Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2006
James Eldridge Quinlan
“ ‘Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County’ – the magic words that always create a ripple of excitement at auctions and a flurry of spirited bidding. It was and continues to be a collector’s item. How fortunate we are that James Eldridge Quinlan took the troubled to assemble this material, the sources of which have almost all vanished with the passage of time.”
Thus did Manville Wakefield, an outstanding county historian of the twentieth century, salute James Quinlan, his nineteenth century predecessor. In this brief quotation, Manville expressed the regret which afflicts all historians and genealogists investigating the history of Sullivan County prior to the Civil War: so many original documents have been lost. Fires, floods and perhaps a general carelessness as regards historical preservation were some of the factors at work. Given the limited number of original sources, one can appreciate how important it is to have a seven hundred page volume, published in 1873, which provides an overall view of the life of the county to that point in time.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2004
The Archives Gang
The History Preserver Award is given each year to a person who has done significant work in preserving Sullivan County History. By extension, that includes groups of people with a common bond fitting the criteria for the Award.
The Sullivan County Historical Society is an all volunteer organization and depends solely on the contributions of the time and effort of our volunteers to sustain the Society’s primary mission of preserving the history of our County.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2003
Bee Schoch has written no books, but in her quiet way she has created a valuable legacy for all those persons interested in the preservation of our county’s history.
Bee has deep roots in the life of this county. She is descended from William Van Keuren who in the 19th century gave land for the Van Keuren Cemetery in the Town of Bethel. She was born in 1923 in Mongaup Valley. Her father was a carpenter and there were scores of friends and relatives to pass on the stories, handed down from generation to generation, to an impressionable young girl. However, before becoming involved in county history, Bee’s practical nature decided that she needed a profession with some security and she, therefore, took up the study of nursing at the Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn and eventually returned to the county and worked at the Monticello Hospital. After the Second World War she met and married Fred Schoch who had lost a leg in Italy. Their marriage was a close one and despite his disability, Fred lived until 1998, long enough for the two of them to celebrate their fiftieth Anniversary. Their family included two children, Wilhelmina (Mimi) and Robert, six grand-children and six great grand-children.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2002
John Conway is a man of many talents. He has tried his hand at different jobs and has been successful at all of them, but he always returns to an early love: Sullivan County history. In reflecting on the direction his life has taken, he senses the important role that his father played in developing his mind. His father ran a gas station in Monticello, but found time to be a voracious reader and books such as Quinlan’s “History of Sullivan County” occupied a prominent place on his shelves. His father passed on to John a love of knowledge and the expectation that every day should include some new learning experience. Also, he encouraged John at an early age to begin accumulating his own books and to build his own library.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2001
Mary Edith Curtis
In the 1750’s, land hungry residents of Connecticut formed the Delaware Company to move westward and to settle in new land along the Upper Delaware River. Included in the company were John Calkin and Moses Thomas who in 1754 left the settled world of Connecticut to face the perils of life on the frontier. They, of course, had children in their new home. Two of them, Oliver Calkin and Hannah Thomas, eventually married and started a family which not only survived, but flourished in this new world and is represented today by our History Preserver honoree, Mary Curtis and her two brothers, Edward and Robert, the eighth generation of that union. Hannah had a no-nonsense introduction to life on the frontier. A family tradition records that at age six she was stationed on the barricades of the stockade located on the Delaware River and was instructed to fire the muskets handed up to her by the women below who loaded them. The point was to provide a constant firing from the fort which would persuade the Indians that the forces inside the fort were too strong to be attacked. Those who know Mary would say that she has inherited Hannah’s spunk. Indeed, as Mary has reflected on the two and a half centuries her family has been in the Valley, the idea has formed of writing a book about the remarkable women who preceded her: a history to be entitled, Generations of Strong Women.