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 58 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 58 of 125)
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der & Co., he being the junior partner. The firm
was dissolved in 1843. In 1834 he was united in
marriage with Jane Ann, eldest daughter of the late
William Schell. His children were : Mary S., who
married Richard J. Garrettson, son of the late Free-
born Garrettson ; WilUam C, now residing in-
Philadelphia ; Augustus T., a successful lawyer in
New York, and Caroline, wife of Robert Lane of
New York.

In 1^37 Mr. Gillender engaged in mercantile
_ business in Hyde Park. In 1846 he removed to

ture for the " Starr Institute," of which he is one of
the trustees. He was one of the originators of the
Episcopal Church in Rhinebeck, in which he is at
present the Senior Warden.

He was the originator of the Bank of Rhinebeck
and obtained all the subscriptions to the stock of
that institution. In i860 he obtained a charter
from the Legislature for, and organized, the
" Rhinebeck Savings Bank," and was its first
Treasurer and Secretary. He has been Justice of
the Peace for . twenty-five years. For thirty yeairs
he was a prominent member of the Democratic
party in Duchess Co., but has now retired from all
active participation in politics.

is the ro-
mantic and
appropriate name
of the country-
seat of Mr. William Astor, of New York. The charm-
ing spot that bears^this title, is situated on the eastern
bank of the noble old Hudson, about two and one-half
miles above Rhinecliff, and about the same distance
from the village of Rhinebeck.
Theboundaries of FerncUff now enclose about five
hundred acres of land, — an estate which is so surrounried by beautiful
and picturesque natural scenery, and has been so lavishly improved
artificially, that it is now justly ranked as one of the most attractive
and desirable country-seats upon the Hudson. So unstinted has been
the UberaUty of Mr. Astor in hi^ efforts to render FerncUff an ideal



American country home, that little is risked in the
assumption that it is the one spot towards which'
his thoughts most frequently turn, and which is
esteemed by him as is no other earthly home.

This is borne out by the fact that Mr. Astor's
father, William B. Astor, was the owner of a beau-
tiful couhtry-seat, "Rokeby," near Barrytown,
where the present owner of Ferncliff spent rriany
happy summers in past years. There he imbibed
an ardent love for the Hudson, the towering Cats-
kills opposite, and all the surrounding adjacent
scenery upon which Nature worked with so prodi-
gal a hand, and passing years have only intensified
this love.

Moreover, Mr. Astor's mother was a Miss Arm-
strong, daughter of General Armstrong, once Am-
bassador to France. His family made Duchess
County their home, being among the most distin-
guished of that period, and there some of the de-
scendants now live. As connected with the
, Armstrong and the Livingston families, we may,
therefore, properly consider the Astor family as of
Duchess 'County extraction ; and as such, it is
natural to expect in any of its members, an ardent
partiality for this locality. Here Mr. William
Astor first experienced and learned to fully appre-
ciate the manifold comforts and attractions of
country life, which were, doubtless, the chief in-
centives to the purchase and improvements result-
ing in Ferncliff.

In tracing the growth, improvements and pres-
ent appearance of this beautiful summer residence,
we must first go back about twenty-seven years, to
the date when Mr. Astor first began spending his
summers in this locality. His first purchase com-
prised a farm of about one hundred and five acres
of rough, unattractive (except in the surroufldings)
and unproductive land. The broad plateau where
now stands the commodious mansion, was then
barren of trees, and bore the general character of
the roughest and the least enticing of the clay hills
that are still to be seen at points along the banks
of the Hudson. Much of the farm itself was des-
titute of trees and made up of stony knolls, bogs
or devastated timber lands. To an eye that could
not see far beyond this immediate aspect of com-
parative desplation, to the grand old beauties of
scenery about the noble river — beauties that no
ill-conceived act of man could obUterate — the
scene of the despoiled farm at that date must
have been anything but encouraging, and little
significant of what it was soon to become.

But the location was all that could be desired ;
the material, so to speak, was there, and to the
appreciative owner and his efficient co-worker,
Louis A. Ehlers, the well known landscape garden-
er, the natural attractions of the place and the
loveliness and grandeur of the surrounding scenery
offered ample inducements to the liberality of the
one and the genius of the other. So the work of
improvement began about twenty-six years ago, and
theresults are now seen in Ferncliff, which our en-
gravings show to be just what it is— an almost
perfect country residence.

Mr. Ehlers is a landscape gardener and rural
architect, the results of whose handiwork and
genius are to be seen at many points on the Hud-
son, always with credit to himself, and whose work
has also exterided to different parts of the States
of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massa-
chusetts and Connecticut. This is mentioned as
indicating the purpose of the owner of Ferncliff to
place the superintendence of all its improvements
in the most competent hands to be obtained; and
Mr. Astor's confidence in his superintendent was
not misplaced. Ferncliff as it now appears, is in
all particulars the work of Mr. Ehlers' genius; that
it is most creditable to him need not be reiterated.

It was not very long after the improvements be-
gan before it became apparent that the extent of
the grounds was not sufficient to warrant the ex-
tended operations desired ; accordingly at different
dates the adjoining farms on the northern, south-
em and eastern boundaries were purchased, thus
building up the present spacious domain of over
five hundred acres, comprishig sweeping lawns,
commodious pleasure grounds, extended drives,
delightful park scenery, flower gardens, parterres,'
conservatories, besides the extensive system of
barns and stabling, with all the other accessories of
a princely country- home.

The main entrance to Ferncliff from the river
road is shown in one of our engravings ; this road
passes directly through a portion of the grounds,
and here assumes the character of a private drive
through an extensive park. It is walled from the
grounds by massive lines of masonry five feet
high, of cut bastard-granite, which lead up from
either direction to the Lodge and the entrance
gates. The Lodge itself is built of the same qual-
ity of stone used in the wall ; its architecture is
approprigje, its appearance substantial, and at
the same time picturesque ; while from its porch
many fine views are obtained.

To the right of the entrance are seen extensive
green-houses, conservatories and vegetable-houses
with their surrounding flower and vegetable gar-
dens. There are three graperies, a rose-house, a
large flowering-plant house, a carnation-house and
conservatory, all beautiful in design apd suppUed
with everything for the perfect rearing of their fra-
grant and many-hued occupants. The plateau in
front of the green-house is the most elevated por-
tion of the grounds, and commands wide and en-
chanting views of the Ferncliff estate, its broad
acres studded with evergreens, in the foreground,
and a fine view to the westward and northward of
the blue mountain range.

The carriage road from the main entrance to
the mansion is nearly a mile long and about twen-
ty feet in width. It is, of course, kept in the most
perfect condition, and it is a rare pleasure to ride
over it and note its many windings over hills,
through secluded copses and leafy dells, present-
ing varied and enchanting pictures at each new
point of view. It is clearly evident that it was
laid out by a master hand. Our engraving shows
one of the picturesque views in this carriage road



where a straight avenue leads up toward the

The mansion itself is a fine example of Italian
architecture in brick. Standing, as it does, upon
an extensive plateau above the Hudson, its loca-
tion is all that the lover of nature could desire. It
is surrounded by lawns laid out by an artist and
perfectly kept, lighted up by masses of evergreens,
and beautified by many varieties of green or blossom-
ing shrubbery and variegated flowers. The front en-
trance to the mansion commands the eastern or
inland view which reaches out over a broad extent
of lawn, with the country in the distance.

Entering the mansion beneath a massive, brown
stone portico, supported by Corinthian columns,
the visitor finds himself within a spacious hall, and
passing onward through the beautiful vestibule,
makes an exit upon the verandah which passes along
the eastern or river side of the mansion, to the
south side, where it is shaped into a roomy pavil-
ion, and from which one of the grandest of views
may be had.

Southward, the foreground landscape is most
attractive, with the river to the right and Ron-
dout Creek and the Shawangunk Mountains in the
distance. Westward the lawn is beautifully diver-
sified, as it stretches away toward the river, while
off toward the north-west are seen the hoary Cats-
kills. When all the beauty of the landscape is con-
sidered, with the comparatively short time for its
transformation from a condition of barrenness and
desolation, one is constrained to marvel how it has
been accomplished.

Of the mansion in its interior aspects, it may be
said that it is planned upon a scale of magnificence
and furnished with a degree of luxuriousness, per-
fectly in keeping with its outward surroundings.
Nothing that a lavish expenditure combined with
cultivated taste could suggest, has been left un-
done to render it a model of comfort and conven-
ience. From its spacious and lofty halls leads a
stairway fitting for such a mansion. The parlors
are large and elegantly furnished and decorated.
A magnificent dining-room, billiard-room and the
minor apartments, go to make up this representa-
tive American country-seat. The engraving of the
mansion and its immediate neighborhood gives a
clear idea of its outward appearance.

Ferncliff is not only a gentleman's country-seat,
but is a carefully managed and productive farm.

The so-called farm entrance is shown in our en-
graving with another, of the breeding estabUsh-
ments, which will help the reader to comprehend
these features of the estate. The barns upon this
part of the farm are for the farm teams and work-
horses. The henneries and poultry yards are also
here situated with their numerous inmates of the
different feathered tribes.

The quarters known as the breeding and race
stables, comprising a group of buildings tasteful in
appearance, are admirably adapted to their pur-
pose. Here as many as fifty and more horses and
mares are kept, with every possible provision for
their improvement in all respects. Mr. Astor has

been an enthusiast as far as the noble horse is
concerned. His partiality in that direction is
guided by the desire of improving the breed of
these noble animals, and he spares no money to
accompUsh this end. Although the estabhshment
is as yet a new one, some valuable horses have
been turned out of the Ferncliff stud, of which
the noble race horse " Ferncliff" has done honor
to his name. Surrounding the race stable is a
covered track, about one-twelfth mile in length, for
the exercise of the youngsters. Warmth, ventila-
tion, sunlight, pure water, all are provided for the
animals so fortunate as to be domiciled in these
model stables.

Nearly a mile distant from the breeding and
race stables, upon the north division of the farm,
the cattle barns and dairy are situated. The cattle
barns comprise a group of four buildings,
three of which may be seen in our sketch, with
barn-yards and other accessories. The middle
one is devoted to cattle and cows, the east-
ern one to young stock, and the western one
is for regular breeding purposes for cattle, horses
and sheep. These structures are furnished with
all known improvements, are perfectly ventilated
and drained, and the stock to which they are de-
voted, of which there are about one hundred head,
receive a degree of care known to but few similar .
establishments in the country.

Ferncliff has a river front of a mile and a half,
and even a cursory description of it would be in-
complete, if we did not mention the substantial
dock that connects the grounds with the river that
washes its boundary. At this dock may be seen
moored the beautiful yacht. Ambassadress, the
largest saihng pleasure yacht in the world, and the
most magnificently appointed vessel of the New
York Yacht Club. This beautiful craft and her
surroundings are correctly shown in a previous

Of course, it is impossible within the brief limits
at our disposal here, to give a comprehensive and
detailed description of the country-seat and its sur-
roundings, upon which a fortune has been lavished,
with the years of labor devoted to it by its owner
and his competent assistants ; but this brief sketch,
with the aid of the finely wrought illustrations, will
enable the reader to gain a tolerably clear concep-
tion of the magnificent estate. Here the owner,
with his family, pass most of the summer months,
while to his many friends is extended the hospitali-
ties of Ferncliff.


Marienruh adjoins Ferncliff to the north. This
name has been given it in reference to remi-
niscences regarding the owner's late wife whose
given name was Mary. " Ruh " in German signifies
" rest," and thus " Marienruh." The place is
composed of about 135 acres. The house is situ-
ated close to the river upon one of its naturally



most beautiful banks. It has magnificent and
most peculiarly soft and picturesque views, both to
the south, north and east, as well as inland. The
ships, steamers and large tows, peculiar to the
Hudson, pass close, under its shore, so that the
tide of navigation fills its surroundings with life and
dreamy beauty. Through its extreme point the
trains of the Hudson River R. R. pass through a tun-
nel, but cannot be seen from any part of the place.
The house is surrounded with beautiful lawns
studded with large and rare trees. The place is
one of the oldest in its vicinity, and was formerly
called Clifton Point.

History of the Town of Clinton.

THE town of CHnton lies near the western
border of the County, being the second
town back from the Hudson River. It is bounded
north by Milan; south by Pleasant Valley; east
by Stanford and Washington ; west by Rhinebeck
and Hyde Park.

The principal bodies of water are Round Pond,
in the extreme northern part. Long Pond in the
northern part, about three miles south of the for-
mer, and Wallace Pond in the western part. Salt
Point Creek flows north and south through the
center of the town, and enters Wappingers Creek
in the northern part of the town of Pleasant Valley.
The soil in the north is a sandy loam, but in the
center and south it is a productive, slaty loam.

This town was formed from Charlotte and Rhine-
beck Precincts, March 13, 1786. Hyde Park and
Pleasant Valley were taken from it on the 26th
day of January, 1821. The town was named for
George CUnton, the first Governor of the State.
It contained at the last census a population of
1,640. In 1870 the population was 1,708, in 1875,
1,691, of whom 1,601 were native, 90 foreign,
1,687 white, and 4 colored.

This town was originally included in what was
known as Crom Elbow Precinct, formed in 1737,
and so named from Crom Elbow Creek,* the divid-
ing line between this town and Rhinebeck. Crom
Elbow Precinct passed into Charlotte Precinct
before it became the town of Clinton.

We find in some of the early town documents

records of births dating back to 1748, as follows :

"Ruth Bull, Daughter of nathan bull was bom
In Crom Elbow precinct in Duchess County &
province of new York the fourth Day of August
1748 & recorded by me Isaac Germond, Clerk.

•Dutch— Krom EUeboge, crooked elbow.

" Joseph Harris son of Moses harris was born in
Crom Elbow precinct the 6th Day of May, 1750.

" Nicol Lewis son of Lent Lewis was born in
Crom Elbow precinct the 13th Day of August,

"Jeremiah bull son of nathan Bull was born

* * the 7th Day of June, 1752.

" John Earll son of John Earll Deceased was
born * * the 28th Day of December, 1748.
" Ezekiel Spricor son of Jacob Spricor was Born

* * * the first Day of March, 1751.

" Lusse Spricor wife of Ezekial Spricor Deceased
the nth June, 1756.

" Isaiah bull son of nathan Bull was born * *
the Second Day of May, 1756."

These are all recorded by Isaac Germond, and
the parties mentioned were among the first dwellers
in this vicinity.

Another early recorded settlement is that of
Derrick VanVliet, who located in the town about
17SS- Jonathan Lyon was also an early settler.
He came from Westchester County and purchased
a farm one mile northeast of CUnton Hollow. The
land is now included in the estate of Amos Lyon.

Another early settler was Isaiah Sherman, who
purchased a portion of the Creed patent of the
Nine Partners Tract. His descendants are now
living in the town, among whom are Smith Sherman,
Arthur Sherman and Richard Sherman, great-

It is not known when the first town meeting
was held. The earlier records, which undoubtedly
would contain much of historical interest, have,
through the frequent changes of officials and fre-
quent removals from place to place, been lost or
destroyed, and those records now in the possession
of the town are fragmentary and disconnected. »
From the records extant we gather the following
succession of supervisors and clerks from 1847
to 1 88 1 :"'—

Sdpekvisoks. Clerks.

1847. Elnathan Gazley. Wesley Butts.

1848. Wesley Butts, ' Thomas J. Sands.

1849. Daniel H. Schultz, do do

1850. Stephen H. Smith, John F. B. Stouten-

1851. Fred C. Filkins, Alberts. Ring, [burgh.

1852. Gilbert Bentley, Martin H. Combs.

1853. Robert D. Cornell, do do

1854. do do Mark Wilber.

1855. Jonathan P. Shel- Maurice Traver.

1856. do do [don, David Bedell.
1857- John G. Halstead, John F. Schultz.
1858. do do John D. Wilber.
i8s9-'6o. Fred B. Schultz, Geo. H. Gazley.
1861. Wilson Hicks, John F. Schultz. *
i862-'63. John S. Wing, Theodore J. Crouse.

1864. Egbert C. Butler, Hiram J, Wing.

1865. J. F,B. Stoutenburgh, do do

1866. Philip Cookingham, Jacob Z. Frost.



1867., David B. Haight, George Van Vliet.
i868-'69. do do Theodore J. Grouse.

1870. Jacob Z. Frost, Harvey S. VanDyne.
1871- do do J. E. AUendorf.

1872. H. R. Van Vliet, Daniel H. Carhart.

1873. do do Mandeville E. Bur-

1874. John H. Otis, do do [ger.
187 5-' 7 6. do do Isaac H. Halsted.

1877. Mandeville Burger, William H. Sleight.

1878. TimothyG. Palmer, LeGrande Graham.

1879. Duane Story, Chas. W. Carpenter.

1880. Smith Sherman, LeGrande Graham.

1 881. Duane Story, Geo. H. Gazley.
Clinton contains no villages of any commercial

importance. The chief post hamlets are Clinton
Hollow, Clinton Corners, Hibernia, Schultzville,
and Pleasant Plains.

Clinton HoLLOvif.

Clinton Hollow lies in the southern part of
the town, and contains two stores, postoffice,
wagon shop (Henry Lattin), blacksmith shop
(Leonard I. Tripp), shoe shop (George C. Briggs),
and a saw and grist-mill (LeGrande Graham).

The postmaster here is Seneca Butts, who has
held that office some four years. The merchants
are George H. Gazley, a native of Hyde Park,
born in 1834, who has been in business here four
years, and William E. Knickerbacker, who has
been in business here three years. A family of
this latter name were early settlers near this place.

Clinton Corners.

Clinton Corners, in the southeastern part of the
town, contains one store, a post-office, church,
blacksmith shop, (Samuel C. Briggs), harness shop
(Edward Weed), and a few dwellings.

The postmaster is Gilbert T. Pearsall, who was
appointed ten years ago.

The merchant is Arthur D. Buckley, a native of
Amenia, born in 1856, who began business here in
April, 1 88 1.

An early merchant here was Abel Peters, who
in his day was a man of wealth and prominence,
and who, sometime about 1792, built quite a
spacious i^house, which is still standing, near this
place. He also kept a hotel, an institution now
unknown in this town, but both the hotel and the
store in which he did business, have since passed
from existence. At this place stands the venera-
ble Quaker Meeting House, known as the " Creek
Meeting House," an old gray, stone building,
which was built in 1777.

The society was organized in 1777, but at what
date cannot be definitely ascertained. Among the
early members were George Harris, Isaac Hallock
and Paul Upton. The latter we assume to be the
Upton so prominent in the early days of the
.Quaker Society in Stanford. It is quite probable
that the Society of Friends in Stanford had its
origin in this locality.

In 1828 a separation occurred on account of
the dissention of Ehas Hicks, and those who did
not adhere to him — called the Orthodox Quakers
— formed a new society, and in 1829 built the
church which stands a mile or so north of this old
stone building, and which is known as the Ortho-
dox Meeting House at the Creek. The old house
has stood against the storms of over a century
and seems yet to be in good condition, and able to
pass through the changes of another hundred
years. This is one of the few landmarks of the
pioneer times. A new slate roof has been added
to the building within a comparatively few years,
on which the date of its erection is imprinted. The
present membership of the society is between sixty
and seventy. The old, gray building stands a
monument to the patieiice and perseverance of the
peaceful people who erected it. It was built in a
time of danger and distress. Their early
attempts at worship here, as elsewhere through-
out the country, were met by scoffs and
persecution. They were made the by-word
and the reproach of people educated in
other forms of belief; and, as if to add the cli-
max to their troubles, during the erection of their
building the thunder of Revolutionary cannon
broke in upon the rural stillness,* and the contin-
ued demand for soldiers involved them in newer
difficulties. Theirs was a religion of peace, not of
war ; and on different occasions the hammer and
the adze were silent, and the course of construc-
tion was suspended while they withdrew from the
danger of impressment to the work of bloodshed,
for which, as a people, they have ever had such an

Their perseverance was at last rewarded. Their
church was built, even amid the tumult of war,
and here the early fathers calmly heard of the de-
feat at Brandywine and the triumph of Yorktown ;
and here they worshiped until one by one their
generation^passed away, and the children of the
succeeding generation came upon the stage to
play their part in the drama of events.

* The British, under Vaughan, passed up the river on their marauding
expedition during this year.




- Hibernia, in the extreme southeastern part, is a
post-hamlet containing a few dwelUngs. There is
nothing of interest here but a grist-finill and a house
which were built over a century ago by two men of
the name of Everson. Whether father and son, or
brothers, is not known. To this locaUty they gave
the name of Hibernia, in honor of Ireland, the
land of their birth.


Schultzville, in the eastern part of the town, is
probably the most important of the hamlets.

The postmaster is Timothy G. Palmer, who was
appointed ten years ago.

The only merchant is WilUam H. Sleight, who
has been in business here nine years, succeeding
Hiram Bentley, who had for some five years con-
ducted the business.

This place derived its name from the Schultz
family. Theodore A. Schultz, son of David H.
Schultz, was born here March 8, 1838, and died
January 22, 1862. He was one of the most promi-
nent young men of the town. He was the donor
of the edifice erected here for the Christian Church
in 1865. He also donated funds for the purpose
of purchasing a site and erecting a hall for Warren

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 58 of 125)