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 12 of 125)
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or settled " in three years or some other
number of years " should return to the grantor, we
find that small beginnings were made in various parts
of the county soon after the issue of these patents
for lands. The precise date and location of the
first settlement is not definitely known. It is doubt-
ful if there were any settlements in the county
prior to the issuance of the Rombout Patent,
though tradition asserts that there were.f It is
said that the first settler was a man named Hoff-
man, who ran away from a Dutch ship of war in
New York Harbor, and found a resting place some-
where on Wappinger's Creek, where he married
and raised a family.f We may, doubtless, trace a
connection between this traditionary individual
and a Martinus Hoffman, whom we find endeavor-
ing to conciliate the Indians, one of whose num-
ber was shot by a white man at Rhinebeck, in 1 748.$
In French's State Gazetteer we find further refer-

* A writer in the Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle of July 8, 1876, says :
'* There is evidence that some part of Dutchess county was occupied dur-
ing the rule of the Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant, prior to 1664.
* * * In the history of the Esopus war with the Indians in 1663,
reference is made to Capt. Covenhoven, who lived among the Wappin-
gers." We have not been able to find such evidence. Covenhoven was,
indeed, an active participant in the Second Esopus War, and was sent to
release the prisoners captured by the Esopus Indians in the attack on
Wiltwyck. In the performance of the latter office he "lay several days near
the Wappinger Indians who acted as mediators in the affair ; " but we find
nothing to indicate that he ever settled among them. Benson J. Lossing,
LL.D., in Sketches of Local History, published in The Dutchess Farmer
of Dec. 12, 1876, says, when the county was organized, in 1683, ** there
were no white inhabitants on the domain."

\ Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle, July 8, 1876.

X Col. Hist. VII, ISO.



ence to this individual, in the following copy of a
- letter, now in possession of T. Van Wyck Brinker-
hoff, of East Fishkill :—

" In the year 1833, 1 saw Isaac Upton, a coaster
from Newport, who informed me that about 1760
he came up the North River to Poughkeepsie, and,
in company with another person, went to Mabbitt's
store, in Washington, on business. That on their
return, they took a circuitous route from Pleasant
Valley, and passed a German by the name of
Hoffman, who was then 118 years old. He sup-
posed himself to be the first white settler in Duch-
ess county ; and that, when young, he deserted
from a Dutch ship of war in New York, squatted
where he then lived, built him a shanty, and lived
a number of years a solitary life without being able
to find a white woman for a wife ; that afterward,
finding a German family at Rhinebeck, he married,
and had lived where he then was to that advanced
age. I was informed that he died two years after-
ward, at 120 years. (Signed,) Paul Upton."

A settlement was projected in the county as
early as 1659, and had it been successful, would
doubtless have changed the preponderating charac-
ter of the early settlers. But it was destined to fail.
In that year, in consonance with the spirit of en-
croachment which more especially characterized
the settlers in Connecticut, Massachusetts claiming
under her charter the country north of the 42d° of
latitude from the Atlantic to the Pacific, granted " a
plantation in the neighborhood of Fort Orange, to
several persons of respectability residing within her
jurisdiction." With a view to locating this grant,
an exploring party proceeded during the summer
to Beverwyck, (Albany,) and after examining most
of the lands along the east bank of the Hudson,
they announced their intention to establish a vil-
lage near the mouth of Wappinger Creek, " where
the country, in point of beauty and fertility, sur-
passed anything they had seen in the East." As
this spot was a great distance from the settled
parts of New England, and difficult of access, in con-
sequence of the intervening wilderness, the project-
ors applied to the Dutch authorities for leave to
proceed thither by the North River. Director
Stuyvesant, foreseeing the injury which such an
establishment would work on the Dutch interests
in New Netherland, determined to anticipate their
project by purchasing the lands and establish
thereon a village of some twenty-five or thirty
families. He therefore wrote to the directors of
the Dutch West India Company, urging them to
send hither, by the first vessels, a colony of Polish,
Lutheran, Prussian, Dutch or Flemish peasants.

TLe Englishmen, in the meantime, obtained
from the commissioners of the United Colonies

letters to Director Stuyvesant, soliciting in th<
behalf the right of passage through the Hudso
Stuyvesant, not unmindful of the experience with
the Connecticut colonists on the Connecticut
River, determined to oppose a repetition of that
experience by all the means within his power.
Conscious of his inability to coerce compliance,
he sought to avert the misfortune by an explana-
tion of the reasons which impelled him to refuse.
These, however, did not satisfy the General Court
at Boston, for they immediately sent a deputation
" to communicate their honest intentions in this
matter, and to demonstrate the equity of the
motion of the commissioners in their behaf."
They asserted their intention to plant the land
about the upper waters of the Hudson, not actually
in possession of the Dutch, and affirmed that
permission to pass the Hudson should not preju-
dice the rights of the Dutch. A wordy encounter
ensued, during which Stuyvesant declared that he
could not grant the right of free passage through
their rivers to Massachusetts, nor any other govern-
ment, " without a surrender of their honor, repu-
tation, property and blood, their bodies and lives."
" Circumstances, however, interposed, and for a
moment interrupted the designs of the New Eng-
enders. A revolution restored monarchy to Eng-
land, and those of Boston abandoned, for the
time, the design of seizing on the North River."
The first settlement of which we have authentic
information was made in Fishkill, by Nicholas
Emigh or Eighmie, but authorities differ as to the
date of settlement. One author* says he came in
1682, " and bought a tract of land of the Indians,
but finding it already covered by a patent, he repur-;
chased of those holding it a portion of what is
known as the Clove, near the middle of the county,
where he settled and where some of , his descend-
ants still remain." Says Mr. Lossing, in Sketches
of Local History, before refererred to, Emigh (whose
father a native of Holstein on the borders of Hol-
land, had followed Prince RupeFt into England in
the time of the Civil War, and remained in Scot-
land,) came to this country in 1686, at the instance
of Robert Livingston, "a landless, but shrewd
adventurer from Scotland," who, in 1683, married
Alida, the young widow of Rev. Nicolaus Van
Rensselaer and daughter of Philip Pietersen Schuy-
ler, (the first of the Schuyler family who settled in
this country,) and with her money bought an im-
mense tract of land on the north border of''this
county, to which that portion lying west of Roelaff

*Pmgkkeepsie Weekly Eagle, July S, i«75.



Jansen's Creek, comprising the present towns of
Clermont and Germantown, formerly belonged.

Settlement under Robert Livingston, whose
family filled a conspicuous niche in our colonial and
revolutionary history, commenced prior to 1686,
but apparently made slow progress; for Earl
Bellomont, in a letter to the Board of Trade,
dated January 2, 1701, says of it : "Mr. Living-
ston has on his great grant of sixteen miles long
and twenty-four broad, but four or five cottagers,
as I am told ; men that live in vassalage under and
work for him and are too poor to be farmers,
having not wherewithall to buy cattle to stock a
farm." ,

Under such harsh conditions were the fortunes
of our pioneer settler — ^young Emigh — cast, and we
need not wonder that he became dissatisfied, and
left the Livingston domain. He bought an island
in the Hudson just below Albany and settled on it
with his young wife, a pretty Dutch lass from Hol-
stein, whom he courted and married on the long
ocean voyage to America. But there they were
drowned out the next spring by a Mohawk flood,
and removed to the site of Fishkill, where he
bought of the Indians a tract of land extending
from the Fishkill to Poughkeepsie, and from the
Hudson to the Connecticut line. Here also he
had, the misfortune to locate on land covered by
patent ; for the island on which he previously set-
tled, constituted a part of the Manor of Rensse-
laerwyck. He subsequently removed to, and pur-
chased of the patentees, a large tract of land in
the Clove, some of which is still in the possession
of his descendants.

During their residence in Fishkill his wife gave
birth to a daughter, who received the name of
Katrina, and was the first white child born in the
county. At maturity she married a young Hol-
lander named Lasink, (Lossing,) who moved up
from New York about 1700. The young couple
settled in the town of East Fishkill, where they
raised a family of eight children — four sons and
four daughters — who lived to a good old age, the
seven younger ones surviving the oldest, who died
when the youngest was seventy-five years old.
From this family descended the distinguished his-
torian Benson J. Lossing, LL. D., of Dover.

The settlements in Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck
were nearly contemporaneous with those in Fishkill.
At Rhinebeck a considerable number of Palatines
had settled in the early part of the eighteenth cen-
tury. They, were German refugees from the banks
of the Neckar and the Rhine, who were hired of

the Elector of the Palatinate by Queen Anne, and
served in her army during the war of the Spanish
succession, 1702-1713. In 1709, the project of
establishing them in the English- American colonies
was broached; and in the summer of 17 10, a col-
ony numbering 2,227 arrived in New York, and
were located in five villages, on either side of the
Hudson, those upon the east side being designated
as East Camp, and those upon the west, as West
Camp. Three of these villages were located on
six thousand acres of land, which originally con-
stituted the town of Germantown, in Columbia
County, and were purchased of Robert Livingston
by Gov. Robert Hunter, Sept. 29, 17 10, because,
from the growth of pine timber they bore, they
were especially adapted to the industry in which it
was designed to employ the Palatines, viz : raising
hemp and making tar, pitch and resin for the royal
navy. The other two villages were located on the
opposite side of the river, in Ulster County, on
lands which were then unpatented. This little col-
ony received many marks of the kind care and
beneficence of Queen Anne, under whose special
patronage it was planted. The management of
their affairs was entrusted to a board of com-
missioners, consisting of Robert Livingston, Rich-
ard Sackett,* John Cast, Godfrey Walsen, Andrew
Bagger and Henry Schureman. The first settle-
ments commenced by small lodges or temporary
huts, each of which was placed under the superin-
tendence of some principal man, from whom they
took their local names, with the addition of dorf,
the German word for village. The names by which
they were officially known, however, were Anns-
berry, from Queen Anne ; Haysberry, after Lady
Hay, wife of Governor Hunter; Htmterstown,
after Gov. Hunter ; Queensberry, after the Queen,
&c. Their numbers in the respective villages May
I, 1711, were as follows: —


Hunterstown 334

Queensberry 350

Annsberry 252

Haysberry 258



Ehzabethtown 148

Georgetown in

New Village 324



* Richard Sackett was one of the patentees of the Little Nine Partners
Tract, and the pioneer settler of Amenia, where he located early in the



The enterprise, however, proved unsuccessful,
for the Palatines soon became restive under the
restraints imposed on them. They scattered, many
of them removing to the Mohawk and Schoharie
valleys, and some, as we have seen, to Rhinebeck.
The six thousand acre tract was subsequently
granted to those willing to remain on it, (for some
were restrained there against their wish,) in accord-
ance with the petition of Jacob S. Sharp and Chris-
tophel Hagadorn, in behalf of sixty-three famiUes
so inclined, to whom was secured the tracts on
which they had settled and made improvements, on
the payment of the usual quitrent. In 1718, these
Palatine farpiUes were distributed* as follows:—


Hunterstown 25 families, 109 persons.

Kingsberry 33 " t04 "

Annsberry i? " 71

Haysberry 16 " 75 "

Rheinbeck 35 " 140 "


New Town 14 families, 56 persons.

George Town 13 " 52 "

EUzab : Town 9 " 36 "

Kings town 15 " 60 "

Wessels pretended land. 7 " 28 "

Kingstown Sopes 10 " 4° "

At New York and places

adjacent 30 " 150

In Seven Townships in

Schoharie 170 " 680 "

Among the early settlers was a considerable
number of Huguenots, fragments of that terribly
persecuted class who fled from France on the re-
vocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV., in
1685, to the number of eight hundred thousand,
and took refuge in Holland, Germany, Switzerland
and England, whence many emigrated to this coun-
try, locating most numerously in this State in the
counties of Orange and Ulster, though the most
opulent settled in the city of New York. They
were a most valuable acquisition to the feeble set-
tlements in this vicinity; for their industry and
skill made them welcome in every Protestant coun-
try, and contributed largely to the development
not only of the physical features of the country, but
also of the liberal tendencies of the people. They
introduced into England arts of which France had
hitherto enjoyed a monopoly, and into North Ger-
many, manufactures which, hitherto unknown, put.
a new aspect on that country ; their persecutions
awakened the religious sympathies of New Eng-
land, and their skill and intelligence infused energy
and system into whatever they undertook.

* This list does not include the widows and orphans. See Colonial and
Documentary Histories of New York.

While the Dutch settlers were striking sturdy
blows in the reclamation of the wilderness which
marred the beautiful and fertile valleys of the west-
ern portion of the county, the enterprising New
England colonists, especially of Connecticut, were
forcing a passage across rugged mountain peaks
and planting the evidences of advancing civiUza-
tion in its eastern wilds. Thus we find in the con-
stituent elements of the population a healthy com-
mingUng of that volatile enterprise characteristic
of the New England yeomanry and the sterling
qualities and plodding energy of the more phleg-
matic Dutch burghers.

The first settlers were generally poor and de-
voted to husbandry. They sought here homes
and subsistence for themselves and famihes, such
as could be coaxed in an humble way from the
fruitful soil, which rewarded abundantly even a
moderate industry. Their beginnings were of a
most primitive character.- Their wants were few
and little sufficed to supply them ; for their simple
lives were not cursed with the artificial wants which
tax the energies of the present generation. Cor-
nells VanTienhoven, Secretary of the Province of
New Netherland, thus describes the houses which
prevailed in 1650, nearly forty years before the
rude beginnings were made in this county : —

" Those in New Netherland and especially in
New England, who have no means to build'farm
houses at first according to their wishes, dig a
square pit in the ground, cellar fashion, six or seven
feet deep, as long and as broad as they think
proper, case the inside with wood all round the
wall, and Une the wood with bark of trees or some-
thing else to prevent the caving in of the earth ;
floor this cellar with plank and wainscot it over-
head for a ceiling, raise a roof of spars clear up
and cover the spars with bark or green sods, so
that they can live dry and warm in these houses
with their entire families for two, t^ee and four
years, it being understood that partitions are run
through those cellars which are adapted to the size
of the family. The wealthy and principal men in
New England, in the beginning of the colonies,
commenced their first dweUing houses in this fashion
for two reasons ; firstly, in order not to waste time
building and not to want for food the next season ;
secondly, in order not to discourage poorer labor-
ing people whom they brought over in numbers
from Fatherland. In the course of three and four
years, when the country became adapted to agri-
culture, they built themselves handsome houses,
spending on them several thousands."

It is not improbable that such were the houses

in which the families of the pioneers in this county

were first domiciled, for we have evidence of their

I extreme poverty in the fact that when, in 1702, the



Assembly voted £ i,8oo for the support of one
hundred and eighty men to defend the frontiers,
such was then the known indigence of the
people of Duchess county, "that but eighteen
pounds were apportioned for their quota of these
levies," while a/w rata amount by counties would
have been ;^iSo.

For many years the progress of settlement was
slow, and not until near the middle of the eight-
eenth century did the county become entitled to
that proud distinction of being "populous and
flourishing," as Judge Smith calls it in 1756, when
it had become the second county in the Province
in population, though only seventh in wealth. The
settlement was begun in the midst of that bitter
struggle between republicanism and monarchy
which evolved the revolution by which the Prince
of Orange ascended the English throne in 1688.
The English-American colonies sympathized with
the movement in England, and chafed under the
jurisdiction of the detested Andros, which then ex-
tended to New England, New York and New Jer-
sey. The news of the Prince's invasion of Eng-
land reached America in' April, 1689; and the pre-
viously matured movement which abolished the
Andros government and restored to the colonies
their charter rights was speedily consummated.
New York shared the impulse but with less una-
nimity, and the common people among the Dutch,
led by Jacob Leisler and his son-in-law, Jacob Mil-
borne, proclaimed the stadtholder, King of Eng-
land. The bitter dissensions incident to the gov-
ernmental changes wrought by this revolution,
especially in this State, resulting, as they did in.
the execution of these leaders in 1691, through the
perfidy of the faction who opposed the assumed
authority of Leisler, and came into power with the
advent of Col. Sloughter as Governor in that year,
were not calculated to promote internal growth.
The activity of the French at this period, also, was
particularly distressing to the border settlements,
and Schenectady was sacked and burned on the
night of February 9, 1690. This disaster was so
disheartening to the people of Albany that they
resolved to abandon the place and retire to New
York. Many were only deterred from doiiig so by
the reproaches of the Mohawks, who had, during
all these years, been the faithful allies of the En-
glish, and, in conjunction with the other Iroquois
nations, borne the brunt of French hostile aggres-

The contentions between Leislerian and anti-
Leisletian factions were protracted and acrimoni-

ous, and lent interest and animation to the Assem-
bly elections for years. It was during this period,
in 1 701, that Duchess County, which had hitherto
been thought "incapable of bearing the charge of
a representation," " animated by the heat of the
times, sent Jacob Rutsen and Adrien Garretsen to
represent them in assembly."

September 10, 1692, Duchess and Ulster Coun-
ties were required to raise eighty men for the pro-
tection of Albany from the Indians during the
winter,* and in April, 1693, the militia of these
two counties, then commanded by Lieut. -Col.
Henry Beekman, a Justice in Ulster County, num-
bered 277, and consisted of four companies of foot
and one of dragoons. We have no means of know-
ing how many of these belonged to Duchess,
though there is little doubt that the number was

In 1700, the miUtia of the two counties com-
prised 325 men, who were formed into seven
companies of foot and one of horse, under com-
mand of Lieut.-Col. Jacob Rutsen, who repre-
sented Duchess in the Assembly in 1701. A list
of the officers in this year (1700) gives the earliest
official list of names which has come under our
observation. We believe, however, that only thi'ee
belonged to this county, viz : Capt. Baltus Van
Cleet, [Kleek,] Lieut. Mattyse Sleight^and Ensign
John.Ter Bus [Boss.j In 1698, the population of
the two counties was 1,384; in 1703, 1,669 ;f and
when we consider the fact that the population of
Ulster alone in 1700 was 2,005, '^^ ^^Y reasonably
conclude that Duchess County's share in these fig-
ures was indeed small.

In 1 7 14, we are first given a detached census of
Duchess County, which had then acquired govern-
mental functions of her own. The document is
one of great value in a historic point of view, as it
gives us the names of the sixty-seven heads of
families then resident in the county, (which, it
must be understood, embraced what is now Put-
nam County, and the towns of Clermont and Ger-
mantown in Columbia County,) and the status of
their families. The total number of souls was 445,
of whom 29 were slaves. We deem the document
of sufficient importance to be transcribed to these
pages. The names are familiar ones to the resi-
dents of the county, and many of them are per-
petuated to the present generation.

* Duchess County was for some years provisionally attaclied to Ulster
on account of the paucity of its inhabitants.

t In Doc. Hist. III., 966, this is stated to be the population of Ulster
County alone ; and the number is made up of the residents of Pals,
(Paltz,) Rochester, Marbletown, Hurley and Kingstown, thus proving that
the population of Duchess is not included.



A List of the Inhabttants and Slaves in the
County of Duchess in 17 14.


Jacob Kip ; ■ •

Jacob Plowgh

Matieis Slejt

Evert Van Wagenen

Whilliam Ostrander

Lowrans Ostrout

Peter Palmater .. . .

Maghell Pallmatir

William Tetsort

Hendrick Pells

Peter Vely ,

John Kip

Elena Van Be Bogart

John De Grave

Lenard Lewis

Bartolumus Hoogenboom . .

Baltus Van Kleck

Frans Le Roy

Bareiit Van Kleck

John Ostrom

Harmen Rinders

Meindert Van Ben Bogart.

Johanes Van Kleck

Lenar Le Roy —

Swart Van Wagenen

Henry Van Ber Burgh . . .

Elias Van Bunchoten

Thftmas - Sanders

Catrine Lasink Wedo

Peter Lasink ...

-ey Scouten.,

Mellen Springsteen

Johnes Terbots

John Beuys

Abram Beuys

Garatt Van Vleit

William Outen

Andreis Baivedes

Frans Be Langen

Aret Masten . ...- ...

James Husey

Roger Brett

Peter De Boyes

Isack Hendricks

John Breines . . ,

Jeurey Springsten

Peck De Wit

Adaam Van alsted


Harmen Knickerbacker . . .
Johanis Byckman Sienjer .
Jacob Hoghtelingh . . .

Dirck Wesselse

WillemSchot .,

Jacob Vosburgh

Tunis Pieierse

henderick bretsiert

Roelif Buijtse'r . . .

Johannis Spoor Junjoor . .

Abraham vosburgh

Abraham Van Busen

Willem Wijt

Louwerens knickerbacker. . .

henderck Sissum

Aenderis Gerdener

Gysbert Oosterhout

Johannis Byckman Junjor. .


89 *I20





*The third column foots up to 121, and the seventh, to 30, which would
make the total number 447 ; but the error probably occurs in the columns,
though the above is a copy of the table.

The next census of Duchess, taken in 1723,
gives the county a population of 1,083. Of this
numter 43 were " negroes and other slaves." In
1731, the population had increased to 1,727, of

whom 112 were "blacks." Up to this period
Duchess was the least populous county in the
Province; but in 1737, with a population of 3,418,
of whom 262 were "blacks,"' it outranked Kings,
Orange and Richmond. June 2, 1738, Lieut.-Gov.

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 12 of 125)