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 20 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 20 of 125)
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examined a small chalybeate spring from which an
unusual quantity of iron ore was deposited. A
chalybeate spring is said to flow from the base of
Barker's Mountain, half a mile north-west of KUne's
Corners, in Amenia.

A small sulphur spring flows from the base of
the mountain one and one-fourth miles north- north-
west of Ameniaville, on the Thomas Ingraham
place ; but its odor was so slight as to require the
water to be taken into the mouth to perceive that
it was sulphureted. It has some reputation for
the cures effected by it. On the premises of Capt.
Thomas S. Loyd, near South Clinton street, in the
city of Poughkeepsie, is a mineral spring which
was found by digging about thirty feet through the
rock. Its medicinal qualities, which were discov-
ered by accident, have been known to a few per-
sons for several years, and many have been bene-
fited by it, but they were not made pubUc until
1877. "The water is transparent and brilliant,
and has no odor or taste. It is aerated to an un-
common degree, and gases held in solution render
it delicious and refreshing." A gallon of this water
(231 cubic inches) contains twenty-two grains of
mineral matter, dried at 212° F., consisting of soda,
lime, magnesia, siUcic acid, chlorine, carbonic acid
and sulphate of potash, as determined by Prof.
Chandler, of Columbia College. It has received
the name of " Crystal Spring ;" and persons suf-
fering from rheumatism, dyspepsia, kidney diseases,
etc., have been benefited by the use of its waters.*

On the Isaac Smith farm, a mile south-east of
Judge Bockee's in North East, a gas spring issues
near the limestone, on the great axis of disturb-
ance on which the gaseous and thermal springs of
the eastern counties of New York are situated.
Gas is said to bubble up through the fountain,
which never freezes. A gas spring also rises in
the bed of a small stream about a quarter of a
mile from Ameniaville, towards Poughkeepsie,
and in another near the roadside, where the ground
was covered by water, the constant rise of bubbles
of gas was observed for some time. These locali-
ties were in the valley west of Amenia, and the
gas issued from the gravel beds over or near the
junction of the talcy slate with the limestone,
and between the Amenia ore beds of limonite and
those at a place called the Squabble-hole ore

*Pmghkeepsie TVefHj EagU, May a5, 1877.

There are several subterranean streams in the
county. Cold Spring, south-west of Stissing
Mountain, flows from the base of a Umestone ridge,
in a brook large enough to carry a mill, and is
generally reputed to be the subterranean outlet of
a small lake at the base of Mt. Stissing, which has
no visible outlet. The Clove Spring in Union
Vale, which is supposed to discharge from twenty
to thirty barrels of very Hmpid water per minute,
is another instance. Another occurs at low water
mark on the bank of the Hudson, a half or three-
fourths of a mile north of Clinton Point ; another
flows from the side of the post road, a quarter of
a mile north of the crossing of the Casper hill ;
and still another on the Judge Bockee farm in
North East, which discharges about twenty cubic
feet of water per minute. The water is very clear,
and uniform in temperature throughout the year.
In Pine Plains are several large springs. Two are
located on the Walter Reynolds farm, about three
miles east of Pine Plains. Both are in fact sub-
terranean streams, which sink into the earth and
re-appear. The large stream disappears in a sink-
hole, in the base of the hill on the north side of
the road from Pine Plains to Pulver's Corners,
and re-appears as a large spring boiling up through
sand about a quarter of a mile south-west of the
place of its disappearance. The road crosses the
subterranean stream. There is a sink-hole on the
line between these places, where the earth sank in
some years ago. Another stream vanishes and re-
appears twice south of the above, and a line of
sink-holes indicates the line of the subterranean

An inflammable gas, very pure, rises from the
bottom , of a small lake in the town of North
East."^ At the mineral springs bored for McCul-
loch's brewery, carburetted hydrogen is evolved, f
Sulphate of iron was observed in small quanti-
ties efflorescing on mica slate, about two miles
south-west of Ameniaville, on the east side of the
mountain, near an old excavation made with the
expectation of finding coal ; also four miles south
of Ameniaville, at the south side of Barker's Moun-
tain, on mica slate; about two miles south of
Poughkeepsie, on the shore of the Hudson, where
an excavation and boring had been made in search
of coal in the black shale of the Hudson River -
group of rocks. At all these locaUties the bisul-
phuret of iron was disseminated through the

• A ckerly. Geology of the Hudson. Clevelana's Mintralogy, 483.
\Prof. L. C. Beck., Neva York Geological Report, i8j8. 41.



