Before I dive right in, I wanted to share my goals in creating this blog. First of all, I want a documented experience of my internship so I can reflect back on my findings. By doing this, I hope to organize my thoughts and ideas about the project and have a clear sense each day of how I am progressing. Sometimes when you lock your thoughts up in your head, you may think they make sense, but when you go to formally write them down you find that perhaps you don’t know all that you thought you knew! Or, maybe you do, but writing develops that further. This happens to me pretty often, thus the creation of this blog. And, most importantly, I want to share everything I find with anyone whose interested in knowing more about local history and the roles our ancestral neighbors played in the past. It’s so cool, so intimate, and so important that it definitely needs to be shared.
That being said, Forward in all Directions!
I am so super, super, super excited to be interning at the Wappingers Historical Society. I have a deep passion for local history, and having the opportunity to get involved, hands on, with the society makes me incredibly eager to get going! Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to get started (thank you, thank you, thank you!).
The first few days I met with Sandra Vacchio, president of WHS, and together we ironed out the details of my duties as an intern. As it turns out, my internship will be totally awesome as Beth Devine, Vice President of WHS, suggested that my most consuming role would be fine tuning the society’s knowledge of the Mesier family. This means researching and gathering more information on Peter Mesier, the homestead’s namesake, and his kin. The project, it seems, is of immense importance to the progress of WHS as having a comprehensive history of the Mesiers, their role in the affairs Wappingers and earlier in New York City, would offer the society a firm foundation as to what exactly the long-term goals of the society would/could and should be.
Beth has already given me a wealth of information to kick start my own investigations, and today I dove right into it.
First I started by confirming some of the information Beth gave me that we were a little confused on. I went ahead and created a tentative genealogy of the Mesiers. My goal in doing this was solely to understand which Mesier members actually lived on the homestead (and when). This is what I ended up coming up with (highlighted in yellow are the ancestors I believe to have resided in the home): Mesier Family Tree
Then, to give myself a overall gist of the the Mesier’s history, I read Henry Suydam’s History and Reminiscences of the Mesier Family of Wappingers Creek. Henry Suydam was the son of Jane Mesier, daughter of Catherine and Peter Mesier, and frequently visted his Aunt and Uncle at the homestead. He privately published his History in 1882, the same year the last Mesier (Henry Mesier, I believe) occupied the house. The book is a brief, charming history of the the family and it’s more notable members. Though not thorough in the least, it was another great starting point.
I also wanted to learn more about the Wappinger’s Tea Party and the conflict with Peter Mesier, and I found an official document written by what was called The Committee and Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York. Sound juicy?! Well it is! It is so cool to read about this kind of event happening not only right here in Wappingers, but at the Mesier Homestead itself! So awesome. Here it is: Peter Mesier & Wappingers Tea Party
I feel it’s also super important to have an understanding of who Peter’s parents and grandparents were and what they did themselves in New York. I unearthed some awesome, well documented information on where the first Mesiers lived and what kind of property they owned in Manhattan (this information is dated back to the 1660s – it’s incredibly hard to find specific details about one person that long ago, so we are incredibly lucky). And here’s what I gathered on that: Peter Mesier, SR
Finally, I wanted to know about Peter Mesier’s property losses in Manhattan due to two “great fires,” one in 1776 and one in 1778. What I found in regards to this was very intriguing, and I was able to figure out quite a bit. Here are my notes on that: Peter Mesier in NYC – Houses Burned
All in all today was a great, successful, rewarding first day at WHS. I feel like I gathered a lot of useful information and have the tools to formulate some more goals for moving forward – and I absolutely loved doing it. I feel like Sherlock Holmes.
**I want to make a note that my blog will be structured as follows: each day I’ll post a brief description of what I did and my notes on each topic, and then at the end of each week submit an comprehensive, detailed entry of what I found and reflect on those findings.