Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quaint hamlet of Stormville has ties to American Revolution and dairy farming

Poughkeepsie Journal: Quaint hamlet of Stormville has ties to American Revolution and dairy farming

Stormville, a hamlet in the Town of East Fishkill, has become known for hosting a huge flea market that takes place on its namesake airport grounds on holiday weekends from spring through fall. But it has ties to the American Revolution and was for centuries a major dairy operation.

It was originally named Snarlington; its latest moniker was selected in 1826, when a post office was established in the community.

"The community was originally named Snarlington because apparently there were a number of silversmiths in the area," local historian and author Malcolm Mills said. "When silversmiths make a silver goblet, they punch it to form its decoration and that process is called snarling. That's where the original name came from."

The Storm family, which began to settle in the area during the mid-1700s, had grown significantly by time the hamlet's post office was established, and an election was held to determine its official identity. Records show that when all votes were tallied, the name "Stormville" won by a single vote.

"The Storm family came to the area before the Revolutionary War," Mills said. "Primarily farmers, one of the family's earliest homes is the Storm-Adriance-Brinkerhoff house that sits on today's Beekman Road, just east of the Taconic Parkway."

The home, built by Thomas Storm in the mid-1700s, remains privately owned.

Garrett Storm, whose home still stands on Phillips Road, was too old to serve in the military during the Revolutionary War but was an outspoken patriot. One evening, a group of Tory soldiers entered his home and tried to hang Storm in the attic.

If not for the heroic act of one of his slaves, Epye Schouten, who came out of hiding after the soldiers left and cut him loose, Storm would have died there.

The Stormville Union Chapel was built during the late 1800s along Old Route 52, south of today's Fire Department. The Stormville Train Station sat just beyond it, adjacent to the railroad tracks. Rail service ran between Hopewell Junction and Danbury, Conn. While the chapel still exists, the train station is long gone.

Jeanne Keppel, 87, was raised on her family's farm and recalled a quieter time in the hamlet during her youth.

"Walter Storm used to run the local feed store years ago, and the only people that lived in Stormville back then were dairy farmers or store owners," Keppel said. "When I was young, we worked on our farm on Old Route 52. It was eventually sold and became single-family home developments."

Stormville's Charles Morris Lane is named for Keppel's family and leads to the old ice pond in the hamlet.

"Years ago, they cut ice there and all the farmers had ice houses to keep their milk," Keppel said.

From 1932 to 1937, private airplanes at the Stormville Airport shared the site with a regular schedule of auto racing staged there.

While housing developments now occupy a significant portion of its former farmland, Stormville still maintains a quaint, rural charm.