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

CONTEST!!! Have you spotted a Model "A" driving around Orange County?

All week we've been hearing reports of old cars driving around Orange County. Yesterday afternoon I was able to catch a glimpse of a dozen driving up Broadway in Newburgh and Dawn Elliott reported that she counted 8 on her drive to work at Museum Village in Monroe.
We've since learned that the Model "A" Restorers Club, Inc. in holding their Annual Meeting in Newburgh with 94 Model "A" cars participating from outside of the region, 17 States and Canada are represented. The event is being hosted by the 81 members of our local "Hudson Valley Region" chapter. Each day they are touring historic routes in the area including Revolutionary War sites, the wine trail, and the 'great estates' sites.
Send us your best shot of the car club in and around Orange County and we'll enter you in a raffle to win prizes. We'll feature the best photos in the next Orange County History and Heritage newsletter.
Send your pictures to M.J. Goff at with your name and contact information.


Johanna Yaun
Orange County Historian
Find Your Roots
at the Orange County Genealogical Society

By MJ Goff
History has become cool, thanks to, ads for DNA testing that details percentages of ethnic make-up, and reality shows like "Who Do You Think You Are" and "Finding Your Roots."  
It's even become popular with in television entertainment like the shows "Sleepy Hollow," or "Legends and Lies."
But did you know that real history lives in a few offices in the Goshen Courthouse where one could find a wealth of historical information about our own Orange County: how it began, who were the first families, and details about the battles fought on its soil. Thanks to the Orange County Genealogical Society much of what is available about our local history has been preserved, catalogued and made available for study.
Linda Burroughs has been with the Orange County Genealogy Society (OCGS) for 24 years. It's in her blood. "I grew up in a family of historians, my mom and grandparents were always keeping track of our family. My mom was the Town of Monroe Historian back in the late 1950's and 60s and we've done our own research through the OCGS."
The OCGS collection includes not only the history of Orange County, but many of the counties of New York State, and the rest of New England. The books have been collected either through purchases by the OCGS, or via donations. The group tries to get all church and cemetery records to add to their collection of centuries-old obits from area newspapers.
The group meets one night a week to go over the letters that have come in with requests for historical information. As Linda notes, "Sometimes it can be 10 to 20 letters, sometimes only 3." After the letters have been divided up, the volunteers go to work. Hopefully the request has included all of the information that has been discovered so the group doesn't duplicate research. Linda advises that those searching for information be as detailed as they can be with dates, names, and places. While the group performs the research for free, the inquirer does get billed for any photocopying and postage, but the historical discoveries are priceless. 

The OCGSNY offers programs throughout the year on various historical and genealogical topics. They are free and open to the public. Here's what's coming up:
Saturday October 1, 2016, 10:30 am:
"Files, Folders, or Piles of Papers?"
Goshen United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 115 Main Street, Goshen
Presented by Toni McKeen
This lecture will offer suggestions on how to sort information, the kinds of documents you should include in your research, and provide helpful charts to record your results. Toni McKeen has been teaching several levels of genealogy in hometown of Ridgefield, CT. She has been a popular lecturer at various genealogy societies in the New York, CT, Boston and Long Island areas.
To insure that enough handouts are prepared, send an email to with your name in the body of the email. Put "Files, Folders, or Piles of Papers" in the subject line. (This is a no-reply email only. For any other questions, write to Anna Calli at

Saturday, November 5, 2016, 10:30 am:
"November Thanksgiving Month: What are we thankful for?"
Goshen United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 115 Main Street, Goshen
This program will concentrate on the documents, artifacts, and heirlooms and what questions arise once you find them. Bring one or several items with you and share a story about the item and the ancestor. Sharing this information will help others in attendance by offering suggestions on what they might look for, and questions they might ask as this year's Thanksgiving family get-together. Refreshments to follow.
For information, visit website at, or contact Anna Calli at .
If anyone would like to help support the work of the OCGSNY, membership is $15 a year; and if anyone would like to volunteer, they can write to: 
Orange County Genealogical Society
Attn: General Research
101 Main Street
Goshen, NY  10924

The OCGS was established in 1973, with a list of "purposes" as stated in their Constitution and Bylaws, including:
  • To encourage genealogical research
  • To educate the public to the contributions made for the understanding of local and national history by the study of genealogical records.
  • To collect and preserve family and genealogical records and papers and to make them available for study.
  • To serve as a clearing house (basically by means of a quarterly publication) for genealogical information, particularly that pertaining to past and present inhabitants of OC.
  • To attract contributions and loans of appropriate material for the use of those engaged in historical and g research.
  • To cooperate with other organizations whose purpose is to advance the cause of history and genealogy in OC.
  • To educate the public as to the importance of genealogical research for the preservation of the family, past, present, and future.

For those looking to have they  help with a research project, here are the OCGS guidelines:
We have a dedicated group of volunteers that will do research in our room for
your ancestor or family. We do not have the staff to undertake genealogical
research, but we do attempt to answer Clear, Short and To the Point
questions about people who lived in Orange County.
We need clear presentation of your question.
Include as much detail as you can provide regarding other family members,
spouses, dates, Location in Orange County and if possible what church they
would have attended. If you have a family group sheet please include in your
request. This will give us a better opportunity to provide information that you
DO NOT have.
*Official Vital Records in New York commenced in 1881 and are usually kept at the Local Village, Town or City Clerk's office. There were some vital records kept prior to 1881 in some municipalities in Orange County but not all, and the years vary.
*We are using the files of many past genealogists, and they did not indicate the sources where they obtained the information, as it was frequently from the families themselves. Use this information as a guideline for your additional search.
*We do not have original source information or proofs.
* We specialize in Orange County, New York area only.
*We are volunteers so have limited time for each question but do try to do a
thorough search of our files.
*Most of ours responses are within a 2 to 4 week period.
*We charge 10 cents a page for photocopies, plus postage.
*Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
We are not on line so you must send your request by snail mail to:
Attention: Gen research
101 Main Street,
Goshen NY 10924
Visit for more information.
Community Updates
Learn about Historic Tax Credit opportunities

Erin Tobin of the Preservation League of New York State will present a workshop at Thrall Library in Middletown on October 6, 2016 from 6-7:30 PM. 

  Preservation League
Workshop on the Care and Maintenance of Historic Cemeteries

Marianne McCaffrey Greenfield, a twenty year member and past board officer of the Association of Gravestone Studies, will present a workshop on cemetery care and maintenance at the Orange County Emergency Services classroom in Goshen. Talk will take place on Thursday, October 20th from 1 PM to 3 PM.
In the next newsletter we'll provide more information but here's a glimpse of the Orange County DPW crew reconstructing the Warren Mastodon replica head and tusks for a new display at SUNY Orange Newburgh campus.
Upcoming Events
Historic Tavern Trail at Schlesinger's Steakhouse in New Windsor

Friday, Sept 30th at 5:30 PM

Enjoy our signature cocktail, the Apple Jack Downing, and join us for a talk by Matthew Thorenz, head of Reference and Adult Services at Moffat Library in Washingtonville, regarding the history of the Revolutionary War encampment that once occupied the restaurant's property. 

History: The Brewster House was built in 1762 and began as a simple fieldstone house that Samuel Brewster built during Revolutionary times. Originally the house consisted of one large room with two smaller rooms in back, each with a single window, while the upstairs was built as a loft.

Although the house was modest, its location made it useful for officer's quarters. In 1781, an order from Washington's New Windsor Headquarters read: "A sergeant, corporal and twelve privates to be sent immediately as a guard to Lord Stirling's quarters at Deacon Brewster's one and a half miles north of General Knox's quarters."

It is also believed that Joel Barlow, army chaplain and poet (and later minister to France) may have been qu artered here. One legend tells that Washington was so impressed by the youthful Barlow's sermon at West Point at the treason of Benedict Arnold that he invited him to dinner, placing him at the right hand while Stirling sat on the left.

Samuel Brewster was the great grandson of a Long Island minister (who had been a member of the first class at Harvard). Samuel and his brother Henry came to New Windsor about 1743 and had been among the first proprietors of the township in 1749. Later he held the town officers of assessor and overseer of the poor. When the Presbyterian Church of New Windsor was organized in 1764, he was chosen an elder. Perhaps it was from his church activities that he earned his title "Deacon".

Brewster was a member of the Committee of Safety during the American Revolution. He is mainly remembered in local history as the owner of a saw-mill, forge and anchor shop and assisted in forging the chain which was stretched across the Hudson River in the hope of checking the movement of British vessels up that stream.

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Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun