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Town Historian Compiles Facts on Cairo Hotels

By Grace Story Webber, Cairo Township Historian
Published in the Catskill Daily Mail April 6, 1953

Newspaper article courtesy of Linda Larsen. Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

This is the 17th in a series of articles about the town of Cairo published by the Daily Mail.

In a previous article, the early hotels of the town were discussed. Today we find that there are two kind of hotels; the boarding house or summer-hotel and the year-around hotel. As the New Walters Hotel is located in the center of our village, let us first consider its history.

About 1800, Jacob Bogardus and wife deeded to Isaac Bogardus and his wife, Elsie, a tract of land where the New Walter’s Hotel now stands. A few years ago an old house in the rear of this hotel was demolished and a very early date was found on the timbers. Was his the first Bogardus home or inn or was there an old Dutch house previous? The Bogardus family came to this country from Holland.

In 1787, the towns of Athens, Cairo, Coxsackie, Durham, Greenville and New Baltimore were all in the township of Coxsackie. It was not until March, 1803, that Canton, now Cairo, was formed. Previous to 1800, the hamlet was known as Shinglekill because shingles were made from the trees that had been felled and stripped of their bark for tanning. The people of the town wishing a post office took the name of Canton, but as that name had already been chosen by another town the name of Cairo was decided on in 1809.

According to an early record The Duke of De La Rochefoucault Liancourt made a tour through the United States and Canada, 1795-6-7, and the following is an extract from his journal: "At Shinglekill on the 31st of October on our way from Freehold to Katskill…."

John Suttmier has in the window of his real estate office a "picture of the "Duke of Rochefoucault and his coach and four." Did the Count stop at the Bogardus Hotel or was it one of the other hotels then flourishing in town?

First Proprietor

So Isaac Bogardus, the grandson of Jacob Bogardus, was the first proprietor of the hotel situated where the Walter’s Hotel is today.

According to early records, Jacob Bogardus in 1789 received a license to sell spiritous liquor. "The price of the license then seems to have been Two Pounds (a pound was equal to about $4.86) English money, for the year." And "on May 5th, 1807, Peter Isaac Bogardus obtained a license for $5.00."

How interesting it would be to visit this early hotel and compare it with the building of today! On October 4th, 1841, Samuel L Hayes and his wife, Ann Eliza, purchased the hotel and carried on the business for about five and a half years. Samuel Hayes must have lived in town previously, for he was a town clerk in 1831 and 1832 but the seems to have dropped out of public life after he sold the hotel.

John Henry Persons and his wife purchased the property in the spring of 1847 from Joel Wicks and his wife, Sally, who had it for only about a month.

Mr. Person had married Elizabeth Cole, Durham Road. They had three sons and two daughters. Many may remember Van (Van Der Hoff) Persons who lived in Catskill and was connected with different hotels in that place.

Many organizational meetings were held at the Persons’ House. "John Hen" was an exceptional host, his wife a very fine cook, and the hotel was a very popular place. Later Mr. Persons purchased the Catskill House and later built the Irving House in Catskill.

Next, John M. and Hannah Eagleston held the property for about three years and then Justus S. Miller and his wife, Mary A. Miller, after holding the property for about a year, sold to George Person and his wife, Margaret.

Greene County Hotel

At this time, 1886, it was called the Greene County Hotel. George was a brother of John Henry as well as a brother of Abram Persons, who owned the Catskill Creek House in South Cairo. They were from one of the mountain towns. At one time, about 1888, George Persons and George, Jr., purchased the property where the Howard’s Store now is and they ran a hotel there. In 1855, there was a blacksmith shop on this property. In 1886 they had operated the West Catskill House.

But to return to the Walter’s Hotel. In the spring of 1869 Ambrose Walters and his brother Frank purchased the property from Mr. Persons and ever since then it has borne their name.

Their father came from Dutchess County about 1810, purchased a farm on the Patterkill Road (the first road parallel and east of Route 32) and married Margaret Howard. They had 10 children: Frank G. was born Dec. 16, 1831; his brother Ambrose was born Jan. 14, 1826, and Aramnita, who was a maiden lady and always lived at the hotel with her brothers and was known as "Aunt Mit." She was born Jan. 29, 1816. Another sister Lydia K., who married William Story, a son of John T. Story of Greenville, and was the mother of Mrs. Fannie Story Palen and Mrs. Roselia Story Greene, lived for many years where Mr. Harry Rasmussen now lives and took boarders.

In 1886, the Walter’s Hotel, known the country over, was enlarged and refurnished and catered to a large clientele.

Frank G. was very much interested in the advancement of the town, the county and politics. He served in 1882 as sheriff of the county and later as Member of Assembly. The hotel became the center of the Republican life of the county, and was known for its excellent table and fine entertainments.

After the death of both brothers, Julius Schad in 1923 acquired the business which in 1944 was incorporated under the name of "New Walters Hotel. In 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Taylor purchased the property and continuously have been making improvements. They have enlarged the business until now it is again one of the finest hotels in the whole county.

While the hotels of Cairo were outstanding, still the hotels of Acra cannot be overlooked. Acra was on one of the main roads and in the Beer’s History it states that "Moses Olmsted kept the first hotel in the locality" also that "Isaac Coffin moved from Albany County about 1803 and bought a farm and there kept a hotel which was quite a resort for the enlisted soldiers at the beginning of the war of 1812. His son, Abram Coffin, helped on the farm as well as in the hotel."

The Amity House

In 1840 Dr. William Tellfair, who had married one of the Patroon Barker’s granddaughters, built the Amity House which was subsequently owned by Edward Spring, William Nangle in 1867, Mrs. Peter Jacobs and in 1884 by Ezekial Thomas.

Mr. Thomas also rented the hotel to different parties among whom were Abram Millett who later owned Hill Crest, then James and Seymore Taylor, followed by Walter Marginson, John Delemater and George Pine.

The house burned while Mr. Delemater or Mr. Pine were the proprietors. Around 1906, Henry Both rebuilt the hotel and he sold it to a Mr. Evans, who sold it to John Seeth and he to Charles Cassiliono.

Hotels in Cairo

Later, Archie Fortunate purchased the property and built a large swimming pool and added two houses for the accommodation of this guest. It is known as the Acra Manor at the present time, and Mrs. Frank Fede owns it. She has built a 32-room house and several bungalows on the property and made many improvements. It is a popular hotel

There were other hotels in Acra but none which have had such a continuous life.

As early as 1814, the travel was great enough between Catskill and the Winter Clove to warrant Joseph Klein and Isaac Dubois to incorporate to build the Cauterskill Turnpike, which would run on the south side of the Round Top and so on to the Little Delaware Turnpike.

From this we can assume that there would have been hotels in this section of the town but there is little record to establish their positions. We do find that in 1813, Rufus Byington built a tavern at the Four Corners. Evidently it was not a success for his son, Lucius Byington, converted it into a dwelling house.

Winter Clove House

In 1862, Henry B. Whitcomb and family moved from Jewett to their present location—the Winter Clove—which they operated as a farm. Mr. Whitcomb operated a sawmill, tannery industry which was the main business in the region at that time.

About 1875, he began taking summer guests. By 1882 he had to build an addition to the original house to accommodate the increasing number of guests. In 1890, the original structure was removed and the present building was erected with a capacity of 100 guests.

The name "The Winter Cove" was taken naturally because of the proximity of the property to the Winter Clove and Winter Clove Creek.

In 1917, Edward Burdette Whitcomb, son of Henry B. and Mary E. Slater Whitcomb, took over the management of The Winter Clove House with his sister, Mrs. Plank. This association continued until 1935.

At the present, Edward Burdette and his son, E. Merton Whitcomb, operate The Winter Clove as partners and the house is one the outstanding houses of its times.

There have been and are many more hotels in the town of Cairo and the people of the town have always been known for their hospitality.

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