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Village Historian
Kathleen Christensen

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Village History


Cornwall-on-Hudson

Cornwall Bay provided a beautiful view for Henry Hudson in 1609 as the Half Moon sailed up the river that would one day bear his name.  The ship’s log recorded that “this is a pleasant place to build a town on.”  

In 1685 Colonel Patrick MacGregorie, his brother-in-law and a party including William Sutherland settled on both sides of the mouth of Moodna Creek and started the earliest settlement in Orange County. He created a trading post in what is now Cornwall-on-Hudson.  By 1748 families by the name of Clark purchased land in what is now Cornwall-on-Hudson.  Some of their descendants reside in the area to this day. George Washington visited his friend Jeremiah Clark, a delegate to the Continental Congress, at his home, which was located where the village’s municipal parking lot is located.   

The river was the easiest means of transportation in early years and in 1807 Robert Fulton’s steamboat passed Cornwall Landing on the Hudson River, where the village’s Donahue Memorial Park is now located.  There was a brickyard at the landing along with boat docks in the early 1800’s. Cornwall Landing faded away as trains replaced boats and only remnants of the settlement remain.   

Nathaniel Parker Willis arrived in the 1850’s to improve his health and wrote so glowingly about the Village in the Home Journal and his book Outdoors at Idlewild that it became a destination for his friends and New York City residents. He gave the Moodna and Storm King Mountain their names. 

Lewis Beach, a local congressman, wrote the first history of Cornwall in 1873.  He stated that “the three things which conspire to give Cornwall the prominence it enjoys, are 1st The salubrity of the air; The beauty of the scenery; 3rd Its accessibility to the city.” 

The Village was incorporated by a vote in December of 1884.  The first meeting took place in January of 1885 with Thomas Taft as President.  He promoted electric power and improved telephone service along with his endeavors in the Mead & Taft Company.  He was a veteran of the Civil War, a Captain in the 124th “Orange Blossoms” Regiment.  In 1885 the Mead & Taft Company built the Village Bandstand, a replica of which was constructed on the 100th anniversary and where residents enjoy summer concerts. 

The Village has a good water supply thanks to the early fathers who built the upper reservoir.  By 1903 the Storm King Engine Company No. 2, organized in 1868, was moved to its new building on Hudson Street, having outgrown the one on Duncan Avenue.  Its hosting of the Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association Parade in 1922 occasioned the opening of the new Storm King Highway (Route 218), one of the most scenic roads in the country. 

Cornwall-on-Hudson is the home of the modern environmental movement. In 1962 Con Edison started plans to construct a hydroelectric power plant on the Village riverfront.  Village residents objected and the environmental organization Scenic Hudson was established and stopped the construction.  

The Village has been and is now the home to artists, authors and professional people. Education has long been a strength of the community. Village citizens have served honorably in all branches of military and community service. 

Presidents & Mayors

In the early days of the village, the highest elected officials were called Presidents.

Presidents   Mayors  
Thomas Taft 1885 William B. Cocks 1914
John Dwyer 1889 William Mailler 1917
Thomas Taft 1891 Alder Highland  1919
Leonard P. Clark 1895 Henry Hunter 1921
Henry R. Reveley 1896 John H. Clarkson 1923
Charles E. Caldwell 1898 William J. Moroney 1929
William H. Seaman 1901 Alder Highland 1931
John C. Couser 1903 Charles A. Slater 1935
John M. Noe 1907 Irving C. Kent 1939
John H. Clarkson 1907 Alder Highland 1947
Charles Jaeger 1913 Anthony R. Cocks 1951
    Dr. Michael Donahue 1957
    Charles Obremski  1977
    George Dempsey 1979
    Edward C. Moulton, Jr. 1981
    Joseph Gross  2007
    Brendan G. Coyne 2011