History of Greenville, NY
From: The History of Orange County, New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Published by: Van Deusen and ELms
Middletown, New York, 1908



THE number of acres of land in the town assessed in 1865, was 18,287, at a valuation of $385,600. Personal property $49,850. The number of acres assessed in 1907 is 17,829 at a valuation of $269,485. Personal property, $19,850. A loss in 42 years of 458 acres of land, $116,115 in assessed valuation of real estate, and of $30,000 assessed personal property. The town expenses (town audits) were $619.37, besides $807 for roads and bridges.

In 1855 the town had a population of 1,218. Ten years later it had a population of 1,147; while in 1905 it had only 672 inhabitants, a loss of nearly half compared with its first named census.

The name was undoubtedly suggested by the beautiful green summer verdure the eastern part of the town exhibits, lying to the sun on the eastern declivity of Shawangunk mountain.

Its boundaries are: Beginning at the corner of the town of Vawayancla line with that of Mount Hope, thence almost due west along the Mount Hope line to that of the town of Deer Park; thence along the Deer Park town line southwest to the New Jersey State line; thence easterly along the said State line to the corner of the Minisink town line; thence northeasterly along the Minisink town line to a point on Castle High Hill near South Centerville; thence northwesterly along the town of Wawayanda town line to a corner; thence northeasterly by north along the said line to the place of beginning.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Wood, in Bushville, March 28th, 1854. Bushville then was a village of some importance, but since the near advent of railroads its trade has gone to other places.


The oldest village in the town is no doubt the settlement at Smith's Corners. It was situated on the road which leads along the eastern slope of the Shawangunk mountain from Coleville, N. J., to Otisville, and in early times was a place of some business. Elijah Smith was its founder about the close of the Revolution. Joseph Smith, justice of the peace, in 1813 was a noted man in his day. After the Goshen and Minisink turnpike road was built, and later when (about 1820) a mail route was established through there, the post office was lolated at a store which stood where the village of Greenville now is. The post office was named Minisink, because there was somewhere in the State a post office already known as Greenville, and this was the nearest post office to the real Minisink west of the mountain. Two churches, a store and a hotel are located there. The village of Smith's Corner has this year of 1907 been made convenient to travel on account of the new macadam road just built throughout it from Slate Hill to Carpenter's Point.

Lake Maretange, upon which one of the great land patents (Evans) cornered in Colonial days, is now known as Binnewater Pond. It covers about twenty acres of land, and is now so filled with aquatic growths and mud that it has less than half of its original extent. It was once reported to be of great depth. It in early times was famous for its excellent fishing. Its original name was undoubtedly an Indian one. The name Binnewater is a corruption of the German Benimvasser (Inland water). Boudinot creek is its outlet.

The great swamps which once stretched north and east of Smith's Corners were known to early records as "Pakadasink Swamp." They have been largely cleared, drained, and are coming rapidly under cultivation. The Shawangunk Kill whose Indian name was the same as that of the swamp, "Pakadasink" or "Peakadasink," originates from springs in the swamps, and flows northward along the base of the Shawangunk mountain toward Ulster County.

Rutger's creek originates in the watershed south of Greenville village.


Jonathan Wood, justice of the peace as early as 1796, and Timothy Wood (see civil list) resided in Bushville in this town.

John W. Eaton (see civil list) is a descendant of Robert, who came to the town, shortly after the Revolution. Robert had sons, John, William, Robert, and Samuel. There was also an Alexander in the town of about the same generation as Robert's sons, who had a son Thomas. John, the eldest son of Robert, had two sons, Gabriel and Daniel H. The latter during the later years of his life, owned the former David Moore farm now owned by William Creeden, in Vawayanda, where he died. Gabriel, during the later years of his life retired from active life to Unionville, where he owned property and where he died. There seems to have been a James Eaton in the town contemporary with Robert. Their farms constituted what was called Eatontown.

Charles Durland of Long Island settled near Bushville in this town prior to1800, and it is probable that Moses came into the town soon after he did. Moses lived and died in the town, but Charles bought land, about a mile and a half south of Ridgeberry, where he made a permanent settlement and died there. Thomas T., Steward T., Daniel and Addison were sons of Charles. Steward T. and Daniel became residents of Greenville. Garret, John and George A. Durland, descendants of Moses, also resided in Greenville. George A, and Steward T. were justice of the peace for many terms in the town. Addison settled near Westtown where lie died. Thomas T. Durland succeeded to the old homestead near Ridgeherry, and later in life bought the former Phineas Howell farm near Slate Hill, where he died. His widow (whose father, George Jackson, in his lifetime owned the farms now owned by William Ralston, of the lower road) and son George, and daughters Alice L. and Etta H., now reside on the Slate Hill homestead; while a son, Charles, resides in Middletown and a daughter, Elizabeth Van Orden, lives in Pompton Lakes.

John, Joseph and Hiram Manning were early settlers in the town. Joseph's children were Joseph, Jr., John, Isaac, Richard, Walter, Benjamin, Mrs. Isaac Finch., Mrs. E. Hurlbut, Mrs. John Ferguson. Hiram Manning at one time owned the grist, saw and cider mills at Millsburg. His son. John R. Manning, resides in Gardnersville in Wawayanda, and the latter's son, Hiram, Jr., is in business in Johnsons.

Abraham Elston was a very early settler in the town and many of his descendants are still in it.

Harvey H., Alfred, W. L. and W. W. Clark (see civil list) were descendants of the David Clark mentioned in a sketch of the family in the town of Minisink.

Under an old school law teachers were formerly licensed by town superintendents which prevailed up to 1856. Geo. A. Durland held the office of superintendent for some time. Samuel S. Graham was elected to the. position in 1856, but the law was repealed that year and lie was never sworn into office.


The Baptist Church of Greeneville was incorporated January 27th, 1816. and was supplied by the pastors of Brookfield church until July 31st, 1822, when the church was dedicated as a separate one. It was constituted by thirty one members. Elder Zelotes Grenell preached the sermon. August 3d. That year twenty three more members were set off from the Brookfield church to it. Elder Henry Ball was pastor for eleven years. Elder D. Bennet supplied it from Unionville for four years. W. H. Jurton, D. Benett, C. Brinkerhoff and Joseph Haughwout supplied it to 1848. Rev. Stephen Case became pastor of it in May, 1848, and continued there to his death in 1895. It was said of him that he married and buried probably more Orange and Sussex County people than any other minister has. He was a son of John and Mary (Mead) Case. The father is alleged to have come from New England, while his mother was a daughter of Ebenezer Mead of near Waterloo Mills in Minisink. John and Mary (Mead) Case had four sons, Joseph M., E. Inman, John B. and Stephen.

Joseph M. was justice of the peace from 1850 to 1874 in Minisink and held other offices (see civil list). The Case homestead was on the ridge west of Westtown where John died in 1844 and Rev. Ralph Bull preached the funeral sermon. His wife died in 1847. Joseph M. was unmarried. E. Inman died in 1888. He had five sons and one daughter, John. Jr., Joseph, Ira L., Jefferson, Anson and Amelia. Ira L. became a resident of Middletown and was elected school commissioner of the second district of Orange County for a term. John B. studied for the ministry and became a clergyman of much influence. He died in 1886. He had seven children: John B., Jr., Stephen J., Joseph M., Tisdale, Joshua I., Sarah and Flora.

Stephen, son of John, after his primary studies were over, attended and graduated at Madison University in 1840. He began preaching the next year, and supplied the pulpit of the Orange Baptist Church six months. Then he preached for three years in what was called the Broadway Baptist Church, which we incline to think was located near Wykertown in \Vantage township, N. J., probably the one built by Job Cosad. In May, 1848, he became pastor of the Mount Salem and Greenville churches. He was then about thirty years old, and he labored there for over sixty years until his death. He was survived by three sons: John E., Joshua, Jr. and Joseph M. Joshua, Jr., is a famous auctioneer residing in Unionville.

The Methodist Church of Greenville was incorporated December 23rd, 1850. There had been preaching for about twenty years before that by ministers of the M. E. denomination. The church edifice was built before the church was incorporated. Rev. Henry Lifts, who died a few years ago in Deckertown, was pastor there for some time, succeeding Revs. Andrews, Grace and Rusling.

