Announcing the 2018 Cooking with Maple Contest Winners!

We just love our maple here at Genesee Country Village & Museum!  We have so much maple-y good fun in our Nature Center’s sugarbush, our 19th century sugar camp, the exciting and new modern sugarhouse, our pancake breakfast, and our lively, 8th annual Cooking with Maple contest.

2018 Contest entries of maple foods arranged in a display.
Contest entries display.

This year the Cooking with Maple judges were challenged to rate a wide variety of maple-based foods ranging from Maple Macarons, Black Bear Maple Bourbon Marinated Steak, Maple Lemon Raisin Pie, Savory Maple and Rosemary Spiced Nut Mix, to Maple Mousse.

Judges sampling the maple entries
The contest judges hard at work.


Grand Prize winner Chris Heschke with his pottery prizes
Grand Prize winner Chris Heschke.



This year’s GRAND PRIZE goes to Chris Heschke of LeRoy, NY with his Maple Caramel Bacon Crack Bites. As the grand prize winner, Chris received a hand-thrown Maple Sugar Festival 2018 platter by our own master potter, Mark Presher.



Here is the complete list of winning entries:

Child under 12 Class (1st Place winners received a $10 gift certificate to our Flint Hill Store, 2nd Place winners receive a bottle of freshly ground cinnamon from Stuart’s Spices)

Brother and sister winners
Brother and sister prize winners, Thomas and Catherine McLaughlin with their gift certificates and cinnamon from Stuart’s Spices.

1st place: Naomi Nov of Churchville, NY; Maple Macarons
2nd place: Thomas McLaughlin of Hemlock, NY; Maple Sandwich Cookies 

1st place: Catherine McLaughlin of Hemlock, NY; Maple Mousse



Youth 12 – 17 Class (1st Place winners received a $10 gift certificate to our Flint Hill Store, 2nd Place winners receive a bottle of freshly ground cinnamon from Stuart’s Spices)

Young lady with her winning cake
Elizabeth Brentlinger with her winning Lemon Maple Apple Cake.

1st place: Elizabeth Brentlinger of Clifton Springs, NY; Maple Nut Spice Cookies

1st place: Elizabeth Brentlinger of Clifton Springs, NY; Lemon Maple Apple Cake

1st place: Elizabeth Brentlinger of Clifton Springs, NY; Maple Lemon Raisin Pie

1st place: Elizabeth Brentlinger of Clifton Springs, NY; Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites


Adult Class (1st Place winners received a hand-thrown redware syrup/cream pitcher made by our own Mark Presher, master potter, 2nd Place winners receive a bottle of freshly ground Volcanic Blend from Stuart’s Spices)

1st place: Mary Birchenaugh of Holley, NY; Maple Walnut Breakfast Cake
2nd place: Gail Fowler of Spencerport, NY; Maple Syrup Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

Woman with winning bar cookies
Stacy Cobo with her winning NYS Maple Syrup Bars.


1st place: Janell Nov of Churchville, NY; Maple Cut-out Cookie with Maple Icing
2nd place: Stacy Cobo of Springville, NY; NYS Maple Syrup Bars
3rd place: Gail Fowler of Spencerport, NY; Maple Sandwich Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling


Volunteer woman in costume with winning tarts
GCV&M volunteer, Pam Friedler with her winning Maple Butter Tarts.


1st place: Gail Fowler of Spencerport, NY; Maple Pecan Pie
2nd place: Pam Friedler of Ontario, NY; Maple Butter Tarts
3rd place: Betsy Forjone of Hilton, NY; Maple Pumpkin Pie

1st place: Chris Heschke of LeRoy, NY; Maple Caramel Bacon Crack Bites
2nd place: Camille Anne Martina of Scottsville, NY; Savory Maple and Rosemary Spiced Nut Mix
3rd place: Mary Birchenaugh of Holley, NY; Sourdough Maple Cheddar & Fennel Scones

1st place: Mary Birchenaugh of Holley, NY; Toasted Walnut Maple Caramels
2nd place: Cheryl Weber of Caledonia, NY; Maple Sugar Waffles with Candied Pecans
3rd place: Nancy Keating of Caledonia, NY; Maple Pumpkin Bread

Thank you to everyone who entered! We can’t wait to see what you come up with next year.

Another huge thank you to this year’s judges, Sarah Santora of Livingston County News; WYSL Radio talk show host, Michael Warren Thomas; Chef Cyndi Lewandowski; Amy LaGambino of Stuart’s Spices, and Nancy Brach of Brach’s Machines in Batavia.  We so appreciate you giving up your time to help us pull the contest off!

The 2018 judges and contest organizer
2018 Judges from left to right: Nancy Brach, Sarah Santora, Cyndi Lewandowski, Amy LaGambino, Michael Warren Thomas, with maple contest coordinator Deanna Berkemeier.



The Changing Faces of Saint Nicholas

In honor of today being Saint Nicholas Day, we have reprised this blog post we first published five years ago today, on December 6, 2012.

1810 NY Hist. Society St Nicholas

In honor of Saint Nicholas Day and our ongoing Yuletide in the Country tours, we thought you might be interested to see a little of the evolution of Saint Nicholas in the first half of the 19th-century. The first American rendition of Saint Nicholas bears no resemblance whatsoever to our modern idea of Santa Claus. Drawn by the artist Alexander Anderson for the NY Historical Society in 1810, this image is of a stern but benevolent Saint Nicholas, his bishop’s scepter in hand. On the right are two children, their stockings hung from the mantle beneath them. The good little child has a full stocking and holds a toy. The naughty child cries as he looks down on his stocking full of switches.1821 Sante Claus from book: The Children's Friend

Next comes an image of “Sante Claus” from an 1821 child’s book entitled “The Children’s Friend”. Here Santa is looking a little more friendly, but if you notice his sleigh is full of “rewards” for good children, while the story tell us that Sante Claus… “left a long, black, birchen rod, Such as the dread command of GOD, Directs a Parent’s hand to use, When virtue’s path his sons refuse.” Hmmm…..

And finally, for this post anyway, we have 1848 Boyd Saint NicholasSaint Nicholas as he appeared in 1849, the same date our Yuletide in the Country tours are set in this year. The drawing, below right, was done by T. C. Boyd for the 1848 edition of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” St. Nick is still pictured holding a stick as a remnant of his bishop’s scepter, but now it is used by the “jolly old elf” to hold the bundle of toys with which he fills all the stockings. Gone is the stern St. Nicholas who requires children to be good and earn their gifts as rewards. He has been transformed into a twinkle-eyed, rosy- cheeked, cherry-nosed, merry little elf.Our Saint Nick


If you have not made your reservations to come out and join us this year on one of our candlelit tours through Christmas of 1849, please consider doing so. Reservations are required and slots are filling up fast for these last two weekends! I promise you will not be disappointed, and you might even catch a glimpse of our own “jolly old elf” in one of the scenes. Ho! Ho! Ho!

That These Dead Shall Not Have Died in Vain

Historical Interpreter, Anneliese Meck

For our first post on the new blog, we have a contribution by a special guest blogger.  Anneliese Meck is a historical interpreter and interpretation office assistant, and honors both her Chinese and American heritages through historical clothing construction and living history at the Genesee Country Village & Museum.

The Chinese Soldiers of the American Civil War

As the cries of battle, cannons and musket fire once again resound through the historic village, echoing in the hearts of soldiers, civilians and spectators alike during our annual Civil War Reenactment, we hope that, in the words of President Lincoln, “these dead shall not have died in vain.”  Though small in number, the Chinese who fought for freedom in this “new country,” with the promise “that all men are created equal,” will not be forgotten, nor their contributions unnoticed.  Asian Americans have served in the armed forces of just about every major American conflict since the War of 1812, demonstrating a deep commitment and patriotic spirit for the country they consider home, despite legalized discrimination and exclusion.  Few may know of the roles of the Chinese in the American Civil War, but with primary sources like military records and photographs, and through the continued efforts of historians and Civil War buffs, we are uncovering a heroic history and redefining diversity in war.

The Chinese in America, 1513–1860

To understand how the Chinese came to enlist in the American Civil War, a brief historical context detailing their migration and settlement in the United States is necessary.  After nearly a century of isolation, the Chinese established trade relations with the Portuguese in 1513, beginning a long, complicated relationship with Europe and contact with the Americas.  Chinese shipbuilders of Spanish Manila galleons or naos de China, “China ships,” and sailors were employed in the thriving trade route between Manila and Mexico, operating from around 1565 to 1815 (Kwok).  Chinese silks, porcelains and jewelry were exported in exchange for New World gold and silver.  Around the same time, in the 1700s, the British East India company landed in Canton (Guangzhou), which became the center of trade by 1760.

