The First Settlements in Orange County, New York

Jeannette Holland Austin
9 min readAug 18
1906, Miniski, New York, Unionville courtesy of

There is a tradition that the first settlement of Orange County was in the old Minisink territory along the Delaware River. Although the supposed payment was mainly in Pennsylvania, the reported excavations, roads, and other work of the settlers were primarily in Orange County. The story of the tradition, and evidence that it has a basis of fact, are given in a letter by Samuel Preston, Esq., dated Stockport, June 6, 1828, which is published in Samuel W. Eager’s county history of 1846–1847, and reproduced in Charles E. Stickney’s history of the Minisink region of 1867. Eager says the letter “will throw light upon the point of early settlement in the Minisink country,” Stickney assumes that its second-hand statements are substantially factual. But Ruttenber and Clark’s more complete county history, published in 1881, discredits them. The essential parts of Preston’s letter are condensed here.

The Minisink Settlements

He was deputed by John Lukens, surveyor general, to go into Northampton County on his first surveying tour, and received from him, by way of instruction, a narrative respecting the settlements of Minisink on Delaware above the Kittany and Blue Mountain. This stated that John Lukens and Nicholas Scull — the latter a famous surveyor, and the former his apprentice — were sent to the Minisink region in 1730 for the government of Philadelphia; that the Minisink flats were then all settled by Hollanders; that they found there a grove of apple trees much more extensive than any near Philadelphia, and that they concluded that the first settlement of Hollanders in Minisink was many years older than William Penn’s charter. Samuel Depuis, who was living there, told them there was an excellent road to Esopus, near Kingston, about a hundred miles from the Mine holes, called the Mine road. Lukens charged Preston to learn more about this Mine road and obtained some from Nicholas Depuis, son of Samuel, who was living in great affluence in a spacious stone house. He had known the Mine road well, and before a boat channel was opened to Foul Rift, he used to drive on it several times every winter with loads of wheat and cider to buy salt and other necessaries, as did his neighbors. He repeated stories without dates that he had heard from older people. They said that in some former age, a company of miners came there from…

Jeannette Holland Austin

Author of 100+ genealogy books. Owner of 8 genealogy websites available by subscription.