Day Away

August 1, 2009

Dutch history entrenched in New York state


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This year in the North Country, we've focused on the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's discovery of the lake that bears his name.

We should also dedicate some time to ponder the explorations of one Hendrik Hudson that same year.

Hudson has been memorialized via the name of a river and a far northern bay. His fellow Dutchmen became early settlers of New York state, leaving a rich heritage.

A good place to appreciate this heritage is at Mabee Farm on the Mohawk River west of Schenectady. One early arrival, Daniel Van Antwerpen, set up a fur trading post here in 1670. In 1705, he sold his holdings to Jan Pieterse Mabee, whose family relocated from the Schenectady Stockade after an Indian massacre.

Mabee and his descendants maintained ownership until 1993, when George Franchere donated the site to the Schenectady County Historical Society as a museum and educational site.

The Historical Society has proved to be an excellent steward. Three early buildings have been preserved for interpretive tours. One notable barn has been relocated here and another one built. Various events, including "Early Technologies Day," and projects add to the richness of the offerings and attract plenty of visitors. Mabee Farm hosted an estimated 17,000 people in 2008.


We began with a tour of the original fieldstone farmhouse. Constructed in 1705, it's the oldest home in the Mohawk Valley. Along with the wide plank floor and original ceiling beams, there's a typical Dutch double door featuring original hardware. The nails were handmade on site.

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