The following, transcribed by Amy Feldner Lawlor, was published in the Mar. 21 1917 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch. It was written by Mrs. G.M. Van Duzer which she read before the Fortnightly Club on Feb. 26, 1917.
A very old road crosses the Town of Warwick from the Jersey line, through Bloom’s Corners to Edenville (or Pestville as it was once called) thence to Florida. It can be traced by its old mile stones giving distance to Goshen. Less than a mile north from Edenville on this road was the old Post house, built of shingles in 1734. It was destroyed by fire in January 1797.
There are old stone houses in the Edenville neighborhood that I would like to mention, but can only take time for one now. The home of Mr. George H. Davenport was built by a Revolutionary soldier, Lt. Herman Rowlee. The extreme poverty of many of the patriots after the close of the war is well illustrated by a story his descendants vouch for.
Lt. Rowlee had but one suit of clothes. His wife washed his trousers after he retired for the night and placed them over a chair back before a good fire, in order to have them dry by morning. The chair tipped over during the night and burned up – and the clothing also. The Lieutenant had to remain in bed next day till his wife and a kind neighbor constructed a new pair.
Ten years later he built this good stone house in which his ten children grew up. And he had accumulated enough property to leave them all a legacy at the time of his death.
In the olden times many were the industries that flourished on our water courses. Far up in the mountains on what is termed the Cascade Park section of the Long House creek, was formerly the Finn Saw Mill. At this place was sawed all the timbers and aiding used in the H.P. Demarest homestead, built in 1819. All the siding was sawed from a single white wood or tulip tree. The original boards are still on the north and south sides of the building.
‘Bellvale Was Once A Very Busy Hamlet’
Bellvale was once a very busy hamlet. There have been grist and saw mills, also a woolen mill on the creek at that place since early times; and to Bellvale also belongs the honor of having had the first and for many years the only forge and tilt-hammer in what is now the whole state of New York. An act of Parliament had been passed forbidding the manufacture in King George’s Colonies of any finer grade of iron that the “pig” or “bar iron.” In 1750 Gov. Clinton made his report to Parliament, in which he certifies that there was erected in Orange County at a place called Wawayanda, 26 miles from the Hudson, a plating forge, with a tilt-hammer, belonging to one Lawrence Scrawly or Shawbey, and no other tilting-hammer or forge was to be found in the Province of New York.
The dam for this old forge can be plainly seen in Bellvale village. At a forge on Long House creek near Bellvale, bits, stirrups and saddletrees or frames, were made by a Mr. Peck for our army during the war of 1812. The Indian Long House, from which the stream took its name, is supposed to have been near the late C.R. Cline homestead, now Fred Houston’s. From Stone Bridge or Wisner, this creek is known as the Wawayanda. Beside the Grange store at this place, the dam of Israel Wood’s grist mill was located, said to have been the first in the valley. Wood’s land extended westward, including the present farms of Washington Wood, Wm. D. Ackerman estate and G.J. Van Duzer. The Van Duzer land was Abner Wood’s, the Ackerman farm belonged to Eliphalet Wood and Daniel owned the present Wood farm. Israel kept the Stone Bridge end of the tract with the mill upon it for a time. It afterward was joined to Daniel’s portion. Abner was a Tory and Eliphalet was suspected of being one, so their lands passed into other hands. Only Daniel’s house is still owned, though not occupied, by his descendants.
Eighty-two years ago this spring, the stones from Wood’s grist mill dam were built into the Stone Bridge that for years gave its name to that locality. Before that time people crossed by a wooden bridge, remains of which can be seen back of the new house of Mr. John Ayers. When it is remembered that our old highway formerly made a long curve to the eastward from a point near Mr. W.W. Van Duzer’s, going between the Capt. Benedict house and the creek, one can see that his old wooden bridge gave the most direct road to Bellvale and on to Sterling that we have ever had. After crossing the creek at this point, it passed two large stone houses – the Calvin Bradner house (removed by Henry Benedict when he built the frame house now occupied by his family) and the Wisner house now Mrs. W.W. Buckbee’s. From the Wisner place it was practically a straight line to Bellvale.
Epidemic of Malaria or Swamp Fever
Following down the creek we come to the upper ford southeast from the Capt. Benedict place. At our Main Street crossing there was a dam for the mill of Acel Chase, but below the village, a hundred feet or more above the bridge back of the John C. Vail house on West Street, was a mill dam that for years caused more trouble than anything else in town. It flowed the water of Isaac Dolson’s shallow millpond almost up to the village of those days, and when the water was low, as was very often the case, there was an epidemic of malaria or swamp fever, as it was called, of a most fatal type.
Three members of the Pelton family, Mr. Sylvanus Francher and his wife and many others died with it. No family below the village escaped the sickness. At last the property was purchased by seven public-spirited citizens, the dam torn down and when resold, a clause in the new deed prohibited the building of a dam ever again on any part of the creek flowing through this farm.
Further downstream were important mills at Sanfordville. They were owned by the McCamleys and by the Wheelers at one time. General Hathorn ran a forge on a farm afterwards owned by Edward Davis. This was later changed into a carding and fulling mill. At New Milford were more mills. The old machinery from the Isaac Dolson mill below our village was taken to New Milford and is still there, I am told.
There are many landmarks that we do not find either by following the roadways or streams.
It is difficult to decide which of them all to mention. The northeast line of the Ira A. Hawkins farm coincides with the old Jersey claim line that passed thence, between Warwick and Bellvale to Sterling Lake and the Hudson River. In 1769 the present boundary was established between the States of New York and New Jersey. Though both were then Royal Provinces.
At a Warwick Town meeting in 1808, the sum of $30.00 was voted to erect a pair of stocks and build a good pound. John M. Fought was to have a piece of land from Isaac Dolson to build the pond on and Isaac Dolson was to be the pound-master. The stocks were to be set up in the most public place in town. The pound was promptly constructed, but I do not believe the stocks were ever set up. No mention of them or of anyone ever having been put in stocks can be found. The pound was located on the Thomas Burt farm. In the deed given by Gabriel S. Holbert to Thomas Burt in 1867, mention is made of the Pound lot, about two rods square, situated on the south side of the highway, about ten rods westerly from the farm house.
Most Important Landmark is Ruins of Sterling Furnace
Our most important landmark, from a historical standpoint is, of course, the ruins of the Sterling Furnace, where in 1778, the iron was produced for the great West Point chain, the second to be placed across the Hudson at West Point. This one, made in the Town of Warwick, was the chain that held. The first anchor made in New York State was manufactured at the same place in 1773.
We do not have to go beyond our village limits to visit a spot of great historic interest. At the corner of Forester Avenue and the Galloway Road, facing the latter, stood the first meeting house for Christian worship in this region. We learn from the diary of Capt. Daniel Livermore, a member of Col. Dearborn’s New Hampshire Regiment, that he camped at this Meeting House while on the march with his regiment to join Sullivan’s expedition against the “Five Nations” (of Indians), in Central New York. Also from the Revolutionary diaries, we learn that the expeditionary forces returned to Warwick after the successful campaign, and that it was here the New England forces “parted from the Southern Army.”
James & Mary Benedict Buried Beside First Meeting House
The first minister, James Benedict, and his wife, who was Mary Blackman, were buried beside the first Meeting House. The building – a log house, built prior to Revolution. All traces of it and the graves, that we know to have been beside it, are gone. The fine oak trees that have shaded the place have vanished, but I believe the time will come when the spot will be suitably marked.
Forester Avenue, leading directly from Galloway Road to Colonial Avenue, was once known as Burts Lane. It was originally used as a shortcut between two Burt farmhouses. Near its north end is the old shingle house built by Daniel Burt in 1764, while George III was King here in Warwick. Being one of our oldest landmarks, it makes a very suitable one to mention in conclusion. Its interior practically the same as originally built. The old painting on the chimney panel shows the waters of the Hudson flowing to the sea. The penants on the ships blow two ways at once, and the great American Eagle is perched high above all. The Tory hole by the great central chimney is still in perfect order.