Ulster County Schoolhouses: A Look Back, Part II

More images of Ulster County schools to celebrate the start of a new school year.

(All images from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.)

Kingston, NY, School No. 5.

Kingston, NY, School No. 7.

Marlborough High School - postmarked 1918.

Marlborough Union Free High School, 1905.

The Sands Avenue School in Milton, Town of Marlborough.

Students at the Modena School - 1934. Courtesy of Town of Plattekill Historian files.

A 1974 image of the former Modena School in the Town of Plattekill. Today this is the Plattekill Library and Senior Center.

New Paltz Central High School, circa 1939 (today the New Paltz Middle School).

Rifton School (Town of Esopus)

Ruby School (Saugerties). Students identified in picture are Jim Scheffel (front row, first student on left), Bill Hardt (front row, second from left), Jake Scheffel (second row, first student on right) and Helen Vrooman, (second row, second student from right). Undated.

Posted in City of Kingston, Education, Landmarks, Town of Esopus, Town of Marlborough, Town of Plattekill, Town of Saugerties, Town/Village of New Paltz | Leave a comment

Ulster County Schoolhouses: A Look Back, Part I

To welcome the start of a new school year, I’ll be posting historic images of various Ulster County schools here throughout the week. Enjoy!

(All images from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.)

Alligerville, N.Y. Schoolhouse (Town of Rochester).

The Ardonia School, Town of Plattekill. Circa 1910.

Brigham School, Kingston, NY. Postmarked 1911.

Students at the Creek Locks School (Town of Rosendale), 1928.

A postcard of the Eltings Corners School in Lloyd (courtesy of Sue Coy Doyle).

The Public School, High Falls (Town of Marbletown).

Ellenville High School, postmarked 1913.

Union Free High School, Highland (Town of Lloyd)

Kerhonkson High School (Town of Wawarsing).

Public School, Kerhonkson (Town of Wawarsing), postmarked 1908.

Kingston High School, circa 1945.

Posted in City of Kingston, Education, Landmarks, Town of Lloyd, Town of Marbletown, Town of Marbletown, Town of Plattekill, Town of Rochester, Town of Rosendale, Town of Wawarsing, Ulster County | Leave a comment

Doc Waterbury

Dr. Sahler's Sanitarium in Kingston- A.J. Schenkman

Dr. C. O. Sahler ran a private sanatorium located at 61 Wall Street in Kingston. According to James Sullivan he had started the sanatorium in 1896. It was created to help “nervous and mental diseases and all forms of invalidism.” In 1914, Dr. Sahler had a thriving practice, usually treating over 100 patients. It is the same year he was contacted by an individual claiming to be from The New York Times. Unbeknownst to Sahler the man on the phone was “Doc” Waterbury, an internationally known confidence man.

Waterbury was not a doctor, and his real name was Jules Ford. He called Dr. Sahler introducing himself as D.C. Russell, a retired editor for The New York Times, who was now independently wealthy. The reason he was calling was two-fold. He was hoping to send the well-known newspaper humorist Irvin Cobb to interview Sahler. “Russell,” also wished to pay for several newspapers reporters to stay at the sanatorium. They suffered from exhaustion and hitting the bottle one too many days. He assured Sahler that Cobb would call on him in a few days.

“Irving Cobb,” who was actually Waterbury, arrived at the sanatorium shortly after speaking with Sahler.  “Cobb” convinced the doctor that he not only wanted an interview, but would publish a full page advertisement for Sahler. It would appear in the paper’s popular Sunday supplement.  The hook came when Sahler was told his picture would be featured prominently in the newspaper. However, since pictures were so expensive to reproduce, he would need some financial help. Further appealing to the ego of the doctor “Cobb” explained that he also wanted to run the feature in The New York Tribune. This of course required more money. Sahler forked over the money requested by “Cobb.” After taking a few pictures and interviewing Sahler, “Cobb” exited the sanatorium. A short-time after the interaction with the reporter, Sahler saw a picture of the real Cobb and realized that he had been taken for as a sucker. He contacted the police. A warrant was sworn out for the arrest of Doc Waterbury in February 1914.

Doc Waterbury was well known to police with a record dating back to 1899. According to The New York Times, his first brush with the law was when he was locked up in Atlanta for representing the Associated Press(AP). As an “AP” reporter, he swindled several U.S. Congressmen promising, if they gave him money, write-ups in a biography of prominent U.S. Congressmen that the AP was working on for publication. It of course never happened. Shortly after marrying Edna Weed, while on his honeymoon, Waterbury was busted while trying to pull a job. He was sent jail for the con involving the Congressmen. Once released, the con-man continued his ways.

The real Irvin S. Cobb-Library of Congress

The long arm of the law caught up, again, with Waterbury on March 5, 1914, when he was arrested for the fifth time at the Biltmore Hotel by detectives from the 30th Precinct. He was arrested in New York City where he was sent to The Tombs to await extradition to New Jersey on a warrant for grand larceny. Waterbury had swindled the William A. Necker Undertaking Company, promising an advertisement in a local paper. There still was the outstanding warrant in Kingston from February 1914, and because of this warrant, Kingston was promised Waterbury if he was released for any reason. He eventually jumped bail which had been set at $1,500. Waterbury secured the bail by mortgaging his parent’s home in Enfield, New York near Ithaca. He did not own the house at the time.

After a short jail sentence in New Jersey, he was out again. In 1916 E.D. Easton of the Columbia Phonograph Company was his next victim. Once the United States became involved in World War I, Waterbury saw a cash cow. Waterbury, in 1918, took advantage of the doughboys fighting in France. This time he posed not as a newspaper reporter, but an intelligence officer. He explained to his victims that the American’s fighting in France suffered because they could not speak or understand French. He explained to the unsuspecting that he was in the process of creating a program to teach them French, and of course was short on funds. Still later, he also claimed that he had attended Yale, and was taking up a collection for a memorial statue for those who attended the school, and died in World War I.

Finally, in 1919, Waterbury, according to The Kingston Daily Freeman, was charged with attacking a 15 year old girl. She had answered an advertisement for a stenographer. He was arrested and eventually convicted of the crime. Waterbury would emerge from prison five years later only to be re-arrested for selling memberships to the Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C. This time when he appeared before the judge, he pleaded for mercy. He promised the judge that he was going to go straight.

There is no indication that Sahler ever recovered the money that was swindled from him or that Waterbury ever saw the inside of an Ulster County Jail for the crime. It does appear after his last arrest for selling memberships to the Gridiron Club that he made good on his promise to the judge. Waterbury did walk a straight path. However, by this time he suffered from heart disease, as well as, kidney disease. Doc Waterbury died on March 18, 1925, on his parent’s farm in Enfield, New York. “The suave internationally known confidence man, who for years strolled a careless, dangerous path across the United States and Europe,” died penniless at 50 years of age.

Posted in Bringing the Wicked to Justice, City of Kingston, Ulster County, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unforgiving Land: The Trapps Mountain Hamlet

At first glance, the quiet, forested lands of the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park belie the presence of a once active community. However, traces of the Trapps mountain hamlet, a community located in the in the towns of Gardiner and Rochester in Ulster County that dates back to the late 1700s, still survive in the Shawangunk Mountains. Residents of the Trapps lived a “hardscrabble” existence, getting by through subsistence farming and mountain trades such as milling wood and grain, carving millstones, charcoal-making and shaving barrel hoops.

Courtesy of Robi Josephson.

According to researchers Robi Josephson and Bob Larsen, most of the area that formed the Trapps hamlet is now reforested and protected by the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, or privately owned. Hints of the former community can be found in “cellar holes (stone foundations) of former buildings, water-powered sawmills, bridge abutments, stone walls, stone quarries, charcoal pits, and burying grounds (cemeteries)” that have been identified throughout the area. Even more telling than those structures, however, are the stories of those who once made the Trapps Mountain hamlet their home. Larsen and Josephson capture the spirit of the former hamlet in their recently published book, An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet (Black Dome Press), where they explore the community, businesses and everyday lives of those who called the mountain hamlet their home.

An Unforgiving Land was a book decades in the making. According to Josephson, Bob Larsen “found much evidence in the Shawangunks of former human occupation, such as building foundations, burying grounds, and stone walls” while working as a ranger for the Mohonk Preserve. Upon finding such unexpected hints of community life on the mountain, Larsen began researching the cultural history of the area. Josephson also notes that Larsen played an integral role in preserving remnants of the Trapps hamlet. Most notably, he was involved in the Preserve’s restoration of the Van Leuven Cabin, the last remaining structure of the Trapps on Preserve lands, and in facilitating the placement of the former hamlet on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places. This designation marked the first time New York State officially recognized the historic importance of a vanished, hardscrabble community.

Josephson has also been actively involved with the Mohonk Preserve. She began working as the publications editor for the Preserve in the mid-1990s. In 2012, she published the book Images of America: Mohonk Mountain House and Preserve (Arcadia Publishing). In addition, she has spent years researching the history of the Hudson Valley, with a special focus on naturalist John Burroughs.

Robi Josephson and Bob Larsen, authors of An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet. Courtesy of Robi Josephson.

Larsen and Robison have collaborated on various projects for the Mohonk Preserve, including articles for the Preserve’s newsletters and the creation of an interpretive guide for a trail to the Eli Van Leuven Cabin that Larsen had designed and installed. As their research continued, the duo realized that they had enough information on the Trapps hamlet for a book. An Unforgiving Land, which features previously unpublished images of the hamlet as well as a detailed look at its extensive history, was released in the fall of 2013.

Larsen retired in 2013 after a 40-year career with the Mohonk Preserve. This year, he celebrated his 90th birthday and is enjoying his retirement. Josephson is currently researching the life of John F. Stokes, who established the mountain tradition at Lake Mohonk more than 150 years ago, and volunteers for the history collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz. She and Larsen continue to be guest speakers at many area historical sites, where they present a digital slide show and virtual walk through the Trapps.

For those wishing to explore the former Trapps hamlet, Josephson recommends starting with two places that she and Larsen list among their favorites: the West Trapps Trailhead and the Coxing Trailhead. From the West Trapps Trailhead, a moderate trail (not handicapped accessible) leads 1.5 miles past an abandoned millstone quarry and burying ground to the Van Leuven Cabin. Visitors can pick up the interpretive brochure (described above) at the trailhead or at the Preserve Visitor Center and explore the area on their own, but Larsen and Josephson encourage guests to “take a walk back in time” by contacting the Mohonk Preserve to sign up for an interpretive walk and/or tour of the Van Leuven Cabin. From the Coxing Trailhead, the former farm and sawmill site of the Enderly family can be viewed. (Today, this area is popularly known as Split Rock.) The Enderly family burying ground is located a few steps behind the trailhead. (Contact the Mohonk Preserve for directions and parking. Day passes or annual memberships are available.)

An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet is available for purchase at the Mohonk Preserve, the Mohonk Mountain House, online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at a number of Hudson Valley bookstores. More information on author Robi Josephson, including a number of articles on the Trapps and the Mohonk Preserve, as well as upcoming speaking dates, can be found on her website: www.robijosephson.com Additional information about the Trapps Hamlet can be found on Josephson and Larsen’s “Trapps Mountain Hamlet” Facebook page.

Posted in Appalachian Mountains, Cemeteries, Historic Sites, Landmarks, Shawangunk Mountains, Town of Gardiner, Town of Rochester, Ulster County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

History Happens When You Least Expect It

Washington's Headquarters Postcard-A.J. Schenkman

Alfred Goodrich and animals-A.J. Schenkman

It is late August in the Mid-Hudson Valley and one of my favorite times of the year. There is a feel to it as the cicadas sing all day, and the peepers take the night. Hot days give way to cooler nights. I can hear the gentle hum, in the distance, of a farmer harvesting corn from a field. A scene that plays itself out as it has in this valley for hundreds of years.

I am glad that this morning as I write this article that I have time to reflect on this moment. It has been a whirlwind for me this year as a new father. It is easy to get lost in the day to day haze of sleep deprivation, work, and caring for this new soul. Inevitably other parts of your life suffer such as visiting friends, and family. My extended family, the firehouse, has also taken a back seat of which there is sadness. However, part of being a family is taking the good with the bad with an extended hand when times are difficult, and hence the reason behind this article.

The other day I was out walking with my wife and son around the neighborhood when a familiar car pulled up on the opposite side of the road. A fellow firefighter’s head popped out to chat. He had some presents for my son that he had neglected to drop off to us. He casually stated that there was a card in the bag from another firefighter.

When we got home we opened the presents. There at the bottom of the bag was an unassuming manila envelope. I picked it up slowly while opening it. What I saw was an old picture of Washington’s Headquarters. It was a piece of history in my hands. I believe the picture on the postcard to be from the 1880s. Color had been added, by hand, to give an even more life-like appearance. I studied the people’s faces in the picture. The postcard is adorned with smiling children, young men lounging in the grass, a child talking to her mother on benches long gone.

A snap shot in time. I found myself transformed back into those people’s lives, where they lived again. Hence the reason I love writing as well as studying history to the degree I do. It allows me, like in the movie Back to the Future, to gaze into people’s lives where in my writing and reading they once again live. This is no more evident to me than in a postcard.

Washington's Headquarters-A.J.Schenkman

This postcard and accompanying stereoscopic cards tell a history of the evolution of a structure, in this case Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, it surroundings, plantings, style of dress, and even people. If we take the stereoscopic picture of the man posing on the lawn with his dog and cat as an example (see above). It is believed that the man is Alfred Goodrich who was Newburgh’s Police Chief from 1870-71. Still later, he would become superintendent of Washington’s Headquarters after it became an historic site. Shortly after this photo was taken, I was told, Goodrich died from a stroke.

Perhaps the reason I am so drawn to postcards, such as these, is because they really do “paint a 1,000 words.” It is why, frequently, I use images as prompts for my students when I want them to write. In my own life as a writer, they many times inspire me.

Posted in City of Newburgh, Education, Hudson River, Landmarks, Museums, Orange County, Revolutionary War | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Local History Event: “The Tanning Industry of Ulster County”

(Marbletown, NY) – If the Delaware & Hudson Canal helped shape the Rondout Valley, the tanning industry of the 19th century had an even greater impact on the Catskill Mountains. The huge influence of that industry on the people, the economy and the environment of the Hudson Valley is the subject of a compelling lecture offered by the Ulster County Historical Society.
The lecture by Philip Ryan, titled “The Tanning Industry of Ulster County,” will take place on Saturday, August 23rd at 3:00 pm at the Bevier House Museum. The cost is $7, free to members of the Ulster County Historical Society (UCHS). Bevier House Museum, headquarters of the Ulster County Historical Society, is located at 2682 Route 209 in Marbletown. This special event is sponsored by UCHS. For more information call 845-338-5614 or UCHSdirector@gmail.com.
Mr. Ryan’s lecture will explore the reasons why the industrialization of tanning took hold in the Catskills. He will explain who the tanning workers were and why the industry ultimately proved an enormous environmental disaster to the Valley ecosystem. At the outset of the 19th century, the Catskills were canopied over with hemlock and virtually uninhabited; neither the Native Americans not the Dutch were interested in this vast first growth forest.
Beginning shortly after the War of 1812, enterprising men such as William Edwards and Zadoch Pratt went deep into the Catskills in order to harvest the seemingly endless supply of hemlock bark which was used to tan hides, much of it brought all the way from South America on clipper ships.
For fifty years the tanners and bark peelers were at work cutting down the hemlock, taking the bark and leaving most of the wood to rot. By the end of the century, the mountains were crisscrossed with roads and home to innumerable churches and hamlets. The hemlocks were nearly all gone, replaced by the diverse deciduous forest we know today.
 Philip Ryan, who served as the former president of UCHS, is an adjunct professor of City College of New York. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, Ryan has delivered lectures on the Hudson Valley tanning industry for more than a decade. He possesses the largest private collection of Hudson Valley historic maps in the state.
The Ulster County Historical Society (UCHS) was established in 1859 and thrived until 1862 until its founder, State Senator George C. Pratt, was mortally wounded 1862 at the Second Battle of Bull Run. It was revived in 1930 by Judge G.V.D. Hasbrouck. The mission of the UCHS is twofold: To act as curator and collector of significant Hudson Valley artifacts, documents and cultural items and to educate the public on the pivotal role that Ulster County has played in the formation of nation. The Bevier House on Route 209 in Stone Ridge serves as the UCHS museum space. UCHS sponsors numerous educational and cultural events from May 1 through the end of December.
For information on future UCHS events, visit www.ulstercountyhs.org.

Posted in Catskill Mountains, Education, Museums | Leave a comment

Local Authors event at the Ulster County Historical Society

Ulster County Historical Society-Library of Congres

Marbletown, NY-The Ulster County Historical Society will be hosting an author’s event on August 24, 2014, from 1-3 PM.  They have brought together authors who have written novels or non-fiction historic material, pertaining to the history of the Hudson Valley and particularly Ulster County. Authors will be giving brief readings of their chosen titles and an opportunity to talk with them afterwards. Books will be available for sale throughout the event.

Vernon Benjamin’s new book, The History of the Hudson Valley, Wilderness to the Civil War

Carol Goodman, several literary mysteries involving the HV, Blithewood, The Drowning Tree, The Seduction of Water

Richard Heppner, Legendary Locals of Woodstock

Janine Fallon-Mower, Woodstock, Woodstock Revisited

Will Nixon, Walking Woodstock

William Rhoads, two guides to historic architecture in Kingston & Ulster County

Hudson Talbott, children’s books, River of Dreams

Christine Wade, Seven Locks, a Dutch-American woman fights her own war of independence as the American Revolution approaches the Hudson Valley.

Elizabeth Werlau and A.J. Schenkman,  Murder & Mayhem, Wicked Ulster

Books will be available for purchase.

Free to all.

Bevier House Museum 2682 Route 209, Marbletown

338-5614 or www.ulstercountyhs.org for more information

Posted in Bringing the Wicked to Justice, Catskill Mountains, Education, Historic Sites, Museums, Strange Stories, Ulster County, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Historic Cemetery Clean Up Dates Announced


Gumaer Cemetery-Judy Gumaer Testa

The families of Peenpack and interested community members are cordially invited to help care for Gumaer Cemetery/Pioneer Knoll Cemetery on Saturdays,  September 20th  and October 18th, 2014. 11 AM to 3 PM. Rain or Shine.

We will have brief informative programs during the day. There will also be a family and local historians available on site. Family members are welcome and encouraged to visit their American Homestead at any time to assist us in this endeavor and pay their respects to their ancestors. 

The site is mildly remote in a rustic setting. Please wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Tools are limited onsite; please bring hand tools, lawn rakes, mid-sized plastic drop-cloths, tree pruners, work gloves, tick/bug spray & cameras. Pack a light lunch & join us! Be mindful the old Ontario & Western railroad Valley Line right-of-way runs straight down the side of the cemetery property.  It’s the roadbed you drove in on.  The line operated from 1906 to 1957, and one of its founders is buried in the cemetery.  The area is inundated by history. 

The Gumaer Cemetery/Pioneer Knoll Cemetery Fund was created through the generosity and foresight the late Kenneth Gumaer, DVM. The fund awards an annual grant to the Minisink Valley Historical Society to oversee the perpetual maintenance of Gumaer Cemetery/Pioneer Knoll Cemetery in Godeffroy. The funds are administered by the Minisink Valley Historical Society through a committee consisting of a representative of the Deerpark Reformed Church, Minisink Valley Historical Society and of the Gumaer Family via the Community Foundation of Orange & Sullivan Counties.

Directions From 84: Take Route 84 to exit 1 (Port Jervis).At the end of the exit ramp, turn onto Route 6 West. Follow Route 6 to Route 209 North.  Make a right turn onto Route 209 and north for approximately 6.3 miles to Guymard Turnpike. Make a right turn onto Guymard Turnpike, and follow it approximately 0.2 miles to the cemetery driveway on the right. The entrance is marked Nature Conservancy: Neversink Preserve. Drive slowly towards the kiosk. Look for the parked cars along the left side of the road, and park.  There’s a short path from there to the cemeteries.

