The history of Orange County, New York
In presenting this new History of Orange County to the public, we do so in the earnest hope that it will prove to be the most complete compilation of local chronicles that has up to this time been offered to our citizens. The authenticity of the facts contained in the various articles is as absolute as the utmost care could make it. The data have been procured from the best known authorities, and the sketches, when completed, have been subjected to the most searching examination for verification and correction. That no errors will be discovered in this production, is too much to hope for; but we do most certainly trust, that if any such errors there be. neither in number nor by their nature, will they be found to be sufficiently important to detract from that character for reliability, which it has been our constant aim and endeavor to impart to this history.
In this new work the design has been, to make clear the development of ideas and institutions from epoch to epoch; the social and economic conditions of the people have been preserved in the narrative, and much attention has been paid to describing the civil characteristics of the several towns and cities, both in the conduct of their local affairs and also in relation to each other and the county at large.
It is a well-known fact that considerable prejudice exists among a great body of the people toward county histories in general, for the reason that some such compilations in the past, have been composed of fact and fiction so intermingled, as to render it a difficult matter to know what was true and what was false. It has been our object in this work to hew straight to the line, satisfied to simply furnish such information as we were able to gather concerning each important matter or interesting event ; and where the desired materials were lacking, we have not at- tempted to supply that lack, by filling in the vacant niches with products of the imagination. We have not striven for effect, but our object is merely to give an authentic account of facts recent and remote, so dis- posed in a proper and orderly manner, as to enable our readers to clearly understand the history of their county from its origin down to the present day.
It is the limitation attached to all works devoted to general history, that from their very character only a superficial knowledge of the men and their times can be derived from them, while on the other hand, that which they lack is supplied by local histories of this nature, whose great value in adding to the fund of human knowledge cannot be overestimated; for they are the only mediums through which we can get the whole story of the economy of life, practiced by those men and women in every county in our broad land, which eventually resulted in transforming a wilderness into a garden, and from a weak and needy folk, creating a rich and mighty nation. It has long been recognized by every scholar, that the knowledge of such humble elements is absolutely essential, in order that the mind may intelligently grasp the potent factors which go to make up history. Hence, our correct understanding of the advancement and growth of a people varies in just such proportion as the narrative of their daily lives is full or incomplete.
The history of our own county cannot be studied too often; for it is one of great interest, and the record revealed is a proud one. There is no section of the country possessing more of historic interest, nor does one exist, as closely identified with those crucial events connected with the formative period of the Republic. In this county was held the last cantonment of the Revolutionary army, here Washington passed a large portion of his time, and within our borders he rendered his greatest service to our country.
At the time the army went into winter quarters at Little Britain in 1782, although peace was not declared until the following year, yet it was well understood that the long war was over and the States were at last independent of Great Britain. The knowledge of this fact naturally inclined the minds of men to a consideration of the form of government to be adopted for the infant commonwealth, and nowhere did the matter receive more attention than in that encampment, and from those soldiers whose deeds in arms had made the happy consummation possible.
The leisure entailed from the long relief from active duty which ensued after going into camp, afforded ample opportunity for both the officers and men of the army to discuss this question in all its bearings. It must be borne in mind that republics were not much in favor at that period, while the incompetent and discreditable manner in which Congress had conducted the national affairs for years, had created profound distrust and widespread discontent. Under the circumstances it is not so surprising that, believing nothing but chaos and ruin would be the lot of the country should the form of government then in force be continued, the army should have finally declared for a limited monarchy, and desired Washington as king.
The deputation of Colonel Nicola to present the subject to Washington does not require repetition here, nor the details of the manner in which that great man resolutely put aside all feelings of personal ambition, and so sternly repressed the movement for all time, that our present form of free government became an assured fact. These events are merely mentioned to bring vividly to the mind the recollection of the important connection our county sustained toward that great drama, and also to bring clearly home the fact, that even though the sun of liberty rose first from the green at Lexington or the bridge at Concord, the gestation of the Republic occurred on the banks of the Hudson in the old county of Orange.
Some criticism of this work has been occasioned through the inclusion therein of biographical sketches; but we are certain that upon calm reflection it will be seen that such objections rest upon no substantial foundation. The narratives of the lives of men and their acts constitute all there is of history. If it be true that all that our county shows in the way of growth and development, is entirely due to the men and women who originally peopled this region, and worthily performed those parts al- lotted to them in the general scheme of life, during their existence here, it is equally true that their successors who still abide with us. took up the burden where it fell from the hands of the fathers, and most signally continued the work, and carried it forward to success. If the works them- selves are deserving of commendation, surely the workers and finishers thereof are entitled to the honor of some mention.
In sending forth this volume, we trust that in addition to its value as a depository of accurate information and useful knowledge, it will also prove an effective instrument in creating a more active public sentiment regarding historical subjects, and especially foster an interest in the annals of our own county.
The editor would be wanting in gratitude did he fail to acknowledge his obligations to the well-known writer, the late Mr. Edward M. Ruttenber. The whole historical field comprising that period prior to the Revolutionary era, has been so carefully gleaned over by that indefatigable and accurate historiographer, that there remains little or nothing that is new, to reward any subsequent investigator into the history of that era, and therefore all who include that epoch in any sketch, must per- force draw largely from the store of valuable materials gathered by him. The editor also desires to return his sincere thanks to our numerous contributors, for their cheerful assistance, and especially for the pains- taking care exhibited by them in the preparation of those articles which appear herein, and whose excellence constitutes the chief merit of this work.
That the efforts of myself and associates have fallen short of the high standard we had set up for ourselves at the inception of our labors, we are well aware; but we do at least claim, that we have in some material degree, contributed in this volume to the "rescuing from oblivion and preserving the services which others have performed for God and country and fellow men." If the public by its verdict allows this claim to stand, our reward will be ample and we shall rest well content.
Table of Contents
The County of Orange 17
The Town of Blooming Grove 130
The Town of Chester 148
The Town of Cornwall 165
The Town of Crawford 183
The Town of Deer Park 199
The Town of Goshen 220
The Town of Greenville 239
The Town of Hamptonburgh 250
The Town of Highlands 261
The Town of Minisink 276
The Town of Monroe 290
The Town of Montgomery 301
The Town of Mount Hope 325
The Town of Newburgh 341
The City of Newburgh 348
The Town of New Windsor 381
The Town of Tuxedo 397
The Town of Wallkill 405
The Town of Warwick 427
The Town of Wawayanda 454
The Town of Woodbury 460
The Bench and Bar 466
The Medical Profession 560
The Schools 600
The Churches 623
Horse Breeding 751
Biographical Sketches 771
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Orange was one of the earliest counties of the State, dating back to 1683. when it was organized by a colony law. It was also one of those formed by a general act of organization in 1788. when it included the present county of Rockland, and was described as extending from the limits of East and West Jersey on the west side of the Hudson River along the river to Murderer's Creek, or the bounds of Ulster County, and westward into the woods as far as Delaware River — that is, all that part of the state south of an easterly and westerly line from the mouth of Murderer's Creek to the Delaware River or northerly line of Pennsylvania. In 1797 Rockland county was set off from it, and five towns from Ulster were added. Its boundaries were definitely fixed by an act of the New York legislature adopted April 3rd, 1801. The previous act of April 5th, 1797. provided that five towns, then a part of the County of Ulster, should be annexed to the county of Orange, and thai the courts should hold their sessions alternately at Newburgh and Goshen. Two days afterward another act was passed defining the boundary lines of the towns composing the newly-constructed county, and naming them as follows: Blooming Grove, Chesekook, Deer Park. Goshen. Minisink, Montgomery. New Windsor, Newburgh, Wallkill, and Warwick.