Julia Minisee

December 16, 1988


Marcella Beigel

Marcella Beigel


Note: Her friend Gertrude was visiting at the time of the interview.

Vosburgh was Julia’s maiden name.  Her father John’s parents were John and Anna Vosburgh of Columbia County. Her mother was Anna Mundy, who lived to be 94. Anna’s father was Sam Mundy. Julia was born in Valatie near Route 203, Kline Kill. She had four sisters, all passed. Her sister Battle was a minister, sister Jenny Firth was married in New York, Mildred Springsteen was her oldest sister, and Dorothy Goode was at Barnwell at one time. Her father died before her mother of a heart attack. The family brought him to Valatie from Yonkers for burial.

She met her husband Claude Minisee in Valatie. They were married in Yonkers. Her daughter is Margery Butcher. She lived in Westchester and had one son, Freeman Butcher who was a policeman in New Rochelle.  Julia raised a foster child named Joe Scott from when he was two years old. He calls her mother and keeps in touch.  She had about 25 foster children. They went to school, mostly all boys. Some stayed two to three years, and some aged out.

She lived for a while in Westchester, in New Rochelle, when her mother lived there. Mostly though she lived in Valatie on Route 203. The house she grew up in is still standing on a country road. Julia attended high school in Valatie, but before that she attended a full one-room schoolhouse on Route 203 in Valatie for lower grades. One teacher taught all the grades in a packed schoolhouse. Her mother prepared her lunch every day. Julia mostly walked to school. She walked to school in the snow, even climbing over banks to get there. As a child they stayed mostly at home and played croquet, ball, and played with dolls too. They rarely traveled. 

Julia has been living in this house in Chatham Center for about 35 years. She could clearly and loudly hear a freight train passing through twice during the interview. Her husband was a farmer from his heart. He also raised dairy cows, and also milk goats and chickens. He worked at a local knitting mill, possibly the one in Valatie until retirement. She worked doing housework, working in one home in Hudson for nine years. He enjoyed building, and added two rooms to their house. 

Weekly, Julia attends the Chatham Center Church, a Methodist Church. Before that she attended the Bethel Church in Kinderhook on Sunset Street. It is about 139 years old. It was sold at one time and became a house at the time of the interview. When it closed she began going to the Chatham Center Church.

Her father was a farmer, “from his heart”, who raised about 50 milk cows. They were hand milked every day but Julia never learned to milk. They sold milk and cream but didn’t make cheese. Her father had a horse and wagon that Julia learned to drive. She drove the wagon from Valatie to Chatham and to Kinderhook. She went into the stores to shop for clothes and groceries and went to Church by wagon. They did a lot of canning; tomatoes, fruit and vegetables. They used the old blue glass jars. This year she canned tomatoes. Her mother made fresh bread and gave Julia a slice with butter when she got home from school.

Their social life was mostly around the Church. Church picnics at Electric Park in North Chatham. They would bring a big basket of food to the county fair in Chatham and stay all day.  Family went together and then met other families there. They had a minstrel show every Fall at the Fire Company.

She learned to drive at about 16 years old before a license was required, maybe on a Ford Model A. She had her own car before she married. She always voted.

She went sledding. Kisselberg and Williams were just two school friends she remembers, but she believes they have all passed.

Interviewer Bio:

Marcella Beigel

Marcella Mary Kane Schneider Beigel (Marcella Beigel) was the RSVP Director and originator of the BLACC Oral History Project. She moved to the Columbia County area at the age of 60 and was involved in many civic projects in Columbia County. She believed in the importance of the area’s black history and enlisted seniors to cull old newspapers as well as interview local residents in order to gather information on this history. She also was instrumental in creating a curriculum guide for local schools of the history that gathered in this collection.

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