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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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ties. He has been an occasional contributor
t'o the press. In his own town he has never
failed to take an active and decided part in
public matters. At one time he was a village
trustee, and for several years was President of
the Board of Education, and sought most
Earnestly to have the course of study enlarged,
that it might compare favorably with the best
public-school instruction in the State, and
furnish those children, who could not attend
academies and colleges with opportunities to
become good scholars, if so inclined. An im-
provement in that direction is now seen. He
is also an officer of the Reformed Church, with
which he has long been connected. *

' Mr. Cook was married, soon after coming
io Fishkill, to an estimable young lady in New
Jersey, whom he had known from boyhood.
Her father was a bank president, and his
brother, himself and two sons were State Sena-
tors. She died some twenty years ago, leaving
a son, Pierre Frederic Cook, who graduated at
Princeton in 1 892 . He was afterward a student
in the New York Law School, and under his
father's direction and advice read law in the



office of the late Governor Bedle of Jersey
City. He has been admitted to the bar, and
has before him very good professional pros-
pects. •



E>LMER DANIEL GILDERSLEEVE, a
./ leading merchant of Poughkeepsie, was

born in the town of Clinton, Dutchess county,
July II, 1846, son of Smith J. and Rachel
(Alger) Gildersleeve, and is of Scottish descent.

Henry Gildersleeve, the grandfather of our
subject, was born February 13, 1765, at
Hempstead, L. I., and after his marriage with
Eunice Smith (who was born April 16, 1766)
he settled on a farm in the town of Clinton,
Dutchess county. In politics he was a Whig,
in religious faith a Quaker. His family com-
prised eight children, whose names and dates
of birth are as follows: Elizabeth, September
5, 1788; Mary, October 5, 1790; Phcebe, Jan-
uary 28, 1793; Sarah, September 30, 1795.;
Henry, October 16, 1797; Ruth, August 27,
1800; Jane, November 29, 1805; and Smith J. ,
August 21, 1809. Of these, Phcebe married a
Mr. Gurney, a farmer of Saratoga county,
N. Y. ; Sarah became the wife of Edward
White, a farmer in the town of Chatham,
Columbia county; Henry became a farmer in
the town of Hillsdale, Columbia county; Ruth
married Leonard Sackett, a farmer of Dutch-
ess county; and Jane married and went west,
where she died.

Smith J. Gildersleeve, the youngest in the
above-named family, and the father of our
subject, was born August 21, 1809, in the
town of Clinton, Dutchess county, and was
reared on his father's farm. He married Miss
Rachel Alger, who was born in the town of
Stanford, Dutchess county, daughter of Daniel
Alger (born July 26, 1773) and his wife Han-
nah (born March 5, 17821. Mr. Alger in re-
ligious faith was a Universalist, by occupation
a hatter. Four children were born to him
and his wife, their names and dates of birth
being as follows: Ann, April ii, 1804; Stephen,
March 5, 1807; Belinda, June 13, 1810; and
Rachel, February 16, 18 16. To Mr. and
Mrs. Smith J. Gildersleeve were born five chil-
dren, as follows: (i) Belinda, born in 1838,
married Robert Halstead, a farmer in the town
of Clinton, and died in 1865; (2) Henry C,
born in 1840, died in infancy; (3) Henry A.,
born August i, 1840, resides in New York








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COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



105



City, and is a judge of the supreme court,
Ijeing the youngest man ever elected to that
office in the city [See sketch of him else-
where]; (4) Frank Van Buren, born in 1842,
is a physician in New York City. (These two
brothers, Henry A. and Frank Van B. , served
in the Civil war, and took part in many of the
iniportant battles, including that of Gettys-
burg, Henry returning with the rank of major);
and (s) Elmer Daniel, the subject proper of
this memoir, born July 11, 1846.

Smith J. Gildersleeve followed farming
most of his life. He was a member of the Re-
publican party, but sympathized strongly with
the Prohibitionists as he was an ardent advo-
cate of temperance. At one time there was a
combined effort of the " Washingtonians" (as
the temperance people were called) to put
their men into office, and Mr. Gildersleeve being
one of the leaders was instrumental in electing
their ticket. During the campaign he deliv-
ered a number of lectures on the subject of
temperance at which he would sing, and his
sweet notes were so effective that many signed
the pledge under the influence of his music.
In matters of religion he was a Quaker by
Ipirth, but having married outside the Society
he was "disowned," and afterward became a
prominent member of the Christian denomina-
tion at Stanfordville, during which time he was
a member of the building committee of a new
church erected at Schultzville, within one mile
of his birthplace — the only church in that lo-
cality. After coming to Poughkeepsie he
joined the M. E. Church; but all along he
faithfully held to the faith of his fathers, at-
tending the Friends meetings during the later
years of his life. He died in 1881, in Brook-
lyn, N. Y. ; his wife had passed away in 1864.

Elmer D. Gildersleeve, whose name intro-
(jiuces this sketch, spent his boyhood days on
the home farm in Clinton, where he attended
the district school, finishing his education at
the Claverack Institute, in Columbia county.
In 1866 he came to Poughkeepsie, and was
employed as a clerk in the general store of
Trowbridge & Co., remaining with them for a
year. He was next employed in the shoe store
of Charles Eastmead for a year, at the end of
which time he went into the shoe business with
his father at No. 361 Main street. This they
carried on for a year when they sold out to D.
L. Heaton, our subject taking the manage-
ment of the business for him, and remaining in
charge of it for twelve years. In 1886, Mr.



Gildersleeve formed a partnership with Benson
Van Vliet under the firm name of E. D. Gil-
dersleeve & Co., and they are still carrying on
the shoe business at No. 314 Main street,
where they have the largest and finest estab-
lishment of the kind between New York and
Albany.

Mr. Gildersleeve is a prominent member of
the Society of Friends, or Quakers, in which
he was made a minister June 22, 1879. He
has preached many sermons, and is always in
request at funeral services, and in many ways
takes an active interest in religious matters.
He is a member of the Representative Meet-
ing of the New York yearly meeting of Friends,
which is the legislative bodj^ of the Church,
and one of the oldest members of the Evange-
listic Committee, which has charge of the
Evangelistic work of the Church. He is also
a member of the Y. M. C. A., of Poughkeep-
sie, of which he was vice-president for four
years, and one of the board of directors for
twelve years. He has devoted much time and
labor to this cause, for which he has a deep
affection; and in all good works he can always
be relied on for substantial aid and sympathy,
devoting as he does a great deal of time to vis-
iting the sick and afflicted, and especially the
aged and infirm. In business circles he holds
high rank as a man of undoubted integrity, ex-
cellent judgment and progressive spirit, and
has a large circle of warm personal friends.
He is a member of the Board of Trade, also of
the Retail Merchants Association, and believes
in enterprise and progress. On September i,
1869, Mr. Gildersleeve was married to Miss
Phcebe Haviland, who was born at Clinton
Corners, Dutchess county, and eight children
have been born to them, namely: (i) Frank
(deceased); (2) Alexander Haviland, engaged
in manufacturing business; (3) William Dav-
enport, an invalid, the result of service in the
U. S. Regular Army, being one of the young-
est of the United States pensioners (he resides
with his parents); (4) Virginia Crocheron, a
graduate of the Poughkeepsie High School,
class of '95, at present devoting herself to the
profession of voice culture (she has a soprano
voice of great compass, sweetness and expres-
sion, and takes rank as one of the leading vo-
calists of the county: she is at present serving
her second year as soloist of Christ Church,
Poughkeepsie); (5) Elmer Daniel, Jr., a young
man of much promise, who is now preparing
for college in a Friends institute at Westtown,



106



COMMEMORATIVE BIOOEAPIIICAL RECORD.



Penn., near Philadelphia; (6) Henry Alger
(deceased); (7) Edith Haviland; and (8) Roger
Morton. Mrs. Gildersleeve, one of the most
highly educated women of the county, and a
great reader, is possessed of superior mental
caliber and conversational powers to a marked
degree; and withal is a most devoted wife and
mother, her first thought being of her children
and the welfare of her family. In earlier life
she possessed more than ordinary efficiency as
an elocutionist, having completed a course in
that art at Cook's Institute, Poughkeepsie.

Isaac Haviland, the grandfather of Mrs.
Gildersleeve, married Miss Lydia Weaver, and
shortly afterward settled on a farm at Quaker
Hill, Dutchess county. They had nine chil-
dren: Joseph, Daniel P., Isaac, Alexander
Y. , Jacob, Abraham, Charlotte, Sarah and
Lydia Ann. The Havilands are of French-
Huguenot stock, and possess a family crest;
but the family in America are all members of
the Society of F"riends. Daniel, the second
son of this family, married Lilias Aiken.

Alexander Y. Haviland, father of Mrs.
Gildersleeve, was born August 25, 1814, at
Quaker Hill, Dutchess county, and was reared
to manhood on the home farm, and on August
8, 1S44, he married Judith M. Griffen, who
was born January 11, 1814, in Westchester
county, N. Y., a daughter of Daniel Griffen
(born in 1790, in the same county), and Phoebe
Davenport Griffen. They settled on a farm
at North Castle, where they reared a family
of nine children: MaryD., Judith M. (mother
of Mrs. Gildersleeve), Abigail, Esther H.,
Elihu, William D., Jacob, Catherine E. and
Lydia S. About 1824, Daniel Griffen removed
to Clinton Corners with his family, and spent
the remainder of his life on a farm at that
place. He died August 26, 1858, and his wife,
on June 11, 1874. The Griffen family is of
English and Welsh descent, and the great-
great-grandfather, Elihu Griffen, was born in
Westchester county, N. Y. After their mar-
riage Alexander Haviland and his wife located
on a farm at Clinton Corners, where two chil-
dren were born to them: Lydia P., who died
September 23, i860, at the age of fifteen
years; and Phcebe, wife of our subject. Mr.
Haviland followed farming until his death,
which took place May 29, 1853, after which
his wife disposed of the property and removed
to Poughkeepsie, where her daughter was edu-
cated and subsequently married. The mother
is still living at the good old age of eighty-



three years, and she and her brother Jacob, of
Clinton Corners, are the only two survivors of
this Griffen family.



COL. HENRY ALGER GILDERSLEEVE
was born in Dutchess county, N. Y.,
August I, 1840. His early life was spent on
his father's farm and in attendance at the dis-
trict school. When fifteen years of age he at-
tended boarding school, and from that time
up to the breaking out of the Civil war was
either at school or engaged in teaching, that
he might acquire funds with which to pursue
his studies. He recruited for the 150th Regi-
ment, N. Y. S. V. Infantry, and was mustered
in as captain of Company C, October 1 1, 1S62.
He served with his regiment in the Middle
Department, under Gen. Wool, and subse-
quently in the Army of the Potomac, in which,
with his regiment, he participated in the battle
of Gettysburg and in the subsequent campaigns
in Maryland and \'irginia.

After several months of special duty, Capt.
Gildersleeve, in June, 1864, rejoined his regi-
ment at Kenesaw Mountain, where it was at-
tached to the First Division of the Twentieth
Army Corps of the Army of the Cumberland,
at that time commanded by Maj.-Gen. Hooker,
and forming a part of the command of Gen.
Sherman, then engaged in fighting its way to
Atlanta. He served in Sherman's army until
the close of the war, participating in numerous
battles and skirmishes, and making the famous
march with Sherman to the sea. He was
made provost marshal of the First Division of
the Twentieth Army Corps, on the staff of
Gen. Williams, of Michigan. His duties as
provost marshal were delicate, responsible and
arduous. They were discharged, however, in
a manner which met the approval of his
superior. He was pr^omoted to the rank of
major of his regiment, and brevetted lieuten-
ant-colonel U. S. v., by President Lincoln,
"for gallant and meritorious service in the
campaigns of Georgia and the Carolinas."
When mustered out of service, in June, 1865,
he chose the law as his profession, and in the
autumn of that year entered the Columbia
College Law School. Prof. Theodore W.
Dwight, then at the head of the Law School,
in a letter written to the Army of the Cumber-
land, referring to Col. Gildersleeve, who had
become famous as a rifieman, through the suc-
cessful achievements in Great Britain and



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



lor



Ireland, in 1875, of the American rifle team, of
which he was captain, used the following
language: " In Col. Gildersleeve I feel an es-
pecial interest, as I had the honor of giving
him by personal attention his introduction to
the science of law, and could have predicted
the precision of his ritle from the accuracy and
steadiness of his aim while going through his
legal drill."

Col. Gildersleeve was admitted to the bar
in 1866, and from that time until his elevation
to the bench, in 1875, he was a hard-working
and successful lawyer in the Citv of New York.
The duties of his profession did not wean him
entirely from his fondness for military life. In
1870 he was unanimously chosen lieutenant-
colonel of the 1 2th Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y.,
and took a keen interest in his military duties,
and in promoting the success of the regiment.
He subsequently became assistant adjutant
general and chief of staff in the First Division
of the National Guard of the State of New
York, with the rank of colonel, which position
he held for more than twelve years. He was
honored with the appointment, by Governor
Dix, of General Inspector of Rifle Practice,
and was once elected colonel of the Ninth
Regiment, both of which high positions he de-
clined in order that he might remain at the
head of the staff of the First Division. In
civil life he attracted considerable favorable
comment as a lecturer and as an agreeable, for-
cible and interesting speaker. In 1875 he was
elected judge of the Court of General Sessions
of the City of New York, and for fourteen
years sat upon the bench of that court, dispos-
ing of an immense number of criminal cases of
every kind and description. He always tem-
pered justice with mercy, and his record as a
criminal judge is excellent. He is now in his
fourth year of service on the civil bench, as
judge of the Superior Court of the City of New
York, and has upward of eleven years of serv-
ice still before him. Under the new amend-
ments to the constitution he will become judge
of the Supreme Court, January i, 1896.

Judge Gildersleeve is now (November,
1894) in the prime of life, blessed with perfect
health and iron constitution. With a past so
varied and eventful, he has still many years of
usefulness before him. He is a tall, strong
and heavily-built man, of dignified and rather
reserved bearing, but with manners of unvary-
ing courtesy and kindness. He still finds some
time in which to indulge his fondness for out-



door sports, and is frequently seen at athletic
games. A tramp over the hills, or through the
swamps, wherever game can be found, with
dog and gun, is his favorite pastime. While
he has no longer the skill with the rifle that
he possessed in earlier years, he is still a mas-
ter with the shotgun. The frequent allusions
to the fame which he acquired as a rifleman, to
which he is called upon to listen, always afford
him much pleasure. It was truly said by a
prominent editorial writer that though Judge
Gildersleeve might live to write some of the
best judicial opinions reported, they would drop
into insignificance when compared with his
fame as a rifleman. A prominent man, who
had been a political opponent of Judge Gilder-
sleeve, once said of him that his principal char-
acteristics were his evenness of temper, his
kindness of heart and his fidelity lo his friends.
[From Report of the Annual Reunion and Din-
ner of the Old Guard Association of the Twelfth
Regiment N. G. S. N. Y., April 21, 1894.]



LEWIS BAKER (deceased). Perhaps no
man was ever known better, or known for
a longer term of years in one community than
was Lewis Baker, late of the town of Beek-
man, Dutchess county. Born in that town
June 4, 1792, he grew to manhood there, and
at the age of twenty-one years married Sarah
Allen, daughter of a farmer of the town of
Pawling, and began farming for himself by
purchasing forty-eight acres of land, where he
and his wife lived, in the same house, for over
fifty years.

With a debt of $1,250.00 this energetic
young man started, having good health and
the aid of a loving wife, to clear himself of
this incumbrance through his own hard toil.
Always honest, sober, reliable and industrious,
and with the success which surely accompanies
a disposition like his, he not only paid for his
first farm, but eventually purchased adjoining
farms until he had a solid body of 400 acres
of choice farming land, which was all paid
for, well stocked and in good condition. Every
acre was paid for without aid from outside
source of any nature, but from the fruits of
hard, honest labor as a farmer, having never
made a dollar from speculation in his life.
Although he lived far beyond the allotted limits
of man's life, his clear, bright, honest eye was
undimmed, and his wonted expression of self-
reliance was never lost. At the age of ninety-



108



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



three years he could take his " section " after
the reaper, and bind seventy sheaves of rye in
one hour — as he did in the season of 1885; or
he could walk a distance of five or ten miles
as quickly as most men who were but half his
age.

Notwithstanding the lack of early educa-
tional advantages, he could write a letter which
for style and correctness would be envied by
rnany who have all the advantages of modern
schools, and his sterling worth and good judg-
ment are clearl}' shown by the high esteem in
which he was held b}- the neighbors, among
whom he had lived all his life, and by the evi-
dence that the people of his town called upon
him to serve them as justice of the peace con-
secutively for over a quarter of a century.
He was their steadfast friend, advisor and
counsellor in every emergency. As the Farm
Journal, in its June issue, 1886, says: "He
has a record of which anj- man may be proud,
and we are proud to show his likeness to all
our one million readers."

He had five sons, one of whom died young,
and another, William, who died in 1885 in
Illinois, where he had become a prosperous
farmer; the other three, Alexander A., Cyrus
and Nicholas, are still alive, and for old men
are remarkably hale and hearty, which goes to
show the healthy methods which our old friend
instilled in the minds of his children. Ale.x-
ander A. is a resident of Poughkeepsie, and
until late years has followed the vocation of
farming, and now at over eighty years of age
is still vigorous and alert. Nicholas is an at-
torney located in the state of Connecticut, and
Cyrus is a resident of Highland Falls, Orange
county, this State.

The death of his loving wife, after fifty-five
years of wedded life, made Mr. Baker's home
seem desolate, and he subsequently divided
his property among his children, and spent the
remainder of his life with them alternately.

Mr. Baker's ancestors are said, on good
authority, to have come from England in the
," Mayflower," and settled in New England,
but his father was a resident of the old town
of I3eekman.

Mr. Baker belonged to the sect of Friends,
and his Quaker views were exemplified in his
daily life. He was a man who never used vile
language, was at all times kind and thought-
ful for others, always a strong advocate for
justice and peace between man and man.
Honest in every relation, his word was as good



anywhere as a bond. He was, indeed, a man
whose memory should be honored, and this
world would be better had it more of a like
character. He died at the city of Poughkeep-
sie January 12, 1894, at the remarkable age of
102 years, and was buried in Rural Cemetery,
leaving three of his children, many grandchil-
dren and many great-grandchildren to mourn
the loss of a father and good and wise coun-
selor. Among the descendants who mourned
his loss is his grandson'and namesake, Lewis
Baker, the well-known attorney and counselor
of Poughkeepsie.



ILLIAM THACHER REYNOLDS,

senior member of the well-known

firm of Reynolds & Cramer, Poughkeepsie,
Dutchess county, is a descendant in the ninth
generation of one of the earliest settlers of
Rhode Island — William Reynolds, who was a
signer of the original Providence compact in
1637, -and who there is every reason to think
was an offshoot of the manorial family of
Reignoldes of Suffolk.

This pioneer had a son, James, who was a
resident of Kingston, R. I., where he died in
1700. He and his w^ife, Deborah, had a son,
Francis, of Kingston, who was born October
22. 1633, and died in 1722. He married
Elizabeth, daughter of James and Elizabeth
(Anthony) Greene, and granddaughter of John
Greene, M. D., of Salisbury, Wiltshire. Eng-
land, whose father was Richard Greene, Esq.,
of Bowridge Hall, Gillingham, Dorsetshire,
England. They had a son, Peter, a resident
of North Kingston, who had a son, John, born
in 1 72 1, and died there in October, 1804. He
married .Anne, daughter of ^^'illiam and .\nne
(Stone) Utter, and widow of Benjamin Greene.
Their son, William, of North Kingston, who
was born July 19, 1753, died October 4,
1 84 1. He married E*aster Reynolds, his secr
ond cousin, through John, James and Francis.
He was commissioned ensign of the First com-
pany of North Kingston in June, 1775, and
performed about two years' active service dur-
ing the Revolutionary war, for which he was
pensioned in 1832. His son, James, our sub-
ject's grandfather, born in North Kingston,
R. I., April 7, 1777, moved to Poughkeepsie
about 1800, and followed the occupation of
ship carpenter until he established a store at
Upper Landing, which formed the nucleus of
the extensive business now conducted bv our

-■•;,'() 'lOl .".: . 11;.,




O^lf-. iTe^




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COMMEMORATIVE BIOORAPHICAL RECOUD.



109



subject. He was a leading citizen of his time,
and was instrumental in a great degree in the
early development of the city, then a mere
village. A Quaker in religious faith, he dis-
played strong moral qualities joined to perfect
liberality as to doctrinal points. His strictly
temperate habits have been followed by all his
descendants without exception, and the family
have been noted for the qualities which consti-
tute good citizenship, although they have never
taken any active part in politics. He was
married February 22, 1803, to Elizabeth
Winans, daughter of James and Joanna (De-
Graff) Winans, and granddaughter of James
and Sarah Winans, of Pine Plains, and John
De Graff, of Poughkeepsie, who was a de-
scendant in the third generation of Jean and
Mary (Lawrence) le Comte, of Harlem, 1674,
de Graaff being a Dutch corruption of the
French le Comte.

Their son, William Winans Reynolds, our
subject's father, received his education in
Poughkeepsie, and at an early age engaged in
his father's business, to which he and his
brother James succeeded. A man of well-
trained intellect, great energy and sound busi-
ness judgment, he developed the trade of the
house extensively, making it the leading one
of its line along the river. From 1840 to
1872 the business was the embodiment of his
own ideas and abilities, owing to his brother's
ill health and distaste for commercial life. He
was an active and prominent member of the
Washington Street M. E. Church, serving many
years on the board of trustees, to which his
brother also belonged. Mr. Reynolds was
married September 10, 1833, to Phebe
Amanda Thacher (daughter of Rev. William
Thacher, who was descended from Colonel
and Hon. John Thacher, of Yarmouth, Mass.,



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