Town of Minisink

Local History

Tradition says that the origin of the name “Minisink” comes from Minsi or Munsee Indians. The meaning is “people of the stony country” or “mountaineers of land from which water is gone”.

Early political and geographical boundaries were: The ancient Minisink Country comprised a portion of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Minisink Precinct was a colonial governmental subdivision as was the Minisink Patent. The Town of Minisink was formed March 7, 1788 and included present day Port Jervis, part of Town of Deerpark, also the Towns of Greenville and Wawayanda.

The Dutch governed this land from 1621. The English took over in 1644 and ruled until after the Revolution.

Where you stand today, New Jersey claimed until 1768. There was a boundary line dispute between New York and New Jersey from 1703-1768, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

This area was considered the Frontier during the 1700’s and there were Indian raids right up through the Revolutionary War.

We had slavery. In 1790 there were 51 slaves. By 1827 all slaves were freed in New York State. We have a book in the Town Archives listing the emancipation of those slaves.

In 1867 the M & U Railroad came through Minisink. Rev. Ralph Bull in his journal entry of November 23, 1867 tells us “About sunset the Iron House came up to Westtown – snorted a while and left”. Minisink changed from a self-sufficient community to industrialized. The farmers could now ship their milk on the railroad and the mills came in. Tourists also come on the train.

“Over the past 300 years, ten wars have touched the residents of the Minisink area. Some of the early conflicts brought their terror to the very doorsteps of the people, later wars, although fought in faraway places, caused equal anguish”.

In the late 1700’s children were taught at home, later neighborhood one and two room schools were built. From 1915 to early 1940’s high school kids went on the “Toonerville Trolley” to Middletown to school. By 1958 the Minisink Valley Central School District was formed and the new building was opened.

Life in Minisink has changed greatly over the years. We used to be a farming community. Now the fields that once saw cows grazing and alfalfa growing has houses.