TOWN OF WALLKILL.
BY WILLIAM B. ROYCE.
THE town of Wallkill is the second largest town in the county of Orange, and, exclusive of the area in the city
of Middletown, contains 38,030 acres, as shown by the equalization table of the board of supervisors for the year
1906. This area would be considerably increased if an accurate estimate could be obtained of the amount of land
not included in farm and lot descriptions and being used for church, cemetery, school and road purposes.
The town is bounded northerly by Crawford and Montgomery, easterly by Hamptonburgh, southerly by Goshen and Wawayanda,
and westerly by Mount Hope and the Shawangunk Kill, which separates it, for about half the distance, on its westerly
border, from the town of Mamakating, Sullivan County. The Wallkill River forms part of its easterly boundary, dividing
it from the town of Hamptonburgh. This stream also passes through the southeast corner of the town, and is the
only large stream flowing within its borders. Both the Wallkill and Shawangunk Kill flow in a northerly direction
and find their way into the Hudson River at Rondout. The other streams in the town of Wallkill are small; the principal
ones being Monhagen Creek, flowing through the city of Middletown; the Bullhack, rising near Circleville and emptying
into the Wallkill near Phillipsburgh; and the Mayunk, flowing through the easterly portion of the town and emptying
into the Wallkill in the town of Montgomery. Notwithstanding the fact that there are no important streams, the
town is well watered by small streams and springs, so that there is never danger to agriculture from this source.
The topography of the town of Wallkill is very irregular, varying in elevation from 335 feet above sea level in
the easterly portion of the town along the Wallkill to 1,035 feet in the westerly, about three miles west of the
city of Middletown and about half a mile north of the old Mount Hope turnpike. All the principal ridges and valleys
of the town run in a northerly and southerly direction.
EARLY CHANGES AND GOVERNMENT.
The precinct of Wallkill, of which the present town is the legal successor, was erected December 17, 1743, by
an act of the Colonial Legislature. The three towns of Crawford, Montgomery and Wallkill, and portions of Mount
Hope and Hamptonburgh, were embraced in the area of this precinct. In 1772 the precinct of Hanover was erected,
or set off, from the precinct of Wallkill, and included the towns of Crawford and Montgomery and a portion of Hamptonburgh,
and, while it was generally supposed that 'Wallkill became a new precinct, legally Hanover was set off from the
old precinct, and the statute directed that the rest of the territory "should remain" the precinct of
Wallkill. It is also a fact that the town records of the precinct of Wallkill were left with, and became a part
of, the records of Hanover, and, from the date of the separation, the precinct of Wallkill opened a new record,
which is still preserved. Up to the time of the erection of the precinct of Hanover, the town or precinct meetings
were held for the whole precinct, including all territory originally forming the precinct of Wallkill.
The first town meeting in the precinct of Wallkill, after the division, was held at the house of Samuel Watkins,
April 7, 1772, and the following is the record of the officers chosen:
William Dunn, clerk and supervisor; Benjamin Booth, James Wilkins, Elijah Reeve, commissioners for regulating and
laying out public highways; Stephen Harlow, William Watkins, David Moore, commissioners for laying out the money
raised by act of Assembly on the highways; David Crawford, Moses Phillips, assessors; John McGarrah, John Patterson,
constables and collectors; Abel Wells. George Booth, poormasters; Jonathan Smith, Esq., Isaiah Vail, John Ketchum,
Benjamin Vail, Jr., fence viewers and damage appraisers. Fences were to be four and one half feet high, staked
and ridered; five rails high or otherwise equivalent as the fence viewers shall judge.
Many items of interest could be gleaned from these old records, one of the principal being the fact that many of
the persons in Wallkill today, occupying prominent social, business and official positions, are the direct descendants
of these sturdy pioneers of earlier days.
The construction and care of the roads then, as now, seemed to be one of the principal subjects in which the people
were interested. In order to demonstrate this, and at the same time preserve the names of many of those who then
assumed the long enduring business of road building in Wallkill, we make the following quotations from the records:
"Precinct to be divided in three districts, viz: The east side of the Wallkill, one; the west side, two, to
be divided by the new northwest line."
"Samuel Watkins, from the Widow McBride's corner to Thomas Simeril's, and thence along the road to Campbell's
"William Bodle, from Esquire Smith's to the Minisink road, and from the schoolhouse on the road to Hezekiah
Gale's; from thence to John McGarrah's, and thence to the schoolhouse; to work also on David Crawford's road to
the bridge one day."
"John Hill, from Esquire Smith's road along the Minisink road to the middle of Connor's bridge; also a piece
of road leading from the Minisink road to Orange County."
"James Rogers, Jr., from the precinct line to the Widow McCord's north gate."
"Captain William Faulkner, from his own house to Thomas Simeril's. "Henry Savage, from the Widow McCord's
north gate to Arzuble McCurdy's house."
"Daniel Tears, from the precinct line to John McHenry's house."
