Saturday, September 4, 2010

Old World, New World

Remains of Bolognesi Winery, 2008 - Lucey Bowen

                                                Highland, New York
                                                May 20, 1938
Dear Carl, 
      The Bolognesi wine place[1] is probably what you have been looking for. I hope so. You take the Newburgh road out of Highland (9W I think) and go for two miles turning to your left and taking a dirt road that leads towards the river.  The Bolognesi family has about 200 acres of sloping land and the vineyards are in almost every available spot almost placed there it seems at random. They have formed what is called the Hudson Valley Wine Co., Inc. etc (see the two booklets).
      The Bolognesi family came to America in 1888 from their home in Bologna to make their way in the new world. For four centuries their family had made wines in Italy and they brought with them knowledge of raising grapes and a technique of making wine. The Father’s name was Alexander and the mother's name was Benilde. They named all their children with names beginning with A on account of the old man. The children are Alfred, Ada (the girl), Alphonse, Arrigo, and Aldo (the eldest and "the works” in the company — probably the eldest son business). The mother and father are dead and the children carry on their craft.
      Around them have built up an almost medieval feudal system of tenant farmers. That is they let their help have little farms on their place and the men get their living or part of it from working in the vineyards, driving trucks, pressing wine, cultivating etc.  They grow the following grapes; Iona (a famous grape in that section which was originated on Iona Island which is in the Hudson and they are especially fond of it), the Bacchus, the Catawba, the Delaware, the Concord. Also they grow a few Muscat graces to make muscatel. The arbors are about eight feet apart and they are trimmed way down in the winter and cultivated all the way from row to row in the spring and as the new shoots come out the vines are tied.
      In the fall when the picking time comes, the women in the little Italian colony (some of these people speak no English) turn out with gaily colored cloths wrapped around their heads and with smocks and aprons and pick the grapes. Among themselves they have a few parties at the time but nothing for outsiders. Most of the families are great wine drinkers and a little boy told me that his uncle dipped his bread in wine as if it were milk. They are great on cooking with wine as are the Italians but getting their wine probably free they probably do it more than they did in Italy.
      The Bolognesi wines are made with all the craft of the old world but Aldo seems to have had enough sense to install modern machinery for bottling (imported from France). The buildings are Romanesque and there is a towering campanile which overlooks all the vineyards and has a fine view on of the Hudson just below. There is a lovely old clock on the tower. The buildings have round windows; many of them, and over the doorways are bricked semi-circles. Over the chimneys kind of half cylinders cut length ways made out of bricks. They have little flower gardens here and there with stone fences and stone porticos and in one of them are fig trees. They have kept the old Early American houses on the place also and the severe white clapboard looks rather forlorn and pathetic beside the brick and stone edifices. The boys themselves built most of the buildings and did most of the work on the farm. None of them have married. Ada Bolognesi plays a kind of Lady Bountiful role going around to the huts of the peasants and looking after their welfare. One of the children around the place said we call her: "Signorina” and said the little boy "that means the boss” She showed his mother how to make cookies. She knew how to make cookies, the little boy said, but the Signorina showed her how to make better cookies. She is a famous cook, I gathered and while I was taking notes I saw a letter to someone on the desk, which went into a lot of detail about food and cooking with wine etc. But I gathered that their recipes are conventional Italian cooking they brought over from the old country. Only Aldo owns the firm. He has a sales manager name William E. Barneby who lives in Highland. He is the modern American who contacts the outside world for the little untouched world of the Bolognesi family.
      When the grapes are picked they are pressed by a giant roller, which looks like a giant rolling pin. It drops into the vats and then is run into 2500 gal tanks and then in the spring and fall it is racked off which means the ebb clear wine is run into casks and the residue removed. This residue could make a wonderful Hudson Valley brandy or Hudson Valley native spirit but they do little of that. It does make, I believe, vermouths and aperitifs by a process of rectifying or adding herbs. Then the wine is aged in the casks gradually being put into smaller casks. Some of the casks were products of our native cooperage industries in times past but others were imported from France and Germany. They feel the casks are almost as important as the grapes. They made for a while two native wines which they developed themselves called Delkadet and Questalon (according to Alfred) is dark and like a claret or Burgundy "but remember it has its own flavor" he said, and it is dry.  While Delkadet is rose and dry and is much like a light French table wine but still has a taste, which is local to the Hudson valley. After the wine is aged it is blended. They believe very much in vintage wines. For example 1928 and 1934 were excellent years and they think 37 was too but it is rather soon to tell.
