The Margaretville Fair was a big event in the life of the village. It was held one week each summer, an annual outing for young and old. The entrance to the fair grounds was directly across the bridge in the lower end of town with a sharp turn to the right on what is now called Fair Street. There were buildings for cattle display, a band stand and judging stand for the trotting races, a large building for exhibits of all kinds (school exhibits, fancy work, rugs, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned fruits and vegetables, baked goods, et cetera) upstairs, and in the front of the exhibition building was the grandstand. There seats had to be paid for and were occupied by people interested in the horse races. There was a mile long racing track surrounding the grounds. There were all kinds of attractions a merry go round, a hot air balloon ascension, a gypsy fortune telling tent, side shows, games of chance, freak shows, and food stands selling hot dogs and lemonade. People came early and spent the day, bringing the entire family. From other towns crowds often came on large hay wagons. The hay was to make the seat more comfortable. Usually there would be about 20 people to a load for two horses to draw. Automobiles were still not too numerous in the days of the Fair. Much of the old fair grounds is now used for the New York City sewer disposal plant for our village, in connection with the Pepacton reservoir. The Margaretville Fair was discontinued around 1918.
In 1890 a publication was put out to extol the virtues of Margaretville and vicinity on the eve of the second annual fair of the Catskill Mountain Agricultural Society. In the front page was a photograph of Margaretville looking up Bridge Street from the hill. It showed the covered bridge across the East Branch. The lots now occupied by Garland Gladstone's home, the Gulf station, and the Buick garage were vacant. Others pictures in the booklet included the fair ground race track and barns, the "Ackerly house" and park, and several prominent citizens of the day, among them Hon. G. G. Decker, W. R. Swart, The Senior S. W. Reed, M.D. Dr. Orson M. Allaben, Dr. James Morse, and O. A. Swart.
Early horsedrawn vehicles were the buggy, a one-seated wagon with a top that could be put up or down according to the weather; the buckboard, a one- or two-seated wagon without a top; and the surrey which had either three or four seats (a real fancy surrey would have fringe all around the top). A few people had wagons with rubber tires on. Cutters or sleighs were for winter use and had one two seats. The lumber wagon, as it was called, was used for hauling milk, feed, et cetera, and the hay wagon was used at hay harvest time.
Bob sleds were used for farm work, drawing feed, milk, manure, et cetera. A stone boat was a flat affair with all edges built up slightly. It just dragged along the ground and was used mostly for clearing stones from fields, thus the name "Stone Boat."
Oxen were used some for farm work but not too extensively The language used to drive them was "gee" and "haw." That meant for them to make a turn either right or left. No harness was used on them as on horses. A cowhide whip was the usual help in getting them to move along. They were fastened at the head by an ox yoke. It was a large wooden affair, handmade, that went over each ox head and kept them in line.
Frozen vegetables, fresh ones, and even canned fruit and vegetables were unknown in village stores years ago. The housewife was busy all summer and fall canning and preserving her fruits and vegetables for winter use. Even meat was canned The first packaged frozen food was displayed in Bussy's Supermarket in the village in 1940.
People used to gather in the evenings and have what was called an "apple bee." Everyone peeled and cored apples, sliced them, strung them on cord, and then they were fastened up in the kitchen near the ceiling where it was warmest and left to thoroughly dry. Then they could be stored away for a later day apple pie.
Everyone that had enough space had a garden of their own. Others depended upon a local vegetable garden operated by Fenton Scott. His home was on Main Street at what is now the "Playhouse," tourist home of Miss Sowers and Miss Jane Ackerly. He had a small shop back of the house where vegetables were gathered each day and sold from the shop. He also went about the village streets peddling his ware on foot with a market basket over his arm calling out loudly whatever he had in his basket. I can hear his "sweet corn" yell yet. Often a large black St. Bernard dog accompanied him on his rounds. His vegetable and strawberry garden took in all the flat land from back of his house to Orchard Street. No houses were built in that section of the village at that time.
The late Augustus Boyes also raised vegetables to sell when he had his farm and boarding house across the river.
Margaretville has been handicapped by lack of room for development being nestled too closely between the mountains. In the past ten to fifteen years the west end of the village has been completely built up. There has been a new development on "chicken hill," which is what the natives living in that area now prefer to call Mountain Avenue. It received the name "chicken hill" from the fact that the photographer, Mr. Ward Carman, who lived on the hill raised chickens and sold eggs and chickens as a side line.
A third new development has been on Cemetery Road. A few houses have been added up Bull Run road, some building has taken place on the Margaretville-Arkville road, and there has been a development in the South Side road. Also, three houses have been added on the new Kingston-Mt. road.
Floods have always been a part of the history of Margaretville. Our last big one was in 1955 when the newly built causeway at Dunraven was washed out. With changing of the stream and other flood control, we have not had severe damage in the village in recent years. Occasionally the walled up Bull Run Stream gets filled with anchor ice and causes some concern.
Just hours before the newly built causeway at Dunraven, costing $200,000, was destroyed by the flood of 1955, Mayor Robert Wagner of New York City had toured the Pepacton reservoir facilities and stopped to admire the causeway.
A devastating flash flood, called "the rain makers flood," supposedly caused by chemical seeding of the clouds over this area to make rain after an extended period of dry weather, was one of the worst in history of this area. It occurred on November 21, 1950.
A previous flood record was in 1932 - when estimated damage of $125,000 was done in the eastern section. In the 1950 flood there was great damage not only in Margaretville but in Arkville Dry Brook, and throughout this section.
The damage done to roads alone were estimated by Middletown officials to run over $1,000,000. The loss to our village was fixed at $500,000. In some places on Main Street there was as much as six feet of water. People were rescued from their homes by boats.
The newly built Delaware Valley Oil Co. and service station of "Denny's" on Bridge Street, owned by Leyden Smith, was badly damaged, the extent estimated to be $34,000.
An area field director for the American Red Cross was sent to this village to help plan the rehabilitation of families who lost possessions in the flood.
The Methodist Church remained opened all night to feed volunteers and house approximately thirty people who were forced to flee their homes.
About the time that the "Ackerly House" was in operation the village had a pretty little park. It extended on Main Street from what is now Week's Hardware store to the former Lockwood Store, which is now the end of Kelly's Hotel housing the bar. A foot bridge went across the Binnekill near Week's store to the extension of the park on the flat on the other side. There was a bandstand there where outdoor concerts were held. The part of the park on Main Street had a round fountain with pretty weeping willow trees on either side. It was fenced along the main street with a four foot wire fence. In old pictures of the park, row boats were shown on the Binnekill, and a boat landing was built near the wall.
Names of other older residents of Margaretville of the past fifty years that are no longer familiar to the younger generation are Carpenter, Muller, Stewart, Gill, Austin, Coulter, Mungle, Albers, Tellord, Hunter, DePuy, Grant, McCadden, George, Carman, Hewitt, Gulnick, DuMond, Archibald, Reed, Olmstead, Long, Hitt, Harrington, Thompson, Winter, Brown, Walley, Gorsch, Clute, McIlroy, Jackson, Lockwood, Cantwell, Crammer, Laidlaw, Swazee, Evans, Dougherty, Sweeney, Yaple, Dickson, Chamberlain, Waterbury, Moshler, Finn, Jones, Woolheater, Doolittle, Boyd, Terry, Benjamin, Knickerbocker, Hoffman, Stimpson, McNulty, Hendrix, Gilbert, Keeney Burhans, Banker, Race, Munson, Teed, Wynn, Ayers, Munn, Bowles, Parker, Bluestone, Decker, Allaben, Clark, Searles, Beiderman, Halpern, Scott, Moore, Tway, Liddle, Dimmick, George, Levy, Fisk, DePuy, Hewitt, Shultz, Simon, Taylor, Cullen, Maurer, Cole, Gregory, Van Aken, Anderson and others.
Early milk delivery in the village was by a Mr. Ransom Hull, in 1894, who operated the farm just below the village. He came around with a horse and wagon with large milk cans in the back of the wagon. The large cans were the same as are used today on the farms for transporting milk. Each customer came out with a pail to get the amount of milk needed for the day. The price per quart was then four cents. The first bottled milk peddled about the village was furnished by the late Nealie Ackerly. Two young boys, Paul Sanford and Guilford Funari, working for him, drew the milk in small wagons similar to a good sized toy wagon with sides built up on it and delivered the milk to the customers. Later Dr. Reuben Smith started a more extensive service. He used the building back of his present home for a place to bottle the milk. It was then delivered around the village by a truck. The Catskill Mountain Dairies, Inc. are now the main distributors of milk in our village.
In early days butter was made by the farmers and sold in five and ten pound tin pails. Some was brought to stores to be sold, but much was sold directly to their customers. It was shipped to the cities to be sold in what were called firkins or tubs.
Before the upper main street block of stores was built, a row of unpretentious houses, called tenement houses, was built along there. Further up the street, near the present bridge on a point of land near the Binnekill, was a small house, weathered with the years, occupied by a Sweeney family. Below the house was an orchard. Miss Laura Sweeney of that family still lives in this section.
The High School of early days did not have the number of pupils as present day schools do. All small areas around each had their own little district school. The teacher was hired by whoever was elected Trustee of the District. Some schools had few pupils; others had as many as twenty or more. The teachers boarded with some family in the district, going to their own homes for the weekend only. There were mostly women teachers at that time but occasionally a man. Frank DeSilva of this village taught a school in the Millbrook for several years. Much earlier, the teachers boarded around in the district, first with one family and then another. I doubt if the teacher paid for board; I believe it went along with the job. Each little district school was heated by a wood burning stove, usually what was called a pot belly stove or a oblong sheet iron one. The teacher had to be the janitor too.
The latest grist mill to operate near here was one up the Barkaboon road operated by Mr. Gustavasen. In early days farmers raised fields of corn, wheat, rye and buckwheat. At harvest time it was taken to the grist mill to be made into corn meal, rye flour, and wheat and buckwheat flour. The buckwheat was used mainly for making pancakes. They would have enough for their own family and some to sell.
Margaretville had two planing mills and lumber yards. These were the Gorsch Mill, which is now Merritt's, and Howard Henderson's, which was run by his father before him. Both are still operating, one as a mill and the other as a lumber yard and store.
Both heating the home and cooking in early clays was done by burning wood. The entire house could not be heated in winter and the bedrooms were as cold as a barn. Feather beds were used on the beds for added warmth and comfort. The finer ones were made of goose or duck down and feathers. Others were made of hen feathers. Soapstones were popular in those early days, or a flatiron, which were heated on the back of the old wood burning stove near bedtime, wrapped well in flannel rags or newspapers, and put in the bed to warm the occupant. Early sheets and blankets were homespun. Today some of the early homespun coverlets are a prize to own. Mrs. J. S. Bussy has a very pretty one patterned with birds, willow trees, and flowers. It is dated 1844 and is blue and white. They were also made in red and white. Delhi, N. Y., was where the large loom was and people would take their own material there to be woven. Some coverlets have Delhi woven above the date; others have the owner's name along with the date.
About the first automobile in our village was owned by Clarke A. Sanford (previously mentioned) in 1907. Mr. Sanford had read an advertisement in the New York Herald about the car. He corresponded with the owner and made an appointment to meet him in New York on a certain day and at a certain location. When Mr. Sanford arrived there, the location was a saloon. He found the owner of the car waiting for him and the deal was made. Mr. Sanford put down a check, and the owner tore a scrap of paper from something handy to write a receipt on it. It was in the bargain that the car was not to be shipped until spring when the dirt roads would be in better condition for driving. The name of the car was Pope-Toledo, the Pope being for the man manufacturing the car and Toledo for the city where it was manufactured - Toledo, Ohio. The owner explained to Mr. Sanford that although the car was an old one, it was in perfect running order, but it wouldn't do more than twelve miles per hour. Mr. Sanford was pleased with that, saying the fastest he had ever rode was at six miles per hour, so if the car would do twelve miles per hour, that suited him fine. The price Mr. Sanford paid for the car was $300. The first of May Mr. Sanford wrote to have his car sent. It was shipped from New York to Kingston by boat. The late Burr Hubbell and Mr. Sanford were there to meet the boat and the car was driven to Margaretville. Mr. Hubbell had previous experience in driving a car.
Raising cauliflower and Brussels sprouts was once a big business in this section. The first Cauliflower was raised by Mr. VanBenschoten, father of the late Orson VanBenschoten, on the farm above town on the New Kingston road now occupied by Mr. Dalton Sanford. An auction block for selling the produce was located below Dugan & Taber's feed store on the flat where the village park once was. It was taken in large truck loads to the city markets. At present little is raised in the immediate vicinity.
The little country store of early days was quite different from the present day store of super market. Many things came in bulk - flour in barrels, and sugar in heavy hemp bags with a finer inner bag made of cotton, usually 100 pound bags. Molasses, vinegar, and kerosene oil all came in barrels. Everything had to be weighed or measured out as sold. Candy came in large wooden pails and some in pasteboard boxes. Cookies came in wooden boxes similar in size to an orange crate. Coffee came in the bean in large bags. Tea was packed in large tin containers. Salt mackerel came in brine in large wooden tubs. Calico and percales in bolts lined the store shelves. Much of the clothing of early days was homemade. Braids, lace, and trim for dresses came wound on a cardboard. Ribbon, very popular in early days for girls' hair ribbons and for trimming hats, came wound on all size round cardboard foundations. Table cloths were in bolts like dress goods and bought by the yard. The red table cloth was high style in early days. Stores were heated by a large stove usually toward the back of the store. The old "cracker barrel" was popular in early days. It was usually somewhere near the stove and a large round cake of "store cheese" also near by. Farmers coming in to trade would reach in the cracker barrel for a handful of crackers and then have a good piece of cheese cut off and that would be their noon lunch while in town. They would enjoy it sitting near the old stove and swapping tales with their neighbors. Chairs were about for their convenience. Also at the store counters stools were provided for the lady shoppers to sit and select patterns, material for a new frock, or whatever else they wished to purchase.
Dressmaking was quite a business in early days. Few clothes for women and children were what we call ready made. Most women could sew to quite an extent but for something extra fancy, they would come to the village dressmaker. The late Miss Minnie Clute had a dressmaking shop over Bussy's store. Other ladies took in sewing in their homes.
Another early millinery shop in the village, and I am sure much earlier than the Halpern Millinery or Miss Allison's Shop was on the corner of Walnut and Church Streets where the Mrs. J. H. Gladstone home now is located. It was operated by a Mrs. Youngman.
The village has had a volunteer fire department for many years. Their equipment was rather quaint in early days. The firemen pulled a cart along which had on it ladders, a hose, and many canvas buckets. It was sort of a bucket brigade affair.
The very first Baptist Church organized in the village was in 1874 with Rev. William N. Allaben as Pastor. Church services were held in the building which was erected for the Utilitarian School located back of the mansion of Dr. Orson M. Allaben.
The mansion in late years was known as the "Bee Hive."
The hotel known as the "Riverside" on lower Main Street was first operated by William O'Connor, father of our first druggist, the late Edward L. O'Connor. It was later operated by a man named Pruzer, then by a man named Terpenning, and then, at the time the hotel burned, by Andrew Eastman, the late father of Mrs. Floyd Reynolds now living in the village with her mother, Mrs. J. J. Welch.
Among other earlier doctors in our village was a Dr. Banker, a man beloved by the village people. His home was the present house back of the Harold Smith Plumbing and Supply Store.
His office was in the small building next to the home. He died suddenly. Another doctor was Dr. James Allaben. His home is still standing and is used as a two family house. It is the one between the Methodist Church and the old fire hall.
Another Dr. Allaben was a dentist. His home and office was in the house above the present home of Mrs. J. H. Gladstone. His wife's name was Josephine.
Different presidents of the village bank through the years have been G. Decker, E. L. O'Connor, Noah Olmstead, Courtney Sanford, William B. O'Connor, and our present day one, Frank Kittle.
The fat in the upper end of the village back of Andre's garage, now called the playgrounds or baseball park, was in years past all used as a garden spot. Mr. Ebenezer Laidlaw had a garden there and sold garden produce. His home was the former Laidlaw property on upper Main Street, now converted into a gas station and four apartments and owned by Mrs. Marie Holcomb. Mr. Laidlaw also had a few cows and sold milk. The cows were pastured somewhere near his garden spot. Each milking time he would drive them through the village streets to his barn which was located on Gill Hill up back of his Main Street home. The Laidlaw house was one of the early ones in the village.
Other stores that have come and gone in the upper Main Street block were a fruit and vegetable store operated by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Levy and a tailor shop operated by a Mr. Simon. Mrs. J. J. Welch had an elite ladies' apparel shop, but, on account of ill health, she did not operate it for long. It was taken over by the wife of John Reside and later by Mrs. Leo Korn. Mr. Alfonzo Mattino had his grocery store in that block. A pool room was also operated in that section.
In much earlier history of the village, a wagon shop was operated by Mr. Gavette, father of the late Charles Gavette. This was located in the building on Main Street now owned by Dr. Insler.
Also an early wagon shop was operated by the father of the late John Rotermund and was located on lower Main Street where the present Mrs. Elizabeth Rotermund's house now stands. The shop was torn down when the present home was built.
For many years the late L. D. Bishop operated a grocery store in what was known as the Bishop block on Bridge Street. This is now occupied by Tom's restaurant and an insurance office. The Bishop family lived over the store.
An early plumbing shop was operated by the late Fred Ayers on upper Main Street back of his home. The home is now owned and occupied by Donald Roberts and family. The late Fred Sanford also had a plumbing shop back of his home on Orchard Street. The home is now occupied by the Stanbridge family.
At the death of David Ackerly who operated the "Ackerly House," in 1869, his son succeeded him, and at a later date, the hotel was operated by Mr. Tom Hill. This was all before the other proprietors mentioned early in this history.
Another early livery stable in the village was operated by the late Asa Delameter father of Ivan Delameter, Sr. It was back of his residence on upper Main Street. The residence is now the home of Claude Green.
The garage on upper Main Street now operated by Ladenheims was operated first by Ed Kittle and Morris Sanford. It was converted from an old barn into the garage. Later it was operated by Everett Edmunds. Before the Legion Post had the present Legion House, meetings were held in a room over the Edmunds garage.
The garage on upper Main Street formerly occupied by Tieboldts was the large barn on the back of the former Swart house, now the Philo Benedict home. It was moved to the Main Street location and converted into a garage. An addition was built on to it.
With the building of the Pepacton reservoir and the destruction of several towns down the valley, Ralph Sanford, who operated a hardware store in Arena with his father, the late Mat Sanford, moved to Margaretville on the Margaretville-Arkville road. He bought a large garage and converted it into the fine up-to-date hardware store that he operates today.
Douglas Kelly built the large building on lower Main Street in 1948. He sells all kinds of farm machinery and various other items. There are three apartments over the store.
Among the many summer homes in Margaretville was the "Moshler House" on the hill below the village, now the home of Dr. William Gallo. It was also owned after the Moshlers by Fanny Hurst and the place was then called "Killarney Hill." Later it was owned by the late Aaron Mirski. Estelle Liebling, prima donna, spent many summers in our village with the Moshlers when they owned the home.
On the hillside below the Moshler house was the Finn place now owned and occupied by Mrs. Martha Poneman.
The Evans house on the hill overlooking the village, later known as the Swazee cottage and still later owned by the Janavers, is now owned and occupied by George Harris.
Among other early business places in the village was a miniature bowling center operated by the late Chan Grant. It was in the upper section of the Masonic building now occupied by the A & P Store.
The late Ed Jones operated a confectionery store and ice cream parlor in the upper Main Street block. It was also operated at one time by the late George Parker. People by the name of Stottsers, not natives of the village, once operated an ice cream parlor on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in the building now occupied by Murray's Hotel. The late Howard Hewitt operated an ice cream parlor in a lower section of the Masonic building. He lived in the house now owned by Gar Gladstone and had his own ice cream manufacturing plant in a building to the rear of his property.
In early days before the automobile, those fortunate enough to own a horse and wagon would take their girls for rides on Sunday afternoons. With less fortunate ones, walking was the style. Sidewalks were not numerous in the village. The longest walk on a good street was down the main street. The sidewalk ended at what is now the "Sanford House" then the Sam Osborne home. There was a huge tree at the end of the walk which became known as "The Kicking Tree." On a Sunday afternoon or after evening church services, young couples strolled to the kicking tree, kicked the tree, made a wish, and returned home. It probably doesn't sound like a very exciting trip to the present day generation with their fancy cars and "hot rods" for taking their girls for a spin. Sometimes, with the speed of today, it proves to be a last ride.
Another old house of the village is the present day home of Cecil Polley, occupied years ago by the father of the late Nate Osborne who operated a blacksmith shop across the street, prior to Mr. Walley, in what is now the Dr. Insler building.
Another early house, known fifty years ago as the Yaple home, is the one now occupied by Mrs. Kate Bruell. The place has been remodeled at least three times in later years.
The former Dr. Reed home on Walnut Street was built in 1860 and has for a century been used as either a doctor's or dentist's office and home. It is now occupied by Dr. Anthony Jurasz.
When the new high school was built in 1907, a training class for teachers was taught in the school. It was a separate unit and sometimes the class numbered twenty or more. The class was composed mostly of women. Two male students were Arthur Close and Arthur Kelly. The course was of one year duration and that was the education of most of the late day district school teachers.
For the early teachers, "Teacher's Institute" was held once a year for a week's duration in the fall before school opened. It took the place of modern training schools and kept the teachers up to the methods of the day. The institutes were held as early as 1865 and as late as 1903.
District teachers of early schools received five to ten dollars a week at times including board and laundry. A man teacher or "School Master" was paid a little higher rate than a woman teacher.
For sixty years or more the little one room schoolhouse supplied the needs of early days. Many of the little one room schoolhouses were painted red. Red paint was the cheapest paint available. It was made from slate.
The teacher's desk and chair was always on a raised platform at the front of the room.
Early school benches were just a slab with wooden legs to hold them up being made similar to the milk stools of early days.
Paper was scarce and expensive, and so slates and slate pencils were extensively used for school work. The main subjects taught were spelling, grammar, and the three Rs, as the old song goes "Reading and Riting and Rithemetic taught to the tune of a hickory stick." And the hickory stick was used in early days, too.
As the little district schools consolidated with the central schools of today, the little schoolhouses have been sold and converted into summer homes and camps.
Early clay school was called by ringing of a heavy brass hand bell by the teacher. It was also used after noon lunch period and after recess time to bring school in session again.
Among music teachers in the village for the past fifty years or more was the late Miss Lucy Waterbury. Her home was what is now known as the late Dr. Holcomb residence Miss Waterbury also taught music in the new high school that was erected in 1907. She conducted the morning chapel music and taught a mixed chorus group. Other teachers of music in the village were the late Fanny Jackson, Mrs. J. H. Gladstone, the late Mrs. John Archibald, the late Mrs. Sinclair Archibald, Miss Freda Muller, Mrs. Viola Place, and Mrs. Albert Cross. The latter two still continue to teach and are organists in three of our churches.
Violin music was more popular in earlier days. The violin was played by the late Brink Knickerbocker, the late Vet Walley, the late Andrew Eastman, the late Mr. Schultz, the late Mrs. Sinclair Archibald, Mrs. Viola Place, and Harry Eckert.
An orchestra was formed in more recent years and its entertainment was in demand at local doings in the village. The late Brink Knickerbocker at the violin with a group of others were the musicians for most of the square dances about. Also the late W. R. Sanford (known as "Swearing Bill") was a violin player and called off the changes for the square dancing. Forrest Bouton has pounded the keys on pianos for many years at country dances and still continues to do so.
The home known as the Ellis home was recently moved from the corner of Main and Academy Streets to Academy Street and is now occupied as the Catholic Rectory. Many of the older residents of the village can remember when "Aunt Fanny" as Mrs. Ives was called, lived there. She would sit in a little rocking chair on the porch, a Paisley shawl over her shoulders, a tiny hat on her head, her hands folded in her lap, watching the doings up and down Main Street. Aunt Fanny was a sister of the late E. L. O'Connor. She married a well to do man, Att. John Grant. He died leaving her a rich widow of the day. The Grants had two children, John Grant and Mary Grant, called "Mame." The rich widow then married Att. S. P. Ives who was at that time a widower. He also had two children, "Flo" Ives and Allie Ives. Ives came to Margaretville from Windham where he had practiced law for nineteen years. With the last marriage two more children were added to the family. They were the late Ransom Ives and Att. Ralph Ives, still living in Roxbury, N. Y. Mary ("Mame") Grant married the late Rev. Charles Ellis who came to Margaretville as a supply minister to preach at times at the Presbyterian Church. He was pastor for many years at a church in Roundout below Kingston. When he retired, they came to Margaretville to live, Mrs. Ellis returning to her old home. After the passing of Rev. and Mrs. Ellis, the home was occupied for a while by their son Charles Ellis and his wife. They later moved to Kingston. Then the house was rented to the late Dr. Palen and family. There Dr. Gilbert M. Palen set up his first office for practice in Margaretville.
The following are notes on some of the early settlers of our village:
Charles Gorsch was born in Prussia in 1829. He came to New York in 1854. After working at the cabinet business for three years in Andes, he moved to Margaretville where he set up business. He was the first undertaker in the village.
Dr. Smith W. Reed, Sr., was a native of Roxbury. He came to Margaretville in 1850 at the age of twenty-three and began the study of medicine with his brother Aaron D. Reed, M.D. Three years later he graduated from medical college in Castleton, Vermont, and formed a partnership with his brother at Margaretville. His brother later moved to Cortland County.
J. K. P. Jackson, who edited the "Utilitarian" newspaper, was also a lawyer and practiced law while editing the paper.
James W. Kittle, father of Frank Kittle who is president of our local bank, was a farmer until 1869 when he entered commercial business with Thomas Winter.
Ebenezer Laidlaw came to Andes from Scotland in 1823. In 1850 he moved to Margaretville and established a blacksmith shop. For six years preceding 1875, he operated a foundry on upper Main Street.
Samuel W. Osborne settled in Margaretville in 1864. He was born in Roxbury in 1841. He began business in Margaretville in 1868 in the firm of O'Connor & Osborne.
G. C. Grant was born in 1855 in Middletown, N. Y. His wife was the daughter of S. Fenton Scott whose home was the present "Playhouse" tourist home on Main Street. Mr. Grant was elected Justice of the Peace. He had previously begun study of law with Att. S. P. Ives in whose office he opened a Justice's office a year after his election.
Asa Ackerly, father of the late Nealie Ackerly, came to Delaware County and ran an early grocery business and later a tannery. Later, for twenty years, he carried on an extensive boot and shoe business in Margaretville in the latter part of the 18th century.
W. R. Swart was born in Middletown, N. Y. in 1821 and was married in 1841 to Elizabeth, daughter of Ignos DuMond the first settler of the village of Margaretville. Mr. Swart was a drover, a farmer, and a merchant.
O. S. Decker, a native of Columbia County, was born in 1827. He was a resident of the village of Margaretville for many scars. He engaged in commercial business in 1856.
Thomas Winter was born in Middletown, N. Y. He came to this county in 1819. He married Anna, oldest daughter of W. R. Swart. In early days he engaged in the mercantile business in this village and in later years in insurance business.
Every little village seemed to have persons that are outstanding or called "characters."
Margaretville, or nearby Dunraven, had Harold Mead. Harold was a bachelor. He wore black suits with vest, gold rim glasses, which he always peered over the top of, was seldom seen without a large umbrella with a curved handle hooked over his arm and wearing rubbers. He apparently was a very retiring and bashful fellow and certain girls in school and town made life miserable for Harold by teasing him. Harold would cover his mouth with his hand, giggle and laugh, and pretend to avoid them. But under a false pretense, Harold was enjoying every bit of it. He was a steady church goer and had many friends. He lived to a good age.
Another so-called character was Erastus Kelly, a village cobbler. He parted his hair in the center and always had two "spit curls" on his forehead. When dressed up he usually wore a white vest. One of his pleasures was gathering the wild flower trailing arbutus for the girls of the village that he admired most. "Ras" as he was called was a very fancy skater. Skating on the Binnekill one day, he fell hurting mostly his dignity. Mrs. Lockwood was watching from her nearby store and called to him, "Did you hurt you, Ras?" Ras responded angrily, "No, I hurt my elbow."
Another local character was the late Bill Spoor. Bill was of an excitable nature and stuttered when he talked. He lived up the Bull Run road in a small shack. His first wife was Mary Kittle and they seemed a very devoted couple. Mary was blind or nearly so. They would come to the village hand in hand or with Mary following behind Bill a few feet unable, with her handicap, to step along so fast. Bill found odd jobs here and there. In later years he worked on the road where he received probably more money than ever before. He wasn't much of a business man, having had little education and was unable to take care of his money or make ends meet. So Bussy's store became Bill's bank. He always did his trading there. As he received his check, he would take it to the store. It would be cashed, put in the safe in a little box marked for Bill to use for his store account and to have for whatever else he needed. The amount was always kept a little ahead of Bill's spending unknown to Bill, and I believe at the time of his death, there was a small surplus to help with his burial expenses. Mary passed away before Bill. When she became very ill and was not expected to survive, Bill went to Bussy's store and called Nealie Ackerly into the store office to tell him all of his troubles. With tears running freely down Bill's checks, Nealie listened and sympathized. Finally he said to Bill, "Whatever will you do without Mary?" Bill's eyes brightened and he wiped away his tears and stuttering he said to Nealie, "Oh, oh, oh, I got another woman all picked out." Sure enough, not long after Mary's passing, Bill had another woman.
Our present day character is Clifton Birdsall who keeps bachelor hall, bakes, sews, crochets and does tatting. "Cliff," as he is called, was far ahead in the fancy shirt styles and color worn by the men of today, always having on the gayest print shirts that he had made himself. Now he wears shorts, sandals, fancy shirts, and is right up to all the present day styles.
May 2nd, 1960, we noted the passing of Merwin Todd, nearly eighty-three years of age, familiarly known as "Mike." "Mike" was a real mountain character, the greatest bear hunter in this region, and noted for his wit and humorous stories. Familiar to all in this section, "Mike" was born in upper Dry Brook September 29, 1877, and spent most of his life there. "Mike" was New York State fire warden at Balsam Roundtop tower for twenty-seven years.
William R. Sanford, previously mentioned, and known as "Swearing Bill," lived most of his life on a farm in Dunraven. He unfortunately lost one hand in an accident while sawing logs. In his later days he left the farm and, with Mrs. Sanford, moved to this village. Even with his handicap, he continued to work and drove a large truck hauling coal from the Pennsylvania coal mines to this area and did other trucking.
One day, returning to the village near the east entrance, he lost control of his truck and crashed through the guard rails, dropping to the D. & E. railroad tracks about fifty feet below and ending up in the east branch of the Delaware River. He escaped with little injury to himself. Someone that hurried to the scene of the accident said to Bill, "The Lord must have been with you that time," Bill responded that, "If He was, He had a d--- rough ride."
He was born December 19, 1868, and died at the age of eighty-two years. Worked actively until he was past eighty.
Daniel Franklin Mead of Dunraven, better know as Frank Mead, is remembered by many of the "older folks" as a mechanical "genius." Mr. Mead helped build several of the old covered bridges over the Delaware river. Not long after the Civil War he started with an uncle in the wagon making business. He could fix any mill that needed repair. He manufactured steel scythe snathes and grain cradles. Was a first-class blacksmith and an excellent tinsmith.
Frank also built many barns, his first one, for a neighbor, when he was but twelve years of age. He was one of twelve children and was born in the Millbrook Valley. Mr. Mead was twice married, first to Cora Mead of Arkville in 1884, and to Emma Jenkins Keator in 1934. Mr. Mead was age ninety-four years when he died in 1950.
The first street lights in our village were similar to old lanterns on top of wooden posts on street corners. At dusk, Mr. Leslie DuMond, the village janitor for many years, would go about the village pulling a small wagon. In this was a large can of kerosene and a small three-stop ladder. Mr. DuMond would put the ladder against the post, climb up, fill the lantern, and with matches light the light. It was a dim light but a bit better than pitch darkness on a moonless night.
At a later date, a gas corporation was formed and owned by a few of the village residents. Gas lights then replaced the old kerosene type. They were not the brilliant light of electricity today but were an improvement over the kerosene.
The lamp posts were of iron and extended higher above the streets. The gas burned on a delicate mantle inside of a large glass globe.
Some of the village homes at that period were piped, and gas was used for lighting the homes. Electricity came to the village in 1924.
Around 1909, Daniel Chase, Y.M.C.A. Secretary of Eastern Delaware County, organized a Y.M.C.A. in Margaretville. The club room was over L. Bussy & Co. Store.
Shortly before the Nineteenth Amendment was enacted granting woman suffrage, a suffrage club was organized in 1916 in the village. I remember Mrs. Keeney and her daughter, Mrs. McGay of the "Meadow Brook" boarding house, as being very active members in the club.
The Minerva Club, a reading and study club, was formed in 1917 during the first world war. The club lasted thirty-five years. The last meeting was held in 1951. These were the Minerva Club members: Mrs. Andrew Kaufman, Mrs. Will Thompson, Mrs. Fred Swart, Mrs. Anna Winter, Mrs. Frank Kittle, Mrs. J. H. Gladstone, Mrs. Courtney Sanford, Mrs. Smith Reed, Mrs. Clarence Holcomb, Miss Ruth Sanford, Mrs. Claude Kaufman, Mrs. J. J. Welch, Mrs. Sherman Myers, Mrs. Clarke A. Sanford, Miss Ella Kittle, Mrs. Polly Smith, Mrs. Belden, Mrs. J. G. Boomhour, Mrs. Sinclair Archibald, Mrs. Frederick Green, Mrs. Bertha Hull Hitt, Mrs. Will Austin, Mrs. Frances Murphy, Mrs. Merritt Van Campen, Mrs. Thomas Winter, Mrs. Oliver Chapin, Mrs. Morgan Garrison, Mrs. Milton Thomson, Mrs. Kathryn Lloyd, and Mrs. Irvina Andrews.
Mrs. J. J. Welch of this village has a collection of all the programs used during the duration of the Minerva Club. They are very interesting handmade booklets and each cover artistically done according to the study of the month.
Societies, clubs, and organizations in the village in 1960 are the Girl and Boy Scouts, the Rotary Club, Izaak Walton League, "Belleayre" Chapter OES, the Masonic Lodge, Home Bureau Units (both junior and senior), local Red Cross Society, Bowling organizations, bridge clubs, and pinochle club.
Others are the Republican and Democratic clubs, The American Legion Post # 216 and the Ladies' Auxiliary, the Fireman's organization, Fanny Gordon Ten D.U.V., Margaretville Rod and Gun Club, and each church has a society or organization for adults and youths.
The Margaretville Rotary Club was organized in June 1938. There are twenty-seven members. The motto of the club is "Service Above Self - He Profits Most Who Serves Best." Their meetings are held each Tuesday evening at Kass Inn.
The club has had various projects. One was the placing of street signs about the village. This spring (1960) the club held a "bee" to improve the appearance of and reset stones in the old Dimmick Cemetery on the Arkville cut-off road. Many prominent people of the community were interred in this cemetery since the year 1820. The clubs present project is the Margaretville swimming pool.
The Margaretville Rotary Club was toasted by the Rotary Club of Sutton, Surrey County, England, on the day that Princess Margaret was wed to Anthony Armstrong-Jones. The village Rotary club was selected because of our village name of Margaretville.
The present members of the Rotary club are: Dr. G. M. Palen, Everett Redmond, Clarke Sanford, Roswell Sanford, Elton Shaver, William Sluiter, Layman Snyder, William Sperling, Herman Wickham, Arthur Sullivan, John Andre, Byron Burgin, Sheldon Birdsall, Donald Conine, Lynn George, Rev. Robert Gevert, Everett Herrick, William Hubbell, Max Kass, Rev. Arthur Kopp, Dr. William Kavanaugh, Willis Lutz, Walter Merritt, Kenneth Miller, Richard Miller, and Roy Monroe.
The Masonic Lodge was organized in 1855. Records in the Grand Lodge of New York show there was a Delaware and Ulster lodge in the township of Middletown, Delaware County, established in June 1808 It is believed the location of the building was in the vicinity of the present Masonic temple. No further records of this lodge can be found. But there is reason to believe that it ceased to work in 1811.
A new lodge, known as Golden lodge, was instituted on September 3, 1817. Records indicate the life of this lodge was affected by the Morgan episode and its existence came to an end. The dispensation to establish the present Margaretville lodge is dated July 16, 1855. Recommendations for its establishment came from St. Andrew's lodge at Hobart, Kingston lodge at Kingston, and Roundout lodge at Roundout. The first master of Margaretville lodge was Warren W. Dimmick in 1855.
Fences around homes seemed to be the style in earlier years. Some of the places that were fenced in were the Allaben mansion, later known as the "Bee Hive," on lower Main Street. Next door the Ives' home was surrounded with a fence, later a hedge. The property of Noah Olmstead, now the Herrick Funeral Home, was completely fenced. The Thomas Winter and James Mungle homes on Walnut Street, now the home of Roy Scott and Joseph Christian, were fenced along the street. The O. A. Swart home on Maple Street, now the home of Philo Benedict, was completely fenced.
The E. L. O'Connor home, now the Legion House, was surrounded with a hedge. The Gill home and Carpenter residence on Gill Hill were fenced, and the village park on Main Street was fenced along the street.
The Harold Baker home on lower Main Street is also one of the early built homes in the village. Mrs. Baker said she thought it was an old mill house, possibly a one-room house to start, and rooms gradually were added on. Every floor on the main floor of the house is at a slightly different level.
The Reside house on the corner of Church and Maple Streets is also one of the older homes in the village. It was built shortly after the Carpenter house on upper Church Street. The late Mrs. Mary Reside lived in the home for seventy-six years.
Styles of houses in the village have changed through the years. Some of the earliest ones were low with small oblong windows under the roof. The upstairs rooms had low ceilings. These houses had no porches. Next came the large size houses with very high ceilings and large porches.
There was a period when the "mansard" roof was in style. Three early buildings in the village have these roofs. The Ives house, now the Catholic rectory, the L. Bussy & Co. Store, and the large house above Judson Weeks' residence, early known as the Goldberg house. The large houses had more ornate trim especially at the peaks of the roofs. What is known as "dental" trim was popular. There are several in the village with that trim. "Dental" trim was extensively used in Williamsburg on all early Colonial homes.
Some of the older houses in the village have foundations of the fine old cut bluestone. Today poured concrete or concrete blocks are mainly used.
In a later day bungalows came in style. There are a few in the village. Next came the small house again followed by the ranch-style and split-level.
There is one home in the village made of red brick, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Armstrong. A home of stucco exterior is owned by Mrs. J. J. Welch. And a fieldstone home of Cape Cod style was built in 1940 by Mr. and Mrs. J. Stanley Bussy. It is the only fieldstone home in the village and was constructed of early stone walls that were bought for the purpose.
The new Margaretville Central School, built in 1939, is of light colored brick. Some business places and even homes are now built of concrete blocks. When used for homes, the exterior is painted.
Asphalt shingles in both white and colored are used extensively now for siding often to cover up old siding. It also acts as insulation, thus making early-built houses warmer.
In early days wood shingles were used for all roofs. During a later period slate was used. There were at least six homes in Margaretville with slate roofs, most have been replaced with asphalt shingles which come in many colors and color combinations. Tin roofs were on a few homes. Today the asphalt shingle is most extensively used.
There are two houses in the village that are called "ready-cut houses." These are a home now occupied by Miss Ethel Edwards on lower Swart Street and built by the late Raymond Place and a home on mountain Avenue built in July 1950 by Mr. and Mrs. "Chick" Elliott. I took pictures when the Elliott home was being constructed. The foundation and floor was previously laid, but the structure of the house was started at 9 A. M. and by 4 P. M. the same day, the shingles on the roof were nearly completed.
There was a period when towers on houses were the style especially the ones shaped like an ice-cream cone. There are at least six, mostly in the west end of the village. Before an earlier remodeling in 1911, the village bank also had a tower. It was removed at that time and the exterior of the building was done in a stucco finish.
Among unusually shaped buildings in the surrounding area is the round barn on the first farm below Halcottsville. There are several octagon shaped houses. One is near Roxbury, one between Delhi and Walton, one at Unadilla, and one on the way to Middleburgh. They are so planned that once inside, you are not aware of the shape of the building.
Farms fringed our little village in years gone by, the Boyes farm was on the south just over the D. & E. railroad tracks on Fair Street. The Sinclair Archibald farm was in West End, where the hospital is now located. The Calvin Davis farm was on upper Main Street and is now occupied by a son, Howard Davis; but for the past few years, it has not been operated by him as a farm. Also the Lunn house on upper Main Street was a farm home operated by the late John Archibald and his father-in-law, the late William DuMond. Also, there was a farm in the upper end of Church Street on Gill Hill. An early owner was a Mr. Clum. Later years it was known as the McElroy farm. I believe it was purchased when Mr. Muller, uncle of Mrs. McElroy, bought the old "Ackerly House" and rebuilt it and renamed it the "Pocantico Inn." The water supply for the Pocantico Inn came from a large spring on the farm on Gill Hill. It is now owned by Reuben Arenson.
Other people in the village used to own a cow or two to furnish milk for their own family and to sell to neighbors. Attorney J. K. P. Jackson had a couple and pastured them back of his Main Street home on what was called "The Island" near the river. His home is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Marguerite Van Benschoten and operated as a tourist home.
Phillip Derringer, father of Attorney Mabel Fenton, kept a cow. His home was the present home of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Haddow where Mrs. Haddow operates a beauty parlor. It couldn't have cost "Phill" much for feed for his cow, for he drove it all around the west end of the village and pastured it for the day wherever there was a vacant lot. He would drive a heavy crowbar into the ground with a long chain attached to the cow's halter and to the crowbar. The cow could roam around the lot and "live on clover." Many times it broke loose and ate up a neighbor's garden.
In days gone by one was well aware of the arrival of the fall season by the sound of the coal for winter fuel clanging down the metal chutes from the truck into the cellar coal bins. At one period most homes were heated by coal - heavy coal for the furnace and finer chestnut coal for use in the kitchen range. Swart Mercantile Co. and S. A. Dugan were local coal merchants.
Coal first was brought to this section by the railroad in carload lots. Later, large trucks used to go directly to the mines in Pennsylvania for loads of coal. Today the big oil trucks come each week and, without much fuss or effort, a hose transfers the oil from the big trucks into the oil tank in the cellar. The hose is automatically rewound back to the truck. Today's main concern for heat is paying the oil bill and regulating the thermostat in the home for the desired degree.
Circling around both the L. Bussy & Co. store and the Swart Mercantile Co., there used to be a driveway. And at the back of the store, under an overhead extension, was a wooden platform that had scales installed. All freight was weighed on these scales.
Back of the village Methodist Church was a long horse shod used by churchgoers who had to drive to church. The horse and wagons, or sleighs, were under protection from the weather is the sheds. The shed was entirely open at the front. Horse blankets were used to cover the horses when left standing. These sheds were also used during the week by people who drove to the village to shop. This particular shed was torn down not too many years ago. Similar sheds were built around the country wherever a church was located for the use of the parishioners.
The early ven-dues, meaning a public sale by auction, now called "Auction Sales," have for many years been popular in the country villages. They are well attended, especially when they occur in a season when the city folks are in the mountains for vacations. If it's possible to advertise that there will be a number of antique pieces of furniture, china, glassware or any number of other items that go under antiques, at the sale, the crowds attending are always much larger. Antique dealers from far and near attend the auctions, and the bidding is often quite spirited. The crowds gather early. Some come prepared with a camp chair to be sure of a seat 'til the auction ends. Often folding chairs are furnished for the buyers or lookers-on and, at times a tent is pitched for protection from inclement weather.
There are men who are trained for auctioneering; others, like George Tupper of Roxbury, with his high silk hat, are self-trained and by their ready wit keep an auction going at a lively pace. Many leave an auction with a rare bargain; others pay a ridiculous price for a worthless piece.
There is a note of sadness at times connected with the auction sales when it is the home furnishings of friends or relatives who have departed this life and their possessions accumulated and cherished through the years are disposed of. Auction sales are also held at farms when the owner, for one reason or another, is leaving the farm. Cattle, farm machinery, et cetera, are sold at auction.
At most auction sales there is a sale of coffee, sandwiches, and cookies for the crowd attending. At times a short recess is taken at the noon hour. The food sale is usually put on by one of the local church societies as a moneymaking proposition.
Miss Lucy Waterbury at one time, sixty-five or more years ago, conducted a private school in the village. It was held in the "Old Academy" on the corner of Academy and Swart Streets. These were some of her pupils, Carrie Lockwood, Mary Lockwood, Ransom Ives, Ralph Ives, Minnie Grant, Howard Swart, Homer Shaver, Huldah Allison, Agnes Kolbus, Nellie O'Connor, William B. O'Connor, Mat Sanford, Bertha Hull, and a Mahair girl.
A private school was also once held in the present Edie home on the corner of walnut and Orchard streets, and taught by Miss Waterbury. The Waterbury family lived there at that time.
Miss Lucy Waterbury was mainly self-educated by reading. The only schooling she received was from her father. She taught school at the age of fifteen years. She was once sent as a member of the State Music Teachers Association on a trip to Europe. She was born in 1849 and died in 1919.
Early-day water supply in the village was generally a well-- and the pump outdoors near the kitchen door. There are still a few about, although not in use. One can be seen on Walnut Street near the kitchen door of the Edie house, formerly the Herman Rotermund home. Other places in the village had their water supply from springs. There are many springs on the mountainside above Gill Hill or Church Street.
The old Gill house was supplied by spring water, also the McElroy farm on Gill Hill, and water from there was piped to the Pocantico Inn. When Will Austin built his large home on Orchard Street which was recently the doctors' clinic, now the Almy home' water was brought to the home from a spring up back on the hillside. It was also piped to what is now the Francis Sanford home on Orchard Street which Mr. Austin built just prior to his large home.
In later years, about midway up the Bull Run Valley, the Bull Run Stream was dammed up and water for the village came from that source. At first it was uncovered, but later a building was built over the reservoir. At that time the water company was operated by Augustus Albers and owned by E. L. O'Connor and Mr. Albers. After the death of E. L. O'Connor, his son, the late William B. O'Connor, then held his father's interest in the business.
In 1910 the water company drove a new well and constructed a modern pumping station on upper Main Street. Later, Mr. Alfred Malcomson came to this section and bought up this water company along with companies of several nearby villages. It was called The Upstate Water Co. In 1932 the village purchased its own water system. It is still operated from the upper Main Street pumping station and Walter Odell is superintendent of the Margaretville Village Water Department. Before Walter, his father, Harry G. Odell, was village clerk and superintendent of the village water company until his death August 5, 1950. Earlier in his life, Harry Odell was a mail clerk and served in that capacity for thirty-two years. His last run as mail clerk was on the Delaware and Northern railroad.
When the late Emery Jenkins moved to Margaretville he bought a controlling interest in the village water company. He sold out in 1928.
On the hillside above Margaretville to the northeast was a summer home owned by the Hallecks; the location was known in early days as "Hallecks Hill." It was a sightly place, taking in the view of Arkville village and the distant view of the Dry Brook valley and mountains plus the view of Pakatakan Mountain to the right. Many beautiful trees and shrubs were planted on the grounds. The gardens, which were called "hanging gardens," were built against the hillside on terraces with a heavy stone wall supporting each terrace. A large stable was built on the place. Travel up and down the long winding hill road was by horse and wagon for many years. An ornate rustic fence followed the winding road. Stone pillars and a fenced gate was at the entrance to the estate. It was in later years owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Bennett and daughter Frances. Mrs. Bennett was a daughter of the Hallecks. Still later the place was owned by Mr. Roney. Mr. Roney had the large rambling house torn down with the intention of building a new stone house on the place, but it was never built. A caretaker's home is at the foot of the hill near the gate entrance to the estate. A pretty little pond is built about halfway up the winding road.
Mr. Roney was a lover of flowers. He restored the hanging gardens which had long been neglected. On the location of the large house that was torn down, in the spring he had a mass of all colored tulips planted surrounded by the dark purple dwarf iris. Later, zinnias were planted between the rows of tulips to make a lovely display of color again in the fall.
Mr. Roney came to a tragic end by suicide in New York City a few years ago, so the lovely estate is again at a standstill. Mr. Roney was born in Europe. In New York City he became interested in the hotel business. He was called a doctor of sick hotels because he would buy up hotels that were not doing well and put them into good running order. He had owned fourteen different hotels in New York City. He made his home at the Salisbury Hotel in New York.
These are notes about some of the school boys of fifty or more years ago: Waldron Coulter was called "Sorrel Top" because of his red hair which was a sorrel shade.
Ray Marks, our present village Mayor, was called "Op" and "Opie." In those days the style of boys' pants in first-year high school were knickerbockers, pants belted at the knee. Ray was the first one in his age group to come to school with a pair of long pants on. So all the boys shouted at him, "Oh, see Opie in his long pants."
Earl Osterhoudt was called "Ichabod Crane" because of his tall, lanky frame. Another boy who attended school here, but was not a native of Margaretville, was DuMond Vansicilas Townsend. He had a round face, light curly hair, and a very flat nose. From some show at the Margaretville Fair he received a nickname of "Emo, the Turtle boy." When not called "Emo, the Turtle Boy," he was called Emo DuMond Vansicilas Townsend just to tease him. His mother taught in some section of the school for a short time. They were relatives of the early DuMonds of this section.
A story was written about an early day auto-owner and driver. This is a later-day story of about thirty-eight years ago. Bill O'Connor purchased a second-hand Ford. Bill was a bachelor, a quiet fellow, but he had a keen dry wit. He was the only druggist at the time but had hired Arthur Kelly to assist him in the store so he was able to get away from the business now and then. Together with three other local men, the late J. S. Bussy, the late Nealie Ackerly and Frank Kittle, they built a camp at Perch Lake called "Camp KABO." Bill enjoyed going to camp with the others as often as he could get away. One Sunday he decided to drive his Ford and take the other fellows with him. On the return trip down the hill, he was traveling much faster than the others thought he should, but they said nothing. At the foot of the hill was a very sharp turn going on to the main highway. Nearing that, Bill yelled at them, "Hang on, fellows; I've lost my brake." Somehow they made the turn! Another time Bill went to the storage garage back of the present Andre's. There were a number of small storage garages built along the wall next to the Binnekill. He kept his car in one. He started his car, put his foot on the gas instead of reverse shift, and the car went through the end of the garage and hung suspended over the Binnekill. Bill calmly got out and, as he was on his way home, said to one of the mechanics in the garage, "You better take a look at my car," never telling them what he had done.
Vegetables eaten in early days in winter were mainly potatoes, cabbage, turnips, squash, and onions. All were produce which wintered well in the cellars of the times. Most people had orchards in early days, and a great variety of apples, unheard of today, were raised. These were the strawberry apple, red Astrakan, Baldwin, pound sweets, sheepnose, russets, greenings and King. They were stored in the cold cellars in bins or barrels. People who didn't have their own orchards always purchased two or three barrelfuls for the winter. Some of the older well-built cellars were completely made of stone with fine large flagstone covering the floor throughout. One in the village is in the home formerly owned by the late George Gilbert and now occupied and owned by Don Conine. A large dish of cold apples was brought from the cellar and all the family would partake of an apple in the evening before bedtime. Youngsters would always try to peel the apple round and round keeping the peeling in one long piece. Then the peeling was held high behind your head and dropped to the floor. It was supposed to form the initial of your future wife or husband.
Another cellar in Margaretville has a unique floor made of tombstones. This is the former home of Leslie DuMond now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. R. G. Hill. Mr. DuMond sold monuments and cut the lettering on them. One that did not turn out well or became broken and had to be discarded he would use for his cellar floor. I was in the cellar once and saw a stone turned over. On it was inscribed, "Little Annie lies here."
Most of the meat used in early days was from veal, hogs, and cows raised by the farmer. In the fall when weather became crisp, the animals were butchered. The meat was cut up and used in various ways. Some of the pork was put in a brine. That was called salt pork and had to be freshened before use. Part of the pork was made up in sausage and headcheese. The feet or hocks were pickled. Hams were smoked in a smokehouse. A roast pork sparerib dinner with dressing was one to be remembered. More meat was left on the ribs than you see in the shops these days. Some farmers would share a half of a butchered hog or cow with a neighbor. Then at a later date when the meat supply was running low, the other farmer would butcher and return the half. Much of the lard used in early days was "tried out," as it was called, at butchering time, from the fat of the hog and put in cans for future baking use.
The cookie jars of early days were not the pretty little ones you see today that hold about a dozen cookies, but large covered stone crocks were used and filled with homemade crullers, ginger snaps, and sugar cookies. The crocks were seldom allowed to get entirely empty before another bake day filled them again.
Pickles were also made and put down in large stone crocks, some in brine, and they would have to be freshened and prepared before use. Others were put in crocks with vinegar, sugar, salt and horseradish, and were ready for immediate use. The horseradish was dug from the garden patch.
People who collect antiques are more familiar with the early styles of furniture. Copies of Early American furniture are much in use today. Most, or all, of the very early furniture was handmade, chests, tables, stands, chairs, benches, beds, cradles, et cetera.
Candles, kerosene lamps, and lanterns gave the light not too many years ago. Candles are now used for decorative purposes and occasionally in emergency when the electricity goes off. The care of kerosene lamps and lanterns was a daily chore for a housewife each day. The lamps had to be filled with kerosene, the lamp chimneys washed and polished, and the wick burning the oil had to be trimmed.
