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Montgomery Village

Montgomery Village Hall is located at 133 Clinton Street, Montgomery NY 12549; phone: 845-457-9661.

Beginnings [1]

The Village of Montgomery grew up around the woolen mill and the intersection of the Minisink and Cochecton Turnpikes. It is located on portions of two adjacent patents, the 10,000 acre patent granted to Jeremiah Schuyler and Company in 1719, and the 5,000 acre patent granted to Francis Harrison and Company in 1720. The fertile farmlands of the area attracted settlers, particularly those from agrarian European countries. By 1730 there were sizable settlements surrounding what would eventually be established as the village.

The Palantines, Lutherans from Germany, settled on the Harrison tract, south of what is now the center of the village. Johannes Miller, who built the first house on that site, constructed the road which connected them to the Palantine settlement at Newburgh. His son, Johannes Miller, Jr., was to become one of the village's most significant residents. He quartered soldiers during the Revolution and entertained Lafayette. He was involved with the establishment of the academy, the construction of the turnpikes, the incorporation of the village, various farmers associations, the Presbyterian Church and he became the first owner of the site of the Montgomery Worsted Mill, in 1813.

A predominantly Dutch settlement grew up north of the village; mainly Scotch-Irish settled to the east, and toward the north, English settlers under the leadership of Cadwallader Colden. In the 1730s, several of these settlers built a mill on the bank opposite the village. A settler on the Schuyler tract, Jeronimous Mingus, built the first mill on the village side of the Walkill. It was purchased in the 1740s by James Ward, who constructed the first bridge and gave the village its first name, Ward's Bridge.

This mill was the focal point for the outlying farms and the highways were diverted to cross the bridge. There was soon a direct route from Albany to New York and Philadelphia through Ward's Bridge. After the Revolution, the name was changed to Montgomery to honor General Montgomery. A group of men and women purchased James Ward's 200 acres (the bridge had already been turned over to the township) and hired the surveyor James Clinton to lay out the streets of the village. These early promoters (few of them ever lived within the village) are responsible for an essential characteristic of Montgomery's streetscape — the grid plan. Their plan and the street names are the basis for the village as it is now. In 1791, the Montgomery Academy was incorporated. It had been petitioned for in 1787 by one hundred and twenty-five area residents, only a few of whom lived within the village limits, furthering the village's position as the center of a large farming community.

The roads which had been the basis for Ward's Bridge were improved by the introduction of the concept of the turnpike — roads built by chartered stock companies. The Cochecton Turnpike, from Cochecton to Newburgh was chartered in 1801. Ward Street currently follows this road. The Minisink-Montgomery Turnpike at Montgomery. In 1811 a third turnpike was chartered to run to Pennsylvania. The village incorporation took place in 1810 at Widow Smith's Tavern, a seemingly popular site. Its exact location is unknown.

The New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad was chartered in 1832 and opened section by section from 1841 to 1850. It ran to Goshen and it was not until after the Civil War that a group of Montgomery businessmen built the Montgomery-Goshen railroad. Opened in 1867, the 10.2 mile line cost $288,930.83 to build. From that time more railroad lines began to radiate from Montgomery and the area revitalized in terms of dairy farming and as a summer resort.

  1. Gobrect, Larry E. New York State Division for Historic Preservation, and Wolfe, Enid J., consultant, Montgomery Village Multiple Resource Area, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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