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



THE derivation of the name Minisink is undoubtedly from the Delaware valley, which was the "Minisink" country of its Indian owners. They had a large village and castle on the Jersey side of the Delaware River, opposite a large island in the river, both that and the village being known to them and to the early white settlers by the name "Minisink." They were a sub division of the Lenni Lenape tribe that somehow became known later by the name of Delaware, from an English lord, who visited the mouth of the river about five minutes once, and left his unmerited name to the river and its valley as well as to the tribe of Indians about it. In truth a most foolish freak upon the part of the white people, who had far more deserving names to give, if they wished to observe and reward more daring explorers. Foolish, too, because the Indian names were just as beautiful, even more so than that of the old lord.

This sub division of the Lenni Lenape Indians was called the Minsi (wolf), and they were easily recognized from other tribes by the white people. In 1663 when Wiltwyck (now Esopus or Rondout) was attacked, its white settlers declared that they saw the Munsey (Minsi) Indians among their assailants.

In front of their village on the river flats south of the island lay their great national cemetery covering acres of ground, where many generations of their nation lay entombed. Some of them were buried so close to the river that the sweep of its current often washed away the dirt and exposed their bones as the writer saw them. The early white people in the valley, all German, at first assumed that the name Minsi, pronounced by them "munsey," was derived from the fact that the water had at some time been drained by the Water Gap from the lands in the valley and that the name was derived from "the water is gone." We have never found any corroboration of that theory. The village was the source of the name, but what is meant in the Lenni Lenape language we probably shall never know. From their village the white settlers applied it to the whole valley.

William Tietsort, whom they induced to settle among them near present Port Jervis, and do their blacksmithing, in 1690, found the name there. Arent Schuyler, who has left on record his diary of the visit he made there to find whether the French spies had been there from Canada, said of it: "1694 ye 6th, Tuesday. I continued my journey to Maghackemeck (Indian name for the neighborhood of the junction of the Neversink with the Delaware) and from thence to within half a day's journey of the Minisink." A half day's journey would about represent the distance to the village and castle of the tribe mentioned, and where he was bound.

The Indians who occupied the territory in these three towns were one of the three divisions of the Lenni Lenapes. On the first map of the country made they were called Maquas, which was later corrected to Munseys and by the English to Minsies. The name of their headquarters, Minisink, has come down to us from all the various languages spoken by white settlers as Minisink. That corroborates it as an original Indian word. Every clan or sub division of the tribes used an accent of their own, so that they were easily distinguished, but the difference was not so radical but that the whole Lenni Lenape people could understand each other. Therefore the name Minisink was a name known over a vast region before the white people came here. Its meaning is a mystery which all linguists can guess at with some probability of nearness.


June 23rd, 1664, this region belonged to Holland, at least that country claimed it; but Charles, then King of England, deeded that day, to his brother, James, Duke of York, a tract "to the northward as far as the northernmost branch of the Delaware River in 41 degrees and 4o minutes north latitude, thence in a straight line to Hudson's River, to be called "Nova Cesaria" or New Jersey. England sent over a fleet and captured the whole country in this vicinity a little later the same year, and that, made the Duke's patent valid.

The region under consideration was then a dreary forest, but land speculators soon began to deal in tracts of it, and New York Province claimed that the line, 41.40 latitude north to the northernmost branch of the Delaware River, ran from its beginning on Hudson's River to the mouth of the Lehigh River (which they asserted was the branch of the Delaware referred to in the deed) where is now Easton, Pa,

On the other side the owners of New Jersey claimed that the branch referred to in the deed was a tributary of the Delaware River at what is now Cochecton, N. Y. It will be seen that this disputed territory was of great extent, the apex of the triangle on the Hudson River widening out to a base of near 5o miles from present Easton to present Cochecton. In this triangle was comprised nearly all of what we now call Sussex County, N. J. and, according to the New Jersey claim, taking in the present city of Port Jervis and about all of the present towns of Greenville and Minisink. The great dispute as to the ownership of this triangle lasted for a hundred years and its tales of warfare and contests in courts are of great interest, but not altogether pertinent to our subject. The start upon Hudson's River is thus mentioned in N. J. Archives, Vol. I, page 531, in 1685-6: "Gawen Lawrie of New Jersey, Governor Tongan of New York and others" fixed at a point nigh Colonel William Merrit's house (see mention in first census of Orange County) on the west side of the Hudson River and "marked with a penknife on a beech tree standing by a small run." How different surveyors could locate the degree of latitude from thence to such widely different points was explained in old documents to be the fault of the crude quadrants then used.

In 1704 Queen Anne of England granted 23 persons a patent (deed), for a tract of land which was named "Minisink," because it embraced the land in 1VIinisink along the Delaware River down as far as Big Minisink island, and as far north as Peenpack (a nickname for the Gumaer settlement on the Neversink). March loth, 1765, Alexander Colden, of New York, said of this patent, Vol. III, p. 988, Documentary History of New York: "It contains not less than 250,000 acres. under the very small Quit rent of nine pounds current money of this Province,"

The Wawayanda patent had been granted the previous year (1703) to 12 men and the Minisink patent lapped upon it, hence we may well conclude that the quarrel between the Provinces of New York, New Jersey, the owners of the Minisink patent and those of the Wawayanda patent made a very mixed question of title. There does not appear to have been any severe contests in the three towns of which we write between individual land owners, except those of the large patents. In 1767 the Provinces of New York and New Jersey appointed commissioners to run out a compromise line settled upon to run from the apex of the triangle on Hudson River to the present station at Tn-states, which was done and that line has since remained as the boundary between the two States. Titles derived from the Minisink patent south of that line were void, but the titles of landholders in the three towns were all derived from the New York patentees, hence there followed no confusion.

During the Revolution there were few changes in county matters, but March 7th, 1788, the legislature of the State enacted that subdivisions of counties should be called towns instead of precincts. By that act Orange County was divided into the towns of Haverstraw, Orangetown, Goshen, New Cornwall, Warwick and Minisink, The southern boundary of the latter was the State line of New York and New Jersey,

The town of Minisink under that formation was bounded on the east by the Wallkill River, northeast and north by the town of Wallkill and the Ulster County line around on the northwest to the Delaware River, and the State line,

In 1798 the town of Deer Park was created and it cut off from Minisink its over mountain lands, which had belonged to old Minisink, and thus cut off the base whence the name had been derived. Since then the town has held to the name, a reminder of its old associations and of being once the home of a part of the Mins Indian tribe.

In 1825 the town of Calhoun was formed principally from Deer Park and Wallkill, and formed part of the boundary of Minisink on the north. In 1833 the name of Calhoun was changed to Mount Hope.

In 1849 the town of Wawayanda was erected from the northeastern portion of Minisink, and took the place of Wallkill in the boundary of the former.

In 1853 the town of Greenville was taken from the westerly portion of Minisink, and fixed the boundaries of the latter as they now are.


The line between the States previously referred to, on a westerly course has set offs to avoid great obstacles in some places, but where it bounds Minisink it is a straight line. It crosses the Wallkill a short distance south of Unionville.

Millsburg, is a small village, named from the large mills once located on Boudinot's Creek at that place. Extensive saw mills, grist, cider, and plaster mills, were for a long time kept there by John Racine, and did a very large business for years after his death. They are now gone. Down stream a short distance were other grist and saw mills, of which one, a grist mill, is still in existence and managed by Frank Mead, A little farther down the stream were once very large woolen carding and fulling mills, where cloth was made of the finest quality. These are now in ruins.

Boudinot's Creek has gone by various names, such as Indegot and Bandegot, but antiquarians have now settled upon the derivation of the name from Elias Boudinot, and the probabilities are that they are right. Elias was a merchant in New York City, and speculated in the lands out in the wilderness, as many others were doing in those times. The records show that he bought, June loth, 1704, of Philip Rokeby, one third of his share in the Wawayancla patent; also, August 8th, 1707, a twelfth part of the patent. He soon sold out his interests in the patent and so far as we have been able to find, never saw the creek in question, and he certainly never made a settlement in this county.

Rutger's Creek was undoubtedly named from the circumstance of Anthony Rutger's buying of the widow and son of John Merrit, one half of the one twelfth of the Wawayanda patent allotted to Daniel Honan, who had in 1705 sold it to Merrit.

