Interesting Notes on Old Warwick

By Hylah Hasbrouck

Warwick Advertiser March 23, 1950


Transcribed by S. Gardner for Warwick Valley History

February 2005

Reproduced with permission of the Advertiser



It is known that Benjamin Aske and his yeoman, Lawrence Decker, were among the first, if not the first, white men to come to this valley[1].  No record has ever been found telling from whence they came nor how they came so I must use my imagination in saying that they came on horseback from the south because he settled in the southern part of the Wawayanda Patent.  They may have come up the Delaware River, turned right at Delaware Water Gap and found the Wallkill Creek.  Coming north the scenery was beautiful, the going easy, the Indians friendly.  Turning right again, they came to the Wawayanda Creek.  Can you not imagine their pleasure as they rode across the lush Vernon meadows?  No wonder they stayed.

Benjamin Aske’s share of the patent of which he was one of the signers, was a tract nearly in the form of a parallelogram, which extended from Wickham Lake on the north to the land now known as the Northrup Farm on the South, about three thousand acres.  Aske is thought to have lived on this part of his land (the Northrup farm) and to have been buried in the little graveyard on the knoll opposite the entrance to Camp Isida.[2]

In 1719 Aske gave Lawrence Decker a deed for one hundred acres where the Dude Ranch is now[3].  Thomas Blaine was next taking the land that was Fred Raynor’s and now Paul Miller’s[4].  Thomas DeKay received the third recorded deed.  The name Warwick was chosen by Aske since he was an Englishman, probably from Warwickshire, England.

Another group of pioneers came from the east.  Being English they had stopped in Stamford and New Canaan, Conn., but were not satisfied to stay.  The Pelton family put their belongings on a sloop and sailed on Long Island and the Hudson, then cross country in wagons to this valley.  Others came all the way by covered wagon and horseback.  Let us stop and pay tribute to their courage and perseverance.

Now we go by auto over paved roads with grades so gradual they are hardly noticed.  But think of those hills when the road was an Indian trail.   It took the New Paltz colony a hundred years to pluck up courage to go east fifteen miles to the Hudson.  Their comings and goings had been entirely up and down the Wallkill to Kingston.  So hats off to those first families of Warwick who ventured, endured and finally reached the top of Mt. Peter, we will say.  I hope their first view of the valley was on a clear day.  The first settlement was on the side of the mountains between the Ball farm and Brady’s.  Mr. Townsend W. Sanford has a small mahogany table that came with the first Sanfords and was in that settlement.  One wonders how the slender legs and small drop leaves survived the jolting.

Families came from Massachusetts, Long Island and Manhattan Island.  Col. Thomas DeKay inherited the whole of Morning Side Heights, 235 acres, which remained in the hands of some of his descendants until 1600.  He himself sold 60 acres around Canal Street and bought 1,200 acres out of the Wawayanda Patent between Vernon and Warwick, thinking the land was better for farming than lower Manhattan.  As a farmer he was right but his lack of vision was deplorable.

            Other names which are found among the first families are Ackerman, Armstrong, Benedict, Bradner, Burt, Demarest, Ketchum, Knapp, McCambly, Post, Roe, Sayer, Sanford, Sly, Welling, Wheeler, Wisner, Wood and Van Duzer.  Ben. Aske had no family.

Before 1718 this region was a tractless forest except for Indian trails.  An Indian village was on the land now the Thomas Welling farm, Chuckahass was the chief of the Mistucky tribe who made the agreement with Aske and the others for the Wawayanda Patent.  Years later an Indian greave was opened and Gen. Hathorne felt the bones found in it might be those of the old chief.  Trus soldier that he was, Gen. Hathorne had them gathered together and properly interred.  The names of Mistucky Reservoir, Chuck’s Hill and Wawayanda are the only remainders of Warwick’s first inhabitants[5]

The first pioneers settled along the Black Water Creek[6] as its swift current was an attraction, and Bellvale for many years was a prosperous village.  The advent of the railroad spelled its doom, and put Warwick on the map.  In 1763, Daniel Burt came over the hill and built the Shingle House.  In 1766 Francis Baird built the stone house and used it as a tavern having barns and farm buildings on the south side and rear. When the King’s Highway was opened to the east to reach Chester and the Hudson and a road was built north to Florida and Goshen, this intersection became the business center of the town.  A tinsmith, blacksmith, cobbler and harness maker had shops there.  The John Cowdrey general store was just north of Baird’s Tavern[7] Wawayanda Hotel was where Otto Gesell’s shop now stands[8], the United States Hotel where the Socony Gas Station[9] is now and Baird’s Tavern dispensed hospitality and refreshments.

Man of the people who came to the new settlement were Baptists in faith, and they longed for a pastor.  James Benedict, a young man who had a license to preach in Stamford, Conn., came over for a visit.  He preached nearly every day for three weeks and then returned home.  So well had he been liked he was asked to come back and stay as the pastor which he did.  Indeed, he was quite pleased to do so because he had had some difficulty with the Stamford authorities and as a reprimand he had lost the privilege of wearing his high beaver hat.

The first Baptist Church was built at the intersection of Galloway Road and Forester Avenue, Hudson Street as it was called then.  It was built of logs with the benches so narrow and the back so low one wonders how human beings could site on them for an hour’s sermon.  One of those benches can be seen in the gallery of the present church.

In 1810 the congregations had grown to such a size a new home was a necessity.  The knoll just east of the King’s Highway seemed an ideal location and it was.  On February 21, 1810, a deed was signed by John Foght, Joel Wheeler and Jeffery Wisner, 4 trustees, buying about one acre of land from Jeffery Wisner and his wife, Hannah.  The price was $230.  The survey for the land began at Sam Smith’s back door, went north so many chains and links, each so many, south so many and west so many back to Sam’s door.  The deed was recorded Feb. 22, 1810, before John Wheeler, Judge of Court of Common Please.  It is recorded with the deed that “Hannah Wisner was interviewed by me privately and conceded voluntarily and freely without coercion from her husband to the sale of the land..”  it is noted also, that Hannah signed her name, most women of those days had to make their mark.  Witnesses of the signing were James Wheeler, Ezariah Ketchum, and B. Barney.

The church was built by John Foght at a cost of $7,000 and seats 500 people.  Lebaus Latrop preached the first sermon in its beautiful high pulpit which is no longer there.  Mrs. Van Duzer recalls hearing her mother say that she played in that pulpit as it laid discarded in the barn of the parsonage.  Even in those days folks had the desire to modernize and do away with the old.  The parsonage, now Dr. Bradner’s home, was built in 1852 and cost $1,500.  Seven acres of land went with it.  The first parsonage was the little house on the corner of Forester Avenue and High Street.  It is a fire ruin now.  The story is told that Jamima Benedict, the elder’s daughter, was invited to a party at Daniel Burt’s just up the hill.  Her father refused his permission for her to go.  After the family had retired, she jumped out of her window and went.  Let us hope she danced all night because on her return she heard the family stirring and had to hop into bed with her clothes on.  She later became Mrs. Newberry.

No houses spoiled the setting for the church.  Mrs. Frank Holbert wishes once again the lawn could sweep down to Main Street with eh houses all removed.  Those houses, two of which have been sold recently, were built when Miss Julia Demarest was a young woman, so they are not ancient.  She remembers when there was only one on that block.  It stood where Louis Mattola lives now and was so small it had no stairs.  The daughter of the family was in Miss Julia’s class, a beautiful and very bright girl.  She had to climb a ladder to her room.  Across the street was another little old house which became a woodshed when the house where Miss Nichols lived was built.  Now both are gone and Stidworthy’s garage is in their place.  Not all the early settlers were Baptists.  On April 6, 1784, it is recorded that John Wheeler, Francis Baird and John Dennison were trustees of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation of Warwick, themselves being the first trustees, no minister, elders or deacons existing.  In 1770, two acres of land which had been donated for burial purposes and the use of the Presbyterian Church of Warwick.  In 1792, a plain frame building was put on this land about where the present edifice now stands with a graveyard north of it.  The pastors came over from Florida and their terms of office in the Warwick church seem to have been short and checkered with difficulties.  On February 23, 1803, negotiations began for an organized Reformed Church.  It seems that Gilleum Bertholf came on horseback from the Dutch Church in Paramus riding along the ridge to minister to the Dutch Reformed Churches that had been established as far west as Port Jervis.  He, too, looked over the valley and found it good.  He took back glowing tales of its possibilities and another group of people came from northern New Jersey among them the Demarests and Minturns.  Having lived on the flat land of Long Island and Jersey, they settled on the ridge end and the Demarest farms covered hundreds of upland acres.  East of the Isadore Demarest farm is a stone house which is thought to be the oldest house around.  It is now in the field because the road has been so changed.  It was built for Samuel Staats, a rich New York Dutchman, and used by him as a summer home.  He had seven daughters who married the sons of the aristocracy of New York.  It was those families who formed the real “Four Hundred” of New York society.  The name Staats was lost because Samuel had no sons.

