Dear Old Greene County  

Section Three

 Embracing
Facts and Figures, Portraits and Sketches,
Of Leading
MEN WHO WILL LIVE IN HER HISTORY
Those at the Front To-Day
And Others Who Made Good in the Past

by F.A. Gallt
Catskill, N. Y.
1915


Original book provided by Celeste MacCormack and transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


Van Bergen House 

In the year of 1678 Marte Gerritse Van Bergen and Silvester Salisbury, commander of the fort came down from Albany to purchase lands of the Catskill Indians.

A month later the bargain was concluded at the “Stadt-Huis” at Albany in the  “presence of magistrates and Indians, and the “deed for the five plains, and woodland for four miles around” near what is now known as Leeds, was signed by Mahak Ninimaw and his chiefs, “the purchase price, 300 guilders in wampum, several hundred ells of woolen cloth, then blankets, ten fusses, ten axes and ten pairs of stockings.

Van Bergen in 1680 built a barn fifty feet square and a small house of stone on the semi-circle of raised ground above the plain, the first building in “Old Katskill,” excepting the log cabin of Jan Bronck. In those days Leeds was Catskill, spelled with a K, and Catskill, the “het-strand or landing.”

Yeoman from Kingston and Coxsackie assisted in raising the heavy oaken frame of the barn, the timbers of which are still doing duty.

There is no record to fill a gap of 49 years, but in 1729 a 60 foot brick building was added to the one of stone.  The first dwelling afterward used as a kitchen and place for slaves, was long since torn down. The latter “bears on its eastern wall” the initials of the builder, M. G. V. B., and the date of the building July 4th, 1729. Tradition saith the bricks were brought from Holland, some of which conform to the measurements of those made in that country. It was at the time of its building a story and a half high, with long narrow casement windows, with leaden sashed panes, double doors, and a hipped red-tiled roof, the oaken floor timbers measuring eighteen inches square.

The estate passed in the possession of Aaront Vedder of Schoharie, in 1774, and is still owned and occupied by his descendent, H. F. Vedder.

We are informed by one of the old residents of the Palenville section that within her recollection she heard old residents tell of a very considerable size village located in the Clove near the camp of District Attorney Howard C. Wilbur where some of  the old foundations are still to be found. The houses were occupied by men who worked in the old Tannery of Jonathan Palen, 1826, which employed a considerable number of men. There was a store, blacksmith shop and in all about twenty dwellings.

One of the most interesting of the old frame buildings in Greene county is the old Britt, or Patron’s Store, at Kiskatom. The building  formerly was located near the bridge across the creek, but later on moved to the Corners. Just when it was erected no one knows, but it was not far from 1800. An older building of stone was located where Mr. Charles Story now lives, and this was built in the early 1700’s. The store building was the outcome of a trade what was first started by a pedlar who traveled with a sled and later with a wagon.

John Bach Mc Master, an old writer covering the period of 1800, following the war, says that “there was great complaint of demoralization of morals that resulted from the war. The levity, profaneness, idle amusements and Sabbath breaking increased with fearful rapidity.  Before the war nobody swore, nobody used cards. Now every lad is proficient in swearing and knows much of cards.  Then apprentices and young folds kept the Sabbath and until sundown never left the house but to go to meeting. Now they go out more on the Sabbath than any other day of the week.  They say it is better than sitting in church for two hours and hearing about hell.”

Referring to religious custom of that period, “The minister would rise and read two lines of a psalm, the deacon would repeat them, the percenter would pitch a key and the congregation join in the hymn, very discordant.  The prayer and a two hour sermon followed. There were no stoves. The worshippers came from the distances of many miles.

The Sabbath commenced Saturday at sundown. Sunday at sundown work was resumed. There was a demand for a 36 hour Sunday but they did not get it.

Peter Schutt at one time had an Inn on the Saugerties road near the old stone house. Mrs. Legendre, one of his descendants, who lives in Catskill, informs us that she had often heard her grandfather tell of Indians visiting at this old Inn. Whether it was before or later that Peter Schutt ran the West Catskill Hotel we are unable to discover.  At any rate he purchased a great tract of land, which at that time included the Kaaterskill falls lands and built the falls shanty.

Peter V. Overbaugh also a grandfather of Mrs. Legendre was the owner of 800 acres of land and saw mills that subsequently passed to J. L. Schutt, father of Louis P. Schutt, who has been for years connected with boarding houses at Haines Falls, the Laurel House, Antlers, and other houses including the Inn, which he has been managing for the Twilight Park Company very successfully.

The Grand Old Bronks 

Leonard Bronk, fifth in descent from Jonas Bronck, was born in Bronk House (still standing and occupied) on Bronk Patent, about two miles and a half west of Coxsackie village, May 11th, 1751 or 1752.  His first ancestor in this country was Jonas Bronck of Westchester County, after whom Bronck’s Manor, Bronck’s River and Bronck’s Borough were named, the ck’s being changed to “x” on account of euphony.

In 1639 Jonas Bronck, liberally educated and rich—with his friend Jochiem Pieterson Kuyter, a Danish officer—sailed in his own private armed vessel named the Fire of Troy, from Hoorn, Holland, taking their families, farmers, female servants and stock, for Amsterdam, reaching that place in July, 1639. The arrival of the ship was hailed by the colony “as a great public good.”  Where Jonas Bronck came from originally is yet a matter of dispute.

He secured a “Grand Brief,” a tract of land of 500 acres north of Harlem River, and became the first white settler in that section. He was not content with the deed from the authorities of New Amsterdam, but in addition made an honest purchase from the Indian Sachem, Tackamack, and his associates.

The tract of land purchased by him was called by the Indians Ranachqua. It lay between the Harlem River and the river Abquahung, now known as the Bronx. Here Bronck made his improvements and began his life.

Of his life we have but few details. We know this, Kuyter came and settled near him and delighted in his friendship. And we know this also, that the Indians trusted him, when they were suspicious of and at actual war with the New Amsterdam authorities.

Jonas Bronck died in 1643. He left a widow and one son, Pieter Jonassen Bronck.   The widow married Arendt van Corlear, Sheriff of Rensselaerwick, and removed with him to Albany.

It was this Peter Bronck, the only son of Jonas, who in 1662 purchased from the Indians a tract of land and secured for it from the Dutch authorities what is known as Bronck’s Patent.

On this patent by the terms of the grant, a house was built in 1663. Judge Leonard Bronk, said many years before he died that that part of the house was a good deal more than 200 years old.  He died in 1872. The brick house was built in 1738. The date is cut in the foundation on the north side of the house. The kitchen extension was rebuilt in 1792.

The house, the mills and the land descended to his son Jan Bronck, and from the date of the original purchase the homestead and many acres of the original grant have never been out of the hands of the lineal descendants.

The immediate ancestor of  Judge Leonard Bronk was John L. Bronk, who married Elsie van Buren. He inherited the old home and the traditions, and he was worthy of both. He was the most influential man in his section in his time.  In 1770 he was commissioned Captain of Militia by Lieut. Gov. Cadwallader Colden. On Oct. 20th, 1775, he was commissioned Major in the 11th Regt. N. Y. by the Provincial Congress. In 1778 he was commissioned 2nd Major by Gov. Clinton. In 1778 he is still absorbed in the struggle for independence. In this year he was appointed 1st Lieut. by Gov. Clinton.

Among the papers of Judge Bronk in the possession of the family there are two letters from Valley Forge, dated in April. But in none of these letters is they any mention of the suffering and hardship so vividly pictured in the histories of our Revolution, of the suffering of our soldiers in the camp during the winter of 1778.

During the year of 1787 he received from his correspondents letters of great public interest. The first is in reference to Gen’l Gates’ defeat, and the second is in reference to Benedict Arnold.

                                                                       Headquarters Stone Arabia, Sept. 8, 1780

 Dear Sir:

The news from the Southward is very unfavorable indeed. Gen’l  Gates I believe is certainly totally defeated. The Militia in them parts betrayed the confidence he reposed in them and ran and by this means the chief of the Continental troops were either killed or taken.

I believe it may now be depended on that the second division of the French fleet is on their way to the Continent, as we have advice from them, the reason of their not coming before was because they have been blocked up. By what means they have got relieved I am not at present able to inform you.

I am Dr. Sir you sincere friend and very humble serv’t

                                                                  T. Van Wagenen.

The other letter is from his most intimate friend and constant correspondent, Leon. Gansevoort, Jr., It is as follows:

                                                                                               Albany, Oct. 6, 1780.

Dear Sir:

As I know that good news is always acceptable to a Person so warmly interested in the Country’s welfare as yourself, I have now thought proper to sit down to give you a small Piece of News we yesterday received by one of the Col. Van Schaick’s Officers.

Col. Malcolm with the three months men was going up to relieve the Garrison at Fort Schuyler and being with the main Body of his troops on one side of the river he sent an Officer with a party of men on the other side who fell in with about sixty Indians. They were fired upon by the Party who Killed two Indians. The rest ran off leaving behind them thirty blankets with their Packs, Kettles and other articles.

What think you of Arnold—what an infamous dirty villainous destestable Rascal he is—if ever there was one deserved hanging he does, and I sincerely hope he may yet get it. I think that in no one instance during this war has the Interposition of Divine Providence so remarkably been manifested as in this, we were just upon the Precipice of Destruction and would have been inevitably gone had not a Kind Deity interposed and warded off the Blow. This must convince our Enemies, even the most hardened of them that our Cause is just and while engaged in it we will, we must, prosper. Conquered we never can be by Great Britain.

                                                    Your friend,
                                                               
Leon Gansevoort, Jr.

On Nov. 4th he received a long and triumphant letter from his friend Leon Gansevoort, Jr., on the surrender. It begins:

“Dear Friend, I Heartily congratulate you on the great and glorious news of the surrender of Cornwallis, etc.”

Judge Bronk in 1782 and 1783 was Supervisor for Albany County. In 1784 and 1785 he is Member of the Assembly and Supervisor of Albany County. In 1785 he is also appointed Commissioner of Excise.  In 1786 he is still in the position of Supervisor and in the Assembly.

He was in the Assembly in 1781,1783,1784,1785,1786,1787,1789, 1792, and 1795. In 1796 he was elected to the State Senate and was in the  Senate in 1796,1797,1798,1799,1800. In 1901 he was again named for the Senate, and once more in 1803.

When the agitation for a further division of Albany County was at its height Mr. Bronk was in the Senate, with an almost impossible task of pleasing his divided constituents. He was named for Senator in 1801 and again  in 1803. And when the new County of Greene was a fact accomplished Leonard Bronk was selected by the Council of Appointment for the place of honor as First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He held this position from March 29th, 1800, until April 3d, 1810.

He died April 22, 1828.

His grave is just beyond the old house to the south and west on a little knoll at the bend in the creek. In the little inclosure is a plain slab with this inscription:  “In memory of Leonard Bronk, who died April 22d, 1828, aged 76 yrs.  I am the Resurrection and the Life.” And beyond the inclosure, crowding all the rest of the knoll, are the graves of the faithful servants who trusted him while he was alive and wanted to be buried near him when they were dead.

The Chase Family Pioneers

It is interesting to note that among the pioneers of the western section of Greene county was Zephaniah Chase, great grandfather of Emory A. Chase of Catskill, Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals.

There are seven generations from Thomas Chase to Judge Emory A. Chase. Thomas Chase came from Hundrech Parish Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England in 1636, and settled at Hampton, New Hampshire.

Isaac Chase, his son, was born at Hampton, N.H. in April 1647, and died at Martha’s Vineyard, May 19, 1727.

Joseph Chase, his son, was born at Martha’s Vineyard, Feb. 26, 1689, and died in May 1749.

Abel Chase, his son, was born at Martha’s Vineyard, Oct. 9, 1719 and died at the home of his son Zephaniah, this county.

Zephaniah Chase, his son, was born at Martha’s  Vineyard, March 14, 1748, and died at Jewett Center, May 30, 1828.

Benjamin Chase, his son, was born at Martha’s Vineyard, Jan. 21, 1774, and died at Jewett Center, Feb. 29, 1862.

Albert Chase, his son, was born at Jewett Center, Jan. 4, 1819, and died at Hensonville, Oct. 18, 1902.

Emory A. Chase, his son, was born at Hensonville, Aug. 31, 1854.

A relative of Zephaniah Chase owned considerable land at Binghamton and offered to give Zephaniah a farm if he would begin a settlement there.

Zephaniah owned some real property at Vineyard Haven, which he sold for $250, preparatory to seeking a home in the then western wilds.  With the proceeds to his real property, he took his second wife, Love, and their son David, aged nine, and started on his long journey. He reached Hudson, N. Y., probably by means of a slow sailing sloop from Martha’s Vineyard.  From a document now in the possession of his descendants, it appears that he was in Hudson, August 1, 1787. At Hudson, they learned that the difficult part of the journey lay before them; a journey through forest infested with wild animals and over a crude road through the forest.  Indians yet roamed the forest of eastern and southern New York. He purchased a yoke of oxen and a wagon and started on his journey to Binghamton, taking his wife and children and such tools and personal property as he had with him in the primitive conveyance. How he crossed the Hudson river is not known, but it was probably by boarding some sailing vessel and landing at Catskill. From Catskill to Binghamton, the road lay over the Catskill Mountains and the entire journey was through an almost unbroken forest with only a few settlers’ cabins along the way.  They proceeded to the valley of the Batavia-kill, west of the eastern range of the Catskills and , while resting near a well known high rock standing within what is now the village of Windham, at a cabin built against said rock in which lived an early settler, a man, who had come from Binghamton on foot, informed them, that owing to an unusual wind, many trees were blown across the road and that it would be impossible to get through with a wagon.  While waiting somewhat undetermined what to do, he met one Thomas Harriott, who offered to sell him his farm situated on the Schoharie-kill, at a point ten miles up that stream from its junction wit the Batavia-kill at a point ten miles below where they were, at what is now Prattsville. He concluded to buy this farm and agreed to give, on reaching the farm, the oxen, as part payment for the same. How he reached the farm is told hereinafter.  The house, they found, was only two logs high covered with bark, but a block house was in course of erection and this Zephaniah and his sons finished before the cold winter, and here, shortly afterwards, their son West was born, the first Chase born in the Catskills.

There was no saw mill within twenty miles of the farm at which logs could be sawed into material adapted for use in completing the house, and from which to make furniture, so all such material were made by Zephaniah and his sons by hewing the logs into blocks or splitting them, and by shaving and planing them into boards by the use of axes and other tools brought from Martha’s Vineyard. Some of the furniture made by Zephaniah is now in the possession of his descendants. The deed from Thomas Harriott is dated Aug. 19, 1787. The family continued to live upon the farm and they cleared away the forests which covered the valley as well as the highlands and here all the children of the second marriage except David was born.  Zephaniah later built a more pretentious house which is still standing.  The homestead farm in 1787 was in the town of Woodstock, Ulster county, N. Y., it was subsequently included in the new town of Windham and in Greene county. In subsequent divisions of the territory it became successively a part of the towns of Lexington and Jewett. It is now a part of the town of Jewett, Greene county, and the post-office is Jewett Center, N. Y.

Zephaniah was a Baptist, but few of his descendants are of that faith, many being Methodists or Presbyterians. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary Army. He is buried in the family burial plot in the cemetery on the hill north of the house which he built, and which is known as the Chase cemetery.

When Zephaniah and his family, on the westward journey, reached the point on the Batavia-kill mentioned, where the farm was purchased, Benjamin (then a lad of thirteen years) was sent with the oxen and goods down the Batavia-kill ten miles until he reached the Schoharie-kill and he was directed then to follow up that stream ten miles to the farm that was to be their future home. Zephaniah took his wife and the three youngest children, including David, the baby, and crossed the mountain range on foot, through what is now Jewett Heights, a route about half as long as the one taken by Benjamin with the oxen and wagon. Zephaniah was guided to his destination by marked trees described to him by the man from whose cabin they started.

Benjamin Chase

Benjamin’s life was spent at the homestead farm and a farm near it which he purchased. He engaged in farming, lumbering and tanning, and was also an officer of the local militia. He lived to be eighty-eight years old.

Albert Chase

Albert, the father of Judge Chase, lived with his parents until the death of his mother, January 12, 1829, after which he went to live in the family of his uncle, Charles Chase, on a farm two miles below what is now the village of Hunter, where he attended the district school, and when twenty years old returned to the town of Lexington and acquired the carpenter’s trade, which he followed for twenty-five years, becoming one of the largest contractors in that part of the county. He married Sept. 1, 1844, at the Methodist church in East Jewett, Laura Orinda daughter of Abner and Betsey (Judson) Woodworth. After their marriage, they resided for about one year in the town of Lexington. Then they moved to Hensonville (1845), and he there carried on  an extensive lumber and contracting business for many years. Subsequently he purchased a large farm on the outskirts of the village and, after erecting a new building thereon, made it his home for the rest of his life.  He was a Republican in politics and held the office of Justice of the Peace and other officers in the town.  He was an active supporter of the Methodist Church of Hensonville and for twenty-six years the superintendent of its Sunday School.

Emory A. Chase

Emory A. Chase Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, was born at Hensonville, N. Y., Aug. 31, 1854, and resides on Prospect avenue, Catskill, N. Y.

Judge Chase was educated at the village school and at Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, after which he taught school for several years, in the meantime preparing for the legal profession. On March 27, 1877, he entered the law offices of King & Hallock at Catskill, N.Y., was admitted to the bar, May 6, 1880. In that year Mr. King retired and a new legal firm was formed by Mr. Hallock and W. Irving Jennings under the name of Hallock & Jennings. Mr. Chase was given an interest in the business, but his name could not appear as a member of the firm at that time as he had not been admitted as an attorney-at-law. The firm name was afterwards (in 1882) changed to Hallock, Jennings & Chase. On September 22, 1890, Mr. Hallock retired, but the firm continued in the name of Jennings & Chase. They became well known as able, conscientious lawyers and had a very large and profitable clientage.  Mr. Chase was successively admitted to the United States District and Circuit Courts and the United State Supreme Court. His practice frequently took him before the State and Federal Courts and he was everywhere recognized as a successful lawyer and a man of the highest character.

In 1880, the year he was admitted to the bar, he was the candidate of his party for district attorney of Greene county, but although he ran far ahead of his ticket, he was defeated by 211 votes. In 1882, he was elected a member of the Catskill Board of Education and served continuously in such Board until 1896, the last five years being its president.  He also served one term as supervisor of the town of Catskill and for many years was the village counsel.  In 1896, Mr. Chase, who had not been in active political and professional life since 1880, was nominated by the Third Judicial District Republican Convention for a justice of the Supreme Court of New York. He was opposed by the Democratic candidate, Frank H. Osborn. At the election following, he received a majority of 12,680 votes and was the second Supreme Court Justice ever elected by the Republican party in that Judicial District. Before assuming the duties of his office, he retired from the law firm of Jennings & Chase, his place being taken by his opponent for the judgeship, Frank H. Osborn.

Judge Chase made his first appearance on the trial bench at the January trial term of 1897 at Schoharie, and at the close of his first trial term received an engrossed copy of complimentary resolutions adopted by the Schoharie County Bar.  As he went from county to county as a trial justice he won the highest encomiums from the lawyers and the press for his fair, impartial rulings, his unfailing courtesy and rapid methods of disposing of business.  January 8, 1900 he was designated an associate justice of the appellate division of the Supreme Court, third department, by Governor Odell; December 31, 1905, he was designated, by Govern Higgins, as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals under the constitutional amendment of 1899. At the expiration in 1910, of his term of fourteen years, Judge Chase was unanimously renominated by the Republican convention of the Third Judicial District held October 5, 1910. At the Democratic convention held a few days later, he was paid the high and unusual compliment of a unanimous nomination by his political opponents, the nominating speech being made by the unsuccessful candidate of fourteen years earlier, Frank H. Osborn. He said of Judge Chase in part: “He is a man of irreproachable character, and able lawyer and an ideal judge.”

During the part of his term in which he was engaged as a trial judge, he frequently by invitation presided over Courts in New York City and other parts of the state outside of his judicial district, and many noted cases were tried before him.  While he has been a justice of the Appellate Division and a judge of the Court of Appeals, hundreds of opinions have been written by him which appear in the law reports and make a part of the judicial history of the State.  The New York-Bar Association, in endorsing his nomination, said:  “his judicial career both in trail and appellate courts, and especially as a member by designation of the Court of Appeals, is and has been distinguished for and characterized by, such eminent judicial qualification and great legal learning and ability, as to make it most fitting and desirable that his services be retained by the public.  Therefore, the New York State Bar Association by its duly authorized committee, hereby urges the unanimous renomination and election of Mr. Justice Chase, irrespective of the party, to the end that the judiciary may, as far as possible, be kept free from politics, that the public may retain the services of a tried, upright and most worthy judge and as we hope, if not expect, that if re-elected, he may continue to adorn the bench of the Court of Appeals as one of its appointed members.”

At the election on November 8, 1910, Judge Chase received the vote of the two great political parties, and was re-elected for another term of fourteen years, and the first act of Governor Dix on taking office, January 1, 1911, was to re-designate Judge Chase, together with former Associate Judge, Frank H. Hiscock of Syracuse, N. Y., to the Court of Appeals, pursuant to said provision of the State Constitution. Judge Chase is now engaged in the performance of his duties as judge of the court.

In 1912 Judge Chase was nominated by the Republican party for election to the Court of Appeals. His candidacy was endorsed by the State Bar Association and the Associated Bar of City of New York. While the Republican vote for governor was 444,105, the vote for Judge Chase was 467,743, but he was defeated.

He was the candidate of the Republican party for Judge of the Court of Appeals in the fall of 1914, and received nearly 2000 plurality in Greene county, most flattering indeed, but was defeated by a few thousand votes. He will continue to serve the state by appointment, and is without doubt one of the ablest jurists in the country.

He is a member and a trustee of Christ’s Presbyterian Church of Catskill and a liberal supporter of all good causes in his home town.  He is deeply interested in historical and genealogical matters and has given much time to the preservation of his own family history.

Judge Chase married at Prattsville, New York, June 30, 1885, Mary E. Churchill, daughter of Addison J. and Elizabeth (Houghtaling) Churchill.

Hon. Zadock Pratt

The one man who stands conspicuous in the early history of Greene county whose name not only is inscribed on the everlasting hills of his native town, but in the records that are familiar to all is Col. Zadock Pratt of Prattsville, which town bears with honor his distinguished name.  He was a great man in his native town, also foremost in the county and of national repute.

He was a great man in every sense of the word. The tannery built by him and operated for over 20 years was 550 feet long, 45 feet wide and had over 300 vats for the tanning of leather, the greatest industry of the county.

This was started in 1825, and he employed in all over 10,000 men.   He cleared 12,000 acres of land for  the hemlock bark and lumber, tanned 2 million sides of leather. In 1825 he built the first grist mill, later on a hat manufactory.

He was born in Stephentown, N. Y. in 1790, removed to Lexington in 1802, and in 1825 was Col. Of the 116th New York Inf. and he commanded the escort of General Lafayette on the occasion of his visit to Catskill.  He was congressman in 1836 and 1842, and had the distinction of moving the survey of the Pacific railroad.

He established a large number of tanneries, three of which were destroyed by fire, one at West Kill and two at Windham.

Although he was a trustee and vestryman of the Episcopal church of Prattsville he is said to have paid one third of the expense of the Reformed and Methodist churches.  In 1836 he was an elector and cast his vote for Van Buren and Johnston.  He died at the age of 80 years and his achievements were the most colossal possibly of any man who ever lived in this state.

Col. Pratt also owned and operated a tannery in Windham, another at Big Hollow, and the Palen tannery, Samsonville tannery, Westkill tannery, and Aldenville tannery.

The Windham  tannery was burned in 1844 and also 1853, the loss being $12,000 each time. The Westkill tannery was burned in 1839 with a loss of $10,000. These were all insured.

Col. Pratt moved to Windham in 1802, since Lexington and now Jewett.  He commenced business in Lexington in 1812, and he made for the New York market 100,000 oars.

In 1820 he was captain of the 5th N. Y. S. Inf. and uniformed 100 men at his own expense.  He was a passenger on the Robert Fulton on her first trip.

In 1824 he moved to Prattsville and built the tannery there and on completion of the dam Nov. 17 swam across it, though the water was forming ice.

In the recollections of Col. Pratt, an old resident of Catskill informs us that he remembers on  one occasion in the early 50’s Col. Pratt drove to Catskill on a very hot Fourth of July, with a span of white horses, sleigh, with bells and robes, and drew up in front of what is now the Smith House.  The sleigh shoes were worn nearly through, he jumped out slapping himself in imitation of cold, handed the hostler $5 and told him to blanket the team and feed them good. On another occasion at the Cairo fair he is said to have raised a ruction with the exhibits in the display hall, and then pulled out a big check book and paid for it all in a manner that was most acceptable. He was a great joker, and a man who held the highest esteem of all. Everybody in Greene county knew the Colonel and whats more they regarded him as the most wonderful man the county ever produced.

The view of Prattsville taken about 1850 which is from an old picture furnished us by Supervisor Elmer Krieger of Prattsville, and which is found on another page in this book, shows the old tannery and all the famous white horse which was one of the span he drove to Catskill on the Fourth of July, which we have referred to.

Visitors to Prattsville today are shown with pride the rock carvings which he caused to be made in 1844. Carvings that have been photographed ten thousand time.  They are on the ledge of rocks that tower 500 feet above the Schoharie creek.  These carvings show busts of Zadock Pratt, and a view of the great tannery he built, with the announcement that the had tanned a million sides of sole leather in 20 years. There is a life size bust of his son, Col. George W. Pratt, and the inscription “Hon. G. W. Pratt Ph. D., Col. XX Regt. N. Y. S. M. Ulster Co. Born April 18, 1832, wounded Aug. 30, 1862 at battle of Manassas. Good, brave, honorable.” A horse, coat of arms, an arm and hammer, and a mass of inscriptions.  These are visible for a considerable distance. There is also a monument which contains the names of horses and dogs that belonged to him with their ages.

The descendants of Col. Pratt many of them are still found scattered throughout the mountain section, as well as throughout the country.

The tanning business has entirely passed, as well as the asheries and distilleries. The town of Windham had many of these early distilleries. So later did Ashland and Durham, and the whiskey jug was a regular companion of the men in the fields and the preachers appear not to have been adverse at all to the little brown jug.

One of the popular airs of the early day was “Little Brown Jug How I Love Thee.”  And it was all too true that the little brown jug went under the arm, when the farmer went to work upon his land or crops.

Charles L. Beach 

One of the time honored landmarks of Greene county was Charles L. Beach, whose name is inseparably connected with may of the important enterprises of the county. He was born in what is now Lexington in 1808 in one of the old log houses that sheltered his grandfather and father who with about 40 families moved from Goshen, Ct. in 1795 and settled in Lexington being the first settlers.

In 1813 he moved to Catskill with his father Erastus Beach and in 1823 commenced staging it to  the Catskill Mountain House, which 21 years later passed to him as owner.  On the occasion of General Lafayette’s visit to Catskill his father drove the carriage which contained the illustrious general. His stage lines covered a distance of about 1500 miles. They made trips between New York and Catskill on either side of the river and connected with a line also that reached over the mountains to Delhi and to Ithaca.  We understand that the ferries at Catskill and also at Athens were driven by horse power.  Mr. Beach was prime mover in the Catskill Mountain railroad, in which he invested over $100,000. His nephew Charles A. Beach was president of the road.

The Catskill Mountain House is till in the possession of the Beach family, with George H. Beach conducting it.

The Mountain House had been pictured by artists the world over and is one of the few pictures to be seen in the books of the early 20’s. Judge Chase has among his collection pictures of the Mountain House, of North and South Lakes owned by the Mountain House and of Kaaterskill Falls which he is preserving because of their antiquity. The Mountain House for long years was visited by tourists from abroad, who regarded the view at that point as the greatest in the world. It had no rivals, and the great generals and statesman considered that when they had been to the Mountain House there wasn’t much else left worth the while.


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