      They are very proud of their sweet Catawba wine. It is not fortified (that is spirits added to arrest fermentation) but is naturally sweet. This result is obtained by keeping the bottles absolutely sterile. Ordinarily if brandy is not added such wine as this referments. They are proud of the fact that they do not pasteurize their wine. They point out that the residue of the grape could make am excellent spirits as the taste of the native grape is so strong and good it would be carried over. (Pasteurizing changes the taste of the wine, they said)
      They are very proud of their champagne but have been licked on it as they have been on their natives wines just mentioned by the snobbishness of the Americans for foreign wines and champagnes and brandies and vermouths etc. The Iona makes excellent champagne, as do the Delaware and Catawba. They make champagne but let it get its fizz naturally and do not artificially give it fizz. They could make a native sherry out of Delaware that would be rich and up dry but again the preference of Americans for foreign stuff. They could do a real job on it and invest in a what do you call it sherry making plant but it wouldn't pay. California spoils things with their cheap wine and poor qualities. The sherry would have a taste all its own. They have experimented with these wines and found all these things to be true. They are very honest and sincere. As Alfred said, the American people do not seem interested in how you do your work, how good your craft and technique is, but what you shout about your wine, whether it is true or not.
      They speak a great deal of the Grape Belt in the Hudson Valley. It
extends from Marlborough to Highland with a maybe a mile or two on
either end sticking out and goes in from the Hudson not more than
two miles and only on the West Bank. Why? It may be because this
section is so protected or because of special qualities of the soil
or both. But it is a very real region to them. The fruit belt goes
from Newburgh to Kingston and grapes CAN be grown in it but the
best grapes are in that belt they call the grape belt. Gleason was wet,
they say, in saying that only sweet wine can be produced on the
Hudson. Yes, sweet wines m can be produced successfully but if you
know how to do it you can also produce dry wines as good as anywhere.
In the grape belt "the big red Concord grapes are as plentiful as grass”
says Alfred. You had better check Frank Schoonmaker’s article in
the New Yorker on this outfit at the beginning of repeal.
I believe it was one of his series on wines and went into the taste
and vintage business. I didn't see it.
      Odds and ends; when the champagne is in the bottles on racks they
speak of it as in tierage. Someone showed that this grape belt
on the Hudson is the same latitude as some of the finest
vineyards of Italy. The boys dug the cellars too. 
The dean of the casks is a 2700 gal job that came from Germany.
In California one of the trouble with their wines is that they use
great square casks. Which are not nearly so good and
"can never be the same." They put out an inferior grade of
wine for price under another name but it nearly kills the old man,
Aldo. He is very proud of the wines he puts out under his own
      Do you know anything about the Geneva Agriculture Station?
The B's hope they will supplement the varieties of the Catawba and
Delaware and red grapes. This stations have already done a job on muscatel.
Note the book on New York wines mentioned in one of the pamphlets.
      The B’s are against selling wines in gallons.
They feel it does not age properly in glass unless it is in a fifth.   
      I presume you have seen The Hudson by Wallace Bruce. The book I spoke to you about is the Second Expedition of Vaughan up the Hudson in 1777 and was published in 1861. Johnston will try and find it. Be sure and save that Shawangunks booklet as I see he is asking $lO for it. He is antique guy I told you about here. ..I mean Johnston. These two pamphlets ought to give you the formal stuff about the Bolognesi outfit. I could give you some more stuff on them if I spent more time there so tell me if you want me to go back. I feel it is a good story but it would take a lot more time and palling around to get the stories that would be nice. They make The Brotherhood place look sick. Anyway, I am pretty sure that these two are the only wine places on the Hudson. Tomorrow I do Eagle's Nest, the sociological island.[2]
      Then Grahamsville where they hold their own World's Fair every year for one day. I couldn't find the Atheist cemetery in Poughkeepsie. Doctor Poucher who wrote a book on Dutchess Count cemeteries had never heard of it. However, I’11 check further.

[1] Now the Regent Champagne Cellars; vineyard is overgrown, buildings remain.
[2] The origin of the term “sociological island” is obscure, but may have arisen from the eugenics work of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboritory and is today, scientifically dubious. It refers to groups cut off from the surrounding culture and society, and liable to marry within the group. The stories and beliefs of these groups fascinated Bowen and Carmer, appearing in The Hudson as “Witches Leave Star Tracks” and in Bowen’s photographs of the Ramapos, Eagle’s Nesters, Pondshiners and Bushwackers.

The Story of Waltz the Murderer, and other Catskill Tales

On the Road Between Athens and Catskill, 2009 - Lucey Bowen

                                                Catskill, New York
                                                Saturday, May 14, 1938
Dear Carl,
      The story of the Waltz murder comes to you from the words of Charles Ernst whose father was the Constable who was killed.
      “In the year 873, the panic had just taken place. Times were hard. But our family was doing well. I remember everything very well even though I was only a fourteen-year-old boy. Father had been Constable in the town of Catskill for some years. Sheriffs changed frequently due to politics but Father remained at the jail as the town Constable. He made things easier for the new Sheriffs as they came in. At that time the Sheriff’s name was Coonley. As a young boy I listened to the older men talk and they paid no attention to me as they thought I didn’t know what was going on. I remember we had a fine set of ponies that I loved very much.
      “I remember that Joseph Waltz’s father, who lived on a fairly prosperous farm on the Albany Catskill road, reported to my father that there had been a robbery at his house. He said a scissor grinder by the name of Hoelcher had stayed at his house and left during the night, taking with him some blankets. About this time I heard my father mention the fact that some relatives of the Hoelchers had made inquiries about the whereabouts of this Hoelcher. He had been last seen heading toward Catskill with his equipment. Neighbors remembered that he had stopped at the Waltz farm, as was his custom several times each year when he came through Catskill. But no one reported as having seen him after he stopped at the Waltz farm. Now the Waltzes had three children, a girl who had moved to the West, a man who was working in New York and another son about twenty-one years old who was known throughout the countryside for his mischievous ways. He often times robbed schoolhouses. It was his habit to leave a candle burning between two beams and then go off and wait until the candle had burned down and set fire to the beams and burned up the school. He stole books but his interest in books as reading matter was not great. He also had robbed many houses and stolen the silver. On his father’s house he had built a stone tower in which he placed much of the silver. On this tower, it was reported, he intended to make speeches to the assembled multitude in the none-too-distant future.
      “As the investigation of the whereabouts of Hoelcher increased I remember my father learning that some of Hoelcher’s effects were found down near the creek and a sign posted on a tree nearby stated that we, a band of murderers had done away with Hoelcher, the scissors grinder. But suspicion pointed to the Waltz family. An examination of the farm and the room where Hoelcher had stayed revealed that the floor of the bedroom where he had slept had been planed. This together with the fact that Hoelcher had benn last seen on the farm and that the iron from his scissors grinding machine were found among some burned wood on the Waltz farm. Father and son Waltz were taken into custody and lodged at the Catskill jail, or the Greene County jail. Young Waltz and his father stayed at the jail for some time and were severely questioned. Finally young Waltz said he was tired of the whole business and confessed that he had gone into the bedroom of Hoelcher when he was asleep and cut open his head with an ax. He had then buried the body of the farm, burned the blood soaked blankets, planed the floorboards of the bedroom where the blood had dripped. From Hoelcher he had taken about $85 and a gold watch. I neglected that young Waltz has also robbed some churches among them the Episcopal Church. He confessed that he had placed the alleged note form the robbers out Coxsackie way himself, and it was found that the note had been ripped from a notebook found in the Waltz’s house. Father Waltz was released.
      Joseph Waltz remained in the prison and there was a great deal of discussion around the countryside as to whether he was insane. Some folks believed he was because of the strange things he had done. Other folks believed he had feigned insanity. Constable Ernst believed he was feigning insanity as he had put a sting up in his cell and put little paper figures on the string and said they were offerings to the Gods. My Father firmly believed that young Waltz was not insane and he made every effort to make him behave. He insisted on remaining in the cell with him. Sometimes my Father fell asleep while reading the papers on the sofa in the cell and young Hoelcher often set fire to the papers but my Father always woke up in time to put the fires out. Many times in the fail young Waltz was heard to utter threats that he would kill my Father. Many persons heard these threats and remonstrated with my Father about taking every precaution. But my Father was a fearless man. He insisted in remaining on the job and seeing that Waltz was properly taken care of.
      “The trial consisted entirely of evidence as whether Waltz was insane. Neighbors gave testimony on both sides. But in the end Waltz was sentenced to be hanged. The execution was set for May first At the Catskill Jail. Shortly after lunch on Thursday April thirtieth my Father got up from the dinner table in the Sheriff's dining room at the jail and walked into Waltz’s cell. Waltz lay into him with a bludgeon he made from folding some iron stripping for the floor. He hit Charles Ernst several times and there was a slight scuffle but almost immediately Ernst fell in a heap on the floor of the cell. Just at that moment the door bell of the Jail rang and the Sheriff or one of his children or one of the helpers got up to answer it. On his way to answer the doorbell he saw that Ernst was lying on the floor and he immediately gave the alarm. As news spread throughout the town a mob gathered at the entrance of the Jail.
      Now all the sentiment and sanity argument about Waltz vanished. The mob was out to get him now because Ernst was greatly loved in the town. The Sheriff remonstrated with the crowd but they continued to say they wanted to handle Waltz themselves. Word was sent to Albany Governor Dix sent the State Militia to Catskill and the hanging went off the next day as scheduled. My Father died a day or two after. The wounds in his head had been too much. His death threw my family into poverty as my father had lived way beyond his means. I remember the ponies were sold at auction and it nearly broke my heart. All of my brothers and myself had to go to work. I was the oldest and went to work right away in the brickyards. I later had my own butcher shop. He got nothing from the town and my father had no insurance. It was a great struggle from then on for all of us to make our way in the world. But we did and we have come out all right.” The old guy who told me this story is tall and rather handsome in a way. He has white handlebar mustaches.
      When the new County Jail was built a lady by the name of Beasley bought the old jail and turned it into an inn. It was called the Old Heidelberg. She didn't do so very well with it and sold it. The people who bought it didn't do so well either and now it is closed up. Old Man Ernst said he didn't wonder. There had been three or four hangings in it and the Lord knows what awful man had been imprisoned there. Folks around Catski11 say the place is unlucky and believe that it can never succeed.
      Around 1866 there lived in Catskill a man named Benjamin Wey. He had plenty of money and among other things he owned one of the local drug stores. He was supposedly happily married to Ellen Wey his wife. One cold winter night Ellen left the house and made for the Catskill Creek, which empties into the Hudson at Catskill. Her husband followed her through the snows by her footprints. She went out onto the ice on the Creek and went into the water a place where ice had been cut that day. With the help of some townspeople, Benjamin took her body out of the water and carried her in his arms back to his house. Some time later he married again. The second marriage was believed to be a happy one also and it lasted until Benjamin became an old man. Then one day while he and his second wife were driving across the Creek in a horse and carriage, he stopped the horses, laid aside the reins, pulled back the lap robe and got out of the carriage in the middle of the bridge. It was just over the spot where his wife had drowned herself. He jumped in and was drowned also. Folks around the town say that he had looked down onto the creek and seen Ellen. The old lady who told me this story said she remembers as a little girl looking at the old man's sad and tired face in church and wondering if perhaps too often he didn't feel the cold slender body in his arms recalling to him forever the night he carried his drowned wife back to house.
      The Salisbury family around Catskill trace their ancestors to Anne Boleyn. They have a painting in their house, which they say is a Hans Holbein portrait of Anne Boleyn. Folks say that many years ago when people had slaves that the Salisburys had a slave girl who was very beautiful. She fell in love with a man on a neighboring farm and ran away. One of the Salisbury boys followed her and captured her. He strapped her to his horse, some say he tied her and let the horse drag her. Then suddenly the horse got away and the girl and horse went over a cliff and were dashed to pieces. The Salisbury boy was sentenced to be hanged for her murder but the magistrate did not set the date and turned Salisbury loose but decreed that he must wear a noose around his neck until the date of the execution when it should be set. But the date of the execution was never set. And it is recorded that many folks used to see an old man around Catskill a black tiny silken rope around his neck fixed like a noose. He is said to have worn this until his death and he lived to a ripe old age. For references see Catskill Mountains and the Regions Around by Rev Ch. Rockwell, 1873 page 148 also Historical Collection of the State of New York by Barber and Howe page 187, 188.
      I met a girl in the office of the old Catskill Packet (published under another name now but said to be the oldest consecutively published paper in the country. She sent me up to see her family. Their name is Riley and their Mother was an Abeel.  One of the Abeels married an Indian Princess named Cornplant. She wonders if Chief Cornplanter (her kids gave her the book) is a descendent. She has a booklet called The Abeels and Allied Families, which tell something about it. They want to drive over to see him. The Abeels are one of the very old families around Catskill. They have one of the finest of the old bobsleds, which used to be used quite a lot around the country by people. They slid down the hill toward the Creek and on to the bridge. People cou1d slide from both ends of the town and meet on the bridge. They told me that at Catskill Henrick Hudson stopped and was fed roast dog by the Indians. There is another lover's leap at Catskill only it is called Hop-o-Nose and an Indian maiden leaped to her death off of it because she was disappointed in love, Schoharie, they said, there is still an association for Catching Horse Thieves. At Pot Cheese Rock folks often report that they see standing there an old white horse, which, years ago, drowned, in the quick sand. Murderer's Creek empties into the Hudson at Athens and at the time of the Revolution Sally Hamilton was murdered there and two soldiers were blamed for it. At Broom Stick Hill folks report they have seen an old Witch riding a broomstick flying past it. I ran into an old poster dated Albany Dec 23, 1833 and advertised coaches "ALBANY & CATSKILL. During the Suspension of Steam Boat Navigation the subscribers (for the better accommodation of passengers between Albany and Hudson and Catskill) will run a daily of coaches between said cities (Sundays excepted) leaving Catskill every day at 7am and Hudson at 8am and arriving at Albany at 12 noon. The proprietors have taken the utmost care in procuring the most comfortable coaches, fast riding teams, and sober and obliging drivers E.S. Johnson, agent."
      J.B. Hall was a copperhead and editor of the Recorder around 1883. He wrote such inflammatory editorials that he was once shot at and thereafter he wrote his editorial with a loaded shotgun beside his desk. In a history called Dear Old Greene County I noticed this: "Next to the great Hudson Fulton Celebration, the greatest celebration every held in Green County was that of the Old Home Week, Oct. 4 to 7 1908 In Catskill. The ball was set rolling on Sunday with services in the several churches. There was a church parade one half mile long." Catskill gave a $4000 contribution toward the Hudson Fulton Celebration.
      The calling of our government Uncle Sam originated in Catskill. Several brothers Uncle Nathan Wilson, Uncle Jonathan and Uncle Sam operated a meatpacking house or slaughterhouse. They Hived in the house in which Martin van Buren was married to Hannah Hoes in 1797 from 1817 t© 22• Either on the Catskill or Troy meat packing house some way asked what US stood for as he noticed it on the boxes of meat being sent to the arm in the war of 1812. Someone said that stands for Uncle Sam. And from there the phrase came to be used all over. I think it is inter­esting that Uncle Sam had a Brother Jonathan which was also used to refer to the US for a time.
      I was told by a Catskill physician of a sociological island called the Bushwhackers who lived in Columbia County back of Hudson near Taconic. They made wicker baskets and there were about 200 of them and they were mostly wiped out by the influenza epidemic. One or two of the group did all the dealing with the outside world and went into town with their wares and sold them. This doctor had helped deliver a baby for one of the women. Katherine Newlin Burt is supposed to have written some stuff on them. A young lawyer told me that he had seen pasted on some books in the courthouse the rule etc. for an anti-dueling society formed around 1800. He thinks it was part of a movement after the Burr-Hamilton duel. The Catskill patent is as if someone drew three arcs of a circle. This lawyer's brother, a dentist, has the hobby of photographing scenes mentioned in the Drums.[1]


[1] Carmer’s Listen For A Lonesome Drum, treating all of New York except the Hudson was published in 1936.

The Multifaceted Mr. Bigelow

Poultney Bigelow's and his wife's graves in 2009 - Lucey Bowen

                                                Friday, May 13, 1938
Dear Carl,
      I stopped to see Poultney Bigelow.[1] He lives in a curious old Victorian House near the river and has a nice view. He says he made the terrace out of the blue stone left down on the wharf. His Grandfather made his fortune in blue stone. Old Asa Bigelow had a quarry and shipped the stone down the Hudson. His son was John who became Ambassador to France and Poultney was brought up most in Europe and roomed with the Kaiser. He has written a few books none of which I understand are any  good. He has statues of many of his friends including the Kaiser adorning the driveway, which leads around his house. He also has shells sticking up here and there along the drive their noses pointed to the heavens and painted white and blue.
      He remembers that his father said he was a young boy when Lafayette came up the Hudson and stopped at Livingston Manor. There was much festivity, which his Father could see across the river. His Grandfather rowed across and shook hands with Lafayette. Poultney said that Washington had held Washington Irving in his arms when he was a baby and that Washington Irving had held him (Poultney) in his arms when he was a baby. "That makes an apostolic succession, does it not ?" he said.
      He is a nut on people doing things for themselves, making their own things and going mm back to the old days when people made their own clothes and food etc and there have been times when he tried this very much at his place. His first wife was screwy and I believe left him. His second wife was an Englishwoman and managed to make him conform more or less. When she died he had a villager make a long basket and for a long time he kept the basket in the garden where he could see his wife out of the window. They say he finally buried her in the garden. You could kid the hell of him. Why not do a profile of him as an example of Hudson River Valley screwiness for the New Yorker and than put it in the book as a chapter. He talked along at random and it was hard to pin him down. He claims that Washington was visiting his father’s place when he wrote Rip Van Winkle and that he never saw the Catskill etc. where it is all supposed to have happened until years later. He is nuts about Bancroft’s History of the United States. He said in the old days people RR and the fact that there is no place to land have made it almost impossible to do it these days and it is a great tragedy that you can’t swim in the river any more since the sewers and ships make the water so dirty. He said people worked blue stone on shares and that a man could work five or six hours and get a goodly sum for what he quarried. A dollar a day was good pay. Their place used to be about 1500 acres and old Asa also had a gristmill. The people in the great estates are mostly gone he said. What are left have a terrible time with taxes and the fact that their places get robbed by men who walk the tracks and many of them had had to fence off their places from the tracks thus cutting themselves off more from the river. He talked along about the large number of firkins of butter shipped down to New York. The hemlocks have all been ripped from the forests and the bark ripped off for tanning and then just left there.

[1] The marvelously eccentric Poultney Bigelow was a world traveler and prolific writer.

Cornie Hardenbergh and his Sheep Story

2010 Sheep in Saugerties, NY- Lucey Bowen

                                                    Friday, May 13, 1938
Dear Carl,
      I went out to Stone Ridge to see the famous Hardenbergh sheep flock and talked to Cornelius M. Hardenbergh who is a direct descendent of the great family that had such a large patent at one time. He says that most of the Hudson Valley farmers have given up their sheep growing, I mean raising, because you can’t get anything for sheep these days. Sometimes he cuts the wool and when a Jewish peddler comes around he sells his wool to him. Another reason it is difficult to raise sheep is that the wild dogs along the Hudson are so bad. They come from miles around especially the collies and the police dogs and kill the sheep. Sometimes a sheep dog will guard his flock and then go off by night for miles and miles and kill the sheep in other flocks. Just for the hell of it. They have found wool in their mouths from other sheep in neighboring flocks. Corny Hardenbergh said one winter a strange thing happened. He was delivering a sheep of her lamb and she was having trouble so he decided to let the lamb go and save the sheep. Then he discovered that she was trying to deliver a lamb that had eight legs and two bodies and one head. He had already it killed it however and now he wishes he had killed the mother and saved that strange lamb as it would have been something to see. Most of the farmers along the Hudson raise Shropshires.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"A lot of this stuff may lose guts being passed on through the medium of these rapidly written notes?"

                                                      May 12
  Dear Carl,    

       Came up here late last night and have tried to clean up my notes to you to date.
      Are you coming here on Monday? I expect to a catch the Hardenburgh sheep flock at Stone Ridge. Also to talk to maybe an old timer or two. A guy who deals in antiques and is really smart will spend Tuesday going around with us. He wrote a few of those squibs in the paper. He is smarter than this Derringer kid and more thorough in what he gets. I am afraid the Derringer kid m is a kind of bum and would do most of his research in bars.
      I expect to go north either tonight or early in the morning. But you can reach me at the Governor Clinton as Kingston, New York as I will returns here to meet you either Sunday night or Monday morning. I am staying around the corner from the Governor Clinton at a rooming house.
      Tomorrow I will be around Catskill so if you want me or want to get a message to me in a hurry you can wire me care Western Union at Catskill, New York.
      I am trying to move more north because I think, don't you, that we ought to go over the ground quickly and then think over what we know about and then go back to get a more thorough bunch of details.
      So far I have made arrangements for the antique guy to go with us on Tuesday. I think it better that you visit Eagle's Nest yourself and Grahamsville. Also Noel Armstrong would be good for you to meet and Kelly the Kingston newspaper guy who knows the present day set up and Gruver who wrote to you.  Several people have suggested that I see the Hudson River Captain Gruver wanted you to see. His name is Murdock but we can wait and let Gruver do it for you. Also I think you ought to go to Rosendale with me and actually see the cement mines and talk a little to Jake Snyder yourself. I keep feeling that a lot of this stuff may loose guts being passed on though the medium of these rapidly written notes. So I’ll see you Monday as we planned. Otherwise be sure and wire me Friday, Western Union, Catskill NY.

Photograph: Govenor Clinton Hotel Building, Kingston, 2009, Lucey Bowen

Monday, May 10, 2010

In New York's Wine Country

Newburgh, New York
May 10, 1938

        The story of N.P. Willis’ slave Linda is known around here but in spite of a search of his complete writings in the library was unable to find anything. One of the girls (she’s about fifty) at the library is asking her Aunt about Lindy and will find out or talk to the Aunt myself.
At the Armstrong place near Roseton there was a slave girl who was “walking out” with another slave and the people who preceded the Armstrong at the place (am checking names) objected to her seeing this male. The mistress of the place was walking with the slave girl one night and they met the salve who was in love with the girl. He flew into a rage at finding her chaperoned and killed the mistress of the house. The slave girl fled into the woods and the slave fled to Newburgh where he hoped to jump a sloop and get out of town. A gang of men led by one Clary chased the negro up Second Street and captured him. The little assistant librarian’s Grandfather, George D. Woolsey, tried to stop them from lynching him. But the crowd cuffed him so that he took cover in one of his Father’s sloops lying at anchor at the docks. “I was certainly glad to let the hatch cover down on me that night,” he said. The negro was hung in the Court House yard. The Librarian’s Aunt remembers hearing a lot about Andrew Jackson Downing. Anyway, I will get back tomorrow and find out what has been extracted. It was difficult situation talking to the assistant as the Head Librarian thinks she’s your official gatherer of information in Newburgh. She kept piling books in front of me and virtually everything in what you is what you have already seen. The assistant says I can have access to some private papers regarding a Richard Woolsey who carried the mail on horseback from Albany to New York. But she wants everything done outside the scope of the library or rather outside the jurisdiction of the library.
Just to be safe I’ll put down a few books although I rather imagine you have seen them. Cornwall by Lewis Beach, Newburgh, 1873. See page 8 and 9 for Danskammer (Devil’s Dance Chamber). Page 149 regarding the Ward brothers whom I told you about as being famous in sports. Manors and Historic Homes of the Hudson Valley by Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Lippencott, 1924. You have Stories of the Hudson (reported author John Wilke Lee) GP Putnam, 1871. Several people told me to look Downing and Fredericka Bremmer but I knew you had.
Notes: I was tipped off that there is an Atheist Cemetery at Poughkeepsie. “Boots” van Steed was the guy at Saugerties who went bats for love of Jenny Lind and went around for years after making speeches on corners and lived in some kind of curious cave outside of town and dressed in a strange assortment of clothes. The Aunt of the library assistant is Mrs. Dan Gardiner of 228 Grand St. Newburgh. I presume you have looked through Sam E Eager’s History of Orange County, S.E. Callahan, Newburgh, 1846. In the Newburgh Gazette for June 12, 1824, there was an excerpt form a letter from an American in Paris who had talked with Lafayette and he said “Should I dare draw a conclusion from what I heard him say I would unhesitatingly declare that we should see him among us before fall, or perhaps in a very short time. The sooner the better, for without doubt as I have often mentioned he is the best person I ever came across in my life and one of the most modest and distinguished men in the world. He is absolutely too good for Europe. America is the soil alone congenial to him, and may he soon be there you know and see how much we cherish and love him and prove that Republics are not as formerly said, “always ungrateful.” The account of Lafayette’s visit to Newburgh is given in the Gazette for Sept 18, 1824 and is something. He slipped off to fiddle with the girls at one point and remarked that the Newburgh girls were lovely.
I talked with Walter Haible, Supt. of Parks who said that there are still remains of Downing’s planting around Newburgh. Said Downing was in the nursery business which statement would have probably shocked the darling. He said the ginkgo trees were planted by him. Downing’s house is not standing nor are there any remains, he said. His estate was cut up into lots. He laid out the Cedar Hill Cemetery. When Olmstead and Vaux, famous landscape people of Boston laid out Downing Park they requested in the contract that the park "be named after Downing as he was a high muckety muck in their kind of Business. He suggested that I check Ruttenberg's History of Orange County. He said he had a clip he would show me about Downing but I already know what's in it. It’s a recent features story on him.

Washingtonville, N.Y.

Virtually the only winery of any importance on the Hudson is The Brotherhood Wine Corp. located here. The company manager is named John J. Gleason and he showed me a write-up and it said that the winery was founded by a Franciscan Monastery in 1837 and that they made communion wines in 1839,  which consisted mostly of muscatel and angelica. The requirement of a communion wine is that it  have no foreign substance in it and that the sugar in it m must only be the sugar from the grape itself. They made and still make a Loyola. Then 25 years later the Monastery moved to Brockport and it was sold to Edward R Emerson. In 1880 it was incorporated under the name of The Brotherhood. The present president of the Corp. is Louis L. Farrell and son Junior who are located at 71 Barclay telephone Barclay 7~3477. The Emerson family still control the stock, however. They make The Brotherhood champagne, which is famous and was famous in the locality. They made it out of local grapes such as the Niagara the Catawba, the Elvira, the Delaware  the latter being grown at Hammondsport. They claim to have the longest champagne vault in the world 185 feet long and at present have 150,000 bottles in stock. All during prohibition they had a large supply. They send their sacramental wine all over to Puerto Rico and Cuban Islands. Farrell has a letter from Cardinal Hayes dated Aug. 1, 1929, which says: “The Brotherhood Corp enjoys the confidence of the authorities of the Archdiocese of NY. Mr. Farrell is a practical Catholic and over a period of years has established a reputation for reliability with the Rev. Clergy of this Jurisdiction.” They claim to age their wine in oak naturally. At present they ship much of their grape juice from their wineries in California. They keep their champagne in oak for three years and then bottle and blend it adding yeast and sugar. Then store for 4 years then clean the bottle and shake it twice a day for 15 weeks until the sediment is shaken out. Then a new cork is inserted and it is labeled. The longer is sets the better. Each bottle is handled 350 times says Gleason. There are 150 acres on the Emerson estate and they produce about 50,000 bottles a year. They get about $3.00 a gal for their wine. Most of their sacramental wine is 12 years old. This fall they will start pressing grapes from the locality although it is cheaper to bring juice from California. In 1923 their wine won the prize at the St. Louis World's Fair. At Middlehope and Marlborough good sweet wine grapes are grown. The buildings are made of stone and the same one is still lived in by relatives or descendents Mrs. Adantithia de L. Emerson and Mrs. Jessie Emerson Moffat. Moffat gave the library in town and now part of it is available for movies as he lost his money on some RR in the west. He was the town big shot. They're (the two Emersons, mother and daughter) in Florida now but a gal in the town is going to find out whatever she can about the winery if she can from them by writing to them.
I had a long talk with a guy named Dwight Akers who has published a ishtory of Orange County in 1937 called Outposts of History in Orange County. He said the Franciscan Monastery stuff is the bunk.  He has gone into the matter thoroughly. For instance, he dug up a piece from the Orange County Farmer of Dee 22, 1881. An official of the company gave the story as follows: In 1839 John Jacques was visiting friends on Long Island. He had been in the shoe business for some years. The friend induced him to grow some grapes in Washingtonville. Grapes were bringing 11, 13 cents per lb. About 1843 he produced his first barrel of wine made from Catawba grapes. In 1858 he turned the business over to his brothers Orrin and Charles Jacques. They were growing about 80 different varieties of grapes. They had 35,000 gals and produced about 12 to 15 brands of wine.
Brotherhood Winery, 2009, Lucey Bowen

I noticed there was a frame house at the winery whose windows looked like they might have been in a church. That made me believe in the Franciscan part of the story but it seems that building was moved there from the Presbyterian Church nearby. It was not until much later that Catholics had any part in Washingtonville on account of the Poles who came to live there. The Franciscan part of the story was inserted on account of their selling so much sacramental wine. That’s about all I was able to get. They supplied wine and champagne to the great Hudson River families and connoisseurs claimed for it qualities as good as any foreign wine. Gleason said the Hudson Valley could, if it wanted to, become a great wine growing section, I mean grape growing section. The conditions are ideal for growing sweet grapes. Importing foreign grapes does not work well he said and it is better to specialize in growing local grapes such as I mentioned. When I head north tomorrow I will stop at some of the big vineyards between Newburgh and Kingston.
Akers suggested that we look into The Traps, which are beyond Walden on the Minnewaska Trail in the Shawangunk Mountains. The sociological island people there made barrel stays and millstones. They came there probably during the building of the canal. The stones were made out of Shawangunk grit, a stone excellent for millstones. Someone wrote a novel called Hard Wood based on them, I hear. Their church is there and many of them are still there. Mrs. Marion Travor of Walden knows something about getting their story if you are interested.
One of the stories around Washingtonville has to do with the Widow Rayner. After the Revolution Sarah Rayner moved to the foot of what is now called Rayner Hill with her illegitimate daughter. Folks said that the daughter was by the crown prince whoosis of England who later became King William IV. He was here with the English fleet. Eager mentions something about it in his History Orange County, and Akers has tried to run it down. He saw the grave of the daughter and saw the old deeds and the daughter married a local man finally. Another version of the story has it that the guy was an English office. Akers is looking up what he has and will give to us. Am sending you his book under separate cover and he is sending you a pamphlet on the Craigsville Tory doings. Sounds like it might fit in and there is something in his book on it and also you can check it, I think, with the Philip Smith book I sent on to you.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No Culture in Rosendale?

April 29, 1938

Joseph Fleming sighed at dinner at his home and said; "There is no culture in Rosendale. There is no library and no "bank.” It is a ghost town because it is a town of memories. Sometimes these days I hear people talking about Rosendale get togethers. There is a club of Rosendale people who meet in New York for dinners. But I am not interested in the Rosendale of Tomorrow. I don't want to have anything  to do with them. Let them talk. I live with my memories and with the stories my father told me of the Rosendale of yesterday....of its hard drinking tough inhabitants..long row of saloons…the cockfighting and the famous Johnny Daly who was a great breeder of fighting cocks (people who took part in the sport were cockers)....the hills honeycombed with the cement mines.
Jim Fleming runs the local Grand Union grocery store. He did not come home for dinner as he keeps the store open late Saturdays. The Fleming Father and Mother are dead. A sister Mary teaches school in Poughkeepsie. Another sister is married and one of their nieces got dinner. Bill and Joe live together, "keep bachelor's hall". Joe gets home every other weekend so Jim is all alone now and then. Ambition has driven them all.. ambition to be cultured and important and respectable and associate with to nice people. They are the children of prosperous workers in the cement mines. They are considered one of the old families of Rosendale but like all the old families, the upper strata of the town (except one or two mine owners) they are the families of workers and have remained more or less workers except for their middle-class aspects.
Old man Fleming was a great storyteller and Joe is perhaps more like him. The other members of the family do not take Joe's literary pretensions seriously. It ism interesting almost the first time I ever heard of a guy who wanted to write having sense enough to see that what went on right around him could become literary materials
We drive around the town in the late afternoon. Jim insisted that I take a picture of a fighting cock. The cock was owned by a Tobacco Road looking woman who was living in one of the lockmaster's houses along the remains of the old Canal. Her children were dirty faced and in rags. Her husband is doing a little better these days as he is getting several days work each week in the new AJ Snyder Cement Works. Joe recalled that in the old days men at the bar used to sing a song, which went like this:

"Canaler, canaler you son of a bitch
you'll never get rich,
you'll die on the Delaware ditch.”

The berm side of the canal was the side not used for the towpath and Joe said he didn't know why it was called that. The Canalers came mostly from Hawley, Rondout, and Honesdale.
We walked on down the road paralleling the canal to the ruins of an old "tenement house" for the cement workers. It was built by a once prosperous cement mine operator, Watson E Lawrence in 1837. He recalled that just across the way over the Rondout Creek (which parallels the Canal) was an abortive attempt at gold mining. He said it was on the site of the Yellow Mill Bridge. He said his brother Bill (that's the brother name who lives with him) was a cooper by trade which means he made barrels to put the cement in and worked in the cooperage which was operated by the cement company.
        The men who operated the kilns were called cement burners and Joe recalled that a foreman of his once said that the dumber a cement burner was the better he was. He pointed up at a hill and said that was the site of the Old Mad House. Why ? Because so many old Irishmen lived in it. Rosendale now has only about 500 people in it and it used to have easily 3,000 in the old days.  There was a blacksmith up the road who was a soldier in the Civil War. When he returned from the War he brought back a negro slave with him and the Negro worked for him for years unaware that he was not still slave...and working for nothing.
We passed an old canal bridge forming an arc over the canal. We looked at the old slips where the barges were turned into the cement factories to be loaded. They were pushed with pikes through the slips into the canal. We talked a minute with Ashton Knight who was paint¬ing the Rondout Creek. He's over here because his daughter in at a finishing school.
We drove into the A.J. Snyder Cement factory.  A foreman told us a little about the new activity. A man from Kingston is burning the cement... an old timer who knows his stuff. Cement is put in bags these days and shipped by truck and rail. He suggested that I see the boss. I went up to a house only a few hundred feet from the old cement factory. A rough and ready looking guy dressed like a prosperous business man was standing on his lawn looking into a little stone rimmed fish pond. His house was newly painted and must have had about ten or fifteen rooms. He paused a long time after I told him what I wanted and then talked very slowly. Joe hung behind. Then, although, he was twenty feet away I brought his into the conversation by saying; "Mr. Fleming here tells me Rosendale cement set rather slowly.” The two men met for the first time in their lives when I introduced them although Jake Snyder's family had employed the Flemings for almost a half-century or more. Soon they were calling each other Jake and "Fleming.” I guess Jake Fleming went so far but not to saying Joe. But there was not quite the gap one might have expected. Jake, after all, has had to fight his way and as you can see, is perhaps still fighting. He is a survivor of a pioneer industrialist, that is a family of pioneer industrialists.
He said of the revival of the cement business at Rosendale: "You know it’s a lot harder to start something that ‘has been’ than something entirely new.” You noticed the lack of bitterness in his voice and kind of fatalism he seemed to have. He would say: "And then Rosendale cement was not as widely used. This happened because it had to happen. Times were changing. He talked with completely objectivity of the great merger around the turn of the century. "The consolidation of the Rosendale cement companies was their downfall. The business was in terrible shape. The price was way down. People were buying cement right and left but the price was so bad you couldn't make any money."
Joe Fleming re-called that during those last rush years they threw anything into the barrels and labeled it Brooklyn bridge and shipped it on down. Jake said that was right: "Rosendale cement got a black eye." Snyder held out against the merger. They owned their cement works outright. A man like Beech had given a lot of paper on his works and Miller and Snyder could not see why they should put their works in with companies already in bad shape. The merger group then cut the Snyders off from the Canal. So they shipped their cement by horse and wagon to the RR and then loaded the cement on their barges at Weehawken, New Jersey. Later Coykendall gave back the Canal but things were about over.
Jake Snyder is the fourth generation in the cement business. Just out of college in 1902, his Grandfather had just died and the cement works on his hands and there had been all the trouble.