Researching, collecting, preserving and publishing the history of the Haines Family settlers and others in the area of what is now known as northern Greene County, Town of Hunter, Catskill Mountains, New York, commonly referred to as the mountaintop.
Elisha Haines, another original settler, born in 1750, lived on a large tract of land in the area of Onteora. He and his wife Abigail (last name unknown) had six children: Elisha, Jr., Elijah (killed while working in Col. Edwards’ mill pond), Samuel, Jonathan, Betsy and Benjamin. Elisha’s children married into unrecorded families except for his son Benjamin, who married Elizabeth Jersey. Elisha and Abigail were members of the Lexington Baptist Church. Edward Haines, born in 1764, younger brother of Samuel and Elisha, arrived on the mountaintop in 1795, according to Jennie Haines Dunn’s notes, and seems to have been the most prolific of the early settlers, primarily in the Haines Falls area. Edward married Mariam Brewer (Brower) in 1796, who bore him 12 children: Peter B., Uriah, Aaron, Eliza, Elihu, Happy, James, Jeremiah, Ann, Irena, Abram, and Levi. Remarkably, all 12 children lived to marry and produce over 60 grandchildren, early settlers of Haines Falls. Edward’s 12 children married into the following families: Smith, Perkins then Stowe, Wiltsey, Van Schoik, Woolsey, Simpson then Holmes, Hummel, Brink, France, Britt and Simpson.
Originally known as Haines Corners, now Haines Falls, NY
Edward and Mariam are buried in the historic Peter B. Haines Cemetery off O’Hara Road in Haines Falls. Their monuments were removed to the Haines Falls Cemetery sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s by a person or persons unknown. Haines Falls derived its name from this family. Mariam’s father, Peter Brewer, was granted land for his Revolutionary War service, which included the Oliver Haines’ parcel in Haines Falls. The Haines families who made their way to the mountaintop 230 years and 10 generations ago were true pioneers, and the Haines legacy continues in the mountains to this day. Some of their interesting contributions, past and present, are the following:
THE HAINESES OF YESTERDAY
In 1849, artists from the Hudson River School stayed with John and Lucy Haines Rusk. Kensett and Casilear, as well as Asher B. Durand, found it “a rich spot for scenery with the Kaaterskill, a small stream flowing through it, forming a combination of two or three falls.” The 1850 census lists Asher B. Durand as residing with John and Lucy Rusk in the Clove. Lucy was the daughter of Aaron Haines, who built and ran the Vista in Haines Falls. In the years 1877 and 1878 Levi, Samuel and Josephine (Haines) donated 60 square rods of land to the trustees of the Haines Falls Methodist Church for its site. Subsequently, Levi, Samuel and Josephine (Haines) donated 144 square rods of land to add to the Church lot for burial ground, then 35.21 square rods of land, then seven square rods of land for the same purpose. (One rod is 16½ feet.) An oft-told mountaintop tale is that on a Sunday in 1884, George Harding took President Chester A. Arthur to see the Haines Falls, which were owned by Charles W. Haines, proprietor of the Haines Falls House and a man of such strong religious feeling that he was known as “Christian Charley.” But Haines, according to tradition still repeated in the neighborhood, refused to turn on his Falls on Sunday, “not even for the President of the United States,” he declared. If Arthur wanted to see the Falls, Haines told him, he’d be glad to turn them on—on Monday. In 1887 Charles F. Wingate went to Haines Falls and there “was given the unique experience of seeing a waterfall `turned on’ by human hands.” He was captivated by a nearby sheep pasture from which he looked down the Kaaterskill Clove to the broad valley and New England mountains beyond. Wingate offered to buy the pasture but the owner proved reluctant to sell—and for a surprising reason. He was C. W. Haines, proprietor of the Haines Falls House, the boarding establishment operated on perhaps the strictest Christian and temperance principles of any in the Catskills. A compromise was arrived at between Haines and Wingate. The sheep pasture was leased to Wingate’s newly-formed Twilight Park Association and a bond of $1,000 was posted—the bond would be forfeited the moment a drop of intoxicating liquor was sold in the old sheep pasture. That winter, construction of the first cottages in the Park was begun, and soon the Park was thriving.
THE HAINESES OF TODAY
Live normal, every-day lives like everyone else on the mountaintop, but they also conduct genealogical research, consultation, education, publishing, and archive historic memorabilia in an effort to acquire, preserve and share local history; Established the Haines Family Association and a comprehensive web site (www.HainesFamilyAssociation.org) in an on-going effort to foster communication, gather and share information about early mountaintop settlers, and to inform the public about present and future HFA news, projects and goals; Sponsor and conduct on-site seminars and consultations for historic cemetery rescue, restoration and maintenance, facilitated by Bill and Gail Haines; Actively search for, rescue and restore long-forgotten historic cemeteries and family burying grounds; Restored and continue to maintain the Aaron Haines historic cemetery in Haines Falls. Work continues on a new right of way road from Route 23A to the cemetery; Rescued and restored the Layman historic cemetery in Haines Falls. Work continues on a new right of way road from Fern Ridge Road to the cemetery; Rescued, restored and rededicated a 1932 New York State historic marker at the historically-accurate Haines first settlement site of Tannersville’s Rip Van Winkle Lake commemorating the 1790 birth of the first child born in the Town of Hunter, John Haynes; Commissioned and dedicated a plaque in memory of Haines Falls native Lt. Richard A. Haines at the Veterans’ Memorial in Haines Falls, who made the ultimate sacrifice during a naval battle in WWII; Plan the future rescue and restoration of the Peter B. Haines historic cemetery off of O’Hara Road, in Haines Falls, where some of the earliest mountaintop settlers are buried; Plan the future rescue and restoration of the Griswald (Schoonmaker/Dibbell) historic cemetery, in Platte Clove; Have provided a volunteer groundskeeping crew to and have maintained the Haines Falls 20-acre Campus of the Mountain Top Historical Society since its purchase 14 years ago; Support local charities, churches, associations, historical societies, cemeteries and businesses; Welcome any and all to become members and/or join us at our annual reunion at the North-South Lake Campground, South Lake Pavilion, Haines Falls, on the second Saturday of July each year.
On a beautiful July day in 1999, members of the Haines Family Association and the community at large gathered and dedicated a large monument and plaque in the Haines Falls Cemetery in memory of our ancestors, inscribed with the following text: “In Memory of John, Elisha, Samuel and Edward Haines, their families and those who came after them. They explored, settled and helped develop the mountaintop area beginning in the 1700s. They were a hardy breed: farmers, foresters, tanners, hunters, trappers, and homemakers who helped tame this beautiful but wild land. At one time they owned the Haines Falls, and they donated the land upon which the Haines Falls Methodist Church now stands. They supported their families, churches, and communities, and made it possible for us to be here today. We are proud to be part of their family, and we are forever in their debt.
Those who come after us will face new challenges in a changing world and will search for new paths. We are certain that if each new generation continues to look to our forefathers for inspiration, they too will be valued members of the community. And we will be proud to call them family.
Isaiah 51:1 `Look ye to the rock from whence ye are hewn…’
Dedicated to the Memory of our Ancestors Haines Family Association July 10, 1999”
NOTE: Portions of this article were extracted from the research of Jennie Haines Dunn (Mrs. Cleveland A. Dunn) and the writings of her daughter Esther H. Dunn, who compiled an extensive collection of data on Haines family history now at the New York Historical Association in Cooperstown, NY; Kevin Krajick, a prize-winning journalist, author, and descendant of Samuel Haines, who has written a genealogy for his daughters which includes his Haines ancestry; Joan Rogan Brower (Brewer), who has devoted many decades to mountaintop genealogical and historic-cemetery research and publication; Nancy (Haines) McGowan, Director and Genealogy Committee Chairperson, and other Directors and members of the HFA. We are indebted to them all.