Besides the cemeteries connected with the churches, there are a number of family burial places in the town; notably those of the Manning, Seybolt, Seeley, Courtright, Vanbuskirk, Mulock, Remedy and Jenks families.


During the Civil War the town issued in August, 1864, bonds for $25,159; they were all paid by February 11th, 1871.

Its officials have from the formation of the town proved worthy men. It has been universally Democratic by a small majority.

Nathaniel Reeves Quick, justice of the peace from 1868 to 1873, was a tall pleasant man, a descendant of the Quick family of Pennsylvania. He was well posted on the history of the famous Toni Quick, who was a member of the same family. The traditions which Mr. Quick, of Greenville had instilled into his mind from accounts handed down to him by his grandfather, no doubt truthful, were not altogether complimentary to the old Indian hunter. His grandfather said (told by Nathaniel R. himself), that Tom, when hard pressed for something to eat, would come to his house and stay till the good housewife would absolutely refuse to cook for him any longer, and his grandfather would inform Tom that he must either go to work or leave. That, he said, always started him, for if there was anything in this world that Tom hated it was to work. Then he would shoulder his gun and tramp off in the forest for two or three months before lie ventured to show himself again at the house. In truth, his grandfather did not put much dependence on the stories told by Tom of his adventures: because he thought Tom was merely whiling the time away with something to wheedle him with, in fact, a sort of "stand off" for lodging.

The old Goshen and Minisink turnpike road of the last century, crossing Shawangunk Mountain just west of Greenville village, was changed by the State to a macadam road constructed or, nearly so, in 1907. It takes a new route across the mountain and has greatly reduced the grade. The Goshen end of the road to Dolsentown was completed a few years ago, and the one from Dolsentown through Vawayanda and Minisink to the State line about two years ago. The new road through Greenville connects with the Wawayanda line at Slate Hill.

Of the Tory element in the town during the Revolution, it is traditionally remembered that Brant is said to have, after his first raid in 1778, contemplated a more extensive one. For that purpose he came to Greenville secretly to get information of the surroundings. He hid himself in the Pakadasink swamp below Smith's Corners, and explored the vicinity by night. Certain Tories of the neighborhood were suspected at the time of furnishing food to some tramp in the swamp, and one of them was caught returning from the swamp where he had been to take a portion of a sheep which he had killed, as it was later found out. Excitement ran high at once and a party visited his premises and found that he had slaughtered a sheep and had taken a part of it to the swamp to feed a hidden Tory as was supposed. A committee improvised a fife and drum corps, wrapped the bloody sheepskin about him, and marched him at the point of a bayonet on foot to Goshen followed by the music of the fife and drum.

This was on a broiling hot day in summer, and, as may well be supposed, that march of sixteen miles, bothered as he was by the flies and the jokes of the people they met, made the victim very uncomfortable. Later when Brant swooped down on Minisink in 1779, he did not cross the mountain into the Greenville neighborhood as the settlers then thought he intended to do at first. Then they ascertained the kind of a tramp that the Tory had been furnishing with mutton in Pakadasink swamp, and rejoiced to think that their prompt action in treating their Tory neighbor to that arrest probably saved their homes from the invasion planned.

Before the days of railroads the people who lived in these neighborhoods generally went to Newburgh, and if they desired to go to New York took from thence passage on a sailing vessel for that place. Sometimes the passage occupied three or four days between those two cities, dependent on the weather. In windy weather the sloops often had to anchor under some protecting high shore, and in dark nights they generally anchored until daylight. A disaster which made a great sensation throughout the county and elsewhere, happened November 24th, 1824, to a sloop of this kind, near Pollopel's Island, in lower Newburgh bay. The sloop Neptune was on its way up the river under command of its first deck hand, John Decker, the captain (Halstead) having been left in New York sick. About twenty tons of plaster were in its hold and about twenty more tons piled on deck, together with eight or ten tons of other goods. There was a strong wind prevailing and the boat was coming up near the island with a double reef in the mainsail and all precautions taken for safety, when there came a sudden blast of wind which caused the sloop to dip and the plaster on deck to shift its weight. This shifting of the deck plaster caused the sloop to dip so violently that the water came pouring into the scuttle of the forecastle, and into the cabin where some ten or twelve women and a number of children were gathered. Besides the crew about twenty six male passengers were on the deck. Instead of righting, the boat went right down without further warning. All in the cabin were drowned. It was about noon, and several boats that saw the sloop go down hurried to the scene, and were so successful as to rescue seventeen Of the passengers.

