Battles on New York’s Mohawk River: “Bloody Mowawk”

Cover of Richard Berlith’s book, “Bloody Mowhawk.”

I am much more knowledgeable about a section of early American history after reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Richard Berlith’s book, Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War and American Revolution on New York’s Frontier.

This well written and researched history of the battles fought in the vicinity of the Mowhawk River, discusses in depth the background and interactions of the people—natives, Dutch, English, Palatines, and Irish—who lived along the Mohawk River.

I found that sides taken during the Revolutionary War—British/Loyalist/Tories versus Continentals/Patriots—was much more complex than I had understood before.

The narrative ties the history of the area’s battles with Joseph Brant and the July 22, 1779 Minisink Battle (briefly mentioned in The Mill on Halfway Brook) and Dr. Tusten.

Also mentioned and related to the “Mohawk Wars” was the Wyoming Massacre in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania which apparently sent my Austin relatives back east for two or three years. (The Austins weren’t mentioned specifically.)

Richard Berleth creates an exceptional narrative here that is forever driven by the unique geography of the Mohawk Valley, as well as by the people who settled there from the powerful Iroquois, to avaricious European fur traders, to the colonials who fought in and ultimately won a series of devastating eighteenth-century wars. –Robert Weibel, New York State Historian & Chief Curator New York State Museum.

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About 200 years old: Eldred, Town of Highland, Sullivan County, NY

Cover of The Town of Highland (1853) History.
Eldred Welcome Sign. Photo courtesy of CB.
Welcome to The Town of Highland Sign. Photo courtesy of C.B.

The cover on the History of the Town of Highland reminds me of the end of December 1815 arrival (according to my family story) of my Eldred ancestors (from Orange County, NY), in what is today Eldred (but at one time was called Halfway Brook) in what was then Lumberland (but became the Town of Highland in 1853), Sullivan County, New York.

The Eldred family was not the first one to arrive. Families were already in the area, including that of my great-great-grandmother Hannah Hickok who arrived in 1811.

Sixty years ago in December just closed, Grandfather Eldred came to this neighborhood. At that time it was called Lumberland.

Uncle C.C.P. Eldred was a little over seven years old. Came from Orange County, Wallkill Township to Halfway Brook on the old Cochecton Road.

Here they found a sawmill and log house. No other building of any kind within a mile of this place now called Eldred. They took possession of the house and sawmill and put up a temporary stable to shelter his horses. There was about two acres of cleared land.

The Johnston family were living near Handsome Eddy, Bartow at Barryville, Carpenter and Wells on Beaverbrook.
Continue reading

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Irving Berlin’s “This is the Army”

Irving Berlin Program in Smith Collection.
Irving Berlin Program in Smith Collection.

I have been scanning the World War II Photo album of my father-in-law who served in New Guinea in a radar unit.

I thought perhaps my Halfway Brook friends would appreciate this Irving Berlin program that was in the Album.

For a better view of the program, click on the image.

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150-year Civil War Train Wreck Commemoration

Shohola Railroad & Historical Society
Join us in commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Shohola Civil War Train Wreck! This is a free event for the entire family!

Friday evening, July 11, 2014
Civil War reenactors will be setting up camp at Rohman Park. The public is welcome to go down & sit around the campfire.

Saturday, July 12, 2014
11:00 a.m. Opening Ceremony.
Civil War Re-enactors will be at Rohman Park in Shohola.
Stage Coach “Hiawatha” will be on display.
Entertainment and Hourly Events. Living history throughout the day.

Escaped Confederate prisoners from the famous Shohola Train Wreck will be wandering around and hiding throughout the town of Shohola. You never know where they may be captured! Maybe in Rohmans, maybe in the woods!

An authentic Civil War cannon will be going off, as well as live encampments, a hospital tent.

Limited amount of Ham Dinners will be served at 5 p.m.
$10 for adults/$5 for children.

Sunday, July 13
1:00 p.m. Commemoration Ceremony of the Train Wreck for those lost in the wreck will be held at the Old Barryville Congregational Church on Rt. 97 in Barryville, NY. (Parking is at McKean Realty.)

A walk to the actual train wreck site is immediately following. Continue reading

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Greig Mansion, Part II

Stairway inside the GREIG HOUSE IN THE EARLY 1960S. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).
The stove inside the GREIG HOUSE IN THE EARLY 1960S. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).

When we entered the house proper, we were confronted by a large dark wooden staircase. Beautiful mahogany paneling lined the staircase walls. To left was small a bar, with actual bottles of liquor still there on the shelves which framed a mirror.

Everything was grey with dust and cobwebs. There was furniture in two parlors, on the right and left, ineffectually protected by moth-eaten dusty sheets.

We walked down a hallway to the left of the stairwell and came to a large kitchen.

There was a gigantic black cast iron stove. There was a large pantry with mason jars of canned goods still there. There were plates left on the large table. Dried vegetables and pork chop bones on the plates were covered with dust. There were mouse tracks in the dust as well as droppings.

We were becoming increasingly frightened by this time as the sun was rapidly sinking. We investigated exiting via the back door of the kitchen, but the back porch had totally rotted off into a pile of grey soft boards seemingly bristled with rusty nails. Continue reading

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The Greig Mansion, Part 1

GREIG HOUSE around 1962. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).
GREIG HOUSE around 1962. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).

We knew the Grieg Mansion as “Patters or Pater’s Mansion” when I was a child. I don’t know where that name came from. It was hidden from view from Stege’s Road by a dense white pine forest. The mansion was imposing in its scale—there was nothing comparable in the Eldred area. It fit the prototype for a classic “haunted house”—grey and foreboding in an eclectic nineteenth-century melange of architectural styles, incorporating Italianate, Gothic, and Mansard elements. The mansion was already well on its way to decay and delapedation. John Meyer’s photos, taken in the early 1960s, show the windows broken out.—Ken Bosch.

The Greig Mansion, Part I, by Ken Bosch, in the Appendix of “Farewell to Eldred.”
The Grieg house was still standing when I was a youngster. Teenagers began to break in by the late 50s and smashed out windows, broke furniture, etc. Weather entering through the broken out windows and additional damages inflicted by subsequent legions of vandals resulted in the fire department burning the house down in the early 60s. It is difficult to find a trace of that magnificent structure today.

It was the autumn of 1957. I was in third grade and was allowed to stay after school to watch a high school football game. Against my mother’s instructions I went off with Dave Strenglein and Walt Van Ness to see “Patter’s Mansion” in the woods near the beginning of Stege Road.

What had been cleared fields in the circa 1900 photos, became a dense white pine forest in the intervening years. The road to the mansion was deeply rutted where wheels formerly had trodden. The ruts were deep enough to hold water. The center of the road and the shoulder were covered with thick tufts of tall grass.

We walked until we came to a clearing. There in the middle was a huge house, greyed from deteriorating white paint and weathering. There was a car port structure in front and steps leading to a large, well-weathered set of double doors. To our amazement, the front door was unlocked. Continue reading

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Greig House 1960s

Greig house in the early 1960s. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).
Greig House early 1960s. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).

The Greig family from England was just one of the many families of interest mentioned in the Halfway Brook Series.

Here are two photos of the outside of their huge home from the early 1960s—thanks to J. Meyer.

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Shohola Civil War Train Wreck

The Shohola Civil War Train Wreck by George J. Fluhr.

On July 15, 1864, an Erie Railroad train carrying about 833 Confederate prisoners and 125 Union Guards to the prison camp at Elmira, NY, collided with a coal train between Shohola and Lackawaxen.

About 48 prisoners and 17 guards were killed. The dead bodies remained until 1911 when they were disinterred and taken to the National Cemetery at Elmira. At the time of disinterment, it was reported that no trace remained of the train wreck.—Preface to The Shohola Civil War Train Wreck; The Great Prison Train Disaster in Pike County, Pennsylvania, by George J. Fluhr, Pike County, PA, and Shohola Township Historian; Shohola Railroad and Historical Society, 2013.

Mr. Fluhr has compiled over 40 years of his research (almost 4 pages of resources) in this very informative 120-page book about the Civil War train wreck disaster.

Some topics included: a discussion of how many soldiers died (trying to reconcile the conflicting accounts), the site of the wreck and graves, the Union and Confederate soldiers who were injured or died, a list of the women from Shohola and Barryville (a number of whom are mentioned in “The Mill on Halfway Brook) who helped the Union and Confederate soldiers who were brought to the Village of Shohola, and Escapes and Legends.

The Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War train wreck that occurred near Shohola, Pennsylvania, will be held on July 12 and 13.

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2014 Memorial Ceremonies

If anyone is interested, this is the information regarding Memorial ceremonies on Monday, Mary 26, 2014.

10 a.m.—Ceremonies start at VFW.

1 p.m—Shohola Historical Society ceremonies in Barryville.

The Shohola Caboose Museum is now open on Saturdays and Sundays until Labor Day.

For your calendar (A post and more information to come later):

July 12 and 13 the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War train wreck.

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