The following description
of Bellvale was written by Thomas Burt for inclusion in a
History of Orange County in 1908. He sent a copy of this to
Mr. John Bradner in Bellvale and it is included with the reprints
of the Rising Star.
Bellvale village, known in colonial times as Waywayanda, is situated on
the lower rapids of the Long House Creek, which here enters
the meadowlands and flows a mile and one half to Stone Bridge
Station, where it enters the Waywayanda, which has its source
in Clark’s Lake(Wickham Lake), and then, loses its
name when merged in the smaller stream. Longhouse Creek has its source in a swamp in
New Jersey a short distance east from Waywayanda Lake. It has a large watershed at an elevation above
tidewater of about eleven hundred feet, and in its descent
of six or seven miles runs through several fine storage basins
and down numerous rapids and falls.
For a distance of 500 feet, options were taken on some
of the storage basins by the Ramapo Water Company during its
active days with a view of conducting the water into the headwaters
of the Ramapo River.
This stream is well adapted for
the generation of water power for electrical of manufacturing
purposes, and we learn from Colonial History was utilized
by Lawrence Scrauley in 1745 to operate a forge or tilt-hammer
for a plating and slitting mill. This was the only mill of its kind in the state
of New York and in 1750 was not in operation. Under the Crown we were not allowed to advance the manufacturing
stage of iron beyond the pig and bar iron states. It seems Scrauley took his chances in this secluded portion of the
valley to furnish more convenient sizes of iron to meet the
wants of the blacksmiths and builders of that day and thus
avoid paying tribute to the manufacturers of the Mother Country.
The ruins of the hearth where the ore was smelted,
the raceway and the pit for the wheel that operated the tilt-hammer
are still visible, as well as the mudsill of the foundation
of the dam. During
the war of 1812, a Mr. Peck had an establishment upon the
stream, near the home of W.M. Mann, where he manufactured
bridle-bits, stirrups, buckles, and saddle-trees for our cavalry,
as well as agricultural implements generally.
The old forge site and the lands along the rapids up
to the line of the Cheesecock Patent were bought by Daniel
Burt, in 1760 and soon after he built a flouring mill and
a sawmill, both of which were washed away by the breaking
away of the main dam during a very unusually heavy shower
of rain. The present
flouring mill is located near the site of the earlier one.
A sawmill was built in 1812 by John Bradner and Brower
Robinson and rebuilt by Thomas Burt, who operated it and a
turning shop for about 20 years.
The dam has washed away and the mill is in ruins. A woolcarding factory was built by Nathaniel
Jones about 1810, and subsequently enlarged for the manufacture
of broadcloths by Joseph Brooks, but it is not now in operation. James, the son of Daniel Burt, about 1812 settled three
of his sons in Bellvale in the milling and mercantile
business. They established shops for a blacksmith, carpenter,
wagon maker, and the manufacture of red earthenware pottery. Benjamin Bradner had a tannery before 1812 where the ruins of the old sawmill
are situated. The
vats were located where is now the old raceway and the bark
was ground in a circular curb upon the flat rock back of the
sawmill by rolling a heavy millstone over the bark as at one
time apples were reduced to pumice by cider makers. About 1808, the Bellvale and Monroe Turnpike
was built to make a shorter route to the markets along the
Ramapo River for the produce of the farmers of Warwick.
It was nine miles long and shortened the distance previously
traveled about one half.
The road was maintained about fifty years and the charter
then surrendered to the State, and the road divided into districts.
A fund of about $500.00
on hand was spent in putting the road in order before
the charter was surrendered to the State. The stockholders never received any money for
their investment. The
massive stone arch bridge over the channel at Bellvale was
built in 1832 to take the place of the old wooden one then
unsafe for travel. Recently
the old bridge site, as well as nearly all the lands along
the Longhouse Creek for four or five miles has passed into
the hands of one owner (referring to Miss Hitchcock) as well
as for all the hills about 3000 acres of land lying along
the stream. The probable
development of waterpower for electrical purposes and an early
completion of the state road from Pine Island to Tuxedo promises
a brighter future. Tradition
accounts for the name of the stream from the longhouse that
stood on its bank near the residence of the late C.R. Cline.
The Indians that settled there built their houses end
to end, and as their families became more numerous, a
longhouse was built instead of isolated circular wigwams
of many tribes. That
there was an Indian settlement at this place is highly probable
from the nearby stream for fishing, swamp and mountain for
hunting, and the fertile prairie-like land for their crops.
In the part where the land has been cultivated, plenty
of flint arrowheads and large chips of flint with sharp edges
have been found. The flint chips were used by the squaws in
cultivating corn and tobacco.
In 1841 in
digging a cellar for an addition to the house the skeleton
of and Indian of immense size was found and, if the writer
mistakes not, in a sitting posture. This may have been only one of a great many buried there, and might
have been their chief.
Burt, Rising Star, 1907