Situated in the scenic Hudson Valley, Ulster County is a lovely location to make a home and raise a family, but it wasn’t always so pleasant. Unsavory characters and immoral events have sullied its name.
In the 1870s, the Shawangunk Mountains inspired fear rather than awe, as groups like the Lyman Freer and Shawangunk gangs robbed and terrorized locals, descending from the protection of the wooded peaks. Kingston was torched, arson blazed in Kerhonkson and even the Mohonk Mountain House was threatened by flames. In 1909, the Ashokan Slasher’s bloody crimes and sensational trial captured headlines across the country. A.J. Schenkman’s Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes, Gangs and More features these and other salacious stories buried in Ulster County’s history.
A.J. Schenkman, a regular contributor here at New York History, is also an educator of history in the Hudson Valley and a volunteer firefighter. He has written extensively on the histories of Ulster and Orange Counties and is the author of two books and numerous articles on Washington’s Headquarters in Newburg.
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