Author Archives: A. J. Schenkman

A. J. Schenkman

About A. J. Schenkman

A.J. Schenkman teaches history in the Lower Hudson Valley and writes about the history of Ulster and Orange counties. He is the town of Gardiner Historian and Consulting Historian for Historic Huguenot Street. He is the author of several books. A.J. is a frequent contributor to Orange and Ulster Magazines.

Newburgh’s Tower of Victory Needs Restoration


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Tower of Victory 1906-Library of CongressJonathan Hasbrouck III will forever be known as the Hasbrouck who lost the “Old-Headquarters” home (Washington’s Headquarters in 1782-1783) in Newburgh by foreclosure. The State of New York took control of the home and in 1850 made it the first publicly owned historic site in the nation.

Jonathan Hasbrouck III hoped to save it the home from foreclosure, and even proposed a monument on the grounds over four decades before the current Tower of Victory was erected. Today, that tower is in desperate need of restoration. Continue reading

Moses Terwilliger: Criminally Insane In Ulster Co


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Auburn-State-Prison-NYSAThe Terwilliger farm was located near Bruynswick in the town of Shawangunk in Ulster County. It was there that Sarah Terwilliger age 87, widow of J.L. Terwilliger, lived with her son Moses, age 57. According to neighbors, the two argued frequently, and her son made threats that he intended to kill his mother. One thing was for sure, Sarah was not going to see her 88th birthday. Continue reading

Historic Treasures: Ulster County’s Locust Lawn


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Locust-Lawn HABS/HAER Library of CongressGardiner, New York, located in south-central Ulster County has some real historical gems within its borders. One of those gems is Locust Lawn which is situated on what used to be known as the Newburgh-New Paltz Road (now Route 32).

This frequently overlooked Federal style mansion, constructed by Josiah Hasbrouck, is a must-see, not only the magnificent federal-style mansion, but also the property’s scenic beauty. There is also the Evert Terwilliger house, perched on the banks of the Plattekill Creek which cuts through the property. Built in the 1730s, it’s an example of an early stone house, and is also connected to the history of the mansion. Continue reading

Classroom Resources: Hudson River Valley Heritage


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Hudson River Valley HeritageAs the school year approaches, history teachers are looking for new classroom resources, especially primary sources for inquiry based lessons.

Many teachers want to make that local connection with their students who are sometimes unaware of the importance their area might have played in larger American History. There are a plethora of local sites and museums that are terrific jumping-off points for dynamic lessons, but I’d like to focus attention on a very useful site for educators, Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH). Continue reading

Washington’s Headquarters:
The Death of Jonathan Hasbrouck


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George Washington-Library of CongressThere are many stories circulating about Newburgh’s Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck (better known today as Washington’s Headquarters). Some are believed true, such as Tryntje Hasbrouck sitting in “sullen silence” when told that her home was chosen as Washington’s Headquarters, and some are simply made-up. One such story involves Washington’s stay at the house from 1782-1783.

General Washington loved horses. In fact he loved to go for rides on his favorite mount whenever possible. The story told to me, after a lecture, involved General Washington, Col. Hasbrouck and Hasbrouck’s sons. They would sometimes go horseback riding together. A favorite stop was the vast Hasbrouck family orchards. Washington, the story goes, loved peaches. Hasbrouck, his sons, and Washington spent hours picking peaches. When enough peaches were picked the Hasbroucks and Washington delighted in feasting on them. This story is obviously false for one simple reason; Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck had died in 1780. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Borden Family of Wallkill


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John G. Borden House-Clay County ArchivesI have worked across from the old Borden Estate for over 10 years. Only recently have I started to gain a real appreciation of the role of the Borden Family not only in the history of Wallkill, NY, but also the education of its children.

The Borden Family used their fortune to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. Nowhere is this made more evident than with Penelope Borden. Her many accomplishments are often overshadowed by her sister Marion as well as her father John G. Borden. Continue reading

General Washington in 1782:
Traveling the Rondout Valley, Visiting Kingston


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220px-GeorgeWashingtonByRobertFieldIn early spring 1782, General George Washington arrived at the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh, New York for his longest stay – 16-1/2 months. Washington’s time at the Hasbrouck House was one of watchful waiting, followed by a cessation of hostilities, and finally an end to the war.

From the Hasbrouck House Washington made a short trip through the scenic Roundout Valley, stopping at Stone Ridge (or Stoney Ridge), on his way to Kingston, which the British had burned in  1777. En route to his destination, Washington stopped to dine and sleep at the home of Major Cornelius Evert Wynkoop. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Life of Sarah (Hasbrouck) Osterhoudt


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The Osterhoudt houseIf Sarah (Hasbrouck) Osterhoudt was transported from the 18th century to her home today, she would recognize her actual stone dwelling and little else. Once the nucleus of a large and prosperous farm which remained in the Osterhoudt family for centuries, today the home sits on less than an acre and is crowded later development.

The Osterhoudt house, located on a dead-end street in Lake Katrine, NY, is one of the oldest in Ulster County. It’s about five miles from the Stockade District of Kingston where Sarah’s eldest brother Abraham Hasbrouck lived. A considerable amount of information is known about the home Osterhoudt, but little is known about the lives of the occupants themselves, most notably Sarah. Continue reading

The Trials and Tribulations of Abraham Hasbrouck


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Rachel WeepingI’ve been researching the Hasbrouck Family for close to twenty years. During that time, I’ve spent most of my time exploring and writing about Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. His home, located in Newburgh, is famous for being the headquarters of General George Washington from 1782-1783 and today it’s a state historic site.

