Joel Kimball Diary - June 1874


Monday, June 1, 1874

"Ploughed up piece of green-sward on flat for buckwheat before noon. After noon went on the hill and peeled some bark.

"Cool and pleasant.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

It is unknown whether the residents of Purvis celebrated Decoration Day in any fashion in 1874, but with the numerous war veterans who resided at that place, including many of Joel's neighbors such as John Decker, Tom Collins, Lafayette Sprague and Hiram Rose, it is not hard to imagine that at least some veterans gathered to reminisce over their earlier days of adventure, courage and valor, along with the tedious army life.

The little community of Purvis was full of excitement as officers representing the newly formed Sullivan County Regiment held a rally there on August 16th, 1862, arousing the patriotic passions of its citizenry with spirited speeches. With the nation at war, volunteers were asked to enlist into the regiment throughout the township and the men, young men, and boys from the surrounding settlements and farms answered the call that day, leaving family and home to volunteer to the lure of adventure and passions of war. The Decker and Whipple boys came from Brown Settlement, The Beasmer and Winner lads came from DeBruce and the Ellis and Atwell boys from Purvis, all were among those inspired by "Captain" George Decker and "Lieutenant" Jirah Young to enlist into the unit that was being formed at Liberty. Throughout the week, recruiters from other units of the local regiment also held similar rallies within the township.

Interestingly enough, Joel's neighbors did not immediately enlist at the Purvis rally, but traveled to Liberty and enlisted at the Decker's Company H "headquarters" later on the same day. Five hundred dollars was being distributed by the "Captain" amongst those privates who enlisted in his unit, but with his rally being too successful, Tom Collins, Hiram Rose Hiram Borden, Laf Sprague and Archibald Cochran were sent to Liberty where they were guaranteed the bonus money. All in all, sixty-seven volunteers from the Town of Rockland enrolled that week, more than what had been expected. - fred


Tuesday, June 2, 1874

"Went on the hill and peeled bark until noon.

"Wilmot and Judson Appley came and we went fishing in the river, caught quite a mess, part trout and some suckers.

"Weather cool and pleasant.

"Abe went with H.E. Rose and repaired fence.

"Abe one day.

"Wilmot and I went to flats with Decker's horse and got valise and hickory butt."

Joel Kimball

Cochran & Appley's tannery had not reopened this spring, as hoped, but still with the intentions to resume operations, the company began to stockpile cords of hemlock bark. Leather was an important commodity not only for its use in footwear, but also its use in other articles of clothing, horse and wagon equipment and coverings for furniture. The tannic acid distilled from the hemlock bark was an essential ingredient in making leather, for it helped preserve the leather, adding strength, making it pliable and improving its ability to resist water. - fred

Wednesday, June 3, 1874

"Wilmot, Jackson and I went over to the Beaverkill fishing, went up Berry Brook, fished nearly all day. Called at Julia's and ate dinner and came home. Caught 93 fish. Julia and Dave came over.

"Abe harrowed ground and drew some slabs.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Buckwheat was an important for these early farmers. The crop thrived best with cool, moist conditions, did well with poorly drained soils and matured quickly. It was the ideal crop for the short growing season during the few short summer months in the Catskills.

The largest portion of the tilled ground on the Kimball farm was devoted to buckwheat. Two acres were planted with the crop and in the fall of 1874, produced over thirty bushels of grain. The grain was partially used as feed for the livestock, the rest milled into flour. - fred

Thursday, June 4, 1874

"Split hickory into halves. Set out some cabbage plants and repaired Decker's fly rod. The boys went to Oliver Maffets, Judson came back at tea time.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Oliver James Maffet was the son of John Maffet, who married Sarah [or Sally, depending on who you wish to believe] Kimball, the daughter of Oliver Kimball, Joel's grandfather.

Oliver James Maffet married Lovila Borden, the daughter of Oliver Borden [the shoemaker at Westfield Flats], who was married to Catherine Hodge, the sister of Lavina Hodge, Joel's mother. Therefore, Joel's cousin married Joel's cousin.

Also, Lovila Borden Maffet's father, Oliver Borden, was the son of Caleb Borden, who married Polly Kimball, the sister to Sarah [or Sally, depending on who you wish to believe] Kimball Maffet and the daughter of Oliver Kimball, Joel's grandfather. - fred

Friday, June 5, 1874

"Went on the hill and repaired log fence, cut some pea brush and trees, drew brush down hill. Boys went to Flats. Abe and I fixed brush fence in afternoon.

"Weather very warm.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

It should be noted that Oliver James Maffet, though a member of the Maffet family, was not a member of the notorious Maffet gang. The dastardly deeds attributed to these bullies and thieves, led by George Maffet, Oliver's uncle, and his boys, terrorized Purvis and the surrounding area with their lawlessness throughout the rest of the decade

With the death of Edward Livingston in 1864, title to the estate's manor house and farm was transferred to his oldest nephew, Charles Octavious Livingston. Having no interest in retaining his uncle's country manor, the nephew sold a portion of the property to the Midland railroad company and the rest of the farm to Medad T. Morss. The railroad built a depot near the old Livingston house and Morss erected a steam lumber mill along the Cattail Brook, just above the depot. Utilizing the railroad for transporting his lumber, he stockpiled the wood near the depot.

During the late evening of July 27th, 1877, only two days after the Oakley wagon shop fire [see May 22], Wilbur Denman, clerk with the Divine, Dubois & Co.'s store, was awakened by the smell of smoke and the sounds of crackling flames. From his sleeping quarters above the store, which was across the tracks from the depot, he spotted the fire within the Morss lumber pile, and an individual in the act of spreading the flames. Denman, from past experience with reprobates, kept a loaded revolver on hand along with a brute of a dog. He fired two shots at the culprit and set the dog out in chase. The fire in the lumber was well beyond control when help arrived, the bucket brigade concentrating their efforts upon saving the depot and store. The heat from the lumber's blaze soon ignited the depot into a burst of flames, quickly consuming the structure. Nine railroad cars that were nearby were then threatened by the fire, but were teamed with horses and pulled away from the conflagration. After the excitement, the dog returned with a mouthful of britches. Investigation the next morning revealed that the dog had come upon the culprit as he was scaling the railroad's fencing. He made it over the fence along with his escape, but only by the seat of his britches, which the dog now proudly displayed. - fred

Saturday, June 6, 1874

"Peeled bark one half day on the hill. I hoed some in the garden, planted some green corn. Abe went away.

"Heavy thunder came making a freshet in the river. Mail train locomotive came off track in Swede cut, I went up, saw the men get her back and rode to depot on gravel train. Came home and found Irwin here.

"Abe, one half day."

Joel Kimball

The spring had been relatively cool and dry, but that came to an end with a booming cloudburst. Heavy downpours quickly filled the river beds, with runoff wreaking havoc in sections of Sullivan, Delaware, Orange and Ulster counties. Railroad companies throughout the eastern portion of the state were particularly affected by the deluge as tracks were either washed away or damaged, delaying or stopping train service. In Delaware County, rivers and streams flooded, washing away fields of crops and fencing, along with houses with at least one drowning reported. What crops that weren't destroyed by floodwaters were either knocked down by the torrent of rain or blown over by the accompanying gale. Numerous lightning strikes were reported, killing at least three farmers in Orange County as they worked in their fields. The storm ended with snow falling in portions of Sullivan County.

Lumber had been stockpiled along the river and streams waiting to be sent down by raft during the next freshet. With the sudden rise in the rivers, several rafts were sent out into the increasingly dangerous currents. One rafter, Harrison Kingsley of Hancock, was swept off his raft along the Delaware shortly after setting out. His body was found days later, floating over one hundred miles downriver, at Easton, Pennsylvania. - fred

Sunday, June 7, 1874

"Irwin and I went to John M Sheeley's, Ida was not home. Called at Sunday School and came home.

"Hitched up and went up to Capt. Albert Davis', saw Aunt Julia and Liz Davis. Aunt and Irwin started for home. I came home about six o'clock."

Joel Kimball

Joel Hitched up his steers to the wagon and headed to Morsston, visiting the family of Albert Davis who lived near this old tannery community. The Davis family, Jacobus and his sons, of which Albert was one, were early settlers in this section, coming from the Roundout valley in Ulster County and acquiring the then wild and virgin forest property that would become the Davis homestead between Purvis and Parksville.

"Aunt Julia" was the wife of Asa Hodge, from Neversink [see January 29th], and the sister of Albert's wife, the former Helen Krum. Liz is the twenty-seven year old daughter of Helen and Albert. Numerous references are included amongst Joel's daily entries throughout the year where he notes that he has either received or sent a letter to "L". Perhaps there was a more than passing interest with the young couple, which, if so, would soon change with the recent arrival of the young tinsmith from Napanoch, James Stevens, who was now in the midst of setting up shop with the firm of Divine, DuBois & Company at Morstion Depot. - fred

Monday, June 8, 1874

"Abe and I worked all day on road, commenced near blacksmith shop and worked down near the watering trough.

