The Palens: A Sullivan County Tanning Dynasty

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This presentation explores the Palen family’s story and its contributions to Sullivan County history. Between the end of the 18th century and the turn of the twentieth century, several dozen Palens and their extended kin owned, built, and operated leather tanneries in New York and Pennsylvania.

In 1832, Rufus Palen bought land along the Neversink River in Fallsburg and began building a tannery and sawmill. Over the next generation, Rufus and his family built and bought additional Sullivan County tanneries, including ones at Neversink and Rockland. This complicated family tale that is punctuated by great wealth and remarkable tragedy has its roots in Sullivan County.

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