Tag Archive | "history"

The Captains, Mates and Widows of Whaling Return to Sag Harbor

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Sabina Streeter with her portrait of Captain Thomas Roys in her Madison Street studio. Photo by Tanya Malott.

Sabina Streeter with her portraits of Captains Thomas Roys and David T. Vail. Photo by Tanya Malott.

By Tessa Raebeck

Some of the subjects of Sabina Streeter’s portraits visited her Madison Street studio over the winter, while others haven’t been in the building for nearly 200 years.

Captain David T. Vail, by Sabina Streeter.

Captain David T. Vail, by Sabina Streeter.

In “Captains, Mates, and Widows,” opening Friday at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, Ms. Streeter used contemporary village residents, historical records and her imagination to create a series of mixed media portraits of the village’s prominent and lesser known figures during the peak years of the whaling industry. Artist Dan Rizzie curated the show and Carlos Lama has created an accompanying sound installation that recreates the howling winds and crashing waves of whaling.

Between 1829 and 1847, Sag Harbor was a capital of the whaling industry. As local men headed out to sea as cabin boys and captains—some of them never to return—their families made do at home, peering out from widows’ watches in hopes of seeing a ship on the horizon.

The building that houses Ms. Streeter’s studio was built in 1820 from reclaimed ship’s timber by shipbuilder Abraham Vail. It is the original residence of his son, whaling captain David P. Vail, who captained the ship “Sabina.” Little did he know an artist of the same name would be recreating his likeness in his home more than a  century later.

The two-family building, which houses two apartments with identical layouts, was made so that whalers’ wives and children could keep each other company during the long months spent waiting for the men’s return from seas.

“It’s interesting, some of these characters were probably actually here in this building, because they must have socialized somehow,” Ms. Streeter said of her subjects.

One portrait features a young Captain Thomas Wickham Havens, drawn with a soft face and sensitive eyes, the ancestor of George Sterling, who wrote the poem, “The Ballad of the Swabs,” about his relative’s whaling past.

Mrs. Wickham Havens, by Sabina Streeter.

Sarah Darling Havens, by Sabina Streeter.

“The tale is of my grandsire and his good whaling-ship. Back to Sag Harbor faring from his eleventh trip,” starts the poem. It ends with the men “twice as hot as any there for home and wife and bed.”

Ms. Streeter portrayed Captain Wickham Havens in the same gray hues she used for his wife, Sarah Darling Havens. Captain Havens’ likeness is taken from a portrait in the whaling museum. Mrs. Havens’ comes from a small tintype.

Before oil tycoons, hedge fund barons and start-up tech financiers, there were whaling captains.

“These whalers were incredibly risk-willing,” said Ms. Streeter. “Most of these boats were like hedge funds—were venture capitalists, ’cause they had to be financed somehow, except they were hands-on.”

For cabin boys and other crewmembers, who came from across the world and on which there is little documentation, Ms. Streeter used her imagination to recreate their likenesses.

One portrait of an unknown cabin boy was done solely from imagination, but for a striking portrait of a harpooner done in bright orange hues, local restaurateur Dan Gasby posed for the artist. His wife and business partner, Barbara Smith, also sat for a portrait.

To recreate the likeness of Enoch Conklin, a privateer whose ship went down in 1814, his ancestor Ted Conklin, owner of The American Hotel, sat for Ms. Streeter.

Harpooner Gasby, by Sabina Streeter.

Harpooner Gasby, by Sabina Streeter.

Captain Jonas Winters, depicted by Ms. Streeter with a full, long beard and a hint of a smile, went on 11 voyages, during which he accumulated 24,500 barrels of oil and 244,000 pounds of bone.

According to an article by H.P. Horton that appeared in “Long Island Forum” in 1948, Sag Harbor Express Editor John H. Hunt asked the then-retired Captain Winters to write an autobiographical sketch covering his 25-year career as a whaler, which appeared in the newspaper on March 15, 1888.

Born in Sag Harbor, Mr. Winters ascended from a common sailor to a captain in a parallel rise to that of the village’s whaling industry. He sailed with men from Amagansett, East Hampton and Southampton, but his shipmates were mostly often from Sag Harbor.

“In these 11 voyages which comprise 22 years of active and ever changing life, occurrences transpired which would fill volumes with interesting and thrilling matter,” wrote Captain Winters. “Sunshine and storm, surprise and disappointment, joy and sadness, never found better illustrations than were obtained in the whale fishery which was Sag Harbor’s most important industry.”

“Captains, Mates and Widows,” will be on view at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum through September 25, with an opening reception on Friday, August 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit sabinastreeter.com.

The Art of Preserving History

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John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

By Gianna Volpe

John Griffin is more than just the man who will lead the Southampton Historical Museum’s walking tour of the North Sea Burial Ground at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 17—he’s a living part of the site’s history.

Mr. Griffin’s ancestors are in some of the centuries-old cemetery’s most notable graves. They include Joshua Edward Elliston Jr., who preserved 133 acres of land adjacent to the burial site in the name of wife, Emma Rose, which is now a Southampton Town park.

The woodcarver and his wife, the daughter of a whaling captain, are buried next to one another at the North Sea Burial Ground beneath gravestones crafted by J. Edward himself, something that makes the site’s restoration efforts all the more crucial for its personal guardian.

“He designed all of this,” Mr. Griffin said of his ancestor’s handiwork. “He carved it out of wood before it was ever made out of granite.”

Mr. Elliston also designed the gravestone of his father, Joshua, who Mr. Griffin said, was a farmer from Southampton Village who enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and served a full four years as a farrier during the Civil War.

“His grave is down in Southampton Cemetery,” said Mr. Griffin. “Uncle Ed designed that too, so you can go read about him and the regiment that he was in. There’s a link with all of us, my dear, and we’re fast leaving our history in the dust.”

That’s precisely what this North Sea Burial Ground tour guide has been working to avoid. Mr. Griffin, a veteran military helicopter pilot, was a key player in a 2009 stewardship agreement formed for the site’s restoration between Southampton Town and the historical museum.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photos by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

“There’s a fund established at the museum to underwrite work here from private donations because even though the town owned the property, they were allotting no money for restoration,” he said. “They would come and mow it occasionally, but now we hope they will pay for the perimeter fencing and for training people to mow without scoring the stones, so you don’t cut and weaken them.” ?Mr. Griffin said this training is especially important as older graves are cut from delicate sandstone, which cannot be restored nearly as well as their marble or granite counterparts.

“If the sunlight is hitting it just right then you can make out the letters and the angel of death on the top, but that’s as far as you can go with these,” Mr. Griffin said of one of the site’s red sandstone tombstones, some of which bear the icon of a bodiless angel—appearing unimpressed—with wings attached directly to its head. “They delaminate, you see? They split and continue to split until they become hollow. The older stones in most of these cemeteries are sandstone because it was easier to work with…. that’s why you have to be really careful trimming around them.”

Mr. Griffin said the restoration of North Sea Burial Ground actually began four years before the stewardship agreement. In 2005, he said the town did a survey of its 10 historic burial grounds before students from the University of Pennsylvania came to the East End and mapped the sites—giving each grave a number.

“We’ve been working on it steadily ever since and are now down to the maintenance stage,” he said, adding retired Suffolk County Detective Dennis Delaney has been so effective in developing his restoration technique at North Sea Burial Ground that it has “become the prototype for how to restore historic burial grounds.”

Mr. Delaney is already involved in restoration efforts at other Southampton sites, some of which will take years before they are complete.

“The one in East Quogue is coming along and we’ll probably start on the Old South Burial Ground this summer,” Mr. Griffin told The Sag Harbor Express mid-June, adding Mr. Delaney was about to begin restoring the North End Graveyard and Burial Ground between North Sea Road and Windmill Lane. ?“This has become a project of great respect and pride…. It’s a big, big job that will probably take two him two years to do,” he said. “They really took great care in what they did at North Sea Burial Ground and were very careful not to damage anything. Dennis even found a way to cut and shape marble to fit where pieces were broken.” ?Mr. Griffin said there is a national movement to restore historic burial grounds.

As veteran Marines, both he and Mr. Delaney seem to fit the profile as advocates for such a movement.?“There is a Marine down in Cranberry, New Jersey, who recently restored 5,300 graves with two Eagle Scouts,” said Mr. Griffin. “It took between a six-and-seven-year period to accomplish the work at North Sea Burial Ground. Many of the footstones had been pulled up by guys that were mowing–  we found almost 30 of them discarded in the bushes—but luckily they had initials matching the headstones, so we could pair them up. Dennis would pace off the number of paces and probe to maybe find the rest in the ground and stick it together…. The cleaning process was really educational because…. all the inscriptions were filled with mud and dirt…. now you can read everything on the stone, except some of them are so old and weathered that you can’t,” he said.