The creek in question rises in the town of Greenville and flows eastward near Unionville, where it takes a northeasterly course through Waterloo Mills, Westtown, Johnson's, and then southerly through Gardnersville to the Wallkill. Its Indian name is not known.

Tunkamoose Creek, a small tributary of the Wallkill near Unionville, has what is claimed to be an Indian name, but we cannot verify it.

The Wallkill is said by Haines to have drawn its name from some families of Walloons who settled by it, and it has also had various other derivations alleged. Its Indian name is well known, In the very early surveys about Franklin Furnace, N. J., in 1712-15, the surveyors have written the name plainly, Twischsawkin. That this name was not of a mere local application is shown by the fact that on a map accompanying Smith's History of New Jersey, made and published in London, Charing Cross, by William Baden, December 1st, 1777, from surveys made in 1769 by the commissioners who ran the State line, the name Twischsawkin is applied to the stream. On that map there is not a settlement marked from Goshen to Mackhackemeck in this county, In Sussex County the settlement of the Walling brothers, where Joseph Walling kept an inn, now Hamburg, N. J., is marked "Vallins." They were located there somewhere about 1725-1730, and a brother settled in this town of Minisink at about the same time, by the river. We take him to have been the first settler in the town, and mention is made of him later. The true derivation of the name Wallkill is due to their settlements. The name "Wallins" was known far and wide to the stragglers who first came into the neighborhood and the river that ran by their locations, first called by visitors, Wallinskill, about 1750 got abbreviated to "Wallkill." The Walloons spoken of by Haines were undoubtedly "Wallins." The Indian name Twischsawkin has been interpreted to mean "abundance of wild plums." A land abounding in snakes comes nearer its true meaning in our study of the Minsi language.

Unionville village, assumed to be derived from the union of good feelings following the settlement of the line between the States of New York and New Jersey, is near that line, and is believed to have been settled about 1738. It now has three stores, two hotels, coal and feed stores, a system of waterworks owned by a private company, three churches, and other places of business, It was incorporated as a village in 1871, September 26th. Isaac Swift was the first president.

Westtown, a village so named because it was situated at the western limit of the settlements when Goshen was headquarters of civilization in the county, has three stores, two churches, one hotel,

Johnsons, so named after William Johnson who gave the land for the Middletown, Unionville & Water Gap Railroad when it passed through the town where the depot is now located, has three good stores, two feed and coal stores, one hotel, and Borden's large milk and cream plant, and is a place of considerable business.

Gardnersville, on Rutger's Creek, about two and a half miles southeast of Johnsons, is mostly in the town of Wawayanda, and derived its name from the Gardner family who once owned extensive grist, saw and cider mills there. It is now mainly known from the feed mills of John R. Manning, at present its principal industry. In the early settlement of the country• there was a defensive place near, known as Fort Gardner. Its location is not precisely known. In some records it is spoken of as being southward from where Westtown now is. It was most probably at Gardnersville. An old stone building on the late Lain farm is the "Fort Gardner," says one tradition.

Waterloo Mills (derivation of name unknown) since the decline of the milling industry has nothing now to show of its former important grist mills but the ruins.


Of the first settler in the present territory of this county, Patrick MacGregorie, whose brother in law, David Toshuck, is spoken of in Ruttenber & Clark's History of Orange County (p. t3) as having "closed his earthly career in the bosom of his family at Plum Point," we desire to mention. In New Jersey Archives, Vol, I, p. 46o, it says: "David Toshuck, of Moneywearci, partner with James, Earl of Perth, Captain Patrick MacGregorie, all sharers in Proprieties," were so mentioned in 1864. In a note on Vol, IX, p. 337, mention is made of the will of Edward Antill proven in New York, April 7th, 1725, wherein he gives his wife all his interest in a "certain proprietysbip formerly purchased of David Toshuck, laird of Minnevarre." On p. 338 it is stated that Edward Anthill, Jr., came into the possession of the laird of Minnevarre's broad acres at Raritan landing in Middlesex County where he spent the most of his life." Donald Macquirrish, of Murderer's Creek, is mentioned with David Toshuck, of Minnevarre, Scotland, in a deed dated March 13th, 1687. From all which we have doubts as to the death of the aforesaid David Toshuck at Plum Point.

Governor Dongan bought, October 25, 1684, of three Indians, one of whom was Joghem or Keghgekapowell, for ninety pounds and eleven shillings in goods, all the land from the mouth of Murderer's Creek on the Hudson, to a "water pond upon the said hills called Meretange." The latter is the present Binnewater pond in Greenville. This purchase embraced about thirty by forty miles of the territory of Orange precinct, and a part of the lands in three towns. It lapped on other grants also. September 12, 1694, he sold it to Captain John Evans. In the latter sale went a house on Plum Point, which Captain MacGregorie had built there on his land by advice of that very Governor, who also sold the land without any scruple.

Lord Bellomont, in reviewing the transaction afterwards in writing January 2, 1701, to the Lords of Trade, said:

"Capt. Evans's great grant of 40 miles one way and 30 another, has but one house on it, or rather a hut, where a poor man lives, built by Patrick MacGregorie, a Scotcliman, who was killed at the, time of the Revolution here, and his widow compelled to sell her house and land to Capt. Evans for 30 or 35 pounds."

The foregoing was not only a concise history of the first settlement in this county, but it was in reality the first census, and shows that then, 1701, there was not a single person in the limits of our three towns as a permanent settler. It may be said in apparent contradiction that a census taken by Bellomont in 1698 showed this county to have in it 29 men, 31 women, 140 children and 19 negroes. They were all located along the Hudson River, in what is now Rockland County. Yet there was at that time a blacksmith, 'William Tietsort (Titsworth in Minisink, near where Port Jervis now stands, who had settled there in 1698 at the request of the Indians to work at his trade for them. In 1703, the county had 268 people in it; in 1712, 439. The Gumaer patent was settled on in the Neversink valley by this time, but there is no record of any settler in our three towns at that time. In 1723 the census showed 1,097 white and 147 colored people in the county. The owners of the big patents used great inducements to get settlers to locate on their land, and it is probable that some were in our territory but not of record. In 1737 there were 2,840; and in 1746, 3,268 people in the county.

Inman Walling was a settler. probably 1725-1730, by the Wallkill, east of present Westtown, and John 'Whitaker died in 1742 near where Unionville now is, and had been a resident there, no one knows how long. His will on record in the surrogate's office in Goshen, liber A, page 221, mentions his wife Eve, sons Richard, Peter and John, and daughters Jean and Elizabeth. Their descendants are vet residents of the town and of Sussex County adjoining. Those two families were probably the first permanent ones in this town of Minisink. There were others in the limits of what is now Wawavanda at or about the same time.

There were two Smith families early in the precinct of Minisink. One of them, Benjamin, settled near the present Slate Hill village, and the other on the farm now owned by J. Cadigan near Johnsons, where he kept an inn, the place being known as Smith's Village for at least seventy five years.

Other settlers came in rapidly. William Stenard in 1749; Captain John Wisner from Warwick in 1776; George Limber in 1750; Caleb Clark in 1800; William Lane in 1760. In an assessment roll made for Goshen precinct in 1775 Godfrey Lutes, Peter Middagh, Daniel Rosencrans, Inman Walling, Peter Walling, Increase Mather, John Whitaker, Jr., and Ebenezer Beers were shown to reside in this town besides the other first settlers mentioned.

The census of the county in 1756 showed it to have a population of 4,446 whites and 43o slaves, In 1771 there were 9,430 whites and 662 negroes.

The Horton family were early residents of this territory, but we have no positive data of their first advent. October 20, 1764, a line run to divide the county into two precincts was described as "beginning near the new dwelling house of John Manno, and thence on a course which will leave the house of Barnabus Horton, Jr., ten chains to the westward." His house we do not think was in this town. A Barnabus Horton in 1813 lived near what is now South Centerville in Wawayanda. Gabriel Horton, justice of the peace, 1839-1843, lived about a mile and a half west of present Slate Hill in Wawayanda. William Horton in this town was a holder of important local offices, and his son Charles W. Horton, former supervisor, is now one of the leading citizens, as is also his neighbor, Reeves Horton.

In 1835, ten years after the town of Calhoun (Mount Hope) had been set off, the remainder of the territory in old Minisink had 4,439 inhabitants, and the present limits of this town about 1,000.

In 1850 the town of Wawayanda was taken off, and in 1853 the town of Greenville. In 1855, by the first census after their elimination, this town had a population of 1,295.

