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Newburgh, the principal city of Orange County, is also the largest industrial place between New York City and Albany. Its location on the high west bank of the Hudson, of which magnificent views may be had from almost any part of the city, early attracted settlers, who soon put it in a foremost place as the commercial center of a great timber and farm region, and the main shipping point for the lumber and produce. The site of the city was on the lands bought by Governor Dongan, in 1664, from the Indians, and sold by him to Capt. John Evans thirty years later. A group of the Palatines, who had been sent to this country by Queen Anne, fifty-three in all, settled here in 1708. The district was then known as "The Globe," or the "Parish of Quassaick," and was quickly improved by the Germans with houses, church and farms. They never were permanent in their settlement or effect on the character of the locality, and, when the Dutch and English drifted in later, the name was changed to Newburgh, 1752, which also indicated the change in the a peoples who resided there. It must not be forgotten that seventy years after the coming of the Palatines, the future city consisted only of a "tavern, a score of houses, with three boats owned in town making occasional trips to New York."
The Revolution was now at its height, the one tavern had been made the headquarters of Lafayette, and the Has- brouck house was later to shelter Washington. The little hamlet suf fered all the anticipations of destruction and loot, which, however, never came to pass. Although like all the settlements of the colonies, the cessation of the war left it sadly depleted and poor; its natural advantages had not been wiped out, or even weakened, and the precinct rapidly filled with new families. In 1790 there was a population of 2,365. There now began to be a semblance of order about the village. Streets were laid out, docks built, and the first regular store opened. With no competition by canal or railroad, Newburgh played an important role as the transportation center of the district on both sides of the Hudson. Mills there had been from the first, but manufacturing had been frowned upon by England, who wanted the colonies to import from it their supplies. Ship building was one of the early occupations, but after the war all manner of factories started.
On March 25, 1800, the village of Newburgh was incorporated. A turnpike was constructed a few years later to, and through, Sullivan County, which not only joined the back country with Newburgh, but later, with connecting roads, gave "The shortest and most expeditious stage route from the village to Buffalo," sixty-five hours. In 1830, the river and land trade of the village rose to great heights, but after this the Erie Canal made itself felt, and only a few years later the Delaware and Hudson Canal did even greater harm. Then the Erie Railroad from Goshen to Piermont diverted even more trade, and was the straw that broke the camel's back. The monopoly of transportation, as far as Newburgh was concerned, was ended. Fortunately, manufacturing more than took the place of the losses, and the 1870 population of the city was above 17,000. It was now a city, for it had been so chartered in 1865.
The history of Newburgh in these modern days has been that of a quiet, steady growth, with emphasis laid on the improvement of the municipality, from the standpoint of beauty, convenience and facilities for industry and commerce. It is the mercantile center of a surrounding set of villages, with a population three times its own. In 1920 there were more than a hundred factories, employing 5,389, manufacturing products to the value, annually, of $30,000,000.
Middletown, incorporated in 1888, covering an acreage of 2,330, is the second largest city of Orange County. It is also the one most centrally located, being among the fertile rolling rural township of Wallkill. Not to a river, but to the railroads, does the place owe its growth, there now being three which pass through it. Distant from New York City only sixty-seven miles, it is in some respects almost a suburb of the Metropolis, and is one of the largest of those places that supply the great city with food supplies, particularly milk. As a city of homes, scenic and healthful location, energy and enterprise, Middletown is not surpassed by any of the places in the county.
When the site of the city had its first house is uncertain, but it seems likely that it was about 1743-45. John Green had purchased land of the DeLancey patent, including the site of the present city. Later he donated a lot for a church, and when the farmers from all around came to raise the frame of the Congregational Church on it, the question of a name for the locality was considered. "What shall it be? There is Dolsontown on the south; Goshen on the east; Scotchtown on the north; and Shawangunk on the west. We will call it Middletown, it being in the center." In 1829 the name was changed to South Middletown, there being another place of the same title north of Newburgh, but in 1849 the prefix was eliminated. This was just after the incorporation of the village April 7, 1848.
The building of the Erie Railroad seems to have been the main factor in the expansion of the village. This road, built on the installment plan, in the county at least, first laid a section to Monroe, then to Chester, then to Goshen, and finally induced by the raising of large sums of money, to Middletown. This was followed by a large influx of people and factories. Middletown has never had any period of inflation, its growth being continuous and steady. In 1807, the population was 45; in 1838, 433; ten years later, 1,360; a decade saw these figures doubled; in 1888, when made a city, the residents numbered 12,000 ; in 1920, 18,420. Some of the old concerns that made he name of the city honored and well known, were those making saws, files, hats, leather and carpet bags. The Ontario and Western Railroad, in more recent times, located their repair shops in the municipality. There are now, 1920, a total of seventy-eight manufacturing plants doing business in the city, with employees to the number of 2,162, turning out products valued at $9,803, 344. There are large wholesale mercantile companies in the city, and a full list of charitable, benevolent and educational institutions.
Port Jervis, the third city of the county, is located in the far west section of Orange on the Delaware River. Its settlement grew out of the selection of this spot, in 1826, as an outlet of the projected Delaware and Hudson Canal. The name given the hamlet was in honor of John B. Jervis, who superintended the construction of the canal. Its position as the midway point on that waterway between Kingston and Honesdale, Pennsylvania, gave it an advantage that the residents were prompt to use. It was in the early days one of the most important of the lumber and coal points, and one of the places where supplies were bought. The completion of the Erie road to Port Jervis on the first day of 1848, gave a new impetus to the expansion of the village; as the head of the Delaware division, and the establishment of large car shops at the place, was, and has continued to be, one of the greatest factors in the prosperity of the city.
In 1853, Port Jervis was incorporated as a village, and on June 26, 1907, it was made a city. The population according to the 1920 census, was 10,171. There were, in this same year, seventy-eight industrial establishments, employing more than 2,000, with products to the annual value of $8,242,515.
Industry - To obviate the repetition of the industry of each town in the county, it may be stated that dairying so dominates the agriculture of the rural sections as to constitute the principal occupation of practically all the divisions. The terrain and the character of the average soils, proximity to a metropolitan market, all conspire to make milk the best one product of Orange farms. Fruits were until recent years a very important crop, and there is a tendency to rehabilitate horticulture. Vegetables are grown in quantity. But the value of the dairy cattle is $7,332,829, and of dairy products nearly $7,000,000 annually, showing the dominance of this one phase of agriculture. All remaining farm crops fail to equal the value of milk, and the greater part of these crops is used in the caring for the cow. Orange County can, and does, grow nearly all the plants and fruits that are grown in the temperate zone; it has found, however, that dairying is the more profitable, or the best suited to its conditions.
Blooming Grove, one of the older towns, with an area of 21,759 acres, lies northwest of the center of the county. It was formed from Cornwall, March 23, 1799, and included part of Hamptonburgh until 1830, and part of Chester until 1845. The first settler seems to have been Vincent Matthews, who built a mill at Salisbury in 1721. Blooming Grove village was the principal center when the town was organized; it now is only a small group of houses and a church. Washingtonville, started later, is now one of the choicest villages of the county. Craigville, on the falls of Greycourt Creek, was once an important mill town, with three dams supplying power. Oxford is a pleasant hamlet.
Chester, an interior town, with more than 17,000 acres of fine dairy land, has some of the higher summits of the Highlands. The King's Highway, the natural avenue between Newburgh and New Jersey,crosses the town. The famed Glenmere Lake is one of the scenic features. The town was organized in 1845, from Goshen, Warwick, Blooming Grove and Monroe. John Yelverton (1721), is the first known settler in the district. The first postoffice was established on a part of the present main village, Chester, in 1794. It was at this village that the first effort was made to ship milk as far as New York City, 1842; the beginning of the principal rural industry of the county. Chester was incorporated in 1892, with a population of 1,400, which is also the number of its residents today. Besides being a shipping point for milk, it manufactures quantities of cheese, milk, sugar and other lacteal products. Greycourt, successively East and West Junction, and Chesterville, received its present title from the nearby Greycourt meadows. The hamlet of Sugar Loaf is one of the oldest communities in Orange, dating from 1738.
Cornwall, in the heart of the Hudson Highlands, was a part of the Governor Dongan tract, purchased in 1685. A year prior to this a Scotchman, named McGregorie, had located with several families, being the pioneers of the district. The region is full of beautiful estates, summer hotels, and vacation colonies. Idlewild is one of the oldest and most famous, started by N. P. Willis, in 1851. The town was also the home of E. P. Roe. Cornwall Landing was, from Revolutionary days, the great river outlet for the cattle and the produce of a wide back country, and in more recent times, one of the fruit and berry supply stations for the "City." Canterbury village was, probably, the first district to be worthy of being called a hamlet. Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, incorporated in March, 1885, is the principal village of the township, with a present population of about 1,800.
Crawford, a triangular township in the northwest corner of the county, has an area of 24,769, and was formed from Montgomery, March 4, 1823. The name was derived from a numerous family who were among the first to locate in the region. The history of the town is so intimately connected with Montgomery that it is impossible to state when, or by whom, the district was first settled. The date 1740, and the names Weller or Snyder, are as near as one may come. Among the villages of the town ship are: Hopewell, a farm hamlet; Bullville, formerly Searsburgh, important until the railroad took away its trade; Thompson's Ridge, a milk shipping point; Collabar, or Callaburg, and Pine Bush.
Deer Park, in the extreme west angle of the county, has an area of 37,120 acres, the second largest in the county. Three States meet at a point on its boundary. In a legislative act of 1701, the section is mentioned, but formal organization dates from 1798; Port Jervis was a part of the town at its formation. Arent Schuyler visited the region in 1684, and William Tietsoort (Titsworth) after living here some time, tried, in 1698, to buy the land on which he was located. The town attained prominence when it became the subject of a long controversy between New York and New Jersey over the boundary line, which was not settled until 1874. The proximity of the city of Port Jervis has prevented the growth of any large villages. Westbrookville, Port Orange, Cuddebackville, Rose Point and Gumears, are all small hamlets. Carpenter's Point, the site of the first postoffice, and a former rival of Port Jervis, is now a rural village, located near "Tri State Rock." Other hamlets are: Sparrowbush, Bushkill, Quarryhill, Shin Hollow, Paradise, Honesville and Bolton.
Goshen, "the promised land," was first known by the name in 1714, but had its boundaries established in 1788. It then included a part of Hamptonburgh until 1830, and Chester until 1845. Although the settling of this region was planned as early as 1664, the first name recorded as actually locating, is that of Christopher Denn, who came, in 1712, and built his home near the Otterkill. The Goshen section soon became one of the most populous of the county, a census of 1738 showing 319 males above the age of ten. Goshen village, the county seat, has always dominated the section to the exclusion of other settlements. It is located on the main line of the Erie and the terminus of two other roads. It is the principal shipping point for milk from the large and fertile surrounding dairy section, and the home of many who are in business in New York, sixty miles away. Its broad streets, excellent municipal utilities, fine homes and public buildings are the admiration of the visitor. It was incorporated 1809, and had, in 1920, a population of 2,803.
Greenville, with an assessed acreage of 18,287, derives its name from the beautiful colors of the grass covered sides of Shawangunk Mountain, near which it is located, in the western part of the county. It was formed in 1854, and the first town meeting was held in the then important village of Eushville on March 28. The oldest hamlet of the township is Smith Corners, founded by Elijah Smith, just after the close of the Revolution. Minisink, or Greenville, is now the principal settlement, a quiet rural village, away from the railroad, in the center of a dairy land valley.
Hamptonburg was formed in 1830, from Montgomery, Goshen and Blooming Grove. A patent signed in 1703 covered this region and Christopher Denn was one of the patentees. A girl, whom his family had cared for, Sarah Wells, is one of the principal names in Hamptonburg history, particularly as the wife of William Bull. Denn located on his tract shortly after acquiring it, and Bull became a neighbor in the early years of the eighteenth century. Bull gave the present name to the region and town. Campbell Hall, now the principal settlement, owes its prominence to its location near the junction of four railroads. Burnside is the only other hamlet.
Highlands, with the most extensive frontage on the Hudson, beginning at Cro'Nest, has an area of 15,514 acres, was formed in 1873, almost the youngest of the townships. Its name is appropriate, for some of the finest of the Hudson mountains are located in the town, and the section back from the river has a delightful variety of scenic beauty. The region did not invite early settlement, and it is probable that John Moore, a patentee, was the earliest to locate, 1725. The principal village of the township is West Point, famed as the seat of the Nation's Military Academy, established between 1778 and 1780. West Grove is a hamlet of early founding.
Minisink, one of the original towns, organized March 7,1788, has lost territory since, in the formation of Deer Park in 1798, Calhoun in 1825, Wawayanda in 1849, and Greenville in 1853. It is located in the western part of the county, near the dividing lines between two States. The first settlers were probably Inman Walling, 1725-30, and John Whitaker, although there are traditions of pioneers of an earlier date. A strictly rural section, Minisink has many hamlets, the most of which are holdovers of an early industrial period. Among these are: Millsburg, Unionville, Westtown, Johnsons, Gardnersville and Waterloo Mills.
Monroe, a precinct in 1764, with the name, Chesecock, until 1801, when it changed to Southfield; on April 6, 1808, it took the present title. In 1863, the town was divided into Monroe, Highlands and Southfield; two years later the parts were joined, only to be separated in 1889 in the forming of the town of Monroe, Woodbury and Tuxedo. Monroe's acreage is now 11,500, and is a favorite resort for the people of New York. Monroe village, beautifully located in a pass on the crest of the hills, is a modern, thriving town. Incorporated in 1894, it had a population in 1920, of 1,527. Turner village, started as a settlement around the railroad restaurant of Peter Turner, is now the center of a hundred estates of the wealthy from the large cities.
Montgomery, in the northern part of the county, has an area of 30,578 acres. The town was organized under the name Hanover, in 1774 changing to the present name in 1782, and seven years later was designated a town. Henry Wileman, in 1712, patented 3,000 acres and settled on them shortly after, the first white permanent settler of the town. Montgomery village, incorporated in 1810, is one of the oldest. Walden, begun with the usual mill before the Revolution, is really a monument to a Mr. Walden, a retired New York merchant. Incorporated in 1855, its 1920 population was 5,493. It is the seat of several industries, those making milk products being the more numerous. St. Andrews, Coldenham and Allards, are hamlets. Maybrook is an important railroad junction and village.
Mount Hope, in the west angle of the county, has an area of only 16,104 acres. The Shawangunk mountains and river are the dominating features of the landscape. Formed, in 1825, from Wallkill and Deer Park, the record of its first settler must be found among the pioneers of these towns. John Finch came in 1733, but probably was not the first comer. The village of Mount Hope is charmingly located. Otisville, settled in 1816, is the seat of the Otisville Sanatorium of New York. Finchville and Guymard are hamlets.
Newburgh, town, established in 1762, by the division of the precinct Highlands, included Marlborough until 1772. The area is 26,882 acres; settlements: Balmville, Orange Lake and Quassick. See "City of Newburgh" for early history. New Windsor, lying south of the city of Newburgh, was settled by Scotch families in 1685. It was the home of many eminent men, including George Clinton, Governor of the State for eighteen years, and VicePresident of the United States in 1804; and DeWitt Clinton, his son, among others. New Windsor was the most important of the early villages until Newburgh displaced it. Moodna, Vail's Gate, Little Britain and Rocklet are hamlets.
Tuxedo, in the southeast corner of Orange, with an area of 27,839 acres, was not organized until 1864 from Monroe, and was not permanently organized as Tuxedo until 1889. Titles are derived from the Chesecock patent, and the first settlement was made by an unknown named "Howard" probably prior to 1760. Tuxedo Park, consisting of 7,000 acres, came into the possession of the Lorillard family in 1812, but not developed until after the advent of a railroad in 1841, which had a station here known as "Wood Pile." The lake was stocked with bass in 1860, 5,000 acres fenced as a game preserve, and in 1885 the famous Tuxedo Club and village founded.
Wallkill, the second largest of the towns, with an area of 38,030 acres, was organized as a precinct in 1743, and as a town in 1772. The earliest patenting of lands was in 1724, but settlement of the district seems to have delayed until atter 1761. With the erection of Middletown, the only large settlement of the town was taken. Circleville, Howells, Scotchtown, and Mechanicstown are small hamlets.
Warwick, with the largest area, 61,763 acres, was erected from the precinct of Goshen in 1788, and named after the plantation of Benjamin Ashe, one of the original patentees. A deed made to Lawrence Dacker, in 1719, probably indicates him as the pioneer of the region. This large town has a number of pleasant villages and resorts. Warwick village, settled about 1764, and the present largest (population, 1920, 2,420), was incorporated in 1867, and again later under the law of 1901. It is a residential rather than industrial place. New Milford is the center of a rich farming section. Pine Island is still but a hamlet. Greenwood Lake and Sterling, formerly the seat of the largest iron industry in the county, are now best known as a summer resort. Little York, Amity, Bellvale, Edenville and Florida are all pleasant hamlets, dating from Revolutionary times.
Wawayanda was formed from Minisink, in 1849 Its assessment area is 19,667 acres, and one of its remarkable natural features is the "Drowned Lands," some 40,000 acres of swamp and water. The first permanent settlement was on the west shore and head of these lands, by Peter Wallings, subsequent to the Revolution. Of the present settlements of the township, mention may be made of: New Hampton, which was known as Phillipses, when it had a great woolen factory; Denton, Centerville, Slate Hill and Ridgebury.
Woodbury, with an area of 23,839 acres, was one of the three towns into which Monroe was divided in 1863 and 1889. Settlement began in the long valley which divides the town prior to the Revolution, Solomon Cromwell and Jonathan Hallock probably being among the first. Central Valley village, a noted summer resort, is the most populous of the present settlements. Highland Mills is the center for the surrounding summer visitors. Woodbury Falls is a hamlet resort.
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- The Early History of Orange County
- The Concise History of Orange County
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- Town & County
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