Grand Stickwork

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Grand Central is an artistic project adjacent to the Royal Palm avenue. Look at the photograph of the signage for more information about this project

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Burgeoning Forest Accepted by IStock

Happy News

Getty IStock accepted twelve (12) of the “Burgeoning Forest” photographs featured in my blog. Click Me to visit the original post

Click Me to visit my photographs on Getty IStock.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Botanic Royality

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Royal Palm grove (Roystonea elata) in honor of Dianne and Jacob Brown and Mary and Stephen Keating. This grove of Roy Palms was planted in 2002 to commemorate one of the best loved features of the old McKee Jungle Garden. Royal Palms are native to Florida, Cuba and Honduras. They are among the tallest palms in the world.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Amargasaurus, a “small” sauropod.

References: text is from the park placard with minor edits.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Mystery hole in the ground

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

The holes are land crab burrow entrances. The burrows are often several feet deep. These crabs are often blue in color and they eat leaves, fruits and berries. They are very shy, but if you stand still they may make an appearance..

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Baellynasaura, “Big Eyes

References: text is from the park placard with minor edits.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Fishy Business

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Beginning in 2018, McKee Botanical Garden had an opportunity to work with the US Geological survey to inform our visitors about what a healthy native fish population is. Countless human hours went into a fish population program within McKee’s 800,000-gallon waterway system, including the pond you are now looking at. Our efforts were successful and the established populations of non-native, invasive cichlids were eradicated. While we did lose some fish during the project, McKee’s waterways are now thriving with diverse Florida native fish.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

References: text is from the park placard with minor edits.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Grand Views

Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve on an early May morning

Click me for the first post of this series, “Burgeoning Forest .”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Burgeoning Forest

Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve on an early May morning

There is a word to describe the first growth of spring, rare in a way as having grown within the English/French languages without roots from either Greek or Latin, wholly suitable to a forest people. The first growth of spring so impressive it has words of its own: burgeon.

Both as a noun, burgeon the bud itself, and a verb; to burgeon, as in to burst forth. Burgeoning: the process of the act itself.

Click me for another post from this forest preserve.

References
burgeon/burgeoning definitions from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1971

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

They came for the beaver, he stayed for the corn

Pam’s Ancestors Jan and Maria Van Loon

June 2018 I shed a 53 year old habit of working for a living for new habits in retirement. Instead of waking at 5 am to work for someone else, my routine became to wake at 5 am for personal projects. From June into September 2018 my morning time was spent researching and documenting family history, also known as genealogy: my own and Pam’s.

It was fitting Pam and I spent the last days of that year (June 2018 through May 2019) harvesting our newly acquired knowledge on the ground, a 3 hour drive from our home, to the site of Pam’s earliest ancestor in the New World, at that time Colonial America. Our visit will be book-ended by another this September to Burlington, New Jersey, on the eastern short of the Delaware river, founded by my earliest ancestor, also in Colonial America and 4 hours from our present day home.

A river setting is a link between our ancestors and the two rivers associated in a number of ways. In driving to Athens, New York, a village on the west bank of the Hudson River 31 miles from the state capital, Albany. Our route from Ithaca to Athens included route 23 that passes through the Catskill Mountain, Delaware County, village of Stamford. The headwaters of the west branch of the Delaware River passes through Stamford.

Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. Today, Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River. The rear of the Jan Van Loon house is in the background.

Henry Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon were the first recorded Europeans to visit both the Delaware and Hudson rivers. The Half Moon dropped anchor in Delaware Bay late August, 1609. They reached the estuary of the Hudson (then called the North or the Mauritius). The goal of Hudson was a route to China. Luring him up was the flow and width of the river, Hudson suspected this land was a island, behind which lay the route to the Orient. He navigated up the river for ten days, passing the future site of Athens.

Historical signage with house. One wall remains of the original house, this is a loving restoration on the original site.

Beaver!!

Hudson was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company and it was the Dutch who laid claim to the length of the Hudson for the purpose of trade. In summary, when Swedish/Finnish colonists on the Delaware proved successful in shipping huge numbers of beaver pelts and tobacco the Dutch took control of the Delaware under force of arms in the interest of controlling this trade.

The Dutch, AKA the Dutch East/West India Companies, had little interest in establishing colonies. Instead huge areas of land, “patents”, were granted to individuals with the underlying goal of providing a flow of shippable goods. It remained as such for many years, until 1664 when England, under the king Charles II, took control of New Amsterdam and, by extension, trade flowing on the Hudson River.

Overview of the Jan Van Loon House, 39 South Washington Street, Athens New York from the Athens Veterans Memorial Park with view of the Hudson River and the lighthouse. Phlox are in bloom!!

Stayed for the Corn

Jan Van Loon (pronounced Van Loan) comes into the picture with a 1676 marriage to Maria in New Amsterdam. When Jan acquired a major interest in the 1688 Loonenburg patent the land was just opening to European settlers and their tenancy was less than secure. Threatened by incursions of Native Americans and animosities between the French and English. They had eight children who reached adulthood, the house of one of them, Albertus, is one of the oldest continually inhabited residences in New York State.

Athens, New York is the present day name of this town on the Hudson River first settled by Pam’s ancestor in the 17th Century. Pam is pointing to the modern window restoration (aluminum double-hung), the roof is cedar shingle (I believe).

Tradition has it Jan Van Loon acquired the land through a payment of 50 beaver pelts and provided services as a blacksmith, though that had to be after a number of years of residence, since he was a first settler. Pam and I are learning more about those early years, but we know Jan and Maria’s interest in the land was not trade. It was to live peacefully and prosper which they, somehow, did to the benefit of all the people around them.

Detail of the modern restoration of the east foundation wall, Jan Van Loon house, Athens, New York, at the juncture of the field stone/brick joint. The front of the house is to the right.

The lighthouse as viewed from the Jan Van Loon House site. Build 1874, the lighthouse was not part of the environment of Jan and Maria Van Loon.

Click me for the first post in this series, “Around and About Athens, New York, Part 1.”

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 4 Finale

295 year old Zillow listing

Real Estate

Home for 295 years, one way to describe the Albertus Van Loon house, 85 North Washington street, Athens, New York. Built before there was a George Washington or Athens New York. The river flowing by was named North River when this door first opened. The Delaware was South River.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Listed today on Zillow with a increasing value and, incredibly, “built 1725.”

Well cared for…..

…..solid masonry walls with timber additions.

Right on the Hudson River.

Details

Albertus is a Great+ Uncle for Pam. She felt the connection to this place, marveled at the well build masonry and solid windows, absolutely loved the ivy. 85 North Washington was our last stop.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 3

Blossoms, headstones and the passage from Dutch to English

Blossoms

Spiraea bushes in full bloom flanked the Riverside Park along Water Street.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Well cared for…..

…..as are the urns across the street.

Athens Country Cemetery

Our daughter-in-law and her Mom were a source of post-trip information. “Yan Van Loan” is how Jan Van Loon’s name is pronounced in Dutch, they kindly informed us.

Passage of political control from Dutch to English was decades old when Jan Van Loon acquired his land on the river. By the 19th century the name was anglicized (turned English) on the headstones, spelled as it was pronounced in English. In the 18th century Pam’s ancestors had moved west and south to what became Plymouth, Pennsylvania (Luzerne County). This was before the coal fields, in the 18th century agriculture was the primary industry. Pam’s branch of the Van Loons retained the Dutch spelling and anglicized the pronunciation, as “Van Loon” is pronounced in the English language.

The very old burials were marked with headstones of locally quarried slate, as was common in upstate New York. You can see slate headstones in this video of a Pioneer Cemetery near our home in Ithaca, New York.

In Athens the oldest stones were in the same condition, the lettering and decoration erased by the elements even when the stones are still standing. Some kind people researched the burials and erected a modern, white marble memorial stone with the names and dates of the ancestors named in the records. Jan Van Loon, Maria his wife, or any of Pam’s direct ancestors were not among them.

The Matthias Van Loon of this memorial obelisk was a descendant who remained in what became Athens, New York. The following two photographs are of the base and an overview. Matthias Van Loon’s is on the right.

This Catholic burial is on the very edge of the site, as though pushed off to the side. That is the yard of a private home in the background. I started this post with flowers because there was little evidence of familial devotions on these burials of previous centuries.

Click Me for “Around and About Athens, New York, part 4”

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills