The Devil Wagons are coming!

The 2nd Annual Catskill Conquest Pilot Rally Commemorating the 1903 Automobile Endurance Run will be held Saturday September 22. View more than 30 vintage vehicles Saturday morning  at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, 5069 State Route 28, Mount Tremper. Many will later stop by the Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville.

The route will follow 75 miles of the historic Endurance Run through Delaware County and across the Susquehanna River at Unadilla.

This event celebrates the birth of automobiling. In October 1903, after a daunting journey through torrential downpours on dirt roads in the Catskill Mountains and Central New York State, the 125 people in 36 automobiles from 17 American makers in the First Annual Endurance Run of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers demonstrated their pluck when 25 cars completed the 800 mile route from New York City to Pittsburgh. The noisy and smelly early cars frightened horses and people and Sunday drives kept them from church, hence they were called Devil Wagons. Their perseverance through the debacle of the Endurance Run gave the veterans the nick-name of the Mud Larks which they proudly carried through later reunions.

The 17 makes represented in the 1903 Endurance Run were: Pierce Arrow, White (steam), Columbia, Locomobile, Packard, Rambler, Pope Toledo, Oldsmobile, Knox, Phelps, Stearns, Northern, Haynes-Apperson, Franklin, Holley, St Louis and Fredonia. In many cases the builders and design engineers drove their own cars: A. L. Riker in the Locomobile, Percy P. Pierce in the Pierce Stanhope, Frank Stearns in the Stearns, L.J. Phelps in the Phelps, John Wilkinson in the Franklin. ET Fetch had driven his Old Pacific Packard from San Francisco to New York that Summer, then ran the Endurance Run in October. BB Holcomb and Lawrence Duffie had just set a speed record from Chicago to New York in their Columbia and then returned up the route in the Endurance Run.

There was one woman who took part, Edith Riker, wife of A. L. Riker in the Locomobile. Edith was often mentioned in the press and was interviewed by a ride-along correspondent of The Automobile, a few quotes illustrate her undaunted character, she was “delighted”: O, isn’t this glorious? Do you know, I just think this is fine. Afraid? No, why should I be? The car is true and tried and Mr. Riker is driving…Mr. Riker does love to drive fast and I don’t care. He won’t jeopardize his own life and I am as safe as Mr. Riker, anyway…It is glorious, I think, to fly through the country night or day at a railroad speed over all sorts of roads.

An 1898 Riker Electric Car and a 1909 Locomobile are expected at the start in Mount Tremper at the Catskill Interpretive Center. Richard Riker will talk about his grandfather’s career and we will have a light breakfast from 9am and head out along the route about 10:30. Host checkpoints along the way include the village of Pine Hill, the Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville, the Delaware County Historical Association with an exhibit of the 1907 NY State Engineer road building maps and the Franklin Railroad and Community Museum. There are several historical railroad sites along the way and the route passes through Fleischmanns, where a vintage baseball game is scheduled, and also through the village of Andes.

Registered entrants include a 1933 Franklin Olympic and cars of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s from Ford, Plymouth and Chevrolet. Clubs participating include the Hudson Mohawk Region Mercedes Benz Owners Club, Northeast Region Plymouth Owners Club, Reservoir Thunder Auto Club and Team Shelby Northeast Region. Other entries include Porsches and a 1957 Thunderbird, all are welcome.

For more information please call Director Robert Selkowitz at 845-657-6982 or email at 1903autorun@gmail.com.

Cauliflower Festival is Sept. 22!

The Fifteenth Annual Margaretville Cauliflower Festival will be held rain or shine Saturday, Sept. 22 from 10 to 4 in the Village Park, Margaretville.
This free festival, sponsored by the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, is focused on the agricultural heritage of the region, once known for its outstanding cauliflower. The festival is a Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway annual event and is presided over by Callie, the Cauliflower Spirit.
The tractor parade will roll out of the Margaretville Central School parking lot at 11:30 a.m., headed for the festival grounds. Tractor owners who would like to participate are asked to call Lauren Davis, 586-4661 or Sally Fairbairn, 586-2813 to register and meet at the school at 11.
Local restaurants and organizations, like the Masons who will serve up barbecue chicken and the Fleischmanns-Pine Hill Rotary Club with their ice cream stand, will sell a variety of treats, with lots of dishes featuring cauliflower.
On overflowing Pure Catskills tent will tempt festival goers with seasonal produce and local products, including fresh cauliflower, offered by area farmers and makers.
Blues musician Mike Herman and folk singer Jason Starr, perennial crowd favorites, will perform alternate sets on the hour from Noon until 3:30 p.m.
Children will enjoy games like a cauliflower bean bag toss, crafts assisted by MCS art students, a petting zoo and pony rides and other fun activities.
Participants in the second annual Catskill Conquest, vintage cars traveling part of the rouet of the 1903 Endurance Run along the Byway, will stop at the festival to show off their vehicles.
The history of the cauliflower growing industry in the region will be featured in the History Tent. A scavenger hunt will occupy the kids while grownups peruse a new exhibit by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown, “Guns and Butter,” on the impact of World War I on local farms and foodways.
The artisan’s tent will feature pottery, jewelry, sewn goods, knit items, hand-made dolls, wood bowls, art prints and cards, outdoor driftwood furniture and more. More than 60 vendors will be on hand, including non-profit organizations and agencies like Soil & Water Conservation District whose staff will use a stream table to demonstrate how water, and human intervention, help shape the land.
The festival is supported by Adams Fairacre Farms, WIOX Community Radio; HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley; Directive, Inc.; the Watershed Agricultural Council and Pure Catskills.
For regular updates on the festival, visit facebook.com/margaretvillecauliflowerfestival.

Family History Day Sept. 8

Explore, share and celebrate your family’s heritage at the Historical Society of Middletown’s first Family History Afternoon Saturday, Sept. 8.
This free event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville. All are welcome.
Genealogist and Fairview Library Director Doris Warner will lead a 1 p.m. workshop for beginning family researchers that will help answer the question “Where do I begin?” Doris will cover basic and sometimes overlooked sources for vital statistics, residency, and personal information, and will offer tips on organizing your data and linking with other researchers following similar trails.
At 2 p.m,, Ray LaFever, archivist at the Delaware County Historical Association and Bovina Town Historian, will discuss how to preserve your precious family photographs, mementoes and artifacts so that future generations can enjoy and learn from them.
History Show-N-Tell at 3 p.m. will offer a chance to share the story behind – or ask questions about — an old photograph, heirloom, tool, hand-made item, toy or other memorabilia. Stories will be recorded and preserved for the HSM collection.
The Historical Society is looking for photos of Middletown area people, places and events to add to its archives. If you have images you’d be willing to share, please come to the HSM hall anytime from 1 to 4 p.m. September 8 to have them scanned. We’ll take the information about the photos and return them to you on the spot.
Community displays, reference books, binders of HSM inventories of Middletown barns and Civil War soldiers, and other materials will be available to peruse. Current exhibits at the hall feature Middletown area covered bridges and World War I soldiers.
Those who cannot attend but would like to loan photos for scanning or donate materials to HSM may call 845-586-4973, or email history@catskill.net.
To find a schedule of HSM’s 2018 events and programs, and many articles and photos pertaining to Middletown’s history, visit mtownhistory.org, where you can also become a member and make an online donation towards the preservation of local history.

Program on photographer Art Kane July 21

The life and work of Art Kane, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, will be discussed in a program hosted by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) Saturday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville.
“Marking Time” is an illustrated talk by Art’s son, musician and photographer Jonathan Kane, who spent a fair portion of his youth at the Margaretville house which was owned by his famous father for almost 30 years, from 1963 to 1991, a period when he was creating some his most visionary work in fashion, editorial and travel photography, celebrity portraiture and nudes.
Art Kane (1925 – 1995) graduated from Cooper Union with honors in 1950 and was soon designing page layouts at Esquire. As the 27-year-old art director at Seventeen, he was the youngest art director of a major magazine in New York City.
In 1956 he studied with Alexey Brodovitch at The New School, where other students included Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Diane Arbus. A disciple of Brodovitch, Kane nonetheless forged a path of his own, pioneering numerous concepts in modern photography. Decades before Photoshop and digital imaging, Kane invented the ‘sandwich image’, layering multiple transparencies together to invest his images with metaphor and poetry, effectively turning photography into illustration.
In 1958, Kane assembled the greatest legends in jazz and shot what became one of his most famous images, Harlem 1958. In the 1960s and 1970s, he photographed, among others, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Janis Joplin, the Doors, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan.