Bog ore occurs in a meadow two miles west o
Pine Plains; at Poughquaick in Beekman, and
other places in the county, but not in sufficient
quantity to be of much value.

The quaternary deposits embrace the clay, sand
and gravel beds of the valleys of the Hudson and
its tributaries. Some boulders and drift deposits
overlie this formation ; but the main drift deposit
that is usually called diluvion, erratic block group,
boulder system, etc., underlies it.

A belt of the quarternary formation, mostly
clay, but in some places sand and gravel, extends
with irregular width south through Red Hook and
Rhinebeck. Branches or arms, like bays, of this
formation are found in the valleys of all the streams
which cross it. It is interspersed with rotky
islands. Another deposit extends from Pine Plains
down Wappinger Creek, and up some of its
branches. The drainage that now finds its outlet
through Ancram Creek, probably flowed in former
times through Wappinger Creek. Another oc-
cupies a part of the valley of Oblong Creek in
North East and Amenia; another forms the plains
in Dover and extends south up the valleys of the
streams that flow from PawUng into Ten Mile
River. Other deposits of similar character occur
on Fishkill Creek and its tributaries, in Fishkill,
East Fishkill, Beekman, La Grange and Union
Vale ; on Wappinger Creek and its tributaries, in
La Grange, Pleasant Valley, Washington and Clin-
ton ; and perhaps this may be connected with the
same formation about Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park,
and with the main mass of the quarternary forma-
tion that was described as terminating in the- lower
part of Rhinebeck. A small patch of the quarter-
nary occurs on and near the shore of the Hudson,
between the mouth of Fishkill Creek and the point
of Breakneck Mountain. The sand beds of this
formation in this part of the Hudson Valley do
not cover extensive areas with loose deep sands
that drift, or make the traveling over them tedious,
like the sand plains of Albany, Schenectady and
Saratoga counties and other localities north and
south. The clay lands of the same formation oc-
cupy a narrow belt near the Hudson to Fishkill.
Where the sand occurs it is uniformly above the
clay beds, and generally covers the plains that
divide the waters of the creek and smaller streams.
The brick manufactures of the Hudson Valley, to
which these deposits give life, are a most important
industry. In 1843, there were made within the
coifnty 15,700,000 bricks; at present, the seven
firms at Denning's Point, the principal seat of

manufacture, produce nearly treble that quantity—
44,500,000. We have no data as to extent of
manufacture elsewhere in the county, except in
Poughkeepsie, which, in 1843, was the principal
seat of manufacture, (7,900,000) while at present
it produces from two yards, the only ones now
engaged in the business, about 32,000 per day.

From the character of these quarternary deposits
it is evident that a vast inland sea once occupied
the basin of the Hudson valley, since the period of
the drift deposits ; that the water level has changed
in this area, and as the ocean maintains its equiUb-
rium, this vast tract of country has been elevated
in mass with little relative change in height, but to
an absolute height of 300 to 1,000 feet above its
former level ; and that this elevation has probably
been effected in a short time, and caused strong
currents to flow through th% channels communicat-
ing with the ocean, and through which the waters
have been drained to their present levels, deposit-
ing beds of sand, gravel, pebbles and boulders in
the eddies.

The drift deposits of the Hudson Valley are
found lying upon the naked rocks of all the forma-
tions that are consolidated. They are covered to
a greater or less extent in the large valleys by dep-
ositions of clay, gravel and sand, up to a certain
level, at which the water remained for a considera-
ble period. The drift depositions occupy situations
much higher in absolute level than the quarternary,
and in the valleys also are found at lower levels.
They were undoubtedly transported by water, and
this would show that the waters occupied a higher
level, or that the surface was relatively less elevated
at the drift, than at the quarternary period. Thef
are composed of fragments of all the primary rocks
exposed to the action of the causes that contrib-
uted to their transportation and deposition. They
are mostly coarse, composed of blocks, boulders,
pebbles, gravel and sand, sometimes loose, but fre-
quently aggregated by argillaceous matter.

