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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Judah Swift, came from Barnstable County, Mass.,
to Amenia in 1769, and settled on the farm
where his son, Moses, continued to reside. His
son, Seth, built the house where Thomas W. Swift
now resides, and continued there until his death.
Samuel Swift and Nathaniel, sons of Judah, re-
moved to the western part of the State. The son
of Moses Swift was Thomas. The sons of
Seth were Moses, Henry, Eleazer, Morton, and
Thomas W. Henry was a lawyer in Poughkeepsie,
E. M. Swift was a lawyer in Dover. The others
were residents of Amenia.

Many of these early settlers owned slaves who
were kindly cared for and instructed in the facts
and duties of religion. It is said that Jacob Evart-
son held as many as forty slaves.

The most of the slaves in the town were manu-
mitted according to the manner and the conditions
prescribed by law. Ezra Reed, in 1788, set at lib-
erty his slaves, Joel and his wife, and their son,
Jeduthan. The latter lived on the Darling place,
near Wassaic, and became a respectable citizen.
, In 1792, Samuel Swift gave freedom to his
slaves. Pomp and Mela, " in consideration of their
faithful Services ;" and in 1795 to his slave, Han-



nah, and her child, Zephaniah. In 1794, Judah
Swift manumitted his "negro man, named York."

In 1794, Jacob Bockde discharged from his ser-
vice, and that of his heirs forever, a certain slave,
named Simon LeGrande. It was an appropriate
action on the part of Mr. Bock^e to thus give
practical expression to his views of slavery, for a
few years later he introduced in the Legislature a
bill for the abolition of slavery in this State. This
important beginning resulted in the complete aboli-
tion of slavery July 4, 1827.

Those who held slaves were not permitted to set
any at liberty, and thus cast them off, who were
unable to provide for themselves. In consequence
of that measure there were in 1824, a few years
before the final termination of slavery in New
York, thirty-two slaves in Amenia.

As may be supposed, agriculture was the princi-
pal occupation of the pioneers of the town. Those
who settled here were men who looked to agricul-
ture as the only means of subsistence. Much of
the tillable land was easily cleared, and yielded
bountifully to the simplest cultivation. Timber
for building and all other necessary uses was plenty.
The land was well watered with springs and rivu-
lets, and larger streams for mills. The first mill
was built at what was known as Leedsville about
1740, and soon after one at the Steel Works by
Waterman, and several others at various places in
the town. In 1760, Henry Clapp, of Rombout
(Fishkill), sold to Thomas Wolcott, of Crom Elbow
(Amenia, then a part of Crom Elbow,) a mill site,
where the stone mill now stands, on which Simeon
Kelsey built a mill. This mill was purchased by
Capt. Reed, who enlarged it by adding to it the mill
at the Steel Works.

All of the early settlers gained a comfortable
subsistence from their farms. None of them attain-
ed extravagant wealthj but through the stibsequent
generations of the citizens of Amenia there has
been a more equal distribution of property among
the people than in most of the towns in Duchess
County.

The means of travel and communication in the
last century were meagre. There were then no
stage coaches or mail carriages known in this part
of the country. The only post-road in the State
in 1789 was between New York and Albany, and
there were then but seven postoffices in the State.
It required a journey of two days to reach New
York, and the distance was traversed on horsebacks
Goods were brought by sloops to Poughkeepsie.
The Duchess Turnpike was made in 1805, and



TOWN OF AMENIA.



343



proved useful to the citizens of Eastern Duchess
and Litchfield. Several of the mile-stones erected
in early days are still standing. One by the road
leading from the Steel Works to Dover, where the
stream comes down from Tower Hill, is marked
" 183 miles to Boston.'' Another near the parson-
age in South Amenia is inscribed " 35 miles to
Fishkill," '' 179 miles to Boston," " 29 miles to
Poughkeepsie." The stones were set up during
the Revolution, while the British held the country
below the Highlands, and this was one of the prin-
cipal routes between the Eastern and Southern
States, by the way of Fishkill, where they crossed
the Hudson. Officers of the American and French
armies passed this way between the Eastern States
and the headquarters on the Hudson. The Hes-
sians were marched through the town on this road
to Fishkill, where they crossed the river, when they
were removed from Massachusetts to Virginia in

1778.

