James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 111 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 111 of 125)
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substitutes. No authentic record was ever kept of
the various enlistments, and the appended list of
soldiers is, therefore, necessarily meagre.f

iSojf/J Heg'i., Co. G.— John Sweet, 2nd Lieut,
died of typhoid fever in the hospital near Atlanta,
Ga., August 13, 1864; Alonzo Sweet, 2nd Ser-

• Died in i88o.

t For this account we are indebted to Dr. C. A. Nicliolson, of Beek-

geant; George Bierce, 4th Sergeant; James L.
Wood, I St Corporal; Cornelius Peters, died at
Alexandria, Va., September 26, 1863, 4th
Corporal; James R. De Long, 5th Corporal;
Isaac S. Warner, 6th Corporal; Henry Hirtzel,
7th Corporal; Zebulon Washburn, 8th Corporal;
Privates : Thomas S. Buckley, William E. Burnett,
William W. Donaldson, Amos D. Griffith, Harvey
Hill, Thomas Rosell, died after returning home ;
William H. Simpson, Philip Spencer, John S. War-
ner, died after his return home ; Edward WiUiams,
died at Beaufort; Warren C. Woodin, William Isaac
Woodin, died at Wilmington, N. C. ; Henry A.
Wilcox, died from measles, at Baltimore, Md. ;
Thomas W. Wright, died at Atlanta, Ga.

128^^ Jieg't, Co. Z>.— Charles A. Smith, 3d

Co. H. — ^John S. Fgsbay, 5th Corporal; John
James Woodin, William Henry Woodin, Isaac

Scattering. — Isaac Gardner, 16th Reg't, Battery
B, Heavy Artillery, died from fever, at Yorktown,
Va., January 13, 1864; George Washburne, 90th
Reg't., Co. E, died from wounds in the fall of 1864 ;
Gilbert F. Morey, first enlisted in Co. C, 57th
Reg't, N. Y. Infantry, and re-enlisted in Co. G,
i8th Regiment Cavalry; Charles King (colored,)
Co. I, 31st U. S. Colored Infantry; George King,
(colored,) Co. I, 31st U. S. Colored Infantry.

Regiments Unknotun. — Peter Davis, died in
army; John Davis, John Baker, John D. Baker,
John M. Griffin, Philip Davis.

Besides the above named volunteers, residents
of this town, the town also fiurnished all of its reg-
ular quota under the different drafts for soldiers —
mostly hired as substitutes for those that were— or
otherwise would have been — drafted.



Luman B. Odell was born in the town of Union
Vale, Feb. 23, 1826. He was a son of Daniel
Odell, and spent his early life, until twenty-one
years of age, in attending school and assisting his
father on the farm, and when of age took charge of
the farm and conducted it very successfully for the
ten or twelve years following.

April 21, 1853, he was united in marriage with
Mary, daughter of Jacob and Margaret Uhl Able,
of Union Vale, by whom he had three children as



Photo, by Merritt & Myers.




follows: — Daniel J. born Nov. ii, 1859, now living
West"; Wright B., born June 17, 1866 ; and Flora
M., born Feb. 7, 1871. Mr. Odell was a farmer
of more than ordinary ability, and a man of good
habits and great industry. He conducted the
farm formerly known as the VerPlanck farm, in
East . Fishkill, for about eight years. While
attending the raising of a barn owned by Sylvester
Haight, of the latter town, he was struck by a
falling timber and so severely injured as to cause
his death in about an hour. He left many friends
who greatly missed him in the daily routine of
life, and a great gloom was cast over the commu-
nity where he was best known. He'died'May 30,

Mrs. Odell, with her three children remained on
the farm during two years following the death of
her husband, when she purchased a farm of Henry
C. Brill, in Poughquag where she still resides. Her~
residence which is built of brick, with a mansard-
roof, is regarded as the finest in the town of Beek-
man. Mr. and Mrs. Odell both united with the
Clove Christian church of which Mrs. Odell is still
a member.


Samuel Brown was born in Centre county, Pa.,
May 29, 1822, and was son of Geo. W. Brown, a
practical mechanic and superintendent of the best
furnaces in the County. Samuel spent seven years
working under the superintendence of his father,
and receiving such instructions in the skill and
proper management of a furnace that he was capa-
ble, at the expiration of that time of taking charge
of any hard or soft coal furnace. When twenty-
three years of age he was given charge of a furnace
at Mill Hall, Penn., using hard coal; was afterward
for six years superintendent of a furnace in Wash-
ington, and from there went to the Howard fur-
nace. Centre county, Penn., where he remained five
years as manager and superintendent. Soon after
this Gen. John S. Shultz, now president of the
Clove Spring Iron Works, being informed of Mr.
Brown's qualifications as master mechanic in the
manufacture of pig-iron sent for him to take charge
of the works then owned by Brown & Beckley, in
the town of Beekman. This position he accepted
and in 1871 came with his family, taking charge as
superintendent and manager of the mines and fur-
nace and conducting them with great credit to him-
self and general satisfaction to the company, till
his death March 7, 1881.