Though suppliers have thus far changed hands twice, Mr. Griffin said the team is in contact with the owners of a company that manufactures D/2, a heavy duty cleaning product developed for cleaning antique stone, vinyl and steel. He said D/2 has been used on the White House and Washington Monument.

“All these stones that are clean and upright—we are fortunate a very fine man came along on his own, learned how to do the repairs and basically carried on when we would have had to pay thousands of dollars to do what he did,” he said. “They paved the way for us—[the people in] these old cemeteries. They paved the way for us.”

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do July 25 to 27

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The Montauk Project, Chris Wood, Mark Schiavoni, Jasper Conroy and Jack Marshall, performs at Swallow East in Montauk on Friday, February 28. Photo by Ian Cooke.

The Montauk Project, Chris Wood, Mark Schiavoni, Jasper Conroy and Jack Marshall, performs at Swallow East in Montauk on Friday, February 28. Photo by Ian Cooke.

By Tessa Raebeck

From fast-growing local bands to slow food snail suppers, there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend. Here are some highlights:

The Montauk Project is playing at Swallow East in the band’s hometown of Montauk Saturday, July 26 at 8 p.m. The local beach grunge rockers, who were born and bred on the island and are steadily gaining more recognition by music critics and enthusiasts alike, released their first full-length album, “Belly of the Beast,” in March. The band, which consists of East Hampton’s Chris Wood and Jack Marshall, Sag Harbor’s Mark Schiavoni and Jasper Conroy of Montauk, will be joined by hip hop/rock hybrid PUSHMETHOD, who were voted the best New York City hip hop group of 2013 by The Deli magazine.

Eastern Surf Magazine said of the East End group, “The Montauk Project is far tighter than every other surf-inspired East Coast rock band to come before it.” Swallow East is located at 474 West Lake Drive in Montauk. For more information, call (631) 668-8344.

 

Also on Saturday, People Say NY presents an open mic and art show at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, starting at 8 p.m. In addition to featured grunge pop artist Adam Baranello and featured performer Danny Matos, who specializes in spoken word and hip hop, performers of all ages are encouraged to participate.

According to its mission statement, People Say NY “brings art back to the fundamentals, so we can remind ourselves why artists and art lovers alike do what we do.”

The night of music, comedy and poetry has a sign-up and $10 cover and is at the Hayground School, located at 151 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit peoplesayny.com or check out @PeopleSayNY on Twitter and Facebook.

 

In celebration of the release of the “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” by the Edible School Garden Group of the East End, Slow Food East End hosts a Snail Supper at the home of Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, located at 39 Peconic Hills Drive in Southampton. The supper will be held Friday, July 25, at 6 p.m.

Guests are asked to bring a potluck dish to share that serves six to eight people and aligns with the slow food mission, as well as local beverages. Capacity is limited to 50 and tickets are $20 for Slow Food East End members and $25 for non-members. The price includes a copy of the new cookbook. Proceeds from the evening will be shared between Slow Food East End and Edible School Gardens, Ltd. Click here to RSVP.

 

Some one hundred historians will converge upon Sag Harbor to enjoy the Eastville Community Historical Society’s luncheon and walking tour of Eastville and Sag Harbor.

The day-long event starts at 8:30 a.m. with a welcome at the Old Whalers Church, located at 44 Union Street in Sag Harbor, followed by a walking tour at 9:30 a.m. to the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the Sag Harbor Custom House and the Sag Harbor Historical Society, which is located at Nancy Wiley’s home. A shuttle bus is available for those needing assistance.

From 11:15 a.m. to noon, guests will visit the Eastville Community Historical Society Complex to see the quilt exhibit “Warmth” at the St. David AME Zion Church and Cemetery. A luncheon catered by Page follows from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor.

 

The Hilton Brothers, "Andy Dandy 5," 2007, 36 x 48 inches, pigment print. Image courtesy Peter Marcelle Project.

The Hilton Brothers, “Andy Dandy 5,” 2007, 36 x 48 inches, pigment print. Image courtesy Peter Marcelle Project.

The Peter Marcelle Project in Southampton will exhibit the Hilton Brothers, an artistic identity that emerged from a series of collaborations by artists Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg, from July 26 to August 5.

Their latest collaboration, “Andy Dandy,” is a portfolio of 20 digital pigment prints. The diptychs combine Mr. Makos’ “Altered Image” portraits of Andy Warhol with images of flowers from Mr. Solberg’s “Bloom” series.

“Andy wasn’t the kind of dandy to wear a flower in his lapel, but as ‘Andy Dandy’ demonstrates, sometimes by just altering the image of one’s work or oneself, a new beauty blooms,” the gallery said in a press release.

The gallery is open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.

East Hampton Antiques Show to Amass International Crowd

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By Sam Mason-Jones

The historical grounds of Mulford Farm will play host to the East Hampton Antiques Show of 2014, which this year will benefit the East Hampton Historical Society. The show will be kicked off with a cocktail party on the evening of Friday July 18, and will remain open for the Saturday and Sunday.

Now in its eighth year, the show has been known to provide a combination of aged oddities and more modern items, and this time around the wares of 55 antique dealers are to be showcased in the 3.5 acres of grounds.

While some of these dealers are local, the fair is beginning to attract attention from further afield. Vendors will travel from seven states of America, some as far away as California, with international dealers also making the journey from Thailand and China.

The  whole host of dealers making their debuts in East Hampton, coupled with this touch of the exotic, has proffered a diversity which organizer Tom D’Arruda believes will make this year’s show particularly exciting.

“Its not as exciting for the general public to come through here, and to see the same people as they have seen before,” said Mr. D’Arruda. “There is a really large group of people who have never set up around here, which will bring a fresh look to the show.”

The show will open to the public between the hours of 10:00am-6:00pm on Saturday July 19, and 10am-5pm on Sunday July 20, with a $10 entrance fee. The cocktail party will run from 6:00pm-8:30pm on Friday July 18, tickets start at $150 per person, allowing return to the show on both days, and can be purchased at www.easthamptonhistory.org.

A Long History of Wind Power in East Hampton

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Historic photo of the Hook Mill on North Main Street in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Historic photo of the Hook Mill on North Main Street in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

By Tessa Raebeck

With the reemergence of wind power on the East End, the area has come full circle, harkening back to the days as early as 1650 when early settlers relied heavily on the wind to help grind their grain into flour.

“They started right at the beginning,” East Hampton Town’s historic preservation consultant Robert Hefner said of windmills in the town, which was one of the first English settlement in New York.

Watermills were not suitable for the region’s flat topography, so the windmill became the logical choice for energy. Although modern windmills—wind turbines—are used to generate electricity, windmills were originally developed for milling grain for food production, evolving to supply power for many additional industrial and agricultural needs until the early 20th century.

East Hampton’s colonial settlers came from an area of England that used windmill technology for grinding grains. Although most windmills in early East Hampton were used as gristmills, grinding wheat, corn and rye, there were also a handful of wind-powered sawmills in the town.

The inside of the Hook Mill in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The inside of the Hook Mill in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Mr. Hefner estimates there were some three windmills in the Village of East Hampton and two or so in Amagansett at any given time.

Gardiners Island, which was given as a gift to Lion Gardiner in 1639 by the Montaukett people, had its own windmill.

Out of 43 traditional windmills built in New York State, 33 were on the East End. Fourteen of those were in East Hampton. Sag Harbor has had two in its history.

The English-style windmills of the East End, which vary from the Dutch style used on the western part of Long Island, are smock mills. They use sails that are pitched so that when the wind strikes them, they turn. As the sails turn, they rotate what’s called a wind shaft, a giant wooden timber the sails are passed through.

Mounted on the wind shaft inside the cap of the mill is the brake wheel, a large wooden gear some 7 feet in diameter. That gear, in turn, rotates another gear, transferring the motion from a horizontal to a vertical direction down into the mill. In the center of the mill is an upright vertical shaft that turns and on top of that timber another gear is mounted, which, in the case of a gristmill, turns the millstone.

“The gears are calibrated so that…they don’t turn very fast,” Mr. Hefner said Tuesday. “But the gears are set out in such a way that the slow motion of the sails eventually produces a faster rotation of the millstone.”

A “very famous craftsman,” according to Mr. Hefner, Nathaniel Dominy built the Hook Mill in East Hampton in 1806 and the historic Gardiners Island Mill in 1795.

Samuel Schellinger of the Amagansett Schellingers, a family that has lived in East Hampton continuously since colonial times, was another skilled millwright in the town.

“It was definitely a specialized skill, which came from England to America, and then on Long Island, they sort of developed some things themselves that are different here than anywhere else,” Mr. Hefner said of Mr. Dominy, Mr. Schellinger and other local craftsmen. “There are little things that sort of develop in each particular region.”

