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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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cation, however, was completed in the schools of
Poughkeepsie, where his mother removed with
her family in 1870. He began the study of
law with Judge Nelson, and later was with Mr.
Crummey. On being admitted to the bar in
1877, he began the practice of his chosen pro-
fession, which he continued for some time; but
in 1883 was appointed city librarian, and is
still serving in that capacity to the satisfaction
of all concerned.

Mr. Sickley married Miss Olivia M. Town-
ley, a native of New Jersey, and a daughter of
Albert Townley, a farmer by occupation, who
is of English lineage. One child blesses this
union, Katherine O. The parents attend the
Episcopal (Church, and are widely and favor-
ably known.

was one of the iniiuential and highly re-
spected citizens of the town of East Fishkill,
where almost his entire life was passed. There
his birth occurred, March 28. 1814, and there
his great-grandfather, Richard Van Wyck, a
native of Long Island, located at an early day,
the grandfather of our subject, Cornelius R.
Van Wyck, being born there January 26, 1753.
C. R. \'an Wyck was a lineal descendant of
Cornelius Baruse Van Wyck, who emigrated
from Holland in 1650, and settled in New

Col. Richard C. Van Wyck, the father of
our subject, was also a native of the town of

East Fishkill, born June 11. 1783, and through-
out life engaged in milling, farming and mer-
chandising, in Dutchess county. He married
Elizabeth Thorn, and to them were born the
following children: Rynier, a farmer of Fish-
kill, who married Elizabeth \'an Wyck; Cor-
nelius R., subject of this review; Jane E., who
became the wife of John Adriance, a farmer;
Anna, who married Jacob Horton, a farmer of
East Fishkill; Phcj.be, who married Cornelius
S. Van Wyck, also an agriculturist; Henrietta,
who married James Du Bois, a farmer of Hud-
son, N. Y. ; and Mary, who wedded Robert
McMurry, a merchant of New York City.

Our subject was reared to agricultural pur-
suits, but for a short time during early life he
was engaged in merchandising in Poughkeepsie,
after which he again turned his attention to
farming. He continued to operate his farm in
the town of East Fishkill with the exception
of seven years, when he carried on the same
occupation in Culpeper county, Va., and was
quite successful in his undertakings.

On January 11, 1843, Mr. Van Wyck was
united in marriage with Miss Phcebe C. Wort-
man, who was also born in the town of East
Fishkill, and is the daughter of Denis and
Elizabeth (Rapalje) Wortman, the former a
native of Westchester county, N. Y., and the
latter of East Fishkill town, this county. Her
mother was the daughter of Jeromus and Eliz-
abeth (Bedell) Rapa'ije, the former born on
Long Island, while her paternal grandfather,
James Wortman, was a native of Westchester
county, and a farmer and architect by occupa-
tion. James Wortman, father of Dr. Denis
Wortman, was a descendant of Dirck Jansen
Wortman, who emigrated from Holland in 1646
and settled in Brooklyn, and was of Huguenot
descent. After their marriage her parents
located at East Fishkill, N. Y. , where her
father engaged in the practice of medicine for
the long period of forty-seven years, and was
a most successful physician. He died greatly
lamented May 2, 1864, surviving his wife only
a few months, her death having occurred Jan-
uary 14, 1864. They were earnest members
of the Reformed Dutch Church, and reared a
family of four children: Elizabeth, who mar-
ried John P. Flagler; Phcebe, widow of our
subject; Denis, a prominent Reformed Dutch
minister of Saugerties, N. Y. ; and Ann Aletta.

Mr. and Mrs. Van Wyck commenced their
married life at P'ishkill Plains, N. J., afterward
moving to the home in Hopewell, N. Y., for-



merly the home of Dr. \^'ortman and wife
(the father and mother of Mrs. \'an Wyck).
Ten' children were born to them: Richard C,
a prominent and beloved physician, who mar-
ried Charlotte Underbill, and died January 28,
1896; Denis W., a merchant of Wappingers
Falls, N. Y. , who married Mary E. Harcourt,
and they had one child, Phebe Ellen (he died
August 4, 1S80); Eliza, who died at the age of
f]ve years; Anna; Eliza Janette; Mary, who
died August 18, 1873; Phoebe Jane; Margaret
W. ; James C, a merchant of Matteawan,- N.
Y. ; and Henrietta Du Bois.

Richard C. Van Wyck, M. D., eldest son
of Cornelius R. and Phcebe C. Van Wyck, was
a prominent and beloved physician. He was
graduated in medicine from the College of
Ph\'sicians and Surgeons in New York City,
March 12, 1867, after which he served two
years in Bellevue Hospital on the Surgical
Staff. He then went to Europe for the pur-
pose of perfecting himself in his chosen profes-
sion. Returning, he practiced awhile in Denr
ver, Col., and afterward in Virginia (where he
went on account of his health). Recovering
his health, he settled in Hopewell, and con-
tinued in active practice until his death. He
was thrown from his carriage, his horse taking
fright at a railroad crossing, and fatally in-
jured January 25, 1896. and died January 28,
1896. There are few physicians who possess
more completely the confidence of their pa-
tients than he did, and few have been more
widel}' missed or so sincerely mourned. Denis
W'ortman \'an W}ck, second son, was greatly
beloved and respected, and was a merchant at
Wappingers Falls.

The parents were both devout members of
the Reformed Dutch Church, and in political
sentiment Mr. Van Wyck was an ardent Demo-
crat. His death occurred June 14, 1S79, and
was mourned by many warm friends. He was
an active, public-spirited citizen, who had the
respect of all who knew him, and took a prom-
inent part in those matters relating to the best
interests of the communitj".

WILLIAM PLATTO. Among those who
followed the old flag on Southern bat-
tlefields is this gentleman, now one of the lead-
ing business men of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess
county, where he is conducting a successful
carriage manufactory. He was born in that

city, December 23. 1S45, and is the son of
Thomas Platto, a native of Schenectady, N.
Y. His paternal grandfather, Thomas Platto,
who was a farmer by occupation, was born in
the Mohawk Valley, and became the father of
five children. It is a family tradition that
great-great-grandfather Thomas Platto was
killed by Indians at Tribes Hill in the Mohawk
Valley. "

In Schenectady, Thomas Platto, Jr., passed
his boyhood days midst play and work, and
learned the carriage maker's trade. When
about twenty years of age he came to Pough-
keepsie, where he met and married Mary
Proper, who was born in the town of Milan,
Dutchess county, and was the daughter of Isaac
and Mary Proper, agriculturists of that locality.
The young couple began their domestic life in
Poughkeepsie, where the father engaged in the
manufacture of carriages during the remainder
of his active career. He died there in 1872,
and his wife in 189K He was first a Whig in
politics, and later cast his ballot with the Re-
publican party; both he and his wife were de-
vout members of the Baptist Church. The
family of this worthy couple consisted of five
children. ( i) James H., who was engaged as
a bookkeeper in Chicago, 111., died in iS8i;
he belonged to the Knights of Pythias frater-
nit}', and was also a member of the Masonic
order. (2) Charles V. L. is an assistant edi-
tor of some newspaper and a resident of Hoos-
ick Falls, N. Y. (3) William is next in order
of birth. (4) Sarah married Frank Kennedy,
of Syracuse, N. Y. ; (5) Catherine G. is the
wife of Charles H. Baker, of the same city.

William Platto, whose name introduces
this review, spent his boyhood days in Pough-
keepsie, receiving his education at the Dutch-
ess County Academy, but when a youth of only
seventeen summers, the Civil war having broken
out, he enlisted in July, 1862, in Company D.
128th N. Y. V. I. After participating in many
hotly-contested engagements, and making for
himself an honorable war record, he was dis-
charged and returned to his home in Pough-
keepsie. In 1 866 he took charge of his father's
carriage business, and was very successful in
its operation. The plant was located at Nos.
7, 9 and 1 1 South Hamilton street, and our
subject still owns that block, which has been
in the hands of the family for about sixty years.

Mr. Platto is an unswerving Republican,
taking an active part in political affairs, and in
January, 1895, was appointed chief of the po-



lice department of Poughkeepsie, in which of-
fice he is still sen'ing with credit to himself
and to the satisfaction of all concerned. He
is an active worker in the Grand Army of the
Republic, belonging to Hamilton Post, of which
for three terms he served as commander, and
is numbered among the valued citizens of
Poughkeepsie who have been devoted to the
public welfare. He has manifested the same
loyalty in days of peace as in days of war, and
all who know him have for him the highest

death Poughkeepsie lost one of her

brightest, most progressive and useful young
business men, was born October 29, 1859, in
Beekman, Dutchess county. New York.

Jeremiah Sheldon, father of our subject,
was born in the town of Dover, Dutchess
county, of English ancestry, and was a farmer
by occupation. A stanch Whig and Repub-
lican, he took an active part in political mat-
ters. He married Miss Sophia M. Doughty,
also born in Dutchess county, daughter of Jo-
seph Doughty, and their children are as fol-
lows: Amelia B., married to Kromaline An-
drews fthey make their home on the old farm);
Mary J., unmarried; and William H., the sub-
ject of these lines. The father died May 19,
1882, the mother on February i, 1886.

William H. Sheldon passed his early days
on his father's farm, attending the district
school, and, later, the academy at Moores
Mill. Subsequently he entered Claverack
(Columbia county) College, and completed his
education at Wilbraham I'Mass. 1 Academy; then
returned to the farm, where he remained until
his uncle, Wilson B. Sheldon, was elected
county clerk, when he became his assistant in
the office, there remaining some time. Our
subject then formed a partnership with R. D.
Cornell in the hay, straw and feed commission
business; but after a short time this partner-
ship was dissolved, and in the fall of 1881 Mr.
Sheldon embarked in the coal business. He
began in a very small way, but was so success-
ful, and his trade grew so rapidly, that he be-
gan wholesaling, supplying coal for the Har-
lem Railroad Company. At the time of his
death he was the largest wholesale and retail
dealer in the vicinity, and had a prosperous
future before him, his well-known integrity and
fair dealing making him popular throughout the

county, and bringing him customers from all
parts. Besides attending to his regular busi-
ness he acted as general manager of the
Poughkeepsie & Eastern railroad, which was
purchased some j-ears ago by Russell Sage,
who appointed Mr. Sheldon general manager
of that road. So faithfully and thoroughly
did our subject do his work, that his employer
took him into his confidence, and was influ-
enced by him in his business probably more
than by any other man. Too close applica-
tiorr to business, however, and his earnest de-
votion to the many societies, etc., of which he
was an active member, began ultimately to
make inroads upon his health, and for some-
time prior to his death evidences of a breaking
up of his constitution became apparent to his
friends, and even to himself. The close of the
year 1894 found him engaged in a more than
usual amount of work, preparing for the ensu-
ing year, thereby necessitating additional ex-
ertion from his already impaired sjstem; nev-
ertheless, unflinchingly he worked early and
late, carrying all his duties to a successful ter-
mination. The strain, however, was more
than exhausted nature could stand, and one
evening, while at the home of a neighbor, his
tired brain refused longer to work. Kind hands
guided Mr. Sheldon to his home, where the
best of care was given him for a time, but his
frenzies became so wild and uncontrollable
that, for the better protection, he was taken to
the State Hospital for the Insane, where, in
spite of all that science and medical skill could
accomplish, he grew weaker every day, till
January 19, 1895, death relieved him from his

The earthly career of William H. Sheldon'
was cut short just when most promising, and
when he had made the reputation of being one
of the ablest and most enterprising business
men in Poughkeepsie. In his home circle and
among his personal friends his untimeh' de-
parture from their midst was most deeply felt.
Full of life and energy, buoyant in spirits, and
of a loving, generous disposition, he was
missed as few men are, and his place will be
hard to fill. He was a member of nearly all
the fraternities in the county, and also of the
New Manhattan Athletic Club of New York
City; was a Thirty-second degree Mason in high
standing, and also a member of the Methodist
Church. In politics he was a stanch Repub-
lican, and he served as alderman of the Fifth
ward of Poughkeepsie. No better citizen, or




i, ^^'^



^^^^^i '^H




one more highly esteemed, has left his impress
upon the community.

On December 26, 1883, Mr. Sheldon was
married to Miss Augusta Baright, who was
born in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. , January 27,
1S63. Her father, Daniel S. Baright, who
was a native of the same township, born
March 25, 1838, married Mary Wing, who was
born in the town of Clinton, June 15, 1840,
and their children were: Augusta, William
M., Irving G. and Frederick. Mr. Baright is
a farmer, and also deals in agricultural im-
plements. His grandfather was a native of
Holland, and his father, Elijah Baright, born
in the town of Pleasant Valley, N. Y., was a
wealthy farmer. He married Amy, daughter
of Samuel Carpenter, and a relative of J. Du-
Bois Carpenter, elsewhere represented in this
volume. In religious faith the Barights were
all Hicksite Quakers, and in politics were
Whigs or Republicans. The maternal grand-
father of Mrs. Sheldon, Alexander Wing, a
quiet, unassuming man, spent his entire life
on a farm in Clinton; he was a Democrat in
politics, and attended the Christian Church.
One child. George B., born December 3, 1891,
is ail the family born to our subject and his
wife, whose all too short happy married life was
brought to so sad a close.