The topographical features of this formation are
somewhat peculiar. In this vicinity, where it is
well exposed to view, it is very hilly and irregular,
and is composed of round-backed hillocks with
bowl-shaped cavities or valleys, between them.
These little hillocks are entirely composed of
boulders, rounded pebbles, gravel and sand. They
may be seen in the valley that extends south from
Fishkill, and in most of the elevated valleys
through which currents seem to have flowed, when
the water was elevated some hundred feet above
its present level. The same kind of diluvial hill-



ocks are in the valley of Wappinger Creek,
between FishkiU and Poughkeepsie ; in the valley
between Ameniaville and the furnace four miles
south ; along the east part of East Fishkill, near
the base of the mountains, near Shenandoah and
Stormville. It is only when the drift deposits have
a considerable thickness, that the hilly character of
the drift is observed. When it is thin it does not
give any marked character to the country, but
serves to fill up the irregularities that would other-
wise exist upon the rocky surface, and give a
smoother outline.

Boulders and erratic blocks are rounded masses
of rock that are supposed to have been worn to
their rounded forms by attrition, though many of
the large rounded masses called boulders, have
received their forms by the atmospheric causes
producing disintegration. It is not doubted, how-
ever, that the banks of rounded masses of rock,
pebbles and gravel indicate the action and trans-
porting power of water. The terms by which they
are designated imply that they are more or less
removed from the place where their characteristics
are found in stiu. They are loose masses spread
over or embedded in the soil, and frequently they
are' different from the rocks in place in the vicin-
ity; but it is observed, as a general rule, that the
larger masses and blocks are nearer their parent
sources, while they diminish in size as they are
more remote from them. They are scattered not
only over the valleys, plains and hills of moderate
elevation, but are found on the peaks of high

The Fishkill valley contains boulders and peb-
bles of all the varieties of the Hudson slate rocks
and the Taconic series that occur in the Hudson
and Champlain valley as far north as Whitehall.
The Potsdam sandstone is the hardest of these
rocks, except quartz, and the pebbles of these two
rocks are most abundant. The Potsdam sandstone
pebbles are like the sandstone of Whitehall and
Fort Ann, and the quartz is mostly like that in veins
in the slaty rocks in Hillsdale, Taconic, Canaan,
AusterUtz, Chatham and New Lebanon, being
generally white milky quartz, frequently containing
chlorite, brown spar, and sometimes carbonate of
iron, carbonate of lime, and quartz crystals. The
brown spar is frequently decomposed, leaving
earthy oxide of manganese in the cavities. The
aspect of this quartz, together with the association
of minerals, is so peculiar as to leave no doubt of
the parent source of these pebbles. In the vicinity of
Poughquaick a large share of the boulders are of

limestone, mixed with those of quartzose gneiss.
Many of the limestone boulders are vesicular, from
partial disintegration. After crossing Fishkill Creek
to the west there was a change in the boulders and
pebbles. The limestone boulders are darker color-
ed, more siliceous, and are evidently from a differ-
ent stratum. The quartz boulders are also darker
and more abundant, and bear a strong resem-
blance to those found in the vicinity of the primi-
tive argillite. On the range of hills between
Fishkill and Sprout Creeks, in La Grange, the
boulders are of those rocks peculiar to the primi-
tive argillite region, consisting principally of
milky and brown quartz, with chlorite occasionally

About three-fourths of a mile north of Clinton
Point, near the shore of the Hudson, the quarter-
nary yellow and blue clays occupy a small valley.
In the lower part of the blue clay, pebbles and
boulders of quartz and of grit rock of the Hudson
slate series are imbedded, and they seem to have
been deposited while the clay was also being de-
posited ; the boulders and pebbles are in many in-
stances smooth and scratched. On the mountains
between Hurd's Corners, in Pawling, and Beekman,
which are mostly mica slate and gneiss. Prof. Cas-
sels observed a great number of granite boulders ;
also on the east side of the Dover and Croton val-
leys in Pawling. In Stanford, south of Mt. Stissing,
are numerous boulders of granite and gneissoid
rocks, like those of that mountain ; also a hard
sihceous rock-like granular quartz, which is iden-
tical with a similar rock at the south end of
the mountain overlying the primary rocks, and
underlying the limestone of the valley of Wap-
pinger Creek. This siliceous rock is believed
to be the same as the Potsdam sandstone of Prof.

Numerous examples of smooth and scratched
surfaces of rocks, some of them very distinct, were
observed in various parts of the county. These
phenomena indicate that, at some former time, the
county, to the tops of the high mountains, was cov-
ered with water, and that strong currents flowed
through the Hudson valley. It is probable that
the summits of the highlands in the eastern and
southern portions of the county were then the only
parts of it that protruded from the wide extent
of waters, and in the form of small detached
islands.* _^_

* We are mainly indebted for the materials of this chapter to Prof. Will-
iam W. Mather's Ji<:^i!ri on the Geoloiy 0/ the First Geological DU-
tricto/tfew York.




Internal Improvements — Routes by which the
Pioneers Reached their Wilderness Homes
— Navigable Streams the Public Highways —
Indian Trails — Early Roads — Early Exper-
iments IN Steam Navigation at De Koven's
Bay — Early Railroad Enterprises in Duch-
ess County — Duchess Railroad Co. — Pough-
KEEPSiE & Eastern Railroad Co. — Pough-
keepsie, Hartford & Boston Railroad Co. —
Duchess & Columbia Railroad Co. — New-
burgh, Duchess & Connecticut Railroad
Co. — Hudson River Railroad Co. — New
York & Harlem Railroad Co. — Boston,
Hartford & Erie Extension Railroad Co. —
New York & New England Railroad Co. —
Other Railroad Projects — Clove Branch
Railroad Co. — Rhinebeck & Connecticut
Railroad Co. — Projected and Abandoned
Enterprises — The Poughkeepsie Bridge Co.

WE have given some attention in a pre-
vious chapter to the subject of pioneer
settlements; in this we purpose considering the
means by which the pioneer reached his home in
the wilderness, and the projects of internal im-
provement which subsequently engaged his atten-
tion. As we have seen, the first settlers came by
way of the Hudson, near which the first settlements
were begun. Settlements slowly progressed in the
interior, along the streams, which were the first,
and, for some years, almost the only highways in
the county. Gradually they diverged from these
into forests, unbroken, except by the small rude
clearings made by the - Indians, following the
well-worn trails left by the latter, and from these
branched off into routes indicated by blazed trees,
which were the forest guide boards, and by their
aid the forests were traversed from one locality
to another. But these human denizens could not
prosper in their isolated settlements; they must
needs open communication with each other and to
points affording amarket for their surplus products;
to this end roads were indispensable and of the first

In 1 73 1, the number of inhabitants had increased
so that an order was made by the Justices of the
county to lay out a road to Dover, and employ
freeholders to assess damages for property taken,
etc., the object being to enable the people "to
come down to the market or common landing at
Pgughkeepsie."* In 1738, the Assembly passed

* Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle, July 8, 1876.

"an act for the better clearing and further laying
into public high roads in Duchess County.", Sau-
thier's map, published in 1779, shows a principal
road extending through the towns bordering the
Hudson, known as the post-road, with several
others branching from it, one at its intersection
with Crom Elbow Creek, extending thence north
through Rhinebeck and Red Hook to Tivoli
(Hoffman's Ferry,) and having three branches ex-
tending northerly and north-easterly into Living-
ston Manor ; a second, extending from Rhinecliff,
(Kip's Ferry,) easterly to Thompson's Pond; a
third, north-easterly from Fishkill to Verplank's
mill, on Sprout Creek ; and a fourth, south-easterly
from Fishkill, through Putnam County, to Danbury
in Connecticut. Two roads entered the county on
the east from Sharon, one extending westerly to the
central part of the Great Nine Partners' Tract, and
the other south-westerly across the Oblong, termi-
nating below Dover. Another road intersected that *
extending from Rhinecliff to Thompson's Pond
near the intersection of Clinton, Milan a:nd Rhine-
beck, and extended south-easterly through Clinton,
Washington and Dover, crossing the Oblong road,
apparently, near Dover Plains, and thence to New
Fairfield and Danbury in Connecticut. A map ac-
companying Anburefs Travels, in 1777, shows
only one road, (which, however, is not indicated
on Sauthier's map.) It enters the county from
Sharon, and passes south-westerly through "Nine
Partners," Hopewell and Fishkill, crossing the Hud-
son to " Newberry," (Newburgh.) The map accom-
panying DeCkastellux's Travels, 1 780-1 782, shows
the same road ; but what is called "Nine Partners"
on the former, is designated "Neventsorp" on the
latter, which also shows the post-road running par-
allel with the Hudson. The road indicated on the
latter maps is the one pursued by the British army
under Burgoyne after the Convention at Saratoga,
to Charlottesville in Virginia. But we need not
multiply details in regard to these common high-
ways ; suflSce it to say that they multiplied accord-
ing to the needs of the people.

It is an interesting fact that one of the first ex-
periments in steam navigation was made within the
waters of this county — at DeKoven's Bay, just below
Tivoli— by Chancellor Robert R. Livingston and
an Englishman named Nesbit, the latter of whom
was employed by Livingston to build a steamboat
at that place, in 1797, from plans. furnished by Liv-
ingston. The project was unsuccessful, but the
effort was renewed, and ultimate success achieved
through the liberality, perseverance and intelligent



energy of Livingston, combined with the genius of
Robert Fulton, whose acquaintance he made in
Paris, while serving as ambassador to the French
Court. In August, 1807, the " Clermont;' named
from Chancellor Livingston's home on the Hud-
son, but called by the incredulous populace " Ful-
ton's Folly," the first successful steamboat, with its
quaint wooden boiler, was launched at New York,
and on the 7th of September following set out on
her first trial trip to Albany. The distance of 150
miles was accomplished in thirty-two hours. The
following advertisement appeafed in the Albany
Gazette of September 2, 1807 : —

"The North River Steamboat will leave Pauler's
Hook, [now Jersey City,] on Friday, the 4th day
of September, at 9 o'clock in the morning, and
arrive at Albany on Saturday at 9 in the evening.
Provisions, good berths, and accommodations are
provided. The charge for each passenger* will be
as follows : —
• "To Newburgh, 14 Hours, Fare, $3.

" Poughkeepsie, 17 " " 4.

" Esopus, 20 " " 5.

" Hudson, 30 " " i\.

" Albany, 36 " " 7."

Early in the history of railroad enterprises the
project of a railroad from Poughkeepsie to the rich
and thriving regions of the Eastern States was agi-
tated, but not until 1872 were the hopes then ex-
pressed fully realized. Some years before the first
railroad in America was built, at Quincy, Mass., in
1826, in which year the first railroad company was
chartered in this State, though the road was not
in operation till 1831, a letter appeared in the
Poughkeepsie Journal and another in the Tele-
graph, proposing a road from Poughkeepsie to
Sharon, but the people of that day thought a canal
from Amenia to Hudson River would furnish bet-
ter and more speedy means of communication, and
a charter for such canal was obtained. In the
discussion of the relative merits of the two projects,
however, nothing was done. March 28, 1832, the
Duchess Railroad Co., of which William Davies and
his associates were incorporators, was chartered to
construct a railroad from Poughkeepsie to the
Connecticut State line. William Davies, Henry
ConkUn, Paraclete Potter, Homer Wheaton and
Morgan Carpenter were appointed commissioners
to receive subscriptions. The capital was fixed at
$600,000. No action was taken under this char-
ter, except that the project excited considerable
discussion, and the route was surveyed, also a
route to the State line in North East, Henry Whin-
field and William Dewey being the engineers. May

*Clarksotfs Clermont or Livitigston Manor, 113-138,

2Si 1836, the company was rechartered under the
same title, and a capital of $1,000,000, but with
greater latitude in the location of the route, which
might extend from Poughkeepsie to the Massa-
chusetts or Connecticut State line. Gideon P.
Hewett, James Grant, Jr., Homer Wheaton,
Peter P. Hayes, Isaac Merritt, Abijah S. Hatch,
John D. Robinson, Thomas WilUams, Jacob
Van Benthuysen, Matthew Vassar, Samuel B.
Dutton, George P. Oakley and Henry Conklin
were named commissioners to receive subscrip-
tions. Beyond the surveying of routes east to
Amenia and through Pine Plains and North East
nothing was done under this charter, and the mat-
ter was allowed to sleep till 1855, when a meeting
was called at Washington Hollow of all who were
in favor of a road from the east part of the county
to the Hudson. Quite a number were present
from the central part of the county, and a few from
Poughkeepsie, but during the meeting the ques-
tion was agitated, as it was subsequently, whether
the terminus should be Poughkeepsie or Fishkill.
The advocates of the latter terminus were in the
majority and voted accordingly, whereupon the
Poughkeepsie people withdrew from the enterprise,
and it was dropped for ten years.

The idea of a railroad, however, was not lost sight
of, and renewed agitation resulted in the construc-
tion of a road from each place. Isaac Piatt, the
senior editor of the Poughkeepsie Eagle was always
a strong advocate of the Poughkeepsie route. He
wrote in favor of it from 1826, and took occasion
whenever opportunity offered to publish articles on
the subject. Among these was a series of com-
munications from the civil engineer, then residing
at Poughkeepsie, whose statements attracted con-

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 20 of 125)