History of Andes, New York

The Town of Andes was formed in 1819, breaking off from the Town of Middletown. The name of the town was the result of a jocular suggestion by Daniel H. Burr, who seeing that the new town was to include one of the hilliest sections of the county, said it ought to be called Andes. (From Munsell’s History of Delaware County, NY, 1880). The first permanent settlements in the region were made soon after the Revolution by families of Dutch, Scotch, and German origin. The peaceable and friendly Delaware Indians who inhabited the area left behind some old apple trees and occasional arrowheads and tomahawks.

The northern boundary of the town is on the watershed between the east and west branches of the Delaware River. Mount Pisgah, upon which Bobcat Ski Center is located, is the highest peak in the county, reaching an altitude of 3,440′. The Main Street of the hamlet of Andes (the Village was dissolved in 2002), formerly called Tremperskill, and doubling as a section of Route 28, was once known as the Esopus Turnpike, a stagecoach route originating in Kingston.

Economy of Area

Logging, tanning, sheep and dairy farming flourished in the 1800’s. Many men and boys were occupied with rafting in the late 1800’s while women and girls were engaged in spinning and weaving linen. The village was self-sufficient with wheelwrights, blacksmiths, a hotel, boarding houses, mills, a dairy, numerous stores, physicians, dentists, barbers, etc. The strong current of the east branch of the Delaware and its many tributaries in 1830 furnished 20 saw mills, 3 grist mills, 2 tanneries, a fulling mill, a carding mill, a trip hammer and a Baptist Church. The early industries of logging and tanning gave way to sheep farming and, throughout the 1900’s, dairy farming, which shaped the character of the region. Despite the stony upland soil the farmers managed to grow hay and feed corn and fenced their pastures with the stones removed from the soil. The diminution of dairy farms has left a vacuum which is partially filled by an increase in tourism and the popularity of the area for second home owners and sportsmen.

Shavertown, one of the earliest settlements in the Town of Andes, was demolished by eminent domain in 1954, as was Union Grove, and later flooded to provide a reservoir for New York City use. To this day former residents of these hamlets and their descendants grieve the loss of their home towns and roots.

Anti-Rent War History

Hunting Tavern, during the Anti-Rent War years, was the unofficial headquarters of the “Tories”, and where under sheriff Osman Steele was heard to proclaim “Lead cannot penetrate Steele,” before he headed up to the cattle sale on Dingle Hill on August 7, 1845. He was subsequently shot by an unidentified masked calico Indian (many had gathered to try to prevent the sale which was held on the farm of Moses Earle who had withheld his rent on principle).The shot may have been meant for Steele’s horse, but it hit Steele who died from the wound. This event was a seminal episode in the anti-rent wars which caused many men to be sentenced to hanging. Though jail terms were served, no one was hung on these charges, and New York State law was altered so that it abolished the feudal practices still adhered to only in upstate New York. The law and order forces in Delhi, the county seat, viewed the calico Indians and their supporters as lawbreakers and insurrectionists while others, including most historians, view them as fighters for human rights, and the anti-rent war as the second American revolution!

The building has been restored by The Andes Society for History and Culture, and with its climate controlled Archive space serves as a permanent repository of local history collections. The building which produces exhibitions and programming related to local and regional history serves as both a museum and a community gathering place.

The Hunting Tavern Museum houses a permanent Anti-Rent War Exhibit which may be seen on Saturdays from 10-3 between Memorial Day and Columbus Day weekends.

“Downtown” Andes

The varied and outstanding period architecture has placed most of Andes’ Main Street on the National Register of Historic Places. Even though its population has diminished and its character is no longer that of an agrarian center, Andes is still a vigorous village. It supports a K-12 public school, public swimming pool and tennis court, a library, a museum-community space, a very active volunteer fire department and emergency squad, 3 churches and numerous civic and social groups. The hotel, shops, restaurants and galleries draw people from all over the region. The map and directory on the kiosk in front of the Main Street telephone building gives a visual of the tourism businesses and activities available in Andes.