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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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and took his seat there some two or three ses-
sions. In 1848-49, and 1850-51, he was sent
to Congress and was urged for re-election, but
declined to accept. He was district attorney
some thirty years, a remarkable length of time
in that office. He was a man of great energy
and will power, an extensive reader, and one
of the foremost men of his community.

William Nelson was married to Miss Cor-
nelia Mandeville Hardman, daughter of John
Hard man, a West India merchant, of New
York City, whose other children were: Sarah
Ann, who married Dr. Thomas Mower, a sur-
geon in the arm}'; and Eliza, wife of Henry
Starr, of New York City. The children of
William Nelson were: Joseph, living in Mil-
waukee; Dorinda, deceased wife of John Ar-
thur, of San Francisco. Cal. ; George P., a
lawj'er in New York City; Thomas, also a law-



42



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



yer in New York City; William Rufiis (de-
ceased), who was a lawyer in Peekskill; Sarah
A., who became the wife of J. Henry Ferris, a
lawyer in Peekskill; Elizabeth, now the widow j
of Rev. John Johnson, of Upper Red Hook;
Robert Dean (deceased); and Cornelia Man-
deville, the wife of our subject. Mr. Nelson
was an Old-time Henry Clay Whig, and per-
sonal friend of Daniel Webster, Abraham
Lincoln and Henry Clay. He was a public-
spirited man, and took great interest in all
matters pertaining to his community. He died
in October, 1869, aged eighty-five years; Mrs.
Nelson passed away August 28, same year, five
weeks before her husband.



REV. BENJAMIN E. DICKHAUT, A. M.
As pastor, the subject of this sketch is

one of a long line of able and eloquent work-
ers in the cause of Christ, and his labors have
shown him to be well-worthy of a place in
that illustrious company.

His father. Rev. J. Conrad Dickhaut. was
a zealous clergyman of the Reformed Dutch
Church. He .was born in Germany, February
17, 181 5, and ordained in New York City, at
the church in N. Williams street, by the Classis
of New York. He at once organized the Ger-
man Mission in Greenwich street, New York,
but remained only a short time, as he took a
settled charge at New Brooklyn, where he of-
ficiated twelve years, building meantime a new
church edifice. His next pastorate was in the
Presbyterian Church at East Williamsburg,
N. Y., and after four years of faithful toil
there, sickness compelled him to suspend his
labors for two years. On resuming, he or-
ganized the Reformed Church at Canarsie and
ser\ed as its pastor until April, 1887, when
failing health again caused him to retire, it be-
ing in fact his last illness, as his death occurred
December 30, 1887. In early manhood he
married Miss Eva Ruby, who survives him.
She was a daughter of Michael Ruby, and his
wife, Margaret, who was a daughter of Martin
Leyenberger. The following children were
born to them; Conrad, Amelia, William,
John, Sophia, Benjamin E., Timothy, Sam-
uel and David. Of these, only three are now
living: Sophia, Benjamin E. and Samuel.

Benjamin E. Dickhaut, our subject, was
born in Brooklyn, N. Y. , April 29, 1863, and
attended the public schools of the city, and
then the Polytechnic Institute, graduating



