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 83 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 83 of 125)
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In 1864, the college proper had increased from


Each building was supplied with a stationery store
to supply students, and a bindery belonging to the
college was devoted exclusively to ruling, making
and binding the blank books used. The entire
boarding capacity of the city was taxed to accom-
modate this great number of transient young men,

who filled up the
churches, and by their
support stimulated
every trade and indus-
try. At this time Mr.
Eastman was one of the
most extensive if not
the largest advertiser in
the United States. His
newspaper advertising
alone reached mam-
moth proportions. He
was the first advertiser
bold enough to use an
entire page of the
Weekly Tribune, at an
expense of $1,500 for
a single insertion. He
papers $60,000 in one
he often asserted,

five New York

an investment which,

a profit of more than $100,000.
vast numbers of cata-
logues, papers and circulars, which found their
way to almost every section of the globe,



and brought him patronage from the remotest


The college, which now numbers about 400
pupils, occupies a building on Washington, near
Mill street. The building, which was formerly
seventy-five by fifty feet, two stories high, and once
the spiritual home of the Methodists, was enlarged
in 1876 by a three-story rear addition of equal
dimensions, and a two-story front addition, the
lower part of which is used as a stationery depart-
ment, and the upper part, as the general ofiice of
the institution. The upper floors of the original
building and front addition are connected with the
intermediate floor of the rear addition, thus making
the main business floor one hundred and sixty-two
feet in length and fifty feet in width. The lower
floor of the original building, also of the rear addi-
tion, which corresponds with it, are used as recita-
tion rooms ; and the upper floor of the rear addi-
tion as a department for special penmanship and

Mr. Eastman died July 13, 1878, at Denver,
Colorado, whither he had gone for the benefit of
his health. He was a man of prodigious energy,
and through his enterprise became one of Pough-
keepsie's most prominent citizens. He was ap-
apointed a Commissioner of Charities for the Sec-
ond district, June 17, 1867, and again March 19,
1873. He represented the zd district of. this Coun-
ty in the Assembly in 1872, and again in 1874 ;
and was elected Mayor of Poughkeepsie in March,
1871, and again in December, 1876. The school
is continued under the presidency of E. White,
with A. J. Cass as secretary, and nine instructors.

Vassar College* was incorporated January 18,
1 86 1, under the name of Vassar Female College,
but at the request of the trustees, in compliance
with an expressed wish of its founder, the name
was changed by the Legislature, February i, 1867,
by the omission of the word " Female." Of all
Poughkeepsie's cherished educational institutions
this reflects on it the highest honor and has given
it the greatest renown.

Vassar College was founded and endowed through
the munificence of the late Matthew Vassar, of
whom specific mention has been made in the chap-
ter on the manufactures of Poughkeepsie. • Mr.
Vassar, having no children to inherit his property,
had long contemplated the application of a large
portion of his estate to some benevolent object,

* The materials for this sketch are drawn from Vassar College and
Its Founder-, by Benson J. Lossing, LL. D. ; a Historical sketch of
Vassar College ; Catalogue of Vassar College^ i88o-*8i ; and the
Treasurer's Report to July i, i860.

and in 1845, having visited Guy's Hospital in Lon-
don, an institution founded by a kinsman more
than a century before, and made himself familiar
with its history and economic arrangements,
returned home strongly impressed with the idea of
establishing a similar institution in the place where
he had accumulated his wealth. For years this idea,
though it had acquired no definite shape, remaineda
fixed purpose in his mind. Subsequently another

.,., _-^ •'=*-. ■^^-.•>_ ~~


project claimed his attention, but he had, at first,
less inchnation to execute it. His niece. Miss
Lydia Booth, ( a daughter of his sister Mariah,)
who was a prominent educator in Poughkeepsie,
and the founder of Cottage Hill Seminary, suggested
"that he might be a substantial benefactor by
appropriating a part of his wealth for the founding
of an institution for the education of her sex, which
should be of a higher order than any then existing."
At a late period Miss Booth's noble idea was am-
plified by Prof. M. P. Jewett, who succeeded to the
management of Cottage Hill Seminary in 1855,
and enjoying a warm friendship with Mr. Vassar,
suggested to him that by founding an institution
which should be to young women what Yale and
Harvard are to young men, he might become a
greater benefactor to his race then by any other

The project at once commended itself to Mr.
Vassar's judgment and awakened a desire to carry
it out on a scale commensurate with his liberal im-
pulses. A correspondence, oral and epistolary,
was opened with some of the leading educators of
the land, chiefly of the Baptist denomination, with
which he had enjoyed life-long associations. This
gave color to the idea that he purposed placing the
College under the control of the Baptists, but when
asked if such was his intention, his catholic spirit



instantly dissented; and in his address to the trus-
tees of the College at the organization of the board,
five years later, he expressed his wishes on that
point in the following brief sentence : "All sectarian
influences should be carefully excluded ; but the
training of our students should never be intrusted
to the skeptical, the irreligious or immoral."

Architects were consulted ; plans for buildings
were submitted and examined with the most rigid
scrutiny ; and the result was a determination to
erect and endow, during his life-time, a college for
young women, on a large scale, in the most per-
fect manner then attainable, and upon the most
liberal basis, in which no sect, as such, should have
a controlling influence.

In the spring of i860, Mr. Vassar, then nearly
seventy years of age, determined to carry out his
long-cherished plan at once. On the 18th of
January, 1861, a charter was obtained, and named
as his associates in the first board of trustees, the
following named gentlemen, all of whom were his
personal friends, and half of them his fellow-towns-
men : Hon. Ira Harris, Hon. William Kelly^ Hon.
James Harper, Martin B. Anderson, LL. D.,
Hon. John Thompson, Rev. Edward Lathrop, D.
D., Hon. Charles W. Swift, Rev. EUas L. Magoon,
D. D., Stephen M. Buckingham, Milo P. Jewett,
LL. D., Nathan Bishop, LL. D., Matthew Vassar,
Jr., Benson J. Lossing, LL, D., Rev. Ezekiel G.
Robinson, D. D., Samuel F. B. Morse, LL. D.,

Mr Vassar formally transferred to the trustees,
bonds and mortgages, certificates of stock, and a
deed of conveyance, representing $408,000.

Matthew Vassar, Jr., a nephew of the founder,
was chosen treasurer of the board, a position he
held at his death, the present year (1881.) Prof
Milo P. Jewett was elected the first president of
the college, John H. Raymond, LL.D., was elected


Samuel S. Constant, John G. Vassar, Rev. WiUiam
Hague, D. D., Rev. Rufus Babcock, D. D., Cor-
nelius DuBois, John H. Raymond, LL. D., Mor-
gan L. Smith, Cyrus Swan, Hon. George W. Sterl-
ing, Hon. George T. Pierce, Smith Sheldon,
Joseph C. Doughty and Augustus L. Allen.


his successor. Dr. Raymond remained at the
head of the institution until his death, August 14,
1878. Rev. Samuel L. Caldwell, D. D., was chosen
his successor in September, 1878, and still retains
the position.

A part -of the property conveyed by Mr. Vassar
consisted of two hundred acres of land, lying nearly
two miles east of the court house in Pough-
keepsie healthfully situated in the midst of beau-
tiful rural scenery. This had been selected as
the site for the college, and on Tuesday, June 4,
1 86 1, Mr. Vassar "broke ground" for that
structure — lifting a spadeful of earth from its
bed, and tracing with the plow a portion of the
trench which was to receive its foundation
stones. That spadeful of earth was placed in
a jar, and, with the implement with which it was
raised, is preserved in the college museum. The
college building was built after plans and under
-" the supervision of the distinguished architect,
James ' Ren wick, Jr., by WiUiam Harloe, of
Poughkeepsie, and the first collegiate year of
Vassar College was begun Sept. 20, 1865, with
more than three hundred students, a faculty of
eight professors, besides the president and lady
principal* and twenty assistant teachers in the
various departments of instruction. Three of the
faculty and all the assistants, were women. This

•The first lady principal was Hannah W. Lyman, who held the
position till her demise in 1871, when Harriet W. Terry was chosen her
successor. . Mrs. Julia A. Ray is the present incumbent.



was in accordance with the expressed wish of the
founder, who especially desired the full co-opera-
tion of women in the institution and discipline of
the college.

The main college building is five hundred feet
in length, with a breadth through the center of
about two hundred feet, and at the transverse
wings of one hundred and sixty-four feet. It is
constructed of dull red brick, the joints pointed
with black mortar. The water-tables, and trim-
mings of the doors are of blue freestone. The center
building and the wings are five stories high, and
the connecting portions, four stories. Within the
edifice are six independent dwellings for resident
oflScers; accommodations for about four hundred
students ; apartments for a full complement of
managers and servants ; suites of rooms for class
recitations, lectures, and instruction in music and
painting; a chapel, dining-hall, parlors, and
other appurtenances of a first-class college. The
height of the center building from the foundation
to the top of the dome is ninety-two feet. All the
partitiqn- walls are of brick, and are carried up from
the ground to the top of the upper story. There is a
corridor in each story twelve feet in width and five
hundred and eighty-five in length, affording room
for exercise in inclement weather. These corridors
may be instantly divided into five separate parts,
by iron doors connected with eight fire-proof walls.
The latter are in pairs, standing ten feet apart,
and cut the building into five divisions. They are
connected only at the corridors, where the floors are
of brick and stone, over which the iron doors may
slide and be closed, so that, should a fire occur in
one portion of the building, the other parts would
be secure. For further security from accident by
fire, iron pipes, from water tanks on the attic floor,
pass down through the different stories. To these
hose is attached on each floor, and conveys water
with great force. A steam or water pump may be
speedily brought into use, if needed. A watch-
man traverses the building at night, and the
engineer or his assistant is always within call.
There are nine stairways from the top to the bot-
tom of the building, and eight passages for egress.
The building is protected by 6,000 feet of light-
ning rods ; and running through it are pipes for con-
veying gas, heat, water and waste, about twenty-
five miles in the aggregate length. The general
arrangement throughout the building is to have
one study-parlor for the common use of the occu-
pants of three lodging-rooms connected with it.

About 800 feet north-east of the college build-

ing is the observatory, standing on the summit of
a knoll, at the eastern verge of the campus. It
consists, in altitude, of a basement, principal story
and dome; and in area, of an octagonal center and
three wings, each of the latter being twenty-one by
twenty-eight feet in extreme dimensions; making
the entire length of the building eighty-two feet.
The vertex of the dome is thirty-eight feet above
the foundation, which is about ten feet above the
general level of the plain, which is 200 feet higher
than the Hudson. All the walls are of brick. The
piers for the instruments are of stone, except those
for the small collimating telescopes, which are built
of brick. The dome is made to revolve by an ar-
rangement of cast-iron pulleys, running on a circu-
lar track of iron.

Southward of the observatory, and 350 feet east-
ward of the college building, is Uhe steam and gas
house. Four boilers, whose furnaces consume
about 1,600 tons of coal in a year, send steam suf-
ficient through an iron main to give to all the
buildings (except the observatory,) a temperature
not lower than 65° F. A fifth boiler, larger than
the others, and set apart from them, serves as a
relay in emergencies, and in the hot season may
perform the entire service required.

The museum, still further to the south, was for-
merly known as the gymnasium, and contained
rooms for a riding-school, calisthenic hall and bowl-
ing-alley, a society hall, music rooms and apart-
ments for employes; but the experience of eight
years having satisfied the trustees that the riding-
school could not be made for the students gen-
erally an economical and efficacious means, either
of exercise or of instruction, it was determined to
discontinue that school, and to utilize for other
much-needed purposes the large portion of the
gymnasium which it occupied. In the summer of
1874, therefore, the building was altered at an ex-
pense of $27,000, and put into complete order for
the departments of natural history, drawing and
music, (the former two of which had been accom-
modated in the main college building,) with their
valuable collections and necessary lecture-rooms,
laboratories and studios. The center building,
sixty by one hundred and twenty feet in area, and
forty-six feet in height, formerly the riding-arena, was
divided into two spacious halls, the larger of which,
seventy-eight by fifty-four feet, is appropriated to
all the collections connected with the department
of natural history.

The cabinet of minerals, rocks and fossils is
especially remarkable for completeness and sym-



metry, numbering more than 10,000 specimens,
besides models, restorations, relief-maps, sections,
landscapes, etc.

The cabinet of zoology illustrates all the sub-
kingdoms, comprising about 500 mammals, birds,
and reptiles from South America; representative
vertebrates from our own country ; a collection of
insects ; a choice collection of shells and corals, and
other radiates ; a fine osteological series, and some
of Auzoux's elastic anatomical models for illustrat-
ing structural and comparative zoology. The cabi-
net is especially rich in ornithology, as it includes
the Giraud collection of North American birds
well known as one of the most valuable in the
United States. It contains about 1,000 specimens,
all mounted, representing over 700 species, among
which are several type specimens and many of
historical interest as the originals of Audubon's
drawings. The representation of South American
birds, though not so complete, is rich, embracing
probably the largest series of humming-birds in
any college museum.

The herbarium consists mainly of plants from
New York and New England, arranged on a
unique plan for convenient reference. A cabinet
of archaeology and ethnology has recently been
commenced, including thus far for the most part
South American antiquities, collected by Professor

To the east of the hall of natural history, and
occupying the rest of the riding-arena, is the art
gallery, fifty-six by thirty-seven feet. The original
art collection was purchased by Mr. Vassar in
i864-'5, just before the college opened, from Rev.
Elias L. Magocn, D. D., then of Albany, for nearly
$20,000, and presented to the college as a supple-
mentary gift. It comprised more than 400 pic-
tures, mostly of cabinet size, in oils and water-
colors, representing many of the best known con-
temporary artists, American and English.

By a generous gift from Matthew and John Guy
Vassar, nephews of the founder, a large and com-
modious laboratory of chemisty has recently been
erected. It is of two stories, with attic and base-
ment, and has rooms of ample size for lectures,
laboratory practice, and chemical and philosophi-
cal apparatus. It is completely arranged and
equipped for all demands of the course in chem-
istry and physics. The college library is located
in the main building, contains 14,000 volumes, se-
lected with special reference to the needs of the
various departments.

Bishops Select School for Boys, located at 50

Academy street, was estabUshed about i860, by
Col. John R. Leslie, who conducted it about one
and one-half years, when he entered the army as
Lieutenant in the 20th regiment, of which he after-
wards became Colonel. The school was afterwards
continued by William McGeorge and George W.
McLellan until 1870, when S. H. Bishop became
principal and has since managed it. Col. LesUe
erected a small brick building on the site of the
present one, . most of which is still standing, and
forms the rear part of the present school, the front
portion of which was erected by Mr. Bishop in
1875. This addition nearly doubled the capacity
of the school, which will now accommodate from
forty to fifty pupils.

Dr. Warring' s Boarding School, (for boys of all
ages,) located on the corner of Smith and Mansion
streets, was established as The Poughkeepsie Mili-
tary Institute, by Charles B. Warring, Ph. D., who
withdrew in 1862 from the Poughkeepsie Colle-
giate School, which he had conducted in company
with Otis Bisbee, and in that year erected a build-
ing at his present location, in which he opened his
school Jan. 14, 1863. From the outset the school
was very popular. It filled so rapidly with pupils
that within a few months an additional building
became necessary. It was continued with marked
success until 1871, when it was closed for a year
during Mr. Warring's absence in Europe. It was
then sold to Prof. H. S. Jewett, under whose charge
it remained until August, 1878, when it was re-
purchased by Mr. Warring, who still conducts it.
Pupils are prepared for college, West Point, or the
Naval Academy. The average number in attend-
ance is about fifty.

Pelham Institute, 108 Montgomery street, was
established about 1866, as Cary Institute, and
acquired its present name from Stewart Pelham,
who assumed its management in 187 1, and has
since conducted it. Mr. Pelham was for several
years principal of the old Duchess County Acad-
emy. The school rapidly grew into considerable
prominence, and has a present attendance of
about fifty pupils, most of whom are residents of
the city, the non-resident pupils being boarded in
the house. The school is designed for boys,'"Tvho
are prepared for college and for business.

Bocktes School for Young Ladies, 106 Mont-
gomery street, was established in 1866, by the pres-
ent proprietor, Mrs. C. W. Bock^e, who has since
conducted it, and with her husband, Dr. Jacob
Bockde, and daughters, Phebe and Mary, as assist-
ant teachers, students are prepared for college.



The average attendance is thirty-five to forty, most
of whom are residents of the city.

The Home Institute, conducted by Miss Sarah
V. H. Butler, at 82 and 84 Academy street, was
established at Stanfordville, in 1870, by the present
proprietor, and removed to Poughkeepsie in 1878.
It is designed to educate young ladies and prepare
them for college, and at the same time surround
those who attend from abroad with the comforts
and safe-guards of a good home. It provides three
courses of study, primary, intermediate and classi-
cal, and a special course is prepared for those who
do not wish to take the full course.

