Town of
Ulster
 
 History 


D&H Canal Tidewater Lock & Weigh Lock - Eddyville, 1870
D&H Canal Tidewater Lock & Weigh Lock - Eddyville, 1870

History

Origins of the Town of Ulster:


CITY AND TOWN ELECTIONS.

DEMOCRATIC RUFFIANISM IN KINGSTON.

CITIZENS KEPT FROM THE POLLS BY A CROWD OF THIEVES & PAUPERS - MILITARY ORDERED UNDER ARMS - A NEW ELECTION MADE NECESSARY.


So began a newspaper article datelined Rondout, NY, March 4 which was published in the New York Times on March 5, 1879.  The article went on to say that, "The election today in the Town of Kingston, famous for plunder and pauperism, the Ring and the ruffian element combined to defeat the tax-payers' ticket, headed by D.B. Hendricks for Supervisor."


"It was conceded that a new election will have to be ordered for the Town of Kingston, and it is probable that the Sheriff will be promptly on hand to maintain order.  In that event, the tax-payers cannot fail to carry the town.  The trouble was caused by about 50 of the worst class of ruffians, who have long been noted for this kind of work."


According to the Weekly Freeman, "A mob of ruffians at the polls, the passages to the voting place blocked to the taxpayers' party and open to supporters of the ring rule, a few knock downs and three or four men injured, the sheriff out of town in the morning and home too late for useful services, the military called out and arrayed in uniform with arms and ammunition ready for battle, but permitted to stay at home and a heavy bill of expenses to the county for all the fuss, the election broke up and a new one to be held."


The Town of Ulster, youngest of the twenty towns in the county, was created by an act of the Ulster County Board of Supervisors on November 28, 1879 when the supervisors voted to form the new township with land taken from the Town of Kingston.  Formed in protest to what was considered political misrule by the authorities of the Town of Kingston, the action of the supervisors was soon ratified by the state legislature.  The first meeting of the Town of Ulster was held in the hotel of George A. Stoddard on the first Tuesday of March 1880.  James Myer, Jr. was selected to be its first Supervisor.  The newly created town contained approximately 27.5 square miles of land.  It bordered the City of Kingston on three sides and was bordered by the Hudson River and the Towns of Kingston, Saugerties, Hurley, Woodstock, and Rosendale.  The Rondout Creek separated the Town of Ulster from the Town of Esopus to the South.  The population, according to the 1880 census, was 2,806.  Rutherford B. Hayes was the President of the United States.


"While the establishment of Ulster solved the problem of political corruption in the parent Town of Kingston, another problem was inadvertently created.  When the boundaries of Ulster were established, it was obvious just how severe the punishment of the Town of Kingston had been:  the new town had Eddyville with the Delaware-Hudson Canal Terminus lock, the land bordering the Hudson with its icehouses and brickyards and all the advantages for trade and travel, the flat farm land of the Saugerties Road and the Brabant with its road leading into the interior.  The Esopus Creek with all the potential for mills was locate within the new town.  Finding a Centrum or hub around which the township could unite was virtually impossible as it was little more than a collection of hamlets bound together by only a legislative act." (Burgher manuscript)


Although the new town lacked a geographic center, Eddyville was its economic hub.  Named for George Eddy, a mill owner whose family established a cotton mill and a sawmill on the Rondout, Eddyville became a thriving hamlet in large part due to the Delaware and Hudson Canal.


An area we now know as East Kingston was in earlier times referred to as Flatbush.  Originally named by the Esopus, the Dutch called it "Vlakke Basch".  Here were the cement works, ice houses and brickyards that made this area second only to Eddyville in importance to the town.  Rider Park and the Town of Ulster Post Park are sited on lands where brickyards once flourished.


Lake Katrine, was named after a small lake near the community.  The lake was formerly called Auntrens Pond and the area was once called Pine Bush.  It was the site of numerous country cottages, inns and summer resorts.


If one travels up Route 28 (once a private toll road called Brabrant Plank Road) you will find Stony Hollow, an area once populated by Irish quarry workers.


Bluestone quarrying was the main industry in Ruby, which was known as both the Dutch Settlement and the German Settlement in earlier times.


"The township remained primarily rural and agricultural until the post World War II years when so much happened so quickly and Ulster had to move into the 20th Century ready or not.  A major corporation, IBM, opened its Kingston facility.  The economy of Ulster, the City of Kingston and neighboring towns changed irreversibly as housing developments sprang up, schools were built and other businesses arrived." (Burgher manuscript)


Today, the Town of Ulster is principally noted as being "The Business Hub" of Ulster County.  It continues to grow and thrive, due in part, to its excellent location.  While looking to the future, we must protect our natural and built environment, preserving some of the most visible reminders of our history.  To that end, one goal of the Historian Committee is to seek out sites for designation on the State Register of Historic Places.  Many historical sites dot the landscape we know as the Town of Ulster.

Contacts:
Town Historian
Robert Sweeney
Images:
Leggs Mill on the Esopus
Bruce Burgher
John St. Overview, East Kingston