Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Lenape Lifeways: Kinnelon's Native American History & Culture

Did you by chance attend the Lenape Lifeways program sponsored by the Kinnelon Libary on 12/6/08? I missed it, but have gained a taste for the rich heritage of the Lenape thanks to Galina Adair, head of the Kinnelon Children's Library, and Louise [LuLu] Solomon [see Kinnelon Library Holds Chagall Art Workshop], her right hand, who graciously agreed to share perspective and background on an event so relevant to the history and culture of Kinnelon.

The Kinnelon Public Library holds many programs for families, children, teens, adults and for the community at large. One mission of the library is for patrons to know that this is where you can read a book, find information, meet a friend and join in on the many programs offered. The programs are chosen to better educate Kinnelon residents in culture and history through lectures, movies, discussions, and with the help of special guests who share their experiences.

One program recently presented at the library, and planned by the Children's Library for the whole community, was about the indigenous people who lived right here many years ago: the Lenape Native Americans, renamed the Delaware Indians by the Europeans.

This presentation included many artifacts which covered 8 long tables. The speaker, John T. Kraft, is the son of the most famous sociologist of the Lenape Nation, Herbert Kraft, who has written many books on the Lenapes.

John Kraft, a most charismatic speaker, encouraged everyone there to handle the artifacts and to guess for what they were used. Patiently and with enthusiasm, he spoke to everyone who wished to talk with him, as he had the unusual life and privilege to live among the Lenapes with his family.

The program included history and wonderful, brightly lit slides of their way of life, narrated by John Kraft, dressed in full Lenape apparel.

Although the program was supposed to be an hour, it stretched a bit longer as everyone wanted to know more and more on the subject of these natives whose land we live and walk on. [Here are some kids' games.]

He taught a few words to the participants as he knows the language [Lenape is pronounced Leh-NAH-pay & means "true people".].

This presentation and presenter come from a non-profit organization called "Lenape Lifeways." Books were offered for sale and were 'snapped up.'

We received very positive feedback on the event, including this comment: "The most worthwhile hour spent; it was as if we were watching history unfold."

I had regrets before reading LuLu's description. Afterwards, I felt remorse and deep regret to have missed out on such an educational experience.  If you participated, would you share your perspectives? Did you take photos?  What did you take away from the event?

Galina and LuLu, thanks so very much for putting on such an event and for sharing it with us here. I know I look forward to more of these terrific opportunities.

PS: If you'd like to learn more about Native American Art & Culture, consider reading MedecineHorse7's blog Native Art & Design.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beaver Dam and Charlotteburg Road Hike

As promised in Old Country Road Trail and Beaver Dam Hike, I wanted to share with you the rest of our adventure in the back country of Kinnelon, NJ.

After admiring the beaver dam, we decided to head North along the Charlotteburg Road trail. As you can see from the photo to the left, this is a well-marked trail with the feel of a road. Note the rocks and cobblestones forming the road bed. Someone had to have spent a great deal of time constructing it.  The question is: when did all of this happen?  I suspect this pre-dates Kinney.

We've mentioned it before but the Old Country Road trail/Charlotteburg Road is extremely well traveled, so definitely be on the lookout for vehicles.  Especially during hunting seasons [we weren't able to clearly determine when exactly is/isn't hunting season as there seem to be quite a few species specific seasons and the data is difficult to wade through.  I'd love to be able to share with you a grid showing when and what, but don't hold your breath for now. If you know of one, please let me know and I'll post it for sharing and reference.].

Do wear bright clothing and stay close to the paths as these are routes connecting to hunting areas on the other side of the Charlotteburg reservoir [see the NWCDC Hunting Map that Lisa found]. And, be wary as I found spent shells in non-hunting areas...

For that matter, be sure to take a cell phone...

Before long, we reached the Charlotteburg Reservoir, and an intersection with - according to Google Maps - Winnebago and Timberbrook roads. I was surprised at how quickly we came upon it.

Although we do plan on exploring further North around the reservoir [post-hunting season], we opted here to retrace our steps, and take a fork heading slightly West that we had passed on the way.The fork took us onto a lesser trail, still well marked, where we passed definite signs of earlier civilization. For example, check out the remains of the stone wall in the photo. This must have marked off a farming property. I just wish I knew how long ago.

Before long, we came to the other side of the beaver dam. It was exciting. The path essentially led us along a causeway to the pond's actual dam which the beavers had most definitely worked on to raise the water level of the pond.

We were impressed with their handiwork.

It also looked as if at some point you might have been able to continue across the dam to connect with another path.

Although we would have liked to cross over the dam, it just wasn't possible. We backtracked to the beginning of the causeway and cut through the woods to follow the edge of the pond back to our original starting point.  We saw no clear path, but we knew where we were going [and could see our goal] and, apart from some brambles, the way didn't seem too risky.

Right about where we stepped off the path is where I noticed some spent shells.

A few steps after that, we came across amazing signs of previous civilization: a well. It stopped us in our tracks. How could a well be possible? When was it created? What did its presence mean for the beaver dam?  Was the pond created at the same time? Before? Later?

What seemed certain is that the well pre-dated the beavers themselves as their work has significantly raised the water table, making the well unnecessary.

Per the photo, you see the well-stone or cover on end, the edges of the well and perhaps a suggestion of the water almost overflowing the edges.

I suspect that the presence of a well means that the foundations of some sort of dwelling structure would be close by.  Perhaps this relates, too, to the stone walls we saw earlier.

We were grateful not to have stepped into the well hole, but mystified and curious to learn more.

Lisa created the attached beaver dam hike map to capture the details of what we discovered and help illustrate the path we took.

If you have any clues as to the history behind the beaver dam pond, the walls we came across and the well, would you let me know?


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kiel School 2008 Halloween Parade - Photos Posted!

Mrs. Hart leading the parade.
It seems like eons ago -- surrounded as we are with snow and the lake now frozen -- but I really enjoyed the Kiel School 2008 Halloween Parade.  

The day itself was glorious: blue sky, cool and crisp air but not too cold, and a Friday.  The anticipation in our house was palpable as our daughter had carefully planned her costume and eagerly intended to do makeup [i.e., green face paint] herself. She couldn't wait to get to school that day.

At the appointed time, we showed up at the school playground which meant arriving approximately 15 minutes earlier to find parking [along Kiel Avenue, North of the Firehouse, past that little bridge] and walk to the school.

This was our first time taking part in a Kinnelon school system event; we weren't sure what to expect. It was a blast!

The First and Second graders soon marched out the back of the school to spooky tunes [think Addams Family - snap, snap; Monster Mash...]. Mrs. Hart, the Principal, led the way with individual teachers and their classes following behind.  

The parade went from the school to the playground around the playground periphery twice before heading back in to school.  Parents had ample opportunity to oooh and aaah [well, we did] and take pictures before heading back home or to work.

Later that afternoon, Emma and I headed off toward Longmeadow to trick or treat. Thank you for your generosity if we visited you!

Somewhat belatedly, I've uploaded my photos from the 2008 Kiel School Halloween Parade to my Flickr photostream.  Do check them out and feel free to add comments.

Note: if you have any photos relating to the Kiel/Sisco school year, please do contact kielsiscoyearbook [at] gmail [dot] com.  They are looking for candids to include in the student yearbook.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Didja Know? "Kinnelon" Estate of Francis S. Kinney - Part I

Continuing with Cornie Hubner's Didja Know? series, here follows his article about the "Kinnelon" Estate of Francis S. Kinney Part I which relates to his house and property in what is now Smoke Rise in Kinnelon, NJ. [Note "?" are mine when I couldn't locate a resource online to explain the reference.]

In 1883, Francis S. Kinney became intrigued by an ad in the Real Estate section of The New York Tribune, for 2,400 acres of pristine Jersey forest and lakeland, little realizing the effect it would have on the next forty years of his life. He lost no time taking the N.Y.S.&W. to the end of the line at Bloomingdale, hiring a horse and carriage, and with a guide, reaching the Hubbard Stickle acreage in what was then Meadtown, Pequannock Township, which he bought immediately. Piece by piece he increased his holdings until the many various sized parcels of farm and forest increased the Estate to 5,000 acres - naming it "Kinnelon."

One of the first buys was the acreage around Kitty Ann Mountain, a remote craggy, unproductive forest for which he paid $2.00 per acre. The last 126 acres, the working farm of Henry Ricker, in 1901, [he obtained] for the top price of $25.00 per acre. All in all, one might arrive at an average of less than $10.000 per acre, or a maximum of $50,000 for the entire Estate - a princely fortune when the average household was supported on less than $500 per year.

Because of limitations, the April 1st "Map" could not include out-lying facilities [note: for the map, see Didja Know? Francis S. Kinney's "Cottage" Life]. The ice house on the southern end of the lake was erected in 1892 and served its purpose, with ice harvested each year until replaced by electric refrigeration when it was torn down and the wood pegged frame work re-erected for a barn still standing on Kiel Avenue. Two huge hay barracks at the north end of Long-Meadow Road and a mysterious "Lodge" consisting of three bedrooms, a kitchen and a parlor, the location of which has never been established.

The "Lodge" is recorded with all the other buildings in a meticulous Spencerian hand written inventory dated 1890. This copy book record goes into the minutest details in describing the contents of every structure. Besides furniture and fittings, the number of bed sheets, pillow cases, towels, crockery, etc. in living quarters, to harnesses, whips, rakes and all the tools in barns and work places. The most amazing entry had to do with armaments, sufficient to equip a company of soldiers or hold off a powerful Indian attack.

Actually, the martial equipment was the finest hunting guns consisting of nine revolvers, ten shot guns and six rifles. The bores names like Winchester, Remington, Colt and Parker, with a few of foreign origin designed for the ladies. Local hunters often joined the family and their sports-minded guests in the guarded preserve and the thousands of unspoiled surrounding acres where deer abounded, wild turkeys, grouse and birds of all kinds were plentiful and even an occasional wild cat or bear made its appearance. Raccoon hunting contests, matching the Kinney dogs against the best local breed, were regular fall contests the neighbors felt privileged to enjoy.