"Pleasant day.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Saturday's cloudburst, though not as severe as it was in other sections of the area, still created damage along the road in the town's highway district Number Fifteen, the section of road between Purvis Post Office and Westfield Flats. For the next two days, Joel and Abe worked on fixing the mile section of road that followed alongside the river. Joel would be credited for three and one half days of highway work with the district's roadmaster, while Abe only received his meager wage from his employer, which was six dollars a month, or by my calculation, barely 25 cents a day. - fred

Tuesday, June 9, 1874

"Abe worked on road until noon and I worked all day finishing my time, three and one half days. Abe hoed potatoes some in the afternoon.

"Heavy shower came in the afternoon, largest hail stones fell I ever saw, measured one, seven and one half inches in circumference; another, three and one half inches long.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Another in a series of serious thunder and lightning storms struck the region. Though Joel may have exaggerated a little concerning the size of the hail stones, it was not by that much. In the Hancock area, the hail from this storm was reported to be "the size of black walnuts" and completely covered the ground as if it were snow.

During the past few years, violent lightning storms appeared to be occurring with less frequency. One of the contemporary thinking heads theorized that the network of iron rails and telegraph wires now being placed along the ever increasing railroad routes throughout the country had lessened the severity of electrical storms, since there was becoming "a sort of electrical equilibrium of the earth by the distributing in equal amounts of the electrical fluid to every part." The spring and summer of 1874 would prove this was certainly not the case, as more frequent storms, with greater electrical intensity, and with more than the usual lightning strikes upon structures of all types, continually swept over the area, thus proving another age-old theory; think it long, think it wrong. - fred

Wednesday, June 10, 1874
<actual diary entry>

Since the first attempt to navigate the Delaware River system with rafts in 1746, lumbermen have continually attempted to improve the river's channel for rafting, clearing obstacles and opposing, often with violence, any new obstructions placed in the river. Besides bridge piers and dams, eel weirs and fish baskets, placed in the channel during periods of low water, were now hidden, unavoidable dangers that, if struck, could rip rafts apart. To assist the lumbermen, states that boarder the river enacted legislation and provided assistance for channel improvement to keep the river navigable. With narrow and shallow channels widened and deepened, boulders removed along with other improvements, raftsmen were now able to run the river with less water, utilizing smaller freshets throughout the season. These midseason runs, though, were not always successful.

During May of 1874, when the creeks' water level had receded after the early spring's runoff, local lumbermen worked on the channel at Westfield Flats, where the Beaverkill and Willowemoc creeks join together, changing the course of the two streams at this junction to allow easier passage of rafts. William Rose and Joel set out three days after the recent freshet for Cooks Falls, easily passing the rearranged channel at Westfield Flats. Water levels from a freshet rise and fall quickly in these smaller streams and the colt ran into difficulty before the Falls, either by lack of water or too swift a current, stranding the colt which was left behind along the river's bank, waiting until the next freshet to resume its trip. - fred


Thursday, June 12, 1874

"Abe and I went on the hill and peeled bark and cut fallow and cleaned barn floor. Commenced to rain and we came home, ate dinner and I set out some cabbage plants and made a fly rod for JDWM Decker. Broke it and commenced another.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

For everything there is a season, and for bark-peelers, the time to partake in that particular occupation begins the middle of May and lasts until the beginning of August. As the spring's warmth begins to awaken the hemlock from its wintry slumber, moisture is drawn up into the tree, its sticky sap becoming a natural lubircant under the outer bark layer. Peelers would girdle the tree through the bark at four foot intervals, fell the tree and slit the bark for removal. In cold weather the bark would adhere to the log, but at this time of year, the bark would "slip" off easily. It was then dried and stacked, similar to cordwood, waiting to be hauled to the tannery. - fred

I always wondered if the JDWM initials were for real. I am going to have to trust Joel from 1874 to now believe those initials are correct.
Ruth Cherecwich


Friday, June 12, 1874


"Carried Decker's rod up to him. Mother went to Julia's yesterday, I started for Neversink. Went to depot by Jack Sherwood's, Jack paid me 70c and two cigars for copying mortgage. Gave George Sturdevant copy of road survey. Took mail train to Parksville, arrived all OK. Walked to Neversink, arrived about 5 p.m., found folks all well.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Joel finished making a fly-rod for "Alphabet" Decker and delivered it to him on his way to Purvis, all in preparation for the fishing trip the men are planning to the waters along the Neversink River.

