Joel Kimball Diary - November 1874
|Sunday, November 1, 1874
"At home until nearly noon. Went up top to James Vernooy's, saw J Brown, stayed until 4 o'clock, then to Brown's. W H and I called at D Water's, stayed until 10 o'clock eating apples and cider."
...The south-bound train No. 20, the Way Freight with Conductor Haynes and Engineer Grimes at the control, slowly continued forward after being warned about the gravel train still on the tracks by flagman Hafberger, sent ahead by the conductor of the Westfield Flats work train, Harvey Moore. Passing the switch at Whirling Eddy and seeing the Walton gravel train pulled into it, Engineer Grimes began to gain speed and resume his schedule, not realizing that the work train he was warned about was still on the tracks before him. Hafberger, who had hitched a ride upon No. 20, sensed the increase in the train's speed and knowing that Moore's work train was still ahead, shouted up into the freight's cab but could not be heard by its occupants over the roar of the locomotive. By the time Moore's train was seen, Grimes immediately knew the danger they were in and applied the freight's brakes, but little could be done to avoid the impending collision.
The crew of the gravel train, seeing the freight bearing down on them, jumped clear from their train but Grimes' crew, along with the hitchhiker Hafberger, stayed their positions as the two engines rammed head-first into each other. Both locomotives were wrecked, and with the freight cars piling up behind the wreckage, the tracks were ripped from its bed for a considerable distance. Hafberger was thrown into the wreckage and was killed while those still in the cab were slightly more fortunate; Engineer Grimes received a broken ankle and fireman Peter Ryan, a broken leg. Aside from the injuries, the resulting damage was estimated to cost the railroad company, already in financial trouble, $25,000 along with tying up through traffic. - fred
|Monday, November 2, 1874
"Fixed barn to thresh oats, pulled some rutabagas, put six bushels in cellar. Weather pleasant and cool mornings."
There is much interest within Sullivan County concerning the upcoming election, with two local residents being nominated by the Democratic Party as candidates for statewide elected office. Judging by the mood of the electorate concerning the recent graft and greed on display in all branches of government, the Democrats could have nominated a cadaver and still would have had a good chance of winning the plurality of votes over the incumbent in office. George M Beebe, from Monticello, is the Democratic candidate for Congress, running against Charles Everett from Orange County. Everett works for a bank at Goshen and is currently a third-term Orange County Treasurer. His connections with the banking system, including bondholding, along with the railroad industry and monopolies are not a particular good resume for seeking public office. His chances of winning this election are not helped with the front-page news of the recent imprisonment of the county treasurer from Rockland County on charges of embezzlement.
George Beebe is not exactly without political problems himself, when considering his past history. After working in a law office at Monticello upon graduating law school, Beebe removed to the territory of Kansas where he eventually became appointed the Acting Territorial Governor at the time when the nation was being ripped apart with talk of succession during the period prior to the Civil War. His political view of favoring succession, and his recommendation to the territorial government to remain neutral in the then approaching conflict, is not forgotten by his adversaries. He was forced to surrender his office over to the Federal Government and eventually moved back to Monticello, where he became the popular editor of the Republican Watchman. The issue in the contest for this seat in Congress seems to be whether the political issues and prejudices that existed over fifteen years ago will trump the current reform movement.
Alphus Wenzel, the Democratic candidate for State Assembly, came to Sullivan County with his family during the wave of German immigration some thirty years ago. Residing at Thumansville, along the Callicoon Turnpike between Westfield Flats and Callicoon Depot, and operating grist and saw mills in the strongly German-influenced community, Wenzel is currently the supervisor for the Town of Callicoon. Though heavily supported by the large number of immigrants within the area and a supporter of the Democratic Party's reform platform, his election is not assured as the Republican Party, sensing heavy loses at the top of their ticket at Albany, have concentrated their efforts on backing their candidates for the the assembly and congress seats. - fred
|Tuesday, November 3, 1874
"Went to elections at James W Davis' and carried up ballot boxes. Stayed until noon and came home. A J Thompson and wife here visiting mother, came from down Delaware. Andrew and I went on the hill in afternoon. Grandfather called, Billings got wagon."
The election results are in and as expected, the incumbent scoundrels are thrown out of office, replaced by newly elected scoundrels. The election being a referendum on the shortcomings concerning President Grant's administration, the Republican office holders at Albany are all defeated with Democratic candidate for governor, Samuel Tilden, leading the way as he and fellow Democratic candidates are swept into office. The New York Legislature receives a strong Democratic majority with victories throughout the state, including Alphus Wenzel, the Town of Callicoon Supervisor, who sought the state position. The Democratic Party also becomes the majority in Congress as New York has ten seats cross over the aisle to the Democrat side, including a victory for George Beebe. The returns from the Town of Rockland shows that voters in the town are also reform minded and side with the Democratic Party's candidates, though Wenzel's victory is by the slim majority of only three votes.
Railroad companies have a lot at stake concerning the outcome of today's election since they favor many of the Republican Party incumbents. News is now being reported that laborers employed by the Midland Railroad have been prohibited by the railroad company from voting for George Beebe, being threatened with the penalty of being discharged from their duties. Now that this and other election results within the state prove not to be in the Midland's favor, the bankrupted railroad company that is now in the hands of the court appointed receivers, stands to lose much political sway at both Albany and Washington with the reforms proposed by the new scoundrels. - fred
|Wednesday, November 4, 1874
"Laf Sprague came down and threshed my oats. Lambert Dodge and Levi helped me, finished about two o'clock.
"Lambert Dodge credit for one day's work
Levi Dodge credit for one day's work
"Found a fox in my trap."
Its been almost four weeks since Joel and his grandfather had made the fox beds on the hill behind the house, and now they have something to show for their efforts, outfoxing the skittish critter who visited the bait once too often, perhaps becoming too complacent after being so well fed by the Kimball's for the past month.
With so much depredation occurring on area farm's by marauding foxes, commissions were set up by county governments in which bounties were offered, giving rewards to trappers upon the capture of the cunning animal. In neighboring Orange County, the bounty was set at one dollar per head for a full grown fox. The arrival of "fur-hunters" in the area further decimated the populations of fox and other fur-bearing animals in the wild, as they collected furs and pelts from local trappers. In the past spring of '74, Lewis McIntold of Ellenville visited the still wild portions of Sullivan, Delaware and Ulster counties, collecting the furs of three hundred foxes, fifty mink, seven bear and five otter. - fred
|Thursday, November 5, 1874
"Met with town board to audit account, was busy all day, put in account of 19.20 against town of Rockland."
Part of the responsibility of the town clerk was to collect the notes representing the charges made upon the town, after which the document is presented to the board for their approval. The "Statement of Town Account for 1874", submitted today by Joel in his role as town clerk, has a final total of $1,759.09, the bulk of the spending related to highway work or bridge maintenance;
T A Reed - as attorney $18.00
Peter Akins - election 8.25
George Sprague - election 4.00
Thomas Seeley - commissioner of highways 36.00
Cyrus Mott - clerk of elections 4.00
Albert E Davis - clerk of elections 4.00
John Davidson - money expended on town 3.60
Rufus K Voorhies - assessor 16.00
George T Perry - physician 15.00
Cochran & Appley - bridge 360.00
- rescinded by vote of board
Royal Voorhies - stone job on highway 18.00
John Davidson - stone job on highway 19.00
William Parks - building bridge 36.00
Babcock & Ellsworth - repairing bridge 15.00
Edward Dickinson 28.64
Abram Wood - plank 8.00
Joseph G Purvis - bridge 13.50
John Davidson - note 408.21
Bishop VanGaasbeck 6.50
Erastus Sprague - bridge and plank 46.25
James Rush - overseer of the poor 27.00
Abner J Bennett 59.34
John H Whipple - assessor 20.00
Cyrus C Dodge 6.00
Henry Davidson 2.00
Horace Utter 24.00
A A Bennett 59.34
John C Wilson - constable 5.45
Abner Seeley 6.15
Luther Henry 6.55
Babcock & Ellsworth - poor fund 78.00
John M Seeley 2.00
John Davidson 13.50
JDWM Decker - poor fund 8.25
James Beady - poor master 22.00
Aaron R Purvis - ex-town clerk 10.00
William H French - constable 8.00
William Parks 59.29
Manley A Sprague 85.00
Bishop VanGaasbeck - overseer of the poor 37.00
William W Purvis - clerk of election 4.00
John Davidson - note from Babcock & Ellsworth 517.21
Mrs. Francis Donahue 5.00
Abram Barber - plank 3.92
Ernest Davis - plank 2.00
|Friday, November 6, 1874
"Cleaned up oats and cut some wood, drew load off hill. Levi Dodge helping me.
"I went to depot and got lemons and butter tub and writing paper. Weather very warm and pleasant."
Levi and Lambert Dodge have been assisting Joel this past week with the harvest and drawing wood. Levi is the seventeen-year-old son of Lambert and Julia Dodge, whose family resided in the Loomis area of the Town of Liberty for many years, but has just recently moved to Westfield Flats. Dodge family historians seem not to have been able to find a definite link between Lambert's family and the numerous Dodge families already in the Town of Rockland, though a connection probably does exist. Family historians believe that these Dodge families are descendents of Tristran Dodge, an immigrant who arrived from England in 1649 and settled at Rhode Island. Lambert Dodge was the son of Augustus and Jane Hall Dodge but the lineage is lost in finding earlier relatives.
