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 92 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 92 of 125)
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he moved with his family which consisted of his
wife, three sons and one daughter, to the city of
Poughkeepsie to reside permanently. Before his own
death he had borne the dead bodies of these three
sons back to Greenwood, where the father and five
of his six children are now "gathered in." His
remaining daughter, the wife of Mr. Eugene N.
Howell, resides with her husband and an only child
in the city of Philadelphia..

Soon after removing to Poughkeepsie, and in
1863, Mr. Whitehouse purchased one of the most
attractive residences with ample grounds, near tlie
city, and soon after added to it the adjoining beau-
tiful estate of Mr. Matthew Vassar, senior, known
as " Springside." This continues to be the family

In 1870, Mr. Whitehouse constructed in the city
of Poughkeepsie the largest manufactory of that
locality, which gave employment to several hun-
dred hands until its destruction by lightning in July,
1879. The same year he rebuilt upon a larger
scale and conducted manufacturing there and a
wholesale warehouse in New York City, with retail
stores elsewhere, up to his death, when the business
was taken up by his son-in-law, Mr. Howell.

In 1872, Mr. Whitehouse was elected to Con-
gress upon the Greeley ticket, from the District
composed of Duchess, Columbia and Putnam
Counties, which re-elected him in 1874. His first
candidature was perhaps the most exciting and ex-
acting of any known in the history of the State.
He was the first Congressman to propose and urge
the funding of the war debt in a four per cent,
bond, but was so far in advance of his colleagues
as to be at that time unsuccessful, but the propo-
sition received such discussion as to cause its adop-
tion years before his death.

He was the largest investor in the city of his
adoption in local enterprises. The rebuilding of
his factory was for the benefit of the city rather
than for his own. The Poughkeepsie, Boston &
Hartford Railroad in all its stages, the City Rail-
road, the Hudson River Agricultural and Driving
Park, the Iron Works, the Plough Factory and the
Poughkeepsie News were all largely indebted to his
liberahty and enterprise.

Of Democratic antecedants, Mr. Whitehouse
became a zealous and generous contributor to the
success of the civil war, but after the flag which
protected his nativity ceased to find an assailant,
he was also quick and generous in his advocacy of
forgiveness, forgetfulness and peace.

He was for many years one of the most active
and important directors of a prominent National
Bank in the city of New York, and as such car-

ried it through most critical emergencies. He
was also director or trustee in a variety of public
enterprises to all of which he contributed largely
in money, time and skill.
. His business life compassed an era; reaching
from the bench of the single shoe-maker in the
alley, hammering and sewing at a single shoe, to
those vast manufactories which severally contain a
thousand men and women, whose duty it is to
watch and feed the ceaseless activities of those
hungry wonders of machinery which perform the
most delicate operations with the swiftness and
certitude of fate, and which throw daily into the
markets of the world thousands of dozens of the
most perfect articles of commerce and use. His
sagacity was always the first to seize upon the
early inventions of science and art which pertained
to his business, and which in one lifetime entirely
revolutionized everything which related to mechan-
ical execution or beauty and fitness of design.

These facts sufficiently denote the sterling New
England stock from which Mr. Whitehouse sprang
and indicate the ceaseless activity and the benign
conduct of his life. His only successful assailant
was death. Obstacles animated him and increased
his powers. In his business he was a master. His
eye penetrated at a glance, and his judgment was
as quick and unerring as his sight. His impulses
were genial, generous and indulgent. He en-
listed the affections of those who knew him best
and commanded the unhesitating respect and un-
limited confidence of all who knew him.


Augustus Schell was born at Rhinebeck, August
I, 1 81 2 — the son of Christian Schell and Elizabeth
Hughes. His father was of German descent, as
the name indicates — one of that steady and worthy
class whose ancestors first settled a large part of
Duchess and the neighboring counties. He was a
merchant and an active adherent of the Demo-
cratic party, who showed his zeal in the cause by
service in the second war with Great Britain, and
especially in the stirring defense against the antici-
pated attack of New York city and its approaches.
His death, when the subject of this sketch was
twelve years old, left the mother with eight chil-
dren, whose character and success in life she hved
to enjoy in serene old age, as her own sufficient
eulogium. Her diligence, care and economy secur-
ed for them the education and practical training
for active life, in which they have all achieved posi-
tions of honor and trust. Richard Schell was a
State Senator and Member of Congress; Robert
Schell is a successful merchant and Bank President,
and Edward Schell is President of the Manhattan
Savings Bank.

Mrs. Schell was a devoted member of the Re-
formed Dutch Church, in which all her children
were carefully reared.



Augustus Schell, as a youth, was steadily indus-
trious and justly inspired by the generous ambi-
tion which comes only of innate power and real
worth. He pursued his preliminary studies with
diligence and entered Union College in 1827, from
which he was graduated with marked distinction in
1830. Devoting himself to the profession of
law, he pursued ihis studies at that famous institu-
tion in Connecticut, the Litchfield Law School —
the training school of so many great lawyers and
men — under the direction of the late Judge Gould.
After subsequently reading for one year with the late
John Armstrong, he went to New York in 1832,
where he entered the office of the late Judge Slos-
son, with whom, after his admission to the bar, at
the General Term of the Supreme Court at Albany
in October, 1832, he entered into partnership in
the practice of law, under the firm name of Slosson
& Schell, which won and maintained the highest
reputation and success. But it was not only as a
lawyer that he was to vindicate his claim to honor
and reward.

Mr. Schell early entered the ranks of the Dem-
ocratic party in his native State, taking a warm and
active interest in poUtics from his youth. His char-
acteristic power and ability were recognized and as
early as 1852, he was a conspicuous candidate for
the highest office in the State, in the convention
which nominated Horatio Seymour as Governor.
In the same year he was elected Chairman of the
Democratic General Committee, and has continued
to hold a controlling influence in party affairs, not
only in his own city and native State, but in the
wider field of national politics. His connection
with Tammany Hall identified him with its man-
agement during the greater part of its most signal
triumphs; and through all the difficulties which
from time to time, it has encountered within and
without, he has always been distinguished for his
dignified, consistent and magnanimous course, even
in the midst of the most bitter partisan strife and
even violence.

He continued Chairman of the Democratic
State Committee in 1853, '54 and '55. In 1854,
he was unanimously nominated by the Democratic
Convention for the office of Mayor of New York,
which he declined at that time.

In 1857, Mr. Schell was appointed by President
Buchanan, Collector of the Port of New York.
Few men have filled that difficult and responsible
office so well. His administration gave the highest
satisfaction not only to the Government but the
merchants of New York. His uniform courtesy,
his unfailing patience, his quiet, yet firm demeanor'
his sterling qualities of mind and heart, crowned
his pronounced executive abilities with the honors
of success, and reputation as one of the first among
his fellow citizens.

Upon his retirement in 186 1, he received from
Mr. Chase, President Lincoln's Secretary of the
Treasury, a letter of strong eulogy upon his effi-
ciency and the admirable state in which he left the
office to his successor.
In 1867, he was elected a member of the Con-

stitutional Convention of the State of New York,
and took a prominent part in its most important
labors. He was a member of the Committee on
Finance, of which the late Chief Judge Church was
Chairman. In 1872, he was appointed by Gover-
nor Hoffman a member of the Constitutional Com-
mission to propose amendments to the Constitu-
tion of the State,

During the Presidential election of 1872, Mr.
Schell was Chairman of the National Democratic
Committee. Upon, the re-organization of the Tam-
many Society in the same year, when he took an
active part in breaking up the Tweed Ring, he was
made Grand Sachem of Tammany without a dis-
senting voice, and has held that position to this
time (1882).

In 1877, he was a candidate for the State Sen-
ate from the Seventh Senatorial District but was
defeated by a singular combination of the Republi-
can party with Democratic opponents of Tammany
Hall, which resulted in the election of the late
John Morrissey.

Mr. Schell was a Democratic Presidential Elec-
tor in 1876, and in 1878 was defeated as a candi-
date for the mayoralty of New York, by a combi-
nation similar to that of the previous year, result-
ing in the election of Edward Cooper. The politi-
cal career of Mr. Schell has stamped him as one of
the most loyal, efficient, and sagacious leaders of
the Democratic party, which owes him a far greater
debt than it will ever be able to repay.

Mr. Schell became a director in the New York
& Harlem Railroad Company, in 1863, and soon
afterwards (in 1864) in the Hudson River Rail-
road Company,' and when the New York Central
was consolidated with the latter in 1869, he was
made a director of the new organization, which of-
fice he stiU holds. In the same year he entered
the directory of the Lake Shore Railroad, of which
he was soon after made Vice-President. He is a
director in the Chicago & Northwestern Railway
Company, and the Union Pacific Railroad, as well,
as other leading railway companies ; and has been
an active member of the Executive Committees of
many of these roads.

He has also been an active director, in the Union
Trust Company for several years, as well as the
Western Union Telegraph Company. He has also
been long connected with many Banks and Insur-
ance Companies.

His ability as a lawyer and wisdom in the con-
trol and direction of great corporate interests were
early recognized among the greatest of those men
who were destined to wield the gigantic power of
successful enterprise in developing the resources of
the continent, opening the great ways of communi-
cation through its vast territories and providing
the means of transportation for the products of
America to the markets of the world.

During his half century of active life in New

York, Mr. Schell has been conspicuous in most of

the literary, social, and charitable institutions which

have been so marked a feature of the period.

He has been for more than forty years one



of the most important members of the New York
Historical Society. As Chairman of its Execu-
tive Committee during the period of its greatest
labors and activity, and subsequently as President
of the Society, he rendered most valuable services,
best known and acknowledged by those who were
associated with him in the long and successful eifort
to place its treasures in a fire-proof building and
the institution on a permanent basis of prosperity ;
which will endure so long as the conservative policy
is continued which he maintained and aided to

He has also been for thirty years an active
member of the Board of Trustees of the
New York Institution for the BUnd, and since
1866, its President. In this capacity, he is
an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees
of the Roosevelt Hospital. He is also a
Trustee of the New York Eye and Ear

During his long service in the Institution
for the Blind, he has been one of the most
active and liberal in promoting all improve-
ments and the advanced methods of instruc-
tion and treatment. Foremost in sympathy
for this class of unfortunates, who appeal so
strongly to the kindly regard of their fellow
men, Mr. Schell's hearty and effective labors
have been rewarded with abundant success
in this grand field of charitable effort.

In March, 1873, Mr. Schell married Miss
Anna M. Fox, daughter of George S. Fox,
and grand-daughter of Thomas Leggett,
prominent families belonging to the Society
of Friends.

Mr. Schell's career is a signal illustration
of what may be accomplished by a man who
is diligent in his caUing, and faithful to the
principles of an early training in rectitude
and personal honor, as well as just and
genuine self-respect. Winning reputation
and fortune, unaided by inheritance or
family influence, he has commanded success
in life, as well as deserved it ; and still enjoys the
fruits of his labors, in vigorous health, honored by
all who know him, and beloved by those who are
admitted to the privilege of his friendship and


Cornelius N. Campbell was born on the 7th of
July, 1825, in the town of Amenia, near Dover
Plains, Duchess County, N. Y. He attended vari-
ous schools in Amenia, and at Dover Plains, and
took a preparatory course for college at the
Amenia Seminary, then a flourishing, successful

In 1846 he commenced the study of medicine
and graduated from the medical department of the
New York University in 1849. He commenced the
practice of his profession in Pawling, Duchess Co.,
and after a short time removed to Stanford, in the

same county, where he continued its practice,
only interrupted by representing his district one
term in the State Legislature, and his town two
years in the board of Supervisors of the county.

After the breaking out of the civil war, he
received the appointment of Surgeon of the isolh
Regiment N. Y. State Vols., on the 25th of Au-
gust, 1862, and served with his regiment during
the remainder of the war ; acting as Surgeon of
Brigade, and Surgeon-in-Chief of the ist Div., 20th
Army Corps until after the taking of Atlanta, Ga.

Photo, by Merritt & Myers, Poughkeepsie


He was present and took part in the battle of
Gettysburg with the Army of the Potomac, and
with the Army of the Cumberland under Generals
Thomas and Sherman at the battles of Resaca,
Dallas, New Hope Church, Cassville, Gulps Farm,
siege of Atlanta, and went with Sherman on his
" march to the sea," and did service at the battles
of Averysboro, Bentonville and Raleigh, and was
mustered out of the army .with his regiment, on
the 8th of June, 1865, after which he returned to
his home in Stanford.

The following spring he removed to Poughkeepsie
where he has since lived, and where he con-
tinues to practice his profession.


Otis Bisbee, the founder and Principal of River-
view Academy, was born Feb. 14, 1822, in the
town of Chesterfield, Hampshire County, Mass.



His father Job Bisbee, settled when the son was
about eleven years old, in EUicottville, Cattaraugus
County, in this State. Here he attended the dis-
trict school in his neighborhood from two to three
months each winter, till he was fifteen years old.
During the spring, summer and autumn he as-
sisted his father on the small farm, which, through
the combined efforts of father and son yielded but
a scanty subsistence to the family. Means were
indeed small enough. The country was new, and
cultivating the land among the stumps was a rough

An incident may show something of the wild
character of the country, and, at the same time, a
trait in the character of the boy. At the age of
thirteen, being of large size, he was ambitious to
prove what he could do unaided, in the making of
maple sugar. The farm was long and narrow, ex-
tending from Great Valley Creek, on the border of
which the log house and barn stood, over rolling
ground, across a narrow valley, more than half a
mile away. At this end of the farm was a fine
growth of maple trees. It was his request to be
allowed to locate in this place his " sugar bush " and
"boiling place." Here he began in February to
dig his troughs, and otherwise get ready. He
tapped sixty-five trees, hired a caldron and made,
"sugaring off" by himself, a larger proportionate
yield of good sugar than was elsewhere made in
the neighborhood. One busy day he did not leave
the place till about ten o'clock in the evening. On
the next morning tracks of wolves following a deer
were seen near the " boiling-place."

The custom of working with his father, who was
well informed on a variety of subjects, served to
stimulate in the boy's mind a desire to avail
himself of any opportunity he might find for
improving his mind by reading and study. It would
happen in hoeing corn or digging potatoes, for
instance, that the attention would be given partly
to some discussion wherein questions would run
riot, while answers often came limping or failed to
appear. But in his case the awakening to thought
was doubtless more valuable to him than the acqui-
sition of knowledge relating to agriculture.

During the two years following he was restless,
and growing more and more dissatisfied with the
fruitlessness of the manner of life he was leading.
His schemes of change were incited and encour-
aged by the reading he fell upon, in biography and
history. In his seventeenth year, a severe axe-cut
in the ankle confined him to the house ; and
through the encouragement of father and mother,
he began to study up the matters, a knowledge of
which was supposed to qualify a youth to " teach
school." Discouraging work it was. Grammar
wouldn't come clear, and arithmetic was very per-
verse. Late autumn brought an opportunity and
an engagement to teach school in a back-woods
district. Then followed the examination by three
distinguished committee-men, and then the certifi-
cate. Not much boasting would be justified in
relation to the qualifications of the young teacher,
though he soon won the reputation of having com-

mon sense enough to manage the school. In March
following, the boy teacher, seventeen years of age,
set forth on foot, with moistened eyes, and a very
heavy heart, from the log-house where the mter-
twiningof family affections held him strongly bound,
and the associations of the neighborhood were dear
to him, to venture among strangers with the hope
that he might be able to pay a debt against his
father, and afterwards benefit himself. With severe
economy, he managed to pay the debt after labor-
ing three years. On one of those March days,
through mud, footsore, with all his worldly goods,
besides the clothes on his back, slung in a cotton
handkerchief over his shoulder, our sun-and-wind-
tanned youth was trudging through Canandaigua
eastward. In the same direction came a man rid-
ing a well-saddled horse, and leading one bare-
back. " Good Samaritan art thou indeed," thought
our youth as the horseman offered to let him ride
on the bare-back horse. He was going to Ca-
millus, he said, and it would not hurt the horse to
ride him. Stiffened by walking and a chilliness
that presaged fever, the limbs of our new rider
were so inflexible, and the sleek horse was so
plump and round that he seemed to himself to
require more than the art of a rope-dancer to keep
his seat, especially when his companion struck up
a trot. At a tavern near Auburn Free Bridge they
put up for the night. Supperless, save a dose of
brandy and a cracker, recommended to him as a
medicine, our young traveler retired. In the morn-
ing he awoke much improved, butfoundhis compan-
ion had taken a very early start, apparently to be rid
of him, and no wonder; for he had been a shiver-
ing, tefeth-chattering companion.

