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Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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The Falls are in the Catskills near Gilboa, Schoharie County and often referred to as being located in Prattsville, Greene County, but are really in Roxbury, Delaware County. The nearest road is Prattsville Rd. An article written by Jean (Barker) Huprich, granddaughter of the last owner of the Inn writes: The "Great Falls of the Schoharie" were named after a French Indian of the vicinity. In a 1765 deed the falls were termed Owlfleck. The falls are over 50 feet high and nearly 125 feet wide, and are almost a perfect miniature of the great Niagara Falls. One of the early owners of the Devasego Falls property was Mr. Bell, then A. Smedberg and family, of NYC, bought the property in 1827 to build a summer home. The Indian name of the Falls, from which one of the Mohawk princesses took her name, signifies "Laughing Waters”. Up until about 1928 numerous local district schools and Sunday schools held picnics at the Falls and visitors from the NYC area often spent their summers at the Inn.

Numerous newspapers, found on fultonhistory.com, had articles about the Devasego Falls and Inn, the following is a compilation of excepts from a few.

In 1876 the property owned by John G. Smedberg, deceased, known as “Devasego” was sold at public auction by administrators of the estate. June 1878 advertisement - Country Board at the Devasego House- Will accommodate sixty, on the banks of the Schoharie Kill, From $8-$10 per week. For NY city references apply to Adolphus Smedberg or Peckham and Rapplyea in Prattsville.

From a letter signed J.F.A. in the August 29, 1878 Brooklyn Daily Eagle: ...The journey here is one of varied and pleasing interest. Leaving Brooklyn at 8 A.M. by the Annex line for the Albany day boat, we proceed to Rhinebeck, cross by ferry to Rondout, and then on by the Ulster and Delaware Railroad to the Town of Moresville (renamed Grand Gorge) then six miles to the Devasego House...

August 1878 NY Herald- Devasego (Driving Water) Falls- The Devasego House, a new, small hotel, cheap is indifferently kept. The proprietor was last year the barkeeper of the Laurel House. The House is to be recommended as an excellent place for patients just recovering from brain fever.

The House was said to be enlarged in 1879. In 1880 Mr. Rappleyea has sold his interest in the Devasego House to his partner, Mr. Peckham. Ownership must have changed again because in the April 1883 Gilboa Monitor- No liquor will be sold at the Devasego House the coming summer and one month later - .J Rappleyea, has changed his mind and taken out license for the sale of ale and lager.

1891 Brooklyn Eagle- Devasego House and Falls- Large farm, furnishing milk, butter and eggs; bass and trout fishing and bathing. For further particulars address R.P. Churchill, Prattsville, NY.

Mr. Starr D. and Charlotte (Chatfield) Mase, of Prattsville, rented the property from Mr. Stenberg in 1898 for $150 per year. It had previously been rented by Arthur Chatfield. In 1898 the 19 room Inn (the original Sternberg mansion) had no running water and kerosene lamps. Mr. Mase quickly upgraded and ended up with 71 rooms to accommodate over 100 guests by about 1910. Following the completion of a laundry in 1912 the erection of an amusement hall, 30X50 will commence (I believe this would have included the bowling alley). M. Cline is working on the electric light dam in 1913. July of 1914 and 1915 drilling for bed rock, in connection with the NY Water Supply System proposed dam, took place on the Stanley Hall, Devasego and Hardenburgh Farms. In 1918 the NY Water Co. has purchased 11 acres of land of O.L. Hare on which to begin operations for the waterworks. An 18 mile tunnel is to come out near the Devasego Falls and the water will run into the Ashokan Dam. Also in 1918 the barn and wagon-house were destroyed by fire. Mr. Mase bought the Cold Spring Inn of Stamford in 1920, and moved there with his wife and three children Freda, Theodore and Stanley. S. Mase was a brother to H.H. Mase the proprietor of Churchill Hall and the Rexmere.

February 4, 1925 Stamford Mirror-Recorder- The razing of the famous old Devasego Inn was completed on January 13, 1925, making still another step toward clearing up the Schoharie reservoir basin which will be submerged when the dam at Gilboa is completed.

Mr. Mase removed a tin that he had placed in a cornerstone of the Devasego Inn before it was demolished. The tin included a Stamford Mirror-Recorder and Prattsville News dated April 10, 1912. The Falls were visible in 2006 when the reservoir was drained down but are again now submerged.

Devasago Falls and Inn

by Karen Cuccinello - posted here October 11, 2016


Photos courtesy of the Stamford Library



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