Old Landmarks About Warwick Town

By Mrs. Genevieve M. Van Duzer


Read Before Fortnightly Club, Feb 26, 1917

Published three parts in the Warwick Valley Dispatch

March 7, March 14, & March 21, 1917


Transcribed by Jackie Canevari

Warwick High School History Club

October 2003


Edited by S. Gardner[1]


Part 1


            When this subject was first assigned to me I enquired of my father, Mr. J. H. Crissey, what he considered our oldest landmarks. Without hesitation he replied Sugar Loaf Mt., Mt. Adam, Mt Eve, and the Warwick Mountains [Bellvale Mountain]. He added that they were the only ones he ever needed to find his way about.

            Our local authority, Mr. Henry Pelton, was next questioned. He as promptly answered that our landmarks were any objects that from earlier times had served to fix a starting point or mark a boundary and that he had found anything and almost everything so used from “The notch on top of the rail fence” to “The place where a thunder-struck tree formerly stood.” The farm of a neighbor of ours has for its place of beginning “a monument in the wilderness.”

            One of our leading lawyers being appealed to said he always thought first of the old stone houses that are so numerous in this vicinity. From this consensus of opinion I conclude land marks are of three kinds:

            First, Nature’s own, the mountains, and springs, trees and streams.

            Second, those constructed by man for his comfort or convenience that have become landmarks, such as highways and bridges, mills and dwelling houses.

            And third, markers placed for the sole purpose of defining boundaries or measuring distances, our New York and New Jersey state line monuments, and the few remaining milestones by our roadsides are good examples.

            The first landmarks of which I find mention in connection with this part of the country are the mountains. The Wawayanda Patentees claimed that the east boundary line of their patent, granted them 1702-3, was along the tops of the Schunnemunk and the Warwick mountains to the province of New Jersey. The proprietors of the Cheesecocks Patent, which comprises the eastern part of the Town of Warwick, contended that the division line did not follow the crooked mountains, but ran in a straight course from the Highlands to East Jersey. This would have brought the line of division near Wickham’s Pond. Upon the question of just what mountains were included in the term Highlands, seemed to hinge all the controversy leading up to the famous trial or proceedings to determine the boundary. The hearing was held in Yelverton’s barn at Chester in the spring of 1785. Official record of the same is in the County Clerk’s office at Goshen.

            Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr conducted the case for Wawayanda. We should be deeply grateful that the matter was taken up at the time, for the testimony there given we get our only information concerning many of Warwick’s pioneers, and it is obtained at first hand and under oath.

            For instance, Samuel Vantz, being sworn, states he has lived in Warwick for 55 years. He incidentally tells us the Col. DeKay came the same year he did, i.e., 1730; that Benjamin Ask was here before they came. Then he makes a further statement in regard to landmarks that were old in 1785, when he says, “From Warwick to New York before Sterling forge was built they went in a foot path by the south end of Long Pond – 40 years since the forge was built at Sterling the old Indian path entered by Dr. ?Baid’s? [possibly Baird] and went by the north end of Long Pond – Wawayanda is within a musket shot where Decay lived.”

            Dr. ?Baid? had the mill at Belvale at one time. Path is supposed to have started near the mill. On the following day “May 20, 9 o’clock, Richard Johnson sr. saith he came into the country in 1746. Never knew or heard how Sterling or Sugar Loaf got their names – about a mile and a half south – east from Mr. Wellington’s was the place he first set down.”

            Deliverance Conkling, 71 yr old, born by Butter Hill moved to Wickham’s Pond when he was 8 years old and went away at 19 years old to Haverstraw. He says the Goose Pond Mts. Used to be called Cromelines Pond where they went to kill geese. During the hearing fifty of the oldest inhabitants and most representative men of this region gave their quaintly worded testimony, and got it in record.

            The oldest hand made land mark I can find is a certain King’s Highway that the record states was laid out in 1735, and was 40 rods wide. Beginning at Newburg – Goshen road it came via the present villages of Craigville, Chester and Warwick to DeKay’s. I will read the land marks used in 1735 to indicate its course. Of them all you will notice not one remains except the streams, and then they bore the same names that they do today Otterkill, Cromline’s creek, and Double Kill.


“Certificate of Laying Out of a King’s Road – 40 Rods Wide”


      Recorded at the request of Messrs. Thomas Smith and William Mapes, Commissioners for the Precinct of Goshen, this 29th day of October, 1736.

      November 20th 1735, at the request of Msrs. Benjamin Ask, Thomas Dekey, Richard Buell, Thomas Wright, Lawrence Decker, Joseph Perry and others of Wawayanda in Orange County, in the Province of New York, we have laid out a certain King’s Road of forty rod wide, beginning at or near the corner of Mr. Vincent Matthew’s Improved Land at or by Goshen road; thence running as the Old road runs about two rods to the north of Mr. Gold Smith house and thence along to a certain place to the Otterkill by a butter nut tree standing in the Loe Land; then from the butter nut tree over the brook up the Valley to the old path or road and so along the old roads to Cromelines Creek; then along the creek on the west side of the creek though the fence as the old road formerly went to the house of the said Cromlines; then along the south side of the swamp running to the old road. Then along the old road on the north side of Joseph Perry’s fence & so along the old Road to Lawrence Decker’s house on the south side of the house; along the side of the hill over the Crossway; then along the old Road through Thomas Blains fence on the South side of his house and so over the Bridge; then along the road as it goes to Abraham Wintfield house on the south side of the said house; then along the Old Wagon road tell it come near the Duble kill; then directly to the intended Bridges over the Duble Kill; then along on a strait course to the house where young Jacob Decker lives on the south side of the said house; then along the road that runs to Gold’s Plantation over the said Kill till it comes near the house of Thomas Dekey house; then running from the said road northward over the creek or run and so along the north side of the said Thomas Dekey’s barn & so to his house.

      (Signed) Tho Smith, William Mapes Recorded, Liber B. page 483, October 29, 1736, orange County Records.”


            This is our oldest road. I failed to find anyone who could tell me just where the houses of Mr. Vincent Matthews, Mr. Goldsmith or Rulouf Swartwuots were located. All the trace of the fine Cromeline house is gone, only a small stream serves to keep his name in mind. At Joseph Perry’s we are presumably in the neighborhood of Wickham’s Pond, as Perry’s Pond is more ancient name for that lake. It passes Corelius Decker’s and Lawrence Decker’s – wherever Lawrence Decker lived, was the first land sold by Benj. Ask from his farm called Warwick, 1719. If the Wawayanda creek is mentioned at all it must be indicated as the Crossway, for we come next to Thomas Blain who settled first 1721 where Mr. Mabee now lives, two miles south of our village and afterward moved to the farm owned by Milton Sanford. Thence to the Double Kill or New Milford, and to Golds plantation, thence to Decay’s house and barn. All along the way are most interesting landmarks. The fine springs by the roadside are as carefully noted in General Washington’s map of this locality as are the bridges, G[rist] mills and taverns. G. mills on a Revolutionary map means simply a harmless, necessary grist mill; for in those days distilleries were too numerous to mention.  

            Of the springs, one of the finest is on the farm that until recently was the Col. Houston place. Very near this spring is the stone house owned by Dr. Pitts. It was built by a James Benedict about 1796 or 1798, soon after his marriage to Mary Wheeler. Here my great grandmother, Maria Benedict, was born in 1800. As a child I delighted in her stories of olden times and particularly of the wild animals, that she said came at night from far and near to drink at that spring. She used to hear the wolves howl there many a time. In front of this house in a pasture field is the Tory rock that a man his behind while his Whig neighbors searched for him. Of course it was all woods about the rock in those days and hiding was better than it would be now.

            Right in this village Charles Decker’s meadow near the railroad tracks is a spring that Mr. Milton Wood always said was paved with flat stones when the first settler came. Supposed to have been done by the Indians. Just below the town is the great Washington spring. Near it the Washington elm stood like a sentinel for more that a century after Washington’s troops camped there. He must have had a large force with him that time, for this wonderful spring did not supply enough liquid refreshment and we read that Genl. Hawthorn’s wife assisted in carrying out something very satisfying by the milk pail full from her home to camp.

            Another large spring on an adjoining farm must not be confused with the Washington Spring. It is confused enough in its own name as it is. I find it first on the map as Curtie Vantine’s spring. Next it is Curtis’ fountain – and last in Orange County Atlas – as Curtie Cantines, at least the brook is, spring not designated.

            At Mr. John Hynard’s is another Washington spring, and until recent times a large Washington oak kept it company. Having now followed the old road not only beyond our town limits, but out of New York State, so I will hasten to return by the same valley road, and will mention some of our vanished landmarks along the wayside.

            The milestones[2] that were placed all the way from the State line to Newburg, thirty-two in all, have so nearly disappeared that they may be included under this heading. The history of them would be interesting if it could be found. On Washington’s Revolutionary map, 1778, they are not shown, though “mileboards” nearer Newburg are indicated.

            I was told years ago that Benjamin Franklin was instrumental I having these stones placed and that they extended far into Jersey. This is tradition only, but well worth investigating. I can not find any one who remembers having seen one below the 38-mile stone just this side of the Jersey line. The 31st milestone was at the Amzi Francher place, the 30th is in its place at Mr. Macbee’s and the 29th by Mr. Fuller’s place, and we are all familiar with the 28th one in front of Dr. Pitts’ residence. The 27th stone is built into Mr. W. W. Van Duzer’s gate post – having been moved a short distance from its original location in order to place it permanently in the masonry. Still another, the 25th, is near Mr. Chas. M. Houston’s. All are on the west side of the roadway. This half dozen are the only ones I can locate now. Near the 25th milestone the road makes a long curve to the west. Some sixty years ago an effort was made to straighten it by making a new road connect the ends like the string of a bow. After the new road had been built repeatedly, and as often disappeared in the marsh, they tried once again with the result that a horse and cart disappeared with the road bed. The curve is still there. [bottom of newspaper damaged before microfilmed, making some items illegible] The sink hole was called Hell Hole from its resemblance to the bottomless pit. So giving a real New England flavor to the nomenclature of ???.


Part 2

            Stone houses have been extensively used as land marks.

            The last third of the eighteenth century seems to have been the Stone House Age in Warwick Township. Nearly all were built during that time. Only the briefest mention can be made of a few of them in this paper.

            One of the finest examples of the period is known as the P.E. Sanford homestead. Built by General Hawthorn,1773. It has his initials together with those of his wife and the date of the building on the south gable. The General was a Quaker – as well as a soldier. Mr. Samuel Pelton remembered attending Quaker meetings at his home.

            On the north – west corner of Main and West Streets in this village – formerly stood the house built by Col. Charles Beardsley – and afterwards known as the Cassady stone house. This was taken down in1864 when the brick corner store was built by Thomas L. Van Devort and Francis M. Woodhull. Mr. J. Harvey Van Duzer kindly furnished this information.

            I have been unable to learn when it was built except that it was prior to the Revolution.

            The tavern of Francis Baird – built in 1766 – is of interest for having furnished entertainment for all of the notable people of Revolutionary times who had occasion to journey from New England and Newburg to Philadelphia and the southern colonies. While New York was in possession of the British this old highway of ours was a much traveled one. I only wish that it might be called Colonial Road from one end of the village to the other, for that is exactly what it was – and a most important road too – but, I suppose the residents of Oakland Avenue would object.

            The stone house built by Libbeus Lathrop was torn down by E. Mills Bradner when he built the house now owned by Mrs. J. D. Pickslay.[3] We next come to the home of the Misses Benedict. It was built by their great – grandfather, James Benedict, son of the minister, and was well built. The partitions are almost solid – being of the kind styled “log-cabin.” Uprights or binders were stood up every three of four feet, and the partitions of 4-inch square timbers laid up with a yellow clay mortar between them. The plaster was put on those – no lath being used. Its builder evidently believed in preparedness – for the house had a spring in the north-west corner of the cellar, so making the family reasonably secure in case of an attack by Indians – the place could have been defended for a long time. This house was completed and the family moved into the new home in 1780. From that time to the present it has been owned by the descendants of this James Benedict[4], and for over a hundred and thirty-six years has been noted for that old fashioned hospitality that has never yet been improved upon.

            The next ??? James – 1796 or 8, and was a fine one for those times. Opposite the point where the Stone Bridge of Wisner Road joins the main road, south of the residence of Mrs. Wm. Dunning, was located one of the oldest school houses. It was of stone – those on the front being nicely faced. After it ceased to be used for school purposes, the stones were all removed to the Jonas Seely Farm, near Sugar Loaf – and used by Mr. Seely to build a fine wall around his family burying ground. Here one would think that they might have found a final resting place – but private burial plots are vanishing fast, and Mr. Geo. Turfler, the present owner of the farm, tells me that after the graves were removed – those stones have again started on their travels – having already so well served the living and the dead one wonders what will be their mission next.

            Following the road from the old school house site toward Sugar Loaf, we come to the stone house near the road leading to the City Farms. This too has been a Benedict homestead for many years. The south end was built by a Mr. Burroughs bout 1739-40. Occupied by Philip Burroughs in 1778. The City Farms property was in early times owned by the Wisner family. Mr. Wisner’s house stood at the north end of the present mansion, between it and the road. That Mr. Wisner “lived a musket shot of where” Phillip Burroughs did was proved for one fine day Phillip ??? some where down in front of his house, took aim at Mr. Wisner over by his home and fired. Why he did it is a long story, and it is not a land mark so I will not tell it now. The bullet hit the Wisner door frame.[5]

            At the end of Wickham Pond is another over interesting old stone house. Owned by the descendants of Herman de Clark. The walls are the thickest I ever remember having seen.

            Beyond the brick school at Sugar Loaf may be seen one of the last old fashioned well-sweeps. It is in daily use.

            This brings us out of the town of Warwick again. But while in Chester I wish to mention one thing that can not fail to be of local interest, as we are all more or less familiar with Greycourt station.

            The earliest settlers on Wawayanda Patent were Christopher Denn, of whose coming we so often hear in connection with the wonderful adventures of Sarah Wells. Benjamin Ask, Warwick’s pioneer, and Daniel Cromeline, who in 1716 built the first pretentious house in this region. A home dignified enough to be called Grey Court, for the building of which he had engaged skilled stone masons from England. William Bull came in to the country primarily to work on this house, not to marry Sarah Wells, though that was about the next thing he did.

            The Cromeline house stood on the east side of the highway, south from Craigville. Eager’s history tells us it was “the largest and best house from New Windsor to New Jersey.” It is to be regretted that all trace of it is gone, but when we know that in 1813 the trustees or village board of Newburgh were determined to open a street through Washington’s Headquarters, and only offered the owner $750.00 for his old stone house if he removed it himself, we can be surprised at nothing.

            Only after a hard contested lawsuit were the owners able to save their property, now Newburgh’s most cherished possession.

            The next time you are stranded at Greycourt, look along the L. & H. R. Ry. Embankment, toward Maybrook at the point where the railroad appears to meet the hills on the edge of the meadows, is about the place the first Greycourt was located.

            Nearby at Craigville were the powder mills of John Carpenter, great – grandfather of Mr. B. F. Vail. Here was manufactured a quantity of powder for the use of the Continental Army on the Hudson. Claudius Smith always tried to get the powder or failing that to steal the oxen that were used to haul it to the river. No doubt Mr. Carpenter wished the Kings Highway had been eighty rods wide, instead of forty, when he had such a highway man as Claudius to deal with.

            Mr. I. J. Stage assures me that forty rods wide was not a mistake. The English law specified that the woods and underwoods and everything that could afford a lurking place for man or beast were to be cleared away for a space of forty rods wide.


Part 3

            A very old road crosses the town of Warwick from the Jersey line, through Bloom’s Corners to Edenville (or Postville as it was once called,) thence to Florida. It can be traced by its old mile stones giving distance to Goshen. Less than a mile north from Edenville on this road was the old Post house, built of shingles in 1734. It was destroyed by fire in January 1907.

            There are old stone houses in the Edenville neighborhood that I would like to mention, but can only take time for one now. The home of Mr. George H. Davenport was built by a Revolutionary soldier, Lieutenant Herman Rowlee. The extreme poverty of many of the patriots after the close of the war is well illustrated by a story his descendants vouch for.

            Lieutenant Rowlee had but one suit of clothes. His wife washed his trousers after he retired for the night and placed them over a chair – back before a good fire, in order to have them dry by morning. The chair tipped during the night and burned up – and the clothing also. The Lieutenant had to remain in bed the next day till his wife and a kind neighbor hastily constructed a new pair.

            Ten years later he built this good stone house in which his ten children grew up. And he accumulated enough property to leave them all a legacy at the time of his death.

            In the olden times many were the industries that flourished on our water courses. Far up in the mountains on what is termed the Cascade Park section of the Long House Creek, was formerly the Finn Saw Mill. At this place was sawed all the timbers and siding used in the H. P Demarest homestead, built in 1819. All the siding was sawed from a single white wood or tulip tree. The original boards are still on the north and south sides of the building.

            Bellvale was once a very busy hamlet. There have been grist and saw mills, also a woolen mill on the creek at that place since early times; and to Bellvale also belongs the honor of having had the first and for many years the only forge and tilt – hammer in what is now the whole state of New York. An act of Parliament had been passed forbidding the manufacture in King George’s Colonies of any finer grade of iron than the “pig” or “bar iron.” In 1750 Gov. Clinton made his report to Parliament, in which he certifies that there was erected in Orange County at a place called Wawayanda, twenty-six miles form the Hudson, a planting forge, with a tilt-hammer, belonging to one Lawrence Scrawly or Shawbey [records indicate the correct name was Scrawley], and no other tilting-hammer or forge was to be found in the Province of New York.

            The dam for this old forge can be plainly seen in Bellvale village. At a forge on Long House Creek near Bellvale, bits, stirrups and saddle – trees or frames, were made by a Mr. Peck for our army during the was of 1812. The Indian Long House, from which the stream took its name, is supposed to have been near the late C. R. Cline homestead, now Fred Houston’s. From Stone Bridge or Wisner, this creek is known as the Wawayanda. Beside the Grange store at this place, the dam of Israel Wood’s grist mill was located, said to have been the first in the valley. Wood’s land extended westward, including the present farms of Washington Wood, Wm. D. Ackerman estate, and G. M. Van Duzer. The Van Duzer land was Abner Wood’s, the Ackerman farm belonged to Elipalet Wood and Daniel owned the present Wood farm. Israel kept the Stone Bridge end of the tract with the mill upon it for a time. It afterward was joined to Daniel’s portion. Abner was a Tory and Eliphalet was suspected of being one, so their lands passed into other hands. Only Daniel’s house is still owned though not occupied by his descendants.

            Eighty-two years ago this spring[6], the stones from Wood’s grist mill dam were built into the Stone Bridge that gave its name to that locality. Before that time people crossed by a wooden bridge, remains of which can be seen back of the new house of Mr. John Ayers. When it is remembered that our old highway formerly made a long curve to the eastward from a point near Mr. W. W. Van Duzer’s, going between the Capt. Benedict house and the creek, one can see that this old wooden bridge gave the most direct road to Bellvale and on to Sterling that we have ever had. After crossing the creek a this point, it passed two large stone houses, - the Calvin Bradner house, (removed by Henry Benedict when he built the frame house now occupied by his family), and the Wisner house now Mrs. W. W. Buckbee’s. From the Wisner place it was practically a straight line to Bellvale.

            Following down the creek we come to the upper ford southeast from the Capt. Benedicts place.  At our Main Street crossing there was a dam for the mill of Acel Chase, but below the village, a hundred feet or more above the bridge back of the John C. Vail house on West Street, was a mill-dam that for years caused more trouble than anything else in town. It flowed the water of Isaac Dolson’s shallow mill-pond almost up to the village of those days, as was very often the case, there was an epidemic of malaria or swamp fever, as it was called, of a most fatal type. Three members of the Pelton family, Mr. Sylvanus Francher and his wife and many others died with it. No family below the village escaped the sickness. At last the property was purchased by seven public-spirited citizens, the dam torn down and when resold a clause in the deed prohibited the building of a dam ever again on any part if the creek flowing through this farm.

            Further down stream were important mills at Sandfordville. They were owned by the McCamleys and by the Wheelers at one time. General Hathorn run a forge on farm afterward owned by Edward Davis. This was later changed into a carding and fulling mill. At New Milford were more mills. The old machinery from the Isaac Dolsen mill below our village was taken to New Milford and is still there, I am told. 

            There are many land -marks that we do not find either by following the roadways or streams.

            It is difficult to decide which of them all to mention. The northeast line of the Ira A. Hawkins farm coincides with the old Jersey claim line, that passed thence, between Warwick and Bellvale to Sterling Lake and the Hudson River. In 1769 the present boundary was established between the Sates of New York and New Jersey. Though both were then Royal provinces.  

            At Warwick Town meeting in 1808, the sum of $30.00 was voted to erect a pair of stocks and built a good pound. John M. Fought was to have a piece of land from Isaac Dolson to build the pound on, and Isaac Dolson was to be pound-master. The stocks were to be set up in the most public place in town. The pound was promptly constructed, but I do not believe the stocks were ever set up. No mention of them or of any one ever having been put in stocks can be found. The pound was located on the Thomas Burt farm. In the deed given by Gabriel S. Holbert to Thomas Burt in 1867, mention is made of the Pound lot, about two rods square, situated on the south side of the highway, about ten rods westerly from the farm house.

            Our most important land – mark from a historical standpoint, is of course, the ruins of the Sterling Furnace, where in 1778, the iron was produced for the great West Point chain, the second to be placed across the Hudson at West Point. This one, made in the Town of Warwick, was the chain that held. The first anchor made in New York State was manufactured at the same place in 1773.

            We do not have to go beyond our village limits to visit a spot of great historic interest. At the corner of Forester Avenue and the Galloway Road, facing the latter, stood the first meeting house for Christian worship in this region. We learn from the diary of Capt. Daniel Livermore, a member of Col. Dearborn’s new Hampshire Regiment, that he camped at this meeting house while on the march with his regiment to join Sullivan’s expedition against the “Five Nations” (of Indians), in Central New York. Also from the Revolutionary diaries, we learn that the expeditionary forces returned to Warwick after the successful campaign, and that it was here the New England forces “parted from the Southern Army.”

            The first minister, James Benedict, and his wife Mary Blackman, were buried beside the first Meeting House. The building - a log house, built prior to Revolution. All traces of it and the graves, that we know to have been beside it, are gone. The fine oak trees that have shaded the place have vanished, but I believe the time will come when the spot will be suitably marked. Forester Avenue, leading directly from Galloway Road to Colonial Avenue, was once known as Burt’s Lane. It was originally used as a short – cut between two Burt farm houses. Near its north end is the old shingle house built by Daniel Burt in 1764, while George III was King here in Warwick. Being one of our oldest land-marks, it makes a very suitable one to mention in conclusion. Its interior practically the same as originally built. The old painting on the chimney panel shows the waters of the Hudson flowing to the sea. The penants on the ships blow two ways at once, and the great American Eagle is perched high above all. The Tory hole by the great central chimney is still in perfect order.




[1] Items in square brackets [ ] have been added by the editor to help explain the text. A map of the valley as it appeared in 1805,  with many of the sites mentioned, is printed in the  Warwick Historical Papers.

[2] Editor’s note:  Many of the old mile markers have either been removed or hidden.  We do not note their here, as their value to unscrupulous collectors makes them very vulnerable to theft.--sg

[3] On or near property adjacent to the small stream crossing under Colonial Ave., large home behind stone wall on left as you are heading out of the village.

[4] And still is, in 2003!

[5] The Smith-Burroughs house still stands at the road leading to the correctional facilty.  The Wisner homestead was on the prison property.  An historical marker stands near the spot today.

[6] If this date is accurate, then the stone bridge which gave Wisner its original name of “Stone Bridge”, a beautiful double arch span, was built in the spring of 1835.