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:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Warwick Historical Papers Volume 6, Part 2

This is a transcription of an aritcle from the Warwick Valley Dispatch, dated December 20, 1950. It appears to be from a series of articles on the history of the villages and hamlets of Warwick Township. I redid the numbers on the photos because some were hard to read. The quality of the photos is not good because they are coming from the microfilm records of the paper. Not sure where Photo 5 and 9 are. If any reader could help out, let me know. Article used with permission.

Warwick Township Communties in 1950
Amity --- Edenvillle

Driving through the quiet streets of Edenville and Amity or viewing these rural hamlets from a distant hill, one geneally sees first the community church. The story of these churches is the story of the community - of the people who first settled it - early hardships when land was uncleared, roads difficult to travel and transportation methods primitive - of outstanding clergymen who served the congregation - of pioneer farmers and homemakers who bequeathed intiative and courage and a fine philosophy of living to their present-day descendants, many of whom still make their homes on the same lands or on those not so far removed.

And today, though once famous industries and enterprises have disappeared, the church remains to unite and give idendity to its respective community, to enrich its spirtual life and to serve as a place of meeting and fellowship its country folk and their neighbors. The community's church is its bulwork and to it we indebted for the gracious community life that still exists for the opportunity to take a quiet drive past charming homes, to stop perhaps for a neighborly call.

We will not attempt to give detailed histories of these churches here. Mrs. Carrie Timlow Feagles of Narrowsburg, a former resident of Amity and a relative of two of its pastors, gives interesting historical information in her book, "They Went to Church in Amity," a story of the church from 1796 to 1896. The book contains illustrations of the original log church began in 1797 and finished in 1800, the meeting house as it appeared after being rebuilt in 1828, the larger church building erected in 1868 and the building as it appeared after remodeling about 1830-31. This, the present structure, is shown in Photo 1.

Amity residents recall the high circular balcony and dome which formerly adorned its tower and regret that it was not practical to retain this section when the building had to be repaired.

Miss May Houston, Edenville historian, tells us that the present Edenville church building (Photo 2) was built in 1868. The two churches are part of the Amity-Edenville-New Milford circuit. Rev. Douglas Verdin is the present pastor. In former times it was common for the minister to serve several smaller churches and many of the districts served by the itinerant preachers of "circuit riders" of those times are served similarly by one minister today. Older residents recall the preachers of former days traveling from church to church and calling on members on horseback, often making their rounds through mud and snow.

The air view (Photo 3) shows Edenville only (Amity lies out of range at the lower right) but gives one an idea of the beautiful valley and fertile farmlands and the brooks and streams surrounding the two communities. We find various stories about the naming of the villages and whichever one prefers, one agrees that such names come naturally to the peaceful rural scene. Writing of the year 1796, Mrs. Feagles says, "They were not then known as residents of Amity, but were called 'Pochuckers' because of the proximity of the stream called by the Indian name of 'Pochunk.' Later, we are told, when a church was considered it was called the Amity Presbyterian Church from the French word "amitie," meaning friendship, and the houses clustered nearby gradually came to be the village of Amity."

"Historical Papers" (Part One, No.2) of the Historical Society of the Town of Warwick, gives the following story of the naming of Edenville based on a newspaper clipping loaned by the Houston family of Edenville. "A post office at the present village of Edenville, known as Purling Brook, existed for twenty-five years. Among the earliest settlers were the Houstons and the Posts. The property on either side of the village was owned principally by two gentlemen of the above families. One day, in a jocular way, it was said, these gentlemen agreed to toss up a cent to determine whether the village should henceforth be known a Houstonville or Postville. The toss was made and the village was known for a number of years as Postville. After Dr. Young took up his residence in the place, he suggested that inasmuch as Mount Adam and Mount Eve were located near town, it would be porper to the name the place Eden. It was so named for ten years. When the matter of establisihing a post office of that name was put before the Postmaster General he informed the people that it could not be Eden because there was a place in the state bearing that name. He suggested Eden Town, Eden Valley and Edenville. A meeting of the inhabitants was called and the later name selected. Mr. S.C. Young of this village has in his possession the minutes of the proceedings which occurred on the 4th of April, 1826. Since that time until the present our little hamlet has been known all over the world as the everglorious Edenville.

Just as the churches served as the spirtual center of the community, the stores served (and two still serve) as centers for sociability, for cracker barrel conversations and lively banter. The Amity store, operated until 1942 (Photo 4, right) is now owned by Jame Savchuck of Warwick and has been remodeled as an apartmen house. It once supplied residents with the thousand and one items of a typical country store and with a post office until Warwick rural free delivery service replaced it. Miss Mabel Trusdell, former postmistress, whose father was the last to own and operate the store, tells us of the use of the second story of the building as a dance hall and of many memorable dances held to the gay tunes of Dayton & Tannery's Orchestra. Amity residents had other musical activities, too. The Amity Cornet Band held band concerts every Tuesday night on its own bandstand on the corner(many Warwick residents bicycled out to hear it) and on the second floor of what is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Stringer, singing lessons were taught by Robert Wheat, Middletown muscian.

