By Capt. Franklin Ellis279
The soil of this town is generally fertile; most of it can be plowed, the rocky portions nowhere being extensive. Large tracts of clay, sand, and loam have by careful cultivation been made highly productive. Formerly considerable grain was produced for sale. Wheat was raised with success in early times; in later years rye, corn, and oats. At the present time hay and fruit constitute the principal exports. The former is shipped largely to New York by an arrangement of the farmers themselves,--securing city prices with light expense for freight. Fruit has been raised successfully, and is now the leading industry of the town. Large quantities of pears, plums, cherries, grapes, and berries are annually produced, and are of excellent quality. Freighted by the river, with but little land-carriage, they reach the city markets in fine condition. This class of fruit exceeds the apple crop, though the latter is good.
There are no manufacturing enterprises of any importance in town. It is a tradition of the people that, through some management of other interested parties, the original intended grant of ten thousand acres was changed to six thousand, and then so laid out as to exclude the Palatines from all the water-power of Roeloff Jansen's Kill and from any really valuable docking-places on the Hudson river. Whether this be true or not, it is true that no valuable water-power is found in town. A saw-mill has been run a portion of the year for a long time past on the head-waters of a little stream in the southeast part of the town. The mill is now owned by J. I. & J. Lasher; they have refitted it within a few years. How near back to the early settlement the original mill was built is difficult to determine.
There was also a saw-mill near the present school-house at East Camp Landing. This was run by Adam P. Clum, a prominent town-officer of early years, and was very likely built by his father, Philip Clum, in still earlier times.
The people of the town are thus shown to be mostly engaged in agriculture and such mercantile and mechanical pursuits as are required for the home trade. Some of the citizens engage in fishing enterprises upon the Hudson at the appropriate season of the year. Still others are engaged in commerce upon the ocean, as seamen, officers, or masters of foreign-bound ships.
The raising of small fruits has developed into a large business in late years. The season of 1878 has been unusually favorable both in the abundance of the crop and in meeting a good market. The results are worth stating, though far above the average.
It is estimated that twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of strawberries have been sold this year from Germantown alone, and that four thousand dollars has been paid for labor in picking the fruit.
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