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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XXII, No. 3, September 1966

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Vol. XXII, No. 3, September 1966

Henry Glassie

THIS paper is an attempt to leave a folk architectural study — in this case the study of one central New York farm — in context. A strictly architectural study would deal only with the form and construction of the various buildings. In this study, the architectural information is limited to a photograph and a few sentences for each building plus a floor-plan for the more complex buildings. The bulk of the text is devoted to non- architectural material; that is, the function of the building as a part of the farm and as a part of the life of those who work or have worked the farm. Therefore, it consists of more than folk architecture, it includes examples of folk history; folk narrative in the form of the anecdote; folk-speech, particularly terminology; and an attitude which may be classed as folk.

The farm is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fenton Wedderspoon. It was visited on June 12, 13, 17, 30, and July 5, 14, 22, 1965. Of these dates the most important were June 13, when Mr. Wedderspoon spent the day visiting each building and explaining its function, and June 30, when a lengthy interview with Mrs. Wedderspoon was tape-recorded. Excerpts precisely transcribed from this recording are preceded by an asterisk. Other quotes were taken from the field notes.


The Wedderspoon farm is located in the Wedderspoon Hollow about 3/4 of a mile west of Otsego Lake near Pierstown, which * “was named for a family of Piers . . . Abner Pier and his seven sons,” about five miles north of Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York. The area was first settled by “gen-u-ine Scotch” who* came over to this country in around 1802. The first people to come was...William Allen, he and his wife, who was Jeanette MacTavish, and they settled...on the old road near Otsego Lake....

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