Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Warwick Historical Papers Volume 4, Part 1

This is a transcription of an article published in the Warwcick Valley Dispatch, dated April 26, 1950. It appears to be part of a series of articles on the villages and hamlets of Warwick Township. I redid the numbers on the photos because they were hard to read. Used with permission of owner.

New Milford

A Sunday drive in spring is sure to take you where blossoming orchards and neat dairy farms stretch out in view and on such a country tour you're likely to find yourself travelling the winding lanes of New Milford, glimpsing its gracious homes, its interesting old buildings that whisper of bygone days and the friendly people who live comfortably there, enjoying the present while proudly recalling the past.

New Milford is a quiet rural hamlet now, quite different from a century ago when mills stood on almost every piece of land and it could number among its industries grist, saw, cider, plaster, clover huller, ax handle and woolen mills, a wagon-making shop, a distillery, a milk condensory, a tanney, an iron forge and black smith shops.

Most of its present residents are fruit or dairy farmers though some have unusual businesses of their own such as Roy Vail, famous custom gunsmith and antique collector. New Milford may yet see another industrial boom for it has an ardent promoter in The Land Merchant, Harry Vail, whose crisp almanacs are a joy to read, whether you are in the real estate market or not.

Should you visit the Parks Baird farm, you'd see a grist mill still in use , serving the present generation of Bairds as it did its original owner, William Baird. His great-great gandson, William Baird, and the latter's son, Bobby, are shown in Photo 1 inside the mill. The mill is still operated by the same water turbine and the original stones and machinery. The French Burr stones, a superior type imported from France, have been used for a century and a half. Silos have done away with much of the grinding formerely done, but custom grinding is still for neighboring farmers.

How Jockey Hollow Got Its Name

The two buildings in Photo 2 and 3, the Old Inn building and the Russell Ferguson homestead, one of the Township's oldest homes, once marked the boundaries of a neighborhood race track, which according to an article by Mrs. Mary Bahrman McPherson, resulted in New Milford being dubbed "Jockey Hallow." "In the old days," Mrs. MacPherson says, "a favorite pastime of the neighborhood farmers was racing their steeds between the old inn nowed owned by Mrs. Doray (also known as the Dr. Wilson place) and the Russ Ferguson farm... They would return to the inn to talk things over, sometimes swap horses and in all probability do a little betting - hence the name, Jockey Hallow.

One of the last mills to close was the tannery (Photo 6) built by Mrs. MacPherson's grandfather, Samuel Webb Clason, in 1833 on his arrival here from Massachusetts. Fine show and harness leather was turned out in the building, the largest tannery this side of Middletown. Mrs. MacPherson's father, Morris Bahrman, bought the business in 1869 and kept it running until 1920 - 87 years in all. Mr. Bahrman's widow, Mrs. Abbie Bahrman, is New Milford's oldest resident. She observed her 91st birthday last month.

School Day Memories

With many school districts now centralized, few one-room schools such as New Milford's (Photo 4 ) are now in use: this and the one at Bellvale being the only two operating in this supervisory district. Many are the memories of a favorite teacher - a shiny red apple - or pigtail in ink.

The apple handed to a teacher or a favorite beau might well have come from one of New Milford's many fruit orchards which will soon be bursting into fragrant bloom. Miss Prudence Green (Photo 5) is shown enjoying one of New Milford's famous apples with her school lunch.

In Photo 7 Emmet Leeper, born 88 years ago in a log house between Mt. Taber Road and Plank Road, who has lived in New Milford all his life. Mr. Leeper, who taught himself to play the violin at the age of 14, has furnished the music for many a gay dance and still entertains with a lively tune. Clinton Edsall, the friendly postmaster and operator of the former Jacob Stanaback general store, is shown in Photo 8 and in Photo 9 are Mr. and Mrs. John Helt, unique collectors of second hand things. Their collection includes everything from a used washer to a locomotive cab. Gathtered from near and far from auctions and sales and overflowing barn and yard, it never fails to contain just the item you seek. Mrs. Helt is the New Milford correspondent for the Dispatch.

Old Country Stores

The Edsall store and the New Milford branch of Conklin & Strong, Inc., shown in Photo 10 with Manager Herbert Odell standing in front, are two of the Township's remaining stores. Here one can settle the world's problems with neighborhood friends and trade in the leisurely manner early residents enjoyed.

Perhaps the most historically interesing residence in the locality is the Wilford Raynor home on the Warwick-New Milford road, built by General John Hathorn in 1773. (Photo 11). In the southern gable General Hathorn had fashioned in red brick an H above an old-fashioned J for John and E for Elizabeth, his wife. Martha Washington is said to have been an overnight quest at the Hathorn House.

Good Neighbors

New Milford and its neighbors worship in the 112-year old Methodist Church (last photo) built on land given by David McCamley,III, grandson of the first settlers in the Town. Neighboriness is the keystone, too, at good old fashioned suppers and sociables enjoyed in the Community House nearby. Folks from all over the Township gather for New Milford card parties and St. Anthony's Hospital at Warwick receives many expertly sewed garments from the energetic members of its Sewing

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