Welcome to Staatsburgh State Historic Site's blog! Learn more about the Gilded Age home of Ruth and Ogden Mills!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Groundbreaking Gilded Age Women in Politics

The passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave some women the right to vote on a federal level, but certainly not all.  As two examples: Native Americans were not allowed to be citizens in 1920, so indigenous women did not gain suffrage as a result. Despite their very active role in fighting for women's suffrage, Black women's right to vote was less clearly secured by the passage of the Amendment, but that did not deter them from advocating consistently for their right and engaging in electoral politics. In some parts of the country, some women had been allowed to vote in local elections long before 1920, and many women ran for office!  Exactly 100 years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, the United States elected the first female vice-president.  Because of this groundbreaking election, and amidst the backdrop of much controversy regarding voting rights in our current day, we want to highlight other women who also achieved political firsts.

Women's Political Union Votes for Women Sash
Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution

This essay will explore the groundbreaking political campaigns of five different women during this era.  We will explore the first female to legitimately run for president as well as first woman elected to various offices including administrator of a statewide office, mayor, state senator, and US representative.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Passing Fancy: Gilded Age Crushes

During the month of February, in honor of Valentine's Day, we celebrated some of the many swoon-worthy men and women of the Gilded Age.  These short profiles take a look at four men and four women who captured the attention of Staatsburgh staff.  Originally posted on Staatsburgh's facebook page, we compiled all the posts here to share in a single essay.  

Who is your Gilded Age crush? Without further ado, here are our selections descending by age...

Sunday, January 31, 2021

When Ice Came from the River: Ice Harvesting in Staatsburg

Before the invention of electric refrigeration, how did food and perishables keep cold, especially during the warm summer months?  The answer is ice.  Large blocks of ice cut from a river or lake during the winter would keep food items cool all summer.  But how did the ice move from the river into the home?  To answer that question, we must take a look at the ice harvesting industry, which was active throughout much of the north-east coast of the country (as well as inland, in northern states) between the 1830s and 1920s, and which was dominated for several decades by production on the Hudson River and nearby lakes.

Ice harvesting on the Hudson, 1912
Photo: New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_830

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

On the 1st Day of Christmas...

 ...my true love gave to me...  Are you already singing it in your head?  "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a Christmas carol with a very catchy tune.  This popular and enduring carol cumulatively lists increasingly lavish gifts during each verse from a partridge in a pear tree to twelve drummers drumming.  Even though the version we hear today identifies the gift giver as "my true love," some earlier versions of the song instead used "my mother."  Many different tunes were also used with the lyrics until the current version became the standard in the early 20th century.   

Monday, November 30, 2020

Dude, Where's Ogden's Cars?

"The new speed limit signs which were recently placed north and south of the village by Mrs. Ogden Mills do not seem to have any effect on the motorists with their speed." 

- Poughkeepsie Courier (July 7, 1918)

No self-respecting 'motor-head' would ever, voluntarily, put speed limit signs outside their house. So, it's safe to say the Mills probably weren't car people. That's not to say they didn't enjoy the status and luxury of the new inventions to sweep the nation during their years at Staatsburgh. 

A century ago, the Mills family were known for their successful racehorses. Yet, many people today associate their estate with 'horseless carriages' - cars! Every October, Staatsburgh State Historic Site welcomes hundreds of antique cars to its main lawn. 

Sadly, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 "Gathering of the Old Cars" had to be cancelled, so we thought it would be fun to explore some of the antique - or, rather new for the era - automobiles owned by the Mills and their employees. In our archives, we found period photographs of the family and servants enjoying the open roads.