From Route 17 West: From Route 17 west, take exit 113 (Rt. 209) south. Travel for about 8.5 miles, and after crossing the Cuddebackville Neversink bridge, take your second left onto Canal Drive.  Go to the end of Canal Drive (bearing left at forks) to a T-intersection. Turn left onto Guymard Turnpike; The cemetery entrance is a gravel drive on the right with a sign marked Nature Conservancy: Neversink Preserve. Drive slowly towards the kiosk. Look for the parked cars along the left side of the road, and park, a short path from there to the cemeteries.

For further information please contact Nancy Conod, Executive Director of the Minisink Valley Historical Society, at history@minsink.org or Judy Gumaer Testa, Coordinator of Volunteers, at  jgumaertesta@hotmail.com

Posted in Cemeteries, Education, Sullivan County, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kingston’s Buried Treasures: “From Dutch to English – The Conquest of Kingston”

“Kingston’s Buried Treasures” is a monthly series featuring a different individual or subject of local historical interest and significance in our community.

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
“From Dutch to English – The Conquest of Kingston,” by Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon. Beginning with the first settlers in 1652-1653, early Kingston was dominated by Dutch influence. This changed, however, with the arrival of an English invasion force under the command of Col. Richard Nicolls, sent by the Duke of York to secure possession of the colony of New Amsterdam. Facing overwhelming odds, Governor-General Peter Stuyvesant and the Dutch troops surrendered the colony to the English without firing a shot. The bloodless coup initiated a period of English domination of the now renamed New York, lasting until the independence of a new American nation. This transition, however, was often turbulent in Kingston. Come learn about the “Conquest of Kingston” as we commemorate the 350th anniversary of the English takeover of New York from the Dutch.

The mission of the “Kingston’s Buried Treasures” Lecture Series is to awaken and reignite an interest in the rich historical tradition and invaluable contributions of our community to both New York State and the nation as a whole. Through a lecture series featuring a different historical subject each month, we strive to foster an appreciation of the exceptional nature of our community while recognizing and honoring the vast, though often forgotten, contributions of our forebears.

The presentations will take place on the third Friday of each month, unless noted differently, at the Vanderlyn Gallery of the Senate House Museum located at 296 Fair Street in Kingston, New York. Presentations are free and open to the public. Call (845) 340-3055 for more information or visit https://www.facebook.com/KingstonsBuriedTreasures/info

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Frederika Charlotte Louise von Massow, Baroness (Freifrau) Riedesel -Wikipedia

I love a good story whether it is true to not. There are many out there that are flat out lies such as Washington’s wooden teeth. However, stories still serve a purpose in history. One of my favorite stories involves the Baron and Baroness von Riedesel. It is believed that after the Battle of Saratoga they spent a week at the Hasbrouck House.

With the surrender of the British Army on October 17, 1777, at Saratoga, the terms of peace had to be drawn up as well as the terms of parole. Those troops that were considered prisoners of war were deemed The Convention Army. These included not just British soldiers and officers, but also Hessian mercenaries. It took some time for the terms of release for the prisoners of war to be worked out. Ultimately the goal was for them to set sail for Europe never to return or take up arms against the United States. One of many prisoners taken was the Baron von Reidesel who was at Saratoga with him family, and servants.

Hasbrouck Parlor-HABS/HAER

Eventually the von Reidesel Family were allowed, by General Horatio  Gates, to head South. Their ultimate destination was supposed to be Virginia where they were to set sail for Europe as terms of their parole. It was on their journey south that they were quartered at the Hasbrouck House in December 1778.

The Reidesel’s arrived, according to Washington’s Headquarters Historic Structure Report, on December 19, 1778. They were accompanied by, the baroness wrote in her diary, “my children, and my two maid servents, and at dinner and supper, the general’s aide-de-camps.” Whether they stayed at the Hasbrouck’s has been , in the past, controversial. One of the main sources documenting their stay is the diary of the baroness. In her diary the name of where they stayed is written as “Osborn, ” not Hasbrouck.  However, in the papers of George Clinton in a letter to Robert Boyd, Jr., Boyd wrote that the Reidesel Family was in Fishkill in December 1778, and before arriving in Fishkill were at the house of “Colonel Hasbrouck.”

