Many remarkable people have lived in Palisades since it was first settled at the end of the 18th century, and some of them have written about their lives, or been written about by others. Reading these books is a very pleasant way to become familiar with our history. All of them are in the Palisades Free Library. reading about past residents to catch up on local history.

The first book we have about past Palisades is the Nicholas Gesner Diary. Nicholas was a farmer, born in 1765, whose house still stands on Closter Road. His diary is 1600 pages long, but it has been edited down to book length in Nicholas Gesner, 19th Century Farmer, by Alice Gerard. It tells the fascinating story of his life, his family problems and his sometimes difficult interactions with other community members.

Mary Lawrence Tonetti, born on Lawrence Lane in1868, was an unconventional young woman who became a sculptor and later created a haven for artists here by renting to them the houses she owned in Snedens Landing. She was a uniquely interesting character and we have three books about her. One is a short book about her life, titled simply Mary Lawrence Tonetti, written by the artist Barry Faulkner. Isabelle Savell wrote a fine book titled The Tonetti Years in Snedens Landing, and recently Mary’s granddaughter Mary Tonetti Dorra wrote a fictionalized account of Mary’s life titled Demeter's Choice.

Thomas W. Lamont, a tycoon of the gilded age born in 1870, wrote a book about the early part of his life titled My Boyhood in a Country Parsonage. The book is interesting but uneven. In 1929 he bought land in Palisades and built Lamont Hall, where he lived for the rest of his life; he died in 1948. His widow gave the property to Columbia University and it is now the site of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Robert M. Maciver, born in 1882 on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, became a sociologist, came to this country to teach, and built a house on Heyhoe Wood Road in Palisades in 1939. He wrote about his life in a very readable book titled As a Tale That Was Told: The Autobiography of R. M. Maciver.

Mildred Post Rippey was born here in 1901. She was a gifted writer who wrote poetry and reminiscences about growing up in Palisades. Her daughter Elaine Imady, born in 1934, collected these and published them in a delightful book titled Postscripts From Palisades. Later Elaine, who married a Syrian graduate student named Mohammed Imady and went to live in Syria and raise a family with him, wrote about her own life in Syria in a book titled Road to Damascus.

Margaret Parton, born in Palisades in 1915, matured late but eventually became a journalist who spent time as a correspondent for the Herald Tribune in Japan and India. Her autobiography, Journey Through a Lighted Room, is an enjoyable read and informative about the problems women faced at that time.

Lael Wertenbaker, whose family bought the Stone Barn in 1945, wrote a touching and controversial book about her husband Charles's death, titled Death of a Man, in the 1950s.

A number of artists and media figures have lived in Palisades for a while, and there are books about some of them. Tad Mosel and Gertrude Macy collaborated on Leading Lady, a biography of Katharine Cornell. Mike Wallace wrote a memoir, Between You and Me. Ellen Burstyn wrote about her life in a book titled Lessons in Becoming Myself.