Forestburgh is one of the smallest of the fifteen towns of Sullivan County bordered by Thompson, Lumberland and Mamakating.
Early inhabitants in the 1780's were of Celtic, German and Sweedish ancestry. David handy and wife were the first known white settlers. His occupation was shiolglemaker due to virgin hemlocks and unusual springs. He died about 1814, a historical marker in Oakland Valley indicates his burial.
By Act of legislature in 1837, Forestburgh became a town taken from lands of Thompson and Mamakating, part of the hardenburgh patent. William Broadhead was the town's first supervisor and came from a distinguished patriotic and political family. He served from 1837-40 and was twice a member of the Assembly from Sullivan County.
After the American Revolution, tanneries, quarries, fishing, hunting, trapping and lumbering induced settlers.
W. W. Gillman arrived about 1850 and brought trade and population growth, as he set up a lumber mill, 32 houses for his employees, boarding houses, tannery and store. The railroad was commissioned to serve the area and a post office was necessary. Resorts and summer camps soon emerged.
Charles Gilman, nephew, served as Town supervisor from 1891 -93 and was well liked. When W. W. Gilman died he left three million dollars. George Gilman, brother of W. W. founded and renamed the A&P Company at the time coinciding with the spike driven opening the railroad connecting east and west.
In 1982, a log cabin was discoverred within an existing home, when the recently purchased farmhouse was being renovated. It's age was traced to 1834, the origin believed in 1700's when it was a pioneer schoolhouse. Title search indicated Abe Cuddeback as owner, before the town was even established. It is now relocated at the Town Hall site. A marker plaque dedicated to Stephen Crane is fittingly nearby. Stephen spent many days in Forestburgh at his brother Edmound's home in Hartwood and wrote much of his prose while there; the climate agreed with his delicate health.
In 1895, the first Town Hall was built and the present one in 1980 is on King Road off Route 42 South. In 1963, the first fire house came into being, continuing today with volunteers.
The Forestburgh Playhouse began in 1947 from an old farmhouse and 1900 year old barn, purchased from Walter and Elsie Klebs. This year marks its fiftieth year in existence.
Merriewold Park is famous for residences of playwrights, stage and screen notables as well as Sho Fu den, the Japenese palace brought here from the 1939 N.Y. World's Fair by Dr. Takamine, chemist and inventor.
Currently many second home dwellings exist for seasonal and weekend vacationers. There are also designated areas to preserve wildlife, especially for the bald eagle habitat along the Mongaup River on County Road 43 near Lumberland and on Plank Road South.
A nine mile Swinging Bridge Lake (bridge long abandoned) exists within Forestburgh and Thompson townships. It is popular for boaters, swimming and fishing and some bear, making hunting a popular activity with safety measures stressed.
The town has an operating country store with post office attached; Inn at Lake Joseph; R.C. Church; Eden Brook Fish Hatchery and golf course, though its last rural school closed in 1952 in the wake of centralization.
Forestburgh's character is enhanced by its people, who with varying cultural interests, insight, vision and caring promote its futhre and flavor.
Contributed by Margaret Abdoo, Town of Forestburgh Historian