Town of Cornwall
Town Historian

 

 

 

 

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Renita McGuinness

Town Historian

183 Main Street
Cornwall, NY 12518

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Welcome to the Town Historian

Famous Sons & Daughters

Nathaniel P. (N.P.) Willis – author/poet – (1806-1867) – Knickerbocker writer - while living at Idlewild in the mid-19th century, Willis left a lively picture of Cornwall in Out-Doors at Idlewild and in his articles for the Home Journal, a popular weekly for which he wrote articles detailing the charms of Cornwall scenery its healthful air and climate.  Other works include American Scenery with engravings by W. H Bartlett.

Lewis Beach – (1835 – 1886) writer/political figure/historian – came to Cornwall in 1861 and settled on a farm he named “Knoll View”.  Wrote Cornwall in 1873 detailing the beauty and history of the town including valuable information of a factual record of life in mid-19th century Cornwall.  Served as Town Supervisor (1868), elected to House of Representatives for three terms.

Edward Payson (E.P.) Roe – author/horticulturist/pastor (1838 – 1888) – a visit to the scene of the great Chicago Fire inspired his first novel, Barriers Burned Away - wrote 25 books including Driven Back to Eden along with informative articles on farming.

Amelia E. Barr – author (1831 – 1919) – one of the best paid and most popular women writers of her time.  Readers admired her strong moral tone.  Wrote many novels including A Bow of Orange Ribbon.

David Sands – (1745 - 1818) - Quaker preacher – the Sands genealogy brings this family from Europe in the 1600’s to Block Island and Long Island.  Sands Point, NY named from descendants of this old family name.  In Cornwall, David, son of Nathaniel, hosted General George Washington on occasions.  When daughter Catherine married Elias Ring the Old Homestead became the Sands-Ring Homestead.  During war-time (Revolution, Civil, WWI & WWII) the home was headquarters for war efforts.

Winslow Homer – (1836 – 1910) artist – spent many summers at Houghton Farm in Mountainville where he produced a series of watercolors of farm life.

The Ward Brothers – champion oarsmen (1850’s – 1890’s) – the four Ward brothers achieved their greatest victory on September 11, 1871 at Saratoga’s International Regatta.  This feat was followed by single-scull matches in which the brothers also distinguished themselves.  In 1890, a regatta took place in Cornwall with two thousand spectators watching the races from the Cornwall Landing shore.  The scull was recently donated by the Storm King School to the Village of Cornwall on Hudson Historian.

Harriet J. Terry - (1885 - 1967)  - founder/educator - born in Cornwall-on-Hudson,  attended Cornwall Presbyterian Church, and was educated in the Village's school.  She attended Howard University where, in 1908, she and fifteen other women founded the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which was the first intercollegiate African American sorority.  Following graduation, Harriet went on to a career as teacher for over 40 years. 

William “Willie” Hoppe – champion professional billiards player – (1887 – 1959) – born and raised in Cornwall on Hudson.

David Petraeus – born (1952) and educated in Cornwall. Locally known by friends as Peaches.  Graduate West Point Military Academy (1974) – retired Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), former Commander of International Security Assistance Force, former Commander of United States Central Command

Bonnie Blair – Olympic Speed Skater (winner of Gold Medal - 1994 Lillehammer, Norway) – born in Cornwall (1964)

Armand Assante – actor – raised and educated in Cornwall – movies include Lords of FlatbushMambo KingsAmerican Gangster – nominated for Emmy, Golden GlobesActors Screen Guild awards.

Nita Klein – artist – her original pastels, watercolors, and acrylic paintings have been exhibited in both local and national venues including Palisades Interstate ParkMarymount College and The River Gallery.  Her work was sold to Bloomingdales and once had a commission to create any original painting for a hotel in Manhattan where every room featured an original Nita Klein work.  Many pieces hang in restaurants, including the Cosimo’s chain.   Her art has been featured on the cover of Valley Table magazine.

Ryan Balfe – minor league baseball player - born (1975) and educated in Cornwall.  Drafted by Detroit Tigers (1994 - 2004) – plays for Seattle Mariners (2014)

Harriet Jacobs – author/abolitionist (1813?-1897) – wrote her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, while employed by Nathaniel P. Willis in Cornwall in the 1850s.

Lyman J. Abbott - author/editor/theologian/pastor (1935-1922) – lived in Cornwall-on-Hudson from 1870 until his death in 1922. In 1876 he became the Editor-in-Chief of the Illustrated Christian Weekly which in 1893 became The Outlook, a leading magazine of news and opinion in the first quarter of the twentieth century.  As Editor he traveled twice a week to New York City by train.  He wrote numerous books and articles, including Henry Ward Beecher, The Other Room, and The Theology of an Evolutionist.  At a memorial service at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, the pastor, Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, said that, “Measured by the number of people he reached, Dr. Abbott was unquestionably the greatest teacher of religion of this generation.

Djuna Barnes – artist/journalist/novelist/playwright/poet (1892-1982) – was born on Storm King Mountain but moved with her family to Long Island while still a child. Her novel, Ryder, draws on her experiences living with her eccentric family in Cornwall-on-Hudson. Her reputation was made with Nightwood, written under the patronage of Peggy Guggenheim, and published in 1937 with an introduction by T.S Elliot.  In the view of Dylan Thomas, it was “one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman.” Other notable works were, “Ladies Almanack,” a thinly disguised portrait of the author’s predominantly lesbian social life in Paris, and “The Antiphon,” a verse play.

New York Military Academy (NYMA) Alumni – many young men and women attended the military academy.  Most notable is Donald Trump – Entrepreneur (Class of 1964), Les Brown – bandleader (Class of 1932), Francis Ford Coppola – film director (Class of 1956 – did not graduate), Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr. – businessman/Politian (Class of 1937), John A. Gotti – organized crime figure (Class of 1983 – did not graduate)Stephen Sondheim – Broadway composer/lyricist (Class of 1946)

There have been numerous movies and television made in Cornwall – Michael Clayton starring George Clooney (2007), James O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra (19..), To Wong Foo, Thanks for EverythingJulie Newmar – starring Wesley SnipesPatrick Swayze (scenes shot on Route 218 – (1995), The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (1934), The Wrong Man, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Henry Fonda and Vera Miles (1956). Scenes shot at the Edelweiss Farm on Angola Road.

 

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Upcoming Events

Town Board Work Session

Aug 09, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 09, 2022 11:00 PM   
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    Aug 09, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 09, 2022 11:00 PM

Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting

Aug 15, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 15, 2022 11:00 PM   
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    Aug 15, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 15, 2022 11:00 PM

Town Board Meeting

Aug 16, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 16, 2022 11:00 PM   
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    Aug 16, 2022 10:00 PM — Aug 16, 2022 11:00 PM

EDAC Meeting

Aug 17, 2022 9:00 PM — Aug 17, 2022 10:00 PM   
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    Aug 17, 2022 9:00 PM — Aug 17, 2022 10:00 PM

Planning Board Work Session

Aug 18, 2022 4:30 PM — Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM   
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    Aug 18, 2022 4:30 PM — Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM