Author Archives: MJ Hanley-Goff

MJ Hanley-Goff

About MJ Hanley-Goff

MJ Hanley-Goff is Assistant to the Orange County Historian and has been a freelance writer for over twenty years. Her work has appeared in Newsday, the Times Herald-Record, and local Hudson Valley publications. She is the author of two books, offers writing workshops, and is a regular contributor to

Ulysses S. Grant in New York: Civil War General, President

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view from grants cottageThe cottage rests on a quiet and forested hilltop just outside of Saratoga Springs. Visitors need to pass through the barren entrance to a one-time correctional facility, an intimidating experience to say the least. Once through the abandoned guard station, and up the winding rough road, the ground levels out with the neat building on the left.

To the right, a trail to the stunning view of the Adirondacks to the north, the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east, and the Catskills to the south. On a blistering, hot day in July 1885, General and President Ulysses S. Grant was brought by wheelchair to this very spot, cancer was eating away his throat, and he had just completed a 300,000-plus word memoir, and knew death was near. Continue reading

New Yorkers At The Hindenburg Line in 1918

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107th Infantry Regiment

Walter Allison, a graduate of Newburgh Free Academy probably did not know what hit him when wounded in the stomach on September 29, 1918. He lay in a shallow shell hole, bleeding, not far from where his commander lay mortally wounded. Two lieutenants urged the men of E Company of the 107th Infantry Regiment on, but they too were cut down, as bullets ripped through the air, shells exploded all about them wiping out an entire squad and Allison’s classmate Everett Baker. Smoke and chemical gas drifted through the air as the few remaining sergeants, corporals and privates carried on the fight, and the brutal battle to break the Hindenburg Line continued. Continue reading

A Visit to the Pergamena Tannery in Orange County

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Pergamena Tannery A walk around the Pergamena warehouse in Montgomery, NY in Orange County, is a step back in time. Rows upon rows of animal skins, of all kinds, are carefully laid on shelves, in piles and are in various stages of processing.

Some will turn into leather, some into parchment, some will become covers for drums and books, some will be made into shoes, handbags, dog collars, and the list goes on.

Pergamena – Italian for “parchment” – is a tanning business, and Jesse Meyer, co-owner with dad Karl and brother, Stephen, is providing this tour in a cold warehouse off of Montgomery’s Route 211. Continue reading

A Visit To Orange County’s Gomez Mill House

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gomez houseIf the walls of the Gomez Mill House could talk, what a story it could tell.

Despite the hard stone construction of the building, the sentiment is gentle: “If you have a warm heart, you are welcome.”

The alert observer will see hearts in the designs around the home and grounds, and in the artwork. It’s a place that has been witness to over 300 years of history: not only of Orange County, but of the United States. It has seen days as a business operation, sending construction materials to New York City; it has overheard secret intelligence meetings during the Revolutionary War; it has also been a working farm growing fruit and breeding purebred animals. Built by Jewish businessman Luis Moses Gomez, it’s also the oldest known Jewish dwelling in the United States. Continue reading