Liberty, New York
State Route 17 at Liberty
Location of the town of Liberty in Sullivan County, New York
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The town of Liberty was created from the Town of Lumberland in 1807 and became the fourth town in the county. The town of Callicoon was taken off, and a part of the Town of Thompson added in 1842, and a part of the Town of Rockland added in 1849. The first permanent white settlement was made by Eleazer Larabee from Stonington, CT, who came to Liberty from the Town of Neversink in 1794. Larabee constructed the first sawmill in the town, located at the outlet of Brodhead Pond (now Revonah Lake), where the initial settlement, known as the Blue Mountain Settlement, in the town was located. Subsequent settlements were in the present Village of Liberty, in Liberty Falls (now the hamlet of Ferndale), the hamlet of Parksville, the hamlet of Stevensville (now Swan Lake) and the hamlet of Robertsonville (now White Sulphur Springs). The Town of Liberty furnished 303 men for the army during the Civil War. Liberty was amongst the many towns to benefit from the boom in Sullivan County hotels during the 1950s. After many of the hotels left, the town was left without a stable economic footing, and has since suffered from lack of jobs.
Liberty made headlines in September 2015, when a federal judge ruled that town officials violated a man's First Amendment rights by arresting him for writing profanities on a speeding ticket. The New York Daily News reported that William Barboza was pulled over for speeding in Liberty in 2012 and decided to plead guilty to the ticket by mail. But he expressed his frustration with the town by scratching out "Liberty" and replaced it with "Tyranny." He also wrote "fuck your shitty town bitches" on the payment form. The payment was declined and when he went to his court appearance, he was arrested for allegedly "violating the state's former 'aggravated harassment' statute," according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Barboza filed a federal lawsuit arguing that Liberty police and prosecutors violated his First Amendment rights. Federal Judge Cathy Seibel agreed, writing that Barboza's comments were a legitimate criticism of Liberty's government and not a threat or harassment.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 80.7 square miles (209.0 km²), of which, 79.6 square miles (206.2 km²) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km²) of it (1.36%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,632 people, 3,711 households, and 2,263 families residing in the town. The population density was 121.0 people per square mile (46.7/km²). There were 5,350 housing units at an average density of 67.2 per square mile (25.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 83.70% White, 9.19% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 3.76% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.90% of the population.
There were 3,711 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the town, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $32,022, and the median income for a family was $37,689. Males had a median income of $31,088 versus $24,655 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,565. About 12.1% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.
Communities and locations in the Town of Liberty
- Cooley – A location near the north town line.
- Ferndale (formerly Liberty Falls) – A hamlet south of Liberty village on Route 17. The Ferndale School, Manion's General Store, and Shelburne Playhouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Grossinger – A hamlet south of Liberty village on Route 17. Formerly this was the site of Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel
- Liberty – The Village of Liberty on Route 17.
- Loomis – A hamlet west of Liberty village.
- Parksville – A hamlet north of Liberty village on Route 17. The Tefereth Israel Anshei Parksville Synagogue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
- Revonah Lake (formerly Brodhead Pond)– A lake northwest of Liberty village that was probably the first settlement site in the town.
- Swan Lake (formerly Stevensville) – A hamlet near the south town line, located at the eastern end of a lake called "Swan Lake."
- White Sulphur Springs (formerly Robertsonville) – A hamlet in the southwest part of the town on Route 52. The Jewish Community Center of White Sulphur Springs was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
- Robert Y. Grant, Justice of the Peace from 1849 to 1855; Supervisor of the Town of Liberty in 1854 and 1859; Postmaster of Liberty from 1855; and a member of the New York State Senate (9th D.) in 1860 and 1861.
- Taylor Jardine, lead singer for We Are The In Crowd
- Maurice Martin, Basketball Player
- Kaseem Sinceno, NFL Tight End - (Eagles, Bears)
- Alan Gerry, founder of Cablevision Industries
Liberty in Film
Liberty in the News
In 2012, a man named William Barboza received a ticket for speeding through the town. When he paid his fine, he wrote a vulgar statement on the ticket. He also replaced the village's name, Liberty, with "Tyranny." The police in Liberty charged him with a crime for the scrawling. During the second week of September 2015, United States District Judge Cathy Seibel ruled that Mr. Barboza's First Amendment rights were violated by the charge, which was dismissed prior to this ruling. She said Barboza's phrase was crude and offensive to some but "did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity." As of September 18, 2015, Mr. Barboza has filed suit against the Town of Liberty, but no decision has yet been reached.
- Child, Hamilton, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Sullivan County, NY for 1872-73
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Biographical Sketches of the State Officers and Members of the Legislature of the State of New York by William D. Murphy (1861; pg. 59ff)
- [Hits. Perf. Julia Stiles, Michael Cera. Honora Productions, 2014. Film.]
- "Judge: NY Village Wrong to Arrest Man Who Wrote Profanity on Ticket". Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- Town and Village of Liberty, New York
- Short history of Liberty
- Collection of Photographic Prints Related to Liberty, N.Y. ca. 1900 (finding aid) at the New York State Library, accessed May 18, 2016.