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 30 of 125)
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one corner of a secluded burying ground on Quaker
Hill, two rude stones yet mark the grave of

On the first of August, 1776, as previously
stated, the Convention of Representatives of the
State of New York appointed a committee to de-
vise a form of government for the State ; but this
committee did not report till March 12, 1777.
The draft of the constitution, which was drawn by
John Jay, was amply discussed and underwent
some amendments and additions, but was adopted
on the 20th of April, 1777, with but one dissenting
voice, in almost the same form as prepared by Mr.
Jay. The same night one of the secretaries was
directed to proceed to Fishkill and have printed

*Hktorical Sketches, Nos. S6 and 6l, by Benson J. Lossinft LL. D.,
in the Poughkeepsie Eagle.



500 copies of the Constitution with, and 2,500
without, the preamble, and was instructed to give
gratuities to the workmen to expedite the work.

This constitution was printed by Samuel Lou-
don, a Whig printer of New York, who fled from
that city on its evacuation by Washington's army
and set up his press in Fishkill. It "was \hz first,
as well as the most important book ever printed in
the State " ;* and the New York Packet, whichjie
established in December, 1776, and pubHshed there
during the war, was the first newspaper pubhshed
in Duchess county.f

The document was promulgated the following
Thursday in front of the court house at Kingston,
by Robert Berrian, one of the secretaries, who read
it to the assembled multitude from the end of a
hogshead. The Convention, having provisionally
appointed officers to carry on the government until
an election could be held, adjourned sine die, May
13, 1777- "Thus," says Hon. Chauncey M. De-
pew, " passed into history this remarkable Conven-
tion. In lofty patriotism, steadfastness of pur-
pose, practical wisdom, and liberal statesmanship,
it had few, if any, equals, even among the legisla-
tive bodies of extraordinary merit which marked
the era." George CUnton was duly elected Gov-
ernor. The returns were made to the Council of
Safety, July 9, 1777, and on the 30th of that month
he took the oath of office at Kingston.

Governor Clinton, who was then in the field in
command of the State militia, discharged the du-
ties of his office by correspondence with the Coun-
cil of Safety, which remained the governing power
until the Legislature met. August i, 1777, was
designated as the time of meeting of the latter
body, but for obvious reasons. Gov. Clinton twice
deferred it. The Senate had no quorum till Sep-
tember gth, 1777 ; and the Assembly, though in
session on the first of that month, did not organize
until the loth. The Legislature remained in ses-
sion at Kingston till Oct. 7th, when, having made
provision for the pubhc welfare, and appointed a
new Council of Safety, it dispersed on the approach
of Sir Henry Clinton's forces up the Hudson.

On the burning of Kingston, the State govern-
ment was removed to Poughkeepsie, and there the
Assembly next met, Jan. 5, 1778, and the Senate
on the 15th of that month.

In Poughkeepsie the Legislature met first in the
old VanKleeck House, which was then a tavern,
and subsequently in the court house, and there

* Lossing's Pictorial Field- Book 0/ the Revolution, /, 695.
1 Sketches of Local History, by Eenson J. Lossing, in The
Dutchess Farmer, Dec. 12, 1876.

continued its sessions, at intervals, until March 17,
1779- After that it met at irregular intervals at
Kingston, Albany, Poughkeepsie and New York,
till the final removal of the State capitol to
Albany in 1797. Its subsequent sessions at
Poughkeepsie were: — September 7 to October 10,
1780; June 15 to July i, and October 10 to No-
vember 3, 1781 ; February 23 to April 14, and
July 8 to 25, 1782; January 11 to March 22,
1788; December 11, 1788, to March 3, 1789;
and January 6 to 14, 1795.

On the removal of the State capitol to Pough-
keepsie in 1778, Governor Clinton took up his
residence there, in the old stone house now known
as the Washington Hotel, on the corner of Main
and White streets, on the north side of the former
street. It was then the fine mansion of Clear
Everett, (who was Sheriff of the county from 1754
to 1 76 1,) by whom it was built.

In 1 78 1, efforts were made by the British in
New York City to make prisoners of notable men
in the State, in order to secure the release by
exchange of distinguished British captives. An
attempt to seize Gen. Schuyler in August, 1781,
was almost successful. A similar attempt to seize
Governor Clinton at Poughkeepsie was made
about the same time. The Governor, writing to
Gen. Schuyler from the stone mansion of Clear
Everett, said: —

" I sincerely congratulate you on your fortunate
escape from the villainous attempts of Meyer and
his party. * * * xhe evening before I re-
ceived your letter, I received an account by express
from his Excellency, General Washington, (then at
Dobb's Ferry, on the Hudson,) of a party out
from New York, to seize and dehver me there, for
which they are promised a considerable reward. I
have persons out to watch their motions, and am
not without hope of soon having some of them at
least, in my power. This is the third party which
has been sent out on this business, and of which I
have been apprised, in the course of the spring
and summer, and some of them have met their fate
at this place, though for different crimes."*

During its first session in Poughkeepsie, in the
old VanKleeck House, in 1778, the Legislature
ratified the Articles of Confederation, and on the
9th of July of that year New York's delegates in

* Among these was Huddlestone, a notorious British spy, who was
hung on what was afterwards known as " Forbus's Hill,*' in rear of the
Nelson House, and in the square formed by Market, Jefferson, Union
and Church streets. This hill was, at an early day, a beautiful elevated
plateau, but h^s been leveled somewhat and its peculiar characteristics
destroyed. There too, a hundred years ago, a negro slave belonging to
Jacob VanBenschoten, of Poughkeepsie, was burned at the stake, for
the crime of burning his master's bam and \i\ct^zk.~Sheiches of Local
History, by Benson J. Lossing, in The Dutchess Farmer, December
12, 1876.



Congress signed the articles. But New York's
ratification was conditioned on a like ratification
by all the other States. The delegates from Con-
necticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Penn-
sylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and
Virginia, signed them the same day ; but the last
of the States to do so,— Maryland, — did not sign
until March i, 1781.

The news of the surrender of Cornwallis at
Yorktown, Oct. 19, 1 781, which virtually terminated
the struggle for American independence, (for peace
was concluded the following year,) was received
with delight by the patriotic citizens of Duchess
county on the 29th of October. The Legislature
was then in session at Poughkeepsie, and both
houses, with the Governor, proceeded to the Re-
formed Dutch church, and there offered thanks-
giving to God for the great deliverance. The
Rev. John H. Livingston, (father of the late Col.
Henry A. Livingston, of Poughkeepsie, and after-
wards President of Rutger's College,) who was a
native of Poughkeepsie, and was then pastor of
that church, officiated on that occasion. From
the church the members of the Legislature went
to the residence of Governor Clinton to tender
their congratulations. Cannon were fired, bonfires
were lighted in Main (now Market,) street, and
the houses of Whig citizens were illuminated in
the evening.

At that time there were only two stores in
Poughkeepsie, one kept by Beekman Livingston,
on the site of the present Park House, on the
corner of Market and Cannon streets, and the
other by Archibald Stewart, "adjoining the Dutch
church." On the occasion alluded to, Livingston's
store was illuminated ; that of Stewart, who was a
Scotchman and a loyalist, was " darkened," so to
speak, by the light of a single tallow candle.

At Fishkill, the victory was celebrated with
demonstrations of great joy. " A roasted ox and
plenty of liquor formed the repast," and a number
of toasts were drank. French and American
colors, indicative of the alliance, were displayed,
and cannon, bonfires, illuminations and fire works
marked the general joy. An immense bonfire was
displayed on the summit of Beacon Hill, in the
Highlands, that shed its light far over the country,
and attracted the attention of the citizens of New-
burgh, who on that day had hung Benedict Arnold
in eflSgy.*
^ "When th e war of 1812 broke out, recruiting

* Sketches 0/ Local I/M^j,, by Benson J. Lossing, in The Dutchess
Farmer of Dec. iz, 1876.

offices were opened in this county, and many men
were sent off to the scene of action. As a matter
of course, deep interest was felt in every scrap of
news, and when finally the intelligence was re-
ceived that peace had been declared, it was re-
ceived with the greatest rejoicings. The news
reached here, [Poughkeepsie,] on Sunday morn-
ing, and was announced in the churches, the day
bejng made a general thanksgiving. The next
night many of the villages were illuminated, and
the event was further celebrated by great proces-
sions of sleigh riders, (it was in February, 1815,)
who went dashing through the streets, their jingling
bells and merry shouts testifying to the general


War of the Rebellion — Secession of South
Carolina — Formation of the Confederate

Government — Surrender of Fort Sumter

Early Measures to Suppress Rebellion

The Ready Response of the North— Prompt
AND Generous Response of Duchess County.
— Additional Troops Called For — Some of
the Organizations with which the Early
Volunteers United — Call of July 2d, 1862
—Military Districts Formed— Regimental
Camp at Tivoli — Changed to Hudson —
National and State Bounties— A District
Regiment Authorized— Town Quotas Under
the Call of July 2d— Call of August 4th,

1862 — Efforts to Promote Enlistments

The 128TH Regiment— Its Organization and

THE war of the rebellion covers a period in
the history of Duchess county to which the
descendants of those who participated in it may
recur with just pride.