from the latter in 1880. In 1884 he was
graduated from Rutgers College with the de-
gree of A. B., and in 1887 he completed his
course in the New Brunswick Theological
Seminary, receiving in the same year the de-
gree of A. M. from Rutgers. At the begin-
ning of his theological course at New Bruns-
wick he was chosen for missionary work at
the Middle Collegiate Church, New York City,
and spent his vacation in this field. In the
summer of 1885 he was engaged by the Colle-
giate Church to do missionary work in con-
nection with DeWitt Chapel, and during the
remainder of his seminary course he continued
working there. On graduating from the semi-
nary, he was ordained by the Classis of New
York to do missionary work under the super-
vision of the Collegiate Church. In October,
1889, he accepted a call to the First Reformed
Church of Fishkill, Dutchess county, which
was his first independent charge. There he
made his influence felt for good in many lines
of effort. He was president of the Law and
Order League of the village, and was on the
executive committee of the county organization
for good citizenship. On September i. 1896.
he accepted the call of the South Reformed
Church, Brooklyn, N. Y., and the same ag-
gressive methods employed by him at Fishkill
have been productive of very encouraging re-
sults in his new field of labor. He is a most
decided temperance advocate, and is frequently
engaged on the platform in this cause. On
March 17, 1888. he was married at New
Brunswick to Miss Margaret P. Maddock,
daughter of Rev. George C. and Mary 1 Price)
Maddock. Her father is a minister for the
M. E. Church, New Jersey Conference, and
at present is chaplain of the New Jersey State
Prison, at Trenton, N. J. Mr. and Mrs.
Dickhaut have two children, viz. : Margaret
Maddock and Dorothy.

The following is a list of the pastors of the
Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill since its
organization in 17 16 by Rev. Petrus Vas:
Rev. Cornelius Van Schie. 1731-1738; Rev.
Benjamin Meynema, 1745-1755; Rev. Jacob
Vannist, served two and one-half years
when he died, 1761; Rev. Henricus Schoon-
maker, 1763-1772; also Isaac Rysdyck, jointly
with Rev. Schoonmaker, 1765 to 1772, and
alone until 1790; Rev. Isaac Blanvelt, 1783-
1790; Rev. Nicholas Van Vranken, 1 791- 1804;
Rev. Cornelius D. W'estbrook, 1806-1830;
Rev. Geo. H. Fisher, 1830-1835; Rev. Fran-



COMMEMORATIVE BIOOMAPIIWAL RECORD.



43



cis M. Kip, 1 836-1 870; Rev. Peter E. Kipp,
1S70-1875; Rev. Asher Anderson, 1875-1880;
Kev. M. Bross Thomas, 1 881-1888; Rev. Ben-
jamin E. Dickhaut, 1889-1S96; Rev. Abel
Huizioga, 1896, present pastor.

In the old Reformed Dutch church the
Tory and other prisoners were confined, and
from this building tradition teaches us that
"Harve}' Birch" (Enoch Crosby), having been
arrested as a spy, effected his escape. During
the Revolutionary war a part of the army was
located in Fishkill, and their barracks extended
from the Van Wyck place to the foot of the
mountain. The officers' headquarters were in
the dwelling well-known to the readers of the
"Spy" as the "Wharton House" (occupied in
1866 by Sidney E. Van Wyck, and now (1896)
by Miss Nettie Hustis); near the residence, by
the large black walnut trees, south of the road
and at the foot of the mountain, was the burial
ground of the soldiers. The Episcopal church
was used as a hospital, as was afterward the
Presbyterian church at Brinckerhoff, about one
and one-half miles north of the village.



E\DWARD ELSWORTH, president of the
; Fallkill National Bank, and who has held

various honorable and important offices in the
city of Poughkeepsie, and in the county, was
born January 6, 1840, in New York City. His
parents were John and Martha (Van Varick)
Elsworth, both natives of New York City, the
former born in 1802. The father was a de-
scendant of Christoffel Elsw.art, who was a
free holder in New York in 1655, and the
mother was a daughter of Joseph Van Varick,
who was a merchant of that city.

In 184S the parents of our subject removed
to Poughkeepsie, where the father died in
May, 1873, the mother surviving him until
1880. Mr. Elsworth was a Democrat, and
both he and his wife were members of the Re-
formed Dutch Church. He was a school trus-
tee of the town of Poughkeepsie, and a mem-
ber and trustee of the Mechanic Society, of
New York City. Their famih- consisted of
four children: Two died in infancy; John K.
was a merchant in New York City; and Ed-
ward, the sole survivor, is the subject of this
sketch.

Edward Elsworth was eight years of age
when his parents took up their residence in
Pousrhkeepsie, and for a number of years was
a pupil in the Dutchess County Academy.



His legal education was acquired in the State
and National Law School, Poughkeepsie, from
which he was graduated in the class of '58.
For the following two years he was in the law
office of Thompson & Weeks, and also in that
of Judge Nelson. He then went to New York
City, and for two years was in the law prac-
tice with Bernard Roelker, and later practiced
in Rockland county. In 1S66, he returned to
Poughkeepsie. and, after practicing his profes-
sion for a time, entered into the hardware
business in partnership with Guilford Dudley.
During this time he was made director and
also vice-president of the Fallkill National
Bank, and in 1891 was elected its president;
he is also vice-president of the Poughkeepsie
Savings Bank.

On November 26, 1867, Mr. Elsworth was
married to Miss Mary Johnston. The John-
ston family are of Scotch extraction, and Mrs.
Elsworth's father, Samuel B. Johnston, a des-
cendant of Capt. Archibald Johnston, a Rev-
olutionary soldier, was a cousin of Gen. Al-
bert Sidney Johnston. He was a native of
Connecticut, but for many years a resident of
Poughkeepsie, where he was a banker, and for
a long period was vice-president of the Fall-
kill Bank. Four children have been born to
our subject and his wife, namely: Grace
Varick, Mary Johnston, Ethel Hinton and
Edward Wead, all of whom are at home. Mr.
Elsworth is a stanch Democrat, and has al-
ways been prominent in his party. In 1874 he
was elected supervisor of the Third ward of
Poughkeepsie, and served one term. In 1880
he was made school commissioner, which of-
fice he filled for seven years. In November,
1886, he was elected mayor of Poughkeepsie,
served one term, and in 1891 was re-elected to
the same honorable position. He was elected
a trustee of Vassar College in 1892, and is still
serving as such. Mr. Elsworth also holds the
following offices: Trustee and treasurer of
Vassar Brothers' Institute; and vice-president
for Dutchess county of the Holland Society of
New York. He is also a member of the Sons
of the Revolution. For several years he was
judge advocate of the Eighth Brigade of the
National Guard S. N. Y., and served in other
offices in that organization. In 1891, he re-
ceived the degree of A. M. from Rutgers Col-
lege. The family are members and liberal
supporters of the Reformed Dutch Church,
and stand high in social and religious circles.

From the foregoing facts it will be seen



44



COMMEMORATIVE BIOQRAPHICAL RECORD.



that Mr. Elsworth is a man of more than us-
ual ability, and business qualifications, and
that his many sterling qualities are appreciated
by his fellow citizens. In the numerous re-
sponsible positions in which he has been
placed, he has fully merited their confidence
and esteem, and no man occupies a higher
place in the regard of the public, or in the
friendship of his more intimate associates.



OLIVER II. BOOTH (deceased; was born
in 1823 upon a farm within the present
limits of the city of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess
county, and died March 13, 1896, after an ill-
ness of twenty-two days — the first sickness he
ever experienced. During his life of well nigh
three-quarters of a century, he saw a marvel-
ous transformation, not only in the outward
appearance of that locality, but in all phases
of our complex and constantly progressing
civilization. His early home was on the south
side of Fallkill creek, opposite the present lo-
cation of Pelton's factory, and his father,
George Booth, a prominent citizen of that day,
had a woolen-mill for manufacturing cloth, the
first of the kind run b_\- machinery in the coun-
ty. This was before the days of pins, and
old citizens remember the large thorn bushes
in the neighborhood from which Mr. Booth
obtained thorns to fasten his bundles with. In
the field north of the church of the Holy Com-
forter, he raised teazles, which were used in
" gigging " the cloth.

