by Bill Merritt
The first settler in the Town of Rockland found Iroquois Indians to the north. Algonquin Indians to the South and the Lenni Lenapes located here.
The pioneers had trails instead of roads. The biggest trail was the Sun Trail. It ran from the Hudson River to the East Branch of the Delaware River.
In 1815, John Hunter hired Abel Sprague (born in Lew Beach in 1766 and died in 1842 at Lew Beach) to cut the trail out and build a road. Other trails were: Berry Brook Trail, Beaverkill Trail, Mary Smith Trail, and Cross Mountain Trail. These trails enabled the settlers to develop areas of Beaverkill. Lew Beach. Shin Creek and Turnwood. The first school was established in the Town of Hardenburgh. A meeting was held February 21. 1857, at Christopher Singer’s residence. Elected to the first school board were: Christopher Singer. chairman: John Banks. clerk of the board, Christopher Singer, trustee, 3 years; Edward Carroll, 2 years: Hooper Tripp. 1 year: Benjamin Fling, clerk; Christopher Blumberg, collector. John Calvin Vankeren signed a contract to furnish the school with 10 chords split, hard wood. A chord was 25 cents $2.50 to be delivered and piled at the school yard.
Stoddard Hammond and James Benedict had the largest tannery in DeBruce. Medad Morse owned a tannery at Morsston and Henry W. Ellsworth had a tannery at Beaverkill. It was located where the Beaverkill Campsite is now situated
PH. Woolsey had a large mill at DeBruce and ràfted his logs to Philadelphia. Cribs were used for shipping from Livingston Manor. The cribs were rformed into poneys. down river, then large rafts were used in the bigger rivers. The last rafting to the Delaware River was in 1888. Cribs were made from logs at Livingston Manor, Morsston Flats, River Street and Deckers Flat.
The first acid factory in the Town of Rockland was located at Emmonsville, now Grooville. in 1880. This factory lasted until 1898.
A man named Emmons owned the mill. Emmonsville was named after Mr. Emmons. In the early I 900s a Dr. L. Groo moved into the area from Middletown. He later went from house to house and had the name of Emmonville changed to Grooville.
Before the settlers came to the Town of Rockland, the Indians had their own method of tanning hides. The Indians would scrape off all the flesh from the hide and then bury the hide in the ground. This method was used to take off all the hair. After this process the hide was sprinkled with rotten wood and left to cure.
Livingston Manor was established in 1879. The section north of Livingston Manor was called Purvis and the section to the south was called Morsston. The first railroad station was called Morsston.
The first electric plant was owned by P.H. Woolsey in Livingston Manor. The plant was situated at the bottom of Shandelee Hill at the upper part of Main Street. This plant was powered from a dam on the Cattail Stream with D.C. current. The power to the plant was run from a leather belt 16" x 30'. Ed Yorks, who resided in Livingston Manor near the Presbyterian Church, was the maintenance man at the plant, and held this job for many years.
Mr. Woolsey owned the first water works in the town. He also had a sash and blind factory and a sawmill.
The first telephone service was owned by J.C. Stevens. There was a switchboard and an operator. The building was located over the driveway to Will Bros. Store. Mr. Stevens owned the hardware store and also had a horse livery store in the back of the building. John Rose (Ray Rose’s father) was the livery man.
Dalton T. Eastman had a farm located on the Shandelee Road and raised strawberries and vege tables. He peddled his goods from a horsedrawn cart. He would drive his horse and cart through town calling: rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. This yelling would alert all the women who would then purchase fresh vegetables. Mr. Eastman always supplied the church with fresh strawberries for their strawberry festival.
William Johnston drove the horse and delivery wagon for Johnston Store. Homer Bennett drove A.P. DuBois Co. horse and wagon. Both gentlemen were very accommodating. They delivered thread in an emergency at not extra charge to ladies who often ran out of thread or material. Thread cost 5 cents a spool.
The first roads that were constructed were built from dirt and filled in with rocks and stones. These roads were very dusty. A big wooden tank to hold water was mounted on a wagon and water was sprayed on various streets to keep the dust down. Milt Ward drove the team of horses that pulled the huge wagon.
Sullivan County has four covered bridges, three being located in the Town of Rockland.
The Town of Neversink has a covered bridge called Hall’s Mills. This bridge was built in 1912 and was 119 feet long. It was built by David Benton and John Knight.
The Town of Rockland was very fortunate because in the township lived a man named John Davidson, a very talented builder.
Mr. Davidson built the VanTran covered bridge that is 98 feet long and is located over the
Willowemoc. It was constructed in 1860.
The Bend of the River Bridge west of Willowemoc was built by Mr. Davidson in 1860 and is 43 feet long. It is interesting to note that Joseph Sherwood saved this particular bridge in 1913. When the state highway was put through Livingston Manor. Mr. Sherwood dismantled the covered bridge at the Manor. and moved half its length to a new site upstream. That was all he required to cross the narrow Willowemoc Creek beyond DeBruce. The bridge still stands.
The Beaverkill Campsite has situated over its body of water the most photographed bridge in New York State. This bridge has been in many magazines and thousands of pamphlets. The bridge was built in 1865 by Mr. Davidson and is 98 feet in length. This bridge is presently being repaired.
At one time another covered bridge crossed the Little Beaverkill River which is now the Rotary Park. It was located directly across from the Livingston Manor Methodist Church. It was used by the people from Pleasant Street and Church Street to reach the churches and the Union School. The bridge was washed away in a heavy flood and was never replaced.
Robert J. Hoag owned a huge farm that overlooked the Willowemoc River and the Hamlet of the Manor. He sold his milk from house to house from a horse and wagon or in the winter by a sleigh. When he delivered your milk the empty bottles were replaced with new at the steps of your porch. The people who paid cash would leave the money in the empty bottle. People who charged always paid on pay day. He never had to collect from house to house as his system worked. If there was a change in your milk order a note was left in the empty bottle.
Ernest Hoos delivered bread from the Liberty Bakery to Livingston Manor to sell. In 1903 he started his own bakery in the Manor. In later years his sons Fred and Eddie took over the business. Fred Hoos passed away and Eddie ran the business until his retirement in 1990.
D.T. Eastman owned a shetland pony named ‘Peggy". All the kids in town loved the pony and all the kids got to ride her. Mr. Eastman would deliver the pony to a child’s home and leave the pony for several days and would return to pick her up. He loved kids and never charged for the pony rides. After D.T. Eastman died his wife passed away 2 days later. It was a double funeral.
When there was too much snow and walking on the Town streets became difficult, R.J. Hoag would hitch up his horse to a homemade "V" plow and plow the streets. He did this as a favor for the people and never charged the town.
Before the welfare system was adopted, the smaller towns had to help take care of the needy. A‘Poor Master" name for town agent taking care of the needy was established. Doug Collins was the man appointed by the Livingston Manor area. Every two weeks a system was arranged to have people receive their allotment of potatoes. sugar. canned goods. etc. The people met in front of Johnston Store and Mr. Collins would read out the names of the people. Similar to a roll call. It seemed to be a better system of government than we have today. It wasn’t necessary to have to go to church on Sundays as Adam and Elmer Young designated themselves preachers and preached on the street in front of the Johnston Store. You found out what kind of sinner you were.
John Daniel Waniel Moore Decker was the great grandfather of Elinor Decker and Jean Smith. He lived in Purvis near Livingston Manor. He was at the Ford’s Theater the night that President Lincoln was shot. Mr. Decker was a messenger for the White House in Washington. Quotes taken from the Ensign. a Livingston Manor Paper (1877) - "J.D.W.M. Decker. living near the village, caught a California trout in the Willowemoc stream near his home last Friday fore noon. which tipped the scales at six pounds and 12 ounces and was over 24" long. This is without doubt. the largest trout of that species ever caught in Sullivan County. This beautiful marked trout was over 2 foot long in length. six inches deep and 3 inches wide on the back. It had been seen in the deep pool under the small bridge that spans a small stream near Mr. Decker’s house for 2 or 3 years and a number of fishermen had made unsuccessful attempts to take it. Mr. Decker’s mode of capture is known only to himself."
"On Tuesday. August 7th, 1877, E. Trimp caught a trout at Beaverkill. 20 1/2 inches long which weighed 5 lbs. 3 oz. and the following day Joseph Kelly got one at Beaverkill 23 3/4" in length and weighing just 6 pounds.
Israel Barnhart of Beaverkill caught 32 lbs. of trout in one week in 1877. "Also in 1877, Webster Sherwood in five weeks time sold forty yoke of oxen in Livingston Manor."
In 1877 the Town Board met in the Hotel Davis at Livingston Manor to re-organize the Board of Health. The board members were Jay Davidson, Supervisor: Charles Fallon, Town Clker: George H. Hawkins and Enoch A. Ellis, Councilmen: William H. McGrath and Ira Martin, Justices; Dr. R.A. DeKay, physician: J.W. Davis. a citizen attending the meeting and W.H. Martin and Edgar Cammer. constables.
Philip W. Woolsey was a student of Theology and very interested in the church and religious movements. He would preach the gospel and was engaged in the largest lumber business. In 1880. he donated the land to build the Livingston Manor Presbyterian Church. Hebuilt the church. When he was in the lumber business in DeBruce, his partner was Wm. H. Vail. Mr. Woolsey patented and invented a shingle machine that was very successful in the mills. He had 30 to 40 men are employed in his mill. The mill produced over twenty thousand feet of lumber a day. He built the first road that led from Livingston Manor to DeBruce so he could ship his lumber to market in Philadelphia.
Every home had one. ‘the old two and three hole privy." Just imagine having to go outside at 30 below and only a kerosene lantern for heat and light. It was too cold to look at the Sears Roebuck catalog. There was a red ring on your bottom when you got off that frosty seat. Then they tell you that was the good old days?
In the good old days there was the 3 and 4 party telephone lines and sometimes there were 8 on a line.
That was a good source of gossip.
During the fall butchering. Vick Weeks was the town pig killer. He did all the butchering in the fall. traveling from house to house. He would tie a rope around the pigs’ foot. throw the pig on its back and stick a long knife in its throat. The awful squealing of the pig would make all the kids run for the house. The pig was then placed into a 55 gallon drum of hot water and the hair was scraped from the pig.
In the spring of the year around May. George Bennett, a sheep shearer, would come to town and shear all the sheep. He was a big, friendly man whose face was covered with a white beard. He carried a watch made from animals’ teeth. He had no home and slept in empty barns or sheds. During his lifetime he escaped from two fires, the Woolsey barn fire, and the Woolsey shed on Main Street. He died as a result of a fire in a shed at Benton’s property. The property was next to the present Post Office.
Every year a man would come to town to sharpen scissors for the people of the Town. Women made all the clothing for themselves and their families and mending had to be done. It was a big event when the scissor man arrived. Today the kids wear clothes with big holes and are in style and the scissor man is a thing of the past.
The organ grinder and his monkey came to Town every year. The man would crank the organ which was strapped to his body and lovely music would be heard. His monkey was dressed in a pretty red vest and hat. The monkey would pass around a can and collect money. He was trained to take only silver or bills. He would pick out the pennies and throw them on the ground.
The peddlers were always in Town and the housewife depended upon them for many items:
caning material for replacing worn out chairs, eggs, milk, grapes. in the summer bananas, during the fall fresh peaches, and heads of cabbage to make the annual fall sauerkraut.
During the summer months, the townspeople looked forward to the Fourth of July. This was the biggest event, the Livingston Manor Brass Band led the parade. there were horse drawn floats, kids riding decorated bicycles, there were the Campfire Girls, Cadets, Livingston Manor Home Guard, and the Fire Department. The parade would always end up at the Sherwood Island for a big celebration. There was horse racing. baseball games and lots of food. All the stores were allowed to sell fireworks, thunder bolts, dago bombs, rocket Roman candles and chase the spiders.
The Klu Klux Klan was very active in the Manor. The meetings were held on Round Top in the middle of the night. It wasn’t unusual to hear at twelve o’clock a large explosion (dynamite) and see at the top fo the mountain a big cross on fire, with white figures moving around the cross. No one in town dared to venture near the place. Back then Round Top was completely bare with no trees growing. The Klan had a big parade in Livingston Manor. They all wore their white robes and the event took place on Sherwoods Island Park. Sharkey McAdam. a big robust man, rode his bay mare, bare back, from his farm "Herm Grey Farm" on the DeBruce Road, to the Manor with his Klan robe and carrying a rifle. The parade wasn’t very colorful as all the people wore white robes.
Fred Hoos had the first radio in Town, he displayed the radio in the bakery window. Doc Brandt was one of the first people to own a TV set. He had a big aerial set up near his house, he always had lots of company to watch the wrestling matches.
Years ago there was a tradition that took place after a couple had been married and were settling in after the honeymoon. It was called the "skimmelton." If you have never been a witness to such an event. here is how it worked. There wasn’t any preparation necessary to have a skimmelton party. Word of mouth was all that was needed. A night that was convenient for the party was set. The married couple were not aware of the date. In the middle of the night the party givers would arrive at the couples home, surround the house, a signal was given and guns were fired, pots and pans were pounded upon and all hell let loose. The couple had to get out of bed and make and serve the refreshments.
In 1871 the New York Oswego and Midland Railroad came to Livingston Manor. The first passenger train went through the Bloomingburg Tunnel on February 1, 1872. The last of the spikes. to be driven into the ground took place north of Roscoe, July 9. 1873. There was a large railroad yard at Livingston Manor. A pusher crew pushed the trains up the hill to Liberty and Youngs Gap. The crew carried coal and helped freight. During World War 1, trains of oil tankers were shipped. There was a big passenger service at that time. During World Wars I & II. troop trains were used to transport the men and fighting equipment. Many prisoners of war trains passed through carrying the prisoners to various Army camps.
In 1917, during one day, 61 trains passed through the Manor. Livingston Manor was one of the few terminals to have a "Y" to turn the trains around. All trains stopped at the Manor so the engineer and conductors could check their watches. By law the recorded time 12:00 Noon. The signal came from Naval Observation in Washington, D.C. - G.C.T. (Greenwich Civil Time) flashed over the telegraph and "synchronized" all time.
With the coming of the railroad came the problem of the "Hobo’s". These men hitched rides on the trains, they had no homes. There was one particular area at the "Y" (now Rotary Park) where the men set up camp. with fires, they cooked meals and made coffee and drank from tin cans. It was named the ‘Jundle" by the townspeople. The hobos would go from house to house looking for handouts of food. Some of the men offered to cut or pile wood.
The Campfire Girls were started by Mrs. John Morris, who lived on Mussman’s Flat. The girls were involved in the war effort during WWI. Some of the troops traveled through the Manor to go overseas. The girls met the train and handed out magazines, cookies and home made candy. The girls sometimes wrote their addresses on the magazines. Many letters were exchanged this way. The girls had their meetings at Mrs. Charles Woolsey’s home. The house is now owned by Mr. & Mrs. Mack Weiner. The girls had refreshments, and they also learned to sew. Mrs. Woolsey was called "Auntie Lii."
The Cadets were formed in 191 7 by Paul Johnston: John M. Paris. Principal of LMCS. and Tm. Harold Forbes. They learned the rudiments of military training, to respect the flag. the importance of patriotism and discipline. The boys helped decorate the graves on Decoration Day. They had Army uniforms and their own drummers and bugle boys. They marched in full dress uniform on the Fourth of July.
William Sprague and Hezikiah Loveland had the first general store in 1820.
Israel Dodge was the first Supervisor in the Town of Rockland.
Samuel Darbee was the first Post Master.
The Methodist Church had the first Preacher in the Town of Rockland. He was a circuit rider, the Reverend Alexander Morton. it was in the early 1800’s.
The father of historian James Quinlan. a circuit rider, preached at the Brown Settlement Church.
Reverend James Beecher, who lived at Beecher Lake preached in the Lew Beach Schoolhouse on Shin Creek. He was a brother of Henry Ward Beecher and his sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe. author of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin."
The first Methodist Church in Purvis (now Livingston Manor) came about through the efforts of Miss Jane Purvis (a young woman scarcely twenty-five years of age). She and her father lived in the Manor House. owned by Dr. Edward Livingston. Mr. Purvis was the caretaker for the property. Miss Purvis was discussing with Dr. Edward Livingston the need for a church in the community. The local people of the community had been having church services at the school. The year was 1855.
Dr. Livingston advised that he would donate $500.00 toward the erecting of a church and would also donate the land. He made one condition. that enough money be raised by the people to make it a community project.
Dr. Livingston estimated that the church would cost $1000.00. A list of names was completed by Miss Purvis and she went to work. To reach the remote sections of the area, she traveled on horseback. Dr. Livingston was reputed to have been an excellent horseman, and it was very probable that Miss Purvis used his horse. Miss Purvis doubled the pledges in money, material and labor. Dr. Livingston hired a New York City architect to draw up plans for the church.
The building was built from local lumber, cut in local sawmills, being mostly of hemlock. The flooring. siding. and shingles, etc.. were cut at the mills of John S. and Joseph Mott near the Mott Cemetery. and the mills of James E. and Erastus Sprague near the J.D.W.M. Decker home. The new church was dedicated in October of 1857. and the first sermon was preached by Reverend John Knight Wardel of Ellenville. New York. Reverend Patterson was the first minister and his successor was the Reverend Mattie.
The first parsonage was located on River Street (where the former Meyerson Bakery was located). The Reverend William Green was the Pastor. The parsonage was burned down in 1865. The successor to Reverend Green was Reverend Travis. who lived in Wm. Reeds house near Hoag’s Hill.
The Brown Settlement Church was built in 1800.
One of the first churches built in the Township was the Presbyterian Church built in Lew Beach in 1851.
In 1883 the Beaverkill Church was built and in that same year the Lew Beach Methodist Church was built.
St. Aloysius Church in Livingston Manor was built in 1896. the Sacred Heart Church in DeBruce was built in 1906, the All Souls Church in Shandelee was built in 1917.
A.P. DuBois donated the land for the St. Aloysius Church site.
The Livingston Manor Synagogue was built in 1922.
The old school house in Grooville was the site for services for the Free Methodist Church. In 1987 the members of the church built their new church at the corner of Grooville Road and the DeBruce Road.
In the late 1800’s Bob Ward lived in DeBruce. He imported from Silver City, New Mexico, 3,000 goats. The goats arrived in cattle cars on the O&W Railroad. They were driven in a big herd through the hamlet. The streets were filled with goats. They had to be taken up through town to get to the DeBruce Road. Back in those days this was quite an adventure. (Information taken from the books of Bob Ward) It proved to be a very expensive undertaking. Working with Mr. Ward, was a man named Charlie Lyman, who owned some of the goats. In July of 1902. Bob Ward had 2.2 19 goats. Charlie Lyman had 200 nannies, 67 nannie kids, 50 mutton kids, 5 muttons and 2 kids, for a total of 350 goats. Expenses for keeping the goats were many. listed in 1905 as follows: A railroad box car of corn, $1 .036.7 5: the herding by team from Livingston Manor to DeBruce, $52.00: tanning 12 skins. $12.00: purchase of 8 cars of hay in March, $1 .133.1 2: a new shearing machine, $37.50: fence. $98.06: a bill for alfalfa seed, $21.18: rent for land from Hammond, $325.00. Poachers killed many of the goats. When it was cold and snowing the goats died from eating hemlock bark.
Bob Ward also had the first fish hatchery in DeBruce. He later sold to the State of New York,
Bob Ward had a brother, Charles B. Ward, who was a Congressman. Congressman Ward and his family resided in DeBruce. "In November of 1917. the Congressman and his family left in their private railroad car. "Mayflower" for Washington. D.C. The car was attached to Train 6 on the O&W Railroad. At that time Mr. Ward was considered to be one of the richest men in Congress.
Lester White, of Livingston Manor, was killed in France on March 28, 1918. The Livingston Manor Legion was named after Mr. White. He was the only person from Livingston Manor killed in WWI.
John C. Smith was the town veterinarian. He had a fancy horse and buggy, and carried the mail from Parksville to the Manor on horseback.
Dr. William G. Davis, a physician, made his house calls by horse and buggy.
The Brown Settlement was the home of John Karst, noted school engraver. The Karst home was the former meeting place of the Sheep Skin Indians of the Anti Rent days.
The Brown Settlement Church was also known as a meeting p!ace for the Sheep Skin Indians. A
tombstone in the grave yard there reads, "Kip Whipple. Here lies a mountain man."
In the Methodist Cemetery, Purvis (Livingston Manor). the first grave and headstone was that of Jane Purvis. The headstone read, "born 1825, died December 2. 1902," and continues. "Asleep in Jesus. Blessed Sleep." Another stone in the Methodist Cemetery is that of "Samuel Purvis. father of Jane Purvis." and Dr. Edward Livingston’s caretaker. Mr. Purvis name appeared in the deed to the church. Mr. Purvis died July 24, 1876. There is a stone for Satilla Purvis who died on March 16, 1 870. In the center of the graveyard at the Methodist Cemetery, under a huge pine tree, is the headstone of Dr. Edward Livingston. The stone says, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."
The Methodist Church in Lew Beach at one time had a cemetery. During a terrible flood on September 18, 1863, the waters of the Shin Creek washed away forty graves.
The Turnwood Store and Post Office was owned by Amos Wamsley. Mr. Wamsley had a shingle machine. In the early days shingles for roofs were made by hand by many farmers. Upon Mr. Walmsley’s death he left the store and the shingle machine to Casper Edwards. George Van Steenburgh also owned a shingle machine and lived on the Upper Beaverkill.
Quilting was done by the ladies throughout the Town. Nellie Devoe lived on the Mary Smith Road, Lew Beach, and has made hundreds of pretty quilts. Nellie still makes quilts today.
Perry Conklin of Turnwood made fancy home made fiddles.
In Parkston, Eva Van Aiken had a weaving machine and made rugs for the local people.
Home made wooden scoops were made by Frank Conklin. William Booth. both of Willowemoc; Cornelius Ward, Aaron Ackerley and Floyd Soules from the Manor.
Jim Yorks, the father of Mrs. Burr Sherwood, made kitchen chairs and rocking chairs. The chairs were made from hard maple and sometimes birdseye maple. Mr. Yorks caned some of the bottoms of the chairs and other seats he made from elm bark. The bark was stripped from young trees when the sap was running. The strips were used to weave the bottom.
The Seeley family, who lived in Turnwood, also made chairs.
Charlie Davenport of Emmonsville made home made shingles and hoops for butter tubs. He would cut a birch pole 2" by 2 1/2" length ways to make wooden straps that went around the butter tub.