In early days people did not go to the store and buy a pure white cake of Ivory soap or any of the pretty colored soaps on the market today, and bottles and cans of the present day detergents were unheard of. Much of the soap was homemade. Fat and grease was collected for soap making. It was made outdoors in a very large iron kettle suspended on three heavy stakes driven into the ground. A fire was built beneath the kettle and the grease boiled. A lye was put into the fat in the process of soapmaking. I believe the lye used in soapmaking was called potash and came from leached ashes of burned wood. I have seen soap made outdoors in this manner but was too young to remember all the details. Much of the soap was put in jars and used as soft soap for dishwashing, et cetera. It was rather a slippery mass. Other soap was poured in tins and allowed to harden and a piece cut or broken off as needed.
Besides the "Apple Bee" previously mentioned, the ladies also had "Rag Bees" and "Quilting Bees." Most of the bedding used in early days was handmade, pieced and quilted quilts and tacks. Mother or grandmother spent many hours cutting the pieces, piecing the blocks, and then sewing them all together for a quilt top. Many of the old-time quilts are of beautiful designs or patterns, and the quilting is exquisitely done. When the quilt top was finished, a number of ladies were invited in for an afternoon "quilting bee." The quilt was put on a large frame, the frame fastened at each corner with clamps, and the quilt top and lining and sometimes a cotton pad in the center were all securely pinned on the frame. Each corner of the frame was put over chairs of equal height and the ladies would work on all four sides, doing the quilting. Other homemade bed covers were called "Tacks." These were much less work to make. Material was sewed together in strips for the size required, and the top, filling, and lining fastened to the quilting frame in the same manner as for a quilted quilt. The center filling in the tacks was always much heavier than in the quilted quilt. Then the ladies would "tie" the quilt, as it was called. Every four or six inches all over the quilt it was fastened together by tying with a tuft of heavy cotton or wool yarn.
The "Rag Bees" were for getting material ready for making the old rag carpet, always made in a hit-or-miss pattern. Discarded clothing, sheets, or any other material was used. It was cut in inch-wide strips and as long as the material would make it. These then would all have to be sewed together, end to end. If white or a faded material was used that was put in skein form and loosely tied in the center and dyed. Gay colors were used, red, green, orange, et cetera. After the material was dyed and dried it was then rolled in one pound balls. When enough pounds of material was finally gathered, it was sent to a local rug and carpet loom to be made in small rugs or the old rag carpet of early days. The carpet was made in yard-wide strips. These would then have to be securely sewed together by hand, using a very heavy thread, making the carpet the necessary size for the room that it was to be used in. When ready to lay the carpet a long pole with a special hook on the end was used to stretch the carpet on the floor. As it was stretched it was securely nailed with carpet tacks along each wall. Ladies would gather for an afternoon to sew the carpet rags together and roll them in balls. These gatherings were called "Rag Bees." The late Mrs. Sanford, grandmother of Paul Blish of this village, had a large carpet loom in her home. The home is the one now owned and occupied by the Weaver family on the Margaretville-Arkville road. There are still carpet looms around the country. The smaller rag rugs are still made. They are usually found for sale at church bazaars.
The "Husking Bee" was also an event of early days. At harvest time in the fall the corn was gathered and then a "Husking Bee" was put on. Couples would husk the corn making it ready for cattle fodder through the winter. Any fellow finding a red ear of corn while husking was lucky. He could kiss the girl of his choice in the gathering. A dance usually followed the "Husking Bee."
In early days nearly every good sized home had a parlor. I remember as a youngster if I was visiting an aunt who lived in a large farm home, it was a great treat to be allowed to go into the parlor and look around. It was a cool, rather spooky place. The blinds were always closed tight on the windows. The parlor was used only on very special occasions. Nearly every parlor had a small back bedroom called the "best bedroom" or the "parlor bedroom," instead of a guest room as today. If the people were rather prosperous, the parlor floor was covered with what was called "Ingrain" or a "Brussels" carpet. It was usually a large flowered pattern. On the sofa would be several very fancy pillows called sofa pillows. An early style for sofa pillows and a couch throw was what was called the "crazy work" pattern. This was made entirely of all shapes and sizes of silk, satin, and velvet pieces sewed together. Each large block was made on a piece of unbleached muslin for a more substantial back. Then the blocks were sewed together for the required size of the throw. Around each piece of the block was done fancy stitching called feather stitch. Some of the blocks were made extra fancy with a flower or other design embroidered on the pieces. To complete the throw, it was lined and bound all around. All parlors had a stand in the center of the room. On that was the light for the room. There was either a large Victorian style glass lamp with the large bowl and shade painted with a flower design or a hanging lamp over the stand. These were often elaborate with large white glass shades painted in flowers or a scene, and hanging all around the shade were crystal prisms, either in clear glass or all assorted colors. The hanging lamp was adjusted for height by pulling it up or down with two chains, the mechanism that operated it being enclosed in fancy brass fixture at the ceiling, "Tidies," as they were called, were on all chair backs for a head rest. All the enlarged pictures of the family, alive or departed, were hung in the parlor. The frames were large and ornate wood or gold. Often religious mottos and verses were also hung there. They were done in cross-stitch on a canvas background. Parlors would often have a mantle, a shelf built over a false fireplace frame. On this were all the treasured knick-knacks of the times.
Also in the parlors were the plush covered family albums and the small size stands with spreading legs holding the very large, heavy family Bibles. In this family records were kept of births, marriages, and deaths on special pages. Families not owning the large family Bible had a large framed certificate of marriage hung in the parlor. On this was a place for all family records.
Most of the tobacco used in early days was chewing tobacco. It came in a hard pressed cake, called a plug, size about 4" x 4" to easily fit in a man's hip pocket: A chunk for chewing was cut off with a jackknife. Smoking in early days was mostly pipe smoking. A package or pouch was carried filled with tobacco for the pipe. Early pipes were the corncob pipe and clay pipe. Girls and young women did not smoke in those days, but it was not unusual to occasionally see an elderly lady smoking a clay pipe. They did not smoke in public but restricted it to inside their own homes.
Early cigarettes were the roll-your-own kind. It was quite an art to roll a perfect one. A pouch of tobacco was carried and a pack of cigarette papers. A paper was held in the left hand and a portion of tobacco shaken from the pouch on to the paper. The long edge of the paper was then moistened with the lips and the paper sealed around the tobacco, forming the cigarette. Dried mullen leaves, a weed that grows in a barren pasture or hillside, was sometimes gathered and used for smoking, also corn silk. This was usually the first smoke tried by a young lad, unknown to his parents. Along with the tobacco chewing days came the very unsanitary cuspidor or spittoon. There was one found in every public place (except church). The juice from the chewing tobacco was spit into the cuspidor. Many times it did not reach the small opening of the cuspidor and was spread on the floor around it.
The pretty snow suits, ski clothes, and other clothes worn by children today were not seen fifty years ago. In winter children were dressed in long fleece lined or cotton underwear that came from the neck and extended well over the ankles. Heavy leggings were worn on the legs, and there was an elastic to go under the instep to keep them down. They extended up over the knee and were buttoned all along the side with buttons similar to those worn on high buttoned shoes of the day. Zipper fasteners were unknown then. No girls with ankle sacks and bare legs were ever seen in those days. Petticoats were worn, sometimes two or three at a time. In winter the one nearest the body was made of heavy outing flannel or a knitted wool, and children wore heavy dresses in the winter.
The style of girls' hair was long, worn usually in two long braids hanging down their back. They were called pigtails.
Little girls were dressed very feminine in early days. Their best dresses were usually very frilly with ruffles and lace trim. There was no question, viewing a child from the back, whether it was a boy or girl. Girls did not copy boys' clothes and hair styles in years gone by.
If a mother had a large family with several girls, it took considerable time to get them dressed, their hair combed and braided, lunches packed, and all of them ready for an early start to school. School buses were not coming along to pick them up as today. Many youngsters walked a mile or more to get to school, especially those attending the little district schools.
Shoes worn in those days were high, being either buttoned or laced. Winter overshoes were called arctics. They were of a heavy canvas cloth-like material for the upper part and had rubber soles. They fastened with three or four heavy steel buckles.