"Edward Campbell, from the John McHenry's to Arzuble McCurdy's, and Peter McLaughlin, from the corner of Edward
McNeal's lot to Phillips house."
"Tilton Eastman, from Connor's bridge to the Pine Swamp."
"Stacy Beakes, from Minisink road to Dunning's road that leads to Pine Swamp."
"George Smith, from the middle of the white oak bridge to the top of the round hill beyond Corey's."
"John Ketchum, from the top of round hill to the west end of the precinct."
"Abraham Taylor and John Daily, Jr., from the white oak bridge by Elijah Reeve's to the precinct line."
"There was raised by direct taxation for the following purposes:"
"For the poor £4 s. 0 d.0"
"For highways £46 s. 16 d. 0"
For the year 1906 there was raised by direct taxation in the town of Wallkill, which contains only about one third
of the acreage of the precinct of Wallkill, for the support of the poor, $1,000, and there was expended in the
town for road purposes, exclusive of the care of State roads, and exclusive of the territory embraced in the City
of Middletown, about $4,500. Presumably many of our taxpayers would prefer the olden days so far as taxes are concerned.
SOME EARLY HISTORY.
Very little is known of the aboriginall days of the town of Wallkill. While various tribes of Indians occupied
different parts of Orange County, from the names of certain of the streams in the town of Wallkill, it is evident
that they made their home, at least part of the time, in this town. However, outside of tradition and a few individual
cases of contact with them, which had very little, if any, influence on the future history of the town, nothing
reliable is known that would be of interest at the present time.
The earliest record of the patenting of lands, now included within the town of Wallkill, was some time before the
year 1724, and seems to have been embraced in two patents, one known as the Minisink Angle, and the other a part
of what is known as the John Evans patent. The latter tract was subsequently re-patented at dates commencing December
14, 1724, and ending May 13, 1761. The actual settlement of the town did not occur until about the close of the
period mentioned, and therefore, Wallkill was not settled as early as a number of the other towns in the county.
It is only necessary to refer to the assessment roll of the town of Wallkill of today to find many property owners
whose names are the same as those of their ancestors who subdued the wilderness and made Wallkill one of the most
attractive and wealthy towns in the county. When we mention such names as Bull, Harlow, Borland, Wisner, Houston,
Carpenter, Reeve, Mills, Green, Wickham, Connor, Mapes and Horton, taken from the assessment rolls of today, we
could almost imagine we were reading a roll call of the names of the sturdy pioneers who subdued the wilderness
and caused the valleys of this town to blossom as the rose.
Previous histories of this town and the numerous writings of other persons have made all these facts so familiar
that it would seem idle to burden these pages with any repetition of the history of the early settlement of the
town and its inhabitants.
From the time of settlement, during the entire Colonial period to the Revolutionary War, there was little of moment
that happened here. The settlements gradually progressed in different directions, but, as before stated, not as
rapidly as in some other towns. During the Revolutionary War, a number of its citizens were with the army at various
times, but the town, by its location, was far removed from the din and strife of participation in any events of
the struggle; no battles occurred within its limits, and it is not known that any organized bodies of the British
or their allies ever set foot within its borders. From the close of the Revolutionary War until 1803, there was
a steady growth in population, so that the assessment roll for that year contained 462 names of those who were
assessed for either real or personal property, or both.
On March 29, 1799 the State Legislature passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery, and a number of citizens
recorded a formal act of freeing negroes held by them. The first one of these seems to have been made in 1800,
and is in the following form:
"I do hereby certify that I have manumitted and set free my negro slave, Otis, as fully and amply as I am
authorized by the act of the Legislature entitled, An act for the gradual abolition of slavery,' passed the 29th
day of March, 1799.'
"Given under my hand and seal this 1st day of November, 1800."
Similar acts of manumission were entered by Jonathan Smith, Stephen Smith, Henry B. Wisner, John Wilkin, William
Phillips and Israel Wickham, and it is a facet that the descendants of these people, bearing in many cases the
identical names, were the strongest opponents of slavery, and the most loyal supporters of the government during
the Civil War. As early as 1828, the temperance question began to agitate the people of the town of Wallkill, possibly
more thoroughly than it is doing in the present day, for the reason that, in 1824, there were just three times
as many taverns (as they were called in that day) within the limits of the town as there are hotels at present
(1908). Many of the questions involved in the temperance agitation of that time are the chief object of argument
at present, and we have only to quote a resolution passed at a meeting of the town Of Wallkill, held in that year,
to show this fact conclusively:
"Whereas, pauperism has increased in the town of Wallkill to an alarming extent: and whereas intemperance
is one of the greatest progressing causes, inasmuch as more than three fourths of the paupers emanate directly
or indirectly from that source, and whereas tippling houses, dram shops, and groceries have a direct tendency to
increase the evils; therefore,
"Resolved, (as the sense of this town meeting), That the hoard of excise be requested to refuse granting licenses
to those persons whose principal object is to retail intoxicating liquors and not having suitable accommodations
for public entertainment."
Resolved, that the foregoing be entered on the records of said town and published in two newspapers printed in
"Dated Wallkill, this ist clay of April, 1828."
The town of Wallkill continued to grow steadily, without any change in territorial boundaries, until 1848, when
the village of Middletown was incorporated within its limits, but, outside of certain local matters, such as schools,
streets, police, and a few other minor matters, the village continued to form a part of the town until the erection
of the city of Middletown, in 1889. All the town officers were elected to represent the village and town in all
things, excepting the purely local matters, applicable especially to the village.
IN THE CIVIL WAR,
At the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861, the fires of patriotism seemed to burn as brightly in the town of
Wallkill and village of Middletown as in any corresponding section of the country. Meetings were called, resolutions
adopted, and steps immediately taken to form a company for the defense of the Union. Aid societies were established
by the women, supplies sent forward to suffering soldiers, and everything was done that love and patriotism could
suggest for. the care of those in the army and for the preservation of the Union.
As near as can he estimated, Wallkill and Middletown combined sent to the front some 787 soldiers. Liberal bounties
were paid to those who went, either as volunteers or substitutes, and the best of care was taken of the families
of the absent soldiers. When we take into consideration the fact that, at the beginning of the war, the population
of the town of Wallkill and village of Middletown, combined, was less than 7000, it will be seen that more than
to per cent. of the entire population proved its loyalty by going to the front, and the percentage who went and
never returned was far greater than the proportion, in comparison to population. That Wallkill proved its loyalty
by devotion and blood, this record most amply proves.
In the year 1879, the citizens of Wallkill and Middletown erected to the memory of the soldiers of Wallkill, a
most graceful and impressive monument. It was first located at the junction of North and Orchard streets, but subsequently
removed to Thrall Park, on the corner of Wickham avenue and Grove street, which is a much better location than
the original. Mrs. Thrall, who generously donated and bequeathed the money for the erection of Thrall Library and
Thrall Hospital, also gave the city the land for Thrall Park, which is situated north of and adjoining
Them present town of Wallkill contains no incorporated village, and only four hamlets, which might be dignified
by the name of village, as follows: Circleville, Howells, Scotchtown and Mechanicstown. The rest of the town is
entirely devoted to agriculture, and, since the erection of the city of Middletown, has not shown any increase
in population. Its farms are largely occupied by the owners, in many cases heirs and descendants of original and
colonial possessors, and it possibly shows a less number of farms under rental than do many other towns in the
There are three churches and one chapel at present in the town of Wallkill. A Congregational church is located
at Howells, and was incorporated under its present name on July 6, 1847. This church had existed for many years
previous to this, under other names, and at different locations.
The Presbyterian church at Scotchtown was organized some time before 1798, but the precise date seems to be unknown.
The first official record that a church was regularly organized seems to be in the minutes of the Presbytery of
Hudson, when, on April 19, 1798, Jacob Mills and George Houston appeared as commissioners from the Presbyterian
church in the town of Wallkill and requested that said church be taken under the care of the Presbytery, and that
supplies might be appointed them. This request was granted and the services of the church continued, under supplies,
until June 30, 1803, when Rev. Methuselah Baldwin became pastor. Previous, however, to the appearance of the commissioners
before the Presbytery, a meeting had been held, on December 24, 1795, at the house of George Houston, apparently
for the organization of a church, and at this meeting it was resolved that a subscription be opened for building
a meeting house at the corner of the roads above the house of George Houston, and that the new congregation should
be under the care of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. This church was erected, enclosed and painted
in 1797, and thus remained, without plastering, pews, pulpit or stoves, until 1806. when it was finished, at a
cost of $515. This building was used for about fifty seven years, when it was succeeded by the present church edifice.
The church was, for many years, a leading one in the Presbytery of Hudson, and is still doing active work.
The Circleville Presbyterian Church was organized on January 4, 1842, and became a part of the Presbytery of Hudson.
Its house of worship was erected in 1842, and a large part of the expense of such erection seems to have been contributed
by donations in the way of labor, timber, lumber and mason work. The land, consisting of five acres, was donated
by Samuel Bull, who, in addition to his gift of land, contributed much in labor, material and money, and to him
the community is largely indebted for benefits derived from this church through its past years and at the present
The chapel previously referred to was erected near Rockville through the liberality of Robert A. Harrat and his
neighbors in the immediate vicinity, and is used for Sunday schools and special church services by clergymen from
any denomination who desire to preach within its walls.
Wallkill has excellent railroad facilities. The Erie runs through from Howells Depot, passing out at its southern
border. The Ontario & Western comes in at the northwesterly end of the town, running thence in a general southeasterly
direction to the city of Middletown, thence easterly through the town of Wallkill, passing out into the town of
Hamptonburgh near Stony Ford. The Middletown & Crawford branch diverges from the Ontario & Western Railroad
about two miles north of Middletown, passes through the town in a northeasterly direction to the town of Crawford
near Buliville and runs thence to Pine Bush. The Susquehanna & Western Railroad passes into the town from the
southerly border of the city of Middletown and runs in a southwesterly direction in the town of Wawayancla. In
addition to the bove, the Erie & Jersey Railroad Company is now building a low grade road which enters the
town near Howells and runs in a general easterly direction through the town, passing about one mile north of the
city of Middletown, thence leaving the town and passing into the town of Hamptonburgh in the vicinity of Stony
There is also a trolley line owned by the Wallkill Transit Company, which is operated in the city of Middletown
and extends from the city, through the town of Wallkill, to the town of Goshen, and thence to the village of Goshen.
An example of the enterprise of the town of Wallkill was manifested when the question of raising money for the
construction of the New York & Oswego Midland Railroad came up in 1867. Its citizens, under the wise leadership
and guided by the excellent judgment of Senator Henry R. Low, Captain James N. Pronk, Elisha P. Wheeler, William
J. Groo and others, was induced to bond the town for the sum of three hundred thousand dollars and subscribe to
the stock of the new road for that amount. The bonds were issued for a period of twenty years, with interest at
the rate of seven per cent. per annum, payable semi annually, with a provision that after ten years an annual sinking
fund of five per cent. of the total issue of bonds should be raised. 'Within a few years the New York & Oswego
Midland Railroad Company went into the hands of a receiver, and its stock became comparatively worthless. The three
hundred thousand dollars of stock owned by the town was sold for $15,000. When the bonds matured in 1888, William
B. Royce, the sole railroad commissioner, had accumulated from the sinking fund, sale of stock, interest and other
sources, the sum of $180,000, with which bonds to that amount were paid. To provide for the payment of the balance
of said bonds, amounting to $120,000, the railroad commissioner issued, under authority of law, bonds to that amount,
payable in installments. the last of said bonds maturing on April 1, 1907, with interest payable semi annually,
at the rate of three and one half per cent. per annum. As provided by the bonds, the last installment of principal
and interest was paid April r, 1907, the town and city of Middletown having paid the whole of said principal sum
by direct tax, excepting the $120,000 for which the stock was sold. The New York, Ontario & Western Railway
Company was organized and took over the property of the old New York & Oswego Midland Railroad Company. As
a result of the construction of this road, to which the town of Wallkill and city of Middletown have contributed
so largely, the railroad shops were located at Middletown, which brought a very large influx to the population
of the town and city, and added largely to their taxable value. It also resulted in building the road from Middletown
to Cornwall, and the extension of what was known as the Middletown, Unionville and Water Gap Railroad through to
New York under the original name of the New Jersey Midland Railroad, which subsequently became the New York, Susquehanna
& Western Railroad, thus giving Middletown three direct lines of railroad to New York City, and making northern
and western communications, which largely added to its transportation facilities.
The highways of the town of Wallkill are in fair condition, and are maintained under the money system. The town
has a portion of three State roads; one branching off from the Middletown Bloomingburg plank road, about three
miles north of Middletown, and running in a general northerly direction to the town line of Crawford and thence
to the village of Pine Bush. Another road starts from the southern corporate limits of the city of Middletown and
runs in a southerly direction to the town line of Wawayanda, and thence to the village of Goshen. This road branches
off in a southwesterly direction in the town of Vviwayanda and extends to Unionville, and by another branch is
being extended to Port Jervis. Another State road, known as the Middletown Cuddebackville road, starts from the
northwesterly line of the city of Middletown and runs through the town to the line of the town of Mount Hope, thence
through Mount Hope and Deer Park to Cuddebackville. Under existing laws the State roads are in the first instance
maintained under direction of and at the expense of the State.
The town of Wallkill has seventeen school districts, in which are maintained the usual form of district schools
under the State law. These arc being gradually improved under the efficient system of State supervision, but are
not yet at the standard to which they should be raised.
The precise time when the first settlement was made in this village is uncertain, though it is believed to have
been shortly after the erection of the town. John Green purchased some land of DeLancey, a patentee under the crown
of Great Britain, and that purchase included land in the southern part of the village and the ground where the
First Congregational church now stands. Mr. Green donated the lot for the purpose of having a house of worship
erected. When the citizens assembled to put up the frame of the old Congregational church, it was concluded that
the locality should have a name. "What shall it be? There is Dolsontown on the south, Goshen on the east,
Scotchtown on the north, and a locality not defined, on the west, called Shawangrunk. We will call it Middletown,
it being the center." In 1829, the name of the village was changed to South Middletown to prevent confusion
in the transmission of mail matter, there being another place styled "Middletown" north of Newburgh,
but in 1849 the prefix of "South" was left off.
The Minisink road which passes through the city of Middletown is mentioned by a Mr. Clinton. a surveyor employed
by the owner of lot No. 35 of the Minisink Angle, as early as 1742, and the second store in Middletown was started
by Isaiah Vail at a place called Monhagen. opposite the white oak bridge on the old Alinisink road, near the westerly
limits of the present city of Middletown. The first store in Middletown was kept by Abel Woodhull, previous to
the place being called Middletown.
The western portion of Middletown was included in lot No. 36 in the Minisink Angle, owned by DeLancey, and as he
espoused the Royalist cause his land, except what was sold to Mr. Green before the Revolution, was confiscated
by the State of New York. Three appraisers were appointed by the State to put a value on the land, two of whom
were Israel Wickham and Henry Wisner. It is stated that an earnest debate occurred on the subject of valuation,
whether to call it six shillings or a dollar per acre. Mr. Wickham insisted that it would never be worth a dollar,
so it was put down at six shillings an acre. The land confiscated takes in the western portion of the village and
present city, and includes the real estate formerly owned by John B. Hanford, Henry Little and George Houston.
Part of this land could not now be bought for $10,000 an acre.
The New York & Erie Railroad seems to have been built on the installment plan in the county of Orange; first
to Monroe, then to Chester, then to Goshen, and finally by large contributions from the people of Middletown, it
was extended to that place. The building of this road seemed to give an impetus to the business of the village
and induced manufacturers to locate there, which soon made it one of the most flourishing villages in southern
The actual incorporation of the village did not occur until April 7, 1848, when the preliminary proceedings in
regard to the incorporation were approved by Judge D. W. Bates. The first president of the village was Stacey Beakes.
and associated with hint as trustees were Coe Dill, William Hoyt, Israel Hoyt, Israel O. Beattie and Daniel C.
Dusenberry. John B. Friend was clerk. Of the above named trustees. Daniel C. Dusenberry is still living (1908).
The growth of Middletown has always been gradual, and it has never been what might be called a "boom town."
In 18o7 the population was forty five; in 1838 it had increased to 433; in 1848, at the time of its incorporation,
it had increased to 1,360; and in 1857, to 2.190. At the time of its incorporation as a city, in t888, its population
had increased to 11,977 and at the close of 1907 it was about 16,000.
The postoffice in the village of Middletown was first established on the 22nd of October. 1816. Stacey Beakes was
appointed the first postmaster and held the office for about ten years. The first quarter's receipts in 1817, as
rendered by the postmaster, were $0.69; in 1826, the receipts had risen to $16.12 a quarter; and in 1854, to $257.79.
The annual receipts of the Middletown post office are now upwards of $50,000.
The citizens of Middletown were always ambitious for its growth, and in all that was done, the future as well as
the present, interests of the village were carefully looked after. Manufacturers were induced to locate there,
and the village, and afterward the city, has always been recognized as a manufacturing center for this part of
the State. Some of the largest manufactories in the old village of Middletown were the Monhagen Saw Works, Eagle
File Works, Matthews Brothers' Carpet Bag Factory, Draper's Hat Factory, Babcock's Hat Works, and a large tan.
nery, which was afterward merged in the leather manufactory of Howell-Hinchman Company. As before mentioned, the
New York, Ontario & Western Railway Company located its shops here, and from that time, the village and city
have had a steady growth.
Middletown as a village and city has always been well supplied with churches.
The first, the Congregational Church, was organized June Jo, 1785, and incorporated August 12, 1786, and so far
as organization and incorporation are concerned, it is the oldest church in Middletown.
The First Presbyterian Church of Middletown, as such, was organised March 31, 1828.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Middletown effected a legal organization on July 11, 1838.
Grace Episcopal Church was incorporated on February 18, 1845.
The First Baptist Church filed its certificate of incorporation October 1849.
The Second Presbyterian Church (now Westminster church) was incorporated December 5, 1854.
The Primitive Baptist Church of Middletown was incorporated May 1871.
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was incorporated November 20, 1861.
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was established in 1866.
Calvary Baptist Church was incorporated in 1902.
North Congregational Church was incorporated in 1890.
Christ Church (Universalist) was incorporated in 1897.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church (German) was incorporated in 1897.
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated in 1875. Faith Mission was incorporated in 1889.
The Christian Science Church was incorporated in 1903.
It will be seen from the above that the churches of Middletown average one to every 1,000 people of the present
The school system of Middletown was originated by the holding of a meeting April 6, 1813, to take steps to comply
with the statute of 1812, for the organization of the common school system of the State. The first commissioners
elected were William Hurtin, Jacob Dunning and Benjamin Woodward. In 1844 a system of supervision by town superintendents
was inaugurated. Previous to that several citizens were selected who decided upon the qualifications of the teacher.
John G. Wilkin, afterward county judge of Orange County, was the first town superintendent of Wallkill, which included
the village of Middletown. About the year 1856 a law was passed providing for the election of superintendents for
assembly districts, thus doing away with the town system, and this system has ever since been continued.
On the 30th of January, 1841, a meeting was held to initiate the work of founding Wallkill Academy. It was started
as a private enterprise. Stock to the amount of $3,656.75 was subscribed by 115 stockholders, the shares being
$5.00 each. Application was made to the Legislature for an act of incorporation, which was passed in May, 1841.
The building was completed in October. 1842, and soon thereafter school sessions were opened, the first teacher
being Rev. Phineas Robinson, who remained in charge for two years. For a number of years Wallkill Academy was continued
under the plan of its first incorporation, but subsequently passed over to the village of Middletown as a part
of its school system. The school system of the village of Middletown was always well managed and excellent results
were attained. This system was afterward merged in the city school system upon the incorporation of the city of
Middletown in 1888.
The management is now under a board of education consisting of nine members, with superintendent of schools.
There are now eight schools in the educational system of Middletown. The high school was erected on the site formerly
occupied by the Wallkill Academy, and is a very imposing building with all modern facilities and conveniences.
It employs thirteen teachers in the academic department, and eight in the grammar grades. The seven primary schools
are located in various parts of the city, so as to accommodate the pupils, but upon graduation in the primary grades
all of the pupils are promoted to the high school in its various grades.
The free public library of Middletown, known as the Thrall Library Building, is architecturally an ornament to
the city, and is fitted up in the most modern style for library purposes. The lot was formerly used as a location
for the village school. Mrs. S. Maretta Thrall left a legacy of $30,000 to the city, with which the library was
built. Mrs. Thrall, by her liberality, provided Middletown with a library of which its citizens are justly proud,
and erected for herself a monument in our city and in the hearts of its people which will be as enduring as time.
The library at present contains 10,500 volumes. The legacy bequeathed by Mrs. Thrall was to be used exclusively
for the building, and was so used.
CHARITABLE AND BENEVOLENT ORGANIZATIONS.
In the year 1880, the matter of establishing a Children's Home for Orange County was brought up in the board
of supervisors. A committee, consisting of the Hon. William H. Clark, Selah E. Strong and William B. Royce, was
appointed to take the matter under consideration and report. After a careful investigation and examination of a
large number of properties, the committee reported that in its judgment the property known as the Israel O. Beattie
property in the village of Middletown was better adapted for the purpose than any other property that had been
brought to the notice of the committee. The property, at the time, was owned by the Mutual Life Insurance Company
of the city of New York, and after negotiations, a price was fixed by the company at $8,000. The price was approved
by the board and the committee was ordered to purchase the property, which was subsequently done. The sum of $2,000
was appropriated for the use of the committee in making such necessary repairs and changes as might be deemed necessary
to fit the property for immediate use. The committee, having completed its duties, reported to the board on the
21st of November, 1881, that its work was completed and that there had been expended $9,910.05, leaving a balance
of $89.95 in the hands of the committee.
Previous to the making of this report, the property had been turned over to the county superintendent of the poor,
and it was formally opened on February 7, 1881. On the first day of January, 1882, forty four children were being
cared for in the home. This number has fluctuated during the intervening years, sometimes the number of children
being as low as sixteen, and at other times approximating the original number reported.
The Orange County Home for Aged Women is located at No. 27 South street, in the city of Middletown, and like the
Children's Home, is not limited to the city of Middletown with regard to the territory from which its inmates are
received. It was incorporated in 1884, the idea emanating from the fertile brain of Dr. Julia E. Bracer. The home
now has become a well known institution, not only in the city of Middletown, but in the county of Orange.
It is difficult to realize that Thrall Hospital, so much an integral part of the civic life of Middletown today,
was not dreamed of a quarter of a century since. It is not an easy matter to make plain to the lay mind just what
is behind the bald statistic, "One typhoid - discharged." Statistics may number the bandages and weigh
out the drugs, but they never take reckoning of the anxieties, the heartaches, that broad utilitarianism which
under the name of the Middletown Hospital Association began its beneficent work.
It was twenty years ago last November (1907) that Dr. Julia E. Bradner called together, at her residence, a few
of the women of Middletown to discuss the project of having a hospital in their own home town.
At the first informal meeting in November, 1887, nine women, led on by the indomitable spirit of Dr. Julia E. Bradner,
voted to have a charter legally drawn and to meet again at her home, on Orchard street, on the 22nd of November.
The charter was presented at this second meeting and signed before Notary Henry W. Wiggins by the following women:
Julia E. Bracer, president; Ella S. Hanford, first vice president; Lutie M. Clemson, second vice president; Clara
S. Finn, treasurer; Harriet L. Clark, secretary; Sarah Orr Sliter, Jennie E. Prior, Frances W. Wilcox, Florence
The organization effected on this November day and incorporated December 6, of the same year, was named "The
Middletown Hospital Association," its object "to build and maintain a hospital in the village of Middletown."
The day of the second meeting was big in history, for not only was the matter of the charter settled, but an advisory
board of physicians was elected, consisting of William E. Eager, M.D.; William H. Dorrance, M.D.; Selden H. Talcott,
M.D.; Burke Pillsbury, M.D.; and Ira S. Bradner, M.D. all of whom have passed away.
