TOWN OF MOUNT HOPE.
BY WICKHAM T. SHAW.
LOCATION, AREA, ETC.
THIS is one of the smaller towns of Orange County and it is located in the acute angle of the western boundary
line of the county formed by the indentation of Sullivan County. The territory of the town is diamond shaped. The
Shawangunk stream, which flows through the town lengthwise toward the northeast, leaves it in the apex of the angle
and then forms the boundary line separating Orange from Sullivan, as well as the northwestern bounds of the towns
of Wallkill and Crawford.
It is bounded on the north by Sullivan County and a very small part of the town of Wallkill, cast by that town,
south by the towns of Wawayanda and Greenville, and west by the town of Deer Park.
The area of the town is now placed at 16,104 acres. The assessed valuation of all the real and personal property,
as reported by the assessors in 1906, was $632,075, upon which the tax levy for that year was $3,903.36. In 1880
this land was valued at $673,470, and the annual tax was $5,157.79. But it would be manifestly unfair to assume
that the land is less valuable now than it was twenty five years ago. The average town assessor in the State of
New York, under the prevailing political conditions and customs, is largely a creature of circumstance, with strange
vagaries in judgment, if indeed he is called upon to exercise any judgment at all under the official limitations
of his position. Then, too, standards of value have greatly changed during that time.
This Mount Hope territory lies wholly north of the old county line which originally divided Orange from Ulster
The Shawangunk mountain range in the western border of the town is the most important topographical feature.
This northern spur of the Alleghanies is known as the Blue Mountains in New Jersey and the Kittatiny Mountains
in the State of Pennsylvania. Beginning in the central part of Ulster County the general trend of the range is
toward the southwest for some 250 miles. There are few isolated peaks, and the greatest altitude reached is about
1,800 feet above tide. The more notable elevations of this range are Sam's Point, near Ellenville, Sky Top and
Eagle's Cliff at Lake Mohonk, all of which are in Ulster County. The Indian word Shawangunic, which has been used
to designate this range since the settlement of the region, signifies "great wall" in the aboriginal
vernacular, which in fact seems especially appropriate as a descriptive title.
The eastern slopes of these mountains are uniform and well adapted to cultivation, even to their summits, in most
instances. But on the western side they are broken and precipitous. The approach from the east has been fitly described
by an old writer in the following language: "The eye rests upon fields of grain and grass, upturned furrows,
the verdure of waving trees and the homes of thrifty hospitality, spread out from valley to crest, over the south
and the far north, in urwearying panoramic beauty, a patchwork of gold and green, of brown and gray, of white and
The Shawangunk River is another dominating feature in this Mount Hope township. Rising in the adjoining town of
Greenville on the south, this stream enters the Mount Hope territory near the middle of the southern boundary line
and flows northeasterly through the central portion of the town, leaving the north boundary line at the apex of
Sullivan County, as before stated.
The Little Shawangunk rises at Shawangunic Lake, on the eastern border of the town, blows northward along the line
some four or rive miles, then crosses over into the town of Wallkill, anon reentering Mount Hope in the northeast
corner, and finally unites with the parent stream in the western bounds of Wallkill. There are several small tributaries
which enter the Shawangunk from the west and drain the mountain slopes effectually.
This territory also presents many geological features of interest which have attracted considerable attention in
past years. Here, as elsewhere in this mountain range, rich mineral deposits have been found. Lead, copper and
zinc ores were discovered many years ago, and numerous mining companies have been formed in the town.
This being one of the newer towns of the county, having been taken from the towns of Walikill and Deer Park
in 1825, the details pertaining to its early settlement are of course embodied in the history of those towns and
cannot well be treated separately in this place at much length.
Among the early pioneers in this section was John Finch, who settled in what was afterward known as Finchville.
The records show he was there in 1733 at least. He came from Horseneck, Conn., settling first at Goshen•, where
it was said in after years he was the first adult person to receive burial in the Goshen churchyard.
Jasper Writer came from Germany, and after spending a few years in Philadelphia lie removed to this section and
settled on what was afterward known as the Writer farm. This was probably before 1763, as he was over a hundred
years old when he died in 1842.
