Set in Stone

Creating and Commemorating a Hudson Valley Culture

Kenneth Shefsiek
eISBN-13: 9781438464374

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Winner of the 2017 Hendricks Award presented by the New Netherland Institute

In 1678, seven French-speaking Protestant families established the village of New Paltz in the Hudson River Valley of New York. Life on the edge of European settlement presented many challenges, but a particular challenge for these ethnic Walloon families, originally from the southern Spanish Netherlands, was that they lived in a Dutch cultural region in an English colony. In Set in Stone, Kenneth Shefsiek explores how the founders and their descendants reacted to and perpetuated this multiethnic cultural environment for generations.

As the founding families controlled their town economically and politically, they creatively and selectively blended the cultures available to them. They allowed their Walloon culture to slip away early in the village's history, but they continued to combine Dutch and English cultures for more than 150 years. When they finally abandoned the last vestiges of Dutch culture in the early nineteenth century, they did so just as descendants of English colonists began to claim that the national commitment to liberty and freedom was grounded in the nation's English heritage. Not willing to be marginalized, descendants of the New Paltz Walloons constructed an alternative national narrative, placing their ancestors at the very center of the American story.

ISBNs 9781438464367, 1438464371, 9781438464374
Language English
Number of Pages 314