Narrowsburg news

Rediscover the reinvented Fort Delaware

By Greg Triggs
Posted 3/2/22

One of my spring goals is to explore more of our beautiful, historically rich area, which isn’t always easy. There seems to be an invisible barrier on the northwest side of town. I never make …

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Narrowsburg news

Rediscover the reinvented Fort Delaware

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One of my spring goals is to explore more of our beautiful, historically rich area, which isn’t always easy. There seems to be an invisible barrier on the northwest side of town. I never make it past the ice cream at Nora’s Luvin’ Spoonful. This year I pledge to get further and time-travel via the Fort Delaware Museum, at 6615 Rte. 97 in Narrowsburg.

Today’s fort represents the settlement over a 30-year period starting in the 1700s, in the era of farmers of English descent, searching for land. According to the Sullivan County website, that’s when the Delaware Company purchased a 10-mile-long strip along both sides of the Delaware River from the indigenous Lenape. The first deed is dated 1754. Future battles between the Lenape and the settlers suggest that perhaps this was not a simple sales transaction.

By 1760, there were 30 cabins, a gristmill and a sawmill. The next year, a stockade was erected around three homes to serve as protection for the entire settlement. In 1763, the settlement was attacked by a Lenape war party. The lower part of the settlement was destroyed. Survivors gathered in the fort for protection. That is the fort that is represented today.

It could be argued history has a way of repeating itself. In 1764, a rafting business was introduced into the area and became very successful. It brought cash into the community on a steady basis, and Cushetunk, as the area was then known, experienced unprecedented development.

The period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) was a turbulent time for the people of Cushetunk. Many of the inhabitants were Tories and loyal to the Crown. However, according to the county website, there were a handful of patriots, or Whigs, as well. Neighbors became hated enemies on two different sides of a life-changing divide.

Many residents of Cushetunk took up arms for the British and Continental armies or fought with local militias. In some instances, families were torn apart as brothers fought on opposing sides. Many settlers fought not far from their homes at the Battle of Minisink on July 21, 1779. After the Revolution, soldiers returned to reclaim their lands and began moving toward modern-day Tusten.

This history will be brought to interactive life in the River Reporter’s Best Historical Site of 2022 by the latest version of the Delaware Company, a nonprofit historical education group. Bold Gold Media Group is providing support. A grand re-opening is planned for this spring.

Programming will include July 10 and August 6 appearances by Noah Lewis, celebrating the life and contributions of Ned Hector, one of approximately 5,000 African-American soldiers who fought in the Revolution.

According to board president John Conway, more programming will be announced soon after the spring grand reopening. Those wanting to stay in the know can find more information at http://www.facebook.com/fortdelawareny.

As quoted in Manor Ink, Vince Benedetto, Bold Gold president said, “If a great civilization is to be preserved, it must remember and know its past.”

Let’s all support these worthwhile lessons and more as Fort Delaware continues to evolve and grow. Afterward, we can stop for ice cream and talk about how our history might best inform our future.

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