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Minisink Valley Historical Society
scenes from past events
Old Mine Rd Chapter DAR Yard Sale to benefit Fort Decker
Old Mine Rd Chapter DAR Yard Sale to benefit Fort Decker

minisink history

 Frank Salvati lectures on the Custer's Last Stand
Frank Salvati lectures on the Custer's Last Stand

minisink history

Indian Shield
Indian Shield

minisink history

Fall Foliage Festival 2003
fall foliage festival 2003 picture 1
fall foliage festival 2003 picture 2
fall foliage festival 2003 picture 3
fall foliage festival 2003 picture 5
fall foliage festival 2003 picture 6
minisink history
Summer Lectures
The Indians of the Little Big Horn
The 125th Anniversary of the Battle at Little Bighorn and Custer's Last Stand
August 11, 2001, Fort Decker

This program was given by Frank Salvati, a member of the Society and a Security Hospital Treatment Assistant at the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center in Middletown, New York. He has been interested for decades in Native American weaponry and specifically martial history. He has spent time on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota and is a popular speaker around the region.

This presentation was important because the military defeat suffered by George Custer was the second greatest loss by US Army during the America Indian wars. As news spread eastward of his defeat, America was stunned as Custer was one of the most daring of the Civil War military leaders. 2001 is the 125th anniversary of the battle and Frank gave the Indian perspective of the battle. While the battle has no local connection, the news of it and the subsequent talk about it certainly was on the community's mind in July 1876. In addition, older residents may remember the calendars depicting the battle that hung in every bar that were how most people came to know about "Custer's Last Stand."

Frank Salvati holding an Indian #4F1
Pictured is Frank Salvati holding an Indian #4F1.
Some Indian weapons
Here are a few Indian weapons that were on display at the lecture.
Photographs by Nancy Bello
minisink history
New Netherlands And the Merchant Adventurers
July 28, 2001, Fort Decker

This program, given by Society member Mead Stapler looked at the earliest surveys and trade missions to the New Netherlands, present day New York, including the Minisink region from the Hudson to the Delaware Rivers. Mr. Stapler is a retired aeronautical engineer with experience in the manufacture of industrial electronic instruments using his own patents. His main interests are in the pre-Columbian and Colonial Period in North America from 900 to 1800 AD. Stapler's activities in this area have included historic archaeology at Norse landing sites in Maine, publications and lectures on the Colonial and Revolutionary War period in the Pompton and Delaware valleys and 17 years as editor of the North Jersey Highlander, a historical quarterly of the North Jersey Highlands Historical Society.

Peter Osborne and Mead Stapler
Pictured is Peter Osborne and Mead Stapler before the lecture started.
A few guests at the lecture on the New Netherlands
Here are a few of the guests who came to Fort Decker for the New Netherlands lecture.
Photographs by Nancy Bello
minisink history
Independence Day
July 4, 2001

The MVHS held its 3rd annual reading of the Declaration of Independence in Orange Square, Port Jervis, NY. The program entitled "The Birth of Liberty" was dedicated to the late Ted Demond who eloquently and with great dignity read the preamble of the Declaration at our first two programs. This year, his son Martin read the preamble in his father's absence.

the Procession
Ouida Tobens is seen leading the opening procession of the evening.
Kelly Millspaugh and Corrie Chandler
Readers Corrie Chandler and Kelly Millspaugh dressed in period costumes.
Reenactors guarding the Declaration
Revolutionary reenactors guarded the Declaration during the program.
the spectators
Some of the spectators enjoying the evening's program.
Photographs by Edward & Betsy Krakowiak
minisink history
Volunteer Recognition Breakfast
May 2001

In 2001, we held our annual volunteer recognition breakfast on May 6. Assemblyman Jacob E. Gunther, III attended and presented each of our volunteers with a Certificate of Merit from the New York State Assembly.

volunteer breakfast
Some of our volunteers
Wednesday crew
Some of our Wednesday morning crew
Jacob Gunther, III and Ross Decker
Assembly Member Jacob E. Gunther, III and our President Ross Decker.
Photographs by Nancy Bello
minisink history
A Visit from Sweden
May 2001
Swedish students and Fort Decker
In the spring of 2001 a group of Swedish students visited Port Jervis and were given a week-long tour of the area by local resident Rick Drew. Our Society participated by giving the students a tour of the area's historic and natural landmarks. Here they pose in front of our museum, Fort Decker.
a view of Port Jervis from High Point
Teachers and Carol and Rick Drew (at center) at the High Point Monument
in High Point State Park with Port Jervis in the background.
free lunch at KFC
The local Kentucky Fried Chicken provided a free lunch to all of the
students as they got their share of American fast food.
walking tour ends at Orange Square
A walking tour of one of the city's neighborhoods
concluded at Orange Square, Port Jervis.
the ever present soccer ball
As students waited for a bus there was the ever present soccer ball
and informal games started very quickly.
Photographs by Nancy Bello
minisink history
Volunteer Recognition Breakfast
April 2000
volunteer breakfast
Our Society's volunteers pose for a group shot.
Without them we could not accomplish what we do as an organization.
Roger and Charles King
MVHS volunteers Roger and Charles King being recognized
at our annual breakfast to honor volunteers who are the
backbone of the Society.
Ross Decker and Charles Swartwout
Incoming president Ross Decker presenting outgoing president
Charles Swartwout with a plaque for twenty years of service.
minisink history
Artswalk 2000
A Look At Local Artists - 1800-2000
Margie Sierski painting
Painting by member and volunteer Margie Sierski
at the Artswalk exhibition at City Hall.
Several hundred people attended the show.
Photograph by Nancy Bello
minisink history
The D & H Canal Greenway 
Les and Jean Crine
Members Les & Jean Crine walking on 2.5 mile long
D & H Canal pathway in the City of Port Jervis.
ribbon cutting ceremony
The ribbon cutting for the new section of D & H Canal trail
opened in the City of Port Jervis through the joint efforts
of the city and Society. May 2000.
Photographs by Nancy Bello
minisink history
A Country Christmas

Our Society held its 14th annual Country Christmas Celebration at Fort Decker in early December. The installation of the decorations was completed by the director and the many cranberry strands, popcorn hearts and paper ornaments were made by the Port Jervis Middle School Students. More than 400 visitors attended, including 300 school children.

Fort Decker was decorated in a festive spirit that represents various styles of Christmas decorations used over the last 150 years. Society President Charles H. Swartwout Jr. said "During this special time of the year our museum is beautifully decorated and many people who have been regular visitors say that our Christmas program is the best time to come and visit."

President Swartwout said "This year's program was an especially exciting one at Fort Decker because of the installation of a new heating system that will allow visitors to more comfortably enjoy their stay. In addition, through the efforts of members James Browning, Richard Tarbell and Mead Stapler, we enlarged and enhanced our gift shop."

Lance Grach

Lance Grach, a Revolutionary War reenactor from the 4th Light Dragoons, a military outfit that patrolled the Minisink region during the American Revolution, protects the bake sale items from those who might wish to take some without paying pound sterling. He is a member of the Society and was kind enough to make presentations for half of the Port Jervis Middle School children who visited and was on hand for our members' reception.

Lance Grach
Lance teaching a student how to properly salute
an officer in the Light Dragoons unit. 
Peter Osborne relates the history of the building to
the students of the Middle School on a snowy day.
Port Jervis Middle School students
Port Jervis Middle School students pose
in front of their decorations.
Christmas goodies
The refreshment table with hot
mulled cider and ginger snaps.

The Port Jervis Middle School students made all of the decorations for our Country Christmas this year and then came to visit their handiwork. In all, 320 children came during the course of two days and were very interested and well behaved. We are looking forward to having them come again next year.

Christmas tree  students leaving Fort Decker

Here, students who are terribly sad about leaving Fort Decker, are getting on the bus to return to school. The entire effort to move 320 students was managed by Richard Roberts, Principal, Richard Andre, Assistant Principal, the teachers of the Middle School and the school district's transportation team. Thanks for a job well done.

Photographs by James Browning & Janet Kearns
minisink history
A Country Christmas
by Peter Osborne
The Students of the Port Jervis Middle School

Exhibitions Funded by A & W Products of Port Jervis, New York, Allison & Charles Gillinder, GTE, Middletown, New York, The Office of the Orange County Historian, Theodore Sly, Summit Research Labs, Huguenot, New York, Williams Printing, Matamoras, Pennsylvania

With help from James Browning, The City of Port Jervis, William Clark, Jean & Leslie Crine, Michelle Figliomeni, Bernard Kozykowski, John & Bernice Masten, The Neversink Valley Area Museum, Janis Osborne, The Port Jervis Middle School, The Port Jervis Water Department, Roucken Christmas Center, Sandra Schultz, The Sleep Shoppe/The Yankee Candle Shop, Mead & Mary Stapler, Richard Tarbell, Gene Woock, and the Friends and Members of the Minisink Valley Historical Society

Trains Generously Loaned by Ryan Osborne
Copyright © 2015 The Minisink Valley Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Revised December 31, 2013