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 27 of 125)
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William Griffin, Apjril 8, 1817 ; Gilbert Ketchum,
Feb. 9, 1819 ; Richard C. Van Wyck, July, 1819 ;
William Griffin, Feb. 12, 1821 and elected in No-
vember, 1822 ;* John A. Wood, 1825 ; Obadiah
Titus, 1828 ; Abraham Myers. 1831 j Thomas N.
Perry, 1834; Stephen D. Van Wyck, 1837;
Thomas N. Perry, 1840 ; Alonzo H. Mory, 1843;
David N. Seaman, 1846 ; Alonzo H. Mory, 1849 >
Henry Rikert, 1852 ; Moses C. Sands, 1855 ;
James Hammond, 1858; Judah Swift, 1861;
George Lamoree, 1864; Richard Kenworthy,
1867 j CorneUus Pitcher, 1870 ; John G. Hal-
stead, 1873 ; David Warner, 1876 ;t James E.
Dutcher, 1876 ; Sylvester H. Mase, 1879.

County Clerks. — During the colonial period the
County Clerk was constituted by his commission.
Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, Clerk of the
Peace and Clerk of the Sessions of the Peace in
his county. Under the First Constitution it was
his duty to keep the county records, and act as
Clerk of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, and
Clerk of the Oyer and Terminer from Feb. 12,
1796. His seals were the seals of the Court of
Common Pleas. County Clerks are now likewise
Clerks of the Supreme Court in their respective
counties, and their seals are declared to be the
seals of the court. The term of office, since the
adoption of the Constitution of 182 1, has been
three years.

The office in this county has been filled succes-
sively by Richard Sackett, appointed in 1715;
Henry Vanderburgh, 1721; Henry Livingston,
Sept. 15, 1742, and May 8, 1777 ; Robert Henry
Livingston, May 11, 1789; Gilbert Livingston,
Nov. 9, 1804; David Brooks, June 5, 1807 ; Philip
Spencer, Jr., Jan. 26, 1809 ; David Brooks, Feb.
9, 1810; Philip Spencer, Jr., Feb. 15, 1811 ; David
Brooks, Feb. 23, 1813 ; Philip Spencer, Feb. 13.
1815 ; Jacob Van Ness, July i, 1815 ; John Van
Benthuysen, March 2, 1819 ; John Johnston, Feb-
ruary 4, 1820; Jacob Van Ness, Feb. 14, 182 1,
and elected in November, 1822 ;% Clapp Raymond,
1825 ; Henry S. Traver, 1828; Daniel W. Beadle,

* Griffin's successors were elected in November.

t Appointed March 7, 1876, vice Halstead, deceased.

t The successors of Van Ness were elected in November.

1837 ; Robert Mitchell, 1840 ; Joseph T. Adriance,
1846; George H. Tompkins, 1852; Wilson B.
Sheldon, 1858; Edgar Vincent, 1864; John W.
Vincent, 1870; Andrew C. Warren, 1873 ; William
A. Fanning, 1876; Wilson B. Sheldon, 1879.

County Treasurers are elected under the Consti-
tution of 1846, for a term of three years. They
were previously elected by the Boards of Supervis-
ors in the several counties. The incumbents of
the office in this county, all of whom were elected
in November, have been: Albert Van Kleeck,
1848; Leonard B. Sackett, 1851 ; James H. Sea-
man, 1854 ; John F. Hull, i860 ; Joseph C. Harris,
1866 ; Walter S. Fonda, 1869; Frederick W. Davis,
1875; Seneca V. Halloway, 1878.

County Superintendents of Common Schools. —
April 17, 1843, the Boards of Supervisors were
directed to appoint Superintendents of Common
Schools, and Augustus R. McCord and Henry H.
Ingraham were accordingly so appointed for the
Northern District in Duchess county, and Asa S.
Clement and Levi S. Arnold, for the Southern Dis-
trict. The office was abolished March 13, 1847.

School Commissioners. — Prior to 1857, School
Commissioners were appointed by the Board of
Supervisors. In 1856 the office was made elective ;
and the first election under that act was held in
November, 1859. The office has been held in
Duchess county by the following named persons :
John W. Vincent, John S. Thorn, Augustus A.
Brush, George W. Draper, Derrick Brown, George
W. Draper, John F. Schlosser, in the First Dis-
trict ; John Dearin, Charles J. Howland, Wright
D. Lattin, Sherman Hoyt, Isaac F. ColUns, Edgar
A. Briggs and Martin W. Collins, in the Second
District ; WiUiam Berry and E. J. Buckingham,
Presidents of the Board of Education ; G. C.
Burnap, City Superintendent; Richard Brittan
and C. H. Andrews, Clerks of the Board of Edu-
cation ; and Edward Burgess, City Superintendent,
in Poughkeepsie.

Presidential Electors. — The Federal Constitu-
tion provides that the President and Vice-Presi-
dent of the United States shall be chosen by
Electors appointed in such manner as the Legis-
latures of the respective States shall direct, the
number to be equal to the number of their
Senators and Representatives in Congress. In
this State the Electors were originally appointed
by the Legislature, pursuant to an act passed
April 12, 1792. March 15, 1825, the Legislature
submitted to the people the question of choosing
electors by districts, or on a general ticket, and it



was decided by a small majority in favor of the
former. The system thus adopted, however, was
in vogue at one election only; for April 15, 1829,
the Legislature adopted the general ticket system
now in use. The Electors must be appointed with-
in thirty-four days before the first Wednesday of
December, in every fourth year ; and in this State,
as, indeed, in all the States, they are now chosen
on the Tuesday after the first Monday of Novem-
ber. In making up the general ticket, one person
is selected from each Congressional district, and
two to represent the State at large. The Electoral
College is required to meet at the State capitol on
the first Wednesday of December, cast their votes
for President and Vice-President, make a certified
list thereof, and forward it under seal to the Presi-
dent of the United States Senate, who opens and
announces the result in the presence of the two
houses of Congress.

Duchess county has been represented in the
Electoral College as follows : — David VanNess,
1792; Peter Cantine, Jr., 1796; Gilbert Livings-
ton, 1 800 ; Ezra Thompson, 1 804 ; James Tall-
madge, 1808; David VanNess, 1812; Theodorus
W. VanWyck, 1816; Isaac Sutherland, 1824;
Morgan Lewis, 1828; William Taber, 1832;
James Hooker, 1836 j Bartow White, 1840 ; John
C. Cruger, 1848; Jacob B. Carpenter, i860.*

Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Duchess county has undergone several changes in
its Congressional associations. The State Legis-
lature chooses two Senators to the Federal Con-
gress, who hold their office for six years. A Sena-
tor must be an inhabitant of the State from which
he is chosen. He must have been nine years a citi-
zen of the United States, and attained the age of
thirty-five years. The House of Representatives
is composed of members elected by districts. Rep-
resentatives hold office for two years. They must
reside in the State which they are chosen to repre-
sent, must have been seven years citizens of the
United States, and have attained the age of twen-
ty-five years. After each United States census,
which is taken every ten years, Congress apportions
the Representatives among the several States. Un-
der the act of Jan. 27, 1789, Duchess was united
with the towns of Salem, North Salem, Cortlandt,
Yorktown and Stephentown in Westchester county,'
in forming a Congressional district. Under the
acts of December 18, 1792, March 23, 1797
March 30, 1802, March 20, 1804, and March

* J^es Holdane was elected in .S76, but did not attend. Alexander
Orr, of Brooklyn, was elected to fill the vacancy.

8, 1808, this county formed a separate district,
designated by number under each respective
apportionment, (except the first, when the dis-
tricts were not numbered,) 5, 6, 6, 4; June 10,
18 1 2, this county, (except the towns of Clinton
and Rhinebeck, which ^tr& associated with Col-
umbia county, in forming the sth district,) and
Putnam, formed the 4th district; under the acts of
April 17, 1822, and June 29, 1832, it again formed
a separate district, designated the sth. September
6, 1842, it was associated with Putnam county in
forming the Sth district; July 19, 1851, and April
23, 1862, in conjunction with Columbia county, it
formed the 12th district. June 18, 1873, Colum-
bia, Duchess and Putnam counties were consti-
tuted the 13th district.

Duchess County has been represented in the
United States Senate by John Armstrong, of Rhine-
beck, who was appointed November 6, 1800, and
at the expiration of his term, March 3, 1801, was
(January 27, 1801,) appointed to a full term, but
resigned February 5, 1802; Theodorus Bailey, of
Poughkeepsie, who was appointed February i,
1803; Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, of Poughkeepsie,
who was appointed February 5, 1833, and re-ap-
pointed January 13, 1840.

John Armstrong was again appointed by the
Governor in the recess of the Legislature in De-
cember, 1803, and again February 3, 1804, on the
resignation of Theodorus Bailey, but the position
was each time vacated by the meeting of the Leg-
islature, (U. S. Constitution, art. i, sec. 3, II.)

The Representatives in Congress from Duchess
County have been : Egbert Benson, of Red Hook,
1789-1793, i8i3-'is, (resigned;) Theodorus
Bailey, of Poughkeepsie, 1793-1797, 1799-1803,
(elected in November, 1801, in place of Thomas
Tillottson, of Red Hook, who did not attend ;)
David Brooks, 1797-99; Isaac Bloom, of Red
Hook, 1803, (died in 1803;) Daniel C. Ver-
planck, of Fishkill, 1803-1809, (elected Oct. 8,
1803, vice Bloom, deceased;) James Emott, of
Poughkeepsie, 1809-1813; Thomas J. Oakley, of
Poughikeepsie, i8i3-'is, i827-'28, (resigned May
9, 1 82 8, having accepted the office of Judge 1) Abra-
ham H. Schenck, of Fishkill, i8is-'i7; James
Tallmadge, Jr., of Poughkeepsie, 181 7-' 19, (elect-
ed in June, 1817, vice Henry B. Lee, of Putnam
county, deceased;) Randall S.- Street, of Pough-
keepsie, i8i9-'2i ; William W. VanWyck, of Fish-
kill, i82i-'2S ; Bartow White, of Fishlill, 1825-
'27; Thomas Taber, of Dover, 1827-29, (resigned
Feb. 6, 1829;) Abraham Bockee, of Federal Store,



1829-31, 1833-37 ; Edmund H. Pendleton, of
Hyde Park, 1831-33; Obadiah Titus, 1837-39;
Charles Johnson, of Poughkeepsie, 1839-41 ;
Richard D. Davis, of Poughkeepsie, 1841-45 ;
William W. Woodruff, of Hyde Park, 1845-' 47;
Gilbert Dean, of Poughkeepsie, 1851-54, (resigned
in July, 1854;) James Teller, of Matteawan,
1854-55, (elected in November, 1854, »w Gilbert
Dean, resigned ;) John Thompson, of Poughkeep-
sie, 1857-59; Stephen Baker, of Poughkeepsie,
i86i-'63; Homer A. Nelson, of Poughkeepsie,
1863-65 ; John H. Ketcham, of Dover Plains,
1865-73, 1877-83 ; John O. Whitehouse, of
Poughkeepsie, 1873-77.


Military History of Duchess County — French
AND English Colonial Wars — War of the
Revolution — Military Organizations in
Duchess — Provincial Congress — Measures
FOR the Formation of a State Government
— Continental Ship Yard at Poughkeepsie
— Chain Across the Hudson — Sir Hen-
ry Clinton's Expedition up the Hudson
— Reduction of Forts Clinton and Mont-
gomery — Gen. Vaughn Destroys Kingston —
His Operations in Duchess County — The
Duchess Invincibles — Surrender of Bur-


Duchess County as Prisoners of War — Fish-
kill A Depot of Supplies for the Continen-
tal Army — Historic Associations of J'ish-
KiLL — Enoch Crosby— Revolutionary Inci-
dents IN Pawling — Adoption of the State
Constitution — Printed in Fishkill — State
Government removed to Poughkeepsie —
Tories Attempt the Seizure of Notable
Men — Articles of Confederation Ratified
by the Legislature in Poughkeepsie — The
Convention to Consider the Revised Fed-
eral Constitution Meet in Poughkeepsie —
War of 1812.

THERE is little of interest in the military his-
tory of Duchess County previous to the
Revolution. Her citizens were, indeed, called on
to render military services, but her borders were
not the theater of active operations. In 1696,
when the settlements of the county must have been
very sparse, the daring incursions of the French
and Indians in the war then waging, called forth

the following action on the part of the New York
Government : —

'' Resolved for the future, th.zX Six pounds shall
be given to each Christian or Indian as a Reward
who shall kill a fifrench man or Indian Enemy—
within three miles of Albany or any other Settled
farme in Albany, Ulster or Dutchesse Countyes."

A printed proclamation to that effect was issued
May 1 1, 1696.* Nov. 9, 1696, Gov. Fletcher, refer-
ring to an anticipated attack of French and Indians
on Albany that winter, speaks hopefully of his
ability to successfully resist such invasion with the
forces he then had and such as he might be able to
draw from Ulster and Duchess counties in case of
alarm.f From 1744 to 1748, the French and En-
gUsh were again at war, and,;like all their wars from
the commencement of American colonization, the
colonists of these respective nations in the western
hemisphere were involved in these hostilities. May
30, 1746, Gov. Clinton laid before the Council a
letter from Col. Beekman, relating to the raising of
men in Duchess County, and was advised by that
body to engage 200 men, and recommend the As-
sembly to provide ammunition, pay and subsistence
for them.f During the war from 1755 to 1763,
which terminated French dominion in Canada, the
services of the citizens of Duchess county were
again called into requisition. The surrender of
the forts at Oswego to a French force under Gen.
Montcalm, August 14, 1756, induced Gov. Hardy
to call out all the militia of Duchess and Ulster
counties, who were dispatched to Albany to co-
operate with Lord Loudon, who, a little later that
year marched an army through the county en route
to Lake George. He traversed the old post road,
which is said to have been opened by his direction.
About the same time a detachment of Connecticut
militia crossed the towns of Dover and Amenia
to re-enforce his army in the North.§

These French and Indian wars, especially the
later ones, were not without significance and import-
ance. They were the school in which were trained
many who were destined to take a prominent part
in the struggle then impending for colonial inde-
pendence ; for in March, 1764, the year following
the treaty of Paris, which ceded Canada to the
English, and put an end to PYench domination on
this continent, the odious stamp act was passed,
and though it was repealed two years later,
(March 18, 1766,) in response to the petition of a

* Col. Hist, IV, ISO.

t Ibid, 24 !•

X Ibid VI., 550.

§ Col. Hist. VII., 124, 199.



Congress in which nine of the thirteen Colonies
were represented, the intense feeling of indigna-
tion and hostility it aroused was only partially al-
layed. The seed of American independence had
been sown in fruitful soil, and the continued acts
of oppression by the English government only
brought it to an earlier maturity. When, on the
igth of April, 1775, the first mart)frs to the cause
of Liberty surrendered their lives on the common
at Lexington, the impulses which had long been
repressed in the breasts of the patriots burst into
activity, and the flame then kindled burned with
increasing brightness until American independence
was accomplished.

The desire for independence was by no means a
unanimous sentiment. In Duchess county, but
not more than in other localities, a large and re-
spectable minority opposed it.* The line between
the Whig and Tory elements was sharply drawn,
and collisions between them were of frequent oc-
currence. In the summer of 1776, this county
was the scene of an insurrection against the au-
thority of the Provincial Congress, but it was soon
suppressed, not, however, without the aid of the
militia from Connecticut. Many arrests were
made, more than enough to fill the jail at Pough-
keepsie, so that some of the offenders were sent to
the jail in the adjoining county of Litchfield.

In March, i77S,t a few Whigs met at the house
of John Bailey, about three miles from Poughkeep-
sie, and erected a liberty pole, with a flag, on one
side of which was inscribed the words, " The
King," and on the other, " The Congress and Lib-
erty." The sheriff of the county, attended by a
judge of the inferior court, two justices, a con-
stable, and some other Tories, cut down the pole
" as a public nuisance." A furious altercation af-
terwards took place between the sheriff and Hon.
Zephaniah Piatt, who was one of the party that
raised the pole. The sheriff accused him of trea-
son and threatened to arrest him, but Piatt seized
a club and declared he would knock his brains out
if he touched him. The sheriff drew -his sword,
but finally withdrew without attempting the arrest.

* The lists of those who signed or refused to sign the articles of asso-
ciation show a radical difference in the views even of members of the
same family, and in some of the Precincts almost an equal division. For
instance ; In Rhinebeck Prednct, of 480 freeholders and inhabitants
z62 signed and lis refused; in Rombout Precinct, of 762 persons, joi
signed and 260 refused ; in Beekman Precinct, of 386 persons 257
signed and 13S refused; in Poughkeepsie Precinct, of 295 persons 21!
signed and 82 refused. '

t Benson J. Lossing's Sketches of Local History, in The Dutchess
Farmer of Dec. 12, .876, to which, and to other documents kindly furn-
ished by that gentleman, we are largely indebted for the materials of this
chapter. A writer in the Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle of July 8 1876
makes the date of this event, July, 1775,

The following year, when Burgoyne was making
his victorious march toward the valley of the Hud-
son, the Tories of Duchess became bold, and de-
fied the militia guard which had been established.
About four hundred of them, well armed, assem-
bled at " Carpenter's," now Washington Hollow,
and threatened destruction to all the Whigs in the
neighborhood. An expedition was immediately
set on foot in Sharon, Conn., to break up the gang.
A strong party of armed volunteers gathered at
Bloom's Mills, north of Washington Hollow, and
early in the morning marched to the latter place,
where they found the Tories paraded in a meadow.
Marching up with spirit, the volunteers fired on
the insurgents, who broke and fled. Thirty or
forty of them were captured and taken first to
Connecticut and afterward to New Hampshire,
where they were confined for about two years.
About the same time seven Tories were committed
to the jail at Poughkeepsie for robbing several
houses. They were all painted and dressed hke
Indian men, but it was found that five of them
were women— three of them a mother and her two

Numerous minor affairs, some of them resulting
in loss of life, occurred in various parts of the
county, and thefts and other acts of violence by
Tories continually disturbed the Whig families of
the county. Individuals persisted in their hostility,
or were pronounced in their loyalty to the King,
and June 30, 1778, the sentence of banishment
was pronounced by a committee of the Provincial
Congress of New York, appointed to " detect con-
spiracies," against the following residents of Duch-
ess county : William Smith, James Smith, Cofael-
ius Luyster, Dirck Van Vliet, John Terrill, James
Scott, Theophilus Nelson, Richard Wilhams,
Lodowick Strydt, Samuel Mabbett, Agrippa Martin,
Myndert Velie, Zebulon Walbridge, Joseph Zeed,
William Brady, Joseph Mabbett and Benjamin

Pending the earnest efforts of the several colo-
nies to bring about a reconciliation with the mother-
country, and at the same time to enforce a recog-
nition of their rights by Pariiament, a general
congress, suggested by New York statesmen and
called by Boston, was formed by the colonies to
secure concert of action. Feb. 23, 1775, "the
Tory Assembly of New York" declined to send
delegates to the second Continental Congress. In
March of that year, the " Committee of Sixty,"
composed of inhabitants of the city and county of
New York, and charged with the duty of " carrying



into execution the Association entered into by the
Continental Congress," issued a call to the several
counties throughout the Province, to elect deputies
to a Provincial Convention, to be held in New
York City, April 20, 1775, for the purpose of
choosing delegates to represent the colony in that
Congress. That body met at the time appointed
at the Exchange in New York City. Duchess
county was represented in its deUberations by Eg-
bert Benson, Morris Graham and Robert R.
Livingston, the latter of whom was a member of
the last General Assembly. It elected delegates
to the Continental Congress, " to concert and de-
termine upon such measures as should be judged
most effectual for the preservation and re-estab-
lishment of American rights and privileges, and for
the restoration of harmony between Great Britain
and her colonies."

. The convention dissolved on the 22d of April,
and the following day (Sunday) the news of the
battle of Lexington reached the city, producing
great excitement and indignation. The " Com-
mittee of Sixty " was increased to a " Committee
of One Hundred," which " resolved to stand or fall
with the liberty of the Continent."

April 29, 1775, ten days after the battle of Lex-
ington, a large gathering of " the freemen, freeholders
and inhabitants of the city and county of New
York," met and formulated the following pledge,
which was circulated in the several counties for
signatures : —

" Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and
liberties of America depend, under God, on the
firm union of its inhabitants in a vigorous prosecu-
tion of the measures necessary for its safety ; and
convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy
and confusion, which attend a dissolution of the
powers of government, we, the freemen, freehold-
ers, and inhabitants of , being greatly

alarmed at the avowed design of the ministry to
raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the
bloody scenes now acting in Massachusetts Bay,
do, in the most solemn manner, resolve never to
become slaves, and do associate, under all the ties
of religion, honor and love to our country, to adopt
and endeavor to carry into execution, whatever
measures may be recommended by the Continental
Congress, or resolved upon by our Provincial Con-
vention, for the purpose of preserving our con-
stitution, and opposing the execution of the
several arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British
Parliament, until a reconciliation between Great
Britain and America, on constitutional principles,
(which we most ardently desire,) can be obtained;
and that we will in all things follow the advice of
our General Committee, respecting the purposes
aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order,
and the safety of individuals and private property."

This pledge was approved and signed by the mem-
bers of the Provincial Congress, and placed in the
hands of committees to circulate through the coun-
ties. It was signed by 1,820 persons, in Duchess
county J 964 refused to sign it. Some who signed
qualified their signatures by certain restrictions.
The names of those who signed, as well as those
who refused to do so, are preserved, but we have
not the space to reproduce them here.

This first Provincial Congress. began at once tc
devise measures for the general safety. The rais-
ing of men and munitions was authorized. County
Committees of Safety were appointed, and Egbert
Benson, of Red Hook, was made chairman of the
committee for this district. Precinct committees
were also formed, and disaffected parties were
brought under a strict surveillance. Warrants
authorizing the recruiting of men in Duchess
county were issued June 28, 1775, to Captains
Henry B. Livingston, Louis Dubois, Andrew Bil-
lings and Rufus Herrick ; to First Lieutenants
Jacob Thomas, Ehas Van Benschoten, Jr., Ezekiel
Cooper and Charles Graham, and to Second Lieu-
tenants Roswel Wilcox, Cornelius Adriance, John
Langdon and Jesse Thompson. In September,
1775, commissions were issued to the officers of
nine companies in Charlotte Precinct, seven in
Rombout Precinct, five in Rhinebeck Precinct,
four each in Beekman and Amenia Precincts, and
one in South East Precinct. Oct. 17, 1775, com-
missions were issued to the officers of seven
regiments in Duchess county, including two of
minute men.

August 18, 1775, the County Committee re-
solved to furnish a sufficient guard to the commit-
tee in each Precinct, for the purpose of visiting the
Tories in the county, who were to be requested in
a friendly manner to surrender their firelocks for
the use of the Continental forces, at a reasonable

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 27 of 125)