The Mohawk Valley Teacherhostel™

Date: July 18, 2011 - July 22, 2011
An Interdisciplinary Experience
Dates: July 18-22, 2011
Location: Mohawk Valley
Times: 9:00 start to 5:00 to 7:30 PM depending on the day
Contact Hours: 45
Fee: $275 (includes 5 lunches and 4 dinners)
Cutoff Date: June 6, 2011
Lodging: Amsterdam Super8 for $67.99/night for a double
Click here for registrationIn an effort to bring the riches of the Mohawk Valley experience to the classroom, this five day intensive program will bring to life many aspects that make the Mohawk Valley truly unique. Discover the stories of the Iroquois, the Palatine Germans, the Dutch, the Erie Canal, the Valley’s Revolutionary history and ties to the Civil War and Industrial Revolution. Explore how these topics of local history and heritage can be related to the American history story as a whole, along with the New York State Social Studies Standards for Learning. After these five days in the Mohawk Valley, you will feel that you have had a little taste of everything the Valley has to offer.Day 1 – Monday, July 18
9:00 Schenectady County Historical Society
32 Washington Ave, Schenectady
Located in the heart of Schenectady’s Historic Stockade area, this spot is an excellent place to begin our journey in the Mohawk Valley. Schenectady, the “city that lights and hauls the world,” was a center in the industrial and transportation revolutions. Dating back to the 17th century, the settlement began as a Dutch trading center. Frank Taormina, a retired high school teacher and docent with the historical society, will lay it all out for you explaining how Schenectady was the “Gateway to the West.” Next a Mohawk-Mohican David Cornelius, Native American and Colonial History educator and independent scholar, will present “Life for the Oneidas and the Mohawks in Schenectady” as an introduction to the Stockade area.

10:30 Walking Tour of the Stockade Area
Join Maureen Gebert of the Schenectady Heritage Area for a guided tour of the historic Stockade District to learn about the colonial history of the area, the Dutch influence, the architecture, and the development of a heritage area.

12:30 LUNCH
First Reformed Church Assembly Hall, 8 North Church Street, Schenectady
Enjoy an authentic Schenectadian Italian lunch from the Roman Villa in this historic church. The First Reformed Church is the oldest congregation in Schenectady dating back to the time of Schenectady Massacre. While waiting for lunch, take a minute to view the archival history displays about the founding and history of First Reformed Church. Following lunch, two Union College professors (Clifford Brown and Andrew Morris) will join us for discussions about the history of Union College and Schenectady’s Industries: GE and ALCO.

3:00 Bus Tour of Vale Cemetery
Meet at main office 907 State Street, Schenectady  
Join Scott Haefner, former Town of Rotterdam Historian and currently the site manager at Old Fort Johnson, for a guided tour of Schenectady’s Rural Vale Cemetery which today is located right in the middle of the city. Haefner will use Vale Cemetery as an example for the rural cemetery movement but he will also point out the giants of industry who are buried here.

4:30 Mabee Farm
1080 Main Street, Rotterdam Junction
Concurrent sessions will split the group in two: Join Pat Barrot, site manager, for a house tour of the oldest house in the Mohawk Valley located west of Schenectady, circa 1690. Also join David Manthey, historical interpreter, for a visit to the bateaux. Prior to the Erie Canal, the bateaux were used on the Mohawk River for trading and travel.

Mabee Farm’s Dutch Barn
Enjoy a catered picnic dinner by Price Chopper, an area grocer whose headquarters are located in Schenectady but own stores throughout New York and New England. Soon you will be joined by Jack the Mabee Farm’s slave, portrayed by Clifford Oliver Mealy. Mealy, as Jack, will tell you tales about traveling by bateaux during the French and Indian War and what life was like for a New York slave in the mid-18th century.

Day 2 – Tuesday, July 19
9:00 Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site
Meet at the Visitor Center 129 Schoharie Street, Fort Hunter
Schoharie Crossing is the only place in New York State where you can see all three stages of Erie Canal development side by side. Browse through the exhibit “Little Short of Madness” then join education coordinator Tricia Shaw for a discussion about how the history of the Erie Canal can be taught using different disciplines and then finally take a short walking tour to the Schoharie Aqueduct. See the remains of both the Original and the Enlarged Erie Canal, the East Guard Lock and the Schoharie Aqueduct.

10:30 Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs
Meet at the museum building. 136 Shrine Road, Fultonville
This is where the story of the French Jesuit missionaries and the Mohawk Indians collide. In the Mohawk village called Ossernenon, three Jesuit missionaries were martyred during the 1640s. Father Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, a Jesuit brother, and John Lalande, a lay missioner, are the only canonized American martyrs. Also the beatified “Lily of the Mohawks,” Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, was born here in 1656. This area is beautiful, historical, tragic and spiritually renewing. Join Beth Lynch, museum director, to tour the museum exhibits and a short history walk through the grounds.

Shrine’s Visitor Center
The walking tour will end just in time for lunch. Take in the view of the Mohawk Valley as you enjoy pizza, wings and salads from TJ’s Pizzeria. After lunch, return inside for a power point presentation by Amsterdam City Historian Rob Von Hasslin who will discuss the Dutch Influence on New York State and the local area in particular.

2:00 Old Fort Johnson
Corner of Routes 5 and 67, Fort Johnson
Sir William Johnson arrived in America as a young man in the 1730’s seeking his uncle’s lands to oversee. But in the process of settling on the frontier, he became one of the most influential individuals of 18th Century New York. As commissioner for Indian Affairs, he had a foot in two worlds. Old Fort Johnson, his home built in 1749, will be your first introduction to this man that you will hear so much about in the next few days. With director Alessa Wylie, learn about Johnson’s rising power during the French and Indian War and how this had an impact on the local area.

4:00 Walter Elwood Museum
300 Guy Park Avenue, Amsterdam
Located along the banks of the Mohawk River and considered to be “Amsterdam’s Attic,” the Walter Elwood Museum acts as the local historical society in many ways. Here you will learn about the industrial revolution in the Mohawk Valley focusing on the “carpet city.” Join director Ann Peconie for tours in the Industry and Victorian galleries.

5:00 Outdoor Reception on the Banks of Mohawk River
Enjoy a delicious catered reception from the Union Hall Restaurant in Johnstown. Because the Walter Elwood Museum is nestled between the railroad tracks and the Mohawk River, there will be a brief talk during the reception by Peter Betz, Fulton County Historian about the relationship between the river’s geography and the railroad’s history.

Day 3 – Wednesday, July 20
9:00 Johnson Hall State Historic Site
Hall Avenue, Johnstown
This was Sir William Johnson’s second home, built in 1763. This Georgian house became the nucleus of a working estate designed to encourage settlement and further Johnson’s control of his lands. A mill, blacksmith shop, Indian store, barns, and other necessary buildings were added, as well as housing for servants. In 1774, during a tense conference with 600 Indians at Johnson Hall, Sir William collapsed and died. Upon Sir William’s death, Johnson Hall passed to his son, John. During the American Revolution, John chose to remain loyal to the Crown and fled to Canada. Johnson Hall was confiscated in 1779 by the State of New York as Loyalist property and was subsequently sold at auction. An historical interpreter will provide a tour of the building from the Loyalist point of view. Understand why the conflicts on New York’s frontier during the Revolutionary War were America’s first Civil War.

11:00 Arkell Museum
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie
The Arkell Museum is considered one of the best rural art galleries in the country with a wide variety of famous artists in the collection such as Winslow Homer, George Inness, Ralph Blakelock, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, and Thomas Hart Benton. The Arkell Museum’s collection also includes objects and archives related to the Mohawk Valley. The landscape of the Mohawk Valley and the marketing of Beech-Nut products are subjects explored in museum programs and exhibitions. For the summer 2011 season, the Arkell Museum is celebrating Mohawk Valley landscapes with the works of Rufus Grider on exhibit. The docents at the Arkell will provide explanation about Rufus Grider’s and the Moravians’ importance and how the Mohawk Valley landscape has changed over time.

12:00 LUNCH Gardens of the Arkell Museum
Have lunch catered by Melissa’s in the gardens and surrounded by artwork owned by Bartlett Arkell. You might even have a few minutes to check out the Beech Nut Gallery here in the heart of “Flavor-town.”

1:00 Village of Canajoharie
Meet Historian Rachel Bliven just outside the Arkell Museum for a guided walking tour of downtown Canajoharie to see the many limestone structures. Learn how limestone was an importance building stone in the Mohawk Valley for the Erie Canal, private residences and as an export for other construction projects around the country.

3:00 Fort Plain Museum
389 Canal Street, Fort Plain
This small local history museum is packed full of hidden gems. Join Board of Trustee members Norm Bollen and Ed Pangburn as they use items from the collection to describe the how the Mohawk Valley (Fort Plain and Canajoharie, in particular) was the crossroads of the Revolutionary War. The story of the women on the American Frontier will also be included.

4:00 Local Historical Documents in the Classroom – Montgomery County Historian Kelly Farquhar will talk about how to use local historical documents in the classroom.

5:00 Dinner – Fort Plain Museum

Day 4 – Thursday, July 21
9:00 Iroquois Museum
324 Caverns Road, Howes Cave
One of the most unique things about this museum is its architecture. Shaped like and based on the Iroquois longhouses from 400 years ago, the building provokes another world view by incorporating construction techniques, social history, creation legends, and practical purpose. Join Education Curator Mike Tarbell for an interactive program entitled “Stories my Grandmother Told Me”. This program will provide an in-depth introduction to the world of the Iroquois prior to European contact. Tarbell will use everything at his disposal: the exhibits, the building, the outdoors, artifacts, etc.

Howes Caverns Dining Room
255 Discovery Drive, Howes Cave
Enjoy a sandwich and salad buffet while taking in the sweeping vista before you. As you dine, remember that you are sitting on top of one of the oldest tourist attractions in New York State. The Howe Caverns, run by Lester Howe and discovered by his cows, opened for tours in 1843 at only 50 cents for a lantern lit tour. Beneath you are amazing cave sights such as stalactites and stalagmites, flowstone, grottos and much more. Unfortunately this teacher hostel is not focusing on science, so you will have to make a return visit to go underground. During lunch, director for the Institute of History, Archaeology and Education Peter Feinman will provide an introduction to the story of the Palatine Germans, which will be our focus for Friday.

2:00 Old Stone Fort
145 Fort Road, Schoharie
The Old Stone Fort Museum Complex, operated by the Schoharie County Historical Society, celebrates and preserves the rich, historic legacy of New York’s beautiful Schoharie Valley. Buildings include an early Palatine German-style home (currently under restoration), a 1780s Dutch barn, an 1830s law office, and an 1890s one-room schoolhouse as well as the 1772 stone church that was fortified in 1777 and attacked by 700 Loyalists and Indians under the direction of Sir John Johnson and Mohawk Captain Joseph Brant in 1780. Meet with the director Carle Kopecky and curator Daniel Beams for two experiential programs: Citizen Soldier and Agricultural Industry.

George Mann Tory Tavern
104 Vrooman Cross Road, Schoharie
In 1777, tavern keeper George Mann, grandson of one of the original settlers and a captain in the 15th New York Militia, changed allegiance and his establishment became a meeting place for Tories (people still loyal to England). Ralph and Irmgard Buess purchased the historic building in 1977, investing thirteen years in restoration and renovation. Handmade stenciling, drapes and waitstaff uniforms create a formal Colonial ambiance. An elegant four course dinner will include appetizer, salad, choice of one of four entrees and dessert.

Day 5 – Friday, July 22
9:00 Gems along the Mohawk
800 Mohawk Street, Herkimer
This gem of a gift shop introduces you to what is beyond the Mohawk Valley including Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame, Chittenango the OZ town and the Adirondack Mountains.

9:30 Erie Canal Cruise
Take a 90 minute boat ride on the Erie Canal through Lock 18. This tour is fully narrated with lots of history trivia and tidbits.

11:30 LUNCH
Have lunch along the banks of the Erie Canal at the Waterfront Grill. While you enjoy a sandwich, learn about “The Murder that will Never Die: Yellow Journalism in Herkimer County” with Herkimer County Historian Susan Perkins. This small town murder made national headlines for the yellow journalism practices surrounding its reporting.

1:00 Indian Castle Church
Route 5S, Little Falls
Just a very brief stop and talk here at the Indian Castle Church with Town of Danube Supervisor Charles Welden will bring the story of the Mohawks and Christianity full circle. This small white church on the hill was built by Sir William Johnson in 1769. The bell tower holds the original bell purchased for the pleasure of the Indians by Sir William Johnson. After the war, the Indians tried to retrieve what they considered to be their bell but the clapper sounded the alarm and the neighborhood responded. The bell still resides in the bell tower.

2:30 Palatine Church
Route 5, Nelliston
Visit this 1770 Palatine German church, gathering site for the Patriots prior to marching into the Battle of Oriskany. Kathryn Weller, director of the Slate Valley Museum, will present her masters thesis entitled “German Churches and Changes in Transportation” for you in this historic church.

4:00 Nellis Tavern
Route 5, St. Johnsville
This 1747 Palatine German tavern is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the Mohawk Valley. This two story structure recalls farming, transportation changes, architectural history, and social history. Join members of the board for answers to your questions in many of the rooms. Against this historic backdrop, we will wrap up the week’s activities with a finger food reception and discussion.