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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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was a daughter of William Hunt, and a de-
scendant of an old English family. No chil-
dren were born of the second marriage.

Mr. Storm owned about 430 acres of land,
from which he raised a variety of crops. The
home is a beautiful one, and the estate very
valuable. Politically, he was a Republican, and,
while he was not a politician, he took great inter-
est in all public questions. He was actively help-
ful in religious and philanthropic movements,
and he and his wife were leading members
of the Reformed Church. His death oc-
curred November 4, 1893, and in his taking
away a loss was felt throughout a wide circle
of friends, to whom his quiet but steadfast
Christian character had endeared him.



'ILLIAM J. MERWIN (deceased) was
descended from an old Connecticut
family. His grandfather, Capt. John Merwin,
was born and reared in that State, and became
a prominent agriculturist at New Milford (now



1 8 16. Capt.

his first mar-



Bridgewater). His first wife, Mercy, was born
in 1706, and died November 7, 1776. On
December 31, 1777, he married Mrs. Ruth
Welsh, a widow, who was a member of the
well-known Gaylord family, of Gaylord's
Bridge. She died March 16,
Merwin had seven children by
riage, and si.x by his second.

Daniel Merwin, our subject's father, was
born March 28, 1788, at the old home at
Bridgewater, and was educated in the local
schools. He followed agricultural pursuits
there throughout his active business life. On
November 22, 181 5, he married Miss Amy
Peck, who was born in 1799, the daughter of
Andrew Peck, of Newton, Conn., and they
had eight children, as follows: (i) Ruth,
born April 7, 1S17, was married four times.
(2) John H., born September 7, 1S21, married
(first) Miss Julia Buckley, and (second) Mrs.
Elizabeth Starr, but had no children. (3)
Sarah, born June 3, 1823, married (first) Oli-
ver Smith, and had children — Fred, Ella,
Josephine, Almon (who married Delia Rug-
gles), Cornelius, William and Ida; she married
(second) Clover Sanford, a man of wealth and
prominence, of Bridgeport, Conn., a manu-
facturer of hats. (4) Daniel G., born Novem-
ber 28, 1825, married Miss Susan Atwood, and
they had three daughters — Emma, Alma and
Nellie. (5) George A., born May 20, 1828,
married Miss Charlotte Tompkins, and had
three children — Homer, Florence and Frank.
(6) Frederick S., born October 2, 1830, mar-
ried Miss Lucy J. Carter, and is proprietor of
a hardware establishment in Pawling. (7)
William J., our subject, conies next in order
of birth, and will be more fully spoken of
presently. (8) Harriet O., born November
12, 1834, married Charles S. Trowbridge, a
paper-box manufacturer of South Norwalk,
Conn. ; they have three children — George,
Flora and Nellie.

William J. Merwin was born in ISridge-
water, Conn., November 3, 1833, and attend-
ed the schools of his native town until he was
about sixteen years old. He possessed good
literary taste, and was always fond of substan-
tial reading, history being his favorite study.
Soon after leaving school he went to Savannah,
Ga., and engaged in mercantile business for
for some years, later removing to Barcelona,
Spain, for his health, where he spent one yeaf.
After his return to Connecticut, he again went
to Savannah, as clerk in a large dry-goods



34(3



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



house; but the outbreak of the Civil war caused
him to come north again, his sympathies being
with the Union cause. In i860 he located at
Pawling, purchasing an interest in the firm of
J. W. Stark & Co., dealers in dry goods and
groceries, Mr. Merwin and Mr. Wilde being
the junior members. Later, Mr. Holmes
bought Mr. Wilde's interest, and on the dis-
posal of the Stark interest some time afterward,
the firm became Merwin & Holmes. This was
one of the largest establishments of the kind in
that part of the county, and its success was
due in a large measure to Mr. Merwin's efforts.
His genial nature, even temper and gentle-
manl\- manner, made for him many friends,
and he held a gift for dealing with the public
which served him well on many occasions. He
was much interested in thesuccess of Republic-
an principles, and took an active part in local
politics. Previous to 1884 he held the office
of postmaster at Pawling for a number of years,
and wassupervisor-of the town also, for several
terms. As treasurer of the Pawling Savings
Bank from its organization, in 1871, until his
death, 1892, he was the responsible official of
the institution, and it was largely through his
instrumentality that it gained its present high
reputation. In early years he was an Episco-
palian, but there being no Church of that de-
nomination in Pawling, he united with the
Methodist Episcopal Church in later life. So-
cially he was affiliated with the Masonic fra-
ternity. A self-made man, his experiences
have served to broaden his natural sympathy
for the unfortunate, and by his counsel and as-
sistance helped many a deserving person to
prosperity. Mr. Merwin married Miss Eliza-
beth Mitchell Campbell Van De liurgh, daugh-
ter of Hexton Van De Burgh, and had one son,
William J., who is now a student in ^^'esleyan
University.

Hkxtox V.an De Bukgh, born in 181 5,
was a merchant in Pawling and Beekman,
later a farmer, and was always interested in
public affairs. He was a son of Gen. George
Van De Burgh, who was an officer in the war
of 18 12, and was one of the prominent men
of the county. He was a brother of Dr. Van
De Burgh, of Rhinebeck, a noted homeopathic
physician. Hexton Van De Burgh married
Catharine R. Campbell, daughter of Archibald
and Elizabeth (Mitchell) Campbell, and grand-
daughter of Archibald Campbell, the first of
that family to come to America. He came
over here as an officer in the English army.



and was killed at the skirmish of White Plains
on the night before the battle. He lived here
as an officer, and was granted a large tract of
land in Putnam and Dutchess counties, N. Y.
Col. Archibald Campbell married Jane Mon-
roe, and had three children: Archibald; Dun-
can, born in 1767, who was a surgeon in the
English army in the West Indies; and Mary,
who was born in 1776, and never married.
Archibald Campbell was born in the year 1769,
near the depot in what is now the town of
Pawling, and as a son of an officer in the En-
glish army he was taken to England to be
educated; but after a few years, becoming tired
of that country, he returned to America with
a cargo of merchandise. About 1791 he en-
gaged in mercantile business at what is now
Pawling, and was thus employed for some
years. He then bought the home on which
Irving Hurd, his grandson, now lives, and kept
adding to his landed possessions until he had
about one thousand acres. He was a man of
strong character, great executive ability and
fine mental gifts, and was much consulted as
an arbitrator. He was one of the foremost
men of the M. E. Church. As a Jacksonian
Democrat, he was somewhat prominent in lo-
cal politics, and, taken all in all, he was a
unique character. He married Elizabeth
Mitchell, daughter of Thomas Mitchell, and
had children as follows: Archibald, born in
'793; Jsn6 married Rev. Cyrus Foss, and had
three sons who were ministers, one being
Bishop Foss, of Philadelphia: Eliza married
Daniel Calhoun, a merchant; Mary married
Benjamin Hurd; Stacia married Cushion Green;
Duncan C. was the father of Henry Campbell;
Sarah married Samuel Merrick; Harriet mar-
ried (first) Dr. Fowler, and (second) Rev. John
Pierpont, of Boston, the well-known poet and
preacher, and grandfather of J. Pierpont Mor-
gan; Thomas C, a lavvj'er in New York, mar-
ried Cordelia Noxon, of Beekman. Archibald
Campbell died in 1847, his widow on January
27, 1858.



JOHN H. VAN KLEECK, one of the lead-
ing insurance men of Poughkeepsie, Dutch-
ess county, was there born December 27,
1837, and is a son of George M. and Eliza
(Wilson) Van Kleeck, the former also a native
of Poughkeepsie, and the latter of England.
The Van Kleeck family was founded in this
country by Holland emigrants who located in



COMMEMORATIVE BIOORAPHIOAL RECORD.



347



the Empire State, and in Poughkeepsie John
M. Van Kleeck, the grandfather of our subject,
was born and reared. As a life work he fol-
lowed freighting on the Hudson. In his fam-
ily were the following children: Robert M.,
who was a farmer iu the town of Fishkill,
Dutchess county; George M., the father of our
subject; Edgar M., a dry -goods merchant of
Poughkeepsie, who early went to California,
but returned to that city, where he died; and
Hester F., who died unmarried.

The entire life of the father was spent in
Poughkeepsie, where for many years he en-
gaged in the dry-goods business. Our subject
is the eldest in his family of four children, the
others being: Robert (now deceased), who was
teller in the Savings Bank of Poughkeepsie;
Richard, who is now a resident of California;
and Hester M., the wife of Jacob V. Overock-
er, who carried on farming near Poughkeepsie.
The parents were both communicants of the
Episcopal Church, and in politics the father
was first a Whig and later a Republican. He
departed this life in 1884, his wife in 1892,
respected and esteemed by all who knew them.

