Saugerties is marking the 200th anniversary of the town’s incorporation this year. Most parts of town look a lot different today than they did then, but did you know many of the farms in operation at that time are still going? A few are still owned by the descendents of the original owners. Others belong to people with a sense of history, who have preserved the records of ownership back to the earliest settlements.
Some of the owners of these early agricultural endeavors were on hand at the Saugerties Farmers’ Market Saturday, Saturday, July 30, to talk history. That included tales of their family farms and descriptions of old farming methods.
Bill and Ellie Trumpbour live on a farm that has been in Bill’s family since 1732. The farm was named to the register of historic sites in 1985, and the family takes pride in its history. Bill’s forbearers were Palatines, Germans who, fleeing religious wars on the continent, sought asylum in England and were sent to the Hudson Valley in the early 1700s to find ship building materials. They settled in Germantown and Westcamp.
Bill plans on turning an old stone house on the property into a Palatine museum.
Like most local farmers, the Trumpbours worked other jobs. Bill has held a variety of sales jobs, including stock, encyclopedias and life insurance. Ellie worked as a legal secretary to several area attorneys, and also worked as a secretary at IBM.
Even with farm related tax breaks, Bill said property taxes cut deep into the family’s income. If farms are to survive in this economy, something will have to be done about real estate taxes, he said.
Over the years, the family has raised animals and a variety of crops, but as they have grown older their primary product is hay. At one time, the farm had 136 acres. But the New York Thruway Authority took a piece of the land by eminent domain, leaving them with about 120 acres. Ten acres are on the far side of the Thruway.
Trumpbours are interested in transfering development rights – a program that allows conservation organizations, such as Scenic Hudson, to pay owners of rural land up front in return for an agreement to preserve the land and not sell it to developers.