Joel Kimball Diary - May 1874
Friday, May 1, 1874
Dynamite was a farmer's favorite tool when clearing off his land for fields and pastures. Besides breaking up large boulders, tree stumps were blown out of the ground. In poorly drained areas, dynamite sticks were placed in a line. When exploded, each charge would set off the neighboring charge. As the exploded dirt, rock and sod finally settled, a crude ditch has been formed which would hopefully help drain the field. - fred
|Saturday, May 2, 1874
"Drew load of slabs down to the road and commenced to repair fence. Col. Moore came down and I went on the hill and we weighed hay for him.
"After noon I went to depot and sent some M S to L. by express. Came home by Jack Sherwood's and got boots sewed up where I cut it. Recorded two mortgages, received 37c.
"Weather more mild.
"Called at J Sheeley's in evening."
Joel had recently erected a barn on his lot "on the hill", and was now
using the leftover slab lumber to repair fences. The new barn allowed him to
store last year's cutting of hay. With the new spring grass now beginning to
sprout, the hay was no longer needed and he was able to sell the excess to
his neighbor. - fred
|Sunday, May 3, 1874
"Very clear, pleasant morning.
"Went down to Arch Cochran's with Sid and E. Huntington. Came home and ate dinner and went to Col Moore's, saw Bish and Laf and then to Thos Collins and home and finished doing chores and writing in diary.
"Wore new boots and found them quite painful, thank you."
Yesterday's visit to the shoemaker at Purvis became a painful
experience. Peter B. Akins was the village shoemaker at Purvis. The
forty-five-year-old cobbler began this trade at the southern Sullivan County
township of Forestburgh before moving to Purvis with his wife of
twenty-three years, Phoebe. He also studied law and eventually began a legal
practice in the community, opening an office on Pearl Street. The soon-to-be
lawyer not only fixed the soles to your shoes, but gave legal advice to
boot. - fred
|Monday, May 4, 1874
"Attended meeting board of excise at J.W. Davis'. Met John Davidson, supervisor; W.W. Purvis, Geo. Preston and Joseph Kile, justices of the peace. Granted one license to J.W. Davis, fee $30.00
"Paid 35c for dinner."
"The consumption of alcohol was considered by those who were part of
the temperance movement to be the source of society's problems. Though their
push for outright statewide prohibition lacked the majority's support with
the legislature and court at Albany, they did have minor success with the
passage of the Liquor Excise Law of 1857, prohibiting the sale of alcohol
outside of a building used for hotel purposes. The hope of the temperance
leagues with the passage of this law would be that it was the beginning of
"restoration" of those "victims" of alcoholism.
|Tuesday, May 5, 1874
"Took up some apple trees and set out forty apple and two pear trees on the hill. Grafted some apple and grafted some pear on thorn trees back of the flat.
"Mother went to Oliver Maffett's.
"Drew some hay of the hill."
Oliver James Maffett's grandfather, Robert Maffett, was one of the
early settlers near the Old Morsston area, moving here around 1798 onto what
was to become the family farm, located up the small valley that later would
be known as Benton Hollow.
|Wednesday, May 6, 1874
"Fixed wagon and drew load of manure on the garden. Weather cool and some wind. Aunt Eunice Appley came to make a visit.
"Tapped some maple trees to make vinegar. Called at Uncle Billing's in the evening."
Many of the local landmarks acquired the names of creatures the early
settlers found inhabiting that particular locality, names still used today;
Beaverkill, Buck Brook, Fox Mountain, Panther Rock Brook, Wildcat Mountain,
Porcupine Ridge and, just above the Robert Maffett place, Elk Point. Here,
at the very head of Benton Hollow, is a steep escarpment overlooking the
valley below with a commanding, wide panoramic view clear to the state of
Pennsylvania. When Robert Maffett first came to the yet untamed Benton
Hollow section, Elk were still known to winter on this precipice. Maffett
was known to be an excellent hunter, these early settlers needed to be if
their families were to survive this rugged territory, and these noble
animals represented, besides the challenge of outwitting these wary and
elusive beasts, food on the table for his family. With the likes of Maffet
and his neighbors, elk soon vanished from the local scenery.
|Thursday, May 7, 1874
"Joel Hodge came up and helped me plow the garden until after noon, he then went home and I plowed alone. Steers ran away with plow.
"Called at B.V.G.'s in evening.
Planted some potatoes. Went on the hill in the morning and cut some wood."
Like Bishop VanGaasbeck, the blacksmithy at Purvis Post Office, one of
the Maffett boys also seemingly worked the same profession. George Maffett,
another son of Robert Maffett of Benton Hollow, married Olive Banks and
first resided on a backwoods farm in the high country above Shin Creek known
as the Barkaboom until 1869, when they moved onto a portion of the William
Overton farm along the road to Debruce, a mile outside of Purvis. Here, in
1874, he supposedly operated a blacksmith shop.
|Friday, May 8, 1874
"Went to Westfield Flats, called at Sheeley and Wilson's. Ate dinner with Geo. Sheeley, played croquet some.
"Called at Utter's office and engaged side of sole leather. Saw Geo. R. Green. Coming home saw Jeff Campbell, called at Uncle Oliver's, arrived home just before night.
"Very warm and windy.
"Snowed this morning."
The Cochran tannery had closed the previous year and though it was set
to reopen this spring, no tanned hides were in stock so Joel went to
Westfield Flats to purchase leather. The tannery of Horace Utter was the
smallest of the four tannery operations within the township, the business
begun by Joseph Reynolds. Coming from the town of Fallsburgh, the young
Reynolds became interested in the tanning industry there while with Palen
Flager & Company. He erected the tannery at Westfield Flat around 1848, and
along with the gristmill operation, went into partnership with Ezekiel Palen,
the company surviving until 1855 when the general business of tanning hides
suffered an economic downturn. Reynolds sold his share of the company,
dissolved the partnership and headed west for bigger and more profitable
Do you suppose this James Morton may have been related also to Ruth Morton who married Preston Ward? - Harriett Schultz
|Saturday, May 9, 1874
"Went on the hill and helped Col. Moore weigh hay, whole amount some more than one and one-half ton. Came home and planted potatoes and finished harrow, planted some peas. Mrs. Joseph Mott and Mrs. Cyrus ditto called and made a visit. Went to post office and received papers.
"Wrote to Irwin.
"Warm and windy."
"Diamond Joe" Reynolds' business affairs began to amass a fortune for
himself. He invested in several silver mines in Colorado and Arizona,
granite quarries at Arkansas, owned the Malvern & Hot Springs Railroad and
operated the "Diamond Jo Line" of steamboats that navigated the Mississippi
River. He accumulated wealth that was thought to be up to twenty million
|Sunday, May 10, 1874
"Went to meeting at the school house, I heard the new minister Rev. A. Van Kueren, like him quite well. Came home and called at Col M., came home and done chores.
"Very warm, pleasant day."
George Maffett was not considered the most upstanding member of the
Purvis community, generally thought to be the source of the rash of
burglaries and other incidents now occurring within the area. He and his
gang always seemed to be one step ahead of the local constables, becoming
more and more brazen with their actions over time. Though never proven, this
sometime blacksmith also had his own way of dealing with his business
Most interesting about the suspected arson. I presume that the barns mentioned had been owned by James C. Purvis (1831- 1886). He was the son of James Purvis Sr. (1791-1876), who was the son of settler George. James C. Purvis was married to a woman named Katherine "Kate" Reed and the original proprietor of what of then called the Purvis Hotel (in Purvis) at the base of Jacktown Hill. ...later known as the Sherwood Hotel. From info provided on this site it appears that James C. sold the hotel around 1870 to James W. Davis who was 29 at the time but then Davis sold it back to James about a year later. Jack Sherwood then leased and managed it beginning in 1871. James became quite ill around 1885 and was unable to care for his farm. He and his wife and teenaged son, Leland (their only child) went to board at the Sturdevant House. A George W. Purvis (James' nephew) took over the farm to work it. James died soon after at the age of 54. His wife died only two years later at the age of 42. James was said to have accumulated quite a fortune and this was left to their son Leland who remained a bachelor. When Leland died he willed his inheritance to the Methodist Church and cemetery, the Presbyterian Church, Syracuse U. the SPCA, two hospitals as well as other organizations.
It sounds like George Maffett (and his gang) may have been jealous of James Purvis' success. (We may have had our own Hatfields and McCoys right there in LM!)
This brought to mind that James C's brother, Thomas D. Purvis' barn also mysteriously caught fire on July 13 1883 while he and his wife were out of town attending the wedding of Thomas' step-son, Seward Etts. The barn and contents...a light cutter, harness and wagon....were completely lost and the cause never known. The George W. Purvis mentioned above would have been Thomas' son.
Thanks so much for these amazing stories Fred! - Susan
|Monday, May 11, 1874
"Went to blacksmith shop and got steers shod, saw old Mr. Mosier and Abe, came home about noon, ate dinner and went on the hill.
"Geo. Sprague burned his fallow and the fire caught on mine, did not burn much. Sowed two bushels oats and harrowed some.
"Weather some cooler than yesterday."
While converting forested lands into fields and pastures, farmers often made use of fire. Forests recently harvested into lumber would have a great deal of slash, or fallow, left behind which was burned, reducing the slash to ash and removing unwanted vegetation. Older clearings used for pasture lots would soon find tree saplings sprouting up, reclaiming what was once their's. Fires were set to reclaim the clearing. The danger of this method of clearing land can be imagined, neighboring farms and all of the surrounding area put at risk. - fred
|Tuesday, May 12, 1874
"Worked on the hill sowing oats and harrowing, weather warm and pleasant.
"Sent to D. D. & Co. for some timothy seed by Wm. P. Rose, got one peck."
Neither George Maffett or his gang of rowdies were ever proven to be
in any way connected with the series of fires on that April evening. Perhaps
it was just a coincidence that three barns and the village blacksmith shop
were destroyed on the same evening, but beginning in 1869, with incident
after incident coinciding with the arrival of George and his boys, these
events seemed more and more than just bad luck, and in some cases, there was
evidence of human involvement.
|Wednesday, May 13, 1874
"Worked on the hill sowing oats. Abe Mosier came up and commenced working for me for six dollars per month. I sowed some timothy seed."
The large farm of Erastus Sprague is located next to the covered
bridge on Mott Flat. Helping the aging farmer with the work is the Moshier
family; James, along with his son's family. While at the VanGaasbeck
blacksmith shop on Monday, Joel ran into James and his grandson,
fourteen-year-old Abram. Since Johnny Collins had earlier ceased working for
the Kimballs and with the planting, and soon the harvesting, seasons now
fast approaching, Joel is in need of assistance to help with the farm work.
The result of the blacksmith shop meeting was the hiring-on of young Abe to
work on the Kimball farm. - fred
Thursday, May 14, 1874
Again, one of Joel's neighbors set fire to the fallow on his property,
burning off the remains left from earlier timber cutting. Unfortunately,
William Rose picked a windy day, putting his neighbors and the whole
neighborhood in danger.
Bark Peeling. The Bark was used in the tanning industry and a tree totally stripped of its bark died. This is why early photos show a lot less wooded area.
In 1936 when my father bought his farm from Harley Miner in the Barkaboon area of Union Grove the Deed stipulated that my father was not allowed to Peel any bark from the trees. Of course by then there weren't any tanneries left in the area to sell the bark to anyway.
Barkaboon or Barkaboom was said to be an Indian name. Boon was actually what happened when the bark was sent down the river. Boom is an abundance of something- like in Boom Town. No Indian origin at all. - evelyn
Friday, May 15, 1874
Though Joel would never mention it in his daily entries, James
Eldridge Quinlan died yesterday at his home near Monticello. To his
contemporaries, Quinlan was well known as being the editor of the Republican
Watchman, perhaps Sullivan County's most popular newspaper. He was also the
author of the earlier published book titled "Tom Quick", a collection of
tales about this legendary Delaware valley hunter and Indian fighter.
|Saturday, May 16, 1874
"Finished harrowing oats and sowed the remainder of the timothy seed. Called at Uncle Billings' and left one dollar to send for buckwheat. Came home and went to the Flats, grafted some for A.Y. Sheeley.
