Stories from the Shawangunk frontier: New Paltz will host talk on vanished pioneers

Photo courtesy of Joan Hayes Wustrau

Local historian, author and SUNY New Paltz alumna Robi Josephson ’87 ’90g (English) will return to campus to offer an illustrated history of a now-abandoned settlement founded in the Trapps area of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge during the late 18th century.

This event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 5 p.m. in Coykendall Science Building Auditorium on the New Paltz campus. It is sponsored by the Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library and presented to the community as part of the Dennis O’Keefe Memorial Lecture series.

Robi Josephson

Josephson will tell the tale of the residents of a mountain hamlet located near present-day Gardiner, N.Y. These Ulster County pioneers eked out a difficult existence, surviving for generations as farmers, loggers, stonecutters and charcoal makers, from Revolutionary days to the World War II era.

Today only fragments of this community remain. The process of piecing together what we know about their lives began with historian Bob Larsen, a Mohonk Preserve ranger, who gathered physical evidence from around the Trapps over the course of many decades.

Josephson and Larsen collaborated to compile these clues into a cohesive narrative, published as An Unforgiving Land (Black Dome Press, 2013), which stands as the “the definitive chronicle” of the Trapps community, according to Mohonk Preserve president and CEO Glenn Hoagland.

Josephson remembers the Trapps community at this lecture, which is free and open to the public. A book sale and author signing will follow the presentation, with sales benefiting The Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library.

For information or to request accommodations, contact Thomas G. Olsen, chair of the Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library steering committee, at or (845) 257-2723.

Use this link to learn more about historian Robi Josephson.

About the Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library
The Friends organization is committed to enhancing the library through various fundraising and public events to provide an unparalleled margin of excellence for the Sojourner Truth Library.

Among these events is the annual Dennis O’Keefe Memorial Lecture Series, celebrating its 11th year in 2017. The series honors the legacy of longtime Library staff member O’Keefe, whose passion for intellectual pursuit across a wide array of subjects, including local history, was and continues to be an inspiration for students and former colleagues at SUNY New Paltz.