JOEL T. HEADLEY was horn December 30, 1813, at Walton, Delaware County, N. Y., where his father was settled
for many years as the Presbyterian clergyman. Mr. Headley early determined to make his father's vocation his own,
and after graduating from Union College, in 1839, he took a course in theology at the Auburn Theological Seminary.
After being ordained he was settled over a church at Stockbridge, Mass., and immediately entered with enthusiasm
upon the discharge of the numerous duties inseparably connected with the sacred office. He soon found, however,
that his constitution, already undermined by many years of unceasing application and incessant study, was unable
to stand the further strain imposed upon it, and he was reluctantly compelled to relinquish his chosen profession,
and in 1842 went to Europe.
While abroad he occasionally contributed articles to the press and periodicals, and the favorable manner in which
they were received encouraged him to offer to the public his "Letters from Italy." The ratifying reception
at once accorded to this work first turned his mind seriously toward literary pursuits, and soon after his return
from Europe he yielded to the solicitations of his friend Horace Greeley, and became the associate editor of the
New York Tribune. The confining duties necessarily connected with the duties of an editor soon became irksome to
him, and at the end of a year he severed his connection with that paper and henceforth pursued the path of authorship.
In 1846 "Napoleon and His Marshals" appeared, and was followed at various periods by "Washington
and His Generals," "History of the War of 1812," "Life of Cromwell," "Life of Havelock,"
"Life of Scott and Jackson," "Sacred Mountains," "Sacred Scenes and Characters,"
"Sacred Heroes and Martyrs," "Headley's Miscellanys." "The Imperial Guard," "Chaplains
and Clergy of the Revolution," "The Great Rebellion," "Grant and Sherman," "Life
of Farragtit, and Our Naval Commanders," and "History of the Great Riots," besides other works of
Mr. Headley's literary work suffered a few year's interruption when, in 1854, he was elected to the New York assembly
from the First District of Orange County, and the year following was chosen secretary of the State of New York.
Mr. Headley did not lay down his busy pen until late in life, and the popular favor which was accorded him at the
outset of his career never entirely left him, and all his books were remunerative.
Mr. Headlev's passionate love for nature in all her various moods led him nearly forty years ago to seek those
great solitudes which the Adirondacks had at that time kept concealed from all men save the trapper or woodsman.
He was so enamored of that Switzerland of America that for over thirty years he made yearly pilgrimages for health
and pleasure to that beautiful region. He was probably the first tourist to visit that section, and his descriptions
of its charms and health giving powers soon induced large numbers to visit it, and thus led to its becoming the
great fashionable resort it is today.
For over thirty years Mr. Headley resided in Newburgh and vicinity, and always took an active interest in the historic
scenes and acts with which our locality abounds. The patriotic attempts of several of our citizens to secure the
preservation of that venerated building, Washington's Headquarters, received his hearty support, and for many years
he was president of the trustees of the headquarters.
Believing in the importance of fixing in the minds of the people all those events which are vitally connected with
the fate of our republic, he early conceived the idea of celebrating in some public manner those historic events
which have made Newburgh famous in American history. To him more than any other individual is due, not only the
inception, but also the successful carrying out of our centennial celebration in 1883.
Mr. Headley passed the allotted span of life, dying at Newburgh, December 30, 1897, in his eighty fourth year.
The History of Orange County New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Van Deusen and Elms, Publishers
Middletown, N. Y. 1908
Orange County, NY
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