Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
(Continued from May 23, 2011)
New Year’s Eve Bash
It had been mid-summer back in 1828 when Scottish traveler James Stuart first arrived in New York City. His timing was such that he had missed the city’s New Year’s Day celebrations by a good eight months. Perhaps fortunately for him. He might have been callithumped. There are a number of possible origins of the obscure word ‘Callithumpian’. Whatever the source, it’s described in “Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words” as, “a noisy demonstration”. The whole thing was a British import, as described by historian Stephen Nissenbaum's The Battle for Christmas. “By beating on tin pans, blowing horns, groaning and shouting catcalls, the music was performed as a gesture of deliberate mockery . . . the callithumpians . . . directed their 'rough music' against those who seemed to be claiming too much dignity or abusing their power."
On January 1, 1828, the entire cacophonous shivaree got out of hand. It had begun up in the theater district along the Bowery, when a contingent of middle-class revelers, armed with all sorts of noisemakers and well fortified with liquid refreshments started tossing limes (don’t ask me where they found limes in early Manhattan during the winter) through the windows of one of the local bars. Then they made their boisterous way over to the City Hotel on Broadway (where the Stuarts would put up in the coming summer). After roughing up attendees at a fancy ball there, they turned next to a nearby African-American church, bursting through the street door, smashing windows, breaking up the pews, and physically assaulting the congregation who were gathered to see in the new year. Heading down Broadway they looted shops all the way down to the Battery Park, where they tore down its iron fence and tossed assorted missiles through windows surrounding the park where the city’s elite had their town houses. Then they presumably scattered, stumbling off to nearby gutters to lie down and make their resolutions.
We don’t hear of repeat performances in the immediately following years. Certainly now, in 1830, the Stuarts apparently enjoyed a much more sedate celebration, since he makes no mention of any merrymaking at all. The sun rose on a quite mellow January 1st; the Stuart party caught a steamboat out of Hoboken and headed off to Brooklyn Heights to watch the various sailing packet boats headed for and returning from Europe. Stuart reports, “I never witnessed a more animating scene. On our return through New York we were surprised to observe the streets more crowded than at any former period . . . it is usual for people of all descriptions to call at each other's houses, were it but for a moment, on the first day of the year. Cold meat, cake, confectionaries, and wines, are laid out upon a table, that all who call may partake; and it seems the general understanding, that such a one's friends as do not call upon him on the first day of the year are not very anxious to continue his acquaintance.”
As we’ve seen repeatedly 19th century Americans really liked to pack away the vittles. Local bakers outdid themselves creating the ‘confectionaries’ Stuart mentions. During the holidays they would each advertise their grandest creations and visitors come around to gawk at the grandest, before they’re cut. One of the bakers would seem to have been going for a Guinness record, had such things existed then. His cake weighed in at 1500 pounds.
© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte
Thursday, June 16, 2011
New York's Governor Edmund Andros convenes a Board of Indian Commissioners at Albany. Robert Livingston serves as court secretary.
Plum (Plumme) Island Manor, (including Gull Island), on Long Island’s North Fork, is
formally granted to Samuel Willes (Wyllys) by Governor Andros.
Andros appears at Saybrook, Connecticut, claiming the land west of the Connecticut River for the Duke of York.
The Dutch on Long Island hold their first annual Kermiss (agricultural fair).
Francis Lovelace, second colonial governor of New York, dies in London, in his mid-fifties.
Work begins on a new English fort in Albany.
Albany resident Pieter Bogardus finds his fence has been torn down and thrown in the Hudson River. The vandalism is reported to the fort's acting commander Sergeant Thomas Sharpe.
Albany residents Jan Conell and Dirck Albertsz Bradt impersonate a British officer while performing an impromptu farce at the tavern of William Gysbertse.
Conell and Bradt go to trial for ridiculing a British officer, are released on bail to appear before a special session on the 11th.
The two men are found guilty, but being Dutch and presumably not overly familiar with English custom, are sentenced to an hour in the stocks and relatively moderate fines of 200 and 100 guilders respectively.
Andros imposes penalties in Albany for trading violations, a high levy for defense of the town, and fines for an entire street when drunken a Indian is found there. ** A Senate House is erected at Kingston.
Royal governor Edmund Andros confirms the 1667 grant of Oyster Bay.
The Suffolk County town of Southampton is incorporated by patent by Governor Andros.
Iroquois Confederacy members friendly to the English create the Covenant Chain, a commercial and military alliance, with them, signing two treaties at Albany. The first, between the Five Nations and Connecticut and Massachusetts, ends King Philip's War (New England's Second Puritan Conquest). In the second the Iroquois and the Delaware broker an agreement between Maryland and Virginia on the one hand and the Iroquois and the Andastes (or Susquehannocks) on the other. ** French Huguenots in the Hudson Valley establish New Paltz.
The Ulster County grant of New Paltz is occupied by Huguenots.
Dutch missionaries Jaspar Dankers and Peter Sluyter visit the Albany area.
© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte