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 76 of 125)
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year as the nation's guest, to review the scenes
and services of his younger days and renew the
pleasing acquaintances then formed here, honored
the little village with his presence, on his trip up
the Hudson from New York to Albany. He ar-
rived in New York, in company with his son and
secretary, on the 15th of August, in the packet
ship Cadmus, preferring, with his customary sim-
plicity, the accommodations of an ordinary pas-
senger in a packet ship to those of a United States
frigate, which the Government had tendered him.

After a most brilliant reception in New York,
he embarked on the steamboat James Kent,
which was chartered by that city for the occasion,
and after a brief detention at West Point and
Newburgh, arrived at Poughkeepsie at half-past
two o'clock in the morning. His approach was
announced by the discharge of cannon from the
bluff just below the landing ; upon which also, a
fire from large piles of seasoned wood, saturated
with tar and turpentine, which was kindled and
fed by hundreds of boys who were entrusted with
the duty, blazed high and filled the air with lurid
smoke till daylight.

The expected arrival of the distinguished noble-
man had filled the streets with people. There was
a constant stream of wagons and carriages coming
in from all parts of the country, and whole regi-
ments, as it were, of young men galloping in on
horse-back. Before the dawn of day all the mili-
tary, consisting of one company of artillery, one
of cavalry, two of infantry and one of riflemen,
were in line in full uniform. Gen. Brush and
staff'. Gen. Davies and staff", Gen. VanWyck and
staff, and Col. Cunningham with the regimental staff
of the 84th, were also out in full uniform and
mounted. All were on Kaal Rock at the first

* Isaac Piatt, in the Poughkeepsie Eagle of May S, >854,



gleam of day, and the General was saluted by
a battery of artillery while still on board the
steamboat, which displayed the flags of various

On landing, LaFayette accompanied by Gens.
Van Courtland, Fish and Lewis and Col. Huger,
of South Carolina, (the latter of whom was noted
for his attempt to rescue the Marquis from the
prison of Olmutz,) was conducted to a splendid
barouche drawn by four white horses, and escorted
through Main, Academy, Cannon and Market
streets to the Forbus House, where he addressed
and inspected the military, and listened and feel-
ingly replied to an address of welcome tendered
him by Col. H. A. Livingstone. As he passed
down the lines of military he recognized an old
soldier, and regardless of the signs of poverty his
appearance displayed, cordially shook his hand.
After receiving the respects of the ladies in the
central hall of the hotel, where they impatiently
awaited an opportunity to greet him, he was es-
corted to the Poughkeepsie Hotel, where an ex-
cellent breakfast was served. Opposite LaFayette,
who sat at the head of the table, sat Major Swart-
wout, a soldier of the Revolution, then ninety-five
years of age. The intermediate seats were occu-
pied by some of the most prominent residents of
the village, among whom were James Tallmadge,
Thomas J. Oakley, James Emott, Henry A. Liv-
ingston, Smith Thompson, Matthew Vassar, Gen.
Brush, Paraclete Potter, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge,
Alexander J. Coffin, John Armstrong, Jr., Dr.
Thomas, and that "Nature's nobleman," Walter
Cunningham, who acted as marshal of the day.

LaFayette and his party re-embarked at ten
amid salutations of artillery and musketry and other
demonstrations of joy and proceeded to the beau-
tiful residence of Gov. Morgan Lewis, at his county
seat at Staatsburgh, where they partook of a sump-
tuous collation; and thence, after touching at
Kingston, proceeded to Clermont, the residence of
Chancellor Livingston.*

In 1829, the population of Poughkeepsie was
about 7,000. There were three weekly newspapers,
all issued on Wednesday. " By such an arrange-
ment," says S. P. Heermance, " the people of the
village and county received news but once a week.
The reason assigned for issuing all the papers the
same day was to accommodate the mail carriers
and to have them all carried around the village at
one time by the same carrier. John Cornish was

*IHS; Local Reminiscences in Tht Sunday CourUr of June M,
187J ; Clarksan^s Clermont or Livingston Manor, 155.

the carrier. It was a long time before the astute
publishers discovered that each office might circu-
late more papers, and at the same time accomo-
date the public, by choosing different days of the
week for publication."

Gordon, in his Gazetteer, published in 1836,
gives us a most minute description of the village,
which was, he says, " one of the handsomest and
most thriving of the State." The village plot con-
tained about 1,768 acres, upon which some forty
streets were laid out, several of them well paved
and compactly built upon. Many of the stores
in Main street " might be admired in Broadway,"
whilst many dwelHngs in more private parts
of the town showed " wealth and taste." On the
1st of January, 1835, there were seven hundred and
eight dwellings, seven churches, (Baptist, Episco-
pal, Methodist, Presbyterian, !^utch Reformed and
two Quaker,) an academy, a Lancasterian school,
a powder house, two markets, four banks, with an
aggregate capital of $850,000, (the Bank of Pough-
keepsie, Duchess County Bank, Farmers' and
Manufacturers' Bank and the Poughkeepsie Sav-
ings Bank,) the Poughkeepsie Whaling Co. and
Duchess Whaling Co., each with a capital of $200,-
000 and two ships at sea. April 10, 1835, a com-
pany was incorporated for the manufacture of silk,
with a capital of $200,000, and were " pursuing
their object with great spirit." There were ten
licensed physicians, twenty-one practising attor-
neys, eighteen dry goods stores, thirty-five grocer-
ies, two china and crockery stores, four jewelry
stores, three book, two drug, three hardware, six
hat and cap, three chair, eight boot and shoe, nine
miUinery and four merchant tailor stores, twelve
tailor shops, seven saddle and harness -making es-
tablishments, three establishments for wagon and
carriage making, three printing offices, each issuing
a weekly paper, two tanneries, two leather stores,
two tallow chandleries, two furnaces, two marble
and stone yards, two "ship yards, two brick yards,
three machine shops, three tobacco and cigar
manufactories, five stove and tin-ware establish-
ments, two furniture ware-rooms, one brewery, two
malt-houses, one pump and block factory, one Ve-
netian bUnd factory, five cooper shops, nine black-
smith shops, eight public houses, fifteen victualing
shops, three plow factories, four freighting estab-
lishments, two potteries. There were on the Fall-
kill, in addition to the industries already mentioned,
four flouring mills, one dye-wood mill, one saw
mill, one cotton factory, one pail factory, two build-
ings used as machine shops, in which were four



establishments fitted up with turning lathes, a sash
factory and a planing mill.

This was a period of great activity in the devel-
opment of Poughkeepsie's enterprises, and the vil-
lage is said by Gordon to have increased nearly
one hundred per cent, during the last preceding six
years. The population in 1836, as we learn from
the Poughkeefisie Eagle of Jan. 6, 1866, was be-
tween 7,000 and 8,000. There were, says that
paper, seventy-nine streets, thirty-eight of which
were opened in that year, four reading rooms, four
newspaper offices, nine places of worship, five en-
gine houses and three schools.

The great impetus given to the development of
the village at this period was due to what is known
as the " Improvement Party," which was composed
of such men as Paraclete Potter, George P. Oak-
ley, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Walter Cunningham
and Gideon P. Hewett. With the help of John
Delafield, of New York, and other enterprising
men, they projected and accomplished great things
for the village. They cleared the forest from Col-
lege Hill, gave the eminence that name, and
erected upon its summit an imposing edifice for
educational purposes, seventy-seven by one hundred
and thirty-seven feet. They laid out and planted
Mansion Square. They caused to be surveyed,
mapped and named, at an expenditure of more
than $roo,ooo, twenty-six new streets north of the
Fallkill, and half as many south of Montgomery
street, on the farm of Bronson French, all of
which appear 'on a map of Poughkeepsie, made in
1836, by Henry Whinfield, an English civil engi-
neer, then in the employ of the " Improvement
Party.'' They organized and put into operation a
whaling company, of which the late Capt. Barnard
was the managing agent; built the large wharf
known as the " Whale Dock" ; constructed the fine
barque N. P. Tallmadge for the whaling service,
and sent several ships to sea. Upon the Parker
and Williams estates north of the Fallkill and
east of the old Albany post-road, now North Ave-
nue, they laid out lines of streets and gave
them the following names : William, Green, Star,
Willow, Morton and Falls, running parallel with
North street. At right angles with that street were :
First, Second, Third, Fourth, Hamilton and Clin-
ton, the northerly extension of the latter from
North street being the present Buckingham Ave-
nue. East of Clinton street and south of College
Hill, were Oakley, Emott, Cottage, Mansion and
Thompson streets, all terminating at Smith street.

Other improvements made during the five years

from 1 83 1, were the construction of a reservoir,
with pipes, &c., to supply the village with water for
fire purposes, at a cost of over $25,000 ; one thou-
sand feet of dock and bulkhead, including the new
ship yard and dock of the whaling companies,
which alone had a water frontage of four hundred
and fifty feet; a new brick brewery nearly two
hundred feet long ; a silk factory of brick, thirty-
six by one hundred feet, four stories high; anew
market and village hall, at a cost of $20,000 ; two
Episcopal churches ; a new Baptist church on the
site of the old one; a CathoHc church ; a second
Presbyterian church; a large coach factory; a
young ladies' seminary of large dimensions ; two
elegant banking houses; a new postoffice and
range of offices attached ; a splendid mansion
house opposite the park, which was highly orna-
mented and stocked with deer ; about forty fash-
ionable modern dwellings, mostly of brick, in the
immediate vicinity of the new park. During the
latter years upwards of one hundred and sixty
dwellings were built. Property had risen greatly
in value, and in 1835, there was not a single unoc-
cupied tenement in the village.

In 1841, Poughkeepsie had seventy-nine streets
and one thousand and fifty-five dwelling houses, ex-
clusive of other buildings, thirty of which were erect-
ed within the year, mostly fine brick or frame
buildings. There were twenty-five dry goods, fifty-
one grocery, four drug, and two crockery stores,
fourteen shoe stores and shops, six hat stores, ten
public houses, twelve victualing rooms, ten milli-
nery, three hardware, five stove and tin, two glove,
five watch and jewelry, two confectionery, and two
book stores, twelve tailoring estabUshments, two
chair ware-rooms, one book bindery, nine markets,
(two of them public,) five saddle and harness, nine
carriage and wagon, ten blacksmith, three paint,
three machine, two turning, two toy, and five bar-
ber shops, three furnaces, two brass foundries, two
gun factories, four grist, two saw, and one dye-
wood mill, three plow factories, two leather stores,
two tanneries, three tobacco and cigar factories,
three malt houses, two breweries, three livery sta-
bles, four coal, six lumber, two marble, and two
ship yards, three freighting companies, three print-
ing offices, issuing five papers, ( Telegraph, Eagle,
Journal, Casket and Thomsonian,) five bakeries,
two carpet and two lock factories, one rope walk,
two woodware and four cooper shops, three pump
factories, two brick yards, two soap and candle
factories, one sperm candle and oil factory, three
sash and blind factories, two frame making establish-



ments, one morocco establishment, one paper
hanging establishment, two potteries, one comb,
one pin, one paste blacking, one umbrella and one
band-box factories.

There were four banks, (Duchess County,
Farmers' and Manufacturers', Poughkeepsie and
Poughkeepsie Savings Bank,) with an aggregate
capital of $ 1,050,000. The other incorporated com-
panies were the Poughkeepsie Silk Co., the Duchess
Whaling Co., the Duchess Mutual Insurance Co.,
and the Duchess Guards. There were twelve
churches, (Baptist, Congregational, two Episcopal,
two Friends, two Methodist Episcopal, one Presby-
terian, one Reformed Dutch, one Roman Catholic,
and one Zion Methodist — colored,) a collegiate
school; the Duchess Academy, a Lancasterian
school, five female seminaries, a male boarding
school, a high school, and eighteen other schools, a
lyceum and reading room with a cabinet and stated
lectures, three other reading rooms, a circulating
library, thirty-two lawyers, sixteen physicians, (three
ThomsoniaUj) three dentists, and a population
in 1840 of seven thousand seven hundred and

Disturnell, in 1842, speaks of an incorporated
company for the manufacture of locomotive engines
and railroad machinery, which had then erected
" large buildings, not surpassed by any in the State."
The Duchess Whaling Co., then owned five ships
engaged in the whaling trade. One of the two brew-
eries is described as being " very extensive, per-
haps the largest in the State, being capable of
making 30,000 barrels of beer annually." Three
plaster-mills had been added to its manufacturing
industries j and at its three brick yards were
" manufactured the finest kind of brick in large
quantities." In addition to its whale ships, three
steamboats, three freight barges and eight sloops
were engaged in transporting produce and mer-
chandise to and from New York and other places
on the river. " No place on the Hudson," adds
Disturnell, " exceeds this village for beauty of loca-
tion, and preeminence in refinement and wealth
of its inhabitants ; surrounded as it is by one of
the richest agricultural districts in the Union, it
may justly be ranked as the queen of villages in
the Einpire State." In 1843 its schools became

The year 1846 marks an epoch in the history of

the village, for on the 19th of October in that year,

the magnetic telegraph was introduced into Pough-

' keepsie, at an ea rlier period than in New York city.

♦ The Sunday Courur, of Poughkeepsie, August 3, 1875.

The office was located over the postoffice in Gar-
den street, and a Mr. Curtiss was the operator.*

In 1850, Messrs. Mather and Brockettf name
carpets, cutlery and firearms as principal articles
among its varied manufactures. The product of
its brick-yards was large in quantity and superior
in quality. Its population was then about 9,000.
Four years later (March 28, 1854,) the village was
incorporated as a city ; and the following year,
(1855,) its population was increased to 12,763. In
i860, its population had increased to 14,726; its
churches, to eighteen in number. It had five
banks, and its principal manufactures, consisting
of pig iron, carriages, carpets, pins, chairs, drugs,
files, sewing silk and ale, required a capital of
something like a million of dollars, and employed
625 men.J In 1872, the number of its banks had
increased to seven, and their capital to $1,585,000.
It had three daily and three weekly newspapers.
A street raikoad connected its two depots, the one
in the western, and the other in the northeastern
part of the city. An iron bridge of fifty feet span
had been erected over the Fallkill, whose tortuous
channel through the city, proving a cause of sick-
ness, had been straightened and certain of its dams
and ponds removed. Its excellent water-works
were then in process of construction. Its popula-
tion which, in the meantime, had increased to 16,-
699 in 1865, and 20,080 in 1870, has since re-
mained almost stationary, decreasing in 1875 to
20,022, and again increasing in 1880 to 20,207.

An incident of historic interest transpired in the
city in 1880, in the removal of the remains of the
Irish patriot, Neilson, who suffered imprisonment,
exile, poverty and death, in consequence of his de-
votion to civil and religious liberty. The plain
slab which marked his grave in the Episcopal ceme-
tery in Poughkeepsie, where he had so long lain,
bore the following inscription : —

A native of Belfast, in Ireland, and
Editor of the Northern Star,
WHO DIED August 29, 1803.
If the memory of a man who discharged
all the duties of his station in life as
a father, husband and persecuted
patriot, claims artear, here
the tribute is due.
In the presence of five of his descendants— his
only surviving daughter, Mrs. McAdam, of Yonkers,
N. Y., and her four daughters— and a large con-
course of ladies and gentlemen, his remains, which

* PeugAkeepste Weekly Eagle, April 8, 1876.

+ Geographical Histoiy of the State of New York, 190.

i French's Gazetteer oj New York, 274, 175.






were converted to dust, were carefully gathered,
inclosed in an urn, and conveyed, under the escort
of a procession, to the Rural cemetery, where they
were re-interred with appropriate ceremonies.

Poughkeepsie was incorporated as a village
March 27, 1799;* and as a city, March 27, 1854.
As a city it originally comprised four wards, but in
1 865, the number was increased to six. Unfortunate-
ly the earlier records of the village, like those of the
town of Poughkeepsie, are either lost, or have not
been preserved ; but we are able to give the names
of most of the village presidents, and the principal
city officers from the time of the incorporation : —

Village Presidents.

1799. James S. Smith.

1 80 1. Gilbert Livingston.

1803. Andrew Billings.

1804. Thomas Nelson.
1805-6. William Emott.
1807-8. James Tallmadge, Jr.

1809. John Brush.

1810. David Carpenter.
1811-12. William Emott.

1813. George Bloom.

18 1 4. Reuben B. Rudd.

1815. Gilbert Ketcham.

1816. Clapp Raymond.

181 7. Thomas Brownjohn.
i8r8, '20. Benjamin Forbus.
1819. Samuel Pine.

1821. William Plummer.

1822. Richard Draper.

1823. Thomas L. Davies.

1824. Solomon V. Frost.

1825. Oliver Holden.

1826. John S. Myers.

1827. Nathaniel P. Tallmadge.
1828-29. Stephen Cleveland.
1830. Walter Cunningham.
1831-32. Henry Conklin.

1833. George P. Oakley.

1834. Alexander Forbus.

1835. Matthew Vassar.
1836-8. Jacob Van Benthuysen.
1839-40. Gideon P. Hewitt.
1841. Gilbert Wilkinson.
1842-3. Hubert Van Wagenen.
1844, '51- John M. Cable.
1845-6. Matthew J. Myers.
1847-8. Adam Henderson.

1849. Samuel B. Johnston.

1850. George B. Adriance.
1852. George Innis.
1852. E, Q. Eldridge.
1853-4. Jacob' De Groff.

The first city officers, from April 17, 1854, to
March 12, 1855, were: Mayor, James Emott;

* Many authors among them Mr. Lossing, erroneously state the date
of the village incorporation to be 1801.

Aldermen— ist ward, Benjamin B. R'eynolds, Wm.
H. Tallmadge ; 2d ward, James T. Hill, James H.
Seaman; 3d ward, Henry S. Martin, Wm. A. Fan-
ning ; 4th ward, Lewis F. Street, Henry D. Varick;
Chamberlain, Robert N. Palmer.

The following have filled the offices of Mayor
and Chamberlain since the incorporation of the
city : —

Mayors. Chamberlains.

i854-'5- James Emmot, Robert N. Palmer.
1855. H. D. Varick, do do

1856-7. Geo. Wilkinson, do do

1858. Chas. W. Swift, do do

i859-'6o. do do Robert E. Taylor.

1861-2. James Bowne,
1863-4. George Innis,
i865-'6. do do
i867-'8. do do
1869-70. George Morgan, W. Morgan Lee.
1871-3. H.G.Eastman, do do

1874. do do Joseph G. Frost.

i875-'6. J. B. Carpenter, George H. Williams.
1877-8. H.G. Eastman,* Lewis Baker.
1879-80. William Harloe, do do
1881. Ezra White, Sherman H. LeRoy.

do do

do do

Joseph G. Frost.
Frederick W. Pugsley.


Poughkeepsie's Mercantile Interests.

THE mercantile and commercial interests of
Poughkeepsie have, during the present century,
been of considerable magnitude and importance.
Previous to the construction of railroads, although
its population was small, it was the natural center
of business for a large extent of country; and since
that epoch, though its mercantile business has been
restricted very nearly to the natural demands of its
own citizens and the country immediately contig-
uous, the large and rapid increase in its population
has maintained the volume of trade.

The earliest merchants of whom we have seen
any mention, were Timothy Low and Henry Fil-
kins, both of whom were engaged in business here
as early as 1735. Filkinswas Sheriff of the county
from 1743 to 1748, and represented it in the Colo-
nial Assembly from 1752 to 1758. John I. Van
Kleeck was trading here in 1773; and Beekman
Livingston and Archibald Stewart, during the Rev-
olutionary period. Each of the latter two kept a
general assortment of dry goods, groceries, drugs
and hardware. Livingston's store was located on
the corner of Market and Cannon streets, on the

* Died in Denver, Col., July 13, 1878,



Park House site, and Stewart's, adjoining the Dutch
Reformed church, which occupied the site of the
Poughkeepsie Hotel. Stewart soon after removed
to New Jersey, and, notwithstanding his loyahst
proclivities here, was a delegate from that State to
the Continental Congress in 1784 and 1785, to fill
a temporary vacancy.

John S. Freer, a descendent of the Freer family,
who were among the first settlers in this vicinity,
was engaged in mercantile business here about the
beginning of the century, and continued till about
1828. His store was two or three doors west of
Bowne's carpet store, on the site of the building
which was occupied for a number of years by the
Eagle office, and subsequently in that building,
which was£rected by him about 1820. He was a
single man, and resided here till his death, which
occurred several years after he closed out his busi-

Within the first decade of the present century
fully a score of persons were engaged in mercantile
business here. Andrew J. Billings, who was then
quite a celebrated man, was located here in 1797.
He was the first watchmaker and jeweller in
Poughkeepsie. Elijah Morgan came to Pough-
keepsie in- that year and served an apprenticeship
with BiUings. Mr. Morgan was a native of West-
chester county, whence his father of the same name
removed to and settled in East Fishkill about the
close of the Revolutionary war, becoming by his
intelligent industry, one of the first farmers in
that town. The younger Morgan commenced busi-
ness as a jeweller on his own account about 1805,
in a building which stood on the south-east corner
of Main and Liberty streets; continuing till 1855,
within two years of his death, which occurred
April 27, 1857, at the age of seventy-four years. His
son, William S. Morgan, was associated with him
in 183s and '36. The latter year. May 12th, Pough-
keepsie was visited by a fire, the most disastrous it
has suffered before or since. Some fifteen stores,
mostly wooden buildings, were destroyed. They
extended from the old Eagle building, (312 and
314 Main street,) to near Academy street, a block
of wooden buildings then occupying the corner of
Main and Academy streets, but since torn down,
escaping the fire. The block which escaped the
fire was the property of Leonard Davis, one of the
pioneer merchants, and the buildings which have
been erected on its site are still owned by his heirs.

In 1836, William S. Morgan commenced the
erection, on the site of the smouldering ruins, of
the store 322 Main street, now occupied by Hiram

S. Wiltsie. This step was taken by Mr. Morgan
against the advice of his friends, who predicted
that he would never do any business there, as the
business of the village then lay mostly towards the
river; but, singularly, that store is now the very
center of the business part of the city. In April,
1837, Mr. Morgan opened the store, commencing
business on his own account. He continued to oc-

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 76 of 125)