Monday, May 18, 2009

Milling, Spinning, And Bleating

We visited Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, New York today. I've been there before but never toured the entire facility. In this photo you can see the Mill on the left, the Manor House in the middle and on the right, the New World Dutch Barn.
According the the brochure...

Philipsburg Manor is a nationally significant survival of a colonial-era milling and trading complex that was owned by Anglo-Dutch merchants, rented in small plots by tenant farmers of diverse European backgrounds, and operated by a community of enslaved individuals of African descent. The agricultural products of the manor supplied both New York City and plantations in the West Indies with food.

By the middle of the 18th century, the Philipse family had accumulated over 52,000 acres of land in Westchester County and Adolph Philipse was one of the wealthiest men in the colony of New York. The Philipses were also one of the largest slave owning families in the colonial north. Twenty-three enslaved men, women, and children lived and worked at the Upper Mills quarters. Although by 1750 the institution of slaverly was legal in all 13 of England's North American colonies, northern slaveholders rarely owned more than two or three individuals.

At Philipsburg Manor, enslaved men and women like Ceaser, Dimond, Sue and Massey provided the skilled labor necessary to operate a milling complex, a bakehouse, farm and dairy as well as to pilot sloops up and down the Hudson River. Philipsburg Manor, a community of enslaved individuals formed a community that survived almost 100 years in spit of tremendous odds.

Philipsburg Manor presents the history of northern colonial slavery and its relationship to the commercial, economic, and cultural development of New York.

It was an interesting tour but finding out that one man once owned a piece of land that encompassed all of Westchester County is quite astounding. We saw a pair of oxen pulling a cart around the property and watched three women spin sheep's wool into yarn; sheep that had been shorn just a few weeks ago and who were freely roaming the property bleating like....well, sheep.

And if you're tired of the bleating, you can just look at them when they're being all cute and quiet under the trees...

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Gil said...

Great post! Thanks for educating us on Sleepy Hollow. It looks like you guys make the best out of your trips.

sheila said...

I love this kinda stuff! Thanks for posting!