DuBois Street Houses

Included is the Sanborn map, dated 1924, showing the DuBois Street area. I've included the names of the residents who lived there in 1915. The structures were the same ten years later (in fact, they are still pretty much the same almost one hundred years later) except for the Whedon house which did not exist then. The lot that the Whedon house was on was part of Dr. Bourke's lot in 1915.


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Dr. William Davis House
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What brought Dr. J. William Davis back to Livingston Manor to set up his practice in 1910 was the death of another Manor physician, Dr. Richard A. DeKay.

Dr. DeKay came to the Manor as a young physician in 1889, sharing medical duties in the community with Dr. G.H. Lathrop and came to have a large practice. His residence, along with his office, was on DuBois Street, just a few houses up from the intersection with Main Street. On the evening of May 3rd, 1910, William O. Ensign, the editor of the local newspaper and who lived only a short distance away, paid a visit upon Dr. DeKay. When Ensign received no response to his calling, he entered the house and found the doctor laying on the couch of his office, all the appearances of a sudden death. His rather young age of 49 made the news of his demise a shock to the community.

Today, the house still stands on DuBois Street. Over the past years, various mysterious incidents have transpired at the house, causing wonderment both to the house's residents and neighbors as to their origins. To them it is called, rather jokingly, as "The Ghost House," though none of them know the true history of the structure. I myself have witnessed one such episode.

Dr. Richard DeKay House - "The Ghost House"

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For Dr. DeKay, his death was officially attributed to acute bronchitis, and occurred only a few days after his mother also experienced a sudden death. Perhaps the message that "The Ghost House" incidents are suggesting is that his death, and maybe his
mother's also, were not quite so innocent.

Dr. Richard DeKay located to Livingston Manor immediately after finishing his medical training in 1889 and within a year began his medical practice. Two years later he married Nellie LeRoy, a girl from Hurleyville. Like the wives of most of the prominent businessmen and prominent citizens of the community, Nellie became involved in local civic affairs, especially the Presbyterian Church where, because of her musical training and talent, became the organist for the church. This church has long prided itself on its musical talent among its parishioners, a tradition that continues to this day, with fund-raising recitals and entertainments being very popular in the community. Besides performing with the ladies chorus group and church choir, Nellie also performed piano solos and duets at many of these events.

Dr. Dekay's practice florished and in a day when doctor's house calls were the norm, Dr. DeKay would travel from Willowemoc to Lew Beach, from Dahlia to Shandelee, perhaps the largest territory travelled by any of the local visiting doctors. These home visits were often among those who could least afford medical care, and to those he often failed to put a price on his services.

Nellie, who was in charge of his bookkeeping, was well aware of his benevolence, and apparently did not share in his medical charity. Within two weeks of Dr. Dekay's death, hardly time for the body to cool off in his casket, Nellie advertised in the Livingston Manor Times the following notice;

"All persons indebted to the estate of the late Dr. R.A. DeKay will find an opportunity to pay at the office on the following dates; July 7th and 8th, 21st and 22nd, August 4th and 5th, 18th and 19th, and September 1st and 2nd. - Mrs. R.A. DeKay"

One can only imagine the willingness of the sickly to ante-up to the dead doctor, who would no longer serve them and was no longer in need of their payments.

As W.O. Ensign was returning home from his newspaper office during the evening of Tuesday, May 3, 1910, he came upon a commotion that was stirring on DuBois Street.

The previous weekend, the Dekay family, the Doctor, his wife Nellie and eleven year old son, Garrett, traveled by rail to Middletown and Port Jervis to visit her relatives. On Monday, Dr. DeKay left his family behind at Port Jervis and returned home on the evening train, retiring to his residence's office upon his arrival.

Matilda Sherwood, their neighbor, was used by the DeKays to assist them in the domestic chores about the house. Upon her arrival the next morning, she noticed that Dr. Dekay was in his office, with the door locked, and apparently resting on the office couch. Since she was instructed never to disturb the Doctor except in an emergency, she went about her daily chores for the rest of the day. Late in the day, she felt that the Doctor should be awakened, but her efforts to arouse him failed. Being alarmed, she went to the Davis house next door just when Ensign was walking by. Ensign, who happened to have a key to DeKay's office door, retrieved the key and returned to let himself and the neighbors into the office, only to find Dr. DeKay had slept his final sleep.

Dr. Richard DeKay was not the only physician in his family. His older brother, William H. DeKay had a medical practice in Parksville which was taken over by Richard. William then set up a highly successful practice at Hurleyville, eventually becoming the county coroner and was called to confirm the death of his younger brother. Though there was evidence of the Doctor overdosing on medicine (he was, at the time, under the weather with a cold), his brother signed the death certificate that acute bronchitis as being the cause of death.

The official cause of death had been documented, but it failed to cease the rumor mill. If it was an overdose of medicine, was it
accidental? Or were their other motives in the Doctor's action?


It was generally reported by the local newspaper that W.O. Ensign was the first to discover Dr. R.A. Dekay as the doctor reposed in death's slumber on his office couch. Though the reading public believed these initial reports, those closer to the event would eventually prove that rumor can be more reliable than the printed word.

William O. Ensign House

William Ogden Ensign was a neighbor to the DeKays, living three houses up the street. Ensign, whose family hailed from Hancock, came to the Manor in 1890 and, with his brother Frank, acquired the local newspaper from its publisher, Eli Starr. His brother would not remain long with the printing business, for a different calling was beckoning him to the Montana Rockies. William stayed and made the newspaper, which had a hand-press that could produce but thirty copies an hour and with a subscription of a little over 100, into one of the most read papers in the county. The front page of "The Ensign", as it was then called, was filled with news from all around the county, burying local tidbits and local correspondents columns to the inner pages. The countywide-news format proved successful; the subscription rate for The Ensign increased dramatically and by upgrading his equipment, his press could now turn out over 1000 copies per hour.

W.O. Ensign's interest in the newspaper business was overshadowed when letters sent back home from Frank informed William that he had supposedly struck gold. Beginning in 1905, W.O. Ensign made many journeys to the prospecting fields, leaving his newspaper, as well as his family, in charge of his wife, Jeanne Dodge Ensign, for periods of months during these excursions.

The Ensign and DeKay families moved to the Manor about the same year, either 1889 or 1890. William and Jennie Ensign had already a young family, with one infant daughter, Fannie, two years of age. The families became close friends, sharing in many social engagements. The young physician became the Ensign family doctor, delivering the Ensigns' next daughter, Martha, in 1893. DeKay delivered the Ensign's third daughter, Helen, in 1899 while his own wife, Nellie, was soon to give birth herself. Garrett DeKay was born only a few months later in 1900. This was the Dekays second attempt at starting a family, a daughter dying tragically, it is assumed, as a newborn in 1898.

After the Doctor died, Nellie and Garrett stayed at the DeKay residence on DuBois Street. With her talent and training in the
music field, Nellie taught music and gave piano lessons at the home. This successful endeavor produced two noteworthy students; Mildred Hull, daughter of bookkeeper C.B.N. Hull, the finest vocalist in the Manor during her era, who went to pursue an education in music but whose life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis, and Nellie's son, Garret.

Nellie was a charter member of the Livingston Manor chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, formed in 1903, and after her husbands death, became the district deputy of the Sullivan Delaware District. She devoted herself to this work, traveling throughout the district in this role.


Nellie DeKay and Jennie Ensign, DuBois Street neighbors, after Dr. Richard DeKay's untimely death, were now both in a similar situation; both left to themselves to raise their families. With her musical background, Nellie now taught music full time to both young and old alike, her class numbering up to twenty pupils. Her son, Garrett, was also musically gifted and Nellie pursued all options for him to expand that talent. During the summer of 1915, she and Garrett, who was now 15 years of age, removed to Asbury Park, New Jersey, so he could play with the summer orchestra there, an accomplishment for one so young. The next year, she advanced him beyond what she or the local school high school could offer and enrolled him in the New York Military Academy at Cornwall, New York.

Jennie's family circumstances were different, but resulted in a somewhat similar situation. Her husband seems to have tired of the newspaper business, being both editor and publisher, and by 1912 hired A.L. Sherman to take over as editor to the local paper. Freeing himself from the daily operation of the Livingston Manor Times, Ensign made himself scarce in the local community, apparently retreating to his brother's mines at Colorado, leaving Jennie and daughters Helen and Martha behind. Martha Ensign soon married Charles Benton, son of the Livingston Manor feed merchant E.L. Benton, and when they set up housekeeping, Jennie moved in with them, renting out the Ensign house to Harold Forbes, who eventually bought the newspaper from W.O.Ensign.

It was of little surprise to the Manor community when they read the following news item;

"By a decree of the Montana Courts, entered December 17, 1916, W.O. Ensign, former editor and publisher of the Livingston Manor Times, and Jennie D. Ensign were divorced. The cause for the divorce, as stated in the action, was desertion."

Throughout the winter and early spring of 1917, Nellie DeKay remained involved with her local musical obligations, still holding classes and playing piano for the choir and organ at the Presbyterian Church. In March, though, she abruptly resigned from all these endeavors. The community was shocked when the following article appeared;

"Announcements were received in Livingston Manor Thursday morning of the marriage of Mrs. Nellie L. DeKay and Mr. William Ogden Ensign, at Livingston Manor, on Saturday, May 12, 1917."


Hariett Davis House


Matilda Sherwood House

Matilda Sherwood was the adopted daughter of Charlotte Sherwood and the house was given to her by Charlotte's will when she died in 1905, much to the chagrin of Tillie's foster-brothers, Webster and Stephen Hanford Sherwood.

George F. Neuman House

Now without the income generated by her husband's medical practice, Nellie DeKay sold a portion of her spacious lot on DuBois Street to George F. Neumann in 1914, who built the attractive house next door and was moved in within a year.

The Neumann family hailed from Callicoon Center. The father, George Henry Neumann, had a background in hostelry, both at Callicoon Center and New York City, and plied the trade of butcher. In 1899, the family moved to Livingston Manor, with George H. operating a meat wagon before establishing a market out of the Bussey building at the corner of Main and River streets. He eventually became the proprietor of two of the Manor's hotel, The Arlington and later, The Hotel Main, the latter located in the center of the growing Manor community.

George F. Neumann further developed his father's property by adding an amusement hall in back and a building next door, which housed a restaurant, billiard room and bowling alley.

"Geo. F. Neumann is grading the lawn and laying stone steps and approach to his new home on DuBois Street. T. and J. Neild are doing the work."

April 29, 1915
Livingston Manor Times


Gilbert DuBois House

My interest in this house began when I was working at the house and noticed the name of "Gilbert DuBois" inscribed on the basement windows. Apparently they were ordered from the lumber yard for Mr. DuBois, either when the house was built or some later renovation on the structure during his lifetime.

Gilbert DuBois was a brother of Alvin Preston DuBois and one of the partners of the firm "A.P. DuBois & Company". Though he originally had charge of the books, he was involved in selling wagons and their apparatus and later managed the furniture division of the firm. C.B.N. Hull would eventually become the full time bookkeeper to the firm. When the firm dissolved around the early twenties, Gilbert began a furniture business which he operated for a short time before ill health came upon him.

The stress of the business must have been burdensome for both men, Hull and DuBois, for both were afflicted with nervous disorders, Gilbert finally having to be institutionalized at Middletown where he is thought to have committed suicide in 1926.

The Gilbert DuBois house was erected in the summer of 1888. If those basement windows were part of the original construction, that would put their age at 120 years. I would suspect that they are not original, though, as basement windows are often early beaten by the weather, but with Gilbert's name upon them, they would still need to be over 80 years old.


You are right that there is an inscription in the upstairs bedroom. It says "Papered by RJ Kay May 6, 06". It seems that the room has wall paper that was put up in 1906. When I bought the house I was told that there had been an cabinet on the wall that seemed to have been there forever. When it was taken down, the wall paper came off too and the inscription was revealed. When we repainted the wall, I left a frame of space, which includes the inscription and a part of the old wall-paper. I then covered it in sealant so it would remain visible and not decay.

I also discovered a bullet molding that had been removed during the renovation that was started just before I bought the house. It has the name of the architect, in Ellenville and the date of construction for Gilbert Dubois. I have not seen the window frames in the basement but will take a look at them soon.


The inscription found behind the peeling wall-paper on the walls of the Gilbert DuBois house, which reads "Papered R.J. Kay 1906", is probably the signature of Robert Kay, well-known paper-hanger and painting craftsman during his day. The Kay family formed a partnership known as "C.A. Kay & Company" and began a mercantile business in 1890 located at the center of town, their store known as "The Center of Town Store", which would later become the feed store of Johnston & Fitzgerald. The relationship of Charles Kay and Robert Kay, whether as father and son, or as brothers, is not known.

With the demise of the foundry business at Livingston Manor, which was located at Jacktown, because of the untimely death of its proprietor, Lafayette Gilbert, in 1895 and the building's fiery destruction in 1897, Robert Kay began the erection of a new foundry in the early spring of 1898, probably at Rock Avenue, which was completed that June. This is also the same year that Thomas Dawson began the construction of his foundry building, across the street from Alonzo Ostrom's blacksmith shop on Main Street, which was not completed until later that fall. The Dawson endeavor would prove to be the more succussful of the two businesses.

"The "Center of Town Store" is being treated to a coat of paint. Charlie and Robert Kay are the artists."
August 17, 1899
Roscoe-Rockland Review


Not all of the historical "paperwork" that Ilene mentions concerning the DuBois house is of the 8 x 11 variety. Besides the "Gilbert
DuBois" inscription on the basement windows, there is a notation on the wall in a bedroom on the second floor, the area apparently never to have been painted over by any of the inhabitants and is covered with a picture. The name, which escapes me for I didn't jot it down, is that of a local plasterer. Perhaps Ilene can share this with us.


The firm of C.A. Kay & Company, James A. Kay and Charles H. Kay, opened its doors to the mercantile buisness of "The Center of Town Store" in 1890. Its location was considered advantageous to the new proprietors, being situated at the corner of Church Street, which led up to the Methodist Church and many recently built residences there, and Main Street, the newly opened route that was laid out upon the Sherwood lot that already had the successful businesses of Alonzo Ostrom's blacksmith shop, Frank Yonker's harness shop and the recently built hotel of Robert Bloomer, which provided spirits to both the traveling and non-traveling public.

The Kays remained in business until 1900, when they sold the store to the firm of Johnston & Fitzgerald. William G. Johnston and David Fitzgerald formed a partnership in 1893, opening a mercantile and feed business at the Masonic Hall, sharing space on the ground floor with William Ensign's newspaper. James Kay and Charles Kay both removed to Pennsylvania.

"R.J. Kay of Brooklyn was in town last week at which time he purchased from James Murdock the property known as the Grange building. The purchase price was said to be over $4,000."
May 10, 1910
Liberty Register

The wife of Gilbert DuBois is also from a Manor family of note. Emily DuBois was the daughter of Rev. Henry A. Harlow, generally credited to be the first minister of the Presbyterian Church at Livingston Manor, which was formed in 1880 and the church building completed early in 1881.

Young Harlow began his ministry duties in 1875 at the Town of Rockland, preaching at the Westfield Flats [Rockland] and Shin Creek [Lew Beach] Presbyterian churches. His official duties at the Manor church were confirmed in 1883, and during the five years that he served this congregation, the membership grew from 24 to 72, and he united 27 couples in marriage and conducted 32 funeral services. He eventually removed to Monticello, taking charge of the Presbyterian church there, but was a frequent visitor back to the Manor, visiting his daughter as well as his in-laws, the Hammonds of DeBruce.

Emily DuBois, as you can imagine, had a strong religious background and was very active within the church and its various related
organizations. She kept the house after her husband's death, but in her older years wintered with her daughter in New Jersey until her death in December of 1940. The house was then quickly sold to Delos Barker.


Anybody ever hear of an Olive DuBois connected with Gilbert in any way? Dau? Sis? cousin? anything?


Gilbert had three daughters, who were surviving at the time of his death; Edith, Dorothy and Emily. There were also at least three
sisters; Mary, Antoinette and Katherine.


The Connollys bought the DuBois house from Delos Barker in 1947. The father, son and daughter resided on a farm up at the Little Ireland section before the move down to their new Dubois Street home. Most Manorites, at least those who consider themselves as old-timers, which many of us are quickly becoming, today refer to this house as "The Connolly House".

Helen graduated from Livingston Manor High School in 1929 and after receiving training to be a teacher, taught in many of the area's one-room schools. She was teaching at the Shandelee School when all of the Livingston Manor area school districts, except for the DeBruce district, voted to become a centralized district. She, like her former Shandelee students, then made the transition into the new central school building at Livingston Manor for the opening of the fall semester in 1939. An elementary teacher throughout her career at LMCS, she retired from this school in 1973.

Her brother, Felix, worked at the local post office, being a mail carrier on one of the rural free delivery routes.