Falling Waters Camp, Chatham, New York -- Memories

This website is devoted to memories of Falling Waters Camp, Chatham, New York, operated for many years by Jean Beach Wichmann and Margaret Beach Anderson. It is inspired by the recent death of Jean, and the desire of former campers to join in remembering Jean. Margaret is still living in Marfa, Texas, and remembers the "old days" at Falling Waters, but has lost her short-term memory. Her friend Richard Harem posted some messages about Margaret on the message board (see link below). Use the message board to communicate with former campers.

The first item on this page is Jean's obituary, prepared by her daughter, Punky Fox. On separate pages are images of the Fall 1967 issue of "The Nutcracker," the newsletter published by Jean and Margaret. (Look for your name!) Also, there is a link to a page that has images of Horse Show Programs from 1955 and 1962. Following that is the poem "Falling Waters" by Todd Davis, that Punky gave me during a visit to West Edmeston in July 2002.

The instigators of this effort are Molly Fleischner, Sara Linnie Brownell, Andie Rice, Janet Goldstein, and, of course, Punky, who grew up at Falling Waters.

For Memories of Jean by various campers (please contribute!), there is a new page called Memories of Jean. Take a look, and send in your own memories. Also, to avoid cluttering the main page with too many photos, there is a page for those at Falling Waters Fotos. Check it out, and send in your own to: Jim Wheaton. I can't promise instant action, however. I'm Punky's cousin through the Brackett family of Rochester, Indiana. You can contact Punky at Punky

How about leaving a message for others to see and to respond to on the Message Board?

Jean and Margaret in Texas, January 1987

Jean, friend Richard Harem, Punky, and Margaret toast the Thanksgiving Holiday, 2000

Jean's Christmas Card, 2001

Here is the link to the Fall 1967 issue of The Nutcracker:

Nutcracker, Fall 1967

Here is the link to the Horse Show Programs from 1955 and 1962:

Horse Show Programs


Jean Beach Wichmann, a very active participant of Spencertown and Columbia County for most of her life, died in Fort Davis, Texas on Sunday April 21st, 2002.

Jean was born in Royal Oak, Michigan in 1913, the youngest of Grace Holman Beach's and George Herschel Beach's five children. The family moved to Bronxville, New York when she was five and then to Falling Waters Farm on Dugway Road in Spencertown, New York, two years later in 1920.

Jean attended the Spencertown Academy through the eighth grade and then went on to Chatham High School. She attended Southern Seminary in Virginia for two years before returning to Spencertown.

Jean started the Falling Waters Camp for girls in the early '30s with the help of her sister, Margaret, and, with the exception of a nine-year hiatus from 1939 to 1948 when both Jean and Margaret were in Texas, the camp continued operating through 1971. Falling Waters Camp was well known for its quality and the unique experiences it gave to those who attended. The lives of many young people were greatly influenced by the summers they spent at Falling Waters.

Jean married New York State Police Captain Carl Wichmann in 1953. Captain Wichmann became an integral part of Falling Waters and together Jean and Carl developed many horseback riding trails in the Spencertown area. They were both very active in the organization and operation of the Woodland Trail Riding Association. For well over 30 years, WTRA supported the equine industry by promoting responsible care of horses for pleasure riding, and the development of trails for their use. The Falling Waters Horse Show, which began as a camp activity, became a major fund raising event for WTRA after the camp closed. The WTRA also sponsored the Elsie K. Powell 35-mile Competitive Trail Ride, which was known for its efficient organization and as one of the most challenging one-day rides that the Eastern Competitive Trail Riding Association sanctioned.

Jean was also very active in the organization of the Spencertown Academy Historical Association and was President for several years. She also gave her support to many other local Spencertown functions and projects. After moving to Brookfield, Jean became as active as her health would permit in The Brookfield Township Historical Association. She enjoyed swimming at Colgate and attending the operas at Glimmerglass in the summertime.

Since 1989, Jean has lived on Lamb Road in Brookfield, New York in the summer and Fort Davis, Texas in the winter. She was predeceased by her husband, Carl and two sisters, Louise Whenman of Augusta, Maine and Elizabeth MacCallum of Pelham Manor, New York. She is survived by a daughter, Margaret W. Fox of Brookfield, New York; a brother, George Holman Beach of Spencertown, New York; a sister, Margaret Beach Anderson of Marfa, Texas; four nieces: Jean M. Hellyar of Southbury, Connecticut, Joyce Bower of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Judy Beach of Brooklyn, New York, Karen B. Gardella of Tucson, Arizona, and numerous grand- and great-grand nieces and nephews.

Memorials, in lieu of flowers, may be made to either The Food Pantry of Jeff Davis County, Box 244, Fort Davis, TX, 79734 or The Brewster and Jeff Davis County 4-H, Box 67, Alpine, TX 79830.

Dedication, NY 100

Jean Wichmann's association with the NY 100 will be remembered primarily for flowers, cookies, and grapes. Since she and the Foxes moved to Brookfield and became involved with the 100, Jean was in charge of what she, physically, could do. She gathered flowers (mostly from the wild) for several days before the ride and she started making her famous 100-mile cookies several weeks before the ride so as to be sure that there would be plenty to go around! Therefore, before July 4th rolled around the Fox freezer usually had at least a dozen huge tins of cookies in it.

Elsie Powell, a good friend and neighbor, got Jean involved in competitive trail riding. Jean assisted Elsie with the Elsie K. Powell 35-mile Competitive Trail Ride in almost every aspect for the 17 years that it was held. She only actually competed once, and that was in the GMHA 100 aboard Yankee Breeze. She was happy to complete the first 40 miles and even happier that she didn't have to go out the 2nd day!! Jean was also involved in the early organizational meetings of E.C.T.R.A. and The Empire State Horseman's Association, which later became known as The New York State Horse Council.

Jean was very active in the Columbia County area in developing and preserving trails for pleasure riding. She was associated with the Pony Club, 4-H, and of course, her own Falling Waters Camp for Girls, which she operated for over 30 years. She has touched many lives in the equine world.

Jean continued to ride until she was nearly 80 and always said that the thing in life that she enjoyed the most was getting on her horse early in the morning and taking off into the hills to spend the day in the glory of God's creation. We will miss her.

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by Todd Davis

Dirt road washed with rain ruts,
leads me to a white and blue shuttered farm house.
Wichmann domain and Fox farm,
fixed in forested foothilss
and framed in stone fences.
Frosted breath steams from horses' muzzles--
gazing at the red sun rising,
dawn on the glass pond.
down from Canada for the weekend,
stay the night, the day, and more.
Their calls echo across the valley----
mixing with the sounds of water
falling on slick stone.
Steams stray among hickory, hemlock,
oak, and spruce----
Moss carpets lead me to ancient rock gardens
where wildflowers and ferns,
under birch and maple canopy,
slumber in dawning April sun.
Deer dart down well-worn paths,
pine needles padded under hoof----
Elegance evading through evergreen groves.
Up at the house,
on split-rail fence crowned with cats,
sit Two-Spot II and Tiger Lily,
jumping down to saunter softly in feline friendship.
Out of open door
come barking Freya and bounding Otter,
rolling muscle and
Rottweiler greetings licking love.
In through the kitchen,
burning wood stove warms the hearth,
warms the heart.
Where loving hands prepare a feast,
smells of homemade foods.
Pete Seeger meets Beethoven
amidst crackling fire and conversation,
filling the room with little boxes made of ticky-tacky
and horse trail talk and basketball and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony
until reflections in dying embers
turn dark.
Red sun removed,
replaced by tired eyes and soft beds,
retires me to my room of antique registers and woolen wraps.
Rest and sleep settle my soul----
Again I hear the water falling on rocks far below,
the silent language of Falling Waters.

(This poem was written by Todd Davis, a personal friend of Don and Punky's. He visited Falling Waters often while Don, Punky, and Jean were still living there. He, too, learned to truly appreciate its special qualities!

Todd is Associate Professor of English at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. During the 2002-2003 academic year, he will be a visiting poet at Iowa State University. His first book of poems, Ripe, was published in the fall of 2002 by Bottom Dog Press of Bowling Green State University.)

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Updated July 26, 2002