This name has been appropriately applied to the valley between the villages of Andes and Shavertown… Munsell’s History of Delaware County 1797-1880
By Buffy Calvert
Take the water-level route out of Andes along the Tremperskill to the Reservoir, following the lively meandering stream. The scene is ever-changing, cutting toward the hills and steep side roads—Upper Dingle Hill, Campbell Hollow, Little Dingle, Perch Lake, or down the broad valley toward the mountains, dim and blue in the distance. Clusters of houses nestle on the road near Sonny’s at Tremper’s Corners and the Pleasant Valley Meeting House at Bussey Hollow.
The old farmhouses sit farther apart, their weathered barns neat but empty. These were once active dairy farms, listed by name in the 1869 Beer’s Atlas: Pleasant Valley Farm, East Brook Farm, Argyle Farm, Green Valley Farm, etc., a hundred years later run by the Estus, Roney, Campbell, Fenton, Jaakson, and Reynolds families. Only two remain.
Harvey and Judy Morse’s farm lies just outside the hamlet on Upper Dingle Road beyond the Anti-Rent War sign. His parents, Weldon and Edith, bought it from the Scott family in 1942. Harvey works both the 243-acre main farm and the former farm of 143 acres next door, milking 55 cows and raising 32 calves from just born to heifers of 1½ years.
When Harvey and his sister Linda were children, Keith Shaver, the milkman, drove each morning to the springhouse where the milk cans were kept cool. He loaded them into his truck for transport to the Andes Creamery. About 1966, when Harvey was at college, his parents installed a bulk tank and the milk flowed directly from milking machine to the creamery by tank truck, untouched by human hands. Keith Shaver, the milkman, was Dot Andrews’ cousin. He started his route from Dot’s grandfather’s farm on Shaver Hill, now “Misty Morning Farm” owned by Rosalie Glauser and Bob Murray.
Drive further up Tremperskill Road toward the Reservoir. Just before Perch Lake Road you will see a cow crossing sign and a barn that sports three Holsteins urging all passersby to “DRINK MILK!” Martin Liddle’s great-grandfather Thomas bought the farm in 1873. The former owner had built a red barn ten years earlier and a spanking new white house across the road.
The original barn, now a wagon house, served as the first church in Andes. “The Rev. Mr. Hewit held meetings there,” according to Munsell in his History of Delaware County. The faithful had cut a diamond-shaped, latticed window under the peak of the roof (still visible in the northern façade) “to let the prayers out.” Inside the Liddles kept their sleigh, surrey, and wagon, with saddles and harness hung neatly in a small tack room. A “wild rumor” in their family lore has it that the gun that killed Osman Steele was once buried under the planks. Next to it is the Liddle’s sap house, the original farmhouse. Both early nineteenth century buildings originally sat back from the road, but the highway department has chewed right up to their edges.
From Thomas (called “Major” by Munsell), to Andrew, to Donald, to Martin, Liddles have milked cows in that barn for 133 years. With his charming wife Peggy, Marty farms 340 acres stretching across the broad flat from the brook and up the gentle, by Delaware County standards, slopes above. [In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that Peggy Liddle charmed George and me into taking one of their orange barn cats to raise in 2004, and I have no regrets.] Martin still finds time and energy to serve Andeans as Town Councilman.
Just a little further on, you see Sonny’s Tremperskill Country Store, originally District School # 9. Munsell notes, “The first wood ever bought by the district was in 1859. Previous to that the old custom of assigning each pupil one-fourth of a cord had been kept up.” I don’t suppose I need to point out that the wood fueled the pot-bellied stove near the teacher’s desk.
Louis Aragona opened a store in the schoolhouse when the consolidated Central School opened in the village in 1938. He sold to Will Tremper, who sold to Lincoln Abrams, who sold to Charles and Dolores Somelofski, Sonny’s parents. With his mother and his wife, Katherine, Sonny offers a bountiful farmer’s market of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as preserves and home-baked goods.
As you drive you can’t help picturing the short-lived Andes railroad spur running up the valley, trestled from hill to hill, whizzing from Shavertown past Kaufman’s Station to Andes depot (on Depot Street above Ballantine Park).
Alice Jacobson remembers what a pretty ride it was by school bus. She enjoyed passing between the Reynolds farm (now Coldwater Ranch) and the Pleasant Valley Union Church (now ASHC’s Meeting House). House, barn, and church were painted gray with white trim to match, the barn decorated with painted white horses.
Her husband, Bob Jacobson, remembers driving with his father from Holliday Brook over the 168-foot long Pepacton covered bridge and along the back river road. “In the spring we heard peepers in all those binnacles—just one long chorus!” His father bought cattle and horses from Gladstone Brothers in what had been, and is now, the Hunting Tavern.
When the Pepacton Reservoir flooded Shavertown, Albert Shaver moved his house, lock, stock, and barrel, to Tremperskill Road, just below Perch Lake Road. It is now Linda Short’s. Others, like the Jacobsons who live at the foot of Dibble Road, bought or built houses within walking distance of home. But, of course, you must now possess a D.E.P. fishing permit and have pole in hand to walk around the reservoir. Alice has a picture of herself sitting on the steps of Joe Bramley’s house in the drowned village when the reservoir dipped especially low one summer. Dot Andrews took her grandchildren to the water’s edge to peer through to the old iron bridge, which sank defiantly beneath the water before the City could salvage it.
Eight miles of beauty, two hundred years of history. Every house, every side road has a tale to tell. Joi Brundege collected local stories in Perch Lake Memories, John McLean wrote a detailed history of Dingle Hill farms, We Lived on Dingle Hill: A Native’s History of the Region and His Personal Recollections. Perhaps someone could do the same for the lovely stretch of road along the Tremperskill called Pleasant Valley. ~