Fast folklore: Boney Quillan, prankster of the Delaware

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 9/30/19

This story was published in the 2019 fall edition of Upper Delaware Magazine. 

The late Jack Niflot, Long Eddy resident, Town of Fremont historian and president of the Basket Historical …

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Fast folklore: Boney Quillan, prankster of the Delaware

Posted

This story was published in the 2019 fall edition of Upper Delaware Magazine. 

The late Jack Niflot, Long Eddy resident, Town of Fremont historian and president of the Basket Historical Society, collected regional folklore for years and published it (along with much else) in the society’s newsletter The Echo.

One favorite was George “Boney” Quillan, born in 1845 in Ellenville, NY. Quillan made his first Echo appearance in 1981 and then many times thereafter, in stories sometimes credited to Werner Lee. (Sometimes no credit is given.)

Lee wrote that Boney was “a raftsman, a Civil War soldier in the 144th Regiment, and one of the cleverest natural pranksters, poets and songwriters that has ever been seen.”

Here’s one uncredited story, from the Spring 1983 issue of The Echo, published by the Basket Historical Society:

[Quillan and two friends ] found themselves stranded at a small Erie station a few miles upriver from Port Jervis. They had landed a raft nearby and wanted to get right back to Hancock as another raft was ready to be brought out of the east branch. Boney’s companions were “Mike” Snyder and Add VanLoan. What one of this trio couldn’t think of another would. They had their rafting tools, such as an auger, one axe and their coats. They asked the station agent about a train to Hancock and were told there would be none until the following morning.

That was not according to their schedule and when the agent insisted that they would have to wait they began to get restless and sought some form of amusement. One began boring holes in the floor of the station while another went to work on the woodwork with the ax. The third man went out in the yard and started to rearrange the shrubbery.

The agent became frantic because of the manner in which the heartless raftsmen were treating his place of business. He hastily called the train dispatcher at Port Jervis. As soon as it was possible to get there, an engine and one coach drew up at the station. The three raftsmen were soon on the way to their appointed job—traveling in style in their own special train.

For more Boney stories, contact the Basket Historical Society in Long Eddy, NY, 845/887-6703

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