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

Cemetery Clean-up at St. James Episcopal in Goshen

On Friday evening, June 29th, Orange County welcomed Marianne Greenfield back to kick-off another summer of cemetery clean-ups.

Marianne serves as the Town Historian in Delhi, NY and she is active in the Association for Graveyard Studies. Her passion for local history, genealogy and preserving historic cemeteries has led her to a career in educating others in the proper care of these sites.

Goshen Town Historian, Ed Connor, greeted participants and helped to contextualize the family histories of the burials that we selected to focus on for maintenance. Marianne walked us through the steps of wetting the stones and scrubbing them with a special product "D/2" that is specifically designed for this use. Her industry knowledge about the techniques that work best and her caution about common pitfalls are illuminating to say the least.

If you'd like to participate in future clean-ups, please RSVP with Nicole at , the Office of the Orange County Historian sponsors 16 people for each training workshop.

Brinks Trial Archive
By Joseph L. Geidel
Throughout the past three and a half weeks, I have been working as a Clerical Office Assistant for the Orange County Historian's Office. Since I have joined the office, I have been assigned a specific cataloging assignment by the County Historian. This assignment was to organize documents related to the 1981 Brink's Robbery in Nanuet, New York.

While the crime was committed in adjacent Rockland County, the trial was held in Goshen, New York due to concerns over the impartiality of potential jurors in the home county of the slain. Goshen became heavily fortified, with the Orange County Police Department in charge of maintaining the peace. As a result, a treasure-trove of documents was generated at the Orange County Sheriff's Office. All known documents related to the Brinks case and its impact on the community were gathered together and put aside towards the end of police-related operations. Since then, the documents have been largely ignored as they fell slowly into disrepair. That was until, at the direction of the County Historian, I undertook the task of pulling together what was left by the Orange County Sheriff's Office to formulate an Orange County Brink's Robbery Archive.

This was an exciting assignment for me, as my field of historical interest is in recent 20th century history. During my senior year in the history program at SUNY New Paltz, I had the opportunity to research the history of countercultural movements during the 1960s and 1970s in preparation for my senior thesis on the transition between the Beatnik and Hippie movements which I had the opportunity to present at the Phi Alpha Theta History National Honor's Society in New Orleans, Louisiana during this past January. My research on this revolutionary time period provided me with insight to understand the case more, as the perpetrators of the crime were radical leftist activists.

The Brink's Robbery remains a highly sensitive subject to study as passionate arguments are presented by both sides and wounds made nearly forty years ago still have yet to heal over.

Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences

Centennial Trip to the Trenches of Belgium and France

September 24 - October 2, 2018

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!


4th of July unveiling of the Brewster forge anvil

Wednesday, July 4th at 12:30PM
The National Temple Hill Association has the honor and privilege to now house the Brewster's Forge fuller. The Fuller (anvil) was discovered at the remains of Brewster's Forge on Moodna Creek a few years ago and has been waiting for a proper place to be displayed. The Historic Edmonston House was chosen because of its links to blacksmithing and its contribution to American Revolutionary War history. This being the 240th anniversary of the deployment of the chain from West Point to Constitution Island, it is a fitting time to bring this historic artifact to the public's attention.
      It was here in New Windsor, at Brewster's forge that the links of "The Great Chain" were assembled before being floated down river to West Point. From the mines of the Ramapo Mountains, to the Sterling Iron Works then on to Brewster's Forge, the iron that became "Washington's Watch Chain" provided a barrier that the British found so formidable that they abandoned their hopes of taking control of the Hudson River. British Generals knew the Hudson was the key to winning the war. Controlling the line of the Hudson would have provided the British with a direct tie to their forces in Canada and divided the colonies in two.
     James Edmonston and his son William would have seen the ox carts hauling the rough links past their house on their way to Brewster's forge. Since both were blacksmiths it is also possible that they assisted in some part. The house, built in 1755 served as Headquarters for Major Generals Gates and St. Clair; it also housed medical staff and supplies for the New Windsor Cantonment.   
     The Trustees and members of the National Temple Hill Association would like to thank New Windsor's Town Supervisor George Green and the Town Board for deciding that The Historic Edmonston House was the appropriate place to display this artifact which has great local and national significance.
Historic Edmonston House, 1042 Route 94 New Windsor, NY

Independence Day at New Windsor Cantonment

Wednesday, July 4th from 10AM to 5PM
Independence Day at New Windsor Cantonment & Knox's Headquarters. Celebrate the 4th at two sites hallowed by the soldiers who won our independence. At Knox's Headquarters see a small cannon fired at 1:00 & 4:00 PM. At the New Windsor Cantonment see military firing demonstrations at 2:00 PM.

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site
374 Temple Hill Rd, New Windsor, New York 12553

Independence Day Cannon Firing

Wednesday, July 4th from 12PM to 3PM
Join us for a special Independence Day celebration at Fort Montgomery. Witness the ROAR and THUNDER at the Grand Battery when the fort's 6-pounder cannon "Ana" is fired at NOON! Camp activities and military drills will take place throughout the day.

Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
690 Route 9W, Fort Montgomery, New York 10922

Fireworks Cruise on the Hudson River

Saturday, July 7th 7:30PM to 10:30PM
Enjoy a special evening with friends aboard the Pride of the Hudson as it travels to West Point to see their massive concert fireworks show over Trophy Point. Learn some history of Newburgh and the Hudson Highlands on the voyage.

Along the journey, historians will share stories of the route from Newburgh Bay to West Point in on-board discussion. Please see below for the listing of speakers. Buy tickets at

Hudson River Heritage
Mary McTamaney is a 4th generation Newburgher who has been City Historian for 15 years after retiring from a 36-year career as a librarian and library administrator. Mary has written prolifically and led discussions about the significance Hudson River as a super highway of the 19th century servicing anything from industry to leisure travels. Her introduction will explore this meaning and set the scene along the journey.

19th Century Winemaking & Tasting
J. Stephen Casscles is a long time grower and winemaker in Orange and Sullivan Counties and author of "Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada." He comes from a long line of Mid-Hudson Valley fruit growers since the 1870s. He has operated his own vineyard in Middle Hope since 1976 and in Athens since 1989. There he grows over 30 different varieties of French-American hybrids.

As we ply the Hudson river towards West Point, Casscles will discuss the variety of grapes and hybridizers that lived in and around Newburgh in the nineteenth-century and offer a tasting of locally procured wines.

His book, "Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada," will be available for sale. It is described as a field reference guide that explores 175 varieties of grapes. It also explores a history that includes growers, grape growing and wine making in the Hudson Valley.

The Hudson Highlands in the American Revolution
Michael J. F. Sheehan is Senior Historian at the Stony Point Battlefield. Michael studies the American Revolution with a focus on the Highlands and Lower Hudson Valley and is working on a book about the King's Ferry during the Revolution. A member of the Brigade of the American Revolution, he has reenacted and spoken at countless historic sites and societies in New York and New Jersey, and writes for the Journal of the American Revolution.

Cemetery Care Workshop

Saturday, July 14, 11AM to 1PM

The Office of the Orange County Historian is sponsoring this training program for 16 individuals. Email us at to let us know if you'll be there.

Event includes short lecture on the practice of cleaning and repairing stones, and then a hands-on cleaning workshop. Attendees are asked to come prepared to get down and dirty and educate others on proper cleaning methods. 

Moderated by cemetery preservation expert, Marianne Greenfield. 
She asks that participants bring a new plastic bucket, a new plastic bristle brush (like a dish brush) and a pair of clean chopsticks, which they can use for other gravestone cleaning projects. As well as your own drinking water and a snack.
Chester Cemetery at the intersection of Brookside Ave and Main Street (behind Cumberland Farms)
Special Opportunity -- Calling all amateur archaeologists!

Thursday, July 19th at 6PM
Members of the Drowned Lands Historical Society are working in partnership with landowner Bob Sodrick to allow the public to hunt for arrowheads.

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. Bring a stick to help poke around.

Bob Sodrick's Farm
Van Sickle Hill
Pine Island, NY
Orange County Historian | 101 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924 |  845-360-6978 |  jyaun