While the battle for civil rights and the Vietnam War raged, Kane was refining a conscientious response to the period with his editorial work, accessible and populist in its ability to communicate to a large audience.

Kane also contributed to the major fashion magazines of his era and created startling ad campaigns for the fashion and beauty industry.

In his lifetime Kane was honored by almost every photo-design organization in the United States, including the American Society of Magazine Photographers which named him Photographer of the Year.

Jonathan Kane began his career as the 15-year-old co-leader of Kane Bros. Blues Band, touring the northeast with fake id opening for blues legends Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Willie Dixon and others. After studying at Berklee College of Music, he joined the New York City downtown music scene. He co-founded Swans with Michael Gira, and has toured and recorded with La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Bad Blues Band, Rhys Chatham’s 100 Electric Guitar Orchestra, Dave Soldier, and as leader of his own maximalist blues drone band, Jonathan Kane’s February.
He is also a photographer and photo editor, who, with his late wife Holly Anderson, curated the lavish “Art Kane,” a book that features dozens of his father’s most striking images and offers a glimpse into the remarkable career of this mold-breaking artist. The book will be available for purchase at the July 21 program.
To find a schedule of HSM’s 2018 events and programs, and many articles and photos pertaining to Middletown’s history, visit mtownhistory.org, where you can also become a member and make an online donation towards the preservation of local history.

MAC — where major leaguers got their start

In a slide talk given June 8 at Skene Memorial Library in Fleischmanns, baseball historian Bob Mayer provided insight into the baseball-loving Fleischmann family and some of the men who played for the Mountain Athletic Club (MAC).

The club was started by Julius Fleischmann, son of yeast magnate Charles Louis Fleischmann who established the family summer compound in Griffin Corners. (The Village was renamed Fleischmanns in 1913.) The family built the local ball park to host MAC games in which a young Julius and his brother Max often played.

Two Baseball Hall of Famers – Honus Wagner and Miller Huggins – reputedly played for a time with MAC in Fleischmanns – Wagner c 1896, Huggins in 1900. (Contrary to an oft repeated story, there is no documentation that a third Hall of Famer, Ty Cobb, ever played in Fleischmanns.)

Honus Wagner

Johannes Peter ‘Honus’ Wagner – (1874-1955) — is considered by many to be baseball’s greatest all-around player. The “Flying Dutchman” spent his entire career as shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was adept at hitting, base running and fielding. He put together 17 consecutive .300 seasons and was the National League batting champion for eight of those 17 seasons. Before that. He played in the minors. Said Mayer, “It’s probable that Wagner played with MAC in 1896 since his manager in the Minors was also the manager for MAC that year, and may have brought Honus to play with the team.”

One of the first five players inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, Wagner retired with more hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other National League player. He was the first player to have his signature branded into a Louisville Slugger baseball bat in 1905.

Miller Huggins

Miller James Huggins (1878 –1929) was born in Cincinnati, where Julius Fleischmann was Mayor from 1900 to 1905. He earned a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, but chose to pursue a professional baseball career. He played semi-professional and minor league baseball from 1898 through 1903, including appearances with the Fleischmann-owned Cincinnati Shamrocks and with MAC in 1900.

Huggins played second base for the Cincinnati Reds (1904–1909), part-owned by Julius Fleischmann, and the St. Louis Cardinals (1910–1916). He managed the Cardinals (1913–1917) and the New York Yankees (1918–1929), which won six American League pennants and three World Series championships during that time.

There were quite a few other MAC players who played professionally. At least nine of them played in the Major Leagues: Nick Altrock, Andy Coakley, Tom Colcolough, Pete Cregan, Red Dooin, Bug Holliday, Barney McFadden, George Rohe, and Doc White.