An often overlooked member of this family is Jonathan’s oldest brother, Abraham. During his long life, Abraham kept a diary and because of this journal, we know a lot about Jonathan and his family, as well as the events (and even notable weather) of his time. Continue reading

Everyone Knows Elsie:
A Short History of the Borden Company


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WelcomeBackElsieWhen you enter the Hamlet of Wallkill, you are greeted by the happy face of the Borden Company’s mascot, Elsie the Cow. The company’s website states that this mascot dates to the 1930s.

Underneath Elsie is a sign stating that the Hamlet of Wallkill was the location the “Home Farm” of John G. Borden. Thus, many commonly believe that Borden Condensed Milk was in fact invented in the Hamlet of Wallkill; however, its origins can be traced to Burrville, Connecticut and Gail Borden, Jr. Actually, the business was not originally called Borden at all – that title would come later. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: The Hardenbergh House


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Both photos appear courtesy of HABS/HAER-LOCMy previous post about Weigand’s Tavern was written about an historic structure, one of the oldest in Newburgh, which was in peril. Sadly, it is but one instance of many; there are too many cases in other parts of Ulster and Orange counties.

Another example is the Johannes G. Hardenbergh house, which was introduced to me by a fellow firefighter who explored its remains as a young child. This post will be about what happens when a local community does not, or can not, move fast enough to save a piece of history in time. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: Newburgh’s Weigand Tavern


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Weigand's_Tavern-AuthorOne of the saddest stories I have ever tracked in the newspapers is the Martin Weigand Tavern in the City of Newburgh. It is the story of a property allowed to deteriorate to a point where today it is almost beyond repair.

Located on Liberty Street, it is a relic of the American Revolution where many Revolutionary notables spent time. The tavern was also the center of political life in early Newburgh. It stands today at the Northwest corner of the Old Town Cemetery as it has for over two centuries. Continue reading

Ulster County Philanthropist: Marion Borden


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Borden_Condensed_Milk_1898There is a mansion on a large bluff overlooking the Wallkill River Valley. It stands watch over what was once the Borden Farm, center of the Borden Condensed Milk empire. Sweeping views are forever tied to the mansion; from the Hamlet of Wallkill and farm fields, to the Lyon’s Dam on the Wallkill River and the Shawangunk Mountains. It was here that the daughter of John G. Borden, son of the founder of condensed milk, decided to make her home starting in 1900. Continue reading

Coldengham: The Colden Family Seat in Orange County


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Colden_Mansion_Ruins-Daniel CaseJust about any morning, cars as well as trucks race back and forth through the intersection of Stone Castle Road and Route 17K in the Town of Montgomery. Many of these commuters, shoppers, or moms driving their children to school are oblivious to the ruins that stand right off to the side, in a wood lot, of the rather busy part of this Orange County road.

Only while stopping along the road, some years ago, I happened upon the remains of what seemed to have once been a beautiful mansion. A blue New York State Education Department sign alerts people that this skeleton, almost lost in the woods, was the site of “the Colden Mansion built of stone in 1767 by Cadwallader Colden, Jr.” How many families, like the Coldens, can boast about having Royal Surveyors, Lieutenant Governors, Acting Governors of New York, noted scientists, and even one of the first female botanists in the Americas among them? Continue reading

Place-Based Education and the New Windsor Cantonment


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New Windsor CantonmentRecently, I was appointed a THVIP with Teaching the Hudson Valley. The role of a THVIP is to “find new and better ways to help reach Hudson Valley children and young people with place-based education,” both in and out of the classroom.

I’ve been thinking about some of the great historical sites around Orange and Ulster counties. A personal favorite, and not just because I once worked there, is the New Windsor Cantonment. Continue reading

Orange County: St. George’s Cemetery in Newburgh


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When I lived in Boston, I discovered that cemeteries are truly historical treasures to be protected and maintained. While living there, I spent many hours at the Park Street Burying Ground admiring the unusual headstones and looking at the old names which appeared on them.

Usually I was not alone, as other people, many of them tourists, were doing the same. Early on, Bostonians learned a valuable lesson that these final resting places could also be a source of tourist revenue. Continue reading

Old Town Cemetery: Preserving A Newburgh Treasure


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The Old Town Cemetery is situated between Grand, Liberty, and South Streets, where it has sat for over two hundred years. It has borne witness to an ever-changing Newburgh, from a sleepy village to a bustling city. Many people are unaware of this gem in the heart of Newburgh and how close they came to losing it forever, but thanks to concerned citizens in Newburgh, its future is looking brighter. Continue reading

Ulster County Desperado: Big Bad Bill Monroe


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Americans are captivated with outlaws. Our history is filled with those colorful characters who bent the law to fit their own ends, from Jesse James to Al Capone.

Newspapers fed this fascination by following every move of many of these individuals. They were given curious names such as “The Kid,” “Gyp the Blood,” or in the case of Capone, “Scarface.” Many people do not know that a small hamlet in Ulster County had its own outlaw, known as “Big Bad” Bill Monroe. He was also identified as the “Gardiner Desperado.” Continue reading

AJ Schenkman: The Hasbrouck Ledger


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One of the problems in researching the life of Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck is that there are so few primary sources written by him left to us. We are fortunate that at least one of the treasures that give us a peek into his life, one of his account ledgers, has been preserved. It is a rich source for a researcher of not only Hasbrouck, but of others from his time period as well. Continue reading