|Hats Off To Spring|
In celebration of spring, 2013, the Sullivan County Historical Society has on display in the downstairs foyer glass case a collection of ladies' hats. Each of these ladies' head-dress represent differ [ ... ]
|About Us - Exhibits|
In celebration of spring, 2013, the Sullivan County Historical Society has on display in the downstairs foyer glass case a collection of ladies' hats. Each of these ladies' head-dress represent different historical eras; the earliest hat being dated as far back as 1845.
This exhibit has been created by the SCHS Musueum's Exhibit Director Sharon Thorpe. With each hat style representing a particular era, Sharon, through the exhibit, challanges visitors to accurately guess the era which each particular hat represents.
As always, the SCHS Musuem is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
The words of Max Yasgur, on whose farm the Woodstock Festival took place during three steamy August days during the summer of 1969, delighted the hundreds of thousands of young people who had gathered on his meadows to hear the legendary rock and folk music artists of the era. "I'm a farmer. I don't know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this..." reveals a different aspect to the festival, and its later reincarnation into the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, that is now explored by the new exhibit being assembled at the Sullivan County Museum. The land on which the stage was erected was cleared by early Scottish immigrants nearly a century and a half earlier. This exhibit will follow this, and subsequent, families whose own stories preceeded that of Yasgur.
After the concert, the site, considered hallowed ground to some and a nemisies by others, became embroiled in a political struggle that for decades would pit neighbor against neighbor, generation against generation, until its preservation came in the present form, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Though this exhibit is still in the process of being created, it is open to the public during the museum's normal operating hours.
Last Updated (Saturday, 13 April 2013 12:36)
Hardly had the soil settled on the fresh dug graves holding the victims from Company B who were killed in the mule-train wreck when another deadly episode at the camp of the 143rd New York Regiment added to the melancholic mood already weighing heavily upon the whole regiment. Adding to the defensive position along the Northern Virginia countryside outside of Washington, the Third Brigade of Abercrombie’s Division moved across the Potomac River during February of 1863 to strengthen the capitol’s perimeter fortifications with trenches and rifle pits. The regiments that made up this division, besides the Sullivan County boys of the 143rd, were fellow New York regiments including the 127th, who were recruited from Brooklyn; the 142nd , recruited from St Lawrence County in upstate New York; and the 144th, the regiment recruited from neighboring Delaware County. They were positioned outside of Alexandria near Fort Ward at Cloud’s Mills. The tedious camp-life of military drills, work on the fortifications and picket duty was soon met with the excitement from rumors that soon the regiments would leave the entrenchments around Washington and be called into active service. These rumors were quickly forgotten when in early March anxiety spread throughout the Union Army surrounding the capitol as Confederate raiders crossed into Union held Northern Virginia. John Singleton Mosby leading a band of twenty-nine fellow Southern Confederates raided behind the Federal lines in the cover of darkness at Fairfax Court House capturing and taking prisoner a sleeping brigadier general and his staff. Rumors again swirled throughout Federal camps, this time as to the size of the marauding rebels and just where they might show up next, putting the anxious soldiers encamped behind the front lines, most of whom had yet to see any military action besides camp life, on high alert.
On March 30th, the somber mood within the encampment of the 143rd was further deepened when word was received as to the death in army hospitals of two more Company B soldiers who were injured the previous week in the mule-team wreck, Nicholas Yorks and John Jackson. Adding to the misery, they were in the midst of an early spring snow-storm, blanketing the ground with up to ten inches of snow and burying weary and anxious pickets guarding the camp. Orders had just been received that the regiment should have their knapsacks packed, prepare three day’s rations and be ready to be on the move to Fairfax Court House if necessary. Private William Carpenter, another member of Company B, had been attached with the ambulance corps, but had ridden back into camp to prepare his knapsack. Carpenter was the eighteen-year-old son of a Monticello shoemaker who enlisted into the 143rd along with his older brother John. His knapsack packed, William mounted his horse and began to find his way back through the storm to the ambulance corps.
As Carpenter left the camp of the 143rd, crossing into the perimeter of the neighboring camp of the Delaware County Regiment, he was challenged by the picket on duty that night, Corporal George Irons, of Company H. Irons had just relieved the previous man on duty and they had exchanged weapons, which he had not realized was loaded, cocked and ready to fire. As the lone horseman approached, coming out of the swirling snow, Irons put out the command to halt, raising the musket into the charge bayonet position. Perhaps it was due to conditions created by the furious storm, but for whatever reason, Carpenter failed to stop on the command and continued on his way into the camp of the 144th. Instinctively, Irons pulled the trigger, sending the ball into Carpenter’s back, and passing through one the lung, and out his chest, knocking the rider off his mount. The wound was very serious, but Carpenter remained alert as he was taken to receive medical attention at Fort Ward. By the next morning, he became unresponsive, his eyes, though open, became fixed, staring off from the world he was preparing to leave into the new world he was about to enter.
Corporal Irons was devastated. He cried throughout the night, exclaiming over and over through his sobs that he would rather have had it happen to himself than to Carpenter.
Patriotic fever spread throughout the farms and forests of Sullivan County during the late summer of 1862 as young men laid down their plows and axes in answer to their nation’s call to arms for restoring the Union. They were sons of Bethel township farmers and neighbors, such as John Hogancamp, the twenty-four year old son of the Minard Hogancamp family from Hurd Settlement and twenty-year-old John Jackson, son of Calvin Jackson from Briscoe. Some boys had left their own family for work on other farms such as twenty-year-old William Bloomingburgh who helped the James Bedford family in the Town of Thompson. Eighteen-year-old Edward Ray, the son of Irish immigrants whose farm was located along the southern slopes of Walnut Mountain outside of Liberty, was working on the John Lacey farm near Hurd Settlement in Bethel Township. The Thompson township farm of Jonathon Demerest’s family near Bridgeville was one of the earliest clearings along the Neversink River with the forests being cleared as early as 1797.
They were sons of merchants and tradesmen, such as William Avery, whose father was a carpenter from Bridgeville. Luther Krum, the son of a cooper from near Bushville in the Town of Thompson, somehow persuaded the recruiting officer that he was old enough to enlist, though he was only sixteen. George Lyon was even younger, being only barely a teenager when he enlisted. His parent’s farm was amidst the hollows above Griffins Corners in neighboring Delaware County. Not all of the enlistees with the 143rd Regiment were still in their youth. Nicholas Yorks, the thirty-nine-year old woodsmen and bark-peeler from the upper Neversink valley, left behind his wife to care for their four young children. Scipio Crosby from Cochecton Center, whose father died leaving Scipio, the oldest son, to care for the rest of the family, was now himself married with two young children and a third on the way. Some of those who enlisted left little trace as to their family or their whereabouts, such as James Smith, but like his fellow neighbors, friends and future comrades, they were all caught up in the fervor, adventure and supposed glory of war when they enlisted with the 143rd New York Volunteer Regiment and mustered into Company B. Few would have expected that their first deadly confrontation with the enemy would not be at the hands of the Confederates, but with a team of ornery mules.
Upon first joining the Union Army, the Sullivan Regiment was positioned amongst other units within the Washington Defense Corps, in charge of guarding the nation’s capitol. The tedious military camp life of marching, drilling and the digging of trenches for defensive positions was occasionally interspersed with trips to wood camps in the nearby piney forest of Virginia, to load up railroad cars and bring firewood back into camp. The morning of March 19th, 1863, dawned with cold, gray and threatening skies as the boys of Company B loaded themselves onto the flatcars of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, heading for the Spring Field Station wood camp in the pine forests along Attotink Run. The train, made up of twenty flatcars, pulled out of the yards of Alexandria at 9 a.m. with the steam locomotive in the rear, pushing the cars in front of it proceeded to back the train down the rails. The majority of the boys from Company B were precariously overloaded onto the train’s last two cars, which were now in the lead, as the army of wood procurers made the eleven mile journey out into the Virginia countryside.
At the Spring Field Station, wood was piled high on both sides of the rails, waiting to be loaded onto the wood train. Alongside of one of the stacks of wood, a teamster with a four-mule team was unloading his wagon of wood onto the pile as the train approached the station. Perhaps due to the blast of the locomotive’s steam whistle or the ruckus made from the rumbling cars, but whatever the reason, the head team of mules became startled and bolted onto the track. The driver was able to maneuver the team and wagon out of harm’s way, but all of a sudden the still-frightened mules backed the loaded wood-wagon back onto the tracks just as the railroad cars was bearing down on it.
The soldiers riding the leading cars saw the impending disaster approaching and began throwing themselves away from the train, but the flatcars were so congested with humanity that few could get off of the doomed train before the collision. Striking the wagon loaded with wood, the leading two cars rose into the air and careened off the tracks, tipping over into the piles of wood. Soldiers were thrown from or slid off the cars, some landing amongst the wood piles and others landing between the wood and the tracks, just as the derailed cars rolled down the railroad bed and onto them. It was a frightening scene of wood, twisted metal and men all thrown into one huge pile of mayhem and death, a rude introduction for the boys of the 143rd about the realities of war.
The report issued by the military concerning the event on March 19th was brief and concise, reporting that four men were killed due to an accident on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. A more accurate version would soon appear in the newspapers back home as members of the regiment corresponded with the local editor. These letters would supply more detail of the collision and graphically explain the resulting human misery. Four boys died almost instantly as their bodies were mangled within the wreckage. John Hogancamp received a frightful blow to his forehead. George Lyons received spinal injuries with a broken back and neck. Jonathon Demerest had spinal injuries but also received a deep gash to his torso showing his entails. Luther Krum’s injuries were not recorded, though he was immediately killed. Those soldiers more seriously injured were pulled from the wreckage and loaded onto the cars that remained on the tracks. Edwin Ray, who had the wheels from one of the cars pass over him, ripping open his abdomen died before the train reached Alexandria. William Bloomingburgh, had one leg severed and the other severely injured, was brought back to camp but died in the evening. Nicholas Yorks and John Jackson both received injuries to the legs, spine and head and were brought to the military hospital in Alexandria where both died a week later.
William Avery survived the mule-team wreck. He recovered from the wounds he received though they kept him from participating in further active campaigning with his regiment. He was transferred from the Regiment to the Veteran Reserve Corps, whose responsibility was guarding the buildings and military and political figures at the nation’s capitol. At the war’s conclusion, Avery returned to his father’s farm near Bridgeville. Scipio Crosby likewise survived, and soon rejoined the 143rd and took part in its future campaigns. He was wounded again, this time by the hands of the Confederate Army at the battle of Resaca, outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently, Crosby had enough of army life and the war. While recuperating in an army hospital in Indiana, Crosby disappeared, never to rejoin his unit, eventually returning to his home and family in Cochecton Center. James Smith recovered and returned to the 143rdRegiment where he remained throughout the duration of the war until being mustered out with the full regiment in July of 1865.
The day after the mule-team wreck turned cold and blustery as snow fell, casting a spell of gloom throughout the camp of the 143rd Regiment. The flag fluttered in the breeze at half mast as six pine-box coffins, holding the remains of the unfortunate boys from Company B were lined up ready for burial detachments to escort them to their graves. Though the Regiment would later experience deadlier days as it campaigned with Sherman’s Army throughout the South, for many of the young boys and men of the Regiment from Sullivan County, the mule-team wreck and its gory aftermath dampened spirits just as the fresh-fallen snow dampened the soil dug from the fresh dug graves.
Last Updated (Monday, 11 February 2013 16:45)
"An open switch on the O&W railroad at Mountaindale caused a disastrous accident to the south bound mail train on Friday afternoon last. A north bound freight was lying on the switch waiting for the express to pass, but as the switch had not been closed, the heavily loaded passenger entered the switch and dashed into the freight. Charles Davis, the express engineer, jumped a second too late; was buried in the debris and badly cut and injured internally.
"Several of the passengers were scarred for life by the flying glass from doors and windows. The freight was badly demolished, several of the express cars telescoped and both engines were nearly ruined. Those who saw the extent of the wreck consider that all on board had a wonderful escape from death."
November 21, 1890; Liberty Register