Correspondents for the local weekly newspapers had been lamenting throughout the fishing season of 1874 over the decline of fish within the area's rivers that year, placing the blame for this scarcity upon the cold and late spring, or last October's and January's flood. More likely, though the local scribes were yet to admit it, the real culprit for the problem was the fact that the rivers were now showing the effects of being over-fished. Over the years, the seclusion of the Willowemoc, Beaverkill and upper Neversink streams offered fine fishing for the local or to the few ardent sportsmen willing to make the arduous trek into the back-country sections of Sullivan County. But with the introduction of the Midland railroad, much of its route following along the banks of these same streams, easy access to these fishing grounds was enthusiastically promoted by the railroad and local businessmen, developing the area's early tourist industry, and the erection of numerous boarding establishments that catered to the ever-increasing number of visiting anglers. - fred

Saturday, June 13, 1874

"At Asa Hodge's, Neversink. Irwin and I went down to the creek and waited for John Decker and Bony Gillett. They came and we went up to the great bend and commenced fishing. Roasted fish and ate dinner, had a jolly time. Irwin and I caught 57 trout and one I caught weighed a pound.

"Cool day.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

The depletion of fish in the local rivers and ponds was becoming a concern to local residents and ardent sportsmen alike and attempts were made to replenish the stock. Sand Pond lies in the then virgin forests of the upper Willowemoc valley. The pond and surrounding tract of land was purchased in 1868 by James Spencer Van Cleff, and with the construction of a lodge overlooking the pond, the site became known as the first of the many fishing clubs that were to be formed along the shores of the area's streams and lakes [see Ed Van Putt's "The Beaverkill"]. Being an oasis for brook trout, club members improved the condition of the pond by clearing the spawning stream and raising the pond's water level. In the spring of 1874, the club stocked its waters with 20,000 young trout.

This, though, is a fish tale of two Sand Ponds. The second Sand Pond lies on the top of Shandelee, the "mountain" that forms the western rim of the Willowemoc valley between Purvis and Westfield. Along the pond's shores was the small farm of Johnny Darling, quite accomplished as hunter and fisherman, and well known for spreading tales of his exploits. Moving from Westfield Flats onto the Shandelee farm in 1869, he soon built a large boat for not only his own use on the waters of Sand Pond [Shandelee] but also for the accommodation of fishing parties that he would guide. Between Darling and his fishing excursions, the native species could not replenish itself quickly enough and it was no wonder that the fish population at Sand Pond [Shandelee] soon expired. In an effort to repopulate the underwater game at the lake, Henry Homer, Louis Meyers and Ben Hardenburgh, Youngsville businessmen who had landed interests on property surrounding portions of the lake, proposed to restock its waters with black bass. Now many saw this endeavor as foolhardy, especially with the likes of Darling living only a worm's throw from the lake, but little did these folks realize the leverage these businessmen had over the local fisherman; they held the mortgage on his little farm - fred

Sunday, June 14, 1874

"More pleasant weather.

"Irwin went to J Knight's and got his wagon and we started for Rockland about two o'clock. Arrived at Morsston about three.

"I called at Capt. D's. Irwin came to W. Davis's, had a pleasant visit at D.'s with L."

Joel Kimball

On the way home from Neversink, Joel and his cousin stopped at Old Morsston and visited the Albert and Henry Davis families. The Davis family came to the area from Ulster County a little before 1820, before Morsston was Morsston. One family historian cites that the father, Jacobus, was engaged in the tanning industry and upon his move to this area, he became involved with the William Bradley tannery at Parksville.

Many of the early settlers of Rockland were not landowners, but rented from members of the landed gentry or their heirs who were the tract owners of the Hardenburgh Patent. Such was the case in the Old Morsston section. Edward Livingston received a portion of the Livingston tract from his father in 1822 and soon began selling lots to the tenants who were already homesteading on the property. The Sullivan County records for these early deeds show that Henry W Davis was the first of the Davis landowners at Rockland, though the exact date is unrecorded and unknown, but by 1832 Davis sold the forty-eight acre lot located along the Little Beaverkill to Nathaniel Tomlinson, his brother-in-law. The Jacobus Davis deed from Edward Livingston is dated 1835 while Albert Davis' deed from the landlord is dated 1839. - fred

Fred, thank you so much for the Davis info you posted at the end of Joel Kimball's June diary entries.  

Jacobus Davis and his son, Henry W. are my ancestors, so I was thrilled to read about their land holdings in Rockland. Eventually Jacobus and part of the family moved to Michigan while Henry W. and Albert remained in Sullivan County. If anyone is researching this family and would like to share info, please contact me.  

I'm wondering if anyone knows when Albert Davis died? He and his wife Helen Krum were last enumerated in the 1880 Rockland census but I've had no luck finding them beyond that date.

