In Oniontown – the notorious reclusive New York City community where rumors claimed “wild inbreds live in the dirt”

NEW details have surfaced about Oniontown, a notorious reclusive community where rumors have claimed “wild inbreds live in the dirt”.

Despite the allegations, the obscure New York enclave and the people who live there appear to be just trying to live their lives like everyone else.

A reclusive community in upstate New York has been a mystery for years


A reclusive community in upstate New York has been a mystery for yearsCredit: Flickr/Doug Kerr
Oniontown is a dirt road


Oniontown is a dirt roadCredit: Flickr/Doug Kerr

According to a 2012 VICE report, Oniontown isn’t really a town, but rather a small cul-de-sac full of dirt trailer homes.

Thanks to a memorable and unfortunate incident in which suburban youth visited the city and posted on YouTube, the community became associated with terms like “hillbilly, inbreeding, and drugs,” according to VICE.

The teenagers reportedly drove up the dirt road to marvel at the “little inbred hick village.”

Another teenager commented that they “are going to die”.

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In essence, they treated the village and its people as some kind of sideshow in the circus.

During another incident in 2008, two other gaping teenagers had stones thrown at them as the viral videos turned the place into a semi-tourist attraction for the curious teenagers, the Daily News reported.

They ended up in the hospital.

Another girl was reportedly hit in the head with a brick, VICE reported.

State Police investigator Eric Schaefer said at the time: “My advice is simple. If you’re not a resident of Oniontown, stay away.”

The interference from teenagers became so severe that police had to contact Google and YouTube to have the videos removed.

“Kids came from everywhere — Westchester, Fishkill, Cortlandt Manor,” an unnamed official told VICE.

“If we stopped them, they’d say ‘We’re lost,’ but they had Google Maps directions to Oniontown in the back seat.”

“What would you do if someone walked into your neighborhood and started making donuts and making fun of where you live and calling you names?” said another investigator.

“People would come in and hook up with them and that’s how they would react and then other people would react back and it just snowballed from there.

“They weren’t local kids. YouTube immortalized it.”


According to the VICE report, “residents in the city have a hard time” finding employment because of where they live.

According to VICE, they don’t get any mail from the post office.

However, the Times Union, a local newspaper, says this is not true.

The high school basketball team has had onions thrown on the court when away games are played.

People in Dover, the neighboring town, tend to scowl when the place comes up, referring to residents as “subhumans” and “hillbilly”.

According to VICE, the community’s first media report was in 1947 by International News Service reporter James L. Kilgallen.


“Imagine a community with no electric lights, no radio, no movie theater, no bathtub, where children seldom make it through eighth grade in school, where illiteracy abounds… rough, hard-boiled Oniontown is primitive,” wrote he.

With the harsh description of the city’s differences came an air of positivity.

“I doubt many rich people living in these estates are happier than the people we saw in Oniontown.

“Oniontown isn’t worried about income taxes or the atomic bomb.”

Betsy Kopstein Stuts, executive director of the Dutchess County Historical Society, admitted to VICE that there aren’t many facts about Oniontown.

So she shared the rumours.

She claimed the residents were inbred, and built Planned Parenthood nearby because families who lived with 10 people in a house became pregnant when they were 12 and 13.

Stuts called the relationship between Oniontown and nearby Dover “terrible”.

“If you move into a neighborhood and there’s a person who doesn’t mow their lawn and doesn’t paint their house and leaves trash outside, how do you feel about that person?” she said.

“You think and say I wish that person wasn’t here.”

“It’s definitely not fair. But can you stop people from talking? can you stop rumors You just can’t.”

However, Dover City Judge Renny Abrams told VICE that residents were being judged unfairly, even noting how he used to hang out with some in high school.

“Someone gets arrested for drugs – ‘Oniontown is a drug den.’ Someone got arrested for killing a deer out of season — ‘Oh, they’re lawless up there,'” he said of the stereotypes.

“How do you get all this back? How do you get out from under it? How do you heal Oniontown?

“I don’t think you can do that. It will stay like this forever. After all the people are dead and they bulldoze the place, all the mystery will still be there.”


In a rare interview, a family shared their life story with VICE.

Married couple Patty and Dick had a trailer with a Christmas tree and satellite TV.

Their 19-year-old grandchild dropped out of school and lived with them. Her other daughter and grandson were in prison.

However, Dick said it was the outside world that hardened him.

“Everyone thinks you’re lower class, not good, second rate,” he said.

“You will be teased and beaten.

“They say you’re inbred, and next you’re fighting three or four guys.

“You learn to fight and take care of yourself. I’ve fought all my life.

“My hands and knuckles are scarred and broken from the fight.”

He also said that they are not as dismissive of the outside world as they seem.

“Now if you come in and behave properly, everything will be fine.

“But if you come here looking for trouble, you’ll get trouble.”


Just like in 2012, a Dover resident told the Times Union in March that his neighbors are just trying to live like everyone else.

Dover City Warden Richard Yeno said residents are good people who “work every day, raise their own families and what they do with their own town is their own business.”

He even hunts with a man from Oniontown, he said.

Many residents work manual labor jobs like pruning trees, Yeno said.

As for the violent incidents, he said residents should be able to resist “people they don’t know going into their neighborhoods and shouting defamatory and rude comments.”

“It was all completely inappropriate,” he said.

“I watched the video on YouTube and if you’re looking for trouble, you’ve found it.

“These are good people who live there.”

Local resident Jarrett Hamel said he was scared of Oniontown as a teenager.

“Basically, you’ve never been there,” he said.

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“It’s out of the way, they’re going to throw things at you and all that.

“But then you grow up. To my knowledge these are just people trying to live there.” In Oniontown – the notorious reclusive New York City community where rumors claimed “wild inbreds live in the dirt”


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