Nick Altrock was considered the best left hand pitcher in the game as he won 62 games for the White Sox between 1904 and 1906. However, baseball was ultimately overshadowed by his second career as one of the most popular and longest working baseball clowns. He partnered with Al Schacht in 1919 and went out on his own after 1934. He continued until 1957 when he was 81 years old. At his peak, he had a salary that rivaled Babe Ruth’s.

Red Dooin caught 1,124 games for the Phillies, which is still the team record, and he may have been the first catcher to wear shin guards. Red managed the Phillies for five years and had a 392 wins and 370 losses. He had done vaudeville and sung on the radio during off seasons, and went back to that after retiring from baseball.

Bug Holliday played with Cincinnati 1889-98 batting .312, and in 1894 he hit .376 with 123 RBI’s and 126 runs scored. Bug played with MAC after the Majors then spent a short time as a boxing referee then a National League umpire. He was only 43 when he died in 1910.

George Rohe was a reserve infielder batting .258 in 1906, but in the third World Series, led the “Hitless Wonders” White Sox to an upset win over the powerful Cubs who had won 116 games. George had two triples, a double and four singles in the series. He played third base and managed the MAC team in 1900.

Doc White pitched five straight shutouts in 1904. He was ultimately tied by Don Drysdale in 1968. He pitched for Georgetown University in 1897, and in 1898 he struck out the first nine batters he faced against Holy Cross. He pitched for MAC in 1900, and signed directly into MLB by the Phils. He continued his education and got his dentistry degree in 1902. He won the 7th game of the 1906 World Series for the White Sox. Over his career he won 189 games with a 2.39 ERA over 13 years.

At least seven of the players spent time playing for the Cincinnati Reds when the Fleischmanns owned the team, but surprisingly, four of the MAC players (Altrock, Rohe, White, and Pat Dougherty) were on the 1906 Championship Chicago White Sox team.

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A few images from Headwaters History Days, 2018

6th Living History Cemetery Tour July 7

George W. Hubbell, who established this ice cream emporium on Wawaka Lake, s one of 11 people to be portrayed in the tour on July 7.

The sixth Living History Cemetery Tour presented by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) takes place Saturday, July 7 (rain date July 8) at the Halcottsville Cemetery.
Tours begin every 20 minutes starting at 4 p.m., with the last tour departing at 6 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 845-586-4736.
This popular event will bring to life eleven people who once lived in Halcottsville, ten of them now lying in this peaceful cemetery on Back River Road, on a hill overlooking Lake Wawaka.
Meet the trio of brothers who shaped commerce and community in the hamlet; the diarist who recorded the comings and goings of her neighbors for 50 years; the railroad station agent haunted by a horrific train crash; the hotel keeper who was witness to a scandal, and the woman who knows the truth behind it and returns to tell her story.
Tour goers will be led in small groups to meet these folks and others who will talk about their families and friends, struggles and joys, and the events that shaped their lives. Humor, pathos and secrets mark this year’s presentations by area players, some of them descended from the people they will portray.
This is a fundraiser for HSM; tickets are $20, children 12 and under get in free.
Characters in this year’s tour, and the actors who will portray them, include Jennie McKenzie Hewitt Doland, schoolteacher, seamstress and diarist (Agnes Laub); the Kelly Brothers – George, Norman and David – who ran a large farm and several businesses in the hamlet (Rich, Tim and Terry Kelly, great-grandsons of George); Ed and Aurelia Griffin, railroad station agent, and keepers of a general store, post office and restaurant (Dave Truran and Amy Taylor).
Also, Andrew Moldovan, Russian immigrant farmer (Erwin Karl); Sherman Bussy, hotel proprietor, and his grandson Winfield (John Bernhardt and Eli Taylor); and George W. Hubbell, factory owner and jack of all trades (great-nephew Burr Hubbell).
Bertha Williams (Anne Saxon Hersh), who shocked the community in 1913 when she ran off with a local man and made a new life in South Dakota, will float on the cemetery’s periphery, bending the ear of tour goers to set the record straight.
Tour guides will be Tina Greene, Sydney Asher and Barbara Funck.
Scripts were written by Anne Saxon Hersh, Mary Barile, Beth Sherr, Mack Oliver, Jenny Liddle, and Terry Bradshaw, as well as Frank Canavan and Joyce St. George, who also serve as directors of the event.
To find a schedule of HSM’s 2018 events and programs, and many articles and photos pertaining to Middletown’s history, visit mtownhistory.org, where you can also become a member and make an online donation towards the preservation of local history.

