James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 100 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 100 of 125)
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1876, and the following named officers were
elected: James A. Seward, Supervisor; Denis W.
VanWyck, Town Clerk; Andrew Jackson, Col-
lector; Isaac Hall, Cornelius W. Hignell, Charles
P. Adriance and Benjamin Vail, Justices of the
Peace; Wm. H. Pulling, John DuBois and Wm.
H. H. Stoutenburgh, Assessors ; Richard B. Hor-
ton, Wm, Seward and Willis Dean, Commissioners
of Highways; John B. Jones, Anthony Underbill
and John N. Hayte, Town Auditors; Thomas
Crosier, George H. Abbott, Jacob S. Ackerman
and Alson Scofield, Constables ; Thomas Crosier,
Game Constable; Daniel Hayes and Gilbert B.
Wood, Overseers of the Poor ; Nicholas Disbrow,
Edward M. Pier and Leonard DeGroat, Inspectors
of Election ; Wm. Halliwell, John H. Alley and
Isaac C. Secore, Commissioners of Excise.

The following have been the successive Super-
visors and Town Clerks since the formation of the
town : —

Supervisors. Town Clerks.

1875-76. James A. Seward, Denis W. VnaWyck.

1877. J. W. P. Lawson, do do
1878-79. do do Wm. A. Brewster.
1880. Elias Brown, G. D. McGregor.
i88t. Isaac O. Norris, do do.

The town lies wholly within the limits of the
Rom bout Patent, which was granted Oct. 17,
1685, to Francis Rombout, Stephanus VanCourt-
landt and Jacobus Kip, the latter, the represen-
tative of the children of Gulian Verplanck, to
whom and to Francis Rombout, a license was
given Feb. 8, 1682, to purchase it of the Wap-
pinger Indians, whose name the town perpetuates.
Gulian Verplanck died before the patent was
issued. This was the first patent granted within
the limits of the county, and the Indian title to



lands it covered was extinguished by purchase
Aug. 8, 1683, the price paid being an inconsider-
able quantity of inexpensive merchandise, which,
however, to the untutored savage, possessed an in-
finitely exaggerated value.

Nevertheless, the settlement of this town was
not, it is believed, commenced till many years
later ; although the locaUty of the first projected
settlement in the county, — by New England colon-
ists, in 1659, — was at the mouth of Wappingers
Creek. When, where, and by whom the first settle-
ment was made is not positively known, and we
doubt if it ij possible at this late date to deter-
mine these facts. The early history of the town
is measurably lost in that obscurity in which the
early overshadowing importance of the southerly
part of the town from which it was formed buried
it. The oldest and best informed of the present
inhabitants have only the vaguest traditions re-
specting it. Its settlement was probably much later
than that of the present town of Fishkill, a cir-
cumstance which was influenced by the fact that
the existence of minor heirs to the Verplanck
portion of the patent, to which it largely belonged,
delayed a division until 1722.

March 6, 1695, Jacobus Kip, and his wife,
Henrica, the widow of Gulian Verplanck, con-
veyed to the children of the latter, — Samuel, Ja-
cobus and Hannah, wife of Andries Teller, — one-
third part of the Rombout tract ; and about the
20th of March, 1722, that portion, which had
been previously surveyed and laid out into lots,
was divided by the representatives of Verplanck's
children by casting lots. Among other lots, " the
Reer lott number one " came to the share of Gu-
lian, Mary and Anne Verplanck, in right of
their deceased father, Samuel Verplanck, son of
the aforesaid Gulian Verplanck; and August 15,
1728, they conveyed three hundred acres of this
tract to "John Muntross," of Duchess county, the
consideration being ^85. This three hundred
acres was bounded on the north by the land of
Wm. Verplanck, on the west by the land of PhiUp
Verplanck, on the south by the land of Gulian,
Mary and Anne Verplanck, and on the east by
" the spruyt." This is the earliest land transfer
affecting this town which has come under our ob-
servation, It is probable, however, that settle-
ments were made at a somewhat earlier period.

During the Revolution the town was made
memorable by the presence of portions of the
American army, and at one period the Brincker-
hoff mansion at Swartwoutville was the headquar-

ters of Gen. Washington. During the war of
18 1 2, a ship yard was in active operation on Wap-
pingers Creek, and many vessels were built there.

Wappingers Falls.

Wappingers Falls is the only important village
in the town ; but it is one of the most important
and enterprising in the county, and in the magni-
tude and value of its mechanical industries and the
facilities it enjoys for prosecuting them, as well as
in those features which make it attractive and
desirable as a place of residence, it is surpassed by
but few villages along the Hudson. It challenged
the admiration of the French tourist DeChastellux
in 1780.* It is delightfully situated at the head of
navigation on Wappingers Creek, from the falls of
which it derives its name, about one and one-half
miles above its confluence with the Hudson, and
the same distance from the Httle village of New
Hamburgh, a station on the Hudson River Rail-
road, with which it is connected by stage, and with
all trains and boats stopping there. A daily stage
also connects it with Poughkeepsie. It is sur-
rounded by rich and productive farm lands and
many beautiful sites in its vicinity have been select-
ed as residences by persons of wealth and refine-
ment. The village is rapidly increasing in pop-
ulation, having nearly doubledits population within
the last decade. In i86o, its population was
stated to be 1,819, °^ whom 1,139 were in the
town of Wappinger; in 1870 it had increased to
2,263, of whom 1,612 were in Wappinger and 651
in Poughkeepsie; while by an enumeration finished
June 22, 1880, the population had increased to
4,210, about one-third of whom are in the town
of Poughkeepsie.

The village which is a mile square, lies on both
sides of the creek, having, by its incorporation,
September 22, 187 1, been made to include the vil-
lage of Channingville, in the town of Poughkeepsie,
for a more particular account of which the reader
is referred to the history of that town in this work.
The first board of village trustees was composed of
Samuel Brown, Joseph D. Harcourt and R. W.
Nelson. Matthew Cottam was chosen president,
and J. W. Bartrum, clerk of the board. The fol-
lowing have been the successive presidents and
clerks of the village since its incorporation : —

Presidents. Clerks.

i87i-'73. Matthew Cottam, J. W. Bartrum.
i874-'75. Hugh Whitehill, do do

1876. A. W. Armstrong, do do

* See page 68 of this work,




Elias Brown, J. W. Bartrum.

Henry Hargreaves, George Wood.
Edward M. Goring, do do
Henry Hargreaves, Bernard J. Tinney.
Nicholas U. Disbrow, do do

" In 1780," says a writer in The Daily Graphic,
of New York, under date of July 18, 1878, "the
present Mesier mansion, the county buildings at
Clump's Corners and the flour mill were the only
buildings in the place." Peter Mesier, though not
the first settler on the site of Wappingers Falls, was
the first of much importance and the first whose
family name has been associated with its history to
the present time. He was a native of New York,
and a descendant of a Huguenot family, who fled
to this country on the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes in 1685, to escape the bitter persecutions
to which they were subjected in their native France
during the reign of Louis XIV. Mr. Mesier mar-
ried in New York Miss Catharine Slate, and
acquired a valuable property by his mercantile
operations in his native city. In 1776, shortly
before the British took possession of the commer-
cial nnetropolis, he fled thence with his family, and,
like many others during that eventful period, found
refuge in Fishkill. He purchased a large tract of
land, said to have contained nearly seven hundred
acres, which lay on both sides of the creek and
comprised most of the present village of Wappin-
gers Falls. The purchase included the house on
Main street at the head of South avenue, which has
since been occupied by the Mesier family; and a
flouring-mill, which occupied the site now marked
by the ruins of the CUnton cotton-mill, and was
pulled down about the close of the Revolutionary
war, having gone to decay, when the old yellow
grist-mill, known to the older of the present inhab-
itants, was erected on its site by Peter Mesier.
The latter was torn down to make way for the
Clinton cotton-mill. Matthew Mesier, a son of
Peter's, was a Judge of this county, which he also
represented in the Assembly in 1820. He suc-
ceeded to the homestead at the death of his father
and was succeeded at his death, Sept. 2, 1838, aged
sixty-nine years, by his son Henry, who also died
there, Jan.' 26, 1 881, aged sixty-eight years. Abram
Suydam Mesier, a brother of Henry's, and his
sisters Johanna and Maria, are the present owners
of the homestead.

The growth of the village, which has been mainly
influenced by its manufactories, in which its present
importance centers, was slow till about the opening
of the late war, and since that period has been pro-

moted as much by the increased magnitude as by
the increased number of its manufacturing estab-
lishments. It now contains five churches, (Baptist,
Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and CathoHc,)
all brick or stone structures, two fine brick school-
houses, three hotels, the extensive print-works and
cotton factory of Garner & Co., the extensive
works of the Independent Comb Co., two overall
factories, one of them, that of Sweet, Orr & Co., of
great magnitude, one newspaper office, The Weekly
Chronicle, the Wappingers Savings Bank, and sev-
eral stores and mechanic shops. It is lighted with
gas, and supplied with water for fire pjjrposes.

Merchants. — As late as 1832 there was only one
store in Wappingers Falls. It was built and owned
by Benjamin Clapp, and was erected about 1830.
It was located on Market street, and is now occu-
pied by Wm. J. Dawson & Co. It was kept by
Cook & Low and managed by Eleazer D. Sweet,
father of Clayton E. Sweet. Sweet & Barlow is
the present firm. In 1847, the business was re-
moved from the store first occupied to that now
occupied by the latter firm.

Joseph D. Harcourt, on withdrawing from the
firm of Harcourt & Sweet in 1870, resumed busi-
ness and continued it until May, 1879, when he
engaged in the milling and ice business at the
Faulkner Mill, near Hughsonville. He was suc-
ceeded in the mercantile business by his sons, J.
and J. T. Nichols Harcourt, who had been associ-
ated with him for a few years previously, and still
continue the business of general merchandise.

John Du Bois was a prominent merchant from
about 1847 until his death in 1876, and was suc-
ceeded by John B. Scofield, who continued until
his death in 1879, when John C. Du Bois, a son of
the former, succeeded to the bi^iness and still con-
tinues it, dealing in dry goods and groceries.

WiUiam G. King commenced mercantile busi-
ness about 1846. He was the first to occupy the
building now occupied by John H. Brown. Samuel
Brown succeeded Mr. King in the former store and
did business until his death, Jan. 22, 1876, at the
age of seventy-two years, when he was succeeded
by his son, John H. Brown, who still carries on the

Prominent among the other merchants now en-
gaged in business here are: A. W. Armstrong,
dealer in house furnishing goods, who ppened the
first stove store in the town in 1846, in which year
he commenced business here; James S. Roy, drug-
gist, who succeeded in 1868, on the death of his
father, James Roy, to the business established by



the latter in 1848— the first drug store in the vil-
lage; C. W. Hignell, merchant tailor and dealer
in hats, caps and trunks, who erected the store he
now occupies in 1869, and as long ago as 1850 was
a successful merchant tailor and clothier in this
village ; Edward M. Goring, druggist, who is a na-
tive of Manchester, England; J. H. E.edfield, fur-
niture dealer and undertaker, who succeeded to the
business established by his father, at the death
of the latter; Dr.| Sylvester Roe, Jr., druggist, a
native of Flushing, L. I., who commenced business
here in 187 1 ; Manning & Smith, and D. B. Whit-
ney, grocers; Thomas Dawson, dry goods dealer;
and John L. Shrader, druggist.*

Manufactures. — The manufactures of Wappin-
gers Falls are of pre-eminent importance among its
industries. They give employment to nearly 1,600
persons, considerably more than one-third of the
entire population. Hence it will readily be seen
how vital they are to the continued growth and
prosperity of the place. Wappingers Creek, which
flows centrally through the village, has a fall within
its limits of seventy-five feet, and affords a most
valuable water-power, which has been utilized to
a limited extent from a very early period.

Previous to the Revolution two flouring mills
were in operation at the Falls, both of which were
owned at that period by the Mesiers. One of
them stood on the site now marked by the ruins of
the Clinton cotton mill. It was pulled down about
the close of the Revolutionary war, and a yellow
building, used for the same purpose, was erected
on its site by Peter Mesier. The latter building
was torn down on the erection of the Clinton cot-
ton mill, which was built in 1846 and destroyed by
fire July 19, 1855. The other stood on the same
(east) side of the creek. Its site is occupied by
the print works. It was purchased in 1819, at
sheriff's sale, by Benjamin De La Vergne and John
Givens. The purchase also included sixty-six acres
of land on the east side of the creek, and a some-
what less quantity on the west side. On the par-
tition of the property that year, Givens took that
part lying on the west side of the creek, and De
La Vergne that on the east side. Givens erected
on his portion the same year (1819) a stone build-
ing for a cotton factory, which wds partially de-
stroyed about 1840 by a freshet, which also swept
away the large dam of the print works. The build-
ing was not rebuilt by those who owned it. The
Duchess Company acquired the site and erected
on it the building now used as a dye-house. De

* For an account of other merchants see histoiiy of ChanningviJle.