keepsie, Dutchess county, was born in
Carmel, Putnam Co., N. Y. , April 6, 1841.
He is a son of Ammon Merrick Fowler, who
was a son of James H. Fowler, of Car-
mel, and a grandson of Ammon Fowler, of
Bedford, Westchester Co., N. Y., and a great-
grandson of Joseph Fowler, of West Patent.
Ammon Fowler (the father of Charles)
lived near Lake Mahopac, in the town of Car-
mel, Putnam county. He was an upright, un-
assuming man, of noble. Christian character,
and for many years was an elder in the Gilead
Presbyterian Church of Carmel. His wife
(the mother of Charles) was a woman of clear
intelligent Christian faith, and a worthy mem-
ber of the same Church as her husband. She
was Charlotte Louisa Crane, daughter of Na-
thaniel Crane, of the town of Carmel, and
granddaughter of John Crane, of the same
town. John Crane held a captain's commis-
sion under the Provincial Congress of the
Province of New York, and after the Declara-
tion of Independence received a captain's


commission from George Clinton, then Gov-
ernor of New York, and held it through the
war. John Crane's grandfather was Joseph
Crane, and Joseph Crane's grandfather was
John Crane, from England.

Charles E. Fowler received a common-
school education, and from 1857 to 1861
worked at wagon-making; from 1 861 to 1869 at
mill construction and repairs, and the develop-
ment of water powers. During this latter
period he pursued the study of mechanical^
hydraulic and civil engineering. In 1869 he
married Louisa Maria Richards, daughter of
David Belden Richards, of the town of South-
east, Putnam Co., N. Y., a man of marked
integrity of character. D. Belden Richards"
wife, mother of Louisa, was Delia Foster.
daughter of Thomas Foster, of the town
above mentioned. She was a most worthy
woman, and a consistent member of the Pres-
byterian Church. Thomas Foster, father of
Delia, was the son of James Foster, grandson
of Thomas Foster, and great-grandson of Chil-
lingworth Foster. Chillingworth was the son
of John Foster, and grandson of Thomas Fos-
ter, who came from England in 1634.

In 1869 Charles E. Fowler entered the
employ of the Peekskill Manufacturing Co.,
of Peekskill, N. Y., as draughtsman and me-
chanical engineer. In 1871 he began the
practice of land surveying and civil engineer-
ing, in connection with the work of the Manu-
facturing Co. In 1872 he opened an inde-
pendent office, but continued the work for the
Manufacturing Co. This practice continued
until 1 88 1. During this period he, as chief
engineer, designed and supervised the con-
struction of the public water works of the vil-
lage of Peekskill, also a system of water works
for the village of Tarrytown, N. Y. He was
also corporation surveyor for the village of
Peekskill during several years of this period.
In January, 1881, he was appointed superin-
tendent of the water works and sewers of the
city of Poughkeepsie, which office he held
until May, 1896, when the water works and
sewers, under a revised charter, became a
part of the public works of the city, and he
was appointed superintendent of public works,
which office he now holds.

In 1857 he united with the Presbyterian
Church of Carmel, and in 1870 with the First
Presbyterian Church of Peekskill. He was an
elder in the latter Church from 1874 till his
removal to Poughkeepsie in 1S81. In 18S1



he united with the First Presbyterian Church
of Poughkeepsie, was chosen an elder in that
Church in 1S91, and still retains that office.

The water and sewer systems of the city of
Poughkeepsie, with which Mr. Fowler has so
long been identified, are worthy of note for the
fact that they were constructed by the same
commission, at the same time, were designed
to work in harmony and have continued under
the control of one department of the city gov-
ernment, thereby securing the best attainable
sanitary results. The water system is further
notable for being the first in this country to
adopt artificial purification by means of sand
filtration on the European method. The
Hudson river is the source of supply, the
water being pumped from the river to the sand
filters, and thence to a reservoir on College
Hill, at an elevation of 280 feet above mean
high water in the river. The works were
built in 1869-1872, and originally comprised
about seventeen miles of water mains and
about thirteen miles of sewers. Seven miles
of water mains and three and one-quarter
miles of sewers have been added during Mr.
Fowler's term of service. The original water
commissioners, in 1869, were Stephen M.
Buckingham, Edward Storm, Edward L.
Beadle, Edgar M. VanKIeeck, James H.
Weeks and Abram Wright.

