Bella Summers in the Catskills – Phoenicia, New York (1930)

The Catskill Mountains of Ulster County, hunting grounds of successive tribes of indigenous peoples, were not settled by Europeans until the mid-18th century.

The best farmland of the low lands was no longer available, so subsistence farmers were pushed into the hilly regions.  Dutch was the primary language of the area.

Tanning and the quarrying of bluestone became leading industries until the area was discovered by wealthier residents of New York City who looked to escape the stifling heat of summer.

(An article in the New York Times in 1879 notes the attractions of Ulster County to which thousands of New Yorkers would repair in the summer.)

In July of 1930, Bella Applegate sent a postcard to the “dear folks” at Masonville.

Belle was in Phoenicia, a hamlet of Ulster County.

The postcard was sent to Mrs. O. Gross who lived in Masonville, a town in Delaware County.

Masonville is in south central New York State; it is unusual in that it lies at the   boundary of two great drainage basins – to the east, water flows to the Delaware River, to the west, the flow is to the Susquehanna.

Masonville is 73 miles from Phoenicia.

Bella’s postcard, published by C.W. Hughes and Company of Mechanicville, NY, bears a distant view of the State Normal School at Oneonta (now part of the State University system of New York.)

On the reverse, Miss Applegate reports that she is spending a few weeks in the Catskills, but may come to Masonville to visit Mrs. Gross.

One hopes that Bella enjoyed her summer vacation and that she was able to meet Mrs. Gross.


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