Amith once boasted another store which stood on the property now owned by George Langlitz and the salemen who travelled about the area with their wagonloads of merchandise were frequent visitors to both centers of trade. These same merchant often stayed overnight at the village hotel (Photo 4, left) which is now owned by Wisner Masker and remodeled into a 4-family apartment building. The old Dispatch files tells us that the hotel was often host to automobile parties, who enjoyed its famous chichen dinners.

Looking at the quaint old buildings, now converted into other uses, one may try to imagine how Amity looked in the days gone by. To help one reconstruct the scene, here is an essay written by a schoolgirl in 1883 - "My native village consists of about one hundred and thirty inhabitants and does not increase much in size on account of there being no manufacturers and no railroads, the nearest one situated at Pine Island about fourteen years. It has a school house, post office, church, cemetery, public hall, two stories, two creameries, shoemaker, wagonmaker's shop, blacksmith and harness, one clergyman, two physicians, two painters, one carpenter, several farm laborers. It is situated upon a hill and has beautiful surrounding sceneries." The community once had its own barber ship too.

James Carr & Son's General Store (Photo 5) and George Paffenroth's General Store of Edenville (Photo 6) continue in operation today. The Carr Store was originally a wagon factory operated by John Dusenberre and later by his son Wallace, who added a blacksmith shop. The old building was remodeled into a store by Mr. Carr, himself once a blacksmith at Amity. The century-old Paffenroth store, the subject of a Dispatch feature article in June 1949 has an interesting history, some of which we repeat because it is typical of the part the country store plays in its locality. Miss May Houston supplied much of the information carried in the article.

The store was founded around 1850, its first owner being Wheeler Roe. It then passed down to Silas Young, Legrand Mead and Dr. Holly and later became Mead and Young. Silas C. Young was a venerable resident and a noted minerologist, known in this country and abroad. His divided collection of minerals of the locality is to be seen in the State Education Building at Albany. The business was then sold to Rev. H. R. Edwards, better known as Dominie Edwards, who tolled at the store six days a week and on the Sabbath was a faithful worker in the Sunday school and the church on the hill. It was characteristic for him to wear a tall white silk hat.

From 1878 - 1883, the store belonged to James W. Houston, uncle of Miss Houston. George S. Everett, father of Seely Everett, took over the store in 1883. He did a thriving businesss due to the Mt. Adam Granite Company which he supplied with a two-horse wagon load of merchandise twice a week. The company employed close to 200 men, some of whom lived in the village, and others in the three large boarding houses on the premises. The company was once awarded a contract to supply the city of Brooklyn with one million paving blocks of granite, a tremendous order since all the labor had to be done without the aid of modern machinery. Mr. Everett remembers his father telling of being able to see the Hudson River from the mountain top before buildings and foilage obscured the view.

In 1897, the business was sold to Marsh and Demaree, who ran it in partnership for one year. Then Demaree sold out to Charles Sargeant and the store became known as Marsh and Sargeant. Seely S. Everett acquired the store in 1912 and ran it for its longest term until May 1, 1949, when he sold it to George Paffenroth, who had worked for Mr. Everett since his thirteenth year.

Mr. Everett tells of the days when carloads of flour and freight were carried from Florida or Pine Island, taking several days to haul. Before the days of refrigeration, butter and lard were kept in tubs in the coolness of the cellar. Then the furnace came to replace the old Crock stove which devoured anthracite coal at five-forty per ton. Here the men folks gathered for cards or dominoes or exchanged homespun yarns and chatter of the day and days gone by, interspersed with raids on the cracker barrel.

Edenville children have attended Warwick schools since Edenville became a part of the Warwick school district and Amity children attend the Pine Island Central School. The little schoolhouses their ancestors attended have been fitted to serve new uses in present times. The Edenville school (Photo 7) is a community center where card parties, socials and wedding receptions take place and the Amity school (Photo 8) has become the headquarters of the Amity Fire Department. The Amity department was organized a few years ago and we don't know of a community of comparable size which can boast of having its own fire company.

The homes in the three photographs are only a few of the many interesting old Edenville homes. Photo 9, the home of Seely Smith, was built in 1828 by Dr. James P. Young, a community physician referred to previously. Dr. Young's son, Silas, the minerologist, has also been noted previously in this article.

Another old home is that of George Drew (Photo 10) which was built in 1834. It was formerly one of the community's blacksmith shops. Photo 11 is a shingle house, also very old, formerely owned by the Houston family and recentlly purchased by Mrs. Beatrice Purdy of Mt. Vernon.

Those traveling through the community have often noted a sign pointing to an art studio at the rear of the Paffenroth store. This studio is located in a beautiful garden which was created by the late Mrs. Seely Everett. The studio houses many of Mrs. Everett's fine oil and crayon paintings. The garden and studio are one of the showplaces of Edenville and have served as a delightful background for church affairs.

Amity and Edenville history have been touched only briefly in this article as our communtiy series is designed to paint a picture of the neighborhoods today rather than be purely historical accounts. We trust that the fleeting glimpses we have included have been informative and will arouse further study of whatever the reader finds of greatest interest.

We hope if you have never enjoyed a drive through these pictureque communities you will do so, particularly now when the country is beautiful with the winter's first real snow.

Here indeed is a picture of the best in American rural life - sturdy people we are fortunate to know, interesting places we are fortunate to have "next door."

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