1902 Obit of Helena Gillespie Smith

My great-uncle Lon Austin (brother to Aida) never married. He loved Nell (Helena) Gillespie who lived in Brooklyn (221-14th Street). Lon may have met Nell when he visited his New York City Austin cousins or when he worked at the Car Stables at 839 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn.

Nell was the daughter of a well-to-do merchant who had met with financial loss. Another man, a Mr. Smith, also called on (1880s for dated) Nell (the family thought he was calling on her sister—Lon knew better). Nell loved Lon, but married Mr. Smith out of a sense of duty to her father’s request.

In the following letter, Lon’s cousin Ida Austin Brown sent Helena’s obit with her letter of condolence.

Letters Helena (Nell) and Lon exchanged in the 1880s can be read in “Echo Hill and Mountain Grove.” Lon’s poignant story is on p. 200.

Page 1 of letter to Lon Austin from his cousin Ida Austin Brown, regarding the death of Helen Gillespie Smith

Page 2 of the letter click: Continue reading

Posted in Austin letters, Echo Hill and Mountain Grove, New York City | Leave a comment

Mr. Brodmerkel to the Rescue

Mr. Brodmerkel’s truck rescues the Meyer’s car. © JMEYER PHOTOGRAPHY (USED BY PERMISSION).

“Uncle Willie rescued us in that big truck when our old car (the car in the garage shot, me thinks) broke down at Poor Richards bar/restaurant on Rt. 6. Going over the Hawks Nest in that big truck made me think we would go over the edge for certain!

“Yes, c’est moi in the photo. I remember the day the picture was taken, thinking that was a neat dog, but never saw him (?) before or after.”—JMeyer.

Posted in Farewell to Eldred, People, Then or now | 1 Comment

Johnston’s “Reminiscences”

Cover of John W. Johnston’s “Reminiscences.”

I imagine that a number of my Halfway Brook friends have a copy or have at least heard of Reminiscences written by John W. Johnston around 1900.

Reminiscences is Johnston’s first hand (often caustic) account of the people who lived along the Delaware River from Pond Eddy to Narrowsburg in the 19th Century. It includes a helpful historical account of the D&H Canal so vital to the area at one time.

Reminiscences was a source for the history of Lumberland and many of the families mentioned in The Mill on Halfway Brook and the first 20 years of Echo Hill and Mountain Grove.

It is fascinating to go back and reread Reminiscences now that I know who many of the people were. Though there is a bit of a cringe factor when reading the book if there is any relative that Johnston mentions.

Johnston, a lawyer, accurately discusses where different families lived (his signature is on a couple land deeds I have). He comes across a bit arrogant and often negative, judgmental, and unforgiving in his personal evaluation of the townspeople.

Still it seems to be an accurate history that can not be found elsewhere.

Reminiscences (two volumes in one book including old photos); 360 pages plus a very helpful index, can be purchased for only $12.95 (plus shipping) from Minisink Valley Historical Society’s Gift Shop.

Posted in Good History Reads | 1 Comment