Charles Booth of Willowemoc always smoked a pipe and he saved all of the empty tobacco cans. When he roofed his house he used the empty cans for the shingles. The smoking didn’t kill, but the roof job almost did him in
Buildings On MainStreet
Barney Harvey owned a little general store. He handled tin products and small items. The store was located where the Country Peddler and Central Pharmacy are at present.
Orlando Brown owned a grocery store (Curry insurance). About 1800, a group of men were sitting around a pot belly stove in Brown’s Store discussing the happenings of the day. The discussing became heated. Barney Harvey got in a fight with Bill Cutler (lived on River Street). Barney left and went to his store to get a pistol, returned and shot Bill Cutler in the leg.
The Town celebrated the end of World War 1 with a big parade down Main Street. The Fire Department. Town Band, Cadets and the Home Guard were in the line of march. Some people grabbed Bill Mosher, who had celebrated too much. and put Mr. Mosher into a cage drawn by a horse and wagon. A sign read "Captured Kasser Bill." The parade was scheduled by mistake as the war ended two days later.
Sharkey McAdams always paraded with the Firemen. He was always dressed as Uncle Sam with the big hat. etc.
Harrison Tombley. from Grooville, always traveled to town with his dog and a sheep. They even went into the stores with him.
Campbonel Borinel, a real mountain man, lived on the Hunter Road. behind DeBruce. He trapped and hunted, living on the game he caught. He even made his clothes from the skins he tanned. He would come into town wearing a muskrat hat, coonskin jacket and leggings of fur.
Dr. Calvin Cobb from Grooville was the local witch doctor. He would gather herbs, ginseng, and roots. He then boiled the herbs on a wood stove, the medicine would be used to help cure those in need.
Livingston Manor could boast of some pretty good fly fishermen. Among these men were: Burt Misner. Pete Rose, Lou Kannegiser. Eli Disbrow, Wiley Lacey, and Art and Wilson Jennings. There was excellent trout fishing. The art of fly tying came from
• Harry and Elsie Darbee, Elle Newman and Pete Rose.
In the early 1800’s there was plenty of fish and game. Deer, bear, wolves. panthers. turkeys and small game were in abundance. The wild pigeon was very plentiful. and when the pigeons took flight, they would darken the sky.
Horse racing was held during the winter on Shandelee Lake and Tennanah Lake as the ice was 24" thick.
A story teller, famous in the Catskills, resided in Shandelee. Johnny Darling was famous for his country tales. M. Jogendorf wrote a book about Mr. Darling.
The first fire truck that the Livingston Manor taxpayers purchased was the 1924 Larabee. it was shipped on a flat car by the O&W Railroad. Loul DuBois owned a railroad siding. and permission was given to unload the truck. Alva Swarthout drove the truck off the flat car. It was a special event and the townspeople all turned out to see the new, "red" truck.
Harry Sturdevant owned and operated a service station on Main Street. He sold Buick cars. The cars were shipped here in box cars on the railroad.
Johnston’s Store received their feed in box cars. Bill Johnston would take his horse and high wagon to haul the feed. He would then shovel the feed into the wagon, transport it to the feed store and unshovel the load. The store didn’t need an auditor to check the books to see what was selling.
Johnston’s Store had a big wooden counter where all transactions took place. On the counter was a big book. Attached to the book was a pencil where all the entries for the day were made. There was no cash register. a drawer under the counter pulled out and had wooden compartments for the change and bills. In the office attached to the wall was an old brass filing cabinet. The file contained the names of customers that charged.
The railroad company. sawmills, and acid factory people were paid every two weeks. Between pay checks the families would charge at the Johnston Store, and they would wait until pay day to pay up. In some cases. another two weeks of supplies would be ordered. Bill Johnston would deliver the supplies by horse and wagon. The groceries were placed in a large wicker basket. The children of the house would scramble to search the basket. Bill always managed to have a small brown bag. tied with a strip, containing candy hidden in the basket.
The first golf course built in Sullivan County was at Jay Davidson’s on the Beaverkill (later the house was the boarding house of Fred Banks). It was a five hole course and was to be a special attraction for the men. The business was a boarding house for fishermen. The place was near the Beaverkili Covered Bridge. In later years the State of New York purchased the property and had most of the buildings removed, and trees were planted on the golf course.
The Little Beaverkill River has also been noted for its trout fishing. Charlie Barber lived near the river and caught a trout that measured 26" and weighed 6 lbs.
Once a week J.P. Knapp had a large wood box (2’ x 4’ x 6") shipped to him. In the box was liver that he used for food for his trout. The liver would stay at the depot on a push wagon (no refrigeration) waiting for the driver to pick it up.
Another famous boarding place for trout fishermen was the "Wright Farm." There was always a good meal served and trout would always be on themenu.
Fremont Smith. from Pleasant Street, would peddle from a horse drawn wagon "Grand Union" products. He would drive from house to house.
Fred Marks often remarked that Louis DuBois bragged how Ben Sarles would play baseball with the local team, catching the ball bare-handed.
The New York State woodcutting championship was won by Archie Lobdell two years in a row. He lived in DeBruce.
The Black Smith Shop was owned by a big man, Lon Ostrum. The entrance to the shop was on the side of the building as the Street was muddy. He shod horses and oCen, repaired wagons and made the wheels for wagons. (On his days off he was always wearing a fancy ladies hat?) The Siegel building was the first store on Main Street. It replaced the Black Smith Shop.
There were several Black Smith Shops: Chris Schmidt owned a shop on River Street; Jason Cammer and Fred Schleiermacher owned a shop on Rock Avenue: Joe Herbert was the smithy for the Treyz Acid Factory on Upper Main Street.
At one time Pearl Street was so muddy that logs were placed to make a chord way road. Logs were cut and placed side by side to get the wagons through.
J.D.W.M. Decker’s Store and the Purvis Post Office received a large amount of traffic. The men who hunted wer allowed to hang their bear or deer at the store or front window for everyone to check out. At one showing there were 8 bears hanging.
River Street News
The busiest Street in Livingston Manor was River Street. It boasted having three butcher shops: Max Schwartz. Sam Resnick and Meyer Newman. Sam Fox also lived on River Street. He was a butcher but he peddled his meat throughout the community from house to house.
Sam Cohen owned a general store on the corner of River Street and Main Street. Max Pass owned a novelty store on the other corner of the street. The biggest distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables was Sam Kahn. His business was later run by Sacks Bros.. Liberty.
One of the first riding academies was owned and operated by Posy Rosenthal. He supplied all the hotels in the area with riding horses. The horses were shipped from the West by the O&W Railroad. Mr. Rosenthal also sold and traded horses. Frank Galvinsky was the hired man, he broke the horses for riding and he also drove the two-wheeled cart. The horses were an aggravation to many of the neighbors on River Street. The horses often broke loose and trampled gardens. flowers and hedges. The kids were kept alert to watch for the horses breaking loose.
Local privately owned butcher shops kept the hotel business’s in poultry and meat. They also hired their own rabbis and chicken pickers. The Poultry Plant was non-existent then.
The street was so busy that there was a red light to take care of the traffic.
Poop Newman and Sam Kahen also dealt in buying hides and wool.
This and That
1877 Purvis Acid Factory had nearly 8,000 chords of wood piled, with more wood coming in.
1878 - Hammond & Co. in DeBruce had 3,000 chords of bark during the last three weeks.
1879 - Ezra Sarles of Cleveland. Ohio, visited his brother Edward Saries, whom he hadn’t seen in 44 years.
1895 - The telephone lines from Liberty to Livingston Manor were nearly completed. The line was also extended from Monticello to Woodbourne.
1900 - Bowman Owen, residing at Balsam Lake, Turnwood, invented a machine that would notify the owner of an approaching wagon. By placing a wire across the road when the horse and wagon rode over the wire it rang a bell in the house. The machine really worked as one morning at 5 a.m. a man arrived unannounced and was surprised to see Mr. Owen. It was several years later that the garage applied this system in their garages.
Mr. Owen was born at Balsam Lake. He later learned to cut ice by hand with a long hand saw. He invented a gasoline powered ice saw. He removed the rear wheel from a Harley Davidson motorcycle and put a big circle saw there. He made a guide to regulate the depth of the cut and he had guards for the width of the cut. Neither the road bell nor the gasoline powered ice saw were ever patented. They are at the museum in Sussex. New Jersey.
Mr. Owen also invented a motor powered sled. It had 3 runners with a small motor in it and a propeller. It was used to ride on the frozen lakes. Later on, the snowmobile was invented, built from the same idea.
1904 - One hundred and fifty goats have died since they were brought from Silver City, New Mexico. They were brought to Mr. Ward’s ranch.
1908 - Representatives of the Western Sullivan Telephone Co. were in Livingston Manor to run a phone line from Youngsville to Manor by way of Sand Pond and Shandelee.
1908 - A total of $42.00 was paid to 14 different people who provided water through the Town of Rockland.
1909 - Eugene Bouton was named Truant Officer. The salary of the town board members was fixed in October 1912 at $2.00 per day for each day of service.
Intensive cold was reported. temperatures of minus 30 degrees gripped the area for 2 nights. William Donaghy. the camp ranger, reported that some of the campers were taken to the Willowemoc Motel. Both men and boys suffered from frost bite.
1984 - There was an article written in the Middletown Record about Salle Elias Billings Rogers. Mr. Rogers was an old hermit. He lived on Grant Mountain (5 miles from Livingston Manor) for 2 1 years. Mr. Rogers was a tough-skinned, tobacco chewing. grizzled bearded. wirey man. He lived alone in a one room hut. There was kerosene lights, a wood burning stove used for cooking and heating. The floor in the hut was made of dirt. There were two dogs and two cats. The cats wore bibs when they were fed. Mr. Rogers had a garden and raised chickens for eggs. Every week someone would bring him supplies. There was never a lack of meat as he ate his chickens, possum, ground hogs. skunk, squirrels, rabbit, deer. and other wild animals. He enjoyed hunting. fishing. and trapping. Mr. Rogers hadn’t traveled to Livingston Manor in 30 years.
What’s In A Name
Early settlement at the Beaverkill Valley began at Hardenburgh. Turnwood and Shin Creek.
The name Hardenburgh was named after Johan nes Hardenburgh.
Turnwood derived its name, from a small hand turning mill situated near the Covered Bridge.
Shin Creek on the Beaverkill was later called Lew Beach to avoid confusion with another community with the same name.
Beaverkill was named after the beavers that were in abundance there.
DeBruce is named after an early land owner, Elias Desbroses, who also had a street in New York City named after him.
Morsston was named after Medad T. Morss who had a large tannery there.
Livingston Manor, Roscoe and Parksville were isolated communities from the rest of the County until the O&W Railroad arrived.
Parksville at one time was part of the Town of Rockland and was settled by the families of
Sherwoods, Stewarts and Spragues. Parksville was later annexed to the Town of Liberty. Article taken from July 29, 1939 edition of the Livingston Manor Times.
On October 5. 1916. the Town of Rockland went dry for the first time, due to the prohibition. Hotels in the area affected were: Arlington Hotel, Sherwood House, Baldwin Hotel, West End Hotel and the Livingston House. This information taken from the Ensign newspaper of October, 1916.
Residents of Note
Irving Berlin, the famous songwriter, had an estate
July 4, 1910 - John Tempel and Eric Schleiermacher were building hotels in the area.
1911 - A petition was circulated to have a Sunday train on the O&W.
Oct. 13, 1910 - A.P. DuBois offered an $8.00 fountain pen for free if someone could answer the following question: Why is the Crocker Self-Filling Fountain Pen more desirable than the old style pen that fills with a medicine dropper?
1914 - A franchise was granted to the Livingston Manor Electric Co. to install and operate an electric light plant.
1913 - S.C. Litts sold his bottling works in Livingston Manor, Jacktown Hill. to Rartley Florschitz.
1917 - The Manor basketball team defeated Liberty 18-14. The players were L. Fitzgerald. I. Davidson. E. Hawver, E. Homer and H. Friedman.
1919 - The Livingston Manor Light Co. has purchased the right to use the lines of the Callicoon Independent Electric Co. It will operate the Callicoon plant until a line is built from Callicoon through the Beechwoods and Jeffersonville during the spring. After the line is built to connect Jeffersonville with the Manor lines, all power will be supplied from the Manor.
In the early days, Mrs. Diefernbach and Daisy Sprague took care of all babies that were delivered at home.
Before the electric light, there wasn’t much to do in the line of entertainment. Families made fudge, popcorn and ate apples. Many of the children learned to play the fiddle, organ and guitar. There was a family closeness being together all the time.
1920 - Mabel Voorhess was the Town Clerk. She was authorized to pay a $2.00 bounty to anyone bringing in a dead fox. She couldn’t stand the sight of those poor dead animals. It was arranged that the fox was left outside. A punch was given to the person who brought in the fox to put a hole in the animals ear. It was the law and the only way the enforcer had of showing payment. The kids made a "racket" from the fox and the hole punch. They would pat the fox, return the punch, collect the money and the fox would be passed on to another kid.
1928 - The Sullivan Telephone Co. has an option to buy the Livingston Manor Telephone Co. and will add to its already valuable telephone system. The Manor Co. has 500 miles of wire and 350 telephone stations and a central office.
July 1939 - Archie Lodbell of Livingston Manor has retained the New York State Wood Chopping Championship at a competition in Ithaca. He set a new record of 37.4 seconds in sawing a 10 inch beech log.
Feb. 28, 1963 - Over 1200 Explorer Scouts and their leaders from Nassau County spent three days (Washington’s Birthday) at Onteora Boy Scout Camp.
in Lew Beach located on Shin Creek. This had been the former Wilbur Voorhees home. At some point Mr. Voorhees had a grist mill on this property. The Berlin cottage sits on the former site of the grist mill. The mill had been powered by water. The mill also had a saw mill attached and butter tubs and butter trays were made. Shin Creek was known as tray valley because of the many mills there.
Harry and Dot Ackerley were caretakers for the Berlin Family for 42 years. Mr. Ackerley was also the chauffer for Mr. Berlin.
Lazare and Charlotte Kaplan lived in Lew Beach. They maintained a large herd of Holsteins. Mr. Kaplan was a diamond cutter by trade and he was world famous for cutting the "Jonker Dia mond."
When Mrs. Kaplan died in 1973, the Kaplan Foundation was established by Mr. Kaplan and sons. Leo and George. to honor their mother and wife. The first award from the fund totaled $13,000.00 and was given to the graduates of the Livingston Manor Central School, 1973-74.
The fund now includes the following schools:
Roscoe, Callicoon. Liberty. and Jeffersonville-Youngsville Central School. Capital today is ($1,600,000). The graduating class of 1990-91 will receive 100 grants to students of the 4 schools.
The first newspaper of record was the Willowemoc Valley Times. The editors of the papers could have been Eli Starr or Dewey Boise. William E. Ensign from Hancock bought the paper in 1893 and changed the name to "The Ensign". In 1906 the name of the paper was changed to the Livingston Manor Times. In 1916 the paper was sold to T. Harold Forbes. The paper again exchanged owners in 1919 when William J. White purchased same. In 1937 the paper was called "Manor Publishing Co.", 1932-37 it was under the guidance of Mabel Voorhees.
On July 4, 1939. Milton M. Kutcher was the editor and he produced an eight page newspaper. typed in red and blue colors to advertise the big 4th of July doings. This was the first time in the County that colors were used in a newspaper. This was a supplement to the original 8 pages, making the paper 16 pages in all. Over 7.000 copies were mailed out to the surrounding areas.
Excursion trains ran to the Manor. Hancock defeated the Manor team 2-0 in baseball. The Manor people rejoiced to see a local horse named "Cricket" win the horse race. The horse was owned by Wall Davis and beat Elmer Winner of Liberty. A carnival. dance and fireworks made the event a huge success.
In later years. the paper was owned by H. Battey.
Buildings of the Late 1800’s
In the period of 1880-1890, William H. McGrath and Monroe Wright were active in local and county affairs. They both were former teachers who turned to politics. It was due to their public appearances throughout the County that Livingston Manor became known in the political circles.
On the north easterly side of Main Street, Dawson Foundry was first built in 1893. It was later the location for the Sturdevant’s Garage.
West of Dawsons was a small building housing the Town Clerk’s Office. The office was held by "Pussey" Terwilliger. Eugene H. Bouton had his law office on the other side of the building. They were both business partners.
Between Bouton and the Theater Building there were no buildings until the early 1900’s.
Near the iron bridge. Daniel Radigan built the "Brick Hotel" in 1902. Later a large addition was added along side the hotel. It contained a dance hall upstairs and a bowling alley downstairs. This hotel was situated at what is now the entrance to Fulton’s Pavilion.
The Fontana House and the Opera House was next to the bowling alley building. The new theater was built in 1920.
Across the street was the Hoos Corner. Johnston and Johnston Store was formerly Fitzgerald. The building was added to in 1920, and a meat market ran by Ohlker and Johnston.
