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 59 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 59 of 125)
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Lodge, F. and A. M., and a fine building was erect-
ed, which stands as a monument to the generous
donor, who died here twenty years ago.

Warren Lodge, No. 32, is one of the oldest
lodges in the State. It had its origin in Pine
Plains, from whence it was transferred to this
place. It was re-organized here in 1865.

First Christian Church of Clinton* — This
church, located at Schultzville, in the town of
Clinton, was organized in the spring of 1863.
Like many of the Christain churches it never be-
came a branch of any neighboring church. The
ministers of the Milan church had supplied this
community with preaching for several years, first at
monthly, and afterward at semi-monthly intervals.
In the spring of 1846 several gentleman, among
whom were David H. Schultz, Benjamin Conger,
Peter Denny, M. D., Edward Pultz and Smith J.
Gildersleeve, invited the Rev. Philetus Roberts to
hold regular services in the lecture room over the
store. These services continued for several years,
other denominations holding occasional services
there also. In 1864, Theodore A. Schultz, who had

* For the history of this church we are indebted to the Rev. Philetus
Roberts,_of Clinton Corners, for many years a pastor in the Christian

inherited a handsome property from his father's
estate, and who had for the two preceding years
lingered with the consumption, decided a short
time before his death to bequeath to the church
two and a half acres of land for a public ceme-
tery, and on a portion of it also to have erected a
house of worship, towards the building of which
he made a bequest of three thousand dollars.
The Supreme Court appointed the three acting
trustees of the church — S. J. Gildersleeve, E. Pultz,
and , G. Budd — as receivers of the property, a
proper title being executed, and they proceeded
to erect the church building, which was done in
1866. Immediately on occupying the chapel a
number of the members of other churches in the
place changed their relation to the Schultzville Clin-
ton Church.

The increase of the membership during the next
three years was such that the congregation decided
to build a parsonage and settle a minister. At •■
this time Rev. J. Q. Evans succeeded R. Mosher
as pastor. Sheds for a large number of teams,
and a lecture or Sabbath- school room, were erect-
ed soon after. Mr. Evans remained in charge of
the church more than twice as long as his prede-
cessor, and aided in organizing a strong Sabbath-
school, which has marked a new era in the work
of this religious body.

The Abbott brothers, Alonzo F. and Emerson
T., succeeded Mr. Evans from five and a half
to six years, each filling the pastorate for about
the same length of time. Like Mr. Evans, they
were men of considerable talent.

The church was blessed with some revivals, but
the larger additions to the body were secured dur-
ing Mr. Evans' and the first part of Mr. A. F.
Abbott's pastorate. Rev. B. F. Fanton succeeded
the Elders Abbott. Having spent a few years in
the Theological School at Meadvifle, Pa., he
brought to this people the cultured thought he had
there secured. He served the church two years, and
although few were added to the body by membership,
the congregation being sustained was much profited
by his able ministry and exemplary life. E. T. Ab-
bott, of whom we have spoken, followed Mr. Fan-
ton. The church had held its own numerically for sev-
eral years. If correct, the highest Conference report
was from 150 to 160 members. During the fall
and winter of 1880 and i88r, the desk was sup-
plied by two or three applicants for the place, but
as spring. approached it was more frequently sup-
plied by Osmun R. Allen, a student of the " Chris-
tian Biblical Institute" of this county. He soon



became the choice of the entire community. He
having united with the N. Y. Eastern Christian Con-
ference at its June session, the church requested
his ordination by that body. The ordaining
council met at the Chapel by appointment ; and
by an imposing ceremony in the presence of a large
assembly he was publicly set apart to the religious
and official work of the Christian ministry. As a
young man of talent, of piety, and withal, a worker
in each department of religious labor, we predict
for him, in the not far future, well earned and
praise-worthy success.

The only physician here is Dr. Edwin S. Hoyt,
a native of Clinton, born in April, 1845, who
graduated from the Albany Medical College
December 22, 1874, and began here his practice.

LeRoy's Mills, or Corners.

LeRoy's'Mills, or Corners, in the western part
of the town contains a store, postoffice, a grist-mill,
and a few dwellings.

This mill was built about the year 1775, by a
man named DeWitt, and used as a country grist-
mill. It was afterward bought by a Mr. Lyons
and then by John LeRoy, who, in connection with
his son, run it for upwards of forty years as a mer-
chant and custom mill. It was afterwards owned
by George Cookingham, then by Morris & LeRoy.
The latter named partner, LeRoy, then bought out
and repaired the whole property. It then passed
into the hands of the present firm, J. Z. Frost
& Co., (J. Z. Frost and Phillip D. Cookingham.)
It is a frame building 35 by 55 feet, three stories
high, costing about $8,000, and comprising a
flour and feed mill. This firm also own a saw-
mill, which is operated by the same water-power.

The postoffice was removed from Pleasant
Plains to this place a few years ago, and still re-
tains the name of its former location. The post-
master is Phillip D. Cookingham, who was ap-
pointed three years ago.

Frederic Hicks, the only merchant, has been in
business here three years, succeeding Daniel H.
Carhart, who had traded here for some seven

A little north of this place stands an old, low-
roofed, cobble-stone house, now owned by James
Uhl, which was built in 1768.

Pleasant Plains.

Pleasant Plains lies in the western part of the
town, and is a name given to a locality rather than '

to a hamlet of any extent. The name is in every
respect appropriate, for it is one of the most
pleasant portions of the township^ the land level
and fertile, and bearing evidence of thrift and
abundance. The dwellings are few but comfort-
able. There is no business transacted here save
that which pertains to agriculture, and no public
building, except the sedate church, which seems
to stand as a drowsy sentinel over the quiet neigh-

At this place is one physician, Dr. Edwin Barnes,
a graduate of Albany Medical College, who was an
Assistant Surgeon in the army during the late war,
and who came to Pleasant Plains thirteen years

The earliest recorded effort for the establish-
ment and maintenance of religious worship in this
neighborhood is found in the "Book of Records of
the Trustees for Providence Society, in Charlotte

By a deed dated September 15, 1784, "in con-
sideration of the good will and affection he bears
unto the inhabitants in this neighborhood of Lot
No. 4 of the small division of the Great Nine
Partners, in Duchess county, for the encouragement
of religion and vital piety, and for the encourage-
ment of education, Richard Alsop, of Newtown,
Queens county. New York, gave, granted, con-
veyed and confirmed unto Timothy Doughty,
Henry Humphrey, and John DeWitt, Jun., Trus-
tees for a Society of the Reformed Church of
Holland, as now constituted in America, or, agree-
ably to the constitution of the Kirk of Scotland,
to them and their successors forever, trustees of
said Society, in this neighborhood of said Lot No.
4, for the express purpose of having a house
erected for the worship of Almighty God, and a
school-house for the education of youth on the
premis.es, — a certain parcel of land, being part of
said Lot No. 4, to contain two acres."

December 5, 1785, the inhabitants of the neigh-
borhood above mentioned, assembled, after due
notice according to law, to avail themselves of the
provision of Mr. Alsop, and to elect trustees to
care for the temporalities of the congregation. The
following persons were elected trustees : — ^John
Lawrence, Cornelius Van Vliet, David Knapp,
John DeWitt, Jr., Jesse Bell and Timothy Doughty,
and the name by which they were to be known
was declared to be "The Trustees of the Presby-
terian Providence Society. " These trustees were
divided into classes of two, one class going out
annually, and renewed up to October, 1789.



April 27, 1787, a committee was appointed to
attend the meeting of the Duchess County Pres-
bytery to be held on the second of the following
May, to petition that body for a stated supply of a
quarter of his time. The committee reported May
Sth that they had discharged their duty — that the
Presbytery gave them no decided answer, but ex-
pressed a hope that the Rev. Wheeler Case would
be able to serve them.

On the records of August 20, 1787, there is a
minute^of an agreement with Rev. Wheeler Case
to devote one-third of his time to them, beginning
July 1st, 1787, in consideration of the payment of
£27,, 7 s., July I, 1788.

This record of the Trustees of Providence Soci-
ety terminates in October, 1789, and with it the
Presbyterian Providence Society of Charlotte Pre-
cinct passes from sight.

Well authenticated tradition shows that the Rg-
formed Church of Hyde Park, of which the Van
Vliets were prominent and active members, occu-
pied the field some years subsequently. A church
was organized and kept up for a time, but under
adverse circumstances. It was finally abandoned,
and its membership transferred to Hyde Park.

