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SCHS Observer - March 8, 1965

   "One of the first houses built in what was then called Mongaup Mill, was the dwelling of Squire William Gillespie (my grandmother's father) built in 1800.  In June 1807 there were only five residents living in Mongaup Mill.  In 1847 it was renamed Mongaup Valley and at that time, boasted four dwellings; one the old "Linden House," built by John C. Tillotson in 1816.

   "In 1817, Tillotson built a grist-mill and also erected a sawmill and a year later sold a large tract of land to Kiersted and Swan, who erected one of the best tanneries in the county, employing over 200 men.  They (Kiersted and Swan) also erected dwellings to house them and their families.  In 1859 a census was taken and it was found that there were 664 inhabitants living in Mongaup Valley!  The tannery burned in 1887.

   "A post office was established in 1848 and Hiram Post was appointed the first Postmaster by Carl Johnson, Postmaster General under the administration of James Knox Polk.  Wynkoop Kiersted became Postmaster in 1849 and the position remained in the Kiersted family until the term of Grover Cleveland.  At that time John Gillespie assumed the duties and moved the post office from Kiersted and Swan's company store to Charles Lang's store.  Following the Democratic administration of President Cleveland, the position again reverted to the Kiersted family until the death of John W. Kiersted.

   "Mongaup Valley had two physicians, Drs. Isaac Purdy and James W. Wells and one lawyer, Robert Livingston Tillotson, who was elected Special County Judge in 1854.  Finding very little to do in the latter capacity Tillotson joined the Federal Army during the Great Rebellion, contracted yellow fever and died.  In a letter written to his brother, Howard Tillotson, by his commanding officer, telling him of his brother's death, Captain Watkins stated ". . . that in his capacity as Clerk to a general Court Martial he was of great service to the Court, always performing his duties promptly and cheerfully and by his unobtrusive sociability had endeared himself to every member of the Court, not a few of whom have spoken sadly to me of the death of the 'Judge,' for so they knew him.  He could not fail to have earned a commission had he been spared.  He leaves to his family a rich legacy of affection and suffering in a noble cause."

   "In 1873 there was a private school on the site where the Catholic Church now stands.  In 1849, John C. Tillotson, grandfather of the late Howard Tillotson, gave to the Trustees of the Associated Church at White Lake that piece of land now occupied by the Presbysterian Church at Mongaup Valley.  General A. C. Niven (of Monticello) was an elder in the church at White Lake from 1834 until 1851, when the congregation removed to Mongaup Valley and continued to that post until his death, Fegruary 21, 1882, a period of 48 years in all.  General Niven endowed money to build the new Mongaup Valley church.  The church was built in 1850 and 1851 and dedicated August 19, 1851.  Thomas Niven, a younger brother of the General, built the church.  Thomas Niven also built a large house for Wynkoop Kiersted.  The Methodist Church was erected a year later on land also given by John C. Tillotson who, along with his family, did everything in their power to encourage the growth of Mongaup Valley.

   "Mongaup Valley over the years has experienced many rises and falls in its population.  There is no doubt that its peak was reached during the operation of the tannery and mills. 

   "Remaining today are 2 churches and a combined general store and post office, two garages and a two-room school house."

 

 

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