Early Settling of Rockland.
The Big Beaverkill Flats--later Lower Westfield then Westfield Flats--Rockland-Roscoe was visited by scouts or land viewers from Massachusetts and Connecticut at the close of the revolutionary war. The flats were covered with Pine, Hemlock and Laurel--the land lookers reported in New England that there were 10,000 acres of rich level land. The location had long been an Indian camping ground and trails radiated in all directions, one running to Cochecton, one up the Beaverkill and one over the divide to Pakatakan, now Margaretville, another by Spring Brook and Brock Mountain to Downsville. One branch of the main Indian-way from Esopus to the Susquehanna country ran by Warwarsing, Neversink, Parksville, Westfield and down the Beaverkill to Shehawken, now Hancock, thence to Deposit, Oquaga, etc. For ... the trails followed the tops of the ridges and higher ground, the stream valleys being covered with dense growth of timber, laurel and vines.
The first settlers at Roscoe-Rockland were Jehiel Stewart and family and his brother Luther, who came from Middletown, Connecticut. They located and remained about a year at Warwarsing and in 1789 removed to the Big Beaverkill Flats. They came with ox-sled up the Lackawack and across the hills to the Neversink, then westerly across what is now the town of Liberty to the Blue Mountains and by Broadhead Pond, and its outlet to the Little Beaverkill, then down that stream and the Willowemoc to its junction with the Big Beaverkill. The men cut roads and blazed trail, Rachel Stewart, the wife of Jehiel, walking with her children.
Jehiel Stewart bought from John R. Livingston Lot No. 24, west allotment, middle division, Great Lot No. 4, on which he built the first log house erected in northern Sullivan County. The available portion of Lot 24 is now solidly built over by the village of Roscoe. Robert Cochran and a Mr. West soon settled near Stewart (about 1790) and Levi Kimball and Samuel Darbee bought lots 21 and 22 in 1796 and by 1800 all the lots from the Beaverkill ford above Rockland down to the forks and up the Willowemoc to Buck Eddy were occupied by
settlers, mostly neighbors and relatives from Massachusetts and Connecticut, the more prominent names being Stewart, Cochran, Dodge, Morton, Kimball, Darbee, Fish, Williams, etc.
The location was at that time a part of the town Rochester, Ulster County; in 1798 it became a part of Neversink, and April 1st, 1809 the town of Rockland was cut off from Neversink. In early days the locality was known as lower Westfield, as distinguished from upper Westfield, now Livingston Manor, which was settled between 1790 and 1800. The railroad station at Roscoe was known as Westfield Flats from 1873 to about 1884, then as Rockland to about 1900, then Roscoe.
Rockland Postoffice was established in 1826, Samuel Darbee being the first postmaster, and the office for many years was kept at the old Darbee house and at Peter Stewart's house on Lot 24.
The Jehiel Stewart house stood on the lot now occupied by the house of Mrs. Robert Lindsay. The present house was built by Rensselaer S. Appley, a grandson of Jehiel Stewart.
Luther Stewart built a saw mill near the forks of the rivers. Robert Cochran built a saw mill on the site of the grist mill at Rockland. Samuel Darbee was a fuller and dyer by trade. He built a fulling mill near the Robert Cochran saw mill. This cloth dressing establishment acquired a wide patronage and was in operation about
twenty-five years. Woolen cloth from long distance being sent there to be finished. The frugal housewife of that day carded the wool, spun the yarn and wove the cloth that clothed the family.
The first school at Westfield Flats was taught in a private house by Sylvanus Bascom, who was a settler at the mouth of Boscom Brook, now in the middle district. The first school house was a plank building located between the Darbee Brook and the highway just north of Dr. R.C. Tuttle's residence. About 1849 the district was divided; district No. 1 building a new school house on the Darbee knoll and district No. 7 building at the upper end of Rockland.
The cold spring at the foot of the Mountain back of W.J.Reynold's residence is known to old residents as the Luther spring, it having been a favorite of Luther Stewart.
That part of the old cemetery at Roscoe which was formerly enclosed by a stone wall was used from the first, one half the land being from the Cornelius Cochran farm and one half from the Jehiel Stewart farm. After being in use many years, the land was deeded by Cochran and Stewart to James Morton, Supervisor of Rockland, for use of the town. The newer portion was owned by Peter Stewart, who had it surveyed and mapped and sold the lots to individuals.
A Mr. Harrington was one of the first to be buried in the old cemetery; he went to Adam J. Doll's store at Downsville after salt, powder, lead, etc.; on his way home it appeared he was taken ill and was found dead near the site of the Spring Brook acid factory; he had left a part of his goods in tow or three places along the trail, apparently to lighten his burden and was found sitting against a large elm tree.
The territory comprised in Rockland was never a part of Liberty, yet at the first town meeting of Liberty, held April 7th, 2807, the following "good men tried and true" were elected officers for Liberty, viz:
Robert Cochran, Esq., President,
Samuel Darbee, Teller of Votes,
Levi Kimball, Assessor,
Samuel Darbee, Com. of Highways,
Robert Cochran, Overseer of Poor,
William Cochran, Constable,
Cornelius Cochran, Path Master.
Of the twenty officers elected, the above seven were residents of Lower Westfield, at that time a part of Neversink. Maybe they thought Liberty needed help, maybe the craving for public office engendered by the New England town meeting started them over the Blue Mountains to Roswell Russell's house on the site of Liberty village to vote. Query--is it strange that the descendents of these pioneers still want to be Supervisors, Town Clerks, Assessors, etc.
The first store in the town was opened about 1820 by William Sprague and Hezekiah Loveland. It was located on the William Sprague farm, now owned by Joseph Sherwood, one half mile east of Roscoe. Goods
were brought by sailing vessels from New York to Newburgh an from there by teams to Westfiel In 1824 both Sprague and Loveland went to New York to buy goods. With about forty other people, they took passage
homeward on the sloop Neptune on which their goods were being freighted. When in sight of Newburgh, a storm capsized the vessel and Mr. Loveland and about thirty others were drowned, Mr. Sprague being one of the half
dozen who escaped.
(From _ROSCOE AND ROCKLAND 1909._, a brochure produced for the town's centennial celebration, author unknown. Copies of this transcription may NOT be sold for any reason. )