News and Event Updates from the Office of the Orange County Historian

The Man Who Would Be Washington
Photo: Sarah Clonts
John Koopman III
The Life of a George Washington Interpreter

When John Koopman III, appeared in his best George Washington finery at a local community event, one little boy about 8 or 9 looked up at the tall figure, and earnestly asked, "Aren't you dead?" To that, John laughs; it's one of his funniest moments he can recall during his portrayal of Washington as he appeared during the Revolutionary War years. They say we all have a double in this life; well, John's double lived about 200 plus years ago, and was one of the country's first heroes, and later, its first president. The statistics are uncanny, and how he came about playing this role of a lifetime, is also another story in itself.
"I've always been a fan of history, and was part of a reenactment group, the Second Regiment, Light Dragoons," he says, "And one day my commander mentioned that another group was looking for an actor to portray George Washington, and that my build was similar to his." John agreed. The group was going to lend him the uniform and accessories, but at the last minute, the offer didn't come through. But then, a friend of his named Henry Cooke, a tailor, was given the job of creating new uniforms for exhibits at Mount Vernon, Washington's Virginia home. Which mean, of course, that Henry had access to Washington's exact size and dimensions. But then, John's aunt passed away, leaving him a bit of an inheritance -- enough to have Henry sew up an exact duplicate uniform. Oh, did we mention that John's dimensions are not just similar, they're eerily exact. "The arm length, my height, waste, inseam....was the same as his," John says, and praises his aunt for leaving him this legacy which also allowed him to purchase the matching saddle and tack for his horse. And a founding father was founded!

John Koopman in action.
His best customer, he says, is New York State considering all the events statewide that celebrate GW as he came and went throughout the area. John makes regular portrayal appearances at Washington's Newburgh Headquarters and at special events like the recent National Park Service 100th anniversary at FDR State Park to unveil the Washington-Rochambeau Trail, and at a birthday party for GW at the Albany Institute where John dressed in the President's "first inaugural suit," and had the pleasure of cutting the cake. When asked if he has attended anything at Lower Manhattan's Fraunces Tavern, where GW gave his famous farewell address to his army, he says, "No, but we did an event at the Historical Society across the street and went to the Tavern for dinner. There I was in the General's uniform, eating dinner and just got funny looks all night."
This part-time career - his day job is in energy engineering - has been extremely rewarding, as it has allowed him to become an expert equestrian (as was George), put into practice the gentlemanly upbringing he experienced as a youth, and become a book author. His 2015 release, George Washington at War - 1776, is available on and recounts a little known event in Washington's life as General. "One day, while on his own and on horseback, he was sighted by the British, and chased on horseback," explains John. "He evaded capture, thankfully, but it could've been catastrophic for the Americans."
Right now, John resembles George as a middle-aged man, similar color hair and far from gray, he still stands tall and upright on his own horse, Josheb, who plays Nelson, GW's favorite chestnut. 
As the years pass, John is aware that his portrayal will need to age as well, and his days as general will be behind him. However, Mt. Vernon is currently filming a new 2018 film for their visitor center with John as the General. "We've just filmed the first segment. It's in 4-D, so when there's a fire on the screen, the audience will smell smoke, when there's a battle, the chairs will shake." So, John does get to enjoy one benefit that GW didn't, rather than gracing the dollar bill, he's forever immortalized on film, and in living color.
John Koopman III will be portraying George Washington at Newburgh's Washington’s Headquarters on the weekend of February 18, 19 and 20th. Visit his website at to learn more about his career, his book, and view videos of him as George Washington.

2016 Annual Report
from the office of the 
Orange County Historian
The 2016 Annual Report has been submitted to the State Historian. It will soon be combined with reports from all County department heads and published as part of the Orange County Executive's report. It is available to read at this link. 

If you are a municipal historian who has not submitted your report to the State Historian and your County Historian, please do so.
Community Updates

Qualified not-for-profit groups and municipalities seeking funding for the preservation or restoration of historic buildings or structures with art or cultural purpose are invited to submit their grant request. Grants range from $3,000 to $10,000.

The Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) is also available with awards up to $3,000.  
Call (518) 462-5658 for details.  Deadline is Monday, March 27, 2017. 


Mary Ellen Matise, Village of Walden Historian has been  selected to receive the
2017 Martha Washington 
Woman of History Award

This award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in the field of Hudson Valley history.  Matise has been president of the Walden Women's Club, a founding member of the Coldenham Preservation and Historical Society, and a mentor for the Walden Elementary History Club.

This award also acknowledges our first First Lady, Martha Washington and her important place in history as a devoted patriot in support of the American Revolution and the ensuing new nation.

Congratulations Mary Ellen Matise!

Presentation will take place on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 2pm.
For information, call 845-562-1195.


" We are pleased to announce the completion of the roof replacement on the Mapes House. The distinctive Alaskan yellow cedar shakes now clearly define the distinctive architectural style of the elegant Queen Anne style Victorian house. Accented with copper details on the gutters, chimney caps and ice guards, the roof will age gracefully for another 40 years. Master restoration roofer, Wayne Coleman, worked steadily through the fall and winter.

Thanks to Wayne (in photo above), Project Director Adrian Mateosian, Architect Bob Gabalski and Construction Manager Tom Mance, the Seward/Mapes Homestead has reached a beautiful milestone."

 - Roger Dowd, head of the Seward/Mapes House Restoration Committee

The New Life Pentecostal Church on Broadway was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by the New York Landmarks Conservancy to help with the cost of a roof replacement.  This is one of 19 "sacred sites" grants provided.  The New Life church building dates back to 1910, and was used by the Salvation Army; the Salvation Army logo can still be seen in its parapet.  Congratulations!
The Intern Corner
My thoughts on a visit to George Washington's
Morning view from Cafe Macchiato, Photo by Jodi Cummings
Headquarters in Newburgh

by Rowan Moses-Westphal 
Working as an intern at the historical department opens a whole host of opportunities that I haven't previously been able to access. One of these opportunities was a private tour of Washington's Headquarters followed by a lecture on the Huddy Affair. Despite living so close to Newburgh, I'd never gotten around to visiting such an important historical site, so this was quite a treat.

Washington's Headquarters is a relatively small house by twenty first century standards, but during it's time as Washington's base of operations, it was a mansion. The parlor has two windows out of style choice despite the cost of the extra firewood it would take to heat the room. The house itself was built in a traditional Dutch style and owned by Jonathan Hasbrouck's widow Catherine Dubois Hasbrouck. In this house, Washington established a number of traditions we still follow. It was here that Washington refused to become a monarch in the budding nation, cementing the use of democracy. He quelled a rebellion forming amongst the discontented officers of the continental army, and designed and awarded the first Purple Heart medals.

Washington's desk at the Newburgh Headquarters.
Learning about the Huddy Affair, our first international incident, was enlightening. The wrongful hanging of a prisoner by Loyalists and the angry retaliation of Patriots gave way to the first international crises of the new nation which fell to General George Washington to solve. The petty arguments that arose between neighbors, both here and broad, fueled the flame between loyalists and patriots. Local militias drove the war in a way the Continental Army could not. The militias acted as a police force for their respective towns. Although the militias' primary duty was to keep the peace, and prevent slave uprisings and attacks from Indians, several, such as those led by Joshua Huddy made direct attacks on the British force. Due to the sheer number of militias and difficulty Congress was having with the Continental Army, militias had a certain freedom that the army did not and they used this freedom to their own benefit and personal gain. Patriots were able to take revenge on their Loyalist neighbors over past disputes with the premise of working to free the United States from tyrannical rule.

Loyalist militias also used past vendettas as excuses to attack Patriots. Joshua Huddy attacked and killed Richard Lippincott's brother, and Lippincott had Huddy wrongfully hanged in the name of Philip White. The Patriots, upon hearing of this wrongful execution, demanded recompense and randomly chose Charles Asgill should Lippincott not be delivered to the Patriots. Asgill happened to be the son of an influential couple, who had access to royal courts and were able to influence key figures in the hierarchy of the French court that their son should be freed or else France ought to withdraw their support.

