Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pokeberry Adventures Continued!

 Pokeberry adventure UPDATE!!

As promised, the picture of the yarn in the pumpkin! The pumpkin yarn is the darker yarn while the redder yarn was the pokeberry in vinegar. The light yellow is the pokeberry with lime.

The color of the pokeberry has been so fascinating to us, that we dipped a few of the reeds used for baskets in the dye. A lovely shade of pinky-red occurred depending on the species of the reed dipped. Then, upon moving a few artifact baskets around, our Curator discovered the same pinky-red, now faded except in the recesses of the insides of two of these baskets!

One is a small round basket that opens in the middle. The color is all over the inside of it, so we are curious, was it totally pink at one time? It has a hole in one end and was likely used to hold a ball of string or yarn. Perhaps even while knitting as in this lovely painting of Mary Isabella Grant:

The second basket is a workbasket with decorative ash curls. Here they are next to a modern piece of ash dyed with the pokeberry:

See how similar the colors are?

 So, were THEY using pokeberries to dye decorative elements of their baskets? The color is remarkably similar, and it has obviously faded over time as we have been warned the pokeberry will do, but is it the same dye-stuff? A mystery is afoot! Does anybody have any clues they can share?

Friday, October 21, 2011


Looking for a safe way to take your little ones Trick-or-Treating this year? The Genesee Country Village and Museum offers a safe and educational way to collect the traditional Halloween loot!
On October 29 and 30 from noon to 5, take your little one trick-or-treating in the scenic and traffic-free Historic Village. Children 16 and under will be admitted for $5 and their parents or chaperones for free. Over a dozen village buildings will be staffed with a friendly volunteer in costume handing out candy. In addition, you can learn about the history and traditions of Halloween by trying a fortune-telling game in Keiffer House, hearing the story of jack-o-lanterns at the Pioneer Cabin, reciting a Halloween Poem in the Schoolhouse, and sitting by the fire roasting s'mores and hearing stories at the McKay house. We are also reprising a kid's version of the Tent of Wonders in the Town Hall, where you can see various "artifacts" on display from around the world. You won't believe your eyes....!

Outside of the village, you can meet author Michael T. Keene who wrote "Folklore and Legends of Rochester" and have him sign a  copy of his fantastic book. He'll be available at the Flint Hill Store from 2pm to 5:30.

To keep the little ones busy, try several crafts in our large Exhibition Hall around the Great Meadow. For an added fee (cash only), make a cornhusk doll, paint a pumpkin, or tie up a yarn ghost. Try a walk through the straw bale maze, or become weightless in the bouncy house. Plenty of family fun to be had, and all geared towards ages 8 and under! Of course, all children, both those at heart and in actuality, welcome!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Open Call for Actors and Actresses!

Gearing up for the Yuletide in the Country here at the Museum means finding actors and actresses to fill the roles in the scenes that tour groups witness in buildings around the Village Square. The scenes celebrate how Christmas traditions evolved over the 19th century and range in date from 1830 to 1870.

Performance dates are December 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18 in the evenings and rehearsals will be held on November 5,12,19,29 and a dress rehearsal that family of participants can attend on November 30.
Contact Megan Barrell to schedule an audition at a time that works for you at

Interested in participating, but not into memorizing lines? One of the scenes needs a Christmas Chorus to sing two simple carols in a church setting. We're always looking for volunteers there! Please contact Megan above if you would like to be part of the chorus.

Want to help but not in the Village? Part of Yuletide in the Country is a large buffet offered in the heated Meeting Center.  We are looking for volunteers to help bus tables, greet guests, and serve food from stations from 4-8:30 on the nights of tours. help out one night or several as your schedule allows! Contact Brett Elliot, Director of Volunteer Services, at if you'd like to be part of the magic!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

End of the Season!

On this, our last regular day of the season, our final Word of the Day is hyson. Hyson is the 19th century word for green tea. A good cup of hyson would warm you today!

After yesterday's rainy episode, we're now back to enjoying the sunshine, if not the warm temperatures. 
Today in our village, you can try a taste of quince jam at the Livingston Backus house as you warm yourself by the fire. The last of the fall berries are being made into jams and preserves to last the winter through on warm fresh bread from the oven!

To go with that jam, you can head over to Jones Farm to help make some butter from the last milk of the year. It should make up quickly in the cooler temps!

We're getting ready for winter by making warm quilts of scraps of fabric in the Eastman House. You can help us get the word done by putting a few stitches in yourself! 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

End of the Season!

Sad to say it, the end of our regular season is already upon us. Today and tomorrow are the last two full days of regular admission. Not to worry though, it is only the kick-off of our special themed programs like the Spirits of the Past Tours, Trick-or-Treating, Yuletide Tours, and Preparing for the Holidays events. You can find more information about those programs here.

Today, visitors can taste Quince Jam at the Livingston-Backus house. Jam was often being put up for winter use out of the fall bounty. 

Observe the last cheese of the season being made at the Jones Farm. In about 3 months it will be ready to enjoy by a warm January fireside as the snowflakes fall! 

The Word of the Day is palaver. To palaver is to talk profusely. 

We villagers have been having a Word of the Day contest where entrants must write a story in 300 words or less that utilizes as many of the past Words of the Day as they can. Points are awarded for correct use of the words as well as humorous content. Stay tuned for the winner's story!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Weekend: Baseball and Tastes of Fall

To go along with this Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup Championship base ball game and a celebration of the sights, sounds and taste of fall, we are offering a special admission price to any young baseball players under the age of 16. If they wear the uniform of the team they play for, they can receive a special admission rate of just $5.00. This offer is good any day this weekend Saturday, Sunday, or Columbus Day Monday.

Come watch the Flower City and Live Oak base ball clubs play under the rules of 1865 for the coveted Mayor’s Cup on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s own Silver Base Ball Park. You can enjoy a hot dog, cold drinks and a variety of other snacks from our concession stand located just behind home plate. Celebrate a great fall tradition in one of the grandstands in America’s only recreated 19th century ball park.
Sunday will host another game: Rochester v. Victory at 1:30pm.

Families can also enjoy a variety of other games on the village square. The sugar maples surrounding the square are ablaze with fall color and provide a wonderful backdrop to a great family outing. We’ll have all of our favorite 19th century games out to enjoy including bowling, croquet, stilts, hoops, graces and many more. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors on a perfect fall day.

The women in the village and some of our household cooks have been busy using up some of the season’s harvest for some special autumn treats available for you to taste.   Guests each day can try fall favorites like homemade apple sauce and apple-butternut squash soup made using historic receipts (recipes). There will be a special elderberry shrub available in the newly renovated Hosmer’s Inn on the village square along with our famous 1-2-3-4 cake at the Livingston-Backus House. We’ve even used up some of our herbs in some wonderful herbed butter that’s great for any holiday table.

There will also be $2.00 hot dogs and plenty of cold drinks at the Depot restaurant located on the Great Meadow. The Depot’s regular menu will also be available. The museum’s Freight House and Tap Room will also be open Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 until 5:30 for anyone interested in one of our great area craft brews, including our own 1803 Fat Ox Ale. Be sure to stop in at our Flint Hill Store for the latest creations from our kitchens with new seasonal candy apple and pumpkin varieties of fudge in our now famous home-made fudge offerings. There are also some terrific seasonal items for sale and the new stoneware pottery from the first firing of our new salt-glaze kiln is available. 

Meet our final pioneer family for the 2011 season this Saturday and Sunday at the Pioneer Farm and find out how they enjoy living the life of the Genesee Country pioneers in the early 1800s. They will be living, eating, and sleeping in the log pioneer house for the weekend and learning how to cook on an open fire, caring for animals at the farm, dress in 19th century-style clothing, learning 19th century games, and even finding time to do some dancing. They’ll also be learning how to prepare for the upcoming winter by stuffing sausages and drying fruits and vegetables.

Other villagers are also getting ready for the upcoming cold season: visitors can assist the quilter in making warm bed coverings out of scraps of leftover fabric, the kitchens are putting up preserves and condiments to use throughout the winter, and the spinner is making warm wool yarn for winter knitting projects. In addition to spinning, the spinners will also be dyeing the last of the yarn Sunday and Monday. See what fantastic colors can be achieved with natural materials! The villagers are giving their houses a last airing out on this fine weekend and getting out the warm clothing…before we know it, it will be winter!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Word of the Day

Today's Word of the Day is cairngorm. A cairngorm is a Scottish variety of smokey quartz, commonly found in Victorian tourist jewelry. As we know, Queen Victoria loved all things Scottish and popularized wearing plaid, kilts, bagpipe playing, and Scottish jewelry. The Cairngorms, or Blue Hills, formerly the Red Hills in Gaelic, are a mountain range near Braemar in Scotland, now a national park, but the stones used for jewelry come from the Cairngorm mountain in the Grampian range located in Banffshire. The stones grow on the granite running through the mountain. At one time, it could also be found as pebbles in the Avon river. The brown or smokey color, which can also appear yellow, is attributed to titanium. The stones can also appear black, and are then called morion.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dyeing with Pokeberries

Although pokeberry dye is a fugitive dye and will eventually fade, we have heard many reports from diaries and contemporary publications that women loved the color so much, that they were willing to have to re-dye every few years. When we read this, we just HAD to find out why this color was loved so much to go through all the trouble.

We tried a few variations. First was the straight pokeberry juice with the wool yarn simmered and mordanted with vinegar. 

The yellow color is pokeberry mordanted with vinegar, and then baking soda simmered with it in lieu of lime, to turn it to "solferino". The yarn first turned a honey-carmel color and then changed into a brighter yellow as time went on.

Our third experiment with pokeberries is a receipt from the New England Farmer in 1824 that says to put it in a pumpkin shell for nine days to produce a crimson color. This advice was again repeated by Godey's in 1866. "One old lady made a really brilliant dye by dipping wool in pokeberry juice, and then inclosing (sic) it for several days where Peter put his wife-in a pumpkin shell. The color obtained was a brilliant red."

Well, it's in there! We'll find out on the 10th what color it will become!

We also had to do a bit of silk:

Just stunning! We're curious how long the color will last.

Word of the Day

Today's Word is Aigrette: a hair ornament made of pearls or gems, set in silver or gold, in the shape of a plume, feather, or spray. For evening wear.

The Agricultural Fair suffered through some rainy and cold weather, but all who attended had a great time! Thank you to everyone who made it out!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Last Day of the Agricultural Fair!

Yesterday was a bit rainy, but all had fun seeing Signora Bella's amazing shows, Harry Houdini's artifacts, the vegetables and apple tastings  in the Horticultural Tent, and the wonders in the Tent of Wonders. 

All will be repeated today but there will be a Harmonic's Concert at 2:00 in Brooks Grove Church.

There's plenty of shopping, poultry, livestock, blue Ribbon entries,  appearances of the Man-Eating Chicken, and agricultural demonstrations for everyone!