Lambert Dodge's family, which includes Levi and his older brother George, can be found on the 1875 Beers' Atlas residing at Westfield Flats, near the farm of Cyrus Dodge, who may have been a cousin to Lambert. Lambert's stay in the Town of Rockland was short-lived, for he and his family would soon move to the wide-open plains of Jasper County, Iowa, in 1875, and successfully cultivate one hundred and sixty acres of prairie farmland. fred
Regarding the Dodge family, I have it noted that Elmira Dodge (b. 21 Sep 1830) was the daughter of Israel Dodge Jr. & ? Green. Israel had a 2nd wife Betsy Fitch and other children including a son Joel. Israel's father was Israel Sr. (b. in CT) whose father Daniel Dodge of CT had settled with his family in the Livingston Manor area after the Rev. War. Daniel's grandson, Israel Jr. and his family eventually moved to Postville IA. Elmira was grown and married at the time and she and her husband John Stitt Mott also went to IA at that time with their small son John Raleigh Mott who later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 along with a woman named Emily Greene Balch.
I did not find the Cyrus, Levi, Lambert, George or Augustus Dodge mentioned below but I would guess that they link to this same Dodge family. - Susan
There is one good, and probably most reliable source concerning the
local Dodge family; Alice Palen, who wrote a series of historical articles
for the local newspaper some eighty years ago. Information gathered from
these articles show that Augustus Dodge [father to Lambert Dodge and
grandfather to Levi Dodge] was the son Israel Dodge.
Frank Dodge was a merchant in the village of Liberty, and if I
remember correctly, became a partner with the firm of Sarles & Purvis. He
was the son of Montgomery R Dodge, of Rockland, which should make him the
grandson of Austin Dodge. He was the half-brother of Nellie Dodge, who
married George Woolsey of Livingston Manor - fred
|Saturday, November 7, 1874
"Done chores and went on the hill and seen fox traps, came home. Joel Hodge Jr. brought my wagon home. I loaded up 13 bushels rutabagas and delivered 10 bushels to JDWM Decker, 1 bushel to J B Dollaway and 2 bushels to C Heckman. came home and brought some goods for Decker. Carried in some rutabagas making 10 bushels in cellar.
"Went hunting, killed two squirrels, called at post office, did not get any mail.
"D Sturdevant credit for cash, 62
JDWM Decker credit for 10 bushels rutabagas, 5.00
J B Dollaway due 50
C Heckman credit for cash, 1.00"
Again, there is not much success at the fox-traps set on the hill, though from the foxes point of view, they are probably the most well-fed critters in the area after dining on the bait set out over the past month. Outfoxing these cunning canines takes a whole lot of mental effort for they can easily foil the best fox-hounds, hoodwink the most experienced hunters and torture the less competent trapper with their wily ways.
In attempting to trap a fox, one local fellow foolishly trapped himself. Augustus Dodge, who operated a turning mill along the Beaverkill River, was visited by this novice trapper who asked to borrow a bear trap to catch a fox. Taking it down to the river, the fellow set and then carefully camouflaged the trap. Just how the next event transpired was never disclosed, but the fellow somehow forgot the trap's location and accidentally stepped into the well concealed iron snare, its steel jaws springing upon him. Unable to dislodge the jaw's grip by himself, the fellow trudged back home, adorned with the trap, to find assistance to have it removed. - fred
|Sunday, November 8, 1874
"Called at Col. Moore's, saw D J Moore, Wm Wager, Col. and Mrs. Moore. Stayed nearly all day. Came home in the afternoon, weather windy and plaeasant."
Of all the hunters who pursued the elusive red fox, the crafty Johnny Darling, the Shandelee story-teller who had no equal when comparing his hunting exploits to others, was perhaps the most adept at out-thinking and duping the sly animal into capture. Hunting on Bald Mountain, along the upper valley of the Willowemoc Creek, Johnny, his brother Jubal and their favorite foxhound Jeff, took to the deforested hillsides of old Baldy in search of foxes. The hill garnered its name because of the barren nature on its slopes, left behind by the local tanneries' bark-peelers who stripped the bark off the hemlocks and harvested the forests. With the hemlock trees gone from the top of the hill, underbrush now covered the ridges, ideal habitat for rabbits, moles and mice, and for the cagy predator who hunts them.