Joshua Mulock, of Minisink (now Greenville) was one of the men on deck, and he said that when he first heard the women and children scream in the cabin, he tried to break a grating in the deck to let them out and the boat went down so quick that it carried a part of his vest with it which caught fast. That held him and he went down under the boat. Luckily his vest tore loose, and he floated out from under the boat and came to the surface, where he was rescued. Jesse Green from present Greenville, and a man named Carey from present Wawayanda neighborhood, were also saved. Among those drowned were John Greenleaf. George Evertson, Matilda Helms and William Kelly and child from Minisink. The next year the bodies of Matilda Helms and Mr. Greenleaf were found among others at Cold Spring some distance down the river. They were buried by the coroner of Putnam County. The sloop was afterwards raised by its owners.

Next to the battle of Minisink this disaster furnished the greatest sensation of those early times. Mr. Unlock was a great humorist. On one occasion, a Mr. and Mrs. Lee, of Greenville, made Mr. and Mrs. Mulock an evening visit. When the visitors were seated in their wagon ready to start for home, one of them said to their host and hostess, "Now you must come and see us as soon as you can." "We'll promise to do so, sure!" said Mr. Mulock.

When Mr. and Mrs. Lee had arrived home, and she was in the house with a lighted candle looking at the clock and wondering how they came to stay until after midnight, and he was returning from the stables where he had placed the horse, they were surprised to hear a wagon driving up to the door. How much greater was their surprise when they both went to the gate to see who it was, and saw there Mr. and Mrs. "Mulock. "You told us," said the former, "that we must come and see you as soon as we could, and here we are." Then after a laugh at Mr. and Mrs. Lee's apparent discomfiture, they went home, and told the joke round about to their friends. We give it to illustrate the jollity of those times.

From the years 1836 to 1854 the post office regulations for the three towns, under the name of Minisink, were a mail delivery Tuesdays and Fridays of each week. The mail was carried by a contractor, who left Goshen on those days in the morning in a one horse sulky or gig which easily carried the driver and mail bags. He came across the Wallkill at Pellet's Island to Ridgeberry; thence to Westtown, Unionville, Minisink (Greenville) and back through Bushville, South Centerville, Brookfield-Slate Hill, Denton and to Goshen. The trip was made in one day. Sometimes the carrier would have a young woman on the seat with him which invariably made him late and caused lots of grumbling among the people waiting for the mail. Few letters were received, and the only newspapers taken generally were the Goshen Democrat and Independent Republican, of Goshen. Not a daily paper then found its way in this region except at intervals. The rates of postage were, up to 1845, for a letter of a single sheet, not exceeding thirty miles, six cents; over thirty and not exceeding eighty miles, ten cents; over eighty and not over 15o, twlve and one half cents; over 150 and not over 400 miles, eighteen and three quarter cents; over 400 miles, twenty five cents. If the letter had two sheets of paper it was charged double, and if three sheets, triple rates; for each newspaper carried not over 100 miles, one cent; to any office in the State where printed, one cent; otherwise over 100 miles, one and a half cents. Pamphlets 100 miles, one and a half cents a sheet; over 100 miles, two and a half cents a sheet; if not published periodically, four and six cents a sheet, as to distance. Everything else was paid at letter postage at a quarter ounce rate. The letters then were sent without envelopes, folded so as to conceal the writing, and sealed with wax usually. The postage was collected on delivery. In 1854 the rates were reduced considerably, but all other features retained. In 1855, the writer, then a boy, was left temporarily in charge of the post office at Slate Hill, which then paid the postmaster, a storekeeper, about $10 a year percentage. He then kept a store and the keeper of the office was considered a help to the store trade. A woman came in and asked if there was a letter for her. There was. She asked how much postage was due on it. There was eighteen cents. Then she asked to look at it. The verdant young man handed it to her. She opened it, glanced over the contents, then handed it back, saying, "I won't take it. There's nothing in it worth the money." The postmaster when informed of the incident later, said, "Boy, next time don't you hand out the letter till they hand over the money."

