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Democrat Photo by Dan Hust

EMMA FURMAN, LEFT, and Carol Smythe, both of Grahamsville, talk about the 1820 ledger Smythe recently found. Smythe, the Town of Neversink historian, put the ledger on display at the recent “Afternoon of History” in Grahamsville.

History Fascinates
Neversink Residents

By Dan Hust
GRAHAMSVILLE — September 25, 2001 – Though the terrorist attacks of four days prior never left the backs of people’s minds, Saturday, September 15’s “Afternoon of History” get-together at the Grahamsville Reformed Church’s social hall was a lighthearted and community-oriented affair that highlighted the long history of the European settlers who established and built up the Town of Neversink.
Organized by Town Historian Carol Smythe (who herself brought a recently discovered ledger-turned-scrapbook dating back to 1820), the afternoon was filled with happy memories – and the quest to fill in any gaps in those memories.
In one corner, Harold Brown of Grahamsville clicked at the keys of his brand new Compaq Presario laptop, bringing up person after person in a genealogical program that currently stores 22,388 names of Neversink residents and their families. (That number likely grew after a few conversations on Saturday.)
“You develop a bug for it,” explained Brown of his six-year passion. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s very interesting.”
With a list that goes back a dozen generations to the 1600s, Brown showed many an interested visitor any information he had about their relatives, no matter how obscure. The searches usually brought up the most common names in the Neversink area – Lowe, Kortright, VanAken, Krum, and Wright – and the equally common countries of origin – England, Holland and Germany.
“The history of an area is its people,” he explained, pointing to his computer screen. “And there they are.”
Down a few tables, past the impressive model of the to-be-expanded Daniel Pierce Library and a series of postcards and family photo albums, Virginia DuBois Rhynders of Grahamsville stood by a set of photographs of family members she could not identify.
“I just thought somebody would have a similar picture,” she remarked while fingering a shot of a young girl. “We [her family] were all over the place!”
Rhynders, who lives in the house she grew up in, met with some success Saturday, finding at least one other shared picture, but that wasn’t the real point of her presence.
“I just enjoy this so much,” she explained.
So does Penny Coombe, who manned a table offering info on Tri-Valley Central School’s upcoming 50th anniversary, to be celebrated on May 26, 2002.
“It’s very important to transmit things from our past . . . particularly in light of events in this past week,” she said. “And I think there’s a very strong sense of community in the Tri-Valley area.”
More than that, “it’s an exceedingly interesting area,” said Grahamsville resident Marylin Barr, an author and poet. “When one measures the development of the area, one realizes that, for its time, Neversink is an exceptional place.”
Barr, who runs an art gallery at the majestic home of early settler and tanner Stoddard Hammond on Route 55 in Grahamsville, had all sorts of items on display at her table, from her own books of poetry to info on Neversink’s beloved resident and community activist Addie Reynolds to a Bissell wood and metal carpet cleaner – forerunner of the vacuum cleaner – from the early part of the century.
“I find if young people have access to . . . the history of the area, they are less likely to destroy it or grow up ignorant of it,” Barr explained. “Because if people have no respect for the past, they have no respect for the present.”
Indeed, fellow Grahamsville resident Rose Levitz found her respect increasing for her hometown as she browsed the tables and spoke with neighbors about her quest to put her family’s farm on the state and national registers of historic places.
A synagogue on the grounds is already listed as such, but Rose and her husband David, who was born on the farm in 1918, are hoping for those designations for the entire property. This kind of an event, she indicated, only bolstered her desire to continue her efforts.
“I didn’t know they had this,” she said. “This is nice!”

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