This area is noted for the making of maple syrup from the sap of the hard maple trees, although it is not as extensively done now as in years gone by. Almost every farm had its sugar grove, as it was called, and a sap house built nearby. A good pile of wood was cut in the fall and piled near the sap house to be ready for sugar making time. The owner went about and tapped the trees with an auger, boring a hole in the tree and putting in the hole what is called a spile a little metal trough like affair for the sap to flow through into the sap bucket that was hung beneath the spile. When early spring weather began to arrive with cold nights and nice warm days, the sap ran freely and it was a busy time for all hands to help gather the sap, going from tree to tree and emptying the sap in milk cans or large containers to be transported by horse and sled to the sap house. Many times the snow was still deep in the woods and the sap had to be carried some distance by hand. For this a wooden yoke that fitted over a person's shoulders and around the neck with a heavy chain and hook attached was used so a pail of sap could be hooked on the yoke and carried to the sap house. A person would balance one on each side. The sap house, according to size, had one or more large vats where the sap was poured in. A brisk fire had to be kept going day and night under the vats of sap until it was boiled down thick enough for syrup. Scum was constantly taken off as it came to the top of the boiling mass. When of the right consistency, it was put up in gallon tin cans ready for sale on the market. Around sixty years ago farmers also made some of the syrup up in sugar loaves, using bread tins for the forms. This sugar had to be shaved off when used. It was used for baking or in any way that the finer and more expensive white granulated sugar was used. If you have never eaten a sugar cookie made with maple sugar and sour cream and baked with maple sugar shaved on top or eaten shaved maple sugar on a good well-buttered pancake, you have missed something.
In later years some of the maple syrup for sale in stores is put up in pint-size glass jars. Also some is boiled down to what is called soft maple sugar or maple butter and sold in glass jars or in a small flat tin box. Today's price for a gallon of new maple syrup is $5.00 or more. Price in early days was $1.00 a gallon and less. At the maple syrup season, parties were frequently held among the younger set. They were called "sugaring off" parties. The maple syrup was boiled down in a large kettle to a soft ball stage. Then each person was given a cereal or soup dish about half fall of the syrup and with a spoon vigorously stirred and stirred until the syrup became a soft mass of maple sugar. There was always a contest to see who could get the lightest colored sugar cake and the smoothest, without grit. Pickles and crackers were served with it to counteract the sweet. If there was enough clean snow about at the time of a "sugaring off" party, snow was gathered in a large pan and when the syrup got to the soft ball stage some was poured around on the pan of snow, each person using a fork and winding a large mass on the fork to fit their mouth. It was called "lockjaw" because it was a sticky mass and with a mouthful one was unable to talk.
Today some sap houses have modern evaporators and some are even oil fired.
The old rusted tin sap buckets have in many instances been replaced with plastic bags, and other improvements are constantly made in making of the maple product. The modern sap containers are made of a tough pliable plastic and have spiles as an integral part of the units. They hold 14 quarts and are not affected by freezing. At the end of the season they may be cleaned by turning inside out and washing in the family washing machine.
I wonder what the baby sitters of today would think of the hours and pay received for caring for children fifty years ago. Young girls would care for the children of city boarders who came for the summer vacation. The hours were 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. including Sunday, and the pay was two dollars for the entire week. Also the pay to young girls who worked at the local boarding house "Briar Cliff Lodge" as waitresses was six dollars per week for a seven day week. The work was far from just waiting on table. The girls worked from an early hour until sometimes ten o'clock at night. They were required to do all the dishes, take care of the dining room, iron the table linen, and prepare the fruits and salads.
There were no TV, Hi-Fi sets, or radios in the village fifty years ago. The first great event that I recall in the line of recorded music was the old Victor phonograph. A large horn was attached to the box-like machine to carry the sound, and the records played on it were a cylinder shape. It had to be wound up each time a record was played. Organs were around the village and country long before pianos came.
Intoxicated men, or "drunks" as they were called, were more prevalent on the village streets fifty to sixty years ago. It was not an unusual sight to see one staggering up the street or fallen in the gutter. The village had a small room called the village "lockup." It was located to the right side toward the back of the old Fire Hall building now owned by Mr. Everett Herrick. A drunk was put in the village lock-up to sober up overnight. The door was locked on him and the windows had iron bars across them. If it was known that anyone was in the lock-up, children would peer in through the barred windows and try to annoy him.
Long gone, and probably forgotten by many, was the hop-vine growing all along the wall below the early Gorsch home on Main Street. No doubt the hops were used by the family in early days for making beer. Beer at that time did not come in bottles or cans. It was sold on tap at the saloons and drawn from a keg on the village bar. Those preferring to drink beer at home took a pail to the village saloon and purchased the amount wanted for the day.
Attorney William Allaben was a familiar sight on the street each day carrying a little two-quart galvanized pail with a tin cover up and down the street to his home in the "Bee Hive." The pail was filled with beer for himself and wife.
Corners were the favorite location for a saloon and they were called "The Corner Saloon." They were so located both in villages and cities in early days. It was a favorite location to entice all traffic coming or going in either direction.
The hard-laboring men of early bark-peeling days drank more, according to history of those days, and stories were written about intoxicated drivers of the early stage coaches.
Liquor was made extensively in early days and large loads were floated on rafts down the Delaware to be sold in the cities.
Taverns were first licensed in 1798 in Franklin, N. Y. and were numerous after that date. An immense quantity of whiskey was distilled, and thousands of barrels of whiskey were sent from Franklin to Philadelphia on rafts.
There were also the "barn-raising bees" in earlier days. Whenever a farmer built a new barn, all the neighbors would gather and help with raising the frame of the barn and getting the roof timbers on. The ladies would come along to help prepare a hearty meal for all the workers at noontime I have always heard that besides the hammers, saws, and nails, it took several jugs of hard cider to get the barn up in good shape.
In days fifty to sixty years ago, the village had a night watchman who strolled about the village, particularly in the business section, to see that no offense occurred. The night watchman that I remember was a Mr. Reuben Ackerly, a short, stout, and not too young man. I doubt that if he had encountered any of the present-day hoodlums or robbers, he would have been able to do much in defense.
In the upper Main Street block in the only two-story building in the block, over what was the early harness shop of the late James Mungle, lived a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. "Rod" Anderson. Mr. Anderson worked for years on the "Halbeck Hill" estate above the village. He was a very short man and his wife was extremely tall and lank. They received the nickname, and were always spoken of as, "Rod" and "Rod and a half."
Before the days of the automobile with its ease of travel, the "pack peddlers" traveled about the rural areas. The heavy pack which they carried on their backs was filled with many things-- combs, shoelaces, scissors, knives, thimbles, trinkets of all kinds, and clothing. It was a great day when the pack peddler arrived. He would travel the dusty roads all day, and, when night came, he would stay wherever he happened to end his day's work. He was fed and lodged for an extra trinket or something from his pack or just by the generosity of old-fashioned folks who shared what little they had.
The late Albert Halpern of this village and the late Sam Korn of the early noted Korn store at Arkville both started in business as pack peddlers. Another peddler about the country in early days was the "tin peddler" or "rag picker," who drove a horse and wagon. A large enclosed box on the back of the buckboard wagon was filled with all manner of tin dishes and utensils used in early days. He carried a scale that was hooked onto the wagon box. There was a hook on the end of the scale to fasten the article being weighed. The exchange with the "tin peddler" for some new kitchenware was a bag or more of old rags. The rags were discarded pieces of material not suitable for use in making the old rag carpet.
The father of Earl Jenkins and Mrs. Hildred Weeks of this village, who for many years operated the country store and post office at Denver, N. Y., peddled by horse and wagon once a week through surrounding rural areas. When visiting my grandmother in Vega, it was always "peanut day" for me when "Wes" Jenkins came. Meat was also peddled about the village and rural areas once a week. In early days it was done by horse and wagon and in later days by truck. "Russ" Austin was an early meat peddler in the horse-and-wagon days.
Albert A. Halpern mentioned, who started in business as one of the early pack peddlers, later amassed a fortune. He came from Russia, his native country. He was a member of the Halpern Brothers firm in this village for about twelve years and then went to Fleischmanns. His brothers were Simon and Maurice. Simon, known as "Sam," built the large home on East Orchard Street now owned by Claude Kelly. The sons of Simon, Sigmund, known as "Zeke" and Louis" have operated the Halpern Supply Store at Fleischmanns for many years.
There is but one weather vane remaining in the village of Margaretville. It is on the large building back of the Roswell Sanford home on Walnut Street, The building was formerly the stables of the well-to-do Mr. Muller, who lived at that place and who rebuilt and owned the large hotel, the Pocantico Inn. Mr. Muller always had a driver, Grover Henderson, who drove the old gentleman about the village winters in a fine two-seated sleigh with spirited horses with bells on. Mr. Muller was comfortably tucked in the sleigh with a great light colored fur robe used in the early days.
The early settlement of "Pakataghkan," now spelled Pakatakan, was an Indian village situated a short distance above the present village of Margaretville. The name Pakatakan has been used a great deal locally.
The highest mountain near our village is called "Pakatakan." The large summer boarding house in the woods above Margaretville, in Arkville, was named "The Pakatakan Lodge," and the colony of cottages surrounding the Lodge, mainly homes of artists, was called the "Pakatakan Colony."
The noted artist the late J. Francis Murphy and the late Adah Clifford Murphy, his wife, also an artist, had a home in the colony.
The golf course that was built in connection with the Lodge in early days was known as the "Pakatakan Golf Course," and the house near the bridge entrance to Arkville, at the left, was called "The Pakatakan Country Club." At one time a restaurant or tea room was operated there. The last large camp built at Perch Lake for boys and girls is called "Camp Pakatakan."
The first early bowling alley near the entrance of the old fair grounds, operated by Mr. Grey, was called "The Pakatakan Bowling Alley."
The early organization of the Odd Fellows in 1855 was called the "Pakatakan Lodge," and the early fire company of the village was called "The Pakatakan Hose Co."
There was at one time in the town of Middletown a society called "The Council of Pakatakan" that collected historical data.
In 1896 the local school had a "Pakatakan Glee Club."
Alexander Grant Jackson, son of Att. J. K. P. Jackson, composed a piece of music called "Pakatakan Waltz."
In 1871 J. Hopkins Dean erected a hotel at what is now Arkville. The village in early days was known as "Dean's Corners." Soon after the close of the Revolution, a spring flood occurred at Dean's Corners flooding the flats, and some homes had as high as two feet of water in them. An elevated position of the block tavern at the time of this flood afterward suggested the name of Arkville.
Fleischmanns, formerly called "Griffin Corners," was named after an early settler, Matthew Griffin, who in 1833 kept a store and until 1855 operated a hotel in the village. The village was renamed for the wealthy Fleischmann family of Fleischmann Yeast Company who came to Griffin Corners summers and built a beautiful home there.
Pine Hill received its name from the Indian word "Kauren sinck" meaning place of the pine trees. The name Shandaken comes from "Schindeken." This is the Delaware Indian word for hemlock woods. The Indians called the Catskills "Onti Oras" meaning "Land in the Sky" or "Mountains of the Sky." Catskills in early days was written "Kats-kill," "Kats" for the many wild cats in the area, and "kill," the Dutch word for stream. They were first called Katskills by the Dutch.
The first settlement above Margaretville, to my knowledge, has always been called "Austin's Bridge." People by the name of Austin owned a large farm in that section in earlier years, and the old covered bridge that was located there was always known as "Austin's bridge." A little beyond that, the little settlement is known as "Devil's half acre." How it received that name, I do not know. The name denotes that some very disagreeable people lived there at one time. Halcottsville was named for Matthew Halcott who was the first merchant in the place, opening a store in 1814. Five years later he built a fulling carding and cloth-dressing establishment.
Roxbury was called "Beaverdam" because of the many beavers in that section and the building by them of several dams near the village.
What is now Grand Gorge was called "Mooresville" after the first settlers in that section by the name of Moore.
"Head of Delaware" was applied to what is now the village of Stamford, and the settlement was called that for many years.
Vega was called "Bataviakill," "Bet-auw" meaning great meadow, and kill, the Dutch word for stream. The name of the stream flowing through the Vega-Denver valley is still called "Bataviakill."
Prattsville was founded by Zodack Pratt of tannery fame, and the village was named for him.
The word Gilboa signifies "bubbling fountain." Shacksville was a name given in early days to the flats below Roxbury village. This section was later called Brookdale.
Kelly Corners received its name from a prominent family by the name of Kelly who were early settlers there.
The first name for the Clovesville community near Fleischmanns was "Franceville" in honor of one France who settled there. Later a clothing mill was established there, which wove wool fabrics; because of this, the place was known for many years as "Clothesville." This was corrupted to Clovesville and finally Covesville.
The lake known as Lake Delaware, near Delhi, was originally called "Fish Lake."
Downsville was named for the first wife of George Downs Wheeler, whose name was Antoinette Downs. She was the daughter of Abel Downs.
Dingle Hill got its name from the glens and recesses on its easterly side. Settled by Davises more familiar with English dingles, but said to be occupied by the tinkers and gypsies than with Scottish glens. The gypsy name was applied to the hill rather than a Scottish name.
Bussy Hollow, located in Pleasant Valley, received its name from four Bussy brothers, Solomon, Abraham, Lewis, and Israel who settled in that area at an early date.
The little settlement of Lake Delaware was in early days called "The Hook." The origin of the term came from a tavern at this point referred to as "the first hook out of Delhi." This was a stage-coach stop for a change of horses on the old turnpike. The stage-coach drivers and many of the passengers took on some fortification for the road.
Mrs. Lina Kelly, one of the older residents of Kelly Corners, related to me that what is now "Pink Street," the section between Kelly Corners and Denver, was in early days called "Prink" Street. The word came from the many parties held in that section which were called "prinktons."
On the farm below Halcottsville owned by the Rev. John D. Hubbell, a hotel and still were operated there before and after 1828. The present home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hubbell was the former home of Rev. John D. Hobble who was the grandfather of Harry, Fanny, Ralph and the late John D. Hobble. Much of the settlement in that section of Kelly Corners is owned by the Hubbell family. The fourth generation of the family is living there. It is interesting to note that the post office established in 1892 at Denver, N. Y., was named by Mrs. Charles Wesley Jenkins. The Jenkinses operated a store and the first post office there and for many years after. Mrs. Jenkins was the mother of Earl Jenkins and Mrs. Judson Weeks of this village. Mrs. Jenkins spent her latter years at the home of her daughter in this village. She was ninety-three years of age at the time of her death in 1959.
The head waters of the East branch of the Delaware river, which flows through our village on the East, is below the village of Grand Gorge. It is scarcely more than a swamp in that location. The East branch of the Delaware river was called by the Indians "Papakunkill."
"Pawpachton," now written Pepacton, was an Indian settlement, the name meaning calamus or sweet flag place. Arena was called "Lumberville" because of the great lumber industry in that section in early days. Nearby Dunraven was called "Clark's Factory" because of the settlement and industry located there built by the Clark family.
Margaretville, as mentioned earlier, was named in honor of Margaret Lewis who inherited a lot in this section from the Livingston patent owned by her mother, Gertrude Livingston Lewis.
Kingston, N. Y. was burned by the British in 1777. Five thousand acres of the Livingston patent were donated by Chancellor Livingston to the suffering inhabitants who had lost their homes. Although it was not settled until sixteen years after the burning of Kingston, the settlement was called "New Kingston." Some of the early names of the settlers who came to New Kingston were Yaple, DuMond, and Van Benschoten.
In early days and until after the Civil War, Kingston, N. Y., was known as Esopus, and when the early toll-plank road was built from Kingston to this section, it was called the old 'Sopus Turnpike.
Kingston was called "Sopus" from a tribe of Indians by that name. They belonged to the Iroquois nation. Before this, Kingston was called "Wiltwych" by Governor Stuyvesant. The English Colonial Governor gave the settlement the name of Kingston after his own home in England, "Kingston L'Isle."
The Indian word "Chehocton" or "Shehawhen," said to be the Delaware word "Sakung" meaning mouth of a stream, was applied to Hancock. Hancock went by the name Chehocton as late as 1851. Unadilla signifies the meeting of waters or the place of meeting. Oneonta means stony place. The Ouleout is an Indian name still used taken from Oulyoulet, meaning continuing voice. Breakabeen means horse tail. Palenville was named for Johathan Palen, one of the first earliest residents of "The Village of Falling Waters." Haines Falls was also named for an early resident, Aaron Haines, who went there on horseback from Connecticut. Keepnocka, Oneonta's nickname used after the Revolution, was a sly allusion to the state of war or vigilant neutrality existing between the Yankees and Germans living there.
Judge Foote, a member of the Legislature in 1796-97, who was interested in the formation of Delaware County was appointed to choose the name for the county seat. A group of his cronies asked to be allowed to suggest a name. Foote's nickname was "The Great Mogul," and since Delhi (India), was the city of the Mogul, the friends proposed the name Delhi, and Foote agreed. Schoharie means driftwood.
Schenevus Creek was named after an old Indian who lived on its banks. William Franklin, the only son of Benjamin Franklin, was active in colonial affairs and was appointed Governor of New Jersey in 1762. The town of Franklin was named for him. At one time he owned land in that vicinity.
Cabin Hill derived its name when the early road was being cut through the forest in that section. Not far from the Cabin Hill Church, a large rock hangs out of the bank about high enough for a man to stand under. It was used as a cabin by the men who were cutting the road through the wilderness. From this it derived its name as Cabin Hill.
In an old cemetery on Cabin Hill just after you pass the road on the left leading through the Bullet-Hole and about a half mile from the village of Andes, are buried all the Waterburys.
The 1809 survey of the old 'Sopus Turnpike shows the nearby house of Daniel Waterbury - eighty links from the road on the north side. The family seemed to have disappeared from this locality before the Civil War. Rev. Daniel Waterbury, a member of this family, said to have been born here in 1793, was a trustee and principal organizer of the Delaware Literary Institute at Franklin in 1835. This continued for many years one of the best schools in Delaware County. He once taught school on the Tremperskill in a shop on what became the Liddle farm before the log schoolhouse was built on the Perch Lake road, probably around 1809. He also preached in the Presbyterian Meetinghouse in Tremperskill (Andes), said to have been erected by the Waterburys, Benedict, and Bassett families in 1818 and fixed by the Legislature in 1819 as the place of the first town meeting of the town of Andes to be held in March 1820. The Presbyterian Church in Andes was built in 1848.
John Waterbury was the first postmaster in Andes in 1820. Rev. Daniel Waterbury married Mary Lewis Grant of Middletown in 1822, and she died in Franklin in 1838. Among the children of Rev. Daniel Waterbury were: Dr. Robert L., born in Andes in 1823 who married Christine, daughter of Henry and Lucy A. Douie of Andes, and was practicing medicine in Franklin in 1850; Daniel, born in Franklin in 1828, a teacher, lawyer, farmer, and member of Assembly (1861-62) and who died in Margaretville in 1895; and Mary, born in Franklin in 1829, and who in 1854 at Fergusonville married George Downs Wheeler whose first wife was Antoinette Downs, daughter of Abel Downs, from whom Downsville received its name.
From Andes village two men arose to take places in posterity. One of them, "Hiram" Scutt, migrated to Illinois after the Civil War and achieved renown as the inventor of barbed wire.
Matthew Linn Bruce of Andes was the son of Dr. James Bruce. He became Lieutenant-Governor of New York and was finally appointed to the Supreme Court.
Teunis was the last Indian to reside in Delaware county after the Revolution. He was a Mohican Indian and when the first white men discovered the deserted Indian village of Pakatakan in 1762 just north of the present Margaretville village. He lived in a wigwam in the lower part of the Plattekill valley. He remained very friendly with the white men. Teunis warned the white settlers of their impending danger when the Indians planned to massacre all the white settlers at Pepacton. The old Indian retired to the seclusion of a lake that now bears his name lest his tribesmen should take his life for his aid to the settlers of this area.
The last Indian to live in the town of Halcott was named Froman. His wigwam stood near a spring in a meadow close by the present boundary line between Halcott and Middletown. He, too, was friendly with the white people, but he mysteriously disappeared about the time the pioneers settled in his vicinity.
In other records of early history, I find that Delaware County, and the Delaware river, took their names from Lord Delaware who was appointed Governor of Virginia in 1609 in recognition of his services to the early colonists.
Other versions of the origin of the name Arkville came from one of the first settlers being named Noah. When he had an early store, it was called "Noah's Ark" and was later shortened to "The Ark." When the first post office was established in 1837 at the settlement, the village was officially named Arkville.
Dunraven was named after the Earl of Dunraven, England. The post office at Dunraven was first established as "Clark's Factory" February 8, 1849 with Egbert A. Clark as postmaster. Henry A. Clark was appointed postmaster October 6th, 1854. Smith A. Taylor was appointed June 9, 1873.
The office was discontinued January 9, 1882 but re-established May 29, 1882 with Olney M. Smith as postmaster. Ettie O'Brien was appointed April 3, 1886. The name of the post office was changed from "Clark's Factory" to "Dunraven" on March 17th, 1890. Etta Barnett was appointed May 21, 1903. John Brink Knickerbocker was appointed October 5, 1904. lna Scott was appointed January 2, 1913. The office was discontinued June 30, 1945, and mail is now sent to the Margaretville office and delivered by R. D. from that office. The Catskill Mountain region is especially rich in the heritage of place names left to it by the American Indians. These are of Delaware and other nearby counties. One hamlet in Delaware County carries the Indian name "Cadosia" meaning "covered with a blanket." Several mountains, lakes, and streams carry on the tradition of the Red Man. Susquehanna means either "muddy waters" or "river of long reaches." A tributary of this great river is the Ouleout creek meaning "a continuing voice" or "rapid waters." Oquago, a creek at Deposit, is a Mohawk Indian word meaning "place of wild grapes." Mount Utsayantha is a "beautiful spring." There is another story which tells of a fair Indian maid, a Mohawk, who loved a Sioux. Intermarriage being forbidden, so we are told, she drowned herself and was buried at the summit of the mountain. In a search after the truth, the supposed tomb was entered but nothing was found.
In the late 1700's, Samuel A. Law, an early settler of Meridith, was responsible for the immigration into Delaware County of a great many Connecticut Yankees. These men, remembering their homes back in New England, brought with them the names, Colchester, Stamford, and Roxbury. Other towns were called after the village founders: Davenport, Hales Eddy, Walton Kortright, and Shavertown. Delaware County has the only settlement which honors a woman; that's Margaretville. There is a creek carrying the name of "Charlotte," named for one queen consort of the British Empire. Charlotte Creek is in central New York in Chemung and Schuyler counties. It is less than ten miles in length. Deposit was once an important station for lumber prior to "rafting on the Delaware" during the spring freshets. Earlier the Indian word "Cokeose," meaning "owl's nest," was used. This soon was corrupted into "Cookhouse," and this the settlement was called for many years.
The Dutch influence, so prominent in the Hudson Valley district, is found in several Delaware County names. A "kill" is a creek, or stream, thus Kaaterskill is "Wildcat Creek." Plattekill is "flat creek." There are many others, like Tremperskill, Little Bushkill, Beaverkill, et cetera. Bovina, at one time locally spoken of as Butt End, was named by General Erastus Root. He used the Latin word for ox, alluding to the fitness of the land for grazing in that section. Mount Pisgah derives its name from the mountain where Moses saw the Promised Land. It was named by General Erastus Root. A story is told of Cat Hollow near Downsville in Delaware County. A resident of that settlement, to get even with a boarder who shot her pet cat, served the murderer that same cat boiled up in a delicious cat stew. There are over two hundred Indian place names in New York State alone, and with some of these are connected Indian legends that still live in the folklore of the state. The village of Big Indian in Ulster County has its Indian history of love, romance, and tragedy. Not far from the time of the Revolutionary War, among the early settlers in the Esopus valley was a family one member of which was an attractive young lady of marriageable age. Her white suitor was not of the best character, but she had another suitor, an Indian, with unusual charm of manner for one of his race who was known as Winnesook. His unusual height attracted much attention. The young woman was impressed with the attentions of her dark-skinned suitor, but her parents strongly objected. They finally prevailed upon her to accept the white man in marriage. The matrimonial venture was an unhappy one. Winnesook knew of this and contrived to elope with the white man's wife. The couple went to the wilds of the upper Big Indian valley where they spent a few years in comparative obscurity. Several children were born to them. Finally Winnesook, with several Indian friends, made a raid upon the white settlers and appropriated some cattle. A posse of white men was organized for pursuit. Among them was the husband of Winnesook's companion. The marauders were easily tracked from the present Shandaken a few miles up the Esopus. There, as the white pursuers were preparing to camp for the night, one of the posse saw the bushes move in an unusual manner some distance from him. He discovered an Indian in ambush. Raising his gun, the white man fired. A huge Indian leaped from his covert and ran into the darkness of the woods. He was traced by bloody footprints in the forest leaves, and the next day his lifeless body was discovered in a large hollow tree. The corpse was measured and it was found that Winnesook, for such he proved to be, was seven feet and two inches in height. He was buried near the tree. The mother and children came and viewed the grave. She would not accept a home the white men offered her.
The name Big Indian was applied to the village that stands near where the giant savage met his death. Many years later a ploughman working near the tree unearthed a human skull of unusual size. This was taken to Kingston and pronounced to be that of an Indian.
In the Catskills, and especially near our village, are many names using the word "kil" or kill, the Dutch word meaning stream. There are Redkill, Platterkill, Batariakill, Kaaterskill, Beaverkill, Westkill, and Manorkill.
Dunraven, although a very small settlement was in early days, a center of activity when the early factories, sawmills, gristmill, potash factory, toll-gate, first station for mail delivery for the surrounding area, early school, and store were located there. Then there was a period of decline, and Margaretville became the business center. Today even the post office has been discontinued at Dunraven. Two stores are now located there, and a little settlement of new homes has formed an attractive colony in the upper end of Dunraven.
Several people that were forced to leave their homes in the villages destroyed with the building of the Pepacton reservoir have built there. New life has come to Dunraven.
The first tannery in Dunraven was built by Abraham Shults in 1811. The early gristmill was destroyed by fire in 1834. It was rebuilt by Sam and Elkanah Smith, ancestors of the Smith family at Gledsmere Lodge. An early store at Dunraven was on the Sanford farm, more recently known as the Norton home. It was operated at one time by Colonel George Sands. The Sandeses operated a gristmill which was famous. In the fall, when streams were too low to power the mill, George Sands used young slave girls to turn the stile for the mill operation. They went round and round on the dirt floor in bare feet pushing the thick pole. The place became known as the "Wench Mill." The second farm below the village of Margaretville on Route 28 was the old Avery Grant house, originally built around 1830. It has in recent years been remodeled. Colonel John Grant, father of Avery Grant, came from Torrington, Conn., in 1779 and settled on what was recently known as the Ben Fairbairn property in Dunraven, now destroyed with the building of the Pepacton reservoir. The draft of the war of 1812 took place in the Grant homestead, and the militia was trained on the broad meadows nearby. Fifty years after the Grant settlement in this section, Avery built the house across the valley. It was built of native pine trees and lumber sawed in the mills owned by the Grant family. A stone chimney rises through the center of the house. It has a base measuring seven by twelve feet at the cellar floor. There are two fireplaces on the main floor and a Dutch oven in the cellar. A circular staircase imported from France rises from the hall at the main entrance. The farm is now owned by Robert Forsburgh. The Old Stone Schoolhouse at Dunraven was built in 1820. In 1860 the building was remodeled, the doorway being brought from the north to the south end. The predecessors to the Old Stone Schoolhouse was a log cabin not far from the same location. An 1842 report shows an attendance of 87 pupils. Wages of an early school teacher were $1.52 a week.
At an early date an old school Baptist church held services in the schoolhouse. In more recent years Methodist church services for the area residents were held there.
For more than a hundred years, the Old Stone School served as a social and civic center to the community. It is still standing but is on property held by New York City in connection with the Pepacton reservoir, and its fate is uncertain.
The 125th Anniversary Meeting was held at the Old Stone Schoolhouse October 16, 1945, by the Stone School Centennial Association. This was the last meeting by the association held there. The Old Stone School House Chapel was the name of an association launched in July, 1940, at the Stone Schoolhouse. The district school there had been abandoned and left the ancient school building without tenants.
A deed is on record at Delhi, dated July 5, 1820, from John and Anna Van Wagenen to the school district, giving the land for school purposes, but there is a clause in the deed which says that it may be used for religious purposes if school is discontinued. For this reason the association was formed - that the traditions of the building may be preserved and that it might serve as a place of worship. The organization is non-sectarian and non-denominational.
It is interesting to note that the reason the Old Stone School was erected of stone was due solely to the influence of a woman. Thankful Louise Grant, wife of Col. John Grant and great-grandmother of the late Mrs. Charles Ellis. She insisted that it be built of stone and, therefore, be permanent. It was done accordingly, and the first early log school on the knoll near the site was sold in 1823 by the trustees to John A. Brush for $15.00 and then sold by him to Asa Grant for $12.50.
The first religious services held at the Old Stone Schoolhouse were by the Baptists. Anna Grant was a very active worker.
It is interesting to note that the first Sunday school taught there was for females only. The Sunday school was held only in summers. The reason boys were not taught was not given in records. Perhaps they were better little boys than ones of this century, or perhaps they were so unruly that they had to be kept at home and instructed by their parents.
In early days, School District No. 10 took in a very large area. In 1842 there were 87 pupils in the school over 5 and under 16 years of age.
The teachers' wages were $2.25 per week. This was an increase over the year 1840 when they received but $1.52 per week.
The Old Stone School was disbanded in 1920. Only six pupils were then attending. They were then taken by bus to the Margaretville Central School.
The first farm to be settled between Margaretville and Dunraven was the one formerly known as the James Fairbairn farm, now owned by Orvil Rosa. It was bought by Harmanus DuMond in 1763 at twenty shillings per acre. It was one of the first four places to be settled in the whole town of Middletown. Eight years later, in 1771, William Henry Yaple settled on what was later known as the Keeney place or "Meadow Brook Farm," and he at once married DuMond's daughter Nelly. These two families were the only white settlers in the community at the time. The Tuscarora and Delaware Indians occupied all the rest of the land.
At the close of the Revolution, a German named Henry Myers, who had fought in the Patriot army, settled on what was formerly known as the Kaufman place, now the residence of Howard Fairbairn. He brought his wife, Catharine Shafer, to the place. She was fourteen years old. She became the mother of twenty-three children and died on the place to which she was brought as a bride after a residence of eighty-four years.
A house which was built in 1791 stood until not too many years ago. On what was known as the old Waterbury place in Dunraven which was settled in early times by the Grants. Col. John Grant was postmaster there for over forty years. The mail was kept in a milk pan on a shelf, and whenever anyone came for mail, the pan was taken down and the mail sorted out. Mr. Grant also kept a store and tavern there for a long time carting his goods by horseback and horse and wagon from Esopus (now Kingston).
The farm, in later years occupied by Jonas M. Sanford and later the Nortons, was originally settled by Peter Vandenbergh, but later it was occupied by Abel Sands who kept a store there.
The Sands family, from Connecticut, brought several slaves with them. They were the slaves that operated the "Wench Mill" told about elsewhere in this history.
A toll-gate was kept near the covered bridge at Dunraven, but later was transferred to Clark's Factory.
Other neighbors of Mr. Grant's in early days were Richard M. Goodrich, John Van Waggoner, Daniel Burrow, William Burgher, and Peter Sloughter. The latter two crossed over Huckleberry Hill to the westward before there was any road down the river and made the first clearing on Mill Brook.
Such was the community and its inhabitants at the time of the war of 1812.
Early settlers of what was Arena were Benjamin Ackerly, who had established a mill there in 1789, and John Dickson, who opened the first store there in 1795.
The old cave opposite former Arena on what was the Herman Fairbairn property was occupied by the Indians. Remains of bones and flint clippings were found there.
Among the first early settlers in the Millbrook valley were Samuel and Blaisdel Gavett and David Delemeter.
As the lumbering industry started, the settlement at the mouth of Millbrook grew in proportion. In 1810 Benjamin Ackerly conducted a tavern at his home.
Early mail-riders for that locality were Charles Miller and Joseph Wooley, and the old "Elm tree" mail box served as a mail center for many years.
A Stock Company was formed in 1841 to build a house to be used as both a church and a school. It was later bought by the District and used as a school. A larger school was built in 1879. This later burned and the school of later days was erected.
In 1854 the Bryant hotel was built, and in 1872 the erection of the Conklin house began.
In 1850 the Lumberville post office was established with John Tompkins appointed postmaster. Around 1800 the name of Lumberville was changed to Arena.
There was a settlement just across the river from Lumberville known as "Slab City." There a mill was located known as a "sash mill" where an up-and-down saw instead of the usual circular saw was used. Power to operate the mill was water from a pond formed by a dam across the river below the bridge that led to Lumberville. At one time there were thirteen sawmills on the Millbrook during the peak of activity in early days of lumbering.
In 1889 a newspaper was printed called the "Arena Enterprise" and was published at Liberty.
In later years, after the Delaware and Eastern railroad was built, a creamery was built in Arena and the Kersten stave factory begun for making barrel staves. At one time the factory employed thirty-two men.
At that time there were five hotels with saloons operated in Arena. They were the Hubbell House, Conklin House, Bryant Hotel, and the Empire House.
Soon after the Revolution a Dutch Reformed church was built at Arena. An Advent Christian church was built in 1908. Rev. Braisland conducted services there for forty years. A Free Methodist church was formed in 1947 and in 1916 Catholic services were held at the home of Charles Corrall.
One of the oldest cemeteries in the county was at Lily Pond just above Arena. The tombstone of Captain Samuel Dunham, dated 1792, was in this burying place. A new cemetery was begun in the old church lot in the village in 1859. Benjamin Ackerly, Jr., was the first person to be buried there.
Shavertown was settled around 190 years ago. Probably the first man to see the site of Shavertown was Henry Wooster of Stamford, Conn. while making the first survey of the gigantic Hardenburgh patent in 1740. Wooster carried the survey up the East Branch of the Delaware.
The first settlement on land at the former Shavertown site was in 1770. In 1778, during the Revolutionary War, the settlers were forced to flee their homes. They hid what belongings they could, burned their crops, scattered their cattle into the forest, I and escaped over the mountains to the Great Shandaken. In 1781, the first permanent settlers came. Among them were John, Jacob and Philip Shaver, brothers from Dutchess county, after whom Shavertown was named. With them came Philip Barnhart of Schoharie. His was the first white man's hut on the Shavertown flats. The Shaver brothers erected a sawmill in the Tremperskill just above Shavertown and crude plank houses were constructed.
In 1785, Hans Osterhoudt cut a road through where the present Beech Hill road goes. It was then the only north-south route across the Catskill Mountains.
Another early sawmill was near the center of what became Shavertown village. A small dam was thrown across the river to supply power. Jonah Hotchkiss was an operator of this mill. His dwelling was just behind the store and post office of later day that was last operated by the Atkins. The dwelling was around 130 years old when removed with the building of the Pepacton Reservoir. The settlement grew and farmhomes grew larger and more pretentious. Settlements in the Tremperskill valley were especially so.
The first merchant in Shavertown was Richard Woolsey. A later store was located near the wooden covered bridge that stood where the later day iron bridge crossed the river. The last proprietor was Goodford Titch who also was a shoemaker. The old covered bridge was destroyed with high water and the later day steel one built around sixty years ago.
The first post office was established in 1828 with John Shaver III as Postmaster. Previously mail delivery was made by the early mail-riders on horseback.
The first settlers were mainly Dutch. A Dutch school was conducted (a plank structure) and early teachers were Maria Dickson and Lewis Bussy, son of the French aristocrat whom Bussy hollow was named for. The old plank schoolhouse was abandoned in 1824 and another built near the old cemetery. The older building was used for religious meetings, and in 1856 it was moved up toward Beech Hill Brook near the Beech Hill Brook covered bridge. Another schoolhouse was built in 1859.
The Shavertown Presbyterian Church was organized in 1851. Rev. Thomas Larcom was the first pastor. The old Presbyterian church was dedicated in 1852 and was nearing a century when removed with the building of the Pepacton reservoir. In later years the church was sold to members of the Catholic faith. At that time a new Presbyterian church was built.
In 1896 the telephone was put through to Shavertown from Andes.
In 1906 the Delaware and Northern Railroad Company ran from Arkville through Shavertown to East Branch. A fine railroad station was built at Shavertown, being the second station to be built along the line. The railroad served the community until it closed in 1943.
Before the Atkinses operated the corner store and post office at Shavertown, it was operated by the late Lester Hulbert and later by his wife Amanda Hulbert Fletcher. The late Uriah Sprague operated a store in Shavertown for around fifty years. The late Albert Armstrong and later his son, Bruce Armstrong, operated a general and feed store near the railroad station for nearly fifty years.
Shavertown was one of the four villages down the valley to be wiped off the map with the building of the Pepacton Reservoir to supply New York City with water.
In the early part of the 18th century, John T. More, eldest son of John and Betty Taylor More, first cleared the land of what is now the Stone House Farm above Roxbury. Edward, the first white child born in the town of Roxbury, was the youngest son of John and Betty More, the original settlers of Moresville. In 1829 the famous Stone House was built. Thirteen children were raised in the home by Edward Livingston More and wife Charity Stanley. Edward was a brother of John T. More. The place was called More Settlement. It obtained its name from the fact that several Mores, five brothers and a sister, children of John and Betty More, were the earliest settlers. The house was in possession of the More family 100 years.
At Roxbury the old Pioneer Tavern was first operated in 1789. The original building comprised what is now the kitchen and bar of the present Roxbury Inn. A new front, various additions, and much remodeling and modernizing in the interior have kept this inn apace with the changing times. Mr. Tom Porter is the present owner and operator.
Across the road from the tavern, now the Roxbury Inn, Major David Mapes built a store in 1820 where farm produce - butter eggs, wood-ashes to make potash, feathers for beds and pillows, flaxseed, oats and wheat - was bartered for sugar, tea, tobacco, mittens, boots, piece goods, and other necessities.
The beautiful church at Roxbury, called the Jay Gould Memorial Reformed, was built by the Gould children in memory of their parents. The church is of early English style architecture and is constructed of St. Lawrence marble. It is cruciform in shape. The stained-glass windows are among the finest in the country. The cornerstone of the church was laid September 2, 1893. The church was dedicated October 13, 1894.
"Kirkside" at Roxbury for nearly half a century was the summer home of the late Helen Gould Shepard and her family. The late J. Finley Shepard, railroad executive and financier, was married to Helen Gould of Roxbury in 1913. She was one of the richest women in the world. The wedding took place at Lyndhurst, the gray turreted castle which the bride inherited from her father, Jay Gould. Other members of the Gould family - Kingdon, George, Jay, and Marjorie had summer homes in Dry Brook.
The Gould parents and two daughters who died young are buried in the Yellow Church cemetery at Stratton Falls below Roxbury. Mrs. Helen Gould Shepard died at Kirkside in Roxbury December 21, 1938. Mr. Shepard died in New York City August 1942. After his death, Kirkside was sold. It is now a home for retired ministers and their wives.
John Burroughs Memorial Field and Woodchuck Lodge near Roxbury are memorials to the great naturalist and world renowned poet and writer. The original homestead, where John Burroughs was born, is no longer standing, but Woodchuck Lodge, where he spent many summers, is still intact.
Memorial Field, which includes Boyhood Rock and the final resting place of John Burroughs, has become a shrine visited by people from all over the world. More than a thousand persons are registered annually.
On the road to Woodchuck Lodge is a small stone house at the fork of the roads built in 1813. It is known as the "Old Stone Jug." It was built as a schoolhouse and used as a school as early as 1820. John Burroughs attended school there in 1843-5. It was later used as a church for three different denominations - a sect known as the Christians or Martinites, the Old School Baptist and the Adventists also held services there. It became a private dwelling in the early 1900's. It was recently the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Kilpatrick and their daughter, the late Margaret Kilpatrick.
"The Old Stone House" below Roxbury on Route 28 was built in 1808 by Dr. Oliver Underwood who came from Connecticut in 1796 and raised a family of fourteen children in the house. The house was used as a social center in the community. It was kept in the Underwood family until 1854.
As early as 1813 the name of David Stratton was mentioned as a landowner in Stratton Falls below Roxbury, and no doubt the place was named for him. The road through Stratton Falls was then the main highway and post route to Beaver Dam now Roxbury. Two stores were operated at an early date at the falls. The post office was established there in 1840. This was discontinued in 1876 when an office was established at Roxbury.
At Stratton Falls were a blacksmith shop, a store, a fulling mill, and a cooperage shop. The "Stone Arch" bridge at Stratton Falls was built shortly after 1869.
The Old School Baptist Church known as the "Old Yellow" church at Stratton Falls is a very old structure nearing 150 years.. Nearby, up the West Settlement, is the house in which world-famous financier Jay Gould was born. Jay Gould and some of the early Gould family are buried in the cemetery by the "Old Yellow" Church.
Halfway between Stratton Falls and Roxbury on the back road was a settlement called "Shacksville." Riff-raff from both communities lived in hovels there and a lively tavern was operated at full blast around 1844.
The two-room high at Roxbury was erected in 1872. It replaced the little one-room school which had served the community since 1812. The schoolhouse was remodeled in 1896 when the front part was built on and the tower erected to hold the new bell and town clock, the gift of Frank J. Gould to the community. In 1913 the schoolhouse was discarded to make room for a new building. Twenty-five years later that school in turn fell a victim to progress and the present modern school was erected.
A post office at Clovesville was the second one established in Middletown. John Beadle was the first Postmaster. He held the office for thirty years. This office supplied the communities that were later supplied by the Griffin Corners office which was established in 1848 with Matthew Griffin as Postmaster. He served until 1879. An office was established at Kelly Corners in 1873 with W. T. Ryer as Postmaster.
The first tavern in Middletown was kept by Simeon Von Waggoner at Arkville, then Dean's Corners. He also built the first grist-mill in this part of the town. The first store was kept by a Mr. Newkirk. Colonel Dimmick was a merchant for a number of years at Dean's Corners. J. Hopkins Dean erected a hotel there in 1871. The first train passed through Dean's Corners station October 24, 1871.
Caleb Stokeham operated a hotel and a still before 1828 on the John D. Hubbell farm in Kelly Corners. He was succeeded by Luman Searle and he, by Millow W. Hubbell. John Burden kept a hard kind of a tavern in 1819 and afterward where Hiram L. Kelly later lived.
In 1834 a church was built at Clovesville and a parsonage erected. As early as 1816 a religious class was formed in Clovesville by a Rev. Mr. Finegan. The church building was burned at Clovesville around 1837 and rebuilt in 1840. Dry Brook had an early religious society and a flourishing Sunday School. In 1871 a church was built at Lumberville, later Arena, and was supplied by the Margaretville minister. Halcottsville was once a thriving little village. The first store in the village was opened in 1814 and operated by M. Halcott. Five years later he built a fulling, carding, and cloth dressing establishment. Halcottsville is one of the oldest post offices in the town of Middletown. Matthew Halcott was the first Post master appointed. An early blacksmith shop was built in 1807 by Phineas Kelly. Three other blacksmith shops were operated later by Z. Williams, Wal Keator, and Mr. McKellop. George Hubbell had an early grocery store in part of his home on Main Street. The home is now occupied by a son, Loren Hubbell. Later Mr. Hubbell operated a grocery and confectionery store in the old Red Rose Hall, a large three-story building that occupied the site just at the foot of the little hill as you cross the bridge over the Delaware River. The second floor of the building was occupied by tenants and the third floor was a large dance hall. The bridge across the river was formerly one of the picturesque old covered bridges. A large boathouse was near the Red Rose Hall and in early days, the lake, which is called "Lake Wawaka," was used for boating. The late Burr Hubbell had a small steamboat with a canopy covering the deck, that he operated on the lake and people took pleasure rides up and down the lake for a small fee. Sixteen people could go on a trip in one boatload. A very large creamery and icehouse for many years occupied a site along the railroad tracks several hundred feet above the railroad station. The creamery was operated by the late Charles Kaufman who had creameries throughout Delaware County. In winter there was great activity on the lake as ice harvest began to fill the large icehouse. All milk in early days was cooled by ice for shipping. The ice was cut in large cakes by horse and plow then finished cutting by manpower with saws. Large clamps were hooked on the cakes with long chains attached and by horsepower they were hauled up chutes into the icehouse. The ice gathered for this big icehouse was used for other nearby creameries also. The milk trains in those days were of great length. The little railroad station was a busy place handling all freight and express and the mail which came by train also. The late G. Edward Griffin was the station agent for many years.
Halcottsville had two churches, the Old - School Baptist and the Methodist. The Old School Baptist was the first one built. Back of the Baptist Church was built the largest church sheds that I ever saw around the country. It was built in an "L" shape extending all across the back and one side of the large lot back of the church.
Two farms are on the edge of the village - the one at the south entrance and the large Kelly Bros'. farm on the hillside to the northeast overlooking the village. It has been in the Kelly family for many years and is now occupied by Guy Kelly.
A grist-mill near the dam, from the lake, was operated in early history of Halcottsville by the Kelly family. A large feed store, operated in early days by the Kelly Bros., was in part of the building that housed the first creamery.
In later days a creamery was operated on what used to be the McKellop property. It is now closed.
Around the early part of the 19th century a new street called Maple Street was added to the village. It was on the road to Brag Hollow and is completely built up.
The one-room schoolhouse was on a steep hill to the east back of the Methodist Church. It was a large square room, not like the small one-room schools of early days. There was a hall entrance on one side for the boys and one on the other side for girls. A good sized library was in the center between the hall entrances. A tower was on top of the building and housed the large school bell. The school was closed when the district centralized with the Roxbury School and pupils are now transported to that school by bus. The school building was sold and has been converted into a home.
A connected store and post office has for many years been operated by the Griffin family on Main Street. The third generation of Griffins are now operating it. Mrs. William Griffin is at present Postmaster.
The Halcottsville Grange No. 350 was organized in 1875 and has always been a very active organization. At one time there was a Grange store in the village across from the Griffin store and was operated by George Sluiter. There was a cobbler shop in the basement of the &range store. The store building is now used as the Grange Hall. Church suppers and many other activities are now held in the Grange Hall.
A large store selling groceries and general merchandise was operated by Mr. Hulbert next to the Methodist Church. It has been in late years the residence of the late Ward Roberts and Mrs. Roberts.
A large picnic ground was located where the N. L. Lattins now have their home. It was used for Sunday-school and family picnics in early days. George Hubbell also had a large sap house in that area which was surrounded by a grove of maples. There he made large quantities of maple products.
Another store located on lower Main Street was in early days operated by Buckle & Brink. Mr. Buckle was a tailor and made clothes for both men and women. The store was a general store for all supplies for dressmaking. It also had a large millinery department. Mrs. Brink was Amy Sperling, sister of the late James Sperling of Margaretville, and second wife of the late Hopkins D. Hewitt of Halcottsville. The store has been converted into a home now for many years.
The little village had one doctor, the late Dr. Julian A. Gaul who started his first practice in the little village at age 23. He drove a black horse-and-buggy wagon on his calls about the surrounding area. Dr. Gaul later went to Roxbury to practice.
He died in that village in February, 1958, leaving an estate valued at more than two million dollars.
Dry Brook is ten miles or more of peaceful farming country lying between two mountain ridges. It is reached by a winding road as you turn right at the bridge leading into Arkville. Four picturesque covered bridges are in the Dry Brook valley. Dry Brook is in two counties, the lower section being in Delaware County and the upper in Ulster County. As you near the middle of the valley, two mountain peaks come into view. One is Graham Mountain the other Double Round.
In the upper end of the valley is "Old Forge." At this paint the stream has cut a very deep channel into the rock formation. An iron foundry was an early enterprise at this point, but had a short life.
The little red schoolhouse in the valley has gone the way of other little district schools. Pupils from that section are now transported by bus to the Margaretville Central School. The little schoolhouse was sold and is now used as a camp.
It is claimed that Samuel Merwin settled in Dry Brook before 1800. About 1800 Hiram Seager and Derrick Hynes located in the valley. The first town meeting was held in Hardenbergh May 31, 1859.
The members of the Todd family, now so numerous in the valley, are nearly all descendants of the two brothers, Layman and Burr Todd, who came around 1820.
The upper end of Dry Brook is in the town of Hardenbergh. The name Hardenbergh was taken in honor of the original patentee, Johannes Hardenbergh.
Furlough Lodge is located on the western slope of the valley known as Dry Brook ridge. It was the summer home of the late George Gould. Nearby is Furlough Lake, a nearly circular sheet of water fed by springs. In early days George Gould had a large park of elk and deer maintained on his estate. He also had sheep dogs, rabbits, pigeons, chickens, ducks, and geese; peacocks and pheasants were extensively raised. The Lodge was of semi-rustic construction, the lower part built on the outside of half logs with the bark still on and shingled above. The Goulds own several miles of trout stream in the Dry Brook valley.
Other members of the Gould family, Jay, Kingdon, and Marjorie, also had summer homes in Dry Brook. The younger members of the families still occupy places in Dry Brook. They have recently bought up more farmland and are raising Angus cattle.
The Episcopal Church at Lake Delaware near Delhi is known as St. James Chapel. It was built thirty-eight years ago. The chapel itself was built by Miss Angelica Gerry as a memorial to her mother. Other members of her family are also memorialized in the interior. The chapel was built by Ralph Adams Cram, hailed by many as a genius, also architect of the New York Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The chapel is built of local stone in a natural wooded setting and is fully harmonious with the light plaster walls, dark, oak-beamed ceilings, oak floors, benches, and church furniture of the interior, and somehow both make a perfect background for the rich ornamentation of the two altars. The Gerry families that lived in this Section all had homes at Lake Delaware.
In 1912 Mr. Clarke A. Sanford built the large concrete block building on Bridge Street now occupied by Mr. Andre. A part of the building was used to house the Catskill Mountain News printing press. It was edited and printed from there until around 1923. The remainder of the building was used as a garage and for car sales. Two years after building, Mr. Sanford took Mr. Earl Jenkins in as a partner in the garage and car business. Cars sold by them at that time were the Ford, Buick, and Packard. In 1923 Mr. Sanford and Mr. Jenkins dissolved partnership. Mr. Jenkins bought the building and continued in the garage and car sales business. The printing press for the Catskill Mountain News was moved to the lower section of the Masonic building.
In 1922 Mr. Sanford built the Galli-Curci Theatre on Main Street. It was named "The Galli-Curci" for the famous singer who, at that time, owned a beautiful summer home nearby at Highmount. She attended the opening night of the theatre, and sang at the opening. After building the theatre, the printing press for the Catskill Mountain News was moved to the basement of that building. Rooms on the second floor were occupied as offices for the Delaware & Eastern Railroad. Later, after the railroad was disbanded, the printing press was moved to the second floor of the theatre building and continues in operation at that location.
The first picture shows in Margaretville were operated by Mr. Sanford in 1914. They were shown in the "Olympic Hall" and were black and white silent pictures. The price was at that time fifteen cents. Even after the theatre was built the pictures continued to be silent and in black and white for several years. Talkies were first shown in 1930. Colored pictures came later, and the wide screen at the theatre was put in in 1953. Before the advent of radios and TV, movies were very popular and well attended.
Before the Catskill Mountain News printing press was located in Mr. Sanford's building on Bridge Street; it was for several years operated over the Bank building on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets.
The creamery outside Margaretville on the Arkville road was first operated in 1913. In early days all milk was drawn by horse and wagon. The milk at that time was cooled with ice. Condensed milk at one time was made there and at a later date, powdered milk. Carload lots of the powdered milk were shipped from there to England during the first World War. The Creamery closed operation this year (1960). Previously twelve other nearby creameries have gone out of operation.
Many farms around the country are not now operated as dairy farms. They are being bought up as summer homes or camps. Many of the young folks of today do not care for the long hours and the work on the farms.
The last owner of the Margaretville Creamery was the Dairymen's League Cooperative. It was under different hands six times during its forty-seven years in operation. Mr. Cecil Polley of this village began working in the creamery when it started and was still working there when the creamery closed.
The late Arthur Brundage, born August 9, 1883, with a partner, Hosea Barnhart of Pepacton and Walton, bought the former Sheffield plant above the village in 1926 and operated it as the B & B Dairy Company for twenty-four years. When creameries became numerous, the Delaware County butter-making era was ended.
Motor transportation with the balk milk tanks caused a revolution in the milk-handling business. Trucks could bring milk for many miles and caused the small plants to gradually go out of existence. The one above the village, recently closed, was the largest plant in Delaware County.
There are fewer farms operated in the county, but the possible 8,000 dairy farms left are better operated than at any other time in history with modern methods and equipment.
Today the only milk-processing plant left in the valley is Daitch Creamery at Roxbury. Delaware County lost its preeminent place in the list of top milk-producing counties in the State when Pepacton Reservoir was built. Delaware County now ranks third in milk production in the counties.
An abandoned farm is a desolate place, a probable delight to the artist, or a haven for Peter Rabbit, or a dream of a future camp or hunting lodge to city fellows who are buying up many. Two hundred farms were flooded in the East Branch valley with the building of the Pepacton Reservoir.
A tub of Delaware County butter was judged the best in the world at the Great London Exposition in 1851. Another sample, taken from the Close Farm near Arena, not only took first prize at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1892, but also received the perfect score of 100. This was a mark that had never been reached before by any butter maker at a world show.
Years ago New York State was considered one of the prime producers of cheese in the United States. New York is still a large manufacturer of cheese as over 200 million pounds of various types of cheese were produced in this State last year. About 100 million pounds of this was whole milk cheese and the remainder was made up of the various types of cream and cottage cheese. Years ago there were many small milk receiving stations which processed the milk brought to them into cheese. As late as 1948 there were thirty of these small cheese plants, but last year only six were in operation. Cheese was once made at the creamery above Margaretville Village and in other nearby creameries. Walton is fortunate in having one of the modern cheese plants within its borders, "Breakstone Foods." The plant makes all types of soft cheese. It is predicted that New York State production of cottage cheese will be about 100 million pounds in 1960.
In the Catskill Mountain News of March 18, 1960, was an article stating that the next meeting of our local Red Cross Society would be its 60th Anniversary. I have in my possession a picture taken two years after the organization of the local Red Cross. This picture shows the members, a couple of guests from Fleischmanns, and four children attending a meeting and party at the hospitable home of the late Mrs. Eldridge Kelly, "The Locust Grove," above Arkville. The following were in the picture: Mrs. Sam Korn, Mrs. Eldridge Kelly, Mrs. Hattie Allaben, Miss Katie Kelly, Mrs. John McCadden, Mrs. Fanny Reed, Mrs. Elizabeth Rotermund, Mrs. Ad Henderson, Mrs. Lewis Tway, Mrs. Charles Allaben, Mrs. Debora Stewart, Mrs. Belle Gladstone, Miss Lucy Waterbury, Miss Irene Dickson, Mrs, Allie Mungle, Mrs. Lil Rotermund, Mrs. Etta Easman, Mrs. Belle Lockwood, Miss Anna Dickson, Mrs. Susie Fowler, Mrs. Ward Keator, Miss Mary-Lockwood, Mrs. Herbert Annin, Mrs. Charles Dickson, Mrs. Bessie Halpern, Mrs. Grace Franks, Mrs. Rhoda Mungle, Mrs. Alice Kaufman, Mrs. Anna Winter, Miss Mabel Henderson, Miss Nett Henderson, Mrs. Lil Gorsch, Mrs. Jennie Scott, Mrs. Esther Gladstone, Mrs. Lawrence, Miss Marguerite Cordes, and three local schoolteachers, names unknown. Three of the children were Damie Allaben, Glennon Easman, and Lynn Cammer. It is interesting to note the style of the dress and hats worn by the ladies at that date (1902). The skirts were long to the ground, collars were high, and sleeves were full and long to the wrist. Dresses were trimmed with lace and ruffles. One hat was trimmed with many flowers and another with a very large ostrich plume. The hair style was mostly the pompadour. The Margaretville Red Cross Society was organized April 6, 1900. Five years before, the Congress of the United States granted a charter to the American Red Cross. Its object has always been to conserve human life, health, and efficiency; to aid in relief of illness, poverty, and loneliness; and to render aid in all cases of public and private disaster. Of the nineteen charter members of the Margaretville Red Cross Society, Miss Katie Swart, now Mrs. N. L. Lattin, is the only surviving member.
Fifty-three years ago I can recall but one family in Margaretville of the Catholic faith, the wife and children of Grover Henderson. In 1955 the large modern and beautiful Catholic Church was built on the corner of Main and Academy Streets. A large amount of the money given for its construction was contributed by Mrs. Erpf and her son Armand. Mrs. Erpf has a home above Arkville. She was converted to the Catholic faith in later years. She is now in her 94th year. Before the Catholic Church was built in Margaretville, the area church and rectory were located in Arkville for a number of years. The Rev. Harold Colburn is at present the priest of the Sacred Heart Parish of this village. To give the younger generation an idea of prices in earlier days, a menu for a Methodist Church supper on February 23, 1910 (fifty years ago), includes vegetable soup, celery, olives, fried oysters, cut cabbage, roast filet mignon, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, escalloped tomatoes, Waldorf salad, saltines, with dessert of lemon sherbet, sponge cake, tea and coffee, at a price of 35 cents. A still cheaper price for a dinner was given in "Chapters of Delaware County," by John D. Monroe: $1.35 for the entire family of five who ate at Peter Crispell's Hotel at Shandaken while traveling by stage coach to Delhi. The family was Rev. James Bruce, his wife, and three children. Rev. Bruce was the father of the late Lieutenant Governor M. Linn Bruce and the late David L. Bruce of Andes. What is known as the Hubbell building on Bridge Street has housed various restaurants; at one time Blanche and Marion Archibald operated a restaurant there; also, one was once operated by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Bunting. One side of the building is used for the Murphy Shoe repair shop. The one antique shop in the village was operated by Mrs. Ynez Cairns. It was located in the Cairns home, the early Gorsch home just below the Bull Run Bridge on Main Street. It was torn down in 1955 when the Victory Market was built. A present-day antique shop is at the home of Mrs. Howard Fairbairn on the South Side Road below the village. Two gift shops in the village have come and gone. One was the "Knapp Gift Shop" operated in the Dr. Insler building on Main Street by Mr. and Mrs. Knapp of Downsville. The other one was known as "Lou and Deb's" and was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Zasloff, now living in California. Before Mr. Shafer had his jewelry store on Main Street, which was formerly the site of Carman's photo gallery, Mr. Russell Tyler bought the location and built the modern building and operated a plumbing shop and electrical supply store there. Mr. John Storey now has his plumbing shop in the building in a rear room. The present-day paint and wallpaper store is operated on Main Street, two doors below the post office, by Arthur Tuttle. Early painters and paperhangers were Homer Shaver, Will McCadden, and Charlie Gavett. Paints were generally bought at the hardware or general store, but most of the wallpaper was bought directly from the paperhangers. They brought large books of wallpaper samples to the home where selections were made. Howard Gavett, son of Charlie, has followed in his father's trade.
Two restaurants are located above the village on the Margaretville-Arkville road. The "Inn Between" is operated by Hilt Wilbur and "The Dog House" by Louis and Elizabeth Kole.
The sub-station of the New York State Police is also located on the Margaretville-Arkville road just above the Sanford Hardware Store.
Mr. Herman Lukow improved the upper Main Street block by building a fine car display showroom, office, and an outside display lot on the end of the block. Mr. Lukow is also in the real-estate business. A dilapidated barn and chicken-coop were formerly on this location.
There are four beauty parlors in the village. One is operated by Mrs. Eva Day at her home on the corner of Walnut and Swart Streets. It was the first one opened in the village (1927), and then operated by the late Dewitt Day and his wife. One is operated by Mrs. Isabelle Haddow at her home on Swart Street. Isabelle first set up shop before her marriage on Main Street in a backroom of her father's barber shop, the shop of the late Reed Delameter. Another is operated by Mrs. Ivan Ford at her home on lower Main Street. Also one is located on lower Main Street and is operated by Mrs. Irene Terns at her home.
The Frozen Food Plant was established and operated by Harold Finch in 1945, a few years after frozen food became popular. It is located in the Pereira building on Main Street. Later, Mr. Finch became interested in politics and received the office of Commissioner of Foods which took him to Albany to live. At that time - in 1955 - he sold the frozen-food business to "Bob" Griffin, who continues to operate it.
Alphonso Mattino has operated his grocery store in its present location for a number of years. The Anderson Hotel was located there in earlier years. His first store was also on Bridge Street, a small store in the Bishop Block. Then he moved to the upper Main Street block for a while before moving to his present location.
The Snyder Supply Store in the upper Main Street block is a sports goods store. The Western Union Telegraph Station is located there. Mr. Snyder also operates the Motor Vehicle Branch in this section for issuing license plates.
There was a factory in more recent years called "Frodshams" which was located on Fair Street. Unfinished furniture was manufactured there. The factory was destroyed by fire. Louis Kole also once operated a plant in that section which made concrete building blocks. That, too, was partly destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. The following ads were in a paper dated 1896, in Margaretville: The Riverside House, C. H. Pruser, Proprietor. L. W. Tway, Justice of the Peace. DuMond & Osborne, Marble and Granite Shop. Lockwood, Confectionery, fruits vegetables and ice cream. S. W. Reed, M.D., Office in Drug Store. C. Hull, Attorney and Counsellor-at-law. E. Youngman, Millinery and Fancy Goods. John Grant, General Fire Insurance. S. Halpern (Leading Merchant), Ladies' and Gents' Tailor and Clothier. Holmes & Ackerly, Meats of all Kinds. Scott, Gladstone & Co., Furniture and Undertaking. Allison & Searles, General Hardware and Building Material. - C. J. Dickson, Hardware. - Swart & Hitt, Headquarters for Everything. - G. W. Stewart, Sterling Silver, Waist Sets, Belt Pins, Jewelry, etc. Dr. J. W. Telford. Office in Bank Block. E. A. Shader, Plumber and Tinner. Chamber Suits Advertised by Gorsch furniture Store. J. H. Jones was proprietor of the Ackerly House. There were accommodations for 150 guests. The rates were $2.00 per day. The country store of still earlier days carried nearly all necessities for living. It not only carried drygoods and groceries, but drugs, snuff, sampoil, slates, school books, ink stands, ruled paper, Bibles, plates, spoons, teapots, candles plug tobacco, and packaged tobacco for smoking. Other things that were listed in an old store ledger were: straw hats, clothing, thimbles, thread, needles, yellow soap, saleratus, cotton flannel, calico, ribbons, shirting, buttons, hooks and eyes, combs, buckram, padding, lining, and lace. Even spectacles were bought over the counter, a pair for four shillings (50¢). In those earlier days the price was reckoned in shillings. Customers took eggs, wood ashes, rags, feathers, flaxseed, oats, wheat, butter, and whatever produce they had to be exchanged at the early country store for things they needed.
In a local newspaper of 1901, then called The Messenger, was an ad of Dr. W. E. Hendry, Physician and Surgeon. His office was in the T. Winter Block, now Bussy's. There was also an ad of Dr. G. T. Brown, Physician and Surgeon. His office was in the Gorsch Furniture Store building, now LeRoy Scott's. Later he moved his office to the corner of Walnut and Church Streets. The building was torn down when the present Mrs. J. H. Gladstone home was built on that corner. It is interesting to note that his ad stated-- "In Office Saturday." Early newspapers carried little news or topics of the times. Much space was taken up with recipes. There were instructions-- "How to make a smoke house," another "How to make a wooden snowplow." There was an ad for the Margaretville Training Class. R. L. Countryman was at that time Principal of the High School.
Around the same date, the late Mr. J. H. Gladstone had his dental office on the second floor of the O'Connor building on Main Street.
The late William Mungle, father of Mrs. Otis Todd of Fleischmanns and Ralph Mungle of Ithaca, was an insurance agent for the Co-operative Fire Ins. Co. and other companies. His office was in the upper Main Street block.
The late Will S. Thompson was an optometrist and watchmaker and worked at his business in his home on Orchard Street.
The date of the first automobile in our village, 1907, makes these figures of the year 1950 interesting: In Delaware County there were 13,125 passenger cars registered, 3,831 commercial, and 357 suburban.
Our Main Street was always narrow, especially for later-day travel and parking of cars. It received its greatest width with the building of the new road through the village in 1959 in connection with the construction of the sewer system for New York City water supply. It was straightened as much as possible at that time. Many homes had to sacrifice several feet of lawn from their property, and lovely old trees on Main Street were cut down. All streets through the village were widened at that time.
Many fine trees have disappeared from our village streets including the old "Kicking tree." A fine row of maples along lower Walnut Street were destroyed with the burning of the Pocantico Inn in 1929. Others have been removed after becoming dangerous with age and decay. Some of the streets in the village received their names from these sources: "Chicken Hill," was so called because of the chicken business of the late Ward Carmen, who lived on the hill. It has been renamed "Mountain Avenue." "Church Street" was so named because of the early Methodist Church built on that street. The upper end of Church Street became known as "Gill Hill." The large Gill house built in 1887 was located on the hill. It was a boarding-house for many of the teachers and out-of-town pupils who attended the old High School on Church Street. "Orchard Street" was so named because for many years the westend of the village was mainly an orchard. "Swart Street" was named for early settlers by the name of Swart. "Academy Street" was so named because of the first early school in that section. It was first called the "Utilitarian" School and later an "Academy." Fair Street received its name more recently, when homes were built in that section. It was named "Fair" Street because the bridge leading to the street was always known as the Fair Grounds bridge. One had to cross the bridge to get to the old Fair Grounds. "Scott Street" was so named because it was a section of the early Scott farm.
The first covered bridge in America is believed to have been built in 1771. The locations of covered bridges of early days that were in Delaware County are as follows: One at the east entrance to our village on Bridge Street built in 1865 by Robert Murray. This one was first damaged by a high-loaded truck. Soon after that a flood damaged one abutment. The old bridge was moved about fifty feet down stream and made safe for light travel until the new steel bridge on the original site could be constructed.
One at Dunraven known as the "Stone School" house bridge and only recently removed with the building of the Pepacton Reservoir. This bridge was built in 1870 by William Mead.
Also one at Dunraven across the Plattekill Stream on Route 2,3.
One over the Tremperskill Stream below Andes.
A second one on the Tremperskill near Moore's Falls.
One at Jacksonburgh.
One known as "Hall's bridge" on the South road toward Arena. This one was built in 1870 by William Mead, father of the late Frank Mead of Dunraven. In a high water of 1869 Hall's bridge was washed down the river, coming to rest a quarter mile below the last iron bridge leading to Arena. It was taken apart, each piece numbered, and brought back to the original site where it was reassembled as good as new.
About 1865 the large double-span bridge at Arena was built connecting Arena with Route 30.
In 1872, during the busy days of the lumbering industry at Lumberville, later called Arena, ten teams of horses with wagons and drivers took refuge within the bridge during a thunder shower, thus causing the arch to drop weakening it so that it was necessary to take the bridge down. It was replaced by another covered bridge.
Hood's bridge stood two miles above Downsville. It was built somewhere between 1846-53. In the 1901 December Hood it broke in two and floated down the river.
The old Colchester covered bridge, two miles below Downsville, was built in 1834. It was a two-span structure, but when it weakened, another pier was added. This was the oldest bridge of any size in the county and was 300 feet long. It was closed to the public in 1947 and finally fell into the stream in 1948. It had been in use nearly 114 years.
Weed's bridge at Colchester station was built by Robert Murray in 1870. It was 138 feet long.
A covered bridge over the Ouleout River near Unadilla was built in 1874. The one at Hamden was built in 1859.
The covered bridge known as "Fitche's covered bridge" above Delhi is still in use. The history of it is vague. The covered bridge at Dunraven on Route 30 crossing the Plattekill Stream was moved by the Tuscarora Club about two miles up the Millbrook Valley. It is now used only for foot travel.
There is one at Downsville, constructed in 1854 by Robert Murray. It is 174 feet long. Murray, the builder, came from Scotland when but a child of four.
One at Pepacton, after all the years, was washed away with the flood of 1951. This bridge, with a span of 168 feet, was constructed in 1870 by Robert Murray of East Branch. It was built with a Haup truss with arch construction.
One at Arkville entering the village near the Dry Brook turn. One called "Austin's Bridge" near the railroad tracks from Arkville on the cut-off road to Route 30.
One over the stream near the present Kass Inn. This small one was moved to a new location and is the first covered bridge up the Dry Brook stream.
One at Kelly Corners. One at Halcottsville, built by Utter Bros. in 1870. It was seventy-five feet long with lattice construction.
There are three covered bridges in Dry Brook. Though near our locality, the two upper ones are in Ulster County.
There is one near the State Campsite at Beaverkill. This is in Sullivan County. There is also one at Turnwood. There was a small one over the Beechhill Brook below Shavertown on the farm recently owned by George Hoag.
One over the west branch of the Delaware near Cannonsville was built in 1878 by Daird Ostrand. Hawley Station bridge was built in 1860. It was 138 feet long. It was torn down in 1948. Hamden covered bridge was built in 1859.
The old covered bridges had a sign painted on the end reading "Five dollars fine for driving faster than a walk on this bridge." This was before the days of automobiles.
The pins used in the construction of covered bridges were of white oak seasoned for months ahead. They were soaked in oil for at least six hours before being driven into place for a permanent tight fit.
In New York State there were at one time 250 covered bridges.
These scenic old bridges are fast disappearing. Of the number mentioned, only a few are still in use.
The small covered bridge that was formerly over the mouth of lower Beech Hill brook below Shavertown was bought by Carl Campbell for $1,000 from the Scutt Construction Co., which was grubbing the dam area. He had it moved to his estate in the Town of Rockland in 1954. The bridge was originally built in 1865 by Anson Jenkins and Augustus Neidig of Union Grove, who also built several bridges north of Shavertown. Ten feet was lopped off the forty foot structure because it had rotted. A new cedar shingled roof was put on by its owner. The old bridge is one put together with the wooden pegs.
Of special interest among covered bridges is the one at Blenheim over the Schoharie Creek in Schoharie County. It is a 231 foot span, thirty feet wide and called a "double-barreled" bridge because of separate sections for each lane of traffic. There was a fifteen-foot lane for each direction of travel. It is the longest single span wooden covered bridge in the world. It was built by the Blenheim Bridge Company, Incorporated, 1868. This bridge is not in use now but is left standing near a new bridge because of its historical interest. The hand hewn timbers are from the hills of Blenheim. The bridge is built entirely of native oak, each plank is joined and secured by oak pins with no nails having been used except to secure the shingles to the roof boards. In 1921 the old bridge was replaced for travel by one of modern steel.
Another covered bridge of interest is in Ulster County called Perrine's covered bridge. A 138-foot structure, it has spanned the Wallkill River three miles north of Rifton, N. Y. on Route 32 for 103 years. A paper of 1953 states that it is to be repaired and maintained as a historic structure, a monument to horse-and-buggy days. The Perrine's Bridge is the most beautiful of its kind known of in the county. The structure is supported by massive fourteen by seven-inch chestnut wood arches - two of them to a side-- anchored in stone and masonry abutments, the sidewalls and flooring are mostly of oak, and the roof is shingled with cypress. The bridge was closed in 1947 to all but pedestrian travel.