Excerpt: Burton Coon “Recollections of Rock City” The Rhinebeck Gazette ~ the 1920’s; Courtesy of Bonnie Wood.
“Henry D. Ostrom was born and brought up on one of the hill farms of Dutchess County, near what used to be known as Case’s Corner, or Milanville. It was on the direct market route from western Connecticut to the Hudson River and I have often heard him relate what he saw in his boyhood days when the teams from the east laden with pork and grain and farm produce would file past his father’s house on their way to the river. He was an observing boy; thoughtful beyond his years and early began to raise questions about life and its problems which neither he nor his friends could answer. This trail of testing every bit of knowledge by the talisman of truth became the habit of his life, and grew stronger with the years. To some who did not perfectly understand him he appeared to be unduly critical, but he was never cynical, and to be critical without being cynical is a rare trait. He early developed an inclination to leave the farm and engage in more sedentary pursuits. But this was, I think, more because of the rough hilly character of his father’s land than for any distaste for farm life, for he afterward operated a farm in the vicinity of Rock City and was uncommonly interested in farm problems all his life. He was a ready counselor to the young in these matters and displayed sound practical common sense.
In early manhood, he became an agent for nursery stock, travelling as far as Pennsylvania. Later he taught school and finally married and settled down in the mercantile business at Rock City, where he remained for upwards of 40 years. He kept a general country store which in those days meant practically everything from a pin to a pound of nails. Dry goods and groceries, hardware and crockery, shoes and rubbers, farming implements and utensils, besides being an agent for various things including safes, nursery stock and insurance. He also had the major interest in a grocery store in Rhinecliff. At one time, he conducted a branch of the seed business of A. T. Cook of Hyde Park, by which he was largely instrumental in building up Mr. Cook’s business. He was also postmaster at Rock City for many years and an administrator of the estates of Col. John Wilson and John Wilson and John G. Schultz.
However, as time went on and he began to feel the weight of the years, he gradually dropped the more exacting parts of his business and finally sold out to Rush Morehouse and moved to Rhinebeck.”