TOWN OF MONTGOMERY.
BY DAVID A. MORRISON.
THIS important town is in the northern part of Orange County, bordering upon Ulster. It lies between the towns
of Newburgh on the east, and Crawford on the west. Each of these towns has a large tongue of land that extends
much further toward the north than the territory of Montgomery, the northern bounds of which form nearly a straight
line. On the south are the towns of New Windsor, Hamptonburgh and Wallkill, from which it is separated by rather
irregular rectangular lines. The area of the town as shown by the last Supervisors' report, is 30,578 acres. The
assessed valuation of property taxable in the town and found by the Assessors in 1906 aggregated $2,094,640. The
total taxes for that year amounted to $23,953.01.
The territory of Montgomery is a part of the original John Evans Patent, which seems to have been set aside
subsequently for various reasons. In 1714 it was in the precinct of Shawangunk, in Ulster County, where it remained
until 1743, when it became part of the Wallkill precinct. At that time it embraced the following patents
Cadwallader Colden, April 9, 1719
John Johnson, Jr., February 3, 1720
Thomas Brazier, March 17, 1720
Henry Wileman, June 30, 1712
David Gallatian, June 4, 1719
Edward Gatehouse, January, 1719
James Alexander, April 9, 1719
Archibald Kennedy, April 9, 1719
James Smith, December 15, 1722
Patrick McKnight, April 9, 1719
Thomas Noxon. May 28, 1720
Francis Harrison & Co., July 7, 1720
Jeremiah Schuyler & Co., January 22, 1719
Phillip Schuyler and others, July 20, 1720
Jacobus Bruyn and Henry Wileman, April 25, 1722
Frederick Morris and Samuel Heath, January 24, 1736.
Thomas Ellison and Lawrence Roome, Nov. 12, 1750
Cadwallader Bolden, Jr. and David Colden, June 20, 1761
In 1772 Wallkill Precinct was divided and the eastern part named the precinct of Hanover. In 1782 this name was
changed to the precinct of Montgomery, which was erected as the town of Montgomery in 1782. Ten years afterwards
it was, with other towns, taken from Ulster County and annexed to Orange County. In 1223 the town of Montgomery
was divided and the western part containing about 25,000 acres constituted and named the town of Crawford. In 183o
the southern part of Montgomery was detached to form (in part) the town of Harptonburgh. The last alteration in
its boundaries was made in 1242, when four farms containing nearly 600 acres were taken from the town of New Windsor
and annexed to Montgomery.
The fertile valley of the Wallkill, which extends through the town on a northeasterly course, dividing it nearly
into equal parts, is a distinguishing characteristic. For nearly a third of the way, where the stream enters Ulster
County, it flows very nearly north in a straight line. Then it deflects toward the southwest to the village of
Montgomery, when there is a sharp bend, which afterward turns nearly at right angles toward the east and finally
leaves the town in nearly a straight course again, forming a part of the eastern boundary of the town and dividing
it from Hamptonburgh. The most important tributary of the Wallkill is the Tinn Brook, which begins in the town
of New Windsor, pursues a sinuous career, and finally tumbles into the Wallkill near the village of Walden. The
Beaver Dam stream rises in the southeastern part of the town and flows nearly south into the Otterkill, in the
town of Hamptonburgh. The source of this stream is a large spring of great depth. McKnight's Kill also rises in
the southeasterly part of the town; and flows southerly into the Otterkill near Burnside. The Muddy Kill rises
in the western part of the town, drains that section in a sluggish way, and ends near the village of Montgomery.
The surface of the town is diversified with hills, rolling and meadow land. Comfort's Hills on the west rise from
600 to 800 feet above tide and are much the highest elevation. For adaptation to varied agriculture the town is
not excelled by any other town in the county. The uplands are warm, fertile, and comparatively easy to cultivate.
The meadows generally produce large crops of grass, and afford excellent pasturage. Numerous springs and small
streams furnish an abundant supply of pure water. Dairying is the predominant agricultural industry.
On the east bank of the Wallkill, on the old Rogers farm, there was Dan old Indian settlement. The red men had
made a goodly clearing in the forest here and, tradition says, had planted fruit trees; and when the white man
first set foot in this region he found full grown bearing apple trees on this ancient clearing. An Indian settlement
was found on the flat above the bridge over the Wallkill, near the old Miller stone house. Another had its wigwams
on the old Christoffel (or Stuffel) Moul (Mould) farm about two miles north of Montgomery on the main highway afterwards
known as the stage road from Goshen to Albany. These left for more remote regions in 1775.
Year the present village of Walden the settlement of Henry Wileman was made. His patent contained 3,000 acres,
and he settled upon it very soon after its purchase in 1712. What was known as the Harrison Patent was granted
May 25, 1721. This was given to the following persons: Francis Harrison, Allan Jarrat, Adolphus Phillips, George
Clarke, Johanes Lansing, Henry Wileman, Jacobus Bruyn and William Sharpas. This entire tract was surveyed and a
large village laid out, and deeds were given to all actual settlers. Among theserthe following Were named: Hans
Newkirk, Hendrick Newkirk, Matthias Slimmer, Peter Kysler, ____ Kraus, ____ Brandos. These ancient settlers upon
this land were Palatines, and after a few years they erected a small log church within the village, the site of
which is still fairly indicated by the old graveyard on the east side of the Goshen road, a short distance south
of Montgomery. This old village was known as Germantown.
About a mile farther south on this patent Johannes Miller, a German, made a settlement in 1727. The next year he
built a stone house where Mr. Elmer Miller afterwards lived. His grandson, Johannes Miller, was a leading citizen
of the town in later years, a progressive man, prominent in promoting several important public enterprises, and
especially, active in the construction of the Newburgh and Cochecton Turnpike Road. His services towards establishing
and maintaining the Montgomery Academy have always been held in grateful remembrance.
