On May 23, 1789, Nathaniel Sackett sent a long, rambling letter to newly inaugurated president George Washington. The letter informed Washington that Congress had denied Sackett’s proposal that he be granted federal lands in order to create a new state bounded by the Ohio, Scioto, and Muskingum Rivers and Lake Erie. [Read more…] about Nathaniel Sackett: Godfather of American Intelligence
It has often been said that the first play Danny Kaye ever saw, he was in.
That would have been in June 1929, at the White Roe Lake House in Livingston Manor, Sullivan County, NY, where the soon-to-be legendary performer got his professional start, and refined his trademark comedy routine. [Read more…] about Danny Kaye In The Catskills
Online auction sites regularly offer a number of collectibles — postcards, brochures, tickets, even china — bearing the name and logo of the Monticello Steamship Company of San Francisco.
Most of these items offer little information about the company, and the average collector would have little reason to believe that one of the most well-known enterprises on the West Coast around the turn of the 20th Century had any connection at all to Sullivan County, NY.
But it did. [Read more…] about Monticello Steamship Company
Late in the month of January in 1840, Elnathan Sears returned home to the town of Mamakating, then part of Ulster County, NY, after an exhausting trip to Washington, D.C. There he had presented an impassioned argument to Congress in hopes of procuring the military pension he had earned as an officer in the Revolutionary War.
A few days later, on February 2, he was dead. [Read more…] about Elnathan Sears: Thirteen Months in Hell
James Eldridge Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County is generally regarded as one of the most thorough and entertainingly written local histories. Published in 1873, Quinlan’s history is the undisputed bible of Sullivan County’s past, and yet it is not without its shortcomings. Some have criticized what they view as his selective exclusion of material – he does not, for instance, write much about the Civil War, and it has been said that this was because he was a Copperhead, or a southern sympathizer. And each year in March, Women’s History Month, we are reminded that he afforded minimal space in his writings to the women of the era.
That makes the few women he does write about stand out even more than they might otherwise, and no woman receives greater praise from Quinlan than Phebe Reynolds Drake. [Read more…] about Phebe Reynolds Thwarts The Tories
On August 2, 1915, Charles E. Becker was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, just two days after he had become the first police officer ever executed for murder in this country.
Charles E. Becker may well be the most notorious native of Sullivan County ever. Born on July 26, 1870 in Callicoon Center – he lived and worked on the family farm there until he was 21 – he became known as the most corrupt cop in New York City history, was tried and convicted twice of a high profile murder he quite likely did not commit, and was eventually executed in the Sing Sing electric chair – not without incident – on July 30. 1915.
But there’s a lot more to the Becker saga than that. [Read more…] about Sullivan County’s Most Notorious Native
In late February, 1951, the basketball team from the City College of New York was returning home on the train from Philadelphia where they had just trounced the Temple University squad.
The year before, the Lavender and Black had been hailed as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time, having won both of college basketball’s biggest post season tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT, the only time that feat has ever been accomplished. The talented squad had stumbled somewhat during the current season, losing to several teams it had been expected to beat, but was seemingly hitting its stride just as the tournaments were about to begin. [Read more…] about College Basketball, Point Shaving and the Catskills
That peculiar phenomenon known as March Madness will soon be upon us, and with its arrival college basketball will be squarely in the national spotlight.
Time was, of course, that college basketball and the Sullivan County resorts were inseparable, and for years the best basketball players in the world could be found spending their summers playing ball in an informal hotel circuit of Sullivan County, NY. [Read more…] about Sullivan County Basketball History: Betting and Borscht
On January 23, 1795, John Sullivan, Revolutionary War general, two term governor, and the namesake of counties in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as numerous other places and landmarks, died at his Durham, New Hampshire home at the age of 55.
Despite his many accomplishments, only a handful of friends and his family braved the New England winter to bury him. [Read more…] about John Sullivan: Neither the Charm Nor the Luck
It was in October of 1948 that what local newspapers called “Sullivan County’s first commercial ski slope” began to take shape.
It was Christmas Hills on DeBruce Road in Livingston Manor, and despite the claims, it was not the first ski operation in the county, as Liberty Winter Sports, Inc. had operated the Walnut Mountain ski hill in Liberty more than a decade before. [Read more…] about Skiing in Sullivan County in the 1940s