December 17, i860, the people of South Caro-
lina met in Convention at Columbia, and adjourned
thence by reason of the prevalence of small-pox to
Charleston, where they repealed the act of May
23, 1788, ratifying the federal constitution and the
amendments thereto, and declared " that the union
now subsisting between South Carolina and other
States, under the name of the United States of
America, is hereby dissolved." An address to the
people of the other slave-holding States was issued,
inviting them to join in " a slave-holding Confed-
eracy," and reciting that "we must be the most in-

* Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle., July 8, 1876.



dependent, as we are the most important of the
nations of the world." This action was followed
in a few days by Georgia, Florida, Texas, Missis-
sippi, Alabama and Louisiana. " The Border
States foreseeing inevitable war, and that the shock
of the conflict would fall upon them, temporized.
After all had been done to pledge them to the
movement, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, though a reign of
terror political and social, was inaugurated in them,
either took the step with great reluctance, or
avoided taking it at all."* Prominent among these,
and indeed among the States composing the Con-
federacy, was Virginia, which did not pass the
ordinance of secession until April 17, 1861, and
then only after exacting the foremost rank in the
Confederacy and protection for her slave interests.
Even then she did not carry the whole State with
her ; for the western portion maintained its de-
termination to adhere to the Union, and was af-
terwards recognized as a separate State. Arkan-
sas, North Carolina and Tennessee also passed
ordinances of secession.

February 4, 1861, the delegates of six of the
seceding States, (South Carolina, Georgia, Ala-
bama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida,) met
in convention at Montgomery, Alabama, and
formed a provisional government denominated
"The Confederate States of America," founded,
as affirmed in the inaugural address of its presi-
dent, on the principle of the inequaUty of men,
and with human slavery as its corner-stone. Jef-
ferson Davis was elected President and Alexander
H. Stephens, Vice-President. They were soon af-
ter elected permanently for six years. The per-
manent constitution was modeled substantially from
that of the United States. The following summer
the seat of government was removed to Richmond,
and their Congress opened its first session in that
city, July 20, 1861, the day previous to the battle
of Bull Run.

On the 15th of April, 1861, two days after the
fall of Sumter, President Lincoln called on the
several States for 75,000 men to suppress the up-
rising, which was then regarded, even by those in
the best position to judge, as little more than an
evanescent emeute. The proclamation also called
an extra session of Congress to be convened on
the 4th of July.

New York, instead of filling the requisition on
her for seventeen regiments — between 13,000 and
14,000 men — for three months, for which period

* Draper's History of the American Civil War, I., S'7i

the 75,000 were called, raised 30,000 men for two
years and added a war loan of $3,000,000. Many
other States acted in like manner. Rhode Island
not only instantly sent her quota and added a
loan, but her Governor, Sprague, went at the head
of her troops. Within fifteen days 350,000 men
had offered their services.

If we direct our inquiry to the action of the cit-
izens of Dachess county during this eventful period,
we find a no less gratifying exhibition of pat-
riotism. On the fall of Fort Sumter, Matthew
Vassar, Jr., of Poughkeepsie, anticipating the need
of the government, tendered to it his schooner, the
Matthew Vassar, Jr., " one of the fastest sailing
vessels afloat." Her mate, the Matther Vassar,
was loaned to the goverment by Mr. Vassar for
service during the Mexican war. With the same
wise forethought Messrs. W. W. & J. Reynolds, also
of Poughkeepsie, tendered to the government their
substantial and well-arranged steamer Reliance.

Local military organizations evinced early activ-
ity. On the 1 6th of April meetings of the officers
of the 2 1 St Regiment and the American Citizens
Corps were held, to put those organizations on a
war footing and prepare them for any emergency.
The use of the city hall had been tendered the
former for drill purposes by the Common Council
of Poughkeepsie, on the 15th. Measures looking
to the formation of independent companies were
instituted in the city and the principal villages in
the county. The Poughkeepsie Eagle, of April 1 7,
1 86 1, says : "We have ascertained that there are
one hundred volunteers ready to answer to the
Governor's call " ; and adds : " Political feeUngs
are fast disappearmg in this city. * * * The old
poHtical names are fast being forgotten." Such
was the spirit that animated the people throughout
the county ; and within a few days from the issu-
ance of the Governor's call on the i8th of April,
companies were raised and organized in many of
the towns of the county, and united with various
regimental organizations. In some instances, and
this is especially true of the city of Poughkeepsie,
civic societies became the nuclei of companies or
parts of companies. Spirited public meetings,
numerously attended and ably addressed, were held
in various parts of the county, and awakened a
great degree of enthusiasm. These early measures,
being concerted by the several towns, will be more
particularly noticed in connection with the history
of the respective towns.

The South, by years of anticipation and covert
preparation, were in a better state of readiness than



the North, and were thus able to precipitate events
with astounding rapidity. The conviction of the
extent of that preparation, the magnitude of the
struggle, and the means necessary to oppose it,
forced itself only gradually on the minds of the
authorities at Washington, who repressed rather
than stimulated a popular uprising.

It soon became evident that the time of the
75,000 three months' men would expire before they
could be fully armed and equipped. On the 3d of
May, 1861, a call was issued for 42,034 volunteers
for three years, and provision made to increase the
regular army by 22,714 men, and the navy by
18,000 men, for five years. On the ist of July
two hundred and eighty regiments had been ac-
cepted. Congress met July 4th, and July 22, 1861,
voted $500,000,000 and 400,000 more men, of
which New York's quota was 25,000 men, who
were called for on the 2Sth of July, four days after
the disastrous battle of Bull Run, which was fought
on Sunday, July 21, 1861, mostly with three months'
men whose time was then expiring. July 29th the
addition of 25,000 men to the regular army was

The troops raised under the call of July 25th
were, like those raised under the first call, required
to rendezvous at New York, Albany and Elmira,
and provision was made for the examination of ap-
plicants for commissions. This, though it gave to
the service a greatly improved class of officers, re-
tarded enlistments. To obviate this, and at the
same time obtain the best class of troops. Gover-
nor Morgan authorized branch depots in twenty-
two different localities, so separated that they
would be unlikely to interfere with each other.
Major VonBeck, of Rondout, was appointed gen-
eral recruiting officer for Columbia and Duchess
counties. " The objects," says Governor Morgan,
in his annual message of Jan. 7, 1862, "were more
than accomplished. Not only did the change se-
cure a class of troops which for respectability and
intelligence can nowhere be surpassed, ,but it
hastened enlistments."

Duchess County's contributions to the quotas
under these early calls were both prompt and gen-
erous. Public meetings were held in various parts
of the county and eloquently addressed by able
speakers. Each village and hamlet became the
center of an organized effort in this interest. Flags
were flung to the breeze in all directions, and these
events were made the occasion of large gatherings
of enthusiastic people, whose patriotism was ap-
pealed to by earnest speakers. Such a meeting was

held at Beekmanville on Saturday, May ir, 1861,
and addressed by Dist. Atty., AUard Anthony,
of Poughkeepsie, Benson J. Lossing, of Pough-
keepsie. Rev. Mr. Holman, pastor of the Baptist
Church at Beekmanville, and the Rev. Mr. King,
pastor of the Methodist Church at Yonkers. The
speech of Mr. Lossing, who is a native of Beek-
manville, was forcible and eloquent and breathed
the sentiment of the great loyal heart of the nation.
It was prophetic of the ultimate triumph of the
Union arms, and vividly mirrors the state of the
pubhc mind in the early days of the rebellion. He
said, referring to the rebels : —

"Shall they succeed in their stupendous scheme
of villainy? No — a thousand times no! The
voices of nineteen milUons of patriotic and indig-
nant people have already answered that question
most emphatically within the last twenty days.
Never in the history of the worid has there been
such an uprising of the people in defense of the
dearest interests of man. For weeks gloom and
despondency overshadowed the land. Good and
true men began to ask themselves, have we got a
government? Has patriotism died out? Have
the fathers been forgotten, and are their practices
and precepts unremembered ? Is this great Re-
pubHc that cost so much blood and treasure about
to be dissolved, and the Star in the West that has
long beamed in splendor as a harbinger of hope
and redemption for the struggling nations about to
go down in darkness forever ?

"Dark were the clouds all over the political
horizon. Men appeared to be slumbering every-
where. It seemed as if some deadly malaria had
come creepmg up from the dark swamps of the Gulf
States, poisonmg the blood, deadening the nerves
and paralyzmg the moral perceptions of the best
and wisest. The atmosphere became, as it were
thick and suffocating. All felt as if some dreadful
calamity was pending; They looked to the earth
all was gloom. They looked to the firmament, all
was blackness.

"Suddenly a thunder peal rolled over the land.
It was the boom of the gun that hurled a rebel
shot at Fort Sumter. It fell upon the dull ear of
the North like the trump of the Archangel. In-
stantly the dead were raised. The millions of the
loyal States, as one man, sprang to their feet and
seized the weapons of war. Every heart was filled
with courage and devotion. The life blood coursed
swiftly through their veins. From every hill and
valley a shout went up louder than ten thousand
hunders. 'The Union and the Government shaU
be Preserved. '*

As indicative of the spirit which per\raded the
rural districts of the county, we may cite a few of
the incidents which transpired at this period.. May

» PmghkeeMia Daily Eagle, May 14, 1S61. We are indebted to the
files of this paper for much of the materia] gleaned relative to the part
taken by Duchess county in the War of the Rebellion.


1 45

17, 1861, a large and splendid flag was raised on
the Episcopal church at Wappingers Falls. Ap-
propriate addresses were made by Revs. Messrs.
Andrews and Reese, and the "Star Spangled
Banner " was sung by the choir. The Wappin-
gers Falls Artillery, then just organized by Capt.
Faulkner, was out in full uniform and fired a
national salute. On the i8th a large and enthusi-
astic meeting of Union men was held at LaGrange-
ville, and eloquent addresses were made by Rev.
Mr. Cutting, of Poughkeepsie, Mr. Robinson, of
Ithaca, Mr. Anthony, of Poughkeepsie, and Jere-
miah Eighmie, of Fishkill. A flag was raised on a
pole of over one hundred feet natural length.
The same day a gathering of over a thousand
people assembled in the spacious yard fronting the
Presbyterian church at Hughsonville, to witness
the raising of the American flag on that edifice.
Stirring and patriotic speeches were made by Rev.
Vanness Traver, Col. James VanAlen, and Rev.
James B. Dunn. The exercises were enlivened
by booming cannon and music by the Fishkill
band and the church choir. Capt. Faulkner and
his zouaves from Wappingers Falls were there with
a gaily decorated carriage, festooned and garlanded
with flowers in the form of an arbor, in which sat
two young girls, dressed in white and decked with
wreaths of flowers. Previous to the meeting a
very large number of ladies met in the church and
formed a Dorcas Army Relief Society with the
following oflScers: — ist Directress, Mrs. Z. V.
Hasbrook ; 2d Directress, Miss Mesier ; 3d Direct-
ress, Mrs. McKinley ; Treasurer, Mrs. John
Smith ; Secretary, Mrs. Harriet Delavergne. The
presidents were Mrs. Henry Norris and Miss Lydia
R. Hasbrook. Mrs. Joseph Vail was President,
and Miss Eliza Jane Conover, Secretary, of the
working committee. On the 20th a flag was
raised in school district No. 9, in the towns of
Stanford and Washington, by the teachers and
scholars of that district, and a patriotic address
was made by Dr. S. G. Cook. On the 20th, also,
a flag was raised on the county house by John C.
Hitchcock, the Superintendent, and addresses
were made by William WiUiamson and A. S.
Pease. The Poughkeepsie Eagle of May 21, 186 1,
says: — "We learn that the citizens of Hyde Park
have presented each of the volunteers who went
from there to join Col. Duryee's regiment with a
revolver and knife." This is suggestive of the
work that was expected of them. May 22d four
hundred to five hundred people assembled at the
house of David D. Vincent, of Clove Hollow, to

assist in raising a pole and flag. Speeches were
made by AUard Anthony and G. I. Germond, of
Poughkeepsie, Rev. R. Mosher, of the Clove,
Wm. O. Thorn, of Washington, and Jeremiah
Eighmie, of LaGrange. On the 24th a large and
enthusiastic gathering took place at Arthursburgh
to celebrate the raising of a national flag with ap-
propriate ceremonies. Dr. G. Upton was made
chairman, Joseph Colwell, assistant chairman, and

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 30 of 125)