Joel Kimball Diary - February 1874
|Sunday, February 1, 1874
"Done chores and went on the hill and fed cattle and went over to Col. Moore's. Stayed until about 5 o'clock and came home and done chores.
Cool day. Juliet and mother went to DeBruce."
Colonel Moore's farm was midway up Johnston Mountain, on the road that led
from James Sprague's to Beaverkill. Well, you know that is not exactly true,
because the boundaries of his farm were not actually on the road, but along
a tributary brook that ran parallel with the road and to gain access to the
road from his farm, he needed to ford the brook, which he did by way of a
pole bridge, and, for a short distance, cross the lands of Thomas Collins.
Now that had never been a problem before, I mean crossing Collins' land,
since Thomas was married to the Colonel's daughter and, to keep peace in the
family, never objected to that particular use of his land by his in-laws.
But now, in 1874, Collins, the Civil War hero, though he had yet to be
honored as such and whose pension was considered meager at best, was
beginning to have difficulties in keeping up with the payments on his own
farm and soon would eventually lose it.
|Monday, February 2, 1874
"Cut wood before noon and shelled corn. Went on the hill and drew down load of wood.
"Commenced snowing in afternoon, wind blowing from the east."
The snowy day kept Joel close to home, perhaps a chance to enjoy the tea he
had picked up at Gray & Davis, the general merchandise store at Parksville,
during his return trip from Uncle Asa's. The Gray brothers, James D. and
Cyrus, were prominent business men of Parksville, involved with numerous
|Tuesday, February 3, 1874
"About six inches new snow. Drew some wood and shelled corn. Called at post office in evening.
"Can't think of more to write."
Another slow, uneventful day for Joel, an opportunity to revisit the
|Wednesday, February 4, 1874
"Went to Westfield to mill with steers, called at Jos. Green's. Saw James Johnston and wife and others. Got some valentines.
"Started for home about two o'clock, arrived at six, all OK.
Called at J. Rush's to get library, could not carry it as I had no box.
"Cool and windy."
After spending two days "shelling" corn, Joel took the grain to the
gristmill at Westfield Flats. The mill was built, or rather rebuilt after a
devastating fire razed the original structure, in 1850 by Joseph Reynolds,
next to his tannery. Five years later, Ezekiel Palen, whose family were
noted tanners from Greene and other portions of Sullivan counties, bought
out Reynolds and eventually his brother-in-law, Horace Utter, joined in the
venture, both businesses operating under the name "Utter & Palen". By 1872,
Utter was the sole proprietor of both businesses.
|Thursday, February 5, 1874
"Drew a load of wood and went to depot to go to Flats to practice with the band. Train did not arrive until about seven o'clock, then rode to Flats with gravel train, found Dr. Tuttle and Jay Morton and M. Duhr. Got to Flats about eight o'clock, practiced some with Ger. R. Green."
There was always one thing that you could depend on with the Oswego and Midland Railroad; that the train service was undependable. Weather was always a problem; slides and washouts required constant track maintenance; before the advent of the Munshell snowplow, crews of workers laboriously removed snow by hand-shovelling; equipment failure and derailments were all too common, all creating further delays. During the spring of 1873, the scheduled arrival of the "mail train" was delayed by several days. When the train finally did arrive, those who patiently waited for mail delivery were informed that there was not mail to be delivered; the mail-agent had forgotten to load the mail onto the train. - Fred
|Friday, February 6, 1874
"Rode to Uncle H. Hodge with Joe Green. Stopped and saw folks, intended to to to Benj. Pratt's to buy back crank augur and Hiram told me it had not come back from down the river. Started for home about 3 o'clock, arrived about 5.
"Sent for the New York Weekly."
"Uncle H. Hodge" was the brother to Joel Kimball's mother. Their
father, also named Joel, along with his young family, left the Hodge farm at
Neversink, sometime before 1825, and came to the still relatively untouched
forests of Rockland township. Settling along the road between Purvis and
Westfield Flats, this branch of the Hodge family were woodsmen, sawyers and
rafters who obtained numerous woodlots on the Willowemoc's forested
hillsides. One of these lots was located along Stewart Brook, which followed
along the road that led from Westfield Flats to Callicoon Depot, then known
as the Callicoon Turnpike.
|Saturday, February 7, 1874
"Cut wood and read Scottish Chiefs until noon. Went on the hill and drew a load of wood and cut some more. Went to post office and received letter from father. Sharpened saw for B. VanGaasbeck, brought cross-cut home from J.E. Sprague."
As Joel's daily journal entries suggest, he enjoyed reading. William
Wallace was a Scottish patriot who led the fight against King Edward's
invasion during the war for Scottish independence at the end of the
thirteenth century. Over the succeeding centuries, Wallace's achievements
have become legendary to his fellow countrymen, leading Jane Porter, in
1810, to write the historical fiction "Scottish Chiefs". This romanticized
version of Wallace's achievements, to some contemporaries, seemed to have
been greatly exaggerated, but the legends Porter helped expand persists to
this day, being depicted in the recent, highly acclaimed film, "Braveheart"
Sunday, February 8, 1874
"Read some in Scottish Chiefs and went on the hill and Col. Moore's. Stayed short time, saw Wm. Wagner who brought mail. Heard Matt is coming home."
In the early 1840's, farmers from the Catskills and upper Hudson
valley, who were bound with leases to their aristocratic landlords,
reminiscent of a semi-feudal system, went on an area-wide protest when
they refused to pay their rent. When representatives of the landlords
attempted to get the back rents due them, the tenants rebelled, gaining
support throughout the whole region.
|Monday, February 9, 1874
"Drew wood and chiseled some by the house. Cold and windy. Finished reading Scottish Chiefs."
The New York and Oswego Midland Railroad's line was completed on the
evening of July 9th, 1873, with the laying of the last rail being driven by
the last spike along the route west of Westfield Flats. The joining of the
eastern and western sections of the trunk line brought out the road's
dignitaries, newspaper reporters and a brass band, all accompanied with a
blast from a howitzer in celebration of the occasion.
Tuesday, February 10, 1874
"Cut and drew wood all day. Snow quite deep and wind blowing quite hard."
Instead of wages, employees' back wages from the New York and Oswego
Midland were paid in company script, promissory notes which were not
honored by the company until the first of the coming year, 1874.
Meanwhile, on November 1st, the company had laid off the force of men who
worked the gravel trains and who were not included in the script exchange,
thus denied their back pay. Out of work and out of money, the men seized
control of the railroad's property at Summitville on February 2nd, spiking
the switches and turntable, chaining up locomotives and cutting telegraph
wires, stopping freight and passenger service along the line. - Fred
|Wednesday, February 11, 1874
"Drew two loads of wood, H.E. Rose helped me some. Wood in the afternoon. Pretty cool and windy. Sawed large soft maple tree."
Five freight trains were being held up at Summitville by the
unemployed railroad workers who were demanding back wages, and whose actions
were now generating excitement up and down the line. New York and Oswego
Midland officials, the company's receiver and the United States Marshal with
a posse of men, rushed to the scene on February 3, where a confrontation was
avoided when the men were promised back-pay in the form of receiver's
certificates. Trains were again moving by the next morning. Though the
immediate crises was over, the company and the workers would soon discover
that the problem had yet to be solved. - Fred
|Thursday, February 12, 1874
"Drew two loads of wood and went to Sprague's and got Decker's horse and sleigh and went to Flats and practiced with brass band. Jim Sprague and A. Vernooy went with me. Donation at Andrews, did not attend, had a pleasant time.
"Got new fur collar.
"Sent two letters, one to Lida and one to L.T."
The spiritual needs of these early settlers, before they had any
churches, were administered by "Circuit Riders", ministers who traveled from
community to community, delivering their message wherever a congregation
could be assembled; the school house, living room parlors or an outdoor
"camp meeting". In 1869, the residents of Westfield Flats banded together
and erected their first church building, of the Methodist denomination, on
lands donated by Austin Dodge. To help pay the salary of the church's
resident minister, donation parties were held on a regular basis.
|Friday, February 13, 1874
"Drew one load of wood from the hill and cut some. After noon went to
depot, called at Deckers' and J. Velies. Read New York Weekly. Sent
two letters, one to M.S. nd one to L.D.
"Weather warm and rainy, snow disappearing fast."
Joel has been in correspondence with "L.D." since the first of the
year [presumedly Lydia Dodge, though Joel is not telling], but now, since
his visit to Neversink last month, he has begun a new correspondence, one
that will eventually be long-lasting, with "M.S.", Mary Schoonmaker, the
daughter of Ben Schoonmaker from Krum's Settlement. Mary's
great-grandfather, Garrett Van Benschoten, was one of the pioneers who
settled in the Neversink Valley. A veteran of the Revolutionary War, he
joined a company of volunteers and served in George Washington's rag-tag
army throughout the war, participating in its military campaigns, including
the bitter winter at Valley Forge.
|Saturday, February 14, 1874
"Worked around house before noon. After noon H.E. Rose and I went on hill and cut wood and fed cattle. Saw Wm. P. Rose. Finished sawing maple tree, have a fine lot of wood. Called at office and read papers."
If anyone could be blamed for pouring fuel onto the fire of the
Anti-Rent Wars, Gross Hardenburgh would probably be considered as being the
one who struck the match. An aristrocratic blowhard and a drunkard with a
fiery temper, he rode up and down his "serfdom" demanding excessive rents,
threatening eviction and bullying the population. As the general temper of
the tenants became hostile, resistance to Hardenburgh'
|Sunday, February 15, 1874
"Quite a pleasant day. Went to church at school house, heard sermon delivered by Andrews. Called at John Sheeley's, saw Sid and Charlie. Freight train came and stopped in cut near Sheeley's and engine went to Morsston for water, leaving train in cut. Mother and Adilie went to meeting at Purvis church and I went on hill."
Locomotives for the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad were driven
by steam, generated within its boilers requiring the train to make numerous
stops along its route to maintain sufficient water level. Since many of the
small communities along the line had yet to have municipal water systems,
adequate water for the railroad's use often was unreliable, especially in
times of drought or in the dead of winter when the rivers, a chief source of
water, were frozen solid.
|Monday, February 16, 1874
"Done chores and cut wood before noon. After noon went up to Hiram Rose's and helped H.E. Rose cut wood until night. Saw ten partridges as we were coming out of woods.
"Cool and windy in the evening."
The long and continuous grade of the Midland's railroad bed between
East Branch and Livingston Manor presented another type of hazard to any
unsuspecting railroad crew. In early November of 1892, Train No. 31 stopped
at Appley's switch, a lumber camp site along the line between the Livingston
Manor and Roscoe stations, to pick up a car loaded with wood. Uncoupling a
section of cars from the rear end of the freight train, the engine backed
down the switch for the pick-up, leaving the uncoupled cars on the main
track. The rear brakeman went to assist the train's crew when, to his
consternation, noticed the uncoupled cars begin their own, enginless,
journey back toward the direction they came.
With the continuous grade, the runaway train gained momentum as it rolled past the Roscoe station. It gathered speed as it whizzed past Cook's Falls and Horton. Those who happened to be near the track were startled with the site of the train flying by, approaching speeds of sixty miles an hour, sailing through Trout Brook and East Branch. Before approaching Fish's Eddy. the railroad bed reverses its grade which, fortunately, slowed the train's momentum and it eventually came to a stop without doing any real harm, except for maybe some heart palpitations of the railroad's employees and those who witnessed the train's harrowing journey. - Fred
|Tuesday, February 17, 1874
"Cold and windy, snow squalls.
"Cut some wood, went on the hill and fed cattle. Filed saw for E. Sprague and sent it to him, he sent it back.
I helped H.E. Rose saw wood in the afternoon. Called at post office, did not get any mail. Saw Truman the apple man."
One of the unanswered mysteries of Livingston Manor, one that probably
will never be solved, is just who is buried in Mott Cemetery. Located on the
flats across the river from Sprague's, it is the oldest burying grounds for
this section of the town. Many members of the Mott family are buried in this
cemetery but neighboring their burial plots are many of their neighbors,
many of whose identities and burial locations have become lost over the
passage of time. The few fortunate ones have stones of marble that have
survived the years, inscriptions still able to be deciphered. Others are
marked with slabs of sandstone, local rock cut and quarried from the
hillside overlooking the valley, but whose inscriptions have long been worn
away with the stone's slow disintegration. Those less fortunate, and
probably with less means when in life, have their sites marked only by
fieldstones, standing upright above the tall grass to mark the deceased
individual's location. For many, these stones have all disappeared, the
identity of the site of these buried souls now noted only by the elongated
depression left in the ground's surface. For those least fortunate, perhaps
the majority of the cemetery's inhabitants, are those whose stones are gone,
washed away by floods, and the depression caused by their decomposition
being filled in with the river's deposition.
I have heard that the DAR cataloged the Motts Flats Cem back in the early 1930s, but try as I may- I can not find a member who knows about or has access to this listing. (I can't find a list for the Neversink removals either.)
Note: John Rose did not come from Schoharie, that is an error sold by a professional researcher who had her facts mixed up. John's youngest daughter, Christinia Rose who married Andrew Longyear Bush, said John came from New England, he most likely was born in the eastern section of New York called "the Oblong" or "the Gore". Family history, meaning -people actually descended from-, says family is of Scottish origin. evelyn
I know I'm threading on thin ice when I bring up the Rose family. I had seen somewhere, perhaps from the same researcher, that the Rose ancestors were of German descent, with the original spelling being "Roos". The Rose family that migrated to Shandelee via Callicoon Center had come originally from Germany, and the original spelling, as it is spelled in the German cemetery at Callicoon Center is "Ros". Fred
|Wednesday, February 18, 1874
"Cut wood until noon, then went up to depot and to Morsston. Fisk paid me one dollar for Patrick Kief and I got neck-tie and came home and had very bad head-ache. Read paper and a letter from L. Dodge, Iowa. Did not go to spelling school."
coming of the Midland railroad, the community surrounding the tannery
enterprise of Henry Osborn and Medad Morss was them known as Morsston. Small
businesses in this factory town served both the tannery and its employees.
Easy access to leather allowed the shoemaker George Akins to flourish. The
wagon and two blacksmith shops served the tannery, teamsters and local
farmers. Both Bishop VanGaasbeck and John DuBois were the village's
blacksmiths, the latter also operating the company store of dry goods and
groceries. Besides selling Joel his neck-tie, the store's space also served
as a general gathering place for the local residents; early meetings of the
town board as well as court sessions of the local magistrate were held at
the store. A combination of the building of the new railroad depot over a
mile away near Purvis and the financial troubles of Morss's tannery all but
doomed this tiny community. Fred
|Thursday, February 19, 1874
Cut some wood and read some in paper, do not feel very well. After noon went to Flats, called at Uncle Oliver Borden's and got directions for buying deer skins in New York, 36 Spruce Street, John R. Fosdick. Practiced with the band and attended dance at Green's.
"One meal at Green's."
The purchase of the deer-skin earlier, which resulted in a
small profit, struck Joel's entrepreneur side with him getting directions
from his uncle, who was a shoemaker, on contacting a New York leather
|Friday, February 20, 1874
"Started for home about half past five, arrived about seven, found Matt Moore and Johnny Collins here, ate breakfast and done chores and went to school. Came home at noon. Johnny and I sawed some wood and he went home. Adele and Martha came from school and M went home. I called at Decker's and got papers."
During this era, young boys often did not finish their schooling; the
obligation of earning wages to help the family or the lure of adventure
enticing the lads away from the classroom. Perhaps this was also the case
for Joel, but now, being older and wiser at the age of 28, sought to improve
his education, as noted in his dairy this day and earlier in the week as he
states that he was attending "spelling school". Or maybe it was just that
he, along with the Moore boys, were sweet on the new young teacher.
|Saturday, February 21, 1874
"Cut wood and read Weekly. Commenced to make a harrow. Called at post office and received letter from Lillie and one from Geo. R. Green.
"Weather warm and foggy, snow melting some.
"Joel Hodge and Nettie called and we cracked butternuts. Worked down in shop making auger crank and wrote caucus notice. Wrote to father."
Joel Kimball -
The Kimballs were now receiving the New York Weekly, a weekly
newspaper, or more accurately put, a "story-paper,
|Sunday, February 22, 1874
"Stayed at home until after noon, then went up to Sprague's and called at Laf's, saw Warren and Jeffrey Campbell. Called at B. VanGaasbeck'
"Still warm and rainy.
"Wrote to Tillie."
Jeffrey Campbell and Lafayette Sprague, young men who were about
Joel's age, were cousins; Catherine Campbell, Jeffrey's mother, being the
sister to James Emmett Sprague, of Purvis Post Office, and Erastus Sprague,
whose farm was next to the Mott covered bridge.
|Monday, February 23, 1874
"Went to shop and Bish and I finished crank and I put handles on. After noon went on the hill and made two bar posts. Laf Sprague came up and stayed until I finished them and we came down and cracked butternuts and fixed saw.
"Weather warm all day, beautiful sunset. Growing cool and windy."
Lafayette spent two years employed by the new railroad, working on
building the wooden trestles and bridges along its route; the railway's
passage through the tortuous, rough terrain of the Catskills providing
plenty of work. Besides the numerous river crossings, especially along the
Willowemoc, deep valley ravines had to be crossed which were done by use of
trestles, connecting the valley walls with ribbons of iron rails. These
lofty structures required skill in engineering to build as well as nerves of
steel to cross.
|Tuesday, February 24, 1874
"Cold and windy.
"Cut wood until 11 o'clock then went to J. Decker's and saw G.R. Green and A.S. Rockwell and M.R. Dodge. Went to depot, telegraphed to M.N. Dodge for A.S. Rockwell, no caucus until Saturday.
"Sent to Joe Corey and Nevel for two augers. Two hours for H.E. Rose, one and one half for myself. Left $1.00 in silver with Denman, received currency.
"Saw Lida at Motts. Ritta Crippen at home when I arrived."
Though the introduction of the Midland Railroad is considered to have
brought these isolated communities into the modern world, by 1874 standards,
perhaps just as important, and seldom mentioned, was the telegraph wires
that ran along the railroad's right-of-way allowing these rural folks to be
able to instantly communicate with the rest of the world with just .- .. . -
.. .. . -.- . . .-. - .... . - . -- . --. . .. .- ..... .... -.-. .. .. ...
- . . ..... (Morse Code)
|Wednesday, February 25, 1874
"Went on the hill and rolled some blocks of wood off the hill and split them up. John Collins came over and we cut some beech and fed cattle and came home. Commenced snowing about 10 o'clock and snowed remainder of the day. Went up to blacksmith shop and made handle for grafting bob, called at Decker's and came home."
Again, trouble erupted along the route of the New York and Oswego
Midland when the unemployed workers, who were given company script instead
of back wages owed, found out that the paper was unredeemable and worthless.
As before, the aggrieved men assembled at the Summittville station, spiked
switches and lock up cars in an effort to delay the passage of trains.
|Thursday, February 26, 1874
"Snow about six inches deep.
"Cut wood at the house until noon, then went on the hill and hunted rabbits some and cut wood. Finished cutting beech tree. Came home and called at Decker's in evening. Talked of giving John Cotter a donation.
"Weather cool and pleasant, snow melted a little."
It is not much different today in our community than it was one
hundred and thirty-five years ago; when a family suffers through a tragedy,
the town-folks gather, raise funds and offers their support to the stricken
family. Though no area newspapers have survived from this particular time
period, the John Cotter family appear to have suffered some problem, perhaps
a devastating fire. Before fire protection became organized with the
formation of local fire companies, little could be done to save a rural
homestead when a fire was discovered, except to save as much of the
furnishings and household goods as possible before the family was driven
back by the heat and flames and the structure turned into a pile of
|Friday, February 27, 1874
"Went on the hill and cut some wood. After noon went to the depot and got pair of overshoes for mother, paid for them. Received augur from New York by express.
"Democratic caucus at Cyrus Mott's today;
John Davidson - supervisor
A.R. Purvis - commissioner
Thos. Seeley - justice
Geo. Preston - justice
Geo. W. Sprague - assessor
E. Hodge, Jim Bailey - overseer of the poor
Gillett, Viele and Knickerbocker - constables
Calvin Knickerbocker - collector
Captain Davis and B. Akins - directors of election"
Just as the lumbering and rafting professions ran through the Kimball
Does anyone know who Captain Davis is? Would
appreciate any leads. Thank you!
Joel Kimball's mention of "Captain Davis" is probably in reference to
James Wals Davis. Some correspondents to local newspapers, writing during
this period, also, on occasion, referred to him as "Captain", though he
never received this rank while serving with the 143rd NYV. - fred
|Saturday, February 28, 1874
"George Hodge and I went on the hill and killed a rabbit, came home about noon. Found Uncle Oliver here and Thos. Collins and family.
"Went to Republican caucus."
The candidates for the upcoming general election have been chosen by
both parties and Joel has thrown his hat into the ring, seeking the position
of town clerk. The current supervisor for the Town of Rockland, Abram
Rockwell, the Westfield Flat merchant, is not seeking re-election so his
neighbor and fellow Flat's merchant Montgomery Dodge, is running in his
place on the Republican ticket.