Barbara Schaffer


Monday, June 15, 1874

"Home in the morning. I hoed in the garden and Abe harrowed buckwheat ground and I sowed New Silver Kuell buckwheat, some corn and potatoes, Made a fence around the cow yard.

"Weather quite pleasant.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

... The Youngsville businessmen released two hundred fully-grown bass into the waters of Sand Pond [Shandelee], some weighing as much as two pounds, utilizing Darling and his excursion boat to ferry the fish out onto the lake for release. The businessmen then mandated that no fishing would be allowed on the lake for the next three years, allowing the bass to reproduce into a sizable population, and to assure that this restriction would be enforced, Darling was picked to be the protectorate. This arrangement worked well for the businessmen, Darling and the fish, for Darling not only rid the lake of poachers, but became quite attached to his new watery neighbors, and they with him, following him around whenever Darling was on the lake or its shores. Darling trained the bass to come to his whistle and fed them from out of his hand. So attached was he that he was able to recognize each and every fish in the pond, and called then by name. The fish thrived under his care and grew to enormous size.... fred


Tuesday, June 16, 1874

"Abe and I went on the hill and cut toggle timber until noon, peeled one hemlock tree. Abe went away after noon. I took steers on the hill and drew toggle timber out of the fallow. Commenced to rain about five o'clock.

"Abe Mosier due.

"For order from J Decker,  2.50
 for seed at J Decker       1.25
 for cash                         .25

"Abe, one half day."

Joel Kimball

They were living with their widowed mother, Catherine Decker, when the brothers, Mathew and John, left their Brown Settlement farm to enlist with the newly organized Sullivan Regiment on August 16th, 1862. John W Decker joined Company H of the 143rd New York Infantry, serving with the unit throughout the war until the rigors of campaigning eventually disabled him from active duty. He was discharged from the 143rd in February of 1865, when instead of coming home, he enlisted into the Veteran Reserve Corps.

The Veteran Reserve Corps, originally known as the Invalid Corps, was comprised of soldiers who were discharged from active military service due to wounds received or afflicted by disease, but who were yet able to perform light military duties, such as orderlies, guards at military camps and public buildings and service around the Washington D.C. area. John W D Decker enlisted into the 9th Infantry Regiment of the Reserve Corps immediately after being discharged from the 143rd.

John W D M Decker, the newly married merchant and post master at Purvis Post Office, was at Ford's Theater on the night of April 14th, 1865. - fred


Wednesday, June 17, 1874

"Squally day. Geo. Sprague and I worked at fence part of the day between showers. I made two whip lashes. Abe came back in the afternoon.

"Pretty wet weather.

"Purvis, Sullivan County, New York.

"Joel Kimball"

.... The three year restriction prohibiting fishing on Sand Pond [Shandelee] was soon up and the Youngsville businessmen were to be the first to cast out into the lake to see the results of their restocking the pond. It was a sad day for Darling, who had grown quite fond of his scaly pets. As the men loaded their gear into the excursion boat, Darling warned them that they should be careful, being that all of the pond's underwater residents had never seen the sight of another person except for himself and he wasn't sure on how they would react to strangers. The men took little heed in the warnings, laughing as if it were just another one of Darling's tales, as they launched the excursion boat, heading out into the deepest part of the lake.

The first sighting of one of the monsters beneath the boat startled the men and one let out a high-pitched cry, the cry resembling Darling's whistle. Immediately, a ten-pound "whale" flew up out of the water and into the boat. Realizing that Darling was not in the boat, and now amongst complete strangers, the fish flopped and floundered all throughout the boat as the businessmen tumbled about to avoid the thrashing. Fishing poles were snapped, the bait pails were smashed and one of the men had his leg broken in the scuffle. Darling heard and saw the predicament the men were in and rowed out to their rescue. Coming upon the vessel, he whistled and the ten-pounder flipped itself over the side of the excursion boat and came up to Darling, who Darling recognized as being "Tillie", and fed her the morsel of food that the fish was expecting before all this commotion, satisfying the monster as she dove back down to its deep watery haunts. Once ashore, the businessmen were grateful to be rescued and safely back on land and welcomed to give any reward that Darling may ask for....  fred

Thursday, June 18, 1874
"I went down to Westfield Flats to the grist-mill, saw Uncle Theron Appley and Aunt Louise Ann at Cochran's store. Started for home about half past four, Uncle Theron came home with me.
"Abe helped Geo. Sprague fix line fence.
"I got a side of leather of Utter & Co., 8.40.
"Abe, one day.
"One meal at Green's."
Joel Kimball

By 1874, there were five commercial tanneries within the township, though, being in the midst of economic hard times and with the depletion of resources, not all were in operation. The Cochran-Appley  tannery, below Westfield Flats, had been closed since the previous year, though it was now stockpiling bark with the hopes of soon resuming operations.
"Utter & Co." refers to the tannery erected by Joseph "Diamond Jo" Reynolds [see May 8th]. The business was commenced in 1849, the original building being about fifty feet square and standing thirty-eight feet high, three and a half stories, which included lofts used for drying hides. With the large addition built in 1853, the tannery building more than doubled its size. Situated along the banks of the Beaverkill, at the center of Westfield Flats, the site also included a flouring mill, twenty feet distant from the tannery. A mill pond was located behind the mill which both businesses utilized for power. In front of the tannery's yard hung a bell, which was rung each morning to announce the start of another work-day and call the employees into work. - fred
Friday, June 19, 1874

"Uncle Theron and I went on the hill. I showed him over the place and trimmed some toggle timber. Abe drew it out with the steers, came home at noon and I went to the depot to find butter tub. Abe went fishing.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

..... Throughout the area, from Westfield Flats to Purvis, from Youngsville to Thumansville, most everybody was familiar with Johnny Darling of Shandelee and looked forward to hear about his latest adventure when he came to visit, and though they didn't believe much of what they heard, they certainly enjoyed the hearing of the tale he told. Now everyone knew that Sand Pond [Shandelee] had been restocked with bass by the Youngsville businessmen, and that Johnny was in charge of keeping poachers off the lake, but the episode, as told by Darling at gatherings, seemed a bit far-fetched. "Well," said Johnny, "I've been straight and true when telling of the goings on in my neighborhood but I had a suspicion that you'd think I may be doing a bit of exaggerating. If you don't believe what you hear, would you believe what you see?" And with that, Darling pulled out of his pocket snippets from local newspapers, articles from the Local Record, Liberty Register and Republican Watchman, all seemingly verifying much of Johnny's story. Come to think of it, maybe that also explains why Johnny's son, Theodore, became partners with Meyer's firm and took over the market wagon that ran from Youngsville and Newburgh. - fred

Saturday, June 20, 1874

"We went on the hill and finished starting timber before noon. After noon peeled bark near boiling place, peeled six trees.

"Called at post office and got paper.

"Called at Thomas Collins and asked him to plough my corn by Thursday.

"Abe went fishing for eels.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Tom Collins was the neighbor to the Kimball's, a veteran whose acts of bravery during the recent War of the Rebellion were honored by a grateful nation. His early military record, though, would prove not to be quite so heroic.

The Collins children started out on their own at young ages. The older sisters did "domestic" work, Joanna for the Hardenburgh family at Morsston, and Mary for the Sprague family who operated the old Purvis Hotel. Young Thomas, only fourteen years of age, was working on the David Purvis farm when, in December of 1861, he journeyed to Hancock, Delaware County, to join up with the regiment that was being recruited there. On December 16th, he volunteered with Company F, of the 101st New York Volunteer Regiment, citing his age as being eighteen. He lied, but with the slow progress being made organizing the regiment, the recruiter became blind to what must have appeared obvious, concerning the boy's age, and Tom was enlisted.

Military life was not what Tom had expected. His romantic visions of glory on the battlefield were drilled out of him, day by day, along with the drudgery of drills and guard duty, coupled with the boredom of winter camp life. When the regiment was finally sent to Washington early the next spring, the unit's military action consisted of building fortifications around the city, along with the drilling and guard duty. Discouraged, Tom left the regiment on April 19th and came back home, his military career now blemished with the charge of desertion, and he was still only fourteen years of age. - fred

Sunday, June 21, 1874

"Weather cool and pleasant.

"Rode to Westfield with John D W M Decker, came back about noon, found Julia and Dave here. Went to Morsston."

Joel Kimball

Joel rode to Westfield Flats with Alphabet Decker, the postmaster at Purvis Post Office. Meanwhile, the community of Westfield Flats was now in the midst of a political brouhaha over its own postmaster and its post office. With the railroad depot being located near Cochran's mill and tannery, a mile from Westfield Flats, someone thought that the post office should be moved from the latter, to be closer to the depot. That someone was Doc Wheeler.

You may remember old Doc Wheeler, whose cows trampled and generally roughed up the Westfield Flats cemetery. Well, he was now on a one-man campaign to have the post office moved from Burr Wilson's store at Westfield Flats. The postmaster position was a political appointment, often given to a local person who was a member of the political party in power at the federal level. Burr Wilson, the appointed postmaster, did his job well but had one fault in Wheeler's opinion, he was a member of the wrong political party; a Democrat serving during the Republican administration of President Grant. Wilson, with the support of the community, refused to yield to the Doctor in the removal of the post office from his store. Wheeler then went to the postmaster and demanded that he resign. - fred

Monday, June 22, 1874

"Thomas Collins came over and ploughed my corn before noon. After noon Abe and I went on the hill and sorted bark out of the fallow and burned some brush in evening.

"W.H. French called and I made out papers for his appointment as constable.

"Went to depot and got new butter tub and tea.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

According to the Rockland's "Statement of Town Accounts" records for 1874, only two individuals designated as constables made claims to the town for payment, John Wilson and Will French. Since neither one was on the ballot for the position during the previous general election [see February 27th & 28th], it appears there was a vacancy which was about to be filled with the appointment of French. Criminal activity during the years leading up to 1874 was usually limited to prowling dogs raiding on herds of sheep, but now, with the string of incendiary and unresolved fires and the introduction of unsavory characters traveling into the community on the railroad, the town's constable force was soon to be increase from two to three. French's appointment either represented this increase or filled a vacancy caused by a resignation. - fred


Tuesday, June 23, 1874
"Hoed corn until noon and then went on the hill and drew bark out of fallow and burned some brush in evening. Called at post office and received Weekly.
"Abe, one day."
Joel Kimball


The popular periodical, Harper's Weekly, not only provided worthy news stories and fictional reading, but was lavishly filled with wood-block illustrations from many of the leading American artists of the era, images from all sections of the nation, depicting life  during that window of time. The June 20th edition's cover had an engraving showing early irrigation practices in Colorado while inside was the "Indian Sketches" series of William Cary, including "Indian Canoe Races" and "Indians Offering Gifts to the Dead."
Harper's Weekly also brought the advent of political cartoons, notably those of Thomas Nast, considered by some to be the father of political cartoons. A single engraving of his would tell a story, often about greed or corruption amongst local and national political and business leaders, that would resonate throughout the nation. Fresh from the campaign to rid New York City of Tammany Hall's Boss Tweed's Ring, many of Nast's pictorial comments were now aimed at the growing national temperance movement, which were included in the recent edition of the Weekly. - fred
Wednesday, June 24, 1874

"Finished hoeing corn and buried burned brush on the hill in the afternoon. Weather quite warm.

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

Dr. Leroy Wheeler was not a novice in the art of politics, for just like Burr Wilson, the postmaster of Westfield Flat who had just recently served as supervisor for the Town of Rockland, the sixty-four-year-old doctor also held that position thirty years before. Soon after the burning of the court house and county clerk building at Monticello in January of 1844, county elections created a new makeup of the Board of Supervisors, the county's governing body, which included the thirty-eight-year-old doctor from Rockland. A political squabble ensued over over the location of the county seat, some on the board in favor of moving it from Monticello. All sections within the county, from Barryville to Liberty, were hopefully considered as being new sites, including  the sarcastic proposal from the local newspaper, the Monticello Watchman, that the backwoods crossroads of Brown Settlement, situated on the fringes of settlement in the Town of Rockland, be considered. This newspaper held political influence with some of the board's members and after serious consideration and political wrangling over proposed sites at Liberty and Bethel, the final decision was to rebuild the county's buildings again at Monticello.

Besides politics, Wheeler was involved in societies concerning his profession, including the then "Tri-States Medical Society", an organization of the area's physicians that promoted the latest advances in the medical science and encouraged young people to join the medical community, where Wheeler was an honorary member. He also had interest in the lumber business, owning a saw-mill and tracts of woodland on the outlet of Shandelee Lake. - fred

Thursday, June 25, 1874

"Worked until noon on the hill burning brush and got out one stick of square lumber. Dave Munson called about noon and I went to depot with him, Abe went after shoes.

"L Smith fell off load of hay and wagon ran over him near Geo. Sprague's.

"I went to Flats and practiced with the band."

Joel Kimball

"Louis Smith fell from and was run over by a wagon loaded with hay near the Livingston place, this town, on the 27th. His life is despaired of."

June 30, 1874
Evening Gazette

Friday, June 26, 1874

"Worked on the hill burning brush until noon, after noon went up to barn and ground axe and scythe. Rained all afternoon. Came home and set out some rutabaga plants."

Joel Kimball

The area known as Shandelee was first settled in earnest in 1860 when families from Thumansville [a tannery town today known as Callicoon Center], of German ancestry, began homesteading around the Shandelee Lake section. These families such as Wichtendahl, later Americanized into Whitendale, Ruh, Fries, Ros and Weyrauch cleared the land around the lake, the beginnings of their small farms. Often, early settlers would build crude, drafty domiciles made of full logs until better accommodations could be erected, but this was not so with these industrious families; Philip Weyrauch built a small saw-mill on the outlet of the lake. To assure the lake's water level would be high enough to flow into the outlet and provide a steady stream of water to power the mill, Weyrauch received permission from the other families to allow him to raise the level of the lake eighteen inches, when needed, and erected a dam across the head of the creek that drained the lake for that purpose. The mill provided the lumber that allowed these early settlers to build more comfortable dwellings, consisting of sawn planks and beams that were made into frame houses.

Adam Lehman, Weyrauch's son-in-law, was the sawyer at the mill but with the advent of the war of the rebellion, he volunteered with the 143rd Regiment in August of 1862. As most of the other Shandelee families also sent their fathers and sons off to war, few structures were built and there was little need for lumber, but when Lehman and his neighbors returned from the war, building on Shandelee resumed and he went back to sawing lumber. He eventually purchased the mill, along with the lake-rights, from his father-in-law in 1868. With Philip Weyrauch's sudden demise due to a rafting accident on the Beaverkill in the spring of 1871 [see April 8th], the family quickly lost interest in the Shandelee lumber business and homestead and, later that year, the mill, surrounding tracts of woodland and the lake-rights were sold to Doc Wheeler of Westfield Flats - fred

Saturday, June 27, 1874

"Went on the hill and peeled bark until noon.

"Came home and Abe went away and I went up to depot, rode down to Decker's with Johnny Collins. did not get any mail except papers.

"Abe, one half day."

Joel Kimball

This is the second time in the past two months that one of Joel's employees has quit, this time just as the harvest season was about to begin. Perhaps Abram Mosier felt he wasn't being paid enough; perhaps the young lad was homesick; perhaps he wasn't enthused with the work; perhaps he just wanted to go fishing; or perhaps he was shaken up by witnessing Thursday's accident.

George Sprague had begun cutting the hay off his meadow, the Sprague farm being Kimball's immediate neighbor. With the meadow being nearby the Kimball residence, if Abe and Joel were not there when Lewis Smith slid off of the loaded hay wagon onto the ground and run over by its wheels, they certainly must have heard the commotion that it must have caused and coming to the injured man's assistance, were perhaps sickened by the sight of Smith's mangled body. - fred

Sunday, June 28, 1874

"Done chores and went down to Uncle Hiram Hodge's, saw Ida Borden near Mrs. Campbell's. Called at Geo. Crippen's, saw Chet Cochran at Hiram's. On way home called at Horton's, saw J and E.

"Waited for gravel train. As it did not come, went for wintergreens. Rode from Buck Eddy with Erastus Sprague."

Joel Kimball

Business has picked up on the Midland Railroad, with more freight and passengers now beginning to be handled and with the train schedule becoming more reliable. Still, the surest mode of transportation for local travelers was to hitch a ride upon the more numerous passages of the work train. Throughout the spring, the gravel train, with a workforce of fifty men, worked on the tracks between Parksville and East Branch and now have the tracks in good condition. Rumbling back and forth along the line from the depot to the work site, hitch-hikers would scramble onto the cars as the gravel train passed by. - fred

Monday, June 29, 1874

"Worked on the hill burning brush all day. In evening went to depot with some berries for mother, sold to Purdy, received 1.25. Quite late when I came back, did not milk.

"Dreadful HOT."

Joel Kimball

Today was the hottest day recorded for the month of June in New York City; only problem is that weather records were not yet being recorded. Still, nobody was able to remember within the past fifty years such heat so early in the summer season as the thermometer soared to 102 degrees in the shade. Various community correspondents with the local newspapers also noted the "dreadful" heat; at the Port Jervis area, the mercury was noted as being over 100 degrees in the shade. - fred

Tuesday, June 30, 1874

"Burned brush and logged some and partly made a boat to go fishing. Pretty warm. Went after mail, received papers from Harpers' and Weekly. Received 56c of Asa Hodge in full of all credit to date."

Joel Kimball

At the handsome Monticello home of the Honorable Stoddard Hammond, patriarch of the locally well-known family involved in the tanning industry with plants at DeBruce and Claryville and a highly respected resident of that village, was held the celebration for the wedding of his daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, to Henry Addison Harlow. The previously married forty-three-year-old Harlow was the minister serving the Presbyterian Church at that community, beginning his duties for this congregation the previous year when he arrived with his family from Orange County. Tragically, his wife of sixteen years, Rebecca, died within five months of their arrival, in April of 1873, leaving him with the responsiblity of raising their four children. - fred