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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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become that when he returned years afterward
to visit his old charge all the other churches
closed their doors for the purpose of hearing
him. His pastorate there was very successful,
the membership increasing from forty to about
one hundred and sixty. In 1833 Mr. Van-
Cleef accepted a call to the Church at New
Hackensack, and remained there thirty-three
years, when, because of advancing age, he
moved to Poughkeepsie. Here he held no
stated charges, but preached as opportunity
offered, and we may without impropriety call
him the honorary pastor, indeed, almost the
apostle, of many of the Churches in this vicin-
ity. It was largely through his efforts that
the Second Reformed Dutch Church was es-
tablished in Poughkeepsie in 1848, and the
Church at Millbrook about 1870. During his
active ministry he was once appointed presi-
dent of the General Synod of the Reformed
Dutch Church, which position he filled with
great ability and dignity. As a speaker he
was faithful, earnest and impressive, and be-
ing more solicitous concerning truthfulness and
clearness than grace and embellishment, his
discourses were marked by simplicity and
Godly sincerity. As a pastor he had in rare
measure the one qualification which is first of
all in importance, and without which all others
are of little avail — a hearty love for his people.

It has been said of him by one who knew
him well. "As a Christian man his character
was so exquisitely beautiful that I know not
in what character to describe it. " He passed
the borders of the unseen on Sunday morning,
June 13, 1875, in his sixty-seventh year, leav-
ing two children, James Spencer and Sophia
Somers Van Cleef.

James Spencer A'an Cleef was educated at
College Hill, Poughkeepsie, and Rutgers Col-
lege, New Brunswick, N. J., graduating in
1852 with the degree of A. B. , to vvhcih was
added later that of A. M. He entered the
ofifice of Holden & Thayer, of New York City,
as a law student, and was admitted to the bar
there in 1855. In 1858 he began the practice
of his profession at Poughkeepsie, and in the
following year formed a partnership with Hon.
Mark D. Wilbur, which continued until the
close of the Civil war. During this time Mr.
Van Cleef had almost exclusive charge of the
business, Mr. Wilbur being in the army. About
1870 Mr. \'an Cleef entered into partnership

with Prof. Samuel W. Buck, of Lyndon Hall;
but two or three years later this was dissolved,
and for twenty years he has practiced alone.
He has been very successful especially in cases
connected with the Surrogate's court, in which
he has for many years ranked among the lead-
ing practitioners. He was married in 1862 to
Harriet Mulford Howell, daughter of Capt.
George Howell, a prominent resident of Sag
Harbor, N. Y., and has had three children:
Elizabeth Howell, who married Dr. B. C.
Kinnear, then of Boston, and died in 1886,
leaving no children; Ellen Shepard, who mar-
ried \\'alter M. Jones, of the Atlantic Mutual
Insurance Co., of New York, and has four
children; and Henry Howell, now a student in
his father's office.

Mr. Van Cleef was originally a Whig in
political faith, but in 18 56 he became an ardent
supporter of the principles of the Republican
party. Prior to the Civil war he took an
active part in the politics of Dutchess county,
and he has now been a member of the board
of education in Poughkeepsie for twenty years,
being the oldest continuous member of same.
During this time he has been largely instru-
mental in bringing the schools of the city into
their present satisfactory condition. In any
movement for the public welfare he has taken
a prompt and hearty interest, and one of the
largest industries in the city was located there
a few years ago mainly through his influence. .
For many years he has been an active member
of the Second Reformed Dutch Church.

Mr. Van Cleef is known as a very success-
ful angler; is one of the leading members of
the State Association for the Protection of Fish
and Game, and since its organization has
been a member of the Committee on Law and
Legislation. In the fall of 1894 he was re-
tained as counsel for the Senate Committee
on Game and Fish, and at their request drew
up the new fish and game law, which was
passed substantially as the original draft made
by him.

GEN. ALFRED B. SMITH (deceased).
_ Among the leading citizens of Pough-
keepsie none holds a higher place in the esti-
mation of his fellow men, or has taken a more
active part in the development and growth of
all those enterprises which go to make up a
flourishing city than did the gentleman whose
name introduces this sketch. As a man of


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business; as a member of the legal fraternity;
as an honored veteran of the Civil war; as a
worker in Church and philanthropic matters;
as a friend of education and as a public official,
he always commanded the respect and ad-
miration of those more intimately connected
with him.

Stephen Smith, the great-great-grandfather
of our subject, was a farmer in Massachusetts
in the early Colonial daj'S. He married Doro-
thea Matton, a sister of Gen. Matton, of Massa-
chusetts, who was a major in the Revolu-
tionary war. Three brothers of Stephen
Smith also served throughout that war. Arad,
a son of Stephen, and our subject's great-
grandfather, was born in Salem, Massachusetts.

The grandfather, also named Arad, was
born at Amherst, Mass., and married Salome
Elmer, by whom he had fourteen children, of
whom Adolphus H. was the father of our sub-
ject. In 1808 Arad Smith moved with his
numerous family to St. Lawrence county,
N. Y. , and settled on a one-square mile tract of
land in the primeval forest. There he made his
home until 1833, when he removed to Elyria,
Ohio, where he died about the year 1865.
Politically he was a Whig, and in religious
belief he was a Congregationalist.

Adolphus G. Smith, our subject's father,
born August 22, 1800, at Amherst, Mass., was
married on July 4, 1824, to Miss Nancy Dodge,
who was born in Addison, \'t., a daughter of
Major Thomas Dodge. Her father was of
English descent, and was one of twelve chil-
dren, of whom several sons served in the war
of the Revolution, in the war of 18 12, and
in the Mexican war. After their marriage
Adolphus G. Smith and his wife settled on a
farm in St. Lawrence county, N. Y. , where
they reared a family of eleven children, of
whom the following record is given: Alfred
Baker, the subject of this sketch, was the
eldest; Selome E. married Xewcomb Perkins,
a farmer of Augusta, Wis. ; Clarissa C. died in
1850; Hannah D. is the widow of Harvey D.
Hyde, who was a farmer in St. Lawrence
county, N. Y. ; Thomas D. is a farmer in
Rolla, Mo. ; Martin M. is farming at Massena,
Cass Co., Iowa; Wallace H. was a clerk in
the post office at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and
died in 1875; Silas C. was a carpenter b}'
trade, and died in 1880, near Rochester, N. Y';
Dorothy became the second wife of Newcomb
Perkins, and died in 1870; Lepha E. is the
wife of Emmett Russell, a carpenter in Mas-

sena, Iowa; and Gustavus A. is farming at the
old homestead. The father always followed
the occupation of a farmer, and in politics was
originally an Old-line Whig, in later years be-
coming a member of the Republican party.
He died August 26, 1879, his wife passing
away in January, 1894, at the good old age of
ninety years.

Alfred B. Smith was born November 17,
1825, in Massena, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y. ,
spent his boyhood days on his father's farm,
and received his early education in the district
school. When seventeen years old he began
teaching, spending his vacations in work in the
fields and other farm duties. In the fall of
I S48 he entered Union College, at Schenectady,
N. Y. , from which he was graduated in the
class of '51. Shortly afterward he came to
Poughkeepsie, and became teacher of mathe-
matics in the school of Charles Bartlett, on
College Hill, which position he filled some
four years, during that time devoting his lei-
sure hours to the study of law under Judge
James Emott. He was admitted to the bar in
1855, and for three years was a partner of
Mathew Hale; then formed a partnership with
Charles Williams, with whom he practiced until
the spring of 1862.

In the meantime the Civil war had broken
out, and the fighting spirit inherited from his
martial ancestors on both sides proved stronger
than all other incentives. Our subject was
among the first to raise a regiment in Dutchess
county, which became the 150th N. Y. V. I.,
and of which he was made major. His first
commission was that of lieutenant-colonel;
later he was promoted to major, and when he
became colonel he was made brevet brigadier-
general for gallant and meritorious service
under Sherman, in Georgia and the Carolinas.
At the battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Smith's regi-
ment (mustering about 500 men) formed part
of the Corps No. 8, No. 12, No. 20 and No.
28, and was on the celebrated march to the sea.
The General served until the close of the war,
and was mustered out with his regiment June
8, 1865.

When peace was again restored Gen. Smith
returned to Poughkeepsie, and resumed his
practice of law in partnership with L. B.
Sackett, which connection lasted some twent}'
years, after which he practiced alone. At the
time of his death he was the only one li\ing
of the twelve men who were the first members
of the Republican party in Dutchess county.



and he always took an acti\e part in politics,
(icn. Smith held various responsible public of-
fices, and always fulfilled his duties with faith-
fulness and to the satisfaction of all concerned.
For thirty-three years he was a member of the
board of education; was president during eight
years of that time, and also for some years
was chairman of the building committee, all
of the school houses in the district having
been erected under his supervision. In 1892,
after being elected city recorder, he resigned
from the board.

Just after the war C.en. Smith served as
deputy collector of internal revenue. In 1867
he was appointed postmaster of Poughkeepsie,
by President Johnson, and was reappointed by
President Grant, holding the office for eight
years. He also served two terms as supervi-
sor of the Fifth ward of the city, and did
much to establish the Hudson River State
Hospital. He always took a leading part not
only in political and public affairs but also in
Church matters, and, indeed, to quote from
an article printed during his lifetime, in one
of the city newspapers, "one cannot men-
tion a good cause in which Gen. Smith
has not taken a part." He had been an
elder in the Presbyterian Church and super-
intendent of the Sunday-school for many
years, and was sent as delegate to three of its
General Assemblies which met at Madison,
Wis., Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C,
respectively. He was instrumental in the
formation of what is known as "the Pough-
keepsie Plan," which has for its object the
breaking down of the barriers between the
Catholics and Protestants, and which is rec-
ognized not only in the United States, but
also in Europe. Gen. Smith was connected
with the Electric Light Co. ; was a member of
the State Bar Association; of the Loyal Le-
gion; of the Masonic fraternity, and was a
Knight Templar and chief counsel of King
Solomon's Temple. In 1867 he organized the
first G. A. R. Post in Poughkeepsie, now
know as Hamilton Post No. 20.

On June 20, 1854, Gen. Smith was mar-
ried to Ann Eliza Mitchell, who was born at
Jewett Heights, Lexington, Greene Co., N. Y. ,
a daughter of David and Leah (Dunham)
Mitchell. Her parents were of English ex-
traction, and her father was a merchant
tailor. Two children — one daughter and one
son — were born to our subject and his wife,
to wit: Margaret J., born September 2, T855,

died May 3, 1875; anc" Matthew J., born April
21, 1S60. Mrs. Smith died January 5, 1894;
she was a most estimable woman, affection-
ately remembered by a large circle of warm
friends. Gen. A. B. Smith departed this life
at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., January 28, 1896.

.^^ Poughkeepsie, one of the oldest and
ablest financiers in this section, was identified
with various banking institutions in Dutchess
county for half a century previous to his retire-
ment, in 1890, from the position of president
of the Poughkeepsie National Bank.

His family originated in England, and his
grandfather, Solomon Ketcham, who was
born there April 6, 1757, was the first of the
line to come to America. He located at Hun-
tington, L. I., where he followed agricultural
pursuits throughout the remainder of his life.
He entered heartily into the struggles of the
Colonies for freedom, and in a speech by Hon.
Henry C. Piatt, on " Old Times in Hunting-
ton, L. I.," this account appears: "He lent
his energies to the battle-field, and fought for
the birthright of freedom when the storm-
cloud of Revolution burst upon the infant
America and threatened to overwhelm the Na-
tion in its fiery torrent." ■■ * * "Among
the prisoners taken b}- the British during the
Revolutionary war we find the name of Solo-
mon Ketcham, and they were carried aboard
the 'Swan' in 1777. Solomon Ketcham
lived on Main street. He got into difficulty
with the British soldiers, and snatching a
picket from a fence offered to fight three or
four officers. He was afterward confined in
the fort on Burying Hill, and kept on a diet of
bread and water. He never forgot his impris-
onment nor forgave his enemies, and when the
British fieet dropped anchor in Huntington
Bay during the war oi 181 2, the old man
might have been seen prowling around the
shores of Lloyd's Neck and Bay, gun in hand,
and woe to the son of Britain who came within
his reach." He married Rebecca Piatt, who
died April 17, 1834, and he survived until Feb-
ruary 19, 1 85 1. They had seven children,
whose names with dates of birth and death are
as follows: Jonas, December 4, 1779, died
October 31, 1842; Hannah, born March 29,
1782; Solomon, Jr.. December 12, 1784, died
March 28, 1852; Oliver, October 11, 1788.
died August 5, 1792; Amos Piatt, May 12,



1791, died October 19, 1825; Conklin, Octo-
ber 22, 1794, died December 16, 182 i (lost at
seaj; John, September 2, 1797.

Amos P. Ketcham, our subject's father,
left the old home in Huntington, and moved to
the town of Amenia, Dutchess county, where
he ran a fiouring-mill and engaged in farming
in a small way. In 1 82 1 he removed to Pough-
keepsie and established the first steam-boat
house in the city, about 300 yards from the
dock at the foot of Main street. Later he
moved into a house on the dock which was
known as " The Exchange," and was for some
time the leading hotel of the city. He was
married September 9, 181 1, to Miss Anna
Rogers Piatt, who was born November 26,
1793, and died at Poughkeepsie, October 31,
1 86 1. After his death she conducted the hotel
alone until her marriage February 2, 1832, to
Warren Skinner, who took charge of it. By
the first marriage she had five children: Es-
ther Emily, Aionzo R., Zephar Piatt, Andrew
J. and Rebecca, of whom, the last two are the
only survivors. Two children by the second
marriage died in infancy.

Mr. K.etcham was born in the town of
Amenia, March 18, 1819, but with the excep-
tion of two years in a select school there he
was educated in Poughkeepsie at the Dutchess
County Academy, which stood in his early
years on the corner of Cannon and Academy
streets, but afterward was moved to the upper
part of the city. His education was practical
and quite extensive for the times, and his wide
reading has kept him well abreast of the world's
progress. In early manhood he became a part-
ner in a grocery business in upper Main street,
the firm name being Gale & Ketcham. After
a few years there he began his successful ca-
reer in finance as clerk in the Farmers & Manu-
facturers Bank, under Frederick W. Davis, and
a few years later was appointed teller. In
1852 he was appointed cashier of the First Na-
tional Bank of Saugerties, N. Y., which he had
helped to organize. In 1861 he started the
Saugerties Bank, and in 1865 he went to Dover
Plains, N. Y. , as cashier of the Dover Plains
National Bank, and held that position nineteen
3'ears. He retired in 1884 and moved to Pough-
keepsie; but in 1886 he was made president of
the Poughkeepsie National Bank, and was in
charge of that institution for four years.
Throughout these j'ears of service he has per-
formed the duties of every position with marked
ability and unvarying rectitude, and by his wise

management he has not only won success for
himself but has satisfactorily cared for the in-
terests of others.

Mr. Ketcham was married first, in 1842, to
Sarah Anderson, daughter of Nathan Ander-
son, a well-known resident of Rondout, N. Y.
They had six children: Richard Piatt is cash-
ier of the Dover Plains National Bank; Annie
married Arthur Bangs, of Dover Plains; and
Gaston is secretary of the Borden Con-
densed Milk Co., of Wassaic, N. Y. Of the
others, Andrew Golding died at the age of nine
years, Golding at the age of six, and John at
one year. Mr. Ketcham formed a second
matrimonial union, with Mary Frances Cowles,
daughter of a leading citizen of Stamford,
N. Y., Jessee F. Cowles. They have one son,
Charles Andrew, now a clerk in the First Na-
tional Bank, Poughkeepsie. Mr. Ketcham
and his wife are prominent members of the
Second Reformed Church, in which he has
been an elder for ten years. He takes great
interest in public affairs, and while he has
never sought political office, has given strong
support to the party which represents his con-
victions. Originally a Democrat, he adhered
to that party until the Civil war broke out,
and since that time he has been a Republican.

J|AMES E. DUTCHER, president of the
board of public works of Poughkeepsie, is
one of the best-known and most prominent
men in Dutchess county, having been a mem-
ber of the State Legislature, twice elected sher-
iff, and chairman of the Republican County
Committee, besides holding minor offices.

The Dutcher family is of Holland descent,
and Abraham, the grandfather of our subject,
was a farmer in the town of Beekman, Dutch-
ess county, where he died. He had a family
of eleven children, of whom, Abraham, Jr.
(the father of our subject), was born in La-
grange, Dutchess county, and married Miss
Gertrude, daughter of Stephen Van Vores,
who was of Dutch descent. They settled on
a farm in Lagrange, but afterward removed to
the town of Beekman, where the father died
in 1869; he followed farming all his life. In
his early days he was a Whig, afterward be-
coming a Republican. The mother died in
1892. Their family consisted of five children,
as follows: Daniel V. is a resident of Mattea-
wan, Dutchess county; James E. comes next;
William H. is a farmer in the town of Beek-



man; Mary F. is unmarried, and resides in
Beekman; and Allison died in 1882.

James E. Dutcher was born in the town of
Lagrange, January 21, 1838. He was twelve
years old when his parents removed to Beek-
man, and after completing his education worked
upon his father's farm until his marriage, in
February, 1869, with Miss Elizabeth Flagler,
She was born and reared in the town of Beek-
man, and is a daughter of Benjamin F. Flag-
ler, a farmer of that town. In 1876 Mr.
Dutcher was elected sheriff of Dutchess coun-
ty, and was re-elected in 1882, which office he
filled three years longer. During this time he
also served as chairman of the Republican
County Committee. In all these responsible
positions he won the confidence and esteem
of the people by the faithful and impartial dis-
charge of his duties, and proved himself a
man of more than usual ability and progressive
ideas. During his term as sheriff, a house on
Pawling hill was blown up with dynamite, one
man being killed, and for this offense three
men were tried, convicted and sentenced to
Sing Sing for life. After retiring from the
shrievalty Mr. Dutcher engaged in the coal
business, which he successfully carried on until
1894, when he retired from that. He is at
present serving as president of the board of
public works of Poughkeepsie, having been
elected to that office in May, 1896.

Socially, our subject is a member of the
F. & A. M. He is public-spirited, always
ready to assist in matters relating to the wel-
fare of his city or county, and is held in high
esteem by his fellow-citizens. The family are
identified with the Congregational Church, of
which Mrs. Dutcher is an active member.

[ON. JOHN THOMPSON (deceased) was
a native of Dutchess county N. Y. , born
in the town of Rhincbeck July 4, 1809, a son
of Robert Thompson, a farmer of near the
village of Rhinebeck, and his wife, a Miss
Scott, the daughter of Rev. Robert Scott,
who for many years kept a boarding school
for boys. At this institution our subject re-
ceived the rudiments of his education, up to
the age of thirteen years, when, the school
being discontinued, he for the next four years
spent the most of his time in establishing his
always e.xtensively delicate health in the light
work about the farm, also in reading and

On October 2G, 1826, Mr. Thompson en-
tered the office of Francis A. Livingston, then
district attorney of Dutchess county, and at
once began the study not only of law, but of
general literature. Within the first j'ear of
his clerkship he acquired a perfect knowledge
of the routine of the duties of the district
attorney's office, and in many ways soon made
himself an indispensable acquisition to Mr.
Livingston, attending court with him, etc., at
the same time pursuing his studies in English
literature and philosophy.

On the removal of Mr. Livingston to New
York, in 1829, Mr. Thompson went into the
office of Hooker & Tallmadge, in the then
village of Poughkeepsie, and, upon receiving
his license as an attorney, was taken into
partnership by James Hooker, then surrogate
of the county.

In 1834 Mr. Thompson was married to
Miss Mary Smith, youngest daughter of Judge
Isaac Smith, of Lithgow, in the town of Wash-
ington, Dutchess county, and, she owning a
farm recei\ed from her father's estate, much
of her husband's time was taken up in its
management. In 1840, however, he gave this
up and devoted himself e.xclusively to his pro-
fession. He was cotemporary with some of
the most learned of the old school of lawyers,
with whom it is but just to say that he " held
his own," and was engaged in the trial of
every important case from 1845 till his retire-
ment. Not the least of his labors was his
acquisition for the Hudson River Railroad Co.
of ihe title of much of the lands needed for
the use of the road from Poughkeepsie to
Albany. Mr. Thompson was for many years
connected in business with James H. Weeks,
under the firm name of Thompson & Weeks,
which firm, by the admission of Frank B.
Lown, in 1878, became Thompson, Weeks &
Lown. Mr. Weeks died in 1887, and the
firm then remained as Thompson & Lown,
which partnership continued until Mr. Thomp-
son's death.

In the summer of 1856 Mr. Thompson
was asked to represent Columbia and Dutchess
counties in Congress, and induced to accept
the nomination, though the result seemed
dubious, considering the heavy and influ-
ential Democratic majority in the district.
However, he at once organized a series of
meetings in the two counties, and by a
thorough discussion of the momentous issues
then pending, so aroused public sentiment,

Ju ^Wa/lkAJiydO-l^^^



that he was elected by over 1,200 majority on
the side of the Republican ticket. During
the sessions of '57-58 Mr. Thompson entered
into the debates on the floor of the House of
Representatives, and a number of his speeches
were circulated throughout the district and
country. One upon the exciting topic of the
hour, "The Admission of Kansas," and an-
other on the "Mormon Question" were
warmly received, thousands of copies being
circulated by members all over the Southern
as well as the Northern States.

A second nomination was tendered Mr.
Thompson, but declined by him on account of
pressing business duties. After his Congres-
sional career, he held no public office of a
political nature, but beside his professional

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