HSM offers headstone cleaning

Memorial Day is right around the corner and the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown wants to help you pay tribute to your loved ones by offering a unique headstone cleaning service.

A team of HSM volunteers is ready to clean monuments at cemeteries in and around Middletown this spring, using a safe and very effective cleansing agent and method. A donation of $30 cleans a single one-sided headstone; a $50 donation will clean two headstones or a two-sided monument.

Before-and-after photos will be provided to those who take advantage of this limited time offer.

Send a check and contact information to HSM, PO Box 734, Margaretville, NY 12455. Someone will be in touch to collect details. FMI: 845-586-4973 or history@catskill.net.

Secrets of Kelly Hollow revealed

Renowned forest historian Dr. Michael Kudish will lead a hike on State trails at Kelly Hollow in the Millbrook valley Saturday, May 15 to reconstruct his search for a massive though short-lived sawmill and railroad.

“Secrets of Kelly Hollow,” sponsored by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown, will feature a 3.5 to 4-mile hike to the site of the industrial operation, as well as to the remnants of five 19th century homesteads.

HSM president Diane Galusha will be along to share the tragic and unusual stories of the families, several of them immigrants, who occupied those hardscrabble farms. They were the Gavetts, Wards, Newtons, Andrews and of course the Kellys whose abandoned farm became the base of operations for the lumber and sawmill enterprise.

To make this event covid-safe, attendance will be limited. To secure your spot on this unique tour, send $10 per person to HSM, PO Box 734, Margaretville, NY 12455. FMI: history@catskill.net; 845-586-4973. Rain date is Sunday, May 16.

James Owen purchased the timber on the abandoned Kelly farm in 1907. In 1908, he constructed a forest railroad to bring the logs nearly a mile over rough terrain to be sawn into lumber and hauled to Arena, perhaps to be shipped to market on the new Delaware & Eastern Railroad. Dr. Kudish made 12 visits to the Hollow to locate the route of the timber train, which “sped around curves and over trestles” according to the Catskill Mountain News Oct. 23, 1908.

The News predicted it would be ‘a perfect success,’ but the timber was depleted by 1909 and the mill and railroad were dismantled. In the intervening 110 years, the forest has all but consumed every trace of human use and occupation at Kelly Hollow.


2021 Cemetery Tour Cast Named

The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown has announced the cast for its 8th Living History Cemetery Tour to be held July 10, 2021 at Margaretville Cemetery.

A total of 15 people will appear in this year’s event, which will be produced with Covid precautions, including audience distancing and mask wearing by everyone except performers.

Groups of tour goers will be led by costumed guides through the cemetery to hear the stories of ten men and women who rest there.  Tours will depart every 20 minutes between 4 and 6 p.m. Tour time reservations are required; details to be announced.

This year’s cast features many players who are new to the event, as well as a couple of veterans.

John Bernhardt, who has performed in every one of the tours, will play George Gilbert alongside Alice Zigelis as his wife Sarah. The pair will recount their very public divorce, and much quieter reconciliation.

Burr Hubbell as veterinarian Reuben Smith will tell the story of his son’s heroism while Air Force pilot Thomas Kingsley Smith (Kevin Hubbell) stands silently at ease. The efforts of Hungarian immigrant Esther Dobsa to keep her family together on the farm after her husband’s early death will be shared by Darlene DeMaille.

Nineteenth-century lamplighter Leslie Dumond will be portrayed by Ward Stevenson. Marge Helenchild will appear as Delaware County’s first female attorney, Mabel Fenton.

The tour audience will hear about the scandalous fall from grace of Anti-Rent War hero Edward O’Connor, as recounted by his nephew, R. David Scott, played by Brett Barry. And Mike Riley as Irishman Sam Hunter will describe his fruitless search for a missing Civil War comrade.

Among the at-large players will be a pair of devoted sisters, Lucy and Mary Waterman (Robin Williams and Julie Ford) who converse in sign language; antebellum lady Deborah Carpenter Landon (Emily Vieyra-Haley), blacksmith Ebenezer Laidlaw (Howie Futterman) and a pair of Victorian picnickers played by John Exter and Lisbeth Furman.

Iris Mead, Jo Maender and Aurora Riley will serve as costumed tour guides. If you would like to help as a site volunteer, call Diane Galusha, 845-586-4973, or contact HSM at history@catskill.net.

Scriptwriters are Erwin Karl, John Jacobson, Anne Saxon-Hersh, Terry Bradshaw, Mary Barile, Marilyn Kaltenborn and Diane Galusha.

Information about this and other HSM events and programs can be found at mtownhistory.org.

Sat., May 15 Secrets of Kelly Hollow

Learn about the natural, industrial and human history of this mountain clove on a 3.5-mile hike on State trail with forest historian Michael Kudish. Space is limited, registration required. $10. Meet at State Trailhead, Mill Brook Rd., 10 a.m. Register: history@catskill.net. FMI: 845-586-4973. Rain date May 16.

Sat., May 29 Historic marker unveiling

Celebrating Mountain Athletic Club Grounds’ naming to State and National Registers of Historic Places! Vintage ball game between MAC and Olneyville Cadets to follow. Free admission. Village Park, Wagner Ave., Fleischmanns. Noon

Sat., July 10 8th Living History Cemetery Tour

Meet 15 people from the past on a one-hour guided walk through Margaretville Cemetery. Tours depart every 20 minutes beginning at 4 p.m. $20; children under 15 free. Reservations required. Call 845-586-4736 to reserve a tour time. Rain date July 11.

Sat. July 31 Giant Jumble Sale

Books, antiques, housewares, baked goods, gift baskets, plants, quilt raffle, door prizes. HSM hall and grounds, 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville. 9-3.

Saturday, Aug. 21 History on Wheels

A tour of Denny Herzberg’s vintage car collection, with the intriguing stories behind the vehicles. Refreshments.  HSM fundraiser. $30 donation, two for $50. 92 Halcottsville Mtn. Road (end of Walker Road), Denver, 12421. 2-4:30 p.m. Rain date August 22.

Sat., Sept. 26 Cauliflower Festival

Food, farms, music and family fun! Tractor Parade at 11, Catskill Conquest Endurance Run vehicles on display, History Tent with exhibit on one-room schools. Margaretville Village Park. Free admission. 10-4.

Sat., Oct. 23 Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Guest speaker Chuck D’Imperio, author of Unknown Museums of Upstate New York. Reservations required. $20. 845-586-2860. 12-2:30.