellar would have provided vegetables for a family for about a month and a typical family would have 4 or 5 of such cellars around their property. The best ones would have been built into the side of a hill if possible.

Even in the 85 degree weather that we had last week, when we peeked into the cellar it was still markedly cooler than the air above it.
In the cellar

One thing to note that while the vegetables have stayed quite well over the winter, they need to be used immediately after being taken from the cellar or they begin to get soft very quickly.

Waiting to be used in the Pioneer Farmstead