The sails must face into the wind in order for the windmill to operate, but the wind, naturally, comes from all different directions. So, the cap on top of the tower needs to be turned to face the sails into the wind.

Settlers first turned the cap—and thus the sails—using a big pole and lever, but Mr. Dominy of East Hampton invented a way to turn the cap using gearing inside of the mill itself instead.

The inside of the historic Hook Mill in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The inside of the historic Hook Mill in East Hampton. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Many gristmills fell out of use in the 1850s, when flour started to be made in steam-powered mills, one of which was built in Bridgehampton.

“It was easier, less expensive,” Mr. Hefner said.

Gristmills were pushed further out of use when the railroad was extended to the East End during the 1870s and flour began being shipped out from New York City.

“But the mills operated here—some of them into the 1920’s for animal feed,” Mr. Hefner said. “And then some people, just by habit I guess, preferred to grind their own wheat in the windmill, so it did hang on for quite a while after manufactured flour was available from the steam-powered mills.”

Some of the first summer colony houses in the town, Mr. Hefner said, had their own wind pumps, “little towers with a water tank and a little windmill on top that would pump the water up for household use.” That technology was also commonly used on farms.

Mr. Hefner estimates gristmills, the original East Hampton windmills, were still in use in East Hampton until about 1920. The iconic Hook Mill on North Main Street operated regularly until 1908.

“There was a period then when electricity took over for electrical pumps, and then there’s the interval where there really were no windmills, before the most recent use of them to generate electricity,” he said.

After a nearly 100-year hiatus, it appears wind power is coming back to East Hampton.

“It makes sense, right?” said Mr. Hefner. “There’s a lot of power in the wind, so it makes sense.”

Cookbook Revolutionaries: East Hampton Chefs Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey

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“The grandest picnic of all time” on Gardiner’s Island with (left to right) Pierre Franey, Jacques Pépin, Roger Fessaguet, Jean Vergnes, and René Verdon, 1965. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

“The grandest picnic of all time” on Gardiner’s Island with (left to right) Pierre Franey, Jacques Pépin, Roger Fessaguet, Jean Vergnes, and René Verdon, 1965. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

By Tessa Raebeck

In the early ’90s, Pierre Franey hit a deer while driving in Springs. Always dedicated to using the freshest ingredients in his cooking, the famous chef tossed the carcass in his trunk and brought it home to make venison. When he opened the trunk when he arrived home on Gerard Drive, however, the deer that was supposed to be dinner jumped out and ran away.

Although it didn’t work out that evening, Mr. Franey and best friend and collaborator Craig Claiborne are widely credited as being the fathers of the fresh food movement.

The duo, who wrote weekly food articles, restaurant reviews, countless recipes and co-authored 10 books over a 20-year collaboration, will be honored by the East Hampton Historical Society at a new exhibition, “Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey: Cookbook Revolutionaries in East Hampton,” which will have an opening reception next Friday, May 30.

Although they came from vastly different backgrounds, Mr. Franey having grown up in Burgundy, France, and Mr. Claiborne in Sunflower, Mississippi, the friends found common ground in their love for cooking, fresh ingredients and the East End. Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Franey both lived in Springs, surrounded by famous friends and creative spirits.

Mr. Claiborne, raised on southern cuisine in the kitchen of his mother’s boarding house, used his G.I. Bill benefits from serving in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War to attend school in Switzerland. In 1957, he started a long-time career as food editor and restaurant critic for The New York Times. In addition to vastly broadening the scope of the paper’s dining coverage, his columns and cookbooks introduced ethnic cuisines, such as Asian, Cajun and Mexican food, to a generation of Americans known for their love of frozen TV dinners. His “New York Times Cookbook” became “one of the most bought and sought cookbooks of its generation,” according to society director Richard Barons.

“People are still using the recipes,” he added. “It’s not like some cookbooks that just sort of disappear. The “New York Times Cookbook” is still a viable force in the kitchen.”

Best known for his popular TV cooking shows like “Cuisine Rapide” and his “60 Minute Gourmet” column, also in The New York Times, Mr. Franey first came to the U.S. to cook in the French Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He stayed stateside, working for various companies, and was hired by the Times in 1975 to be a core figure in its brand new Living section (now the Dining section). His column was a huge success, ultimately appearing in over 360 newspapers worldwide. Mr. Franey authored or co-authored (most often with Mr. Claiborne) 15 cookbooks and a memoir during his lifetime and had several television shows, including “Cooking in France,” which won the James Beard Foundation Award for best cooking show in 1995, shortly before his death.