The personal vendettas that drove representatives on both sides of the conflict escalated to the point that France threatened to pull out of their support of us, and several countries announced they would refuse to view the new United States as a nation, all because of a wrongful execution and a random choice of their revenge. This is a prime example of how strong tensions and emotions can escalate a situation far beyond what could be imagined at the onset.
Rowan Moses-Westphal is a student at Goshen High School  and is an intern at the Office of the Orange County Historian. His favorite branch of American History is the Revolutionary War.
Historical Interpreter Karen Monti leads the County HIstorian's staff, interns and volunteers on tour of Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh as a special treat to kick off the New Year.   Thank you to Historical Interpreters Karen Monti and Lynette Scherer for sharing their knowledge with our group while onsite. And to Historic Site Manager Elyse Goldberg and Interpretive Programs Assistant Aaron Robinson for arranging the tour.
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences
Unveiling at Washington's HQ

Friday, February 10th at 3:00pm

A newly acquired painting by Clarence K. Chatterton (1888-1973) to be unveiled at Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site
Newburgh Historian, Mary McTamaney, will share some remarks about the artist. 

Washington's Headquarters
Corner of Washington and Liberty Streets
Newburgh - (845) 562-1195

C. K. Chatterton, a native of Newburgh, briefly studied at the New York School of Art, only to return to the Hudson Valley.  He taught art locally, and was briefly the Superintendent of Art Education in the Newburgh public schools.  In 1915, he began what would turn out to be a 33 year career teaching art at Vassar College, retiring as a full professor.  Painting oils and gouaches, his early subject matter consisted of Newburgh streets, rooftops, docks and the Hudson River. The painting being unveiled today shows the Hasbrouck House (aka, Washington's Headquarters) in true Chatterton style. 
What's Old is New: Erie and the Graham Line

Saturday, February 11th at 1PM

A presentation by Bob McCue on the Erie's Railroad Graham Line,

Monroe Senior Center
101 MIne Road
Monroe, NY 10950
Webinar: Basics of Archives

February 13-March 17, 2017

The newly revised Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices.There are only 100 spaces available and this course will sell out, so register early to secure your spot. 

Learn more & register:

February 13-March 17, 2017
15-20 hours to be completed anytime during the above dates
Cost: $85 AASLH Members/$160 nonmembers

The course consists of five lessons:

-Archives and Archivists
-Acquiring Your Collections
-Processing Collections
-Housing Your Collections
-Access and Outreach

The course is web-based and takes 15-20 hours to complete. There are no required times to be online. You may finish the course anytime during the four-week course period.

Who Should Take This Course:

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with archival materials.

About the Instructor: 

Charles Arp is the Enterprise Content Manager-IT at the Battelle Memorial Institute. Previously, he worked for the Ohio Historical Society for thirteen years, ultimately becoming Ohio's State Archivist. Charlie has a BA and MA in history from Ohio University.

Railroad Lanterns of Orange County

Friday, February 17th at 7:30PM

Local railroad collectors and historians David Lewis and Alex Prizgintas will give a program on the various kinds of railroad lanterns and glass lantern globes that the railroads of Orange County have to offer. There will be more than twenty lanterns ranging in date from the 1880's to the 1960's from bygone railroads such as the Erie, New York, Ontario and Western, New Haven, New York Central, and others. The program will be held at the monthly Hudson Valley Bottle Club meeting, so admission is free and there will be a wide variety of bottles, ephemera, and other antiques on display and for sale. Hope you can all make it!

First Presbyterian Church of Marlboro
98 West St, Marlboro, New York 12542

Nineteenth Century Innovations & Inventions

Saturday, February 18th Noon to 4PM

We'll be bringing out many unusual and rare devices from our collection. A counterfit detector, a traveling reading lamp - and more.

Saturday and Sunday from noon to four. 

Admission is free - bring a friend!

Museum Village
1010 State Route 17M
Monroe, NY 10950

New England Reenactors Fair

February 18th & 19th 

The New England Reenactors Fair would like to welcome you all for our first full weekend event. 

