New York Lore


Students go on a tour in tales of New York. Selections follow the curriculum and your interests. ---

Native, Explorers, Colonial, Revolutionary, the Erie Canal, Universal Suffrage, the Environmental Movement and more.


Look forward to lively interactive stories, a skit, a song, turn & talk, and a Q & A. 



Ask for up to four in-class workshops

to follow up on the performances.  Students discover and learn to use primary sources from the stories performed to launch a writing activity. Ask for a persuasive letter, questions for a historic figure, or an "I was there eye witness" story-making. 



$450 For one assembly performance of about fifty minutes.  

$ 75 for each class workshops up to four a day 




 Jonathan Kruk turns New York’s history into stories for students. A master storyteller, selected “Best in the Hudson Valley,” author of two History Press books he performs fifty solo shows annually for Historic Hudson Valley’s “Irving’s Legend.”   Drawing from primary sources, Jonathan's programs enchants all with drama, skits, and voices from long ago.  Appearing in period garb, colonial to 19th century,  he tailors his work to your curriculum interests and locale.  Scroll down to see how “New York Lore” meets and exceeds state common core requirements.


New York’s unique history offers Native American wisdom, Dutch, British and French influence, and the “Turning Point of the American Revolution.” The “Empire State”  also launched revolutions in industry, art, human rights, and the environment.  A performance of New York’s stories makes memorable our state’s heritage and your social studies curriculum.  Ask to include local lore in the program.


These historic figures often appear in “New York’s  Lore;” Henry Hudson, Peter Stuyvesant, Anne Hutchinson, Mehitabel Prendergast, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, Washington Irving, Sybil Luddington, Sojourner Truth, the Roosevelts, Pete Seeger, Franny Reese. Ask for for a tale of your local hero! 

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Story Selections

Native & Colonial Tales

What’s in a Hudson River Name?- A story skit - From the Verrazano Narrows, Manhattan, Yonkers, Spuyten Duyvil, Tappan Zee, World’s End, Beverwyck, Poughkeepsie, Adirondack, to Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson River offers many interesting place name tales. Names reveal history, land use, and folklore. Students acting out names will remember origins and learn about Hudson heritage.


This Algonquin Native American creation myth myth of the Hudson River has an inspirational touch from Pete Seeger. Long ago a giant slept, creating a huge lake. The water drew animals, hunter-gatherers, thanks from “The People”. Alas, they stopped showing respect and the giant stood up. The river that flows both ways, formed., now known as the Hudson. Listeners link arms and “make” the river too! Students learn Mahican Native people’s point of view. They will better understand New York’s geography, myth, and environmental protection.


Roughly translates from the Algonquin as “the hilly place for searching for food” we now call these lands roughly Queens. An Algonquin girl and boy go to deep into the searching place for berries. A kind spirit points out an oyster with a pearl. The boy gives it to the girl who later helps make him chief of Matinecock. The tale offers a slice of Native life.

Hudson’s Northwest Passage to the North River

Based on Robert Juet’s journal, this is a recounting of the discovery on New York by Henry Hudson in 1609. The hopes and fears for Hudson and his crew are reflected in this historic fiction.

Minuet Buys Manhattan

The Dutch West India wants a better hold on their new colony. They order their Director General Peter Minute to buy Manhattan from the Indians, ‘Give them fifty guilders worth in goods and get a good land deed too!’ Minute gives sixty guilders, but it’s priceless goods to Chief Sey Seys of the Canarsie. The chief, summering on the “good place to meet and drink,” aka, Manhattan, felt he got a good deal. Both peoples held divergent points of view on land ownership.

Anthony’s Nose

Historic fiction grows from a Washington Irving tale of Dutch New Netherlands. “Old Silver-nail”, Peter stomps onto a sorry scene in New Amsterdam. He browbeats the folk into fixing the fort, rebuilding their roofs, setting up the Wall at ‘Wall Street’ and demands other actual changes. Anthony Von Corlear’s ample nose, however, impresses the dour Director-General. Old Peg-Leg then honors Van Corlear by naming the northern most mount in Westchester, “Anthony’s Nose”


Anne Hutchinson preached and pioneered in the colonies during the 1630’s.Her leadership inspired and frightened. Puritans banned her, Catholics shunned her, the Dutch tolerated her, but misunderstanding killed her. Discover how Anne’s life and death foreshadowed America’s free spirit, tolerance, woman’s rights and Euro-Indian clashes.

Flushing Remonstrance

1650’s When English Quakers move into Dutch Vlissenegen, it brings trouble in the form of Peg -Leg Peter the Headstrong Stuyvesant. The Quakers following examples set in the Netherlands ask for religious tolerance. It opens the door to this inalienable right enjoyed today, and shows origins of Queens, New York and the USA tradition of many peoples living together peacefully.

Madame Brett & the Pirates

1720 Bold and brazen Dutchess first real land owner defied male culture, thick forests, isolation, Indians and here, pirates. Helped by her sons Rivery & Robert, this single mom flummoxes treasure thieves. We get a look at the dangers of colonial life, and there’s a glimpse of a ghost.

The Concealment Shoe

Recently, archeologists found a woman’s in the wall of a French Huguenot colonial house in New Paltz. They determined it was a concealment shoe. Settlers felt it would protect them against the dangers facing people living near the Hudson and the Shawangunks. The story is spun around an Palatine German girl who becomes an indentured servant to a Huguenot farmer. The shoe seems to save the stone house from thunder, Esopus Indians, English soldiers and more. There’s mention to of “Money Stump” a Revolutionary name for Modena for all the cash stashed in trees when the British marched through in 1777.

Imp of Donder Berg

Adapted from local lore and Washington Irving, a bullying Sloop Skipper ignores his Dutch crew’s demand that he salute Hudson Highland spirits. Aided by “Mother Cronk, Witch on the Hudson” the spirits get back at the disrespectful skipper! Creates a picture of the dangers facing ships on the Hudson, and local geography too.

Revolutionary Tales

Yankee Doodle

This is the story of a famed song written on the banks of the Hudson, by a British Doctor during the French-Indian War, to tease the Connecticut militia for their humble condition. It dramatizes the meaning of “Yankee” “Doodle” “Macaroni” and why the song best represents the new and continuing American spirit of liberty for all.

Loyalist or Patriot?

A quick debate between Rev. Seabury and Alexander Hamilton dramatizing reasons to rebell or preserve the King. "Do you want mob rule?" 'Do you want independence?'

Arnold & Andre

A historic fiction based on several sources, this story would make the best Revolutionary War drama. The hero of Saratoga, the Turning Point of the Revolution is passed over for promotion and turns traitor. His British accomplice Major John Andre is caught in Tarrytown and hanged in Old Tappan. Any number of slight changes in fate along this journey and the British would have won the war. Listen for the locale, war terms along the way too.

Bitter Pill

After the British won the Battle of the Hudson Highlands, their General Clinton dispatched messenger. He got lost, but soon found some soldiers in red coats. They sent him to General Clinton. Unfortunately for the messenger, this general was American! The poor fellow tried to swallow his note, but twice it was forced up. Students may do a drama reading of letters reporting on this incident.

The Gathering Storm

Soldiers rebelling for back pay! A call for Washington to declare himself King! This story shows how General George became the “Father of our Country”, holding things together at the Revolution’s end. Events took place in and around Newburgh!

The Burning of Kingston

Oct 1777 British soldiers seeking to end the new government of New York, burned Kingston. Legend has it a young woman helped save many American Patriots by sneaking off with lists of their names. This tale recounts her adventure.

Sybil Ludington’s Revered Ride

April 1777 - Paul Revere was forty when with other riders he traveled about sixteen miles into the countryside to warn John Hancock and some others, “The Regulars are coming.” British soldiers later caught Revere. He told them American rebels were out looking for them. The British stole his horse! Sybil was sixteen, when the British raided Danbury and may have been looking to catch George Washington. She rode about forty miles and gathered hundreds of Minute Men from her father’s Dutchess county NY Militia. They helped chase off the Redcoats.

Rip Van Winkle

Washington Irving’s classic! Set somewhere near the Catskills, Rip sets out to escape his wife and Colonial chores,and ends up sleeping right into a new country. Activities - Discuss what had changed in America during Rip’s twenty year sleep. What do you think really happened to Rip? Who were those little men? Was Rip’s wife right?

Industrial & Environmental Tales

Fulton’s Folly

They called him “Toots.” They wanted his steamboat to blow up. When it chugged by in August of 1807 some claimed “it was the devil driving a sawmill!” When Robert Fulton, however, set out his North River Steamboat,he launched a new revolution on the Hudson. The industrial age began. This accounts for the great change!


How a friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton lead woman to the write to vote and more.

Saving Storm King

The story of how a mountain turned the world around. Storm King and Scenic Hudson. Once upon a time the Dutch named a hill where they trapped beaver, “Boter-Berg. Later, an 19th century romantic changed had the name changed to Storm King. Said to be the haunt of a witch, it was the center of fight that launched the modern environmental movement

When Squirrel Was Big as Bear and Red as Fox

Inspired by a tale from the Ramapough Mountain People - Animals teach us to stop bullying and teasing and get along in this lively silly skit from the Ramapo mountains.

Sojouner Truth

The rousing story of a dutch slave who fought for freedom famously declaring "Ain't I a woman?