The ‘‘Our towns’’ column is compiled each month by Carol Johnson of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection. The entries have been copied from the March issues of the New Paltz Independent. To get a closer look at these newspapers of the past, visit the staff of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library at 93 Main Street in New Paltz, or call 255-5030.
The ground is still covered with snow, but in less than a month it will be time to plant peas. Almost every year for a long time past we have planted peas the last week in March. The mercury on Friday morning stood at zero. It was one of the coldest mornings of the winter.
On the Mertz Farms, north of Springtown, about 3,000 bushels of potatoes were grown in the past year. On the Jesse Deyo farm adjoining, about the same quantity was grown. Mr. Mertz has only about 100 bushels left, besides what he needs for seed. He is selling his surplus at $1.50 a bushel.
Abm. E. Jansen has some fine Rome Beauty apples from his four-year-old trees. This variety of apples was brought from Ohio a few years ago.
Maple sap is running now. But at the present low prices of sugar it hardly pays to undertake the task of making it from maple sap.
Post-office Inspector Duryea visited the New Paltz post-office this week. By his order, the post-office at Ohioville has been permanently discontinued. One reason is that no one in Ohioville could be found to accept the postmastership. The Ohioville mail will now be handled from the New Paltz office and it will be delivered by R.F.D. carriers.
The proposition to be voted on at the coming village election calls for 170 electric lights at $18 each: that is an annual expenditure of $2960. The village is now paying $2500 annually for street lighting, but it is proposed to have the lights burn all night—moon light schedule.
The trolley cars, seized by the town collector of Lloyd and advertised to be sold on Saturday for non-payment of taxes, have been released by order of Justice G. DB. Hasbrouck, who by the same order directs town collector Martin to appear at a special term of court at Kingston on Saturday to show cause why he should not be permanently enjoined from making the sale. Our phase of the trouble is that for the past seven years the Lloyd assessors have assessed the special franchise and likewise the bed of the road, thus making a double assessment and, of course, one or the other of these assessments is illegal. We remember distinctly that B. Van Steenburgh, bought and paid the cash for the roadbed to the stockholders of the New Paltz Turnpike, when Ferdinand McKiege was about to build the trolley line. Of course the Trolley company does not need a franchise, where it owns the roadbed. The assessors in Lloyd have evidently made a blunder. The trolley company has heretofore refused to pay the tax until the courts have decided how much of it was legal. The New Paltz assessors one year assessed the trolley line, for franchise tax, but did not do so a second time. Probably the whole matter will be threshed out on Saturday. It seems strange that the matter has been allowed to drift so long. Last year the state advertised the property for unpaid taxes, but an order was issued by Justice Nichols restraining the sale until the determination of an equitable action and this has not been brought.
There is no question that there will be a state road built from New Paltz to Highland, but there is a difference of opinion among well-informed people as to whether it will be built of macadam or of concrete. At Highland the opinion seems to prevail that the road will be of macadam. New Paltz wants a concrete road and has voted to issue bonds to pay its share of the cost of a concrete road.
Sometimes it happens that the labor unions do something so opposed to all sense of reason that it tends to do away with any feeling of sympathy that might sometimes be felt for them. The most notable thing of this kind that we have noted of late is the sticking of the union label on loaves of bread. It seems a sort of badge of slavery to the labor unions and an insult to the stomach to put such bread into one’s mouth. Besides it does not look sanitary.
There was a light vote out at the Village election on Tuesday, only 44 votes being cast. The Street Lighting Proposition was carried 29 for, and 13 against. The proposition for insuring the Normal School was carried 35 to 6.
Monday, March 21st was the first day of Spring and it was the hottest March 21st in many years. The mercury registered 74 and winter clothing was uncomfortably warm. However, a resident of our village who put on a straw hat for the sake of comfort found it awakened much comment. Then he quietly went back home and put on his other hat.
After September the New Paltz Normal School course, as well as that of other Normal Schools, will be lengthened from two years to three years, but this does not affect the classes already entered. The State Board of Regents at a recent meeting decided to lengthen out the courses and they also adopted tentatively a new instrumental and vocal music syllabus by which students under private instruction can gain Regents’ credit for their work.
It is seldom that our village has seen such a crowd as was present at the Normal building on Friday evening. The exercises were held in the gymnasium. The contests included all kinds of athletic events: Basketball, tug of war, high jump, broad jump, etc. The school was divided into two groups — the Reds and the Greens. Exhibition drills were given by the girls of the grades and High School.
A notable feature of the moving service this spring has been the number of large vans used in transporting furniture and household effects, when taken a long distance. The vans are a great convenience.
The negro population New Paltz and elsewhere in the rural districts has decreased rapidly, but in New York city the census shows that in ten years it has increased 66 percent while the white population has only increased 17 percent. This movement in all probability will continue in the future so that in another ten years there will be but few negroes left in the rural districts.
One day, last week, a fine, large buck went over the dam at Dashville Falls. He got out of the water and stood for a long time on a little crag overlooking the stream. Finally, game protector Ed Nolan, hearing of the matter, went to the spot. Then the buck walked off, up the hill, apparently unhurt by going over the dam.
Spring is here. The hepaticas or liverwort is in bloom. The grass is growing and it is almost time to run the lawn mowers. The rhubarb in the garden is almost large enough for the table. The blossoms are coming out on the soft maple trees. The lilacs are leafing out.
Eminent naturalist died on journey home
John Burroughs, the eminent naturalist, and one of the most noted writers in the country, died on Monday near Cleveland, Ohio, while on his way from Pasadena, California to his home at West Park where he was expected to celebrate his 84th birthday on Sunday, April 3. He had been very ill for six weeks with a complication of diseases, but was eager to get home and it was hoped he could survive the long journey. He was personally known in Poughkeepsie and Kingston and has been a visitor at the Normal School. The Vassar girls used to make regular visits to Slabsides to see Mr. Burroughs at his home. He was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Of late years an intimacy began between John Burroughs, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford which originated when they chanced to meet in Florida during a winter’s sojourn and they would meet at Yama Farms near Napanoch. At their last meeting they had a tree-chopping contest at which Mr. Burroughs was the winner.
During the Civil War he held a position in the Treasury Department at Washington and afterwards was a national bank examiner. While holding this position in Washington he wrote his first book “Wake Robin”. A few years later he purchased of Maurice P. Deyo, father of Charles P. Deyo, late of New Paltz, his place of ten acres on the Hudson. Here he erected a residence. A mile or two further west he erected his “Slabsides” cabin where he might study nature undisturbed.
Though he was perhaps the most eminent writer in the country, he did not realize wealth from his writing and he told a New Paltz visitor some years ago that he made more money every year from the sale of the celery which he raised with the help of a single hired man in the muck below Slabsides than he did from the sale of his books.