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

"Legend and Lore" Historic Marker to be unveiled in Goshen
New Historic Marker features the legend of Claudius Smith "Cowboy of the Ramapos"

Why "legend and lore?"
 
One of the challenges faced by public historians is to develop an understanding of a local historical story well enough to distinguish between fact and fiction. But even when the facts are available, making these distinctions is an art rather than a science because often times a local story has taken on cultural meanings that complicate the narrative. Other times an unsubstantiated story has been repeated so fervently that it is a perfect gateway to entice the public to thirst for the "real" story.
 
In recent years, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation has given public historians a tool to better address these fascinating but sometimes far-fetched local narratives. In partnership with the New York Folklore Society, the Foundation created a historic marker program to commemorate legends and folklore as part of New York State's history. This grant program extends funds to local historians to research, write and install markers that look similar to a traditional roadside markers but painted in maroon coloring to set them apart.
 
The need for this sort of validation of local folklore as an essential part of what makes a community unique is particularly relevant to the Hudson Valley villages and hamlets where so many layers of the past interact in one space. The Pomeroy Foundation asserts, "Folklore is an expression of our common past, yet it draws attention to what is unique about our community.  Passed from person to person over time, there is often historical truth at the heart of every legend." Here in Orange County this is certainly true and many readers would easily be able to draw up a list of dozens of legends from our past that had an impact on the way we view our communities.
 
The first "Legend and Lore" historic marker that was created for Orange County was due to the initiative of Deerpark Historian Lynn Burns who received the grant in 2015. This sign explains a story associated with Joseph Brant's raid in on the settlers in 1779 that has been passed down through the generations as oral tradition.
 
Soon after the unveiling in Deerpark, the County Historian's office was approached by Goshen Historian Ed Connor and local history author Sal LaBruna to collaborate in applying to the Pomeroy Foundation for a marker to share the local legend about Claudius Smith. The grant was awarded and funds were approved by the Orange County Legislators on the Education and Economic Development Committee.
 
Who was Claudius Smith?
 
During the American Revolution the British forces controlled New York City and prevented safe passage along much of the Atlantic coast. Patriot transportation and communication lines ran through the Hudson Highlands and crossed the Hudson River at several points north of Stony Point. The Continental Army officers headquartered in rented houses in the valley and encampments of soldiers were spread from Fort Montgomery to New Windsor and Fishkill.
 
There was neutral ground in between the two armies but it was occupied by refugees in alliance with either side. Among the bands of marauders were "cowboys" sympathetic to the British cause and "skinners" sympathetic to the Patriot cause. The outlaws plundered cattle and stole supplies from those who lived in this region making it a lawless struggle to survive. A contemporary writer Joshua Hett Smith described the loyalist plunderers stating, the "composition of these predatory gangs of Cowboys was loose, including confirmed Tories, British deserters, runaway slaves, and Indians; their number was indeterminate; and their tastes in thievery were undiscriminating." No one crossing these hills, including Washington's messengers, was safe from their ambushes.
 
The leader of the band of cowboys was known to be Claudius Smith who operated out of Smith's Clove (now Monroe) and sheltered his men and their stolen goods in the Ramapo Mountains around Tuxedo. He was captured in 1777 but as the Sheriff escorted Smith to the jailhouse in Goshen, a band of his followers assaulted the Sheriff and released their leader.
 
In 1778 the death of a patriot Major in his home during one of the cowboy raids brought forth testimony from local citizens who claimed that Claudius Smith was the murderer. Governor Clinton offered a bounty to anyone who could apprehend Smith and by October 20, 1778, he was in custody. Smith stood trial at the Goshen Courthouse and was convicted of three burglaries, which carried a sentence of death, by hanging.
 
On January 22, 1779, Claudius Smith was brought outside to an improvised gallows of a noose tied on a tree limb. It is said that he fixed his eyes to the east towards Slate Hill hoping to spot a ground of friends on their way to stage a rescue. No rescuers came forth. Without a word from Smith, the cart was pulled away and he was hanged that day in front of a crowd.
 
