History of Greene County
1651 – 1800
J. Van Vechten Vedder
Originally published in 1927 by Authority of
the Greene County Board of Supervisors
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin
Town of New
The town of New Baltimore was originally a part of the county of Albany and the district of Coxsackie. Scutters,* (*Sometimes called Shutters), Little and Willow Islands were from Kinderhook, April 23, 1823. A line of high slate bluffs rises from the Hudson from 100 to 200 feet where the village of New Baltimore now stands. The western part of the town is comparatively level: its principal streams—Hannekraai-kill (now Hannacroix), Deepe Clove kill, Cabin Run, and the east branch of Potick—nearly all flow in part through narrow and rocky ravines.
The Coeymans Patent nearly covered what is now the town of New Baltimore, and the patent of Thomas Houghtaling covered the rest. Andries Coeymans, son of the first patentee, had his patent confirmed by a new one August 26, 1714.
No record of the early organization of the town other than that of April 4, 1854, can be found. The officials at that time consisted of :
Edgar Halsteads School Supt. A. P. Smith Police Justice
Benjamin Hotaling Assessor Stephen Dean Commissioner
Lee Wheeler Collector J. W Gurney Overseer Poor
Henry R. Miller Town Clerk Abraham Travis Overseer Poor
The first marriage in the town is said to have been that of Garrett Van Slyck and Annatje Turk, September 1, 1736. This couple had two sons, Peter and James: James was a soldier of 1812. Albertus Van Der Zee was the first settler, soon followed by Andreas Van Slyck. The latter lived near the river in a stone house built in 1713. A map of 1772 shows Hotaling Island as being three islands instead of one. The one farthest to the north was called “Vife Hook.” What is now known as Bronk’s Island was then designed as “Marte Gerretse’s island.”
New Baltimore Village
The tract upon which the village of New Baltimore now stands, and some surrounding land, was sold by John Barclay and his wife, who was a daughter of Peter Coeymans, to Cornelius and Albert Storm Van Der Zee for 1,200 pounds. This also included the north part of Shuter’s island.
Hannacroix creek is the principal stream and called in early days Hannekraai-kill (cock crowing creek). About 1787 Charles Titus built a saw mill on Titus creek, and in 1808 he had a store and ashery. He was an orthodox Quaker. Hallett Titus early built a grist mill, the first in that part of the towns, on Honey Hollow creek. This mill was taken down in 1808, but his son Isaac settled a short distance west of Medway, where he built a steam saw and turning mill. He was a Hicksite Quaker preacher of great ability. * (*Quaker meeting was discontinued years ago.)
John Smith came into town about 1795 from Westchester County. Timothy Green, a son of William Green who emigrated from Wales, settled on a part of the Jonathan Miller Purchase about 1790. Conrad C. Hotaling moved from Coxsackie to the town of New Baltimore a year later. Before this his father, Thomas Hotaling had built a stone house for him. Thomas A. Hotaling had a son Peter H., who built a stone house on the east side of Bedell Hill bearing the date June 9, 1794.
Ebenezer Wicks came from Long Island to Rensselaerville in 1790 and to New Baltimore in 1802. He was a Baptist preacher of great force of character who often preached three sermons on a Sunday, following the trade of carpenter and farmer also. In 1805 he built a school house which served as both church and school, and it is said he was the means of building a church of Grapeville, doing most of the work without charge, and contributing liberally toward the material.
A grist mill on Coxsackie Creek in this town was built by Peter Van Bergen in the seventeen-hundreds, and another on Potick creek by the Powells at an early day. The first mill on the site of what is now known as “Deans Mills’ was known as Skinner’s, built about 1780, and was deeded by Solomon Skinner and wife Catrina to Thomas Hotaling in 1794. Many other mills were built upon these streams, but they all have disappeared.
At first New Baltimore was a fishing village, and Paul Sherman, who settled there in 1795, began building schooners some time before 1815, carrying on a trade with the West Indies. The first settled physician in the place was Dr. Robert Fowler.
The village now commanded from the bluffs above an extended and beautiful view of the Hudson. It was also the home of the Indian, a few remaining until after the Revolution, who, like most Indians after contact with white men, were quarrelsome and had many drunken orgies but did not molest the settlers.
In a short history of the Reformed church of New Baltimore which will be give later, compiled by Miss Julia Carhart, Jennie Trego Wickes and Jennie Fuller Van Orden in 1902, in “loving remembrance of the many who have gone before, and for the interest and help of those who shall come after as followers of Christ and members of this church, it is stated that “The church building was not completed and prepared for regular service until the year 1824. Also a fact worthy of note is that the doorstones at each entrance over which five generations have walked, were originally in one piece, and was brought from the church at Coeymans Square (now Ravena) by James Hotaling, the old church having been erected in 1793. In 1834 the church was dedicated by Dr. Van Santvoord, with the assistance of Drs. Ludlow and Ferris of Albany.” The corner stone was laid July 4, 1833.
Rev. Staats Van Santvoord, the first pastor and under whom the church was organized with a handful of members, served these people for five years without “any other compensation that the gratitude and good will of a growing congregation.”
The Medway Christian Church is the first of its kind in county, town and state. Rev Jasper Hazen of Vermont came westward on horseback, preaching wherever and whenever opportunity offered. In the course of his journey he came to the public house of Jonathan Miller. Young Hazen was regarded as something of a heretic, for he acknowledged no authority in the church but Christ the son of God. He found a friend in Jonathan Miller, and at this public house the first Christian Church of New Baltimore and the state was organized in 1807. The house and barns of Jonathan Miller served as a meeting place until 1832, when a church was built on the Miller farm. In 1861 the present Medway Christian Church was built.
The Parsons house, said to be the oldest in the village and now owned by Clarence Bronk Parsons, was built by the present owner’s great-grandfather, Stephen Parsons, whose sympathy in the project, and gift of $100, encouraged the Rev. S Van Santvoord to commence the building of the Reformed church in New Baltimore village. The grandfather of Clarence B. was Melvin Parsons, also the grandfather and his mother Berthena Bronk, a family closely connected with the early history of the town, one of the noted living descendants being Dr. Edmund Southwick, a scientist and naturalist of New York city his “Garden of the Heart” in Central Park being internationally known. His wife was a daughter of Stephen Parsons and Rose Croswell. A brother of Miss Carhart married Elizabeth Croswell, sister of the latter.
Pioneers and Their Homes
Jonathan Miller is supposed to be the family of Millers whose ancestor John Miller settled on Long Island as early as 1650. Jonathan came from Peekskill, and purchased 67 ¾ acres of land from Isaac D. Verplanck in 1791. The land is described as “situated in the west corner of Lot 1, in the 10th allotment of the Coeymans Patent, bounded on the north by the north line of the lot, and on the south by the Diep Kill, or Houghtaling Patent.”
His log house was built near the Diep Kill and on the south side of the road at the east end of his purchase. A few years after his coming to the town, “a young man rode up to the house one day and asked permission to hold a religious meeting.” This young man was Jasper Hazen, and the meeting which was held in Miller’s barn was the beginning of the Christian church, to which the Miller family attached themselves, many of their descendants following in their footsteps.
Jonathan had married Lydia McCabe. Their oldest child Hannah married Ephrahim Garret of New Baltimore. Jesse, another son, married Ann Kirk. Mrs. Miller had literary ability and was well known as a successful writer of children’s books. Henry Powell Miller married Lydia, a daughter of Jesse Miller, and made his home on the old homestead.* (*Charles Linsk, Lydia and Antoinette Miller are descendants living at Coxsackie: also Miss Jessie Miller and Miss Abby Kirk Miller, living at Medway)
Antonissen Van Slyk
The New Baltimore branch of the Van Slyke family can boast of a strain of princely blood, for the Prince of Orange is on their family tree. According to tradition, the earliest member of the family came form Amsterdam to this country about 1635. His name was William Peterse Van Slyk, as the name was then spelled. He appears to have been associated with the enterprise of Patroon Van Rensselaer of Fort Orange. His son Jacobus Van Slyk was appointed by Governor Stuyvesant, in 1658, as “voorleser,” or lay reader and instructor in religion, to the settlement of Esopus, now Kingston. Through his instrumentality a flourishing church was there founded.
It is believed that another son had settled in Bruckelen, (Brooklyn), whose name was Cornelius Antonissen Van Slyk. To this one, Aug. 2, 1646, Governor Keift executed a patent or deed for a large tract of land, lying west of Catskill, toward Kiskatom, and extending for several miles northward. It was intended that he should here plant a colony, after the manner of the Van Rensselaers of Fort Orange. It was, in fact, a transgression upon their claims, which were stretched much farther southward than Keift would allow. This gift to Van Slyk was a recompense for what Van Slyk had done for “this country, as well in making peace, as in the ransoming of prisoner.”
Disregarding the patent which Governor Kieft had granted to Van Slyk, the Patroon Van Rensselaer with superior power dispossessed Van Slyk, who did not care to contend, and located on unappropriated land between Coxsackie and New Baltimore, where for two hundred years the Hudson River branch of the Van Slyk family, and the Bronks with whom they were closely allied, were “lords of the soil.”
A short distance from the old stone house at the West Shore station stood the original home of the Van Slykes. The late Rev. J. G. Van Slyke, D. D., who preached in the Reformed church of Kingston with eloquence and power for many years, was a descendant of this family: also A. W. Van Slyke, M. D., of Coxsackie, who for many years has been the successful physician of that town, and Bronk Van Slyke his brother, who is a prosperous farmer living on the farm at Dean’s Mills, formerly owned by their father, Ephrahim T. Van Slyke. Of the later generations are Marie Hotaling Van Slyke, daughter of the doctor, and Mrs. Bertha Brown, Mrs. Marion Halstead, and Paul Van Slyke, children of Bronk, and his two grand-daughters, Adelaide Halstead and Hilda Van Slyke.
The tract of land deeded to Andrew and Peter Van Slyke afterward became the property of Benjamin Gurney, then of his son Jacob B. Gurney, and was the birthplace of the mother of Miss Julia Carhart, her mother being the only child of Jacob B. and Mary Hoag Gurney.
The Vanderpoel family have always been identified with the town of New Baltimore, and among their descendants now living are Edwin C. Vanderpoel, a former Supervisor of Greene county and trustee of the public school, Miss Abigail V. Whitbeck and others.
Town of Prattsville
Prattsville as a town did not exist until March 8, 1833, when it was named after Col. Zadoc Pratt. It was formed from the town of Windham.* (*So much of the town of Windham, in the county of Greene, lying westerly of a line drawn from the north line of the town of Lexington north to the mouth of Lewis Brook, thence up said brook to its head, thence to the north line of the town of Windham, shall be a separate town by the name of Prattsville * * * *act of Legislature May 8, 1833) A Large Number of Schoharie settlers before the Revolution had made camp on the flats at Prattsville, and during the war they were attacked by Indians and Tories under British leadership. They settlers won out and the Indian leader Captain Smith was mortally wounded. He was buried where he fell, opposite the battle ground, but high water washed out his bones, which a negro collected and buried in a safer place. This battle is said to have taken place north of the bridge.
Among the first settlers of Prattsville were John Laraway and four sons, Isaac Van Alstyne, Van Loan brothers, Henry Becker and the Shoemaker family. The first inn was kept shortly after the close of the Revolution by Martinus Laraway, and with his brother James they built the first grist mill.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Colonel Henry Laraway, April 2, 1833, when the following officials were elected to office:
Hezekiah Dickerman Supervisor
F. A. Fenn Town Clerk John Brackney Highway Com’r
Nicholas L Decker Assessor H. W. Shoemaker Highway Com’r
Isaac Haner Assessor A. B. Austin School Com’r
Ariral Blinn Assessor Leveritt Munson School Com’r
John Brandow Overseer Poor John Frayer School Com’r
Robert Moore Overseer Poor C. K. Benham School Inspector
Mathew R. Boughton Constable W. M. Brackney School Inspector
Titus Atwater Constable Willard Marsh School Inspector
Samuel Tompkins Constable Nicholas Decker Justice
Lawrence Brandow Constable David F. Moore Justice
Ezra Disbrow Highway Com’r Elisha B. Minard Justice
A little later Zadoc Pratt and John Laraway were elected at a special meeting in place of John Brandow and Robert Moore, who had neglected to take the oath of office. The first school was kept in a log school house a little east of Pratt’s Rocks, and a Reformed (Dutch) church was organized in 1802.
The history of the town and village of Prattsville is for the most part of a later date than which would ordinarily be included in this volume, but of its very early history when a part of the town of Windham little is known.
In a narrow valley through which runs the Schoharie kill, is the village of Prattsville. It is principally composed of one long street through which passes the highway, although other short streets and highways intersect it. When undisturbed by the motor car it has that old-time Sabbath stillness peculiar to the mountains which rise on either side of the village, while the placid waters of the stream creep up to the back doors of some of the inhabitants. There are trees a-plenty along the streets, and in spite of seeming lowness it has an elevation of 1,200 feet.
The village was incorporated in 1883 with Dr. Thomas Fitch as president; Charles Myres, collector; A . P. Myres, treasurer; W. H. Paddock, A. Lutz, and Charles A. Layman, trustees.
Northwest of Prattsville, just overt the line in Schoharie County was Devasego Falls, in 1765 called “Owlfleck.” In 1800 there was a tannery built by Bell, and sold to Charles Smedberg, a native of Sweden. In 1823 it burned and the incendiary act laid to the door of Bell, who disappeared, leaving behind traditions of his having been a pirate, who was afterward hung at Philadelphia. Smedberg built another tannery which shared the fate of the first. He was also a miller, sawyer, storekeeper and farmer.
It was not until 1825 that Colonel Pratt built his great tannery, 500 feet long and 43 feet wide, on the bank of the Schoharie. In 1839 a freshet carried the dam away, and in 1845 the tannery closed. Directly opposite the Reformed church he had a saw mill which was afterward Myer’s cabinet shop, later used as a machine shop by Harlow Taylor. Benett Atwood and Alfred Doolittle had a distillery on Washington street in 1830. Fenn and Dickman kept the first store, and Cornelius Decker was inn-keeper of what was afterward the Fowler House. Dr. Smith came to Prattsville in 1790, Dr. David Curtis in 1800, and Dr. C. K. Benham in 1825. (See Physicians of Greene County.)
Along the highway at the eastern end of the village one comes upon a park given to the town by Colonel Zadock Pratt, and fenced by a substantial stone wall above which are the rocks known by his name. The whole rises precipitously 500 feet above the Schoharie , the summit reached by a winding path along which there are many worthwhile vistas of valley and mountains.
Near the roadway is a large mound topped by a monument, erected to the memory of the horses and dogs of Colonel Pratt, and another more recent memorial to the boys of the World War. Upon the first is inscribed, “Of over 1,000 horses owned and worn out in the service of Zadock Pratt, the following were favorites. Bob, a sorrel, aged 24 years; Bogue, a bay, aged 18 years; Prince, a gray, aged 30 years.” Below this inscription are the names and ages of his dogs.
The path a half-mile in length turns and twists through the trees and about the rocks, with here and there a resting place carved form solid rock. Various emblems, a scroll, a wreath with the names of his two children in the center, a mechanic’s uplifted arm with hammer in hand, a horse and a hemlock tree, the Pratt coat of arms, and a striking bust of his son Colonel George W. Pratt, who was wounded at Manasses, Va. The path ends at a spring.
Colonel Zadock Pratt was born in Rensselaer County in 1790, removing to Greene County in 1802. He was five times married, and lived a life full of responsibility and important happenings, holding various county and state offices of importance as well as conducting a large tanning business—a life too eventful to be fully recorded in the limited space of this volume.
The Windham Journal says of him among other things at the time of his death, “He built up the village which bears his name, and disbursed thousands of dollars to make it attractive. The beautiful elm and maple trees which adorn the walks on either side, the whole length of the street, the sidewalks, and the hemlock shrubbery at the eastern extremity of the village, are enduring monuments to his public spirit and enterprise. The sculptured rocks and the walks with neat sofas cut from solid rock, were designed more to enhance the beauty of the place than for any gratification of vanity, as many suppose.
“The Colonel loved travel and adventure, was a close observer of men, and a splendid judge of human nature. * * * He was among the first who dared go the overland route to California. His funeral was attended by the largest concourse of people ever assembled at Prattsville. He was buried with Masonic honors and drawn to the grave by a span of noble gray horses.” On his death-bed he requested that Peter I. Brandow be one of his pall-bearers, but Mr. Brandow was buried on the same day as his friend. The Colonel died in Bergen City, and left a daughter, the wife of Hon. Colon M. Ingersol, of New Haven, Conn.
Red Falls or “Federal City” is a small village on the Batavia kill. It received its present name from the falls and the peculiar color of its waters which flow over red sandstone. Foster Morss and his son Burton G. did much toward building up this little village, flanked by mountains and running into what is indeed a “Pleasant Valley.” It has been said that here Jay Gould made his first money in cotton mills.
Pioneers and Their Homes
Burton G. Morss
Asa Morss, the grandfather of Burton G., was a resident of Massachusetts, where he had married Hannah Austin and soon removed to Lisbon, New Hampshire. They had fourteen children, and of these Foster was the father of Burton G. Morss, born in Windham April 15, 1820, his mother (second wife) dying when he was two weeks old. After attending the local school he received a year’s education at Greenville, another at Lexington, finishing up at Ballston Spa, Saratoga. During one winter he taught school near Ashland. His brother Austin became a Presbyterian minister.
Burton G. acquired a knowledge
of tanning when the vats were not under cover, the bark-mill was worked by horse
power, and a stone wheel was used
for milling hides. For twelve years
after Foster Morss built his tannery on White Brook it was worked by Lyman Morss, who lost his life by being scalded in a vat at Carbondale,
Pa. Foster built a second tannery in 1820, and this was conducted upon the new
system of tanning, run by water power and furnishing employment for about fifty
men. Loring Andrews of New York, working in this tannery, laid the foundation of
his immense fortune.
The tannery of Foster Morss was burned in 1826 and was a total loss. Three years later he built one at Red Falls run by water power. When this was closed in 1849 it was conducted by Burton G. Morss, who had a foundry there and made machinery for a cotton mill at Gilboa, and soon after for one of his own at Red Falls, with a dam which cost $6,000, and several tenant-houses. The mill contained seventy looms and was in operation until 1880. He also had a grist mill.
Burton G. Morss became owner of 3,000 acres of land in New York State and thousands of acres in Pennsylvania, becoming devoted to stock and dairy interests. He served the town of Prattsville as Supervisor in 1869 and consecutively for nine years. In 1875 he was a member of the State Legislature. In the great freshet of 1869 the mills at Red Falls were all swept away.
Town of Windham
No Local Historian
Windham, at first a part of Woodstock, Ulster County, became a separate town March 27, 1798, two years previous to the establishment of Greene County. Its first settlers were Captain George Stimson and Stephen Simmons (who was Livingston’s agent).
The town is guarded on three sides by mountains, and only the northwest line, which borders on the town of Ashland, is free from these wonderful obstructions of nature, along the summits of which run the boundaries between it and the towns of Durham, Cairo, and Jewett. Between these mountain barriers, with one exception where Elm Ridge cuts across the town, is the beautiful Windham Valley rising abruptly in some sections, in others in more or less sloping pasture lands toward the forest-topped mountains, and through it winds the Batavia kill.
At a town meeting held at the house of Richard Peck in the towns of Windham, Ulster County, April 12, 1798, with William Beach moderator and Reuben Hosford clerk, the following persons by a plurality of votes were appointed to office:
Samuel Gunn Town Clerk Richard Peck School Com’r
Ephrahim B. Hubbard Assessor Zephaniah Chase School Com’r
Martinus Laraway Assessor John Tuttle School Com’r
Munson Buell Assessor Elisha Thomson Constable
Enos Baldwin H’w’y Com’r Constant A. Andrews Constable
Benjamin Johnson H’w’y Com’r Harmonis Garlick Constable
Darius Briggs H’w’y Com’r Elijah Bushnell Constable
Justice Squires School Com’r Richard Jersey Constable
Alexander Boyd School Com’r Henry Becker Collector
The settlers of the town of Windham were principally from Connecticut, a lesser number from Massachusetts, a few from the Schoharie valley. Churches and schools were the most important things in the minds of these people, then came roads and bridges. The North Settlement road was opened April 9, 1794. In 1800 it was “Resolved, that Stephen Simmons be appointed agent for, and in behalf of the inhabitants of the said town of Windham, to apply to the Honorable, the Legislature, for such part of the money to be raised by lottery for improving certain great roads within the state, as may be necessary for improving the public road through Batavia in said town.”
A few years after this (1810) it was “Resolved, that the Commissioners of Highways erect a set of stocks near the Meeting House of the mountain, at the expense of the town.” Also “Resolved, that if any person suffer his or her dog to go to meeting, he or she shall forfeit the sum of fifty cents for each and very offence.”
This village had been known as Osbornville (about 1830) and Windham Center (1844) and is 1,500 feet above tide water. The beginnings of the village can be traced back to the time when George Stimson, sixty years of age, and his son Henry, a lad of thirteen, came from Hopkonton, Mass., in 1783 or 4. He was a soldier of the Revolution and left behind him in Massachusetts, to be called for later, a wife and ten other children. Father and son lodged in the open air beside a high rock at the west end of what is now Windham village, and, pleased with the sport and the advantages of the surrounding country, built against this rock a log cabin with bark roof.
The history of Windham village from its beginning until about a century ago can be given only as it has been handed down through the families of its pioneers, and some scant remaining records. Col George Robertson left behind a written record of the Presbyterian church and the Stimson family which has been freely quoted in this sketch.
Along the western border of the town Ebenezer Baldwin settled in 1798. Eleazer Miller (before 1805), William Clark and Elias Fancher (1811) were early settlers; Solomon Munson with wife and son Jarius in 1800. Solomon was killed at a house-raising in 1802, about two miles northwest of the village. His son Jarius married a daughter of Silas Lewis and moved to Windham.
When the tannery boom struck Greene County it opened up the way to settlements in the mountains, and around the tanneries villages came to life as if by magic. These were built along the streams, and when the mighty hemlocks of the forest were gone then manufactories took their places, while grist and saw mills were abundant.
Philetus Reynolds of Stockbridge, Mass., married Dremania Saxton in 1803, and he became a tavern-keeper in Windham. Tertius Graham and father Samuel, who first settled in Ashland, had a tannery about 1800. It is said to have had an “iron bark-mill and a rolling stone Falling-mill,” which was used until 1832. Tertius became a shoemaker, his two sons following the same business. The second tannery was built by Joseph Edsall and was running in 1815. The Osborn tannery was near the lower end of the glen, built in 1823 by Bennett Osborn and Abijah Stone. In 1810 they had a grist mill. Another tannery was built the same year by Samuel Reynolds and Clark Twiss.
Esquire Jesse Holister kept the first inn and store, and manufactured potash. He closed his business in 1824 and the Osborn brothers continued it. The inn of Holister after seven years was kept by Bennett Osborn until he built the Osborn house in 1829. Osborn was the first postmaster, commissioned by Andrew Jackson.
There are no records of very early deer-hunts among the mountains, but in November, 1825, a long-talked-of deer-hunting expedition took place in Windham. Dogs had been trained, guns cleaned and polished, and it is said “Catskill poured all her hunters to the field and Durham sent her president to rule the sport,” which continued three days. The muster was in the early morning amid the calling for horses, barking of dogs and the voices of the hunters. They succeeded in taking but two deer the first day, and seem not to have been particular whether they shot a doe or buck. Tray, Blanch and Sweetheart were the names of some of the numerous dogs, and the smallest one killed “as large a buck as ever scaled the mountains.” When a deer was shot but escaped, then a large greyhound was loosened who soon brought it to the ground. A number of deer had been killed a the end of the last day’s sport; a bear shot and pursued, but not taken.
The following was taken from the Windham Journal:
Messrs. Editors: January 9, 1877.
As the last days of the Centennial were passing away I recalled an incident in my father’s (the late Curtis Prout) life which I think worthy of record. The day on which he first crossed the Catskill mountain and reached his home in the valley of the Bataviakill was the last day of the century, the last day of the year, the last day of the month, and the last day of the week. He emigrated from Middletown, Ct., with his father and the time here mentioned was twenty years of age. As with an ox-team and cart he slowly neared his destination, a cheering spectacle met his gaze. The old meeting house was being raised, and then he halted and met his brother Harris Prout and brother-in-law, Russell Gladding, and Mr. Cook, father of the late Ichabod Cook, who had come on the year before and were at work on the building, being carpenters, and there also, for the first time, he saw his future neighbors, conspicuous among whom was the massive figure of Mr. Silas Lewis, Esq., standing on a corner of the frame. As my father lived about seventy years after that event, I presume the actors on that occasion all passed away before him. They were mainly men of stern integrity and nerve. Their descendants are widely scattered, and some have held high positions of trust and usefulness. It is easy to recall the names of many of the Stimpson, Strongs, Fullers, Morsses, Steeles, Buells, Robinsons, Ormsbees, Hunts and others as men of marked ability and business capacity. D. B. Prout.
The mountain villages are built in the valleys, and as the motorist rolls through he sees little of their charm, for the state highway is a leveler of grades and not a seeker after view. It is only as you climb the mountainsides or follow rough roads, little better than the trails of a century ago, that you feel the “call of the wild,” or appreciate the beauty of the hidden mountain meadow where fairies play in the moonlight; the rough boulder-strewn pasture lands with their “bar ways,” where cows are not just cows but an asset to the landscape as they peacefully chew their cuds under a sugar maple; the picturesque old sap-houses whispering of sweets in the spring-time, when the snow is melting from the mountainside and brooks run full; the views of valley and mountain that open up on every side and the abundance of ferns and everlastings at your feet.
One mountain village, its wood-roads and cow-paths explored, will give you more richness of memory, more deep satisfaction than any motor trip with its constantly moving panorama can do. When old age, invalidism or poor pedal extremities forbid, then take the motor car and get what you can, but if you would get the best, tarry for a time where a few minutes’ walk will bring you to the stillness of the forest or some high open sport where God’s mountain country in all its beauty lies below and around you.
John Henson, known as the pioneer of Hensonville, was born in 1798, and died in 1881; his wife Almira died in 1854, and both are buried there. He helped clear the land and build the first log houses, afterward replaced by frame ones, and although he died forty-seven years ago is still remembered by some of the inhabitants. He was twice married, had two daughters by his first wife, and lived to see several grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, one of whom, Mrs. Edward Haney, is living in Hensonville and remembers his stories of early days when the wolves howled around the house at night. He is remembered as a kindly, peaceable neighbor, fond of children, who always called him “Uncle John.” He was of strong physique and at one time walked to Catskill, twenty-four miles, and back again between sunrise and sunset.
Hensonville, like many other villages among the Catskill Mountains, is clean, healthful and homelike, with water from the Mountaintop of incomparable purity. It was once the farm of John Henson, who is said to have owned a mile in all directions and to have lived in the third house below the fountain. He had a saw mill on the little stream, a part of which is still standing. He was a Revolutionary soldier and rests in the cemetery back of his dwelling. The graves of his father and mother are marked by two brown headstones. The portrait of Mr. Henson shows him to have been a man of considerable character. Only one direct descendant, Mrs. Edward Haney, now lives in the village.
The cemetery at Hensonville was given for public use by William Henson over ninety years ago. Beers says that the “first to be buried there was a squaw by the name of Proctor, and a woman by the name of O’Brien. The latter was drowned while attempting to cross the brook near the village during a freshet.”
Hensonville was the birthplace of the late Judge Emory A. Chase,* (*See Attorneys of Greene County.) and the homestead (now Supervisor of Delmot L. Chase’s) is on the outskirts of the village as you descend the hill from Brooksburg. It is a beautiful spot where one goes to see the sun set behind far distant mountains, the intervening landscape and nature’s coloring making a picture no artist could ever hope to imitate worthily. It would seem that the judge must have acquired his high character, ideals and broad-mindedness in some measure from his surroundings, as well as from home and ancestral influences. The history of most of the present residents comes more properly under that of a later date.
Big Hollow for reasons unknown has become Maplecrest, although its baptismal name seems more fitting and to the point, it is situated at the extreme end of the town and is reached from Hensonville where Elm Ridge, like a monster beast resting after the hunt, stretches full length, leaving only space for highway, stream, and a small margin of lowland for an entrance. The “Hollow,” the great bowl of which shelters a beautiful little mountain village, with three churches, store, post office, and various minor industries with steep mountain sides rising from the back doors, narrows to a valley below High Peak and Cole Mountain.
Here at the upper end of the bowl is the beginning of the old “Ridge Road” (now almost impassable), which climbs steeply over Elm Ridge and ends at the Sherman farm and foot of High Peak, where there are two roads, one leading to Silver Lake and the other to East Windham. Lieutenant Lemuel Hitchcock came to the Hollow in the spring of 1795, transported hither by ox-team and sled. He and his son the year before “had located a squared mile of land on both sides of the head waters of the stream,” which runs through the hollow. The land seems to have been mostly on the north side, and his log cabin and orchard were near where in 1883 lived John Barnum. His children numbered ten, one of whom, Lemuel, settled on a part of his father’s farm, dying in 1861. At one time Winthrop Bagley, who is said to have been at the head of a band of counterfeiters, tried to buy out Deacon Hitchcock so there might be no interference with the gang on High Peak, for they had cut a road from their camp to within a hundred rods of the Elm Ridge road.
Eli Robinson, father of Lucius Robinson, former governor of New York state, lived in a log house and attended school in the log school house at Big Hollow. When the call came for men to serve in the War of 1812, Captain Eli P. Robinson called his company of Militia together and asked for men, signifying his own willingness to go. Almost to a man they volunteered, and on the eve of their departure gathered at the church at Windham where Rev. Henry Stimson addressed them. Next day they marched away while the whole countryside looked on.
After 1800 the Hollow grew rapidly. Isaac Payne, who built the first saw mill, came from Connecticut, living there until his death at the age of ninety years. Samuel Atwater, the grandfather of Erastus Peck, came from Hamden county; Samuel Law early settled on Hough Hill, named after Theron Hough. Other settlers were Samuel Chapman, Harry Avery, Mr. Saxton, grandfather of Sandford Hunt, the father of Governor Hunt. Ambrose Chapman built a chair-factory, one of the first in the Hollow, on the south side of the creek, and also made hay-rakes. Other settlers came later.
A man by the name of Mitchell came to this place in 1800 and lived on the flats in a house of logs. Little is known of this man, but he was buried under an apple tree on the Brockett farm. This farm was afterward that of a Mr. Brown, who built the house of the teacher Sylvester Andrews.
Deacon Elam Finch also came to this place and was one of the organizers of the West Durham Presbyterian church. These two men built the first frame houses in Mitchell Hollow. In 1805 Peck, Fordham, Smith, Robb, and Williams settled here and built log houses. Near the brook lived Mr. Fenton and Ephraim Stimson, Henry Casper over near Mr. Robb.
Ebenezer and Polly (Westlake)
Blakeslee came from Connecticut (1819) with seven children, and near them were
the Nelsons. David Lake and family came in 1816. Others were the Platts, Addis,
Wolcott, Roper, Waterman, Smalling, Atwood, Burhans and Carr. The son of Carr
became a noted teacher. Jared Clark
in 1817 built the first dam, in Mitchell Hollow.
Roswell Bump of Dutchess county came to Catskill, then to Mitchell Hollow
The road to Mt. Pisgah via Mitchell Hollow passes the Hayden house, built partly of stone; this stone part was built by Jonathan Bell,* (* Mrs. C. S. Van Vechten of Leeds is a great-granddaughter or Jonathan Bell.) who came from England abut 1800, shortly after this building the stone house, which had been added to and enlarged. He made tackling for ships in the lower part of the house, overseeing the work on the farm but doing no farm work himself. His daughter Ann was seven years of age when they came to this country, and married Jacob Saxton in 1816. A daughter of Jacob Saxton and Ann Bell (Mary Ann Saxton) married John F. Casper and lived for many years on the Casper farm at Cairo Junction, later sold to the late Adam Shultis.
Brookline or Brook Lynne is a collection of fine summer hotels with modern equipment, between Hensonville and Windham on the Batavia creek. Early in the nineteenth century Herman and Jared Mathews came for Southington, Conn., and commenced making shaving boxes. Later Soper had a shaving box factory, and somewhere nearby Bennett Osborn and Abijah Stone had a distillery. William Tuttle and Hiram Clearwater were merchants at the “Old Fiddle” settlement in 1830, and had a tannery. *(*I have not been able to locate the “Old Fiddle” settlement.)
Union Society, now known as Brooksburg and Newcomston Park, is composed of a few private homes and several summer hotels. It is on the Mohican Trail between Windham and East Windham, and its approach is bordered by the maples set out by Col. Robertson where he had a hotel and mills. He was born in a house the foundation of which can still be seen under the shadow of High Park.
A post office was established at Union Society in 1815 or 1816, kept by Major Cornelius Fuller. In 1826, when the new turnpike was built, Col. Robertson was postmaster. Mail was not carried by stage before building of the branch road from East Windham to Windham, but on horseback, and afterward until 1826 by a one-horse wagon, Erastus Buck was the first to establish a mail-stage drawn by four horses.
Pioneers and Their
As has been stated, George Stimson came to Windham in 1784 with his son Henry, and built a log cabin at the west end of the village, then a wilderness. The rock against which he built formed one side of the cabin and also a part of the chimney and fireplace. Eleven miles distant toward the setting sun lived their nearest neighbors, the Laraways, and Van Loans, while sixteen miles east was Shingle Kill (Cairo).
Tradition says that during the first winter the father went to Hudson, thirty-eight miles away, to get provisions, leaving Henry alone at he cabin. The boy must have had plenty of pluck and courage, for all about him was the solitude of the forest where bears, wolves, wildcats and panthers were plentiful. He proved himself equal to the occasion, and even when several weeks had passed and his fathers had not returned he still remained faithful to his trust, refusing to leave with a chance of traveler who remained over night with him. The stranger was persistent and determined to force him to go with him, fearing starvation for the lad, but Henry ran away and hid in the woods. When six weeks had passed the father returned, having been kept at Hudson by an extended thaw which made the river impassable.
Many years later when Henry had become a minister and was attending Presbytery he met the stranger and made himself known as the boy he had tried to rescue. In 1785 or 1787 the rest of the family came from Massachusetts. The elder Stimson became a herder of cattle on the mountains, and Henry a founder of churches in the vicinity.*(*See Churches.)
Increase Claflin and his brother John settled on a soldier’s claim. They came fro Farmington, Mass., about 1786 on an ox-sled. These men had married daughters of George Stimson, and it is very likely his wife and other children came with them.
Nathaniel Stimson, bought of the grandfather of Col. George Robertson, about 1807, the land upon which the village of Windham now stands. Mr. Stimson lived for a time in the house which later was that of Truman Johnson. Abijah Stone and Dr. Camp soon after built houses there.
Col. George Robertson was born in Windham March 15, 1805. His grandfather came from Scotland in 1774, and a year later joined the Revolutionary army. He settled and married at Troy, owned a large a part of what is now the city, after the death of his wife coming to Windham, where he married Esther Judson. His eldest son James came with him and married Elizabeth, daughter of Elihu Rogers, a descendant of John Rogers, the Christian martyr, who was born in Bradford, Conn., but then lived in Windham. James Robertson was an elder and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian church, owned two farms and kept a hotel. In politics he was a Whig. He had eight children of his own and in addition brought up and educated a number of others, starting them out in life with a Bible, a new suit of clothes and $100. George was the only one of the four sons who continued to make his home in Windham.
Three and a half miles east of Windham village he built a hotel (1829) on the farm then his father’s, and this hotel is known as the first temperance house in the county. He has been known to have kept as many as 600 cattle and 13 drovers in a single night, and it was not an uncommon sight to count a hundred loads of butter passing in a single day. He became an enterprising framer and business man, dealing in lumber and merchandise, and a partner of Colonel Zadoc Pratt in the tanning business, afterward buying him out. He is said to have been concerned in seven saw mills, owner of four, and interested in a large leather store in New York city. In time he became the owner of 600 acres of farm land. Upon this farm on either side of the highway he set out 900 maple trees, and these trees are still giving shade to the passing public. He was a member and deeply interested in the welfare of the Presbyterian church. He was a member of the Assembly in 1853, and his title of Colonel was received by election to the position in one of the State Militia regiments.
Illustrating the push and enterprise of Robertson, the story is told that when his saw mill was burned the timber for the new mill was gotten out on Monday, framed on Tuesday, raised on Wednesday, and on Saturday night the machinery had been put in and was in operation. When the Windham tannery burned this record was beaten for on Monday the timber for the frame was standing in the woods, and on the following Saturday night a building three and one-half stories high, 40X210 feet, with a lintel 21X120, was put up and in operation, thus saving a large amount of stock on hand. The Colonel married a second time Esther Dorcas, widow of George E. Merwin and daughter of Deacon Elijah and Mary (Robertson) Strong, the latter a native of Ashland.
February 12, 1926, a Community Club was organized for prevention and protection from fires. One year it had 79 paid members.
The buildings on the Hiram Jenkins farm was burned July 14th of the same year. Neighbors succeeded in saving the large farmhouse and cow-barn.
August 12th the big barn of William Bonesteel at Pleasant Valley was destroyed by fire. This was known as the Cole farm.
Corwin B. Bronson passed away suddenly on Wednesday morning, November 3, 1926, at his home in Ashland. He was a native of North Settlement, a son of the later Mr. and Mrs. Benoni Bronson, and was held in great esteem throughout the town as well as among county officials and the county associations, in the activities of which he bore an important part.
He was but forty-five years of age at the time of his death, yet he had accomplished as much if not more than many an older man in the public affairs of his town. For four terms he had filled the office of Supervisor for the town of Ashland, and his far-sightedness, quick grasping of a difficult problem, made him a valuable asset to the Board.
Mr. Bronson was also a member of the Green County Farm Bureau, himself a practical farmer, taking much interest in its work. With his wife, in connection with their farm at Pleasant Valley, they conducted a large poultry business. He was also President of the Pleasant Valley Telephone Company. It has been written of him that “he was a man who improved the opportunities afforded him for developing types of business, religious, and social traits of human nature, and it was a pleasure for him to pass the benefits he acquired to his home people and others with whom he came in contact. He was a man among men.”
April 10, 1927, the barn, fruit and hen-house and a shed of Daniel Vosburgh, on the Albany road, was destroyed by fire.
A slight fire in the barns of Seth W. Halstead and Louis Nabert May 26, 1927.
Elmore Mackey died Nov. 17th, after an illness of over a year and a half, all this time a great sufferer, rarely free from pain. The funeral was held in Zion Lutheran Church on Nov. 29th, the Rev. E. Branson Richards officiating. Mr. Mackey was born in the town of Athens fifty-five years ago, the son of the late William and Jane Van Valkenburgh Mackey. He was a prosperous farmer for many years, but giving this up in middle like he moved to the village, where he played a prominent part in its affairs, serving as president of the Board of Trustees at one time, representing the town as Supervisor, and also served as Sheriff for the county. He was the first President of the Athens National Bank and the first of the Athens Supply Corp., which office he held up to the beginning of his fatal illness; he was a member of the I. O. O. F. Lodge, the Knights of Pythias, and Morton Steamer Co., and an active member of Zion Lutheran Church, being one of its elders. Too much cannot be said of his integrity and honest dealings with his fellow-men, his morality and his kindness toward all. Athens loses in his going a Christian, public-spirited man and a respected citizen. Attending the service in a body were both Lodges to which he belongs, and representatives of the various institutions in which he was interested. Surviving him are his wife, one daughter (Mrs. Philip Carlson), one son (Floyd), all of Athens.
On May 20, 1925, Athens voted to appropriate $200,000 for the installation of a water and sewer system, the culmination of over forty years of agitation for a water supply. Until after 1919 estimates were based on water from the Hudson. Finally impetus was given a gravity system by Warren E. Howard, then a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by a thesis on “A Water Supply for the Village of Athens,” and data furnished by Robert H. Every of Yale, in regard to rainfall and watershed of Hollister Lake. In 1923 a committee of citizens, with Dr. Alton B. Daley as chairman and Charles W. Stranahan secretary, decided to back a gravity system, and a special village election resulted in a majority for it and placed the matter in the hands of the Village Board. The entire job was finished May 30, 1927, and a celebration held June 11th.
John B. Earl Took possession by purchase, the first of the year, of the R. A. Austin drug store.
January 12th the new High School building, which cost over $50,000, was so badly wrecked by fire as to necessitate holding school sessions in different rooms in the village. On the 22nd, Cairo ladies pledged $1,000 toward a chemical engine. The new Lafrance pumper and chemical engine cost $10,000.
Two fine modern residences were erected in 1926 next the National Bank—one owned by R. A. Austin, Cairo’s druggist for over thirty-three yeas; the other by Julius Schad, owner of Walters Hotel.
The bakery owned or many yeas by Barney Freleigh was sold to Moses Deyo and Floyd Simpkins. This partnership was recently dissolved and Mr. Deyo is now sole owner.
The Board of Supervisors granted to the Cairo Chamber of Commerce the “privilege of making necessary surveys” and conveyed to “said corporation certain lands owned by the county for the formation of an artificial lake,” in that town. Resolution introduced by Supervisor Bogardus.
January 8th Gilbert Holdridge was found dead in his barn. His death was due to exposure.
January 20th Fred Van Dyke of the County Alms House committed suicide by drowning.
In the window of L. A. Miller at Cairo the first flag to be landed on Roanoke Island in 1862 has been on display. It shows signs of battle that include several bullet-holes. This flag was carried by Captain Erastus Dayton, father of Mrs. Miller, when as captain of marines during the Civil War he made forced landing at Roanoke, Va.
Ally Emens of Dist. No. 1 was declared champion speller of Greene County.
April 6th a large barn on the Courtney Wood place near Freehold was burned, and a sawmill back of Acra on the 12th. This was owned by Miss Elinore Geary and was on what is known as the Frank Simpson place.
A building belonging to Lerner Bros. At Cairo and occupied by William Fisher was destroyed by fire April 28th.
The summer house of Charles E. Barbier, between Durham and Oak Hill, burned May 31st.
1925 was ushered in by a New Year reception given by the Rip Van Winkle Club, and a shoot by the Fish and Game Club. These were followed throughout the month by the usual annual meetings and banquets of hose companies and lodges; a dinner to county officials on the 6th. Hendrick Hudson Lodge, I. O. O. F., of Catskill celebrated its seventy-ninth birthday on Jan. 20th, when we had a big snow storm, of from eight to ten inches.
A new order of things was the burning of Christmas trees on the Holdridge dock by Dwight Brandow, which called out a crowd of people. January 24th is marked by the total eclipse of the sun, when the thermometer registered from ten to twelve below zero. In this intense cold, darkness crept slowly over the snow-covered landscape, giving it an unusual and weird touch, which affected both bird and beast as well as humans. February 11th the Catskill Creek broke up with two feet of ice.
A distinct earthquake shock was felt on Saturday, March 5th. On April 20th the mountains were covered with snow, and on the 26th at the County Seat clocks were set ahead one hour. During this month the Howitzer Co. received from the arsenal at Raritan, N. J., a German seventy-five millimeter howitzer, weighing with carriage 490 pounds. It has been placed on the Armory lawn.
May 4th was opening day for the Post and Riley Creamery, 3,334 pounds of milk from twenty-six patrons was the first day’s record, and on the 17th it was increased to 9,361 pounds from forty-six patrons. Cream cheese as a by-product, and chocolate milk, have been added to their output. During May the ferry boat A. F. Beach was equipped with modern, collapsible iron guard-gates.
During January, 1925, death claim eight persons in the town, among then, January 25th, Dean Wardell Jennings, M. D. Not since the passing of Dr. Wilbur F. Lamont, in 1912, had the village and surrounding towns been so shaken and bowed with grief at the passing of a man to whom they owed so much of sympathy and help in times of illness and trouble.
Dr. Jennings was born June 3, 1883, to Daniel Webster and Suzette Wardell Jennings, in Cairo, Greene county, spending his boyhood there. After graduating from High School he entered Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, from there going to the Albany Medical College, where he received his degree. For some time he served in Rochester General Hospital, later, after practicing in his home town, taking a course in the Post Graduate Hospital in New York. About eight years ago he entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr. Lyle B. Honeyford, in Catskill village. This was a partnership in every sense of the word, for they were comrades and friends as well as congenial professional associates and brothers.
Dr. Jennings volunteered his services during the World War and was in the base hospital at Camp Sevier, S. C. He was a member of the County, State and American Medical Societies, and of various lodges and associations in his home town. As medical inspector for three years in Catskill village schools he was loved by the pupils, even the youngest trusting him without question. He is survived by his wife, who was Miss Margaret Ritchie of Orillia, Canada; a brother, the Rev. W. W. Jennings of San Francisco, Cal., and a sister, Mrs. Lyle B. Honeyford of Catskill.
Memorial Day 1925 will long be remembered as a testimonial to the veterans of the Civil, Spanish-American, and World Wars. After a parade led by Capt. Percy W. Decker, the column halted in front of the Court House, where the monument to the World War Veterans had been erected.
County Judge Thorpe was master of ceremonies, the Rev. Andrew C. Hansen offered prayer, and John McMenamy led in singing “America.” Donald Heath gave forcibly and well, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “Tenting To-Night” was sung, after which Francis Van Loan recited “Flanders Field” in a manner not soon to be forgotten. The oratory of Hon. P. Barton Chaffee, who was the principal speaker, held his audience spellbound.
The Community Band played the “Star Spangled Banner,” the national salute was fired by the Howitzer Company, and the new memorial unveiled. Taps were sounded at the end of the program. The names of 492 men who served in some branch of the service are on the bronze tablets and 24 have stars.
From these imposing ceremonies the members of Watson Post, G. A. R., able to be present, with their wives, retired to their annual dinner in the rooms occupied by them for forty-one years, but which it seemed best should be abandoned because of decreasing numbers in their ranks. A permanent place had been prepared for their use in the County House by the Board of Supervisors, and their valuable records and relics have been placed there.
Flag Day (June 14th) was observed by a display of the national emblem. July 4th was observed by the Howitzer Company, which assembled at he Armory and was inspected under the direction of Capt. William Heath. The village was bright with flags, and it was said that “never in the history of the automobile was traffic so heavy” as at day boat time on the afternoon of The Fourth. The F. N. Wilson Fire Company staged a field day at the Cairo Field Grounds.
The Elks held a Field Day (August 12th) at the same place. The usual races and contests of a Field Day were varied by the rough riding of Troop G, New York State Police, which won much applause. During August the largest boat ever put over by the Benter yard was launched on Catskill Creek. It was “Whileaway II,” built for Herbert Carpenter Sr. of Ossining, N. Y.
No special demonstration marked Labor Day, but it is estimated that between eight thousand and ten thousand cars passed through Catskill.
Sept. 28th the Society of Cosmo and Damien held their annual celebration, witnessed by crowds of people. At 9 a.m. a band concert at the Court House preceded the march in a body to high mass at St. Patrick’s church. In the evening a wonderful display of fireworks on the Holdridge dock on the Westside. This display surpassed any of former yeas and was enjoyed by crowds of people on either side of the creek and on the bridge. An aerial bombardment from one side to the stream to the other was a special feature.
During October a campaign for a new post office was begun by Harry B. Morris and other prominent men. Senator Wadsworth promised aid, but intimated difficulties, chief of which was the securing of appropriations for the purpose at this time.
Great damage was done to shade trees and shrubs during the storm of October 10th. Two trees on lower William street, Catskill, toppled over, carrying light and telephones poles with them; others on Thomson and Broad streets, while branches and leaves covered the ground. In the country orchards suffered heavily and immense trees apparently as stable as the rocks were uprooted.
October 14th the cleaning of the village reservoir was completed, and on the 17th the Evening Line laid up its steamers, bringing to a close its fifty-fourth season of navigation. For two years past the “Catskill” has not missed a trip, neither did the streamers “Storm King” and “Reserve.” The Hudson River Day Line made its last trip up the river October 18th, and down the river October 19th. The new and handsome boat “Alexander Hamilton” was put on this season, and improvements to Catskill Point made. The “Washington Irving” was the companion boat. The “Daily Mail” came out October 19th with enlarged edition. A new flat web press was installed and mechanical plant moved to Hill street.
On October 19th the entire village felt, in more or less degree, the blowing up of Zarin’s market on upper Main street. The building was entirely demolished. There were no casualties, but many narrow escapes.
This month (October ) established a record for unusual weather and boisterous conduct with severe wind storms and sudden changes of temperature. An unusual sight was that of October 30th, when snow fell throughout the day while the trees were still wearing their autumn dress of varied colors.
No. 1st Gus H. Dederick shot the first deer of the season. On Armistice Day in Catskill grocery stores and meat markets closed at noon, and holiday hours were kept at the post office. There was lavish display of flags, and the Court House was decorated with the national colors.
Catskill High school observed American Education Week, November 16th to 22d, by a program for each day of the week to which the public was invited. These programs were arranged by Miss Avis Pattrell, and were both entertaining and instructive.
The matter of a hospital for Catskill was brought up by Dr. E. C. Van Deusen of Athens in a public letter. He emphasized the need of such an institution, and answered objections by telling how it could be built and maintained. He drew attention to the fact that the Board of Supervisors expended yearly approximately $7.000 for hospital cases; that the Bonesteel endowment would add $2,000 for its maintenance; that the state aid was available, and drives for subscriptions would add materially to its equipment and maintenance.
In December the laying of a new main on Lower Main street was finished. This new main connects with that on Broad street. The Trustees of Catskill Public Library refused to endorse the County Library project put before them by Mr. Asa Wynkoop, head of the Public Library Section, University of the State of New York. The chief objections were: inadequate facilities of Catskill Public Library as a central distributing point, and the fact that Catskill would be obliged to raise $1,000 more yearly than at present for library purposes.
During the year (effective April 30, 1926) the village passed an ordinance regulating the sale of milk within the village limits. Citizens Hose Company deeded their new automobile fire apparatus to the village. A new street-sprinkler, snow-plow and tractor have been purchased. By an agreement between Corporation Counsel J. Lewis Malcolm and the New York Central Railroad Company a refund of practically $50,000 was saved to the town of Catskill.
Secretary Wallace of the State Board of Charities, as a result of his inspection of the County Alms House at Cairo, found the building badly in need of repairs, with poor drainage, inadequate laundry, unsuitable toilets, no fire escapes, no lighting in rooms, no hospital accommodations. Following this report the Board of Supervisors made and extraordinary appropriation of $1,500 for repairs. In December, as the result of two inspections by Commissioner Pyrke, he stated that “among other improvements are a new cow-barn with all modern improvements; cement floors in hog-house, with steel partitions; painting of most of the buildings; new and better herds and improvements in crops.” He also declared himself satisfied with the efficiency of Superintendent Barker.
The first meeting of 1925 called by President Thomas resulted in the consideration of a change in the location of the Rest Room from the Sage building to that of the Y. M. C. A. An appropriation of $1,500 was made for a secretary, and a drive for membership put under way.
The February meeting decided the lease of the store lately occupied by Frank Morelli in the Y. M. C. A. for a rest room. A Hudson River Bridge Committee was appointed, and a resolution passed requesting the Board of Trustees of the village to appoint a commission of eleven persons selected by the Chamber of Commerce to “study our present Village Charter and the General Village Act. * * * A committee was appointed to go before the Village Trustees asking that $2,000 to placed in their budget for the Memorial Monument; also $500 to be asked for the same purpose of the Town Board. It was also decided to make the Rest Room “headquarters for an employment bureau.”
In July the Winter Sports Committee launched a 12X16-foot float at The Point and had it towed to Table Rock, at the foot of William street, for the convenience of bathers. In December the matter of the condition of the West Shore freight-yard and approaches was taken up with the New York Central Railroad. The latter company agreed to spend $23,000 to pave yard and approaches to the station, in the meantime temporarily improving Railroad avenue by the user of cinders. Better train service was also secured.
A number of members of the Chamber of Commerce, following a dinner at the Saulpaugh tendered by Edwin J. Thomas (president), had an important conference with Mr. Fred D. Bagley of Buffalo, on State Park Commissions. As a result a Greene County Park Commission was appointed.
Mrs. Marie Butler, the efficient matron of the Rest Room, reported at the end of the year 8,945 visitors during 1925, while general information of all kinds had been given out by her. Since the Rest Room was started in 1923, Mrs. Butler has entertained 27,500 persons. It had proved a great boon to out of town people. The summer booklet was re-written by Kenneth Palmer, of which 10,000 were issued, and Robert B. Greenberger was engaged to solicit in its behalf through out the county.
The Greene County Amusement Company, with three hundred stockholders throughout the county, built the Community Theater in 1920 on the site of the Nelida Theater which burned in 1917. On June 1st both the Community and Smalley’s Theaters were taken over by the Farkas Theaters Inc. of Schenectady, controlled by W. W. Farley, stockholders to receive $15 for every $10 invested.
In February the Alsen cement plant was sold to Robert F. Johnson of Brooklyn, later becoming in property of Lehigh Portland Cement Company.
E. C. Barlow purchased from Capt. W. A. Bear the dock and buildings which formerly composed the landing of the Catskill & Albany Steamboat Company.
The W. J. Hughes ice-house and other buildings on Water street (Catskill Coal and Ice Co.) was sold April 7th to Clyde DeWitt of Columbia county of $13,600.
The Catskill Foundry & Machine Works acquired title to the old gas works on Water street, between Union Mills and foundry building. The Middlesex Manufacturing Co. also removed to Trenton, N.J., and Mayonne Brick Co. took possession of Freeman property. Walter G. Ladd established a drug store in the Lohman building at West Catskill.
Greene County Lumber Co. sold its lumber-yard and real estate foot of Church street to Welsh & Grey of Albany, and the building at Main and Canal streets occupied by the Community Restaurant was purchased by Stephen Chorvas of Saugerties. Fred Clarke, who came to Catskill in 1912, sold his business in October to Joseph A. Hill.
1925 was the fortieth year of Willis A. Haines’ blacksmith business on Church street. The Catskill Foundry & Machine Works finished eighty-six year of its existence in the same building although in different hands.
Five historical places have changed hands during the year. The farm and brick house in Jefferson built about 1792 by the Rev. Johannes Schuneman, the “Dutch Dominie of the Catskills and where he died in 1794, was sold to Marico DiCaprio. This is best known as the Prindle farm.
The old Salisbury mansion of 1705, with the farm, near Leeds, passed by purchase from Mrs. Earl R. Potter to Howard S. Tiffany. The house was known for years as the Van Deusen house and is one of the oldest still standing in the county. The barn, the frame of which at least dated back to 1682, built by the Whitbeck’s, was burned to the ground in February, 1926.
The old Van Vechten mill property (known also as Cook’s, Rushmore’s, and Pixley’s) was sold to Ivan Shestacovsky, who owns a part of the Van Vechten Patent. The first mill was built there in 1715, and the second 1765, and the present one in 1830.
Another Van Vechten place known as the “Toll-Gate Farm,” there having once been a toll-gate on the state road near the bend, was sold by Charles Van Vechten to Otto Margraf. The exact date of this house is not known, but in 1848, when it was purchased by the late Luke K. Van Vechten, the house was called old and needed much repairing. The farm was purchased by Samuel, his grandfather, from Francis Salisbury in 1792.
The McLaughlin property in Jefferson, purchased by George Badeau of Leeds, is on or near the site of the Souser tavern of 1797, perhaps earlier, where many important political and military meetings were held, and where crowds assembled on race days, for the race track was near.
The Salisbury House in Jefferson might also be included in the list. The first house was built soon after the Revolutionary War by Barent Staats Salisbury, a noted soldier, and was occupied by his descendants for many years. It was sold by Fran Lauria to Henry J. Fischer of New York. It is said that same portion of the old house is included in the present one.
The Jefferson Rural Cemetery Association added two hundred lots to their property during the year. The Town Board put up 5, 000 feet of snow fence, and the committee upon snow removal reported “105 miles of state and county highways kept free for traffic.” Eight snow-plows were purchased, and $1.50 each voted by Supervisors for bounty on gray foxes.
During 1925 no destructive fires occurred, although alarms were numerous, chiefly because of the soft coal situation and consequent overheated furnaces, which caused small fires promptly extinguished by the firemen. Out-of-town fires have naturally been more destructive, and to these the Catskill firemen have responded, although conditions were such that little aid could be given.
In January the house of Mrs. Mary Young on the Saugerties road near the brick school house was destroyed by fire. In March the house of Mrs. Mary McMenamy on Thomson street was badly damaged by fire, and in June a slight fire in the Haines garage, in which Roy Couchman was severely burned. In July the Buckland bungalow between Leeds and Sandy Plains was burned to the ground.
A blast at Cementon destroyed a house occupied by Lester Mertz and family. They had taken the precautions to remove most of their household goods.
Automobile accidents in the town of Catskill were numerous during 1925, caused by all known and previously unknown circumstances and conditions of driver, cars, and highways. Many indictments of intoxicated drivers were found, as well as many fines given for reckless and careless driving. The results were in some cases fatal, in others broken bones and injuries of various sorts.
On November 4th, Miss Anna Brooks was accidentally struck and fatally injured by William Myers of Tannersville, dying two days later. Arthur Gavigan was instantly killed near the Henry S. Van Orden farm on the Saugerties road. Charles Manning, a young man of Palenville, was fatally injured. Mrs. James J. Buhl of Jersey City died from injuries received in an accident in this town.
September 22d the car of Joseph Ernst of Woodhaven, L. I., which was parked on Cooke street, broke through the iron rail of the Finch house on upper Main street, and descended to the basement, breaking through the side of the house, wrecking the furniture and injuring the occupants, one of whom, Mrs. E. B. Engle of Cobleskill, received serious injuries.
Nicholas Ricci, a tax-driver of Catskill, was held up by a passenger at the point of a gun near Rensselaer, and tied to a tree while the bandit and his accomplices made off with the car, which was afterward recovered.
Among tragic occurrences of the year was that of Warren Ostrander, instantly killed, and Ransom Gifford fatally injured by the falling of a telegraph pole (June 11th) near South Cairo. Joseph Holmes (Oct. 30th), son of Charles Holmes, was fatally injured at the Acme Cement plant. Sept. 26th Peter Martin Kraus met instant death at the same place. Edgar Brandow, six years old, was found dead at the foot of the cliff at Broome and West Bridge streets on November 25th. On November 14th Clinton H. Moon committed suicide by shooting himself. He had been for several years poor-master at Cementon.
Christmas was celebrated by a Community Tree in front of the Court House, in charge of Mrs. Edith Hubbard. Watch night services were held in the First Reformed Church, and the mill bell, according to its yearly custom, rang in the New Year. The ringing of the old Liberty bell was plainly heard over the radio. On December 29th a star of great brilliancy shot across the sky, attracting the attention of many.
On Monday, January 4th, Earl C. Brougham assumed his duties as manager of the Greene County Farm Bureau.
January 12th the Town Board signed a contract with the Upper Hudson Electric & R. R. Company for lighting Spooky Hollow district, and also voted to purchase a gasoline roller. The following day Leeds taxpayers voted in favor of 23 electric lights, with power to increase to 80, to connect with Spooky Hollow. Lights were turned on at Leeds February 9th, making a continuous lighting district from Catskill to that village.
The Hon. Ira Burr Kerr passed away at his home on the Albany road (where he had lived since 1898) September 21, 1925, aged eighty-three years. He was born at South Kortright, Delaware Co., April 12, 1842, to Samuel and Hannah M. Burr Kerry.
Mr. Kerr obtained his education at the Delaware Literary Institute, Franklyn, N. Y. and graduated form the Albany Law School in 1865. For a number of years Delhi was his home, where he edited the Delaware Gazette, moving to Athens in 1880. Elected to the Assembly in 1894, three years later he entered into law partnership wit the late Sidney Crowell of Catskill. For sixteen years he served as justice of the peace. He was a life member of Catskill Lodge, F. & A. M.; in 1908 appointed District Deputy Grand Master.
On Nov. 12, 1873, he married Mary Elizabeth Babcock of Stamford, who died in 1921, and he is survived by two sons (Frederick of Hudson and Robert of Catskill), and one brother, Henry Kerr of Davenport Center, Delaware County.
“This community and town have lost in Ira B. Kerr a citizen of a rare type—intelligent, educated, thoughtful and upright; those who knew him well have lost a loyal friend, his sons mourn a kind father. In social gatherings he was known widely as a ready, humorous speaker, yet full of reverence, and one who could never express too often his love for the beautiful scenes about his home and in the mountains to which he lifted up his eyes in praise to their maker.”
The Cauterskill Ice Company started to harvest ice 10 ½ inches in thickness on January 14th. During March the Hop-o’-Nose ice-house was filled with 16-inch ice.
February 2nd Bruin went back to his bed for another six weeks’ sleep, and next day his action was justified. At 7:30 p.m. February 3d snow flakes began to fall; by morning ten inches covered the landscape, with high wind but comparatively mild temperature. The 5th saw twenty inches of snow, with blocked roads, and tractors and snow-plows busy throughout the county. All roads in the town were cleared in record time, and the village of Catskill spent $1,600, also making a record for quick snow removal. This month proved to be the coldest February known in years.
Catskill taxpayers without a dissenting vote appropriated $2,000 for a new fire alarm siren. The old one was repaired by the Game-well Company without charge, but the result was unsatisfactory and a new siren was installed for a four months’ trial, which was finally accepted in April 1927, after readjusting boxes.
March 22nd crossing the river on the ice was discontinued, and on the 26th the river from below Catskill Point to Hudson Lighthouse was clear of ice. Three days later the first tow of the season passed north. At Easter time snow was still deep in the woods among the mountains, and the first week in April there was a background of white mountains on the landscape.
April 3d a thunder storm was followed by sleet and snow with a drop of 45 degrees within ten hours. On the 17th a snow squall swept the county, while on May 6th there was a storm of snow, rain and hail.
On May 15th the Washington Irving of the Day Line made her first trip up the river, and sixteen days later (June 1) she sank off the Jersey shore from collision in a fog.
On May 28th William Caniff, commander of Watson Post, G. A. R. died at his home in this village; and on Monday, the 31st, as he led the Pruyn Drum Corps, Major Elmer Russel suddenly passed on.
Memorial Day was celebrated on Monday, and owing to rain the exercises were held in the Armory, where the old patriotic songs were sung, led by John McMenamy. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and the “Poppies of Flanders Field” were finely rendered by James MacAllister and Ralph Palmer. Rev. Francis A. Kelley of the Sacred Heart Church of Cairo gave an eloquent and stirring address. Taps were sounded by Philip E. Elmendorf. The members of Watson Post, G. A. R. had luncheon at the restaurant.
Memorial Day of 1927 was celebrated by a parade, with Captain William Heath chairman of service at the village cemetery. William Freese of Cairo and David Chassy, winners of the Philip prize at Catskill High School, were the orators of the day. At a dinner at the new Saulpaugh given by Mr. Geo. W. Holdridge, there were eleven veterans and their families, six widows, with Mr. and Mrs. Grant W. Robinson and Mr. and Mrs. Percy W. Decker as guests of honor.
July 3d 1,500 passengers, landed form the Day Boat at Catskill, and from an extra boat that same night, 500 more. The traffic though the village over the week-end of the Fourth was unprecedented. No special demonstration was held at Catskill, but flags were in evidence everywhere. Hook & Ladder Co. No. 5 held a Field Day on the Cairo Fair Grounds on the 5th.
July 18th a severe hail storm damaged the Point property. The hail was general throughout most of the county, but did damage to crops and fruit only over a small area. At Catskill many of the hail-stones measured an inch and a half in circumference and covered the ground.
August 19th the New York City-Catskill auto-bus made its first trip up from New York. The Farm Bureau picnic on the 12th was attended by about 2,000 people, August 16th was opening day of the Cairo Fair. Former Mayor Hylan was the guest of Judge William E. Thorpe at the luncheon at the Saulpaugh given in honor of Mr. Hylan, who delivered an address at the Cairo Fair on Chamber of Commerce Day.
Labor Day was a great event in Catskill, planned for by the local firemen for months previous. The weather man was not kind, but this did not prevent throngs of people from being present, nor interfere with the firemen’s parade in the afternoon. The carnival parade in the evening marched in a pouring rain. The Greene County Firemen’s Convention (its 38th annual) held an enthusiastic session at which “practically every fire company in the county was presented.” It is said to have been one of the best ever held. The streets were gaily decorated for the occasion, and everybody did what they could to make the day a success. The Boy Scouts were on hand with pails of water, first-aid kits, and cigarettes.
Catskill Public School opened September 8th and on the 27th the societies of Sts. Cosmo and Damian held their annual celebration.
November 16th saw the heaviest rain storm of the year, which swept away many bridges in the mountain towns, where the most damage was done, changed the course of streams, and for a time made roads impassible. The approaches of the concrete bridge on the Catskill-Palenville highway were badly damaged. A bridge at Palenville was swept away, and there were many washouts and slides on the Clove road.
December 2nd the mercury dropped to 10 degrees above zero, with high wind, The mountains were covered with snow, and three days later snow fell all day. On the 7th the mercury fell to 5 degrees below zero, and the A. F. Beach (ferry) was unable to make regular trips owing to heavy ice in the slips. At night the river froze over from shore to shore, but on the 8th the ferry boat resumed service. December 14th the ferry again stopped running.
The contract for new club house at Jefferson was given to Thomas Gordon for $8,200. Two Christmas trees were put up in front the Court House, and many bulbs of bright colors attached by the Upper Hudson Electric Co.
At 11:45 on Christmas Eve at St. Luke’s Church there was a fifteen-minute carol service, and at midnight the bell tolled the hour. The music for the communion service which followed was written by Mrs. Edith E. Hubbard, organist for many years, in memory of the late Charles G. Coffin, who was for a long time choir director. Sunday evening about fifty members of the Catskill Lodge, F. & A. M., attended by invitation in a body, it being the eve of St. John’s Day, a patron saint of the order.
On Sunday evening, instead of the usual Christmas community singing in from to the Court House, a union community meeting was held in the Reformed church. Sheriff Arbogast gave the prisoners a Christmas dinner, and the Elks are said to have distributed 103 baskets of food and 150 pairs of shoes to the needy ones.
On Sunday, December 26th, eight inches of snow fell and mercury dropped to eight below on Monday morning. Town roads and village streets were cleared for traffic early Monday morning.
Among public village improvements of 1926 are the re-decoration of the interior of the Village Building; repairing walk on old railroad bridge; steel straps attached to lower town bridge to deaden sound; application of Kyrox to Main street, between Thomson and Mott streets; repairs made to Sheriff’s house and jail, with widening of driveway; concreting of Division street and Railroad avenues, and the placing of signal lights at the foot of Jefferson Hill, Division street. Upper Main, and also at Main and Bridge. The Irving School has been equipped with fire-escapes and electricity, and two large boilers installed in Irving and High Schools. The interior of the Masonic Temple had been re-decorated and re-furnished.
Among the churches a new pipe organ had been placed in St. Patrick’s, while the interior of church, rectory, convent and school have been renovated. St. Luke’s is planning for a new rectory, and the interiors of the Reformed church and parsonage have been redecorated. In the latter extensive repairs made.
The Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce leased ten acres of ground from Michael Poulos for the High School Athletic Association, with Ward Van Dusen in charge. A plan for the re-opening of the Y. M. C. A. building has been outlined and discussed, and the matter of a revision of the village charter placed in the hands of a revision committee.
The last of the rolling stock of the defunct Catskill Mountain Railroad (two locomotives and four box-cars) was sold in June by Receiver Thomas E. Jones. A bus line between Catskill and Albany had been established, running regularly since early summer, and the bus line between Catskill and Leeds was extended in December to Cairo.
Harry B. Morris, retiring Secretary of the Catskill Chamber of Commerce, reported at the annual meeting 130 members. He had aided in organizing a Booster Club at Prattsville, and Boards of Trade in East Durham, Windham and Freehold, and had also organized a movement against the removal of the Leeds bridge, which was successful. The treasurer reported a balance of several hundred dollars. An Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition in the Armory was put on for a week, commencing October 25th, by the Chamber of Commerce, and, with a marked success. The Rest Room continues to be of great and increasing benefit to the public, under the management of Mrs. Marie Butler.
Fairview Avenue came into existence (1925) by acceptance of the village form Emma J. Robb, Almerin Van Loan, Mary E. Van Loan, and the Highland Security Company.
Bushnell Avenue was extended (1925) 350 feet, and Union Street from Long Dock to Dock Street.
Grace Court (1926) is a new street connecting Spring Street and Woodland Avenue.
West Main street where it crosses Railroad Avenue was moved about 18 feet and widened to 25 feet.
The concrete sidewalk under the West Shore bridge was finished in June, 2,000 feet having been laid, and West Main street to Railroad Avenue, paved with concrete, was opened to the public the first week in July.
The Farm Bureau has lost two directors during the year by death: Supervisor Corwin B. Bronson of Ashland, and ex-Supervisor Osborn A. Cole of Windham. The organization has assisted in the formation of a Greene County Horticultural Society and a Dairy Improvement Association. A Farm Loan Association had been organized, and with the co-operation of the State Federation a vigilance service set up, to stop roadside thievery. The Bureau also co-operated with the exhibit of the Armory. These are only a few of its activities, and it started the new year with a 639 paid members, the largest on its record. The annual picnic for 1927 was held on the grounds of the Osborn House, Windham, July 21st, and was a great success.
During winter of 1926-27 small fires were frequent, due to use of soft coal. On Jan. 28th the Tiffany barns at Leeds burned; Feb. 19th the house of Mrs. Mildred L. Haner was destroyed by fire. The burning of Kingston Hospital (Feb. 20) was of local interest. And March 3d the Lerner residence on Main street was almost destroyed, while on March 6th the Richman building, store and apartments of Friedman and others was gutted. April 5th a tenant-house on the Buck farm at Cauterskill burned with all its contents. In May a small bungalow at Palenville owned by Sandy Kesler was destroyed.
June 17, 1926, the barns and cooperage of the Misses Frances M. and Helen L. Jones were burned to the ground, and two days later the house of Fred Cole in the village was badly wrecked by fire. During the storm of July 18th, the Haines house near Lawrenceville was struck by lightning and burned. At Cementon August 22nd the house and store of Michael Cotish, occupied by Samuel Liepshutz, burned. Oct 10th the cold storage and ice plant of Harlan Duncan and Alexander Wiltse in Catskill village, also shed of Nicholas Leone, were completely destroyed by fire. On the 22nd the Country Club house fed the flames, and December 13th the Glenwood Hotel on the Catskill-Palenville road burned; it was the property of Stephen Mills, On Dec. 28th the house of Joseph Pesce at Cementon was destroyed and his children narrowly escaped with their lives.
Other Fires In
Jan. 28th 1926, Spruce Grove House was destroyed by fie. It was the largest boarding house in Greenville and owned by Fred Sarbacker.
Locust Shade Hose, East Durham, was destroyed by fire March 16th. It was formerly owned by George White.
Greene-Valley House at Halcott was destroyed by fire Nov. 30th.
The house on the Branaugh farm at North Settlement, occupied by Henry Oliver, was burned March 19th, and Sept. 19th that of Shirley Cammer.
May 7th the barn of David Robinson was destroyed by fire.
Nov. 3d the barn of Alvin Hunt burned, with eight cows and three automobiles.
Fire on Jan. 7th damaged the house of Otto Daucher at Leeds, Jan. 12th fire destroyed the house of F. B. Brown at Acra (Long Pine Cottage). Two fires on Jan. 16th damaged the store of Frank Heinick and the house of Ebenezer Jeune on Bridge street, in which Mr. Jeune was badly burned. Feb. 5th fire was discovered in the engine house of Catskill Mountain R. R., and on the same night the ice-house of the Knickerbocker Ice Co., south of this village, was destroyed by fire; it had been used as a mushroom plant. Early Wednesday morning, March 16th, fired was discovered in the furniture store of Deane & Deane. Nearly everything in basement and first floor was destroyed. May 5th the interior of Henry Post’s house on High street was badly damaged.
Real Estate and
Among real estate changes was that of the Catskill Knitting Mills sold to Utica parties. Benjamin Wishengrad and Morris Silverman of Hudson took over the retail business of the Cauterskill Ice Company, the concern to be known as the Catskill Ice Company. DeWitt Coal Company disposed of business and stock to Morris Bloom of Hudson.
The farm of Katharine and Isabel Brooks was purchased by the Country Club, and also a part of John Heath’s property.
The building known as the old Peyton house was torn down to make way for an addition to the New Saulpaugh. This house was once the home of Adonijah Sherman, a pioneer resident of Catskill. The Wilcox home on William street was torn down to make room for a new rectory, and the Medard Pierre building on Main street for a garage.
The Gonnerman farm of 160 acres on the Five-Mile Woods road was offered by the state for reforestation and game refuge, 10,000 spruce and 5,000 pine trees have been set out.
The Irving Theater property was sold by W. W. Farley to Lerner Brothers of Catskill and Samuel Lerner of Saugerties. This building occupies the site of the Boston Store, burned in 1913. The transfer took place Jan. 3, 1927.
The Community of the Sisters of St. Francis purchased a piece of property from the Hayden estate, including the residence on Prospect avenue.
Lawrenceville church was sold at public auction in June to William Bogardus for $500.
Gay’s Commercial Hotel. (now known as Marlborough Rooming House), formerly conducted by the late Philip Gay, and later by William and Ira Gay, has been purchased by Sam. Lerner of Saugerties and Max Levy of Catskill.
The old Corcoran house on West Bridge street was removed early in the year. It is said to have been built one hundred and fifty years ago.
Lot No. 1 of the old Cantine Patent was sold to E. C. Barlow; and the old building and canal-boats on Rogers Island was burned to make way for a new enterprise.
Lerner Bros. Store, owned by Hollenbeck estate, was sold to Benj. B. Berstein. It was formerly known as the Egnor house, later Nelson Larabee’s, who April 1, 1869, deeded it to Wm. H. Hollenbeck, and it was occupied for many years by Smith & Price as a dry goods store, later by Doty & Golding. On the upper floor Frank Allen successfully photographed a large proportion of the towns-people.
The Andrew Overbagh farm was sold in January. It was once known as the Wynkoop farm, the first story of the stone house built in 1792. Otto Margarf sold his house at Leeds to Ira Jansen. This was formerly Odd Fellow’s Hall, built by the late George Warner.
Harring & Bets purchased the Ahreet & Cussler, building, putting in a beautiful colonial front and taking possession June 20th.
Contractor James Holdridge started working widening Bridge street at the Bank Corner April 27th.
Rogers Island was formerly opened to the public on Memorial Day (Seymour M. Sweet, president.)
Automobile accidents in 1926 of a most tragic character were those of Joseph Subel at Cementon, resulting in his death. Another at Cementon caused the death of Jeremiah Depuy of Adams, Mass., while George Walker of Gilboa (June 29th) and Lillian Oren of Catskill (July 13th) were fatally injured at the foot of Jefferson Hill, James P. Friar was killed on June 20th.
Casualties from other causes, some of them fatal, were those of John Cozes Jr. of Cementon, who was drowned in June at Claverack; William Harbin (colored), killed at cement plant Jan. 11th. His home was at Atlanta, Ga. Capt. W. A. Beare of the R. C. Reynolds ferryboat was drowned at Buffalo in the Niagara River in July. George B. Wagner was killed by a bucket at Alsen, and Danda Sendik, lost an eye while working on an automobile at Cementon. Donald Overbagh lost three fingers and a thumb while handling a dynamite cap, and Fred Haines lost the sight in both eyes in a premature explosion on Sept. 15th.
May 21, 1927, four persons (Orrie V. Coons, Joseph Ten Eyck, Jean McLaughlin and Theodore Warner) were injured in an automobile accident between Catskill and Athens. Coons died six days later in the Albany Hospital.
June 1st Mrs. Delia C. Dodge fell from her piazza-roof and was instantly killed. On May 14th Jesse Peck Truesdall jumped form a window and died from his injuries. Dominick Pullili of Cementon was drowned in May, and Fred Jones (colored) at Palenville July 7th. In July James Hempstead of New York was fatally injured at Leeds while driving.
1927 was ushered in with fine sleighing along the main highways and throughout the county, and at the same time good automobiling.
Louis T. Beach of Catskill, assistant postmaster for twenty-three years, resigned Jan. 1st.
On the 16th a foot or more of snow fell, blocking the roads.
Three trial ornamental lights in the business section were burned for the first time on the 30th, and in July locations for thirty-seven new standards were laid out.
Bear day was fine and clear, with a few clouds at mid-day when Bruin is supposed to make his decision, and two days later a terrific wind did considerable damage.
The new Day Line steamer Peter Stuyvesant was launched Feb. 2nd at Wilmington, Del.
In February the Grandview School issued a monthly paper called “The Chatterbox,” with Janice Piper editor in chief and Roy Moon assistant editor. Both were of the seventh grade.
On the 24th the ice in the river was reported as wasting rapidly. Cold weather came on and it was not until March 9th that the Athens ferry made the first trip of the season, the earliest in many years. On the 11th Catskill Creek was free of ice, and next day Catskill ferry made its first attempt to cross to Greendale.
In February the bronze railing was put in place on the steps of the Court House.
On April 22nd a heavy storm did considerable damaged to roads, and on the 23d the Catskill Mountains were white with snow.
In May a new traffic overhead light was put in operation at the Main and Bridge streets.
Day boats made first trip May 20th.
A Safety Campaign flag with an American flag above it was put up May 28th at the North American Cement Corporation, the flag to come down whenever a day’s work is lost through injury to an employee. Nearly every employee has signed a pledge to do his utmost to keep the flag flying.
June 9th the new hall at Cementon was opened, and in June the new Catskill-Palenville road was opened to the public, and No. 181 Athabasca Council celebrated its eighteenth birthday by a banquet at the Saulpaugh.
The largest crowd ever known over the week-end was that of July 4th.
In July the Memorial Fountain of the late Frances Willard was removed, the Boughton spring having been condemned.
The Catskill Country Club opened June 17th. when Attorney Percy W. Decker raised a large American flag and the national anthem was sung. The golf links were formerly opened by the president, M. Edward Silberstein, and the tennis court by Harry Joseph. A committee served punch and cakes. The orchestra led by Gerald Hallenbeck gave an excellent program. The vice-president is Dr. E. A. Bennett, with George Clewes professional instructor. The Club is very popular, and many luncheons, dinner and card parties are held there.
Jan. 24th, Robert Judson was suffocated by smoke from a small heater in his room.
Jan. 27th, the storehouse and contents of lumber-yard of John Frank, on the old Reed & Powell dock, was destroyed by fire.
Jan. 30th, Charles A. Waltman was fatally injured in an automobile accident.
March 31st, Richard George Stacey was burned to death and his store destroyed by fire.
April 17th storehouse of Howard Carey burned.
Oct. 14th, fire destroyed Carey’s cooperage, and damaged Brady’s undertaking rooms.
Rea ice-house was burned Mary 31st.
Coxsackie at her village meeting vetoed proposals of $14,000 for pumpers and $7,500 for sewer purposes in the park. Officers elected were Abram C. Fairchild, president; Arthur Spoor and Guernsy Wilson, trustees; W. W. Salisbury, treasurer. All are Republicans.
Rev. Jared C. Potts assumed duties as rector of Christ’s Episcopal Church on June 15th.
June 14th, Martha Owen was rescued from drowning by Zelda Smith and Mary McCarth.
Harrie McK. Curtis, a popular and prominent lawyer of Greene county, died at his home in Coxsackie after a brief illness, April 11, 1925. He was born April 24, 1884, at Coxsackie, to Alfred W. and Mary Nelson Curtis. In 1911 he married Helen Winne, and to them two children were born, Harrie McK. Curtis Jr. and Robert H. Curtis, all of whom survive him.
Mr. Curtis graduated from the Coxsackie High School in 1900, from Albany Law School in June, 1904, and was admitted to the Bar in the month following his graduation. He immediately began the active practice of his profession in Coxsackie with Alberti Baker as partner, and 1906 with Leonard A. Warren. He held the office of Trustee in the Village of Coxsackie in 1910, and was elected to the office of District Attorney of Greene county in November, 1916, serving two terms. He was active in the Masonic fraternity and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Greene County and the New York Bar Association, and was a deacon of the Second Reformed Church of Coxsackie. He was of pleasing personality, always courteous and smiling even when carrying heavy burdens of responsibility as a public official, and his friends were many, not only in his own county but throughout the state. From the memoriam of the Greene County Bar Association we quote the following: “We are proud to have him as one of our associates and honored to have known such a noble character. To know Harrie McK Curtis as only his intimate friends knew him, was to love him, and no man could work with him without being thoroughly impressed with his ideals and the sincerity of his personality.
Dr. George Conklin
On January 5, 1925, death removed from the town of Durham the familiar figure of the family doctor, aged eighty-five years, who “for over half a century, day and night, summer and winter, through thick and thin, traveled over the hills and dales of Durham town, to relieve the sick and suffering.” He was one of the oldest and most respected citizens, and as a physician was well known throughout the town and the community at large. He was a member of the Presbyterian church, having united with it soon after coming to Durham, supporting it liberally, and was for many years a Trustee. He was also a member of Cascade Lodge in Oak Hill.
Just four months later (May 7th) his aged widow followed him and was laid to rest beside him in the Greenville cemetery. She was of “a genial and kindly nature; and thus two old residents of Durham have joined the throng gone on before, leaving behind them loving thoughts and reminders of kindly deeds done in their lifetime,” cared for the last by those whom they had befriended in their youth—Charles Jenkins and John Whitbeck.
Henry T. Botsford
Henry T. Botsford, former Supervisor of the town of Greenville, died suddenly March 11, 1925, at the age of eighty-one years.
Mr. Botsford was born in Greenville to Dr. Gideon Botsford and Mariah Talmadge Botsford, spending his long life there, in his younger days he owned and managed several large farms, and was later closely identified with local insurance companies. He was a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church, serving it officially and as treasurer for nearly half a century, and was active in town and village affairs.
Mr. Botsford was twice married—his first wife Mary H. Robbins; his second Mrs. Lillie E. Story, who with a daughter, Mrs. Helena Vincent of Milbrook, survives him.
Orrin C. Stevens
Orrin C. Stevens died at him home in Greenville on July 22, 1925. He was born n Greenville Jan. 29, 1872, the son of the late James and Elizabeth Sherrill Stevens, and is survived by his mother, his wife (Arcia Cook Stevens) and four children (James, Alice, Walter and Charles).
“Perhaps no removal by death in the community in which he lived has drawn out such true feeling and heartfelt sympathy for the sorrowing family. * * * While the descendant of a line of insurance builders, he was logically qualified as a pioneer, having introduced many new and valuable features in the office system, which have proved a convenience to the force and a definite public benefit. The employees, second only to this family, are more properly conscious of the heavy loss they sustain than those of the outer circle of acquaintances. Mr. Stevens was intensely human in his love for clean, healthy sports, and had a governing influence in the promotion of baseball in the village. He was always a familiar figure at the home games, where in his unassuming manner he would suggest changes in tactics that often proved their worth and evidence of foresight. In civic pride he was foremost, a sturdy advocate of anything that added to the wellbeing of the village. By choice he was politically a Democrat; had enjoyed the highest honors his town could confer, and as a consistent exponent of the principles which he believed to be the best, he had held fast without undue fervor. In business relationship he ranked high, and was the soul of integrity and truth. He reasoned as a philosopher, but his interpretations were in the plain language of the day.” *(*From Catskill Recorder.)
He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church of Greenville, a director of the Catskill National Bank, and President of the Co-Operative Fire Underwriter’s Association of New York State. He was also Secretary and Treasurer of the Pioneer Co-Operative Fire Insurance Co. and of the Green County Fire Insurance Co.