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 38 of 125)
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were among the earliest settlers of what is now the
town of Red Hook, possibly at a period as early
as 17 14. His name is among the people taxed in
the North Ward in 1723, at which time it is be-
lieved he held, by life-lease, the farm bounded
northerly by the road leading to Barrytown,
easterly by the post road, southerly by the Ben-
ner farm, and westerly by the Hans Waldorph
farm. A portion of the village of Red Hook is
now on the easterly part of this farm."*

The descendants of this family were quite numer-
ous, among them being Philip N. Bonesteel, who
was a prominent merchant, a magistrate and post-
master in Red Hook for many years. He was
Colonel of a regiment of cavalry, and for some
years a trustee of Hartwick Seminary, ifis son,
Virgil D., graduated at Yale College, became a
lawyer, resided in Poughkeepsie, and held the
office of Surrogate of Duchess county for four
years. The Colonel re-purchased the old Bone-
steel homestead, embracing 210 acres of land,
April 30, 1823. His children all died without


Hendrick Weidman, afterwards written White-
man, another early resident of the town, came
from Zurich, Switzerland, about the year 1736, to
Ulster County, N. Y. He married Claphena
Koch, at Esopus. They had been members of
the same church in Zurich, and were betrothed

In 1748 he came to Rhinebeck,t acting as a land
agent, and settled on the farm on which his de-
scendants have since lived for upwards of one
hundred and twenty-five years.

His son, Jacob Whiteman, in 1796 purchased
the fee of the farm. In the Revolutionary War
both father and son were noted rebels.

In 1777, Oct. 15, a band of Tories threatened
their house, but the Whitemans barricaded the
doors and windows so effectually that the Tories
withdrew, but the same night robbed and burned
the residence of Robert G. Livingston.

James Whiteman drew wheat in winter to the
Continental army quartered at Newburgh under
General Washington. He started before day-
break with sixty bushels of wheat and returned the
same night, traveUng seventy-six miles.

He married Catharine Neher, daughter to Fred-
eric Neher, a farmer, and died in 1838, aged

* Hist. Rhinebeck, pp. 84, 104-213.
t In what is now Red Hook.

eighty-six years. He left two children, Henry and
Maria. In his family was a quaint colored woman,
known as "old Hon," who was bought in her seventh
year, 1 7 87,and who lived in the family until her death
in 1856 ; also "Richard," a younger colored servant,
born on the farm, and who subsequently settled in
Michigan as a farmer.

Henry Whiteman was noted for his liberal opin-
ions and for his hospitality. He was a disciple of
Izaak Walton, a staunch follower of Jefferson, and
strongly opposed the Federalists. He married
Rebecca Sharpe, daughter to George Sharpe.
Their only child, Catharine Whiteman, married
John Elseffer. During their lifetime, Whiteman
Place was distinguished for its old-time hospitality.
Mr. Elseffer was a magistrate for twenty-four years
and it was said that no decision made by him,
when carried to a higher court, was ever reversed. ^
He was also a member of the Legislature in 1843.
He left three children, Henry D., Jacob W., and
William L. Elseffer. Henry D. died in 1880.
Jacob W. studied law, and in 1847 married Delia E,
Bonesteel, daughter to Henry N. Bonesteel and
Helen Miller. He settled in the village of Red
Hook where he has since practiced law.

William L. Elseffer became a civil engineer, was
on the survey for the Hudson River Rail Road,
and was subsequently engaged in Canada, Illinois,
Mississippi, West Virginia, Maine, the Nassau Water
Works, and on construction of Central Park. In
1876 he married Amanda Shaw, daughter to Capt.
Leonard D. Shaw and Deborah Dewey, of New
York city, where they now reside. Mrs. Elseffer
is well known in literary circles as a writer of con-
siderable ability.

A quite conspicuous citizen for his time was
Andrew DeVeaux, who was born in Beaufort Dis-
trict, South Carolina, in 1759. In 1782 he was
Lieutenant-Colonel in the Loyal fnilitia — then
twenty-three years of age. He was a very remark-
able man, and very prominent as a brave British
officer. He married a fine and amiable woman, a
lady of New York, and located at his country seat
in the town of Red Hook, known then as DeVeaux
Park, afterwards as " Almont," and which presented
perhaps the finest aspects of English park scenery of
any on the Hudson river. Col. DeVeaux bought
Almont from the well known General Armstrong,
who built the house which the Colonel afterwards
enlarged and decorated within and without in a
most magnificent — and in his usually extravagant
style. Nothing now remains of this famous and
elegant building but the foundation. The estate is



now in the possession of Col. Charles Livingston.
The building was destroyed by fire some three or
four years ago.

