2016-12-07 / In This Place

“Red-dy” or Not, ‘Tis the Season

« »

Our publication date this week marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor: a historical milestone I noted in my December 10, 2014 column, if you would like to revisit it. I have included the entire link at the end of this column, but it’s cumbersome: much easier to just go to the Columns section of our website, then to “In This Place” — the Pearl Harbor column is one of the oldest ones posted at the bottom of the second page of links.

Meanwhile, back in 1906, I thought we could remember one of the founding members of the long-lived and very productive Blish clan and, from 1956, a banner year for huntingpalooza, thanks to a rare “Doe Day,” as remembered in Clarke Sanford’s Mountain Dew column. Enjoy!

December 7, 1906

John M. Blish, one of the best known men in this part of the county, died at his home in Fleischmann Monday morning after having been ill nearly all summer.

He was born in Middletown in 1841, son of Simon and Mary Blish. His grandfather, Silas Blish, was born in Connecticut, April 17, 1763, and there married Hannah Blish and came on horseback to Delaware county and bought 60 acres of wild land. After clearing a small portion of it he returned and brought his family with him. This estate is now known as Fleischmann and where Silas Blish looked upon his cornfields his children beheld stately mansions surrounded by well kept lawns. At that time bears, wolves, panthers and deer abounded and the country was a virgin forest.

John M. Blish, the subject of this sketch, was a member of a family of six children. He was educated in the district school and early began to work on his father’s farm. When a young man, he purchased a neighboring farm, but soon sold this farm and returned to his ancestral acres, which he continued to improve. His first wife was Jemimah Jones, who lived but a short time. His second wife was Delia Garrison.

Mr. Blish finally begun to sell off portions of the farm in five and 10 acre lots. One of the first sales was to Leopold Blair of New York city, who built a beautiful residence. A little later Lewis Fleischmann came in possession of this property and the town was named after him and the sales have continued to this day until the village is now called one of the prettiest on the line of the Ulster &. Delaware. Mr. Blish later purchased more farms. He remodeled the homestead and the lands are laid out with taste and elegance. For several years he has been General Manager for the Fleischmann owners, having full charge of their property and directing all movements for the improving and beautifying of their estates. He was a man of much executive ability. He was a Democrat in politics and his religious views reflected the liberality of his nature and the breadth of his intellect.

The funeral services were held at 1 o’clock on Thursday and were largely attended. The service was under the direction of Margaretville Lodge of which he was a devoted member.

December 7, 1956 From Clarke Sanford’s Mountain Dew column

Saturday was D day!

D is for doe deer.

How they fell! If one had a doubt this is a sports community, a Saturday morning visit would have driven doubt away.

Red clad hunters came bumper to bumper, hour after hour, in crates and Cadillacs.

A man from Halcott Center endeavored to enter route 28 at Fleischmanns. There was no way to squeeze in among, the closeup cars.

Restaurants and gas stations were swamped. The Gulf station in this village had as high as 15 cars waiting for gas. The red clads pumped their own. Claude Kelly, proprietor of the Margaretville diner, arose at 3 a. m. and was swamped until 9 o’clock when he had to lie down for a rest. He and seven helpers could not begin to care for the hunters.

Eating places, which had stocked for the occasion, went out of food. The hunters were good natured, they took what was offered.

Nearly all the incoming cars were well filled with hunters. There seemed to be no lone rifle men. They spread down the roads and up the roads early. Rifle fire began in the hills to take theplaceofa7o’clockwhistle.

They did not all go into the woods. Many walked the high ways, probably in the fear they would be shot themselves. I doubt the highway hunters had much luck.

At 8 o’clock there were 133 hunters’ cars between the Greene flower shop in Clovesville and Margaretville. Scenes along other highways were similar.

A look in the fields revealed red clad men moving, moving, moving. I believe some of them thought a deer must be coming their way. Every apple tree in the valley had a man watching. Deer like apples and know an apple tree from a maple. By mid-fore- noon cars began to return through the village with one or two deer on fenders. There were more in the afternoon. The most deer I saw on one car was five—two on the fenders, three on top. The car was occupied by five men.

One car had a fawn—bigger than a beagle, not too much bigger. Believe I would have put it in the trunk.

There were licenses from Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, saw one from Texas and others from various states. D day had been well advertised.

Every man had a gun. Had there been word in the early morning of an invasion by an enemy, no more men could have been armed. There were scope sights, iron sights, “thurty-thurty” guns, magnum guns, old guns, new guns, polished and rusty ones.

Red was the color. Red coats, red pants, red caps. I saw four with red boots. This section of Delaware county had the most hunters. As soon as they drove past the county line on the Pine Hill mountain road, the men began to look for deer.

A small part of the army may have gone further on routes 30 and 28 but enough remained to make it a record for hunters in an area accustomed for many years to red clothes.

I do not have in mind in the above to criticize doe day. I believe the deer herd had became unwieldy, 10 to 15 does to one buck.

It was a spectacle!

Among jottings to indicate the large number of hunters who came to this area on Saturday are the following: There were 191 cars parked Saturday morning between Downsville and Margaretville. Forrest Knapp of the gift shop made this count. On five miles of the Cat Hollow road there were 102 cars. Mr. and Mrs. Al Cross, returning home from Kingston late Saturday afternoon, met 1,200 cars. Most of the cars contained hunters. Many were trimmed with deer. The Vega-Roxbury road was so crowded with cars that passage was difficult.

Landowners with posted property had difficulty in driving hunters off. While the owners shooed the red clads from one part of the property, others came upon an other part. One owner said ten men would have been required to “keep ‘em off.”

A man who came a long distance to hunt said, “I don’t care for signs, I am after deer, suppose it does cost a fine of $12.50 or $17.50, that is better than going home without a shot.”

There was need of a Solomon at the village parking lot Saturday night. A Schenectady man and a Halcottville resident were at odds over the possession of a doe shot on the posted property of the Halcottville man. He knocked the deer down, it jumped and ran away. Schenectady killed it.

Checking discovered that the land was not legally posted. The two settled by splitting the deer down the backbone, each taking half.

Two New York men shot a deer at the same time. There was an argument at the parking lot over who shot last. They appealed to the state police. Police said it was not a legal matter and not for them to make decision. They suggested dividing the carcass. Men were not satisfied.

They appealed to Robert Van- Benschoten, game protector. He was not home. Mrs. VanBenschoten said to the men. “Why not divide the deer 50-50? They did and went home happy.

Protectors Bryan Burgin and Robert VanBenschoten apprehend ed a half dozen hunters Saturday with loaded guns in their cars, before Justice of the Peace Donald Fenton, they paid $22.50 each in civil compromise.

One of them, a New York city fireman, gave the Conservation men a red hot argument. He was under civil service, same as the protectors, he said, and should be free from arrest. He was indignant at the fine and told the men if they ever came to New York and were found parking near a hydrant, they would know what is the law.

The economy of deer meat is probably not often taken into consideration. Probably 1,500 bucks were killed during the season in Delaware. It seems certain a thousand doe were killed on Saturday. This adds to a total of 2,500.

Estimate the average low at 100 pounds per deer (many weighed 150) and there is total meat of 250,000 pounds. Put this into dollars at another low of 50 cents per pound (should be $1.00) and we come to a total of $125,000 for the two week’s kill of deer.

Yours truly. The Mountaineer

Find more seasonal adventures at nyshistoricnewspapers.org/middletown. My Pearl Harbor column can be found at: www.catskillmountainnews.com/news /2014-12-10/In_ This_ Place/In_ This_ Place_ December_ 10_ 2014.html. It’s probably easier to find from our “Columns” navigation tab or a simple “Pearl Harbor” search at our website!

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2016-12-07 digital edition