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

100 Years Ago:
U.S. enters World War I
"Dark days ahead, and the first to face those days were the men of..."
One hundred years ago, Congress declared war. Although leaders in Washington, D.C. were working to prevent entering the ongoing global war, mobilization had in fact begun two months earlier in February of 1917. At that time, diplomatic relations had broken down when it was revealed that Germany was preparing to attack U.S. vessels at sea. On February 5th, President Wilson moved to protect the home front by activating the 1st and 10th Regiments of the New York National Guard. Companies within these regiments were comprised of Orange County men.
The guardsmen were given less than 24 hours notice to outfit for a winter campaign and leave the armory in Newburgh. Captain Rafael A. Egan marched the men down Broadway during a blizzard with snow above their knees; they boarded the ferry, crossed the river to Beacon and marched south to Peekskill. It was too cold for musicians to play as the soldiers were sent off. A second day of marching brought them to Tarrytown where they discovered the purpose of their destination. They were assigned to protect the New York City aqueduct system because German operatives were planning to blow up the dams and pump stations. The enemy's goal was to sever the water lines so there would be no relief when they then set fires throughout New York City. Company L stayed in Pleasantville and Company E eventually stretched all the way to New Paltz. Soldiers remained in huts and houses along the pipeline until August of 1917 when they were sent to bases in the south for combat training.
April 1917- November 2018
More updates to come as we will continue to trace the whereabouts of the Orange County soldiers during the centennial of World War I.
Community Updates
Walden Historian secures grant from Pomeroy Foundation
The Village of Walden has just received a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation in Syracuse, NY for a historic marker commemorating the founding of the Walden Woman's Club in 1909.   This grant was part of a special round of funding by the foundation to celebrate women's suffrage.  The first woman to vote in the Village of Walden was Mrs. Frank Benedict, President of the Walden Woman's Club from 1917-1919.  The sign will be placed at the location of the organization's first meeting in the Walden ME Church on West Main Street.

This is the eighth grant that Village Historian, Mary Ellen Matise, has secured for the Village from the Pomeroy Foundation.  Other markers include the New York Knife Co., the Walden Knife Co., Schrade Cutlery, Rider-Ericsson Engine Co., the Wallkill Valley Cemetery, the First Reformed Church, and the Walden Municipal Building.

For information about the grant program contact: 

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation
492 E. Brighton Ave
Syracuse, NY 13210
ATTN: Girl Scout or Boy Scout leaders: DAR invites Orange County students to visit Old Stone Schoolhouse
With a donation from Stewart's Shops, the Minisink Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have secured supplies and artifacts to create a program for youngsters from 8 to 12, and groups of 12 students or less.  The lessons are taught in the one-room schoolhouse, with educators dressed in period costumes.
The building is located on Route 17A, two miles south of the Village of Goshen, and built around 1730.  It's the oldest, one-room, country school of its type in the nation.
Anyone interested in setting up a tour can write to Virginia Moore, Curator at  (Provide phone number and best time to call.)
The Good Work Institute fellow program visited Orange County to learn about the rural and urban contrasts that make the county unique. During a visit to Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh, the Orange County Historian led the group through a series of first person accounts from past newcomers to Newburgh from 1709 to 1960. 
The first dayliner since the S.S. Alexander Hamilton, which discontinued service in 1971, journeyed from New York City to Albany, This occasion was to bring awareness to the S.S. Columbia Project, a restored steamboat that will be providing dayliner service on the Hudson River by 2022.
The County Historian spoke to the Goshen Rotary during their March meeting at Delancey's Restaurant. The talk highlighted the important role that Orange County played in several periods of American history and discussed the symbolism of the orange tree on the official county seal.
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences
Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) Region 3 Annual Meeting
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Meeting for municipal historians from Dutchess , Putnam, Westchester, 
Orange & Rockland Counties

Registration & Networking, 9- 10
Welcoming Remarks, Executive Director Paul Sparrow, 10-10:15
Session 1: The Municipal Historian's Duties & Mission Roundtable, 10:30-11:15
Session 2: Operating a Government Archive Panel, 11:30-12:15
Lunch, with remarks by Mary Kay Vrba, Dutchess Tourism, 12:30- 1:30
Self-guided tours of FDR Museum, until 5

Program sponsored by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library & Museum 
a nd Dutchess Tourism

Registration for APHNYS members is free.
Non-members pay $10 before March 27th & $15 after.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library & Museum
Hyde Park, NY
Henry Knox and His Noble Train of Artillery, Evening Lecture
Thursday, April 6, 7 PM to 8:30 PM
Knox's Headquarters in Vails Gate is a local reminder of the incredible story that took place at the start of the Revolutionary War. With the British under siege in Boston, a young bookseller comes to General Washington with an idea on how to get them to leave: transport 60 tons of cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights. It worked; much more would follow. Discover the interesting and critical story of one of our lesser known founding fathers in this evening lecture by local historian Bob Ulrich. Facebook invite for more info.

Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
690 Route 9W, Fort Montgomery, New York 10922
Great War Commemoration
Saturday, April 8 at 11 AM - 5 PM

Many living historians representing several nations in the conflict - including Doughboys, English, Russians, French and more.

Troop 202 and Troop 640 - selling girl scout cookies. This year is the centennial of girl scout cookie sales.

Kevin Fitzpatrick - book signing all day. Kevin has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including World War I New York: A Guide to the City's Enduring Ties to the Great War 

Vivian Davis -Lecture Women in the War - Bronx County Historical Society educator will talk about women's civilian and paramilitary roles during the Great War and discuss how their contributions paved the way to their own victory at the polls and beyond.

John Van Vliet - Evolu tion of Chemical Warfare - Lecture with replica equipment to illustrate

Peter Tragni - Display of NY 27th Division items - A collector of over 20 years, with many unusual and rare items including a Newburgh medal. 

Robert Jacobs - 1918 Dodge - one of only three remaining, weather depending, Bob will be on site with his vehicle. 

Displays of original items including bicycles, uniforms, and much much more.

Museum Village
1010 State Route 17M, Monroe, New York 10950

Sterling Furnace and the West Point Chain
Thursday, April 20 at 6:30PM

Albert Wisner Library hosts "Doc" Bayne of the Friends of Sterling Forest for an illustrated talk on the history of the Sterling Furnace and Forge, and its role in creation of the critically important Great Chain across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War.  This program will include updates on the recent exciting discovery of the actual forge site, hidden away from British eyes. Free and open to all area residents.  Registration required at:   or call  845-986-1047  option 3.

Albert Wisner Library
One McFarland Drive
Warwick, NY 10990


For staff and volunteers at Hudson Valley historical sites, museums, and not-for-profits
Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 10:30am - Noon
SUNY Orange, Kaplan Hall Room #201
One Washington Center, Newburgh, NY
Free - Reservations suggested
The event is free, seating is limited, and reservations are suggested.  Contact MJ Goff at (845) 360-6978, or email  and include the number of guests
Hosted by social media expert, Nicole Scholet de Villavicencio, the workshop will focus on how to boost public awareness and reach target audiences through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, and other social media platforms.  Topics to be discussed include how to utilize both common and event-specific social media platforms for event advertising. Attendees need not bring a laptop, but paper and pen for note-taking.
"Nicole hosted a similar program last year," says Yaun, "and it was very successful, and since these technologies change regularly, this workshop will bring us all up to speed. With PR budgets sometimes the first to get cut, it's crucial to learn as much as we can about using these free social media programs to promote not-for-profit organizations and their public events.  Nicole really knows her stuff and I guarantee that everyone who attends will receive extremely valuable information."
National Park Service FEE-FREE days for 2017
  April 15-16:            National Park Week (Weekend (#1)
April 22-23:           National Park Week (Weekend (#2)
August 25:            National Park Service
September 30:      National Public Lands Day
November 11-12:  Veterans Day Weekend
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun