HSM offers Bedell Cemetery Stroll

The third in a series of Sunday Cemetery Strolls will be offered by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. at Bedell Cemetery, Little Redkill Road, outside the Village of Fleischmanns.

Admission is $5 per person; children 12 and under may take the tour for free.

Reservations are not necessary. Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and expect some uphill walking.

Guides from HSM will introduce tour-goers to several cemetery residents, including legendary outdoorsmen Burton Tubbs, a licensed guide who sold hunting and fishing supplies from his Margaretville Army-Navy store; hunter and trapper Luman Searle, and Bryan Burgin, a state Conservation Officer who starred in a 1955 short film, “The Game Warden” with other local residents.

Bedell is also the resting place of renowned fiddler Hilton Kelly, Denver farmers and boarding house keepers John and Martha Hewitt, and many others whose lives added color and character to our community.

The last Sunday Cemetery Stroll in the series will take visitors to a pair of cemeteries in Dry Brook and Millbrook on August 27.

Halcottsville Relic Hunt yields finds, funds

“Before Belleayre”: A History of Highmount

Actress Julia Marlowe’s Wild Acres

Weingart Summer School students at the pool

The surprising history of Highmount, known to most as the Route 28 jumping off point for Belleayre Ski Center, will be the topic of a free illustrated presentation in Margaretville Saturday, June 17 at 7 p.m.

“Before Belleayre” will be offered by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville as part of Headwaters History Days and the state-wide Path Through History Weekend.

The program, by HSM President Diane Galusha, will reveal tales of the rich, famous and forgotten of Highmount, a community that straddled two towns, two counties, two watersheds, and in many ways, two cultures: old, established families whose lives centered around farm, forest, quarry and stream, and wealthy city dwellers who created a Highmount of extravagant summer homes and opulent hotels where art and music reigned.

Several area elders provided first-hand recollections of early to mid-20th century Highmount. Newspaper accounts, memoirs, family histories and other sources were also mined to create an informative historical tour that includes some 100 rarely seen images.

The talk will also feature two short film clips – a 1906 train ride around the famous double horseshoe curve on the Ulster & Delaware Railroad between Pine Hill and Highmount, and a 1930s spring outing by intrepid skiers who first had to climb up the Peekamoose Trail on Belleayre Mountain before schussing back down through the trees.

Meet Civil War soldiers and shopkeepers, artists and musicians, speculators and industrialists in this lively presentation. The talk will introduce viewers to wealthy summer residents like shipping executive John Munro, his fellow Scotsman and neighbor, physician Alexander Skene, newspaper publisher Herbert Gunnison, brewer George Jetter, and Manhattan real estate tycoon Harris Mandelbaum.

Opera diva Amelita Galli-Curci and Shakespearean actress Julia Marlowe were among the celebrities who built homes in Highmount. Others spent time at local hotels, including the magnificent Grand Hotel, which dominated the side of Summit Mountain (Monka Hill) for more than 80 years.

The program will also discuss the little known history of a once-prominent summer camp for boys, the Weingart Institute, whose alumni included future composers and lyricists Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart. The property is remembered by later generations as the Highmount Country Club.

Cemetery Stroll honors veterans May 28

The second in a series of Sunday Cemetery Strolls will be offered by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. at Margaretville Cemetery, Cemetery Road just off upper Main Street (NYS Route 30)

The one-hour tour on this Memorial Day Weekend will be a tribute to veterans.  Tickets are $5 per person; children 12 and under may take the tour for free.

Reservations are not necessary. Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and expect some uphill walking.

Guides from HSM will introduce tour-goers to 20 cemetery residents, including veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World Wars 1 and 2 and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Some, like Everett “Bus” Payne, a paratrooper who was killed in France the day after the D-Day invasion in 1944, never made it home to the Catskills. Others, like World War 1 veteran J. Stanley Bussy and his young business partners, Ken Miller and Fred McCumber who saw service in World War 2, returned to build lives and our community.

Tour goers will meet Sam Hunter, an Irish immigrant who survived Civil War combat and returned to South Carolina after the war to look for a comrade who didn’t; Valentine Newton, a Marine who died in France in 1917 and for whom the local American Legion post was named; Blanche Archibald Quinn, a sergeant in the Women’s Army Air Corps during World War II, and many others.

Future Sunday Cemetery Strolls are planned for Bedell (June 25) and a pair of Dry Brook-Millbrook cemeteries August 27.

The Merrihew bus line

1920s transportation for those without their own horse or car. Ulster County communities served by the Merrihew Brothers are painted on the side of the bus, evidently before Margaretville was added to the route.

Back in the days when bus seats were made of wicker and the driver was often the mechanic too, a pair of brothers named Merrihew ran the area’s best known ‘mass transit’ operation, the Pine Hill-Kingston Bus Corp.

Russ Merrihew, who learned all about vehicles serving in a motor transport unit during World War I, and his brother Levan “Bub” Merrihew, sons of an Olive Bridge blacksmith, grew up when horses ruled. But for more than four decades their name was synonymous with bus travel in our region.

In 1922 the brothers teamed up to purchase the Pine Hill-Kingston bus corporation which was started by John B. Winne operating a Stanley steamer to carry folks between those two communities. The Merrihews in 1927 bought the Longyear bus line which served the Woodstock area, and later extended to Margaretville: In 1931 they offered direct service from Margaretville to New York City – two buses daily in each direction.

The brothers did the mechanical work, driving and management of the company themselves for many years. A home made snowplow attached to the front of the bus was the only way to get through snow-clogged roads in the early 1930s.

In 1949 the Greene bus line was purchased so riders could now go to Oneonta, and when the Richfield Springs line ceased operating, Bub Merrihew seized the opportunity to extend to Cooperstown.

His brother Russ, who lived in Fleischmanns died in 1944 following surgery in Philadelphia. His passing was front page news, as he had been a Fleischmanns village trustee, a volunteer fireman and a director of Fleischmanns National Bank.

But Bub carried on, expanding the firm to include 12 GMC buses and a number of employees. He was much loved by students who rode his buses to school, and other passengers who enjoyed his wit and kind manner. Bub’s concern about his customers may have led to his death. In February of 1963, two of his buses skidded off the road and though damage was minor and there were no injuries, the incident upset the owner, and he suffered a heart attack, dying four days later.

The Pine Hill-Kingston Bus Corp., known to locals as ‘Merrihews’,” was sold the following year to Adirondack Trailways.

HSM offers Sunday Cemetery Strolls

A series of four Sunday Cemetery Strolls will be offered by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown starting Sunday, April 30 with a guided walking tour of the Clovesville Cemetery just west of the Village of Fleischmanns on old Route 28.

The one-hour tour begins at 2 p.m. and includes the adjoining Bnai Israel Cemetery and a small burial ground where several Irish immigrants are interred. Tickets are $5 per person; children 12 and under may take the tour for free.

Reservations are not necessary. Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and expect some uphill walking. Please park in cemetery driveway off Grocholl Road.

Guides from HSM and the Clovesville Cemetery Association will introduce tour-goers to 20 cemetery residents, including Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Todd Jr. who lived to be 101; circuit riding Methodist preacher Joseph Green who died of pneumonia as the Clovesville church was being built in 1842; miller Erastus Doolittle; boarding house owner Jane Morrison and members of the Mayes family of builders.

Meet fire watcher and mountain man Mike Todd, and hear the story of local man John Finkle Stone who was killed by Apaches in 1869 as he carried the proceeds from his Arizona gold mine. On the tour route are two veterans whose lives ended in the Philippines a generation apart and who now lie near one another: Richard Kittle died of starvation on the island of Samar in 1902, and William Todd, the first Delaware County man to die in World War II, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Bnai Israel Cemetery is the resting place of several Jewish immigrants, including Jacob Wadler, an Austrian-born tailor who died when he was struck in the head by a tree limb on his Halcott farm. The tour will also stop at the grave of Gertrude Berg, known to radio and television fans as Molly Goldberg, who got her start in show business at her parents’ boarding house in Fleischmanns.

At the Irish cemetery, docents will share information on Michael McCormack, a tanner and Civil War veteran, and the McGuire children, Maggie, John and Burnie, who died within weeks of each other in 1877.

Future Sunday Cemetery Strolls are planned for Margaretville (May 28), Bedell (June 25) and a pair of Dry Brook-Millbrook cemeteries August 27.

Sunday Cemetery Strolls

Learn about personalities from the past in 1-hour guided tours. Wear comfortable shoes; grounds are uneven and there is some uphill walking. Tours start at 2 p.m. $5 per person.

April 30: Clovesville and Bnai Israel Cemeteries. Old Rte 28 east of Fleischmanns

May 28: Margaretville Cemetery. A Memorial Day tribute to veterans of all wars. Cemetery Rd., Margaretville

June 25: Bedell Cemetery. Little Redkill Rd., Fleischmanns

Aug. 27: Avery (Dry Brook Rd.) and Gavette (Millbrook Rd.) Cemeteries. Meet at Margaretville Municipal Parking Lot opposite Freshtown.

 

Sat., June 17, Before Belleayre

An illustrated talk by Diane Galusha on the rich, famous and forgotten of Highmount, a railroad resort community before two ski centers made it a winter sports destination. 7 p.m. HSM Hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville

Sun., July 9 – Women’s Lives: A Domestic History

“Women’s Lives: A Domestic History,” a talk by Connie Jeffers, with tastings from The Woman Suffrage Cookbook 1886. HSM Hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville. 3 p.m. A NYS Suffrage Centennial Event.

Sun., July 16 Concert by Delaware Dulcimores

“Remembering the Ladies” is the title of this program of music by and about women, some specific to the Suffrage Movement. Followed by dessert buffet. HSM Hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville. 2 p.m.