A general store was located where James Curry has his insurance office. The building was vacant in 1904.
Yonker and the harness and leather shop was built in 1894.
The Siegel’s building. the oldest building on Main Street, was alongside Ostrum’s blacksmith shop. The Ostrom home was located where Egan’s Bar is now.
In 1896, Tom and Jess Nield built their home. It was at the site of the present Farrell Insurance office (now Misner Agency).
The Baird property is now the location for the Norstar Bank. David T. Fitzgerald’s home is the site of Peck’s parking lot. The Cyrus Grey home had a pretty iron fence built around it. It is now the Post Office building.
Samuel Spriggs (the grandfather of Harold Spriggs) owned the next home. Eli Starr, then later Boom Schwartz’ home. is now the location for the Wildlife Gift Shop. At one time the West End Hotel was at this site.
The present Ultra Mart Station was built in 1924 by Sherwood and Dehoim.
From the iron bridge going towards Shandelee the first building was owned by Sam Cohn in 1889. The Arlington Hotel was built around 1889. The Louis DuBois House (now the 1886 Manor House) was built in 1887. The Sherwood Hotel was erected in 1887. It was built by J.W. Davis, later to be sold to Cyrus Mott and Then to S.H. Sherwood.
On the corner was the Reynolds building (now the Library) constructed in 191 2. by G.F. Newman. Mr. Reynolds purchased the building in 1914.
The old fire house was ‘built in 1889. It was previously the law office of J.M. Maybe who vacated the building upon the purchase by the firemen.
The Masonic Hall building was built in the late 1880’s. It was the office for the Ensign newspaper.
The remaining buildings were owned by P.H. Woolsey. for their sash and blind factory and lumber mill.
The Lawrence McGrath residence was the last house by the little bridge over the Cattail Brook.
The first house across the street from the bridge coming back down Main Street was owned by J.G. Stevens. It was a hardware store and livery stable in the back. The old telephone office was upstairs. A huge building belonged to A.P. Dubois. It was a general store. Anyone wishing to could purchase a spool of thread, furniture and wood to build your home. The next building was owned by Al Mauers and was a butcher shop. There was a residence next with a large yard in the back. It was on the corner of Pleasant St. and Main Street.
In the early 1900’s, Livingston Manor’s Main Street was nothing but a large mud puddle.
When the telephone was first started, it would take two hours to place a call.
There were no banks in town and all the merchants charged 10 cents to cash a check.
Dr. DeKay passed away in 1911. Dr. Davis replaced the doctor.
Charles Newman was an active fireman, and later became chief of the Fire Department. He and his father ran the "Brick Hotel", and later he established the Antlers.
P. Johnston came here in 1914 from Pittsburgh, Pa. He owned a large tract of timber land in Turnwood and he had a sawmill. He formed the Livingston Manor Cadets.
William Hartig had a farm. He had a son, Fred Hartig. who later founded the H.L. Sprague Co. and later established the F.W. Hartig Fuel and Material Co.
The Leonard Quinn home was built by a young widow named Mary Bardenstein. She had three daughters.
Alex Voorhees was Superintendent of Highways for forty years. Later he became the Supervisor of the Town of Rockland from 1919-1921.
William Smith came to Livingston Manor (Purvis) in 1879. He worked for A.P. Dubois Co. The president appointed him Post Master; the first appointment in the area (1898-1914). Later he was cashier for the Livingston Manor Bank. He died in 1920.
Livingston Manor was known for its "bluestone." There were many quarries in the area. The stone was sent to New York City and many other cities.
The first sign of spring was the running of the sap. Many area farmers had their own sap houses where maple syrup and sugar candy was made. The hard maple trees were tapped in the early spring.
Burr Sherwood, son of John Fanton Sherwood. built a factory that manufactured bowling pins. This was another large business on River Street. The business was managed by Leonard "Pete" Sherwood.
They made bowling pins from hard maple trees. The company would purchase large tracts of timber lots and hire their own log cutters. The timber was cut and then drawn to the mill. Farmers and other loggers also supplied the mill with logs. Many times the logs were shipped by flat cars on the O&W for the mill. Tom Quick and Mr. Sherwood had an arrangement whereas all the hard maple he cut would go to Sherwood’s Mill and he would keep the other timber. Mr. Quick owned the mill which is now the Rocky Vitale sawmill.
In later years. Sherwood’s built a dry kiln to dry the green blocks of bowling pins. After the pins were dried they were sent to the finishing room. They were sanded. graded and finish was put on them. The mill would produce 2.100 bowling pins per day. After the paint was dried, the pins were weighed and placed in cardboard boxes for shipment to the many bowling alleys. Brunswick Co. had a contract with Sherwood’s Mill. The factory closed when plastic coated pins were placed in bowling alleys.
In the early 1900’s "Koons Brothers" had a sawmill at Grooville. The mill sawed lumber and made long squares for the manufacturing of table legs. The square blocks of wood were turned and then sanded, put into bundles of four. They were then made into different patterns and graded at the mill. The particular mill made 1,200 table legs a day. With the loggers, mill workers and people drawing the wood, these companies employed 40 to 50 people. The mill burned October 12, 1916.
Rocky Vitale’s mill produces 15,000 board feet of lumber per day. The hardwood logs are purchased from local independent loggers and an average of 60.000 board feet is bought.
The logs are debarked prior to being processed into lumber. It is shipped to furniture manufacturers and exporters all over the northeast. The mill employs 12 people and is managed by Rocky Sr. and Jr. The compnay has three tractor trailers used to deliver the rough cut, green lumber. The bark is ground into landscaping mulch and shipped all over New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut. The wood chips are sent to Proctor and Gamble, to be used in various paper products. The saw dust is used by local farmers.