The 5,000 acre tract granted to Schuyler & Co., was first settled by Jeronimous Weller & Co., in 1721.
Another grant of 10,000 acres was settled by a company consisting of Johannes Mingus, his son Jeronimous, Mattias
Miltzbagh, and others whose names are not definitely known. It was agreed by this company that a tract of 100 acres
would be granted to each family that would locate permanently upon it. Mingus built a mill, around which the old
village of Ward's Bridge soon clustered. But Mingus lost his lifer in this mill by accident soon afterward, which
resulted in considerable dispute over the property.
The Wallkill or Goodwill settlement is supposed to date from 1724-25. John Mackneel and Adam Graham were among
the first settlers. When they came into the Precinct is not definitely known. The former owned a part of what is
now known as the Downs farm; the latter settled on what is now the Parsonage farm. In 1727 Archibald, James and
Robert Hunter purchased 200 acres of land, on which a house had then been built, from James Alexander, the patentee;
this purchase included the Henry Suydam farm. In 1731 James Munnel settled on, or near, the Charles Miller farm,
now owned by Mr. William Y. Dennison. Alexander Kidd settled on what is still known as the Kidd Homestead, about
2 miles north of the Church in 1736. Benjamin Haines came into the neighborhood in 1739, and the Rev. Joseph Houston
was installed pastor of the Goodwill Church in 1740. Other early settlers were James Barkley, on the James W. Bowne
farm; the Rev. Joseph Moffat, 1758; John Blake who bought 475 acres of land in 1761, part of which is owned and
occupied by his great grandson, Mr. John P. M. Blake, and whose son, John Blake, Jr., was in after years, a prominent
man, being supervisor sixteen years, and a member of assembly several terms, sheriff and congressman; Samuel Miller,
who came from Canada previous to 1764; Peter Hill in 1767; Captain Hendricus Van Keuren in 1768; Colonel John Nicholson;
John Morrison; Gideon Pelton, and Tunis Van Arsdale, whose blacksmith shop is mentioned in the early records of
Adjoining the Goodwill settlement on the east, Cadwallader Colden had been granted a patent for 2,000 acres and
was settled in 1728 where Mr. George W. Pimm now resides. The locality was named Colcienham in his honor. He was
one of the most prominent of the early settlers, being surveyor general of the Province, lieutenant governor and
several times acting governor. As a man he was esteemed for his great learning, benevolence and strict honesty.
As a public officer he was distinguished for his unblemished integrity. Several buildings were erected in that
vicinity by members of the Colden family, some of which are still standing.
The Neelytown section adjoins the Goodwill neighborhood on the south, and was so called from a large and influential
family which appears to have been active in bringing in the early settlers, but whose name has entirely disappeared
from the community. It was settled before 1726. In that year the names of John Neely and Thomas Neely appear as
actual settlers. At that time Charles Booth who purchased 1,000 acres of land had built his first house near where
Mr. William Conning lived in later years his two sons, Charles and George Booth, were with him. A defective list
of freeholders made in 1728 contains the name of Alexander Neely. William and Robert Neely were witnesses to a
will in 1731, and the name of John Neely, Jr., is seen in an old record. William Eager with his sons, William and
Thomas, came to Neelytown in 1741. He built a log house where the residence of Mr. Samuel W. Eager now stands.
His second house was of stone and was situated a short distance south of the first and built before the Revolution.
His descendants are very numerous and are widely scattered. Samuel W. Eager, Orange County's first historian, was
one of them. Other early settlers in this section were James McCobb, who located at a very early date on the Sherwood
farm, now "Nestledown"; William Jackson, James Jackson, Tames Houston, William Young, Captain Alexander
Trimble, 1764; Patrick Barber, 1764; Captain James McBride and Rev. Robert Annan, 1765.
A settlement across the Wallkill opposite the present village of Montgomery, was made by Henry Crist, Stevanus
Christ, Matthias Millspaugh and others. This land was then considered the best in the town. These Germans were
a vigorous and hearty people, and they went to work boldly to cultivate the land and establish comfortable homes,
with a determination to succeed. They soon began to extend their farms to the Comfort Hills slopes, and into the
section now embraced in the town of Crawford. Their success attracted many representatives of the sturdy Scotch-Irish
race, who joined them soon afterward. Among the more progressive pioneer settlers was Henry Crist, from whom descended
many active men and women who became leading and influential citizens of the town. Jacob Crist is said to have
been drowned in the Hudson River on his return from New Amsterdam with his wedding outfit. Henry Crist, the early
immigrant, built near the foot of the hill east of the old Dutch church. His son, Jacob, planted his home on the
hill opposite Montgomery village near the mill.
Among other early settlers were David Bookstaver, Jacob Bookstaver, Frederick Sinsabaugh, and Johannes Youngblood
who bought an Soo acre tract. It is recorded of these pioneer German settlers that they were even unable to build
so much as a log cabin at first, and were obliged to make excavations in the hillside in which to pass the winter.
This they did in the gravelly hill east of the old Brick church. In these primitive dugouts they waited patiently
for the snowdrifts to melt away in the springtime, when they might renew their labors and provide more comfortable
shelter for their families.
Johannes Miller came to America in 1700, lived in Ulster County for a time, and about 1727 settled upon a portion
of the Harrison patent. Frederick Shafer, a tanner by trade, was also among these old settlers, and soon established
a tannery, which was afterward improved by his son Daniel.
Charles Booth purchased 1,000 acres of land in Neelytown, and this tract remained in the Booth family for a long
series of years afterward. This family came into the town from Long Island, and George Booth became a leading citizen
and was so regarded all through his life.
In 1738 a company of militia of the Wallkill was organized under Captain John Byard, and formed part of a regiment
of which A. Gaasbeck Chambers was Colonel and Wessel Ten Broeck Lieutenant Colonel, to protect the early settlers
against the incursions of the Indians. Among those whose names were enrolled in this company the following are
known to have been residents of what is now the town of Montgomery: John Newkirk, sergeant; James Gillespie, Thomas
Gillespie, Alexander Milligan, Alexander Kidd, Archibald Hunter, James Hunter, John Mingus, Stephanus Grist, James
Mune11, John Munell, George Munell, John McNeill, John McNeill, Jr., Robert Hunter, Richard Gatehouse, Joseph Sutter,
Philip Milsbaugh, Cronimus Mingus, Stoffel Mogul, Johannes Crans, Matthias Meltzbagh, Hendrix Newkirk, Hendrick
Crist, Benjamin Gains, John Neely, Jr., Frederick Sanzabah.
In 1755 the regiment was divided into two regiments. The first embraced Kingston and the northern part of the county;
the second embraced the Precincts of Highlands, Wallkill and Shawangunk, and in this form took part in the French
and Indian War. The roster of officers in the second regiment included the names of the following persons who then
resided in what is now the town of Montgomery. Jacob Newkirk, Captain; Cadwallader C. Bolden, Captain; David Gallatin,
Captain; Matthew Rea, Lieutenant.
The militia of the Revolution was organized by an act of the Provincial Convention passed August 22, 1775. Ulster
County was divided into four regimental districts. The second district comprised the precincts of New Windsor,
Hanover and Wallkill. At first there were twelve companies in the regiment, of which Hanover furnished five, commanded
by Captain Matthew Felter, William Jackson, James Milliken, John J. Graham and John Gillespie. In 1777 the number
of companies was reduced to nine, four of which were in Hanover, under Captains Felter, Milliken, Hendrik Van Keuren
and James McBride.
An eminent historian said of the second regiment of Ulster County militia that "it gave, perhaps, more fighting
men than were drawn from other similar organizations," and that "no other regiment of militia was more
active from the beginning until the end of the war." There was fight in it from start to finish. "As
a rule circumstances would not admit of the calling out of an entire company from its beat at one time; some must
remain at home; but portions of this regiment were in almost constant motion, some going. others returning."
From December, 1776, to April 12, 1778, less than 16 months, the militia of Hanover and adjoining precincts were
called out twelve times and spent 292 days in the field.
Although the records of churches and traditions give glimpses of controversies, the inhabitants of Hanover precinct
acted with great unanimity and showed an intense patriotic spirit during the War for Independence. The pledge of
association; dated May 8, 1775, in which they pledged their "support to the Continental Congress in resisting
the oppressive acts of the British Parliament," and in the most solemn manner resolved "never to become
slaves," was signed first by Dr. Charles Clinton and received 342 signatures.
The history of the men of Montgomery in the Revolution, who hey were, and what they did, if it could be written,
would he a story of toils, privation and exposure of great interest to the present generation. In few sections
of the State did the burden of the war bear more heavily than in the valleys of the Wallkill and the Hudson, and
in no portion was it borne with more unflinching determination. But this history cannot be written. The names of
many of these men and their deeds have sunk into oblivion. A few of those preserved by history and tradition, together
with the places where they lived, are mentioned. To locate the places definitely the names of the owners at the
present (1908), are given.
Arthur Parks lived at Ward's Bridge (now Montgomery), on what was afterwards known as the L'Hommedieu farm, now
occupied by Mr. H. H. Hallett. He was a member of the Committee of Safety in 1775 and 1776, first Lieutenant in
Captain William Jackson's company of militia, Major of a battalion of minute men in 1776, member of the first Provincial
Convention, member of the convention that framed our first State Constitution and of the convention that amended
it, and State Senator for eleven years.
Jacob Newkirk was captain under Colonel Thomas Ellison in the French and Indian War, member of the Committee of
Safety, Major, and afterwards Lieutenant Colonel of the second regiment Ulster County militia, and commanded the
regiment during the years that Colonel James McClaughry was a prisoner and was recovering from his wounds received
at the capture of Fort Montgomery.
Henry Smith was also a member of the Committee of Safety for the precinct and was first Lieutenant in Captain Matthew
Felter's company; he lived nearly two miles north of Montgomery on the farm now owned and occupied by his descendant,
Mr. James Smith.
Hugh Lindsay was a private in Colonel John Lamb's Artillery, and was taken prisoner at the capture of Fort Montgomery;
he lived at Ward's Bridge and afterwards built and lived in the house on Bridge street now owned by the estate
of the late Jonathan M. Morrison.
Alexander Trimble was quarter master of the Second Ulster Regiment in the War of the Revolution, and also a member
of the Committee of Safety; he lived about two miles south of Goodwill Church on the farm now owned and occupied.
by Mr. George VanAlst.
Johannes Moul (Mould), who lived about two miles north of Montgomery, where his great great grandson, Mr. John
D. Mould, now lives, was a sergeant in the French and Indian War, and with his son, Johannes Mogul, Jr., and his
brother, Christopher Moul, were privates in Colonel McClaughry's Regiment in the Revolution. These three patriots
also evinced their patriotism by loaning money to the Government when it was urgently needed to equip the army
for the capture of Cornwallis.
James Milliken, a member of the Committee of Safety, lived on the east side of the Wallkill, where Mr. Harvey N.
Smith now resides, was captain of one of the Hanover companies, and was killed at Fort Montgomery.
Hemlricus Van Keuren was a veteran of the French and Indian War, who served throughout the Revolution as Captain,
and according to family tradition, gratuitously lived on what is known as the Downs farm, between Montgomery and
John Nicholson was Colonel of the Third N. Y. Regiment of the Continental Line, which was brigaded under General
Richard Montgomery, and took part in the assault on Quebec when the brave Montgomery was killed. The privations
and exposures of that campaign were so great that with impaired health he returned to his farm, near Maybrook,
which is now divided, and owned by Mr. John Wiley and Mr. William H. Jewell.
Hamilton Morrison enlisted as soon as he was old enough, and served first as a private and then as a sergeant in
Captain James McBride's company, Second Ulster County Militia. He lived about a mile south of Goodwill Church on
what is known as the Morrison Homestead, now owned and occupied by his grandsons, Mr. George H. Morrison and Mr.
John G. Morrison.
Tunis Van Arsdale lived on the adjoining farm (now a part of the homestead), and was a blacksmith. His shop was
the rendezvous of the patriots in that vicinity. He was also a private in Catain Van Keuren's company and saved
his life at Fort Montgomery by slipping between the legs of a British soldier who was holding an American bayoneted
against the wall of the fort, and escaped in the darkness.
John Van Arsdale, who lived with his elder brother, Tunis, enlisted in the Continental Army at the beginning
of the war, and served faithfully until its close. He suffered intensely from cold and hardship in the Canada expedition,
was severely wounded and taken prisoner at Fort Montgomery, languished many weary months in the "old sugar
house and in the foul hold of the "Jersey prison ship," was finally exchanged, and then braved the perils
of Indian warfare in several campaigns. On November 25, 1783, he witnessed the evacuation of New York City by the
British, which was the final triumph of the cause for which he and others had fought and suffered seven long years,
and was present when the advancing Americans, following closely upon the retiring British, reached the Battery
to perform the last formality in repossessing the city, which was to unfurl the American flag over Fort George,
but found the royal ensign still floating as usual over the Fort. The British had nailed their colors to the staff
and taken away the halyards. In this dilemma John Van Arsdale ascended the flag staff, partly by ladder, but mainly
by shinning, tore down the British flag and rove the new halyards by which the Star Spangled Banner was quickly
run up while the assembled thousands cheered, and the artillery boomed forth a national salute. While other localities
may boast of those who struck the first blow for American freedom, Montgomery may justly claim for one of her sons
the glory of removing the last vestige of British authority from this country.
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWN.
The town was originally organized under the name of Hanover Precinct in 1772. The present territory of Crawford
was then included, the whole having been taken from the old Wallkill Precinct. In 1782 the name was changed to
Montgomery Precinct, and seven years later it was finally changed to the town of Montgomery. This title was bestowed
in honor of General Montgomery, who was killed in the assault upon Quebec in 1775. Major Colden was the supervisor
of the old Wallkill precinct in 1768-69.
The record of the first town meeting, now on file in the town clerk's office, is of April 5, 1803. Reuben Neely
was then chosen supervisor, and Arthur Parks, town clerk. There were fifty five overseers of highways in the town
that year. But the laborers were few, the system of road working was sadly defective, as in fact it remained for
nearly a hundred years afterwards, and the results were primitive and unsatisfactory, although, of course, far
less was required of a public road in those days than is now demanded, and the people accepted the situation without
complaint, so far as the record shows.
The following is a list of supervisors of the town to 1908: David Gelatine, 1798; John Blake, 1799; Reuben Neely,
1803 to 1810; John Blake, Jr., to 1826; Samuel W. Eager, to 1833; Nathaniel P. Hill, 1834; Edward Blake, to 1839;
James Galatian, to 1841; William Blake, to 1844; William Graham, to 1846; Stephen Rapalje, 1847; Joshua G. Hallock,
to 1849; Lindley M. Ferris, 185o; Johannes M. Hunter, to 1852; Stephen Rapalje, to 1863; Marcus K. Hill, 1864;
Stephen Rapaije, to 1873; Daniel M. Wade, to 1875; Marcus K. Hill, to 1877; Charles J. Van Aist, to 1879; Robert
Young, to 1886; Andrew K. Wade, to 1889; Robert Young, 1890; Irving H. Loughran, to 190o; William H. Didsburg,
to 1905; Hector W. Millspaugh, to 1907; William G. Decker, 1908.
The old village of Montgomery is on the bank of the Wallkill in the southern part of the town. It was here that
Henry Crist, Stephen Christ and Matthias Millspaugh settled at an early date, on the west bank of the river. Johannes
Mingus built a grist mill there, which was afterwards sold to James Ward with 200 acres of land, upon which the
village was built. Mr. Ward built a rude bridge across the Wallkill in order that his customers might reach his
mill. This was really the first road bridge of any kind known in that vicinity for years afterward. In fact, the
place took its name from this important structure, as well as the post office itself, it being known as Ward's
Bridge for many years.
James Clinton and William Crist, having obtained an interest in the Kennedy patent, upon which the village stands,
laid out "a small town called Montgomery town," which gave the village that name. Among other early settlers
there were John McFaugh, David Crist, John McKinstry, Matthew Hunter, Samuel Smith, Arthur Parks and Oolis Shulp.
James Ward, the pioneer, lived in a log cabin.
The village was incorporated by a special act dated February 17, 1810. Hugh Lindsey was the first president. The
first village tax aggregated $60. Two years later $200 was raised to build a market house, and in 1814, $200 was
appropriated for a fire engine. But it was not until seven years later that four professional firemen were appointed.
In 1880 this village tax had increased to over $1,200.
The location of Montgomery on a placid stretch of the Wallkill, with its slightly elevated banks, affording a fine
natural drainage, is peculiarly healthful, and there are many attractive and commodious private residences. Among
the leading manufacturing industries is the worsted mills of William Crabtree & Sons. The people of Montgomery
are noted for their hospitality and public spirit. The place is surrounded by fine State roads, and ranks as one
of the important historic villages of Orange County.
