Thursday, April 12, 2012

Listen to a New Hamburg story: Mary Hornbeck's recollections of New Hamburg

"I was born in 1944, the daughter of Florence Scardefield and Stanley Chapman.

I began my life in the Scardefield house at 36 Point Street while my Dad served in World War II. He fought in Europe, France, Germany and Austria under General Patton's army. He did not see me until I was 15 months old and always told everyone that when he got off the ship in France, the Red Cross informed him of my birth. He served 5 years, 8 months and 19 days. He also carried a dog, Sandy, with him throughout the time served in his duffel bag. Don't know how he got away with it and no one in his battalion ever told on him. Sandy was their mascot. Sad, though, after returning to Ft. Dix, NJ, Sandy disappeared and was never found.

While my uncle Henry Scardefield and my father served in WWII, their wives lived with my grandparents, Henry and Lena Halenar Scardefield at the Point Street house. I do not recall any of that time. Their son, John, served in the Navy at that time. Henry and Lena Halenar began their journey to New Hamburg during the early 1900s. I'm glad Lena (Magdalena) took that ship over the ocean to begin a new life in America in 1911. She and Henry met in New York City. Both worked as domestics, married and moved to New Hamburg, first renting the basement in the Nevins/Haynes house, then bought 36 Point Street. Steven, Stacy and Gale Scardefield now own this home, which is rented.

During 1947, "Bucky" and Florence bought their home on Division Street for $4,000. My earliest recall is around five years of age, playing with my only friend on the street, Lester Sinsabaugh. My brother John was born in 1947. My parents bought their home from Minnie Lawson, sister to Jenny Lawson, who rented the house across the street (Marylou's).

There were a lot of kids in our neighborhood and we spent many hours playing on Point Street; games such as hop scotch, jump rope, pogo stick, gutter ball, ring-o-levy-o and soft ball. The neighborhood parenting rule was, "when the street lights go on, everyone goes home." I was Queen of the Pogo Stick. Loved it.

Years passed, graduation, jobs, marriage to Roy Hornbeck and purchase of our home on the corner of Main and Point Street. We bought this house from Julie and Samuel Shay, brother and sister. Our three children, Edward, Roy Jr., and Meredith, grew up in and loved New Hamburg. There were 36 children on Point Street at one time with the Hughes' having 12 and the Bradleys, 9. Many friendships were made and are still strong today.

My family is four generations New Hamburg. I am the last to remain after everyone moved on or passed away. I came home after living in Florida with Roy for 17 years and plan on remaining. My family had strong ties with the Ruf family for the four generations. It continues today. I also have ties with many residents from my life here. New Hamburg has always been one big family- a community of small families all concerned about each other. Some families' offspring married others within New Hamburg. Someone on one side of town married another person on the other side of town, or down the street. For instance:

1. Lester Sinsabaugh to Nancy Manfredo
2. Jack Perusse to Patty Becker
3. Karen Hess to Charlie Sinsabaugh
4. Pat Gallagher to Michelle Galli
5. Teresa Perusse to Donald Ruf (same side of town)
6. Teresa Ruf to Donald Croke
7. Donald Croke to Helen Scholl (same side of town, down the street; before he married Teresa)
8. Ed Ludwig to Rhondi Perusse
9. Carl Tasnady to Mary Jo O'Connor

I remember the old fire house days when they would have summer bazaars and parades. Point Street was closed off and there were spinning wheel games. I would sit on my grandmother's porch and watch with the wheels ticking in the brightly lit area. We also had a nice beach area at the yacht club that no longer exists. Every day, the moms would all come down the street after lunch with kids in tow to go swimming and hang out. Ivory soap was a big hit because it floated in the water.

There was a dock that went out to one wooden raft that we would swim to and jump off. Not many boaters back in those days. The yacht club was never locked and the membership almost vanished.

I remember the milk man delivering milk in glass bottles, with cream on top, a man, 'Charlie's Meat Wagon,' selling meat and chicken from a freezer truck, the Fuller Brush salesman, and in the summer, Mr. Wickes would drive from house to house with his wagon selling the best New Hamburg grown corn on the cob.

Generations come and go. Neighbors come and go. Activities in our neighborhood were good. Men played horseshoes while women took care of the kids and gossiped. A ball-n-chain bowling group developed through relationships at the firehouse, and friends were made from the 'D' dock crowd at White's Marina, many from New Hamburg and surrounding townships. New Hamburg is the perfect place to live. It has everything for peace of mind, safety and community spirit. Old and new residents blend very well. Between St. Nicholas Church,the Yacht Club, firehouse, and White's Marina, everyone has a choice of community, kindness and neighborly friendship. Now we have the newly formed historical group.

These are my recollections of New Hamburg. You have to live here to love it, and this can't be explained to those who don't."

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Hamburg's Twentieth Century Club

The women of New Hamburg were not sitting idly by.  They had verve and a thirst to learn.  The discovery of a cache of miniature yearbooks tells us about the lives of past women of the 'burg.

From 1910 to 1969, a group of about 20 women who called themselves "The Twentieth Century Club of New Hamburg" met once a month.  The meeting would go like this: roll call with an inspirational quote, business, a lecture, and a "sketch"- a unique anecdote or story.

Each year's course of study had a theme ranging from Japan, South America, Prominent Americans, Notable Women, Women with Vision, Books Worth Reading, Contemporary Europe, to Scandinavia and beyond.

The monthly topics really varied, from "Cellophane in America", "the Story of Rice", to "Bird Sanctuaries." Sometimes the speakers were university professors or other experts, but most of the time, it was the women of New Hamburg illustrating topics to each other to expand their knowledge beyond the banks of the Hudson to the world at large.

In 1937, the subject for study was "The Romance of Rivers", and a talk on each river was curiously paired with discussion of an American religion, so one could learn about the St. Lawrence River and Spiritualism all in one evening:

What was topical in 1917-1918 -"Conservation in New York State, especially as concerned with natural resources and food"- is timely again. The ladies hashed out ideas about water and waterways, good roads, minerals and forestry.  Doesn't this sound like it could be a workshop at the Common Ground Farm- "Education and Legislation in Regard to Food Supply"?  Old ideas become new again...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New book shares historic postcard images of New Hamburg - upcoming book signing


Local historian, David Turner, has published a book which features images of historic New Hamburg. Visit Arcadia Publishing's site to find out more:

Upcoming book signing with the author at the Mesier house
Saturday, November 5th, 2-7pm

For more info on the event:
Wappingers Historical Society calendar:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Hamburg oral history update!

Check out this mention of the New Hamburg History Group's first gathered oral history in the Poughkeepsie Journal!:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Then & Now: Shay's Warehouse and Stables

The demise of Shay's Warehouse and Stables, also known as the Rag Factory, is the loss of an important piece of New Hamburg's history. 

This was the only intact building left on the New Hamburg waterfront relating to the hamlet's function as a river port.  It connected the hamlet to the industrial complex in Wappingers Falls which housed some of New York state's earliest cotton-textile mills.   

These brick buildings were built around 1865 by rag dealer William Shay. His business involved buying scrap pieces of cotton from the textile mills and selling them to to paper manufacturers.  Wappingers Creek was the waterway ferrying this material from the mills to New Hamburg, where the bales of rags would then be shipped on to New York City.  Part of what made New Hamburg such a dynamic village was this- it's location.  It connected this stream to the Hudson and the world beyond. 

The stable section of the building once had wagon and animal doors, horse stalls, and a tack room.

Shay's Warehouse visually reminds us of how New Hamburg played a part in the industrial history of the Hudson valley.  One historian has noted, "New Hamburg was never a fancy town," but buildings like these solidly represent the architecture of a working Hudson River port town in the nineteeth century. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Hamburg's stained glass treasures

The stained glass windows of St. Nicholas in New Hamburg were created by the artist David Maitland Armstrong, one of the best known artists of his time, especially for his pioneering work in stained glass.

Born in Newburg in 1836, he attended Trinity College in Hartford and studied law in New York. But- he found that what he really wanted to do was create art. Because he came from a family of means, he was able to tour Rome and Paris to study under the best teachers from Italy and New York. For four years, he was the United States consul-general for Italy, resident of Rome. While in Rome, he became friendly with the American artists living there, including sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens. He began painting at this time, and when he returned to New York around 1875, took studio space in the same building as Saint Gaudens to begin his artistic career in earnest. He befriended the artist John La Farge and the architect Stanford White.

This moment in art in the mid-1880s was transformational. Artists reacted to the industrial revolutions’ mass production, and they wanted to return to hand work and traditional crafts and decorative arts.

Armstrong worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany, who had started experimenting with new forms of glassmaking in the 1870s. By the 1880s the Tiffany Glass Company was the largest producer of stained glass windows in the nation. Specifically, what Tiffany became known for was his variety of shapes, colors, and textures and adding rainbow iridescence. Americans revolutionized the technical process of stained glass window production. These were the first new techniques in stained glass being developed since the Middle Ages; these artists were adding new expressive potential to an ancient art form.

Armstrong’s friend, artist
John La Farge (1835–1910) invented opalescent glass and actually patented the process. Tiffany (1848–1933) also patented variations of the same opalescent process and invented the copper foil method as an alternative to lead, and used it extensively in windows, lamps and other decorations.

The windows at St. Nicks are wonderful examples of this 19th century stained glass revival. Commissioned by William Henry Reese from Maitland Armstrong and Co., the windows cost $410 dollars in 1904 (equivalent to about $23,500 today).

The south altar wall window (above), featuring two doves hovering above a flowering wreath with a Byzantine cross, was given in honor of Laura Suydam Satterlee by Mrs. D.A. Clarkson and installed in 1904. It is one of many examples of Armstrong’s opalescent pieces that have interesting visual effects; their milky, muted colors almost look like watercolors. In this window, the richly colored glass resembles the sky at sunrise.

The church’s main round window, given in remembrance of Rev. John Livingston Reese by Willis Reese and Mrs. Guy Richards, is based on a Byzantine design with a Greek cross in the center. It is remarkable for the graduated range of colors in one piece; how the colors move from shade to light makes the window look as if it is glowing from within. This window is the work of Armstrong probably with the assistance of his daughter, Helen. These windows aren’t signed, so we don’t know for sure. Helen eventually became his principal assistant, carrying on his work in stained glass into the 1940s until her own retirement when she was in her seventies.

If you find yourself in New Hamburg, don't miss these artistic treasures!