Carol A. Johnson presents town and village lore through photographs and more in her new book, New Paltz Revisited (Images of America Series, 2010). The 128-page softcover hits the shelves next Monday, September 27. A book launch and author’s signing will be held at Elting Memorial Library a week later, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 2.
Johnson is coordinator of the library’s Haviland-Heidgerd historical collection and co-author with Marion W. Ryan of New Paltz (Images of America Series, 2001). Both volumes explore the families, farms, institutions and events the occurred on the land purchased from the Esopus sachems on May 26, 1677 by French Huguenots Louis DuBois, sons Abraham and Issac; Christian Deyo and his son Pierre; brothers Jean and Abraham Hasbrouck; brothers Simon and Andries LeFevre; Antoine Crispell, Louis Bevier, and Hugo Freer. The parcel encompasses two thirds of present-day New Paltz, a third of Esopus, a quarter of Rosendale and the entirety of the Town of Lloyd.
“The town was founded on religious freedom,” said Johnson. “The Huguenots were persecuted and came here for a better life. They’re still influencing our lives. We have the school; the college makes us different. You throw in the Thruway and Mohonk and the mountains and you’ve got [a very unique community].”
New Paltz Revisited emphasizes the considerable influence of these founding fathers. “Students attending the state university might live in Crispell or Deyo Hall, eat in Hasbrouck Dining Hall or work out in the Elting Gymnasium,” Johnson wrote in her introduction. “Residents can live on Manheim Boulevard or DuBois Road, play ball at Hasbrouck Park, cheer on the Hugies at school, attend church on Huguenot Street, or borrow a book from the Elting Memorial Library,”
The book begins with a New Paltz map, circa 1875, predating the formation of the Village of New Paltz within the town. Chapters highlight the Huguenots, the town, the village, education and social life. Snapshots subjects range from a 1944 photograph of a Wallkill Valley Railroad engine; the 1949 Independence Day fire at the Tusa Hotel; the 1956 Moriello Pool, a three-sided swimming hole that opened to a three-acre pond; New York State Thruway construction; and portraits of historic homes, families, farm workers and students in the town, and the historic hamlets of Ohioville, Springtown, Plutarch and Butterville. Detailed captions carefully document the stories behind the images.
Johnson hopes that readers of New Paltz Revisited will appreciate the importance of historical archives and the preservation of an institutional memory. “New Paltz is lucky because we can see from one generation to another,” she said. “Who got the homestead and carried on farming, what the other children did. Now that there’s a renewed interest in going local for finding things, [fact-seekers] are finding that not everything on the Internet is correct,” said Johnson.
The author thanked all who contributed to New Paltz Revisited for their resources and support. “Even though my name is the only one here, it’s the work of many, many people, before me and with me, and the generosity of the community, to loan some of their photographs and make them available for the public to enjoy,” said Johnson.
All proceeds from October 2 book launch of New Paltz Revisited will benefit the library. The cost is $23.75 per copy.
New Paltz Revisited will be available next Monday at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or 888-313-2665.
Arcadia Publishing is an active publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Its Images of America Series seeks to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places.