A Century of Family Fun
Peter and Gurine Nicholsen came from Arendal and Grimstad, Norway, Arnold was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They took the WestShore Railroad from Weehawken, N.J. to West Coxsackie and a Model T Ford from there to the farm.
As they walked the dark and lonely road with no light of any kind, Gurine began to sob from fear of exhaustion in an unfamiliar wilderness. But Arnold clung tightly to his mother's hand and said, "Be brave, Ma! Be brave!"
The Farm which Peter and Gurine purchased had been known in the previous century as the Edgett Farm and as nearly as can be learned was owned by the Edgetts back into Colonial Times. A female member of the Edgett family was 13 years of age when Washington was inaugurated as President of the U.S.A. and at age 67 was buried in the private cemetery at Sunny Hill (a cemetery used by the Edgett family for many years). In the late 1800s the farm was purchased by Spencer Plank who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Aslaug Olsen around 1910. In April 1920 it was named Sunny Hill Farm by Gurine. The name has been most appropriate, because year after year there are many times when rain falls all around the area or state and does not fall at Sunny Hill. The good weather has made Sunny Hill an ideal spot for the vacationist.
Early Description of Sunny Hill
Peter, a carpenter by trade, had to work in the city during most of the year and would try to do limited farming on weekends and short stays on the farm. Gurine worked from early until late to care for the livestock and care for her household as well. She soon discovered that another source of income was needed in order for her family to make ends meet. She rented out rooms to three families who did their own cooking and took a few borders besides—the weekly rate for board and room being $5.00 per week for adults. All families cooked on the woodburning stove.
With Gurine and Arnold alone during the winters at Sunny Hill, conditions were very difficult. Invariably the well and pump would freeze causing severe hardships in watering livestock and obtaining water for cooking. Old-fashioned snowstorms with inadequate snow removal equipment caused additional hardships in obtaining store supplies. Mail would be several weeks in coming through hard winters.
Progress Begins at Sunny HillThe main recreation was a hot dog party about once a week and an occasional trip by horse and buggy to Freehold or Greenville over a wagon trail type of road where the grass grew as high in the center of the road as along the sides.
Old Farm House ConvertedThe attic in this building was full of old spinning wheels, clocks, newspapers, lamps, seashells and other items which, in this day and age would have great value—but which in the 1920s were considered primarily junk. Periodically the horse and wagon would be used to unload part of the junk from the attic to be taken to the dump.
Eventually, in the late 1920s the old farmhouse was torn down and replaced by the present Annex building (which has since been rebuilt). A Store and Recreation Hall was provided downstairs in the Annex.