Free at last

Nathaniel Greene

Nathaniel Greene

Former residents of what was once Woodstock are singing for joy as they plan big community celebrations of those moments 200 years ago when they won their freedom of the Ulster County town whose name once swallowed theirs. Lexington and Hunter are kicking off the bicentennials of their own incorporation as part of Greene County, itself formed in 1800 from Albany County. Greene swallowed and then spewed up bits of Ulster in the early nineteenth century.

When Hunter and Lexington were first split from Woodstock, they were made part of the Greene County township of Windham, formed while still part of Ulster County in 1798. The new county, named for Revolutionary War general Nathaniel Greene, had been created on March 25, 1800.

Hunter and Lexington were in turn split from Windham two centuries ago, as were Prattsville and Ashland, which now share a school district with Windham.


Halcott Center, Highmount, the hamlets of Shandaken and Lanesville, and Pine Hill had been grafted onto Greene County in 1801. In 1812, however, Pine Hill, Highmount and Shandaken had been given back to Ulster County.

In 1822, a survey revealed that Palenville, once part of Woodstock and later Saugerties, was actually part of Catskill in Greene County. Lot lines and political boundaries in the sparsely populated area kept shifting into the 1830s.

After a few months as the town of New Goshen, Lexington adopted instead its current name, with all its patriotic connections. Patriots’ Day, the supposed birthdate of the American Revolution still celebrated in Maine and Massachusetts, was made the town’s big local holiday.

This Saturday, April 6, Lexington, settled around 1788, will host an April history fair at the community hall in West Kill from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with booths featuring information on local families (and genealogy), library offerings, storytelling, natural history, “Scarecrow,” and a “Judd” creation at the always-estimable one-of-a-kind booth.

In Lexington, up Route 42 from Shandaken (also a former part of Woodstock), residents have also formed a Patriots’ Day Choir and are practicing at the local Methodist Church on Wednesday nights. Their big bicentennial concert on Saturday, April 20, will be followed by what is being labeled as the Grand March of Families, down oft-flooded Main Street.

Hunter, known as Edwardsville for about a year, lost land to Saugerties over the years, and eventually saw much of the newer town of Jewett carved out of it in 1849.

In Hunter, the older of the two celebrating towns by two and a half months, the current bicentennial year started on the incorporation date of January 26 (actually it was originally the 27th, a Sunday this year) with the local post office stamping all letters with a special cancellation mark.

This Friday, April 5, students from Hunter Tannersville Elementary School will reenact the town’s first board meeting on April 6, 1813. Current town board members will attend.

In August, an archival art display is scheduled for Saturdays in the Mountain Top Historical Society’s barn in Haines Falls. On August 10, surveyor Rick Brooks will make a presentation about the Fenwick lumber camp, which was on Route 214 near Lanesville. On Saturday, August 17, Marty Potskoch will give a talk about fire towers.

Hunter is planning a bicentennial parade on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, August 31. A newly designed bicentennial flag will be flown at the town hall throughout the year.