Saturday, September 14, 2013

1,000 year old Syrian vessels

Hello all! This is Lucy. I haven't posted in a while, but I actually got to see something amazing today, so I though I would write about it. I met with a man whose grandfather was a British missionary in Syria and brought back some interesting pieces. The pieces are of museum quality, and were in fact showcased in a Princeton museum for several years. The pieces are over 1,000 years old.

Here are the pictures:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NC Trip

Biltmore Mansion

Biltmore Garden

Hey, this is Gabriel. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina while on vacation. The estate and the surrounding property belonged to George Vanderbilt. He was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous railroad magnate. The Biltmore property was constructed in 1895 and encompasses over 8,000 acres of land. The mansion consisted of 250 rooms. The house had a bathroom with a toilet being one of first homes to have one. Some of the other rooms were a library, guest room, and a dining hall. In addition, there was a swimming pool inside the house and a bowling alley, which were added later in the 1920's. There was also a large garden that is part of the estate. The garden and surrounding property was so massive, I was not able to see all of it. Though, from what I could tell it was very elegant and well organized. Interestingly enough, the grounds were landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, who helped with the design of Central Park.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pressed Plants

Hey everyone, this is Madeline. Today I was at the homestead taking pictures for another blog I was planning to write when we stumbled across a "Herbarium and Plant Descriptions" book in one of the book cases. That was rather serendipitous seeing as I wanted to do a little research on the herbs in our herb garden out by the summer kitchen. I was totally expecting to find a plant encyclopedia between the covers, but instead I found brief directions on how to collect, dry, press, and identify plants followed by a thick stack of completed forms for recording plant observations. I couldn't read the writing on most of the forms - they were filled out in a light, scribbled cursive - but I found something completely unexpected while looking for something I could read... a perfectly preserved pressed plant! The colors on the flowers were even still visible, and the roots were still there, too. As I kept flipping through, I found more plants, all equally as well preserved. It wasn't what I was looking for, but I must say, decades-old, well-preserved biological material was certainly an exciting surprise! The geneticist in me sincerely wishes I could take a little bit of a leaf or something and look at the genes. Look for what, I don't know, but the thought that something so fragile as living tissue (and thus DNA!) has been well preserved between common sheets of paper for probably almost a century now is incredibly thrilling.

The cover of the book we found today.

Directions on how to press and identify plants.

Surprise! The flowers are beautifully preserved! I can't figure out how to get the picture rotated online (it's properly oriented on my computer) but at least you can get the idea.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Second House Museum

Erika here! I recently was on vacation in Montauk New York and took a trip to their local historic site the Second House Museum (more info here
What I thought was interesting was the similarities between Second House and the Wright Reis Homestead. Both are relatively small structures, and both house artifacts from a large span of time in history. While Second House organized it's rooms by time period, choosing to display artifacts from similar time periods together, the Wright-Reis Homestead is organized more as if we stopped by to visit Caroline, this is what her house would probably look like. A mix of different times and objects from many different people and places. I just thought it was really cool that both houses have the same goal to show the properties history, but do it in equally successful and incredibly different ways.
Some cool Second House pictures:

An ice-cream maker
 Their stove, looks a lot like our summer kitchen! Many of the same artifacts and some cool new ones, old-fashioned toaster!
 Some gorgeous china, specially ordered by one of the houses owners for entertaining.

Monday, July 29, 2013

GHHN Behind the Scenes Networking Event

Burial Site of the Fishkill Supply Depot

Monument created by the Daughters of the American Revolution in late 19th century marking the Fishkill Supply Depot grave site. It was later moved to the Van Wyck Homestead. 
 The Greater Hudson Heritage Networking event at the Van Wyck Homestead was informative and I learned a great deal about the Fishkill Supply Depot. The depot was a key location during the Revolutionary War where key supplies for the war effort were dropped off and stored for the Continental Army. The Homestead itself served as the officers headquarters for the Continental Army with General Israel Putnam being the first general to use it. In addition, many notable figures of the war visited this location at least once including George Washingtion and Marquis de Layfayette. I also learned about how the supply depot served as a hospital where the sick and wounded were treated. In addition, it was burial ground for soldiers that died from their injuries or disease. Interestingly enough, grave site was considered just a local legend until in 2007, an archaeological dig was conducted in the surrounding area of the supply depot and about 300 unmarked graves of Continental soldiers were discovered. However, the land that the grave site was on was at risk of being developed to build houses. In response, the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot group was founded with the mission to preserve the burial site. At the event, I learned more about the work the group was trying to accomplish including the goal of getting the U.S Congress to amend the Battlefield Protection Act to include the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the members of the Fishkill Historical Society and the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot. I also had the chance to see the area where the graveyard is located. In addition, I got to see the various rooms in the homestead as well as the artifacts that were found around the homestead that were put on display. 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

project update

For the Sound and Story project that I am working on I have listened to a few interesting audio files of a Mr. McElroy sharing some intriguing experiences that he's had. He witnessed the assassination of President Mckinely in 1901 and describes the strong impact it had on him. He also talked about going to the Danbury Fair with William Bailey in 1908 and how they encountered a snake on the road on their way back. Mr. McElroy then mentions how Mr. Bailey ended up killing the snake with a whip and later put it on his hat for good luck.

I also reviewed some of the ideas for the stories that are going to be submitted for the project. Some of the stories include a few of Mr. McElroy's experiences as well as the story called "No N's Allowed", which is about Mr. Johnson one of the first African-Americans to own a Harley Davidson dealership in Somers. In addition, I started looking for some photos to go along with them. I also had the opportunity to look at the list of items including photos and other objects that are part of the Somers Historical Society collection and found some interesting items like the Elephant hotel guestbook from the early 20th century and posters from World War II.

July 2013:  I was recently at the local library and decided to do a little more research on Carry's clothing; however there was only one book available on historic clothing styles and it detailed 18th Century clothing. While I really needed a 19th century clothing book, I looked through the 18th century clothing book and found a reference to dressmakers.  It stated that "Dressmakers in Europe often sent dolls in the latest clothing styles to the colonies. These dolls were called moppets".  It showed the dolls being stored in similar boxes found at the Homestead, like the one in the upstairs parlor with the clothes pin dolls.  From looking at the photos in the 18th century book,  it seemed like the small porcelain dolls that are packed away at the Homestead might be the same kind of dolls that are in this book. While it's a different time period, it seemed like there were dolls, clothing, and storage packages similar to those used in the 19th century as well.  It was an interesting  find!  (Book Reference:  Historic Communities:  18th Century Clothing by Bobbie Kalman - I'm looking to see if this author and/or others have books available for 19th century clothing too).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another Introduction

Hi, my name is Jasmine Alfonso. This is my second summer with the Somers Historical Society and I am a Junior at the University at Albany studying History and Psychology. Since being with SHS I have been working on a Civil War project, last summer researched and compiled a list of over 200 people from Somers and the surrounding towns who enlisted and fought in the Civil War. Currently I am working on compiling more information about each individual and ultimately we want to try and trace each Somers soldier to their living relatives and put markers on their grave to acknowledge the services they provided. This year I have also begun helping out at the museum as a docent, I am still learning but it's been really interesting learning more about the museum. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hello, this is Lucy. I haven't written in a while but I'm writing now. I recently made a website for the new History Club we are going to have at the high school. Here is the link:

Please check out the photos on the site. They are from when we were at the third floor museum last Thursday.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cradle sketch and actual cradle Athena refers to in her posting.  
Calendar from Somers Protective Association, 1921, Lucy referred to in her post about Caroline Wright Reis and the Somers Protective Association.

Hi all,

Though I am not officially a "SHS intern blogger," I wanted to share some pictures I have taken and blog to say how thrilled I, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Timone and Mr. and Mrs. Wittmann,  are to have you join the Society as student interns this summer.!! We hope you enjoy the experiences uncovering parts of Somers history, as much as we do your discoveries, and that you never loose your inquisitive natures or your senses of humor!!     (And if you go off to college, you will come back again or stay with us indefinitely, if you are local)    Here are a couple pictures from our Summer  kick-off party. ( Sorry I didn't get everyone's picture!)    

  Super Moon that night!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hi, my name is Athena and this is my first year as an intern with the Somers Historical Society and it has been a great experience.  During one visit to the Elephant Hotel where the museum is located, Mrs. Zimmerman, Mrs.Timone and I looked through oodles of Carry`s sketches, pastels and water colors and found one in particular of a woman leaning over a cradle which looks exactly like the one in the upstairs parlor! Truth be told, we think it is the same cradle and are very exited to share the excitement with others and the public.

The 4th of July celebration was also a wonderful experience.  Giving tours of the Homestead was a learning experience and it was exciting to share this experience with so many Somers residents and watching the fireworks from the lawn was fun too!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another Introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Madeline Zimmermann and I’m one of the returning interns. I am a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Animal and Poultry Sciences. I hope work in animal genetics and breeding. Having said that, you’re probably wondering why I’m interning with the Historical Society. Quite simply, I’m here for the history that's too often forgotten. The fact of the matter is there’s not much agriculture around here, which is fine except it means that not many people understand or appreciate the barns and what’s in and around them. I find that really sad. Once upon a time we relied on agriculture to keep us alive. We still do even though people often forget when it’s no longer prevalent in the immediate area. Last year I found some really beautiful pieces of equipment lying neglected in the barns and cleaned some of it up, but I’ll get to that later. For now, I’m just checking in to say hello!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Hello my name is Gabriel Osorio. I am returning intern and a recent college graduate from the University of New Haven with a bachelor's degree in History. Previously I worked on a project involving a collection of antique military items that belonged to the Bailey family. It involved identifying the items as well as figuring out the connection these items had to the family through research. I also had the opportunity to visit West Point last summer to receive assistance from military historians to identify the items in the Bailey collection.
This year I hope to get involved with the Sound and Story Project, a program of the Sound Foundation that is currently being sponsored by the Somers Historical Society and other organizations. It involves digitizing the audio recordings of interviews with locals in the Hudson Valley and making them more accessible to broader audience whether it’s through podcasts or even cell phone tours. Interestingly enough, I had the chance to listen to one audio recording of a man who knew William Bailey, which happened to be a person I came across through my research from my previous project.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Doll Wrapping Preparations

Hi, this is Lucy again. I just wanted to share some of the work we did in preparation for the Fourth of July house showing. Erika and Athena both showed me how to wrap fragile dolls.

And here is some antique doll clothing:

Hey this is Erika Panzarino! I've been volunteering at the Homestead for five years. Most of my blog posts will be about the things we're working on there. Leading me to my first entry:

Independence Day!!

During the Independence Day celebration we had the house open for tours, and each of us became experts on a specific room to discuss. We met with many community leaders and long-time Somers residents, some of whom remembered the house from field trips when they were younger, and others visiting for the first time! After a long week of preparation it was so wonderful to show everyone the exciting things we've been working on. 

Thank you to all who came to visit the Homestead and a special thanks to those who generously donated to the Adopt An Artifact program!

For those of you who couldn't visit us yesterday, here is some more information:

Our Student Historians have identified to be in need of preservaton or restoration. We invite you to read the stories behind these discoveries and find an item that inspires you. By “adopting” them, you will help us to preserve and share these incredible pieces of history. Once restoration is completed, each item will be displayed with the names of its benefactors. Many of these artifacts are from Caroline’s family and friends, and we encourage you to honor your loved ones in this unique way. Any contribution is greatly appreciated.

The items we are currently hoping to restore are:
Portrait of Samuel Wright

Kitchen Lights

The Grey Seymour dress
The Saddle
The Caroline Wright-Reis blackboard
the Workbench table
and the William H.Wright reunion picture (Photos to come!)

This is Lucy. I found a truly amazing site created by the NY State government that hods digital archives. Here is the link:
NYC Records

Here is a fun world War Two Poster for you:
Air Raid Instructions 
Hello, this is Lucy. I wanted to mention the window that was cracked as an act of vandalism. I hope we can raise funds to fix that soon, especially because she was the secretary in a Somers Association that was dedicated to stopping acts of vandalism in 1919. Here is the article, all typed up. It is easier to read than the original. You will notice William Bailey was in this association too.
Lincolndale, Thursday.—The annual meeting of the, Somers Protective Association will be held at the town hall Lincolndale, on Saturday." next, July 19th, at 8 o'clock. The presence of all interested in the upholding of the law in the town of Somers is expected. The object of the association, recently organized, is to put a stop to many acts of firebugs and thieves who have endangered and damaged much property in the town in the past, apparently with little effort being made to stop the practice. The new association is offering rewards and taking other means of putting a stop to lawlessness. The temporary officers are: President, Dr. Antonie P. Voislawsky; Vice-Presidents, Dr. W. P. Healy, Albert L. Voris, Charles T. Tompkins, George Turner, F. T.
Hopkins, Jr., James B. Crane, William Bailey; Treasurer: Caroline Wright Reis; Secretary, Edwin Tatham.
The link is below:
Somers Protective Association 

NOTICE: She was the only woman participating since it was 1919. She was truly ahead of her time.
This is Lucy with another interesting article. It is called "Slide Lecture Set in Somers." This one is from 1985 and is about the Somers Historical Society. I copied the text down here:
On Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m.,
the Somers Historical Society will present Matthew J. Mosca, architectural preservationist and paint historian, in a lecture and slide exhibit at the Elephant Hotel, Somers. "Color and Form" is an examination of the use of color in 200 years of America's history. Included in the slides will be interior scenes of George Washington's Mount Vernon, the George Read II House in New Castle, Delaware, and Hope Lodge, near Philadelphia. Mr. Mosca will also show slides of the Wright-Reis Homestead as he discusses this Somers legacy. The society was delightfully surprised at Mr. Mosca's analysis of Carrie Wright's homestead. The wood graining paint Mr. Mosca considers a rare find. The Wright farm was left to Somers citizenry by the late Caroline Wright Reis, who died in 1967. Supervisor Wayne Van Tassel and the other members of the Wright-Reis Administration Board are considering some necessary repairs on the 18th century home and have expressed the desire to maintain the historic integrity of the homestead. Reis Park and the Library location are all part of the Caroline Wright Reis legacy. The Somers Historical Society is most fortunate in securing Mr. Mosca's services. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Mosue of
Elmer Galloway Rd., Somers. The public is cordially invited. Refreshments will be served.
I cleaned the text up a bit because it is difficult to read in the original. Here is the link if anyone wants to see the actual newspaper page:
 Slide Lecture Set in Somers

IMPORTANT: I wonder which wood graining paint Mr. mosca was talking about and why it is such an important find in the Reis house. Does anyone know if we can find Mr. Mosca's notes from his analysis on the Homestead. I am wondering if he found anything that we missed. Also, his findings might become important if we try to make the house a landmark.
Hello, This is Lucy. I found an article recently about the person who lived in the Reis house after Caroline's death. I thought I might share. Here's a quote:

Rob Lux, a construction worker and volunteer firefighter in Somers, lucked out last year when a friend mentioned that the local historical society was looking for someone to live in the Wright-Reis Homestead, a charming farmhouse built in 1867.
Now the homestead is the place he calls home. It has character, historical significance and breathtakingly low rent. Of course, every living arrangement has its drawbacks: In Mr. Lux's case, he has to share his bathroom with visitors, 500 of whom toured the home last year.
Here is the link:
Interesting Article Here 

Unidentified Object

Hello again. This is Lucy posting about an unidentified object we found in the upstairs parlor. It was sitting on the small shelf in the corner as a weight. I think either Erika or Athena suggested it was for dates, but the numbers don't quite work with this hypothesis. For example, this machine would then be able to go up to over 12 months. Take a look and get back to me if you have any ideas.

This is Lucy! We found an old Astronomy chart used for reading stars. I am not sure who it belongs to yet, but it is still very usable. From now on all of my posts will be in yellow, so you can find them easily. The chart really is quite beautiful.

Lucy's first post

This is Lucy Kirichenko , posting on the blog for the first time!
I wanted to share a link to Somers history! I found this by accident on a website that lets the user look through old Westchester newspapers. There I found an article about a lawsuit Caroline Wright Reis was in. Click on the link below and look at the column to the far right!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Welcome! This is the official blog of the 2013 Somers Historical Society interns! We are a diverse group of individuals, ranging from 6th grade to recent college graduate, and have an equally diverse range of projects we hope to accomplish this summer. Follow our progress as we make new discoveries, learn more about our local history, and attend different networking and education events to learn more of what we can do to help the Society take care of the incredible collections and properties that exist so close to home.