During the existence of the Reformed Church
it was ministered to by the Rev. Drs. Bethe-
rus, Broadhead, and others. It is the tradi-
tion that it was the desire of the donor of the
property that the Reformed Church should have
priority in the effort to organize a religious

Divine service seems to have been kept up, after
the withdrawal of the Reformed Chyrch from the
field, as often as a supply could be obtained.
Coming down to within the memory of the present
time, we find that services were occasionally held
in the school-house on the property where the
church now stands, and at the residence of John
LeRoy, of LeRoy's Mills, by the Presbyterian
ministers of this region, among whom were the
Rev. Dr. John Johnston, of Newburgh, Rev.
Messrs. Price, of Fishkill, Clark and Wile, of
Pleasant Valley, Hall, Tuckerman and others.

The first official record in connection with the
present church, is that of its organization, and is as
follows:— The Presbyterian Church of Pleasant
Plains was organized on the 28th day of March,
1837, by Rev. Alonzo Welton, of Poughkeepsie,
and consisted of the following thirteen persons,
viz : John LeRoy, Isaiah VanKeuren, John Piatt,
William Odell, Stephen LeRoy, Thomas DeWitt
LeRoy, Hannah LeRoy, Gertrude Van Keuren,

Malinda LeRoy, Welthy LeRoy, Jane M. Odell
and Phebe Ann McAvery.

The above named persons were, at their own
request, dismissed from the Presbyterian Church of
Pleasant Valley, on the 15th day of March, 1837,
for the purpose aforesaid.

John LeRoy and Isaiah Van Keuren were set
apart and ordained elders of the church. John
Piatt was chosen and set apart as deacon. The
following persons then appeared before the session,
were examined and admitted to the church mem-
bership, to wit : Henry Hewitt, George DeWint,
John McAvery, Rosella DeWint, Barnet LeRoy,
Stephen Odell, Abigail Odell and Emma Hewitt.

The church since its organization has had the
following stated suppUes and pastors : —

First the Rev. William N. Sayre, stated supply
for a year and a quarter, beginning December 30,
1837. He was succeeded by Rev. William Hill,
called April 27, 1837, installed in June, remaining
one year.

Rev. Mr. Heath succeeded Mr. Hill as a supply
for six. months.

The Rev. Sherman Hoyt was then called to the
pastorate. Mr. Hoyt was born March 2t, 1807,
and came to Pleasant Plains in 1843. For eighteen
years he was pastor over this church, and on
account of failing health he was compelled to leave
the ministry. He purchased a small farm near the
church where he now resides. The Rev. Joshua
Collins succeeded Mr. Hoyt as supply, remaining
two years. Then came Rev. EUsha D. Bates, one
year, and Rev. Sumner Mandeville, one year.

May ist, 1865, the Rev. Austin P. Stockwell
was invited to the pastorate. He was installed ■"
October 11, 1865, and resigned July 5, 1869.
The Rev. Messrs. Parsons and Fisher succeeded,
Mr. Stockwell as supphes, each for^six months.
The present pastor, the Rev. S. Nye Hutchuson,*
began his labors April ist, 1872.

Of these various laborers, those who left the
deepest impression on the minds of the people were
the Revs. Sayre, Stockwell and Hoyt. Mr. Sayre
was laborious, earnest and effective. His ministry
is represented as having been one of great power.
The Rev. Mr. Stockwell came into the church from
the seminary, and by his attractions as a man and
a preacher he soon secured the affection of the
people. His was a successful ministry, and the
hearts of his people still follow him in his separa-
tion from them. But to the Rev. Sherman Hoyt

» To this latter gentlemanly clergyman we are indebted for the history
of this church, which, by his consent, has been taken from a historical
sermon delivered by him July i, 1876, but somewhat condensed.

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^n',lLBmiS,S<nu.l',-Bmlo.,j SrMT.



the church owes more than to any other for what
it is and will be. During an active ministry of
eighteen years, and an additional period of fifteen,
in which he has resided in their midst, his pure
guileless life has exemplified the doctrines he pro-
claimed. ' In addition to his labors in the pulpit,
he has exercised a powerful influence over the
minds of the young throughout the entire region
by means of the school which he has so successful-
ly maintained for many years, and in which a large
proportion of the youth of the town have been

The church has had fourteen Elders, beginning
with John LeRoy and Isaiah VanKeuren, under
whom the church was organized.

Abraham LeRoy, William Odell and David
Traver, Jr., were elected Aug. 17, 1839; B. I.
VanKeuren and Stephen LeRoy, Aug. 18, 1839;
Messrs. Sheriger, P. D. Cookingham and M. L.
Traver, Nov. 7, 1857; Jesse Merritt, Feb. 18,
1866; Nathaniel Lamoree, Michael Cookingham
and Luther Lloyd, July 6, 1872.