With 40+ venders lining up from World War 2 and as far back as you can get this is sure to be a truly amazing time. 

Continuing with our great lecture series this year we will be introducing our first series of hands on workshops.

Saturday evening 6:30-9pm there will be an evening social held in the Court Yard at the Sturbridge Host Hotel. Free for all to attend. Cash Bar will be open as will food available.

$10.00 per Person one day admission
$15.00 Per Person full weekend (purchased at Admission booth)
Children 13 and un der free.

Vendor Listing 2017 and more info on Facebook Invite

February 18, 2017

11:00 AM ~ R.P. Hale ~ Historical Methodf: Master Wood Engraver, Printer, and Calligrapher

12:00 N ~ Lynn Bassett ~ Herstory in Civil War Quilts 

1:00 PM ~ Richard Tucker ~ Arnold; Hero of the Revolution (1775 - 1777)

2:00 PM ~ Matt Villamaino ~ Interpreting the Stories: Connecting the Public to History

3:00 PM ~ Beth Chamberlain ~ The Importance of Lace

4:00 PM ~ Tom Kelleher ~ Taverns and Tavern Life: So What is Going on Inside those Taverns!

February 19, 2017

11:00 AM ~ Richard Tucker ~ Hell is a Hole in the Dirt: The evolution and End of Trench Warfare

12:00 N ~ Chelsey ~ Corsets and Stays: The Binding Undergarments of History

1:00 PM ~ Lew Tayor ~ A Revolutionary War Woman: Mercy Otis Warren

2:00 PM ~ Guy Morin ~ French and Indian War

Hotel rooms are available at the Sturbridge Host Hotel at a special rate of $103.00 per night. If you are staying for the weekend I highly recommend this hotel.

More to come.

Sturbridge Host Hotel
366 Main St, Sturbridge, Massachusetts 01566

For more information contact:
Richard Eckert


February 18, 19 & 20 Noon to 4PM

Celebrate our founding father's birthday. Live music, topical talks, military drills, and appearances by General and Martha

A full weekend of events i ncluding craft activities for kids, H eadquarters, Museum and General's Store Open

Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site
Corner of Washington and Liberty Streets, Newburgh
Free, donations accepted.
(845) 562-1195

Walking Tour of Warwick sites

Monday, Feb 20th, 11AM

The Historical Society of the Town of Warwick is hosting a program called "Beat the Winter Blues: A Possible Cure for Cabin Fever." It will be a one-hour walk at the Sanfordville Elementary School on Sanfordville Road in Warwick, where vehicles will park.  The walk will focus on an encampment site for George Washington's Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

Also, those attending will visit a Revolutionary War cemetery on the school grounds and do a landscape interpretation to understand the strategic value of the site in the past. After the walk, those wanting to can meet at Penning's Farm Market for hot chocolate and to talk over what was learned. For information, contact  Lisa-Ann Weisbrod,
the society's executive director, at 986-3236, ext. 106, or visit

Webinar: Interpreting Food at Museums & Historic Sites

Tuesday, Feb 21st

This Interpreting Food at Museums and Historic Sites webinar will provide an introduction to strategies for using food and food history to develop interpretation with depth and significance, making relevant connections to contemporary issues and visitor interests. Join Michelle Moon and AASLH as we discuss how the field can better use our love of food to share our love of history. 

Cost: $40 AASLH Members/ $65 Nonmembers
Learn more & register

News Flash! B-25 Crashes into Empire State Building

Monday, Feb 27th, 7PM

Stephan Wilkinson will be speaking on the B-25 Empire State Building crash of 1945.

At the Munger Cottage, located behind the Cornwall Public Library.
183 Main Street
Cornwall, NY 12518 

This event is FREE and open to the public - NO RSVP required. There is CARPOOLING available. Please call 845-458-5389 or send us an email at to arrange for carpooling.
National Park Service FEE-FREE days for 2017
February 20:         Presidents Day
April 15-16:           National Park Week (Weekend (#1)
April 22-23:           National Park Week (Weekend (#2)
August 25:            National Park Service
September 30:      National Public Lands Day
November 11-12:  Veterans Day Weekend
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun