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 53 of 125)
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of fifteen foot draught of water can sail up as far
as the plantations. In the spring, I shall set them
to work preparing the trees according to Mr.
Bridges' directions."

The settlement of these people on this side of
the river was known as East Camp, and that on
the other side as West Camp. The object in set-
tling them on good land near the pines was to ena-
ble them to make tar and pitch for the English
Navy, and support themselves by cultivating the
land on which their tents were pitched. From these
sturdy Germans came the Palatine settlers of
Rhinebeck. Unlike many of the English, French
and Hollanders, who had come here solely to make

* Then knovm as Staatsburgh.

t Although the name was thus broadly applied and legalized, people
long continued to, and even to this day still distinguished between Rhine-
beck and the Flats. The road from Mrs. Mary R. Miller's to Pink's
Comer is still the road to Rhinebeck. St. Peter's Lutheran Church it
the Rhinebeck Church, while the Reformed Church is still the church or
the Flats.



money in commerce and trade, and who, according
to Sir John Knight,* "would be Protestants, Papists
or Pagans for a guilder a head," the Palatines came
here to maintain the freedom and purity of their
consciences, and their " ingenuity and their dili-
gence could not fail to enrich any land which
should afford them an asylum ; nor could it be
doubted that they would manfully defend the coun-
try of their adoption against him whose cruelty
had driven them from the country of their birth, "j
They had attained that moral and intellectual ele-
vation in which they knew that their masters and
rulers were tyrants, — men who had been debased
by luxury, and who, by the long exercise of usurped
or hereditary power, had lost all sense of human
responsibility, — and that it had become their duty
to themselves and to their fellow -men to resist them,
and, failing of success, to escape the yoke by flight to
more congenial shores. They had thus developed
within them a power of will and purpose to which un-
just governments, and the world of cunning and ve-
nality must sooner or later succumb. While they
were laboring to subjugate the earth, shrewd and ava-
ricious men were absorbing their lands, limiting their
opportunities, crippling their skill, appropriating
the profits of their toil and endeavoring to secure
in their bondage the source of a princely and per-
petual income. But they had imbibed the spirit of
resistance to unjust demands; they had within
them the elements of progress and growth, and
soon " swelled beyond the measure of their chains, "
attained to the mastership of their own per-
sons, and became the owners of the soil they had

Vast areas of land were acquired by the patentees
for nothing save a trifling quit-rent at the end of
seven or ten years, by which they assumed to some
extent the claims if not the dignity of feudal lords,
or through which they absorbed the subsistence of
others. " They toiled not neither did they spin,''
and yet during their existence they lived, in too
many instances, lives of semi-barbarous luxury.
But, notwithstanding their ostentation, and the
position and power to which their wealth entitled
them, theirs were not the hands whose labors re-
deemed the forests and planted the villages.
Lesser men, yet sturdier, felled the forest,
sowed the fields and formed the nucleus of
the hamlets and villages which grace the
County to-day, and in Rhinebeck those tasks

* A member of Parliament, in a debate on a bill to naturaliie these
people in England.

+ Lord Macaulejr, in his Hist, of England, on the French and German
Protestants who had been driven into exile by the edicts of Louis.

were performed by the sturdy German set-
tlers and their descendants ; by those who, exiled
from their native land, had here sought a refuge,
and were here designed to become mere hewers
of wood and drawers of water, but who, seeing the
doom which was preparing for them, resisted it;
which shows that they had attained a development
of mind and soul beyond the reach of the measure
which many have accorded them.

Henry Beekman, the patentee, died in 1716,
apparently intestate.* In 17 13, he gave a deed to
his son, Henry, for all of his Rhinebeck patent
lying south of a line run from the junction of
Landsman's and Rhinebeck creeks in the saw-mill
pond, directly east to the end of the patent, and
including the mill at the mouth of the first-named
creek. On August 30, 1737, the balance of the
patent was divided between him and his two sis-
ters. For the first step a middle line was run
from the saw-mill pond to Schuyler's Fly, on the
north ; from this line as a base the land was
divided into six parts — intended to be equal — by
lines to follow the angle of the Schuyler patent,
those on the west reaching the river, and those on
the east extending to the end of the patent. This
gave to each of the parties a lot fronting on the
river. In this division lots one and six fell to
Henry; two and five to Catherine, wife, first of
John Rutsen and now of Albert Pawling ; three
and four to Cornelia, wife of Gilbert Livingston.
Number one included the "Flats" where Rhine-
beck now stands, which thus became the property
of Henry Beekman, the Second.

William Beekman, the father of the patentee of
"Ryn Beek," was born at Hasselt, April 28, 1623,
and came to New Amsterdam, now New York, at
the commencement of Governor Stuyvesant's
administration, being then in the employ of
the Dutch West India Company. He married
Catherine, daughter of Frederic Hendricks de
Boogh, Captain of a Hudson River trading vessel,
September 25, 1649, by whom he had seven chil-
dren — three sons and four daughters. In 1653,
'54, '55, '56, '57, he was elected one of the
Schepens (assistant aldermen) of New Amster-
dam. In 1658 he was appointed Vice-Director
of the Dutch Colony at the mouth of the Delaware
River. On July 4, 1664, he was appointed
Sheriff at Esopus, now Kingston. In 1670 he
purchased the farm formerly owned by Thomas
Hall, and then occupied by his widow, in the
vicinity of the present Beekman street, and front-

* His wife was living in 17Z4.



ing on the road along the East River shore — now
Pearl street, New York. He was Alderman at
twelve different dates under the EngUsh, until
1696, when he retired from public life. The old
New York records inform us that the business by
which he lived and prospered was that of a brewer.
He resided in New York in high repute among the
citizens of his day until his death in 1707, at the
age of eighty-five. His sons were Henry, Gerard
and John. Henry, the eldest, the patentee of
Rhinebeck, married Joanna de Lopes and settled
in Kingston, Ulster county, where he became
County Judge,* Member of the Legislature, Col-
onel of the militia, and deacon and elder in the
Protestant Reformed Church. He died, as before
stated, in 1716.! His children were: William,
born in Kingston in 1681, died in Holland aged
eighteen; Catharine, born September 16, 1683,
married John Rutsen, of Kingston ; Henry, born
in 1688, married Janet Livingston, daughter to
Robert, a nephew of Robert, the patentee, and
first lord of Livingston manor; Cornelia, born
1690, married Gilbert Livingston, son of Robert,
the lord of the manor.

John Rutsen and Catharine Beekman had four
children, baptized in Kingston: Johanna, born
April II, 1714; Jacob, born April 29, 1716;
Hendrick born March 9, 17 18; Catharine, born
May 24, 1719. There is no evidence that John
Rutsen ever lived in Rhinebeck. He was living
in 1720, and in that year as justice of the peace in
Kingston, witnessed a deed from Hendricus Heer-
mance to Gerrit Artsen. He died before 1726.
In that year his widow, Catharine Beekman, at the
age of forty-three, married Albert Pawling, of
Kingston. There is no evidence that he Hved in
Rhinebeck. He died in 1745. From a letter [in
Dutch] from Henry Beekman, in New York, to
his sister, Mrs. Catharine Pawling, in Rhinebeck,
dated 1746, it is assumed that she was a resident
in Rhinebeck at this date, bjit in what particular
locality is not known. Albert Pawling and Catha-
rine Beekman Rutsen had no children.

Jacob Rutsen, son of Jacob Rutsen and Catha-
rine Beekman, married his cousin AUda, daughter
of Gilbert Livingston and Corneha Beekman. It
is said that he built the mill known as Rutsen's
mill, on the premises now owned by Mrs. Mary R.
Miller. This mill was in existence in 1750 as

• He was one of the Justices in Ulster county in 1693. Doc. Hist.,

VoU-. P-»7.

+ He never lived in Rhinebeck, ahhough it was he who laid out the
land for the " High Butchers," and settled on his patent the Palatines
who founded and gave name to the town.

Rutsen's mill.* Jacob Rutsen died before 1755,
and therefore, before he was forty years old. He
was not a freeholder in the town in 1740, when he
was twenty-four years old. If he built the mill
after he became of age, he built it after 1737. It
is assumed that he built it when he became a resi-
dent of the tow.n, and, therefore, after 1740.
Jacob Rutsen and Alida Livingston had two
children : John, born October 23, 1745; Cornelia,
born May 31, 1746. He died after this date, and
his widow after 1755, married Henry Van Rensse-
laer, of Claverack, by whom she had seven children.

Catharine Rutsen, daughter of John Rutsen and
Catharine Eeekman, married Peter Ten Broeck.
They lived in Rhinebeck as early as 1751, he being
road-master here at this date. In 1765 he lived
on the Barrytown road, his gate being the end of
V the road district from the post -road, William Feller
being road-master. He therefore lived north of
the Feller homestead. He was Supervisor of the
precinct in 1763, '64, '65, '66, '67. In 1755 Peter
Ten Broeck and his wife conveyed to Wm. Schep-
moes part of the farm now occupied by Thomas
Reed, and in the same year we find him Colonel
of a regiment of Duchess County soldiers. If they
had children the fact is not now known, and, be-
yond their baptism, there is no existing knowledge
of Johanna and Hendrick, the other two children
of John Rutsen and Catharine Beekman.

John Rutsen, son of Jacob Rutsen and Alida
Livingston, married Phebe Carman. They had two
children: Catharine, born September 18, 1768;
Sarah, born 1770. John Rutsen, we are told, died
at the age of twenty-eight, and therefore in the year
1773. His widow married Robert Sands, January
25, 1779, by whom she had five children, (Christina,
Joshua C, John R., EUza, Grace). She died No-
vember 23, 1819, aged seventy-two. Robert Sands,
the husband, died March 3, 1825, aged eighty.

Catharine Rutsen, daughter of John Rutsen and
Phebe Carman, married George Suckley, an En-
gUsh merchant in the city of New York, by whom
she had seven children : Rutsen, Mary, EHzabeth,
George, Sarah, Catharine and Thomas. George
died at nine, and Catharine at nineteen years.
George Suckley was a widower with two children
(George and John L.,) when he married Cath-
ari ne Rutsen.

* One of the first mills— if not quite the first— erected in Duchess
County was that known as the old Tillotson mill, or one on the same
site, built, it is supposed, by Henry Beekman, the elder, as early as
1710, on land purchased from Arie Rosa. It was located near the
river where grain could be taken to it, and flour away from it, by water as
well as by land, and was thus serviceable to settlements on both sides of
the river.



Sarah Rutsen, the only other child of John Rut-
sen and Phebe Carman, married Philip J. Schuyler,
son of General Philip Schuyler. He built the man-
sion now the property of his niece, Mrs. Mary R.
Miller. He was a resident of Rhinebeck, and a
Member of Congress from Duchess County in 1 8 1 7,
'18. They had five children: Philip P., John
Rutsen, Catherine, Robert and Stephen. Sarah
Rutsen Schuyler died October 24, 1805, aged

Philip P. Schuyler married Rosanna, daughter
to Abraham Livingston, and great-granddaughter
to Robert, the nephew, and a distant relative of the
late Hon. Peter R. Livingston, of this town. He
died May 6, 1822, aged thirty-three years.

John Rutsen Schuyler died, unmarried, June 22,
1813, at the age of twenty-two. Catharine Schuy-
ler married Samuel Jones. She died November 20,
1829, at the age of thirty-six. Robert Schuyler
was distinguished as a railroad operator and officer.
The date of his death is unknown. Stephen Schuy-
ler married Catharine M. Morris. He was born
April 18, 1 80 1. He was a local Methodist preach-
' er, and was at one time the owner of the farm now
in the possession of John H. Lambert. He was
highly respected, and died in Livingston street,
Rhinebeck, Nov. i, 1859, in a house now owned
by Henry Clay Williams. Thus far is traced the
descendants of Catharine Beekman, daughter of
Henry Beekman, the patentee.

Henry Beekman, son of Henry, the patentee,
and Janet Livingston had two children : Henry,
baptized May 13, 1722, died young; Margaret,
baptized March i, 1724, married Robert R. Liv-
ingston, the grandson of Robert, the lord of the
manor. Janet Livingston, the wife of Henry Beek-
man, born in 1703, died in 1724, at the age of
twenty-one. Born in 1688, Henry Beekman was
fifteen years her senior when he married her, and
thirty-six years old when she died. His second
wife was Gertrude Van Cortlandt, by whom he had
no children. He became a resident of Rhinebeck
after 1728, and probably not until after his second
marriage. The old Kip house, of which he became
the owner in 1726, was in the meantime, greatly
enlarged, and became his residence when he came
to Rhinebeck as a dweller. He died January 3,
1776, aged eighty-eight years. It is not known
where he was buried. There is a tradition here
that he died in Rhinebeck and was buried under
the old edifice of the Reformed Dutch Church.

i^ccording to another tradition, (in which he is
sometimes confused with Henry Beekman, the

elder,) he was buried in the cemetery of the old
Reformed Dutch Church at Pink's Corner, now
known as Monterey. But if he was buried there
his grave has been ploughed up, and there is no
stone to mark the spot. His first wife was cer-
tainly not buried in Rhinebeck, and if his second
wife was, there is no existing knowledge of the
fact. His sisters, Catherine and CorneUa, so far
as can be learned were not buried in this town.
There is also a tradition that he had a residence
in Kingston as well as in Rhinebeck, and that in
the former place he passed his winters. In the
absence of evidence, it is fair to presume that, as
his ancestors' home was in Kingston where the
family place of interment probably was, he was
taken there for burial. If he was buried under
the Rhinebeck church or in the cemetery at Pink's
Corner, there would prdbably have been in the
former a tablet stating the fact, and in the latter a
monument of some kind whose memory would have
reached the present day. It is not known who be-
came the occupant of the Rhinebeck mansion im-
mediately after Henry Beekman's death. Pierre
Van Cortlandt, in 1778, was road-master "from
the Hog Bridge to Beekman's Mills, and from
thence to Kip's Ferry." It is assumed that he
was a relative if not a brother, of Mrs. Henry
Beekman, and that he was Hving at this date in
the Rhinebeck mansion in charge of her affairs.
Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, a grandson
to Henry Beekman, was road-master from the
Hog Bridge to Livingston's MiUs, and from thence
to the river, in 1786, and it is supposed that
from this date to that of his death he was the oc-
cupant of the Beekman mansion, and the owner
of the Beekman mills. The lands attached to the
mills, embracing about forty acres, were surveyed
and laid out for him in 1796.

It IS not definitely known in what year or at
what date Margaret Beekman was born. She was
baptized March i, 1724, and, her mother dying in
that year at the age of twenty-one, it would seem
probable that she was born in that year. Left
without a mother, she found a parent in her
maternal aunt, Angelica, and -another home in
Flatbush. Robert R. Livingston, her husband,
whom, it is said, she married at the age of eighteen,
was the grandson of the elder Robert, and the
only child of his father. He and his father died
in the same year, 1775. His father, born in 1688,
attained the age of eighty-seven; he, born in
17 19, attained the age of fifty-six years. By the
death of his father, he became the owner of all the



land of Clermont, and of " one-fifth of the great
Hardenburgh patent." He was a Justice of the Su-
preme Court of the Colony, and a member of the
Stamp Act Congress, and in his day was a man of
prominence and influence in the affairs of State.
Having espoused the cause of the people against
the Government, he was greatly distressed at the
loss sustained by the patriots at Bunker Hill,
receiving a shock which carried him to his grave.

Robert R. Livingston and Margaret Beekman
had ten children : Janet, born in 1774, died
November 6, 1828 ; Hobert R., bom in 1747, died
February 25, 1813 ; Margaret, born in 1749, died
March 19, 1823 ; Henry B., born in 1750, died in
1831 1 Catharine, born October 14, 1752, died
July 14, 1849 ; John R., born in 1754, died in
1851; Gertrude, born in 1757, died in 1833;
Joanna, born September 17, 1759, died March i,
1829; Alida, born in 1760, died December 25,
1822 ; Edward, born in 1764, died May 23, 1836.

Janet Livingston, the first of these children,
married General Richard Montgomery in July,
1773. Soon after their marriage they moved to
Rhinebeck Flats, on the domain of her grand-
father, Henry Beekman, and occupied the house
on the premises of Thomas Edgerley, which he took
down and re-erected on East Livingston street, in
i860. This was their residence when General
Montgomery took command of the expedition
against Canada, in which he lost his life in the as-
sault on Quebec, December 31, 1775; and this
is why the part of the post-road on which this
house stood is now Montgomery street in the
village of Rhinebeck.

Before the war, General Montgomery had begun
the erection of a mansion on the premises now in
the possession of Lewis Livingston, south of the
village. This was on the property now known as
"Grasmere," which originally formed part of the
Beekman patent, and which was included in that
part of it which fell to Henry Beekman, Jr., when,
after his father's death, the property was divided
between him and his two sisters. Through what
hands the property passed before it is found in the
possession of a descendant of Col. Beekman is not
known. The first that is definitely learned of it is
in 1773, when General Montgomery was in posses-
sion, and built mills upon it. The house, planned
and begun under the General's auspices, was not
completed until after his death.

After his death, the house was occupied by Mrs.
Montgomery, who was accustomed to walk around
the farm with the seeds of the locust, then a new

tree in this country, in her pocket, and strew them
along the fences. From these seeds have come
the numerous fine locusts now on the place.
After a time she desired a house on the banks of
the Hudson, and built the house known as " Mont-
gomery Place," above Barrytown, where she
resided until her death. Grasmere, then called
Rhinebeck House, was rented to Lady Kitty Duer
(Lord Sterhng's daughter) and her family. After
that it was rented to Mrs. Montgomery's brother-
in-law, General Morgan Lewis, who occupied it
nine years. After the expiration of General Lewis'
lease, Mrs. Montgomery sold the property to her
sister Joanna, wife of Peter R. Livingston, who
lived there twenty-five years. In 1828, during
their occupancy, the house burned down. It was
rebuilt, but Mrs Peter R. Livingston died before
the new building was finished.

Peter R. Livingston died here in 1847, and,
having no children, bequeathed all his property to
his brother, Maturin, who, dying the following year,
left it to his wife, Margaret Lewis Livingston, who
gave the Grasmere estate to her son, Lewis Livings-
ton, who has lived on it since 1850. In 186 1-2
the house was rebuilt, enlarged, and a third story

Peter R. Livingston was prominent in his day as
a politician, and, if not a statesman, he had taken
an active part in State affairs. He was a State
Senator from Duchess in i82o-'2i-'22, and again
in i826-'27-'28-'29. He is named as a Member of
Assembly in 1823, in the civil list of the State.
He was president of the Whig National Conven-
tion which nominated General Harrison for Presi-
dent in 1840. He died in 1847, and was buried
in the vault in the rear of the Reformed Dutch
Church in the village of Rhinebeck.

Margaret Livingston, the third child of Robert
R. Livingston and Margaret Beekman, was mar-
ried to Dr. Thomas Tillotson, of Maryland, a
surgeon in the Revolutionary Army, by Rev.
Stephanus Van Voorhees, of the Rhinebeck Re-
formed Dutch Church, February 22, 1779.
Thomas Tillotson was a prominent man in the
politics of the State, soon after the close of the
war. He was State Senator from 1791 to 1800,
when he became Secretary of State, and Robert
Sands was elected Senator in his place. He
retained the office of Secretary of State until 1805,
and held it again in 1807. He died in May,
1832. Mrs. Tillotson was the best known, and is
the best remembered of all Margaret Beekman's

* Martha J. Lamb's " Homes of America."



children by the old people of Rhinebeck. Her
funeral sermon was preached by Rev. David Par-
ker. It was printed in pamphlet form, and copies
of it are still preserved among things cherished by
families in the town. Her body and that of her
husband, were laid in the vault in the rear of the
Dutch Reformed Church in Rhinebeck village.

Their children were: — Jannette, born in 1786,
married Judge James Lynch, died August 26,
1866, and was buried in Rhinebeck; Robert L.,
born in 1788, died in Rhinebeck July 22, 1877,
was buried in New York; John C, born May 16,
1791, died in New York, December 18, 1867, was
buried in Rhinebeck ; Howard, the youngest son,
entered the navy as a midshipman, and was
killed in battle on Lake Erie, in the war of 1812.
Henry B. Livingston, the fourth child of Robert
R. Livingston and Margaret Beekman, was the
first Livingston in what is now the town of Rhine-
beck. Among the warrants issued by the Provin-
cial Congress in June, 1775, to persons in Duchess
County to recruit for the Revolutionary Army, is
found the name of Henry B. Livingston as Cap-
tain, with Jacob Thomas as First Lieutenant, and
Roswell Wilcox as Second Lieutenant.

In Holgate's genealogy of Leonard Bleeker, we
are informed that on the first of January, 1777, the
army being newly organized, he was appointed
First Lieutenant in the Fourth New York Regi-
ment, under Col. Henry B. Livingston. He mar-
ried Miss Ann Horn Shippen, niece to Henry
Lee, president of the First Congress. Colonel
Harry, as he was called, was the owner, from 1796,
of the two grist-mills in the south of the village,
and also of an oil-mill on the site of the grist-mill
below the " Sand Hill, " now in the possession of
P. Fritz.

Catharine Livingston, fifth child of Judge Robert
R. Livingston and Margaret Beekman, married in
1793, the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, celebrated in
his day as an earnest preacher in the Methodist
Church. It is said that he came to Rhinebeck, on
the invitation of Dr. Thomas Tillotson, who had
known him in their native state of Maryland, and that
while a guest at the Doctor's house he preached to
the people of the neighborhood in the stone house
on the post-road, now the property of Mrs. Ann
O'Brien. It was on the occasion of this visit that
he made the acquaintance of Catharine Livingston.
They began their married life on a farm which was
a gift from her mother, east of Mrs. Mary R. Mil-
ler'^ Here they remained four or five years, and
having built a small Methodist Church on the main

road, near their residence, they exchanged farms
with Johannes Van Wagenen, father of Captain
William Van Wagenen, of Rhinebeck village, whose
farm was on the patent of Artsen, Rosa and
Elton, and thus with a frontage on the Hudson
River. They at once built a new, large and hand-
some house on this property, into which they moved
in October, 1799. This is now "Wildercliff," on
the banks of the Hudson, one of the celebrated'
country seats in the town of Rhinebeck.

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 53 of 125)