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 93 of 125)
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turning to his favorite occupation. This he did by
establishing the Sunday Courier, the only Sunday
paper on the Hudson River between New York
and Albany, of which he is still sole editor and
proprietor, and which has reahzed altogether un-
precedented success. The two editions of this
newspaper, Sunday and Monday, seemed to meet
exactly the public demand, and have reached a
circulation never before known upon the banks of
the Hudson between the two cities which hmit its
navigable extremes. The Courier became at once,
and has continued to be, the representative news-
paper of the city and county where it is published.


The ideal journalist should be free from sectarian)
partisan or personal bias, and this idea has been
exemplified in and has been one of the main un-
derlying causes of the success of the ventures
which have marked the career of this successful

All the leading enterprises which have marked
the career of Poughkeepsie have been inaugurated
since Mr. Nichols has been an -active editor, and
to all these his pen has actively contributed. All
local improvements, public and private, enlisted his
energies and advocacy. As early as 1854, he fore-
saw the advantages and necessities for a railroad to
the Connecticut line, and of a connection between
the cities and manufactories of the East and the
coal fields of the West by means of a bridge across
the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, and to these
important elements of civic prosperity he then be-
gan to call the attention of the public through his
publications, and he may therefore justly be re-
garded as the pioneer in these great undertakings.

The change of local government from the village
to city form, the successful water and sewerage sys-
tem, the city railroad and the various manufactur-
ing and other enterprises, which have rendered the



place of his residence most attractive, healthful and
prosperous, are all largely indebted to his skillful

At the foundation of this career lies the fact that
Mr. Nichols has had a perfect knowledge of the
art of printing — past and present in all its forms —
a fact which has been exhibited in all his publica-
tions. Added to this pre-requisite, are those traits
which in such a career are prophecies of success
and final public respect. Among these are inde-
pendence, fearlessness, sagacity, persistence and a
natural sympathy for enterprise, morality and
justice toward all, for all and in all. Cruelty,
injustice and pretense in all the forms of cant,
hyprocracy and sham, the assumptions of wealth
and power against the poor or helpless, have
always enlisted the utmost critical powers of a pen
remarkable for keen and discriminating judgment
and force. It is not singular that such a man so
endowed and so prepared, should reach his ele-
vated rank in provincial journalism, and that the
temporary criticism which always follows inde-
pendence should prove wholly evanescent and
close in the unanimous judgment, that the work of
such a life has proved a beneficence to every
worthy public and private interest, especially to
the community most accessible and most deeply
permeated by its influence.


James Hooker, Esq., the subject of this sketch,
was descended from one of the oldest and most
influential New England families. The Hookers
settled early in or near Hartford, in Connecticut,
and are honorably connected with its early history!
Thomas Hooker was first minister of Hartford,
born in Marshfield, Leicestershire, England, in
1586, educated at Emanuel College, Cambridge,
of which he was elected Fellow ; was chosen Lec-
turer in 1626, but silenced for non-conformity. In
1633, he came to New England, preached for a
time at Cambridge, but in June, 1636, removed
to, and commenced the settlement of Hartford,
where he continued his ministry until his death in

He was eminent for talent and learning — of
great dignity and energy as a preacher and one of
the best and most useful founders of the Colonies.
(Lempriere's Biog. Diet. 2 Vol. page 69.) The
venerable President Dwight thus writes of Rev.
Thomas Hooker : " On the affairs of the infant
colony (Connecticut) his influence was command-
ing. Little was done without his approbation,
and almost everything which he approved was done
of course" (Dwight's Travels p 238.) "He was
mvited to be a member of that memorable body,
the Westminister Assembly of Divines, which was
convened in London, A. D., 1642, and which gave
to the world those admirable digests of religious
faith and practice. The Larger and Shorter West-
mimster Catechism;' (Life of Thomas Hooker
page 130.)

His son. Rev. Samuel Hooker, of Farmington,
Massachusetts, married Mary Willet.

Their son, Nathaniel Hooker, married Mary
Stanley. Their son, Nathaniel Hooker, of Hart-
ford, married Eunice Talcott, daughter of Gov-
ernor Talcott. Their son, James Hooker, married
Mary Chaffee, and their son, James Hooker, the
subject of this sketch, was born at Windsor, Con-
necticut, A. D., 1792.

He entered Yale College about the year 1806,
and was graduated honorably in the year 1810,
two of his classmates being the Hon. Prof. S. F. B.
Morse and Hon. Severen Bryne Hasbrook, formerly
President of Rutgers College, New Jersey.

In looking round for a suitable place to settle
and commence the study of law, to which he
intended to devote his life, he selected the then vil-
lage of Poughkeepsie, at that time the residence of
some of the most influential lawyers of that day —
Hon. James Emott, afterwards Supreme Court Cir-
cuit Judge J Thomas J. Oakley, for many years
Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the city of
New York; Hon. James Tallmadge, Lieut-Gov-
ernor of New York ; Philo Ruggles Sr., and others
of eminence in the profession.

Mr. Hooker after completing his studies in the
office of Philo Ruggles, Sr., where Hon. Samuel B.
Ruggles and Philo T. Ruggles were his co-stu-
dents, was licensed and became a partner of the
elder Ruggles in the practice of the law. He was
a close student ; had a keen discriminating mind
well stored with the principles of equity and the
common law, and was soon regarded as one of the
soundest and safest counsellors in the county.

Among the younger members of the profession,
it was like stalking into the presence of the King,
to venture upon the dutyofdrawing a bill in equity,
but Mr. Hooker was not long in entering upon this
field of competition with older counsel, who up to
this time held exclusive possession of this almost
untrodden domain.

Mr. Hooker, on January 24, 1816, was married
to Helen S. Reade, youngest daughter of John
and Catharine Reade, residents of Poughkeepsie ;
the eldest daughter of Mrs. Reade being married to
Nicholas W. Stuyvesant of New York, and the
second, to Robert Kearny. Two daughters were
born to Mr. and Mrs. Hooker, Catharine L., after-
wards married to John W. Hamersley, Esq., of
New York, and Mary, who died in early life.

Mr. Hooker, on the removal of Mr. Ruggles to
the city of New York, formed a law partnership
with Hon. N. P. Tallmadge, and together they
wielded the power and controlled the patronage of
the Democratic party in the county of Duchess.

Mr. Hooker was appointed Surrogate of the
County by the Governor, which office he held to
the perfect satisfaction of the bar and of the peo-
ple, for sixteen years consecutively. Mr. Tallmadge
at the same time held the office of Supreme Court
Commissioner, then embracing most of the
duties now performed by the Judge of County
Courts. They were ardent supporters of General
Jackson's administration, and in constant inter-



course with Mr. Van Buren, Governor Marcy and
Silas Wright, in fact, the Democratic party in this
State under such management was all but invin-
cible. As early as the year 1845, having acquired
an ample independence, and after the marriage of
his daughter, he substantially retired from the active
duties of his profession, and spent his leisure in
literary studies, and in the care of his extensive
landed property, a great portion of which has
descended to his wife in an unbroken succession
from Queen Anne. He was one of the first pro-
posers of the Hudson River Railroad and
continued its zealous and unflagging sup-
porter till its completion ; was one of its
first Board of Directors and continued as
such till his decease.

He anticipated the growth of Pough-
keepsie from 1840 to 1865, and made
landed investments which became valuable
after his decease.

He died suddenly, September 3, 1858,
leaving his daughter and widow surviving
him. He had only one grandson, James
Hooker Hamersley, Esq., now of the city of
New York, to whom he devised his family
homestead. Mr. Hooker was a sincere
christian, a devoted husband, a tender and
affectionate father and grandfather, a loyal
friend and an esteemed and respected
citizen. He was tall in stature, of noble
presence, his bearing was manly, courtly
and urbane, combining a cordial manner
with great conversational powers, in fact a
happy type of the almost extinct " gentle-
man of the old school."

attended the old Duchess Academy in Pough-
keepsie until he was eighteen years of age, when
he commenced the study of medicine in his father's
office. He attended the College of Physicians
and Surgeons in New York during the years 1848
and '49, and commenced the practice of his pro-
fession in Poughkeepsie in 1850. Here he re-
mained one year, then practiced at Wappingers
Falls one year, after which he returned to Pough-
keepsie, where he has continued in practice to the
present time.


John Reed Cooper, the subject of this
brief sketch, was born in the city of Pough-
keepsie, January25, 1828. He is a son
of John and Rebecca (Hardenbrook)
Cooper. The father was bom in Fish-
kill, N. Y., June 6, 1786, and died in
Poughkeepsie in 1863. The mother
was born in New York City in August,
1793, and died in Poughkeepsie in 1862.

John Cooper, M. D., studied for his profession
in Fishkill and graduated from the College of Phy-
sicians and Surgeons in New York, after which he
came to Poughkeepsie and practiced medicine
until the breaking out of the war of 181 2, when
he entered the service of the United States. He
was stationed at Fort Dearborn, where the city of
Chicago is now located, remaining there till the close
of the war, when he returned to Poughkeepsie and
practiced his profession until his death.

John and Rebecca Cooper were the parents of
thirteen children, eleven daughters and two sons,
all now dead except one daughter, Margaret Jane
Adams, residing at Bath, on the Hudson, and John
Reed, the subject of our present sketch. John R.

Photo, by M. Smith Poughkeepsie

In 185 1, Dr. Cooper married Aletta J., daughter
of William and Eliza (Fanning) Schenck, of the
city of Brooklyn. They have one child, William
S.J born in 1852, now living in New York City.

In 1 86 1, Dr. Cooper entered the service of the
Government as Surgeon of the 5th New York
Cavalry and was mostly in the Shenandoah Valley.
His regiment was in Gen. Banks' Army and was
\^th that command in its retreat before Stonewall
Jackson's Army from Strasburg to Williamsport.

He was in the service fourteen months when he
was obliged to resign his commission in order to
attend business connected with the death of his
mother, not being able to obtain a furlough for that

In politics Dr. Cooper has always been a Repub-

46 z


lican and was elected to the office of Supervisor for
one term. He has represented his ward as Alder-
man twelve years. In religious sentiment he is an

In early boyhood it was said of John R. that he
was a "chip of the old block; " his tastes and mental
characteristics being so marked and identified with
those of his father. In medicine their practice
was "heroic." So in their intercourse with men
they never occupied equivocal grounds.

The writer who has enjoyed the acquaintance of
both father and son since
1838, and who was never a
patron of either, calls to
mind a somewhat remark-
able law suit, in which the
elder Dr. Cooper was a
prominent figure, which will
be given as one illustration
of the qualities alluded to.
At the time he Was President
of the Duchess County Med-
ical Society, a young gentle-
man had passed the proper
examination and was ap-
proved for learning ; Presi-
dent Cooper refused to sign
his license on the ground of ;
the immoral character of the
applicant, who thereupon
brought suit against the'
President. The. doctor de-
fended himself with his
characteristic resolution. It
is enough to add, that the
subsequent course of the
young man more than justi-

tional Church, at Jericho Centre, Vt., January 22,
1845. During his pastorate here, which ended
January 2, 1850, he was for two years Superintend-
ent of the common schools in Chittenden County,
Vt. On the 29th of May, 1850, Mr. Wheeler
became pastor of the Congregational Church, in
Brandon, Vt. While there he was appointed Sec-
retary of the Vermont Sabbath School Union, also
one of the examining committee of the University
of Vermont.

On the 7th of September, 1854, he was dismissed
from the church in Brandon
and immediately removed
to Saco, Maine, where on
the 6th of December, 1854,
he assumed the pastoral
charge of the First Congre-
gational Church. His pas-
torate there was one o
marked success and power,
resulting in large accessions
to his church. During the
winter of 181; 7-' 8, there was
a wonderful display of Divine
grace in his congregation.
For three months, meetings
were held every day, at
which the pastor himself
oliiciated, preaching and
\ isiting from house to house.
In this revival many prom-
inent professional and busi-
ness men with their famihes
were brought into the
church; making the sacra-
mental days in May and
July of 1858, days never

^/^^^^i^^ y^. '^A^^^cZc^

fied the wisdom of Dr. Cooper's action. He was
of the first class of the old school of medicine and
may fitly be written a nobleman.


Francis Brown Wheeler was born in North
Adams, Mass., of ministerial descent; his father
grandfather and four uncles having been clergy-
men. He was graduated at the University of
Vermont in 1842. Ex- Vice-President Wheeler
Hon. John Kasson, late U. S. Minister to Austria,
Hon. Robert S. Hale and Hon. E. J. Hamilton
were among his class-mates. '

Having studied theology at Andover Theologi-
cal Seminary, and with the Rev. J. W. Ward, an
eminent Theologian of Massachusetts, he was or-
dained and installed as pastor of the Congrega-

to be forgotten in the annals of Maine church
history. The health of his family compelled Mr.
Wheeler to relinquish this interestinf field to which
he was bound by ties stronger than death, and
accept a call from the First Presbyterian Church
of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., over which church he was
installed on the r2th of May, 1859, having been
dismissed from Saco, March 2d, r859, against the
earnest and affectionate remonstrance of his people.
During his ministry in Poughkeepsie there has
been a constant and increasing demand for his
labors, so that all his powers have been taxed in
the accumulating cares and responsibilities of a
large congregation and protracted pastorate. Fre-
quent additions have been made to his church and
at two different times there have been special re-
vival ingatherings. He has had many ecclesiastical
honors, Hamilton College having conferred the
honorary distinction of S. T. D., or Doctor of
Divinity, upon him in 1868, the honorary degree



of A. M. having been given him by his Alma
Mater in 1845. I"' 1878, President Hayes appoint-
ed him as one of the Board of Visitors at West
Point Military Academy.

Dr. Wheeler has been a voluminous writer for
the religious and secular press, has published
many sermons, given special addresses on many
public occasions and is the author of several hymns,
some of which have found their way into books of

In all National affairs he has been earnest and
outspoken, though catholic in spirit and conserva-
tive in tone ; in the civil war a bold and uncom-
promising advocate of governmental rights and
securities against all sectionalism. In religion he
belongs to the Calvinistic school, but is broadly
and thoroughly identified with all true progress,
wherever found.

In his preaching he is simple, practical and
emotional, free and unconstrained in manner, with
rare gifts in extemporaneous utterance.

One of the secrets of Dr. Wheeler's uniform
success in his ministerial labors, is the fact that he
never deals in the cant or the stock phrases some-
times found in pulpit oratory. He is earnest with-
out wearying and carries a vein of logical common
sense to the understanding, so that his appeals to
the conscience and sense of duty rest upon stable
and lasting foundations. He is never in a tumult,
but leaves the truth to work its way into the char-
acter; thus accessions to his church, in most in-
stances, come to stay, and since his connection
with the church at Poughkeepsie it has grown to
be Qne of the most stable churches in that -beauti-
ful city.

Another of his peculiar excellencies ought to be
mentioned, which is that his pulpit exercises are
not permitted to interfere with his pastoral offices.
While he is punctual in his visitations during the
week, his pulpit does not suffer, and hearts which
have been comforted at home are enlightened in
the house of God.

While he adopts the Presbyterian confessions as
substance of doctrine, he is not a controversialist,
or a dogmatist, but his preaching is practical and
is justified by its fruits. His eminent conservatism
during the twenty-three years of his ministry in a
congregation holding some of the most progressive
elements has kept the church harmonious and in
good working order.

May he live long to be their minister and friend.


George Booth came to the U. S. A. from Holm-
firth, Yorkshire, England, in 1796. He was a
cloth manufacturer, and brought the first carding
machine ever introduced into this country. He
came to Poughkeepsie, thence he went to what
was then called the valley of the Connecticut, and

is now the State of New Hampshire. He returned
to Po\ighkeepsie and set up his cloth factory there
about 1808. In 1810 he received the second prize
for cloths at the State Fair in Albany. In 181 1
he received the first prize for the best specimens of
cloths manufactured in New York State. Both
prizes were silver punch bowls, the larger of which
has a capacity of nine quarts. He was the first
manufacturer of Woolen cloth in Duchess County.
His factory was built on the south side of Fallkill
creek, near where Pelton's carpet factory now is.
He made the Pond now called Pelton's pond j it
was formerly called Booth's pond, and is still used
by the various factories situated near it. He
married a sister of the late Matthew Vassar,
founder of Vassar College. It was in a cellar of
George Booth's factory and with money loaned by
him that Matthew Vassar began his beer brewery,
which in after years led to such extension of the
cause of female education.

George Booth died in Poughkeepsie in 1836.
Several U. S. Patents, issued to him in 1812, for
improvements in machinery for cloth manufacture
are still in existence. Mr. Booth was the father
of thirteen children, several of whom with grand-
children and great-grandchildren, are residents of
the County.


Among the most distinguished lawyers at the
Duchess County Bar prior to 1816, were James
Kent, James Emott, James Tallmadge, Stephen
Eno, Thomas J. Oakley, James Hooker, Henry
Swift, John Brush, Abraham Bockde, Philo Ruggles
and Leonard Mason, whose names are historic. The
works of Chancellor Kent have long been the stand-
ards in jurisprudence. Tallmadge was long promi-
nent in law poUtics and letters; Brush as a General,
Bockde and Mason as Senators, Emott and Oakley
as Judges, Ruggles, Eno and Swift as Lawyers.
In 1816 an " Act to suppress dueUing " was passed ;
thereafter when the attorney took his oath of
abjuration and allegiance and of "honest demean-
or in practice," he was also required to swear to
sustain this act in regard to duelling. Up to 1824
thirty-six attorneys took this oath, among whom
are found the following illustrious names : Edward
Livingston, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Jacob Van
Benthuysen, Stephen Cleveland, Samuel B. Rug-
gles, Robert Wilkinson, Richard D. Davis, Robert
Schuyler, Samuel VerPlanck, David V. N. RadcUff,
William Eno and John A. Livingston.

From 1824 to 1828, eleven attorneys were ad-
mitted among whom were, Samuel V. Hoffman,
Cyrus Mason, John V. A. Lyle, John W. Knevals,
John Rowley, Robert W. Oakley, John B. Van
Ness and Ulysses Cole, of whom the latter survives.

From 1828 to 1844, sixty lawyers were granted
licenses and among those whose memories are still



cherished are the departed Isaac M. Newcomb,
V. D. Bonesteel, Joseph H. Jackson, Eliphaz Fay,
Robert B. Taylor, W. W. Woodworth,W. I. Street,
Seward Barculo, H. D. Varick.WilUam Wilkinson,
C. W. Swift, Walter Reynolds, Robert Barnard,
Gilbert Dean and Charles J. Ruggles ; and of this
classification only the following are in active prac-
tice as members of the Poughkeepsie Bar, viz :
John Thompson, LeGrand Dodge, Cyrus Swan
and John P. H. Tallman, while Joseph F. Barnard
is the Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court in
this department, and James Emott, Jr. and T. C.
Campbell are engaged in professional pursuits in
New York City, and Owen T. Coffin is Surrogate
of Westchester county; Judge E. Q. Eldridge
having honorably retired from practice.

LeGrand Dodge, born in PawHng, Duchess
County, June 29, 1815, was educated at Dover
Academy, and admitted to the bar in 1841. He
has practiced law in Poughkeepsie since his ad-
mission; was six years Master in Chancery; has
been thirty years Secretary and Treasurer of the
Duchess County Mutual Insurance Company ; is
Vice-President of the Merchants' National Bank,
and was for many years a director of the Pough-
keepsie Savings Bank.

This latter class and a few of the two preced-
ing classes were fortunate in their professional life
in the construction of the court, where their attend-
ance was most frequent apd important.

Poughkeepsie was the residence of Charles H.
Ruggles who for many years^ was Vice-Chancellor,
Circuit Judge and Supreme Court Judge for the
circuit including Duchess. In his court respect-
ful attention, patient investigation and impartial
determination were sure of attainment. Judge
Ruggles and his court were always peculiarly popu-
lar with the younger members of the Bar. He was
dignified in person, kind in heart, clear in intellect
and spotless in character. He was a member of the
State Constitutional Convention of 1846, and was
one of the first members of the Court of Appeals,
on the adoption of the new constitution. Those
who knew and survive Judge Ruggles, hold his
memory in veneration. He was succeeded by
Hon. Seward Barculo, who was succeeded by the
appointment of the Hon. Gilbert Dean, followed
by Hon. James Emott, Jr., on whose retirement
the Hon. Joseph F. Barnard was elected. A fitting
tribute to Justice Barculo will be found in the 20th
Barbour's Supreme Court Reports, page 661.

At present there are nominally more than eighty
members of the Poughkeepsie bar. Many of these
are out of active practice and quite a large num-
ber have been recently admitted to practice who
have not yet fairly estabUshed themselves in busi-
ness, or developed a capacity to take a position
among their older professional brethren, nor shown
the abihty to rise to distinction in their profes-
sion. Of those who are, and have for any consid-
erable number of years been in active practice, in
addition to those above mentioned, we should.

name as probably the most prominent, James H.
Weeks, Leonard B. Sackett, Charles Wheaton,
Henry M. Taylor, Milton A. Fowler, Daniel W.
Guernsey, Edward Crunmey, Walter Farrington,
Robert E. Taylor, William I. Thorn, Orlando D.
M. Baker, James L. Williams, William R. Woodin,
B. Piatt Carpenter, John Hackett, Henry E. Losey,
Alfred B. Smith, and Robert F. Wilkinson. Bio-
graphical sketches of Messrs. Thompson, Tallman,
Carpenter and Swan are given elsewhere, and only

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 93 of 125)