This is a transcription of an article published in the Warwick Valley Dispatch, dated February 18, 1976. Used with permission.
History as it should be ...
From the diary of C. J. Benedict
HOW EDENVILLE, AMITY, LITTLE YORK, LITTLE BROOKLYN, PINE ISLAND, HOOPSTICK, SNUFTOWN AND BIG ISLAND OBTAINED SERVICE FREE OF CHARGE.
In 1926, I obtained a contract to wire the farm home of Mr. Weiss on Big Island Road out of Edenville. He was getting a home lighting plant.
I completed the contract and filed an application for inspection with the New York State Fire Insurance Rating Organization of Syracuse, New York. In a few days, Mr. William Bliven came to inspect as he had many times before. When he arrived, he asked me to go with him and be prepared to spend the day. We drove to Mr. Weiss' home and Mr. Bliven inspected the job.
When he finished, he came out and got to his car and reached into the back seat. Handing me a clipboard, he asked me to draw a rough map of the road from there to Edenville, the streets of Edenville, then on to Amity and the streets there. Then from Amity to Little York, Little Brooklyn, Pine Islalnd, Hoopstick, Snufftown and Big Island.
He then took his speedometer reading which I marked down at the Weiss farm. Then Mr. Blivan stopped at each house of farm on the road and gave me the mileage from one to the other which I wrote on the map.
When we had made the round trip to Big Island and back via the Weiss farm to Edenville, Mr. Blivan stopped and told me he knew the Orange and Rockland Electric Company had had meetings in Seeley Everrett's store in Edenville and Dick Seeley's in Pine Island trying to get the people of the area to sign up for electric service at a cost of $300 per home plus wiring and fixtures.
Mr. Bliven also said he knew that the Orange and Rockland Electric Company had signed a contract to run a high line to the Amity stone quarry for Atlas Cement Company. The same high line would cross Mr. Weiss' property and the Jake Feagles property.
Our survey that day proved there were more than enough homes and farms per mile than the Orange and Rockland Electric Company charer called for, therefore, they could be compelled to run the electric lines and hook up all the places we had marked on the map free of charge.
He advised me to have contracts printed similar to those we already had, but with the following clauses added:
1. Electric service guaranteed at no cost to customer.
2. No money to be paid until current is turned on.
3. Customer agrees to sign right-of-way permit for the Orange and Rockland Company to run pole lines.
I did this and in about two months I had 250 wiring contracts signed with four churches and two schools. In passing, I would like to mention Mr. Martin Schmick paid for two of those church jobs and he was not in politics at the time.
I took the contracts to the Orange and Rockland Electric Company offices in Monroe, New York and both Mr. William Kehl and Mr. Roscoe Smith (President) looked them over and concluded they would have to run the line and would do so. They asked me to do them a favor and get the right-of-way contracts signed, which I did.
There were two property owners who refused to sign right-of-ways. One was the richest man in Edenville who made me install a new service in his house free as he already had a lighting plant and his house had been wired for several years. I had to do this as he owned the land on both sides of the road right in Edenville.
The other owner who refused lived in Pine Island. His home set back 150 feet from the road and the Orange and Rockland Electric Company charter allowed them to charge for any service that was over 100 feet from the road. I protected myself there and the Orange and Rockland did not charge me.
I had just wired the Hamilton Avenue School in Warwick and in 1927 won the contract and did the Burt Street School. I also won the contract to do the Pine Island School. I must say the Pine Island School Board had my name put on a plaque. The Warwick Board did not and I was the only contractor left off.
It was a busy time for me and I got to know nearly everyone in the area.
Old timers like Seely Everett, Cliff Quakenbush and Helen Houston can verify this story.
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: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.