News and Event Updates from the Office of the Orange County Historian

William Grohoski named the Black Dirt Historian

At the meeting of the Orange County Legislature on July 2nd, a resolution was passed recognizing Bill Grohoski as historian of the Black Dirt region.

Bill was one of three founding members of the Drowned Lands Historical Society in the early 1970's and continues to serve as Vice-President of the organization.

You can meet Bill and other members of the historical society at a very special event this Thursday, July 19 at 6 p.m. They will be partnering with landowner Bob Sodrick to allow amateur archaeologists to explore a Native American campsite on his farm on Van Sickle Hill in Pine Island. Bring a walking stick to poke around and maybe you'll find an arrowhead in the corn field. This private land is open this night only. It is certainly an unusual event, hunting for pieces of the past. It's family friendly and free.
Thank you to Sherri (originally of Montgomery) and Rich (originally of Maybrook) Sporski who visited the archive to donate digital files of the maps and research they have compiled related to the German Palatine settlers of Orange County. Pictured here, Rich shows Jeanne Krish (volunteer in the Orange County Genealogical Society) how to access the records they have databased from their home historical society in Youngtown, Arizona.
WWI Centennial Year

Centennial Trip to the Trenches of Belgium and France

September 24 - October 2, 2018

A $450 deposit is needed to reserve a spot. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the battlefields of WWI Belgium and France, with historians and descendants of soldiers who died there, at the exact time and place a hundred years later, where hundreds of New Yorkers broke the Hindenburg Line. We'll be traveling from Sept 24- Oct 2, 2018, Approx $3,600 includes flights, hotels, transportations, museum admissions, local guides, historians on-board and several meals. It'll be covered in the press too. Join us!

Gatherings to discuss the Centennial Trip

Wednesday, July 18th at 6:30 PM

There will be three informational sessions about the planned trip to Belgium and France this September 24th through October 2nd to honor the 40 County residents who died on the same day in 1918 during the Battle of the Hindenburg Line in World War I.
The informational sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 18th, August 15th and September 12th at the North Plank Tavern in Newburgh.
These sessions will provide an opportunity to talk about the trip and answer any questions about logistics of traveling. This is open to anyone who has already signed up for the trip or for those who are considering the trip and would like more information. We thank the North Plank Tavern for graciously offering us a table for this event.

30 North Plank Road
Newburgh, NY 12550
The Orange County Expedition: One History Buff's journey to discover the World War I Monuments & Memorials of Orange County

Part I: The Plaque on the Stone

By Aaron W. Lefkowitz

     Whenever you're driving through any of the local towns, you often notice that there is a small patch of land on the side of the road, normally with a metal plaque on a large rock. To the locals, these small monuments are the War Memorials, to all, who have served our nation, but before they were the War Memorials, many of them were first Memorials built in remembrance of World War I. With the hundredth anniversary of the end of the War, this November as well as American forces contributions beginning in Summer of 1918, I felt it, that it would be a great mission to find and document the various local memorials built in remembrance.

     I decided that the best place to start was in my hometown of Chester. When I was in the Cub Scouts, every Veteran's Day, we would have a short ceremony with local veterans at the Fire Station, there was a large stone by the flag pole, that served as the center of the ceremony. So, I figured that this was probably my town's memorial. My hunch was right, next to the flag pole on a small lawn was an old stone with a bronze plaque attached. The title read, "IN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE TOWN OF CHESTER: WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WAR", and listed all of residents, who answered their nation's call.

     Among the names listed, one that especially stands out is Corporal Wesley Allen Hoyt, who served in the famous 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Corporal Hoyt died heroically on the opening day of the Battle of Belleau Woods, June 6th, 1918. Belleau Woods would be one of the first American battles of the War as well as one of the most famous.
     Another of those, who made the ultimate sacrifice was, Private Daniel S. Burrows, serving in Company L of the 105th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Infantry Division. Burrows would also die in the line of duty, in aftermath the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, on October 19th, 1918, supporting British forces as they broke through the heavily organized and fortified German Defenses.

     This is an enjoyable adventure for me because most of the local memorials are in plain sight and not hard to find, though often overlooked. Military History has always been a passion of mine and learning about our local veterans is fascinating. World War I is usually overlooked due to America's late arrival, but is important, in order to understand America's past.

     I was very excited to find this memorial, so close to my home, showing that Chester, had sent its boys and girls, just as willing and proudly as any other town. These brave young Americans served with distinction at many famous battles of the War. The price of Freedom is always high, but remembrance of these sacrifices is priceless.

Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences
Arden House Incline Railroad discussion

Thursday, July 19 at 10AM
Local historian and Woodbury resident Alex Prizgintas will be a guest lecturer at Mount Saint Mary College's Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment on Thursday, July 19, at 10 a.m. Prizgintas will discuss little known and shortest railroad in the region, the Arden House Incline Railroad, built by railroad baron E.H .Harriman. In addition to the lecture, Prizgintas will bring a mini-museum which includes this Harriman train station sign. To learn more, call 565-2076.

Mount Saint Mary College's Desmond Campus
6 Albany Post Road
Newburgh, NY 12550

Battle of Minisink Commemoration at the Battleground Park

Saturday, July 21st at 4 PM
Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun will be the keynote speaker at the annual commemoration of the Revolutionary War Battle of Minisink at the Minisink Battleground Park in Minisink Ford on Saturday, July 21.
The event will mark the 239th anniversary of the encounter, one of the deadliest of the war for the Colonial side. The 46 militia killed on the afternoon of July 22, 1779 hailed from throughout the region, including a large contingent from Goshen, as well as men from Warwick and Sussex, NJ. Their bodies were left on the battleground for 43 years before whatever remains that could be gathered up were finally buried in Goshen in 1822.
Ms. Yaun will be speaking about the region's Tories-those who remained loyal to England during the Revolution-- in her remarks, entitled, "The Loyalists and Their Legacy."
The annual event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Sullivan County Historian John Conway in collaboration with the non-profit history education group, The Delaware Company, Debra Conway, Executive Director. The commemoration begins at 4 p.m., but there will be colonial re-enactors on hand at the Battleground throughout the day conducting living history demonstrations.
William H. Chellis, Vice President of The Delaware Company, will offer welcoming remarks. Honorable Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Local Veteran's groups, including Tusten-Highland-Lumberland  Post #6427 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Sylvan Liebla Post # 1363 of the American Legion will also participate, as will the Navasing Longrifles and 5th NY Infantry colonial re-enactors and the 143rd NYS Volunteer Civil War re-enactors, and several chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Delaware Company members Leo and Elektra Kehagias will provide musical interludes.  
The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department will provide transportation up the hill from the parking lot to the site of the ceremony. The program for the event is printed by Liberty Press compliments of the Sullivan County Historical Society.
The Minisink Battleground Park is owned by Sullivan County and operated under the auspices of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Beautification, Brian Scardefield, Director.

Annual Battle of Minisink Memorial Talk 

Sunday, July 22nd 11 AM
The Minisink Chapter of the New York State Daughters of the American Revolution will conduct our annual commemoration of the Battle of Minisink at the Minisink Monument in Goshen. The speaker this year is Mr. Stephen Skye, President of the Neversink Museum of History and Innovation. He will be speaking on "Why the Goshen Militia Rushed to the Battle and Was Devastated."

100 Main Street
Goshen, NY 10924
Orange County Historian | 101 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924 |  845-360-6978 |  jyaun