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

Walden Knives Sink With The Lusitania
May 7, 1915
by Mary Ellen Matise, Village of Walden Historian
May 7, 2015, the press reminded us, was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Cunard Lines' Lusitania off the coast of Ireland; the ship, its crew and almost 2000 passengers the victim of a German U-boat torpedo attack.  As a lead up to the anniversary, the May 3rd edition of the Middletown TH-Record printed a review of the book, "Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania" by Erik Larson.  The reviewer states that Larson 'puts us on the deck of the famous ship that fateful day.'  But what the reviewer and the author don't tell us is that below that deck, in the cargo hold, is a story very close to home and one that had a direct impact on Orange County, and on the Village of Walden.
One hundred years ago on May 7, 1915, the Middletown Times-Press carried the following headline:

A front page article described the knife order.  '10,000 dozen knives, the result of weeks of work on the part of day and night shifts at the Walden Knife Works, went down with the big steam ship.  The knives comprised the largest shipment yet made by the Walden concern as a portion of an order of a million knives received from the English government.'
'Fortunately the Walden concern received payment in full for the knives before the liner left port and the Orange county manufacturing concern will suffer no financial loss as the result of the sinking of the vessel.'
'...The factory has been taxed to its utmost capacity and the New York Knife Company and Schrade Company plants in Walden have been called into service to help fill the order.'
'The sinking of the Lusitania with the large shipment made last week by the concern will probably mean an additional order and the result will be an added benefit to the people of Walden.'
'The fact that all of the English cutlery concerns are at present engaged in the manufacture of ammunition was responsible for the orders for knives placed in this country.  The Walden Works was found to be in a position to fill orders promptly and as a result was given a large share of the orders placed in the United States.  The order was received through the English consul in New York...'
'The shipment lost on the Lusitania represents in cash an order of about $50,000.  The knives would retail, if sold in this country, at about a half dollar apiece.'
'The knives, as shown in the illustration, are designed entirely for the use of the English soldiers and marines.  The long steel blade is intended for general use.  The short blade has an attachment by which it may be used as a can-opener and for other purposes while the steel prong called a Marlin spike, is intended for use in splicing ropes.  The spike, however, finds many other useful purposes and the knife forms a tool probably of great value to the men in the trenches and on board the ships of the King.'

Earlier that year, the February 19, 1915 edition of the Orange County Times Press ran an article announcing the receipt of the large knife order by the Walden Knife Works.

The loss of the 10,000 dozen knives on the Lusitania was not the end of the story.  Evidently, the knives were reordered by the English government and did become effective tools in the hands of the British soldiers according to the following 1916 article in the local press in which the Walden Knife Works claims to have produced 1,000,000 knives of this design during 1915.

Community Updates
Historic Marker Grants from the 
William G. Pomeroy Foundation 

Celebrate Your Local History
With Historic Markers
Apply Online Now!
Grant Timeframe
Your Region's Deadlines:
Letter of Intent: June 12, 2017
Final Application: July 3, 2017
Questions?  Call Christy at 315-913-4060 or
Part of an old plank road was discovered when dam repairs dropped the water level. Due to the delicate nature of the road, we can only say that it's in the Ramapo valley. Historians are researching it at this time so we hope to have an update in the future. 
On March 30, MJ Goff represented the Orange County Historian office at the  Collaborative Meeting betweenLibraries, Orange/Ulster BOCES, and County Departments to discuss ongoing projects.  This "meet and greet" at the Orange County Arboretum offered the opportunity to meet staff from a variety of organizations who share the same purpose: to serve Orange County residents with matters concerning mental health, social services, historical information, and educational opportunities.
Members of the Orange County collections committee (l to r) County Legislator Jeff Berkman, OC Genealogical Society representative Linda Borroughs, County Historian staff MJ Goff, County Planning Commissioner David Church, Chester Town Historian Clif Patrick, County Executive staff Mary Pat Smith touring the basement storage rooms.
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences

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."
Bannerman Island Tours

May 5 - May 7

The Bannerman Castle Trust will be starting their 2017 Touring & Event Season out on mysterious and historic Bannerman Island, on the Hudson River! The first walking tours of the year on the Island will take place the weekend of May 5th - 7th. The boat for these tours, the Estuary Steward, will be departing from the waterfront in Beacon, New York at 6pm on the evening of Friday, May 5th, 11am & 12:30pm on May 6th and 12:30pm on May 7th, and 11am from Newburgh on May 7th. These tours will likely sell out in advance. For reservations, click the ticket link above.

The 2017 Touring & Event Season on Bannerman Island features walking tours, hikes, live music and theatrical performances, photography workshops, campouts, kayaking trips, night cruises, picnics, a dinner and more! The season runs from May through October 2017, departing from Beacon and Newburgh, New York. For more information and to make reservations for upcoming trips to the Island, visit: .

Know someone who may be interested? Invite them to this event! Facebook Invite
Newburgh Historic District

Saturday MAY 6 / 9am - 3pm 

Community Wide annual YARD SALE !!

See what treasures these century old houses hold! Vintage, antiques, curiosities, bric-a-brac, furniture, housewares, hardware, toys, clothing, books and MORE!!! Facebook Invite

First Sightseeing Cruise of the Season

Saturday, May 6th at 2 PM - 4 PM

River Rose narrated sightseeing cruises of the Hudson River. 

Call us to make your reservations!
Thru October 31. We are available seven days a week rain or shine.
The River Rose departs from the Newburgh Waterfront
70 Front Street

Mail Call!  Letters from War Time
Local History Day, 2017

Sunday, May 7 from 2 - 4 PM

Honoring the Vets and the letters that kept them going.  Guest are invited to bring a letter and (if time permits) a few will be read. 

Walden Municipal Building, 3rd floor assembly room
Presented by the Historical Society of Walden and Wallkill Valley
Joseph-Louise Public Library, Village of Walden

3rd Annual Hudson Valley Volunteer Fair

Sunday, May 7th at 12 PM - 4 PM

Join representatives from history and heritage institutions throughout the Hudson Valley to learn more about the hidden treasures and travel destinations in our community! Twenty-eight organizations will be displaying in our main exhibit gallery, with several living history groups outside on the lawn. Speak with American Revolutionary War and Civil War interpreters, hear a Revolutionary War cannon fire! A food truck will be available for refreshments.

Discover what history has to offer at the Hudson Valley Heritage Fair!

Locust Grove Estate
2683 South Rd, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
From Turnpike to Railroad

Saturday, May 13 at 7PM

"An Age Gone By: From Turnpike to Railroad". A talk by Bob McCue. Saturday, May 13 at 7:00 PM in the Visitors' Center of the D&H Canal Park, Cuddebackville, New York. Presented by the Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation.

The area between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers has always been key to the early history of America, from the days of the War for American Independence to the present day. Bob McCue's program begins with the early history of navigation on both rivers, goes through the turnpike era and into the coming of the railroads. Well over a century ago this area saw everything from the heyday of the D&H Canal to the era of silent movies that were shot in Cuddebackville. Bob is an expert on the O&W and Erie Railroads. His program will paint a vivid picture of our region's rich transportation heritage and how it contributed to our area's economic wellbeing. 

$7.00 for Non-members and $5.00 for Members 
Lite Refreshments will be served.
National Park Service FEE-FREE days for 2017
August 25:            National Park Service
September 30:      National Public Lands Day
November 11-12:  Veterans Day Weekend
Four Cemetery Workshops have been scheduled
May 27 - Circleville Presbyterian Cemetery
July 16 - Temple Beth Jacob Cemetery
August 12 - Washingtonville Cemetery
October 14 - Gumaer Cemetery
(*raindates are as follows: July 8, July 23, August 13, and October 15.  In the same order as above.)
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. 
Consideration will be given to those who are caretakers of cemeteries in Orange County.

Moderated by cemetery preservation expert, Marianne Greenfield.
Contact the Historian office at 845-360-6978 or email
Engaging Latinos with the History of the USA: The Big Picture

Workshop for staff of historical sites and museums.  Topics include:
Understanding the cultural differences of how history is perceived in the USA versus Latin America, connecting the narrative, and keeping Latinos engaged.

Moderated by Sergio Villavicencio, expert on presenting historical lectures to the Latino community.

Saturday, June 24, 10 to 11:30 am
Orange County EMS Center
22 Wells Farm Road, Goshen

Reservations suggested.  Call 845-360-6978, or email
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun