This Place Called Milan ~ by Bill Jeffway The Extraordinary Stories of the People Who Came Before Us
This Place Called Milan Bicentennial Edition The Extraordinary Stories of the People Who Came Before Us
Bill Jeffway Milan, Dutchess County, New York, 2018 The town boundaries of 1818 are, of course, just a legal construct. The celebration of the bicentennial of their creation is a good reason to look at the environment, dynamics and some of the people who lived within its 23,411 acres ~ from the time of the arrival of the earliest people. I believe history speaks to us in meaningful ways, if we care to listen. More at www.HistorySpeaks.us
1. 1818: IT'S A TOWN! x
The good news in the March 6, 1818 NY State Legislature vote was that "we" won the exclusive right to the town name "Milan" in competitive lobbying. The bad news was, the boundaries did not include Stissing Mountain as requested. x
2. A PLACE IN BETWEEN x
Between Salisbury iron mines and the River. Between NYC and Albany. Our earliest "in-between" role dates to Native Americans, with Mahican at the Roeliff Jansen Kill and north, and the Delaware around Wappingers Creek and south. x
3. HORSES TO HORSEPOWER x
Revolutions in transportation technology commencing before the town's inception (horses, canals, turnpikes, canals, railroads, automobiles and highways) have radically altered economic opportunity of farming and quality of life. x
4. ARISTOCRACY TO DEMOCRACY: A HOME OF OUR OWN x
It was hard for the family of one of the original nine, colonial patent holders to let go of the landlord/tenant farmer concept. They did not do so until 1889. Then, finally, the goal of building a home and farm of one's own was available for all. x
5. PLACES OF WORSHIP & FINAL REST x
Methodist, Quaker, Lutheran, Christian Connexion. These were the denominations large enough to support the building of a Church or Meeting House in early days. Burying family members in the front or back yard was commonplace.
6. HAMLET LIFE x
Hills, hollows, marshes, and lot lines conspire in a way such that Milan never developed a traditional town center. The evolution of dispersed, self-supporting hamlets bears visible remains today. X
7. RURAL COMMUNITIES OF COLOR BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR X
Milan, like many rural areas, had larger communities of persons of color before the Civil War than existed in the late 20th century or exist today. x
8. SUMMER COMMUNITIES: HEALTH & RECREATON x
Once the railroad, then highways made northern Dutchess more accessible, city people wishing to avoid the crushing summer might stay in a farmhouse with a family, rent a bungalow, or participate in a camp. All of which remain options today. x
9. LEGACY OF A 20th CENTURY LADY & GENTLEMAN FARMER x
Connecticut-born silver industry heir Frederick P. Wilcox was creating his Oakdale Estate from five farms in 1912 when he met a local woman of German Palatine heritage, Irene Kilmer. Their bold ideas for the future leave a remarkable legacy. x
POST SCRIPT: When the future becomes the past
Dedication to Veterans and Their Families When studying local history, it quickly becomes clear that among the many great changes there is one very strong constant: the persistent challenge over generations for men and women to serve their country, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. It is fitting that the Town of Milan updated its Honor Roll in recognition of its Bicentennial. It is fitting that the Dutchess County Historical Society launched the program "2018: Year of the Veteran" in Dutchess County., This was done in partnership with Dutchess County on the 100th anniversary of the end of fighting in WWI, under the Chairmanship of DCHS's Melodye Moore. As a historian, I understand the importance of actively choosing what we want to remember as a community. This book is offered with the recognition of the debt we owe to these men and women ~ past, present, and no doubt, future.
Photos to right clockwise from top left: Large stone and plaque now outside the Town Hall, newspaper clipping explaining its initial installation in 1953 at Rock City, updated 2018 Honor Roll at Town Hall, undated photo Rock City's earlier Honor Roll, the Memorial Day Parade, 2017.
1818: It's a Town!
On March 6, 1818 the NYS legislature passed the law creating our town with an effective date of March 31. The first town meeting was held April 7 at the home of Milan's first Supervisor Stephen Thorne, a house still standing on Salisbury Turnpike. The next page (left) shows an overlay on an 1858 map indicating the more expansive boundary line, including Stissing Mountain, that formed the original, if unsuccessful, 1817 petition. Underlying original patent lots are shown. x
The application of Greek and Roman classical names and European references to new towns in NY State began in 1791 and became wide-spread and notorious. Milan was a popular name. At least four other NY counties tried to establish Milan as an official town name. Thirteen other states followed New York's lead and subsequently created municipalities called Milan. The pronunciation "MY'-luhn" rather than "Mih-LAHN'" quickly distinguishes the visitor from the local. x
The boundaries of contemporary Milan were set through a process of elimination. The northern boundary is part of a wider line drawn in 1686 giving Robert Livingston 160,000 acres from that line north for his Manor. The western boundary was set in the granting of the Schuyler Patent in 1688, the "kink" to the north reflecting Schuyler's efforts to grab the sources of streams, what we today call Spring Lake and Lake Warakamack. The southern boundary was set with the Great Nine Partners Patent in 1697, although it was moved somewhat north in the resolution of a dispute in favor of the Great Nine. The eastern boundary set in 1818 did not include Stissing Mountain as originally requested. x
The roadmap closest to the date of the town's founding is 1829 (Burr), which is annotated on subsequent pages in an effort to draw as close as possible a picture of the town at its founding. You will notice the bias toward east/west roads through Milan, greatly accelerated in 1802 by the Salisbury Turnpike.
1802. The publication of this official state map shows the unrealized ambition of some to take the name Milan for a town in Jefferson County.
1812. Town of Northeast* creates a Post Office "West Northeast" at Case's Corner. 1818. Renamed Milan. *Incl. today's Milan, Pine Plains, North East.
1818. Milan village in the town of Locke, Cayuga County, had to surrender the Post Office name Milan in exchange for Locke.
1818. Yates County town accepts the name Milo as consolation prize when losing out to Dutchess County in its Milan naming request.
Roads were shaped by lot lines and ownership. Overlay of 1859 roads on the original Little Nine Partners Patent Subdivision. The roads that straddle lots 42/43 and 23/24 are North Road and South Road in Lafayetteville.
Roads were shaped by many hills and hollows. With a few exceptions, the goal was to stay flatter, even if it meant going further. As seen on this 1895 USGS Survey map.
Chapter 2 A PLACE IN BETWEEN From the time of Native Americans to today
Milan sits between two major Hudson River tributaries. x
During the time of Native Americans, the U-shaped Roeliff Jansen Kill, and the Y-shaped Wappingers Creek were a set of rough borderlines or orientation points with the Mahican to the north, and the Delaware to the south. As shown on the annotated map on the page opposite. x
In his 1956, "Old Dutchess Forever," Henry Noble MacCracken starts his county history by mentioning the thousands of artifacts that had been so easy for him to find as a child, and for others to find as adult farmers. In fact, the image on the next page, left, is of an arrowhead that was found on a Turkey Hill Road farm, shared and allowed to be photographed through the generosity of the Norton family. Locals came to call the hill where he found it, "Indian Hill," so many items were plowed up each spring. x
The images on the next page, right, show items found in northwest Milan by professional archaeologists at Bard Archaeology. They have been identified as being 1,000, 3,000 and 4,500 years old based on their design. The area appears to have been used repeatedly by hunters, but in this particular instance was not a permanent settlement. In addition to the commonly featured arrowhead, tools were found indicating activities like butchering animals, scraping hides, drilling wood and cracking nuts. x
There is general agreement that the last collective group of Native Americans living in the area may have been the settlement and Christian Mission at Shekomeko in Pine Plains. The Mission operated from 1742 but was ordered disbanded in 1746, with the 44 remaining Native Americans ordered to leave the state or face the penalty of death.
This page: Shared by the family of a local farmer who found this arrowhead while plowing a field on Turkey Hill Road generations ago. Estimated age: 3,000 years. Courtesy, the Norton family.
Opposite page: Larry Thetford's recently crafted wooden parts to stone tools including drill and drill tips (lower right), courtesy of Bard Archaeology.
Chapter 3 HORSES TO HORSE POWER: How changes in transportation changed the economics of farming in Milan
Top to bottom: Ascending Turkey Hill Rd Steamboat Clermont Replica CNE Locomotive Meyers Family, Lafayetteville
River trade and travel was revolutionized in the early 1800s through steam power, turnpikes, and canals. Their primacy, however, was challenged by railroads, which had the advantage of not freezing in the winter. Then railroads, especially the "local" ones described below, would suffer at the hands of the highway. x
Steam power arrived in 1807 with the inaugural voyage of the Clermont, the name reflecting Chancellor Robert Livingston's financial backing of, and benefit from Robert Fulton's invention. x
1802 saw the creation of The Ulster & Delaware Turnkpike, which would connect the iron mines and furnaces of Salisbury CT to the Susquehanna River, 150 miles west. Known locally as the Salisbury Turnpike, the toll road was a quick financial failure. The 1802 survey map on subsequent pages shows amazing detail. x
The first railroad in Dutchess arrived in 1848, reaching from New York City just into Dover. By 1851 it would reach Amenia and Millerton, and by 1852, Albany. The historian William P. McDermott writes of distinct periods including 1869 to 1875, when "internal" local rail lines would be constructed. This would include the line that would touch Milan; its odd wide twist driven by the desire to lay the tracks along the flatter banks of the Roeliff Jansen Kill. 1882 to 1892, New England and Pennsylvania connections. 1899 to 1938, consolidation. x
Accommodating automobile traffic involved leaving heavily-traveled Routes 9 and 22 aside for local access. The vision of 1925 Taconic State Park Commission Chair Franklin Roosevelt was to connect city people with the pleasures and health benefits of New York State Parks, such as Lake Taconic. The Parkway reached Milan in October of 1949 where it stopped, prompting for some time, a long row of gas stations along Route 199. The 1957 opening of the Kingston/Rhinecliff bridge and 1963 extension through to Albany allowed an overall increase in traffic.
Riverboats support Milan farmers Left: The Barge Milan was busy with loads of products from Milan farms that would include livestock, and milled goods, leaving from Rhinebeck's "Slate Dock" at Rhinecliff. This page: Local mill ledger showing account of Milan's Frazier brothers' milling of rye and wheat bran, corn meal, rye flour among others, that would be shipped by boat to New York City. Currency of the day, ten cents.
1802 Salisbury Turnpike Survey Map Courtesy Dutchess County Clerk
Below: left to right across spread: Hudson River to CT border
Above: The black lines indicating railroad paths clearly show the intentional avoidance of Milan's hills and hollows by following the southern bank of the U-shaped Roeliff Jansen Kill. In doing so, Milan had just one station, Jackson Corners. Technically Cokertown station was in Red Hook, albeit literally on the border, but certain Milan institutions gained the name such as "Cokertown school." x
Right: Punches in a train ticket show someone traveling one stop from Hibernia to Stanfordville on July 4, 1891. You can see the Jackson Corners stop as an option. The improved speed of trains combined with refrigeration allowed Milan farmers to shift from the increasingly competitive market of grains (from the western US) to focus on dairy, as local ledgers show.
Highways & Corridors of Power x
WPA Artist Georgina Klitgaard's View of Kingston shows the 1921 Kingston-Port Ewen suspension bridge, the type proposed in the late 1940s (insets) to connect Kingston Pt. to Rhinecliff near the train station. The bridge would have gone by the lighthouse depicted in the river. A truss bridge was built four miles north instead, opening in 1957. x
Right: A 1936 planned Parkway route would have gone through the center of Jackson Corners. x
Far right: Starting in 1928, the installation and subsequent expansion of power lines through the town remains a major topic today.
Chapter 4 FROM ARISTOCRACY TO DEMOCRACY Building A Home of Our Own
Left: Robert Livingston, Third Lord of the Manor Courtesy New-York Historical Society Right: John I. Rowe Courtesy Rowe Church
In 1704, nine wealthy, well-connected individuals were granted the "Little Nine Partners Patent," the final piece of the county's land puzzle. Largely the area that today includes Milan, Pine Plains and North East, it was subdivided in 1744 into roughly 900-acre rectangles which were assigned to each partner through a lottery. From 1788 the area was administered as the Town of Northeast. x
The first sale in what is today Milan was Lot 22, a 911-acre parcel sold in 1760 by Robert Livingston, Third Lord of the Manor, to German Palatine family member Johannes Rowe, Jr. (formerly Rau). The buyer's father was a Palatine immigrant, part of the massive influx of Protestant refugees from Germany in 1710, aided by Queen Anne of England and Robert Livingston himself. The Rowe family lived in Milan until 1914, until the death of Horatio Rowe, and left an extraordinary legacy. x
The oldest item visible today is the 1765 headstone of Johannes, Jr.'s young son, William, in the family cemetery. The stone house Rowe built in 1766 no longer stands. The 1818 home of one of his sons does remain. The Church and Parsonage you see today were built and donated in 1838 by the Rowe family, replacing an initial, smaller church. Coincidentally, a parcel in Lot 22 would be purchased by another German Palatine family descendant two centuries later. In 1968, Irene Kilmer Wilcox purchased then deeded as a gift to the townspeople of Milan the lot and town hall constructed in the mirror image of the Rowe Church across the street. x
The longest-standing contentious landlord/tenant relationship in the area was George Clarke, whose descendants held onto ownership of all their land until 1889, when a family feud and lawsuit finally cracked their grip. x
Photos on the following pages show the 1760 Livingston/Rowe deed, maps of the Patent and its subdivision, the Rowe family buildings, and lastly, a February 1889 notice of the forced Clarke land sale. Also, images of the popular "story and a half" home that proliferate Milan.
Opposite: 1760 deed, first land sale. x Below: Bottom: 1744 subdivision. x
1766 Johannes Rowe house. Rowe Road, 1944 photos.
Although prior maps had shown tenant farmer names, this 1876 map insisted on showing only the names of landowners, revealing the extent to which the George Clarke family still held onto all its original land patent. Opposite: the beautiful and omnipresent story-and-a-half house.
VICTORIAN This Victorian home on Rowe Road was destroyed by its owner through an intentional fire in the 1970's Courtesy Dutchess County Historical Society Inset photo courtesy Dave Hughes
No discussion of houses in Milan would be complete without mentioning greenhouses. The Battenfeld's are some of the few that remain. In 1924, an estimated 100 families in Milan, Rhinebeck and Red Hook were involved in growing violets, a major industry at the time.
Chapter 5 PLACES OF WORSHIP & FINAL REST
Quaker, Methodist, Christian Connexion, & Lutheran were early religions. x
Quakers were distinct in that they were prohibited from swearing oaths, or serving in the military, which during the time of the Revolutionary War became a more prominent issue. In lieu of military service Quakers paid a fine or fee. The Revolutionary War greatly affected Southern Dutchess, with Fishkill becoming a major supply depot. The growth of this activity spurred Quakers, just after American independence, to move to the more "peaceful" northern Dutchess. This included the prominent Thorne family, discussed in Chapter 6, "Hamlets." x
The Methodist Church was popular among those of German extraction, and growth was buoyed by the popularity of Freeborn Garrison, and his engaging and able daughter, who lived in Rhinebeck. The Milan Methodist Church emerged first through gifts of the Rowe family of land and construction near their home on what is now Rowe Road at Route 199. There were Methodist Churches at Jackson Corners and Shookville. One of the major differences between Quakers and Methodists, is the latter, with a large southern US contingent, did not bar slave ownership, as did the Quakers. As a matter of fact, the Rowe family, like other wealthy Milan families were slave owners until it was abolished in the state in 1827. x
The Christian Connexion emerged from dissatisfied Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists, and the Milan congregation was an early (1808) and active congregation hosting a national conference in 1832. The 1825 building no longer stands. x
The Memorial Lutheran Church at Rock City is technically in Rhinebeck, but literally on the line. Its founder, John G. Schultz was born in Milan and the church has served many Milan residents since its opening in 1868.
1838 Rowe Parsonage & Church, 1972 Courtesy Dutchess County Historical Society
The Shookville Church roof collapsed in 1944 after a small earthquake, but the walls still stand. Earlier undated photo courtesy Historic Red Hook.
Jackson Corners Methodist Church, 1880, now a private residence The Sidney Smith Benham Collection, Millbrook Historical Society.
Christian Connexion x
One of the earliest congregations in the Christian Connexion movement was founded in what would be Milan in 1808. Considered the county's "mother church," it led to churches in Clove, Pine Plains, Stanfordville, and Schultzville. The 1825 building shown no longer stands on Milan Hollow Rd., but a marker, and its cemetery does. Milan hosted the "United States General Christian Convention" in 1832. Elder Shaw (photo) was the early Preacher. x
Memorial Lutheran Church of Rock City x
Below, John G. Schultz, born in what would be Milan in 1810, gave the land, funded the building, staffing and operation of the church that stands today at Rock City. Opened September 15, 1868. Schultz photo, Burton Coon's Trail's End Collection, Town of Milan, Archives courtesy of Bonnie Wood.
Buried on the farm x
Larger families like Rowe and Teats may have a prominent "family ground" surrounded by an iron fence. Especially prior to the 1847 Rural Cemetery Act, it was common to be buried in the front, side or back yard of one's home. Even just an individual or couple. Two examples near Turkey Hill which are in greatly overgrown condition are Jacob and Catherine Platner. The angle of the settling stone protecting Jacob's engraving "like new." The oldest stone in the Shear ground is that of Jacob Shear, 1835. The unusual straight lines and perfect circles remain crisp in the sturdy slate as it approaches 200 years.
Chapter 6 HAMLET LIFE Jackson Corners Cokertown Shookville Rock City Lafayetteville Thorndale Milanville Enterprise
Due to the canal system, then the railroad system and other transportation revolutions there was a peak in Milan's population in 1850 that would decline to one third its size (622 according to 1930 Federal Census) during the global economic depression Milan would not reach its 1850 level again until 1980. x
The impetus to move came either from a desire to move out west to find better farmland, or to move to urban areas to engage in good-paying manufacturing work. x
Yet many families remained, and remain to this day. A beautiful example of this point is seen in the five-generation photograph of the descendants of Mary Carmichael, taken in 1905 and shown on the next page. x
Through Milan's initial surge, then its reductive period, it never gained a traditional town center. Many factors played into this, discussed prior, including lot lines, hills and hollows, location of streams, its "in-between" status, and the strength and longevity of the adjacent river towns of Rhinebeck and Red Hook. x
Also, in the 19th century, while transportation changes opened up the long haul, it would not be until the age of the automobile, in the 20th century, that shorter term travel was revolutionized and the carriage was replaced with the horseless carriage. So many of the basic needs of the day-to-day needed to be served within walking or horse-riding distance. x
It would not be uncommon for a hamlet to have a mill or two, a church, more likely a school, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, a general store. They were very self-contained, although connected to the bigger world through trains. Summary snapshots of each hamlet follow, except for Enterprise. Even century-old history books have a hard time defining Enterprise outside of it being located at (or possibly outside) Milan's southwest border.
