Driving-Walking Cemetery Tour Aug. 27

The fourth and last in a series of Sunday Cemetery Strolls will be offered by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown Sunday, August 27.

Participants will meet at 2 p.m. at the municipal parking lot on Bridge Street (opposite Freshtown) Margaretville. We’ll form a caravan (carpooling encouraged!) to drive a scenic 25-mile loop from Arkville, up Dry Brook and over the mountain to Mill Brook, visiting three small cemeteries to learn about some of the people who rest there.

The Woods-Avery and Lake Hill Cemeteries will be stops on the Dry Brook side, followed by a visit to the Gavette Cemetery in Mill Brook. Allow about two hours for the tour and return drive to Margaretville.

Admission is $5 per person; children 12 and under may take the tour for free. Reservations are not necessary. HSM’s new brochure, a self-driving tour of nine local cemeteries, will be provided to tour-goers.

Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and expect some uphill walking.

Guides from HSM will introduce tour-goers to a child who rescued his little brother from a raging fire in the dead of winter, and ten years later became the area’s first battle casualty of World War I; a French and Indian War veteran whose eternal slumber was interrupted by the Pepacton Reservoir; a young wife who cared for her aged father until he died, then followed him to the grave a month later; two sisters who lost their lives in the tumbling waters of Dry Brook, and several others.

For information on HSM’s upcoming programs and to become a member visit www.mtownhistory.org.


“History as it Happened” a tribute to Catskill Mountain News

Clarke Sanford in press room of News, c. 1904

The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown will pay tribute to the Catskill Mountain News which has chronicled the life of the central Catskills region for 115 years in a program Saturday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville.

“History as it Happened” will also

serve as an appreciation of the Sanford family, publishers of the paper from 1904 until this year, when the News was sold to Joan Lawrence Bauer.

Four readers – Roy Moses, Gene Rosa, Sydney Asher and Sally Fairbairn – will read excerpts from the News from 1902 through 1973. Steve McQuide will serve as narrator and will also give voice to his grandfather, Clarke A. Sanford, and to Clarke’s son, Roswell Sanford, who succeeded him as editor and publisher. Roswell’s son Richard took over as publisher at his father’s death in 1985.

Period images and family photographs will appear in the background during the reading.

Clarke Sanford purchased the newspaper in 1904 upon the death of its owner, William Hamilton Eells, who had acquired the Margaretville Messenger two years before, changing its name to a more-inclusive “Catskill Mountain News.” (The Messenger was the successor to the Utilitarian, which had begun publishing in 1863.)

For six decades, Clarke Sanford’s name was synonymous with the News which covered everything from disastrous fires to farm innovations, births to business transfers, politics to personal comings and goings, school news to scandals.  The weekly paper linked communities to each other and to momentous world events, promoted local organizations and businesses, and fed the regional economy. Then as now, the CMN was the lynchpin of greater Margaretville.

In 2006, HSM, with the cooperation of CMN publisher Dick Sanford and Fairview Public Library, custodian of bound volumes of the paper, arranged to have the News from 1902-73 digitized and posted online (nyhistoricnewspapers.org). It is that resource which will be the basis for Saturday’s program.

For information on these and other upcoming HSM programs and to become a member, visit www.mtownhistory.org.

Suffrage parade and film July 26

Inez Milholland

An informal parade calling to mind the marches of a century ago in support of women’s right to vote will be held Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m. on Main Street in Margaretville.

The sidewalk Suffrage Parade, coordinated by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) will begin at Binnekill Park opposite NBT bank. All are welcome to participate and encouraged to wear traditional white. Bring a sign if you choose.

Marchers will proceed behind the “Votes for Women” banner to the Open Eye Theater to meet the characters in the new musical “Seneca Falls,” including Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Henry Blackwell and Sojourner Truth. Parade participants who purchase tickets that evening for the show for July 28-30 will receive a 20% discount.

A 13-minute film on the life and tragic death of Suffrage martyr Inez Milholland will also be shown. “Forward Into Light” tells the story of this icon of the Suffrage movement who became the voice for gender equality, pacifism, racial justice, unions and free speech in the early 20th century. In 1916, after a grueling schedule in which she gave 50 speeches across the country in 28 days, Inez Milholland collapsed of exhaustion and died of anemia at age 30.

The parade, film and gathering at Open Eye are free. Donations, of course, are most welcome.

“Remembering the Ladies” concert July 16

A musical program featuring traditional songs about women will be offered Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM), 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville.

“Remembering the Ladies” with the Delaware Dulcimores is the second of three HSM programs this month observing the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York State. Admission is by free-will donation. Refreshments will follow the concert.

Performers will include Sheila Addison on hammered dulcimer, Chris Carey on banjo, Doris Carman on flute, Carol Erlandson on accordion and violin, Terry Gemmel on hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery and penny whistle, Stephen Mishjko on electric bass guitar, William Seneschel on guitar and banjo, and Julian Wilcox on cello.

This summer afternoon of songs celebrating the feminine will feature ballads, parlor music, waltzes and reels, many of them named for specific women, such as Aunt Rhody, Clementine, Lorena, Maggie and Rose of Tralee.

The program includes Irish Washerwoman, Elizabeth’s Waltz, St. Anne’s Reel and a song of the suffragettes, Marching Together.

Suffrage Month will continue Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m when a Suffrage Parade steps off down Main Street in Margaretville to the Open Eye Theater to meet the characters in the new musical “Seneca Falls,” and to view a short film on Suffrage martyr Inez Milholland.

“A Woman’s Place July 9 at HSM

An illustrated program by the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) on the roles, work and lifestyles of women at the turn of the last century will kick off a series of July programs observing the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York State.

“A Woman’s Place,” with presenter Connie Jeffers, will be offered Sunday, July 9 at 3 p.m. at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville, 12455. Admission is $5 and includes tastings from several recipes drawn from the 1886 Woman Suffrage Cookbook. An abridged reproduction of the cookbook, compiled by designer Trish Adams, will be available for purchase.

The program will look at the lives of women, both urban and rural, from 1880 to 1920, when the decades-long effort to gain access to the ballot box culminated in the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteeing this right nationally. New York women had won the vote in 1917.

Connie Jeffers will discuss gender roles, women’s work both in and outside the home, domestic and social mores as depicted in magazines of the times, and how the industrial revolution, politics, the economy and war changed society and propelled the advance of women. A slide show will include photos of area women at work in the home and on the farm.

Mamie Townsend proved a woman’s place was not just in the kitchen on the Townsend farm, Bragg Hollow, near Halcottsville

The talk will also explain how cookbooks were used to generate both revenue and support for the Suffrage movement and for charities. A description of the physical kitchen in the age before electricity will place in context the look and flavor of foods to be tasted after the program.

Connie Jeffers is a retired elementary school principal who moved to Margaretville from California nine years ago. She and husband Tom lived in an historic home in the village where they are often seen toodling about in a 1930 Model A named Henry.

Suffrage Month will continue with a concert, “Remembering the Ladies,” by Delaware Dulcimores Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m. all are welcome to participate in a Suffrage Parade down Main Street in Margaretville to the Open Eye Theater to meet the characters in the new musical “Seneca Falls,” and to view a short film on Suffrage martyr Inez Milholland.




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.