In the spring of 1891, seeing the need and the opportunity to supply that need, Mrs. S. Maretta Thrall gave to
the association the lot on the south side of what is now Thrall Park. Plans were made for a building to cost over
$13,000, but their execution would have been put off indefinitely had not Mrs. Thrall come forward with a gift
of money sufficient to cover the cost of the planned building, making, with the estimated value of the lot, a total
gift of over $16,000. Work on the foundation was begun immediately.
The association, which in various ways, during the four years which elapsed after the foundation was laid, had
raised $5,000, now used that amount to furnish and equip the building in a practical and up to date manner. On
the tenth day of May, one year after the gift of the lot, the hospital, having a capacity of twenty six beds, was
thrown open for the reception of patients.
MIDDLETOWN STATE HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITAL.
Nearly forty years ago, or, to be exact, in 1869, several of the citizens of what was then the village of Middletown
decided that a hospital for the insane was needed in this vicinity. Funds were collected and a farm was purchased
on the western border of the village for a site for an asylum. as such institutions were then called: Dr. George
F. Foote endeavored to raise money by subscription fora private asylum. To this end $75,000 were subscribed, the
amount expended for a site and to build part of the institution, all of which was finally accepted by the commonwealth
as a freewill offering from a comparatively few generous subscribers.
The first appropriation by the State for the institution was made in 1870. The original board of trustees numbered
twenty one, appointed by the Governor. The first superintendent, Dr. Foote, having resigned, Dr. Henry R. Stiles
was appointed in his stead. He served until February 9, 1877, and then resigned. He was succeeded by the late Selden
H. Talcott, who served until his death in 1902, when the present incumbent, Dr. Maurice C. Ashley, was appointed
to succeed him, and is now in charge of the institution.
Among the early trustees, who were residents of Orange County, may be recalled the well known names of Daniel Thompson,
John G. Wilin, Moses D. Stivers, James G. Graham, Henry R. Low, Elisha P. Wheeler, Dr. Joshua A. Draper, James
B. Hulse, James H. Norton, Nathaniel W. Vail, and Uzal T. Hayes.
The hospital was incorporated in 1869, opened for the reception of patients on the loth of April, 1874, and the
first patient was admitted May 7, 1874.
To give an idea of the present magnitude of this great public charity, it seems fitting that a few figures should
go on record where they will be permanently preserved.
The farm and grounds comprise nearly 300 acres, on which there are thirty buildings; the value of the real and
personal property is over $1,500,000; the present annual expenses for all purposes, excepting the new building,
are about $245,000, of which nearly $60,000 are received from private and reimbursing patients; about $110,000
is required for salaries and wages. Since the opening of the institution, over 7,000 patients have been received
and treated. Of this number 2,600 have been discharged recovered and returned to their homes and to society, and
900 others have been sufficiently restored or improved to enable them to return to their families. The number of
patients under treatment at the present time is 1,350.
The present normal capacity of the hospital for patients is 1,222. Buildings are now under construction for about
550 more patients and the necessary employees, making a total capacity for 1,85o patients and 45o employees.
The hospital district comprises Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Rockland Counties, but those desiring homeopathic
treatment are received from any part of the State.
During all the years, the hospital has been conducted upon homeopathic principles, following strictly the practice
and principles of homeopathy in the selection of medicines and treatment of patients. This is a compliance with
the law under which the hospital was first incorporated, and the results, in all respects, would seem to warrant
the continuance of the present form of treatment and management.
In compliance with the law, a training school for nurses and attendants has been established and maintained for
some years with the most satisfactory results.
A few years since all the asylums were placed under State control, and a board of local managers with modified
duties took the place of the old boards of trustees.
The board of managers of the asylum, as at present constituted, consists of William H. Rogers of Middletown, N.
Y., president; Ira L. Case, of Middletown, N. Y., secretary; Newbold Morris, of New York City, N. Y., Miss Alice
Larkin, New York City; Mrs. Harriet A. Dillingham, New York City; George B. Adams, Middletown, N. Y.; and James
B. Carson, Middletown, N. Y. The attorney for the hospital is William B. Royce, of Middletown, N. Y.
The city of Middletown is located on the Erie, the New York, Ontario & Western and the Susquehanna &
Western railroads, about sixty seven miles from New York City, and is the legal successor of the village of Middletown,
in the county of Orange. The city was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of the State of New York, known
as Chapter 535 of the Laws of 1888, and John E. Iseman became its first mayor. The city, as now incorporated, contains
The city is divided into four wards. The general city officers are: A Mayor, Robert Lawrence, now holding the office;
president of the common council, two aldermen from each ward, city clerk and collector, city treasurer, corporation
counsel, city engineer and surveyor, superintendent of streets, recorder, two justices of the peace, and three
assessors. Each ward also elects one supervisor, the duties of whose office are the same as those of town supervisors.
Middletown has a most excellent and efficient fire department, of which Charles Higham is chief. The force, as
now organized, consists of one hook and ladder company truck drawn by horses; five hose companies, two of them
having chemical wagons drawn by horses; one engine company, new steamer drawn by horses. The city has a complete
system of electric fire alarms, with forty two boxes in service.
Middletown has about forty seven regularly organized charitable, benevolent, fraternal and social organizations
and clubs, exclusive of labor. organizations, societies and organizations connected with its railroads. Of the
latter there are nine, and of the labor organizations, twenty.
A fine State armory is located here, which is the headquarters of the First Battalion, First Regiment, N. G. N.
Y:, A. E. McIntyre, Major, commanding. This armory is also the home of Company I (24th Separate Company), First
Regiment, N. G. N. Y., of which Abraham L. pecker is captain.
There are two Grand Army Posts in Middletown, viz: General Lyon Post, No. 266; Captain William A. Jackson Post,
Middletown has a very efficient Business Men's Associaton, which was incorporated November 20, 1902.
The banking interests of Middletown are represented by the following banks: First National Bank, capital $100,000;
Merchants' National Bank, capital $100,000; Orange County Trust Company, capital $100,000; and the Middletown Savings
Bank. These institutions are all in a healthy and prosperous condition and have, in the aggregate, deposits amounting
to about the sum of $8,000,000.
There are, in addition to the above, thirty five incorporated companies in Middletown, representing manufacturing,
mercantile, mechanical and financial enterprises. The largest employers of labor are the Borden's Condensed Milk
Company, the New York, Ontario & Western Railway Company shops, Howell-Hinchman Company, and the Union Hat
The cemetery grounds of the Hillside Cemetery Corporation, formerly Hillside Cemetery Association, are located
in the southwest part of the city. The cemetery had many natural advantages from contour of the land, virgin forests
and running streams. To these have been added about twelve miles of macadamized roads and drives, with gracefully
curving paths and winding walks. A great deal of shrubbery and many flowering plants have been set out and in the
summer the scene is a most lovely one. Surely Hillside Cemetery is a beautiful resting place for the dead.
Middletown has a most complete water system supplied by three reservoirs, located in the towns of Wallkill and
Mount Hope, and named respectively, Monhagen, Highland and Shawangunk. All water for domestic use is thoroughly
filtered before being conveyed to the city.
The city has several miles of well paved streets, and is lighted by both gas and electricity.
The telephone system consists of two companies. The Orange County Telephone Company has about 1,600 telephones
in use, and also does the long distance business in the city fur the Hudson River Telephone Company. The Middletown
Telephone Company has about a score of subscribers in the city. It also has connection with several outside independent
With its location, financial ability, numerous business enterprises, its many social, benevolent, charitable and
religious associations and institutions, its splendid school system, and with the enterprise, energy and business
ability of its citizens, the Middletown of today is only a beginning of the greater Middletown which will occupy
this central part of Orange County in the years to come.
To sum up the history of the town of Wallkill were an easy task, and so saying is to speak in the highest praise
of the town. Its course has been peaceful, quiet, serene; its politics have never been infected by scandal and
corruption; the red glare of warfare - aborignal or otherwise - has not shone athwart its pages; it has been a
history in which the husbandman has dominated the scene and has been the central actor. Agriculture has been the
mainstay of a people pious and God fearing, the descendants of those sturdy New England and Long Island ancestors,
who built the meeting house and the school as soon as ever the settlement was made.
We dwellers in the Wallkill of today have every reason to be thankful that our history has been what it has; if
it has lacked romance or excitement, it has likewise abounded in a peace that has meant prosperity.
Of late years the flood of immigration has sent its waves to our thresholds, and we find in our villages, on our
farms, and toiling along our railroads the children of Italy, of Hungary, of Austria, of Russia and the more remote
East. What the picture will be a century hence, what sort of an amalgamation will have taken place, we cannot foresee.
Certain it is that, if he is to remain with us, we must educate the alien, teach him our ways, prepare him for
citizenship, and do all we can for him morally and intellectually, and that will surely involve amalgamation. At
any rate, this is a force that is bound to change our town's history, in the next hundred years, from anything
that has gone before it. We should face the problem, meet it with those most forcible of weapons, Education and
For the rest, acting the role of prophet is not difficult. Wallkill's lines have been cast in pleasant places and
will probably so continue to be cast. We anticipate nothing marvelous, look forward to naught phenomenal, expect
no revolutions. Our townspeople will pursue the even tenor of their way on their pleasant farms and in their quiet
villages; they will know neither the bleak necessities of poverty nor the anxieties of extreme wealth; all will
be medium, which is the happiest state of all. We are content with that. Our Wallkill is well beloved; we would
not trade it for anything different or more brilliant; we would have it as it has been, not meaning stagnatibn,
of course, yet not longing for the "boom" which newer and less firmly established and less well grounded
communities are forever invoking.
Wallkill, in many ways, realizes one's ideal of a rural township, well governed, knowing neither financial extreme,
and with a people contented and at peace.