Since then its limits have remained unchanged. In 186o its population was 1,266; in 1865, 1,209, a decrease owing to the civil war; in 1880, 1,360, including the incorporated village of Unionville, which had 316; in 19O5, the last census taken, 1,354, including Unionville, a gain in 50 years of 59, which may be mainly said to be in Unionville.

The first incorporated company to do business in the town was the Goshen and Westtown Turnpike Company, chartered June I, 1812, consisting of Reuben Hopkins, Freegift Tuthill, Benjamin Strong, Stephen Jackson, James Carpenter, D. M, Westcott, "and such other persons as they shall associate with them." The purpose was to build a turnpike road from the State line to Rutger's Kill near the mill of Jones & Vancleft (at Gardnersville). Thence it ran to Pellet's round hill and the Goshen and Minisink turnpike.

The Middletown, Unionville & Watergap Railroad Company was incorporated and completed ready for business by June 10, 1868, from Unionville to Middletown. Later it was leased to the Oswego Midland Railway, and still later its t3.3o miles of track were leased by the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad Company, by which it is now operated, under Erie Railroad supervision.


There appear to have been no conflicts with the Indian owners of the territory of the three towns under consideration, and its white settlers, previous to the Minisink war, or as some historians call it, "The French and Indian War" of 1754-1758. We call it the Minisink war, because the Minsi tribe, at the outset of the war between France and England, which led to the great struggle between Canada for France and the colonies of our country for England, got permission to take up the hatchet against the settlers in Pennsylvania Minisink from their (the Minsis') masters, the Six Nations, to avenge their wrongs in that region. The wrongs were alleged to be that the proprietors of Pennsylvania had cheated the Indian owners of the lands there, and there is now no doubt that the allegation was true. There was no redress to be had for an Indian wrong in those years. Teedyuscung and the leaders of the Indians issued imperative orders that the war should be confined to Pennsylvania and they were pretty generally obeyed. Occasional straggling parties of them, however, in small numbers, disobeyed orders in order to avenge some injury to some person or clan, and passed through east of Shawangunk Mountains on marauding expeditions, They were vagrant Indians who had no standing as warriors in their tribe and they perpetrated wanton murders without the knowledge or sanction of their leaders, Of this class no doubt were the ones who surprised a man named Owens at work in Dolsen's meadow, in what was then Dolsentown, now in Wawayanda, near Middletown, in 1756, and shot him. David Cooley, who is believed then to have had a settlement at what is now the Charles O. Carpenter farm near Pine Hill cemetery, about a mile south of where Dolsen was located, alarmed at the murder of Owens, moved his family to Goshen, The next spring he moved back. That summer a party of Indians, in passing by his place, shot a woman of his household who at the time was passing from the outdoor oven to the house.

A company of militia had been organized in 1738 in the county called the "Company of the Wallakill (Willinskill)"; but none of the 144 names of its members appear to belong to our territory, except it may be those of John Monell, Lieutenant William Borland, Benjamin Haines, James Monell. Johannis Crane and James Davis. john Bayard was its captain.

The murder of the widow Walling in 1758 was mentioned in the Philadelphia Gazette and in New York papers in that year and made a profound impression throughout the colonies.

In the Revolutionary War, Colonel Allison's Goshen regiment contained some names belonging to this territory. The officers of its Tawayanda company were:'Captain, William Blair; lieutenants, Thomas Wisner and Thomas Sayre, Jr.; ensign, Richard Johnson; of the Drowned Lands company, captain, Samuel Jones lieutenants, Peter Gale and Jacob Dunning; ensign, Samuel Webb; of the Pochuck company, captain, Ebenezer Owen; lieutenants, Increase Holley and John Bronson; ensign, David Rogers; of Minisink company captain, Moses Courtright; lieutenants, John VanTile and Johannes Decker; ensign, Ephraim Middaugh. The latter lived in the township of Wantage in 1764, where he was commissioned as an ensign of Captain Kirkendal's company by Governor William Franklin, The late S. M. Stoddard of that township had and exhibited to the writer the last named commission. Middaugh went with General Hathorn to the battle of Minisink, where he was killed.


The town of Minisink was bonded in 1869, for $75,000 to aid in extending the New York Midland Railroad from Unionville farther south. This has not been paid in full yet. The sum of $3,280 was ordered to be raised by tax on the town of Minisink by the board of supervisors on the 22nd of November, 1907, to pay principal and interest on those bonds.

The first town meeting after the town of Minisink was organized, took place at the house of John Van Tuyl, April 1, 1789. Its territory then covered the three towns, and that house supposed to he the old stone house now in Greenville, on the former Jonathan Van Tuyl farm, later the Hallock house, was a convenient place for the gathering.

August 11, 1864, the present town was bonded for $25,000 to pay bounties for volunteers in the Civil War. It was paid off, principal and interest, in eight equal installments as they fell due.

Hulet Clark bought land in Minisink in 1828 in the present town of Minisink, where he died March 31, 1857. His son, William Harvey Clark, early gave evidence of the good judgment and business ability which his future life carried out. He married Emily Robertson of Wawayanda and they lived on the old homestead near Westtown, where he died in 1907. His son, Robert H. Clark, is the present supervisor of this town, resides on the old homestead, and is establishing a business reputation as popular and able as that which distinguished his father and which will make his name long remembered in local annals,

In March, 1799, the Legislature of the State passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery, All slaves were to become free at a certain age. As an instance of its working, there was Frank Bounty, a colored man, for whom Joseph Davis of Wawayandá had traded a pair of oxen when Frank was a young man. When the time arrived at which the law gave Frank his liberty he was called up by Mr. Davis and told that he was then a free man. Frank asked him if he could not stay on with him, but Mr. Davis said he could not, for the reason that people would then say that he was being coerced. Mr. Davis gave him some money and told him he must go and do for himself, and Frank told the writer that was one of the saddest clays of his life.

Mr. Davis also gave him the use of a house and lot in Brookfield or Slate Hill which he might, and did, enjoy for life by paying the taxes on it. It was the last house on the west side of the street in the west end of the village at that time, There he raised a large family.

Not all negroes were so lucky. Some of them were old and worn out and their masters were glad to get rid of caring for them.

In the early history of the town in all its farming communities, the farmers raised sheep, and made a double use of them. The rams were used to churn with on the big wheel and on endless chain churning machines then used, and the wool sheared from all the sheep was carded, sometimes by hand, at other times in factories, and woven or spun into stockings, mittens, and cloth, to furnish wearing apparel. Up to 1850, butter was the chief product of the dairies in the town. Then selling milk came into general practice, and making butter, milling flour for home use, and traveling on horseback went out of fashion.

The farmers universally kept sheep, raised the wool to make the clothes for the members of the family, and at the same time used the large sheep to churn with upon a tread or sweep power. Up to 185o butter and hogs were the chief products. It is less than 200 years since the first squatters settled in the limits of the three towns of which we write, The first customs to pass away were their friendly associations with the few Indians who clung to their old hunting grounds with death like tenacity. Then the hostilities engendered by the helplessness of the Indians and the consequent overbearing attitude of the settlers passed by, leaving" a trail of traditions and savage memories. Then followed the old logging, stone picking, mowing, husking and quilting bees or frolics in which whiskey was used as a general beverage. Then came the passing of the use of whiskey for the universal medicine and social welcome. Next passed the days when women carded the wool and spun and wove it, and knit everywhere, knit, knit, knit. Next passed the days when the young ladies worked samplers, and helped in the harvest and hay fields, and grew up, vigorous, stout and healthy. Next passed the fishing with fakes and racks and the hunting for wolves and foxes. Now have arrived the days when fish and game are about extinct.

Now are the days when the farmers sell their milk and buy their butter; when they sell little else than milk and have become a great generation of buyers; when social visits are about unknown; when the old time good natured sports and merriment are frowned upon; when men no longer meet on the streets and argue politics, but bury themselves in a newspaper on the trains or in any resting place and read, read, read; when women no longer knit and spin; when the girls no longer will do outdoor work and dreadfully dislike to do indoor work; when, instead of the big boys and girls going to school a few months in the winter season, they all go away to boarding school. In noting these and other changes which have taken place in the towns as the years have fled, it is noticeable that the people generally live better, even luxuriously, compared with former years, but are their public and domestic relations happier?

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