La Vergne rented the flouring mill to Joshua Hal-
leck, and in 1824, to his grandson, Edwin De La-
Vergne, who purchased it of his grand-father in

In 1829,* Mr. De La Vergne rented the build-
ing to James Ingham, a native of Manchester,
England, who established that year the present print
works, which are said to have been the first of the
kind in America. In 1835, Mr. Ingham purchased
the building which was subsequently torn down to
make room for improvements.

In the meantime, Mr. Ingham, who died July 8,
1872, at the advanced age of ninety-five years, had
become associated with James Leslie, who died
July 19th, 1870, aged sixty-eight. In 1835 the es-
tablishment was sold to the '' Duchess Company,"
a principal owner in which was Thomas Garner, an
Englishman, who came to this country about the
time of the establishment of the works and shortly
after became Mr. Ingham's agent. Mr. Garner's
associates were D. R. Mangam and L. M. Thorn.
In 1866 Messrs. Mangam & Thorn withdrew and
were succeeded by S. W. Johnson as partner.
Shortly afterwards Mr. Garner died and his real
estate and business interests were transferred by
will to his son, Wm. T. Garner, who was drowned
by the capsizing of his yacht, the Mohawk, in June,
1876. The business was continued by S. W. John-
son, associated with Messrs. Lawrence & Thorn as
trustees of the estate of Wm. T. Garner, until the
death of Mr. Johnson, Dec. 12, 188 r, and is now
as then, carried on under the name of Garner &
Co., no change having been made since Mr. John-
son's death.

The works, which originally occupied but a
single building of small dimensions, now cover
about twelve acres of ground, new buildings and
additions thereto having been repeatedly erected
in response to the increased demands for their pro-
ductions. The principal buildings are located on
the east side of the creek, only the fancy depart-
ment — the bleaching and dye works — being on the
west side. The most improved patterns of ma-
chinery known to the trade are employed. The
production of the works is about eighty millions of
yards of cloth per annum. The works, which were
formerly run on cloth manufactured by the house,
now print largely on commission for other houses.
This naturally decreased the production somewhat, .
owing to the intricate combination of shades which
they are re quired to imitate. This vast production

* Statement of Edwin De La Vergne, of Hughsonville, who says that
the date 1815, which has been assigned to the establishment of the print
works, is incorrect.



requires the services of about 900 persons, about
one-third of whom are females. The works have,
however, given employment to some 1,200 persons,
when driven to their full capacity. The motive
power is furnished by both water and steam, the
former by an eighteen feet fall which gives a power
equal to about eighty horses. The combined ca-
pacity of the several engines in use is about 2,300
horse power. Some forty large boilers are used,
and about a hundred tons of coal consumed daily
in generating steam for their propulsion.

The first superintendent was James Ingham.
The principal superintendent under the Duchess
Company was Josiah Faulkner, who held the same
position under Mr. Ingham, and until his death in
April, 1876, with the exception of a brief period
during which it was held by John Wilde. William
Bogle, the present superintendent, succeeded Mr.
Faulkner at his death.

The Franklindale Cotton Mill is also the proper-
ty of Messrs. Garner & Co., by whom it was pur-
chased in 1844, and was the first mill of the kind
owned by them. This site and water-power was
.first utilized by Benjamin Clapp, who was born in
Norton, Mass., Oct, 31, 1789, and removed to
Wappingers Falls in 1827. He purchased the site
of the Mesiers and erected a building, the lower
story of which he occupied in the manufacture of
mahogany veneering, while the upper story was used
as a drying room for the print works, and the in-
termediate one was rented to Cook & Low, who
were engaged in the manufacture of combs. Ben-
jamin Clapp was one of Wappingers Falls' most
active business men. He died Sept. 19, 1872.
The building erected by Mr. Clapp was burned
, in the fall of 1832, and rebuilt by him the following
year. That building now forms the northerly por-
tion of the Franklindale Cotton Mill, the southerly
portion of which was erected by him soon after.
In 1844 these two buildings were connected by
means of a central addition made by the Franklin-
dale Company, which was incorporated that year,
and took possession of the building in the interest
of Messrs. Garner & Co.