In the mid-1850s, with Canton under British and French occupation, Chinese men were sought after as a cheap labor source, serving as sailors, cooks and stewards upon ships along the Eastern American seaboard.  Some even decided to settle in ports such as New York City as an 1856 New York Times Article evidenced, estimating around 150 “Chinamen in New York,” mostly employed as sailors (Heaver).  That mention, along with the number of young boys adopted by missionaries and sea captains to be raised in America, accounts for most of the recorded presence of Chinese on the East Coast.  While on the West Coast, the international gold rush of 1849 sparked a diaspora, with more than 250,000 young Chinese men hoping to strike riches in California’s gim san or “gold mountain” (Shirk).  Rather than prosperity, they quickly discovered a deep-seated, anti-Chinese climate, and were forced out by discriminatory measures like the Foreign Miners’ Tax.

The Chinese in the Civil War

Corporal Joseph Pierce

To the surprise of most Americans today, 58 Chinese men, out of a total of 200 identified as living on the East Coast at the start of the war, voluntarily enlisted in both the Union and Confederate armies to fight for the same causes as their black and white compatriots.  Many hoped for legitimacy and citizenship in exchange for loyalty and service to a country they considered their own.  Accounts of valiant efforts in many major battles as well as service records exist, showing that three Chinese soldiers were even promoted to corporals in all white units.  This included both Corporal Joseph Pierce of the 14th Connecticut regiment, who fought at Antietam and Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge, and Corporal John Tommy of the 70th New York regiment, Co. D, who also fought at Gettysburg and lost all four limbs in the crossfire.

Private Woo Hong Neok

Eager for liberation, some of the Chinese enslaved through the Pacific slave trade, much like their African American counterparts, hungered for a better life and enlisted in the Union army.  Thomas Sylvanus, or Ah Yee Way, escaped from slavery in Baltimore fought at Gettysburg and survived a nine-month incarceration at Andersonville, the notorious Confederate prison camp.  Woo Hong Neok, one of the few Chinese granted citizenship before the war, also identified with the Union cause.  He enlisted with the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Co. I, stating that he “volunteered on June 29, 1863 in spite of the advice of my Lancaster friends against it, for I had felt that the North was right in opposing slavery.  My friends thought I should not join the militia and risk my life in war, for my own people and family were in China and I had neither property nor family in America whose defense might serve as an excuse for my volunteering” (Shirk).


At the same time, at least five Chinese Americans have been identified by name as sympathizers of the Confederate cause.  Most famously, cousins Christopher and Stephen Bunker, the sons of prosperous slave-owning farmers in North Carolina, fought to protect their family’s interests, as well as Henry William Kwan of the 12th Virginia Battalion of Light Artillery, Co. B.  There are even records of Chinese enlisted with the Avegno Zouaves Company I of the 14th Louisiana Infantry (Kwok).

Other important roles included an unidentified number of Chinese sailors, stewards and cooks serving in the Union navy during the blockades of Southern ports.  Several names include Thomas Smith, a sailor listed onboard the USS Potomac, John Akomb, a steward on a gunboat, and William Hand, the first Asian American to enlist in the US Navy in 1863.  Unfortunately, historians will never know an exact number of the Chinese in the American Civil War, but their collective contributions to the war efforts were unarguably “far above our poor power to add or detract” (Lincoln).

Discrimination After the War

Though the battles of the Civil War may have ended in 1865, the fierce fight for legitimacy and equality for many minorities, including the Chinese, continued as wartime promises were broken.  The heroic contributions of Chinese soldiers and sailors were only rewarded with racial discrimination and measures like the Naturalization Act of 1870 and Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which largely prevented Chinese immigration by making citizenship illegal.  These laws were passed in direct violation of an earlier Congressional act from 1862, promising U.S. citizenship to any honorably discharged veteran of foreign born status.  Deprived of citizenship, the Chinese were also ineligible for army pensions, voting and property rights, as Civil War veterans like Edward Day Cohota found when denied a homestead with his American wife and six children.  In an official statement, Cohota wrote that he had “fought in the country’s service as a solder” and “served in its regular army for which I was retired for continued honorable service for over 30 years, and I believe that I, if anyone, have earned the right to be pronounced a citizen of the United States and enjoy all of its rights and privileges” (Heaver).  His protests, however, and the deep betrayal of his adopted country were dismissed.

Reduced to poverty, most of the Chinese immigrants of the 19th century were segregated into Chinatowns, operating laundries and restaurants, or were exploited as cheap “coolie labor” along the transcontinental railroad.  Those escaping the Pacific slave trade found it only replaced by strong anti-Asian sentiments, legalized oppression, and, in some instances, physical beating, robbing and killing.  A once proud veteran of Antietam and Gettysburg, Joseph Pierce had to deny any association with his ethnic origin for fear of expulsion, or worse.  In fact, he was so successful in his repression, that his descendants were unaware of their Chinese heritage.

A Lasting Legacy

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which forbid the naturalization of Chinese-American immigrants, remained in law until 1943, and it took another twenty years to formally abolish all restrictions based on race and national origin.  More recently, in 2008, former U.S. representative Michael Makoto Honda lead Congress to pass a joint resolution, which finally recognized the sacrifices made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the American Civil War and posthumously awarded honorary citizenship (Smith).  This decision was a historic, first step towards a more substantial recognition of Asian American contributions, ensuring that, despite centuries of institutionalized prejudices and the denial of citizenship, their service to the country will never be forgotten.

At the Genesee Country Village & Museum, we strive to recognize and celebrate the heroism of all American soldiers – black and white, blue and grey, and now Asian, alike.  Continuing our mission to inspire excitement and curiously about a richly diverse past, we hope that you will join in our commemoration of the Civil War on the 15th and 16th of July, 2017.



1)    “1860sClothing” – a picture of Anneliese Meck in 1860s clothing, photograph courtesy of M. Meck.

2)      “CorporalJosephPierce” – Corporal Joseph Pierce of the 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, Company F, a Chinese Union soldier who fought at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

3)      “PrivateHongNeokWoo” – Private Woo Hong Neok of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, Company I.  Photograph by Dr. Thomas P. Lowry and Michael Musick, via the Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War.


Works Cited

Corporal Joseph Pierce. Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, Accessed 12 July 2017.

Heaver, Stuart. “The Chinese Soldiers Who Fought in the American Civil War.” Post Magazine, 14 July 2016, Accessed 12 July 2017.

Hong Neok Woo. Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War, Gordon Kwok, Accessed 12 July 2017.

Kwok, Gordon. “Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War.” Association to Commemorate the Chinese Serving in the American Civil War, 18 Jan. 2009, Accessed 12 July 2017.

Lincoln, Abraham. “The Gettysburg Address.” 19 Nov. 1863. Abraham Lincoln Online, 2017, Accessed 12 July 2017. Address.

Shirk, Willis L., Jr. “Woo Hong Neok: A Chinese American Soldier in the Civil War.” Civil War Pennsylvania 150, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 16 July 2015, Accessed 12 July 2017.

Smith, S. E. “The Secret History of Chinese-American Civil War Soldiers.” This Ain’t Livin’, 14 Feb. 2017, american_civil_war_soldiers/. Accessed 12 July 2017.



A Year in the Home: March” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890

March brings the third installment of our year-long series of blog posts featuring “A Year in the Home” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890 editions.  This month Mrs. Prescott declares to be the dullest and bleakest of months, coming after all the gaiety of the previous few month’s-worth of holidays. Yet she tells us the lull and quietude of March is great for spring remaking of dresses and sewing underwear.  Then, just when we may become dull from all our work this month, out comes a creative party for light-hearted amusement, complete with prizes and “booby” prizes!  I won’t spoil the surprise for you.  Read on to learn all about the activities of March in 1890.

March part 1March part 2March blog post

Pictured above, from the upper left corner clockwise are: Lemon Cake from the White House Cookbook, a lemon basket filled with lemon curd, marzipan lemons, fresh lemonade, “Russian” tea, a lemon-seed necklace with a gilded and bronzed dried lemon, and lastly a small glass of “Ms. Wadsworth’s Lemon Liqueur.”

Have you enjoyed reading about March with its spring preparations for a busy summer and “lemon parties”?  Please let us know what you think in the comment section below.  While we wait to hear from you, I am going to start looking for a big, plump lemon!

A Year in the Home: February” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890

This month we give you the second installment of a year-long series of blog posts featuring “A Year in the Home” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890 editions.  This month’s article explains how to make your own valentines, who Saint Valentine was, and gives some thoughtful verses and entertaining ideas for Americans living 126 years ago to celebrate the day, including a suggested menu for a Valentines Day supper.  We hope you will enjoy reading this month’s article of “A Year in the Home: February.”

February part 1February part 2

Have you enjoyed reading about this month’s Valentine’s Day celebration?  Please let us know what you think in the comment section below.

A Year in the Home: January” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890.

This month we begin a new year-long series of blog posts featuring “A Year in the Home” from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1890 editions.  We will be publishing the series on the first Monday of the month throughout 2016.  Each article will touch on the fashions, work, traditions and mores of Americans living 126 years ago.  We hope you will enjoy reading this series of articles as they are released once a month, just as they were when first published.  Here we give you “January.”

January part 1January part 2