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

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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 11 of 125)
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Two Tracts of Lands the one near Maghdalens
Island and the other at the Long reatch on the
South Side of A Place Called Poghkeepsie which
quantity of three hundred and seventy Bushels of
wheat I aknowledge to have Red. in full for the
above said Patent.

"Witness my hand this 4th of Octr 1727.
"Archd. Kennedy

" Recr. Genii.
"New York Octobr nth 1727.

"Archibald Kenedy Esqr. Receiver Generall of
the province of New York having appeared before
me Lewis Morris Junr. Esqr. one of his Majesties
Councill of the Province of New York and ac-
knowledged the within Receipt to be his act and
Deed and I haveing Examined the same allow it
may be Recorded. Lewis Morris Junr.*

The Nine Partners' Patent (Great or Lower) was
granted by Gov. Benjamin Fletcher, May_27, 1697,
to Col. Caleb Heathcote, Major Augustus (or Au-
gustin) Graham, James Emott, Lieut.-Col. Henry
Filkins, David Jamison, Hendryck Ten Eyck, John
Aaretson, WiUiam Creed and Jarvis Marshall, nine
men of wealth and influence. It embraced the
present towns of Clinton, Pleasant Valley, Stan-
ford and Washington, except a small strip along
the north border of CUnton and Stanford, that por-
tion of Hyde Park south and east of Crum Elbow
Creek, and Amenia and the southern part of North
East, except the Oblong, which was afterwards de-
fined. Its boundaries are thus defined in deeds
derived from it : —

"A Tract of Vacant Land Situate, Lying and
Being on Hudson's River in Dutchess County.
Bounded on the west by the said Hudson River
Between the Creek called Fish Creek [Crum
Elbow ?] at the marked Trees of pauUng (Includ-
ing the said Creeke) and the Land of Myndert
Harmensen & Company then Bounded southerly
by the Land of said Myndert Harmense and com-
pany as far as their bounds goes then westerly by

* Book A, Deeds, Clerk's Office, Poughkeepsie.

the Land of the said Harmense and untill a south-
erly Hne runs so far south untUl it comes to the
south side of a certain Meadow wherein there is a
White Oak Tree markt with the Letters H. T. then
southerly by an east and west Line to the Division
Line between the province of New York and the
colony of Connecticut and so Easterly to the said
Division Line and Northerly by the aforesaid Fish
Creeke as far as it goes and from the head of said
Creeke by a parallel line to the south Bounds east
and west Reaching the aforesaid Division Line."

The tract was divided into thirty-six principal
lots and nine " water lots," the latter fronting upon
the Hudson. The lots varied in size according to
the quality of the land, but were nearly equal.

The Poughkeepsie Patent, embracing the major
portion of the town of Poughkeepsie, was granted
to Henry Ten Eyck and eight others, by Governor
Benjamin Fletcher, May 7, 1697.

The Rhinebeck Patent, embraced within the
Umits of the towns of Rhinebeck and Red Hook,
was granted to Henry Beekman, June 8, 1703.

The Beekman Patent, which comprised the towns
of Beekman and Unionvale, the easterly portion
of LaGrange, and Dover and Pawling, except the
Oblong, was granted to Henry Beekman, June 25,

The Little or Upper Nine Partner^ Patent was
granted April 10, 1706, to Samson Broughton, Rip
Van Dam, Thomas Wenham, Roger Mompesson,
Peter Fauconier, Augustin Graham, Richard
Sackett and Robert Lurting, and comprised the
towns of Milan and Pine Plains, the north half of
North East, and the small portions of Clinton and
Stanford not covered by the Great Nine Partners'
Patent. It was bounded as follows : —

" Beginning at the North Bounds of the Lands
And then lately purchased by said Richard Sackett
in Dutchess county, and runs thence South Easterly
by his north bounds to Wimposing thence by the
mountains southerly to the south east corner of
the said Sackett's Land and thence Easterly to the
Colony Line of Connecticut and thence Northerly
by the said colony Line and Wiantenuck River to
the south bounds of lands purchased by John
Spragg &c. at Owissetanuck thence westerly by
the said purchase as it runs to the south-west cor-
ner thereof thence to the Manner of Livingston
and by the south bounds thereof unto the lands
purchased and patented to Coll. Peter Schuyler
over against Magdelons Island and so by the said
purchase and patent To the patent of Coll. Beek-
man for Land Lying over against Clyne Esopus Fly
and thence by the said Land to the said south east
corner and thence to the place where it begun."

This tract was confirmed by Queen Anne to the
above named patentees September 25, 1708; and
in 1734, the Colonial Assembly-passed a law author-



izing its partition. A deed for three hundred acres
of this tract, given October 20, 1740, by Richard
Sackett, Richard Sackett, Jr., and John Sackett to
Johann Tise Smith, recites that "some native
Indians of said county [Duchess] and there re-
siding lay claim to some part of the above demised
and granted premises." This has reference doubt-
less to the Shekomeko Indians.

The Oblong Patent covers a tract of land, named
from its figure, and extends in a narrow strip along
the east borders of Duchess, Putnam and Westches-
ter counties. It contains 61,440 acres, and was
ceded to the State of New York as an equivalent
for lands on the sound, eight by twelve miles in
extent, surrendered by that State to Connecticut.
It was originally called the " Equivalent land," and
is so referred to in colonial documents.

The boundary line between New York and Con-
necticut has been in dispute from an early period
in the Dutch Colonial history. An effort to adjust
this difficulty was made at Hartford, Sept. 19, 1650,
by Commissioners representing the United English
Colonies and New Netherland. It was then agreed
that " the bounds upon the main " should " begin
at the west side of Greenwich Bay, being about
four miles from Stamford, and so to run a northerly
line twenty miles up into the country, and after as
it shall be agreed by the two governments, * * *
provided that the said line come not within ten
miles of Hudson River." The Dutch were pro-
hibited from building thereafter " any house or
habitation within six miles of the said Une." The
inhabitants of Greenwich were to remain under
the government of the Dutch till further considera-
tion was had ; and the Dutch were to " hold and
enjoy all the lands in Hartford that they [were]
actually possessed of; " while the remainder of
the lands on both sides of the Connecticut were
to remain in possession of the English.

But that agreement was by no means preserved
inviolate. The encroachments of the Connecticut
colonists proved one of the most serious problems
that vexed the Dutch colonial administration.
When the EngUsh superseded the Dutch in 1664,
they had extended their settlements on the sea
coast to within ten miles of the Hudson ; and as
they desired to retain their connection with the
Connecticut government, with which their sympa-
thies and associations brought them into close
affiUation, an effort was made in that year to adjust
the boundary in harmony with those wishes, and
with due regard to the claims of the Duke of York.
Commissioners were appointed by Charles II., of

England, who determined on a line parallel with
the Hudson and twenty miles distant from it on
the east, " reserving, however, to Connecticut, the
settlements actually made, though within less than
ten miles from Hudson's River, for which they were
to allow an equivalent in the inland parts, where
they had no settlements. By this equivalent the
distance between Hudson's River and the colony
of Connecticut in the upper parts is about twenty-
two miles."

The line thus agreed upon " being considered as
fraudulent, or erroneous," and having given rise to
a dispute respecting the right of government over
the towns of Rye and Bedford, in Westchester
county, another agreement was concluded Novem-
ber 28, 1683, between Colonel Thomas Dongan,
Governor of New York, in behalf of the Duke of
York, on the one side, and Governor Robert Treat,
Major Nathaniel Gold, Captain John Allyn and
WilUam Pitkin, of Connecticut, on the other. The
line then determined on commences at "Lyons
Point," on the east bank and at the mouth of By-
ram River, and proceeds thence " one mile and a
half and twenty rods," " as the said river runneth
to the place where the common road or wading
place over the said river is ;" thence " north north-
west into the country" six and a half miles, "to a
point eight miles distant from Lyons Point;"
thence eastward twelve miles in the general direc-
tion of the Sound and eight miles distant from it ;
thence twelve miles north north-west ; and thence
" parallel to Hudson's River in every point, twenty
miles distant from the river, so far as the Con-
necticut colony doth extend northwards." It was
provided that, if these bounds encroached upon
lands within twenty miles of the Hudson, a strip
should be taken from Connecticut, east of and ex-
tending the whole length of the line running par-
allel with the river, of such width as would make
an equivalent compensation therefor. The towns
of Rye and Bedford were adjudged by the latter
commission to be subject to the New York govern-
ment. By a survey made in 1684, it was deter-
mined that the line running parallel with the Sound
would, if prolonged "one mile and sixty-four rods,"
reach a point "twenty miles distant from the Hud-
son, and that the oblong of eight by twelve miles
diminished " sixty- one thousand four hundred
and forty acres from the twenty miles from Hud-
son's River ;'' therefore a strip " three hundred and
five rods" in width was annexed on the line run-
ning parallel with the Hudson, which was deemed
to extend one hundred miles from the terminus of


the eight mile line.* This agreement was respected
till the beginning of the year 1697, when, as ap-
pears by a letter from Governor Fletcher, dated
June 22, 1697, the towns of Rye and Bedford "re-
volted from New York to Connecticut," "to avoid
the payment of some arrears of taxes ;" and Con-
necticut having " owned them as members of that
colony," the execution of a writ for the election of
a Representative to the General Assembly of New
York, was " disturbed at Rye in a hostile man-
ner." It became necessary therefore to apply to
the EngUsh Crown for a confirmation of the agree-
ment, which was given March 28, 1700.

"Nineteen years afterwards," says Smith, "a
probationary act was passed, empowering the Gov-
ernor to appoint commissioners, as well to run the
line parallel to Hudson's River, as to re-survey
the other lines and distinguish the boundary. The
Connecticut agent opposed the King's confirma-
tion of this act, toHs viribus ; but it was approved
on the 23d of January, 1723. Two years after,
the commissioners and surveyors of both colonies
met at Greenwich, and entered first into an agree-
ment relating to the method of performing the
work. The survey was immediately after executed
in part, the report being dated on the 12th of May,
1725 ; but the complete settlement was not made
till the 14th of May, 1731, when indentures, certi-
fying the execution of the agreement in 1725, were
mutually signed by the commissioners and survey-
ors of both colonies. At this time the tract' known
as the Oblong was ceded to New York as an equiva-
leiit for the lands near the Sound, the peaceable
possession of which Connecticut had enjoyed during
all the intervening years."

"The manner of setting off this strip," says a
writer in the Poughkeepsie Eagle, of recent date,
"was the main cause of later disputes, as instead of
running a new line where the boundary was to be,
and marking it with suitable monuments, the sur-
veyors ran the old line on the west side of the
'Oblong' to be set off, and every two miles made
offsets toward the east, of such distance as to make
the oblong contain the required number of acres.
In making these offsets, measuring as they had to
through an unbroken wilderness, through swamps
and over mountains, hardly two of the lines were
of equal length, and as a result the line, instead
of being straight as was intended, bowed into
Connecticut. * * * At the time this line was
determined on it made very little difference whether
it bowed into Connecticut or New York, as the
territory was entirely wild and unsettled, and
is so largely even to the present day, but as settle-
ments increased and the stone heaps that had been

* The width of the oblong is 580 rods. Frenches State Gazetteer^
Z69, note.

piled up for monuments and the trees which had
been marked began to disappear, disputes again
arose which no one had authority to settle ; so in
185 s, another effort was made to obtain a final
settlement of the vexed question ; and Hon. Ben.
Field, Samuel D. Backus and Jonathan Tarbell
were appointed Commissioners on the part of this
State, and Hon. Wm. H. Holly and Jason Whiting
on the part of Connecticut for that purpose. These
Commissioners made a survey from the Sound
north to the point where the ceded territory to
New York began, from which point the Connecti-
cut Commissioners insisted a straight line should
be run to the Massachusetts line, while the New
York Commissioners insisted it should run through
the old monuments as far as they could be ascer-
tained. Various efforts were made at compromise,
but nothing was effected, and the commission was
finally dissolved. In 1859 another effort was made,
and new Commissioners appointed by both sides,
consisting of Isaac Piatt, Jacob Vroman and Lean-
der D. Brown, on the part of New York, and Oliver
A. Perry, Joseph R. Hawley and Phihp D. Bebee,
on the part of Connecticut. This commission in
1859 held many meetings and made sufficient
examination of the line to convince them that the
old monuments could be found in almost every in-
stance, but the Connecticut Commissioners still in-
sisted on the straight Une, with slight modification,
while the New York Commissioners insisted on the
old line as far as practicable. One of the principal
bones of contention was the village of Amenia
Union in this county, the Main street of which had
been considered the boundary line from time
immemorial, and which village the straight line
would have put entirely in Connecticut. At one
time the Connecticut Commissioners conceded so
much as to agree to still call this street the line,
and run from the north end of it straight to the
Massachusetts line, and from the south straight to
the southern end of the oblong, but that was not
accepted by New York.''

"Finding all efforts at agreement futile, the
Legislature in i860 passed a law directing the New
York Commissioners, if, after further suitable
efforts, no agreement should be reached, to proceed
alone to survey and mark the line, and this was
done during the summer and fall of i860, the line
running through the old monuments so far as they
could be ascertained, its position being marked at
road crossings and angles with suitable monuments
of marble or granite. Their work was approved
by the Legislature of this State, and generally



acceded to by the people of Connecticut ; still it
was not formally adopted by that State, and was
not considered a legal line, although it was so de-
cided by several suits in this State."

"Thus matters rested for twenty years, until last
year, when another commission consisting of Allen
C. Beach, Secretary of the State ; Augustus
Schoonmaker, Attorney General, and Horatio Sey-
mour, Jr., State Engineer, on the part of New
York, and Origen S. Seymour, Lafayette S. Foster
and William T. Minor, on the part of Connecticut,
were appointed to finally settle the subject, if pos-
sible. This Commission * * * agreed in
favor of the line as surveyed and established in
i860, and their action has been ratified by this
State and we believe also by Connecticut."

May 15, 1731, a patent designed to convey the
whole of the Oblong Tract, was granted in London
to Sir Joseph Eyles, Jonathan Perrie, John Drum-
mond and Thomas Watts. June 8, 1731, a patent
for the greater part of the same tract was granted
by the Colonial government to Thomas Hawley
and others. The EngUsh patentees brought a bill
in chancery to repeal the latter ; but the defend-
ants filed an answer containing so many objec-
tions against the EngHsh patent that the suit
was for some time unprosecuted. The American
patentees maintained possession, though the con-
troversy was only terminated by the war of the

May 31, 1733, in conformity with the petition of
the English patentees, the Oblong was annexed to
the contiguous counties in this State. December
17, 1743, South, Beekmans, Crom Elbow and
North Precincts were extended across the tract
to the Connecticut Une; and March 9, 1774, the
patent was divided into lower, middle and upper
districts, to faciUtate the collection of quitrents.

Many of the old patents to lands were very
defective, and led to much controversy and litiga-
tion. The Poughkeepsie patent, under which all
the owners here held their titles proved to be
fraudulent and the occupants finally kept their
farms solely by right of occupation. Some
of the others were very absurd and had to be
modified to prevent insurrection.* The want
of knowledge of the geography of the country led
to indefinite boundaries and ambiguous descrip-
tions thereof J it also favored the fraudulent prac-
tices of those who were sufficiently unscrupulous
to take advantage of it. A communication from
Hon. Cadwallader Colden, under date of June 9,

•Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle, July 8, 1876, Col. Hist. IV., 391, 396.

1736, to Hon. George Clarke, President of the
Council of New York, who was " deeply interested
in large tracts of land," sufficiently indicates these
facts, and deprecates the practice of granting
patents in England, as tending to that confusion
which we have seen was occasioned by the con-
flicting patents for the Oblong. It says : —

" It is very difficult for the King's officers, who
live in the Province, to guard against frauds in
petitioning for lands described by natural limits,
such as brooks, hills, springs, &c., though actual
surveys be made previous to the grant, because the
names of such places being in the Indian tongue
are known to few Christians, so that the proprietors
afterwards are sometimes tempted to put those
names upon other places that they think more con-
venient for them, and it is impossible for the su-
perior officers to guard against the unfaithfulness
of those that they are under a necessity of em-
ploying in surveying landfe especially in remote
parts of the country. Now Sir, if it be so diffi-
cult for the officers who live on the spot to pre-
vent abuses, how much greater must it be at such
a distance as England is from us, where the situ-
ation of the parts of this Province is not in any
manner known, and how great will the temptations
be to attempt frauds. Indeed the common method
of obtaining grants of land in this country is at so
easy a rate that I can not think that any man in
this country would endeavor to obtain a grant in
England upon the usual quitrents unless he had
something private in view which he thought could
not be kept secret in this country. This method
of granting land in England if encouraged must of
course be of great prejudice to the settUng of the
country and the improving of the uncultivated

During the latter half of the eighteenth century
a very large portion of the settled parts of this
State was held by patroons enjoying manorial
privileges, and the cultivators occupied these farms
on leases for one or more lives, or from year to
year, stipulating for the payment of rents, dues
and services, copied from the feudal tenures of
England and Holland. Almost every incident of
the tenures in socage and villenage were imposed
by contract upon the manorial tenants. Purvey-
ances, fines for alienation, and other similar con-
ditions, burdened most of the farmers.

Although Duchess county as at present bounded,
was not burdened with manorial patents, like the
adjoining county of Columbia, the counties of
Greene and Ulster on the opposite side of the
river, and other counties in the State, it was not
entirely free from the evils of the feudal system
which was transferred from Holland and England
and engrafted upon the soil of this State, nor

* Col. Hist. VI., 68.



from the violence which they engendered, though
the violence here was quite insignificant compared
with that which distressed other counties, in which
armed associations of anti-renters opposed the
legal authorities, provoked bloodshed, and finally
developed a poUtical party, through whose agency
the wrongs of the oppressed tenants were re-

From an article in the Poughkeepsie Weekly
Eagle of July 8, 1876, we quote what is said in
respect to the disquieting influences of this move-
ment in this county : —

"The anti-rent war begun in Columbia county
in 1766,* in the refusal of settlers to pay rents
claimed by the original proprietors, and soon
spread into Duchess. William Pendergast, of Do-
ver or Pawling, was the leader of the dissatisfied
settlers in this county, and he gathered a band
under him who threatened to resist the payment by
force of arms. There was a small detachment of
British regular troops stationed at Poughkeepsie
and to enforce his authority the sheriff was com-
pelled to call on them. Finally a body of insur-
rectionists gathered on Quaker Hill, which was so
formidable that two hundred men and two field
pieces were sent from New York to re-inforce the
grenadiers at Poughkeepsie, and with this force the
outbreak was suppressed. Pendergast was taken
prisoner and brought here to be tried for high trea-
son. His defense was conducted by himself and
wife, the latter showing so much abiUty that the
Attorney General lost his temper and moved that
she be turned out of court, as she might too much
influence the jury. The motion was denied with
a sharp rebuke from the Judge ; but the jury found
Pendergast guilty and he was sentenced to be hung.
As soon as the result was announced, his wife, who
seems to have been a woman of extraordinary per-
severance and energy, started immediately for New
York to ask for a reprieve from the Governor until
the King could be heard from. How prompt and
efficient she was in what she undertook is shown by
the fact that she went to New York, saw the Gov-
ernor, got the reprieve, and returned in three days,
just in time to prevent an attenipt by his followers
to rescue him that would probably have resulted
unfavorably in the end. Such a woman could
hardly be expected to fail in what she undertook.
She followed up her success with an appUcation to
the King himself, and in six months a full pardon
came from George III., and Pendergast and his
noble wife went home amid great rejoicings."t

* A letter from Governor Hardy to the Lords of Trade, Dec. 21, 1756,
shows that violent opposition was manifested at that time by the. tenants
on Livingston Manor, and that Adam Rypenberger, a poor tenant of Mr.
Livingston's, who accompanied the sheriflF upon summons to eject a
tenant named Hendrick Brusies or Brusie, was shot. Cal. His. VII.,
lob.—Dac. His. Ill, 818.

t These disturbances occurred in 1766, and extended to what then con-
stituted the counties of Albany, Duchess and Westchester. They were
committed by an organization known as the * ' Sons of Liberty," and were
not quelled without bloodshed.— See Col. His. yil., 825, 84s, 846, 849,
867, 879.


First Settlements — Traditions Respecting
Them — Projected Settlement of New Eng-
landers at the Mouth of Wappinger's Creek
— Nicholas Emigh Supposed to be the First
Settler — Settlements at Poughkeepsie and
Rhinebeck — The Palatines — Huguenot Set-
tlers — Environments of the Pioneer Set-
tlers — Progress of Settlement — First
Census of Duchess County, 17 14 — Freehold-
ers in Duchess County in 1740 — Descrip-
tions of the County in 1756 and 1813 —
Population of County at Different Periods
from 17 14 to 1880 — Present Status of the
County — Enrollment of Quakers in 1755 —
Slaves in Duchess County in 1755 — Early
Civil Processes — Oaths of Abjuration and
Fealty in 1760 — Observations on Duchess
County in 1780-82, by the Marquis De-

AS the law provided that all lands not improved

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 11 of 125)