Skis, Trees and the Triple Cs

Hardy Margaretville enrollees set off on a CCC work mission.

The Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era program that put millions of young men to work repairing environmental damage and building parks and trails, will be discussed Saturday, June 9 at 10 a.m. at the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM), 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville.
“Trees, Skis and the Triple Cs” is a program by Diane Galusha, author of Another Day, Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills. A Headwaters History Days offering, the illustrated presentation is free. It will be followed by a short walk in a nearby CCC-planted forest.
The CCC was created in 1933 by an Executive Order signed by newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A federally-sponsored program for unemployed men from 17 to 25 years of age, its aim was to assist Depression-stricken families and at the same time conduct conservation projects to reverse decades of environmental degradation, improve public lands and develop parks and campgrounds for public enjoyment.
CCC camps in the Catskill region were established in Boiceville, Tannersville, and Margaretville, as well as in Sullivan, Otsego and Schoharie Counties. The Margaretville camp, located just west of the village, housed some 200 men and operated from 1935 to 1938.
Projects ranged from ski trail building and tree planting to erosion control and insect eradication. North Lake, Devil’s Tombstone, Woodland Valley and Beaverkill State Campgrounds were developed with Corps labor. Margaretville enrollees established a regional headquarters for NYS Conservation Department Rangers at a former fish hatchery which will be visited after the talk on June 9.
Galusha, president of HSM, is the author of several books of local history, including Liquid Assets, A History of New York City’s Water System; As the River Runs, A History of Halcottville, NY; and When Cauliflower Was King, a chronicle of the hey-day of cauliflower production in the Catskills.
For information on Headwaters History Days events and programs, visit headwatershistorydays.org.
HSM’s 2018 schedule may be found at mtownhistory.org.

HSM announces 2018 schedule of programs

The Historical Society of Middletown has a busy schedule of talks, tours and special activities planned for 2018.
The season will start with a friendly battle of wits when HSM sponsors its first Trivia Challenge Saturday, May 5 at 7 p.m. at its hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville. Teams of two and four will compete for awards. Door prizes and libations will be offered. Register your team ($25 per person) at 845-586-4689.
The Second Annual Underground History weekend for metal detectors will be held June 2-3. This ‘relic hunt’ will happen at select sites throughout Middletown. To participate (there is a fee) contact mrmetaldetector@aol.com.
On Saturday, June 9, a free, illustrated talk, “Trees, Skis and the Triple Cs,” will discuss the lasting contributions made by the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the Catskills. The talk, by Diane Galusha, begins at 10 a.m. at the HSM hall, and will be followed by a walk through a local CCC plantation.
The 6th Living History Cemetery Tour will be held at Halcottsville Cemetery Saturday, July 7. One of HSM’s most anticipated events, the tour introduces visitors to former community residents who share their stories of life, love and loss. Reserve a tour time at 845-586-4736.
Celebrated photographer Art Kane will be the subject of a free, illustrated talk, “Marking Time,” by his son, Jonathan Kane, on Saturday, July 21, at 7 p.m. Kane, who lived in Margaretville in the 1960s and ‘70s, was noted for his fashion, celebrity and editorial photographs and was considered among the most influential visual artists of the 20th century.
Autumn events include a Family History Afternoon Sept. 8, the Margaretville Cauliflower Festival Sept. 22, the Annual Meeting and Luncheon Oct. 20 and, on Nov. 3, an observance of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “Middletown in the Great War” will feature a slide show with photos of many local veterans, and readings of soldier letters, by members of Open Eye Theater. This program will take place at Middletown American Legion Hall 216.

Sat., May 5 Trivia Challenge!

Test your knowledge of history, art, science, sports and pop culture at this HSM fundraiser, with MC Jim Rauter. Awards, door prizes, refreshments. Teams of 2 and 4 welcome. $25/person. HSM Hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville.  7 p.m. Register: 845-586-4689.