Fardale Tax Collector
This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published by “The Old Station Timetable” in December 1978.
Almost a hundred years ago, Garret Valentine was Tax Collector, living in the house on Forest Ave. now occupied by the Larry Knudsens. For 18 years he conscientiously saw that each citizen paid up.
The story is told that in order to collect in the Ramapo hills, he would start at the Franklin Lakes line and hike the old woods roads that led to isolated mountain farms, eventually coming down out of the mountains near Hillburn. There were no vaults to keep the tax money in so Garret had his own secret hiding place for the receipts, the pig pen on his farm.
It hardly seemed likely that robbers would be about in the quiet rural community, but he took no chances. One night, arriving home after a long day of collecting, he went into the house. The horses were too warm to be watered at the time so a few hours later he went out to care for them. Returning to the house he heard one of his dogs barking. The next day the dog was missing and found in the woods beaten to death. Someone must have been after the town money.
Oddly enough, almost a century later, his great granddaughter, Mrs. Betty Storms Heflin is doing the same job, although she does not hike the mountain trails, nor is it necessary to hide the tax money where only a pig would be happy.