Big Indian in Ulster County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
History of Big Indian and Oliverea
The hamlet of Big Indian takes its name from an 18th century Native American named "Winnisook," who was said to be over seven feet in height, strong, well-built, and fearless. Much of the legend surrounding Winnisook's activities in Ulster County were undoubtedly embellished over the years by local guides and lodging owners seeking to attract visitors to the area with an enticing, romantic tale. However, one fact is certain: the first reference to "Big Indian" as a location was recorded in surveys dating from 1786.
Winnisook, a member of the local tribe called the Munsees of the Lenape Nation, lived in the Marbletown area of Ulster County. There Winnisook fell in love with one Gertrude Molyneaux, the daughter of an early Huguenot settler in the area. However, Gertrude had been betrothed to a Dutch settler by the name of Joseph Bundy, a man said to be of questionable character.
After a brief, unhappy marriage to Bundy, Winnisook succeeded in getting Gertrude to elope with him back to his village and thereafter fathered several children with her.
Several years after this very public
In response a posse was formed, including Bundy, to track down the raiding party. Allegedly, Bundy and company caught up with Winnisook in the area now named Big Indian. It was here that Bundy succeeded in finally getting his revenge by firing the bullet that killed Winnisook.
There are many versions of Winnisook's death, one more romantic than the next, including stories of a huge oak tree that stood at the crossroads with Winnisook's enormous outline carved into the bark. One version of the legend is likely true; that upon Winnisook's death Gertrude moved her family to the area we now call "Big Indian" to be near Winnisook's grave. Evidence of this can be found in old land title records that carry Gertrude Molyneaux's family name on land in the Lost Clove valley of Big Indian.
Thanks to Gary Gailes for his telling of the legend.
The site of Aley's General Store, recently known as Morra's Market, is believed by many to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s, helping slaves from the South escape to freedom in the North. The original building stood at the intersection of Route 28 and Oliverea Road.
Logging, lumber milling, and furniture
Founded in 1886, Oliverea’s famous Winnisook Club sits at the base of Slide Mountain, 2,660 feet above sea level. In 1887 a lodge was built on the private club’s 1,600 acres, and eventually 14 private homes were added, with ownership passing down through the original owners’ families.
Winnisook Lake, which empties into the headwaters of the Esopus Creek and the Neversink River, was dammed to form a five-acre lake for recreation. It is the highest lake in the Catskills. Many historical celebrities have visited the club, including Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and famous naturalist John Burroughs.
Jake Moon built the original building that was once Rudy's Big Indian then Jake Moon Restaurant. Jake was part Native American, six foot six, and employed as a guard for a railroad yard in the 214 notch between Chichester and Phoenicia. He was caught in a landslide in front of an oncoming train but miraculously survived and decided it was ordained for his family to settle here. In 1994, his great-great-great grandson Daniel E. Smith became the owner and manager of Jake Moon Restaurant. Today the
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1786.
Location. 42° 6.18′ N, 74° 26.756′ W. Marker is in Big Indian, New York, in Ulster County. Marker can be reached from New York State Route 28 0.1 miles west of Oliverea Road, on the left when traveling west. Marker is mounted in an interpretive kiosk at the east end of the parking lot in Big Indian Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8280 New York Route 28, Big Indian NY 12410, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Belleayre Mountain Ski Center (approx. 2.7 miles away); History of Pine Hill and Highmount (approx. 2.7 miles away); Pine Hill Honor Roll (approx. 2.7 miles away); Elm Street Stone Arch Bridge (approx. 2.7 miles away); The History of Shandaken, Bushnellsville & Allaben (approx. 3 miles away); Town of Shandaken Historic Sites (approx. 3 miles away); The Shandaken Tunnel and the N.Y.C. Water Supply System (approx. 3 miles away); Ulster County (approx. 4 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on March 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 189 times since then and 117 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 6, 7. submitted on March 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 8. submitted on March 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 9, 10. submitted on March 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.