Tag Archives: Ulster County

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

Peter Feinman: A Fork In The Path Through History


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PathThroughHistoryOn January 25, I attended the Mid-Hudson regional meeting of the Path through History project. What follows is my report on the meeting which may, or may not, be the experience and take-away of others who attended (or what is happening in other regions). The Mid-Hudson Valley region includes the Hudson River counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland, along with Sullivan County in the Catskills. Continue reading

Request for Pictures of Ulster County Veterans


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Friends of Senate House are seeking pictures of Ulster County’s veterans and active duty military to use in their holiday decorations at the Loughran House located on the grounds of the Senate House Historic Site.

The front room of the Victorian Italianate-style home will be decorated in a military theme, and the volunteers will decorate the tree (the largest one in the house), with the pictures they receive. Volunteers will copy and mount the pictures as ornaments which will list the name of the service member, their military branch and dates of service. 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

Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes


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Situated in the scenic Hudson Valley, Ulster County is a lovely location to make a home and raise a family, but it wasn’t always so pleasant. Unsavory characters and immoral events have sullied its name.

In the 1870s, the Shawangunk Mountains inspired fear rather than awe, as groups like the Lyman Freer and Shawangunk gangs robbed and terrorized locals, descending from the protection of the wooded peaks. Kingston was torched, arson blazed in Kerhonkson and even the Mohonk Mountain House was threatened by flames. In 1909, the Ashokan Slasher’s bloody crimes and sensational trial captured headlines across the country. A.J. Schenkman’s Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes, Gangs and More features these and other salacious stories buried in Ulster County’s history. 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

18th Century Autumn Festival at Senate house


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Celebrate the bounty of autumn at the 18th Century Autumn Festival at Senate House State Historic Site on Saturday October 6, 2012. From 11am-3pm visitors will have a chance to see demonstrations of activities that were traditionally done in the autumn during the 18th century including meat smoking, apple cider pressing, making apple butter and blacksmithing.

Hands on activities including making cornhusk dolls and action figures, dipping candles and making dried apple wreaths are also available and are fun for all ages. The 1st Ulster Militia will be encamped on the grounds demonstrating 18th century military camp life. Period music will be provided by “Marilee and Kate”.

Guided tours of Senate House will be provided by costumed interpreters at regular admission rates of $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and free for children 12 and under, and members of the Friends of Senate House. All outside events are free. Everyone is invited to attend. Senate House State Historic Site is located on Fair St. in historic uptown Kingston, NY.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events please call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.

Hurley Burley: Ulster Co Town Celebrates 350 Years


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DuMond House, Hurley, 1690

The town of Hurley — or what’s left of it after the Ashokan Reservoir sent much of the sprawling township to a watery grave — celebrated its 350th anniversary on September 15th. Jazz, roasted corn, artichokes marinated in white wine with chunk style garlic, and merry shouts of the kids popping balloons and reenactors popping muskets filled the air with smells and sounds of festivity. Continue reading

Dutch Influence on the American Kitchen Lecture


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Senate House State Historic Site will host noted author and food historian Peter G. Rose on Saturday September 22, 2012 at 1pm. She will be giving a talk “The Influence of the Dutch on the American Kitchen.” The program is free and open to the public.

Peter Rose lectures on historic Dutch foodways throughout the country. She illustrates her talks with paintings of the Dutch Masters and has spoken at many museums with holdings of such Dutch art all over the country, including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard’s Fogg Museum and The National Gallery.

Rose has worked as a food writer and contributed a syndicated column on family food and cooking to the New York – based Gannett newspapers for over 20 years. She has written articles for magazines including Gourmet, Hudson Valley Magazine and The Valley Table. In 2002 she received the Alice P. Kenney Award for her research and writing on Dutch food history.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events please call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.

Touring Old Mine Road: The Esopus-Minisink Trail


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The other day, driving home from Kingston, I could not help but notice the sea of New York State Education Department signs (NYSED) that lined the roadside. The blue and yellow plaques are designed to alert those passing by of significant historic events that had occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the signs. These signs made me think about when I lived in Boston and followed that city’s Freedom Trail. Continue reading

Bridges And New York History


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New York State has approximately 17,000 highway bridges. They are essential for traveling around our state and connecting our communities. About 37% are “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient,” according to DOT, a reminder of the need for continuing investment to maintain valuable resources.

Bridges – old and new – are part of community and state history. The story of three historically significant bridges shows various connections to history. Continue reading

John Lennon’s Travels in Ulster County, New York


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The Depuy Canal House has sat in High Falls since the 1790s when it was constructed by Simeon Depuy, “one of the most prominent citizens of High Falls, New York.” It opened, according to the Depuy Canal House’s website, as the Stone House Tavern. The tavern entered its heyday when work commenced on the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) canal to link the coal fields of Pennsylvania to the Hudson River in Kingston. This tavern sat on Lock 16, convenient to the canal men until the canal closed in 1899. Continue reading

Senate House Independence Day Celebration Saturday


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Senate House is one if New York’s outstanding historic sites. The former home of Abraham Van Gaasbeek was the first meeting place of the New York State Senate in 1777. It was burned by the British, along with the rest of Kingston, in October 1777. In addition to the Senate House, the site consists of a Colonial Revival art museum with the world’s largest collection of art by Kingston native John Vanderlyn, and other objects donated to the site over many years.

Senate House State Historic Site is celebrating Independence Day on Saturday June 30 from 11am-3pm. The day begins with a Patriotic Service at 11am which will include patriotic readings and music, followed by an afternoon of music provided by the Headless Horsemen Fife and Drum Corps, 18th century magic performed by “Mr. Bayly” and 18th century games for kids to play.

Additionally, the Third Ulster Militia will be encamped on the grounds demonstrating 18th century camp life, including hearthside cooking, washing laundry and demonstrating the practice of medicine in the colonial era.

Guided tours of Senate House will be provided by costumed interpreters. Outdoor events are free of charge. Tours of Senate House are $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, children 12 and under are free. The site is located on Fair St. in historic uptown Kingston. For more information please call the site at (845) 338-2786.

Historic Farm Tour Focusing on New Paltz Area


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CIRCA, a tour of historic farmhouses this Sunday, June 10th, aims to highlight the rich and varied architecture that remains from the late 18th and 19th centuries, when the New Paltz area was part of the Nation’s breadbasket.  

CIRCA will feature six local homes, all of which have strong ties to this pivotal period in America’s history. Also included on the tour is an 18th century Dutch-style barn, today home to Adair Vineyards, and an artist’s studio created from a unique early 19th century stone barn.


It was the bounty of the Hudson Valley and the industrious nature of our 18th and 19th century farmers that helped feed our young country – especially burgeoning cities such as New York.

Farming in this era involved individuals of all social strata, from the wealthiest of gentleman farmers, to the hardworking tenant farmers who made it possible for the prosperous to extract wealth from the huge tracts of land they controlled.

Among the homes included on the tour is early 19th century home of Thaddeus Hait. Hait, from a well-to-do Westchester County family of the time, moved to the then newly-formed town of Plattekill. By 1828, he had accrued 153 acres, some of which is still farmed today. His home is an interesting example of how the refined Neoclassical style was interpreted in a decidedly rural setting. The result is an otherwise modest home that endures as an example of the optimism and aspiration of its builder. Outside, the home features an unusual second floor “Juliet” balcony. Inside, high style mixes with exposed stone walls and brick floors. The current owners have lovingly preserved the home and the surrounding outbuildings.

Two short miles away, as Hait staked his claim, Josiah Hasbrouck and his wife Hylah Bevier lived in a striking Federal-style showpiece they completed in 1814. This home, known today as Locust Lawn, was at the heart of a massive 1,000 acre gentleman’s farm. Josiah and Hylah, who each were descended from the earliest Huguenot settlers of the area, presided over a home truly remarkable for its time. Lived in by three generations of their family, the home was shuttered in the 1880′s – in effect turning it into a time capsule of one family’s unique history. A preserved museum home today, the home has been closed to the public for the past two years and is normally open only by appointment.

On the other end of the spectrum is a humble home owned by DuBois Hasbrouck and dating to the late 18th century. This home, built for tenant farmers, represents the lives of the families who toiled to get a toehold on the American dream. This simple one-and-a-half story home, expanded over time, still sits along a gentle stream with views of the fields all around.

Capping off the tour will be a reception at the Maplestone Inn, a substantial stone house built by John L. Jenkins and Mary Catherine Broadhead in late 18th century. Innkeepers Sean and Patty Roche have generously agreed to open their renovated streamside barn for the reception.

CIRCA will be held on Sunday, June 10th, from 11am to 5:30pm. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.casaulster.org or by calling (845) 339-7543. Day of tickets are $30 each. The event is presented by Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), which works to ensure that foster care is temporary and that all children can grow up in safe, loving and permanent homes. CASA was founded in Ulster County in 1987 and is one of over 950 CASA programs across the country. More information about CASA can be found at www.casaulster.org.

AJ Schenkman: Ulster County Jail Breaks


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The court house in Kingston is one of the many historic buildings in an area commonly referred to as the Stockade District or Uptown Kingston. This court house has stood at the present location in some form for centuries. It is not only linked to the founding of New York State in 1777, but also to Sojourner Truth. It was in this court house that she successfully sued for the return of her son Peter. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Many Lives of Selah Tuthill’s Gristmill


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In 1788, the same year as France was moving closer towards revolution and the United States Constitution was being ratified, a young man made his way to the area that would one day bear his name. His name was Selah Tuthill. He founded what would become known as the Tuthilltown Gristmill in Gardiner, New York. Once the mill started churning out stone ground flour, it would do so continuously for over two hundred years until its second life as a restaurant and distillery. Continue reading

Ulster County Architecture Focus of May 14th Event


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Monday, May 14th the Gardiner Historical Society will host their annual meeting with the Historical Society of Shawangunk and Gardiner at 7 pm at the Gardiner Town Hall. The event is open to the public and is free of charge, refreshments will be served.

Author William B. Rhoads will share his book Ulster County, New York, The Architectural History & Guide, A Historical guide to 325 sites in all 20 Ulster County townships and the city of Kingston. The sites explored in the book show the variety and changing architectural styles that have appeared over nearly 300 years in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains, from 17th century Dutch limestone houses of the colonial era, through the Federal and Victorian periods, up to the Modernist architecture of the mid-1950’s.


The architecture reflects the history, tracing the evolution of one of the first regions in today’s New York State to be settled by Europeans. Dutch and French Huguenot villages and homesteads of the 1600s form the core of today’s Kingston, New Paltz, and Hurley, surrounded by the structures built by their descendants and later immigrants – the English, Irish, Italians and scores of other ethnic and national groups – as Ulster county rose from the American Revolution and became an important commercial center, with bustling ports on the Hudson River, the booming 19th century “Empire State’s” first superhighway. Everywhere one looks in Ulster County there are vestiges of the past – abandoned cement mines, locks of the old D&H Canal, idle railroad depots, the ghostly shell of a grand old hotel that never opened to the public. And there is the “living history” as well, the structures built by previous generations that are still vital today, like the Mohonk Mountain House and the hundreds of other historic buildings representing nearly every American architectural style from 1660 to 1950 that remain private homes, libraries, schools, houses of worship or have been converted into museums.

William B. Rhoads is a professor emeritus of art history at SUNY New Paltz, where he taught from 1970 to 2005. His publications include studies of Colonial Revival architecture and Franklin Roosevelt’s sponsorship of architecture and art. Rhoads’s Kingston, New York: The Architectural History & Guide was published by Black Dome Press in 2003.

Ulster County: Lake Minnewaska State Park


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Minnewaska State Park Preserve has become a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. It is crisscrossed with acres of pristine views, carriage trails, and hiking trails. Many people visiting there do not realize that it once was the site of two spectacular mountain houses that sat perched on the cliffs overlooking Lake Minnewaska. They were named Wildmere and Cliff House. Continue reading

Saunderskill: One of the Oldest Farms in America


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Those readers who follow my writing realize quickly that I have a special affinity for the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh more commonly known as Washington’s Headquarters, State Historic Site. Many of those visiting the site do not realize that a part of that site’s history can be traced back to Western Ulster County, New York where Jonathan Hasbrouck’s mother Elsie Schoonmaker was born and raised. Continue reading