This cotton mill contains 10,000 spindles, and
is supplied with the most approved machinery. It
is run to its full capacity and produces 250,000
yards of print cloths per week, giving employment
to about 125 persons, about one-half of whom are
females. The machinery is propelled entirely by
water-power, which was improved and increased in
♦ 1872 from an eighteen feet to a twenty-eight feet
head. The overflow these produced covers forty-

three acres— thirty acres more than it formerly


Peter McKinley, a native of Scotland, was the
first agent after the mill came into the hands of the
Franklindale Co., and his brother Daniel was super-
intendent. Both filled these positions till their deaths,
the former Feb. 28, 1859, and the latter, having
also acted as agent after the death of his brother,
in 1870. Matthew Cottam succeeded to the agency
and still retains it. Hugh Whitehill, who was con-
nected with the mill in a subordinate capacity from
1847, succeeded to the superintendency, under Mr.
Cottam, and held the position until 1881, when
Wm. J. Brown, the present incumbent, received
that appointment.

The Clinton Company is one of the four repre-
sentatives of Garner & Co., at this place, each
of which is conducted as an entirely distinct
and separate establishment. It supervises the
water-works and the tenement houses — 460 in
number — which are mainly rented to the opera-
tives in the print works and cotton-mill, and are
mostly two-tenement buildings, though some con-
tain as many as ten tenements.

The Independent Comb Co., was formed in 1828;
and was composed of Levi Cook and Emery Low,
the latter of whom came here from Leominster,
Mass., at the suggestion of Mr. Cook, who was a
New York capitalist, and advanced funds to enable
Mr. Low, who was then advanced in years, to
enlarge his comb business, which, like many other
establishments, he had carried on in a small way in
Leominster. Mr. Cook sold the goods for him in
New York. Mr. Low first occupied the middle
floor of a building erected by Benjamin Cl^pp on
the site of the Franklindale Cotton Mill, and after-
wards in the building erected on its site, which is
now the northerly portion of that structure. In
1836, Eleazer D. Sweet, I. T. l^ichols and James
Shields succeeded Messrs. Cook and Low in the
Comb business, which they conducted under the
name of Sweet, Nichols & Shields. In 1844, they
removed the establishment to a wooden building
erected by them near the site of the Cljnton Cot-
ton Mill, which was torn down in 1 848, when the
latter was' got in operation ; and in 1848, to the
upper story of the building now used as the dye
mill of the Dutchess Print Works, which was erected
by the Franklindale Cotton Co. that year, and the
lower story of which was rented to Henry Hughson
for a grist mill. In 1854 they discontinued the
comb business and sold the establishment to Elias
Brown, Abel Gray, Thomas Stevenson and John



Barlow, who removed it to the island back of the
Clinton Cotton Mill, renting a building owned by
the Franklindale Cotton Co., a part of which
is still standing and in use as a carpenter shop.
These gentlemen conducted the business one year,
when, in 1855, Mr. Brown purchased the interest
of his partners.

In 1 86 1, Mr. Brown associated with himself as
partner, I. T. Nichols, a former proprietor, under
the name of Nichols & Brown, and in 1864, re-
purchased Mr. Nichols' interest, since which time
he has carried on the business alone. In 1867
Mr. Brown removed the establishment from the
building on the island to one 90 by 30 feet erected
by him that year on the site of the central portion
of his present building on the corner of Prospect
and Market streets. That building was destroyed
by fire January 26, 1868, and a new one of like
size was erected within three weeks. In 1879
Mr. Brown enlarged the building by an addition
on both ends to its present size, one hundred and
fifty by thirty feet, with a wing of forty feet on
each end.

Sweet, Orr dr- Co!s Overall Factory was estab-
lished in the fall of 187 1 by the present firm, which
is composed of Clayton E. Sweet, James Orr and
Clinton W. Sweet for the manufacture of overalls,
sack coats and jackets. Operations were com-
menced on the west side of the creek on an upper
floor of Stevenson & Barlow's tin store with less than
a dozen machines and operators. But the excellence
of their goods soon created a demand which neces-
sitated increased faciUties and substitution of steam
for foot power. Consequently the works were re-
moved in 1872 to the building on Mill street occu-
pied by the Chronicle office. But these humble
quarters were soon outgrown, and the building with
its subsequent additions is now 100 by 112 feet,
the rear and main portion, including the operating
rooms, being three stories high, while the number
of machines has increased to 195, and the number
of operators to 300, fuUy two-thirds of whom are

The firm have recently commenced the manu-
facture of woolen goods, a feature of the business
which is increasing in magnitude and importance.

Physicians. — Dr. Peter D. Schenck is believed to
have been the first physician who located at Wap-
pingers Falls. He was a son of Paul Schenck, an
early merchant in Poughkeepsie, and a Deputy to
the third Provincial Congress from this county in
1776. He had previously practiced in Fishkill,
whence he removed to this place about 1820. He

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 100 of 125)