The high character of Poughkeepsie's literary
institutions are but in keeping with its educational

The Poughkeepsie Lyceum of Literature,
Science and Mechanic Arts, the oldest of
Poughkeepsie's literary institutions, was incorpo-
rated April 6, 1838, "for the purpose of establish-
ing and maintaining a library, cabinet, philosophical
apparatus, reading-room, literary and scientific
lectures, and other means of promoting moral and
intellectual improvement, and of accumulating a
fund for the benefit of its members, and the fami-
lies of deceased members, as a resource in case of
sickness, infirmity or misfortune; with power for
such purposes to take by purchase, devise or other-
wise ; and to hold, transfer and convey, real and
personal property to the amount of twenty thou-
sand dollars ; and also further, to take, hold and
convey, all such books, cabinet, library, furniture
and apparatus, as may be necessary for attaining
the objects and carrying into effect the purposes of
the said corporation."

It is an outgrowth of two similar institutions —
the Mechanics' Literary and Benevolent Associa-
tion and the Lyceum of Natural Sciences — which
had been in existence for several years. A friendly
conference was had by many of the active members
of the two associations, and at a joint meeting held
March 5, 1838, of which Alexander J. Coffin was
chairman and E. F. Grant, secretary, a union was
effected under the above name. A constitution
and by-laws were unanimously adopted, and on
motion of B. J. Lossing, a committee was appoint-
ed to obtain a charter, and another, of which
Thomas L. Davies was chairman, to nominate

At the next meeting, held March 12, 1838, the
first officers were elected, as follows : Paraclete
Potter, president; Edward K. James, first vice-
president ; Alexander J. Coffin, second vice-presi-

dent ; Virgil D. Bonesteel, corresponding secretary ;
James H. Fonda, recording secretary ; William
Wilson, treasurer ; Thomas L. Davies, Edmund F.
Grant, Albert Ball, Benson J. Lossing, Charles W.
Swift, Robert B. Fanning, Charles Delafield, John
!6.eed and J. D. Williamson, directors. The first
lecture committee consisted of Charles W. Swift,
Rev. F. W. Hatch and Jacob Von Benthuysen.

Among the members were : Matthew Vassar,
John Adriahce, Charles Bartlett, W. Cunningham,
Henry Conklin, William A. Davies, Richard D.
Davis, Peter P. Hayes, James Hooker, Gideon P.
Hewitt, Thomas W. Harvey, Egbert B. Killey,
Henry A. Livingston, George P. Oakley, William
I. Street, Ehas Trivett, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge,
Richard A. Varick, Jacob Van Ness, Matthew
Vassar, Jr., Alex. M. Mann, William Wilkinson,
Josiah Williams, WiUiam W. Reynolds, Charles H.
Ruggles and Charles Johnson, nearly all of whom
have since deceased.

At the time of the union, the Lyceum, besides
the furniture of its rooms, had a cabinet of 1,500
choice minerals, some curiosities and a few books,
all in six cases ; and the Mechanics' Association
had a library of 270 volumes, in a single case.

In July, 1847, the reading room was closed,
debates were abandoned, and the furniture was sold.
The relics and library were distributed, in part to
the Board of Education, and in part to the Young
Men's Christian Association. On the final distri-
bution, in 1873, one hundred and sixty-seven vol-
umes were given to that Association and one
hundred and thirty-seven volumes, with fifty un-
bound numbers of Blackwood's Magazine were
placed in the city library. The Lyceum now
maintains only an annual course of lectures. The
receipts during the year ending April 13, 1881,
were $2,003.32; the expenditures, i$i, 952.12.
The amount of invested funds was $3,207.66.

The present officers, elected April 18, 1881,
are : Rev. J. Elmendorf, D. D., President ; M.
Vassar, Jr., First Vice-President; J. P. Adriance,
Second Vice-President; G. Dudley, Recording
Secretary; S. H. Bishop, Corresponding Secre-
tary; J. V. Wright, Treasurer.

St. Peter i Library and Literary Society was or-
ganized in 1 862. The library contains 1,600 volumes
of a miscellaneous character, and is kept in a room in
the rear of St. Peters' church. It is open on Sundays
only, from 10 a. m. to 8. p. m., and is in charge
of a Librarian. The membership is limited to
Catholics, but non-members may enjoy its benefits
by the payment of ten cents per month. 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 83 of 125)