Naturalist, John Burroughs was born in Roxbury, NY in 1837. He taught school in High Falls, among other places and settled at Riverby, his home on the Hudson River. Later he built a cabin in the woods called Slabsides. Here he would write his treatises on nature. Burroughs and his cabin became so well known that presidents and tycoons came to visit the “Sage of West Park.” Goodyear, Edison, Roosevelt and others beat a path to his door. His books became must-reads for a generation of Americans just discovering the joys of spare time and spare change. Burroughs died in 1921, but you can still visit his cabin off Floyd Ackert Road in West Park. The cabin is open to the public two days a year, once in Spring and once in Fall. The John Burroughs Society can be contacted at The John Burroughs Association
Born on a farm in Cortland, NY, in 1852, Alton B. Parker was the eldest of five children. After completing his schooling at the Cortland State Normal School in 1871, he became a principal of the two-room school in Accord, NY. He married Mary Louis Schoonmaker and soon joined the Kingston law firm of Schoonmaker and Hardenberg. He then graduated from Albany Law School. He and Mary had two children. They lived at a lovely home in Esopus on the Hudson (now a private residence). His only son, John, died of tetanus at age 7. At 26, Parker was elected Judge of the Surrogate Court, the only Democrat to win countywide office. In 1904, he ran against Teddy Roosevelt for the United States Presidency. Parker was defeated.
Oliver Hazard Payne was born 1839 in Cleveland, OH. He attended school with John D. Rockefeller as a classmate. Secondary education was Philips Academy in Andover, MA and he entered Yale in 1859. He served in the Civil War beginning in 1861 with the 64th Illinois Regiment, The Yates Sharpshooters. He saw much action and was wounded in 1863. He rejoined his unit and was engaged in many famous battles. After completing his three year enlistment, he left and started an oil refining firm, Clark, Payne & Company. In 1872 he sold out to John D. Rockefeller, becoming a major stockholder and the treasurer of Standard Oil of Ohio, a position he retained until he moved to New York in 1884. He also invested in many other industries with equal success. Payne built a beautiful estate in Esopus (now a private home). The picturesque stone barns of his estate are visible on the west side of Route 9W, south of Esopus. Payne’s huge yacht, Aphrodite, was often seen navigating the Hudson or docked near Payne’s estate.