During his earl_v boyhood our subject at-
tended a school that was kept in a small build-
ing which is yet standing in the rear of No.
120 Main street, Poughkeepsie, the teacher be-
ing Aunt Anna Haight, and he was proud of
being able to say that he also, when a young
boy, attended the old school at Pawling kept
by Jacob Willets and his wife. It is said that
this Jacob Willets was the author of the well-
known rhyme about months "Thirty days
hath September" etc.. — which he introduced
into his arithmetic. Later, Mr. Booth studied
at the academy in Poughkeepsie. after which
he was employed in his brother's (Alfred) store
in Boston, Mass., but at the age of fourteen
ran away, joining a sea-going vessel as cabin
boy, and for four years he sailed the ocean.
We next find him in a bank at Detroit, Mich.,
where he remained some time, then returning
to Poughkeepsie, at the age of twenty-one,
became bookkeeper in the V^assar Brewery, of



which he ultimately was the owner. His
mother was a sister of Matthew Vassar, Sr. .
and he became more or less identified with
many of the extensive interests of that dis-
tinguished family. He was named as executor
in the will of Matthew Vassar, Jr., and John
Guy Vassar, and he was treasurer of Vassar
Hospital, in which he took much pride, per-
sonally superintending the extensive improve-
ments recently made in the grounds. As a
financier his ability was acknowledged, and
he was a director in several of the banks of
Poughkeepsie, also vice-president of the City
Bank. He left a large estate.

He was always fond of the sea and of ship-
ping, and he found time in the midst of his
extensive business dealing to indulge this taste,
having been the owner or part owner of more
vessels than any other resident of the city.
In sailing vessels, he was interested in the
sloops "Surprise" (formerly the "Revenge"),
"Index." "Comet," "Agent," and "Timo-
thy \\ood;" also in the schooners " Matthew
Vassar, Jr.," •' Oliver H. Booth," and another
which he bought in Wilmington, on which to
bring the machinery for the "Underwriter"
up the river. He built the steamer "Joseph
F. Barnard," then the finest tug ever seen on
the Hudson, and whose history has a tinge of
romance. During the trouble in Cuba, in the
" sixties," he sold her to the Cubans, but in
1867 she disappeared, supposed to have been
burnt at sea. Mr. Booth owned the news-
yacht, " Herald," which he rebuilt and named
the " Commodore." and then sold to parties in
Norfolk, \'a. ; he also purchased and re-built
the " O. M. Freleigh " and the "Idlewild,"
the latter being bought afterward by New
Haven parties. The last boat that he built
was the speedy steam yacht "No. 83." He
owned the four-oared gig "Stranger," which
was manned by workmen from the brewery,
who were considered remarkably fast rowers
in their da}-. He was also commodore of the
old Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club, and the
owner of the ice yacht " Restless."

The only political office that Mr. Booth
ever held was that of member of the village
board of trustees, of which he was elected
clerk in 1843, and he held that incumbency
until April 18. 1S54, when the books were
turned over to the new city government.
\'ery early in life he became an active worker
in the Fire Department, and June 18, 1844,
he by request organized the Phoenix Hose



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGEAPHWAL RECORD.



45



Company of Poughkeepsie. About the year

1850 he resigned as an active member, but
was on the honorary list up to his death. In

1851 he was elected chief engineer of the Fire
Department, and held the office three years,
during which time the Booth Hose Company
was named for him. At the time of his death
he owned one of the old " goose-neck " en-
gines "No. 7," and m 1886 he paraded with
her as foreman. In that year the Veteran
Firemen's Association was formed, of which
he was chosen president, and he held that
office several years, at last refusing a re-election,
at which time his comrades desiring to signify
their high regard for him, presented nini with
a costly loving cup on his retirement. Socially
he was a member of the F. & A. M., Pough-
keepsie Lodge No. 266.

Mr. Booth married Miss Ferris, daughter
of Mr. John Ferris, of Milan, Dutchess county.
She died in March, 1893, leaving but one
child, a son, William F. Booth, who now
resides at the old homestead. The family
residence on Market street was the scene of a
solemn and affecting service at the funeral of
Mr. Oliver H. Booth, which took place March
t6, 1896, and a large gathering of the prom-
inent citizens of the city and vicinity showed
the esteem in which he was held, while many
beautiful floral tributes offered their silent
benediction.



JAMES L. WILLIAMS, one of the distin-
guished members of the Dutchess county
bar, was born December 12, 1S46, in the
city of Poughkeepsie, with whose interests his
entire life has been identified.

When a boy our subject received his educa-
tion in the Dutchess County Academy, and
after studying law he was admitted to the bar
in 1867, and began the practice of his profes-
sion there. His first partner was Hon. Peter
Dorland, e.\-surrogate of Dutchess county, the
firm of Dorland & Williams continuing until
1873, when Mr. Dorland was elected to a third
term as surrogate. In 1873 Mr. Williams was
elected district attorney, being the first Demo-
crat elected to that position in twenty-five
years; but at the expiration of his term he de-
clined a renomination. In 1884 he became a
member of the widely-known firm of Hackett
& \\'illiams, the senior member being John
Hackett, who has since been twice elected dis-



trict attorney. In 1883, without his solicita-
tion, and even without his knowledge until the
announcement was made, Mr. Williams was
appointed State assessor by Grover Cleveland,
then governor. This office he held until his
resignation in 1892, serving with marked ability
and success, and several important amendments
to the ta.x laws were adopted by the Legisla-
ture at his suggestion. He holds a prominent
place in business circles as well as in profes-
sional life, and is a director of the City National
Bank, and other corporations. He organized
and was first president of the Poughkeepsie
News Company, publishers of the Nezus Press
and Ncics Telegraph, the leading Democratic
journals in the Hudson Valley, and until 1894
was very active in State and local politics, after
which time till the Presidential campaign of
1896 he devoted his attention to legal business.

Mr. Williams has been a member of the
Democratic State Committee; in 1887 was
chairman of the State Executive Committee,
and met and solved with rare courage and skill
the intricate problems of the campaign of that
year, complicated as it was with the Henry
George and Labor movements. In 1894 he
again served as a member of the Democratic
State Executive Committee. In the fall of
1893 the delegations from Dutchess and other
counties of the Second Department presented
his name at the judicial convention held in
Brooklyn as their candidate for justice of the
supreme court to succeed Hon. Joseph F. Bar-
nard, whose term expired that fall; but Mr.
Pearsall, of Brooklyn, received the Democratic
nomination, and was defeated b}' Hon. William
J. Gaynor, the Reform and Republican candi-
date. Early in 1896 he protested against the
proposed departure of the Democratic party
from what he regarded as the ancient standards
of his party, and on the adoption of the Chi-
cago platform and the nomination of Mr. Bryan
he formerly severed his connection with that
party, and entered actively into the campaign
for the Republican candidates. On January
I, 1897, he was appointed corporation counsel
of the city of Poughkeepsie.

Mr. Williams is a member of many fraternal
organizations, including the Freemasons, Odd
Fellows and Knights of Pythias, and he organ-
ized the Odd Fellows Mutual Benefit Associa-
tion of Dutchess county with five members,
the membership now being increased to nearly
one thousand. He is president of the leading
social organization of Poughkeepsie, the Dutch-



46



COMAfE.VORA TIVE BIOORAPHICAL RECORD.



ess Club, having succeeded Hon. Homer A.
Nelson, its first president, and is a member of
several clubs in New York and other cities.



J\ NTHONY UNDERHILL, M. D. (de-
_ L ceased). Among the talented men who
ha^e done honor to the medical profession in
Dutchess county, the subject of this brief
memoir held a worth}' rank. The son of a
prominent physician, his natural aptitude for
the calling had unusual opportunities for
development, and application in early life, and
his later years of effort were rewarded with
well-deserved success.

His family was of English origin, and his
father. Dr. Joshua B. Underbill, was a life-
long resident of Westchester county, N. Y.,
where our subject was born in 1818. The
common schools of that locality furnished him
his academic education, and he then began the
study of medicine with his father, and later
attended lectures at the College of Physicians
and Surgeons in New York City. He opened
a drug store in that city, which he carried on
for some years previous to entering the medical
department of Bowdoin College, at Brunswick,
Me., from which he graduated in 1845. Lo-
cating at New Hackcnsack, Dutchess county,
he engaged in the active work of his profession,
and continued for about forty j-cars, building
up an extensive practice and enjoying the con-
fidence of the people throughout a large circuit.
In 1852 he married Miss Charlotte A. Mar-
vine, who was born in 1832, in Wilton, Conn.,
the daughter of William M. Marvine. They
made their home on a farm near New Hacken-
sack, and reared a family of six children:
(i) Charles married Miss Annie M. Rapelje,
and lives at Hopewell Junction, Dutchess
county, where he is the agent for the N. Y. &
N. E. and the D. cS: C. railroads. {2) George
resides at the old homestead. (3) William
married Miss Mary E. Griffin, and lives at
Fishkill, where he is employed as general pas-
senger agent for the N. D. & C. R. R. (4)
Frank is a farmer at home. (5) Lottie mar-
ried Dr. R. C. Van W^'ck, of Hopewell Junc-
tion, who was thrown from his buggy and
killed in Februar}-, 1S96. (6) Edward A. mar-
ried Miss Jeannette E. Schubert, and resides
in Glenham, where he is employed as depot
agent and telegraph operator.

Dr. Underbill was prominent not only in
professional circles, but in local political affairs.



and took great interest also in educational
matters, and in various movements for the
public benefit. His death, which occurred
September 4, 1889, caused a loss which was
deeply and sincerelj' mourned among all classes
of people. One of his sons, Frank, conducts
the farm, a fine tract of one hundred acres,
with a handsome residence and other improve-
ments.



CHARLES F. COSSUM, of the well-known
law firm of Wilkinson & Cossum, of
Poughkeepsie, Dutchess county, was born in
New York City, April 17, 1859. His father,
Charles Cossum, was born in Hastings, Eng-
land, in 1S26.

Richard Cossum, grandfather of our sub-
ject, was also born at Hastings, and was the
last male of his name of that generation. He
was educated in England, and by occupation
was a draper, or dry-goods merchant. In
1 84 1 he moved with his family to the United
States and settled in Oswego county, N. Y.,
where he retired from active life. In 181 5 he
was married to Miss Caroline Foster, and they
had twelve children, of whom, Charles, Edwin,
Fannie, Decimus, Elizabeth and Caroline are
still living.

Charles Cossum, Sr. , spent his boyhood
days in Oswego county, N. Y. , and at the age
of thirteen years he started out on his own ac-
count. When twenty-five years old he was
employed by the Hudson River R. R. Co. as a
brakeman, from which he was promoted
through the various positions to assistant su-
perintendent and train master. He has a
record of forty-two j'ears with this road, and is
still in the company's employ, stationed at
Poughkeepsie. In 1858 he was married to
Miss Sarah Wood, who was born in New York
City, and who is a daughter of Peter Wood.
They have four children: Charles F. , our
subject; Oscar, now living in Stamford, Conn.,
\\'illiam H., a missionary in China, and Car-
oline.

Charles F. Cossum attended the schools of
Peekskill, N. Y., from 1865 to 1872, at which
time he went to New York City, and in 1873
was graduated from the Thirteenth Street
Grammar School. He was then admitted
to the College of New York City, but did
not attend as he preferred to work. In 1S75
he began the study of law with Homer A.
Nelson, at Poughkeepsie, N. Y. , and subse-



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



47



quently entered the office of Robert F. Wilkin-
son, and was admitted to the bar in 1880. In



Online LibraryJ.H. Beers & CoCommemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York → online text (page 9 of 183)