Another family whose name is quite intimately
blended in the history of the town is that of the de
Peysters, before alluded to.*

Gen. John Watts de Peyster was born at No. 3
Broadway, New York city, March g, 182 1, in the
house of his maternal grandfather, John Watts.
He received his education in New York, and is
M. A. of Columbia College.

In 1841 he located in Red Hook, having mar-
ried Estelle Livingston, daughter to John Swift
Livingston, who purchased the residence of Gilbert
Robert Livingston, great uncle to Helen Hake,
who was General de Peyster's grandmother, and
who was married in that mansion.

General de Peyster is author of a great number
of antiquarian, historical and military works ; for
one of which—" The Life of Field-Marshal Gen-
eralissimo Leonard Torstenson" — Oscar I. King
of Sweden, sent him three magnificent silver medals.
Among other works from his pen are, " The His-
tory of the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac,"
for which the Third Army Corps Union voted him
the most exquisite badge, set with jewels, ever ex-
ecuted in New York ; " Field Practical Strategy,"
as illustrated by the achievements of the Austrian
Field-Marshal, Traun, which was deemed of so
much importance by General Hon. Sir Edward
Cust, B. A.— author of the "Annals of the Wars,"
etc.,— that he dedicated his last production-" The
Lives of the Warriors, 1 648-1 704,"— through
a letter dedicatory of 37 pages affixed to the work,
and sent him a fine portrait; "Life of Major
General Philip Kearney," said to be the best
military biography ever written in this country;
"La Royale— The Grand Hunt (or Last Cam-
paign) of the army of the Potomac"; "Carausius,
the Dutch Augustus and Emperor of Britain";
"The History of the Menapiii or the Ancient
Netherlanders," and a series of articles on the
proper method of fighting infantry, entitled, " New
American Tactics, as developed during the course
of the war to suppress the Slave Holder's Rebel-
lion." These articles were translated in France,
and seemed to have been the germ of the uni-
versally adopted principles of the present use of
infantry in battle.

In 1851 General de Peyster was sent out as
Military agent of New York State to Europe,

• For a detailed account of this well known family, refer to the bio-
graphical sketch at the close of this chapter.

with endorsement of the general government.
He made a report which embodied a number
of suggestions, all of which he has lived to see
adopted in practice. This report contained the
germ of the Paid Fire Department with Steam
Fire Engines, which is now the glory of New
York, and for which Washington Hunt, Governor
of New York State, presented him with an ex-
quisite gold medal.

General de Peyster's officers also presented him
with a beautiful gold medal to commemorate his
efforts to improve the militia system of the State.
He also received the only medal ever issued by
New York State authority for zeal, devotion and
meritorious service ; and is the only officer
ever brevetted Major General in the United
States hy gQprial law of a State for " meritorious
services rendered to the National Guard, and to
the United States, prior to and during the Rebel-

To General de Peyster and to his son. Col.
Johnston L. de Peyster, we are indebted for much
of this history of the town, notably for the princi-
pal facts in its early period, and that portion cov-
ered by the War of the Rebellion, in which both
father and son were deeply interested. Their ac-
quaintance with the history of Red Hook has been
rendered intimate both from their interest in such
studies, and from kinship and intermarriage with
those families whose names have contributed to its

Upper Red Hook.

The oldest hamlet or settlement in this town
was Red Hook, so styled at the time of the Revolu-
tion, and now known as Upper Red Hook.

It derives its name from the fact that a noted
tavern, built of red brick,* stood at the cross roads,
which in Dutch is styled a " hoek," a term gener-
ally supposed to be restricted to a hook or point
of land projecting into the water.

The tavern referred to was a place of great re-
sort during the Revolution, and with the exception
of the old wooden gambrel-roofed dwelling recent-
ly known as the Benner house, near the church,
and as the Major Van Ness house in 1789, was
the only building on the post road designated by
name at this point a century ago. It is claimed
that Washington once had his headquarters in this
house, but it could not have been so during the
war, although it is not improbable that he did

* Known in 1789 as the Thomas House, and so marked on the CoUes
surveys of United States Roads of that date.-"Christopher Colles' map,
or Survey of Roads of the U. S., 1789-"



stop there when he made one of his tours after the
war. It was, however, at one time, undoubtedly
the headquarters of General Gates, for it was in
the limits of his military command. It is also
probable that Putnam had his headquarters there-
in, because he was in command along the river in
1777, the last time that a British expedition actu-
ally menaced this region. An old resident related
that he had seen during the Revolution, and was
almost certain it was in 1777, this house thronged
with Continental officers. This fact was impressed
on his memory because he saw at that time New
England rum carried into the house by bucketfuUs.
That was the only liquor they had in those days,
and already, for many years, rum and water had
been known as " Dashed Yankee.''

Another incident related by the same party, was
the attempt to lynch a loyalist or tory of the neigh-
borhood who was dragged to this tavern to be hung.
Just as they were ready to run him up, the post-
coach, or whatever represented it, stopped at the
door, and among the passengers was a judge, whom
he thought was Judge Yates. The lynchers, with
great glee, told the Judge what they were about,
supposing from his well known patriotism that he
would be delighted with this impromptu justice.
Imagine their surprise when the Judge told them
that every man engaged in the outrage was liable
to indictment as participators in the crime of mur-
der; and, with an oath, he added — "If I am on
the bench when you are tried and convicted, I'll
hang every man of you."

Then the coach drove off; but the words of the
Judge had such a chilling effect that, after a con-
sultation, they released their victim, after giving
him — in what was then the common mode of ex-
pressing indignation to tories — a flogging with hick-
ory rods, which punishment was expressed by the
term, " putting him through a course of sprouts."

The part — so to speak — of Red Hook known
at one time as Upper Red Hook Landing is now
Tivoli, and the first evidence of this was the dis-
covery of an old map, so marked, among the pa-
pers of a very aged lady, who died a few years ago.*
From this point it has been supposed the town de-
rived its name. John Reade, a rich man from
New York, who married a daughter of Robert Gil-
bert Livingston, son of Gilbert, second son of the
first lord of Livingston manor, bought this point.f
formerly owned by the Hoffman's and started a
regular freighting establishment, which thencefor-

* Mrs. Hooker,

+ Now Johnston Livingston's Point.

ward became known as Reade Hoek. This fact
gave rise to the statement that the town of Red
Hook took its name from this Reade Hoek ; and
people, long since dead, were fully satisfied that
this was the origin of the town's appellation. An
antiquarian of the town * was also fully impressed
with the correctness of this until he found a map,
or survey,! with Red Hook printed across the very
locality around the Red Brick tavern, before men-
tioned; which confirmed a tradition that the town
of Red Hook took its name from a noted red build-
ing, a place of general resort, standing at a cross
road, which must be the present Losee house,
in the village of Upper Red Hook, because this
was the only Red Hook then in existence.

On a map of Duchess County, whose title page
bears date 1838, it is found that Upper Red Hook
was still the only Red Hook, and the present Red
Hook, laid down as the Lower village, does not
appear as even Lower Red Hook.

Upper Red Hook was known as Red Hook un-
til Van Ness, the postmaster, transferred his resi-
dence to " Hardscrabble,"J which thus became
Red Hook Postoffice, and so appropriated the
name from its elder brother.

The freighting establishment at the Point was
afterwards transferred to what was known as the
Lower Dock, and bore successively the names of
" Confine's Dock, or Landing," " HamUn's," and
" Collyer's Dock." At the Upper Dock, Peter Out-
water started the first freighting establishment;
then Elmendorph built a steamboat dock there, then
James Outwater came in and secured possession
and under him the other docks were broken up.

In the history of Rhinebeck,§ in referring to 'the
origin of the town's name, the author says — " After
1787, when the church in Upper Red Hook was
built, it was called the ' New Red Hook Church,' ■
and the one near Hoffman's Mills was called the
' Old Red Hook Church.' It is clear, then, that
the vicinity of this mill was the point to which the
name of Red Hook was applied as early as 1751.
In our old town records, in 1789, ' Mickle More'
is roadmaster 'from Henry King's to Col. Hoff-
man's.' In 1790 it is 'from Henry King's to Red
Hook Landing,' and so again in 1791. In 1792
* * it is 'from Henry -King's to Read's Store,'
and it is to Read's store until 1799, when the road
district is as follows: ' From the River road to

* General de Peyster.

tXhismapisasurveyoftlie Post Road from New York to Albany,
and is now in the possession of the New York Hist. Soc
X Now known as Red Hook Village.
§ Hist. Rhlnebeck, E. M. Smith, p. 8z.



James Wilson's, to manor line, and from Zachari-
as Hoffman's to Red Hook Landing road.' It is
never to ' Read Hook.' "

Here, as will be perceived, is a reference to the,
by some, supposed origin of the town's name —
"Reade Hoek" — from Reade's Point, already

Although the authority above quoted is correct
in dissenting from the preconceived opinion as to
the origin of the appellation, it can hardly be con-
ceded that he is correct in his conclusions. "Hoek"
says he, " is the Dutch for corner, and Red Hook
simply means Red Corner ; and we have no doubt
the corner occupied by Hoffman's Mill had its
buildings painted red, and that this was the origin
of Red Hook. In those days the farm buildings
went unpainted, and when the Hoffman's painted
they used red, as most everybody else did" If
nearly all who painted in those days used red, then
each of a possible half-dozen points in the town
could as appropriately claim to be the source of
the town's name. It would seem clear, both from
tradition and from the evidence of the maps men-
tioned, that this village was the first to bear the
name, and that the appellation was derived from
the old red brick tavern, which now forms a por-
tion of the residence of Dr. John E. Losee.

" David Van Ness built the Punderson House in
Upper Red Hook, before the Revolution, and kept
a store in it until after 1790. In 1798 he was
General Van Ness, and owned the house and farm
which became the property of Tobias Teller, and
now belong to the heirs of William Chamberlain.
David Van Ness married Cornelia Heermance,
daughter of Jacob Heermance. They had chil-
dren baptized as follows: — Gertrui, June 30, 1771 ;
Jacob, Nov. 8, 1772; Catharine, July 31, 1774;
Jannnetjen, June 21, 1778; Wilhelm, March 29,
1784; Cornelia, June 24, 1786; Annatjen, Nov.
17, 1787;. Maria, October 25, 1789; Catalyna,
August 13, 1791J David, April 14, 1798.

These Van Nesses make their first appearance
in the records of the Camp German Reformed
Church. It is thought that WiUiam Van Ness and
his wife, Gertroy Hogeboom, were the parents of
John Van Ness, whose wife was Jannetje Bradt ;
of William Van Ness. Jr., whose wife was Elizabeth
Contine ; and of David Van Ness, above men-

Upper Red Hook lies in the eastern part of the
town, and is almost the same slumbering, quaint
Dutch village of a century ago. It lies on the old

♦Hist. Rhinebeck.

post-road from New York to Albany, over which
in Revolutionary times marched the patriot forces
that halted beneath the spreading shade of the nu-
merous trees in this n arrow- streeted hamlet, and
were refreshed in the hospitable tavern on the

The streets here are winding and narrow ; the
depth of shade is intense from the profuse growth
of oak and maple ; a dreamy quiet reigns over the
rural scene, which, heightened by the old-style
houses with their ancient dormer windows, makes
it as perfect a picture of a sleepy Dutch hamlet as
can well be imagined.

The place contains a store, postoffice, school
house, church, tavern, blacksmith shop (Norman
Mead,) harness shop, (De Witt W. Clinton,) wag-
on shop (Philip H. Teator,) and a population of
nearly two hundred.*

The postmaster here is Edgar Perine, appointed
April 18, 1 881, succeeding William H. Teator,
who had held the office some five years.

Allendorf & Perine (Christian AUendorf, Ed-
gar Perine,) are the only merchants here, estab-
lishing the business ten years ago.

The Park Hotel was built in 1838, by Gotlieb
Haass, by whom it was kept many years. The
present proprietor is Martin I.,asher, who has kept
it ten years, succeeding Edward Heermance who
had been its proprietor about the same length of
time, and who died some three years ago.

The old Upper Red Hook Academy which
stands on the hillside, and which was abandoned
about three years since, was built many years ago
(some say 70 years ago,) and in its day was a
flourishing institution of learning.

This hamlet is the home of Edward Mooney,
a quite celebrated portrait painter, who lives in the
Lyle House, built at an early date, and which was
one of the most important houses of earlier times.

There is also a fine public school building here,
much better than is usually seen in such small

Among the prominent physicians of the town,
and for the better part of his life a resident of
Upper Red Hook, was Dr. Philip H. Knicker-
backer, who began to practice within this century,
and who died after the Rebellion. He was a pu-
pil of the celebrated Dr. Broadhead, of Clermont,
Columbia County, N. Y. His contemporary was Dr.

Wheeler, who owned and lived in the old

Thomas House, often referred to, also a very
able man, but not so popular as Dr. Knicker-

* 1870—205 ; 1880—184.



backer. Their successor in ability and location
is Dr. John E. Losee, the present owner of the
Thomas house. Doctor Benedict occupied in the
lower part of the town the same relative position
as the two former in the upper part. Benedict's
successor was Dr. Bates.

One of the most prominent legal men of the
town was John Rowley, also a resident of this
place, First Judge of Duchess county, appointed
May 12, 1846. His pupil and successor was Jacob
W. Elseffer, of Red Hook Village.

John V. A. Lyle, who lived in Upper Red Hook,
was a noted lawyer and Whig politician.

The edifice of the Reformed Church in America
is one of the most beautiful church edifices in the
town. The title page to its oldest book of records
tells us in the handwriting of the Rev. Andrew N.
Kittle that this church was "organized, Anno Dom-
ini, 1788, and a union formed with the Lower Red
Hook church." The Lower Red Hook here named
was not what is now known as Lower Red Hook.
It was the neighborhood of the Old Red Church,
northeast of Madalin, near Hoffman's Mills.

Andrew N. Kittle did not come into the pastor-
ate of this church until 1807. The union between
the two churches was not formed until 1 7 94, and the
organization of the Upper Red Hook Church was
evidently of an earlier date than 1788. The record
of baptisms in its book commences on the isth
day of December, 1785, and the first record of an
election of ofiicers in Dutch, reads in EngHsh as
follows : " Red Hook, November 9, 1788. Were
chosen members of the consistory the following
persons, — Elder, Peter Heermance, in place of
CorneHus Swart, who goes out ; Deacon, Corneli-
us Elraendorf, in place of David Van Ness, who
goes out." CorneUus Swart and David Van Ness
had thus served a term of office each at this elec-
tion ; and Jacob Elmendorf and Ryer Heermance
were both in office, also by a previous election.
Andrew N. Kittle also gives 1788 as the year
when the Rev. Petrus DeWitt came into the pas-
torate. In the old book of the Reformed Dutch
Church on Rhinebeck Flats is found a record in
his own hand in Dutch, which, translated, reads as
follows: "October 8, 1787. Children baptized
by Do. Petrus DeWitt, preacher at Rhinebeck
Flatts and Red Hook New Church.''

From December 15, 1785, to May 8, 1791,
the baptisms are all in the handwriting of Henry
Lyle. They are all in the same ink, were probably
all recorded in one sitting, and, therefore, copied
from slips, or from some book not suited to the |

taste of the consistory or in a condition to receive
other necessary records. From July 17, 1788,
to August 26, 1791, the records are all in the
handwriting of Dominie DeWitt. It is thought
he closed his pastorate in the Red Hook Church
on the first of July, 1791. Giving him credit for
all recorded in the hand of Henry Lyle, Petrus
DeWitt. baptized eighty-three children in the Red
Hook Church, twenty-one of whom had a Heer-
mance for father or mother. He added thirteen
members to the church, all of whom, with one ex-
ception, were Heermances, ai)d their wives. This
exception was Catherine Verplank, wife of Har-
manus Hoffman, who became a member on profes-
sion of her faith June 19, 1790. He baptized
Philip Verplank Hoffman, their son, May 10, 1791.

The Rev. Jeremiah Romeyn was installed the
next pastor here, Feljruary 2, 1794, the Rev.
Petrus DeWitt preaching the sermon. He
remained in the charge until t8o6, a period of
twelve years. He added fifty-one to the member-
ship of the church, baptized one hundred and
eighty-four children, and married seventy couples.
Among the baptisms is found the name of James
Kosciusko Armstrong, before mentioned in con-
nection with the Armstrong family.

The succeeding pastor was Rev. Andrew N.
Kittle, who came into the pastorate under a regu-
lar call from the Old and New Red Hook churches,
which was accepted by him on the first of Febru-
ary, 1807. His pastorate extended to 1833, cov-
ering a period of twenty-six years. His successor
was the Rev. Frederic W. Thompson, of New
Brunswick, N. J. His pastorate was a very short
one, lasting from 1834 to 18^6.

The Rev. Jacob W. Hangen succeeded Mr.
Thompson. He came into the pastorate in 1838,
and went out in 1840. He died in 1843.

His successor was Rev. John W. Ward, who
served the church from 1841 to 1845. He died
iw 1859.

The Rev. T. G. Johnson succeeded Mr. Ward,
and continued in the pastorate from January i,
1846, to July 3, 1870, on the evening of which
day his labors were terminated by his death. He
died in the fifty-seventh year of his age, the thirty-
first of his ministry, and the twenty-fourth of his
Red Hook pastorate. The next pastor was the
Rev. Henry Van Schoonhoven Myers, who pre-
sided over the church from 187 1 to 1874. He
went from Red Hook to South Brooklyn.

The Rev. Joseph Scudder, a doctor of medicine
and an India missionary for a number of years,

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 38 of 125)