Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random Notes

Margot Kohler Spinning Alpaca Wool
Mullica Hill Quilting Group
 Delia Dungan Quilt Detail
Delia Dungan Quilt Detail
Karen Dever with Quilt (Back)
Hand Made Quilt by Delia Dungan
Detail of Toone Long Rife
I've been traveling quite a bit recently, mainly out of state, and haven't had much time to review my notes and photographs and assemble a new post.  This post is therefore a place-holder of sorts, to provide a map of future entries while also attempting to address what has become a long gap between posts.

As my work in the project region has progressed, I've been able to make contact with a number of people working in the area of textile arts -- spinners, quilters, embroiderers, as well as people who raise animals for wool -- and I've visited many of those people, interviewed them, and taken photographs of their work.  There is an extraordinary range of such work, made mainly though not exclusively by women, and much of these pieces are of very high quality.  I've included some textile-related photos here.

I've also included a few of the photos I took when I visited Richard Toone in Burlington County near Pemberton.  Mr. Toone is a fine craftsman who makes reproductions of historic artifacts for museums and historical societies as well as for the community of historical reenactors.  I'll be exploring and reporting on his work in more detail in coming months.   Meanwhile, you can learn more about his work by visiting his website, which has many fine photographs and descriptions of Mr. Toone's work,.

As noted in previous posts, I've committed to working more intensively in selected places in the project region, which includes Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington Counties and parts of adjacent counties as well.  During 2010-2011, I've spent quite a bit of time in Gloucester County, but toward the close of that fiscal year, I branched out and did fieldwork in Burlington County, and in Camden County as well.
Richard Toone Maker's Mark
Long Rifle Hand Crafted by  Richard Toone

The fieldwork I was able to do in Camden County was a follow-up to work I'd been doing in Burlington and Cumberland Counties with the Nanticoke-Lenape tribal peoples.  I'd like to develop one or two blog posts on that community at some point, once I've had the chance to work more closely with individual members, and have begun to understand and become sufficiently sensitive to the details of their tribal history and culture.

In Camden County, there's a small but enduring community of Native Americans living in parts of Pennsauken Township, who are associated principally with the Powhatan Renape Nation.  This community has important historical and cultural ties to the Nanticoke-Lenape people further south, who are centered in Cumberland and Burlington Counties and parts of Delaware.  Each of these tribal communities is a significant part of the cultural history of our region, though their activity has been somewhat hidden from public view.  As a result, their preeminent contributions to regional history and culture has not been adequately grasped or understood by the broader public.

I'll report on my work with these Native American communities in future posts, as that work develops.  Meanwhile, you can read the full text of a Nanticoke-Lenape tribal history, written by tribal leader John Norwood, online at --www.NativeNewJersey.org  or www.Nanticoke-Lenape.info.  A separate publication focusing on the history of the Pennsauken community in Camden County is titled Morrisville, A Native Hidden Community, by Nemattanew (Chief Roy Crazy Horse).  That work was published in 2002 by Powhatan Press in Rancocas. 

As I began to explore the Native American communities of the project region, I continued working along the Delaware River and its tributary creeks, meeting and speaking with many individuals in and around the Flood Gates area.  I've reported on that community in this blog, and as I continue my work there, that story will continue to unfold.

As I worked in Flood Gates, however, I began to feel that I wanted to identify other communities along the river where I could dig in and explore their cultural history more fully.  In Gloucester County, there's such a community settled along Woodbury Creek, in the town of National Park.  The Woodbury Creek community is very different from the Flood Gates community, but there are similarities too.  Both communities are situated along creeks that feed into the Delaware River, and in both places, a special relationship to the river and creeks has evolved and been developed and maintained in both places.  I plan to explore these relationships in the different river communities more fully in coming weeks and months.

Further upriver, there is a tract of land owned and occupied by the Taylor family, a family of Quakers, who settled on the river near Riverside, and have occupied the site for several generations.  That family has made arrangements to keep the land open by participating in a farm preservation program.  They have developed public programs, and an organic farming operation which sells produce to the public.  As a result, their land has achieved new status as a community resource.

The community at Newton's Landing, a little further upriver near Delanco, provides an interesting and possibly important contrast.  The land in that area, which had been occupied by several important farming families for generations, was sold to a developer, who built a private residential community there.  Some of the old original farm buildings remain on the site, though they are not open to the public and their history is not interpreted in any way that I'm aware of.  There is also an Indian burial mound on that site, located near the river and now situated close to the swimming pool that now services the contemporary residential community.  It's marked off by a low white fence, but it too is not otherwise explained or interpreted in any meaningful way.
Sarah DiPietro Redrow's painting of a garvey built by her father, Winfield Scott Feldman, with wood he salvaged from the Delaware River

These four river communities present interesting contrasts, and possibly also interesting continuities, which I hope to explore further as fieldwork progresses in the next fiscal year.   Meanwhile, I'll pursue other leads in the region, with the community of spinners, embroiderers, rug makers, and quilters; with the Native American communities I've mentioned; with local artists whom I've discovered scattered throughout the project region; and as mentioned, I'll also continue my work in and among the four river communities I've alluded to here.  There are other project initiatives underway as well, which I'll be reporting on in future posts.

I've scattered various photos throughout this post, not always strictly related to the adjacent text, hoping to whet your appetite and rouse your interest in learning more.  I'll be back with another post soon.
Boardwalk to Music Cabin at Flood Gates
Vanneman Musicians

Vanneman Music Cabin at Flood Gates
Jersey Devil Junk Sculpture by Chris Giberson, near Pemberton