The pair, who became fast friends, met in the 1950s when Mr. Franey was working at Le Pavillon, “one of the great restaurants in the history of New York” according to Mr. Barons.

“They began to talk and it just sort of developed into this wonderful relationship where they would share ideas, share restaurants, share recipes,” Mr. Barons said.

Together, Mr. Franey and Mr. Claiborne championed fresh ingredients, diverse dishes and, in essence, good, nutritious food.

“The 1940s and ’50s was not an era of particularly creative cooking,” said Mr. Barons. “It didn’t stress fresh things, it was an era that was still captivated by canned goods and, particularly by the 1950s, the whole wonder of frozen vegetables and frozen food… it really was a Wonder Bread world.”

“They were very free form in thinking in their food. They weren’t stodgy in any sense of the word; they kept very up to date, which is probably the reason they did so many cookbooks,” Mr. Barons said, adding that there are some 50 cookbooks between the two of them, including salt-free and low calorie recipe books and those that contain recipes that take less than an hour to prepare.

Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne cooking in Mr. Claiborne's kitchen in the Clearwater neighborhood of Springs in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne cooking in Mr. Claiborne’s kitchen in the Clearwater neighborhood of Springs in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

“We just assume that these things have always been done, but we begin to realize that so much of it was codified during that period,” he added.

They brainstormed recipes at Mr. Claiborne’s house—a gigantic kitchen with bathroom and bedroom attached as an afterthought—and hosted meals in Mr. Franey’s backyard overlooking Gardiner’s Bay.

One of the most famous gatherings prepared by the pair was a picnic on Gardiner’s Island hosted by Mr. Claiborne on August 1, 1965. Often called “the grandest picnic of all time,” the event was held for Robert David Lyon Gardiner and attended by a smattering of celebrity chefs and famous friends.

“These were extraordinary events,” Mr. Barons said, adding that Jean Vergnes, Lauren Bacall and Danny Kaye were some of the guests.

Photos from the picnic, weddings and other events, as well as cookbooks, newsletters, the French copper weathervane that hung in Mr. Franey’s kitchen, the French china Mr. Claiborne served meals on and an early American wooden bowl that Mr. Claiborne gave his friend as a housewarming gift when he moved to East Hampton will be on display at the exhibition, as well as many other artifacts.

“Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey: Cookbook Revolutionaries in East Hampton” will be on exhibit from May 31 through July 13 at Clinton Academy, 151 Main Street in East Hampton. An opening reception will be held Friday, May 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit easthamptonhistory.org or call 324-6850.

Third New York Regiment Brings the American Revolution Back to Shelter Island

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The Third New York Regiment camped at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island last Saturday, May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The Third New York Regiment camped at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island last Saturday, May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

At two in the morning last Saturday, some people were probably still reveling across the East End, but most of them were not listening to fife and drum music.

But that was the case for members of the Third New York Regiment, a group of Long Island Revolutionary War reenactors who made camp on Friday night at  Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, and awoke on Saturday morning to host visitors from the 21st century Saturday.

The Third New York recreates the life of the regiment as it existed in November 1775 during the campaign to seize take Canada from British control in the early years of the American Revolution. Its members—men, women and children—recreate the daily routine of Revolutionary War soldiers, their wives, families and camp followers.

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A reenactor dressed in the garb of a lady shows off her dress to nearby soldiers. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

“We all camped here last night, so I got to stay in the tent here with my daughter,” said Sarah Shepherd, a Shelter Island resident who participates in the group with her daughter, Mary. “It was a lot of fun. We slept on a bale of hay, played the fife and drums till two in the morning and got up and just enjoyed beautiful weather,” she said.

All clothing and equipment worn and used by the regiment are reproductions, not costumes. That means all the materials used are the same that were used during the early years of the revolution.

Ms. Shepherd was dressed in an authentic 18th century dress designed by her friend Collette Gilbert using a signature print from the Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization of female descendants of families that lived in the United States at the time of the revolution, of which she is a member.

All men aged 16 to 60 were required to join their local militia, drilling once or twice a month on “militia days.” Several militiamen were on hand at the camp, chatting by a pig roasting on a spit and showing their guns to children.

Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Commander of the Regiment Andrew McClain described the dress of the militiamen, who represented the soldiers fighting the British and their allied Native American tribes on the Hudson Valley frontier.

“General Washington really liked [this uniform] because the garment gave the impression all Americans were sharpshooters,” Commander McClain said of the green jackets worn by the militia.

The Iroquois Native American tribe in upstate New York was allied to the British during the war, inevitably mixing traditional European garb with their own clothing. British and American men on the frontier would wear Native American leggings, moccasins and even carry scalping knives and tomahawks, said the commander.

“Europeans would scalp Indians too,” he said, adding it was “not a very pretty part of history.”

Jonathan, a drummer boy who recently joined the regiment, was wearing a red coat, but is “American as apple pie,” his commander said. Musicians were dressed differently than other soldiers because when needed, they had to be found quickly.

Despite being ripe for the picking in the midst of the fighting, Jonathan would not have been considered a target.

Sarah Shepherd with an 18th century skep, or beehive. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Sarah Shepherd with an 18th century skep, or beehive. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

“You’ve got to put your mind in the 18th century mind,” Commander McClain said, adding army musicians weren’t killed because it was not considered honorable.

Although being in war without a weapon doesn’t sound like an esteemed position, drummers and fifers were valued for their unique skills. It was easy to teach a layman to shoot, not so much to teach him to play “Yankee Doodle” on the fife while musket balls grazed his ears.

“A fifer or drummer got paid more than the private soldier—they got paid like a corporal,” said Commander McClain, adding there are reports of British drummers and fifers in their 30’s who had been playing for the army since they were 13.

Sunning and fanning themselves on bales of hay near the musicians were Beverlea Walz, Sarah Shepherd, her daughter Mary and Mary’s friend Sarah Mutter, dressed as ladies in thick frocks decorated with flowers in pink and yellow hues.

Ms. Shepherd’s family has lived on Shelter Island for 200 years. She was born, with help from a midwife and doula, on the island and gave birth to Mary on the island as well.

Surrounded by mortars and pestles, plants such as cinnamon, lavender and sage, and 18th century beekeeping skeps, Ms. Shepherd, holding her Bergere hat as the wind threatened to untie the ribbon round her neck, said of her family, “We’re very rooted here.”

Third New York Regiment Commander Andrew McClain with his fife player and drummer. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Third New York Regiment Commander Andrew McClain with his fife player and drummer. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

 

The camp of the Third New York Regiment at Sylvester Manor May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The camp of the Third New York Regiment at Sylvester Manor May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

 

Young reenactors Mary Shepherd and Sarah Mutter play in their war camp at Sylvester Manor. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Young reenactors Mary Shepherd and Sarah Mutter play in their war camp at Sylvester Manor. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

 

Quilts Reflect Warmth in Many Ways

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Joanne Carter and Georgette Grier-Key, the director of the Eastville Community Historical Society, with one of the society's quilts.

Joanne Carter and Georgette Grier-Key, the director of the Eastville Community Historical Society, with one of the society’s quilts. Photo by Steve Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The bare walls of the Eastville Community Historical Society’s Heritage House were being covered in splashes of bright colors and cozy comfort on Friday afternoon as a small group gathered to select and hang the 15 quilts chosen for the society’s annual exhibit, “Warmth,” which opens this Saturday.

The opening reception will be from 2 to 5 p.m. and the show will be on display through July.

As was the case in 2009, when the society also sponsored an exhibit on quilts, this year’s show is being curated by Dr. Patricia Turner, a Sag Harbor native, who is the dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at UCLA, an expert on African-American folklore, and the author, with Kyra E. Hicks, of “Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters.”

“Everyday life has always interested me,” said Dr. Turner. “Folklore is the perfect field for someone who wants to document things from ordinary life that can be extraordinary.”

“The diversity of African-American people can be shown in the type of quilts they make,” she continued, noting that the show hopes to showcase works by everyone from “the poor little woman from the south” to highly regarded textile artists.

Dr. Turner said her interest in the art was kindled when she interned at the Smithsonian Institution when she was a graduate student. “There was a group of quilters who were making a quilt there and I realized how much they were willing to talk about their families as they did their work,” she said. “It revealed bigger stories.”

On Friday, Dr. Turner was facing something of a dilemma as she sorted through an assortment of extraordinary quilts, some from her own collection, others that she had borrowed from their makers, as she tried to make the final selections for the show.