With the advent of the Demarests and others, the Reformed Dutch became an established institution.  The little building was replaced by a colonial sanctuary with four pillars and a belfry holding one of the sweetest toned bells in the community.  In 1890 this building, a symbol of colonial times under the spreading maple trees, was moved down Main Street to become the Village Hall at the corner of Main and Wheeler Avenues.  The cemetery stones and what could be found of the interred were moved to the new cemetery.  Many old times wept actually and figuratively to see the change.

Must we sit back and see another beautiful colonial church waste away before our eyes?  The Old School Baptist steeple can not stand much longer with no paint on its shingles and water slowly rotting away the beams and supports.[10]  For 140 years that steeple has pointed heavenward to be seen from every road leading into Warwick.  Its gilded weather vane no longer slitters in the sunshine but it still foretells the weather for this locality more accurately than any radio announcer or weather map.  There are those who watch its position for three days at the time of the spring and fall equinox and the summer and winter solstices.  As it stands during those three days so will the prevailing winds be for the following three months.  A few months ago there was a rumor that the church might be demolished and people cried out in protest.  “It must not be,” they said.  The congregation has invested funds for its upkeep, but it stands to reason that money adequate for repairs fifty years ago could not be enough today to build a scaffolding and hire a steeplejack.  The desire of my heart is that the community may take upon itself those repairs, that Warwick may have again its white steeple against the blue hills.

I shall tell you now of other removals.  Having spoken of the Reformed Church, I’ll begin at my end of town.  There was no Edenville Road or a Grand Street as it is now called.  Access to the Demarest farm and the farm now owned by William Hulse must have been by lanes.  Miss Mary Burt’s house was the farm house for the VanDuzer farm, her mother’s home.  John J. Beattie has a photograph showing the farm buildings where Miss Julia and Miss Anne Demarest live.  A Small house stood in the south corner of the hospital yard which was painted blue.  It was moved back of the VanDuzer house then Mr. Henry Demarest bought it and moved it to Yankee Lake where it stands today, a sturdy summer cottage.

            The village pound was the lot just west of Will Hulse’s house.  Stray cattle found along the pubic highway were taken to this pound.  To get them out, the owner had to pay a fee.  Mrs. Tom Demarest was married in the parlor of the Hulse home.  Her father, Isaac Taylor, had moved his family from the hillside Taylor homestead which is now the Brady farm.  We know the house as it was when Thomas Burt owned it, build around the little original house.  Mr. Hulse says the old kitchen can be seen in the cellar and where his bay windows is there was a big chimney with a Dutch oven.  A Mr. Hoyt is thought to have built the first house, the same man who built my house in 1809.[11]  The Waywayanda Hotel made Otto Geselle’s house.  One of the original stairways and the front doros are in it.  The United States Hotel became a two family tenant house owned by Mrs. Grinnell Burt.  She sold it to Miss Edna Sayer of Bellvale.  She sold it to Mr. Zelokiwitz, the shoe man and he sold it to Socony Oil Co.  Both purchasers made several thousand dollars on their deals.  It was at the time of the Florida land boom, and my mother was so disgusted to have that money made right before her eyes.

Between the hotels was a house owned by Mrs. Servin.  After Mr. and Mrs. Joel H. Crissey moved to their attractive new home the backward of that house was very objectionable.  The place was bought, Mr. Crissey paying the greater part of the price, a few neighbors contributing, with the proviso that no building be put there.  Mr. Gesell is bound by that clause.  Mr. John Sullivan bought the old house and used the timbers for his house on Poplar Street.  Mr. Predmore bought the Burt apartment house and moved it to Lake.[12]

Band stands were put in the intersection of Main and Colonial Avenue.  I know of two that were there.  The first one Mr. J. C. Wilson (Jot Wilson) took down to his farm now owned by Earl Ryerson.  The last one was moved down Main Street to become the garage for the Methodist parsonage.  Were not the neighbors happy to see it go!  It was not the band concerts that they minded but the stand with high and not attractive to look at, it caught all the debris of the street, tramps used it as a resting place and children as a playhouse.

The Sanford family wanted to set their memorial fountain there because Mr. George Sanford had said it would be a fine place for a watering trough where he could water his horse on his way home.  The idea was a good one but no one thought that in a few years there would be no horses on the road.  The gift proved to be a costly one because a drain had to be provided for the overflow.  A ditch was dug with manpower and pipes laid to Forester Avenue and to the creek. 

The two little houses belonging to Fred Cary were sold to the library committee.  One of them was the third oldest in town.  In its cellar a huge fireplace and over were found making folks think it had been the public bake shop.  Mr. Richard Wood took of them paying $39 for the material with which he built a house on Woodside Drive.  Mr. Martin Schmick took the other paying $29.00.

The home of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was one of Warwick’s oldest mansions.  Frank Forester on his visit to the village in 1835 called it “a brick mansion, the pride of Warwick.”  It was a Forshee property and the daughter of the family, Sarah, married Mr. Servin, a New York lawyer.  The buildings which store the town road machines were the barns for the farm.  A carriage house stood back of the library until the Professional Building was erected.  Mrs. Servin ran her farm and specialized in black Dutch belted cattle.  When city folks came to town on the train, they saw these cows in the field and thought the farmer very considerate to put sheets around their bodies to keep off the flies.  Mrs. Servin spend a fortune buying blooded stock and taking them to county fairs and cattle shows, but her prizes made her happy.  There was no Forester Avenue and the Servin and Burt properties had no terraces.  A hill was cut down when the street was put through.

Where the Methodist Church stands[13] was a curry shop and across from it a meat market run by a Pitts.  Where the Savings Bank is now[14] there was a three story building with a bake shop in the basement and apartments above.  Next to this was a little frame building, the first home of the Savings Bank.  Later Miss Elizabeth Burt built the brick block now owned by the Florida Hardware.  The Welling Hotel was on the corner where the Telephone building is now.

In Welling Place the frame building which Mrs. Florence Cady bought and remodeled was built for the Warwick Athletic Association about 1891.  There were over one hundred members and shares of stock were sold.  William (Billy) VanDuzer, the grandfather of Vincent, was the builder and he did his work well.  The basement floor was used for billiard tables, the main floor as a gymnasiums and the upper floor had room for cards and games.  Mr. Townsend W. Sanford thinks he and Mr. Howard G. Pierson are the only living members of that original club.  He says there were running races, bicycles races, and performances given by trick riders and other performers in the gym.  The Athletic Association died and the building housed various businesses until Mrs. Cady bought it.  She has made it a good looking building again with attractive apartments upstairs.

A Cassidy family lived in a little stone house by the creek and kept the toll gate[15] Across the creek was open farm land.  The Johnson farm was on the right which Mr. William H. Chardavoyne bought when he came to Warwick from Jersey to establish a dry goods store in partnership with William T. Anderson also from Jersey.  They built the handsome brick block now owned by Mr. Todd and the firm was known as the W. T. Anderson Co.[16] Mr. Chardavoyne opened Orchard Street and moved the little farm house to its present site.  It was te home of the late Mrs. Sara Perry next to Mrs. Charles Sanford.  Then he built the stately home which is the Oakland Hotel.  That house was the pride and joy of Mrs. Chardavoyne.  She and a maid were kept busy keeping the rooms in perfect order and Billy, a little short Englishman, was busy outside keeping the stables and lawn in perfect order.  One Sunday morning Mr. and Mrs. Chardavoyne stopped to call on Mr. and Mrs. Lansing Furman who lived across the street on their way home from the Episcopal Church.  She looked across at her home as he always did.  “Indeed,” Mrs. Furman said, “Mrs. C. stopped only to admire her own house.”  But this particular Sunday she gave one look and said she would have to go.  Billy had let the shade in his third floor room run up to the top and stay there.  It did not take the lady long to get to that window and pull the sash to the sash where it belonged.

This house, like the others along Oakland Avenue, had a barn and a horse as kept for pleasure driving.  I do not know who was the builder of the Chardavoyne house, but in a paper like this Elihu Taylor (called Eli) should be given credit for the houses that he built.  His father, Isaac, having a lumber yard, it was a natural thing for the son to deal in real estate and build on land that he bought.  The Willard Vandervoort, Howard Miller, and William H. Sayer homes are three of his well constructed houses.  Several on South Street were his also.  He opened Linden Place.  Mr. Chardavoyne had built several of the houses on Orchard and Welling Avenue.

