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

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corporated in the walls erected by the latter.

Although, as in the deed above quoted, there
seems to have been no mills here in 1725, the
mills afterward built on the White Clay kill and
Saw kill were a prominent feature of the earlier
times.

On the Saw kill — so named because the first use
made of it was to turn saw-mills, — at one time
stood Judge Livingston's mill at the river ; Gen-
eral Armstrong's mill at Cedar Hill ; VanBen-
thuysen's mill, and a woolen factory, in the same
place ; the Chancellor's (now Hendrick's) mill, in
the interior ; and Robert G. Livingston's mill on
the Rock City branch.

The White Clay kill, so-called because some where
it runs through, or from, a layer of white clay, had at
one time at its mouth the mill of Jannetje Bradt,
Park's mill at Myersville, (Madalin,) Cook's factory,
and Zachariah Hoffman's mill. But very Uttle mill-
ing is done on this stream now.

Lossing, in his " Field Book of the American
Revolution," (Vol. I, 389,) speaks of the British
having burned the Livingston mills above referred
to. An antiquarian of Red Hook,* a gentleman
well informed on the earlier history of the town,
is perhaps the first who ever put on paper the sit-
uation of these mills. Not a vestige of them now
remains. They consisted of a very fine grist- mill,
for that era, and a saw-mill which did an immense
business, and were located at the south Cove, at
the mouth of the Saw kill, a creek which empties
into the Hudson river just north of what is known
as General Montgomery's house, f

Mr. Winegar, who married George H. Ellsworth's
aunt, and who was a carpenter's apprentice at Up-
per Red Hook landing in i8io,f told General de
Peyster that when he came here he often heard the
people talk about the burning of these mills by the
British. " My father,'' said Mr. Winegar, " was a

•Gen. J. Watts de Peyster.

t Gen. Montgomery never lived on this place, but his widow did.

J Died about three years ago.



soldier under Putnam in 1777, and the battalion to
which he belonged followed the British fleet up the
river from FishkiU, but kept out of the reach of
their guns. His company was posted on a range
of hills back of the river, north of Mr. Tanner's
place, on what is now known as the Saulpaugh
Ridge. Putnam's troops saw the smoke of the
British burnings, and a detachment was pushed
down to the edge of the water, near the mouth of
White Clay (now Ham's) creek."*

As at the mouth of the Saw kill, there were a
grist-mill and saw-mill, and also a brick-yard at tlie
mouth of White Clay kill.

At that time, and for many years afterward, there
was an artificial channel from deep water through
another " Vly " into the estuary of White Clay
kill, as far as the tide flowed, or nearly up to the
falls. Through this channel sailing sloop scows
went in for freight. It has been said that sloops
could also enter here, but doubtless reference was
made to what the British used for transporting
troops— flat bottomed boats with sails.

The North Cove mentioned was once very deep
water, and has been filled up rather by the subsi-
dence of the clay banks surrounding it than by de-
posits. To show the great depth of the alluvial
deposit,, the railroad company have driven piles
seventy feet long on the Cruger " Vly," without
finding any solid matter, the piles there being sus-
tained by suction. On the Johnston Livingston
place, within twenty-five years, about three acres
settled over eighty feet, so steadily and without
shock, that the trees on the sunken ground were not
in the least disturbed from their positions.

This mass seemed to settle into a bed of semi-
liquid blue clay mud which was crushed up into a
point outside in the bay. A short time after this
subsidence a second section of about the same
area, and inside the first, also sank down ; but this
settlement seemed to encounter a denser substra-
tum, because it was forced up under the first sub-
sidence and overthrew the trees which had hitherto
stood in their natural positions.

Mr. Winegar, to quote from him again, also
said that the dock at which all the freighting was
done still remained at Reade Hook, now Johnston
Livingston's Point, but the store-houses were gone.
Just inside of Reade Hook, and between it and the
sinking ground, the hull of Chancellor Livingston's
or rather Fulton's first regular North River passen-
ger steamboat was built. In this enterprise Fulton

• This empties into the North Cove, the Saw kill into the South Cove,
and these two were separated by a " Vly ' now traversed by the cause-
way to what is known as Cruger's Island.



176



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



was aided by Livingston, the latter furnishing the
money. Mr. Winegar took the census of this
town in 1825, under the State law, and there were
then over two hundred and eighteen slaves in the
town.* It "is doubtful if there are one hundred
negroes, or anything like it, now to be found
therein, t

Mr. Winegar was present in 1824^ when the
Marquis de LaFayette landed, and shook hands
with him. The landing-place was at Livingston's
dock, about two miles above Tivoli. All the Revo-
lutionary soldiers from this neighborhood were
drawn up in line to receive him.

General de Peyster's father-in-law, John Swift Liv-
ingston, who bought the country seat where Gilbert
R. Livingston lived during the Revolution, told him
that the British detachment that burned the Liv-
ingston mansions, above Upper Red Hook land-
ing, now Tivoli, disembarked at the dock opposite
the south-west corner of his place; thence they
marched up through the woods to the work of
destruction. Gilbert R. Livingston was a loyalist,
and had been an officer in the British service, and
his was the only dwelling spared by the British.

Mr. Winegar, above quoted, said that when he
was a lad this place was considered the handsom-
est on the river, and was traditionally so. The
mills here, perhaps the oldest in the town, were
built, according to tradition, by Gilbert Livingston,
the second son of the first lord of the manor. The
old house, with an enormous central chimney, on
an elevation south-west of the mills, must, in whole
or in part, be equally as old. The house passed
into the hands of his grand-daughter, Helen, who
married Commissary-General Hake, of the British
forces in the Province.

Robert Gilbert Livingston, second son of the
first lord of Livingston manor, married Cornelia,
daughter of the noted patentee, Col. Henry Beek-
man, and was one of the earliest settlers and land
owners of the town of Red Hook. He received
from his father one-seventh part of Saratog, (Sara-
toga.) He died in 1746. His eldest daughter,
Margaret, married Peter Stuyvesant of New York,
another daughter Joannah married General Pierre
Van Cortlandt, one of the most prominent patri-
ots of this State during the Revolution ; and a third
daughter, AUda, married Henry Van Rensselaer,
whose son, Jeremiah, was Lieutenant-Governor of
this State from 1801 to 1804.

Gilbert Livingston was County clerk of Ulster,

- * The final abolition of slavery in this State occurred the 4th or sth of
July, 1827.

tThe State census of 1875 gives the colored population as 86.



a much more important and respected office in
those than in later days. He built the Livingston
Mills, and the old house on the hill which was
afterward occupied by his great-grandson, Samuel
Hake, Jr., and which was the scene of much semi-
barbarous luxury and display characteristic of the
living of rich country land owners of a century
ago. Gilbert's son, Robert Gilbert, was one of
the Livingstons who remained loyal to the Crown
during the Revolutionary War, and suffered in
consequence. He married Catharine McPheadres,
whose father built the famous residence now
known as the Warner Sherburne, or Whipple
House at Portsmouth, N. YL., which, with its
grounds and gardens, cost a sum at that time equal
to the most lavish expenditure made for such an
object in these days. In land, Robert Gilbert
Livingston was an enormously wealthy man, and
large areas which came through him are still held
by the descendants of his daughters who married
General Hake and John Reade.

Gilbert Livingston's son, Gilbert Robert, occu-
pied the only mansion (Green Hill) which was
spared by the British in 1777, as before mentioned.

Robert Gilbert Livingston was grand-father to
Helen, who, as previously stated, married General
Hake, whose daughter Helen married Frederic
de Peyster, father .to Frederic de Peyster Jr., the
present venerable president of the New York His-
torical Society.

Harry or Henry Gilbert Livingston, who built
the only house on the river's bank which the British
spared in 1777, built directly after the Revolution,
the mansion now belonging to Mrs. Kidd. He sold
the house and lands at Green Hill on the river to
his brother, Gilbert Robert, who, because he had
held a commission under the Crown, had this
property spared. West of this house of Mrs.
Kidd's, under the hill, and down near the creek,
embodied in the present building, are remains of
one of the oldest houses in tlie town, and was the
dwelling belonging to the mills which were at the
mouth of the White Clay kill, below the falls.
This house, in 1777, was occupied by the Ameri-
can forces watching the British fleet lying in the
channel from Cruger's Island up to the Columbia
county line.

One of the most distinguished citizens who ever
settled in the town of Red Hook, was General John
Armstrong, of the Revolutionary Army, better
known, perhaps, as the anonymous author of "The
Newburgh Addresses" than for services of much
more importance to the country. Washington at



TOWN OF RED HOOK.



177



first condemned these letters, but in 1797 he did
justice to their author, and in a letter assured
Armstrong that he believed his object to have
been just, honorable, and of service to America.
General Armstrong was born at Carlisle, Penn-
sylvania, November 25th, 1758. At the age of
seventeen he left his studies at Princeton College
and entered the army of the ifevolution as a
private in a regiment from his native State. He
afterward became Aide-de-camp and Major in the
Revolutionary army, under General Horatio Gates.
He was Secretary of State to Governor Franklin,
of Pennsylvania, and Adjutant General of that
State. He subsequently married Alida, sister to
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, of Clermont,
Columbia County, N. Y., and at once became as
influential in his adopted as he had been in his
native State.

In 1797 he was owner of the Bard property at
.Annandale, and of the mill at Cedar Hill, and
occupied the mansion on the estate, which, it is
said, was built by him. In 1801 he accepted the
ofiice of United States Senator, which was tendered
him by an unanimous vote of both branches of the
Legislature. In 1803 he was re-elected to this
office, which he retained until 1804, when he re-
signed it to accept the mission to France, as suc-
cessor to his brother-in-law, Chancellor Livingston.
This position he retained seven years. After his
return from France he purchased an estate on
the Hudson, south of Barrytown, on which he
built a fine, and in some respects curiously arrang-
ed mansion, which, after his daughter, Margaret,
married William B. Astor, became the property of
that gentleman, who in the course of time added
largely to the area of the domain. This place is
known as " Rokeby."

Toward the close of his life General Armstrong
built a less spacious dwelling in the village of Red
Hook, which is now occupied by his son, Col.
Henry Beekman Armstrong, the only surviving
child, and the last survivor of Margaret Beekman's
grand-children. In this house he died, April 1st,
1843, and his remains are interred in the family
vault in the cemetery at Rhinebeck.

Col. Henry B. Armstrong is one of the few
living distinguished officers of the war of 18 12.
His first commission was Captain of the 13th In-
fantry, April 19, 1812. He was severely wounded
at the assault on Queenstown Heights, October
13, 1812. He was promoted to Major of the 23d
Infantry in April, 1S13. He distinguished himself
at Stony Creek on the 6th of June of the same



year. In March, 18 14, he was transferred to the
4th Rifles, and on the 17th of September, 1814,
he became Lieut.-Colonel of the ist Rifles.

Gen. John Armstrong had three other sons in
the United States Army and war of 1812, —
Horatio G., William, and John, Jr. Another son,
Kosciusco, named for the celebrated Polish patriot,
was as remarkable for his literary attainments as
were the others for their military services.

A large portion of the land about what is now
known as Tivoli, was owned by .the Hoffman's, a
quite prominent family here something more than
a century ago, who purchased a portion of the
Schuyler patent which had lapsed.

In 1722, as before stated, Peter Schuyler had
the upper fourth of his patent (that fourth which
he sold to Harme Gansevoort,) surveyed and
divided into thirteen lots, seven of which he set
over to " Lowrance Knickerbacker, Cornelius
Knickerbacker, Evert Knickerbacker, all of Duch-
ess County ; Anthony Bogardus, of Albany, and
Janetje, his wife; and Jan Vosburgh, of the said
Duchess County, and Cornelia, his wife; sons and
daughters of Harme Jans Knickerbacker, deceased.
In 1766 Jan Vosburgh, and Cornelia, his wife,
Lowrance Knickerbacker and Hans Jury Lound-
ert, all of Rhinebeck precinct, in Duchess County,
of the one part, and Anthony Hoffman, of Kingston,
Ulster County, Zacharias Hoffman, of Rhinebeck,
of the other part, agree to divide a certain tract of
land lying adjacent to the south of the manor of Liv-
ingston, apparently belonging to them in common.
Either by this) division at that time or at an
earlier date and in another manner, the Hoffmans
became the owners of lands at the river about
Tivoli, and about the old Red Church and the
Hoffman Mills, northeast of Tivoh ; and they were
freighters, storekeepers, and millers before and
after the Revolutionary War."

One of this family had, for those times, a very
fine and spacious stone dwelling, of which not a
vestige now remains. This mansion stood in a
grove of locust trees, at the extreme point of the
domain now owned by Johnston Livingston,
where there are still to be seen vestiges of the dock
belonging to the first freighting establishment at
what is now Tivoli. On an old map of those days
this point is known as " Hoffman's Ferry."

" Holgate," continues Smith, " in his genealo-
gies, says these Hoffmans were descendants of
Martinus Hoffman, of Sweden, who settled at
Shawangunk, in Ulster county. His son, Nicholas,
married Jannitje Crispell, daughter to Antonie



lyS



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



Crispell, a Huguenot, one of the patentees of New
Paltz, and thus transmitted some of the best blood
of France in the veins of his descendants. He
says he settled in Kingston. He was evidently the
Nicholas Hoffman who owned land in the precmct
of Rhinebeck as early 172S, and was a free-holder
here in 1740. He had no son Nicholas, and his
grandson of that name was not born at this date.

" Nicholas Hoffman and Jannitje Crispell had
five children :— Martinus, born in 1706 ; Anthony,
born in 171 1 ; Zacharias, born in 1713; Petrus,
born in 1727 ; Maria, born 1 730. There is here a
space of fourteen years between Zacharias and
Petrus, which Holgate ought to have accounted for.
" Martinus Hoffman married Tryntje Benson,
daughter of Robert Benson and Cornelia Roos,for
a first wife, and the widow, Alida Hansen, daughter
of Philip Livingston, the second lord of the manor,
for a second; and was thus brother-in-law to Rev.
Dr. John H. Livingston. By Tryntje Benson he
had nine children, as follows :— Cornelia, born in
Kingston, Aug. 13, 1734; Robert, born in Kings-
ton, Sept, 17, 1737 ; Anthony, born in Red Hook,
Aug. I, 1739;* Maria born June 20, 1743 ; Martin,
born in Red Hook, January 12, 1747, baptized in
the Camp Church, July 3, 1747; Zacharias, born
in Red Hook, May 10, 1749, baptized in the Rhine-
beck German Reformed Church at Pink's Corners,
June 2, 1749; Jane, born February 14, 1752;
Harmanus, born January 3, 17 45; Nicholas, born
1756; he had one child by Alida Hansen Living-
ston, Philip L., born December 28, 1767."

Philip Livingston Hoffman married Helen Kis-
sam. They had seven children, — Catharine Ann,
Alida, Helen, Hannah, Philip, Richard Kissam,
Adrian Kissam. The latter had several children,
among them John T. Hoffman, ex-Governor of
New York.

Martinus Hoffman was a Justice of the Peace
for Duchess County in 1750-51. In 1755 he
owned ten slaves, the largest number held by any
one person in the precinct. He was doubtless a
man of large property and influence. His son,
Anthony, was supervisor of the town of Rhinebeck
from 1 781 to 1785. He was Colonel, and member
of the ist, 3d, and 4th Provincial Congresses.

Anthony, brother to Martinus, resided in Kings-
ton. His son, Nicholas, married Edy Sylvester,
of New York, and resided in Red Hook. The
latter's son, Anthony, married, first, Miss Pell ;
second, Ann Cornelia, daughter of Isaac Stouten-
burgh and Ann Heermance, aunt to Rev. H.

•Died 1790.



Heermance, of Rhinebeck. By his first wife his
children were : Jane, born March 15, 1808 ; Laura,
born November, 1809 ; Nicholas, born October
181 1 ; Mary Ann, born January, 18 14, married
Andrew Pitcher. By the second wife the chil-
dren were : Edward, Cornelia, Charles, Augustus,
Elizabeth, Francis, Frederick, Anna, Catharine,
Howard, Caroline. Cornelia, of this family, mar-
ried John M. Keese, and had two children — Char-
lotte Suydam and Anthony Hoffman Keese.

Col. Martinus Hoffman's wife was Tryntje Ben-
son. Egbert Benson was a Member of Congress
from 1789 to 1793. We assume that he was a
relative, if not a brother, of Mrs. Martinus Hoff-
man. John S. Livingston bought land of Egbert
Benson in 17 15, and we assume they were the
premises on which he resided, and on which Egbert
Benson resided when he went to Congress from
Red Hook.

The burial ground in which were interred some
of the members of the Hoffman family was on a
sand bluff overlooking Tivoli Landing, back of the
Farmers' Hotel, and now a portion of the estate of
Col. Johnston L. de Peyster. This is the oldest
grave yard in this section of the country, and in
which there has been no recorded or remembered
interment within the present century.

This, says General de Peyster, was once a very
pretty spot, shaded by quite a grove of large, wild
plum trees, beneath which there were a considera-
ble number of tomb-stones, several quite costly for
the era in which they were placed, besides others
of less pretension. The vandalism which denuded
this spot of its trees for fire-wood was not as bad
as that which had previously made spoil of the
memorials. It is said that the brick supports and
foundations of the slabs were appropriated to other
uses, and the slabs themselves, in some instances,
converted into flag stones.

Here, on this ancient Hill of the Dead, lying
flat on the ground, and yearly wasting away by the
elements, are still to be seen several slabs of red
sandstone, erected to the memory of those who
peopled this locality nearly a century and a half
ago.

The oldest of these slabs bears date 1764, and
bears this inscription : —

" In memory of Mrs. Hannah Vosburgh,
daughter of Col. John Ashley, of Sheffield* She
was married to Mr. Martin Vosburgh Jan. nth
Anno Domini 1764, & departed this life tlte 30th
of June follow Being 19 years, 7 months & 28
Days of age."

* Massachusetts.



TOWN OF RED HOOK.



179



The next, in order of date, bears this inscrip-
tion : —

" Here lies interred the Body of Tryntie Hoff-
man, wife of Col. Martin Hoffman, who departed
this Life March 31, 1765, in the 53 year of her
age."

Another stone, commemorative of the Lowrance
Knickerbacker, before mentioned, bears these
words : —

" Here lies the Body of Mr. Lowrance Knicker-
backer, who di'd ye 20th of December and was
buryed ye 22, in the 82nd year of his age in ye year
1766."

The last on which the record is legible is
" Helena Van Wyck, wife of Zacharias Hoff-
man, who departed this life April 3. 1773, aged 53
years & 3 months."

In the grounds of General de Peyster, just back
of St. Paul's church, and facing his vault, is an old
sandstone monument bearing this inscription :

"In Memory of John Vosburgh, Was born No-
vember : the 5 : 1680 : and Departed this Life May
the: 28: 1775: aged: 94: Years: 6: Months
and : 23 : Days."

This stone was thrown out by the frost and
washed down from the old burial ground on the
bluff, and was recovered from a barnyard below by
direction of General de Peyster, who transferred it
to his own grounds.

This old burial ground is now a pasture; the
few stones lie prone and crumbling on the ground,
under the quaint head stone of Lowrance Knick-
erbacker the fowls have hid their nests,* and the
names even of those who rest on that commanding
bluff have almost passed from the memory of a
majority of the residents of the town.

"Barent Van Benthuysen, who bought one-fourth
of the present town of Red Hook from Peter
Schuyler, in 1725, was a native of Albany. He
married in Kingston, April ,17th, 1699, Altje,
daughter of Jan Elting, and widow of Aart Ger-
ritse, eldest son of Gerrit Aartsen. He became
a widower, and married for a second wife Jannetje,
daughter of Gerrit Aartsen, on the 21st of April,
1701. The children of Gerrit Aartsen took Van
Wagenen for a family name, after the Dutch cus-
tom, because his father came from a place in Hol-
land called Wageninge, in Gilderland, ten miles
west of Arnheim. And we learn from the Kings-
ton church records that Barent Van Benthuysen
and Jannetje Van Wagenen had children baptized
as follows: Gerrit, Jan. 25, 1702; Jan, Feb. 6,
1704; Catryntje, Sept. 28, 1707 ; Anna, May 7,

tThis stone was slightly raised, and at the time of oiirvisit, June 17,
1881, a hen's nest was partially hidden beneath it.



1710; Peter, Feb. 24, 1712; Jacob, Oct. 3, 1714;
Abraham, Aug. 24, 1718.

Barent Staats, another of the partners to the pur-
chase of the Schuyler patent in 1725, disposed of
most, if not all, of his lands to other parties, some
of it passing into the possession of the Van Ben-
thuysens and Heermances, who seemed to have
moved out of Kingston to Red Hook together, at
an early date, and simultaneously with the Hoff-
mans and Elmendorfs. Hendricus Heerraance,
whose wife was Annatjen Van Wagenen, settled
in Rhinebeck, and had six children ; Andries
Heermance, who married Neeltje Van Wagenen,
remained in Kingston later, and had fourteen
children. It is probable that nearly, if not quite
all. their children settled on the lands of Barent
Van Benthuysen and Barent Staats in the north
part of the precinct of Rhinebeck.* * * » *
Eleanor Heermance, daughter to Jacob Heer-
mance, of Kingston, probably son of Andries
Heermance and Neeltje Van Wagenen, married
Peter Contine. They lived in the village of Upper
Red Hook from 1785 to 1 791, the road east of the
village during the time being from Warachkameek
to Peter Contine's. We assume that his pursuit
was that of a merchant, for we find him, after this
date, keeping a store at what is now Barrytown
Landing, and in 1798 in the same pursuit at the
Hoffman's, or Red Hook Landing.

"Jacob J. Heermance was found_by the road
district in 1792 and 1793 where it found Peter
Contine, and he was probably his successor in
business. He was his brother-in-law.

" Dorothea Heermance, another daughter of
Jacob Heermance, married Henry De Witt, and
in 1794-5-6-7 he was found by the road district
from Warachkameek where it had found his broth-
ers-in law, Peter Contine and Jacob J. Heermance,
and probably in the same employment.

" Anna Heermance, still another daughter to
Jacob Heermance, married Isaac Stautenburgh,
Jr., and they were found at the same corner
in 1798.

" * * John, James, Daniel and Robert Wilson
were four brothers who settled in the vicinity of Up-
per Red Hook before 1770. John married EUzabeth,
and James married Anna Kuhn, sisters, daughters
of Simon Kuhn and his wife, Catharine Linck.
Daniel married Mary Hamilton, and Robert
married Catharine Wilsey. Ruth Wilson, wife
of Guy Magill, 1768^ was probably a sister. These
Wilsons were Irish, or people of Irish descent.

* In what is now Red Hook.



i8o



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



" * * Nicholas Bonesteel and Anna Mar-
gretha Kuhns, his wife, with some of their children,



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 37 of 125)