Walden is the most thriving and important village. It is on the Wallkill River at the high falls, by which indefinite
name it was known for years. The settlement began many years before the Revolution. Of course, the first structure
was the inevitable grist mill, as in nearly every instance in this region. James Kidd built a mill at the foot
of the falls on the east side of the stream, though the precise date is not definitely known. In any event, the
records show that in 2768 this old mill had already fallen into the possession of Johannes Decker. In 2789 it belonged
to Cadwallader Colden, Jr. The plant was afterward converted into a cotton factory.
Mr. Walden, the founder of this village, is said to have struggled manfully under adverse influences and suffered
defeat at the end in his old age, causing him to retire ultimately from the scene of his labors. Leaving the refinements
of city life to establish manufacturing interests in this sparsely settled region, and without adequate protection,
he spent his fortune and his active energies here practically without reward. There being no railways, raw material
had to be drawn in sleighs in winter to these factories.
Mr. Walden was a prosperous New York merchant. While summering in the Highlands, he extended his drive with Mrs.
Walden many miles further, and came upon this charming valley of the Wallkill, through which a broad stream flowed.
They saw the old mill at the very foot of the cataract, and a tiny cottage in a grove of locusts further down the
stream. The old merchant perceived the wonderful possibilities of this picturesque spot, and he lost no time in
developing the place. He purchased large tracts of land covering the region, closed up his extensive city business
and moved here. The place grew very slowly in the earlier years, even after its incorporation in 1855. Down to
1868 the population of the village did not exceed 600 souls. Of course, the manufacturing interests had not been
fully developed at that time. The people were still largely employed in trades and farm work. The New York Knife
Company began business in 1856 by purchasing the cloth mills of Scofield, Capron & Gowdy.
There are two fine iron bridges over the Wallkill at this point, many handsome private residences on the heights
on either side of the river, several busy factories, churches, schools, newspapers, numerous stores and shops of
every kind, and there is a general aspect of thrift and progress all through the pretty village. Most of this growth
is modern; nearly all the more substantial structures are less than forty years old. The act of incorporation was
passed April 9, 1853, and the first village meeting was held the following week. Augustus F. Scofield was the first
president, and continued six years. Previous to the incorporation of the village the fire company had been in existence
some time. This organization was known as "The Walden Fire Incorporation," and it constituted the Fire
Department of the village for years afterwards. In 1865 Daniel Torbush was the chief engineer, and in 1880, when
the company was known as "Enterprise No. 1," the chief engineer was Granville Crist.
A new comer in Walden in 1859 says there were then only three prominent business houses, those of Marcus K. Hill,
Ebenezer Knapp. and Joseph Millspaugh. It seemed to him then that about nine tenths of the inhabitants there were
named either Millspaugh or Kidd. Augustus F. Scofield was then the leading citizen of wealth and influence, having
a large shawl factory. The hotels were the Eagle and the St. Nicholas, as they are at present. Scofield Hall was
used for public assemblies and such eminent lecturers as John G. Saxe, Rev. Edward K. Beecher, Park Benjamin and
Fanny Fern appeared there. The much loved village parson was old "Dominie" Schoonmaker, who labored there
faithfully for many years. The industries of Walden were then confined to the shawl factory, the satinet factory
of Giles Andrews, and the knife factory. James Todd was widely known as "the model farmer of Orange County."
George Weller was a prominent resident greatly devoted to all the village interests, and his home was regarded
as a scene of unbounded hospitality and good cheer.
The first introduction of gas in Walden many years ago was not a financial success, and the company abandoned
the project. A public water system was introduced in 1892. Previous to that time water for fires had to be taken
through long hose from the Wallkill and Thin Brook streams. The electric fire alarm system was installed about
fifteen years ago. The newspaper known as the Walden Herald was established about 1869, and the Walden Citizen
is in its twentieth year.
Near the line of Newburgh, in the northeastern part of the town, is the old hamlet of St. Andrews, which was left
behind in the later development of Walden with its great water power facilities. It was named for the ancient Episcopal
church there, which is now located at Walden.
Maybrook is an important railway junction, in the extreme southeast corner of the town. The population, which numbers
about four hundred, is composed principally of railroad employees.
Coldenham Is near the New Windsor boundary, but in the southeastern part of the town. The title came from the Colden
family and the hamlet was the home of the Lieutenant Governor and acting Chief Magistrate of the New York Colony.
Allard's Corners on the northwest border, and Scott's Corners, east of Montgomery village, are other small hamlets
of minor importance.
Le Fevre and De Garmo were the first bankers, beginning business in Walden in 1870. They continued but a short
time, and in 1873 the Exchange Bank was organized with George W. Stoddard in active charge. This was merged into
the Walden National Bank in 1877 and was succeeded in 1897 by the National Bank of Walden, the name of the present
institution. The Walden Savings Bank, the oldest and largest financial institution in the town, began business
June 1, 1872, with the following officers: Seth M. Capron, president; Thomas W. Bradley, vice president; and Peter
LeFevre, secretary and treasurer.
The Montgomery National Bank began business November 1, 1905, with the following officers: William H. Senior, president;
John A. Crabtree, vice president; E. I. Emerson. cashier. Directors: William Eager, John J. Vancleroef, John A.
Crabtree, Charles D. Wait, J. Harvey Harris, Dr. E. Ross Elliott, William F. Lodge, Harvey Tuttle, William H. Senior,
Walter R. Comfort, Fred W. Tower.
Nearly all the soil of this town is well adapted to successful agriculture in its varied forms. While much of
the land has been devoted to meadows and grass, fine crops of grain were grown, wheat especially, in the earlier
years of the settlement. Fruit is also grown to a considerable extent in some localities with profit. Orchards
were planted in the town nearly a hundred years ago by Robert Griffith, John Miller, Andrew Graham, Hamilton Morrison
The bonding of the town in aid of the Wallkill Valley and other railway construction had a depressing effect upon
the people and their property for a time, and there was much opposition to the scheme, among the farmers especially.