The Kinneys had many friends particularly their close neighbors - the Fred Rickers and Willis Deckers. Both had large families, tracing their origin to the earliest settlers. All were privileged to swim, hunt or fish and for the youngsters furnish companionship for the "city kids."

The first Ricker home built before the Civil War was destroyed by fire under suspicious circumstances [it was rumored that one of the family wanted a new home] a few years after the war ended. The new home, now Gaudino's restaurant [? possibly Piccolo's Lotsa Pasta?], faced on Stone House Road, then continuing on Longmeadow and North Road, to the flourishing Henry Ricker, Barney Miller and Van Orden farms as well as the Frederick and Wetzel operations on the branching Gravel Hill side road. The road ended as a public thoroughfare, at the gate when the last farm was purchased in 1901.

Fred Ricker was employed in 1892 to replace a Mrs. Rowe in the cow barn, assisting in the developing of the herd of brown Swiss cattle. He raised a family of five girls and two boys and also assisted in the slaughter house before transferring to the local Rubber Mill, on war work just prior to World War I. His oldest son also spent a short time in Kinney employment.

[This photo was taken off of Orchard Road - the remains of either tenant houses or a shed.]
The Willis Decker residence was the second home to be built on the property that had been in the family since early 1800. He operated a saw mill, opposite the Ricker homestead, powered by the water from Forge Pond until the property was acquired for a summer home by a New York City family. The blue-eyed, brunette beauty of the sophisticated family inadvertently caused an unexpected increase in attendance at Sunday Service when local swains discovered the service, this addition to local pulchritude would attend. Mr. Decker became a close friend of Francis Kinney, sharing his love for nature and great interest in baseball. The Decker family of six girls and three boys offered companionship for the several different ages in the "Cottage." Some of the girls replaced the original imported members of the staff, and like some other local employees, married other workers and settled in the nearby area.

Several families occupied the Gate House, from time to time, since 1885 when it was on of the earliest operating on private estates, in the U.S.A. The men of the house usually performed some other service during the day leaving the heavy hand operated gate to the lady of the house. The gate was attended for 24 hours, with little likelihood of any night time disturbance except when the family entertained or left for occasional outside amusement. The stone walls flanking the building funneled all traffic to the gate.

Past the gate, the road led to the turnoff at Orchard Lane, across the bridge through the apple orchard, passing the tenant houses and Shed No. 2 and No. 3 on its winding way to the South Gate exit on Kiel Avenue approximately where the Estates of Kinnelon is now being developed. Horses of local workers were stabled in the shed and the tenant houses were occupied by families of trainers or craftsmen originally imported to supervise the Estates diversified activities.

Friday, January 2, 2009

In Our Neighborhood: Suburban Trends

Were you aware that Suburban Trends is in our neighborhood, here in Kinnelon, NJ?  Right at Butternut Plaza at the corner of Kakeout and Kinnelon Road. 

I hadn't been fully aware until I went to meet Gene Myers, the features editor, after learning that my interview had been published.  [Gene Myers, by the way, publishes a series titled The Joy of Life which is a good read. He's also a poet and publishes interviews with musicians and poets.]

Now, I find it frustrating that the news [broadcasted or printed] will share all kinds of news, but won't inform me of what's happening in my neighborhood.  

If you go to the Suburban Trends website, you can subscribe to Updates and Notices via email. I've done so and received my first update on 12/31/08. It consisted of highlights to the local news you find on the site's left sidebar [i.e., news for Bloomingdale, Butler, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Pequannock, Pompton Lakes, Ringwood, Riverdale, Wanaque and West Milford].  It also offered a link to regional news, the police blotter and to Twitter.

Are you familiar with Twitter?  It's a 'microblogging' platform whereby - if you subscribe [it's free] - you can receive [and send out] mini-messages consisting of no more than 140 characters. The New York Times has a Twitter presence, as does News.  Twitter has proven very effective in situations of emergency [e.g., during the 2007 SoCal Wild Fires] and for getting news during the recent Mumbai terror attacks. [You can follow me on Twitter at @cbwhittemore.]

Now, Suburban Trends is new to Twitter, but the fact that they are experimenting with the platform is exciting.

Until meeting Gene, I hadn't understood the relationship between Suburban Trends and the Argus.  Yes, they are related.
Suburban Trends is owned by North Jersey Media Group along with 23 other community papers.  It also owns the Record and Herald News and several North Jersey Magazines. Interestingly, the Argus doesn't have its own website.  However, its main stories come from Suburban Trends.  We receive the Argus in the mail, but Suburban Trends is available on news stands and is far more substantial a paper.

If I've missed any critical details about Suburban Trends, please let me know.

By the way, Julia Dunn, the young woman who interviewed me for the Suburban Trends article, lives in Kinnelon and is a sophomore at Ithaca College.

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