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This Week in Port Jervis History


On May 14, 1851, the first train on the New York and Erie Railroad came to Port Jervis. The line’s inaugural run began on the 14th in Piermont and arrived in Dunkirk on Lake Erie on the 15th. Work was begun on the line in 1835 in Deposit, the midway point on the line and cost $20 million to complete. Eventually, the Erie Railroad would connect Jersey City with Chicago. On board in 1851, were President Millard Fillmore, Secretary of State Daniel Webster, General Winfield Scott and US Senator from New York, William H. Seward. Daniel Webster rode in a flatbed car on a rocking chair to better see the scenery, pictured here in an illustration by E.S. Hammack.


On May 16th, 1815, Diana Farnum was born Diana Zearfoss in Warren County, New Jersey. She married George W. Farnum and lived on a farm in Otsego county until his death in 1853, at which time she came to Port Jervis. Her son Wallace W. was a proprietor of the Union newspaper in Port Jervis. On October 8th, 1879, Diana married Henry Harrison Farnum. Henry had been having health issues for years, but in October his health had deteriorated and he decided on his deathbed to marry his widowed sister-in-law, in order to leave more of his estate to his nephews, Diana’s children, Eli Purcel(l) Farnum and Peter Eli Farnum. Henry died just five days after and Diana lived the rest of her life on Pike Street, across from Orange Square. On March 24, 1885, Diana Farnum passed away in Port Jervis. She bequeathed $8000 for the erection of the monument in Orange Square and her sons, Eli and Peter, each contributed an additional $1000. The forty-five foot high Quincy granite monument topped with a Westerly granite statue was designed by Eleazer Frederick Carr of the Quincy, Massachusetts firm of Frederick and Field and sculpted by Edward King. Diana is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery.


House where Diana lived on Pike Street, designed by Binghamton architect Isaac Gale Perry



The 135 year old civil war monument in Orange Square

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