This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of July 28

2023-07-28 TWIR Image-Valley Cottage PO

July 26, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

[Image: Valley Cottage Post Office on Lake Road, ca. 1892. Kearney's Meat Wagon in front of the Post Office.  Courtesy of the Valley Cottage Library, via]
       Last Saturday the Valley Cottage post-office, on the road leading to Waldburg and Haverstraw, was opened for business for the first time since Mr. Green received his appointment as postmaster. The office for the present is established in Mr. John Rider’s cottage, because it is the most accessible for the residents in the immediate vicinity.
       The name, Valley Cottage, is derived from the fact that nearly twenty years ago when Mr. Green became a resident of the valley, he named his domicile “Valley Cottage,” and the neighborhood around became known by this name.
       When the Rockland Central Railroad is extended to Rockland Lake, and in running order, a station will be established at the above point and arrangements will be made to locate a village in one of the loveliest valleys in our county.
       This post-office will be the nucleus around which it will centre, and if energy and persistent effort can accomplish anything, these qualities will be found admirably developed in such men as J. A. Green, David O. Storms, Jacob und George Polhemus, John Rider and others.

       The late showers have had a most beautiful effect upon vegetation in this vicinity.
       Commission agent and builders in New York and other places, are profiting at the expense of the brick makers of the Hudson.
       One glass of Haverstraw whiskey, it is said, will make a man crazy drunk, and if he should indulge in three, Heaven only knows what would happen to him,
       Bricks are selling at lower figures than they been known to bring daring the last twelve years, and yet wages at the different brick yards are as high as ever.

July 28, 1923 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Times

       The Rockland County League of Women Voters, will hold a meeting at the home of Miss Grace Sitler, Chestnut Street, Suffern, on Thursday afternoon, August 2nd, at 3 o’clock. The program to be presented is “Know Your Own County,” and prominent county officials will speak and answer questions on the various departments of County government. Miss Wm. B. Keymer, County Chairman, will preside. The League aims to educate for good citizenship and efficient government and places before the new voter, non-partisan information to this end. All women of the county are cordially invited to attend the meetings. Men will also be welcomed. A slacker has lately been defined as one who wants good government, but will not assume any of its responsibilities. Don’t be a slacker! Join with us.

July 28, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       High on Rockland County’s list of best-selling books is a local history, “Portrait of West Nyack,” published through the financial aid of S-E-A-R-C-H, a foundation headed by President Stephen Leeman.
       “Portrait” tells the story of West Nyack from its first Dutch settlers through the present, and contains photographs and notes on the 60-odd cultural and historical landmarks still remaining in West Nyack.
       Much of West Nyack’s story will be new to the average Rocklander, whose knowledge of the county’s history is usually limited to the role which Tappan, Palisades and Stony Point played in the Revolutionary War, to Piermont’s early fame as the eastern terminus of the Erie Railroad, and Nyack’s former eminence as a river port.
       How many Rocklanders, for instance, have known that President Martin Van Buren, with his friend, Washington Irving, came to West Nyack to call on the widow of a distinguished citizen of that community, and that the area that is now Clarksville Corner once drew an important rally of Revolutionary War veterans? Or that it was once believed, at least by the two men who tried it, that precious metals could be mined from the banks of the Hackensack River in what is now West Nyack?
       Who would have thought of including the West Nyack swamp as a historical landmark? Yet the swamp played as important a part in the Revolutionary War as any building for it was there that local farmers hid their cattle to protect them from raids by British soldiers and American Tories.
       It is its freshness of approach, as well as its format, which places “Portrait” above the usual run-of-the-mill community history.
       “The book is designed to make people more aware of West Nyack’s unique heritage … its lake, its river, its wetlands, its historic and cultural landmarks. The book also suggests that these irreplaceable assets are constantly under threat of destruction and degradation. They presently need the care and protection of concerned citizens,” Leeman explains.
       In the section of the book devoted to acknowledgments, it is pointed out that “Portrait” originated with the residents of West Nyack. The West Nyack Rotary Club in 1966 polled each home in the community to determine what projects residents would like the club to take up.
       Many responded that they hoped the Rotary might help “save the character of our community” and “protect our landmarks.”
       Efforts of the club’s community service committee and of public-spirited citizens helped. The civic organization R-E-N-O-W-N (Respect the Essential Nature of West Nyack), was especially effective, leading the Clarkstown Town Board to pass a law which provided for the establishment of the town’s Historical Board of Review. Leeman was the board’s first chairman.
       Upon the recommendation of the Historical Board of Review, the town board created West Nyack’s historic zone.
       R-E-N-OW-N, however, felt that this was not enough, that there might still be people who, knowing little or nothing of West Nyack’s past might wonder why the area centering around Strawtown, Sickletown, and West Nyack Roads had been designated a historic zone. R-E-N-OW-N felt that a history of West Nyack was needed. Thus, “Portrait” originated.
       It is a beautiful book, with composition and layout a Leeman responsibility as well. A perfectionist in all he does—witness his restoration of Clarksville Corners, West Nyack—Leeman’s striving toward perfection is reflected in the design and balance of the pages of the book, the beauty of the type, especially the embellished initials used at the beginning of several of the book’s longer sections, and of the notes which give the history of each landmark.
       A clearer perspective of the time and times in which the main events in West Nyack’s history took place has been achieved by listing them along with a chronological list of the dates of major events in the county and even in the nation. These are presented in italics on pages opposite those containing the narrative.
       Mrs. May Leeman edited the book, while Cynthia Crippen did much of the two years’ research which went into “Portrait,” as well as much of the writing.
       Photographs were taken by Warren Inglese (of the Journal-News staff), Charlotte Neuberger, and Jeanne Lesser.
       There are generous credits to many others. Price of the book is $5.
       One firm with laboratory-offices in West Nyack has already purchased 20 copies; a former Clarkstown official bought 12. Other companies and individuals have been ordering two and three at a time.
       A postscript to the publication of “Portrait,” however, has been that the Clarkstown Historical Board of Review, for all practical purposes, has ceased to exist. Terms of the most recently appointed members of the board expired Dec. 31 and the town board has appointed no new members to replace them.
       An even greater threat to further preservation of West Nyack’s heritage, in Leeman’s opinion, is an amendment to the local law setting up the Historical Board of Review, which has been proposed by some members of the town board. Decision on the amendment has been reserved, but if it should be approved, nothing contained in the law would necessitate the town board to act on a recommendation by the Historical Board of Review.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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