Although the population of Milan in the 1980s would be the same as it was in the 1840s, a lot happened in between (chart below). Left: Description through an August 1893 Red Hook Journal article of a journey from upper Red Hook into Milan and Pine Plains, noting the former glory only older individuals would recall. Written in the brief period that there was a concerted, if failed, effort to remove the "t" from Dutchess County.
Many families remained This 1905 photograph shows five Milan generations. Starting with Mary Carmichael, seated, born in Scotland in 1818, she was raising a family and living in Milan by 1850. Mary's daughter, top left, Jane Milroy. Jane's daughter standing, middle, Elma Bowman. Elma's daughter standing right, Mabel Simmons. Mabel's young son, Harold J. Herrick
Cokertown School 1880 Odak Farm Rd at Turkey Hill Courtesy Dutchess County Historical Society
Rock City School. Visible as a residence today.
Above: Lafayetteville schoolhouse, now a private residence. Left: Lafayetteville was a stagecoach stop and hotel, and had public halls and dance halls in the 19th and 20th centuries. Named for the Marquis de Lafayette, perhaps around the time of his death in 1834.
School Houses There were a total of ten school districts and one-room school houses in Milan before consolidation in the 1930's. Earlier pages showed photos of Cokertown, Rock City and Lafayetteville schools. From top left clockwise here: Jackson Corners Milan Hill Road Academy Hill/North Rd. Academy Hill/Morehouse Milan Hollow We have not yet located photos of Round Lake Road and Cold Spring/Eagle Lane, both demolished, shown on 1867 Beers map, left.
RURAL COMMUNITIES OF COLOR BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR
Left: Photographs from the Henry & Alma Jackson family album courtesy Walter Patrice
Milan had a much larger community of persons of color before the Civil War than in the later 20th century or today, a point raised and examined across the whole Hudson Valley by Brian McAdoo, currently Professor at Yale-NUS, Singapore. This was due to the size of the African slave trade initiated by the Dutch and expanded by the British in New York, until it was prohibited in 1827. As a result, most were of African heritage; many were mixed race. x
The 1820 Federal Census reports Milan's population as 1,846, with 1,781 identified as "white," 47 identified as "free colored," and 18 "slaves." An estimate of prior Federal Census records from 1790 indicate the same number of persons of color as 1820, but a much higher portion, but not all, enslaved. Finding evidence of these rural persons of color in our earlier history takes some effort. African Americans were buried either in unmarked graves in a certain section of the cemetery (as in Yeoman's cemetery, southeast), in a specific burial ground such as the one on Turkey Hill Road, active until at least 1927 (callously mislabeled as the resting place of a folklorish, if not outright fictitious Chief Crow). Or on their own homesteads as was common practice for all races, and how the African American burial ground on Turkey Hill Road got its start. x
Subsequent pages examine some of the families and notable individuals from the 19th century: Frazier, two unrelated Jackson families, Williams, St. Paul and Lyle. All continued to live in Milan after the Civil War, except the Lyle's who may not have had children and died in the 1840s. The last lineal descendant of any of those families was the unmarried Susie B. Frazier, born in 1869, she died in 1952.
ANDREW FRAZIER X
Andrew Frazier was born c. 1742 to the Graham family at their Manor Morrissania (now the Bronx), most likely enslaved. He moved in the 1760s to what is today Pine Plains with Graham siblings Morris, Charles and Isabella who claimed and settled on lots of their late father, an original patentee. As the Revolutionary War broke out, the two Graham sons had prominent military roles. Frazier served as a wagon driver and then as waiter or body servant to Col. Morris Graham. It seems Frazier was both free and a Milan landowner by 1810, five years after Morris Graham died in obscurity upstate. The Grahams owned slaves locally as this 1783 "run-away" notice shows. The Frazier family plot on their Willow Glen home was relocated to Rhinebeck cemetery (left) in the early 1900s.
Above: Miss Susan E. Frazier, the first person of color allowed to teach white students in NYC in 1892. Left: Miss Susie Belle Frazier at a stone house relic on their Battenfeld Rd. farm. Both are interred in family plot, Rhinebeck.
JACKSON While the Rowe family were slave owners prior to 1827, in 1865 they sold 33 acres adjacent to their main homes and church to "free blacks" Henry and Alma Jackson, who would go on to raise 12 children in Milan. One of those children, Jasper, is grandfather to Walter Patrice who shared this album and many stories. Their home on Rowe Road stands today.
At bottom: Walter Patrice, a Lieutenant in WWII who served in Europe, shown in 2017 at the unmarked graves of his family at Milan's Yeoman's cemetery, where the southeast corner was set aside for persons of color. Either no markers, or wooden crosses were allowed. Immediate left: Patrice's maternal grandfather Jasper Jackson, born in Milan, later moved to Poughkeepsie, is believed to be buried at Yeoman's with other family members. Patrice, who now lives in Poughkeepsie, said, "A lot of African Americans moved to the cities, after the emancipation proclamation , including my grandfather, Jasper Jackson."
In his recent book, "Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley," Michael Groth cites Milan's Anthony Williams as one of the two largest Black property owners in the county in 1850. The 1867 map at right indicates two homes, one on Willow Glen Road, "AW," and one further north. For some reason, as the 1873 tax roll shows, Williams left his 108 acres to Almira Jackson (not Henry & Almira which would have been more traditional). After several years she sold the land.
St Paul x
Census and tax rolls for 1800 and 1801 show Peter St Paul ("negro") as free, and a modest landowner. The Uriah St. Paul eulogized by local historian Isaac Huntting in 1909 is his grandson. A road near their former farm at Rock City is named after them.
LYLE & BRADFORD x
The story of Jacob & Betsy Lyle reveals the origins of the African American burial ground on Turkey Hill Road. In 1821, the Lyle's bought a 1-acre lot from Frederick Bathrick for $50. In 1831, Bathrick sold a small, adjoining lot to Nancy Bradford, a cook from Albany cited as "black" in census records. In 1834, a year after Lyle began lobbying for his pension, he mortgaged his property to Bradford. But in 1838, after five years of bureaucratic back and forth and the submission of 19 pages of sworn testimony from 8 individuals, Lyle stopped responding. He cited old age, lack of education and literacy, failing memory, poor health, and poverty as barriers to providing the amount of detail the Pension Office sought from events 62 years prior. Lyle's file remained, and remains, "suspended" pending that further detail. x
In 1844, at age 82, an infirm Jacob Lyle defaulted on the mortgage and the lot was then owned by Bradford until her death in 1864. We can only assume that, based on a friendly relationship and/or compassion, Bradford allowed the Lyle's to continue to live there, having them buried on the home lot as was the tradition at the time. The reference "commonly known or called Nancy Crow Lot or Place" first appeared in the property deed in 1871 and remains today. Crow? The Jim Crow Museum in Michigan explains that "Jim Crow" or "Crow" was used in the north for about a half century from 1838, the peak of Thomas Rice's enormously popular dance performance of the same name. The Museum states the racial epithet was "not as offensive as [some]..." Similar explanation from Dictionary of American Slang. In the war, Lyle was a musician, a fifer, an armed guard of ammunition and food stores, and a forage master, herding cattle. From and serving in New Jersey at the time, he was called, "York" by an officer which "stuck" as a nickname. He fought in the battle of White Plains. In Milan he was a basket maker. Below: 1927 references to a "private cemetery for colored people at Turkey Hill" and 1917 another burial of a well known African American.
Left: The 1935 sign that stands today is not based on historical fact. The host of the "historical meeting" covered by the Chatham Courier on June 28, 1934 was Mrs. C. V. Harrison, who in the same month submitted the short application for the "Chief Crow" sign (among 100 others) citing "old men of this section tell of their grandparents seeing these daily and of their burial in this place." Above: Rendering of a closer truth. Ironically the marker stems from the 1925 Regents Program created for the 150th Anniversary of the American Revolution but fails to mention the veteran of that war who rests there.
Chapter 8 SUMMER COMMUNITIES: Health & Recreation
Once railroads, then automobiles, made it easier for city dwellers to get "upstate," the business of accommodating urban refugees did indeed become a business. x
Open farmhouses. On the smallest scale, individual farm households, led and managed by the woman of the home, opened their homes to summer boarders. x
Bungalows. Up a notch on the scale of ambition, someone might build one, or a few "bungalows" and rent them out. A family like the Juranics of Battenfeld Road might accommodate 50 city people at a time. On a larger scale, a "Bungolow Colony" of 500 was announced in September 1924 on 200 acres that included Mount Concert. A month later, the developer was discovered to operating under an assumed name and had some "unpaid bills." Ordered to be known as Bruno Dieze rather than Walter Loose, he managed to open June 26, 1926, but on a very small scale. Foreclosure came in early 1927. The Manhattan Council of the Boyscouts owned it for only a year. An enduring, successful run was finally had from 1928 to 1966 when it was owned by the New York Herald Tribune under their "Fresh Air Fund." And with its subsequent owner, the Church of the Nazarene, now known as the Taconic Retreat and Conference Center. x
The classic suburban-style subdivision can be seen in the area bought under the name Fourth National Realty in 1926. The area located just west of Lafayetteville, and just east of the Taconic Retreat, became bisected by the Taconic Parkway before and was ever realized. The famous ice cream franchiser Tom Carvel operated a golf course at the Carvel Country Club at the Milan/Pine Plains border, with ambitious plans to create "All-American Sports City." The subdivided lots that were created from that period are now part of the Durst organizations proposed development. x
Two examples of classic summer camps are shown on later pages, Camp Habonim and Camp Eton.
Milan's role as an escape for urban dwellers to restore health and vitality during the summer was accelerated with the advent of railroads which published route guidebooks that featured the farms that were opening their doors to guests in this way. Milan farm families, such as Lucy Schultz Battenfeld (center) shared their homes with city visitors for $5 week. So many visitors came from Brooklyn that around 1910 an area became known as "Brooklyn Heights," reflected in a road name today. Another option, bungalows, like those shown at right near Spring Lake. Schultz photo: Schultz/ Cookingham Family Collection courtesy Alice Clarke Benson, Martin, Bill Clarke
Fourth National Realty. Or Vail Development. Between 1928 and 1939 . Frederick Vail advertised tiny Milan lots in city newspapers. What anyone would have done with a lot 20 feet x 100 feet is not clear. Left top: Subdivisions that exist today. The 1928 developer map. Close-up of single 20 x 100 foot lot. Carvel County Club had a golf course, but there were bigger ambitions for the "All American Sports City" in the 1970's. Though unrealized, the subdivisions, mostly in Pine Plains, exist today. Site of proposed Durst Development. Mount Concert Bungalow Colony of 500 bungalows announced in 1924 never materialized. But the Herald Tribune and Church of the Nazare became successive, successful camp managers since the former purchased the land in 1966.
Camp Habonim Habonim Dror is a global, organized Jewish youth movement that originated in Europe the 1920's and continues today. The former Herrick Thorne farm at Case's Corner served as one of the movement's summer camps from 1953 to 1968. Known as Camp Habonim, it was renamed Camp Na'aleh in1962. Photos at left, courtesy of Izzy & Lori Fleiss, from the summer of 1960. Contemporary photos below reflect parts untouched since the 1960's.
Camp Eton Camp Eton, located on Milan Hill Road on the site of the original home of the Battenfeld family, operated for nearly 40 years from its founding in 1936. Thousands of campers were served during the 23 years the camp was directed by Jack and Sara Aboff of Elizabeth, New Jersey, whose family provided these photos. Photos courtesy of Gary Aboff.
Chapter 9 THE BOLD LEGACY OF A 20th CENTURY LADY & GENTLEMAN FARMER
Photographs on the following pages reflect the arrival of Frederick P. Wilcox in Milan in 1912, where he pieced together five farms into a large estate, Oakdale. His father and uncle had become enormously wealthy after inventing a new silverplating process in their hometown of Meriden, CT. Frederick had been directly involved in the family business. Arriving in Milan unmarried and childless, he would marry an immediate neighbor, Irene Kilmer in 1919. She became his partner in "Gentleman farming." He put a particular personal interest and focus on reforestation. Their son, Frederick, Jr. was born in 1926. After the passing of Frederick Sr in 1942, mother and son added dairy farming to the activities of Oakdale. Frederick Jr. having enlisted in the Navy, was home for a visit, when he was killed in a small airplane crash in 1950. Mrs. Wilcox was challenged with what to do with her grief, and the properties she had fully expected her son to take over. She decided to allow Oakdale to become a County Park and gave Milan a new Town Hall. The park and town hall were gifts to memorialize her husband and son. But those two very visible landmarks are only part of the story. x
In addition, she gave an endowment to the Town of Milan for the upkeep of the Town Hall worth over $500,000 today. Additionally, she funded the restoration of the Rowe Methodist Church, building a basement and foundation in the 1960's, sparing Rowe Church the fate of its sister church, the Christian Church on Milan Hollow Road, which no longer stands. The Rowe Church Parsonage was also renovated. And an endowment was created to support scholarships which remains to this day. x
She funded the upkeep of cemeteries and supported the local firefighters. She did all this later in life. Rather than leave all these gifts in her will, given upon her death, she wanted to very carefully see its distribution and execution, being very specific, for example, about the architecture of the town hall.
Frederick Peck Wilcox
Frederick P. Wilcox, Jr.
Town Hall Mirror Image of Church It is hard to imagine the anguish of first losing her husband, then losing her son, their only child, eight years later. The channeling of Mrs. Wilcox's grief into large and lasting gifts to the community is inspiring. The yin and yang of the 1968 Town Hall and 1838 Rowe Church which face each other, go beyond the mirror image architecture. Both Kilmer and Rowe were descendants of German Palatine immigrants. November 2nd is the date that Johannes Rowe purchased the church land in 1760, and is the date of Irene Kilmer's birth in 1894.
Mrs. Wilcox was a highly-engaged over-seer of the Town Hall constructon.
Unidentified family in Lafayetteville, neighbors of the Wilcox, gift of Mrs. Wilcox.
A Word About Bobbie Thompson x
Cabinets full of indexed and sourced research, a string of newsletters as part of a community association across from the 1970s and 1980s during her tenure as town historian, two books, "Out to Milan" and "Up to Milan." No one leaves a more lasting, valuable and respected mark on our local history than Bobbie Thompson.
She continues to set the standard in quality in original research. I remain inspired by all her work. Thanks for this, and more, Bobbie Thompson!
SOURCES AND FURTHER CREDITS Contemporary photography, research, design, production: Bill Jeffway x
Dedication Early Honor Roll Photos, Norton Family Collection, Town of Milan Archives Chapter 1 Laws of New York State, 1818; LNP Map, Huntting, History of Little Nine Partners, 1899; Dewitt Clinton Map, 1802, Stony Brook University online archives; Newspaper clippings Fulton History; 1829 Burr Map, David Rumsey Collection; Road overlay on Lot Lines by Bobbie Thompson; USGS Map, 1895, The National Map online archive. Chapter 2 Images courtesy Norton family Images courtesy Bard Archaeology, Prof. Lindner Wood craftsmanship of Larry Thetford Chapter 3 Carriage on Turkey Hill, Historic Red Hook Meyers family, Wilcox Collection, Town of Milan 19th century boat ticket, Bill Jeffway Frazier page, mill ledger, DCHS 1802 Salisbury Turnpike Map, restoration and images courtesy of the Dutchess County Clerk Colton's Road & Railroad Map, 1895, Bill Jeffway Railroad ticket & ledger page, Town of Milan Archives Dolph Stewart map, 1936, Bill Jeffway View of Kingston, Georgina Klitgaard, 1946 1920's High Tension Wires, DCHS Chapter 4 Robert Livingston, courtesy, with permission, of NewYork Historical Society, no further reproduction John I Rowe, Rowe Church Archives
Chapter 4 (cont'd) Rowe deed, Rowe Church Archives, photography Bill Jeffway. Rowe annotated map, Jeffway Rowe stone house and Mark Rowe House and interiors, 1944 Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Obtained by Bill Jeffway 1876 Milan map by Gray Shelly Victorian House, DCHS, 1972 Chapter 5 Rowe Church and Parsonage, c. 1972, Dutchess County Historical Society Jackson Corners Church, courtesy the Sidney Smith Benham Collection, Millbrook Historical Society. Any further use requires owner's consent. Chapter 6 Five-generation family, courtesy Reggie Coon Early Roads, Bobbie Thompson; 1895 USGS Chapter 7 Images courtesy Town of Milan Early Rock City map showing mill, Schultz/ Cookingham Family Collection courtesy Alice Clarke Benson, Martin, Bill Clarke Chapter 8 Jackson family album, courtesy Walter Patrice US Federal Census Records. online via Ancestry.com Tax Book, Schultz/Cookingham Family Collection courtesy Alice Clarke Benson, Martin, Bill Clarke Chapter 9 Wilcox Collection, Town of Milan Archives Bill Jeffway is the Executive Director of the Dutchess County Historical Society, a Trustee of Historic Red Hook, a former Milan Town Historian and currently serves on the Milan Town Board.
When the future becomes the past Mrs. Wilcox asked to memorialize her late husband and lost son through Wilcox Memorial Park and Wilcox Memorial Town Hall. But she, herself, is worthy of attention. She left very intimate items from the Wilcox side, her father-in-law's shaving mug, for instance. From her Kilmer family. And related to their son, she gave his silver baby cup and treasured toys, high school agriculture prize, perhaps thousands of photographs across a century. Included is a set of beautiful photographs, indicated in her writing as being taken in 1912. On a subsequent page you'll find one that includes a double-exposure, showing her as two people at the table near the window. They are deeply contemplative. Was she imaging the future, as we sometimes do?
When the future becomes the past Mrs. Wilcox's wish that her former home be open to the public for those less inclined to be engaged in the kind of active outdoor activities the park encourages, was not realized. While very much still standing, and portions being lived in, a vast portion remains as it was in 1950, when and where she received the news about her son from the State Police. The combination of some of those early contemplative photos, the house as it is today, the exercise of valuing history and looking across generations that was and is this book, prompted me to end with this collage, at right. It is offered as a sign of respect for those who dream of a future beyond their own lives, achieved, to some degree, or not, by forces well beyond our control. But generous, positive, forward looking.
The long view, in pictures and words, of the history of the Town of Milan on its Bicentennial.