Old Mine Road
What makes this 104 mile stretch of road so fascinating? It is the immense history that goes back at least 300 years. Along this road follows the Delaware River where there are towns that boasts of its own history, ruins of milling plants, old stone houses, and wonderful aged barns. Several of these structures are being preserved under the National Register of Historic Places. There is the Old Millbrook Village which is a living history of buildings that have been constructed as if the era of time is 1850's. The village still has some of the old original structures, recreated or moved from other locations. There are many points of interest along the way and is a scenic and beautiful drive.
A Barn along the Road
Flatbrookville VillageOld history books claim that the road was constructed to haul ore from the area of Pahaquarry Copper Mines to Esopus for shipment to Holland. From there it could be shipped down the Hudson River and to Holland. Old accounts describe that the Dutch arrived here before Penn's Charter and worked their way down to Pahaquarry and mined for Copper but archaeology only shows that the mines were just opened for exploration and feasibility. As for Old Mine Road, regardless of when it was built or who was responsible for building it, the road does have a great deal of historical significance. General Gates marched seven regiments of men down the road to meet General Washington prior to his crossing the Delaware. These troops were important to Washington's victory at Trenton in 1777.
I was so fortunate in October 2004 to have the opportunity to visit the Tri-State area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. I had began my solo journey in Northampton and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, traveled up to Wyoming County and cross over to Warren & Sussex Counties, New Jersey and up along the Old Mine Road and ended up at the Minisink Valley Historical Society in Port Jervis, New York. Each of the societies was so welcoming to me and helpful. I really want to mention the Wyoming County Historical Society that is located in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. They have done a tremendous job working with the court house in indexing deeds, wills, obituaries and much, much more. They have spent a lot of man hours with these projects. I even broke through a “brick wall” that would have never been discovered otherwise.
Besides my wanting to go and check out the various societies, I knew that to make my trip complete was to take the drive along Old Mine Road since some of my ancestors resided in townships along it.
My Depuy/Depue ancestors who were French Huguenots (possibly originally from Holland) came to the U.S. around the mid 1600's and settled in the Albany, New York area and belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. Some of this clan of people worked their way down toward the Minisink area of New York and New Jersey. Near Montague, NJ along Old Mine road, is the Minisink Reformed Church. Founded in 1737, Minisink Reformed Church is the oldest congregation in Sussex County. They are located at 346 River Road (part of the Old Mine Road), at the northern end of the state. Their current church facility, which rests within the bounds of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, was built in 1898. Many of my Depue's baptisms, marriages are recorded in the old church records. The earliest settler noted in the local history books, was one Samuel Dupuis a collateral ancestor who gave a good account of the early settlement of the area. My Depue’s settled in what is now Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Monroe County is situated across the Delaware River from Warren County, New Jersey. The Smithfield Reformed Church in Monroe County also kept church records where I discovered the birth of Elizabeth Detrick who married David H. Tillman, son of Joseph.
Minisink Reformed Church
Location of Smithfield Reformed Church-Smithfield, Monroe County, Pennsylvania
On my journey, which I had started early that morning on a clear, frosty autumn day I approached the charming, historic village of Millbrook. As I marveled at how the feeling of stepping back in time overtook my senses, I became aware that I was maybe alone in this remote place. I parked my car and cautiously got out with camera in hand and approached one of the historic buildings to look at it closer up. I saw a gentleman in the rear and he being elderly and not looking too much like a threat, I called out to him. He answered me and I told him what I was doing and that I had ancestors who had lived in that area more than 200 years ago and my extreme interest in the area, he responded with kindness and ended up taking me on a personal tour and was so delightful and enjoyed speaking about each building and was a wealth of information. In this little township, one of the historic homes is called the “Depue’s Shoemaker” House. This particular building was moved from another location. I wasn’t directly related to the Depue who had built it, but rather a collateral relation to my line.
Depue House-Old Millbrook Village-New Jersey
As I continued on my drive, I drove slowly on this dirt road that at times could be quite narrow, I daydreamed about times past and what has changed in the landscape. I passed old barns that evoked of a previous life, cornfields and historic homes. The autumn colors’ shining through the trees was a sight to behold. There were times on that road as I absorbed all that was around me and experienced such waves of overwhelming emotion that is almost hard to describe. I felt like I totally connected with my ancestors of that area and even now as I write this, I am still overcome. This trip was almost a pilgrimage or a homecoming to something I had never knew in reality but painted a picture for my research of this interesting part of my heritage. I hope to capture this sort of feeling when I get the chance again to explore other family lines in other regions of this great Country of ours.