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 109 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 109 of 125)
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time, still stands,

Thomas Storm, was for a long time here engaged
in trade, and was the leading business man of the
vicinity. It is beUeved he was a member of the
" Committee of Safety" in 1777, and was elected
to the Assembly in i78i-'82-'83 and '84 acting in
five sessions. He was an intelligent and active
man and belonged to the family bearing the name
that settled at the present village of Stormville.

The Storm family settled at Stormville in 1739.
Derick Storm was the first purchaser, and Isaac,
George and Thomas soon followed, whose descend-
ants are still to be found upon the lands thus early
purchased. The Carmans and Arkles settled near

them about the year 1758, and to the north, Isaac
Adriance, "of Nasaw Island, Queens county,"
purchased two hundred and fifty acres of land in
May 1743, and a few months after, George and
Abraham Adriance purchased and settled. Mr.
John J. Carman of Stormville has several relics of
" ye olden time " that are of peculiar interest. He
has a marriage license bearing date 1774, given to
his grandfather by Governor Trypn.

But a little to the north of Stormville hamlet,
an American force was encamped for a short time
during the Revolution. Tradition says it was
under Gen. Wayne. But here tradition errs. The
force was one of the many that were posted back
of the river to oppose the suspected inland march
of the British to the upper Hudson.

One of the most prominent families of the early
purchasers of lands in this town was the Van-
Wycks who settled at Fishkill Hook. Theodorus
Van Wyck was the pioneer and a representative
man. He was a true patriot and being greatly
molested by Tory neighbors, in 1775 he removed
to New York and was elected a delegate to the
second Provincial Congress. The patriots becom-
ing more bold, outspoken and active throughout
the County, he returned to his farm in the early
part of 1776 and was again elected to the Congress
in that year from Duchess County. During the
war he was an active patriot and was elected to
the State Convention in 1801. His family have
from time to time held many offices of trust
and became connected with the leading families of
the County.

Near Johnsville, William Van Wyck settled some
time previous to the commencement of the Revo-
lutionary hostilities, but we are informed, was dis-
tantly related to the family of the " Hook." Will-
iam had two sons and three daughters, viz : "Dorus"
W., and William. Mrs. Henry Welsh, of Albany ;
Mrs. Abraham Van Wyck, and Mrs. Wm. Johnson.
" Dorus " followed the father in the possession of
the farm, and William was a merchant of New
York city from whence he removed to Virginia.
The father, and son " Dorus," were in service
through the war, and the latter was appointed to
the electoral college in 1816. He died without
heirs and the farm reverted to his sister, Mrs.
William Johnson, the mother of the present owner.
Like all the old settlers of the County, Van Wyck
owned slaves, and among those born on the place,
was Martin Colden, still living at the age of eighty-
seven. His mother was reared by the family and
died when he was very young.



Martin was always owned by Theodorus W., but
often was sent to New York to labor for William,
and " enjoyed himself as much as the rest of the
boys," having as much to eat and to wear, as they,
" only the latter was not quite as fine." He is
truly a rare example of longevity as we find him as
active and robust as most men of a score of years
his junior.

In Bailey's Historical Sketches, published in
1874, are the following facts relating to this part of
the town : —

" Mr. Bailey," says his publisher, " was born at
Johnsville on the 27th of December, 1813. He
has resided in the County nearly all his life, and is
well known to thousands of people. He did not
commence his literary labors until in his forty-
second year, but since that time has been a valued
contributor to the local press, and that which he
has written may be relied upon."

" The first settler of the village of Johnsville, the
ancient name of which was Wiccopee, was Johan-
nes Swartwout." " He having no money, leased
the farm of Madam Brett for three fat fowls a year.
The farm being covered with a dense forest, he
soon cleared a small spot and erected a log house
near an excellent spring of water, and in the year
1750 he set out an apple orchard. Many cf the
trees still exist, one taken down some twelve years
ago was twelve feet around its base and fifty feet
high." "After Madam Brett's death this farm by
heirship came into possession of Rombout Brett, a
grandson of hers, who located on it in the year
1770. He sold off six acres to a blacksmith
whose name was William Cushman, in 1783. He
was the first mechanic in Johnsville."

We do not intend to controvert Mr. Bailey's
information, but the settlement of Swartwout must
have been previous to 1740, and the list of inhabi-
tants of Duchess County in that year fails to men-
tion Johannes Swartwout, but in his stead Jacobus,
Rudolphus, Barnardus and Abraham. The family,
as nearly all of the Hollanders found in this sec-
tion, first settled upon Long Island, and afterwards
removed to Orange county, from whence they
came to this place. They were a very conspicuous
family in the early days of this County in an official
point of view. Jacobus was a captain in the
French war, and Member of Assembly from 1777
to '83, and a member of the council of appoint-
ment in 1784 and '86, State Senator from 1784 to
1795. "The next settler," Mr. Bailey continues,
"was Joseph Wood. His house was located on the
precise spot where Mrs. Wood now lives. Like
most of the dwellings of the first settlers, it was
built only one story, with a long stoop in front.
The roof of the house extended over sufficiently
to form the roof of the stoop. The windows were

very small, as glass was very expensive, which made
the rooms dark. There was no wall over head and
the large timbers were uncovered, and the fire
places were large enough to take in wood cord
length. The upper part was finished barn fashion,
with the shutters made in the gable end to open so
as to admit the light. The house was covered with
cypress and white wood, and never was painted."

" The floor was laid with white oak. Wood be-
ing located near the mountain he was very much
annoyed by beasts of prey, and he drove his sheep
and cattle in enclosures nights, and often they
would attempt to break through." * * » «

" This house was taken down in 1830, and the
present dwelling was erected by Cornelius Ostran-
der, who then owned the farm."

During the war this locality was infested by
bands of plunderers, employed by the British to
obtain supplies, and known as " Cow boys." They
usually carried on their depredations a short dis-
tance back from the river, and paid but little atten-
tion to the political sentiment of those who owned
such property as they wanted or could sell, provid-
ing they could get it. The farmers throughout the
country whom the cow boys visited, feared them
more than any other adversary, and thought as little
of shooting them down as they, did a wild animal
or an Indian. In the year 1777, a party of the
robbers came in this neighborhood and drove off
several cattle and sheep, which aroused the farmers
to a defense. One of the party strayed away from
his companions and was caught by the infuriated
yeomen and immediately hung without judge or
jury. In the performance of that execution several
tories were present and assisted, as they also had
been victims of their lawlessness. Such acts upon
their part, however, were exceptions, as some of
their clan joined the cow boys and instigated some
of the most brutal crimes upon record.

Another early settlement was made near the
present hamlet of Gayhead or East Fishkill post-
office. Abram Van Vlack, now beyond four
score years, in the vigor of mind and limb, lives
upon the farm his grandfather — Aaron — settled,
over one hundred and thirty years ago. He also
came from Long Island and purchased several hun-
dred acres of Madam Brett. He brought with
him from Holland a Dutch musket which Mrs.
Van Vlack has carefully preserved as an heir-loom.
It was originally of such length that the gunner,
although tall, was compelled to place the butt at
some distance off to load. It was made of such
length with the idea the longer the gun the farther it



would shoot. Mrs. Phoebe Van Vlack, a relative
of Abram Van Vlack, now Kving at the age of
seventy-eight, was the daughter of John Miller, of
Pine's bridge, a Revolutionary patriot, who was
witness to the conflict between the Cow boys and a
patriot force at Pine's bridge.

Tunis Van Vlack, a son of Aaron, built the first
mill at Gayhead about the year 1770, and was the
first settler of the place. It was a small mill with-
out a bolt, but as the country became more thickly
settled a larger one with all the then, " modern
improvements," was built in its stead. We will
here state that all of the mills built previous to the
year 1760 were without a "bolting cloth" as they
were called. The corn and wheat was ground, and
the ingenuity of the housewife was taxed to sepa-
rate the flour from the bran, which was done in a
new country by either a fine splint sieve or a very
coarse cloth, through which the flour was pressed
by the hand.

Near the mill the Luyster family settled at an
early day, of whom Peter Luyster is the eldest rep-
resentative, now beyond four score years — and one
of the unusual large number of aged people found
in the southern part of the County.

But few farming communities present a more pros-
perous appearance than around Gayhead, and none
show more care and taste in the preservation of
antique buildings, and other relics of the historic
past, than the people of this town in general-
Long years ago speculation was rife in the mining
of iron ore found in the hills in the eastern part of
the town, but after wasting much time and money,
the project was abandoned. A few years after,
another effort was made to work them with profit,
but it was found the cost of transportation was too
great to realize a paying profit, as it had to be done
by teams to Fishkill and Poughkeepsie. A fur-
nace was built a little to the east of Gayhead to
manufacture pig iron from the ore, but for some
reason or other much that was melted was brought
from Beekman, instead of confining the works to
the ore of Shenandoah. The furnace did a fair
business, as it manufactured about four hundred
tons of iron per annum on an average and gave
employment to forty and fifty men. Yet the profit
was not found as anticipated and the mines were
closed. A company has of late been formed and
are at present mining the ore, and drawing the
same to the Hopewell station for shipment. Those
interested in the ore bed are anticipating a rail-
road track to be laid the coming season, from the
" Clove Branch " through Stormville to the moun-

tain, which may better assure the mining enterprise
a paying dividend.

Fishkill Plains was early settled by the Monfort
family, who came from Long Island. The name
appears in many old documents relating to the
town from 1738 to 1760, and is differently spelled,
as " Monfoort," "Monfort," "Munfort," "Mufford"
and " Muffort." After the latter date it appears
Monfort and Monfoort, and very frequently con-
nected with the Reformed churches of Hackensack
and Hopewell, of which they were prominent and
faithful members. The family has been closely
identified with the interest of the town and churches,
and the hamlet now known as Fishkill Plains
should have borne the name of the family, it being
the first of the neighborhood, thereby connecting
the present with the past in historic associations.
The growth of the village has been slow, and the
busy hamlets springing up on the line of the
railroad will have a tendency to paralyze all
business in such places, a few miles back, and draw
from them everything that gives to them their hfe
and energy.

Through the election of careful and methodical
officials, the records of East Fishkill have been
kept in better shape than in most towns. When-
ever one person holds the office of clerk for a term
of years, we invariably find the records more per-
fect, than when the incumbent is annually changed.
The present clerk of this town, Mr. John J. Car-
man, was elected as will be seen in i8si-'53,-'54-'55,
and again in 1866, and has held the office each year
since, making twenty years in all. The perfect-
ness of records and preservation of loose papers is
ample evidence of the wisdom of electing good
careful officers and keeping them in service.

This territory was set off from Rombout Pre-
cinct in 1788 as Fishkill, and^on the 29th of Nov.,
1849, it was taken from Fishkill to form a separate
town, by act passed by the Board of Supervisors,
under a previous act of the Legislature. The sur-
vey of the town was made by Elnathan Hasten of
Beekman, and John Ferris, of Pawling. Benj. H.
Strang, Jas. A. Emans, Garret Deboise and Has-
brook Deboise were chain and flag-bearers. J.
Wesley Stark, of Pawling, Wilson B. Sheldon, of
Beekman, and Alexander ' Hasbrook, of Fishkill,
were Supervisors of the three respective towns as a
committee to superintend the survey, which was as
follows, copied verbatim : —

"Commencing on the base line of Putnam county
at a hemlock tree south-east of the house of James
Besley on the farm now owned by Charles Baster





and runs west 152 chains crossing the farm of said
Baster, Seth Hoyt and Mathias Ladue to a stone
set in a swamp now owned by said Ladue, then
north Seventeen and three-quarters (lyf) degrees
east, crossing the lands of Mathias Ladue, Samuel
Ladue, Abraham Waldron, Thomas Gary, west
side of Snake Hill, William Ladue, Isaac Gary,
Charles L. Duboise, Henry D. B. Bailey, Adriance
Bogardus, Stephen B. Waldron, Jeremiah GonkUn,
two hundred and sixty (260) chains to the east
door of the Methodist Ghurch on the South Fish-
kill Road, then on the same course Thirty-seven
chains 30 links (37,30) to the north bank of
the Fishkill creek, near a small Hickory tree,
marked. Thence up the said creek to the Sprout
creek thirty chains and eighteen links (30,18) on
the farm of Alfred Van Wyck, then north along
the west bank of said creek as it now runs ninety-
six chains (96) to Swartout's bridge. Thirty-six
chains and thirty-six hnks (36,36) to Sleeght's
bridge. Forty-seven chains and ninety-two links
(47,92) to John Schoutin's bridge. Fifty-eight
chains and thirty-nine links (58,39) to J. Scofield's
bridge. Ninety-nine chains and sixty-seven links,
(99,67,) to P. P. Monfort's bridge. Sixty-two chains
and seventeen links to R. C. Van Wyck's bridge.
One Hundred and nine chains to Chas. Robinson's
bridge, One Hundred and twenty-six chains and
twenty-eight links, (126,28) to a stake near a large
elm on the farm of Bagly, late WiUiam Morforts,
Thence south Seventy degrees and twenty-two
(70° 22') East two hundred and three chains and
sixty-six- links, (203,66) to the corner of the town
of Beekman;Thence South twenty-four degrees East,
Forty-Eight chains (48) to the Giles road. Ninety-
three chains & Sixty-four links, (93,64) to the
Poughkeepsie road near the Wiltsey farm. One
Hundred and sixty-nine chains and sixty-links,
(169,60,) to the North Fishkill road. One Hundred
and ninety-three chains, (193,) to the Haxtun
road, Two Hundred and thirty-two chains, (232,)
to the Fishkill creek. Two Hundred and eighty-six
chains and iifty Unks, (286,50,) to the South Fish-
kill road. Four Hundred chains (400,) to the Martin
road. Four Hundred and eighty (480,) chains to the
top of the mountain, five hundred and fifty-two
chains and fifty Unks, (552,50,) to the Griffin road.
Six hundred and ninety-six chains and ninety-four
(696,94,) links, to Putnam county line on the road
leading to Joshua White's near a chestnut tree on
the north side of a hill, six rods north-east of Rus-
sell Burtch house. Then due West on the Putnam
county line six hundred and seventeen (6 1 7,) chains
to the Hemlock tree, to the place of Beginning
containing 35,650 acres of land."

The act appointed John V. Storm, James B.
Montros and Isaac R. Adriance as commissioners,
to hold the first town meeting, at the house of
Jacob Tompkins, in Stormville, on the last Tues-
day of March, 1850, which was accordingly held
and the following elected as officers : Supervisor,
Benjamin Hopkins ; Clerk, William Hasbrook ;

Justices, Morgan Emigh, John S. Emans, Rushmore
G. Hortoh and William Homan ; Collector, Orry
N. Sprague ; Commissioners of highways, John An-
derson, Charles Ogden and George VanNostram ;
Assessor, Lewis Seaman; Sealer, Jacob Wiltsie-
Overseers of poor, Abraham PuUings, Abraham'
Adriance; Constables, Daniel Weeks, Jacob Wilt-
sie, John Van Vlack: Inspectors of election, David
Knapp, Orson H. Tappan, John K. Vermilyea,
Peter Adriance, William B. Ashley and Abraham
S. Storm.

The following gentlemen have been elected as
supervisors and clerks : —

Supervisors. Clerks.

1850. Benj. Hopkins, Wm. Hasbrook.

1 85 1. do do John J. Carman.

1852. John V. Storm, Wm. Hasbrook.

1853. do do John J. Carman.
i854-'ss. Nicholas H. Stripple, do do

1856. Benj. Seaman, Abraham Bowne.

1857. Edmund Luyster, Orry N. Sprague.

1858. John V. Storm, do do

1859. Benj. Hopkins, do do
i860. do do John Gildersleeve.

1861. Lawrence C. Rapalje, do do

1862. do do Weston Lasher.

1863. John S. Emans, do do

1864. do do William R. Kelley.

1865. Benj. Hopkins, do do
1866-67. do do John J. Carman.
i868-'69. Nicholas H. Stripple, do do
1870. John S. Emans, do do
1871-73. Charles W. Horton, do do
1874-75. Peter A. Baldwin, do do
1876-77. John S. Emans, do do

1878. Charles W. Horton, do do

1879. Peter A. Baldwin, do do

1880. Charles W. Horton, do do

1881. Storm Emans, do do

The Hopewell Reformed Church, as before
stated, is the oldest organization in the town,
dating back to the year 1757. Their meetings
were held in barns and private houses until the
year 1764, when the edifice was erected of which a
description has already been given. The first
preacher was Benj. Meinema who supplied the
pulpits of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill from 1745 to
1758 and preached at Hackensack and Hopewell
occasionally as a missionary. He was succeeded
by Jacobus VanNiest, or VanNest, in the latter
year and remained until his death which occurred
in 1 76 1. The year following, the church was built
and in 1765 Isaac Rysdyck began his labors which
continued till the year 1790.

During the Revolution regular exercises were a
greater part of the time deferred. From 1800 to
the present time the church has enjoyed a steady



prosperity and for long years it was, in connection
with that of Hackensack, the church of the County.

The next oldest organization of the town is the
"First Fishkill Baptist Church," of Fishkill Plains,
which bears the date of 1782. This being its cen-
tennial year a brief history from its records should
be given of it, but they were not found by us, except
in parts, from which we could gather but little. It
appears to have been an offshoot of the Pleasant
Valley church, its officers and pastors officiating
for several years. About the year 1800 it was a
live and earnest working church and remained so
for many years, but like all of the old religious
organizations, it has seen many discouraging
seasons. One reason, perhaps, more than all
others for the slowness of growth in this church
was that nearly all of the eariiest settled families of
this section were strict adherents to the Reformed
faith and were connected with the Hopewell or
Hackensack churches, and but few new settlers
located after the year 1780 for a long term of years.
We cannot learn that the society ever supported a
pastor alone but in connection with that of Pleas-
ant Valley or Beekman. Services are now held
once each fortnight by the Rev. Lewis Selleck, of
Beekman. The church edifice is a small building
without a belfry and was erected about eighty years

Following the Fishkill Baptist organization after
the period of forty-four years ihtjohnsville Metho-
dist Church was organized at Johnsville through the
labors of James Taylor, William, Samuel, Jacob
and Oliver Ladue and CorneUns Ostrander. Long
years before, however, the Methodists were not the
least in activity in promulgating the Gospel regard-
less of the "hold" other denominations had upon
the people. Here in Duchess County, as in other
sections, when they first appeared they were looked
upon as a crazed, excitable people, and were
Ustened to as much through curiosity as for spiritual
instruction, but through the incessant labors of
their " circuit riders " and local preachers, a foot-
hold was obtained and the changes that have been
made in a moral and spiritual point of view since,
are as much due to this denomination as any other
especially in temperance, as they were the first to
cry aloud against the universal use of intoxicating
liquors, by clergy and layman, in the latter part of
the last, and fore part of the present century.

The Johnsville church was organized in 1826 and
the following have officiated as pastors as given to us
by Rev. Thomas Carter, viz: — Revs. Hunt, Alonzo
F. Selleck, Wm. F. Collins, Chalker, L. M.



H. Romer, Isaac H. Lent,

M. Genung, Turner, -

Bishop, ■— Hearn,

Stebbins, James

— Hawkhurst, B.



Daniells, Thomas Lent and the present

Thomas Carter, D.D., who, in connection with his
pastoral duties edits and publishes The Wayside
Monthly, a magazine replete with religious and
miscellaneous readings, highly commendable in
tone of sentiment and purity of expression.

The history of the Bethel Baptist church we
take from the minutes of the " Dutchess Baptist
Association" of 1874, as written by the pastor.
Rev. Samuel Sprague : —

The Bethel Baptist Church, of Shenandoah, is
one of the most southern, or southwestern. Churches
of the Dutchess Baptist Association. It is situated
on the direct road leading from Matteawan to Car-
mel, and about midway between those places. Its
opportunities for growth are few, being surrounded
in part, by Churches of other denominations.

In 1834, a number of brethren and sisters, be-
longing to the Kent and FishkiU Churches, of the
Union Association, finding it inconvenient to attend
the former Churches at a distance of five or six
miles, and over a very hilly road, resolved, together
with some of their neighbors and piously disposed
people of Fishkill-Hook, to erect a meeting house.
This was done in the summer of 1834, Deacon
Abram Pulling and Isaac Knapp contributing
largely, and aiding much in the undertaking. On
May 4th, 1835, fifteen brethren and sisters consti-
tuted themselves a church, and were recognized by
a council called for that purpose.

The meeting house being built before the Church
was constituted, the records of the Church give no
account of its erection. Its cost is estimated at
$2,500. It was dedicate^ in December, 1835.
The Church held its first covenant meeting May
23d, 1835. In 1837 the Church was duly incor-
porated, and in September it united itself with the
Union Association. In 1839 the Church accepted
an invitation from the Patterson Church, to unite
in forming and holding a yearly meeting in the As-

In 1862 the meeting house was repaired and

In 1870 about a thousand dollars was spent in
repairs upon the house of worship, and it was re-
dedicated in June, 187 1.

In the forty years of its history, the Church has
received two hundred and sixteen members.

It has chosen six Deacons: L Charlack, 1835;



A. Pulling, 1838; Abram Seaman, 1840; O. N.
Sprague and Wm. H. Pulling, 1858; E. Jewel,

It has given a license to preach to four of its
members: I. Charlack, 1838; Lewis W. Annie,
1842; W. B. Knapp, 1842; James Gregory, i860.

It has ordained two to the Christian ministry.
Elder Horton and Elder Sprague.

Since its constitution, the Church has had ten
Pastors: Elder George Horton, 1835 to 1844; E.

C. Ambler, 1844 to 1845; J. Warren, 1845 to
1848; D. W. Sherwood, 1848 to 1852; J. J. Eb-
erly, 1852 to 1853; E. Beardsley, 1855 to i860;

D. Van Fradenburgh, i860 to 1863; I. C. Smally,

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 109 of 125)