Assuming that they did stay at the Hasbrouck home, according to the baroness, the trip across the Hudson to Newburgh took 5 hours. She was afraid that the boat would sink and noted that the tiny vessel had but 1 mast. Once the party arrived at the shore, she recorded, “we had to wade through mire, before we arrived at the house of Colonel Osborn, a rich gentleman, where we were to lodge.”

Hasbrouck Kitchen-AJ Schenkman

When the baron and baroness arrived at the Hasbrouck’s, Jonathan had recently resigned as Colonel of the 4th Ulster County Militia. He was also still recovering from what was believed to be pneumonia. The Riedesel’s were quartered in the new part of the house which is today known as the parlor. According Walter C. Anthony’s book about the home, Jonathan first encountered his new guests when he walked into the house stopping in the kitchen.  He became infuriated when he viewed some Hessian officers warming themselves by the fire. Jonathan, it is reported in several sources, including a translation by Wallenstein of the baroness’s diary, flew into a rage, grabbed at least two  of the officers by the arms while yelling at them, “is it not enough that I give you shelter, ye wretched roylaists!” How did the baroness feel about Jonathan?

His behavior, at first, was anything but cordial even towards the baroness. As every school child has learned when studying the American Revolution, Patriots had a particular distain for the hired Hessians of Kings George III. When the baroness saw Jonathan again, she noted he had changed into nicer clothing and was no longer wearing his coarse work clothes. In addition he had shaven.

The following day on December 20, Tryntje invited the baroness to have some coffee with her in the parlor. In her diary, she wrote that Tryntje was “more amiable.” Shortly into their coffee drinking, Jonathan burst into the room. Remembering her host’s tirade the day before, she decided to excuse herself, but before she could exit, Jonathan shut the door blocking her exit. The following exchange transpired between Jonathan and the baroness:

“Are you afraid of me?”

“No, sir, I fear nobody, not even a figure as ugly as you were yesterday.”

“Do I not look better to-day?”

“Yes, sir; but I wish to avoid new incivilities.”

“I am not so rude as you imagine. I like you, and if I were not married, I cannot tell but I might fall in love withyou.”

“Do you believe that I would encourage your affection ?”

“As for that, we should see : I am very rich ; this whole estate is mine ; my wife, you see is old : you will do well, therefore, to remain here.”

Washington's Headquarters, Newburgh lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1837-Public Domain

This is the last interaction recorded between the baroness and Jonathan Hasbrouck. The Riedesel’s stayed at the Hasbrouck home for one week. However, Robert Boyd, Jr., in a letter to Governor Clinton stated they had been at the home for over a week. Baron von Riedesel asked to remain at the Hasbrouck’s for the winter.  No doubt Jonathan too, wanted the family to stay at the Hasbrouck home for the winter, or at least the baroness. The baron was told no. Governor Clinton at the urging of Boyd wanted the baron to move on as quickly as possible. Clinton and Boyd feared the baron was trying to stir up Tories in the area. Boyd wrote that the baron ended up “over the Wallkill…To engage Winter Quarters among the High Ducthers; from what I have been inform’d concerning this Gentleman’s conversation, since in those neighborhoods I think him a dangerous Man.”

This would not be the last baron to stay at the Hasbrouck’s home. The next guest, the following year, July 1779, would be a Prussian named Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben or as most American’s know him as simply Baron von Steuben. He would be followed by Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering and of course in 1782, General George Washington.

"Baron Steuben by Peale, 1780" by Charles Willson Peale - PafA-Public Domain



Posted in City of Newburgh, Education, Historic Sites, Hudson River, Museums, Orange County, Revolutionary War, Strange Stories, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Author

    AJ Schenkman

    A.J. Schenkman teaches history in the Lower Hudson Valley. He is the author of numerous books and articles. His most recent books Include Murder and Mayhem in Ulster County and Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes, Gangs & More, and ... Read Full

    Elizabeth Werlau

    Elizabeth Werlau is an English teacher in the Hudson Valley and is the historian for the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. She has authored and contributed to several books on regional history, including her most recent publication, Murder and ... Read Full
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