The water commissioners held their final
meeting on May 2, 1896; the last commis-
sioners being Charles L. Lumb, Edmund
Piatt, Howard W. Welles, Abraham S.
Humphrey and Charles H. Shurter. The
numerous commissioners holding office be-
tween the years 1869 and 1896 comprised
some of the most esteemed citizens and busi-
ness men of Poughkeepsie. The Board of
Public Works, having charge of the water
works, sewers, streets, bridges and parks, was
organized ^fay 2, 1896. The commissioners
were James E. Dutcher, James B. Piatt and
Walter R. Case.

CHARLES M. WOLCOTT (deceased). The
Wolcott family have held a distinguished
place in the history of this country from the
earliest times, Colonial records showing vari-
ous members to have occupied high positions,
and one of the name is enrolled among the
immortal signers of the Declaration of Inde-

The first of the family to leave the ances-

tral home in Somersetshire, England, was the
Puritan Henry Wolcott, who crossed the ocean
with his son Simon in 1630, and settled in
Windsor, Conn. The town of Wolcottville
(now Torrington) was named in honor of the
family. These early pioneers were men of in-
dependent means, and Henry and Simon were
active in the administration of the public busi-
ness of the colony. Simon's son, Roger Wol-
cott, who was born in Connecticut, was elected
Governor in 1750, and served for four years.
Oliver Wolcott, a son of Roger, and the grand-
father of the gentleman whose name opens
this sketch, was one of the representatives of
the Colony of Connecticut, whose names are
affixed to the Declaration of Independence,
and during the Revolutionary war he held the
rank of brigadier-general in the patriot forces.
His part in the struggle was a notable one,
and the histories of that time make frequent
mention of him. An incident in his life was
interesting. A leaden equestrian statue of
George III stood in the Bowling Green, in the
city of New York. At the breaking out of the
war this was overthrown, and, lead being
highly valuable, it was sent to Gen. Wolcott's
at Litchfield, Conn., for safe keeping, where,
in process of time, it was cut up and run into
bullets by hif children and their friends. Oli-
ver Wolcott was elected Lieutenant-Governor
in 1786, and Governor in 1796, which office
he held until his death, December r, 1797.

Judge Frederick Wolcott, the father of our
subject, preferred the practice of law to public
life, and on two occasions declined a nomina-
tion as a gubernatorial candidate. His brother
Oliver, however, did not share this disinclina-
tion for official duties, and not only served as
Governor of Connecticut but was Secretary of
the Treasury under President Washington.
Judge Frederick Wolcott was a graduate of
Yale College, and prepared for the bar in early
manhood; later he engaged actively in pro-
fessional work, and served as judge for uiany
years. He was one of the leaders in the Whig
party of his day, and despite his reluctance to
enter political life was elected to various posi-
tions, which he filled ably, including the post
of representative in the State Legislature.
He married (first) a Miss Huntington, daugh-
ter of Joshua Huntington, a well-known citi-
zen of Connecticut, and (second) Mrs. Amos
Cook, daughter of Samuel Goodrich, of Berlin,
Conn., a member of another old and influential
family which has been prominently represented



in political, social and business life, and has
produced a nuinber of eminent clergymen.

Charles M. NN'olcott was one of a family of
twelve children, his birth occurring in Litch-
field, Conn., November 20, 1816. On com-
pleting his education he left home to en-
gage in commercial life, entering the commis-
sion business in Philadelphia. After a time he
transferred his offices to New York City, form-
ing a partnership with his brother Henry, who
went to China in the interests of the firm. On
November 26, 1849, he married Catharine A.
Rankin, daughter of Henry Rankin, Esq., a
prominent merchant of New York City, who
was a native of Scotland, and for forty years
was an elder in the Scotch Presbyterian
Church, under the pastoral care of the cele-
brated divine, Dr. John Mason. After his
marriage Mr. Wolcott settled at Fishkill-on-
Hudson, upon an estate known as " Rose-
neath," where his wife had previously resided.
From that time his attention was chiefly occu-
pied with the m '.nagement of his extensive
landed interests, and he was identified with all
the progressive movements of the locality,
whether in agriculture and manufacturing or in
the no less important fields of art and Htera-
ture. In politics he was an Independent. His
wife passed away June 24, 1889, and he sur-
vived her but a short time, breathing his last
on November 20, of the same year.

Three children were born to this union:
Henry Goodrich, a well-known attorney at
Fishkill; Katharine Rankin, wife of Samuel
Verplanck; and Annette Rankin, who is not
married. Mrs. Verplanck still resides at the
family homestead " Roseneath," which is a
charming place overlooking the Hudson, the