In 1870, the New York Herald proclaimed that Ulster County was New York’s “Ulcer County” due to its lawlessness and crime. The columnist supported his claim by citing that in only six months, “it has been the scene of no less than four cold blooded and brutal murders, six suicides and four elopements.”
Hannah Markle—the bane of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union—ran a Kingston saloon where murder and violence were served alongside the whiskey. John Babbitt confessed on his deathbed to murdering Emma Brooks, and Wille Brown—reputed member of the Eastman Gang—accidentally shot his best friend. The infamous Big Bad Bill, the “Gardiner Desperado,” lashed out more than once and killed in a drunken rage. Continue reading
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Second Esopus War, which was fought primarily between the Munsee Esopus and the New Netherland colonists in 1663. The image of an “Indian” war most often conjures up scenes of the American West, yet this conflict took place right in the proverbial backyard of the Hudson Valley.
The Esopus Wars were centered around the settlement of Wiltwijck, a place we know today as Kingston. The conflict completely changed the power dynamic of the region, from one dominated by American Indians to European colonists. While from another angle, a look at the war’s participants offers a view of the diverse population that composed Dutch New York. Continue reading
When the Borden family arrived in the nineteenth century, educational opportunities in Ulster County were limited; classes rarely extended beyond the eighth grade. This changed when the philanthropic Bordens established their Borden Condensed Milk Company and gave Wallkill the means to construct one of the area’s first high schools.
That history is presented in detail in A History of the Wallkill Central Schools (2013, History Press) by A.J Schenkman and Elizabeth Werlau. Continue reading
The unveiling of the Sojourner Truth statue in the town of Esopus, NY where the abolitionist preacher was held a slave as a child, was a remarkable experience. I’ve lived in the Hudson Valley County of Ulster all my life and have never witnessed the “owning” of the shameful past of slavery before. Truth’s statue in the Esopus hamlet of Port Ewen represents the only statue in the world of a child slave at work, according to Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon. Continue reading
A newly minted bronze statue of celebrated abolitionist and human rights advocate Sojourner Truth as a child slave at work will be installed in Port Ewen, in the Town of Esopus, Ulster County on September 21. The statue and an interpretive sign will be installed on a plaza on the corner of 9W and Salem Street.
Sojourner Truth was born in into slavery in Swartekill, just north of present-day Rifton in Esopus. Her parents had been enslaved in Africa and purchased by Col. Johannes Hardenbergh. She was born as Isabella Baumfree in about 1797, and lived the first 30 years of her life in Ulster County, taking the name Sojourner Truth in the 1840s. She is best known today for her speech “Ain’t I A Woman?’, which she delivered off-hand at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. She died in Michigan in 1883. Continue reading
My 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
Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston is offering special activities for children ages 8-12. It will give children an opportunity to learn about life in 18th century Kingston. This three-day program runs from August 6-8, 10am-3pm.
Activities include hearthside cooking, churning butter, making wampum and cornhusk dolls, 18thc.games, and more. The fee is $75 per child and registration is required. Please call the site at (845) 338-2786 to register. Hurry , the program is limited to 20 participants. Continue reading
There 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
Recently, 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
On 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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