Liberty Ready For 200th Big Plans For Bicentennial Celebration
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY January 26, 2007 It’s birthday time for the Town of Liberty and everyone’s invited.
Come April, the township will celebrate 200 years since a band of settlers peacefully seceded from the Town of Lumberland and created their own government.
It’s a town brimming with history, according to Village of Liberty Historian Pat Killian, who is doing double duty this year as co-chair of the Liberty Bicentennial Committee with sister Lynn.
The committee kicked off its year-long celebration on New Year’s Eve with the annual Liberty Bell Drop.
Now they’re scurrying to pull together plans for a monument honoring the original settlers of the township a stone structure that will be erected on the front lawn of the Main Street Elementary School.
Killian has a list of 54 names including familiar monikers like Darbee, Hasbrouck, Gorton and Parks.
But he’s looking for a complete accounting of the families responsible for establishing a settlement in the center of Sullivan County.
Now about 85 square miles, the Blue Mountain settlement (as it was known) of 1807 included chunks of the present-day towns of Callicoon and Fremont, Killian explained.
The late town historian Delbert VanEtten traced some of the oldest remains of buildings in the township to 1797, when it was settled by pioneers who forged westward from Connecticut.
Killian is looking for the names of the people who colonized not just the Village of Liberty but Robertsonville (dubbed White Sulphur Springs in 1890 to mark the location of the springs said to have medicinal value), Stevensville (renamed Swan Lake in 1927 in memory of the late Alden Swan), Liberty Falls (christened Ferndale reportedly because of a O&W railway mail route mix-up) and Parksville.
The committee is also gathering a list of individuals and businesses that will pony up $100 for 8" by 8" pavers or $50 for 4" by 8" markers to be placed in front of the monument.
The cost of the stones will help offset the cost of the monument itself.
“I’m very optimistic that we’ll sell them all; we’d like to pre-sell this as much as possible,” Killian noted.
The committee is still debating a design with local artisans, but Killian said the plan is to have something in place by the middle of the year.
“A stone structure,” he noted, “something that’s going to last for hundreds of years.”
There’s a handful of other events slated for the big birthday bash.
A Groundhog Day party was bandied about, but Killian said there just wasn’t enough time to get it off the ground.
“Every good plan is flexible,” Killian explained with a laugh.
But Memorial Day will bring a remembrance of every veteran from the township to fight in an American war, including the 303 Liberty men who fought in the Revolutionary War.
To pay tribute, the committee is recruiting buglers to surround the village and play Echo Taps.
July 4 will bring the town’s parks and recreation fireworks display, moved from Hanofee Park into the village this year for a big blowout.
The annual Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters Association parade will be hosted by the Liberty Fire Department in August, with judging of the Brothers of the Brush competition.
Any man willing to grow out a mustache, sideburns goatee or full beard can put up $15 now to get in on the contest.
A duplication of a square-off held back in 1970, when the Village of Liberty celebrated 100 years, the beard-growing competition will also help offset the cost of the parade for the fire department.
Also on the slate this year is a skit, coordinated by students at the Liberty Central School, which will re-enact the first meeting of the Town of Liberty government and a square dance.
A cookbook of recipes from town residents is available at town hall for $10 to cover the cost of the bicentennial activities, and donations of money, pictures, ideas and memories are still being sought.
“There are no directions for pulling off a 200 year celebration!” Killian said. “If anybody has something special they want to include, call us.”
Killian, whose roots go back far into the past of the Town of Callicoon, said there was no way he could let this anniversary go by without “stirring things up.”
With the help of a large committee (folks he said are all doing this “out of the goodness of their hearts), Killian said he intends to make this birthday a special one for Liberty.
To submit settlers’ names, volunteer or for more information, give Killian a call at 292-4369.