The four subsequent years were spent with his
uncles, who were to him then as strangers, in dairy-
farming in the county of Herkimer. Of these
years the last three were spent in the town of Fair-
field, where was located a celebrated academy and
a medical college. Here again school teaching
became the object of his ambition, and, after an
examination said to be satisfactory, he, at nineteen,
entered on teaching, which he continued several
subsequent winters, having, in the meantime, be-
gun study at Fairfield Academy.

In the spring of 1847 he entered third term
■ sophomore, at Union College, before Dr. Nott had
become crippled by rheumatism. Being inclined
to steady habits he did not make the doctor's ac-
quaintance so soon as did some of his more lively
companions ; in fact, he never became intimate
with the celebrated doctor. In 1848 the Adelphic
Literary Society held its semi-centennial celebra-
tion, and for the term of office in which that cele-
bration took place, he was chosen president, and
thus had imposed on him the duty of welcoming
the Alumni back to the halls of the society. On
this occasion was seen the tact of Dr. Alonzo
Potter, who replied in behalf of the Alumpi, in
adroitly commingling reminiscences with express-
ions of .welcome in such a way as to encourage
confidence in the acting members. Dr. Potter
acted as president of the college during Dr. Nott's

Photo, by Vail, Poughkeepsie.



sickness. It was not at this time an uncommon
thing for some of the students to make their trips
to and from college by the packet canal boat.
One such trip our student made with a lot of others
who were disposed to be merry on the way. It
happened at least once, that a noisy fellow in the
berth above felt himself raised by a force below
and landed on the floor.

He left college in the spring of 1849, to teach in
Mr. Chas. Bartlett's school on College Hill, and on
the graduation of his class was elected to member-
ship in the Phi Beta Kappa Society. In the year
1851 he married Miss Frances C. Bartlett, and in
1853 built a house for a dwelling and school on the
south-west corner of Mill and Hamilton streets,
Poughkeepsie. In 1857, on the death of Mr.
Chas. Bartlett, he became, in company with Mr.
Chas. B. Warring, the accomplished principal of
Poughkeepsie Military Institute, associate prin-
cipal of the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School.

Mr. Warring having retired in the spring of 1862,
he changed the character of the school by intro-
ducing the military element which it has since re-
tained. In 1866 he erected the building known
as the Riverview Academy, and in the spring of
the next year removed to the new quarters.


Thomas Grier Nichols was born in Boston,
Mass., on the 8th of January, 1833. The follow-
ing year he removed with his parents to the then
village (now city) of Poughkeepsie where his father
and mother died in old age and where he himself
has since resided.

Early in life Thomas was apprenticed to the
printing business, and thoroughly acquired that art
in all its branches. Immediately upon the close of
his apprenticeship, and at the age of nineteen he
started the first office ever established in Pough-
keepsie for job printing exclusively.

The following May (1852) he founded the
Daily Press which was the first successful daily
newspaper upon the Hudson River between the
cities of Albany and New York. In this early en-
terprise he was materially aided by the late Mat-
thew Vassar, who was subsequently the founder of
Vassar College, and also by the illustrious inventor
of telegraphy. Prof. S. F. B. Morse, both of whom
continued their friendship through their remarka-
ble lives. In 1858 he disposed of his interest in
that paper.

In 1868, at the urgent pressure of many of his in-
fluential fellow citizens he was induced to establish
another daily under the title of the Daily News
which he continued to publish for several years,
until he was compelled to retire from its man-
agement by broken health. This paper subse-
quently passed into the hands of Hon. J. O. White-

In the winter of 1872, Mr. Nichols was suffi-
ciently recovered to enable him to accede to the

desires of his fellow citizens of prominence, by re-

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 92 of 125)