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Town of Wawarsing -- Wawarsing Township, the third largest political unit in the
county, is located in the extreme southwest section, with the Shawangunk range on its
eastern and the foothills of the Catskills on its western border. The area
is gorgeous and visited by many tourists year round, as it is easy to find cheap
flights to. The central portion lies
in the Rondout Valley, with its winding streams, fertile farms and beautiful homes. This
was formerly a part of Rochester Township. The first house was probably that built in
February, 1685, by Warner Hoornbeek for Jacob Rutsen, one of the first proprietors of
lands there. The Hornbeeks have been in town ever since. In 1702 the first gristmill was
built by Cornelis Vernooy.
The town was a dangerous frontier during the French and Indian War, and suffered severely
from raids by Tories and Indians during the Revolution.
A lead mine near Napanoch had been developed by Anthony Rutgers & Company before
1730, when the opening of a road to it was requested (Road Supervisors' Records,
Historical Records Survey). The Ellenville lead mine was used during the Revolution for
material for bullets for the American Army. It is within the present limits of Ellenville.
A mastodon was discovered in what is now known as McElhone's Pond, near Church Street in
Ellenville, and its head is on exhibition in the State Education Building in Albany.
Yama Farms Inn, near Napanoch, was until its recent closing a delightful private hotel,
where entertainment was strictly an invitation affair. Many celebrated persons were
visitors there. The host and hostess were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Seaman.
The Ellenville Post Office was built in 1938 at a cost of $110,000 contributed by
Congress. The first plan called for an ordinary building of red brick. Some of the
citizens, including the new postmaster, Tuthill R. McDowell, felt that the only type of
architecture which suited the community was a stone building in the Dutch style, which was
native to Ulster County. A personal appeal to President Roosevelt resulted in a new plan,
drawn by R. Stanley Brown, and a post office of the native bluestone was built and opened
December 1, 1940, a splendid reproduction of the Ulster County Dutch type of architecture.
Louis A. Simon was the supervising architect. A mural by Louis Bouche illustrates the
story of the naming of Ellenville in 1823 after Ellen Snyder.
To return to the Table of Contents,
- The Ellenville Glass Company -- This company was organized in
1836 by a group of glass makers from Coventry and Willington, Connecticut, headed by
Jasper Gilbert. The site was on Sandbergh Creek, where the New York, Ontario & Western
station now stands, and in October, 1837, they began to make bottles, carboys and
demijohns, using for fuel as much as ten thousand cords of hard wood a year from nearby
forest land which they purchased. They had a company store on Canal Street. Ellenville
bottles came to be in common use throughout the country and business flourished until the
Civil War, which affected them adversely, so that in 1866 a new company was organized and
incorporated, the Ellenville Glass Works, which took over the lands and factories of the
old concern. In 1869 this was said to be the largest establishment of its kind in the
United States, giving employment to about 540 persons, including many women and children,
who covered the bottles with a basket work of willow twigs raised on the company's
In 1871 the glass works covered twelve acres of ground and had an outlet store in New York
City, but was knocked out by the depression of 1873, foreclosed and, in 1882, its property
was finally sold to Charles A. Edwards. A new company, the Ellenville Glass Factory, was
organized, in which many of the glass blowers bought shares. They made green and amber
glassware, flasks, wine and beer bottles and one and five-gallon demijohns. In 1886 they
started making white glass for insulators and fruit jars, with silica ground from
Shawangunk Creek. A huge stone bowl used for grinding the rock now forms the base of a
fountain set up by the railroad company.
On November 20, 1886, a strike promoted by the Knights of Labor for higher wages and the
elimination of apprentices was partially successful and on December 24 the strikers
resumed their work. However, business declined and in spite of heroic efforts by the
trustees, ended in 1896 by foreclosure.
Although the chief product of the various factories was bottles, paper weights and
ornamental objects were also made. Mrs. Roy W. Ball, of Ellenville, has about twenty-five
rare pieces of great interest to old glass collectors.
To return to the Table of Contents, or send me your comments.
- The Ulster Knife Works, Ellenville -- In 1870 a cooperative
association organized for the purpose of engaging in the manufacture of pocket cutlery was
formed in Naugatuck, Connecticut. It consisted of fifty members, all of whom were skilled
workmen, and a majority of whom had been trained in the cutlery center of Sheffield,
England. Capital stock was $25,000, with shares of $25 each.
In 1871 they heard that Ellenville, Ulster County, New York, was interested in having such
a business located there. A local committee headed by Eli D. Terwilliger and William H.
Otis had already operated in an effort to secure such an industry for Ellenville.
Arrangements were made with the Naugatuck group to come to Ellenville for a conference.
Negotiations finally led to the formation of the Ellenville Knife Building Company, which
purchased the foundry property of John L. Bloomer & Sons on the Beer Kill in August,
The company succeeded in making a fine grade of cutlery, but its finances were not
sufficiently strong to enable it to continue long as a cooperative company. It could not
meet its obligations, and by 1875 was practically bankrupt. At this time "The Ulster
Knife Company" was incorporated by Jacob Hermance, John Lyon, Alfred Neafie, R.
Harvey Brodhead and Dwight Divine. This group assumed all the obligations of the company
and proceeded with the manufacture of knives. The name Ulster was then adopted as the
trade mark for its cutlery, and has since been used to designate one of the most popular
and dependable lines of cutlery ever made in this country.
In 1878 Dwight Divine took over the entire responsibility, and continued the business as
an individual enterprise, although he retained the organization of the Ulster Knife
Company. William Booth, one of the original group, was retained as foreman, and so
continued until his death many years later. Mr. Divine proved to be a very efficient
business man, and gradually straightened out the tangled financial situation and placed
the business on a paying basis, in spite of a fire which destroyed the plant in 1880. The
buildings were soon replaced. About four hundred workmen were finally employed.
In 1926, Mr. Divine organized as Dwight Divine & Sons, Inc., taking into partnership
his two sons, C. Dwight and John H. Divine, who carried on the business after the death of
their father in 1932. John H. Divine died in November, 1943. In 1941, the control of the
Ulster Knife Company was transferred from the Divine family to a group of capitalists,
with Albert M. Baer president.
It is claimed that the Ulster Knife Works is the oldest shop of its kind now in existence
in this country.
- Read more about it! . . .
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Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.