"Boys had a serenade for B.F.H. and C.E.G., stayed all night with Geo. A. Sheeley."
Benjamin Hardenburgh, the young baggage master on one of the Midland
Railroad's mail trains, has just married Carrie E. Green, the daughter of
Joseph Green, proprietor of the Rockland House at Westfield Flat.
Traditionally, friends of the newlyweds would gather outside of the married
couple's home and all join in with a "skimelton", a rousing celebration of
noise and song. "Rusticus", the correspondent for the local newspapers, best
describes this particular evening;
Sunday, May 17, 1874
Reverend Sanderson is the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal
congregation at Sandburgh, a small Sullivan County community along the line
of the Midland railroad. This Sunday, he was filling in with the Westfield
Flat congregation as a temporary minister, but by the coming September,
Sanderson took over the pastoral duties full time.
Monday, May 18, 1874
Diamond Joe's bell atop the Methodist church at Westfield Flats
sounded the calling for Sunday services since the church's dedication in
August of 1869; until the morning service of January 20th, 1901. With the
conclusion of Sunday's worship that cold, winter morning, members of the
congregation, as they were leaving the church, noticed thick smoke billowing
out of the belfry. The bell, often rung to call out the local hose company
onto a scene of a fire, now needed to toll to save itself.
Tuesday, May 19, 1874
When searching the old records, William P. Rose should not be confused
with William Rose, though both similarities and differences exist between
the two men. William P. Rose lived on a farm in the Town of Rockland;
William Rose's farm was partially in the Town of Rockland but he lived in
the Town of Callicoon. William P. Rose was a lumberman who rafted on the
river; William Rose was a lumberman who rafted on the river. Amongst fellow
raftsmen, William P. Rose was known as "Tucker"; William Rose was known as
"Deacon". William P. Rose was twice married; William Rose was twice married.
William P. Rose's grandfather was John Rose; William Rose's father was John
Rose. William Rose was the uncle of William P. Rose.
Wednesday, May 20, 1874
Since their move to the Midwest, Mary Ester Morton Reynolds returned
to Westfield Flats to visit her brother, Jay Morton, and friends on a
regular basis, often with the accompaniment of her husband, "Diamond Joe".
On one visit back east, Joe was on his way to his old grist-mill when he
came upon two young girls playing about the mill. At his feet were two
unusual, colorful pebbles, which he picked up, giving one to each of the
girls, telling them to "Send these to me when you are married."
|Thursday, May 21, 1874
"Abe went home to help his father move. I went to depot and mailed letter to G.
"Called at wagon shop to find tire for wagon. Came home and went to J.H. Sheeley's and got tire, took it and wheel to shop and had it placed thereon.
"J.H. Sheeley for 37 inch iron tire, .74
"A.H. Robertson cash, $2.00"
John B. Oakley was the proprietor of the wagon shop at Purvis, who
became another victim to the infamous Maffett gang; more than once. One
evening, after leaving his shop, he was viciously attacked by ruffians in an
effort to relieve him of his money. Oakley fought off his attackers and
escaped with all his money, though he was somewhat battered and bruised.
Oakely, who was pretty sure that the thugs were members of the Maffett gang,
reported the incident to the town constable, William French. After an
investigation, French's conclusion was that since Oakley was not actually
robbed, that perhaps he fabricated the incident to frame members supposed
members of the gang. French's report stated that Oakley "suffered from
escapes not assaults." - Fred
|Friday, May 22, 1874
"Charles Vernooy came home last evening and he and I peeled bark until noon. After noon, plowed some and furrowed corn ground, H.E. Rose helping me."
Perhaps it was the accusations, the lawlessness, or just the increased
brashness of the thieving gang, but John Oakley's troubles were far from
over; along with the rest of the Purvis community. On the evening of the
25th of July, 1877, fire was discovered at Oakley's wagon shop. Efforts to
contain the fire were unsuccessful and the building became a complete loss.
Besides the loss of all of his tools, the shop contained numerous wagons
that were in various states of repairs and wagons he was in the midst of
building, all being consumed by the flames. Since he had not operated the
stove inside for quite sometime, the community had little doubt to the cause
of the combustion; incendiaries. - fred
|Saturday, May 23, 1874
"I finished furrowing corn ground by drawing chain. Abe came after noon and we drew compost. Wm. P. Rose turned my cattle loose on the road.
"Received letter from Irwin.
"Uncle Billings and I went to depot and got bushel buckwheat from New York, cost 3.70.
"Abe, one half day."
The Midland was beginning to handle more freight along its line.
Prices for logs and lumber rafted down the Delaware to the Philadelphia
market remained low as lumber was steadily becoming overstocked at the
city's wharfs. Meanwhile, the lumbermen who used the Midland found that the
new railroad opened new markets for their lumber, offering higher prices.
Also, a special express freight was added on the line this spring, riding
from Norwich to Middletown to handle dairy products and livestock from the
farms between these two railroad hubs. Labor and money still were a problem
to this railroad company but now, even as it was just beginning to become
more prosperous due to the increased traffic, other problems emerged.
|Sunday, May 24, 1874
"Went to church at school-house and heard sermon delivered by Rev. O. Van Kuren, called at John M. Sheeley's. Came home, stayed at home all the afternoon. Betsy Borden called a short time and went home.
The Midland's tracks were in such a desperate state of disrepair
during the spring of '74 that passage over the line, especially between
Morsston and Cook's Falls, became hazardous, and at times impossible. The
events during the afternoon of March 25th was an indication of the problems
the money-strapped railroad company was now facing [see March 25].
Monday, May 25, 1874
"Drew out two loads of compost and as it rained could not draw more. Made one new whiplash and worked some on the river beach."
"Wm. P. Rose got his last two oar sterns that I sold him. Abe went after float and I went to E. Spragues and got two halve sticks.
"Wm. P. Rose due for four oar sterns, $4.00"
"Abe one day"
"Paid Eras Sprague, $1.00"
... ... ... William Rose is buried at Rose City, Michigan; William P. Rose is buried in the Methodist Church cemetery at Livingston Manor. Both of William Rose's wives are buried at the Westfield Flats Cemetery; both of William P. Rose's wives are buried at the Methodist Church cemetery. William Rose's wives are buried in plots next to each other; William P. Rose's are buried in plots some distance apart. William Rose is not buried with either of his wives; William P. Rose is buried near his first wife.
Often, the story of a family's struggles to survive these early, uncertain times can be found inscribed upon the stone markers that note their final resting place. These "written" stories are usually brief, perhaps only a single word or date being the only clues left to their triumphs or tragedies. At the end of the row of grave markers that locate the family plot of William P. Rose, is the headstone of Sarah Ann Borden, his wife. The record carved upon its marble face, telling of the family tragedy, perhaps does not tell the whole tale. She died at an early age, yet to reach her 18th birthday. She was about to become a young mother, when she had difficulty with the delivery of their child. Both mother and child were said to have died as a result, the date, as etched into the stone, being August 30, 1851. Nowhere to be found, either near the mother or within the family plot, are the mention of, or any clues to, the baby's whereabouts. Sarah's grave may hold a larger tale than the story told on the headstone. - fred
|Tuesday, May 26, 1874
"Abe and I went on the hill and made fence all day between me and Geo. Sprague.
"Weather cool and squally.
"Called at post office and read papers. J.D.W.M. Decker and Samantha were married today.
"Bennett floated logs."
It has been a cold, dry spring in these parts. The grass crop has been
slow in growing, leaving farmers little choice but to continue feeding their
livestock with last year's hay, and if they had none, to rely on extra hay
from their neighbor. Recent cold mornings resulted in heavy frosts and a
shortened growing season, the latest killing frost occurring on the 23rd,
which damaged many potato crops and other early plantings. Normally, apple
trees would now be in full blossom but the cold weather has either delayed
or killed off this spring's swelling buds. Snow was reported throughout the
county on this day. On a day when white apple blossom petals would normally
be falling, instead the sky was filled with white snowflakes, certainly not
the weather expected for this time of year when planning a wedding.
|Wednesday, May 27, 1874
"Commenced planting potatoes. Went on the hill and weighed six tons hay, sold to Geo. W. Sprague at $10.00 per ton.
"Came home and finished planting potatoes, ploughed some and went on the hill and drew down some hay. Orrin Sprague called and left mortgage.
"Abe one day."
Joel and his parents' farm consisted of over one-hundred acres, of
which forty-five were considered, for assessment purposes, as being
"improved". This would include cleared land that is now in use as pasture,
meadows and tilled ground. Joel spent the last week plowing and preparing
four acres on the flats next to his parents' house which were to be planted
in crops that would be stored or milled for winter use. One acre was devoted
to potatoes, where in the coming fall, he would gather over forty bushels.
Another acre was planted in Indian corn, in which he would later harvest
over 30 bushels. - fred
|Thursday, May 28, 1874
"Planted corn all day, finished piece on the flat, below the house.
"I went up to the depot in the evening and rode to Westfield Flats and practiced with the band. Stayed all night with Geo. Sheeley.
"Abe, one day."
Coming into Westfield Flats, Joel may have noticed the improvement to
the cemetery there; the placing of an iron fence around the old cemetery.
The original portion of the Westfield Flat Cemetery is situated on land
donated by Robert Cochran, who joined the early settlers already living in
the Beaverkill valley in 1791. Coming from the Westfield, Massachusetts,
area, Cochran and his family journeyed here with Henry Shaw, who lived with
the Cochran family until his early demise on March 6, 1796. His burial upon
this portion of the Cochran lands would become the first grave within the
Westfield Flats Cemetery.
|Friday, May 29, 1874
"At A.Y. Sheeley's, ate breakfast and went in the store, got suit of clothes, $10.00, and a hat for Abe, 25c. Came home and finished planting corn. Drew manure on the potatoes.
"Abe, one day.
"Abe Mosier due for one hat, 25c."
On his way home, Joel would have passed another improvement at
Westfield Flats. With the coming of the railroad, Westfield Flats was now
becoming popular with anglers as passengers, along with their fishing gear,
arrived seemingly on every train. The James Murdock farm, situated along the
banks of the upper Beaverkill, advertised the finest fishing grounds in the
area and attracted many who would brave the harrowing ten mile streamside
wagon ride up the valley from the depot. Montgomery Dodge's hotel at
Westfield Flat, one mile from the depot, was the most popular of the area's
early fishing resorts, but it was soon to have competition.
|Saturday, May 30, 1874
"Abe and I went on the hill and peeled some bark and chopped fallow some. Abe went away in evening. Received letter from T.
"Abe, one day.
"Abe Mosier due for cash, 53c."
May 30th is Decoration Day. This day of remembrance was designated in
1868 by General John Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the
Republic (GAR), the newly organized national veteran's organization, to
remember those who died in defense of their nation during the recent war,
both Union and Confederate, by decorating their graves with flowers or in
some other fashion. In 1874, the day was honored at local towns such as Port
Jervis and Monticello with parades of veterans, community bands and
long-winded patriotic speeches by long-winded patriotic dignitaries. Other
towns would not yet participate in the observance. The town fathers of
Hancock decided that the village would not observe Decoration Day since
there were no veterans buried within the local cemetery.
|Sunday, May 31, 1874
"Very warm, pleasant day.
"Went to J.E. Sprague's and Laf and I went to depot. Walked down the rail and waded river on our way back. Called at Laf's and quite a shower came up. Came home and wrote to T. Mother came home in evening."
The beginning of the custom for decorating the graves of veterans who
had fought in the recent war had been the claim of numerous communities
throughout the nation, from both the North and the South. The most likely
candidate for this claim, though, would be the story of Mary Anna Williams,
considered to be the "Mother of Decoration Day."