The Deacons have been John Piatt and Mark

Beginning with the twenty-one members of its
first organization the church has had about four
hundred members. The first services, prior to the
erection of the church edifice, were held in the
school house formerly located on the south side of
the building. The present church was built in
1837, at an expense of $2,000. It was enlarged
to its present size in 1859, at a cost of $1,250.

It is but just to record here that the society
were greatly aided in the construction of the
church by the munificence of John LeRoy, who first
contributed $300.00, and then advanced $1,200
to pay the balance due. The interest on the latter
was left unpaid until principal and interest
amounted to about $z,ooo. Mr. LeRoy then
generously cancelled the entire obligation in ton-
sideration that the church would raise $500.00
with which to build sheds and fence.

The parsonage was built in 1866, on a piece of
land purchased of H. R. VanVliet, and at an
entire cost of about $3,000.00.

Clinton in the Rebellion.

The records of Clinton's participation in the war
of the Rebellion have never been kept, or if kept,
have never been preserved. We append, however,
the few names that could be gathered from miUtary
records and other sources, of those who repre-
sented the town in that struggle.

i2^th'Eegiment, Company C. — Derrick Brown,
corporal'; William B. Brown, Robert A. Day, Jas.
M. Hewitt, Augustus Ashorn, James K. Brown,
John S. Hadden, Murray Howard, Roger T. Jones,
Charles E. Kissover, Charles Ketterer, Charles P.
Murch, Alvin G. Murch.

Company D. — J. W. Myers, J. J. Marshall, Chas.
Boyce, Martin Rickett, Morgan S. St. John.

Company I. — Stephen Moore, Isaac P. Smith,
John G. Moore, John Donnelly, Lawrence TaafFe,
Roberto. Smith, David Chase, George E. Thomas.

Scattering. — Matthias Graff, Co. K ; James A.
Hewitt, Co. E ; WilUam T. Parker, Patrick Tier-
ney, Herman Liebald, Jacob VanDecker, George
W. Jacobs, George F. Browning, J. G. French, J.
R. Clark, F. R. Tower, John Doyle, Charles Myers,
William White.



Colonel Gilbert Bentley of the town of CUnton,
was born in Pine Plains, at the romantic little vil-
lage of Mount Ross, January 22, 1810, where he
remained until eight years of age when his father
exchanged his place for the one on which Col.
Bentley now lives. His father Major Henry Bent-
ley was the youngest son of William Bentley of the
town of Beekman, who came from Rhode Island
about one hundred and thirty years ago. He was
of English descent. Henry was born in the town
of Beekman (now Union Vale) in 1771. He was
married to Catharine Hall, of Union Vale, by whom
he had nine children — five sons and four daughters
— of whom Gilbert was the sixth child and
youngest son.

After studying at the common school Gilbert at-
tended an educational institution in the town of
Washington, and subsequently a select school in
Bethlehem, Litchfield Co. Conn. He ranked high
as a student, and at the age of eighteen was quali-
fied to teach school, and soon after attaining to his
majority, became inspector of schools.

Nov. 21, 1828, his father died leaving him at the
age of eighteen, to grapple alone with the world as
best he could. The following spring Gilbert reluct-
antly entered into the business of farming which
he has followed ever since with order and system.
At the age of twenty he became interested in the
cause of temperance which was then in its incip-
iency and has always been a fearless and open
advocate of the abolition of intoxicating liquors as
a beverage. He opposed the system of granting
licenses ; and when, after his election as Justice of
the Peace, he became a member of the Board of



Excise, he stated his views so effectively at the first
meeting that no reply was made. In two or three
years thereafter there were no appUcations for
license in the town ; and but two licenses, both of
which proved abortive, have been granted smce,
during some forty-five years. He was the first in
his vicinity to break through the old estabhshed
and pernicious custom of using intoxicating bever-
ages during haying or harvest— a course which at
that time caused much speculation. His services
as a public speaker were in great demand at the
various'temperance gatherings where he was hs-
tened to with most profound respect.

May 27, 1831 he was appointed Adjutant of the
141st Regiment New York State Infantry under
the command of David W. Carroll; E. T. Throop
being Governor and John A, Dix, Adjutant-
General. May 3, 1834, he was promoted to the
position of Major and Sei)t. 8, 1835, to the rank of
Colonel, while WiUiam L. Marcy was Governor
and Levi Hubbell, Adjutant-General. In miUtary
tactics he was qualified and efficient. Order and
obedience were his stern requisites. Having had
regular instructions in sword exercise, and under-
standing the art as well as the theory of handling
infantry, he was often supposed to have received
his military education at West Point.

Early in hfe he took a deep interest in political
matters, casting his first vote in 1831, and voting
for presidential electors in 1832. He was a dele-
gate in the Young Men's County Convention for
the ratification of the nomination of Andrew Jack-
son as President, and to appoint delegates to a
State Convention for the same purpose. In 1836
he was appointed one of the representatives from
this county to the Young Men's State Convention
at Utica, on the 6th of October, for the ratification
of the nomination of Martin Van Buren, and on
his return, at the request of General Mason, Sen-
ator from this district, he visited Governor Marcy
at his residence where the distinguished nominee
for President was then stopping.

Dec. 12, 1838 he was united in marriage with
Catharine Stewart of the town of Chnton, daughter
of WiUiam W. Stewart, a son of Major WiUiam
Stewart who was in service in the Revolution.
They had five children : Mary, Elizabeth, Emma,
Irving, and Henry, — Mary dying at the age of
twenty-three and Henry at seventeen.

In 1842 Col. Bentley was elected to the Legisla-
ture where he was made member of the Committee
on Militia and Public Defence. On account of
duties at home demanding attention, he declined
a nomination the foUowing year, much to the dis-
satisfaction of his warm friends and supporters. In
1844 he was a delegate to the Senatorial Conven-
tion at Newburgh. The Democratic party, in
1843, entered upon a stormy period in its history.
Following the financial panic of 1837 and the defeat
of Van Buren in 1840, came the internal plagues of
" Barnburnerism " and " Hunkerism. " With the
disintegration of the old parties new political issues

In 184^, as the " Free Soil" spirit took political

form, Colonel Bentley, opposed the extension of
slavery into free territory and advocating the right
of freedom for all, became an active " Free Boiler. "
Distrusting Buchanan's integrity, he voted for
Fremont in 1856, thus after much serious reflec-
tion, breaking from his party on conscientious
grounds ; holding that principles vital to a nation's
interests are of more importance than mere^ party
supremacy. The index of his character is well
presented in the following Unes whichhave been
one of his ruling maxims :

" what conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do.
This teaches more than hell to shun,
That, more than heaven pursue. "

Accordingly, he supported Mr. Lincoln for Pres-
ident, and both at home arid as a delegate to the
Republican Convention in Philadelphia, vigorously
sustained his administration,— the National colors
constantly floating from the top of the flag-staff at
his residence, that aU might see in those dark days
when many wavered, where he stood in the great
struggle. Early and earnestly he advocated a proc-
lamation for emancipation as a war measure justi-
fiable and right under.the circumstances. In 1872
he acted with the Liberal wing of the Republican
party, and was Chairman of the County Conven-
tion of that party when the union of the Demo-
crats with it for the support of the presidential
election for Horace Greeley was accomplished.

Many minor public trusts have been thrust upon
him by his fellow citizens, who have long known his
ability and integrity of character. Thus, in 1852,
he was elected Supervisor ; was chairman of the
board of canvassers ; was a member of the com-
mittees on Sheriffs' and Surrogate's accounts and
printer's biUs, and the following year was chosen
Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. Several times
he has been chosen Inspector of Election; has
served two terms as Assessor of his town ; has fre-
quently been appointed foreman of grand juries,
and has had much to do as administrator and ex-
ecutor in the settlement of estates. In the dis-
charge of the duties of these varied positions he
has ever proved faithful and efficient, thus, by his
fidelity and sound judgment, meriting the honors
so frequently bestowed.

Col. Bentley, in these and many other ways, has
had much to do, in his long and useful life, in
shaping pijbUc opinion and directing the public
affairs of his town and county; while his influence
has also reached far beyond these limits. As a citizen
he has been public-spirited and a leader. He aid-
ed in organizing the Milan Union Cemetery Asso-
ciation and has been President of its Board of
Trustees more than twenty years. He regards his
political life with satisfaction, inasmuch as he has
lived to see the accomplishment of that for which
he has labored — a nation without a slave from sea
to sea. In probity and uprightness, in his private
and pubUc life, in social and in business relations,
he has few superiors. Accepting the great funda- *
mental truths of revelation as embodied in the
christian religion, and a member of a christian
church, and decided in his convictions, he at the


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 59 of 125)