Those interesting Historical Markers

On the porch; cloudy, 60.2 F 0612

Local Historical Markers:

Example of a Historical Marker owned by New York State

There are many of these erected by the New York State department of Education in the 1920’s and 30’s although the program continued on through the 1960’s. According the the New York State Museum:

In 1923 the New York Historical Association was directed to suggest possible celebrations for the upcoming “150th Anniversary of the American Revolution”….While details are sketchy, apparently markers could be acquired from the State Education Department for as little as $2, after an application form detailing the text, location, and supporting historic documentation was filed and approved.

Lord, P., Jr. (2018). Office of State History. Retrieved November 08, 2020, from http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/state-history/resources/historicalmarkers

There are many of these markers are on the major roadway going north to Kingston. That makes sense because it is one of the oldest routes in continuous use in the United States. Unfortunately is it a busy road. Thus, zipping by the various markers does not give enough time to read them. I have often though that there should be an online database. Alas, someone else had the same though. The Historical Marker Data Base is exactly that.

Example of Historical marker owned by New York State

I spent perhaps much longer than I should have looking up all of the Historical Markers around this area. The great thing about this website is it contains all of the known markers in any given area. People and organizations have privately erected markers and memorials in addition to those erected by the state education department. Many of those markers look similar to the state erected markers, however, there are subtle differences in shape and wording.

Example of a privately erected and owned historical marker

One such is the Fantinekill Massacre monument near Ellenville. Life was not always peaceful around here.

Several markers appear faded and are in need of some attention. The New York Museum website gives good information on how to clean and repaint the markers:

  • Remove rust and scale with a wire brush. A heavily rusted surface will require a wire wheel and drill to clean. Be sure to wear the appropriate personal protection gear.
  • Paint the background surface with Rustoleum Gloss Exterior metal paint, color #7727, Royal Blue.
  • Paint the raised lettering with a small brush or foam pad with Rustoleum Gloss Exterior metal paint, color #7747, Sunburst Yellow.

Markers are often placed on the edge of the public road right of way. If the marker is on private property, then permission from the property owner must be obtained before entering said property. Markers that say “State Education Department,” are the property of New York State. If the marker does not say that, then the marker itself is also private property.

Here are a selection of interesting markers:

Privately erected and owned
Most likely privately owned
Privately owned, needs a touch up
State owned
State owned, on state road right of way
State owned, on private property
State owned, along a US Highway

A brief history of the Catskills

Living room sofa; cloudy, 44.6 F, 0545

This is a link heavy brief summary of the history around these parts.

For anyone in the NYC metro area, the Catskills will likely be familiar. The area was, for many years, a summertime vacation destination for city folk looking to escape the city rigors and enjoy some fresh air.

Technically, this house is not in the Catskill Mountains, but just to the east of them. Still, they are close enough that I can go out on my front porch and see their low, rounded peaks to the north and west of here. The mountains themselves are not mountains, but rather an eroded plateau.

The general area has been used by humans for at least 6000 years, perhaps longer. A discovery of a native American site along the Momboccus creek dates back that far.

European settlers began to arrive not too long after Henry Hudson sailed up the river which now bears his name in 1609. Sometime around 1620, the dutch established a trading post in the area of Kingston where the Rondout creek meets the Hudson river. From there, settlement pushed out along the Rondout valley. A military expedition entered the area in 1663 and by 1680, there were permanent settlers. The present town was founded in 1703.

For the next hundred years or so, the area was mostly agrarian. During the war of independence, it was called the “Breadbasket of the Revolution.” Thus it received some special attention; in 1777 the city of Kingston was burned by a British force from New York. In 1779, the Fantinekill Massacre took place just south of here. Nine members (some accounts say eleven) of the same family were killed by loyalist militia and their native American counterparts.

By the early 19th century, the soils in the area had become depleted and much of the forest began to be cleared away for making lumber and charcoal. Mid 19th century saw the beginnings of the resort era.

Large hotels were built in prime locations, offering a respite for those seeking it. Very few of those survive today, but one is the Mohonk Mountain House.

The Delaware and Hudson canal was established in 1828, to bring Pennsylvania coal to NYC and fuel the rapidly growing industrial era. Shortly after, Rosendale Cement was discovered and transported along with bricks manufactured from large clay deposits along the Rondout creek and Hudson River. Later, the canal was replaced with the Ontario and Western railroad, which ran until 1955.

An entire industry sprung up to service the resorts and their guests. Transport, food production and hospitality were the main work sectors. That era peaked in the 1950’s with the Borscht Belt or Jewish Alps. The Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has a very good depiction of the Catskill Resorts during the late 1950s to early 1960s.

By the 1970’s the resorts began to decline, as airfare got cheaper, attitudes changed and more exotic destinations began economically available. A long economic slump ensued, most resorts closed down and stood abandoned for years. Many are in the process of being torn down even now.

At present, the area has many weekend homes from NYC residents. Small farms and CSA type operations dot the area. New York state has several correctional facilities around which are major sources of employment. New York City has a gigantic water reservoir system to supply the metro area with fresh water. The Catskill Park is a great destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing and hunting.

Chronology

Home office; cloudy 61 F, 0606

Front of the house as it looked in 2004

A brief history of this house:

  1. The house was built in 1965 in an area that used to be a dairy farm. It was owned and lived in full time by the guy that built it.
  2. The house was sold to a fellow from Brooklyn in 1976 and used as a weekend home.
  3. We purchased the house in 2004 and began renovating it. The interior renovation was completed before we moved in in June.
  4. The back yard drainage and gutters were added in 2005
  5. The patio, wall and grape trellis was added in 2006
  6. The new well was drilled and put into use in 2006
  7. Basement drainage project in 2007
  8. The back deck was added in 2007
  9. The solar hot water collectors were added in 2007
  10. The solar photovoltaic panels were added in 2010
  11. The barn was built in 2012-2013
  12. The siding was replaced in 2015
  13. The old bathroom was replaced in 2015
  14. The screened in front porch was added in 2018
  15. The generator and generator sub panel was added in 2020

Most of those projects were done by me although I had assistance with some of the more major ones. At the same time that was happening, I was working full time, I had two kids, started my own company, got divorced, had to refinance the house, etc. Thus the “we” is now an I or me. It has been an interesting journey.