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 84 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 84 of 125)
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society meets for literary exercises every Monday
evening during the fall and winter months, no
meetings being held in warm weather. Until the
winter of 1880-81, meetings were held in the
library room, but the society has outgrown that,
and now meets in the basement of St. Peters'
church. Richard Beck, now Mayor of Vicksburg,
was an early member and officer of the society.
The officers are : Patrick E. Owens, President ;
Michael Doyle, Vice-President; Thomas Shana-
han. Recording Secretary; Thomas Tobin, Finan-
cial Secretary ; Charles J. Rook, Treasurer ; Felix
Gallagher, Librarian.

The Poughkeepsie Literary Club was organized
Oct. 18, 1869, with Dr. E. W. Avery as President,
. and under, the successive presidencies of Edward
Elsworth, Dr. Dewitt Webb, C. A. Brewster and
J. I. Jackson, it maintained in an unostentatious
way the object for which it was founded, viz : in-
tellectual and social improvement. In 1876 the
club reorganized, and its by-laws were changed
and its object made to promote the study of liter-
ary, philosophic and social topics by its members,
by means of public discussions, essays and read-
ings. Edward Burges was elected President, and
with a membership of sixteen active workers soon
drew the attention of the community to its worthy
character and work. The year was a successful
one and marked a new era in the history of the
club. In 1877, W. G. Stevenson, M. D., was
elected President and increased the membership
to thirty-nine. The merits of the club were now
fully recognized, and its weekly literary exercises
called forth large and appreciative audiences. In
1878, Dr. Stevenson was re-elected and inaugur-
ated the plan of arranging in advance the appoint-
ments for the season extending from October to
May. The membership was increased to seventy.
The club had made a deep impression on the
thinking minds of the community and was recog-
nized as a local institution, whose influence had
awakened thought, stimulated the intellectual ener-
gies and advanced knowledge in the community.
In 1879, Edward Elsworth Esq., was elected Pres-
ident and advanced the interests of the club, in.
creased its membership and maintained its intel-
lectual status. Mr. Elsworth was re-elected in
•1880, and closed another successful year leaving
the club a strong and substantial factor in the
intellectual world of Poughkeepsie. In 1881,
Prof. T. J. Backus was elected President, but
prior to the time for the literary exercises to begin,
the club was merged into the Literary Section of

Vassar Brothers' Institute, over which Prof. Backus
was elected chairman.

The Poughkeepsie Society of Natural Science. —
Sept. 28, 1874, the following named gentlemen
met at the office of Dr. W. G. Stevenson to con-
sider the expediency of organizing a society of
natural science, viz : Dr. W. G. Stevenson, C. Van
Brunt, W. R. Gerard, H. T. Hickok and L. V.
Cortelyon. After choosing Dr. Stevenson chair-
man and Mr. Gerard secretary, the question was
discussed and it was decided to organize such a
society. Sept. 30, 1874, the same gentlemen with
the addition of Rev. Dr. A. P. Van Gieson and
Dr. J. Bockde met at the rooms of Mr. Van Brunt
and appointed Dr. Stevenson and Mr. Gerard a
committee to draft a constitution and by-laws. Dr.
Bock^e presented two stellate crystals of calcite,
which were the first contributions to the museum
of the Society. Oct. 27, 1874, the Society was
organized by the election of C. Van Brunt Presi-
dent, Dr. W. G. Stevenson Vice-President, W. R.
Gerard Secretary and C. N. Arnold Treasurer.
The constitution and by-laws as reported by the
committee were adopted. Dr. Stevenson, Mr. W.
R. Gerard and Mr. C. N. Arnold each donated a
number of specimens, and thus started what has
since grown to be a large and valuable collection
in the various departments of natural history and

Oct. 12, the Society met for the first time in its
rooms in the club house in Garden street. Oct.
28, 1874, the Society resolved to become incorpo-
rated, and appointed a committee to revise the
constitution and by-laws and to take the necessary
steps to effect the incorporation. Dec. 14, 1874,
the revised constitution was adopted, and Dec.
28th the incorporation was effected. The incor-
porators and first trustees were Cornelius Van
Brunt, W. G. Stevenson, W. R. Gerard, A. T.
Hickok and C. N. Arnold.

May 17, 1875, the Society moved into a room
in the Pardee building and occupied that until
May, 1878, when they removed to their present
rooms in the Young Men's Christian Association
building. The Society met every two weeks from
October to June, and papers prepared by the mem-
bers on all subjects pertaining to natural science
were read and discussed. The Society has done
original work and presented many papers of in-
terest, and its meetings were kept up with a good
degree of enthusiasm. A system of exchange was
established with other scientific societies in this
country and Europe. The present membership is



about forty. The museum contains about 5,000
mineralogical, paleontological and archaeological

Mr. Van Brunt was succeeded in the presidency
by Dr. W. G. Stevenson in 1878, by Dr. E. H.
Parker in 1879, ^"<i by Rev. A. P. Van Gieson in

In January, 1882, the Society discontinued all
regular meetings and practically became absorbed
in the Vassar Brothers' Institute, to whose custody
all its property was transferred.

Vassar Brothers' Institute. — In the year 1881,
Mr. Matthew Vassar, Jr., and his brother Mr. John
Guy Vassar, fully appreciating the meritorious
character of the objects and work of the Pough-
keepsie Society of Natural Science and the
Poughkeepsie Literary Club, and recognizing the
fact that both organizations stood in need of better
accommodations and increased resources for the
prosecution of the work they sought to do, express-
ed their intention to erect a building and present
the same to these societies — provided that they
would unite in one society under one corporate
name. The large majority of both societies favored
this plan — but its execution was prevented by the
action of a few members in each society. Practi-
cally however, the result was the same as if a
union of the two organizations had been consum-
mated, for individual members gave their support
to the new movement and permitted the old
societies to practically die from inanition. The
Vassar Brothers' Institute was incorporated June
13, 1881, the following being the incorporators
and first trustees : Matthew Vassar, Jr., John Guy
Vassar, Rev. A. P. Van Gieson, Dr. W. G. Stev-
enson, Prof. T. J. Backus, Edward Ellsworth, Esq.,
Prof. L. C. Cooley, S. M. Buckingham, John P.
Adriance, Prof W. B. Dwight, Charles N. Arnold,
Henry V. Pelton.

The object of the Institute is to "promote educa-
tion and useful knowledege in the departments of
science, literature and art, by investigating and
discussing subjects appertaining thereto, and by
establishing and maintaining a museum, a library
and a collection of works of art and objects of his-
toric interest in furtherance of such object."

In June, 1881, the following were elected officers
of th^ Institute : Matthew Vassar, Jr., President •
John Guy Vassar, Vice-President; Dr. W. G.
Stevenson, Secretary; Edward Ellsworth, Esq.,
Treasurer ; Prof W. B. Dwight, Curator of the
Museum; Prof H. Van Ingen, Art Director;
Joseph I. Jackson, Esq., Librarian.

That the object of the Institute might be better
attained three distinct sections were formed of
Science, Literature and Art, and the following
elected officers of the respective sections : Scien-
tific Section, — Prof. L. C. Cooley, Chairman, C.
N. Arnold, Recording Secretary; Literary Section,
—Prof T. J. Backus, Chairman, H. V. Pelton,
Recording Secretary ; Art Section, — Prof H. Van
Ingen, Chairman, G. E. Bissell, Recording Sec-

Each of these sections is fully organized and in
successful operation. The sudden death of Mr.
Matthew Vassar, Jr., August 10, i88r, without
having made provision for the execution of his
purposes, threatened to defeat the completion of
the plan thus far so favorably inaugurated, but his
brother, Mr. John Guy Vassar, generously assumed
the entire responsibility and began to erect on the
site of the old Vassar brewery, on Vassar street, a
beautiful brick building, fifty by eighty feet at a
cost of not less than $25,000, which will not only
be an ornament to the city, but a fitting monument
to the liberality of its founders.

Churches of Poughkeepsie.

THE First Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie
was organized in 17 16, by Rev. Petrus Vas,
who was then pastor of the church at Kingston,
and who also organized the same year the church at
Fishkill. For several years neither of these churches
-had a settled pastor, but both enjoyed the occa-
sional services of Mr. Vas, likewise Rev. Vincen-
tius Antonides, of Kings county. Long Island,
and Rev. Johannes VanDriessen, of Albany, who
also administered the rites of baptism and the
Lord's supper.*

At a meeting of the "Reformed Low Dutch
Church at Poughkeepsie," held at the house of
Clear Everitt, March 22, 1774, "it was conceived
advisable " to petition for a charter of incorpora-
tion, and Rev. Stephen VanVoorhees, "one of
the ministers," and Gilbert Livingsto n, "one of

* This sketch is prepared from a history of the Church, by Rev. A.
P. VanGieson, the pastor, as pubHshed in The Dutchess Farmer at 'i^iow
6, 1S77. A writer in the Rhineiech Gazette^ in 1878, alleges that the
Reformed Dutch Church in Rhinebeck, which was organized Jan. 28,
173', antedates the Dutch Church of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill bv sev-
eral months, and surpassed them in numbers at the time when it was
assumed to have had no existence. The records of the church, however
says Mr. VanGieson, date back to 1716, and continue with few interrup-
tions from that date to the present time. Previous to 1770, they were
kept wholly in the Dutch language.



the elders of said congregation," were delegated
to present a petition prepared for that purpose to
his Excellency William Tryon, and " to apply to
the Consistory of the Reformed Low Dutch Con-
gregation at New York, in order to obtain their
favor and assistance in the premises."

The first minister called and settled over the
churches of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, was Rev.
Cornelius VanSchie, who was sent over from Hol-
land by the Classis of Amsterdam, in 1731. The
call, in response to which he was sent was signed
by Rev. Vincentius Antonides, of Long Island,
and the following persons, who then constituted
the Consistories of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, viz :
Peter Palmatier and Johannes VanKleek, elders,
and Laurens VanKleek and Myndert VandeBo-
gaart, deacons, of the Church of Poughkeepsie ;
and Pieter duBoys and Abraham Buys, elders, and
Abraham Brinkerhoff and Hendrik Phillips, dea-
cons, of the Church of Fishkill. The churches were
thus united under the care of one pastor for many
years. P-ev. Mr. Schie was installed over these
churches Oct. 4, 1 73 1 ,and continued his ministry un-
til about 1 738, when he removed to Albany, where
he died in 1744.

About 1760, violent contentions arose in most
of the churches belonging to this denomination,
between the two parties known as Coetus and
Conferentie. The former desired a separation
from the Classis of Amsterdam, so as to save the
trouble, delay and expense of sending to Holland
for ministers. The latter, comprising many of the
older ministe'rs, were bitterly opposed to the meas-
ure, thinking apparently, that an ordination could
scarcely be valid unless it came from the Classis
of Amsterdam. These churches shared largely in
these difficulties. Two consistories were formed
in each, and the excitement ran very high.

Dec. II, 1763, the Coetus party called Rev.
Henricus Schoonmaker; ljut so vehement was the
opposition of the other party to him, that at the
time of his installation at Poughkeepsie, the church
doors were forcibly closed against him, and the
service took place under an apple tree, not far
from the place where the present church edifice
stands. Mt. Schoonmaker continued his ministry

until 1774-

In 1763, the Conferentie party, not only in these
churches, but in those of Hopewell and New
Hackensack, sent a call to the Classis of Amster-
dam, to be placed in the hands of such persons as
they might see fit to select. They presented the
call to the Rev, Isaac Rysdyk, who was regularly

installed as the pastor of these four churches
about 1765.

This state of things continued until 1771,
when a reconcihation took place between the con-
tending parties, brought about chiefly through the
influence of Dr. John H. Livingston. The articles
of union were adopted in 1772. Soon after this
it is beheved that Rev. Mr. Rysdyk relinquished
his charge of the church in Poughkeepsie, and con-
fined himself mainly to the care of the churches of
New Hackensack, Hopewell and Fishkill, until
about 1788.

So far as can be ascertained from the records
and from tradition, says Rev. Mr. Van Gieson, the
church has erected and occupied ■ three church
edifices. The first stood on the north side of
Main street, with its rear adjoining the front of the
old bur5dng ground, which lies back of the store
next east of the Poughkeepsie Hotel. It is said
to have been erected in 1723, and to have been
the first church edifice erected in the county.*
From a plan contained in the records it appears
to have had fifty-six pews, thirty- eight on the
ground floor and eighteen in the gallery, furnishing
three hundred and eighty-six sittings.

During the ministry of Dr. Cuyler the church
and congregation grew so rapidly that increased
accommodations were found necessary; therefore
the first edifice was torn down and a new and
larger one erected on the south side of Main street,
very nearly on the ground occupied by the present
building. The corner stone of the new edifice was
laid May 6, 1822, and the dedication took place
on Dec. 24th of that year. On Sunday Jan. 18,
1857, about ten minutes past twelve o'clock, this
second edifice was discovered to be on fire. The
day was bitterly cold, so cold, it is said, that some
of the water thrown by the engines, froze in the
air and fell to the ground in the form of ice. By
this intense cold, those who strove to subdue the
flames were so benumbed, that their efforts were
quite ineffectual, and the building was totally

Prompt and vigorous means were taken to meet
the exigency thus occasioned, and a third edifice,
which still stands, was erected. The corner stone
was laid August 25, 1857. The edifice was dedi-
cated Sept. 7, 1858.

One of the most important events in the his-
tory of the church was the dismission in 1849 o^
twenty-seven members to form the Second Re-

* Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle, July S, 1876; Bailey's Historical
Sketches 19,

42 o


formed Church. The following have been the
successive pastors of the church : —

Revs. Cornelius Van Schie, 1731 to 1738;
Benjamin Meinema, 1745* to 1758; Jacobus
Van Nist, 1758 to 1761 f; Henricus Schoonmaker,
1763 to i774t; Isaac Rysdyk, 1765 to 1772!;
Stephen Van Voorhies, 1773 to 1776; Solomon
Freligh, 1777 to 1780; Dr. John H. Livingston,
1781 to Nov. 23, 1783; Andrew Gray, 1790 to
1793; Cornelius Brower, July 13, 1794 to 1807;
Cornelius C. Cuyler, 1808 to Dec. 1833; S. A.
Van Vranken, D. D., 1834 to Dec. 4, 1837; Alex.
M. Mann, March 27, 1838 to January 15, 1857;
George McEkron, March 26, 1858 to Feb. 1867 ;
A. P. Van Gieson, Oct. 15, 1867, to present time.

Christ Church, (Episcopal,) of Poughkeepsie,
was incorporated March 9, 1773, as "The Rector
and Inhabitants of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess
County in communion of the Church of England
as by Law Established," by a patent given by
George III. of England, which vested in the
church the right to a glebe of eighty-seven acres,
held by deed of trust, and an additional 200 acres
adjoining it, on petition of Rev. John Beardsley
and other inhabitants of Poughkeepsie ; which
Tvas read in the Council of the Province of New
York Dec. 31, 1771, and " sets forth among other
things that the said inhabitants and others adja-
cent in Uke communion having long labored under
great inconvenience from the want of a regular
administration of divine service had some time
since procured the petitioner John Beardsley, a
clergyman of the Church of England to be sent
by the incorporated society for the propagating
of the gospel in foreign parts as a mission-
ary to reside among and officiate for them in the
pubUc worship of Almighty God." The charter
names Bartholomew Crannell and Samuel Smith
as church wardens, and Richard Davis, John
Child, John Davis, John Ferdon, Jr., John Medler.
Zachariah Ferdon, Isaac Baldwin, Jr., and David
Brooks as vestrymen. It makes reservation of
" all mines of gold and silver and also all white or
other sort of pine trees fit for masts, of the growth
of twenty-four inches in diameter and upwards at
twelve inches from the earth, for masts for the royal
navy " ; and requires the annual payment for lands
conveyed, a rent of 2s., 6d. for each hundred acres
of the grant or part thereof May 4, 1792, the

* Mr. Meinema's call bears date 174s, but the first account of him in
Consistorial records is in 1749.

t Mr. Van Nist died April 10, 1761, in his i7th year, and was buried
at Fishkilf.

X Called by the Coetus party.

§ Called by the Conferentie party,

corporate name was changed by the Legislature
to " Rector and Inhabitants of Poughkeepsie in
communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church
in the State of New York."

Rev. John Beardsley began his labors in Duchess
county in 1766, and was the first to introduce the
rituals of worship in the Anglican or English
Episcopal Church in this county. He preached
his first sermon at the house of Cornelius Hum-
phrey, in Beekman. Oct. 4, 1771, he signed a
petition, as minister of that church, for the incor-
poration of Trinity Church, Fishkill. He married
Miss Kane, a sister of Mrs. Gilbert Livingston
and Mrs. Bartholomew Crannell, after whom Cran-
nell street in Poughkeepsie was named.*

The purchase of the original glebe was designed
for the benefit of the Precincts of Poughkeepsie,
Nine Partners, Beekman and Rombout, but was
completed for the benefit of Poughkeepsie and
Rombout Precincts only, with the consent of the
other Precincts. It was agreed between Pough-
keepsie and Rombout Precincts that the glebe so
purchased should ever remain for the use of the
rector having the care of the churches in those
Precincts ; but in case the congregations should at
any time find themselves able to support two rec-
tors, then the church of Poughkeepsie should re-
fund to the church of Rombout (Fishkill,) such
sum of money as they had advanced both for the
purchase of said glebe and the building thereon,
which was erected in 1774. The vestry deeming
this agreement "just and reasonable," assumed the
obligation of fulfilhng it. But this arrangement
did not, it would seem, meet the views of the Fish-
kill church, and the minutes of several succeeding *
meetings are burdened with efforts to adjust the

December 14, i777j by order of the*Council of
Safety, the Rev. Mr. Beardsley, the rector, was
removed to New iTork, abd John Davis, a member
of the vestry, entered upon and took possession of
the glebe with the consent of the festry. A letter
of Mr. Beardsley's to the vestry, dated New York,
June 2, 1783, reveals the cause of his removal
from Poughkeepsie, which he there refers to as
"my banishment on account of my loyalty."

Henry Van Dyke, or Van Dyck, a candidate for

* Ms. communication from Benson J. Lossing, LL. D., to Mr. T.
Van Wyck BrlnkerhofF, in A Historical Sketch of the Town of Fish-
hill, says on the authority of Rev Dr. Buel, the Rector of Christ Church
of Poughkeepsie, that the first services were held by Rev. Samuel Sea-
bury, father of Bishop Seabury, in 1756, and that Rev. John Beardsley
accepted an appointment to the Precincts of Poughkeepsie, Beekman
and Rombout Oct. i6, 1766, and preached his first sermon at the house
of William Humfrey, in Beekman, Dec. ii, 1766, from Luke ii, 32.



holy orders, performed Divine service at Christ
church June 20 and 24, 1784. The church had
been for nearly eight years destitute of a pastor in
consequence of the war. A subscription was
started for the support of Mr. Van Dyke, whose
services the congregation wished to retain, " and,"
says the record, " though' we are but few in num-
ber and far from being wealthy, yet, with the kind
assistance of our neighbours of other denomina-
tions who admire his performances, have got sub-
scribed for his annual salary ^£50. Provided we
give him a call, this we suppose, with one-half of
the old glebe, will be sufficient inducement to him
for the half of his services." Trinity church, of
Fishkill, was invited and urged to unite with them
in this call.

Mr. Van Dyke officiated here again August i,
1784, and the following Sunday at Fishkill, by invi-
tation of that church. August 3, 1784, Isaac
Baldwin, Richard Davis, Thomas Poole, William
Emott and Isaac Baldwin, Jr., were appointed a
committee to wait on the congregation at Fishkill
the following Sunday and receive their answer with
regard to the settlement of Mr. Van Dyke. Ac-
cordingly a consultation was had with Major Dan-
iel Ter Bos, Jonas Halstead, John Halstead, John
Cook and Mr. Pine, of Fishkill, August 8, 1784,
and a mutual agreement was entered into whereby
Mr. Van Dyke, when ordained, should "be re-
ceived as miriister of the two churches, to preach
at Poughkeepsie two-thirds of the year, and Fish-
kill the other third." The Poughkeepsie church
agreed to pay him ^80 New York currency per
annum, a part in cash and the residue in fire
wood; and the Fishkill church ;^40. In addition
he was to have the use of the glebe so long as he
remained "their teacher.'' Mr. Van Dyke was or-
dained September 16, 1785, but under various de-
lays and other difficulties, which made him liable
for trespass in this State, (for debt,) he never per-
formed the duties of rector under this agreement.
Another agreement with a like object was entered
into November 21, 1786, substantially on the same
terms, except, however, that his services were to be
divided equally between this church and Fishkill.
He commenced his services as rector May 27,

Up to 1784, it appears, the church was not pro-
vided with pews, for December 6th of that year the
vestry "resolved upon pewing the church," and a
subscription was started for that purpose. It was
provided that the money subscribed should " be
paid as soon as wanted to persons appointed by

the vestry to be by them applied immediately in
building the pews ;" and that as soon as the pews
were finished they should be rented by public ven-
due from year to year and the money arising there-
from paid to the subscribers in proportion to the
amount subscribed by each, until the whole amount
was refunded.

The following have been the successive rectors
of Christ Church : —

Revs. John Beardsley, Aug. 17, 1773 to July — ,
1776*; Henry VanDyck, Nov. — , 1785, only a
few months; Henry VanDyke, May 27, 1787, to
spring of 1791 ; Geo. H. Spierin, Nov. 13, 1792,
to Dec. 9, 179s; John I. Sayre, Jan. 5, 1796, two
years; Philander Chase, Nov. — , 1799 to Oct. 1805;
Barzilla Bulkley, Aug. 27, 1806, to Aug. 17, 1809;
Joseph Prentice, Feb. 18, 18 10, to July — , 1810;
John Reed, D. D., Aug. 19, 1810, to July 6, 1845;
Homer Wheaton, July — , 1846, to June 1, 1847 ;
Samuel Buel, D. D., Sept. 15, 1847 to 1866 ; Phi-
lander K. Cady, D. D., 1866, to 1875 ;t Henry L.
Ziengenfuss, Nov. i, 1874, to present time,

Christ Church Parish School, on the corner of
Market and Pine streets, an ornate two-story brick
structure, was built in 1857, at a cost, including
lot, of about $7,000, and deeded to the parish by
Wm. A. Davies and his wife. Two teachers are
employed in this school, and in 1880, there were
fifty-eight males and fifty-six females in attendance.
The tuition is free, and the children are largely
clothed by the parish. They are taught sewing and
other useful branches of household work. The
school has an endowment of $4,000, bequeathed
by Mrs. Robinson, who also left $5,000 for the

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 84 of 125)