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


THE town of Woodbury is located in the southeast section of Orange County. Bounded on the north by the towns of Blooming Grove and Cornwall, on the east by the town of Highland, on the south by Rockland County and the town of Tuxedo, while the town of Monroe forms its western boundary. It has an area of 23,839 acres, and the title to the soil is mainly derived through the Chesecook patent. The assessed valuation of real estate in the town in 1907 was $802,371.

Topography. - A striking feature of the town is the continuous valley extending from the northern to the southern boundary which divides the town into nearly equal parts, and which has been made the line of the Newburgh short cut branch of the Erie railroad, and of the new State road. Through this valley flows Woodbury Creek northward, uniting in the town of Cornwall with Moodna Creek. Not far south of the sources of Woodbury Creek are the headwaters of the Ramapo, which flows southward through the town of Tuxedo. The summit between these two valleys is low, and the rivulets of the two streams flowing in opposite directions are found very near to each other. The eastern portion of the town is drained by Popolopen Creek in the town of Highlands. Numerous ponds of surpassing beauty are within the town limits, of which Cromwell, Forest and Cranberry Lakes are the largest.

The Schunnemunk Mountains, appropriately described as the "high hills to the west of the Highlands," extend along the northwestern boundary of the town and are divided longitudinally by the boundary line of Blooming Grove and Woodbury. This was the original dividing line between the Wawayanda and Chesecook patents, and also one of the monuments in the line of the Evans patent. This range has an elevation of from 1,300 to 1,600 feet. Eastward across the valley filling out to a section of the southeast border of the county and forming a portion of the Highlands, is a battlement of mountainous elevations, including Pine Hill, Black Cap, Cranberry Hill, Stockbridge, Stevens, Goshen, Letterrock and Black Mountains.


The southeastern portion of Orange County was settled mostly from the Eastern States and Long Island. The families were generally of English ancestry. All accounts of Revolutionary times indicate a population of considerable numbers in this territory. The Chesecook patent was granted in 1702, and there was no settlement for some years following that date. The Smiths were in this region as early as 1727, and the name Smith's Clove near the present village of Highland Mills appears in the town records of Cornwall of 1765. The records of Cornwall having been preserved, the following names are taken from them as having belonged to what is now the territory of Woodbury. Solomon Cromwell and Jonathan Hallock were among the earliest settlers. John Earle in 1765 was a chosen fence viewer for Woodbury Clove. He lived near Highland Mills. His sons were Peter, John and Solomon. Isaac and John Lamoreux are both mentioned in Cornwall records before the Revolution. Thomas Smith was overseer of highways in 1765. William Thorn was a justice of the peace in 1770 and lived at Highland Mills. Captain Austin Smith was chosen assessor in 1775. Nicholas Townsend came from Long Island previous to the Revolution. Tobias Weygant was a town officer of Monroe at the first town meeting in 1799. Jonathan Taylor, one of the first school commissioners, lived near Highland Mills, and Linus Rider lived on the "Ridge" west of the same hamlet. Patrick Ford lived near Woodbury Falls. His son, David Ford, was the father of ten children, of whom Charles T. was the eldest. Further reference to the early settlement of this locality is made in the historical sketch of the old town of Monroe.


In the year 1863 a movement was set on foot to divide the town of Monroe into three towns. A petition was sent to the board of supervisors, which was granted at its usual meeting. The names of the new towns were respectively Monroe, Highland and Southfield. Monroe held its town meeting March 22, 1864, electing Chauncey B. Knight, supervisor. Highland did likewise, choosing its old favorite, Morgan Shuit. The town of Southfield organized in the same manner, elected Josiah Patterson, supervisor. This triple division was at length disapproved, and in 1865 the Legislature was asked to overrule the action of the board and reorganize the old town of Monroe. This movement was successful.

December 19, 1889, the board of supervisors, upon representation of the diverse interests of different parts of the town, resolved to redivide the same into three parts. The three new towns erected were named respectively, Monroe, Woodbury and Tuxedo. The lines were run so as to give Monroe 12,101 acres, Woodbury 23,839 acres and Tuxedo 27,839 acres. It was further resolved that the division of the town should be made on the old lines, but that the names Woodbury and Tuxedo should be substituted for Highland and Southfield. The reason advanced for this redivision was that the town was too large and its interests too diverse for harmonious government. In January, 1890, John A. Patterson represented the newly created town of Woodbury in the board of supervisors. Tames Seaman was the second supervisor from this town, Alexander Thompson the third, and William E. Ferguson, who was elected November, 1907, the fourth. The town hall is located at Highland Mills, where the present town clerk, B. S. Pembleton, resides. The assessors in 1907 are Charles Jones and William Wilson, of Highland Mills, and Richard Buliwinkle, of Central Valley. The highway commissioners are E. C. Cunningham, of Central Valley, N. B. Hunter, of Highland Mills, and John H. Hunter, of Woodbury Falls. The justices of the peace are W. M. Gildersleeve and John Rodgers, of Central Valley, Amos W. Sutherland, of Highland Mills, and Charles E. Hand, of Mountainville. The town is divided into four school districts, of which the Free School at Central Valley is the most important. A new school building is in course of construction at Highland Mills at a cost of $18,000. Places of worship include the Friends' churches at Woodbury Falls and Highland Mills, a Methodist Episcopal church at Highland Mills and another of the same denomination at Central Valley. A Roman Catholic church is now being erected midway between Central Valley and Highland Mills. The Society of Friends had a meeting house in Cornwall, built before 1788, and it was the only meeting house or church in that town until 1825. The meeting house at Smith's Clove was built in 1799. After the separation of the society in 1828, a meeting house one and a half miles easterly of Highland Mills was built. The first Methodist Episcopal church in the old town of Monroe was organized and duly incorporated May 2, 1829, and a church edifice soon afterward erected at Highland Mills.