But the advantages of the railways became apparent in a few years, and probably no one would now care to abolish
the present traffic facilities afforded or longer regrets the cost.
The opening of the Wallkill Valley Railway to Montgomery, in 1866 was a most important event for the town and county.
The Walden Woolen Factory was established in 1823 by Jesse Scofield and Dr. Coburn. It was at first known as the
"Franklin Company." There were frequent changes in the firm and management in the succeeding years. But
for over fifty years this old plant was the most important business feature of Walden, and it had much to do with
its early growth and development. The buildings were of stone and of the most durable character, and the water
The New York Knife Company has long been regarded among the largest cutlery plants in the United States. It was
organized in 1852 and operated at Matteawan, Dutchess County, until 1856, when it was moved to Walden to the building
formerly used as a cotton factory. Table and pocket cutlery of every kind and quality are made in this establishment,
which has achieved world wide fame in the hardware trade, domestic and foreign. Thomas W. Bradley was long the
leading spirit of the concern, being the active superintendent as well as the president of the company. He served
with valor and distinction in the Civil War, and became prominent in the military affairs of the State afterwards.
He also served in the State Assembly in 1875-76, and at present represents this district in Congress.
The Walden Condensed Milk Company was organized in 1864 with a proposed capital of $50,000. But it was reorganized
three years later under the name of the Highland Condensed Milk Company. The enter prise was finally abandoned
soon afterward and the buildings were used by the Walden Soap Works. The Walden Brickyard began operations in 1868
with James Gowdy at its head. The Walden Knife Company was established in 1870 with W. E. Dowdy as president. It
is entirely devoted to pocket cutlery. In 1891 Mr. Edward Whitehead became its president, since which time the
industry has forged rapidly ahead, with the annual payroll exceeding a quarter of a million dollars. The Schrade
Cutlery Company was organized in 1904. It is under the direct management of George Schrade and his brother, J.
Louis Schrade. The Rider Ericsson Engine Company, manufacturers of hot air pumping engines, is also a very important
industry, giving employment to 125 men. The Wooster Manufacturing Company, makers of pants and overalls, conducts
an extensive and increasing business. The firm of William Crabtree & Sons, manufacturers of worsted yarns with
plants in Montgomery village and Newburgh, conducts an important industry. This was established in 1880 by William
Crabtree and Arthur Patchett, both now deceased. Two hundred persons are given employment by this progressive firm.
The New York Condensed Milk Company established a very extensive branch of its business just north of Walden in
1880, at an initial cost of $200,000, and the buildings and entire plant have been greatly enlarged and improved
since that time. It was intended to receive the milk from 5,000 cows at the outset. John G. Borden, who became
one of the most prominent and progressive men in that region in after years, was the first president of this important
plant. Since his death the great enterprise, with its model farms, has been carried on most successfully by his
daughters, and it is still one of the great show places of this region of the State. The farms, though mainly in
Ulster County, are highly cultivated and operated under the most modern methods.
The Colden house, on the Montgomery and Newburgh State road, at Coldenham, was built in 1765 by Cadwallader
Colden, Jr. His father, Dr. Cadwallader Bolden settled in Coldenham in 1728 on his patent of 3,000 acres of land,
he was the surveyor general of the province for eleven years, lieutenant governor for thirteen years and acting
governor in 1761, 1763, 1769 and 1774. He gave to Cadwallader, Jr., on his marriage, five hundred acres of land,
including the site on which this house stands. The land was all in woods, and Cadwallader, Jr., began at once to
clear part of it for farming purposes; with his own hands he felled the first tree, and uprooted the first stub.
After a few years the first dwelling lie erected gave place to this, permanent stone structure, then, one of the
finest dwellings of the period. In it he lived a useful life, esteemed by all who knew him, and in it he died mourned
as a public benefactor. Some years ago an addition to the house was built in the rear, and more recently a mansard
roof and other improvements were added. The date of the erection of the building, and the names of its builders,
are cut on a stone in the upper front center. Its historical associations, past and present, Cover a period of
one hundred and seventy five years.
The Thomas Golden mansion was built by Cadwallader Golden, Jr., for one of his sons. It is situated about a mile
north of Coldenham, at Colden Hill, near what was the Newburgh and Ellenville plank road. It is a frame building
with hipped roof and is kept in excellent condition. After the death of Thomas Golden it was occupied by Cadwallader
C. Golden, and more recently by Messrs. John and Joseph Kelly.
The Baines house is situated about a mile east of the Goodwill Church, and a short distance south of the highway
known as the Hadden road. It was built by Benjamin Haines who came into the precinct in 1739. The year in which
the house was erected is not known, but it is probably the oldest house in the town. During recent years it has
been occupied only for short intervals, and the walls are crumbling. This house is known as the Old Radden house,
having been in the possession of successsive generations of that family for more than one hundred years.
The Hill Brick house situated about three miles east of Montgomery on the State road was built by Nathaniel Hill
in 1774 and occupied by his son, Peter, who was a soldier in the War of the Revolution. At his death the ownership
and occupancy of the homestead passed to his son, Nathaniel P. Hill, who was a prominent man was sheriff, member
of congress, and filled other important positions. One of his sons, Nathaniel P., had also attained prominence
as U. S. senator from Colorado.
The Van Keuren Stone house, now generally known as the Downs House, about a mile west of Goodwill church, on the
road to Montgomery, was built in part by Hendricus Van Keuren in 1768, and in part by a previous owner probably
John McNeal. The house is in excellent condition and is, perhaps, the oldest unchanged occupied house in the town.
The Beemer house, situated on the old Stage road from Goshen to Albany, nearly three miles north of Montgomery
and about two miles west of Walden, was built by Adam Beemer in 177o. It is a framed building and has been recovered
and repaired, but otherwise not materially changed. It is now in fair condition.
The Hans Youngblood house is situated on the road leading from the Searsville road north to the former site of
Graham's church on the Pine Bush road. Tradition says it was built before the French and Indian War. It was used
for a German school in 1761, and is not occupied at present.
The Kidd house in the extreme southeasterly part of Walden was probably built in part by Alexander Kidd, who settled
there in 1736. The year it was built is not known. Alexander Kidd was among the first elders of Goodwill Church.
His descendants are numerous.
One of the ancient landmarks is the Montgomery High School, formerly known as the Montgomery Academy. This noted
school is as old as our National Government. It had its inception in 1787, the year that the National Constitution
was framed. It was the fourth oldest academy in the State, having been incorporated in 1791. Before 1787 the inhabitants
of the village and surrounding country felt the need of a school of a high grade, and during that year erected
a school building on lots reserved in part for school purposes, when the village was first surveyed and laid out.
In the autumn of 1787 teachers were employed and the school opened for pupils. During 1790 steps were taken to
incorporate the institution and place it under the care of the regents of the State University, as appears from
the following application and petition:
"To the Regents of the University of the State of New York: Be it known that a certain tract of land pleasantly
situated in the town of Montgomery, in the county of Ulster, in the center of a populous, fertile and wealthy country,
hath lately been purchased, and a large and convenient building of two stories high erected and completed thereon,
for the use of a public academy for the instruction of youth in the learned languages and other branches of useful
knowledge, that the expense of the undertaking hath been defrayed by the free and liberal benefactions of individuals,
of whom the subscribers constitute more than one half with respect to the contributions raised and collected to
found said academy, and that a gentleman of liberal education, of very competent abilities and irreproachable moral
character has been procured, with a tutor, to teach in said academy.
The subscribers, pursuant to an act of the Legislature of the State of New York entitled an act to institute a
university within this State, and for other purposes, passed April 13, 1787, respectfully make the application
to the regents of said University requiring that the said academy may be incorporated agreeably to the said law,
and be subject to the visitation of the said regents, and they do hereby nominate Arthur Parks, Matthew Bunter,
Benjamin Sears, Henry VanKeuren, Solomon Slight, Joseph Barber, James Clinton, Moses Freleigh, Daniel Bull, James
Hunter, Peter Bill, David Galatian, Johannes Miller, Severyn T. Brown, Henry Smith, Ebenezer Clark and William
Cross to be the first trustees of the said academy, declaring it to be their desire that the said trustees be called
and distinguished by the name of the trustees of the Montgomery Academy in the County of Ulster.
Nathan W. Howell.
Severyn T. Bruyn.
Alexander P. Anderson.
James W. Wilkin.
J ohannes Miller.
Jacob F. Bookstaver.
Henry J. Smith.
Henry Van Keuren.
James Jacksui, Jr.
James M. Claghen.
James T. Graham.
Tunis Van Arsdale.
D. G. Rogers.
A. M. McCord.
Adam J. Doll.
John C. Millyberg.
John A. Newkirk.
John P. Haines.
Samuel P. Gale.
William Faulkner, Jr.
Matthew M. Rowe.
The petition was dated January 3, 1791, and the act of incorporation was passed the 23rd of April following. The
school prospered and greater accommodations became necessary. In 1823 the main part of the present brick building
was erected at a cost of about $5,400. Nearly two thirds of the cost was paid by State moneys; the remaining third
was raised by subscription through the activity and persistency of Johannes Miller.
The academy continued to prosper until the free school system was adopted, when it began to decline. In 1881 it
was transferred by the trustees to the Board of Education of the Montgomery Union Free School, of which it is now
(1908) the academical department. The following is a list of principals of the academy since it was incorporated:
Rev. Alexander Miller, Nathaniel Howell, Nathan H. White, Reuben Neely, James King, Prof. Stansbury, William. H.
Weller, Rev. John McJimsay, Prof. Wilson, Jacob C. Tooker, twenty years, Silas S. Harmon, seven years, Rev Samuel
B. Bell, D. D., Joseph M. Wilkins, three years, Robert Simpson, Daniel K. Bull, Prof. Lasher, Prof. Graham, Prof.
Gunnison, Theron Little, Prof. Stevens, Prof. Beardsley, Prof. Cone, Benjamin C. Nevins, Prof. Demarest, Prof Rouse.
This famous academy reached the zenith of its prosperity under Professors Tooker and Harmon.
The town is divided into thirteen school districts and parts of districts; of these, twelve have school houses
in the town. These district schools will compare favorably with those of any other town. It appears from trustees'
reports for 1907 that the whole number of children of school age (between five and eighteen), residing in the town
that year was 1,337; of these 1,299 attended school. The average daily attendance of these children was 85o. The
number of teachers employed at the same time was thirty four. The total cost of sustaining these schools was $25,330;
of this sum $17,892 was raised by district tax. The value of school houses and sites was $42,450. Two of the districts
(Montgomerv and Walden), are union free school districts. The former was established in 1881 and now (1908), employs
six teachers. The first principal was Reuben Fraser. The present board of education is: Dr. E. Ross Elliott, William
Eager, William H. Senior, John A. Crabtree and William S. Hanlon. The latter was organized in 1859 and now employs
eighteen teachers. The Board of Education in 1908 is: Sanford rams. Henry E. Williams, Frank Benedict, Benjamin
S. French. Harry Hollingsworth, DeWitt C. Dominick. There is one parochial school in the town.
There are many ancient churches in this town. It was a sturdy Christian people that first settled in this region.
After building their grist mills and providing themselves and families with log cabins, or other: rude shelter
from the storm and cold of the severe winters which then prevailed, their next thought was for the church, where
they might enjoy religious worship, hear the Scripture expounded and meet together in praise and song.
The oldest and best known of these churches in those early days was the Good Will Presbyterian Church. This was
established by the Scotch-Irish settlers who came into the region in 1724. The earliest records of this old church
seem to have been lost. But the organization was represented in the Synod of Philadelphia in 1729 by John McNeal
as commissioner. This date has, therefore, been taken for the establishment of the church, although it was doubtless
in existence there some years earlier. The settlers of the region being long known as "the people of Wallkill,"
this church went under the name of the Wallkill Church, though incorporated under the name first mentioned. The
first church structure is believed to have been erected in 1735, although there was some rude building set apart
for religious worship some years before this. The building was improved and enlarged from time to time, some $8,000
having been expended upon it in this way in 1871. During the one hundred and seventy nine years of its existence
it has had but nine pastors: Rev. Joseph Houston, John Moffatt, Andrew King, Robert W. Condit, William Blain, David
M. Maclise, D.D., James M. Dixon, D.D., David F. Bonner, D.D., and the present pastor, Rev. John B. Thompson, who
has served the church for seventeen years.
The Reformed Church of Montgomery was founded mainly by the German element in 1732. As the population increased
divisions arose in this church and several other churches were formed from it. The first house of worship was a
log structure built in 1732. And it is said that the entrance of this old church was by means of a ladder placed
on the outside. All these early records were kept in the Dutch language, and the services were also conducted in
Dutch for the first fifty years. Then for a time each alternate Sunday the English language was used. Rev. John
Michael Kern seems to have been the first settled pastor. He came in 1772 and resigned in 1776. Rev. G. W. Manias,
of the old parent Kingston Dutch Church, had been acting as a supply previous to that date, until his death in
1762. Three different church buildings have occupied the site since the old block house was taken down in 1760.
The first was a frame structure erected immediately thereafter. The church contained sixty eight pews, forty six
of which were occupied at a rental of £96 8s. Pews for the elders and deacons were on the right and left
of the old fashioned pulpit. Among the names of the pew holders are found those of Rockefeller, Youngblood, Mould,
Decker, Weller, Robinson, etc., ancestors of many well known families. The modern name of the church for years
has been "the Brick Church of Montgomery." The present pastor is Peter Crispell.
The St. Andrew's Church at Walden, before alluded to, is another ancient religious society. This people passed
through a troublous existence during the Revolution, and the parish was left vacant for some years until 1790.
Finally, after emerging from a heavy debt, a new church was erected in the village of Walden in 1827. Then after
many changes in rectors, another new church was decided upon in 1870. This with the parsonage cost $12,000, and
in 1880 the church was finally consecrated free from debt.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Coldenham was organized in 1795, and a house of worship built four years later.
This was replaced by a new structure in 1838. Dr. Alexander McLeod was the pastor from 1800 to 1812. The present
pastor, Rev. Thomas Patton, was installed in 1893.
The Reformed Dutch Church of Berea, which came as a secession from the Goodwill Church, got its first pastor in
1223, Rev. James Ten Eyck, the congregation having been incorporated two years before. When the first little church
was built it was surrounded by a forest, the timber for the building being cut from the site itself.
The First Reformed Church of Walden was incorporated in 1870, although the society was formed forty years before,
and the church building was completed in 1838 at a cost of $12,000. Some $5,000 more was afterward spent upon the
parsonage. Rev. M. V. Schoonmaker was the minister from 1849 to 1888. The present minister, Rev. W. W. Schomp,
was installed in 1897.
The First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery was incorporated in 1832 and Rev. James O. Stokes was the first pastor.
There were many changes in this pastorate in the succeeding years, and the debt piled up gradually until it reached
$2,300 in 1848, a parsonage having been built meanwhile. This debt was, however, fully met that year under the
pastorate of Rev. E. R. Fairchild, whose health soon failed, however. Rev. J. C. Forsyth was installed in 1875
and he continued in that field for many years.
The Methodist Church of Montgomery, was organized in 1829 with Rev. B. Howe and J. W. Lefever as priests. The "table
expenses" of Mr. Howe were $100 and those of Lefever $50, which was in addition to the disciplinary allowance.
A small church was built that year and a parsonage four years later.
In 1906 an Episcopal mission was established in Montgomery.
The Walden Methodist Church was incorporated in 1850. Previous to that the "classes" there were under
the pastoral care of the Montgomery preachers. In fact, it was not until t866 that the Walden Church became an
independent charge. Then a parsonage was built and the church building was enlarged and improved in 1870 at a cost
of $6,000. In 1893 it was removed to the east side of the church lot and remodeled.
The Church of the Holy Name in the village of Montgomery was incorporated in 1870. Rev. Hugh S. O'Hare was the
The inception of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Walden was in 1887. Services were held in Lustig's and
later in Condon's hall. The church was dedicated by Bishop Farley July 5, 1896. The officiating priests have been
Rev. C. A. Meredith, Rev. P. Morris and Rev. F. C. Lenes.
Among the recent church organizations of the town is the People's Baptist Church at Maybrook, erected in 1906.
No settled pastor.
Several of the old cities of the dead date back to 1725. The Wallkill Valley Cemetery Association was organized
in 1865 and the first burial made May 1, 1867. This cemetery commands general admiration in the beauty and grandeur
of its location. It comprises forty one acres and the interments exceed 2,000. In 1905 Colonel Thomas Bradley erected
here a bronze statue. "The Volunteer," memorial to Company H, 124th Regiment. Other burial places are
Goodwill, St. Mary's, Riverside, Berea, Brick Church and Coldenham.