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.

1 comment:

  1. What did he mean about "sociological island people?"

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