Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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Nathan DuMond (my great grandfather) and his ancestors were from Delaware County, and I've no doubt there are relatives I don't know of throughout the area. The stories, that follow however, took place in Tarrytown, NY. --Ginny Garrison, November 18, 2000

True Tales of Nathan Hilton DuMond by Waldron DuMond

Nathan Hilton DuMond, the subject of these stories, was the great-great-grandson of both Peter and Harmonus Dumond, original settlers of the Margaretville, NY area. He was born and raised in Delaware County, and was the principal of the Tarrytown, NY high school from 1876-1899. Waldron DuMond, the author of these stories, was the son of Nathan Hilton DuMond and Lucy Pamela Powell. He was born November 7, 1887 in North Tarrytown, NY. He lived most of his adult life in theDry Brook Valley, Seager, NY, and wrote a column for the Catskill Mountain News under the pen name, "The Dry Brook Sage." The step-brother Louis referred to below is Louis Victor DuMond, son of Nathan Hilton DuMond and Mary Jane Hewitt, who is buried in Delaware County in Archibald Cemetery. The three children described sitting at the table are Waldron DuMond and his siblings, Edith Hilton DuMond Rohdenburg and Cornelius Chester DuMond, a former NY State Commissioner of Agriculture from New Kingston.

It would be interesting if I were able to tell first hand of the great blizzard of March 1888. Since I was but five months old at the time, my personal recollection is nil. Father often told to us children stories of the great Blizzard - how tunnels were cut thru the drifts and how some people were injured by the cave in of these tunnel roofs, when the rapid thaw came soon after the snow ceased. Father at that time was a sufferer from boils - numerous and so painful that it was only with great difficulty that he was able to go to his teaching at the public school. But go he would - in spite of all Mother could do to dissuade him. Unable to walk from home to the school house, he could see no reason why he should not be drawn on a hand sleigh by my half brother Louis, who was a student in the advanced grades. Those were the days when the principal of the school must assume the dignity - and the clothes attendant on the position. Father always wore a cutaway coat, striped trousers, derby hat, and walked with a gold headed ebony cane. Much to the mortification of his son Louis - he insisted on being drawn on the hand sleigh each morning to school. Nor could the cutaway or the cane be laid aside for the trip. Father was a man who disparaged "false pride" as he called it, and could see nothing ludicrous in his morning ride down Beekman Avenue attired as always in cutaway, derby and cane, and drawn by his son whose mortification increased proportionately with the nearer approach to the school play ground where his comrades were awaiting the approach of the morning tableau. But no remarks were made by any. Father was held in awe always - not perhaps because of his position, but because of the discipline which he enforced by virtue of the lack at that time of any law against corporal punishment. Woe betide the boy or even the girl who might remark or laugh at the spectacle - and well they knew it.

Father was born on Feb. 12, 1834 at New Kingston, New York of French Hugenot and Holland Dutch ancestry. He possessed the native stolidity of the Dutch along with the light humor and the vivaciousness of the French. This seeming paradox may be explained. Never did the characteristics of the two races show themselves at the same time in Father's behavior. In the class room, the serious business of education advanced with stern regimentation. Only on rare occasion would a joke or a frivolous remark be tolerated. And on still rarer occasions would Father himself unbend enough to indulge in anything akin to frivolity. At home and out of the school room light repartee and on occasion practical joke would be tolerated. Father would laugh heartily at a joke or a good story, but his own humor was dryness masked in dignity.

He was responsible for the introduction of the State Regents Examinations in his school, at that time the only school for miles around conducting these examinations. Students would come from other towns and from the outlying districts to take these standard examinations. Father would stand before the students on examination day and with great dignity - advise them on procedure, method and general conduct of the examination. He would end his talk by saying, "Answer every question, even if you know practically nothing about it. You may get part credit for what you know - but a blank sheet of paper will produce only a zero." This admonition led one girl to a desperate effort. She had traveled miles to take the examination in English Grammar. She was not only nervous - she was almost rigid with apprehension lest she not do well. The examination, a printed one, was distributed. Work began, and after the allotted time papers were handed in. Father corrected papers at home in the evening. We 3 children would sit around the dining room table with our "home work," and Father would do his preparations and examination corrections sitting at the head of the table. A "round burner" oil lamp graced the center of the table. As he corrected the English Grammar examination given that day, he suddenly burst into gales of laughter - uncontrolled and most unusual for him. "This children is too good for me to keep to myself. Confidential as these papers are you must hear this. This poor frightened girl made an effort to write something on every question as I advised the class. Her printed sheet was blurred. The question was, 'Give the principal parts of the verb 'eat.' But the printer blurred the word 'eat' so that it was read 'cat' by this girl. So my dears her answer instead of being 'eat - ate - eating - eaten,' reads 'kit - cat - kitten - tomcat.'" Again Father laughed uproariously and we joined with him. Fortunately the girl passed the exam - without benefit of the tomcat and his kin.

Our home was located on the edge of North Tarrytown and there was a short cut from town to our house by crossing a large vacant and overgrown lot. In time, a well developed path was made, but the brambles and bushes on each side grew rank and thick and at times, rabbits and also skunks were seen. Mother was, of course, desperately afraid she would meet with a skunk in her travels over this path. She sang in the church choir and was regular in attendance in all the social activities centered in the church. On occasion there would be evening meetings requiring her presence. Father, unknown to any of the family, bought a small toy skunk which was an excellent imitation. Slipping unobserved from the house one evening after supper he placed the toy animal along the path to the village. Mother and he were scheduled to attend a concert that evening, and for the occasion, as on all evening occasions, Father laid aside his usual derby hat and wore a high silk hat, while Mother was attired in her best for the occasion. They took the path across the lot, Mother holding Father's arm. Of a sudden, Mother screamed, "Nate - the skunk!" With all the chivalry of which he was capable he said, "I will defend you, Lucy - allow me!" Where after he used his gold headed cane to belabor what he thought was the toy animal. Yes - you have guessed it - that animal was very much alive and the consequences were disastrous. Father was good enough a sport to tell of the encounter on suitable occasions, much to the secret satisfaction of Mother. Father's high hat was never worn again.

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