They came for the beaver, he stayed for the corn

Pam’s Ancestors Jan and Maria Van Loon

Advertisements

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 next post in this series, “Around and About Athens, New York, Part 1.”

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Another Woody Peony

A handy length of black velvet

By way of personal inventory, our home has two types of woody peonies in different hues. Last posting I gave you red, au natural. Today, you get yellow in a studio setting, back-dropped by black velvet. There is a story behind that long sheet of fabric. Back in the day, a nephew of mine named Chris and I used to hang out together in the Catskills and Adirondacks. Later, I offered to photograph James, his first born. In preparation, I purchased this six foot length of fabric. It served well for that job and, since then, has done double duty as a wintertime cage cover for the parakeet.

This week, I told Pam our yellow wooden peony was in bloom. A largish bush of full leaves that tend to cover the drooping blooms, Pam harvested six blooms to created an arrangement. These “babies” look great against the black velvet.

Yesterday I used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USB lens and a tripod to capture the following two portraits of Pam’s Yellow Wooden Peony arrangement. In deference to the unanimous reader choice for crisp flower petals the following two versions differ in the crispness of the velvet backdrop.

My timing was fortuitous, last evening the petals started to drop. Pam reports 12 more blossoms are hidden in the bush, so we’ll have at least one more bouquet to enjoy.

Click either photograph for a larger version.
f 5.0 Black Velvet Backdrop
f 7.1 Black Velvet Backdrop
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woody Peony Series

Effect of f-stop

May 2019 Pam and I visited the New York State historical site of Olana, the former home of Fredrick Church of the Hudson River School of painting. Off the walk was a small planting of flowers, among them a type of “woody” peony in full bloom on Memorial Day weekend, well before the “herbaceous” type that is setting flower buds at that time. These were a striking reddish hue.

On returning home we were pleased to find our own “woody” peonies of the same hue in full bloom as well. On Memorial Day I used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USB lens and a tripod to capture the following two macros of the flower center with the lens aperture fully open (f 2.8) and at its smallest (f 32).

Question for readers: Which do you prefer, and why?

Click either photograph for a larger version.
f 32
f 2.8
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

Click me for another Trillium posting
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

Click here for my Online Gallery offering of trillium.

An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays such as what I shared last posting develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life from Death

while trillium

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak dslr body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.

Enjoy!

Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills