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A Brief History of Halcottsville
Halcottsville was settled along the banks of the East Branch of the Delaware River which was originally called "Pakakunk" by the native Americans of the time. This now quiet but charming mountain hamlet, Halcottsville holds a lively past.
During the American revolution, the hamlet's namesake, Englishman John Halcott defected from the English army and joined up with Washington's patriots where he achieved the rank of Major. After the war, Halcott established a homestead along the banks of the East Branch where he and wife Letitia (Jenkins) raised a family of twelve. In 1805, partnering with fellow veteran and home steader David Kelly, The two damned and built the first mill along the river, paving the way for a century of growth amidst the wilds of the Catskill Mountains. It is also said that Halcott opened the hamlet's first store and along with son Mathew a carding and fulling mill. In 1851, honoring this early patriot, the settlement was named "Halcottville". In later years the Halcott family moved on to other regions, largely vanishing from the area census, while the descendents of David Kelly maintained the family "Empire" and are still a prominent area family.
For 125 years or so the damming and widening of the river created a reliable power source and enabled subsequent industry. Later, this dammed portion became known as Lake Wawaka. In 1871 the newly laid railroad opened more doors to commerce and recreation. By the turn of the century Halcottsville was thriving as a major trading point for the outlying areas of Bragg Hollow, Kelly Corners, Hubbell Hill and the Denver Valley. In addition to its busy creamery, ice house and mill, Halcottsville was home to several general stores, two churches , a dressmaker, a tailor, a hotel, a dancehall and a two-room school .There was even a 15 seat paddle-wheel launch operated by Burr Hubbell that offered short rides to visitors.
Most Halcottsville and Bragg Hollow families lived and worked on family farms. Although primarily dairy farms many families also raised sheep for wool, grew cauliflower and produced butter and poultry. The Wawaka grange, opened in 1875 provided support for area farmers for many years.
Today, though quieter than it was, Halcottsville is still an active community. Every March the fire department hosts the "world's shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade". The community is raising funds to restore the long unused grange building for fire department offices and a multi-use community space. The Delaware & Ulster Railride stops there on it's way to Roxbury. And, forging a new economy through the arts, several artists have taken up full and part time residence in Halcottsville.
Excerpted from As The River Runs – A History of Halcottsville by Diane Galusha