The History of the Town of Mamakating
The town of Mamakating was organized on March 7th, 1788 and was the first township of Sullivan County. The first county seat was Bloomingburgh; incorporated in 1833. According to historical records Johanis Hardenburgh, a resident of Kingston, N.Y., purchased a large tract of land known as the Hardenburgh patent. This land and another patent known as the Minisink patent were what is now most of Orange and Sullivan Counties. On December17th, 1743 a precinct was formed called Mamakating. Some say it was called Mamacotten. It included what is now all of Sullivan County but was still a part of Ulster County.
During the early and middle 1700`s the construction of forts all along the old mine road (Route 209) was necessary to protect the settlers from hostile Indians. There were three forts built in Mamakating. Fort Westbrookville was built in 1750 on what is now the Sullivan and Orange county border and until several years ago it was a restaurant. In 1757 a fort was built north of the village of Wurtsboro and it was called Fort Devans. A building was later added to make it larger and it is now the home of the Barone family, the owners and operators of the Wurtsboro airport. Another fort was built on the east side of the Bloomingburgh Mountain. It was called Fort Roosa and was built in 1731. It is still standing and is considered the oldest building in Sullivan County. Many people traveling the old mine road from Kingston found land that was good for planting crops, plenty of game to hunt, streams filled with fish, and virgin trees to build homes. They decided that it was a good place to settle down and raise a family.
In 1788 Mamakating was reduced to its present size with the forming of Deerpark, Orange County in 1788. Lumberland was formed from Mamakating in 1798, Thompson in 1803 and part of Forestburgh in1837.
In 1788 the first school in Sullivan County was built in Bloomingburgh. In 1825 two brothers by the name of Wurts decided to build a canal.
This canal was known as the D and H Canal because it traveled between the Delaware and the Hudson Rivers. It carried coal from Pennsylvania to the people in New York City. The first canal boats loaded with coal arrived at the Hudson River in November 1828. On their return trip they brought back many of the things that were needed by the people of Sullivan County. By doing this, the canal made money each way on their trip. The D and H Canal helped bring prosperity to Mamakating and all of Sullivan County. In 1899 the railroad came and marked the beginning of the end for the D and H canal. In recent years there has been a effort by interested citizens of Sullivan County to save what is left of the D and H canal. There are many places where you can see what the D and H looked like. One is on the line between Summitville and Phillipsport where a lone stretch of the canal and the towpath, along with a dry-dock have been cleaned up. The county has posted signs explaining the various parts of the canal.
There are several historic places in Mamakating one of the most important is the grave of Manual Gonsalus, the first non-Indian settler.
His tombstone is dated April 18,1752 and is one of the oldest tombstones in the state. Other historic places are the Phillipsport Church built in 1819 and the Bloomingburgh Reformed Church built in 1820 and now a county historic landmark. There is also an old cemetery located north of
Wurtsboro called the Stanton Cemetery where many of the oldest settlers are buried. This is a popular place for genealogy hunters looking to locate links to their past. Up on the east mountain above the Wurtsboro airport there can still be seen the remains of the old lead mine. Some of the lead mined there was used to make the bullets used by the northern army during the civil war.
During the early 1800`s there were several hundred tanneries in Sullivan county with several in Mamakating. The leather from these tanneries was of superior quality and during the civil war was used to make many of the boots, saddles and other leather goods used by the Union Army. In fact Mamakating tanneries, in the year 1850, produced 29,000 hides of leather from five water and horse powered tanneries.
The Town of Mamakating town board asked me if I would care to form a historical society in the town of Mamakating. They took ownership of the old school building in Summitville and completely renovated it. I eagerly accepted the offer and today we have an archive room, a great meeting room with many pictures and histories of all the areas of Mamakating and many artifacts of our area. We have165 members and we are growing fast. I hope to someday have a web page for Mamakating keep tuned. John Masten Co-Historian
Written by John Masten
Co-historian Town of Mamakating