Mr. Brown was united in marriage with Sarah
Britton of Centre county, Jan. 18, 1845, by whom
he had ten children, eight of whom are now living
as follows : Geo. W., who married Miss Aman
Lewis ; Caroline, wife of Henry McMuUen ; Mar-
garet, wife of Solomon Grubb ; John who married
Elizabeth Sprague ; Jennie C, wife of Walter E.
Purvis"; Mary C, wife of Henry Rudisill; Wharton
M., who married Clara A. Purvis, and Sarah, the
youngest of the family, wife of William Holman.

now superintendent of
The other- children all

Wharton M. Brown is
the Clove Spring Furnace,
reside in Beekman.

Mr. Brown early embraced the religious views of
the M. E. Church, of which he was a consistent
and conscientious member, as is proved by the in-
dustrious and frugal life he lived.


Peter Akin Skidmore was born in the town of
Beekman, Duchess County, April 14, 1832, in a

Photo, by Vail, Foughkeepsie


house Standing on a part of the farm now owned
by Amos Denton, near the Clove Spring Iron
Works. Shortly after his birth his parents removed
to near Beekmanville where he now resides.

He was married Dec. 26, 1856, to Ruth, daugh-
ter of Alfred and Charlotte Moore. They had
four children born to them, only one of whom is
now living, Alfred M.

Mr. Skidmore has spent most of his hfe on his
farm, quietly pursuing his peaceful avocation and
not entering into the turmoil of political life except
in worthily holding some of the minor offices of
his own town, but has always taken a keen interest
in the great questions of the hour.

Jesse Skidmore, his father, married Sarah,
.daughter of Peter Akin, by whom he had four
.children, but two of whom still survive, Peter A.
and Aridrew I. Skidmore. ^^

This old and well-known family is of German
decent and was originally settled in the northern
part of Long Island, at a place called Great Neck.
Andrew Skidmore and his wife Judith, great-grand-



parents to the subject of our sketch, came from
there about the middle of the last century. Mr.
Skidmore, who was a shoe-maker by trade, bought
a farm and mill in the town of Union Vale. The
mill, which was one of the first built in the Country,
was well known as the " Skidmore Mill." Mr.
Skidmore died in 1815 and was buried on his
farm, the one now owned by his grandson, Zophar
Skidmore. He had one brother, a bachelor, who
was murdered for a small sum of money in the
latter part of the last century.

Andrew Skidmore, son of the pioneer of the
same name, married Elizabeth Clapp, and always
Uved in Beekman and the adjoining towns, and
now sleeps with his wife and son, Jesse, in the Clove

History of the Town of Pawling.

THE town of PawUng lies in the southeastern
part of the County. It is bounded on the
north by Dover, on the south by Putnam county,
on the east by Connecticut, and on the west by
Beekman. A range of mountainous hills flank the
eastern and western borders, between which is a
broad and beautiful valley. The principal streams
are Swamp and Croton rivers, which have their
source in this valley. The bodies of water are
Whaley, Oblong, and Little Ponds, and Green
Mountain Lake. The latter lies near the viUage
of Pawling, and derives its name from a mountain
crowned by a growth of evergreens. Whaley and
Little Ponds, in the western part of the town, form
the source of the Fishkill. The former is the larg-
est of these ponds, and contains some natural
curiosities, in the shape of floating islands, densely
covered with verdure.

On the 20th of May, 1769, an act was passed
dividing Beekman's Precinct * into two precincts,
the one to be called Beekman's, and the other
Pawling's Precinct. The latter included the present
towns of Pawling and Dover. Nearly twenty
years thereafter, or on the 7 th of March, 1788,
PawUng was formed as a town, embracing within
its limits the present town of Dover, which was
taken off" and erected into a separate township in
1807. The town derived its name from the
Paulding family. In a history of a member of this
family— James K. Paulding— it is stated that the
original family name was Pawling, to which ren-
dition, so far as is known, custom has always con-

• Beekman's Precinct was formed Dec. l6, 1737, and embraced the
towns of Beekman, Pawling, Dover— except the Oblong—Union Vale
■and a portion of LaGrange.

The pioneer settler of this town was probably
Nathan Birdsall, who located on Quaker Hill in
the Autumn of 1728. He was a native of Long
Island, born of Quaker parents about the year
1700. He received the education of a common
school, to which he afterward added surveying.

At the age of about twenty-six he married Jane
Langdon, a young Quakeress, and two years later,
their eldest son, John, being then an infant, they
collected a few articles of the plainest furniture
and some rude implements of agriculture, bade
adieu to Long Island, and started in the direction
of Quaker Hill. After a tedious journey of some
days they arrived in the vicinity of Danbury, Conn.,
and found that they could proceed no further with
a wagon, there being no road but a bridle path.
Here, at night, one of their horses made its escape,
and was not found until the next spring. Procuring
another, and transferring a portion of their luggage
to the backs of the horses, they pursued their
lonely way, and after a tedious journey arrived
safely on the scene of their future labors. Mr.
Birdsall purchased his land of the Nine Partners
Company, on which, previous to the removal of his
family, he had erected a log house and barn, on
land since owned by Albro Haines. Mr. Birdsall
died at the advanced age of nearly ninety. His
wife survived him some years, and died at the same
place and at about the same age. Their remains
rest in the old burial ground near Haviland Hol-
low. His four sons were John, James, Nathan
and Benjamin. James married a daughter of Da-
vid Akin, the grandfather and great-grandfather of
the Akins now living here. He died about the
year 1815, at an advanced age. Nathan, probably
the first white child bom on Quaker Hill, was a
farmer and lived for many years on the place since
owned by Abram Hoag, in Dover. Benjamin, or
Colonel Ben., as he was callecf, though an orthodox
Quaker, abandoned his creed to join the army,
received a Colonel's commission and served accept-
ably during the war. He died in Chenango county
in 1828, aged eighty-five. John died at Unadilla,
in the year 1815, aged eighty-eight. Some of his
descendants are yet living here.* The Birdsall
name is extinct in Pawling.

The next settler on Quaker Hill was Benjamin
Ferris, for many years a preacher in the denomi-
nation of Friends.

Between the years 1730 and 1740, there was a
considerable tide of emigration to Quaker Hill.
Among those who came at that period were John

* Nathaniel Pearce is a grandson of John Birdsall.



Hoag, Jedediah Wing, David Akin, Moses Bowdy,
Jesse Irish and Nehemiah Merritt. They were
mostly Quakers.

Among the Friends of this period was Paul Os-
born, Sr., who was born, if report is correct, in
Essex county, Mass., — in what year is unknown —
and who located on the farm since owned by Will-
iam Osborn. He is mentioned as being a contempo-
rary of David and Benjamin Ferris, with whom he
occasionally traveled on their missionary tours. He
accumulated here a considerable property, the
bulk of which he, being childless, left to his nephew,
Isaac Osborn,* with the proviso that he should al-
ways keep a house of entertainment for the benefit
of the traveling ministry, and whenever he failed
to do so the estate was to revert to the Friends'
Society, of Philadelphia. He died about the year
1780, and it is said of his descendants that they
have scrupulously obeyed the letter and the spirit
of his will, both to the Society of Friends and to

David Akin, who came to Quaker Hill with the
influx of settlers between 1730 and '40, and settled
south of the Birdsall place, was a descendant of
John Akin, who emigrated from Scotland to Rhode
Island in 1680. At about the same time Elisha
Akin and his wife Elizabeth whose first son was
born in 1739, emigrated to Quaker Hill. Whether
he was brother to David Akin or not is not known,
but it is assumed that from these two originated
the different families of that name in the town.

Another of the early pioneers, and a man of con-
siderable prominence in his time, was Benjamin
Sherman, who was born in New Bedford, Mass.,
somewhere about the year 1735. He received the
limited education which the schools of those days
afforded, and at an early age followed the nautical
instincts of the New Bedford youth and went to
sea, where, on a whaling voyage, he with a boat's
crew, lost the ship and for five days suffered all the
hardships of the cast-away. On the fifth day he
and one or two of his comrades were picked up by
a ship — the only survivors of a crew of eight or
ten. This closed his nautical career, and in the
spring of 1764 he found his way to Quaker Hill,
where he began his landsman's life as a journeyman
carpenter. In that year was built the present
church edifice of the Quakers, on which he
worked during the season, and was soon pro-
moted to the position -of "boss" carpenter, the
former overseer having given dissatisfaction to the

* Isaac Osborn died June lo, 1839, aged ninety-five years six months.
He was the father of Paul Osborn, Jr., who died July 27, '867, aged

Friends. In the fall of that year he returned to
his wife in New Bedford, with whom in the spring
of 1765 he came back and purchased a farm at the
foot of Quaker Hill, since owned by John Kirby,
and now in the possession of Archibald Dodge.
Here were born most of his children, nine sons and
two daughters. Their names were Jethro, Darius,
Benjamin, Abiel, Ezra, William, Shadrach, Michael,
Uriel, Sylvia and Deborah. Mr. Sherman estab-
lished himself in the business of wagon making as
well as in farming, to which occupation his sons
were early introduced, and for many years- the
"Sherman wagon" enjoyed an enviable popularity
throughout this section of the State.

Settlements were undoubtedly made on Quaker
Hill and on the West Mountain, and the land there
was probably in quite an advanced state of culti-
vation, prior to the settlement of the valley through
which runs the Harlem Railroad. It is said that
about 1740 there was no house on the post-road,
running from Albany to New York, between Mrs.
George P. Tabor's and the Alfred Wing place,
then known as the Harrington place. In about
that year there was a considerable emigration into
the valley of Pawling from the east, mainly from
Rhode Island.

Among the settlers who came into the Pawling
Valley at about the period mentioned were William
and Daniel Hunt, Comfort Shaw, Nathan and
Henry Gary, Jeremiah Sabin, Ephraim Nichols,
Abraham Slocum, John Salmon, William Hallaway
and Nathan Pearce.

William and Daniel Hunt were brothers, and lo-
cated on the place since owned by Samuel H.
Adee. That family long since removed from this
section and the name has become extinct.

Gomfort Shaw was a native of the Eastern States,
and possessed the enterprising spirit characteristic
of the New Englander, but with a love for roving
not so frequently found in the denizen of the East.
The first that is definitely known of him was when
he owned the place now in the possession of Na-
thaniel Pearce, where he built a house and barn
and set out an orchard, which from its extent and
appearance, must have been one of the first in the
valley. He married either the daughter or sister
of Nathan Gary, the great-grand sire of the Carys
who formerly resided here.

Henry Gary came here about the year 1730,
probably from Great Barrington, Mass. He was
a graduate of some New England college, and was
the first regularly ordained and salaried minister
in this town. He located on the West Mountain



on the place since known as the Amos Wooden
farm. He was a Puritan of the most uncompro-
mising pattern, and was " after the straitest sect of
his religion," a Calvinist. Mr. Gary began his
ministerial labors in his own house, where for
several years he continued them every Sabbath
day, but without witnessing many very promising
signs of success. As his membership and congre-
gation increased he began to hold services in the
houses of his parishioners, who, it would appear,
never became prosperous enough to build a house
for public worship. In this way his services were
continued for many years.

Jeremiah Sabin was born in Pomfret, Conn.,
about the year 1720, and came to this town with
the influx of settlers from the East, probably about
1740. He was a blacksmith by trade, and a man
of great physical strength and excellency of char-
acter. He built a house on the east side of the
turnpike on the land since owned by B. H. Van-
derburgh, and afterwards bought of Henry Beek-
man, the patentee of the Precinct, a tract of some
two thousand acres.

Ephraira Nichols came from Stratford, Connect-
icut, and hid at one time been High Sheriff of
that, then. Colony. He came here some years
prior to the outbreak of the Revolution, and
bought the place since owned by the heirs of D. P.
Wooden. He was for a number of years an inn-
keeper. He had four sons, John, Joseph, Elijah
and Ephraim.

Another settler, who located on the West Mount-
ain, was James Stark, Sr. He married the eldest
daughter of Rev. Henry Cary between 1755 and
1758, and with her emigrated to the Wyoming

In the war of the Revolution the cause of the
Colonies found ardent supporters in what is now
the town of Pawling. Among those who rendered
efficient aid in that struggle for National independ-
ence, none are more worthy of honorable mention
than the family of Nathan Pearce. This family
trace their origin to John Pearce, a Welchman,
who, with his three sons, emigrated to this country
about the year 1660. The first one of this name
of whom anything definite is known, was Nathan
Pearce, Sr., a grandson of the John above men-
tioned, from whom was descended the family of
that name in this town. He was born in Provi-
dence, in the Colony of Rhode Island, in the year
1706. He first settled in North Kingston, Wash-
ington county, Rhode Island, where four of his
children were born. From there he went to Pru-

dence Island where he lived some years, as three
of his children were born there. He then removed
to Providence where his two youngest children
were born. About the year 1760 he came to
Pawling, his youngest son. Colonel WiUiam Pearce,
being then fifteen years old.* He first located on
the place since owned by O. S. Dykeman, and in
the year 1767 he purchased the place now owned by
Nathaniel Pearce, where he lived through all the
turbulous period of the Revolution.

In 1778, when Pg,wUng was formed as a town,
Nathan Pearce, Sr., was elected the first Supervisor,
which office he .filled with credit to himself and to
the satisfaction of his townsmen. He died in 1790,
at the age of eighty-four.

Captain William Pearce. towards the close of the
war, received a Colonel's commission. After the
war he held the of&ce of Supervisor, and was a
Justice of the Peace from 1785 to 1801. About
that time he was elected to the Legislature, where
he served two terms. He died in January, 1813.

The descendants of this family are quite numer-
ous in the town, and still rank among its ablest
citizens. To Nathaniel Pearce, a grandson of Col.
William, we are indebted for much valuable assist-
ance in this history of Pawling. A man of letters
by nature, he has taken more than an ordinary in-
terest in local and general historical events, and
the results of his labors, both published and un-
published, were kindly placed at our disposal. Mr.
Pearce was born in Pawling in 1809, on the farm
on which he lives, and which has been in the pos-
session of his family since 1767.

General Washington had for a time his head-
quarters in PawUng. In this town was ^so held
the trial by courtmartial of General Schuyler on
an accusation of cowardice and treason at the
loss of Ticonderoga; in the summer of 1777.!
The trial was held on the ist of October, 1778,
in the house in which Washington at one time
had his headquarters, — the "Kirby House," at
the foot of Quaker Hill, then owned by Reed

Schuyler was accused not only of cowardice and
treachery, but of using the public money for his
private benefit. These charges came at a time
when he had placed the invading army of Burgoyne
in the most extreme peril, and was prepared to
stirike those invaders a crushing blow.

General Gates, who was Schuyler's enemy, and
whose, previous plottings had been disastrous to

* His other sons were Benoni, Ephraim and Nathan.

t From a sketch by Benson J Lossing.

t This house was built by Reed Ferris, in 1771.


iS*. N. Y. (Erected by Hon. John B. Dutcher in i88i.)



him, was appointed by Congress to the Comnnand
of the Northern Department, succeeding Schuyler
in August, 1777. Schuyler demanded a court-
martial, to which demand Congress for some time
paid no attention, and for a year justice was denied
him. At length, after frequent appeals to Con-
gress to bring him to trial, a courtmartial was
convened to try him in the house above named.

This house is now destroyed. It stood on the
site of the present residence of Archibald Dodge,
on the more southerly road leading from Pawling
Station to Quaker. Hill, and about half way be-
tween the two points. It had been occupied by
Washington when a portion of the Continental
army lay in that vicinity, and at the time of the
trial it was the headquarters of General Lincoln,
who acted as the President of the Court.

The records of the town were destroyed by fire
on the night of May 4, 1859. By that disaster was
lost much valuable matter relating to the early
days of the town and precinct. The books now in
the clerk's office contain no record of yearly
elections previous to 1854. From that date to
1881 the succession of Supervisors and Clerks has
been as follows : —

Supervisors. Clerks.

1854. Sherman Howard, George T. Noble,
i^ss- James Craft, Joseph P. Hazelton.

1856. Sherman Howard, Edward Merritt.

1857. , William H. Taber, Joseph P. Hazelton.

1858. , TheroiiM. Green, Albert Woodin.

1859. James Craft, Henry C. Swords.
i860. Asa B. Corbin, Darius Chase.
1861-62. Samuel A. Barn um, John Ferris.
1863. David R. Gould, Darius Chase.
1864-65. do do A. T. Merritt.

1866. J. Wesley Stark, do do

1867. John J. Vanderburgh, do do

1868. do do Theron W. Stark.
i869-'7o. J. Wesley Stark, Miah Peck. .
i87i-'72. John B. Dutcher, PhiHp H. Smith.

1873. William B. Ross, John J. Ferris.

1874. do do Fernando Olmstead.
1875-76. JedediahJ.Wanzer,James S. Pearce.

1877. William J. Merwin, do do

1878. do do Sewell White.
1879-81. Albert W. Corbin, James S. Pearce.


The village of Pawling or PawUng Station, as it
is more familiarly known, on the line of the Harlem
Railroad, is the only important settlement in the
town. It contains according to the last census, a
population of 580,* and is a shipping point of con-
siderable importance.

• The population of the town is st,oc6.
113 foreign, 9 colored.

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 111 of 125)