When he was in his eighties, Fred Gorton wrote his autobiography as a series of essays. After his death, his granddaughter inherited those handwritten pages, edited them, and distributed the result to Fred's family members. Later she expanded the manuscript, adding some background about the area Fred lived in and a few notes to clarify things he got wrong, and made the text available to the general public on her webpage. Now, for the first time, this expanded and updated edition is available in book format.
Fred Gorton was interested in the doings of his neighbors, as well as in the things that directly affected his family, making this a treasure trove for genealogists and historians alike. His memories provide a firsthand look at the town of Liberty, New York, its citizens, and its environs from the mid-1870s through the mid-1960s. At the heart of the Sullivan County Catskills, Liberty was a center for tourism in those years and Fred's stories touch on both the tradition of the farm-boardinghouse and the ways local people made ends meet in the off-season. As a self-described "plodder" he worked as everything from a farmhand to the first RFD carrier for Ferndale, New York, delivering mail with a horse-drawn buggy and later in a Model T. One of his side jobs was making piecework picture frames with "Liberty, NY" painted on them to sell to tourists. Anyone interested in life in small-town America from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century will find something to savor in the story of Fred Gorton's ninety-five years.
The historian, Joseph A. Amato wrote that it takes a collaboration, "an unlikely marriage between the professional and the amateur" to give birth "to an invigorated genre of local history." Fred Gorton's writing is proof of that. Here, his original words, only slightly edited for clarity, provide the unmistakable sense of place that is so critical to the appreciation of the history of any locality. This is indispensable reading for anyone with the desire to know what rural America was like during this important time in our history.
Sullivan County Historian