Eastern Delaware County Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)
By Karen Cuccinello
I always thought of the YMCA (which began in NYS in 1852) as an urban area organization so I was intrigued when I found the post card photo, in the Stamford Village Library, of a YMCA conference in Roxbury. The Eastern Delaware County YMCA started out strong but fizzled out by 1918; perhaps WWI had something to do with its short-lived life.
In December 1904 the ball got rolling to start a YMCA in Delaware County and in July 1905 officers were elected: Charles G. Keator of Roxbury, chairman; Hon. J.R. Cowan of Hobart, vice-chairman; Prof. Chas. R. Clark of Stamford, secretary and James R. Dart of Roxbury, treasurer. The intent was to serve villages with tributaries along the Ulster & Delaware Railway. The 1905 officers for the Roxbury YMCA chapter were David VanDyke, president, Walter F. Minnerly, secretary and Samuel More, treasurer. The towns that belonged to the Eastern Delaware County faction were Andes, Bloomville, Fleischmanns, Hobart, Margaretville, Roxbury and Stamford. There was also a Western Delaware County group that formed a bit later.
The first Eastern Delaware County Secretary (this seems to be the top position) in 1905 was Eli D. Miller (salary $1,000 per year), a recent graduate of Adrian College in Michigan; next was Frank Tabor 1907-1909, then Daniel Chase 1909-1912 and the last one I could find was Gilbert H. Gendell/Gendall until 1916.
I believe the second conference took place in 1906. The third convention in 1907 also took place in Roxbury, the fourth was at Griffin Corners, fifth at Margaretville, next came Andes and the last mention I saw for a conference was in 1915 at Roxbury with 119 delegates in attendance.
Physical fitness is a high priority of the YMCA. The YMCA of Eastern Delaware County sponsored annual Field Days, Interscholastic Field and Track meets and baseball games around the district and they also held an Ice Carnival and a corn growing contest. Bible study and teaching boys how to become good men was also part of the YMCA teachings.
September 28, 1911 (Hancock Herald)- The new building now being erected at Roxbury by Miss Helen M. Gould is to be used as headquarters for the Young Men’s Christian Associations of Eastern Delaware County and the local association at that place will be dedicated with appropriate exercises October 7th . Another article states November 11. (Helen Gould married Finley Johnson Shepard in 1913.)
March 1912 (Catskill Mountain News)- Vol. No. 1 of “The Triangle”; a paper published by the boys of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Eastern Delaware county is out and is an interesting sheet. The paper is printed at Roxbury, with Lauren S. Archibald of Margaretville editor in chief and Daniel Chase of Roxbury managing editor.
In December 1912 the YMCA in Meeker Hollow (in between Roxbury and Halcottsville), a branch of the regular Roxbury Association, was given an organ by Miss Helen Miller Gould. The organ was formerly in the Roxbury YMCA.
July 1914 (Catskill Mountain News)- Baseball is popular at Perch Lake Camp for boys conducted by Eastern Delaware County YMCA. (I believe Perch Lake is by Andes.)
Under the supervision of the Eastern Delaware County YMCA 136 boys took part in a 50-mile relay run from Bloomville to Fleischmanns in April 1915. They left Bloomville, carrying a letter of praise from Governor Whitman, at 8am and arrived in Fleischmann’s at 1:03pm. They must have taken an interesting route because when I looked up the distance on the internet it lists the journey as 28 miles.
The “Y” building, at 5025 Vega Mountain Road, had many uses through the years following the close of the Eastern Delaware County YMCA and is now the home of the Roxbury Arts Center.
Thank you to Anthony Liberatore, Town of Roxbury historian and librarian of the Roxbury Library History room, for sending me some information and the photos of the “Y” building.