William Smith Benedict purchased a wide strip of land fronting Oakland Avenue and extending west to what is now Welling Avenue. (There was no street there in his day.)  In the center he built the mansion later owned by Dr. Pitts and known to you as Sunset Inn[17]  A fire not too long ago burned the roof and cupola which destroyed its original appearance.  At the time Mr. Benedict was building, Mr. Samuel Welling was building his home farther along the avenue, later occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Samuel Van Saun and still later by Mr. and Mrs. George Strong.  There was much rivalry between Smith Benedict and Samuel Welling as to which would have the showier place.  The yard of the Benedict place was marred by an old cellar with its tumbled in foundation, the remains of the old house that had been there.  Mr. T.W. Sanford remembers as a little boy seeing bigger boys run across the yard and fall into that hole.  The hold was now filled to become part of the lawn until Mr. Benjamin Frank Vail moved in the house.

When the house was completed, Mr. and Mrs. Benedict had a house warming.  Folks for miles around were invited, an orchestra provided music for dancing and at midnight a collation was served.  It is well that Smith Benedict and Mrs. Chardavoyne could not see the future appearances of the homes as they are today, and that Billy could not see his beautifully kept lawn.

The parties of those days were affairs worthy of the name.  Homes being large, the number of guests could be close to a hundred.  Crash[18] was tacked over the carpet to make dancing easier.  In country places planks were places on boxes around the sides of the room and covered with blankets in lieu of funeral chairs which were not easily borrowed.  At midnight real refreshment was served by a corps of waiters in full dress.  My memory can name Ann Sayer who reigned supreme in the kitchen.  Albert Hicks, Sr., Thomas Nesbitt, Roland Braxton, Freeman Braxton were among those who served.  The plates which they carried to the guests always had chicken salad (Ann Sayer was noted for her chicken salad) or slices of cold chicken and oysters either creamed or pickled.  The pickled oysters could be bought by the tub.  Sandwiches and slices of large raised biscuits, buttered, were passed on platters, as well as bowls of clear lemon gelatin which was the new dish of the day.  For dessert it was ice cream but one dessert is remembered that had an orange partly cut with the points of the skin curled under, a slice of banana and white grapes for each individual.  The white grapes were new too.  With this there was always three and four kinds of layer cake which were three and four layers high.

When Lillian Burt married Floyd Halstead, bowls of wine gelatin were made and set in the cellar to keep cool.  Refreshments were served, the guests had departed when some one went down cellar and discovered the wine jelly untouched.  Neighbors, friends and the sick of the town feasted on wine jelly.

I had expected to end this rambling selection of memories with short stories of yesteryear.  I have heard scores of them but how many could you tell if asked.  Others have had the urge to collect local anecdotes.  Last week Mrs. VanDuzer, as our historian, received a personal letter from Cyril F. Kilb of New York, asking her for authentic historical stories which are interesting yet amusing to be compiled into a column.  Time and your patience allow me to tell one in closing.  If will write down stories as you hear them or remember them, I would suggest an evening for Warwick Anecdotes.

Thomas Quackenbush kept a general store.  One morning the ne’er do well of the community came in and said he had had a dream the night before.  The Lord had appeared to him and told him to go to Thomas Quackenbush for a pair of shoes, which he could get on credit.  Mr. Quackenbush looked at him and said, “Go back home.  Dream again and tell the Lord Thomas Quackenbush sells for cash.”
















[1] Samuel Staats established a house here in 1700; Johannes and Elizabeth Weesner  were first permanent settlers in 1712; Aske was here before 1719.--sg

[2] This is now the Warwick Conference Center

[3] The Warwick Dude Ranch is now the Chateau Hathorn--sg

[4] Large farmhouse on the knoll on the right traveling south on Rt. 94, just before the Bowling Alley.--sg 

[5] The Lenape were not necessarily the first humans to settle here.  Archaeological evidence at Dutchess Quarry Cave predates evidence of Lenape culture by millennia.--sg

[6] Appears to be another name for Longhouse Creek

[7] This is where the present Key Bank parking lot is.

[8] About where the duplex house opposite where Forester Avenue comes into Colonial Ave.

[9] Now Mobil Station

[10] The Old School Baptist Church was deeded to the Historical Society of the Town of Warwick in 1952 and has been kept in better repair thanks to many generous donations.

[11] She appears to be referring to the house that is now the Key Bank building, opposite the intersection of Colonial Ave. & Main St.

[12] Lake St.?  Now Forester Ave.

[13] Clocktower building

[14] Corner of High and South Streets?

[15] Corner of West and Main, where the Masonic building now stands

[16] Now houses Port of Call

[17] No longer standing.  It is shown on the 1903 Atlas, between Orchard St. and Oakland Ct.    The Historical Society owns photos of this truly imposing mansion, which no longer stands.

[18] A coarse, light, unevenly woven fabric of cotton or linen, used for towels and curtains.