The boyhood days of John H. Van Kleeck
were spent in Poughkeepsie, where he attended
private schools, and after finishing his educa-
tion he entered his father's dry-goods store as
a clerk. He there remained from the age of
fifteen until forty-five, being for some time a
partner; but in 1879 they disposed of their
stock, and entered into the fire-insurance busi-
ness under the name of George M. Van Kleeck
& Son, which they carried on until the death
of Geo. M. Van Kleeck, since which our sub-
ject has continued it. Their first office was
on Market street, whence they removed to the
Savings Bank building, and later to the present
place on Garden street.

In politics, Mr. Van Kleeck is a Republican,
supporting the men and measures of that party,
and religiously is connected with the Episcopal
Church. He leads a moral, honest and upright
life, and as a result has won the respect and
esteem of the community in which he lives.



:ON. JAMES ADDIS SEWARD (de-
1 ceased). Few among the able sons of
Dutchess county have displayed the versatile
talents and business acumen which character-
ized the subject of this memohr. In politics
and finance he was a leader, and his influence
in social, religious and educational affairs was



no less pronounced. His family was among
the oldest of New England, the head of this
branch having come from England in 1638.
His grandfather, William Seward, was born in
Guilford, Conn., but settled in Dutchess
county, town of Fishkill (now Wappingeri,
where his son. Philander, our subject's father,
was born. Philander Seward was a prominent
farmer and mill owner at New Hackensack,
where he died in 1853. He married Susan
Montfort, by whom he had si.\ children : Will-
iam H. was drowned in Te.xas in early man-
hood; P. George, an enterprising young busi-
ness man, who conducted grist and saw mills
in his native town, died at an early age; Mau-
rice Dwight will be fully spoken of presently;
Caroline A. died at fourteen; James A. is our
subject; Ogden T. was a banker at Elgin,
111., and died at the age of thirty-four.

Maurice Dwight Seward was born October
lO, 1830, at New Hackensack, N. Y. , where,
in June, 1854, he married Mary Marvin, and
in September of that year he moved to Elgin,
111., where he engaged in the agricultural-im-
plement business. His health failing, he, in
1857, removed to Rosemond, 111., where he
lived on a fruit farm until the latter part
of 1865. In the spring of 1866 he removed
to Normal, that State, where he engaged (first)
in a general merchandise business, and (after-
ward) in a loan and real-estate business. In
1 87 1 he was one of the originators and organ-
izers of the company known as the Blooming-
ton Stove Co., Bloomington, 111., in which
business he remained until his death, October
27, 1876. In his position as superintendent
of sales of the company, and also as inventor
of a number of stoves and furnaces, he placed
the company in the fore ranks with their com-
petitors. During all his life he was interested
in Church work, being an organizer of several
of the Churches of which he was a member,
and latterly was quite prominent in the Second
Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, 111. He
was held in high regard by his business asso-
ciates, and by those with whom he had busi-
ness dealings, for his strict integrity and busi-
ness qualities. His home life was an unusu-
ally happy one; he was of gentle manners, and
his thoughtfulness for others made him greatly
looked up to and revered, not only by his
family, but by all with whom he came in con-
tact.

James A. Seward, the subject proper of
this memoir, was born in New Hackensack,



848



COMMEMORATIVE BIOORAPEICAL RECORD.



January 3, 1836, and acquired his education
in part at the neighboring district schools, in
part at those of the viihige of Fishkill. At
seventeen he went to New York City and spent
two years as clerk in a cloth-importing house.
He then visited Illinois, and was engaged in
photography at Elgin, but after a short time
returned east. On October 12, 1858, he
married Miss Mary B. Piatt, a native of the
town of Wappinger. Three brothers by the
name of Piatt came to this State from Con-
necticut at an early period, of whom one set-
tled at Plattsburg, and one, Zephania Piatt
(Mrs. Seward's grandfather), located in Dutch-
ess county, in the town of Wappinger, where
her father, Hervey D. Piatt, was born. He
was a \\'hig in politics, and a member of the
Reformed Dutch Church. He married Miss
Phctbe F. Cary, a member of one of the old-
est families in the town of Beekman, and made
his home upon a farm in his native town,
where he died in 1877, and his wife in 1862.
Mrs. Seward was the eldest of three children.
The others, Ebenezer C. and Elizabeth R.,
are both deceased. After their marriage Mr.
and Mrs. Seward lived for two years on a
farm at East Mills, Dutchess county, and then
moved to Poughkeepsie, where Mr. Seward
was interested in various business enterprises.
He was also for a time engaged in the manu-
facture of carriages in Baltimore, Md. Later
was in the furniture business at Poughkeepsie
and New York City; but he finally returned to
his native town, where his death occurred Mav
I, 1892. A man of great public spirit and
wide sympathies, he entered heartily into all
movements in which he saw good. He and
his wife contributed liberall)' to the Reformed
Dutch Church, and his interest in religious
work, as well as in educational movements, was
shown in many ways. He was active in the
Masonic fraternity, and in the Republican
party, holding several prominent offices at
various times, including two terms as Assem-
blyman from the First District of Dutchess
county. He was also the first supervisor of
the town of Wappinger, serving in that capacity
for two consecutive terms.

Mr. and Mrs. Seward had three children:
Irving P. died at the age of eight years; Carrie
A. married John C. Kingman, of Cedar Falls,
Iowa, and died at the age of twenty-nine,
leaving one child, Arthur S. Kingman; and
Sarah S., the wife of Robert Johnston. The
family has always occupied a high position



socially, and their home at New Hackensack
is one in which cultured tastes and wealth
combine to make it charming.



COL. SAMUEL LEITH. To a patriotic
_ American there can be no badge of honor
equal in merit to a title won by gallant service
in the field of battle for the cause of freedom
and union. The subject of this sketch, now
a prominent resident of Matteawan, Dutchess
county, enjoys this distinction, and though of
foreign birth has demonstrated his devotion to
his adopted country in bloody combat, in toil-
some marches, in the camp, and in the loath-
some prisons of the South, in which so inanj'
brave souls found death a welcome relief from
intolerable suffering.

The many friends of Col. Leith will be glad
to find a permanent record made of a life so well
worthy of emulation. He was born August
22, 1839, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, but his
family has long been identified with Leith, one
of the oldest cities in Scotland, his ancestry
being traced back lo about 1200 A. D. His
grandfather, Andrew Leith, was a butcher by
trade, and in fact that occupation seems to
have been hereditary in the family. Andrew
Leith married a ^Iiss MacGregor, and had
seven children; James, David, Andrew, John,
Samuel, Walter and Margaret, none of whom
came to America. David Leith, our subject's
father, was born in Leith, Scotland, and dur-
ing his active business career was a butcher
and drover, his trade in the latter line extend-
ing into England and Ireland, where much of
his buying was done. He was killed by acci-
dent, in 1840, while traveling on a mail coach.
His wife, Margaret (McMaster), who like him-
self was a devout Presbyterian, had passed
away the previous year. Six children were
born to them, of w^hom our subject was the
only one to settle in America: David died in
Scotland; Andrew, a retired butcher and
drover, is living in the old country; John died
there; Margaret married James McKnight, a
celebrated artist in Edinburgh, Scotland, but
neither is now living; Elizabeth (deceased)
never married.

Col. Leith's boyhood was spent in his na-
tive land until the age of eleven years. He
was trained to habits of industry, and while
attending school would spend some time before
and after the daily sessions in driving a butch-
er's cart. In 1850 he started from Liverpool





^^7^7,




!-£>




^-^/O



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



349



on the saiiinf( vessel, " William Nelson," for
the New World, and on landing in New York
worked at such emploj-ment as he could find.
He drove a butcher's wagon for a time, and
then, after a short service in a tin shop, was
employed by Julius Closs in the wholesale
butchering business until 1858, when he located
at Fishkill Landing, and established a butcher
shop. The breaking out of the Civil war found
him eager to defend the Union, and at Fish-
kill he recruited Company C, i8th N. Y. V. I.,
becoming lieutenant April 23, 1861. There
being no time to wait for " red tape " in those
perilous days, he paid the railroad fare of his
company to Albany in order to get them to the
front at once. For this generous expenditure
he was re-imbursed seventeen years later,
through the efforts of Hon. James Mackin.
From Albany they went to Virginia, via Wash-
ington, and they took part in the battle of
Manassas Junction. The regiment then re-
turned to Alexandria for drill, and in the
spring of 1862 participated in the seven-days'
fight on the peninsula near Richmond. About
this time Col. Leith, on account of not receiv-
ing the promotion he felt he was entitled to,
resigned his position, and returning to the
North helped to raise a new company in New
York and Brooklyn, known as Company H,
I32d N. Y. V. I. On this he held the rank of
first sergeant, and after passing an officer's ex-
amination he was made orderly sergeant.
This regiment took part in the battle of An-
tietam, and our subject's gallantry won him
a promotion to the rank of second lieu-
tenant. After the battle of Blackwater, Va. ,
he was made first lieutenant, and soon after
his regiment was ordered to rejoin the army of
the Potomac for the campaign through Penn-
sylvania and Maryland. He was in the battle
of Gettysburg during the first three days of
July, 1863, and was wounded there. On being
granted a thirty-days' furlough he came home,
and on his return to his regiment was promoted
to captain. Not having fully recovered from
his injuries, he could not safely resume active
work in the field, and he served six weeks as
provost marshal of Newbern, N. C. , before
taking charge of his company, which was then
in that State. From there he was ordered to
Washington for an examination, which he
passed with honors, and he was then commis-
sioned colonel of the 49th U. S. Colored Troops;
but preferring to remain with his old comrades,
he did not take the position. After his return



to his regiment he saw much active service in
the battles of Kington, Woodbury, Whitehall
and Goldsboro, and in the running fight known
as the Tarboro and Newbern raid, his conduct
on the field winning him new honors, he being
promoted to the rank of major. At the battle
of Bachelor's Creek, February i, 1864, he was
wounded and captured, and then began what
was for him the hardest experiences of his long
service. He was incarcerated in Libby Prison
until Grant had fought the battle of the Wil-
derness, when Major Leith was transferred,
with other prisoners, to Danville, Va., and
later to Greensboro, N. C, and Macon, Ga.,
where they were kept in a stockade. While
there a money broker from the South bought
from Mr. Leith a note on the Newburg (N. Y.)
Bank for $100 in gold, paying him $10,000
in Confederate money, with which he bought
provisions and shared them with his comrades.
A little later he gave another note of like value
and obtained $50,000 in Confederate money
for same, with which he again fed his starving
friends. By his generosity he must have saved
hundreds of lives. After Sherman captured
Atlanta another transfer took the prisoners to
the jail at Charleston, S. C. , where they re-
mained for a short time before removal to An-
napolis, Md. Afterward they were taken to Wil-
mington, N. C, and here Major Leith was final-
ly liberated; but he was so weakened by suffer-
ings that he was obliged to spend two weeks in
hospital at Annapolis before he could return
home, where he arrived in March, 1865. On
April 5, he reported for duty at Annapolis; but
fortunately the long struggle was nearing its
end, and on June 29, 1865, he was mustered
out of the U. S. service at Raleigh, N. C, and
later was discharged from the State service at
Harts Island, N. Y. At that time he held
the rank of brevet colonel, and his popularity
with his old company is shown by a gift from
them of a gold watch as a token of their affec-
tion and their admiration of his bravery. A
beautiful silk flag had been presented to the
company through Col. Leith by ladies of Fish-
kill, including Mrs. Samuel Ver Planck, Mrs.
Charles M. Wolcott, Mrs. Walter Brett. Mrs.
James Mackin and Mrs. John G. Monell. After
entering active service Col. Leith found the
caring for the flag too much of a responsibility;
so, when he was at Alexandria, \'a., he sent
it by express, addressed to Hon. James Mackin,
of Fishkill Landing. On his rifcturn home he
found, however, that the flag had never reached



350



comrEyroEATiTE btogeapstcal record.



its destination, and no trace of it has ever been
discovered. Our subject holds a commission
as colonel of the 49th Reg. U. S. Colored
Troops, signed by President Lincoln.

After his return to the paths of peace Col.
Leith carried on the butcher business at Fish-
kill Landing until 1873. when he was employed
as watchman of the Glenham Carpet Mills.
This position he has now held for nearly a
quarter of a century, his fidelity making him
invaluable to his employers. His services
have also been in demand by the people for
various public offices, and he is at present the
collector of taxes for the village of Matteawan.

On January i, 1861, Col. Leith was mar-
ried to Elizabeth Miller, of Fishkill. She
died July 16, 1889, leaving five children:
Emma, Samuel. Jr., David, William and
Walter. Of these all are single except Will-
iam, who married Catherine Ward; he resides
at Matteawan.

Col. Leith is a steadfast Republican, and
has never wavered in his allegiance to that
party. His sterling qualities of character com-
mand the esteem of all who know him, and his
influence is felt for good in local affairs.
Fraternally he is a Freemason, having joined
the order nearly thirty years ago, and for
twenty-eight years he has been a member of
the G. A. R., Holland Post No. 48, in which
he has held the office of commander, and
various other offices. At present he is in-
spector of the G. A. R. for Dutchess and Put-
nam counties.



CHARLES H. ROBERTS, United States
appraiser of cigars and tobacco at the
Port of New York, is a prominent resident of
Pawling, Dutchess county, and has done much
to advance the educational interests of that
town, and to encourage progress in other lines.
Mr. Roberts is a native of Utica, Oneida
Co., N. Y. , bom in 1856, and was educated



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