Woodbury Historical Society's Gatehouse honors the Stockhausen-Kopchak-Judson families

| 22 Feb 2012 | 03:33

Central Valley - These three families, longtime residents of Woodbury and Harriman, have been featured in a just-concluded exhibit at the Woodbury Historical Society’s Gatehouse Learning Center. As Dorothy M. Morris, chair of the Gatehouse Committee put it: “It is with humility and gratitude that we honor them, and especially Louise and Joe Kopchak whose dedication, respect for preservation, and willingness to share and ‘give back’ to their community, made it possible for us to present this article to you.” The story begins with the powerful 1889 oil painting which graces the mantle of the Gatehouse exhibit room. “Grandpa Stockhausen” served in his native country’s Navy. He was an expert fireman, hired by construction companies, to put battleships through high-speed tests. After immigrating to America, “Grandpa” worked for the Harrimans during construction of Arden House. Fearful of theft, “Grandpa” Stockhausen was hired as a watchman to prevent stealing of building materials. While an expert carpenter, he remained in the security role after the completion of the mansion. He married Adelaide, also from Germany. Adelaide served as a part time cook at the Central Valley Hotel (on the site of the present Central Valley post office). Together they raised their five daughters. Stonemason Enter John M. Kopchak Sr. (a contemporary of Stockhausen) who immigrated to the Woodbury area also to work on building Arden house for the Harriman family. He was of Slovak ancestry and was a skilled stonemason, with unusual ability in cutting stone. John Sr. never drove a car, walked everywhere in the Harriman-Woodbury area and did so until he was 82 years of age. He became a proud American but retained his pride in the nation of his birth. For 50 years he served as secretary-treasurer for “Jednota,” a Slovak organization. He supported a family of seven, yet had time to volunteer for many projects. His philosophy was that he had a God-given talent working with stone. It was his mission to share that talent freely, without pay, in as many places as possible. The Grotto at St. Anastasia’s in Harriman, stone steps, masonry and other religious works are monuments to his outstanding talents. Give back to the community The families join when daughter Helen Stockhausen married Joseph Kopchak Sr., an expert electrician and welder. The connection with the Harriman estate continues in this generation. When their son, Joe, married Louise Judson, the third family link was established. The significance of this story comes to light when Joe and Louise embark on many years of collecting memorabilia, post cards, and photographs, which focus on their families, the Harrimans and the mansion, plus the Arden Farm connection and the towns in which they were raised. It is a story of a Kopchak grandson who continued the family mission to give back to Woodbury and the surrounding area. Most of all, the recent Gatehouse display was one of pride in family and community. Along with the Stockhausens and Judsons, Louise and Joe Kopchak, who put the very extensive and interesting display together, are the embodiment of the many families who came to this area from far away places many years ago, and stayed to make our community the wonderful place it is today. “We will always be grateful to them,” Morris wrote.