The Old Town Cemetery is situated between Grand, Liberty, and South Streets, where it has sat for over two hundred years. It has borne witness to an ever-changing Newburgh, from a sleepy village to a bustling city. Many people are unaware of this gem in the heart of Newburgh and how close they came to losing it forever, but thanks to concerned citizens in Newburgh, its future is looking brighter. Read more
Ulster County Desperado: Big Bad Bill Monroe
Americans are captivated with outlaws. Our history is filled with those colorful characters who bent the law to fit their own ends, from Jesse James to Al Capone.
Newspapers fed this fascination by following every move of many of these individuals. They were given curious names such as “The Kid,” “Gyp the Blood,” or in the case of Capone, “Scarface.” Many people do not know that a small hamlet in Ulster County had its own outlaw, known as “Big Bad” Bill Monroe. He was also identified as the “Gardiner Desperado.” Read more
Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes
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. Read more
AJ Schenkman: The Hasbrouck Ledger
One of the problems in researching the life of Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck is that there are so few primary sources written by him left to us. We are fortunate that at least one of the treasures that give us a peek into his life, one of his account ledgers, has been preserved. It is a rich source for a researcher of not only Hasbrouck, but of others from his time period as well.
Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck was born in 1722 in Ulster County just outside of New Paltz, New York. He later relocated in 1749 to what would become Newburgh, where his mother Elsie Schoonmaker purchased 99 acres of land.
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. Read more
John Lennons Travels in Ulster County, New York
The Depuy Canal House has sat in High Falls since the 1790s when it was constructed by Simeon Depuy, “one of the most prominent citizens of High Falls, New York.” It opened, according to the Depuy Canal House’s website, as the Stone House Tavern. The tavern entered its heyday when work commenced on the Delaware &- Hudson (D&-H) canal to link the coal fields of Pennsylvania to the Hudson River in Kingston. This tavern sat on Lock 16, convenient to the canal men until the canal closed in 1899. Read more
A.J. Schenkman: Old Graveyards in Ulster County
Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet the late historian Kenneth E. Hasbrouck, Sr., who at that time was the Executive Director of Historic Huguenot Street located in New Paltz, New York. I requested a meeting with him to inquire about a house that my aunt owned at that time. Read more
AJ Schenkman: Ulster County Jail Breaks
The court house in Kingston is one of the many historic buildings in an area commonly referred to as the Stockade District or Uptown Kingston. This court house has stood at the present location in some form for centuries. It is not only linked to the founding of New York State in 1777, but also to Sojourner Truth. It was in this court house that she successfully sued for the return of her son Peter. Read more
Ulster County: Lake Minnewaska State Park
Minnewaska State Park Preserve has become a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. It is crisscrossed with acres of pristine views, carriage trails, and hiking trails. Many people visiting there do not realize that it once was the site of two spectacular mountain houses that sat perched on the cliffs overlooking Lake Minnewaska. They were named Wildmere and Cliff House. Read more
Saunderskill: One of the Oldest Farms in America
Those readers who follow my writing realize quickly that I have a special affinity for the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh more commonly known as Washington’s Headquarters, State Historic Site. Many of those visiting the site do not realize that a part of that site’s history can be traced back to Western Ulster County, New York where Jonathan Hasbrouck’s mother Elsie Schoonmaker was born and raised. Read more