Suddenly, Jeff took off in a howling charge as up ahead of the Darling boys, the flash of a three-foot long bushy red tail disappeared into the bushes. Jeff gave chase, but as fast and fine a foxhound the dog was, he was not able to close the distance between himself and the fox. Round and round the top of the mountain the fox ran, all the while with Jeff in pursuit. Whenever the fox came into view as he circled in front of the Darlings, Johnny would raise his rifle and take aim, but was not able to get off a good shot for the fox was always running in a curve. Soon, Jeff began to tire from all the running on that mountainous circle and was losing ground in the chase as it was beginning to appear that the fox was about to make its escape.... fred
|Monday, November 9, 1874
"Went on the hill and cut some trees, drawn down two drags of wood. Weather warm and pleasant."
It was evident that Johnny would not be able to get a clear shot at the fox and with Jeff, the foxhound now tiring from the circular fox chase, a plan would need to be made, and quickly, or else the wily fox would get the best of both hunters and dog. Knowing that a straight shot would not find its mark on the roundabout running fox, Johnny laid his rifle over his knee and bent the long barrel into a long, smooth curve. Soon the fox returned from the far reaches of its circuitous route and as he came into view, Johnny lifted the bent rifle and took aim.
With the sharp report of Johnny's rifle, the bullet flew out of its bent muzzle towards its intended target. Of course, the fox was still running in its roundabout way, but just as Johnny had thought, the bullet took flight in a curving motion, following the same course as the fox. The fox may have been able to outrun the poor foxhound but it was not able to escape Johnny's shot as the bullet's trajectory followed its intended target, catching up to the animal just before it passed out of sight. - fred
The fox-hunting story was adapted from M. Jagendorf's "The Marvelous Adventures of Johnny Darling" fred
|Tuesday, November 10, 1874
"Drew down some wood and went up by side of river and drew birch tree across. H E Rose helped me. After noon went to depot, cut some wood. Received 62c of Dora Sturdevant."
"A poor unfortunate son of Mars with only one leg and grinding a hand organ passed through the business part of this village [Westfield Flats] on Tuesday last, and received only seven cents. If that isn't philanthropy ground to an edge, what is?"
November 17, 1874
|Wednesday, November 11, 1874
"Went to Westfield Flats to mill, took corn to Jay Morton's and shelled it. Saw father, he was helping make cider. Took four axe halves down to Sheeley & Wilson and two to H Becker.
"Came home in evening, ate dinner at A J Thompson's. Adele went down with me and stayed."
Joel first introduced us to Andrew Thompson back on October 22nd, while delivering school related documents to Thompson, the trustee for the school at Westfield Flats. The diary entry of November 3rd also suggests there may have been other business between the two. Thompson, who had a shop at Westfield Flats, was a wagon-maker and may have repaired or sold a wagon to Joel. The thirty-six-year-old tradesman came to the area from the Town of Colchester, in Delaware County, soon after the conclusion of the Civil War, of which he was a veteran.
Just recently married and with a baby, Thompson avoided enlistment into the volunteer army throughout much of the war. But as the bloody conflict dragged on into its third year in 1863, a shortage of military enlistments induced the government to authorize a military draft, though still providing bounties for those who volunteered. Thompson neither enlisted nor was drafted. By 1864, additional depletion within the military ranks caused the nation to enact yet another conscription bill for an additional two hundred thousand men. Government bounties for enlistment would continue to be paid for those who volunteered, but such payments would cease on September 5th. Andrew Thompson enlisted with the 143 NYV on September 5th, 1864. fred
|Thursday, November 12, 1874
"Drew some wood. Went up in Ireland, called at J Collins and D Waters. Came home to Decker's and went to Depot and back."
With work being frantically done to finish fixing the track at Whirling Eddy, the result of last month's collision of the freight and work trains, initial blame as to the cause of the wreck was assessed to the unfortunate flagman, who perished in the accident and was unable to defend himself. It was thought that he did not accurately inform the crew on the south-bound freight about the gravel train still sitting on the main track. Further investigation by Midland officials, however, have now reported that the deceased flagman was not the party responsible, but that the cause of the collision was solely the actions of the engineer and conductor of the freight train.
The engineer of the local gravel train that encountered the freight's locomotive in the head-on collision, Harvey Moore, was now once again at the helm of the Westfield Flats gravel train, its crew being partly in charge of repairing the damaged road. - fred
|Friday, November 13, 1874
"Cleaned out stables, drew some wood and fixed fox beds. Steers ran away and broke wagon. I cut some wood and called at post office in evening.
"Some cool and squally."
The weather has been rather mild and dry recently. In fact, there hasn't been any rain since the 21st of October, resulting with the rivers once again running at low levels. This relatively mild and uneventful weather pattern is changing, ushered in with today's blustery storm, accompanied with the first snowfall of the season. When the storm finally blew itself out, the ground was now covered with snow for the first time this fall. - fred
|Saturday, November 14, 1874
"Went on the hill and cut three trees, drew down drag of wood and helped Hiram E Rose butcher bull. Agreed to take 1.4 of beef.
"Came home, cut some wood, Hiram helping me then went to depot, received mail, returns of tub of butter. Called at Uncle Billings in evening with mother.
Local newspapers were spreading the rumor that the government was contemplating the building of a naval base at Philadelphia, which would require the construction of new wharfs and docks and the need for lumber. On the hopes of rejuvenating the local lumber business by procuring contracts for supplying lumber, R.S. Rockwell, the merchant and lumber dealer from Westfield Flats, this week hopped aboard a Midland train for that city. Prospects were not favorable for his success in the midst of the nation-wide depression and the over-abundance of lumber already laying in stockpiles.
Still, there was a glimmer of hope for him and other local lumber dealers, as the Midland recently shipped out eighteen cars loaded with hard maple logs this past week. As the hardwood lumber business grew, the newly established freight traffic along the railroad opened new markets for lumbermen, who were now beginning to realize the need to be less reliant on the whims of the local rivers to get their product to the limited markets along the Delaware. - fred
|Sunday, November 15, 1874
"Went over the hill from Buck Eddy to Uncle Hiram Hodge's, found them home. Met Rob Cochran in S Bennett's fields and he went over with me. From Hiram's, walked down to Joseph Green's. Called at A Y Sheeley's, saw George who had the rheumatism. Stayed all night at Green's."
The Methodists of Rockland were enjoying a revival of sorts, by means of spirited revival meetings, as local ministers traveled throughout the area to reach the scattered residents residing upon the local hills and within the valleys, holding prayer meetings at school-houses or any room capable of holding small congregations, in an effort to bring the influence of the church to rural residents and possibly convert the most hardened of religious holdouts. The Rev. Orville Van Keuren, who was just recently appointed Methodist minister for the Rockland district, was most energetic in these revival gatherings and must have enjoyed some success, at least in the case of one individual. While he was away at one of these meetings recently, someone entered the Methodist parsonage at Westfield Flats, and instead of creating mischief, left a barrel of flour in his wake for the benefit of the pastor. - fred
|Monday, November 16, 1874
"At Green's, ate breakfast. Saw Doc Reed. Called at Jay Morton's and saw father. Came home and went on the hill, cut and drew a drag of wood.
"Hiram Hodge credit by order on father, 3.00
"H E Rose credit of 63 lbs beef at 6c, 3.78"
Reading through Joel's diary entries that were written during the course of the year, one mystery always remained unanswered; the location of Joel's father, Isaac Kimball. The census records from both 1870 and 1875 show the father and mother in the same household, but here in 1874, according to the diary, it appears that Isaac is not residing with the family. The earliest entry in which Joel mentions his father, dated January 13th, states that "father called and got broad-axe" as if he were just another visiting relative, along with all the uncles, aunts and grandparents, and suggests that he may have been working at a lumber camp. The father would later communicate with the son by a letter received on February 7th. This is the last that we heard of Isaac until now.
With today's entry [see also October 25th] the mystery is partially solved when Joel discloses that he visited his father at the farm of Jay Morton. Jay was the grandson of Alexander Morton, the Methodist clergyman who was the first circuit rider traveling within the township of early settlers, administering the gospel to the faithful at these early settlements. The traveling pastor's son, James, acquired one of the largest farms within the township, consisting of two hundred acres located along the upper portion of Westfield Flats. Upon James' death, Jay inherited the farm, and with the good business qualities partially acquired from attending business school at Binghamton, managed the finest farm in the valley. It also did not hurt his career by having his sister marry "Diamond Joe Reynolds", the millionaire hide dealer and miller, who was also the proprietor of a Mississippi River steamboat line and an Arkansas railroad concern. [see May 8th, 9th, 17th and 20th] - fred
|Tuesday, November 17, 1874
"Done chores, drew a drag of wood off the hill and went to Liberty on the railroad.
"Called at Purvis & Sarles, bought four shoes for mother, 2.00; beeswax, 14c
"Walked down to Parksville with H Rose. Came home from there on cars, fare 57c."
One of the finer mercantile businesses in the area was that of the recently established firm of Sarles & Purvis, who were advertised as "dealers in general merchandise, dry-goods, groceries, crockery, boots, shoes, hats, caps and ready-made clothing." Located on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets in the village of Liberty, the store also housed the village's post office while the adjoining building next-door housed the hardware store of John Wales.
Samuel Seeley Purvis, one of the partners within the firm, began his career in the lumber business where early success led him to acquire numerous farms and woodlots in the area. He then became associated with Stoddard Hammond's tannery at DeBruce, being in charge of the company's outside operations, including running the sawmill and, with the assistance of a young bookkeeper named Harvey Sarles, overseeing the company's store. He and Sarles left the DeBruce area during the early seventies, forming the firm of Sarles & Purvis and opening the store in the center of Liberty village. - fred
|Wednesday, November 18, 1874
"H E Rose and I cut wood for school house all day. Sawed up birch on the river bank and some trees at head of the flats on H Rose."
There are four local newspapers still being published in Sullivan County, each with different political or ethnic followers. Competing for the same general readership, editors and correspondents for these papers reported continuously about the affairs of their competitive newspaper neighbors.
The Liberty Register, since being published nearby at Liberty and convenient for Town of Rockland residents, has the largest circulation of all the county papers within the local post offices, and generates the most interest for readers within the township. This week, as reported throughout the county's papers, the newspaper changed proprietors as William Morgans retires from the newspaper's daily operation to pursue other ventures. Morgans is an innovative and energetic young man, who distinguished himself proudly while serving with the local regiment during the past war. Upon his return to his home at Youngsville, he began a career in printing with the publishing of a weekly newspaper at that community, known as the Local Record, while still at the young age of only twenty-four. He soon expanded his operations, with the publishing of a new weekly newspaper at Liberty in 1869, The Liberty Register, and selling the Youngsville paper to Dewey Boyce.
Dewey Boyce, like Morgans, is a well-known resident from the Youngsville area, and like Morgans, a veteran of the Civil War, being a member of the First Massachusetts Calvary, and also like Morgans, pursuing a career in the newspaper business. His stay as proprietor with the Local Record was brief, however, being its owner for only one year but as reported in other papers this week, he still continues to work in the newspaper field as he becomes the correspondent with the Sullivan County Republican, a Monticello weekly. - fred
|Thursday, November 19, 1874
"Snowy day. Hiram and I got manure out from barn on the hill all day and put it around apple trees. Hiram drew down load of wood to schoolhouse."
The relatively mild, dry weather from the previous few weeks has ended. As a result, the rivers are running low and are very much in need of additional rainfall, but as the temperature has now turned much colder, any precipitation that falls is coming as the frozen variety. Today's snow-storm, the first of the season, began during the day and blew itself well into the evening, covering the ground with a thick blanket of snow. Time to break out the sleighs. - fred
|Friday, November 20, 1874
"H E Rose and I went down to the schoolhouse and split and piled wood. John H Sheeley measured it, called it 1 and 1/8 cords.
"Came home and I went to depot. Deer skins had not arrived, told DuBois to send for three foreign skins at 60 c per lb to Chas B Fosdick, 26 Spruce Street, New York.
"Paid H E Rose 1.00."
Hiram Rose and Joel spent the early part of the week cutting firewood for the school, and now with the ground covered from yesterday's snowstorm, they hauled the wood blocks by sleigh to the schoolhouse. The area encompassed by School District Number Seven straddled both sides of the Willowemoc Creek, from Alphabet Decker's store, including the Collins and Moore families, to Buck Eddy and the isolated families living on Burnt Hill. Within the 1870 Federal Census, children who were of school age are listed as whether they have had attended school during the past year. By compiling the names of the known and assumed families living in District Seven, there appears to be approximately thirty-five children, all within the ages of six and seventeen, who were listed as having attended the school. The number of school-age children in the district five years later, again using the known and assumed families residing in the district, are slightly less in numbers, but still more than enough to fill the small one-room schoolhouse located across from the John Sheeley farm. [see February 20th]
With the firewood now stacked in the school's woodshed, it was now the responsibility of the teacher to arrive at the schoolhouse early and start the wood-stove to warm up the classroom before the students arrived. Teachers in these rural districts received little in the way of formal training, were most likely female, and most likely have had just graduated from the same school where they now taught. Salaries were comparable to the wages of ordinary farm laborers. For the year of 1875, teachers in the Town of Rockland were paid eight dollars a week. but that is if your were a male; women only made five dollars a week for teaching. Ida Sheeley, the twenty-one-year-old sister of Charley Sheeley [see October 4th and 6th] was the teacher for District Number Seven - Fred
|Saturday, November 21, 1874
"Stayed at home and cut wood nearly all day. Yearlings came around road and I turned them on the hill.
"B VanGaasbeck put two links in my chain and fixed iron for sled.
"Cool and windy.
"Billings and Katy called."
Drovers have been recently visiting the area purchasing livestock from the area farmers, but with the economy in the doldrums, prices that they are giving are low. Wilber Townsend, from up on the Irish Settlement, sold seventeen yearlings at fifteen dollars per head while cows were going for twenty-five dollars per head. Just two weeks earlier, on October 31st, Joel purchased two yearling, each for twenty-two dollars. While working with his new steers, drawing wood off of the hill on November 13th, his steers ran off, smashing up his wagon. After over a week on the loose, they have finally reappeared.
Bishop VanGaasbeck is the neighborhood blacksmith; "The blacksmith was an important man in the economic life of every pioneer community. All other craftsmen depended upon him. He made their tools to a great extent and supplied the efforts of his skill to a great deal of their product. The carpenter's tool to a great extent were handmade by the local blacksmith - likewise the wagon-maker who usually worked in a shop adjoining. The wagon-maker needed to have is vehicle "ironed off" in the blacksmith shop. - fred
"The blacksmith's shop has always been a meeting place for men from the entire community. Here all types and classes came and talked among themselves or with the blacksmith. It might readily be expected then that all he needed to do was to keep his ears open and he became well informed on local problems and politics. As a result, the blacksmith had a thorough understanding of the economic, social, political and every other thought of his community. The smith, a mighty man, is he - Longfellow has said."*
*The above excerpts, written during the early 1940's, are from Charles Hicks, past town historian for the Town of Callicoon.
|Sunday, November 22, 1874
"Went over to David Munson's, found them at home. Julia had a bad swelling on her chin. Called at Mr. Munson's. Came home. Called at Uncle Billing's, he had gone to Oliver Sprague's.
"Squally and snowing in evening."
The weather has been wintry for the past week, with temperatures remaining well below freezing during this period. With the rivers already running at low levels on account of the dry weather conditions from this past fall, sections have begun to freeze over. This is unusually early for the rivers to become frozen. In fact, nobody has been able to recollect it ever happening during the month of November. Proprietors of mills and tanneries who rely on the rivers and creeks to power their plants, are already concerned with the lack of water due to the drought, and now with the threat of what little water now in the creek beds being locked up into ice, they may be forced to curtail operations. - Fred
|Monday, November 23, 1874
"Done my chores and went over to Uncle Billing's and helped him butcher cow. Oliver Sprague helped also. Came home after noon and worked around home.
"Weather quite rainy."
The stormy weather that began as snow last night now has produced the mixed bag of precipitation as snow, hail and rain. By mid-afternoon, it became all rain, washing much of the snow that had accumulated away. Later in the afternoon, violent thunderstorms loudly passed over Sullivan County as loud claps of thunder accompanied with bright flashes of lightning swirled about overhead before the storm finally ended, bringing the temperatures back down to below freezing. - Fred
|Tuesday, November 24, 1874
"Went on the hill and saw fox beds, came home and Uncle Billings came up and we butchered my pig. After noon went to depot, got some rope and carriage bolts. Deerskins did not come."
"The lightning that accompanied the severe rain and hail storm Monday evening played havoc with some of the Midland telegraph offices. It struck the Liberty office just as the down mail reached there. It melted the lines, burned up the machine, upset the furniture, broke out the windows, blacked the walls and gave quite a shock to some of the passengers in waiting. A gentleman on the train said that the flash looked like a dozen headlights blazing into the cars. The thunder was terrific. - Fred
"The Liberty Falls office was visited at the same time, although not quite so severely. The machine was destroyed at the Monticello office. One of the wires in the main depot at Middletown was turned off and a ball of fire as big as a man's fist fell on the floor."
November 26, 1874
|Wednesday, November 25, 1874
"Worked at banking house. Cut up pig. Wrote slips of jurors names to draw road jury. Went to depot with H E Rose. Sent tub of butter to Flemming, Adams & Howe, 115 Warren Street, New York. Deer skins arrived, paid $5.30 for them.
"Levi Dodge credit for 1 days work, 50c
"Received Compulsory Education Act
"Went up in Ireland in evening, called at Lairs, played euchre at V's."
In an effort to improve the state's education system, and assimilate the increasing number of immigrant children into the ways of their new country, legislation was passed at Albany on May 11th, 1874, known as the Compulsory Education Act. The most important aspect of this new law is the requirement that all children between the ages of eight and fourteen years must attend either a public or private school for at least fourteen weeks during a school year. School trustees are empowered to enforce this regulation by applying penalties on those parents who fail to send their children to school without justifiable reasons.
The new legislation has been printed and distributed to all of the town clerks within the state, who were then to distribute the law amongst that township's school trustees. Since the new law soon goes into effect the first of the coming year, the town clerks are authorized to set up meetings with the trustees to make arrangements and rules on how best to enforce the new law in their locality. - Fred
|Thursday, November 26, 1874
"Packed pork and cut some wood. Wm Purvis came and we drew road jury. I drew a load of wood off the hill with steers. Grandfather called and got two fox traps.
"Went to raising barn at James Vernooy's."
Joel Hodge has come to pick up his fox-traps. For the seven weeks that they have been set-up, they had shown very little in the way of results, with the capture of only a single fox.
James Vernooy is the fifty-two-year-old farmer whose place was located overlooking the settlement known as Little Ireland. The son of Irish immigrants, his family was one of the first to settle in this section, on this very same farm. On this Thanksgiving day, families from the surrounding neighborhood have shown up to help participate in a barn raising, a festive occasion for these rural families. Wooden beams have been cut, hewn and doweled together into sections while lying on the ground. With the help of teams of work animals, each section is then raised one section at a time, joined together forming the structure's outside walls and interior petitions as they are assembled forming the skeletal shape of a barn, now ready for exterior planking. As the men worked on the barn, no doubt a Thanksgiving feast was being prepared inside the Vernooy kitchen to celebrate both the barn raising and the holiday. - Fred
|Friday, November 27, 1874
"Went down to Westfield Flats, delivered Comp. Ed. Act.
"Called at A Cochran's, got diary, traps and broadax and got 1 lb powder at S & W's. Left axe halves for H Becker. Came home.
"A Cochran credit for 1 diary 2.00
S & W credit for 1 lb powder, 60c
Lambert Dodge due for 1/2 lb powder, 30c
"Did not see Doc Read. copied road law."
As the clerk for the Town of Rockland, Joel was responsible for delivering the new state education law to the trustees for all the school districts within the township. As stated in the language of the new law, school trustees were not only responsible for enforcing the law concerning student attendance, but were also held accountable. Therefore, it was important that the school officials have a chance to review the new regulations to understand the requirements that will be forced upon them.
There have been many objections raised by many trustees throughout the state, concerning some of the requirements, and the practicality of enforcing these rules in sparsely populated rural areas such as the Town of Rockland. Some school officials are contemplating whether to accept the law as it is written or just plain ignore it. Their first requirement is to attend the upcoming school trustees' meeting scheduled by Joel, but the trustees' attendance is by no means certain. - Fred
|Saturday, November 28, 1874
"Cut some wood, made out road certificates for J W Davis and J G Purvis. Went to depot and delivered them, received 1.00 from J G Purvis. Came home and went to Col Moore's, played euchre with D J Moore.
"J W Davis due for one road certificate, 1.00.
"Due D J M 35c for cards."
Throughout the year, Joel has often played the popular card game of euchre, but today, in the game with Dave Moore, the Colonel's son, it appears that the normally frugal Joel wagered his money on the game's outcome, and lost. In this age of immoral intolerance, gambling ranked high on the reformers' list of deadly sins, next to inebriation. Sunday morning sermons and newspaper editorials were often fashioned around these moral transgressions. For those who likened themselves as decent folks, the evil of roadhouse and rum-hole gambling in the form of card games and dice was likened to fraud and stealing, leading to a downward spiral of further deceit and crime for which there was no hope. - Fred
|Sunday, November 29, 1874
"At home nearly all day. Called at G W Sprague's and Hiram Rose's. Mother went to B VanGaasbeck's. Snowed and blew hard in morning, intended to go to depot but weather so bad did not. Wrote to S."
The storm of Saturday evening brought much needed rain to the rivers and creeks, raising the level of both considerably, and also raising the hopes of lumberman who had their rafts laying idle along the river banks waiting for the usual fall freshet so they can send them off. By early Sunday morning, it turned colder and the rain turned to snow, dashing the hopes of the raftsmen as the rivers did not get quite high enough before the rain-to-snow changeover.
Joel continued his correspondence with Mary Schoonmaker, the daughter of Benjamin Schoonmaker of Parksville, replying to her letter he received on October 27th. - Fred
|Monday, November 30, 1874
"Grained two deer skins and cut some wood. Saw a fox on the hill. Wrote to Irwin, called at Decker's in evening. Cold day."
The deer skins Joel was waiting for finally arrived at Morsston Depot last Wednesday. The mere fact that Joel had to purchase deer skins from Charles Rosdick, the New York City leather merchant, indicates the condition of the local deer herd, or rather the lack of one. Working on the deer skins, Joel probably left the skins sit in a wooden tub filled with a solution of water and hardwood ashes. Soaking in this concoction, the pores on the hide are opened, loosening their grip on hair. Rubbing across the hide with a dull hatchet or axe blade, the hair is then scrapped off. - Fred