TOWN OF CHESTER.
BY FRANK DURLAND.
CHESTER is one of the interior towns of Orange County, situated on the main line Erie Railroad, which together
with the Newburgh branch, Lehigh and Hudson and Orange County Railroads, make up the chief commercial outlets to
the ports on the Hudson and Delaware Rivers.
It consists of over sixteen thousand acres of fine farming land and is a noted dairy and stock farming section
of the Empire State. Considerable enterprise has been shown in recent years in the culture of onions, celery and
lettuce on the Greycourt meadows, which are among the most fertile of all the alluvial deposits of the country.
The title of most of the land of the township is from the famous Wawayanda patent, which covered the land deeded
by the twelve native Indian proprietors, who signed a deed, March 5, 1703, for all the land from the high hills
of the Hudson to the Shawangunk Mountains and the Jersey line. The highest points of vantage in Chester township,
from which magnificent views may be obtained of the whole Wawayanda country, are Sugar Loaf Mountain, 1,220 feet
elevation, and Goose Pond Mountain, 826 feet above the sea level. From these pinnacles may be seen, the Catskills,
which are much higher and further removed than the Shawangunk range of mountains.
The elevation in Chester village at Durland Square is 485 feet, and on the ridge back of the Presbyterian Church,
extending toward Craigville, may be obtained extended views of a large portion of Orange County, spread out in
The H. W. Wood hills at East Chester, the T. S. Durland ridge at Greycourt, and the Guy Miller gravel hill, each
have a magnificent outlook over a large scope of the country from Schunnemunk to Shawangunk. In the valleys between
these ridges are the old highways following in some instances, Indian trails. It is but natural that along these
roads the present village should have grown up.
The road from Newburgh through Chester to Trenton and Morristown, N. J., is often spoken of in the Clinton papers
and in more recent years it has been known as the King's Highway. It has been a noted road since Colonial days,
having often been used by General Washington during the Revolutionary War. It is the natural avenue for intercourse
between Newburgh and New Jersey. Crossing this road at Durland's Square is the old Albany and New York stage road,
which enters the town of Chester at the Goshen line and to the metropolis continues its course southward near Greycourt.
Leaving this old stage road at Nanowitt Park, which has been recently donated to the town of Chester by Rev. E.
T. Sanford, pastor of the North Baptist Church of New York City, is the old Indian trail, which became a popular
road during the Colonial days and leads to Greenwood Lake and to the ancient Sterling Iron Works. This road was
traveled by Peter Townsend, one of the owners of the Sterling Iron Works, who lived in Chester during the Revolution,
and whose descendants continued to reside here for many years.
There is also the new State road, No. 600, following quite closely the old Albany and New York road, excepting
the course from Monroe to Chester is changed from the east to the west side of the Erie Railroad. The famous Glenmere
Lake, formerly known as Thompson's Pond, is partly in the town of Chester, and is noted for its pickerel and bass
fishing. Its area is about 40o acres.
The streams of the town are known as the Otter Kill, which flows through West Chester and is joined at Lincolndale
by the Cromeline Creek, which was known in Colonial days as the "River."
The Cromeline has its sources of supply near the northern headwaters of Greenwood Lake in the watershed known as
"Dutch Hollow;" also from the outlet of Walton Lake, known in Colonial days as the "Little Long
Pond" to distinguish it from Greenwood Lake, which in the early period of our history was known as Long Pond.
Along the Cromeline Creek are the fertile meadows formerly known as the Great Beaver meadows.
Since the erection of the Cromelinc house in the year 1716, which stood on the south side of the road opposite
the present home of W. R. Conklin, the meadows have been known as the Greycourt meadows, from the fact that this
Cromeline house was known as the Greycourt Inn. This name was also given to the cemetery, near this old inn, and
when the Erie Railroad was built in 1841, this name was applied to the junction of the Erie Railroad with the Newburgh
branch and the Warwick Valley, first called East and West Junction, afterwards Chesterville, and finally the euphonious
name of Greycourt was decided upon as the name appropriate for the station adjoining these famous Greycourt meadows.
COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY.
On the 22nd of August, 1775, the Provincial Congress of New York passed a law under which the militia of the
Revolution was organized.
The several companies so formed were directed to be joined into regiments to consist of not less than five nor
more than ten companies. When the organization was perfected, the companies of Orange formed the Fourth Brigade
under Brigadier General George Clinton. This brigade was composed of four companies of Ulster and five of Orange
County, commanded respectively by Colonel Allison, whose regimental district included Goshen, of which Chester
was then a part, and the western part of the county. There were Colonel Hathorn, whose district embraced Warwick
and the settlements; Colonel Woodhull, the district which is now Monroe and Blooming Grove; Colonel Hasbrouck's
district, embracing Newburgh and vicinity; Colonel Clinton's of New Windsor, Montgomery and Wallkill.
During the early years of the war our people (located, as they were, not far removed from the Hudson) were almost
constantly under arms or engaged in the construction of the forts of the Highlands, or preparing the obstructions
to navigation through these Highlands.
The contract for the making of the last chain drawn across the Hudson at West Point, on April 30, 1778, was awarded
at the home of Mr. Peter Townsend, who resided at this time in the old homestead opposite the Presbyterian Church,
in Chester village, by Secretary of War, Mr. Pickering. Mr. Townsend, of the firm of Townsend & Noble, at this
time was one of the owners of the Sterling furnace, where the chain was made.
During the years 1776 to 1779 our troops were very active and were kept informed by the aid of cannon firing by
day and beacon fires by night. From December, 1776, to April, 1778, our militia was called out no less than twelve
times and spent 292 days in the field.
At a meeting of the County Delegates called to meet at the Yelverton Inn (still standing in Chester), on September
17, 1774, Henry Wisner was elected and sent as a delegate to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, "to
protest against the unjust taxation." On December 9, 1776, General Clinton was ordered to co-operate with
Generals Lee and Gates to harass the enemy, who had then entered northern New Jersey. The resolution read as follows:
"That all the militia of Orange and Ulster Counties be forthwith ordered to march properly armed and accoutered
with four days' provision to Chester, Orange County, N. Y."
This fixes the date of the encampment of these troops on the hill where the present new modern school house is
being erected, as being about the latter part of December, 1776, or January, 1777. The encampment probably consisted
of part of the four regiments, under Colonels Allison, Hathorn, Woodhull and Clinton. An order was issued on January
4, 1777. dismissing part of these troops, leaving about 300 men in the above camp for the winter.
One of the first engagements in which our Chester patriots took part, occurred at Suffern, October 3, 1777, when
Major Thomas Moffatt ordered Captain Wood and twenty men to cover the pass through the mountains at this point,
where they intercepted a band of Tories, with the result of one robber killed and three wounded.
Our company was engaged under Colonel Allison later on at Forts Montgomery and Clinton. While these events were
transpiring on the Hudson, the western frontier was harassed by the incursions of the Indians and Tories under
the leadership of the educated half breed Brant, together with Butler the Tory. Our troops becoming alarmed by
the fugitives' accounts of the massacres and burnings taking place on the frontier, Colonel Hathorn, together with
Lieutenant Colonel Trustin, of Colonel Allison's Goshen Regiment, and with such numbers of the commands as could
be brought together in so brief a time, proceeded at once to Minisink, on July 22, 1779, to take part in that bloody
battle on this date. Several of our Chester Company were among the brave troops.
SUBSEQUENT HISTORICAL INCIDENTS.
After the Revolutionary War and until 1845, the village of Chester was a part of the township of Goshen, and
had become quite an important trading center, being at the junction of the two leading State roads. Up to the time
of the building of the Warwick Valley road, in 1863, now the Lehigh and Hudson, the pig iron from Wawayanda Lake
forge was carted to Chester for shipment on the Erie, the butter and other farm produce from the Vernon Valley,
extending as far as Newton, N. J., was also brought to this point for shipment. It was but natural that the trial
to decide the boundaries of the Cheesecock and Wawayanda Indian patents should have been held at this place. In
the year 1785, in the barn connected with the Yelverton Inn, erected in the year 1765, still standing, in good
state of preservation, and owned by Joseph Durland, some of the older inhabitants and pioneers of Orange County
met with the nation's most famous lawyers, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The Wawayanda patentees were fortunate
in securing these men during this trial, and many historical facts were brought out, through the witnesses sworn
at this trial. In their testimony concerning what they knew about the early settlement of the country and the relations
of the whites to the native Indians, the evidence was set forth. The burden of the testimony seemed to prove that
Schunemunk was not considered by the pioneers as the high hills of the Hudson. On this trial, Judge Elihu Marvin
stated "that he was born in 1719 and moved in what is now known as the town of Chester in 1742. Whenever he
visited Haverstraw and returned as far as the Ramapo River, it was always called beyond the High Hills of the Hudson."
Hugh Dobbin, aged seventy six, stated "that he lived near Sugar Loaf Mountain since 1738."
Deliverance Conkling, who lived near Wickham's Pond, stated "that he was 71 years old, and has known personally
Lancaster Symes, one of the Wawayanda patentees, and the pond as Goose Pond Mountain used to be called Cromeline
Pond. and abounded in wild geese."
Samuel Gale was born in 1737, and testified "that the Cheesecocks line had always been disputed."
William Thompson was born in 1723, was chain bearer for Colonel Clinton and usually stopped, when surveying the
Cheesecock patent, at Perry's near Wickham's Pond. He had talked with the Indians and remained at times in their
Ebenezer Holly, born 1698, stated "that he knew Captain Symes, Captain Aske, Christopher Dnn and Daniel Cromeline.
In dispute with the Indians, Governor Burnet had decided that the Indians must move off the land; among, the Indians
who still claimed land were Rombout, Hons and Romer. He stated that Cromeline made his first improvement at Greycourt.
John Kinner, a Chester resident, held land in this disputed tract under Mr. Wisner, Dr. Baird and Mr. Scott.
James Board, aged sixty five, born in England in 1720, came to this country with his father, Cornelius, and brother,
David, in 1730; sent by Alexander, Lord Sterling, to discover copper mines; discovered iron ore deposits at Sterling,
built there a forge in 1735, and in the year of 1740 removed to Ringwood. The mountains west toward Warwick were
called by that name. The Sugar Loaf Mountain was called by that name as long as he remembered.
Soon after the forge was going it was sold by Cornelius Board & Sons to Coldon & Ward.
During this trial Burr and Hamilton were guests at the old Yelverton Inn. The court adjourned to meet again at
Chester, in Yelverton barn, in October, 1785, at which session it was decided that Cheesecock patent should comprise
all the land east of Goose Pond Mountain and the great Beaver Meadows, to the western line of Evans patent and
the Hudson River.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, living in and about West Chester, were Joseph Durland, born in 1762,
Benjamin Dunning, Daniel Denton, James Roe and Michael Renton. On the Florida road lived Thaddeus Seely and Major
Holbert. At Chester lived Asa Vail opposite the second academy, Edmund Seely, Seth Satterly and Dr. Townsend Seely.
Peter Townsend lived opposite the Presbyterian church. Isaac and William Townsend on the C. B. Wood ridge, Elmer
Cooper and Dr. Dodd, Aaron Cox, the hatter, and Stephen Cooper, born in 1788; David G. Drake, born in 1760. The
old Samuel Satterly house stood on the brow of the hill, nearly opposite the joining of Old New York road, near
the new State road; from this point at the bridge, which was called in these early days the "Purgatory Bridge,"
the most popular amusement was running races. The course lay from this bridge to the oak tree, which is still standing
near H. W. Wood's residence. On special days, July 4, and in the autumn, the people from miles around fairly lined
the short course in numbers from three to four hundred people. In fact, nearly double the number of our whole population
at that period. Purses were usually made up at such times at the course, and great horses contested. Among them
were Webber's "Kentucky Whip," a great running sire from Kentucky; Tom Thumb and Saltrum. The visitation
of such noted running stock to Chester was the beginning of an improvement in the racing stock of this section.
This development found its climax in the birth of Hambletonian, the progenitor of the American trotter.
When the old "Hero of Chester" died in 1876, he was buried on the hill on the W. M. Rysdyck place. Since
that time a granite shaft costing $3,000, has been erected, to mark the resting place of this notable sire.
About too years ago Isaac Kinner and Daniel Cooley lived on the western foothills of the Goose Pond Mountains.
On the Craigville road lived Dr. John Boulton, Birdseye Young, Albert Seely, Samuel Denton, Hezekiah Moffatt and
THE GROWTH OF A CENTURY.
About 1721, we find John Yelverton, of New Windsor, in this section. The deed recorded, 1765, by his grandson
and executor, Abijah Yelverton, who kept the Yelverton Inn, in old Chester village, conveys three parcels of land
in 1721 in Goshen to John Yelverton, in trust "for a parsonage, minister's house and burying place; also to
build a meeting house thereon or a public edifice for the worship of God in the way and manner of those of the
Presbyterian persuasion," signed by twenty four land owners in the different parts of the Wawayanda patent.
This has reference to the Goshen Presbyterian church. During this period Chester, with the rest of this part of
the county, was included in the precinct of Goshen.
Richard Edsall's survey, made in 1741, mentions William Seely and Rulof Swartwout as living in this neighborhood.
The township of Chester is well arranged for the transaction of public business, and is the practical outcome of
the ambitions of a progressive century. In 1845 from the towns of Goshen, Warwick, Blooming Grove and Monroe, the
township was organized with James Gray as its first supervisor, 1845.
The first deed that we find made mention of was John Beers as owning 120 acres of the Cromeline patent; he sold
the same. June 16. 1751, to John Ensign, who in turn sold 42 3/4 acres of the tract, on May 19, 1755, to John Yelverton,
gentleman, for the sum of 97£1 and 4s, current money. Upon this land the village of Chester is located.
Many familiar names of the families living in our township today are found on the assessment rolls of dist. No.
4, town of Goshen, of September, 1775, signed by Nathaniel Roe.
This district may be described as running from Greycourt to Satterlytown, Sugar Loaf to Summerville, to Fort Hill,
with no less than 119 land owners with an assessed valuation of 37£ 8s. 17d.
Abijah Yelverton, in the year of 1783, gave an acre of ground for church purposes. The year 1797 saw the beginning
of the first meeting house. In 1708 the first minister began his labors in the Presbyterian church at $75 per annum,
"with the privilege of teaching to piece out his support." This meeting house stood on the high ground
in the rear of the residence of Dr. S. G. Carpenter, in the old village of Chester. It was commodious for the time,
with square pews, but was used without being heated. The next church was built in 1829, and was located about the
center of the present cemetery at East Chester.
Our earliest district school house stood opposite the Dr. Edmonston home in the old village. It was erected during
the latter part of 1700. Another was located on the Goshen road near Dr. A. T. Sanden's residence. Long before
the noise of railroads disturbed the quiet of our hamlet, the mails were brought by the old stage coach.
Chester was favorably situated for the exchange of mails, the Goshen stage running through here to meet the Newburgh
and New York stage line at Southfield and the Warwick stage line, using our road to connect with the same line
The first post office was established in Chester in 1794, Joseph Wickham being the first postmaster located
at West Chester, then and now a part of Chester village. Afterward it was moved to the old village and in 1842
was removed to the building opposite the present Erie Railroad tower at Chester Station. The idea of offering fresh
milk from the country to the distant consumer in the city originated with a road contractor named Selleck who interested
some of our leading farmers in the project and succeeded in getting a supply sent by the Erie in the spring of
1842. It was shipped in the blue pyramid churns of that day. The first shipment were about six cans per day and
freight charges were by weight, twenty cents per hundred pounds. The price paid the producer was two cents per
quart, placed on the cars at Chester. The farmers soon finding that there was more money to be made from milk at
two cents per quart than butter at fifteen cents per pound, began sending milk to Selleck. Thus the milk business
of the county was born, and in spite of the many difficulties, this business has alone been the means of building
four railroads in Orange County and returned to it over $100,000,000.
In 1784 mention is made of a saw mill on the trout brook, on the Sterling road. These mills are now known as Bull's
Mills. A grist mill was then operated on the opposite side of the stream. The old flouring mill at West Chester
was established soon after the settlement was made. As late as the year 182o, an old mill stood upon the ground
just above the present Chester mills. During these times they used two run of stone and never were compelled to
shut down for lack of water.
Chester's first library was incorporated November 17, 1779, with seven trustees, and was verified before Judge
Wickham and recorded the same year. Abijah Yelverton was the first librarian.
The war of 1861 occasioned a great demand for onions and our onion culture on the black meadows began about that
time. Our average yearly production has been about 60,000 bushels. During revolutionary times a part of these meadows
were cultivated for raising hemp later on, potatoes and corn.
The movement for both our present water supply and for the incorporation of the village first took effective
shape in the year 1891, when a few public spirited citizens of the village subscribed to a fund to be expended
in a survey to determine whether the water of Little Long Pond, now known as "Walton Lake," could be
brought to the village under such pressure as would make it available for fire protection. The preliminary survey
was made under the direction of Joseph Board and George M. Roe. The facts were convincing that this was a most
favorable project for a water supply. First, the organization of a private company was proposed, and from this
developed the incorporation of our village, the citizens realizing that if we were to have a water supply, it must
be owned by the village. Accordingly this was done with the happy result that has made us the envy of our neighboring
On October 17, 1892, Mr. Joseph Board was appointed as resident superintendent in the construction of the water
works, and when the water was turned on, in exactly a year, October 17, 1893, the inhabitants of our village had
the satisfaction of knowing that each length of pipe so laid had been under the inspection of our superintendent.
The village of Chester was incorporated June 23, 1892, having a population of 1,400; 125 voters favored the incorporation
and only the small number of thirteen opposed the proposition. At the first caucus, held July 12, 1892, were nominated
W. A. Lawrence as president; Joseph Durland, George M. Roe and Thad. S. Durland, trustees. At the first election,
held July 20, 1892, the above citizens were elected to their respective offices. The village board was organized
on the same date, naming Joseph Board as village clerk.
The board of water commissioners was organized August 15, 1892, with Messrs. W. A. Lawrence, Joseph Durland, George
M. Roe and T. S. Durland as commissioners, and Joseph Board, clerk. A taxpayers' meeting was called September 2,
1892, to vote on the question of assessment for water works, with the following results: Sixty eight in favor,
against seven. Contract was executed at a total cost of $53,000 at their final completion.
This water supply for the village of Chester is one of the best in the State. The source is Walton Lake, formerly
known as Little Long Pond, a beautiful sheet of spring water, covering an area of 127 acres, with a storage capacity
of 3 1/2 feet, each foot of water giving a supply of over 40,000,000 gallons. This supply is a gravity system.
From this lake, at an elevation of 250 feet above the level of Main street, at Chester Station, giving a working
pressure of 80 to 90 pounds, there was laid for water mains, 8,197 feet of 12 inch pipe. 6,978 feet of 19 inch
pipe, 14,820 feet of 8 inch pipe, 5,748 feet of 6 inch pipe, 6,312 feet of 4 inch pipe.
Since the introduction of Walton Lake water, both the Walton Hose Company and Hook and Ladder Company have been
After the incorporation the present municipal brick building was erected at a cost of $5,000. In this building
rooms for village officers and parlors used by the fire department are located. In connection with our fire department,
there is an annual inspection, at which time the Chester military band of twenty five members, under the leadership
of George W. Ball, adds greatly to the village life.
In the year 1905, the Orange and Rockland Electric Company was oranized, with R. W. Smith as president, and G.
M. Roe as vice president; Zael Paddleford, secretary; Frank Durland, treasurer. This company was organized and
stock subscribed for by the citizens of Chester and Monroe.
The streets of the village, which were formerly lighted by kerosene, are now illuminated by electric current, generated
by this company. Our Telford streets were laid in the year 1901, at a cost of $17,000. A distance of two and one
quarter miles were constructed through the main streets of the village.
The Presbyterian Church of Chester, while it had been ministering to the spiritual needs of the community for
more than a quarter of a century, effected its legal organization December 26, 1826, with David Roe, Henry Seely,
James Holbert, Elnathan Satterly, Joseph Sherwood and Townsend Seely as trustees.
The present house of worship, being the third erected by this congregation, was dedicated January 4, 1854. The
present chapel was added in the year 1884. The church was remodeled and memorial windows added in the year 1898.
In the year 1898 the church celebrated the centennial of its existence with impressive services and the publication
of an interesting history of its century of church life.
The commodious parsonage adjoining the church was erected in 1895 at a cost of about $8,000.
Methodist Episcopal Church, Sugar Loaf - Rev. Isaac Condee was the first Methodist preacher to visit Sugar Loaf,
which he did in the year 1803 or 1804, and first preached in the home of John D. Conklin.
In the fall of 1804 he organized the first class and appointed John D. Conklin, leader. It is the mother of all
the Methodist churches within a radius of ten or twelve miles.
The certificate of incorporation was executed on August 6, 1809. The trustees then chosen were Henry Wisner, Jr.,
Joseph Beach, Andrew Cunningham, Benjamin Wells, Richard Wisner, Horace Ketchem, Elijah Stevens, John D. Conklin
and Benjamin Horton.
A subscription was taken and the first church was built in year 1810. Ten years later, in the year 1820, the Sunday
school was established. The parsonage was erected in the year 1832. The second church, the present building, was
built in 1852, and at three separate times it has undergone repairs. Rev. J. B. Wakeley, D.D., preached the sermon
at the dedication of the church in the year 1852, and following the extensive repairs to the church, made in 1872,
Bishop Cyrus D. Foss preached the dedication sermon. The church celebrated the centennial of its existence in the
fall of 1904, at which time many of the former pastors were present to participate in the services, when Bishop
Foss was again present.
A long list of worthy men have served this church as pastors. Rev. P. N. Chase, Ph.D., is at present in charge;
M. D. Stevens, superintendent of the Sunday school; Miss Alice Turfler, president of the Epworth league.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Chester was organized in the year 1837, and for some time used the academy for
worship; afterwards used the "Ball Room" of Yelverton Inn. In the year 1852 the present property was
purchased and the church edifice erected in charge of the following trustees:
C. B. Wood, W. L. Foster, Daniel Conklin, S. R. Banker, John T. Johnson, William Masterson, G. B. McCabe.
In 1867 the church was enlarged and in 1878 the present parsonage was purchased. In the year 1879 the sum of $3,00o
was expended in beautifying the church building.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church. - The organization of St. Paul's Episcopal Mission was effected on May 25, 1897,
at which time Samuel Wilkins and James A. Parkin were elected trustees. Services were held in various places until
the summer of 1898, when land was purchased and the present church edifice on Main street was erected. The church
was dedicated by Archdeacon William R. Thomas, D.D., on August 6, 1898. The church was consecrated by Bishop Henry
Cadman Potter on July 25, 1899. Prior to this, the usual organization of the Episcopal Church was effected. Mr.
Samuel Wilkin and R. W. Chamberlain, wardens, were elected. J. A. Parkin, E. T. Jackson and W. F. Depew, vestrymen.
Articles of incorporation were filed on February 27, 1899. The clergyman, Rev. J. Holmes McGuinness, D.D., at this
time was elected.
St. John's African Union Chapel. - This church was organized on June 22, 1904, under the auspices of the African
Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church in America and Canada, with five members and Rev. Edward Nicholas
as pastor. The church and Sunday School has at present a total membership of eighty eight.
Rev. Mr. Nicholas was assigned to this field of labor by the ninetieth annual conference of the above named denomination,
held at the mother church in Wilmington, Delaware County, May 18, 1904.
The citizens of the place have done much to encourage this well begun work.
Chester Lodge No. 363, Knights of Pythias, was organized in the year 1894, and the lodge charter is dated July
25 of that year. The lodge was started with a membership of twenty one, which has increased to forty Knights. The
lodge conventions are held every Thursday evening at Castle Hall, in the Wilkin building. The sums paid to members
in sick benefits since the organization amount to $1,000.
Standard Lodge No. 711, F. & A. M., was instituted July 27, 1871, and continued to meet in this place, where
many of its members resided until a few years ago, when a majority decided to change its place of meeting to Monroe.
The Chester National Bank was organized in the year 1845 as a State bank, and became a national bank on June 6,
The bank occupies the up to date quarters in its new building, erected in 1896, on Main street. The building is
of brick, with Quincy granite facing, built at a cost of $10,000, its fire and burglar proof vault containing Too
safe deposit boxes, at an added cost of $8,000.
Chester free library, organized through the effort of Chester Library and Social Club, was chartered by the University
of the State of New York, December 19, 1901. The original trustees were Hiram Tuthill, president; Charles W. Kerner,
secretary and treasurer; Joseph Board, Joseph Durland and Roswell W. Chamberlain, trustees. Mrs. Abbie Masters
is librarian. The library owns about 800 volumes, and in 1907 circulated 3,543 books. It is supported by voluntary
contributions and entertainments. The reading room, which is well supplied with periodicals, and the library, are
open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
The Young Men's Christian Association was organized March 1, 1907, with 110 members. The members occupy the rooms
in the Lawrence building. The society started in a very flourishing condition.
There have been various organizations from time to time in Chester to advance its interests. The Board of Trade
was organized October 1, 1900, with Frank Durland, president; W. A. Lawrence, vice president; Charles W. Kerner,
secretary; Hiram Tuthill, treasurer. Directors, Joseph Board, William Osborne, George Vail, G. M. Roe.
The Board of Trade represents the spirit that has effected co-operation in many ways for advancing the interests
of the town. Among them are the incorporation of our village and the securing of the water supply from Walton Lake,
and the Telford streets. At present the officers are looking forward to the development of the suburban idea on
the beautiful site that our village affords, and will welcome desirable manufacturing interests.
From a small beginning in the year 1874, the manufacture of Neufchatel and square cream cheese has grown until
at the present time the Lawrence & Son's cheese factory is using over 300 cans or 12,000 quarts of milk daily,
employing a daily average of twenty five men. This factory, consuming such a large amount of milk, together with
Borden's large receiving station, with a receiving average of 100 cans daily, proves the high productiveness of
the land in this section.
The Sugar Milk factory is located adjoining this cheese plant for the manufacture of milk sugar.
This sugar is made from the whey, a by product delivered by the cheese factory.
The military record of Chester is a worthy one. Quite a number of Chester residents made up a company during
the Revolutionary War, under Colonel Allison, and were attached to the Goshen regiment.
In the second war with England there was a representation of hardy men of this town to endure the hardships of
the war. Some of them survived until the year 1880.
During the general training days that followed the second war with England, Captain John Yelverton, whose sword
is still prized as a relic of those days of patriotic zeal, led the men of the town to Durland's Square, where
the volunteer militia were inspected.
During the Civil War nearly 200 men represented this town in defending the Union. Many of them suffered upon the
battlefield A few citizens from the young men of the town enlisted in the Spanish American War.
Sugar Loaf is one of the oldest communities of Orange County and as a trading center was established shortly
after the settlement of Goshen.
It is one of the villages of Chester township to which we may look with interest in these early times. It was named
by these pioneer settlers from the conelike mountain which towers above the quiet village to an elevation of 1,226
feet above sea level. The mountain, which consists mostly of greywack slate, resembles in appearance, as viewed
from the village, a loaf of sugar, such as was used in the homes of the early settlers before the day of granulated
sugar as an article of commerce. This sublime eminence, the highest in the county, affords from its summit one
of the most commanding views in the county. This view is best secured by entering the field near George H. Mapes's
place on the road to Sugar Loaf Valley and walking, as it were, from the tail to the head of the lion like mountain,
for this is the shape of the mountain as viewed from Chester depot.
N. P. Willis, the American poet and literary genius, who loved old Orange County's hills from Butler Hill on the
Hudson, which he renamed Storm King, to Adam and Eve in the drowned lands, speaks of Sugar Loaf Mountain when viewed
from the Chester Hills as being like a crouching lion ready to spring upon its prey.
The earliest record of inhabitants includes Hugh Dobbin, who lived near Sugar Loaf Mountain in 1738. Mr. Perry
lived near the pond, which bore his name and later was called Wickham Pond. This was prior to the middle of the
eighteenth century; when Clinton, the surveyor, marked the Cheesecock claim line, which extended from the base
of Goose Pond Mountain to Bellevale and thence to the Jersey line.
Stephen W. Perry, who lived in the Sugar Loaf Valley a century ago, was probably related to the Perry with whom
the surveyors stopped in those Colonial days when the Indians still lived in the mountains and the surveyors were
accustomed to use the Indian wigwams for shelter during their journey, blazing the trees on the Cheesecock line
through the trackless forest.
Nathaniel Knapp lived for a time on the Levi Geer place, and a headstone with the date 1804, the initials N. K.,
aged sixty four years, marks the place of his burial. For some sentimental reason he was buried under a great oak
on the farm upon which Hugh Dobbin probably lived in the year 1738. According to tradition the old log house of
this early pioneer was at the curve of the road near the entrance to the meadow. Among other men that have been
prominent about Sugar Loaf were Henry Wisner, Horace Ketchum, Squire James Hallock, Jesse H. Knapp, Vincent Wood,
who lived on the Asa Dolson farm, and John Holbert, born 1773, who lived on the farm now occupied by his grandson,
The Knapp family came from Connecticut, and settled on three different farms. Some of the family emigrated later
through a trackless forest to the Butternut Creek in Otsego County.
The Nicholas Demerest family, of Chester, descended from James Demerest's family, who came from Bergen County,
New Jersey, and settled on the ridge near Sugar Loaf, occupying a farm of five hundred acres. John Bigger is mentioned
by John Wood, the assessor, in 1775, as a taxpayer, together with David Rumsey, Samuel Wickham, Jacobus Bertholf
and Barnabas Horton.
In Sugar Loaf Valley, east of the mountain, John King settled soon after his marriage in 1784, upon a farm of two
hundred acres. Among his neighbors were Cornelius Board and George Davis. Thomas Fitzgerald lived near the line
of the town of Warwick. More recently in the community life of Sugar Loaf the following men may be mentioned: Joseph
Cooper, Crinis Laroe, David Dyer, Lewis Rhodes, Jesse Wood, John D. Conklin, John Bertholf, Silas Rose, David W.
Stevens, Charles Fitzgerald and Elisha Stevens.
Miss Martha Odell. of Chester, now ninety four years of age, remembers the visits of "Frank Forrester"
and his companion, "Tom Draw," passing through the village and over the hills to the valley and beyond
for game and fish.
The school of Sugar Loaf village in the past century has educated many bright boys and girls. The old school house
stood on the road that leads from the village to the northwest. The house was on the westerly side of the road.
Reeder Feagles and Lieutenant Wood were among the teachers in the early part of the nineteenth century.
The fact that men with patriotic zeal have been identified with Sugar Loaf may be summarized by the statement that
in the home of Mrs. H. C. Baker are mementoes of her husband's service in the Civil War, Jesse H. Knapp, who was
an officer in the second war with England, and Caleb Knapp, who served in the American Revolution.
The Committee of Safety during the Revolutionary War included other patriots like Jacobus and Gillion Berthoif,
David Rumsev, father of Royal Rumsey, and Captain Henry Wisner. Jacob, John and Josiah Feagles were patriotic citizens
of this section during these times.
The interesting story is told of Hugh Dobbin, the pioneer of Sugar Loaf, that during the Revolution he was exempt
from service, but pointed with pride to the fact that in 1757, in the struggle with the French and Indians, he
assisted the Government by pasturing one hundred and fifteen horses belonging to Captain John Visner's company.
We cannot turn from the story of this section without alluding to the loss of one of its interesting objects, now
only a tradition. Mr. Thomas Burt, of Warwick, at the age of eighty seven, remember the time when on the side of
Sugar Loaf Mountain there was an eminence upon which was the profile of a man with broad shoulders, narrow neck
and enlarged head with hat on. This was called the "Old Giant," and near it was a fissure in the rock
called the "Giant's Cellar." Tradition says that Claudius Smith, after his depredations through the county,
hid in this cleft of the rock.