In 1852 the postage was reduced and a little later envelopes came in fashion. The Middletown. Unionville and Watergate Railroad was completed from Middletown to Unionville, June 2nd, 1868. That changed mail arrangements throughout the three towns. Slate Hill, Johnsons, Westtown and Unionville got a daily mail. Waterloo Mills, Denton and Bushville were abandoned, and Ridgeberry and South Centerville were supplied from Slate Hill. The railroad is now known as the New York, Susquenhanna & Western, under control of the Erie. The increase in the amount of mail matter handled has been wonderful, and the offices which once had their mail matter carried on a two wheel sulky twice a week easily, would now require a team of horses and a big wagon to move it every day.

The 4th and 5th days of January; 1835, were remarkably cold days and that winter was a terribly severe one. We have no thermometer records for our three towns of those days, but in New York City it was 5 degrees, in Newark 13 and Elizabethtown 18 degrees below zero for both days. In 1857 the 23rd of January was a remarkably cold day, the thermometer standing at 23 below in the early morning, 17 at noon, and 12 at night, when it began to snow and a deep snow came.

Orange County gave 3,541 votes for Van Buren, and 2,242 for Harrison for President in 1836.

The local option law in our three towns has resulted in a continual no license majority for about twenty five years in Wawavanda; occasional no license in Greenville and Minisink. The result of the election in 1907 gave no license a majority in Minisink.

In ancient times elections were held in the spring for local officers, and in the fall for county, State and national officers. All the officers in the State are now elected in November on one day. In 1837, the States held election: Maine, 2nd Monday of September; Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, 1st Monday in August; Delaware, 1st Tuesday of October; Louisiana, 1st Monday of July; Tennessee and North Carolina, 1st Thursday in August; Vermont, 1st Tuesday in September; Georgia and Maryland, 1st Monday in October; New York, 1st Monday in November; Massachusetts, 2nd Monday in November; New Hampshire, 2nd Tuesday in March; Virginia and Connecticut in April; Rhode Island in August; South Carolina, 2nd Monday in October.

During the first early years of our history, where farmers kept large dairies, they made butter, which was the mainstay of their farming. They used a tread wheel about twelve feet in diameter set at a steep incline, on one side of which a horse or bull climbed to furnish the power for churning. Similar dairies used sheep or calves. About 1834 to 1840 (tradition) George F. Reeve, of near Middletown, invented an endless chain power on which a good sized dog would furnish as much power as an animal twice as large.

Lights for many years were furnished of dip tallow candles. These were made by melting a wash boiler full of tallow, into which six candlewicks hung on a stick were dipped and hung on a rack to cool. Enough sticks were used so that by the time the last one was dipped the first one was cool enough to dip again, and so the process was continued until the candles had accumulated enough tallow to be of the right size. Whenever the tallow in the boiler began to get low hot water was added to make the tallow float to the top of the boiler. When beeves were killed in the fall the good housewives were careful to dip candles for a whole year's supply. About 1852 camphene began to be used for lights, and in some instances alcohol and some other dangerous compounds. About 186o the use of kerosene came into family and public lighting, and is still the great illuminant.

In 1777 a real estate ownership of one hundred pounds value was a necessary qualification for a voter who desired to vote for a Governor, Senator and Assemblyman, while only twenty pounds worth of real estate was requisite in order to qualify a person to vote for a representative in Congress. For town officials and resolutions all male citizens were allowed to vote, and this was generally done at town meetings viva voce, or by division to the right and left. A Governor then held office three years and had to be a real estate owner. Senators held office four years and had to be owners of one hundred pounds worth of real estate. Judges were appointed by the Governor and council and held office during good behavior, but were disqualified when sixty years old. They could be removed by the Governor when requested by a two thirds vote of the legislature. Clergymen were then excluded from holding office, and from the legislature. In 1821 a new State constitution was framed and the property qualifications removed. Ballots were then introduced generally in town elections.

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