Our Town

July 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War 1. Ironically just uncovered in the archives is a document that tells how our town impacted that event. It is titled: “State of New York – the Adjutant General’s Office – Albany. Enrollment of Persons Liable to Service in the Militia under Chapter 41, Laws of 1989, and Acts Amendatory Thereof (Militia Law) by Order and Direction of the Governor.”

Listed in alphabetical order and in the most beautiful and clear penmanship are the names of all the men in our town liable for service. Eligible ages are between 18 and 45 are listed as well as occupations.

(click on any photo to enlarge)


Town of Forestburgh NYEach Man was requested to report any previous military or naval service, dates of enrollment, and the organization(s) in which he served. The information contained in this document is very useful in so many aspects, certainly to the town historian as it documents what was happening in our town at that time.

The railroad was still very active. Fred McMorris was a station master and an operator. Edward Decker was a railroad section man. Eugene Decker was a lineman. Albert and Edgar Ogdan were line walkers. Clarence Ogdan was a section hand.

Farming remains the major occupation. Two dairy farmers are documented as well as 39 other farmers. Gone are the stone quarries, the tanners, and the lumbermen! Tourism flourishes in the County and Forestburgh.

Merriwald Park is being care for by Floyd Avery. John Joseph Gibbons is listed as a hotel manager at Merriwald Park. At the time Oakland Valley had several hotels, all of which are torn down now. If you look closely crossing the bridge of Oakland Valley, we can see the foundation of what used to be a large hotel on the edge of the river. It was called the River Edge Hotel and it was boasted about for its large dance floor and its capacity for 60 guests. It was owned by Abe Wolowitz.

It was torn down not long ago by its current owners Vince and Suzanne Galligan. Listed were a few carpenters, laborers, a mail carrier, and a chauffeur-mechanic. The occupation of Henry Foster really has me puzzled. He reported that he worked at a silk mill. If anyone has insight to this one, please let me know !

As often happens in a world so frequently at war, several of the men served in another event, the Spanish-American War, as well.

Humphrey Leo Toomey, my relative, is listed but unfortunately the last page of the document is almost in tatters. An interview with family members Mrs. Joan Toomey Grund provided the following information.

H. Leo Toomey, Private US Army WW1

H. Leo ToomeyHumphrey Leo Toomey, known legally as H. Leo Toomey was known to family and friends as Leo. He left Monticello High School in his senior year to enlist in the US Army. He felt strongly that someone from his family should be actively involved in “the Great War” believed to be the war to end all wars. Leo’s example led another Monticello classmate, Tom Turner, to follow suit. Both Leo and tom graduated in absentia and remained lifelong friends. The picture of the graduating class of 1917 shows flag draped chairs honoring the two class members on active duty with the US Army.

Leo trained at Fort Slocum in New York, Camp Joseph E Johnston in Jacksonville, Florida and Newport News, Virginia. He then served in France with the Quartermaster Corp as a member of the 35th Rec Company, Clerical Companies 3 and 4 and Supply Company 312. The Toomey family received his had written post card upon his arrive in France with the short message “I’ve arrived”. Leo returned from France in 1919.

During his military service Leo maintained an ongoing correspondence with his siblings, especially his sister Mary Ellen Toomey and his mother, Mary Ann Molloy Toomey. Additionally he corresponded with Monsignor Vincent Arcese, pastor or St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Mother Polycarpa O.P. head sister at St. Josephs New York, as well as several leaders of the Monticello Knights of Columbus and friends from Monticello and Forestburgh.

Information about Leo’s military service is documented by correspondence located in the Musselman Library College Archives, Gettysburgh College, Pennsylvania. Additional information was provided by Joan Toomey Grund, Leo’s niece and godchild.

See below photos of historical significance.