Occasionally there’s a question of how a street or area in town got it’s name. After working on revising the town tours that were compiled over 30 years ago some of them have been easily answered – usually a family lived in the area (Crofts Corners), sometimes a geographical feature was added (Oscawana Lake Road), or an Anglicized version of a Native word was used (Canopus Hollow Road). Over the weekend found tucked away in a file cabinet was the answer to one of our local roads! The document itself is undated and was printed on a dot matrix printer, and based on the paper and the mention of a 90+ year old relative suggests it was written in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Read below to find out how Kramers Pond Road got its name and learn a bit about life in the country. In doing some additional research, it was found that Cornelius Kramers was listed as being born in Java on a draft card, some census records and his obituary, and other sources listed Holland. Either way, he traveled quite a distance to Putnam Valley!
How “Kramers Pond Road” got its name
By Joan Kramers Jackson, with contributions by her elderly cousin
Early in the 1900s Cornelius Kramers (from Holland) and Carolyn Fisher (from Switzerland) met on the boat which brought them to Ellis Island to make America their home. Fluent in English and French as well as their native tongues, they separated to pursue their respected occupations; he, to learn farming and she, to be a “governess”, teach French and give piano lessons.
In 1906 they married and in 1910, their search for a home brought them to a sparsely populated rural area called Putnam Valley which was seven miles from the small town of Peekskill, New York.
What a formidable endeavor for a young couple with a two-and-a-half-year-old son and an infant daughter to set down roots in an area where they knew no one! The simple farmhouse devoid of plumbing, central heat, phone, or electricity was on a narrow dirt road one-half mile from Oscawana Lake Road and the nearest neighbor. In addition to the house were thirty-five acres of land, meadows, fallow ground for gardening, woodland, orchards of peach, pear, and apple trees, and a shallow “spring” adjacent to the house for drinking water. A good-sized stream of clear sparkling water flowed swiftly through the acreage from Oscawana Lake three miles away. Previous owners had constructed a rustic dam, creating a good sized “swimming hole” (pond) and a waterfall which over the years was greatly enjoyed by countless friends and neighbors, not only during the hot summers but in the winter for skating as well.
Our home was named Oscawana Brook Farm and the post office address was RFD #2, Peekskill New York. Some years later (before 1920), when the valley’s population had grown considerably enough to warrant its own post office, the New York Telephone Company was ordered to connect Oscawana Lake Road telephone lines along our dirt road to Church Road. At that time, it had to be officially named to be placed on the map of the Town of Putnam Valley, and so it was recorded to this day, “Kramers Pond Road”, Putnam Valley, New York, the address of the many new homes built since 1910.
To my knowledge, we were (in 1910) the only “foreigners” living in the area. In the ensuing nine years, my father established a working farm, and four more children were born. His primary objective was raising poultry to sell fresh killed, and also to sell the eggs. Day old chicks were delivered by the mail carrier and immediately placed in a “brooder house” headed by a kerosene heater. Eventually, he bought a “Candee incubator” in which five hundred eggs were incubated. How interesting it was for us children to peer through the glass windows and see the eggs hatch! Cracking open one by one, wet baby chicks would emerge, very soon to be tiny active bundles of golden down feathers. Besides the flocks of chickens (of one thousand or more) we had a horse, several cows, a pig, and always a dog, and a cat or two. Consequently, we weren’t bothered by mice, and no rabbit or woodchuck dared venture into our vegetable gardens.
As soon as we were old enough to walk a mile to the one room schoolhouse (at the site of the present Town Hall), we, and perhaps fifteen other children, were prepped for later life by our beloved and devoted teacher, Miss Laura Mae Russell. Oregon Corners and Adams Corners each had their own one room schools, which not until 1935 were consolidated into the Putnam Valley School System. Our religious education began much earlier, since it was impossible for my mother and five small children to attend the Methodist Episcopal Church of Putnam Valley. Each Sunday after breakfast the family gathered in the living room where mother instilled in us the love of the Bible and played the hymns which we are all still singing in our respected churches. What an invaluable heritage our parents left us!
At home, we were all taught to assist with chores of daily living; trees to cut (fuel for two stoves) – later coal was used also, wood to chop, carry and stack; livestock to tend; gardens to sow, weed and eventually harvest; hay to make; butter to church; and oil lamps to be filled, wicks cut, and chimneys washed. Mother canned, peeled and cut peaches, apples and pears; putting them on wire screens in our very hot dry attic. Later she placed them in unbleached muslin bags and stored them for winter use. She did all her own baking, countless loaves of bread, rolls, pies, and cakes (with no icing as sugar was so scarce during the war). She made her own jam and jelly, grape, blueberry, wild strawberry, and apple butter. Our cows kept us well supplied with milk and butter which we churned by hand.
On Saturdays, my father went with horse and wagon to Peekskill to sell his eggs, chickens, plus any other produce, and to buy staples. We avidly read the Saturday Evening Post (our only magazine) and selected whatever wearing apparel mother couldn’t make for us from the “wishing books”, Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues. Mother was an indefatigable knitter; she bought raw wool from a farm in New England and knitted all our winter outdoor clothing (mittens, hats, scarves, sweaters, and stockings). During the winter, when ice on the pond reached a thickness of 14 inches, my father would saw large squares and put them on the horse drawn “stone boat”, where they were stored, covered with thick layers of saw dust in between to sell in the summer to those who had ice boxes.
It has been a distinct pleasure for me to share this information, collaborated by my devoted cousin now ninety-two years of age, who visited us coming on horseback from her home in Cornwall on Hudson where she was a “farmerette” in World War I.
The farm was sold in the 1930s to Dr. Zazzuli, dentist.