The Andes Recorder
March 6, 1908 — 100 Years Ago————–
TIES UP AT MATRIMONY PIER
Old Steersman Finds River of Single Life Too Full of Rapids
The following from the New York Tribune of March 4, will be of interest to Recorder readers:
Simeon Hall, a farmer and lumberman of Union Grove, Delaware County, this state, and Celia McDonald of No. 145 East 31st street, were married at the City Hall yesterday. In the license he took out a few minutes previous to the marriage Hall gave his age as 65 and the bride said she was 35. The couple attracted attention because of the apparent difference in their ages. He was a widower and she a widow until yesterday.
The newspaper men “dropped around” to chat with the old gentleman.
“Ye see,” said Simeon, “I’m gittin kinder old and my children are married. They are more trouble to me now than they wuz when I was raisin’ ‘em. In fact, they made it so interestin’ fur me that I decided that I would elope by myself and git another wife to run my house. This lady I met in a boardin’ house uptown, and she seemed to take to me and I to her.
“I’m one of the oldest steersmen on the Delaware River and have been to tidewater with timber rafts more times than I’ve got fingers and toes. I know the Delaware River all right, but this gosh hanged town is too big fur me. I kin steer on the Delaware River, but I can’t steer around this town. Yes I guess the folks around Union Grove and Andes will be a leetle bit surprised when I get off the cars with my new wife.”
And then, as he walked with his new wife out into City Hall Park, there was heard the refrain of an old Delaware River rafting song:
We swung around Old Butler
No danger did we fear
Until we came to Sawmill Rift
And run plump ag’in the pier.
[ed.: Bob and Alice Jacobson sent me to The Bygone Era: Rafting on the Delaware 1883, by Joshua Pine, III, edited by Alice H. Jacobson, for more detail on two references in the above song. The book demonstrates the incredibly detailed knowledge the raftsmen had of every twist and turn of the Delaware and the fine-tuned awareness needed for navigation. The song is referring to the place in the river south of Narrowsburg, as the rafters are nearing Sparrowbush and Port Jervis. Let me quote:
“The water is what raftsmen call quick, and it soon takes us in sight of Mongaup Island, (the first one since leaving Big Eddy), which we pass on the left side, and enter the Mongaup Falls, on the Pennsylvania side, and at the foot receive the water of Mongaup Creek, from New York, the second largest tributary, and know that we are nearing Butler’s Falls. Pull up close to the Island to avoid the “Cellar Hole”. This is swift water here, and an island or point makes out from the right, and the water sets strong to Jersey. In building the canal that here runs around the base of a mountain, close to the river, a slope wall was built that the water sets strong against, and a little out from the wall, is a large rock over which the water pours swiftly, forming a huge roll below it, and between the rock and the roll is a deep depression in the water called the “Cellar Hole”, and have the “Binders” torn along the slope wall. Butler’s is a bad place, and exacts tribute annually from the careless or incompetent.”
“Below, the country is somewhat more open, but one mile further on, we pass close to Sawmill Rift Island on the right, and to the right of all the piers on which the bridge rests upon which the railroad recrosses the Delaware into New York State. This is a long bridge, crossing both the river and canal. This rift is about a mile in length, with rocks on the west side, rough and ragged, nearly three hundred feet high, and woe to the raft that strikes them, going at such a rate as they go here.” (p. 33) ~