A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: February 22, 2012

The 1990 soccer season was Roxbury’s year. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams won sectional titles. The boys ended their season in their next outing, losing their first intersectional game, but the girls marched on, making the Final Four of the New York State Championships in Syracuse.


A Catskill Catalog: February 15, 2012

Soccer has to be included in any catalog of Catskill Mountain life. Soccer madness visits many mountain towns every fall, particularly the central school-hosting villages throughout Delaware and Greene counties; Downsville, Andes, Roxbury, Windham, Tannersville, South Kortright, Davenport, Stamford, Gilboa, Jefferson and Margaretville.


A Catskill Catalog: February 8, 2012

His name, in his native language, means ebb-tide. Fitting for a man of “the people of ever-moving waters,” the Mohicans. He carried a Christian name, Hendrick, fitting for someone who had been dealing with Dutch and English neighbors his entire life.

Among his own people, he carried a Mohican name, rendered variously in English as Kackaweeriman or Cockalalaman. Known to history as Hendrick Hekan, he was a Sachem of the Esopus people, the Mohican river-Indians who had long made a home of the lands washed by the Hudson River and Esopus Creek.


A Catskill Catalog: February 1, 2012

Wiltwyck, Beaverwyck, and New Amsterdam were the three Hudson River settlements of New Netherland, listed from smallest to largest: today’s Kingston, Albany, and New York City.

Settled in 1651, Wiltwyck quickly became a vital agricultural outpost, site of the best wheat-growing land in the colony. The creek-washed flatlands of the Esopus Valley had long been the cleared, productive cropland of the Lenni Lenape, the Algonquin-speaking “common people,” native to the place. To the colonists, it was perfect for wheat, the European staple.


A Catskill Catalog: January 25, 2012

Seventy-five years ago this month, federal agents raided a farm in the Town of Halcott, where they discovered an operating still.

It all started with complaints that someone was jacking deer at night with a light. Game protectors went to investigate. While on farmland in Townsend Hollow belonging to Fred Matthews, the officers smelled alcohol: a still.