250 years and counting

The 250th anniversary of the first European settlement of the Town of Middletown back in 1763 was observed with the dedication of a historic marker at the Town Hall July 12. HSM is proud to have facilitated the marker’s placement, and pleased to have had a small part in the ceremony. It included comments by former Supervisor now Town Historian Len Utter; former Town Historian and current Margaretville-New Kingston Presbyterian Church pastor Shirley Davis, and retired English teacher and local historian Dr. Bill Birns.

Other speakers were Nate Hendricks, 9th generation descendant of one of the original settlers, and State Asssemblyman Pete Lopez.

Adam and Nate Hendricks, 9th generation descendants of one of the first Middletown settlers, unveiled the historic marker with their aunt, Lori Hendricks Ballard .Photo by Roger Davis

Adam and Nate Hendricks, 9th generation descendants of one of the first Middletown settlers, unveiled the historic marker with their aunt, Lori Hendricks Ballard .Photo by Roger Davis

The occasion recalled the emigration of a troupe of five Hudson Valley Dutch men: brothers Harmonus and Peter Dumond, Johannes Von Waggoner and Peter Hendricks and Hendricks’ teenage stepson Frederick Kittle. The initial ‘settlement’ was made up of their four farms, all along the East Branch of the Delaware River that had until then been the seasonal domain of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians.

Several more families came in the years leading up to the Revolution, but conflicts among Indians, Tories and Whigs sent them all back to the Valley until hostilities ceased. After the war, emigration began in earnest and folks arrived bearing surnames that still identify Middletown families: Yaple, Carpenter, Green, Utter, Craft, Mead, Ackerley, Grant, Delameter and many others.

In her prayer of blessing, Pastor Davis said, “We thank you for the first inhabitants of these hills and valleys and for the courage and wisdom You gave them to face the many hardships and dangers they encountered in taming some of the wilderness of these beautiful Catskills Mountains. These brave men – and women – came to this land with hopes and dreams of their own – the hope of new freedoms and new life, dreams of having a place to call their own, a home and community in which to raise not only their children, but a place for future generations to call home and community as well. And we, my friends, gathered here today in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Town of Middletown, are part of those future generations.”

Dr. Birns pointed out that in the decades since these people put down roots, Middletown has been a haven for people of all religious, political, ethnic and social persuasions. “A town that started out with Hendricks, Dumond, Von Waggoner and Kittle has ended up with a big and fairly diverse US – It’s the US we celebrate today, along with those first families.”

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