Many stories emerged about Claudius Smith over the years. Until the 1920's locals would point to a tree in the churchyard and claim it was where Smith was hanged. Others tell tales of the caves where his treasures are still waiting to be uncovered. The most persistent legend about Claudius Smith is that his skull was placed over the doorway of the Goshen Courthouse when it was erected in 1841.

Please join us as we unveil Orange County's newest historic marker on October 30th at 4PM in front of the 1841 Courthouse, 101 Main Street, Goshen, NY. Feel free to celebrate the Halloween season and dress like a patriot or a loyalist for the occasion.
Congratulations to Alex Prizgintas, 2017 recipient of the Hugh Hastings Award !

The Association of Public Historians of New York State will be holding their annual state convention this year at the Poughkeepsie Grande Hotel & Conference Center from Oct. 30th - Nov. 2nd. The event will feature various speakers, one of them being Alex Prizgintas. Alex is from the Hudson Valley and is a senior at the Monroe-Woodbury High School. Last August he gave his 21st lecture on local history for the Friends of Sterling Forest at the Lautenberg Visitor Center. He started giving public lectures four years ago and in 2015 was presented with the Dannheim Award For Emerging Leaders from the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors for his work in preserving and sharing The History of Orange County Dairies and Their Milk Bottles. Last November he spoke on the same topic before a sold-out audience in the Goshen's Harness Racing Museum & Hall. His lectures also include such topics as "The Harriman Incline" and "Erie Railroad's Short Cut" and most recently "Railroad Lanterns and Their Globes" which he presented with his colleague Dave Lewis. Each lecture is accompanied by a mini traveling museum of rare artifacts to help bring history to life. He is presently completing another lecture on the Erie's Newburgh Branch that he will be giving before the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society next April in New Jersey.

Alex will be presented with the Hugh Hastings Award for promoting local history on Nov. 1st at the conference in Poughkeepsie
Community Updates
Participants at the 4th cemetery workshop of the 2017 season presented Town of Delhi Historian Marianne Greenfield with a framed set of photos depicting the many volunteers who have joined the event series over the summer. Pictured here are members of the Boy Scouts Troop 58, Gumaer family historian Judy Gumaer Testa, Village of Bloomingburg Historian Linda Helms, Exec Director of the Minisink Valley Historical Society Nancy Conod, Town of Deerpark Historian Lynn Burns and descendants of the Gumaers including Grace Woodard.
Orange County Planning Commissioner Dave Church and Orange County Director of Grants Nicole Anderson accepted a Hudson Valley Greenway grant for the Wallkill River Trail at the meeting in Hyde Park.
At the Connecting Dutch Heritage Conference held in Staatsburg, Russell Shorto spoke to historians and museum professionals from the Mid-Hudson Valley region about the ways in which society has maintained cultural attributes from the New Netherlands settlement.
Historian Johanna Yaun spoke to the West Point cadets and their parents aboard a ferry boat. The day started out grey and blustery having to shield the mic from the wind but the sun was shinning by the time the boat approached Storm King Mountain. The trip was hosted by the West Point Parent's Association and organized by Meg Hunnewell.
The Incorporated Orange County Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association held a two day symposium on Hudson Valley Archaeology sharing information spanning from Paleo inhabitation (Mount Lookout 12, 000 years ago) to historical contexts (Revolutionary War). Pictured above Vassar Professor Lucy Lewis Johnson presents her findings about Archaic period human occupation of rock shelters in the Shawangunk ridge.

Centennial Roster

Casualties of the Great War

October 24, 1917, Private Theodore F. Vredenburgh of Battery F, 16th Field Artillery, listed as a mason at 152 Broadway in Newburgh

 

October 31, 1917, Private Vincent Scott of Headquarters Co., 310th Infantry Regiment, from the hamlet of Ridgebury in the Town of Waywayanda
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences
Kindred Spirits Encounter at McGarrah's Stagecoach Inn

October 28th at 7PM

Why waste money on actors who pretend to be ghosts...when you can enjoy an evening of real ghosts while you tour the haunted McGarrah's Stagecoach Inn. Come take a step back in time and be amongst the ghosts of the 1800's.

The night will include:

��  A guided tour of the authentic haunted McGarrahs Inn

�� An angel tarot card reading

�� A Presentation of the newly published book Whispers From The Angelic Realm by Jaclyn Gutleber

�� And an open discussion of any personal experiences with the paranormal
 
Light refreshments will be served. Cost: $15 per person. Facebook invite for more information.

Historic McGarrah's Stagecoach Inn Museum
300 Stage Rd, Monroe, New York 10950

Minisink Valley Historical Society presents a Revolutionary war encampment

October 28th from 1PM to 4PM

The Navasing Long Rifles will be at Fort Decker for a Revolutionary War Encampment from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. and the Broome Street Fife and Drums will play from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Fort Decker
127 West Main Street
Port Jervis, NY 12771



Old Businesses in Goshen

October 28th from 10AM to 12 NOON

The Friends of the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society present a lecture on Old Businesses in Goshen by Edward Connor, author of Images of America "Goshen" and "Goshen Revisited."

Main Street School
227 Main Street
Goshen, NY 10928


 
Unveiling of the Claudius Smith "Legend and Lore" Historic Marker at the 1841 Courthouse

October 30th at 4PM

Join us in front of the 1841 Courthouse to unveil Goshen's newest historic marker. Attendees are welcome to dress at a Revolutionary War Patriot or Loyalist to join in the spirit of the Halloween season.

101 Main Street
Goshen, NY 10924


Association of Public Historians of New York State Annual Conference

October 30th to November 2nd

The 2017 annual conference will be held at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. The programs include presentations by several Orange County historians including Warwick Historian Sue Gardner and Chester Historian Clif Patrick


Take a Virtual Tour of Arlington National Cemetery

November 2nd from 7PM to 9PM

Follow the history of Arlington from its humble origins during the Civil War as a burial place of necessity, to its current celebrity as the most prestigious cemetery in the United States. Our nation's history can be read on the stones of Arlington. Once the great antebellum plantation of the Custis & Lee families, Arlington's green slopes shelter over 275,000 United States veterans from every war. Come and join us to explore this hallowed place and hear the stories of sacrifice and honor that Arlington can tell.
 
Educator and historian Carolyn Ivanoff will lead the talk and tour. Her previous lectures, Civil War Medicine and Ghosts of Gettysburg, earned wide acclaim from appreciative audiences. Carolyn was named "Civil War Trust Preservationist Teacher" of the year in 2003. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, her educational programs received awards of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations. In 2016, Carolyn was presented with the Connecticut Council of Social Studies' Bruce Frasier Friend of the Social Studies Award.
 
The Seward/Mapes Homestead presents a rare opportunity in historic preservation to focus on the lives and accomplishments of two men deeply engaged in the American Civil War on different levels, one as Secretary of State in the Lincoln Administration and the other as a Union soldier who survived many horrific battles before being severely wounded.
 
Admission $10 Adults, $15 Couples, Veterans FREE, Students FREE
Proceeds from the event will support the Seward/Mapes Homestead Restoration efforts.

Florida Senior Center, 3 Cohnen Circle, Florida, NY 10921
For more information contact: events@sewardhomestead.org or call 845-294-3839
.


The Delano Family at home and in China

November 4th from 2PM to 4PM

Sharon Butler, historian and National Historic Park Guide will present insights into the Delano family involvement with the Opium trade in the Civil War era. Event taking place in Ulster County but the Delano family history extends beyond those borders. Facebook invite for more information.

Saugerties Public Library
91 Washington Ave
Saugerties, NY12477

FSHSHH ANNUAL MEETING &
"MANSION ON THE HILL" FILM SCREENING


November 5th at 2:00PM

A brief meeting of the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands will begin this event, followed by a screening of local filmmaker Joe Santacroce's "Mansion on the Hill". The film tells the story about the Hasbrouck House, better known as Washington's Headquarters, and its place in Newburgh's history over the years. This event is free of charge.

Please keep an eye out for more information as the event gets closer, or call the site at 845-562-1195 for more details.


History in the News



Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun @orangecountygov.com 
STAY CONNECTED: