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 44 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 44 of 125)
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the City, for giving to New York this historic
honor. The United States Senate subsequently
confirmed his nomination as a brevet Lieutenant-
polonel of United States Volunteers for the same
service. The Governor of New York finally gav'e
him a brevet of full Colonel for this achievement,
which could only be performed once and by one
man in the history of the country.

Admiral Farragut, whose
name is a synonym for patri-
otism and every heroic quali-
ty, and who endorsed the rec-
ommendation for Lieut, de
Peyster's brevets, expressed
the opinion that the fact that
the Union troops were not
opposed in their occupation
of Richmond, and that
Lieut, de Peyster hoisted
"Z'^if FIRST REAL American
FLAG " over the rebel Cap-
itol, did not detract from the
merits of the deed. He said
the intent was all sufficient ;
that when Lieut, de Peyster
undertook the performance'
he expected — as he previ-
ously wrote home — to fulfil
it at the peril of his Ufe, and
therefore the altered condi-
tion of circumstances be-
yond his control could not
lessen his credit or claims
to reward. Other military
chiefs took the same view of
the case. In the light of such
opinions Lieut, de Peyster promptly received from
the United States, his native. State, and the City
for which his direct ancestor assisted in framing its
first charter, the rewards and acknowledgment to
which he was clearly entitled, and which to obtain
he had bravely and cheerfully put his young Ufe in
the most iniminent peril.*

ROSE HILL, the country-seat of Gen. John
Watts de Peyster, is one of the loveliest spots con-
ceivable. It is especially so through the care taken
to preserve the primeval trees, of which there were
nearly fifty varieties upon the grounds. The latter
are suffered to remain, as far as possible, in their
natural and romantic wildness. There are ravines
spanned/by simple bridges, precipices, a small arti-
ficial lakelet, hills, dales, dells, and curious roads
climbing rough elevations ; all under the shade of
a forest in which evergreens predominate, so that
the demesne, overhead, appears almost as green

* Comijare ! i. " The American Conflict : a History of the Great Re-
belhon " in the U. S. A., by Horace Oreeley, II , 1867, pp. yjyS. i.
' Harpers' Pictorial History of the Great Rebellion," 1868, part II., pp.
765-6. .,. " Pictorial History of the Civil War in the U. S .''^ by Benson
i. ■^o,¥"&„™'- III' ;868, pp. 547-50. 4. "History of the American
Civil War," by John Wilham Draper, M. D., LL. D., N. Y., 1870, pp.
577-8. j. Atlantic Monthly ; " Incidents of the Capture of Richmond,"
by Maj.-Gen. George F. Shepley, July, 1880, pp. 18-28. 6. "The His-
tmyofthe First Regiment of [U. S] Artillery," Fort Preble, Portland,
Maine, 1879, pp. Ji8, 46J. etc. 7. "Boys in Blue." 8. "The Volun-
teer." 9. " The Soldier's Friend."

after the deciduous trees have shed their foliage as
when they were in full leaf.

The long avenue is another striking feature, and
the color of the roadbed, bistre-grey, harmonizes
with the bordering trees, deciduous and evergreen
alternating, that form a long continuous arch over-
head ; midway one patriarchal white oak throws an
enormous branch across the road to meet the op-


posite trees^-wild pear and silver pine — which
spring up and mingle their varied green to consti-
tute a massive span such as is rarely seen without
the assistance of careful cultivation.

The domain takes its name from the country-
place of the owner's great-grandfather, Hon. John
Watts, Senior, in the city of New York, on a por-
tion of which property the General's city residence
is erected. This original estate gave its name to a
large district of N. E. New Yojk a half century
since, and embraced the grounds now occupied by
Belle vue Hospital. The original title was derived
frsm an estate in Scotland, just outside, but now
within the limits of Edinburgh, wherein the old
mansion, " Rose Hill," is ttill standing, massive
and almost intact, although the grounds have been
perverted to utilitarian purposes. About two
hundred years ago its owner was known fronj this
property as " John Watt, of Rose Hill," in con-
nection with the marriage of his daughter,
Margaret to Sir Walter Riddell, Bart, whose
family - charter dates back to between 1 124 and
II 53, and to David, King of Scotland. A number
of poems by Burns were addressed to members of
this family. *

So dear was their original home, " Rose Hill,"
to all the " Watt " or " Watts " family, that, wher-
ever they locate, they testify their affectionate re-



gard by naming their country-places after the ances-
tral house near " Auld Reekie."

Few private residences, on any river, stream or
estuary, have been or could be placed in such a
position as the Rose Hill Mansion on the Hudson,
exactly loo miles above New York. It stands on
a bluff between seventy and eighty feet above tide-
water, and about the same dis-
tance from the original edge of
the steep bank. It commands
a view up and down the Hud-
son of about twenty miles of
water, although the eye can
detect the course of the stream
much farther than this, as the
eminences, on either side, which
mark its course, are plainly visi-
ble from the piazza for nearly
twenty-five miles to the south-
ward. From the same spot a
sea of mountains are in sight ;
the highest summits of the
Catskills ; " Hunter Mountain
or the Liberty Cap," or " Round
Top," 4,050 feet, and "High
Peak or the Man of the Moun-
tain," are almost directly oppo-
site, while to the south-west
stretches away the Shawangunk
range. On the night of a
National festival, for instance
the 4th of July, the symbols of
rejoicing, such as bonfires,
illuminations and rockets, are
plainly visible throughout a
vast area.

Rose Hill House itself has
grown like one of the old Eng-
lish family houses, with the
increase of the family, until in
strange but picturesque out-
line — the prevailng style being
the ItaUan — somewhat in the
shape of a croSs, it is now 114
feet long by 87 feet deep. The
tower in the rear, devoted to
library purposes, rises to the
height of about sixty feet. This
library, first and last, has con-
tained between twenty and
thirty thousand volumes. Such
indefinite language is used, because the owner has
donated over half this number to the New York
Historical Society, the New York Society Library,
and a number of other similar institutions in dif-
ferent parts of the United States. As a working
library, replete with dictionaries and encyclopaedias,
in many tongues and on almost every subject, it is
a marvel. It is likewise very valuable for its col-
lections on miUtary and several other special topics.
From it was selected and given to the New York
Historical Society, one of the finest possible collec-
tions on the History of Holland, from the earUest
period down to the present time. In spite of all

these donations it is still a curiosity shop, not only
for a bibliophile, but for a curio-seekeT.

The figures vary from the vast basalt image of
Centeotl, the Aztec Goddess of Plenty, from the
" House of the Gods," at Toluca — brought thence
by Maior-General (then Major, U. S. A.) J. W.
Phelps — down to exquisite miniature modern

bronzes; the swords from the most valuable
Damascus blades down to the rude Javanese wood-
knife, and Kabyle yataghan brought home from
Algiers by the General himself; the firearms, from
the first breech-loading rifle ever used by troops m
line of battle— invented in 1775, and a present
from the inventor. Col. Patrick Ferguson, (who fell
in command at King's Mountain, October 7, 1780)
to the General's grandfather, a young and trusted
captain under him— down to the most approved
breech-loaders of the present time ; the pistols,
from diminutives of exquisite workmanship (one
pair richly inlaid) presented by Governor, the l-arl


of Bellomont, to Colonel de Peyster, over i8o
years ago, down through a series representing vari-
ous changes of locks and mountings, to the "level-
ing" last improvements in revolvers; the flags,
from Union colors which bear the marks of years
of battle, down to Rebel standards brought out of
captured Richmond by the General's youngest
son, who hoisted the first real American FLAG
over the captured Rebel capitolahd capital; the
curios, from the seal, cup and fork of the first de
Peyster, through seven generations and changes of
form and engraving, to curiosities of similar kinds

early youth, was one of the first British officers
to visit and record in verse the beauties of
Lake George, embodied in his rare and valuable
" Miscellanies."

Among the portraits referred to, embracing
likenesses of a number of distinguished soldiers, is
one of the General's uncles, George Watts, who,
as First Lieutenant, First U. S. Light Dragoons
and Aide-de-Camp to General Winfield Scott, by
his coolness and courage saved the life of his su-
perior officer from the tomahawk and scalping-
knife of Indians in British pay — as Scott has often


of recent date. A long series of family portraits
cover the walls, beginning with a reproduction rep-
resenting " The Six Worthy de Heers," who drew
up the earliest charter of the city of New York — of
whom one was Johannis de Peyster, first of the
name and race in the country — through many a
distinguished civiUan and soldier down to the like-
nesses of the General's three gallant song, who,
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, won
the brevet of Colonel during the bloody war to
suppress the " Slave-holders' Rebellion." The
log-books of Arent Schuyler de Peyster, an adven-
turous navigator, the discoverer of the de Peyster
and other groups of islands in the Pacific, giving
the details of his voyages— lie beside records
of the even stranger life of his uncle, Colonel
Aent Schuyler de Peyster, of the 8th, or the
Kmg's Regiment of (British) Foot, who, in

related to friends — when the General had been in-
vited out to breakfast for the very purpose of be-
traiyinghim to the savages. This was jnst previous
to the battle of Chippewa. General Scott said
that on this occasion he made quicker running
than at any other time during his life, after setting
down untasted the cup of coffee he was just raising
to his lips, and a,bandoning his cocked hat as a
trophy to the enemy.

About half a mile south of Rose Hill is "the
Chateau of Tivoli," the dwelling of his son, Colonel
Johnston Livingston de Peyster, from which the
landing, postoffice, station and incorporated village
take their name. It was built shortly after the
Revolution. *

This old home, remodeled so that merely the
original octagon centre remains, is now in the pos-
session of Col. Johnston Livingston de Peyster.




The country seat of Jphnstorv Livingston, at
Tivoli, Red Hook, called "Callendar House," was
originally in the town of Rhinebeck, and is situated
upon what was in colonial times known as the
Hoffman Patent. The house was built by Henry
Gilbert Livingston, and the frame, as originally
erected, is still standing ; the exterior as well as the
interior has been changed and adapted to the times,
but the proportions, elevation of rooms, etc., are as
first constructed.

In June, 1844, Mr. Auchmuty sold to William
E. Toler, who, about ten years afterwards, sold to
Jacob R. LeRoy, who presented it to his daughter,
the wife of the Rev. Henry de Koven, and they
disposed of it to the present proprietor in the
autumn of i860. Mr. LeRoy re-arranged the in-
terior of the house, and expended a large amount
m the_ erection of spacious out-buildings, and
otherwise greatly improved the place.

At the point may still be seen the remains
of the old dock, whereon was the first freight-
ing establishment, of which Reade & Bogardus



In October, 1795, H. G. Livingston sold the
house and forty acres to Philip Henry Livingston,
who had about that time married Maria, eldest
daughter of Walter Livingston. Philip H. was a
grandson of Philip Livingstpn, the signer of the
Declaration of Independence. Mr. Livingston and
wife called this seat "Suniiing Hill," and Uved
here many years ; and after all their children had
grown up, sold it to Mr. Robert Tillotson, May,
1828. Mr. Tillotson purchased various lots and
parcels of land adjoning, extending to the bay on
the south as well as to the west; he also changed
the exterior of the house, adding a lofty colonade to
the west, fronring the river, with wings to the north
and south. Mr. Tillotson sold to Mr, Richard T.
Auchmuty in the autumn of 1835.

were the proprietors. From here ran the first'
ferry to the west side of the river, and known
as Hoffman's Ferry. On the bank to the east
of the wharves was the old Hoffman Mansion
built of stone, and here for a time Peter Dela-
begarre lived while the Chateau of Tivoli was
being built ; he at this time owning much of what
is now the south lawn at "Callendar House."
It was Delabegarre whOj after purchasing what has
been known as the Elmendorf property since 18 10,
laid out the village of Tivoli, and had prepared an
engraved map, entitled "Plan of Tivoli, 1795, laid
out in town lots — Memin Sculptor."

Upon the shore of the bay bounding this estate
on the south may be seen the remains of the dock
where Chancellor Livingston repaired one of his



first steamboats. At this time it is accessible only
for skiffs and ducking boats.

The old stone house — the home of the Hoffman
family — was in ruins previous to 1824, and all
traces removed by Mr. Tillotson during his occu-
pancy of the place.

The store houses and wharf had previous to this
time (1824) gone to ruin — the rival freighting
establishments known as the Upper and Lower
Docks, being more accessible, had drawn away all
the business.


History of the Town of Milan.

THE town of Milan lies on the northern bor-
der of Duchess County, west of the center-
It is bounded northerly by Gallatin (Columbia
County), on the east by Pine Plains, on the south
by Clinton and Stanford, and on the west by Red
Hook and Rhinebeck. The town contains a popu-
lation of 1,275,* 3-ndan area of 22,805 acres. Mi-
lan was formed from North East, March io,t 1818,
and comprises the western portion of that tract of
land originally owned by the Little or Upper Nine
Partners. Why it bears the name of an ancient
Italian city is not known.

Johannes Rowe, in the year 1760, located in
this town, north of what is now known as LaFay-
etteville, on nine hundred and eleven^acres of land
which he purchased of Chancellor Robert R. Liv-
ingston. Much of this land is still in the posses-
sion of the Rowe family. For this land he paid
_;^75o, on which, in 1766, he built the stone house
now standing on land owned by Benjamin Shelly.
Johannes Rowe died in 1771, and was buried in
the family ground across the road from the church
which bears the family name. He had four sons,
John, Sebastian, Philip, Mark^here given in the
order of their birth, who settled around on the land
of their father's purchase, and to each of whom
he gave a farm. The only descendant of those
sons now living in Milan is the widow of Leonard
Rowe, grand-daughter of Philip Rowe.

Among other early settlers . were Maltiah and
Macey Bowman, who also located at La Fayetteville,
John White, Jeptha Wilbur, Timothy Briggs and
John Pells.

John Hicks, Robert Martin and Joseph Mott
settled near the east part and John Link, Garrett
Holsopple, John Rhybenburgh, Jacob Killman,
John Fulton, John Stalls, John Feller, John Hope-

•1111870,1.474, In 187J, 1,414.
+ French's Gazetteer says March i6.

man, Zachariah Phillips, Alexander Teats and
Andrew Frazier, mostly Germans, near the north
part of the town. Alexander Teats and Andrew
Frazier lived to the old age of one hundred years.

Perhaps the oldest mill in the town is the one
some two miles west of LaFayette built by Robert

The farming interests of Milan are much em-
barrassed, arising from the fact that a large portion
of the land is occupied by lease holders. The
history of these lands may be briefly told as fol-
lows : Some time before the Revolutionary war,
George Clarke, who was commissioned Lieuten-
ant-Governor, July 30, 1736, purchased several
tracts of land in this vicinity. At the time of
the Revolution he remained loyal to the King and
sailed to England. Not wishing to lose this vast
landed property, he senlt his son to America to take
charge of it and at the same time to profess deep
sympathy with the Whig element. Upon the suc-
cessful termination of the struggle, the son retained
full possession of the estate. At his death this
property was willed in such a manner that it has
been impossible to give a clear title with the trans-
fer of any of it. Hence it has not been occupied
except by tenant farmers, whose tendency has
been to impoverish rather than to build up the

The first town meeting for Milan was held at the
house of Stephen Thorne on the first Tuesday in
April, 18 1 8. The proceedings of this meeting,
other than the election of officers, relate to the
raising of money for the support of the poor, and
for building and repairing bridges. The officers
elected were as follows : Supervisor, Stephen
Thorne ; Town Clerk, John F. Bartlett ; Assessors,
Jonas Wildey, John Fulton, Jr., John Stall ; Com-
missioners of Highways^ Evert ,N. Van Trogner,
Daniel Morehouse, James Turner ; Commissioners
of Schools, Henry Peck, John Thorne, Jr., Jeptha
Wilbur ; Overseers of Poor, Jacob Shook, James
I. Stewart ; Inspectors Common Schools, Joshua
CoUens, John Darling, James Adams, John R.
Heermance, Peter Snyder ; Constable and Collec-
tor, Philip Rider ; Constablej Henry Witherwax ;
Fence Viewers, Tobias Green, in the southern
neighborhood, Obediah Quimby, in the north-east,
and Jacob Bachman, in the north-west.

In that year the number of children taught in
the districts, (Nos. t, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9,)|Was246.

The following has been the succession of Super-
visors and Town Clerks from the succeeding year
to 1881:—





























Stephen Thorn e,

do do
Jacob Shook,

do do

do do
Richard Thorne,

do do
Stephen Thorne,

do do
Henry Fulton,
Stephen Thorne,
Ephraim Fulton,
Stephen Thorne,
Eph'm Herrick, Jr.
'34. do do

Leonard Rowe,

do do

John Thorne,

do do
John P. Teats,

do do
George White,

do do
Stephen Thorne,

do do
Clinton W. Conger,

Town Clerks.

John F. Bartlett.
Benjamin Thorne.
John N. Darling.
Richard Thorne.

do do

Phineas Carman.
Leonard Rowe.

do do

Peter B. Guernsey.

do do

Hiram Simmons.
Wm. H. Wakeman.
Wm. I. Stewart.

do do

Ambrose L. Pinney.
Cyrus Blood.
John H. Carroll.
Herrick Thorne.
Henry P. Teats.

do do

H. Knickerbacker.

do do

Rensselaer Case.

do do

Rowland Story,
do do

'5 =

do do
Otis E. Bowman,
Leonard Rowe,
John Ferris,
Rensselaer Case,
Benj. S. Thorne,
-'55. William Ferris,
John Teats, Jr.,

do do

Rensselaer Case,
Alexander Best,
do do

-'62. Herrick Thorne,

Henry Teats.

do do
Archibald Shook.

do do

Gilbert T. Cornelius.

do do

Jacob Knickerbacker.
Edward Killmer.
John S. Bowman.
Gilbert Cornelius.
Henry Underwood.
Henry Killmer.

do do

Peter Rissebbraek, Gilbert Cornelius.
Lewis M. Smith, Edmund J. Wriglft.

John W. Stickle,
Alexander Best,
Herrick Thorne,
Henry A. Feller,
H. B. Sherwood,*
do do

Horatio Rowe,
Albert Bowman,
Nicholas Phillips,
E. L. Morehouse,
W. E. Shoemaker,
James Herrick,
Uriah Teator,

do do
Horatio Rowe,

do do
John W. Stickle,

Cyrus Couse.

Edmund J. Wright,
do do

do do

Albert Feltz.

Cyrus Couse.

Gerard P. Haviland.

T. Knickerbocker.

Gerard P. Haviland.

Cyrus Couse.
do do

Gilbert T. Cornelius,
do do

Hiram Bentley.

Gilbert T. Cornelius.

Pedro Sweet.

Cyrus Couse.

Jackson's Corners.
The town of Mila n has no large or important

Harmon B.

* M. R. Green (Detn.) and Albert Feltz (Rep.) tie vote.
Sherwood was elected by the Justices as Supervisor March 9.
Feltz was cliosen as Clerk for 1869.


villages. Jackson's Corners, in the northeastern
part, is a hamlet of uncertain population. John
& William Cole are the only merchants here, and
have been engaged in that business here some
seven years. The postoffice is also kept by them.
The only other business of importance here is a
distillery, conducted by John Yeomans — who has
run it three years, succeeding Ezra Couse ; a
blacksmith shop (Philip Edleman), and a grist-
mill, known as the " Scriver Mill," Alonzo Scriver,
proprietor, who has been in that business here
over thirty years.

Rock City.

Rock City which derives its name from the
rocky nature of the surrounding soil, lies in the
western part of the town. It contains a popula-
tion of fifty-six, according to the census of 1880.

Henry D. Ostrom is the postmaster here, ap-
pointed fourteen years ago. He is also the only
merchant, succeeding Chancellor Wildey, who had
previously conducted the business some four years.

A hotel is kept here by Ralph A. V. Hoffman,
who has been in that business here nearly fourteen

This place has also a saw and grist-mill — the
property of John G. Schultz — the former run by
David Tipple, the latter by William A. Coons, and
a saw-mill conducted by Nicholas Eighmy.

A shoe-sho[) (Eli Feroe), and a blacksmith shop
(Andrew J. CaroU), concludes the list of the busi-
ness places of the hamlet.


Milanville, another hamlet, Ues in the southern
part, southwest of the center of the town. This
place contains a saw-mill, blacksmith shop (William
Dedrick), a store and the postoffice.

The postmaster is William R. Ostrom, appointed
under Johnson's administration in 1868. The
only merchant here is Rensselaer Case, who has
been in that business since 1867, succeeding John
Crandall, who had previously conducted the busi-
ness ten or twelve years. About the first mer-
chant at this point was Stephen Thorne.

The only physician here is Dr. Herrick, who
has been in practice in this vicinity some sixteen

LaFayette, or LaFayetteville.

LaFayette, or LaFayetteville, in the southeastern
part of the town, contains a population of seventy-



nine, according to the last census, and is the most
important of the hamlets in the township.

This, in its earlier days,* was quite a business
place, but the introduction of railroads around and
beyond it has robbed it of its prestige.

Among the early merchants here, probably the
first, were Otis Bowman and Benjamin Hicks,
who, some fifty years ago were general merchants in
this probably most ancient section of the town.
They, at least, were about the first who did any
considerable business in that line, although pre-
viously a merchant, of the name of George N.
Martin, conducted business here. The latter did
a small business here for a few years and left, and
when last heard of was in Elkhart, Ind. Bowman
and Hicks failed in a short time. The former
died about twenty-five years ago. He was a
practicing lawyer for some years previous to his
death. Hicks died in Poughkeepsie about two
years ago.

The present merchants here are Jordan Corne-
lius and Pedro Sweet, the former having been en-
gaged in that business here five years, succeeding
P. R. Carroll, who had conducted the business
some eight years. In this store is the postoffice,
Benjamin C. Yeomans postmaster, and Jordan
Cornelius, assistant.

Pedro Sweet began business here in the spring
of 1 88 1.

How this place came by the name of LaFay-
ette, or LaFayetteville,t is not clearly known.
Smith's History of Duchess County t informs us
that the "LaFayette House," the only hotel here

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 44 of 125)