One of the first stores established in Amenia
was built by Capt. James Reed, some years before
the war of the Revolution. It stood a short dis-
tance north of his dwelling, and was resorted to
for trade by the citizens of a wide extent of the
country. The place is marked now by a few
locust trees, the offspring of those planted at the
time the building was there. Other stores
were kept at an early day at the Square, and near
the City, at Neeley's, Delavergne's, Adam's Mills,
and near the Red Meeting House.

The traffic was limited to a few articles of for-
eign manufacture, tea, wine, brandy, and the
products of the West Indies. Domestic manu-
factures supplied many of the articles now ob-
tained, wholly by exchange. Cotton was then
scarcely known, and there was very Uttle traffic
in woolen fabrics.. Hats, shoes, mittens, and all
ordinary clothing were unknown to their com-
merce. The most of their exchanges were by
barter, as money was scarce, and what little was
used was of silver.

In the latter part of the last century a company
was formed in the northwest part of the town,
called the Federal Company, for the purpose of
general trade. They conducted the Federal store.
Judge Smith was a;t the head of the company, and
there were some nine other associates in the bus-
iness. About 1803 another company was formed,
including several members of the Federal Com-
pany, with William Davies at the head. Previous
to 1817, an association was incorporated, includ-
ing some of the members of the former companies,



and the headquarters were also at the Federal-
store. They began the carding of wool by horse-
power, in which they were not successful, when
they removed to the stream near Adam's Mills,
where they erected a building for the manufacture
of woolen cloth. The late Capt. Robert Willson
was president of this company, and they issued a
considerable amount of small bills as currency.
This business of the company was also unprofit-
able,and the property was sold to Lawrence Smith,
who continued the work of cloth-dressing.

It was a notable advance in the use of machinery
when John Hinchliffe set up his carding machine
at the Steel Works, in 1803. The wool which
had previously been carded by hand was now
brought from a great distance to this novel and
curious machine, which was the first in this part of
America.

The important business of making leather was
conducted at different places in the town. This
was an industry exactly suited to the wants
of the people, who utilized the hides of their
cattle for boots, shoes and harness. They neither
bought nor sold to any extent. Their leather was
in exact ratio to their consumption of beef, veal
and mutton, and the bark for tanning was conven-
iently near.

There was a tannery at South Amenia, estab-
lished by Joseph and Gersham Reed ; one at
Amenia Union, by WiUiam Young ; one at the
Square, one near Thomas Ingraham's, and several
others in different parts of the town.

The first tow nmeeting for the Precinct of Amenia
was held at the house of Roswell Hopkins, on the
first Tuesday in April, 1762. This place of meet-
ing, and of the subsequent town meetings for many
years, was near where the Old Meeting House
stood. The officers chosen at this meeting were :
Capt. Stephen Hopkins, Supervisor; Michael
Hopkins, Town Clerk; Samuel Doty, Jonathan
Reynolds, Assessors; Benjamin Benedict, Abraham
Paine, Moses Barlow, Overseers of Poor; Conrad
Winegar, Constable and Collector ; Samuel Shep-
herd, Rufus Herrick, Ichabod Rogers, Constables ;
Thomas Wolcott, Jonathan Reynolds, Pound Keep-
ers; Miles Washburn, Benjamin Benedict, Roswell
Hopkins, Fence Viewers ; Thomas Wolcott, John
Beebe, Joseph Pennoyer, PhiUp Pitts, Samuel
Shepherd, William Barker, William Roberts, Ed-
mund Perlee, Moses Harris, Job Milk, Overseers
of Highways. Captain Stephen Hopkins and Sam-
uel King were chosen to take inventories of in-
testate estates for the ensuing year.



344



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



The succession of Supervisors and Town Clerks,
from 1763 to date, has been as follows.: —

Supervisors. Clerks.

1763. Edmund Perlee, Michael Hopkins.
1764-66. Stephen Hopkins, do do

1767. Edmund Perlee, do do

1768-72. Ephraim Paine, do do

1773-75. ^° '^° Roswell Hopkins.

1776. Silas Marsh, do do

1777-78. Roswell Hopkins, do do

1779-80. John Chamberlain, do do

1 781. Colbe Chamberlain, do do

1782-83. Ephraim Paine, do do

1784-86. Isaac Darrow, William Barker.

1787-93. Barnabas Paine, do do

1794-97. Edmund Perlee, do do

1798-1800. Cyrenus Crosby, Allen Wardwell.
1801-02. Philip Spencer, Jr., do do

1803. Elisha Barlow, Barnabas Paine.

1804. Benjamin Herrick, do do
i8oi;-'o6. Benajah Thompson, do do

1807. do do John Freeman.

1808. do do Abiah Palmer.

1809. Isaac Smith, do do

1810. Benajah Thompson, do do
1811-12. Elisha Barlow, do do
1713-15. do do William Balis.
1816. do do Sturgis Sanford.
1817-18. do do Joseph Ketcham.

1819. Abraham Bockde, do do

1820. Joel Denton, Jr., Thomas Paine.

1 82 1. Thomas Barlow, do do

1822. Abraham Bockde, Joseph D. Hunt.

1823. Joel Benton, Thomas Paine.

1824. David Nye, do do
1825-27. Tabor Belden, do do

1828. Joel Brown, do do

1829. Joseph D. Hunt, William Faxon.
1830-31. PhiloCline, do do
1833. Walter Perlee, Barak Mead.

1833. PhiloCline, do do

1834. do do John WiUiams.

1835. do , do Thomas Wilson.

1836. William A. Benton, do do

1837. do do- Elijah D. Freeman.
183 8-' 40. Philo Cline, Thomas Wilson.
1841. John K. Mead, Hiram Brown.
1843. Wm. N. Merritt, Thomas Wilson.

1843. do do Hiram Brown.

1844. Hiram Vail. George Conklin.

1845. do do Luke W. Stanton.
i846-'47. Noah Gridley, John C. Paine.
i848-'49. John H. Perlee, George W. Center.
1850. Philo Cline, Edward Reed.

1 85 1-'53. George H. Swift, George W. Center.

'•853 -'54- John C. Paine, John Hiscock.
1855-56- Robert Grant, do do

1857-58. Judah Swift, Hiram Piatt.

i859-'6o. Walter P. Perlee, Chas. M. Benjamin.

1 86 1. M. F. Winchester, do do

1862. Chas. E. Bostwick, do do

1863. Wm. H. Grant, do do

1864. ' B. P. Carpenter, do do

1865. John H. Cline, do do



i866-'67,

1868.

1869.

1870.

1871.

1872.

1873-
1874.

1875-
1876.

1877-78.
1879.
1880.
1881.



M. F. Winchester, Chas. M. Benjamin.
Isaac H. Conklin, do do

C. M. Benjamin, Jacob A. Davis.
Isaac H. Conklin, C. M. Benjamin.
Chas. M. Benjamin, Jno. W. Hoysradt.
Hiram Cooper, Henry I. Taylor.

do do Eugene Kempton.

George Williams, Charles P. Davis.
Eugene Kempton.
do do

do do

Philo F. Winchester, Charles Walsh.
John W. Putnam, Eugene M. Kempton.
Philo F. Winchester, do do



do do
Ambrose Mygatt,
John W. Putnam,



Amenia Union.



The village of Amenia Union Hes in the extreme
eastern part of the town, a portion of it being in
the town of Sharon, Connecticut. Many of the
early settlements were made in this vicinity. This
place was, and is now to some extent, known as
"Hitchcock's Corners," so called from a family of
that name who Uved in this vicinity, one of whom,
Solomon Hitchcock, traded here as early as 1800.
This family was from Norwalk, Conn., and came
to Sharon, adjoining, in 1750, and settled on the
farm where the late Southard Hitchcock resided.

The postmaster here is Amariah Hitchcock, who
was appointed in 1841, in which year he came to
this place, having for two years previous been
assistant postmaster at South Amenia. The office
was estabhshed here in 1823, and it was on a mail
route which extended from New Milford, Conn.
toPownal, Vermont, through Sharon and Sahsbury,
and the principal towns of Berkshire County. The
mail was carried through each way, once a week,
most of the time in a one-horse wagon. Previous-
ly the few letters that were written were car-
ried by private hands, and the newspapers —
principally from Hartford and Pougljkeepsie—
were carried by mounted post-riders. Mr.
Hitchcock is probably the oldest postmaster
in Duchess County. When he came here he en-
tered the mercantile business, in which he con-
tinued until 1874. The house in which he lives
was built in 1783, by Daniel Reed, father of the late
WiUiam Reed, Mrs. Nancy Reed, Jerome and others.
The old homestead of the Hitchcocks in Sharon,
about one-half mile east of Amenia Union, has been
in the family since 1765. It was located by Capt.
Samuel Hitchcock, grandfather to Amariah.

An earlier merchant here was Solomon Chaiv
dler, who kept a store near here in 1791. He
lived in the John Reed house.

The merchants now engaged in business here



TOWN OF AMENIA.



345



are Mr. E. Lambert and Allen Wiley, the latter
having been in business three years. Another
early settler near this place was John Reed, father
to Charles and others, who came from Redding,
Conn., in 1804, and purchased the farm where the
old stone house stands, and where he died in 1821.

Captain William Young came to this place from
Leedsville and set up an extensive tannery. He
built the house which is part of the hotel, and after-
wards built the house which became the property
of Dr. William Young Chamberlain. The hotel
was built in 18 ig, by Solomon Winegar, who kept
it until 1823. Peter Hurd succeeded Winegar as
proprietor, remaining one year, followed by Isaac
Crane from the spring of 1825 till 1834; then by
Ephraim H. Chamberlain, one year. Milo Winches-
ter then bought the stand of Winegar, of whom
these others had leased, and run the hotel from
1835 to February, 1862, when he died, and the
estate sold the property to Albert Pray, who kept
it three years. The present proprietor is Benett
B. Humeston, who, with his son, has kept the hotel
twelve years.

Among the early physicians of this place and of
the town was Dr. Reuben AUerton, son of Isaac
AUerton, of Windham, Conn., who purchased the
farm of Abner Gillet, now the James farm, in 1787.
Dr. Reuben AUerton preceded his father here a
few years, and began the practice of medicine
about 1778. In 1785 he removed to Oblong,
where for a time he lived in the John Reed house,
and afterwards, until his death, near the Presbyte-
rian church, now of South Amenia. It was prob-
ably immediately after the completion of his medi-
cal studies that he entered the service of the Col-
onies as Surgeon in the regiment of Col. Hopkins,
in 1777. He died in 1806, aged fifty-four. Doc-
tors Cyrenus Crosby and Alpheus Leonard were
the successors of Dr. AUerton. Dr. Leonard died
in 1829.

Dr. Ebenezer H. Conklin began his practice
herein 1820. He remained until 1832, and re-
moved to Michigan. Dr. Roberts studied with
Conklin, and practiced until his death in about
1842. Dr. WiUiam Young Chamberlain succeeded
Dr. Roberts, and remained till his death in 1863.

The present physicians here are Dr. Chapman,
who came here six years ago, and Dr. Lewis C.
Green, a graduate of Albany Medical College, in
1855, who came to this town in 1859.-

At this place, but across the line, in Connecticut,
is the stationary house and tobacco manufactory
of J. D. Barnum, the most important industry of



this vicinity. The business employs from sixteen
to twenty hands.

Methodist Church. The edifice of this society
was built in 1859, ^'^ corner stone having been
laid on Monday,July i8th, of that year. The building
is thirty-five by fifty-five feet, with a grand tower and
bell, costing upwards of $4,000. The beU weighs 709
pounds. The lot on which the building stands was
purchased of George H. Swift for $250.00. This
society was formed in Sharon, Conn., in 1822. The
original members who signed the first records on
the books of the society were, Daniel Braton, An-
san Norton, Thomas Wing, Joseph Soiile, Cunard
W. Boyd, Landius Lathrop, Horace Clark. Other
members of the society were Aaron Hunt, Orrin
Clark, John Williams, Oliver Kellogg, Henry
Haines, Ebenezer Wing, Elihu Chamberlain and
Harry Chamberlain.

Methodism was introduced into this locality by the
preaching of Rev. Cornelius Cook in the year 1788.
From that date to 1812, there were no regular
meetings held, but from that time meetings were
held in the school house which stood near the
place. In 181 2, Rev. Marvin Richardson, being
in connection with the Duchess Circuit, came here
and preached.

The worship was continued in the school house
until the year 1822, when a place of worship was
built and dedicated. The house stood just across
the Une in Connecticut. The building is now used
as a district school house, with a public hall above.
In 1859, the society decided to build a new house
of worship. A lot was secured on lands of George
H. Swift, and a neat and commodious edifice was
erected. It was dedicated January 26, i860, by
Rev. E. O. Haven. A farewell service was held in
the old church in Connecticut, January 2Sth, of that
year, Rev. L. H. King, one of the former pastors,
preaching the sermon, and W. J. Dedrich giving
the historical address.

The Society of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
was organized in 1848-49. Rev. Homer Wheaton
was a missionary here at that time. Their first
meetings were held in a school house in New York
State, in District No. 6. The church edifice was
erected in 1849. The first wardens elected were
Stephen Knibloe and Henry Reed. The first ves-
trymen, Eli S. Jarvis, Harry Morehouse, George
D. Griffin, John Boyd, Robert Grant, David Doug-
lass, WiUiam H. Ingraham, Amariah Hitchcock.
Rev. Homer Wheaton became the first rector.
The present membership is small, and with no
located rector.



346



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



South Amenia.

South Amenia contains a church, a store, a post-
office, grist-mill, built in 1846, (George B. Lam-
bert,) blacksmith shop (William Earnhardt,) and a
population of less than a hundred.*

The postmaster here is Mile F. Winchester, who
was appointed July 10, 1849.

The merchants are Winchester & Nase, in busi-
ness as a firm fifteen or more years. Mr. Win-
chester has been in the mercantile business here
since 1847. The first merchant here was probably
Philo Cline, from 1820 to 1825. He was the first
postmaster here.

An early landlord here was Daniel Castle, who
came from Roxbury, then a part of Woodbury,
Conn., some time previous to 1758, and settled at
South Amenia, where he was keeping a tavern at
that date. His son, Gideon Castle, built a house
where the postoffice stands, and afterwards pur-
chased the James Tanner farm, where he remained.
Daniel Castle's daughter was the wife of Capt.
James Reed.

Between South Amenia and Amenia Union is
the residence of Newton Reed, the author of the
" Early History of Amenia," a most valuable con-
tribution to the historical data of the County, to
whose kindness we are indebted for the facts re-
lating to the earlier history of this town. Newton
Reed is a native of Amenia, and has always lived
on the farm where his father and grandfather lived
and died. He was born in 1805, and received his
classical education in the old academy of Kinder-
hook, and while young spent a few years in teach-
ing. He has been a frequent contributor to the
agricultural and other periodical Hterature of the
time. This family, with the other families of
the name in the town, are the descendants of
John Reed, of Norwalk, Connecticut, who was an
officer of the Commonwealth in the English, civil
war, which resulted in the overthrow of the royal
power.

The first preaching of the gospel here, of which
there is any record, was by Rev. Abraham Reinke,
a Moravian Missionary, in 1753. He preached
to the Indians in this vicinity.

Previous to 1755, a house of worship was erected
in Amenia Union which, from the fact that the roof
had four sides, terminating at the top in an orna-
mental cupola, was widely known as the " Round
Top Meeting House." It stood about twenty
yards west of the colony line, on the hill west of E.
Lambert's store, on land now owned by William

*82, at last census.



Blithman.* December 11, 1759, a church was
organized, and Rev. Ebenezer Kniblbe became its
pastor. The congregation was composed of people
of very diverse origin : Palatines, Huguenots, and
Puritans, while the pastor was from Scotland,
where he was born in 1729. Mr. Knibloe was pas-
tor of this church about sixteen years, and the
breach of this relation was occasioned because of
his apparent loyalty to the King at the beginning
of the Revolutionary War — an attitude entirely
contrary to that of the Presbyterian ministers of that
day. The evidence, however, was clearly against
the suspicion, and it afterward became the con-
viction of the people that he was not disloyal, and
from about the end of the war until the close of his
life in 1785, he continued to preach to the accept-
ance of the people. He died December 20, r785
aged fifty-six.

While the British army held New York, the dis-
tinguished Rev. Dr. John Rodgers, pastor of a
Presbyterian church there, left the city, as many
others did, and found a safe retreat in the country.
He came here ini778, and ministered to the people
about two years. The distinguished Rev. Dr. Liv-
ingston, who in like manner found a retreat in
Sharon, for a time preached to this congregation.

Rev. David Rose, who was obliged to leave his
congregation on Long Island, also preached here.
Besides these were Revs. Mr. Everitt, Mr. Emerly,
Mr. Thompson and Mr. Williston.

The names of about a hundred and sixty heads
of families are recorded, most of whom were pa-
rishioners of Mr, Knibloe, which indicates a popu-
lation nearly equal to the present in the same limits.t
The number of marriages by Mr. Knibloe was 320,
of baptisms, 581,— suggestive testimonials to the *
prosperity of that generation.

Among the members of the church during Mr.
Knibloe's pastorate were: Alexander Spencer, EUis
Doty, Meltiah Lothrop, Daniel Rowley, James
Reed, Reuben Swift, Margaret Chamberlain, Pris-
cilla Lovel, Jediah Bumpus, Hannah Swift, Dorcas
Belding, Joanna Barlow, and the following gentle-
men and their wives : Silas Belding, Samuel Wa-
terman, Isaac Hamlin, Benjamin HoUister, Daniel
Castile, Ezra Reed, Elijah Reed, Stephen Warren,
Colbe Chamberlain, Moses Barlow, Eliakim Reed.
The leading members of the society in 1786,
when they removed and rebuilt the church edifice,
and in 1796, when they purchased the parsonage
farm, were : James R eed, Moses_Barlow, Walter

•In 1786 this edifice was taken down and another erected near where
the present building of the society stands, in South Amenia.
t The population of Amenia in 1790, was 3,078. In 1880, 1,697.



TOWN OF AMENIA.



347



Lothrop, Stephen Warren, Gideon Castile, Eliakim
Reed, Elisha Barlow, Seth Swift, Moses Swift, Ben-
jamin Delamater, Conrad Row, Samuel Row, Oli-
ver Kellogg, Elisha Tobey, Ebenezer Hatch, Reu-
ben AUerton, John Cline, John Boyd, Amariah
Hitchcock, Sylvanus Nye, William Young, Samuel
Hitchcock, Ezekiel Sackett, Martin Delamater,
Gersham Reed, Jedidiah Bump and Azariah Jud-
son.

After the death of Mr. Knibloe several minis-
ters were engaged temporarily and for brief periods
until 1802, when Rev. John Barnet, A. M., was
engaged for an indefinite time, and his ministry
was acceptably continued to 18 12.

June 28, 1815 Rev. Joel Osborn was installed as
pastor. The first Sabbath school in this section
was established by him in that year. He was dis-
missed in 1825, at his own request.

His successor was the Rev. Asahel Bronson,
who was installed as pastor by the Presbytery of
North River, June 12, 1827, and remained two
years.

Rev. John G. Lowe became the next pastor in
1830. He came here from Bethel, Conn., and
continued his services until the autumn of 1842,
when he was dismissed at his own request. He
was succeeded by the Rev. A. Cogswell Frissell,
who began his youthful ministry here in Decem-
ber, 1842, and was installed June 7, 1843, He
remained as pastor until 1858, when on account of
impaired health he was obliged to relinquish the
charge.

Rev. Harvey Smith, a native of Coventry, Che-



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 69 of 125)