The History of Walden

Orange County, New York

1713 – Wileman Town founded around a grant of about 3,000 acres of land to Henry Wileman.

1736 – Alexander Kidd became the proprietor of a large tract of land in Montgomery Town, Orange County, a portion of which passed into the hands of Andrew Kidd and finally to John Kidd. This tract of land was known as Kiddtown.

The Kidd family made quite a bit of money from the Kidd Mill.

1768 – Kidd Mill sold to Johannes Decker.

1700s-era – Dutch house, later owned by Jacob T. Walden, built.

Before 1775 – James Kidd built a stone house.

Revolutionary War – volunteers came from Walden to become part of the 2nd Regiment New York Militia serving under Brigadier General Richard Montgomery during the 1775 Champlain-Canadian campaign.

Revolutionary War – General George Washington and his staff on several occasions during the Revolutionary War occupied the old stone house of Alexander Kidd, who at that time owned almost the whole countryside. It was from Kidd that the town received its first name of Kidd Town.

1789 – the former Kidd Mill sold to Cadwallader Colden, Jr., grandson of the last royal lieutenant governor of the colony of New York, Cadwallader Colden, Sr.

1812 – Jacob T. Walden, a prosperous shipping merchant of New York City who was Walden's real father, recognized the immense manufacturing value of the area’s natural water power, sold out his New York City interests and established himself on the site of Walden. Walden helped build the cotton and wool mills in an area known as Kiddtown and High Falls.

1813 – Jacob T. Walden bought the house in 1813, when he came to the village (when it was called Kiddtown) to build textile mills powered by the Wallkill River.

Jacob T. Walden House. North Montgomery & Wait Streets, Walden. 18th century Dutch colonial house. made from shale and limestone blocks, its original Dutch double front door still intact Once owned by Jacob T. Walden for whom the village of Walden is named. Period furnishings on display. Sept-Nov and Apr-June, 3rd Wednesday evenings and by appointment.

1822 – Walden convinced New York City businessmen Jesse Scofield and Seth C. Capron to create a woolen mill and in this year the investors formed the Franklin Company.

1823 – Jesse Scofield built the Eagle Hotel on Main Street in Kidd Town.

1842 – the Rider Engine Company was incorporated (named for Alexander K. Rider who designed a pumping engine).

1846 – Thomas Wilson Bradley immigrated with his parents to the United States; he was born in Yorkshire, England in 1844. His family settled in Walden.

1855 – the village incorporated, adopting the name of Walden to honor the industrialist. Walden then became Orange County's hub of commercial life with clothing and knife factories. In fact, so many knife-making companies once called Walden home that, at one point, it was known as the Sheffield of America, referring to the famous steel-producing city in England.

1856 – with economic incentives, the village of Walden enticed the New York Knife Company of Matteawan (precursor of Beacon) to move to Walden. The president and manager of the company was Thomas J. Bradley. During the Civil War, the company produced a variety of knives and mess tableware.

Civil War – 1861-1865 – John Kidd, who was a Town Commissioner for eighteen years, was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and politically was a Republican, and a strong supporter of the war for the Union. He was a Director of the Walden National Bank, and Vice-President of the Walden Savings Bank.

Thomas Wilson Bradley, son of the president of the New York Knife Company, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He entered the Union Army as a private; promoted to captain in the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry; was aide-de-camp to Major General Mott, Third Division, Second Army Corps. In 1896 he received the Medal of Honor for action at Chancellorsville, Va., May 3, 1863. Biographical Directory of the United State Congress.

1876 – Thomas W. Bradley was a member of New York state assembly. He was a delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1892, 1896,1900, and 1908.

1880 – Thomas J. Bradley dies; his son, Thomas W. Bradley, takes over the management of the knife company.

1880s and 1890s – establishment of many hotels on and off Main Street: St. Nicholas, the Terrace Inn and the Grand View House.

1890 – a photograph show the Walden Fife, Drum & Bugle Corps Band which entertained Walden residents for decades.

1895 – William Didsbury created the Walden Shear Company, maker of various tools. The Didsbury Opera House became the major social center for the arts. Among the performers were Enrico Caruso and John Philip Sousa and his Marching Band.

1896 – the Walden Library was first established as a circulating library club. The Library’s greatest benefactor was the Hon. Thomas W. Bradley, resident manufacturer and U.S. Congressman. He provided matching funds for a centrally located village hall which would include a permanent home for the library. The library is a memorial to his wife, Josephine, and daughter, Louise, one of the founders of the 1896 circulating library. The Library became known as the Josephine-Louise Public Library. He was the former president of Walden Knife Co., who was a bank president, a state assemblyman and a member of Congress.

1900 – Walden Library chartered by the NYS Regents Department.

1901 – the Walden Public Library opened.

1903 – in preparation of his congressional career, Thomas W. Bradley sells his knife company to the Fuller brother of New York.

1903-1913 – Thomas W. Bradley was a U.S. Representative from New York 20th District.

1904 – The Schrade Cutlery Company was founded in 1904

1910 – the Walden Public Library, incorporated.1916, was moved to its present location.

1920 – Thomas Wilson Bradley died in Walden, Orange County, N.Y., May 30. Interment at Wallkill Valley Cemetery, Walden, N.Y.

1931 – the New York Knife Company went out of business.

1946 – Albert M. Baer purchased the Schrade Cutlery Company and renamed it the Schrade Walden Cutlery Corporation which became a division of the Imperial Knife Associated Companies group.

1958 – the Schrade Walden cutlery division was moved from Walden, New York to Ellenville, New York.

1958 (March) – residents formed the Historical Society of Walden and the Wallkill Valley; later that year, they launched a drive to buy and restore the Walden House.

1982 – the Hudson Wire Company opened the world's most modern facility for the production of electroplated tin conductors in Walden.

2002 – the Jacob T. Walden House was placed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.


BIOGRAPHY: David L. Kidd; Newburgh, Orange Co., New York

The Political Graveyard

Marc Newman, 2001, Images of America: Walden and Maybrook. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.