“One of the challenges of the Eastville house is it is small, and the quilts are big,” she said. She, Georgette Grier-Keye, the society’s executive director, and Michael Butler, a member of its board of directors, had spent much of the morning trying to figure out where to put which quilt in the small house-turned gallery.

The quilts chosen all reflect the theme of the exhibit, but in different ways. Some are “more functional,” said Dr. Turner. “Those were created solely for warmth. They were made for drafty houses.”

Others are representational and express the feelings of warmth and affection family members have for one another.

“About five of these quilts were made by members of the same family,” said Dr. Turner. “They were made in response to a quilting exhibit challenge to make quilts that were inspired by your personal legacy.”

An example among them is one made by members of the Presley family of Oakland, California, to honor their grandmother and great grandmother, “Grandma’s Apron.” Various squares on the quilt depict attributes of their grandmother that family members remembered fondly, from her sewing clothing for the girls in the family, to her love of gardening, her skill as a cook, to her monthly gambling junkets via bus to Reno. Each of the squares includes a small cutout apron.

Another quilt, “Jimmie,” with squares showing various tropical fish and images of a charter boat captain and his customers, honors another family member who once ran a sportfishing boat out of Berkley, California.

Yet another batch of quilts were made by Riché Richardson, an associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University and are decorative in nature. A native of Alabama, Dr. Richardson uses folk art techniques to depict the heroes she feels warmly about, according to Dr. Turner. For this exhibit, she has submitted quilts of President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Condoleeza Rice, Frederick Douglass, and Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet. Yet another, “Ties that Bind,” is a reproduction of a photo collage of portraits once commonplace in African-American homes, of President John F. Kennedy, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, in front of an American flag.

“Waiting for the Freedom Train,” by Marion Coleman, shows an African-American family in a log cabin. It was created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and Ms. Grier-Keye said she thought it might be the star of the show because of the expertise Ms. Coleman showed in using layers of material to give the piece a sense of depth.

The exhibit is being sponsored by the Huntington Arts Council, which gave the historical society a $4,000 grant for the show. As part of the exhibit, the society plans to work with the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center during its summer camp. Children will create their own square for a group quilt that will then be put on display, Ms. Grier-Keyes said.

Dr. Turner, who grew up in Sag Harbor Hills and attended Pierson High School before, embarking on her career as a college professor and administrator, still owns a home in Bridgehampton and will return for a lecture and book signing in July.

She added that quilting is gaining new popularity as a “reclaimed enterprise” in the lives of many Americans. Asked if she quilts herself, she replied with a smile, “very poorly.”

“Warmth,” an exhibit of quilts, will open this Saturday, with a reception from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Eastville Community Historical Society’s Heritage House on Route 114 at Liberty Street. Hours are Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday by appointment. Regular Saturday hours will be offered during the summer months. Admission is $3. For more information, call 725-4711.

Griswold Explores Good, Evil & Slavery on Long Island

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Mac Griswold

By Tessa Raebeck

Reminding readers of the existence of Northern slavery and exploring the close connection between good and evil, Mac Griswold will read from her cultural history, “The Manor, Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island,” at Rogers Memorial Library Monday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Ms. Griswold’s book reflects on the 350-year history of Sylvester Manor, built in 1651 by the Sylvesters, one of the wealthiest families of the 17th century. The book tells the history of the slaves, Native Americans and Quaker landowners who worked and lived together on the Shelter Island plantation, using the backdrop of the estate to examine racial and religious relations across three centuries.

Ms. Griswold will present a lecture and sign copies of her book at the event, which will be held at the Rogers Memorial Library, 91 Coopers Farm Road in Southampton. To register, visit myrml.org or call 283-0774 ext. 523.

East Hampton Historical Society Hosts Reading of 19th Century Resident’s Diary

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Clinton Academy in East Hampton. Courtesy of Clinton Academy.

Clinton Academy in East Hampton. Photo courtesy of Clinton Academy.

By Tessa Raebeck 

At Clinton Academy Museum Friday, the East Hampton Historical Society presents “An Eagle Eye on East Hampton’s Main Street: Cornelia Huffington’s Vivid Diary, 1820 – 1860.” Portraying Cornelia Huffington, East Hampton’s Barbara Borsack will read from the diary, with an introduction by local historian Hugh King.

Refreshments and cookies will be served for an hour prior to the program, which starts at 7 p.m. The free reading is Friday, March 31 at Clinton Academy Museum, 151 Main Street in East Hampton. Call 324-6850 or visit easthamptonhistory.org for more information.