Tag Archives: Orange County

Touring Old Mine Road: The Esopus-Minisink Trail

The other day, driving home from Kingston, I could not help but notice the sea of New York State Education Department signs (NYSED) that lined the roadside. The blue and yellow plaques are designed to alert those passing by of significant historic events that had occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the signs. These signs made me think about when I lived in Boston and followed that city’s Freedom Trail. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Camp at Night Event

Saturday, August 11 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, at the re-created huts, administered by the Last Encampment of the Continental Army, on the west side of Route 300 and on the north side of Causeway Road, at the New Windsor Cantonment & Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites in Vails Gate, NY (Orange County), interact with soldiers and their family members as they prepare, in the late spring of 1783, for the end of the encampment.

After 8 years of war, most of the army was finally be allowed to go home, but some soldiers had to remain under arms until the British evacuated New York City. There was tension in the air. Knowing that their time was short, soldiers lashed out at their officers. One, they hung in effigy. Causing further resentment, the soldiers would not receive their long overdue pay, only certificates for three months pay, redeemable in six months.

Tour the encampment grounds by the glow of tin lanterns. See military drills and musket firings, maybe even join-in a demonstration with wooden muskets. Following the capture of British forces by the allied armies of France and America, at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781, the northern Continental Army returned to the Hudson Highlands. The destruction of the principal British field army in the south broke England’s will to continue the struggle. In the fall of 1782, near New Windsor, 7,500 Continental Army soldiers built a city of 600 log huts near New Windsor. Along with some of their family members, they braved the winter and kept a wary eye on the 12,000 British troops in New York City, just 60 miles away.

The event is co-sponsored by the National Temple Hill Association and New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site. The National Temple Hill Association administers the Last Encampment of the Continental Army for the Town of New Windsor and owns the historic Edmonston House. New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Who Do These People Think They Are? at Knox’s Headquarters

General George Washington knew exactly what he was about, in the summer of 1781, by trying to convince the British and his own soldiers that he would attack New York City. Unbeknownst to all, but trusted officials, he had agreed to move with the French Army south to Virginia. In Virginia, a French naval force from the Caribbean would join them to complete the encirclement of the British Army at Yorktown.ВThe soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Artillery Regiments, encamped at New Windsor, since the previous November, spent their time assembling and training on heavy siege artillery. Without the heavy guns to batter down the fortifications of British General Cornwallis’ Army at Yorktown, the decisive victory achieved there would not have been possible.В On Saturday July 28 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM costumed historians will think and act like they were the actual participants, at Knox’s Headquarters, in New Windsor, in July 1781, making the final arrangements for the movement of the artillery to the south.

As the evening progresses, the masking darkness gives the grounds a surreal experience, adding significantly to the authenticity of the setting. The residents will beguile visitors with tales of past glories, suffering, and share their hopes and aspirations for an uncertain future. Tour the grounds and mansion by the glow of tin lanterns and experience the tense days before Yorktown with the soldiers and civilians, who once made their homes in the area.В 

The “residents” have no knowledge of the fact that Washington wants to take them south instead of to New York. Visitors will meet few, if any, names that they recognize from history, but instead humble souls whose efforts combined with thousands of others, helped forge a nation. This type of presentation, called “first-person living history,” has developed into a very exciting way to make history more meaningful to visitors. This technique is used at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. Knox’s Headquarters is at 289 Forge Hill Road, in Vails Gate, New York at the intersection of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road, four miles east of Stewart Airport and three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84.Photo: New Windsor Cantonment Staff in Front of Knox’s Headquarters, the John Ellison House (provided).

Independence Day at New Windsor Cantonment, Knoxs HQ

The New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters present a day of Revolutionary War activities. At New Windsor Cantonment, see a military drill and cannon firing at 2:00 PM, as well as blacksmithing and children’s activities throughout the day.

At Knox’s Headquarters, tour the 1754 Ellison House, the military command post for three generals. New Windsor Cantonment is open Monday July 4 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. At Knox’s Headquarters see a small cannon fired at 12:00 & 4:00 PM. The house is open for tours at 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM.

On the 4th, at 3:00 P.M., New Windsor Cantonment invites visitors to help read the Declaration of Independence, the revolutionary document that started it all. Following the reading, the 7th Massachusetts Regiment will fire a “feu-de-joie,” a ceremonial firing of muskets in honor of independence.

Throughout the day authentically dressed soldiers and civilians will share stories of life from that exciting time. Knox’s Headquarters, the Ellison House, honors the site’s namesake General Henry Knox, Washington’s Chief of Artillery, with the firing of a 4 1/2 ” bronze coehorn mortar at 12:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. This mortar, designed to be carried by two men, fired a grenade size exploding ball. John and Catherine Ellison were gracious hosts to three Continental Army generals at different times during the Revolutionary War.

In addition to the special programs and activities, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment Visitor Center are open. These buildings feature the history of the New Windsor Cantonment- Behind Every Great Man: The Continental Army in Winter, 1782-83, Revolutionary War artifacts, the exhibit The Last Argument of Kings, Revolutionary War Artillery and the story of the Purple Heart.

A picnic grove is available and there is plenty of free parking. Just one mile from the Cantonment is Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site. Elegantly furnished by John and Catherine Ellison, the 1754 mansion served as headquarters for Revolutionary War Generals Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, and Horatio Gates. Also be sure to visit Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, a short drive from the New Windsor Cantonment.

Admission is free. For more information please call New Windsor Cantonment at (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (374 Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport. It is three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York. Knox’s Headquarters is located, a mile away from the New Windsor Cantonment, at the intersection of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road in Vails Gate.

Ulster County: The Many Lives of Selah Tuthills Gristmill

In 1788, the same year as France was moving closer towards revolution and the United States Constitution was being ratified, a young man made his way to the area that would one day bear his name. His name was Selah Tuthill. He founded what would become known as the Tuthilltown Gristmill in Gardiner, New York. Once the mill started churning out stone ground flour, it would do so continuously for over two hundred years until its second life as a restaurant and distillery. Continue reading

Continental Army Encampment at New Windsor

Sunday June 3 at 2:00 PM, in celebration of New York State Museum Week, a military drill will be held to honor the soldiers who secured our independence.

Surrounded on all sides now by housing developments and in certain areas completely built over, the Continental Army winter encampment, at New Windsor, in 1782-83, was, during its short existence, the second largest city in New York State.

Soldiers fashioned out of the ancient forest, approximately 600 buildings, arrayed in tidy rows, replicating battlefield formations. Though a mighty gathering, the effects upon the vicinity were fleeting. The army moved on in June 1783, leaving only a wife, abandoned by her ne’er do well husband, with two young children and quartermasters responsible for disposing of the encampment. Surplus army equipment, as well as nearly all of the log structures, were sold at public auction. Following the Revolutionary War, farmers cleared the land- making stonewalls out of the collapsed fieldstone chimneys of the huts. By the mid-19th century, except to the most discerning eye, all traces of the Continental Army had vanished.

Learn about the historical significance of the New Windsor Cantonment and the soldiers encamped there during the final winter of the war. At the time, the 7,000 soldiers at New Windsor, and a few thousand more in the vicinity of West Point, were the only force standing between the people of New York and New England and 12,000 British troops in New York City, just 60 miles away.

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

Lecture: Using Artwork in Historical Research

Traditional historical research draws primarily upon the written word- such as letters, journals, memorials, official documents and historical publications. Historians have shown less interest in historical visual arts that are often as important as written ones. In a lecture entitled “A Striking Likeness: Using Artwork for Historical Research and Using Research to Study Artwork,” Saratoga National Historical Park Historian Eric Schnitzer will take a brief look at artwork focusing on themes related to the American War for Independence and how careful study of the visual arts can add new dimensions to our understanding of the past.

The event will be held at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site (in Orange County) on Thursday, April 26th at 7 PM.

PLEASE NOTE: Seating is limited to 50. You may reserve seats by calling 845-446-2134. Leave your name, phone number and number of people in your party.

Illustration: The Burial of General Fraser engraved by William Nutter, after John Graham, published by John Jeffryes, May 1, 1794.

Stella Bailey Honored with Woman of History Award

On Saturday, March 31st, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site honored Stella Bailey, the 2012 Martha Washington Woman of History Award during their annual program “The General’s Lady.” Bailey was selected for her dedicated service in preserving Hudson Valley history over fifty years. The ceremony was held in the Ritz Theatre lobby located on Broadway in Newburgh, NY.

Elyse B. Goldberg, Historic Site Manager, said in her welcoming address and conferring of the award, that though time did not permit her to list all the organizations and positions that Ms. Bailey has held over the years to be mentioned, Stella is at present the Executive Director and Financial Officer of the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, President of the Town of Highlands Historical Society, and the Highland Falls Town/Village Historian.

Tom Meyering, President of the 5th New York Regiment, James K. Burr, Adjutant, 5th New York Regiment, and Joseph D’Onofrio, Mayor of Highland Falls each independently nominated her for the honor and made remarks to commend Bailey for her commitment and dedication in preserving Hudson River Valley history.

Family and friends of Ms. Bailey were in the audience along with some previous recipients of the Woman of History Award. They included author/historian Patricia Favata, City of Newburgh Historian Mary McTamaney, City of Newburgh Records Management Director Elizabeth McKean, and community activist Mara Farrell.

Dressed in their Revolutionary War military attire, members of the 5th New York Regiment led the audience cheer at the completion of the award presentation and Bailey’s acceptance speech.

The event was sponsored by the Palisades Parks Conservancy and the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands.

Photo: 2012 Winner Stella Bailey, third from left surrounded by past winners Mary McTamaney, Elizabeth McKean, and Mara Farrell along with Historic Site Manager Elyse Goldberg (provided).

New Director for Newburgh Bay, Highlands Historical

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has announced that lifelong Newburgh resident Johanna Porr will serve as the organization’s new director. Porr assumed the position last week.

“To be able to study the largest historic district in New York State is certainly fun, but to be entrusted with a role to use that understanding to help rebuild this city is an honor,” she said in a statement release to the press.

As director, Porr’s duties include fundraising, directing future research and programs, overseeing the remaining renovations to the Captain David Crawford House, creating useful networks in the fields of public history and academic history and increasing membership within the group the statement said.

“The Historical Society has been and will continue to be a resource for people who want to learn more about Newburgh’s history or those who are interested in restoring homes here,” she said.

Porr “wants to establish an inspiring new direction for the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands while maintaining everything Newburgh has come to love about the organization. Her goals are to keep up with the current trends in the academic world, exchange information and ideas with other historical societies in New York and beyond and to use the society’s resources to make Newburgh’s history
more relevant to today’s citizens,” the press statement said.

“It’s important to find the academics who are already doing the research and connect them with the people on the ground who have a better idea of the questions the public is interested in,” said Porr. “I’d like to see more serious focus on scholarly research being done in the Hudson Valley.”

Porr has been an historical interpreter at Washington’s Headquarters, where she has both volunteered and been employed for nearly a decade. She attended Franklin College in Switzerland where she studied European history, earned an M.P.A. from Marist College and recently spent time in Virginia doing archaeology at Historic Jamestown and historic-trades research at Colonial Williamsburg.

“Newburgh is a fascinating place,” said Johanna, who grew up in city. “We call it ‘History City’ because you can take any major movement and tie it back here somehow- you can always find a way to understand the scope of American history through the narratives that are available in Newburgh.”

The new director is the daughter of former Newburgh city manager Harold Porr and Joan Mauriello, who volunteered as a preservationist and historical activist while Johanna was growing up.

“This society is one of the earliest and we’ve been building a collection and archive since 1884,” Johanna said. “I’m proud to be part of such a strong institution, especially since the viability of Newburgh’s future is inseparable from its legacy.”

New Windsor Revolutionary War Encampment

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will host a weekend of Revolutionary War military firing demonstrations and period activities on Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29, presented by the Brigade of the American Revolution, an international organization dedicated to recreating the life and times of the common soldier of the War for Independence, 1775-1783. Formed in 1962, the BAR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

A battle demonstration takes place at 2:00 PM each day with colorfully uniformed soldiers firing muskets and maneuvering to the music of fifes and drums. The soldiers will also set up tents, prepare cooking fires and demonstrate other aspects of 18th century life.

Visitors will also see women and children, the family members of the soldiers who traveled with the army. Members of the Brigade of the American Revolution use this weekend to teach the latest knowledge in recreating life from that era. The presentations are an enjoyable experience, something to be long remembered. Through lectures and demonstrations, a wide variety of 18th century period life is revealed. New Windsor Cantonment site staff is present to perform blacksmithing, and military medicine throughout the weekend. The new exhibit galleries provide an overview of life at the New Windsor Cantonment and 18th century artillery.

The variety of dress worn by participates provides a living window to the past. Green-coated Loyalists, Germans in blue, collectively called Hessians and British regulars in red, stand poised to defend the interests of the King and Parliament. Among the Patriot forces, you will find not only Continentals, like the Light Infantry, dressed in blue coats as they would have been at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, but also regiments in gray, brown or whatever color happened to be available at the time.

In addition to the special programs and activities, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment Visitor Center are open. These buildings feature the story of the Purple Heart, the history of the New Windsor Cantonment, Revolutionary War artifacts and the exhibit The Last Argument of Kings, Revolutionary War Artillery. A picnic grove is available and there is free parking.

The site is open to the public Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29 from 10:00 to 5:00 PM. On Sunday the visitor center does not open until 1:00 PM. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. Admission is free. The New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport and three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York.