Brief History of the Town of Denning (A Look Back in Time)

In The Beginning…

Town of Denning, located in Ulster County NY, is comprised of three distinct areas. The valley of the West Branch of the Neversink River, now referred to as Frost Valley and Round Pond areas. The East Branch of the Neversink River known as the Denning Valley included the hamlets of Denning, Ladleton, Red Hill, and Dewittville. The Sundown Area included hamlets of Sundown, Peekamoose, Bull Run, Dymond City, Greenville, and Yeagerville.

These areas were part of a tract given by the English Queen Anne to one Johannes Hardenberg in 1708. The Hardenberg Patent was surveyed in 1749 and divided into lots. Denning covers parts of great lots 6 and 7 which were further divided into lots which were sold to investors and called tracts. William Denning eventually purchased 19,169 acres when a Philadelphia land grant corporation failed to pay taxes. After Denning’s death William H. Denning purchased some 24,000 acres which were again surveyed and divided into lots and sold.

The first recorded settler was John Bush in 1837; others soon followed to farm and operate lumber and turning mills powered by the many streams. The first school opened in 1845 and in 1849 the Town of Denning was created by an act of the State Legislature.

The vast forests of hardwood trees were converted to lumber. With the Civil War the hemlocks were cut for the bark which was used for tanning hydes imported to make leather. Land was cheap because the lumber and bark rights had already been sold and converted into money. Eventually the mills and farms were no long economically viable and Denning became a magnet for people attracted by the beautiful mountains and valleys and the excellent trout fishing afforded by the many streams.

Founding Fathers in 1849 include:
Abraham Dewitt, John Dewitt, Robert T Manny, James Evens, Herman Depew, Abm Vandermark, Bradford Donaldson, Eazra S Bliss, Jacobus Rosekrans, Harvey W Hoyt, Cornelius Bevier, Peteer TerBush, Nathan Sheely, Henry J Whipple, Stephen Peck, Nathan Kegan, Albert Vandover, Cornelius Drew, and John W Smith.