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 70 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 70 of 125)
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nango County, and a graduate of Auburn in the
class of 1840, came next, and was installed pastor
September 15, 1859. He died September 21, 1872,
aged sixty-one. Rev. J. Ludlow Kendall began
his labors here in April, 1874, and was succeeded
by Rev. Theodore F. Burnham, the present incum-

The present membership in the church is about
one hundred.

The parsonage was built by Mr. Osborn in 18x5.
The church edifice now standing was built in


Leedsville, two or three miles from Amenia
Union, was in its day an important location. After
the beginning of the present century, when the
hazardous condition of American commerce, and
the high price of imported woolen fabrics, induced
enterprising men to associate togetherfor the man-

ufacture of woolen cloth, a woolen factory was
established here in 1809. The principal men of
the company were Rufus Park, of Amenia, and
Judson Canfield, of Sharon, Conn. The name of
the place was suggested by a workman engaged in
the factory who had come from Leeds, in England.
The peace with Great Britain, in 1815, put an end
to the profits of manufacturing woolens in this
country, and the company at this place failed.
The property was sold to Selah North, who estab-
lished the business of cloth-dressmg.


Wassaic lies a little south-west of the center of
Amenia, on the line of the New York & Harlem
Railroad. It contains a postoffice, hotel, church,
milk factory and blast furnace, and a population of
nearly three hundred.*

The postmaster here is Miles K. Lewis, who
was appointed some twelve years ago. He is also
a dealer in general merchandise, beginning that
business here fifteen years since. The other mer-
chants here are George F. White, a native of
Amenia, born in 1852, who has been in the mer-
cantile business here three years ; Edwin Marcey,
dealer in notions, who began business in i88i;
Wilson & Eaton (George T. Wilson, L. F. Eaton),
dealers in lumber, feed, &c., in business here three
years ; William Williams, dealer in general tinware
and manufacturer of milk cans, who established
that business in i86g.

The Wassaic House was built in 1851, by Noah
Gridley. The first lessee proprietors were D. F.
and T. L. Atkins, who kept hotel several years.
The present proprietor is Joseph B. Dewey, who
has been here three years. This is quite a resort
for summer tourists.

The sash and blind manufactory located here
was established in 1850, by Daniel Piatt, who con-
ducted the business some four years, and sold to
Lucius S. Pendleton, who has since been the

The manufactory of the New York Condensed
Milk Co., was established in 1861, by Gail
Borden. He died in the winter of i873-'4, and
his interest passed into the hands of his children,
one of whom, John G. Borden, is now one of the
principal proprietors.f The buildings were erected
in the spring of 1861. The factory receives daily
24,000 quarts of milk, which are condensed, in
the proportion of four to one, into what is known

* 1880, Zl8.

t Borden & Millbank.



as condensed milk. The factory contains six
large boilers and numerous copper vats.

The Wassaic Chapel was built for Union ser-
vices in 1873, by Noah Gridley & Son, to afford a
place of public worship to the neighborhood.
Services are here held by all denominations, but
principally by the Presbyterians, Baptists and
Methodists. The chapel cost $5,000.00.

Noah Gridley, to whose exertions and bene-
factions this place owes much of its importance
and prosperity, was born in the town of North
East, in 1802. In 1825 he came here and in the
following year began making iron. At that time
there were no houses here, nor any buildings, ex-
cept the remains of an old saw-mill near the fur-
nace dam. The furnace was begun and built up
by Noah and Nathaniel Gridley, Josiah M. Reed
and Leman Bradley.

The site fpr the furnace and the ore bed was
purchased by Elijah B. Park and sold to the above
parties for $6,000. In 1825, the youngest of these
parties began alone among the rocks, with a single
yoke of oxen, the construction of the works which
have attained so much importance, and which have
contributed greatly to the common wealth of the
town. In 1844 the property came into the hands
of Noah and William Gridley, and on the death of
William, into the possession of the survivor.

Near this place is the locality known as " Steel
Works," where, near the beginning of the Revolu-
tionary War, — when the importation of iron and
steel was cut off, and home manufacture thereby
necessarily stimulated, — Capt. James -Reed and a
man of the name of Ellis began the manufacture
of steel. The business was for some time success-
fully prosecuted. The iron for their use was ob-
tained in pigs from Livingston's Furnace at Ancram,
which was a blast furnace, and the first in this part
of the country. Isaac Benton was a skilled work-
man in this newly organized industry, and received
a high compensation.

Here, also, John Hinchliffe, from Saddle worth,
Yorkshire, England, set up the first carding ma-
chine in this part of the land, in 1803.


The village of Amenia is on the Une of the New
York & Harlem Railroad, about three miles north
from the center of the town. This is the largest
and most important village in the town, and con-
tains a population of nearly four hundred.*

• 18S0, 39J.

The old village of Amenia was about a mile
north of the present village, there being no road
where the road now is that runs east and west
through the village. A road then came over Del-
avergne hill, ran from a point just east of the old
Delavergne, now Parson's place, up through where
the ore mine now is, over the hill in the vicinity of
the late A. W. Palmer's residence ; thence up
through the village and through the farm now in
the possession of Abram Mygatt, thence over the
hill by the old Powers' place, down through the
farm of Frank Baylis and through the Narrows.

The postmaster here is Eugene M. Kempton,
who was appointed in September, 1872. He is
also dealer in books and stationery, in which busi-
ness he has been engaged since 1872.

The other merchants and business men in trade
here now are : Northrop Ruse, dealer in notions,
who has been in different mercantile transactions
here since 1 833 ; Bartlett & Mead (William H.
Bartlett, Isaac N. Mead), drugs and general mer-
chandise, in business as a firm eight years, succeed-
ing Chapman & Bartlett; M. E. Chamberlain,
general merchant, in business four years, succeed-
ing OUver Chamberlain who had been in trade
since 1855 ; John J. Capron, jeweller, in business
since 1867; Piatt B. Caulkins, dry goods and
clothing, who began' in April 1880, succeeding F.
M. Treat ; Miles B. Farlin, drugs, confectionery,
etc., in business since 1880; Rosa A. Hall, millin-
ery and fancy goods, in business here two years ;
James Newman, tobacco and cigars, in business
since 1867; Lewis H. Guild, furniture and under-
taking, in business twelve years; Earl S. Guild,
general merchant, in business since 1872; William
R. Thompson, boots and shoes, who began busi-
ness in July, 1867 ; Benjamin H. Fry, stoves and
tinware, in business three years, succeeding his
father Simeon, who had conducted business some
thirty years ; Thomas G. Abrams, harness and
horsemen's goods, in business since January, 1877;
Daniel D. Caulkins, general merchant, in business
three years; Henry Morgan, stoves and tinware,
began business in April, 1877 ; John McHugh,
merchant tailor, in business five years ; Charles M.
Benjamin & Co., (Enoch G. Caulkins) general
merchants, in business as a firm since 1866;*
Curtis H. Hall, a native of New Jersey, photogra-
pher, in business here since 1872 ; Wilson & Eaton
(George Wilson, Frederic Eaton), millers, sash
and blinds, lumber dealers, in business as a firm
four years, succeeding Barat Wils on & Son.

•The store was built in 1851 by Mr. Caulkins.



The Amenia House, one of the best hotels in
the county, is beautifully situated near the New
York & Harlem R. R., and commands a fine view
of the village and the surrounding country. The
building was erected twenty-two years ago, and the
first to keep hotel therein was William Kirby. The
property is owned by Mrs. Nathan Hewett. The
present proprietor is Lewis Barton, who has been
here two years.

The Pratt House, a large and commodious hotel
in the heart of the village, was rebuilt in 1875 by
Peter Pratt, the present proprietor, who has been
here twelve years. On this site once stood the
hotel built by Major Cook, for his son, Solomon,
from portions of the house which stood where the
Seminary now is.

Amenia Lodge, No. 672, F. & A. M., was or-
ganized January 11, 1868. The Charter members
were John H. Thompson, Isaac N. Mead, first W.
M.J James T. Upington, W. C. Payne, William
Reed, A. B. Vedder, J. G. Husted, E. H.
N. Warner, Henry S. Chapman, John J. Cap-
ron, Peter W. Husted, Roswell B. Taylor, Abiah
W. Palmer, Allen Wiley. Lodge meets the second
and fourth Wednesdays in each month.

The Amenia Seminary was organized in 1834,
by leading Methodists in the town. It has had for
its principals and teachers some of the most noted
men of the M. E." Church, namely : Revs. Charles
K. True, Frederic Merrick, Bishop Davis W.
Clark, Joseph B. Comings, Erastus O. Haven, the
late M. E. Bishop ; Gilbert Haven, cousin to the
former, John W. Beach, Andrew Hunt, Bishop
Cyrus D. Foss, and D. P. Kidder. Prof. Alexan-
der Winchell, the eminent scientist, was also an
instructor here. The school remained under
Methodist control until 1857 or '58, when the
property was sold to private individuals — Henry
Rundell and George W. Center — under whose con-
trol the school was continued some three years.
The property was then purchased by some of the
prominent citizens of Amenia — notably among
whom were the late Senator Palmer and Dr.
Guernsey — who bought it for Prof S. T. Frost, of
Claverack, who conducted the school until 1877.
In that year Prof. Frost re-deeded the prop-
erty to several of the citizens of Amenia, who have
since conducted the school under the control of
the Regents of the University of New York State.