Ashbel Cadwell was another early settler here, and his grandson, Harvey R. Cadwell, in later years became a prominent
citizen of Otisville.
The Green family was also among the early settlers here. Israel Green, the pioneer, started at Middletown, and
he had many children, some of whom lived in the Otisville section. Daniel Green, his brother, settled near Finchville.
William Shaw must also be numbered with them well known Mount Hope pioneers, and he settled near Howells some years
before the Revolution and left many worthy descendants in that region.
Stephen St. John was another enterprising and public spirited citizen of that little village. James Finch served
in the militia during the Revolution for more than three months, and also in the French and Indian war in 1735
and 1756. In his youthful days he served as valet to General Abercrombie at Fort Stanwix.
Benjamin Woodward, already mentioned, came into the section in 1773 from Stonington, Conn. He served several sessions
in the Legislature, was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1821, and was state senator from 1827 to 1830.
His son Charles also represented his town in the Legislature in 1863 and 1864.
Joshua Corwin was another Mount Hope pioneer who came there sometime before the Revolution, coming from Southold,
L. I. He had eight children, who settled on an extensive tract of land in that region.
Jacob Wiggins came very soon after the Revolution and settled two miles south of Otisvile.
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWN.
The act of incorporation of Mount Hope was passed in 1825, as before stated. But the new town was then named
"Calhoun" in honor of the distinguished South Carolina Senator, John C. Calhoun, whose patriotic course
as secretary of war during the contest with Great Britain in 1812 won him great favor with the people of this entire
region. But they soon regretted this action and the honor conferred because of Calhoun's course and policy during
the nullification discussions of 1831 and 1832. There was a violent revulsion of public opinion and everybody wanted
to drop this now unpopular name of the town without ceremony, thus showing their open disapproval of the new policy
of the Southern statesman. A public meeting was held, the old name was dropped with a heavy thud and the present
title of "Mount Hope" was unanimously adopted with much enthusiasm. In response to a popular petition
sent to the Legislature in 1833 a law was passed March 14 of that year discarding the old name and ratifying the
new one. The plan of thus honoring a political favorite of the hour, however distinguished and popular he might
be, had proved a dangerous experiment even in those eight short years, and the people were now resolved to adopt
some title for their town which could not be affected by the sands of time or the progress of human events.
While all the earlier records of this town were destroyed by fire in 1848, the account of the first town meeting,
which was held at the house of Joseph Conklin, April 5, 1825, is happily preserved in the books of Deer Park. Joseph
Chattle and Richard Penny were the presiding justices of the peace. One hundred and fifty dollars were raised for
the support of the poor for the ensuing year and $35 for the maintenance of bridges. Joseph Chattle was chosen
the first supervisor and Joseph Conklin town clerk. While many of the principal officers were chosen by ballot,
all the minor town officials were selected by the primitive method of raising of hands. Four constables were chosen,
six firemasters, four fence viewers and forty one highway masters: Just what the duties of the latter were can
only be conjectured, as very little attention was paid to the public roads of that period or their repair, and
fortunately so, perhaps, because of the primitive and defective methods in vogue. The official list of the town
included also three assessors, two overseers of the poor, three commissioners of highways, three 'school commissioners
and three school inspectors.
The first town meeting after the fire was in 1849. At that time the rather extravagant civil list of the town had
been somewhat reduced in number. One hundred dollars were then raised for repairs to roads and bridges.
It is interesting to note in passing that in 1906 the sum raised for the maintenance of public roads alone in the
town under the money system of roadwork was $2,743.33. Of this amount $933.12 was received from the State and $260
from the poll tax.
LITTLE SHAWANGUNK KILL.
Heretofore it has been said that the little Shawangunk Kill, in this town, was of such little importance that
historians declined to mention it, yet this stream, lying practically all in the town, was at one time the scene
of five thriving saw mills in operation, but which have since disappeared. Yet the city of Middletown in 1890 saw
a basis of great water works in this stream, and just from the line at the headwaters of this kill in the town
of Wallkill, erected a reservoir which was known as Highland Lake, containing about 500,000,000 gallons of water.
On April 22, 1901, just below Highland Lake and in the town of Mount Hope, the city of Middletown decided to erect
another lake, and the contract was let to Charles Sundstrom of the city of Middletown, who, by the erection of
what was known as Shawangunk, Greenleaf and Steward dams, impounded a large quantity of water, which was to form
a part of the Middletown system.
This work was at the cost of something like $57,000, and was connected with Mohagen Lake by a twenty inch conduit,
and also a twenty four inch conduit was extended in a westerly direction to a point in the Shawangunk Kill, above
Mount Hope, from which it was intended to take water at high times, and conduct it to what was called Shawangunk
This reservoir when full contains over 434,000,000 gallons of water, and has an acreage of about 102 acres, on
what was formerly known as the Greenleaf farm. It will be observed that Highland Lake had been erected some fourteen
years, but since Shawangunk Lake was erected, litigation sprang up from the mill owners on the big Shawangunk Kill,
as far north as Pine Bush, and all the farmers on the line of the little Shawangunk Kill were brought into proceedings
for condemnation, and the payment of damages for the taking of this water, and this litigation, which continued
some two or three years, was finally settled in the year 1907, when all water rights to both kills were finally
determined, but the city of Middletown had paid in expenses and damages something like $25,000.
The village of Mount Hope is in the southwestern part of the town. This name was bestowed long before the formation
of the town itself, which was evidently named after the old village. The site of the hamlet is a commanding elevation,
and there is a charming view of the surrounding landscape on all sides far and near.
Benjamin Woodward and Dr. Benjamin Newkirk are credited with the establishment of the place in May, 1807. On
the eighth day of that month, after the "raising bee" was over, James Finch, the old settler, called
the assembly to order and made a very enthusiastic speech, during which he christened the place "Mount Hope"
with proper ceremony.
Otisville was settled in 1816 by Isaac Otis, a merchant from New York, and named for him. There were but three
houses on the upper street, and probably but little more than a dozen buildings comprised the entire village when
the Erie Railroad was opened on November 3, 1846.
The officials of the road who arrived on the first train dined at the hotel of Ambrose W. Green, who for many years
was one of the leading citizens of Otisville. At this time, 1846, Dr. Avery Cook lived and had his office near
where the depot stands. Galen Otis owned the only store which stood where he later built a large square house.
Ezra Coleman lived and had his wagon making shop where Dr. Writer now lives. Samuel K. Wheat was the harness maker,
and lived where later Judson Van Duzor lived. Stanford Harding was the blacksmith, and Squire Baker had a cooper
shop. Harvey R. Cadwell, a member of Assembly in 1862, owned the farm on the north, and Smith Loomis, father of
Supervisor Charles Loomis, owned the farm on the western boundary of the village.
The schoolhouse in 1846 was nearly a mile south of the village on the plains, the present site of the cemetery.
A church was also there. This same year Algernon Sidney Dodge, son of Benjamin Doge, of Mount Hope, came to Otisville
and leased the store of Galen Otis. Alsop Woodward Dodge, son of Algernon Sidney Dodge, now resides in Middletown,
and from him we learned some of the facts contained here.
Ambrose Woodward Green, mentioned above, was born in the town of Greenville in 1813. His father was Charles S.
Green, and his grandfather was Daniel Green, a soldier of the Revolution from Orange County.
Ambrose W. Green settled in Otisville in 1835, and for a time carried on the tailoring business, which he discontinued,
and built the Washington Hotel, now the Greenleaf Hotel, conducting it for some time in connection with other business.
Before the Erie came to Otisville, Mr. Green owned a market wagon route to Newburgh, going twice a week by way
of Bloomingburg. While Otisville remained the western terminal of the Erie, Mr. Green also owned a stage line to
Forestburg, Sullivan County, connecting with lines into Pennsylvania for Honesdale and other western points. He
was interested in building the Otisville and Wurtsboro turnpike. Mr. Green sold the Washington Hotel and about
1850 built the hotel near the railroad track. While conducting this hotel, he was engaged in the lumber and coal
business. From 1863 to 1870 he was extensively interested in the lead mining operations on Shawangunk Mountain.
The decline in the value of lead after our Civil War caused the mines to be discontinued, and Mr. Green later sold
his hotel and removed to a farm a couple of miles north of Otisville, where he died in July, 1888.
The coming of the Erie boomed Otisville for the next few years. A Methodist and a Presbyterian church were built
and a little later a Catholic church. Several stores and many dwellings were erected. Market wagons came here twice
a week with farmers' produce for shipment to New York. Previous to the building of the Midland Railroad hundreds
of teams throughout the winter, while the Delaware and Hudson Canal was closed, came to Otisville from Sullivan
and western Ulster Counties, with leather from the tanneries, and returned with the green hides for tanning. For
many years, until the introduction of refrigerator cars, Otisville was the western terminal of the milk train.
George Strickland and Joel D. Northrup, residents of Otisville, were the conductors, the latter for many years.
The Orange County Express for several years went no further west than Otisville. The gravel and construction train
for this section, with nearly a hundred employees, had its headquarters at Otisville. Until coal was used as the
fuel for the engines of the Erie, Otisville for many years was the principal point where the thousands of cords
of wood were received which the Erie consumed yearly. This wood was all sawed by hand, and many men were employed.
Many citizens of Otisville found various kinds of employment with the Erie during these years, and much of the
prosperity of the village came from the dollars left here by the monthly pay-car of the Erie.
TUBERCULOSIS SANATORIUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.
To the historian of the future the name Otisville will be associated with one of the great sanitary advances
made in this country, namely, the establishment, by a municipality, of a tuberculosis sanatorium outside. the political
limits of that municipality.
The establishment of such a sanatorium was first suggested in 1889. At that time, however, not even a medical sentiment
was ripe for such a movement. In the succeeding fifteen years, little progress was made toward a realization of
these plans, and it was not until Dr. Thomas Darlington became commissioner of health that any tangible results
were achieved. He proved an aggressive and resourceful champion. With political, corporate, and private interests
leagued together to prevent the city from acquiring a site, it was largely owing to the indefatigable labors of
Dr. Darlington that the most determined opposition to the plan was overcome.
After carefully examining many sites, it was finally determined to establish the sanatorium at Otisville, a little
village lying in the Shawangunk Mountains, and about seventy five miles from New York City. As a southern exposure
was desired, the grounds, covering an area of over 1,400 acres, were selected on the southeastern slope of one
of the most picturesque and most favorably situated mountains of the entire range. The grounds have an altitude
varying from about 800 feet to 1,500 feet above sea level. The sanatorium property consists of what were formerly
thirteen separate farms, which were purchased at different times during the years 1905 and 1906., the health department
first taking possession for the city of New York on December 1, 1905.
To avoid delay in establishing the institution on a working basis, it was deemed best to renovate and remodel the
buildings on the property, and use them until such time as the needs of the sanatorium would require the erection
of new ones. By July, 1906, the institution was ready to receive its first patients, and a year after that date
had accommodations for about 100.
Since the sanatorium is designed for the treatment of those ill with tuberculosis in the early stages of the disease,
there is only a small building for hospital accommodations. The rest of the buildings, in which the patients practically
live outdoors, are portable houses and shacks. All the frills and ruffles so universally connected with the construction
of public buildings have been omitted; everything has been subordinated to that which is best for the patients.
There are six portable houses, which are set on posts and can be taken apart and transferred to any location desired.
The houses all measure ten by sixty feet, and are divided into five rooms. The center room, heated on cold days,
is used as a bathing and dressing room, as well as a sitting room in inclement weather. Those on either side are
used as bed rooms. Each room has four windows, two of which are always open and so arranged as to avoid all draughts.
Each room contains one bed. The two rooms on either end are entirely open on the three sides, a fine screen only
enclosing to keep out insects, etc. Heavy canvas curtains are folded in a roll outside, and can be dropped in stormy
weather. These end rooms each accommodates two patients, thus making a capacity of six to each house.
In the latter part of 1906 a one story and a two story shack were erected for the additional accommodation of patients;
and during 1907 two single story shacks and one small house were built.
