Between the Lakes Group LLC

Between the Lakes Group LLC Local history, genealogy, and Americana from New York, New England, and beyond, published (or re-published) to make it available to all.
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We collect and re-publish history. Our publications began as CD-ROMs, and now are available as downloads. Our specialization is in the Northeast, and especially New York State and Connecticut. We are also exploring new dimensions in harnessing technology to make history more accessible and interesting to a wider audience. View our catalog at http://www.betweenthelakes.com/catalog.htm

Talk about timely!!It was almost exactly a century ago.....
04/02/2020
April 2: The Deadly Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 Hits Connecticut

Talk about timely!!

It was almost exactly a century ago.....

    Today in 1919, the medical paper “Complications of Influenza” was read to a desperately worried Hartford County Medical Society, which feared a renewed outbreak of a devas…

Here's an interesting bit of Connecticut history -- as it turns out, another aspect of the state's Northwest Corner, whe...
02/17/2020
February 17: A Great Hope for Hawaii Dies in Cornwall

Here's an interesting bit of Connecticut history -- as it turns out, another aspect of the state's Northwest Corner, where Between the Lakes Group is physically located (although our inventory covers many states). There are lots of fascinating stories that lead out of this one, especially about the impact of the Foreign Mission School on a small hitherto-homogeneous rural community as Cornwall was back in that era.

  When 25-year-old Henry Opukahaia first set foot in the town of Cornwall, Connecticut in 1817, he carried on his shoulders the far-reaching hopes and dreams of some of Connecticut’s mos…

We're especially happy to share this with you!  It's not just because it reflects some little-known Connecticut history,...
02/14/2020
February 14: The Sole Survivor of A Great Industrial Meltdown

We're especially happy to share this with you! It's not just because it reflects some little-known Connecticut history, but because we -- the management of Between the Lakes Group -- are also very much involved in the Friends of Beckley Furnace. We spend a fair amount of time there (during the warmer months, at least).

Beckley Furnace is definitely worth a visit, in our humble opinion!

  In the rural town of East Canaan, along the banks of the Blackberry River, there stands a curious rectangular tower. It is constructed of massive slabs of marble and reaches forty feet high,…

Is there history in places where you would never expect to find it?You bet there is!
01/23/2020
January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Takes Off.

Is there history in places where you would never expect to find it?

You bet there is!

  In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, later building a large factory on the city’s ea…

When did YOUR state join the United States?  Here's the answer for Connecticut -- and you can find the other early state...
01/09/2020
January 9: Connecticut Votes to Join the United States

When did YOUR state join the United States? Here's the answer for Connecticut -- and you can find the other early states here as well. (Note a few changes the the shapes of the states as well).

(Thanks to todayincthistory.com!!)

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union. While c…

At our small local post office (Taconic, CT 06079) the Postmaster and a local historian decided to research and post som...
01/06/2020

At our small local post office (Taconic, CT 06079) the Postmaster and a local historian decided to research and post some local history. Great idea!! Thanks!! #Taconic #postoffice #postmasters

The title tells a bit of the story here, but the story (and podcast) tell quite a bit more.  You see, it wasn't just Eas...
12/28/2019
December 28: When Eastern Pennsylvania Belonged to Connecticut

The title tells a bit of the story here, but the story (and podcast) tell quite a bit more. You see, it wasn't just Eastern Pennsylvania that Connecticut once had a reasonable claim to.
You may be amazed at just how much more there was!

  Connecticut stands today as one of the smallest states in the Union in terms of land area. But during the 17th and 18th centuries, ambitious Connecticans dreamed of expanding the colony̵…

Some Connecticut history for today....
11/11/2019
November 11: The Last Connectican to Die in World War I

Some Connecticut history for today....

  In many countries around the world, November 11 is known as Armistice Day in honor of the truce that marked the end of hostilities on the Western Front between German and Allied forces, enac…

The fascinating story of a railroad tycoon who rose from a farm in aptly-named Poverty Hollow in Harwinton, CT, to found...
10/22/2019
October 22: From Yankee Peddler to Railroad Tycoon

The fascinating story of a railroad tycoon who rose from a farm in aptly-named Poverty Hollow in Harwinton, CT, to found the Central Pacific Railroad and become one of the leading railroad tycoons of the Gilded Age. There's a podcast to listen to and a story to read. We recommend both!

  Collis Potter Huntington was born on this day in 1822, the sixth of nine children born to William and Elizabeth Huntington of Harwinton, Connecticut. The Huntington family, owners of a farm …

Interchangeable parts, mass production, assembly line ... this Connecticut man was behind all of them.  Worth listening ...
09/01/2019
September 1: The Unknown Genius Behind Connecticut’s Industrial Greatness Dies in Hartford

Interchangeable parts, mass production, assembly line ... this Connecticut man was behind all of them. Worth listening (or at least reading) if you have an interest in Connecticut history or industrial history or the history of technology!

  The largely unknown man at the root of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford on this day in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius revol…

Here's some interesting Connecticut history, including answers to such questions as when Connecticut got its first real ...
08/26/2019
August 26: Connecticut Finally Gets A Constitution.

Here's some interesting Connecticut history, including answers to such questions as when Connecticut got its first real constitution? Did Connecticut ever have an official state religion?

  Today in 1818, delegates to the state’s Constitutional Convention gathered at the State House in Hartford for the first time, charged with the formidable task of restructuring Connecti…

We’ve been interested in the ups and downs of Sullivan County, New York since roughly 1950 when a friend’s dad showed me...
06/28/2019

We’ve been interested in the ups and downs of Sullivan County, New York since roughly 1950 when a friend’s dad showed me a treasured original version of Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County.

Now it’s time for the cycle to take a new turn, and Sullivan County Historian John Conway tells us a bit about the future a new filmmaker sees!

RETROSPECT
by John Conway
June 28, 2019

The Next Act

Regular readers of this column know that the history of Sullivan County—and particularly of its renowned resort industry—has followed a fairly predictable evolutionary path over the past nearly 200 years, with periods of prosperity separated by transitions.

Those transitions have typically included myriad changes, such as the demise of the tanning industry and the arrival of the railroad in the latter part of the 19th century, the decline of the railroad and the influx of Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century, and the rise and fall of the fortress hotels some 50 years after that. The recent arrival of the Resorts World Casino, the YO 1 Wellness Center and the Kartrite Hotel and Water Park also fall neatly into that pattern.

Now, students of the county’s rich and colorful history will have a rare opportunity to see how that evolution of history has once again influenced what is likely ahead for the region, when the Hurleyville Arts Centre presents a special program centered around the new documentary, “The Sullivan County Catskills: The Next Act” on Thursday, July 18.

The film is produced by Grayce Arlotta-Berner of Four Dogs Media and Peter Russo of Kisco Kid Productions, who spent the better part of two years putting the documentary together.

The Arts Centre program will include an introduction—and some context for the film—by the Sullivan County Historian, then the movie itself, and finally a question-and-answer period and panel discussion featuring the filmmakers, the County Historian, architects Victor and Robert Dadras, and former town of Thompson Historian, Alan Barrish.

The documentary, which runs less than 40 minutes, delves into Sullivan County’s storied history as a tourist destination, but only as a foundation for what possibly lies ahead: The Next Act. Filmmaker Grayce Arlotta-Berner admits that isn’t exactly how she envisioned the movie when she began the project, but the story simply took on a life of its own.

Arlotta-Berner says she has fond memories of visiting her uncle’s bungalow colony in Bloomingburg with her Dad when she was growing up, and she was moved to make a documentary about the unique bungalow colony experience that existed nowhere else but the Sullivan and Ulster County Catskills.

“The idea of telling the story of the bungalow colonies soon expanded as we began to see what was going on in the county,” she says. “The more folks we met with, the more we realized that there was much more to the story than the re-telling of the Borscht Belt.”

“The project began with the story by photographer and author Marisa Scheinfeld, and her moving images of the remains of the old hotels in the Borscht Belt,” Russo adds. “That’s where our exploration started, encouraged by Grayce, who had a connection with the bungalow colonies, and my wife, who spent a great deal of her childhood and teens in the Catskills. But that story was too one- dimensional, and at times sad, because you could never bring back that ‘Golden Age’ again. However, the more time we spent exploring the area, the more we began to witness the exciting re-birth of the new businesses coming in, and we realized the narrative had to be a more ‘then and now’ story. This summer being the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock helps that narrative.”

Both Arlotta-Berner and Russo say they are proud of the resulting film, and that the project gave them a new appreciation for what is happening in Sullivan County right now.

“I love history-- most of the documentaries I wrote, produced and directed over the past 20 years were based on historical events,” Russo says. “But this was a true learning experience for me, not having experienced the area as a child or as an adult. It wasn’t until I got married that my wife and her family shared with me the experiences they had up in the Catskills, and provided me personal stories and photographs, some of which are used in the film. There has been a re-birth in the region, and it is finally being talked about in the press. In many ways it’s an untold story, and in some ways ‘a diamond in the rough’ that we wanted to share with an audience.”

“I hope that the film will educate those who don’t know of the history of the area and inform others of the bright future that lies ahead for Sullivan County,” Arlotta-Berner says. “It’s about to explode and I’m so glad we were able to capture that energy in our documentary.”

The program is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, July 18 in the cinema at the Hurleyville Arts Centre, 219 Main St., Hurleyville. Tickets are $10 and can be ordered in advance through the Arts Centre website, https://hurleyvilleartscentre.org/next-act/.

Tickets will also be available at the door until seats are sold out, but seating is limited, so it is probably best not to procrastinate. It promises to be a great show.

John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian. Email him at [email protected]. He will be introducing the documentary, “The Sullivan County Catskills: The Next Act” and leading the panel discussion at the Hurleyville Arts Centre on Thursday, July 18.

PHOTO CAPTION: Filmmakers Grayce Arlotta-Berner (center) and Peter Russo (right) with a cameraman on location at the abandoned Pines Hotel.

Best of luck to our competitors at the State of Connecticut level tomorrow!!
05/03/2019

Best of luck to our competitors at the State of Connecticut level tomorrow!!

The Delaware and Hudson Canal -- the D&H Canal -- was a critical milestone in American history, and Sullivan County Hist...
04/19/2019

The Delaware and Hudson Canal -- the D&H Canal -- was a critical milestone in American history, and Sullivan County Historian John Conway tells you why!

Retrospect
by John Conway
April 19, 2019

D&H Canal was an Engineering-- and Economic-- Marvel

On April 23, 1823, the D&H Canal Company was incorporated in New York State, and a little more than two years later ground was broken for one of the most transformative projects in American history. Sullivan County, which just happened to be in the way geographically, would be immeasurably impacted.

The 108 mile long waterway that connected the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania to the lucrative New York City market via the Hudson River-- and Sullivan County-- opened for business in 1828. In the first 20 years of the canal's operation, the population of Sullivan County more than doubled - from the 12,364 recorded in the 1830 census to 25,088 in 1850. The completion of the canal made possible the rise of the tanning industry here in the mid-19th century and contributed mightily to the growth of a number of communities from Barryville to Phillipsport.

In fact, by 1870, Wurtsboro, which owed its existence almost entirely to the canal, had a population of 650, which ranked it second in the county behind Monticello (1000). Another canal community, Phillipsport, with a population of 400 was sixth, and Barryville (259) ranked eleventh.

The D&H was a massive undertaking, and was embarked upon at considerable financial risk. Although the actual construction took but three years - the canal was built entirely by hand with Irish laborers and German stone masons doing most of the work with the aid of just a few horses- it was the culmination of a 13 year project first conceived by William Wurts.

It was Wurts and his brother Maurice who decided to construct the waterway after exhausting every other feasible method of getting their coal from Carbondale to New York, including hauling it overland by oxen-drawn sled. As James Eldridge Quinlan points out in his “History of Sullivan County,” published in 1873, it wasn't an easy decision, nor was it universally regarded as sound:

"Intellectual dwarfs shrink and whither in peril, while the giant mind acquires magnitude in proportion to the dangers which arise and threaten disaster. Without competition and with fair profits on the fuel and lumber they sent to market, William and Maurice Wurts probably would have continued the coal business on a small scale, and been contented with their primitive mode of transportation, and their limited revenue from the business. At that time, in a single year, six thousand tons of anthracite glutted the markets of all the cities of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Maurice Wurts, knowing this fact, proposed to send to the city of New York alone one hundred thousand tons annually, and to provide a way to do so, broached the project of scaling the Moosic Mountain with a railroad and

constructing a long canal through a rugged and almost unexplored country, from the interior of Wayne County, Pennsylvania to the Hudson! It is not surprising that the boldness of the proposition caused many who could see but the necessities of the hour to regard Maurice Wurts as wild and visionary, if not absolutely insane."

Once completed, the canal's economic impact on other parts of the country was equally as great. Quinlan wrote that "its success led to other works for a similar purpose, which now minister to the comforts of the poor, and add to the wealth of the rich. Destroy the coal fields of the Lackawanna, and the public improvements which have been made to convey the carbonaceous deposit to those who consume it, and you will bring upon an immense number of the human family an evil not exceeded by famine and pestilence. From such a contingency only could we learn truly to estimate the benefits conferred by William and Maurice Wurts, whose memory should be honored by all good men."

And besides its enormous economic impact, the canal had other more subtle effects on the growing nation. In his 1997 corporate history of the waterway, “From the Coalfields to the Hudson,” Larry Lowenthal calls the D&H "one of America's great pioneer enterprises," which operated successfully in "a remorselessly competitive environment ...with few examples to guide it" and "shaped a model for large private enterprises."

Lowenthal notes that while historians often cite railroads as "the first entities to apply uniform management over territorial expanse," canals were there first. "While the complexities of their bureaucracy did not equal the major railroad companies, canals pioneered techniques that railroads and others employed on a larger and more systematic scale," he writes.

With its locks and aqueducts, the D&H Canal was a triumph - indeed, a marvel - of engineering. And, thankfully, much of the long-abandoned waterway is still intact today. Whether touring the Park Service's interpretive center at Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct, driving along Route 97, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, where much of what Manville Wakefield called in his book, “Coal Boats to Tidewater” the “most spectacular section of the canal” is still visible, or visiting the wonderful linear park the county has constructed in Phillipsport, there is plenty to see.

And now the Delaware & Hudson Canal Transportation Heritage Council is creating and marketing a series of videos about the history and the legacy of the waterway. Each of the videos covers a different section of the canal, and features interviews with various historians and experts, as well as up close looks at canal remains. The DVDs can be obtained from the Wayne County Historical Society at [email protected] and from the D&H Canal Museum in High Falls by emailing [email protected].

Thanks to the DHCTHC, one can now observe the construction techniques, hear about the workings of the locks and the simplicity of the coal boats, and learn of the genius of John A. Roebling, while honoring the memory of William and Maurice Wurts.

John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian. Email him at [email protected].

PHOTO CAPTION: Maurice (left) and William Wurts

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We collect and re-publish history. Occasionally we also compile and write it ourselves. Our publications began as CD-ROMs, and now most are available as downloads. Our specialization is in the Northeast, and especially New York State and Connecticut. We are also exploring new dimensions in harnessing technology to make history more accessible and interesting to a wider audience. View our catalog at http://www.betweenthelakes.com/catalog.htm

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I have an original Town of Liberty, Sullivan County, NY Sesquicentennial, Saturday, September 28, 1957, Historical Summary Program. It is in excellent condition and want to know what this program would be worth on the market?