The Amenia Times, a weekly paper of more
than ordinary merit, was established in 1852 by
a company styled the Amenia Times Association,
composed of the following members : Hiram Vail,

John Ingraham, John H. Perlee, Geo. W. Coffin,
John B. Baker, Luke W. Stanton, Simeon B. Ben-
ton, Geo. W. Center, John C. Payne, George
Conklin, Joel Benton, the latter being the editor.
By this association the paper was conducted two
years, when its proprietors became known as
Benton & Co., Joel Benton still the editor, which
position he retained two years. The present pro-
prietors are H. C. Rowley & Co., who assumed
ownership two years ago.

The First National Bank, of Amenia, was char-
tered January 14, 1865. The present officers are
George H. Swift, President ; Newton Hebard,

There have been but few lawyers in Amenia, and
scarcely any who made the practice of the profes-
sion their sole business, though a considerable
number who were natives of the town, and who
received their early education here, have become
prominent at the bar and on the bench. The only
resident lawyers are George H. Swift and George
W. Ingraham, neither of whom make their profes-
sion their chief business. The latter was bom in
Amenia in i8ii, and was admitted to practice in
1870, but had, since 1836, practiced in the courts of
the county. He was a magistrate of the town for
eighteen consecutive years.

The physicians are, Doctor Desault Guernsey.*

Dr. Isaac N. Mead, a native of Amenia, born in
1840, graduated at the College of Physicians and
Surgeons, New York city, in the spring of 1866.

Dr. Lyman E. Rockwell, born in Stockbridge,
Madison County, N. Y., in 1846, graduated from
the Medical Department of University of New
York in 1874, and immediately came to Amenia to
enter upon the practice of his profession.

Among the prominent men of the town who have
added to its standing and prosperity was Senator
Palmer, who died January 10, 1881.

Abiah W. Palmer was born in this town January
25, 1835, on the farm where — except when tempo,
rarily absent — he made his life-long residence.

He received his academic education at the
Amenia Seminary, and afterward at the Seminary
of Cazenovia, and at the age of nineteen entered
the Sophomore Class at Union College. In 1859
he received the Republican nomination for Member
of Assembly, from this District, and was elected by
a majority of over 700. He at once took high
rank in that body, and in i860 was renominated,
but declined. In 1865 he was again elected to the
Legislature by a large majority, and was appointed

* See Biographical slcetcli at close of chapter.



by the Speaker to a membership on the Committees
of Ways and Means, and Revisions and Rules.
One of the Acts which he at this time introduced
and carried through was that which finally estab-
lished the Hudson River State Hospital for the
Insane, at Poughkeepsie, and from Governor Fen-
ton he received the appointment of Chairman of
the Board of Commissioners for locating that insti-
tution. He was again renominated for the Assem-
bly and again decUned. Ini 867 he was nominated
to the Senate, and while the RepubUcan State
ticket was beaten in the District by two hundred
majority, he was elected by a majority of nearly
seven hundred.

In the Senate he was made Chairman of the
Committees on Banks, and Charitable and Re-
ligious Societies, and a member of those on Mu-
nicipal Affairs and Agriculture. He was re-
elected to the Senate two years later by a ma-
jority unprecedented, and he was continued a
member of that body in the term following this.
In July, 1872, he sat with the Senate at Saratoga,
as a member of the Court of Impeachment,
which tried New York Cit/s unfaithful Judges.
He had been for years President of the First
National Bank of this village, and was re-
elected to that position the day after his death,
before the intelligence of that event had reached
the village. He was long known as a member of
the Board of Trustees of Amenia Seminary, and of
the Amenia Cemetery Association. The gener-
ous gift of the land to the Cemetery twenty-two
years ago, was one of his early tributes of regard
for this village and town. His was not a long life,
counting by years, but it was full of good deeds
and^ thoughtfulness for the public interest. He
died at Manitou Park, Colorado, where, in 1879,
he had gone for his health.

The village contains four churches, the Presby-
terian, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic.

The Presbyterian Church. — The Presbyterian is
the oldest denomination. The Society was organ-
ized in May, 1748. The name of the church was
known as " Carmel, in the Nine Partners." The
first minister appears to have been Abraham Paine,
Jr., who " was set apart to the work of the ministry
by Ordination" June 14, 1750. Mr. Paine does
not seem to have been educated for the ministry,
but was called to that position to meet the imme-
diate wants ojF the newly organized congregation.
This society was organized at a time when in New
England the churches were agitated by the zeal of
the "New Lights," or " Separatists," and Mr. Paine,

and a considerable portion of his church, became
affected with their notions, which led to some disa-
greement between them and the more conservative
of the congregation. The house of worship which
was always known as the "Red Meeting House''
was built in 1758. The place where it stood is a
triangle at the convergence of the highways about
a mile northeast of the village of Amenia, and near
the burial ground. It was a building nearly square,
two stories high, with a gallery on three sides, and
was seated with square pews. The site for the edi-
fice was presented by Capt. Stephen ^Hopkins, who
gave the first land for the burying ground. The
house was built and afterwards repaired partly by
the contributions of those not strictly adherents of
the Congregational polity, and was in later years
occupied harmoniously by the Congregationalists,
Baptists and Methodists. The number of those
who contributed to the building of the church was
seventy-nine, and the amount contributed was
_;^35o, 17s., 4d. Among the names of these con-
tributors is found that of Stephen Hopkins, who
gave ;^2o. Joshua Paine, Elias Shevilear, and
Benjamin Benedict, gave each ;^i3, Samuel King,
_;^9, and Jedidiah Dewey and Roswell Hopkins,
each ;^io. Other names are Robert Freeman,
Joab Cook, Nathan Mead, Jr., Simeon Cook, Noah
Hopkins, Job Mead, Barnabas Pyine, Samuel
Shepard, John King, Grover Bu'el, John Brunson,
Robert Wilson, Weight Ilopkins. In iSri this
church was connected with the Associated Presby-
tery of Westchester, and in 1 8 r 5 with the Presby-
tery of North River. Rev. Elijah Wood, a Bap-
tist, preached to the congregation from 1800 to
1809. His successor was Rev. Mr. Wilson, from
1809 to 181 r. He was succeeded by Rev. Oliver
Tuttle, from 1811 to 1813. The Rev. JoelOsborn
became pastor of the church in 18 r4, and gave to
it his services one-third of his time. It is not
known ^ how long he officiated, but probably till
1 8 16. The next pastor mentioned in the records
is Rev. O. H. P. Deyo, whose name appears as
Moderator of a meeting held April 4, 1855, "for
the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian church, ■
and electing the officials thereof," but it does not
appear how long he remained. The next on the
records is E, W. Stoddard, May 31, 1856, whose
name is signed to a receipt for " balance in full of
$200.00, for half yearly salary." He is again men-
tioned December 30, r858. The name of Rev.
Mr. Schermerhorn appears next as resigning his
pastorate in 1869. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr.
Page, "at a salary of $2,000 per year, with the rent



of the parsonage, and six weeks vacation in-
cluded." The Rev. William R. Territt was called
January 26, 1874. A call to the Rev. A. Jackson
comes next, dated April 11, 1876. He remained
until 1878, and was succeeded by Rev. Mr.
Thomas, as a supply, who remained two years.

The church is now {1881) without a settled

The Baptist Church. — Of the Baptist Church,
the information concerning its organization is scan-
ty,since the earlier records of the church have been
lost. It was organized in 1790, and appears to
have been composed partly of some from the old
Congregational Church, and of others who had
been educated in the Baptist system, and who had
been members of the Baptist Church of North East.
The names of the constituent members were James
Palmer, Deborah Palmer, David AUerton, Jennett
AUerton, Richard Shavalier, Jonathan Shepard,
Elizabeth Holmes, Mary Cook, Reuben and
Thankful Hebard. On the second of June, of the
same year, the church called the Rev. Elijah
Wood to be its pastor, who, on the twenty-seventh
of June, administered the ordinance of the Lord's
supper to them for the first time.

Elijah Wood was a native of Norwich, Conn.,
born in 1745, and went in early life to Benning-
ton, Vt., where he was Ucensed to preach in a
Congregational Church. From Bennington he
came to Amenia, before the Revolutionary war,
and was counted among the active patriots.

He continued as pastor of the church until his
death, February 11, 1810.

The only house of worship in this part of the
town was the Red Meeting House, before men-
tioned, and which was used by the Congregation-
alists, Baptists and Methodists.

At the beginning of this century the Baptists
appear to have been jn the majority, and the
Baptist Church was an organization entirely dis-
tinct from the Red Meeting House Society, ob-
serving its own ordinances, and choosing its own
pastor, although the prominent members of the
church were at the same time members of this
Union Society, contributing to the support of the
preacher of the Red Meeting House. In 1 810 the
first step was taken in the division of the congre-
gation. At a meeting of the Union Society, held
March 26, 1810, it was voted : —

" That the Baptist Church occupy the Meeting
House one-half the time, the Congregational Church
the other half, that Oliver Wilson, Baptist, preach
one-half the time, and that John Cornwall, Con-
gregationalist, preach for half the time,"

The rights of the Methodists in the Red Meet-
ing House were afterwards purchased, though the
privilege of holding services there was granted
them, and circumstances, which it would be im-
possible at this distance of time to relate with en-
tire accuracy, led to the separation of the three
denominations which had made up the one con-
gregation of the Red Meeting House, and the
building was left in the possession of the Congre-
gational Society.

It became necessary, therefore, for the Baptist
church to erect a house of worship, and in further-
ance of this object, a meeting was held, November
4,. 1823, at the house of Captain Abiah Palmer.
Of this meeting Solomon Cook was chairman, and
William Balis, secretary; subscriptions to the
amount of $1,900 had already been made, which
was increased to $2,779.46. To this fund ninety-
one persons in all contributed. The meeting-
house was finished in the following year, and was
probably occupied by the church in November, 1824.
The pastor of the church at this time was Rev.
Caleb P. Wilson. In this house the- church wor-
shipped twenty-seven years. Early in the year
1851, it was decided to remove the building to its
present location, a change which the growth of the
village rendered necessary. The work of tearing
down and rebuilding occupied the entire summer,
and during this interval the church met each Sun-
day in the meeting-house of the Presbyterian
church. The new church was dedicated Decem-
ber 17, 1851.

Twenty years later, the meeting-house under-
went extensive repairs, equivalent to a reconstruc-
tion, by which it was enlarged and greatly beau-
tified. The work, begun in the summer of 1870,
was completed in the following spring. The church
held its first covenant meeting in the new lecture
room Saturday afternoon, April 8, 187 1. There-
dedication services were held on the afternoon and
evening of April 12, 187 1, under the direction of
the pastor. Rev. T. W. Crawley. From its con-
stitution to the present time the church has had
twenty pastors. This number does not include all
who have supplied its pulpit for brief intervals, but
only those who have been members of the church.
The succession has been as follows : —

Rev. Elijah Wood June, 1790— Died February 11, 1810

Rev. Calvin Philleo 1811—1814

Rev. John M. Peck February, 1814— March, 1816

Rev. Oliver Wilson July, 1816— December (?) 1816

Rev. C. P. Wilson December (?) 1821— July, 1829

Rev. Wm. Hutchinson May, 1831— April, 1833

Rev. Luman W. Webster November, 1S34 — August, 1839

Rev, Isaac Bevan April, 1840— March, 1841

R?v. Alexander Sroitll ■ April, 1842— 1845



Rev. Moses I. KeUy July, 1845— December, 1S45

Rev. James Johnston May 1846— October, 1848

Rev. Wm. E. Locke September, 1849— August, 1850

Rev. Joshua Fletcher April, 1851— AprU, 1856

Rev. Thos. E. Vassar September, 1857— February, 1865

Rev. J. W. Wilmarth June, 1865— 1866

Rev. A. C. Lyon July, 1866— September, 1867

Rev. C. E. Becker . .March, 1868— January, 1S69

Rev. T. W. Crawley, August, 1S69— October, 1871

Rev. Alonzo K. Parker October, 1871— AprU, 1879

Rev. Horace H. Hunt August, 1879

The Methodist Society of Amenia, which was
one of the earliest in this part of the country,
seems to have been formed in 1788, and numbered
eight members. These were David Rundall, his
wife Catharine, his wife's mother, Ruth Powers
wife of Peter, Ruth Powers wife of Frederic, and
three others, David Rundall being the only male
member for several years. The first sermon was
preached in a private house, half a mile east of
Sharon Station. The meetings were held in that
house, or in the neighborhood, until the settlers
from Rhode Island came here, when a society was
formed near the Old Red Meeting House. It is
understood that Mr. Garrettson formed the first
class, but he did not preach the first sermon. Capt.
Allen Wardwell was the first class-leader.

The important position of this Society may be

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 70 of 125)