The shacks are built in the form of the letter T. The stem of the T consists of a room containing the washstands,
lockers for each patient, and toilets and baths. In front of this is a sitting room, and opening from either side
of this are the sleeping rooms. The latter are practically only verandas, being open in front and on the side,
while for protection against storms and severe winds there is a similar provision to that used on the portable
houses; that is, the curtains ordinarily rolled up are lowered, shutting off the verandas from the outside. A single
story shack accommodates twelve patients, six on each veranda. The two story shack accommodates just double that
number, being exactly alike in its two stories.
A feature of considerable importance in an institution of this kind is the manner in which the different patients
are segregated. As nearly as possible patients in the same physical condition as well as those who are apt to be
congenial are assigned to the same quarters.
Every patient is closely observed for about ten days after admission. The amount and frequency of rest, exercise
and work is determined at all times by the condition of the patients. They are assigned to work according to their
strength and capabilities. All dining room duties, such as waiting on the table, washing dishes, and preparing
vegetables, are performed by selected patients who show but slight lesions, negative sputum, and have no cough.
Many of the patients are able to do farm work, and this keeps them out in the air and relieves their ennui.
In a large institution of this kind the problem of sewage disposal is not an easy matter. But by the aid of expert
sanitary engineers this has been satisfactorily overcome. Thousands of feet of pipe have been laid, and an up to
date disposal plant has been erected. The effluent from this plant will have been so purified as to be practically
indistinguishable from pure water.
An abundance of pure water has also been provided, and is supplied at a high pressure to all the buildings. Fire
plugs are scattered about the sanatorium grounds, and a fire fighting system has been organized.
The sanatorium has its own dairy, for the patients are encouraged to drink considerable milk. The cow barn and
the milk handling rooms in connection with this, are immaculately clean, and this condition is reflected by the
milk, which is of the highest possible purity.
The one fact which stands out prominently at the sanatorium is the broad foundation on which the whole work has
been planned. The work is being directed with admirable foresight, and will yield immense returns in the fight
against tuberculosis in New York City. The sanatorium was established in order to provide a place for treating
these consumptives of New York who are unable to pay, the large army who until now have had merely the clinics
and dispensaries, but for whom country treatment is most desirable. The city maintains the patients absolutely
free, the only condition being that the disease is not too far advanced.
The present capacity of the institution, about 150, is only a small fraction of what it will be five or ten years
hence. Yet even these small numbers are an immense potential for good when they return to the city cured or improved,
for they carry with them habits of cleanliness and personal hygiene and a knowledge of the value of fresh air,
which are of incalculable value not only to them, but to all with whom they come in contact.
The present officers of the institution are: Dr. Thomas Darlington, commissioner of health; Dr. Hermann M. Biggs,
general medical officer; Dr. Irving D. Williams, superintendent; Dr. Edward J. McSweeny, resident physician, and
Dr. Frank P. Hauser, assistant resident physician.
RAILROADS, HAMLETS, MINES.
Erie & Jersey Railroad. - In the year 1904 a corporation was organized, known as the Erie and Jersey Railroad
Company, which ostensibly was an independent line, to be built from a point on the Erie railroad west of Guymard,
on a circuitous route, to the north of the present Erie railroad, to Turner. It was well understood that this road
was a part of the Erie system, and was to be a double track road, the projectors of which alleged that it would
be used for freight, but as it shortened the route of the road and was a much easier grade, when completed, undoubtedly
would be used by many fast express trains.
The condemnation laws of this State were not elastic enough to permit of taking property along the line of this
route through the courts, and the greater part of the right of way had to be bought by the company, and fabulous
prices were paid for its right of way, which was 13o feet wide. About eleven miles of this road is in the town
of Mount Hope.
The Erie & Jersey Railroad Tunnel. - On August to, 1905. Bennett & Talbott, contractors, of Greensburg,
Pa., contracted with the Erie & Jersey Railroad Company to build twelve miles of railroad, eleven miles of
grading, which would require about 1,500,000 cubic yards of excavation, and about 15,000 yards of concrete masonry,
and one mile, three hundred and three feet of tunnel through the Shawangunk Mountains, between Guymard and Howells,
N. Y. The road was to be completed within a period of two years. Work was commenced on September 4, 1905, by sinking
a shaft at the center of the tunnel to a depth of 117 feet. Owing to a delay in getting the right of way, however,
they were compelled to sink another shaft at the east portal of the tunnel to expedite the work, beginning on or
about October 1, 1905. The west portal of the tunnel was begun on or about November 55 of the same year. The completion
of the work was delayed somewhat on account of the suspension of work April, 1907. The excavation of the tunnel
will now be completed on or about the first of March, 1908, while the arching will be finished some time in July,
1908. The excavation of solid rock required for this work was 180,000 cubic yards. The timber required to support
the roof was 1,700,000 feet, while the amount of concrete sidewall was 8,000 cubic yards. The number of brick required
was 8,000,000. The machinery used in the construction of this tunnel was two improved Style A Marion steam shovels,
known as the "45-ton." Alpha Portland cement was used for the masonry. Francis Lee Stuart was chief engineer
of this work.
Finchville. - This hamlet is in the southwestern part of the town at the eastern base of the Shawangunk Mountains.
It was founded by James Finch, the old settler, in whose honor the name was bestowed. But the precise date of this
settlement is not accurately disclosed by the records. It was to this place that many terror stricken women and
children fled for refuge from the Mamakating Valley during the Indian troubles there.
New Vernon. - This is a small hamlet in the northern border of the town. In fact, part of it is in Sullivan County.
It was named thus to distinguish it from Vernon in New Jersey. It had one church and some twenty dwellings in 1860,
and has shown no very material increase in recent years.
Guymard, in the western part of the town of Mount Hope, was the culmination of the plan of the Gumaer brothers
to have a railroad station nearer Gumaer's, which was on the Delaware & Hudson Canal. After the strenuous times
of 1857, labor could be obtained at sixty five cents per day, and the Gumaer brothers decided to build a road from
the canal to the Erie railroad, and then the station was named Guymard.
About 1862 they concluded to extend the new road to the old turnpike on top of the mountain. While constructing
that part of the road, lead was discovered. As a result of this discovery, many mines were prospected on the Shawangunk
Mountain and were operated more or less from 1863 to 1870. Among these was the mine of the Guymard Lead & Zinc
Co., from which several carloads of lead were shipped weekly. After the dose of the Civil War the price of lead
declined, and considering the crude mining methods and the cost involved, eventually the mines were abandoned.
Of the Gumaer brothers, Peter and Jackson are now living at Guymard. Chauncey Gumaer, son of Peter, having had
nearly twent five years' mining experience in Colorado and the West, has returned and is now working the old mine
at Guymard. With the improved methods of mining, he believes his new venture will prove successful.
An incident of considerable local historical interest occurred here in the spring of 1863. The mine at Guymard
was being worked by its owners, when one day one George H. Servoss, an Englishman, arrived and claimed that he
owned the mine and all the mineral rights in this section through a grant by Queen Anne of England. He erected
a small building on the grounds and his miners began operations. The rightful owners were wild with excitement
and the news was soon communicated to others interested in mining in this section at that time. A. day was appointed,
when between 100 and 200 men assembled and tumbled Servoss's building over into the gully below the railroad track
and drove him and his miners from the mine. This was probably the last attempt of a subject of Great Britain to
claim territory or granted rights in the United States which had been so definitely decided nearly a hundred years
before by the ancestors of some who took part in driving this Englishman from his false claim.
A singular incident in connection was this: Ambrose W. Green, who kept a hotel at Otisville, and was much interested
in mining, was one of the men who assembled and helped to drive Servoss from his claim at Guymard. Servoss came
to Otisville that night and with some of his miners stopped at Mr. Green's hotel. Being convinced that Yankee blood
still predominated in this section, Servoss gave up his claim. While stopping with Mr. Green he began prospecting
and on June 13, 1863, leased the mineral right of Thomas Hawk of his farm situated less than a mile above Otisville.
Ambrose W. Green witnessed the document and Servoss formed what was known as the Otisville Copper Mining Company,
which he worked for some time. Servoss died in New York City on December 10, 1907.
The Farmers' Library was incorporated in October. 18o7. just a century ago. Its first meeting was held at the home
of Benjamin Woodward. The original trustees were Benjamin B. Newkirk. Benjamin Woodward, William Mulock, James
Finch, Jr., Peter E. Gummier, Daniel Green, William Shaw, Jr., Stephen Farnum and Peleg Pelton. The library was
established at once and it is said to have contained a valuable collection of historical works which were doubtless
the only available books for such use at that early period of library literature. This old library was maintained
there some thirty years. which certainly speaks well for the people of that region at that time. The educational
influences of this old library upon the young people of that section during that period are said to have been most
wholesome and of incalculable value.
POINTS OF HISTORIC INTEREST.
Of course the Shawangunk Mountain range is always interesting to the geologist and historian. The pass through
these mountains at Otisville is well worth visiting. It was the only break the Erie engineers could find when they
laid out the railway, and they went over ten miles north of Port Jervis to utilize it.
The old Finch homestead at Finchville has long been an object of interest, although the old house itself was burned
many years ago. It was here that the militia halted on their way to the fatal Minisink battlefield and took a hurried
meal. Resuming their march over the mountains, it is said very few of the soldiers survived the terrible encounter
and lived to recross those hills and again enjoy Mr. Finch's hospitality.
The huge bones of a noted mastodon, which awakened much popular interest at the time, were found deeply imbedded
in the soil on the old Allison farm, a short distance from Otisville, nearly fifty years ago. This remarkable find
took the imagination back to the primitive era when these mammoth creatures roamed at will over this western continent.
Of course the primary and paramount interest of the people in this town from its early settlement even to the present
day, has been agriculture. The cultivation of the land attracted the settlers thither and the raising of crops,
together with lumbering, were the leading pursuits in which the residents engaged for over a hundred years. The
sunny mountain slopes and the alluvial bottoms along the rivers were well adapted to plant growth, and the farmer
obtained good results from his labor. Nearly all the ordinary crops to which the latitude and climate were suited
could be grown with profit. The town had its full share in the production of the famous "Orange County butter,"
which was made in large quantities for a time. But for many years past, with the ample railway facilities afforded
for prompt shipment, nearly all the milk produced has been shipped to New York direct and the butter making branch
of the dairy interest has been almost entirely discontinued. In fact, many of the farmers have been buying butter
elsewhere for their own use, finding it more profitable to sell their milk, which of course has been produced to
a far larger extent than ever before.
This town east of the mountain range was long regarded as a place of refuge for those fleeing from the frequent
Indian attacks in the Mamakating Valley. Historic records contain many thrilling and pathetic incidents of this
nature, and they are presented in much graphic detail, although doubtless based largely upon traditionary authority.
As to the history of Mount Hope during the Revolution, there is none, apart from the annals embraced in the records
of the parent towns of Deer Park and Wallkill, from which Mount Hope was taken forty five years after the settlement
of that little dispute with a tyrannical nation over certain questions regarding human rights and personal liberty.
Concerning the roll of honor, belonging to this territory in that war for independence the reader is referred to
the records of Deer Park and Wallkill, found on other pages of this work.
In the War of 1812 the Wallkill Regiment was ordered out in full force, while the 128th Regiment of Sullivan was
drafted into the service. This organization then included many men from this Mount Hope section. Those who served
in that secondary struggle from here, mentioned in the records, are Joseph Stanton, Amzi Mapes, John Mulock, Zebulon
Giffen, Frederick A. Seybolt. Richard Penny and Captain William Mulock.
During the war of the rebellion the town was of course an integral factor of the county, and it bore an honored
share in that memorable struggle. The population being small the number who enlisted in the service of the government
was not very large. Under the various calls of President Lincoln in 1862-1863-1864 some 330 men went forth from
this town to serve their country. In addition to this, fifty eight were drafted into the service.
At a special town meeting held August 9, 1864, and ratified on the twentieth of the same month, a tax of $37,000
was ordered for the payment of bounties at the rate of $800 per man. In February, 1865, another tax of $10,000
was authorized for a similar purpose. The town was afterward reimbursed by the Government for bounties paid to
the amount of $11,400. In addition to this, voluntary subscriptions and contributions amounting to $913 were sent
forward at different times. Of the Mount Hope soldiers four were reported killed in action. The record also contains
the names of forty one other men who enlisted during 1863 and 1864.