Corbet Acid Factory

Centennial Year--1912-2012

Corbett was formerly known as the Daniel Campbell farm or Campbell Flats.  This one hundred and sixty-seven acre property was later sold to Bryon G. Landfield  and then again to the Corbett and Stuart Corporation in early 1912.  After the Delaware and Northern railroad came through the area the Landsfield farmhouse was turned into a boarding house. and was operated by the Denio family.  The Delaware and Northern brought people closer to their markets and made travel throughout the region much easier.  Campbell Flats was located in an ideal location, close to the Delaware River with large tracts of forestlands that could provide the raw materials that manufacturers needed, as well as the new train lines to move these products to market. When the Delaware and Northern railway station opened in 1912 it was named after Merritt J. Corbett and the Campbell Flats name was changed to Corbett.

In 1892 Julius S. Corbett, his son Merritt J Corbett and their wives along with John L. Stuart and his wife Nettie Corbett Stuart (Julius's daughter) incorporated under the name of Corbett and Stuart.  The Corbett's owned large tracts of land in Pennsylvania and New York and were involved in the lumber business.  John L Stuart had learned the acid factory business from his father  and his knowledge lead to a successful partnership.  Soon after the incorporation they began buying or leasing timberlands in Colchester Township.  They built acid factories in Harvard, Centerville, Morris Brook, and Baxter Brook.  Corbett and Stuart bought all of the Landfield property and began plans to build their largest operation at that location. 
 An article in the Walton Reporter on February 17, 1912 reported that, "One of the largest acid factories in the world is soon to be built at Campbell Brook, a station two miles below Downsville on the Delaware and Northern road and the name of the station will probably be changed to Corbett.  ...Corbett and Stuart are the promoters of the new industry and state that the new acid factory will be build on the largest scale of any in existence.  They have already ordered 300 tons of iron for use in the construction of the plant and two carloads of steel rails for their own private yards in addition to a long spur that the Delaware and Northern is building for them."
"Corbett and Stewart own thousands of acres of wood along the main line and the Andes branch of the Delaware and Northern and all of this will, in time, be cleared and thrown into the huge caldrons and furnaces at Corbett from where it will emerge as charcoal, ashes, wood alcohol, acid and many products of value to the commercial world.  The company will save the lumber in the forest that can be sold as lumber and thus another will be wasted.  the company has plans to build about 25 houses and will maintain a company store.  They now have 24 Hungarians butting acid wood on the mountains."

A grinding mill for milling charcoal was also part of the complex at Corbett.  Elevators took the charcoal to the second floor where it was screened and sized and then the sorted product was returned to the first floor for sacking.

During World War I the acid factory operated twenty-four hours a day to keep up with the demand for acetic acid which was a main ingredient in smokeless gun powder.  The factory was built to have capacity to process one hundred and twenty cords of four foot wood per day. The Corbett acid factory supported many woodcutters ,teamsters and later truck drivers to transport the wood to their factory

The first houses build were up Campbell Brook, the second group of houses were built in the early 1920's a total of forty-six houses were built to house the factory workers and their families.  The original factory houses were provided rent free for the workers as well free wallpaper and paint and firewood.

Corbett village

The company store was built in 1912 and it also housed a  Post Office, telegraph office, and  train station.  A freight house was built on the rear of the store.  A Johnson and Rhodes stone dock was located near the railroad spur.  An apartment for John L. Stuart was built above the store in 1912.  John and his grown sons, Merritt and Leonard moved to the store apartment just as the mill town was being built. 

John L. Stuart was a very religious man and encouraged his workers and their families  to attend religious services first in his apartment and then in the school building after that was constructed.

The corporation had a close business relationship with D&N Railroad and maintained three miles of rail sidings at the factory

Acid Factory 1915
1915 Factory with Shay Locomotive on left

The Corbett and Stuart company acid factory operated until 1934.  The Corbett and Stuart Corporation  descendants maintained ownership of the property after the factory closed and the residents continued to rent their homes. The Daily Star reported in 1978 that, "When  Bula Stuart decided to sell Corbett, in part because she couldn't afford to install the required water and sewer systems, state health laws prevented her from breaking up the property and selling it in parcels.

Twenty-nine houses and one duplex that constituted the hamlet of Corbett were advertised as one property in the New York Times, jeopardizing the future of the families who had lived in the house for several generations.

The community was saved from extinction when the Institute of Man and Science, a non-profit organization that operated on the principle that with self-help and revitalization a town can thrive , purchased the entire 159 acre parcel for $125,000.

The Institute arranged for grants and funding to allow each of the tenants to purchase their own homes"  The Corbett Compact was signed in 1977. The first community project in 1978 was the building of a water system .  That same year, legislation was introduced to allow Corbett to become a not-for-profit  corporation to govern the operation and maintenance of the community-owned land, which includes the former school now operated as a community center, the acid factory chimney park and a sixty-three acre watershed.

The School District No. 2 building was built in 1916.  Two of the first teachers were Edith Boyd and Arthur Close.
The basement of the school was used for church suppers put on by the Ladies Aide Society.  The Aide society were very successful fundraisers and earned money to pay the minister, raised funds to support the military in World War I and II as well as aiding people in need within the community.

In 1939 the Downsville School District centralized and Corbett voted to join the consolidation and the grade school closed in 1940.  The building continued to be used as a community and social center.

Corbett School1
Corbett School

Corbett School 1918
School Group 1918

Corbett  school group 1926
Corbett School Group 1926


Hillis Farm Gregorytown


Early Settlers
The earliest histories of Colchester go back to the  log cabin built by Timothy Gregory in 1766, at the bottom of Fuller Hill.  This  area around his cabin became known as Gregorytown.  Early settlers used the trail from Minisink, near Port Jervis, through the mountains to join Gregory.  Most of those families abandoned their farms, fearing attacks by Tories and Native Americans and withdrew to the safety of Port Jervis during the Revolutionary War.  After the Revolution families returned to the Gregorytown area. 

Timothy Gregory built the two first framed barns in Colchester and the  third wood frame home  in 1789, bringing the sawn lumber for his house ten miles by canoe from the Beaverkill.  He opened the firs
t sawmill in Gregorytown in 1816.  A bend in the river, well known by fly fishermen is called, "Tim's Turn,"


Gregory Hollow Class  Gregorytown class 1903

Gregroytown school group
Lower Gregorytown School Group

The Gregorytown Methodist Church was located near the intersection of Back River Road and Fuller Hill Road in Gregorytown.  The building was destroyed by fire in the early 1970's.  The Gregorytown Cemetery was laid out in 1855 and is located on the east side of Back River Road just below the Fuller Hill Road intersection.
Gregorytown church
Gregorytown Methodist destroyed by fire.