Colchester to unveil legend marker, hold event

Apr. 30—People driving along Cat Hollow Road in the town of Colchester will soon be able to read how the hollow was named.

The Colchester Historical Society is scheduled to unveil a William G. Pomeroy Foundation Legends & Lore marker at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11. A reception will follow at the Shinhopple Memorial Center with a postcard show and talk.

Colchester Historian Kay Parisi-Hampel said the society applied to the foundation late last summer and was approved for the grant for the marker. The society had to submit written material about the legend to the foundation. The society sent a passage from a history book and a copy of an article that ran in The Walton Reporter in 1936. The marker can only have 42 words, so the society had to condense the legend of Cat Hollow. "Many people believe it's named because a panther was found on it or all the wild cats or bobcats," Parisi-Hampel said. However, the story behind the name is much darker than that.

During the unveiling, Colchester Town Supervisor Art Merrill will tell the legend.

According to legend, eight Terry brothers purchased a large tract of land in 1843 and started a lumber camp. They hired 10 lumberjacks and a tough, woman cook with a cat that the lumberjacks liked to tease to get the cook to swear. One day, one of the lumberjacks and the cook got into a fist-fight and the cook won. The lumberjack killed the cat for revenge. The cook prepared the cat in a "rabbit pie" then let the lumberjacks know the contents after they finished their dinner. She also told them that if the person who killed her cat wasn't fired, she would leave. News of the episode spread and the lumberjacks were referred to as the "Cat Hollow Men." The name has remained with the valley ever since.

After the marker unveiling and picture taking, people are invited to head to the Shinhopple Memorial Center at 1406 Trout Brook Road for a reception, complete with hand pies with cat paw cookies, Parisi-Hampel said. There will also be a Catskills Cat postcard show and a talk about postcards by John Duda, secretary of the Kaaterskill Postcard Club and trustee of the Skene Memorial Library and Greater Fleischmanns Museum of Memories.

Parisi-Hampel said her sister, Anne Hood, and Sylvia Hasenkopf both have an extensive collection of the Catskill Cat postcards that were popular from the 1900s to the 1950s — "the heyday of Catskills tourism."

"Postcards were a quick way of letting people know you arrived safely and where you were on vacation before the internet. Most tourist houses, hardware and department stores sold cards," she said. The postcards were printed in either the U.S. or Germany.

The postcards usually cost 1 or 2 cents and depicted places in the Catskills. The Catskill Cat postcards had either real cats or cartoon cats with pictures of mountains. These have been enlarged for the show.

Duda will speak at 3 p.m. He will talk about the history of postcards and postcard collecting using local examples in a slide show presentation, Parisi-Hampel said. He will also discuss how to preserve cards, the changing dynamics of modern collecting, what makes one card more collectible than another and how to date cards that don't have a postmark or message. People can bring their old postcards to the talk to see if they have value or to figure out when the cards were printed.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.