Central Valley, a noted summer resort, is the most thriving and populated village in the town, on the Newburgh branch of the. Erie railroad. A post office was established here December 27, 1871. Alfred Cooper was apointed postmaster and held the position many years. Mr. J. M. nes received the appointment of postmaster in 1885 and again in 1892. Henry T. Ford, the present incumbent, received the appointment July 15, 1899. Among the leading industries of the village is the Bamboo Fishing food factory of which Reuben Leonard is superintendent. This was established by the late Hiram L. Leonard, who came to Central Valley in 1881. he Leonard rods are shipped to all parts of the world where fly fishing s pursued. The carriage factory of R. F. Weygant's Sons is another important industry. It was established in 1867 by Robert F. Weygant, who died September 3, 1902. He was a descendant of Michael Weigand of the Rhine Palatinate, who settled at Newburgh in 1709. The sons, Frank E. and Fred, conduct the Central Valley establishment, and William M. operates the blacksmith shop and garage at Tuxedo. The flour and grain warehouse of J. M. Barnes had an extensive trade. Mr. Barnes located in Central Valley in 1876, engaging in the mercantile business with Alfred Cooper. In this village is located the office of the superintendent of the Good Roads Construction Company, Mr. Charles T. Ford, who in his sixty third year is one of the most active citizens in the county. Many miles of good roads in Orange County are evidence of the splendid work accomplished under his direction. Here also is a branch of the Arden Farms Dairy Company. Both these enterprises are the product of Mr. E. H. Harriman, who owns extensive farms throughout this section. Mr. Isaac L. Noxon erected many of the beautiful homes and other substantial structures in and adjoining the village. He also conducted for a time a classical boarding school. Here also was the home of the Cornell Institute, a high class boarding and clay school of which Mr. David Cornell was principal. In the fall of 1885 Tomas Estrada Palma established the Palma Institute over which he presided. It was a school for boys in which they were prepared for college, English, French and Spanish being taught. Mr. Palma was a Cuban and in 1868 joined the Revolutionists. After fighting nine years he was captured and taken to Spain, where he spent a year in prison. His first visit to Central Valley was in 1879, making his home here with Mr. David Corgi "Falkirk," an institution designed and built for the special care of patie. suffering from nervous diseases, was founded by Dr. James Fran Ferguson in 1889. Its elevated location, a mile and a half from the village, and the beautiful surroundings, contribute to make an ideal home is such patients. Following the death of Dr. Ferguson in 1904, the saxtariun was conducted for two years by Dr. Henry A. Ferguson and William E. Ferguson, when it was purchased by Dr. Carlos F. MacDonald who has associated with him Dr. Clarence J. Slocum as resident physician. Among the New Yorkers who occupy their homes here during the entire year may be mentioned Mr. Edward Cornell, Mr. W. E. Ferguson, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Theboldt and Mr. Buliwinkle.

Highland Mills is situated about a mile north of Central Valley, and is the home of the descendants of some of the earliest settlers in this region, notably the Cromwells, Townsends and Hallocks. The place grew up around the mills established at this point. The Townsend tannery and the Townsend flour mill were in operation many years ago. The place was formerly known as Orange and a postoffice was established here under that name in 1828. Mr. Vail was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by Peter Lent in 1844, and a few years later Morgan Shuit received the appointment. It was about this time that Mr. Shuit began taking an active interest in local politics in which he soon became a leader. For thirty one years he was supervisor of the town, and for a like period justice of the peace. From 1879-1880 and 1880-1881 he was a member of the State Legislature; retiring from a mercantile career in 1864, he purchased large tracts of farm land, and followed this vocation to the time of his death in 1884. Among the business enterprises of the village is the fishing line factory; the high class livery of Tannery & Hull, whose stables contain forty head of horses; the fish rod factory of Edward Paine, and the firms of James & Terry and Harding & Eames, building contractors. The leading mercantile establishments are those of George Cromwell, B. S. Pembleton and Albert Fitch. The present postmaster is Henry Hallock. The 'only hotel in the village is conducted by George Lamoreux. Hill Crest, a fashionable summer hotel, is a mile and a half west of the village. It has accommodations for two hundred and fifty guests. The Cromwell Lake House, bordering on this beautiful sheet of water, accommodates one hundred and fifty guests, and is conducted by Oliver Cromwell. The water supply for the villages of Highland Mills and Central Valley is obtained from Cromwell Lake.

Woodbury Falls is a hamlet in the north part of the town, taking its name from the falls in Woodbury Creek. It was formerly the seat of a furnace. A post office was established here August 11, 1874, and Lewis A. Van Cleft was the first postmaster. James Seaman is the present incumbent.

The specific details of the settlement of this region are blended with the histories of the towns of Cornwall and Monroe, to which the reader is referred.

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