t was mid-January 1662, three hundred and fifty years ago, when Pieter Bronck and the two Mohicans Sisketas and Sachemoes signed the agreement that granted a modest parcel of land at Coxsackie to Pieter. His direct descendents would own and operate a farmstead on that land for nearly three centuries. In 1939 the last family owner gave the farmstead including the family dwellings of 1663 and 1738, a New World Dutch barn, and a thirteen-sided hay barn to the Greene County Historical Society to be operated as the Bronck Museum.
In celebration of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Bronck farmstead at Coxsackie three special “Bronck Family in the Wilderness” programs will be offered during the 2012 museum season. Each of these programs will explore the impact of the environment on the development of the Bronck family’s Coxsackie property. On Sunday, June 24ththe first program in this series will feature noted local geologist Robert Titus who will speak on Soil and Stoneand the part these elemental resources played in the formation and subsequent economic development of the Coxsackie property. On Sunday, July 15thElizabeth LoGiudice will offer the second program in the series, Water at Work an exploration of the role local streams played in the development of the Bronck farmstead. On Sunday, September 9th Bronck Museum Curator, Shelby Mattice will offer the final program in this series. Beavers and Other Beasts, a discussion of the role played by both wild and domestic animals in securing the physical and economic well being of the Bronck family. All “Bronck Family in the Wilderness” programs begin at 2:30 pm in the reading room of the Vedder Research Library on the grounds of the Bronck Museum. Refreshments and an informal tour of the Bronck dwellings will follow each program.
The Bronck Museum’s 2012 season will also include a new mini-exhibit in the museum’s Visitor Center Gallery. The exhibit Porringers, Plates and Pats, A Century of Bronck Family Tableware brings together seldom exhibited flatware and china used by fashionable Bronck hostesses between 1790 and 1890. Admission to this exhibit is free and accessible during regular museum hours.
Throughout the summer and autumn Bronck Museum will offer a variety of other special events. On Saturday August 4th at 7:30 pm the ancient Bronck dwellings will be bathed in candle light and illuminated By the Light of the Silvery Moon to welcome visitors for a country party complete with live music, story telling, wonderful homemade deserts and all manner of other amusements.
Three of the Bronck Museum’s most popular special events are held in the fall season. TheHeritage Craft Fair, on Sunday September 30th from 12-5 pm recalls the typical agricultural fairs of bygone times. Crafters offer handmade traditional goods for sale, there will be live music, horse drawn wagon rides, farm animals, special activities for children and good country food.
Even in the fading light of early evening in late October it is plain to see that the windows of the Bronck house are tightly shuttered. A bleached skull sets beside the front door announcing that the family within is experiencing a period Of Great Sorrow. Death visited families in early America very often and every family knew only too well the rituals attending death and burial. On Saturday, October 27th visit Bronck Museum to participate in a typical Dutch funeral. Learn about the importance sin eaters, and funeral biscuits. Experience the mournful ringing of a solitary bell and the disquieting procession to the nearby Bronck family burial ground. This event will be offered at both 4 and 5:15 pm.
The final special event on the 2012 Bronck Museum calendar is aptly named Chilly Willy Winter’s Eve held on the weekend of November 17th and 18th. This event is a celebration of the late fall holidays of Martinmas, St. Nicholas Day and St. Lucia Day.From the St. Lucia’s bundle at the front door to St. Nicholas’ switch by the fireplace the Bronck houses are decorated as they would have been for these now largely forgotten holidays. A costumed guide recounts legends associated with these holidays as visitors pass through rooms chilled by the cold of approaching winter. Dutch and Swedish refreshments will be served at the conclusion of each tour. Tours leave the museum’s Visitor Center Gallery at 11, 1 and 3 pm each day.
Bronck Museum is located just off Route 9W, south of the intersection of Routes 9W,385 and 81 near Coxsackie, N.Y., and is easily reached via NYS Thruway exit 21 B at Coxsackie. For additional information and updates visit www.gchistory.org or call Bronck Museum at 518-731-6490.