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 95 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 95 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

was a preacher and gave to the old town the name
of Freedom and also the present name in honor of
La Fayette, of whom he was a great admirer.
Enoch was a true patriot and often gave the
friends of Royalty sharp cifts upon their revolution-
ary acts. He was a very pious and useful man and
the main preacher in this part of the country for
many years to officiate at funerals and marriages,
being very popular with all classes.

Freedom Plains.

Freedom Plains was the central point at which
the " town Jiome " was located for many long years,
but which presents but a shadow of a hamlet to-
day. The townspeople being chiefly employed in
agricultural pursuits, but little interest has been
given to the formation of villages or establishing
any enterprise that would cause a close settlement.
There was formerly kept at this place a hotel and
store, but the "no license" system being adopted
by the electors of the town, they closed the portals
of the inn, and it can be numbered only with
the things of the past.

Churches of La Grange.

The oldest religious organization in the town is
that of the Society of Friends, of Arthursburg,
but at what time it was effected we are unable to
learn to a certainty. As before stated the Oswego
monthly meetings were held here, at which the ex-
emplary fathers and mothers assembled in their
modest garb, and worshipped in their quaint way,
giving renewed evidences of their sincerity.

The Methodists were next in the field in mis-
sionary work, but the Presbyterians were first in
organizing a church, which they did at Freedom

Presbyterian Church of Freedom Plains. — The
society held a serai-centennial anniversary on the
14th of March, 1878, at which time the pastor,





Rev. J. S. Gilmor, delivered a historical address
from which we glean the following facts: In the
early records of this church it is sometimes called
the Church of Freedom. For years before the or-
ganization Freedom Plains was a destitute mis-
sionary field on the borders of several congrega-
tions, Pleasant Valley, Poughkeepsie, Hackensack,
and the West Branch Quakers. There were prayer
meetings held with more or less regularity, and
occasional preaching by the pastors of the neigh-
boring churches, Mr. Clark, Dr.Cuyler, Dr. Dewitt
and others. The prayer meetings at private houses
and the school house were mainly sustained by the
elders and members of the Pleasant Valley church.
In the winter of 1827 there was a revival, mainly
under the preaching of the Rev. N.' Patterson,
which led to the formation of a church. At this
time there was no church within the limits of the
town except that of the Friends. There had been
occasional preaching by the Methodists in the old
dwelling house near to that now occupied by J. W.
Storm. On the 26th of July, 1827, "Sundry per-
sons of Freedom'' did meet at the house of Mary
Nelson and chose the following as trustees : Ben-
jamin H. Conklin, Baltus Overacker, Eleazer Tay-
lor, Baltus Velie, Rickertson Collins, John D.
Brown, Abram S. Storm, Isaac B. Clapp and John

The church was regularly organized on the 14th
of May, 1828, by the following committee, ap-
pointed by the Presbytery of North River, viz:
Rev. Messrs. John Clark, James P. Ostram and
Alonzo Welton. The organization took place in
the barn of Baltus Overacker, with thirty-nine
members. Benj. H. Conklin, Baltus Overacker,
A. S. Storm and Samuel Thurston, were elected
elders, and Eleazer Taylor and Henry Disbrow,
Deacons. Services were held in the barn during
the most of that year and the church edifice was
completed in the latter part of 1828 and dedicated
on New Year's Day, 1829. The original cost of
which was $2,169.38.

The parsonage was erected some two years later
and the twelve acres of land on which it stands
was purchased of Baltus Velie in the year 1831, for
$650. Two of the original elders of this church are
still living — Abram S. Storm and Samuel Thurston.
The former ceased acting early in the year 1829,
in consequence of removing to the town of Fish-
kill, and has ever since been connected with the
Reform Church of Hopewell, and the latter served
the church five years and removed to the western
part of the State where he still resides. So far as

known there are but four more of the original
members now living : Rev. W. J. McCord, Susan
G. ConkUn, Margaret ConkUn and Elizabeth

The first pastor was the Rev. Milton Buttolph,
who remained to the year 1837, and was followed
by Rev. Sumner Mandeville, who was installed on
the 6th of June, 1838, and continued until April,
1861, lacking only two months of twenty-three
years. Rev. John Ward, a native of New Jersey,
followed Mandeville in September, following, and
supplied the church until June 3, 1863, when he
was installed its pastor. He continued in the pas-
toral office but a short time but after the pastoral
relation was dissolved he continued to supply the
church up to January, 1867. The fourth pastor
of the church was Rev. O. Howell Hazard, who
was ordained in 1864. During his pastoral duties
here the church was repaired (1872) at a cost of

Rev. Hazard was succeeded by Rev. John S.
Gilmor who was called to labor here in the begin-
ning of 1876, and remained until May, 1880, when
he removed to New York. Rev. George NifF of
Poughkeepsie soon followed and continued until
September, 1881. Since that time the church has
been destitute of a pastor. Among those who
may be regarded as the sons of this church and
have become ministers of the Gospel, may be
mentioned Rev. Wm. McCord and his brother
James P. McCord, also Rev. Townsend Taylor.'

The church has been the recipient of the follow-
ing bequests: In 1842, from Mrs. Ceha Taylor,
$500; i86r from Eleazer Taylor, $300; 1866,
from Amina B. Shear, $ioo; and in 1871, from
Adrian Monfort, $200.

Methodist Episcopal Church of La Grange. —
This organization was effected under the old
Duchess Circuit and transferred to that of Cort-
landt. The first minutes are of the quarterly meet-
ing held at Pond Church July 14, 1849, ^"^^ the
circuit consisted of Donnsville, Somers, Big Pond,
Herman, Mount Zion, North Salem and Carmel,
under Elbert Osborne preacher in charge and John
Sloat local preacher.

The following year Lake Mahopac, Croton
Falls and Goldens Bridge, were added to the circuit.
But long years previous to the above date, meet-
ings were held occasionally in different neighbor-
hoods by " circuit riders" as they were called and
the inhabitants of the Morey vicinity attended chiefly
at Potters Hollow where the first church edifice
was built, and from which it was removed to Mo-



rey's and called the "Trinity church of LaGrange."
The minutes of this society are incomplete and
fail to give us the pastors from 1849 to 1862,
excepting for the year 1851, when Rev. Loren
Clarke officiated. From 1862 to the present
time, they appear as follows : Loren Clarke, 1862-
'64; Isaac H. Lent, 1864-66; George Clarke,
i866-'67; O. P. Matthews, i867-'69; A. Vail,
i869-'73; W. S. Tuthill, i872-'7S; E. H. W.
Barden, i87S-'76 ; R. H. Travers, 1876-79; W.
Blake, 1879-80; and the present pastor C. Gorse.
The present edifice was built in 1866, and is a
wooden structure, comparing favorably with the
surrounding country churches.


The only temperance society in the town is the
Independent Order of Good Templars, chartered
Oct. 17, 1878. The lodge-room is at LaGrange-
ville, and the membership numbers sixty at the
present time. Those to whom the charter was
granted areas follows : Samuel Borland, Mary Dor-
land, V. B. Giddings, Tunis Bartram, J. C. Pultz,
Wm. Blake, Sarah Blake, Lizzie Dorland, Frank
Lounsbury, AUie Gray, Alfred Holmes, Luther
Giddings, Cordelia Bertram, Ella H. Giddings,
Geo. W. Emans.

The society has been a faithful worker in the
cause of temperance in connection with the churches
as is evidenced by the enforcement of the "no
license " system throughout the town. The pres-
ent officers are : S. T. Dorland, W. C. T. ; Mary
L. Dorland, W. V. T. ; Charles Gorse, S. ; Tunis
Bertram, F. S. and L. D. ; Eugene Schryver,
Treas. ; Wm. Lounsbury, W. M. ; Geo. Upton,
D. M. ; John Roe, G. ; Mattie Elsworth, S. ; AUie
Gray, R. S. ; Estelle Kelley, L. S.


Who the first medical practitioners were in this
town is not definitely known, but in the beginning of
the century, Jacob Warner, who was located at
Freedom Plains, and Shadrach Ricketson, a Quaker
of Beekman, were the leading doctors of this sec-
tion. Dr. Sleight followed and located a short dis-
tance from Sprout Creek. During Sleight's time,
Drs. Lumas and Hughson came and were suc-
ceeded by W. H. Hopkins, who purchased the
place and practice of Dr. Sleight. Drs. Upton and
Hopkins were contemporaries until the death of the
latter, when the former removed to other parts and
was followed here by Dr. Dorland, who soon af-

ter sold to Dr. Greene. The latter removed to
Buffalo and was succeeded by Dr. George Hunt-
ington, who still remains located at Morey's Cor-
ners, and withDr. Fink of Freedom Plains attends
the ills to which the human flesh is heir.

Town Officers.

The following * is a correct Ust of the Supervisors
and Town Clerks with the date of their service : —



1 83 I.













John Wilkinson, John Clapp.

John Clapp, Jonathan Lockwood.

Jon'n Lockwood, Stephen Thorn.

do do Thomas Potter.

John Wilkinson, do do

John Clapp, do do

Jon'n Lockwood, Oliver Green.

do d(j[ten,J. C. Hoffman.

E. T. VanBenscho- Henry D. Sleight.
John Lockwood, do do

E. T. VanBenschoten,do do

William Storm, ' do do

Treadwell Townsend, do do

E. T. VanBenschoten, Brooks Vermilyea.
Gideon VanValin, A. R. McCord.
do do James G. Pells.

Tunis Brinkerhofif, do
Joseph Wickes, do
Silas Sweet, do

Treadwell Townsend, do

Albert Emans,
John G. Pells,
James Howard,
Jacob Velie,
A. W. Storm,
James Howard,



Oliver Monfort.
Nicholas Baker.
Henry Van Benscho-
do do[ten.

Isaac L. Wickes.

Henry VanBenschoten, do

John S. Brown, Peter B. Clapp.

Albert Emans
John W. Storm,
George Ayrault,
A. W. Sleight,
do do
J. A. Stringham,

Stephen Monfort.

do do

John S. Brown.
William D. Smith.
John S. Brown,
do do


74. John D. Howard, J. S. Pettit,
A. W. Sleight,

do do
F. M. Colwell.

do do
J. V. Genning.
-'80. S. H. Moore. J. S. Pettit.
do do

LaGrange in the Rebellion.



J. M.




S. H.


J. D.


Like many other towns the quota was partly
filled by procuring recruits from other localities
and paying a bounty which run from $300 to

* Obtained through Mr. Joseph S. Pettit, the present Town Clerk,
together with many other interesting facts concerning the town's


Silj" 5y irtMCa. iSons, 13 Sarclfiy StMX"



$1,000. The following are the names of soldiers
from this town : —

Theodore Clark, Theodore De Groff, Frederick
M. Williams, Jacob Lane, Charles H. WilUams,
Edward Hoag, John H. Mastin, Alonzo Murphy,
Talmage Burhans, Charles W. McCord, W. H.
Cash, Amos Teagaura, William Wolven Baker,
Benjamin Barrett, Theodore DeGrofF, Henry C.
Stillwell, Charles Wilson, W. H. Murphy, George
Emigh, Wm. H. Gifford, John P. Williams, Sidney
T. Wickson, Harvey Hill, Patrick Leonard, Calvert
Abel, George McNeill, Henry PhiUips, W. B.
Phillips, Matthew Cramer, John Davison, Charles
McCabe, Gilbert Emigh, Alex. Vosburg, Edward
Hoag, George L. Masten, B. C. Wilkinson, Gim-
bred Roberd, Edward M. Congdon, James John-
son, (col.) Moses Jaycox, (col.) William Wolven,
John Porter, Robert WilUams, John Murray, James
Davison, Uriah Davison, Henry Macey, Jesse
Baker, John Wilson, Sylvester Potter, Theodore
Wolven, Edward Jones, J. Wolven, W. H. Mosher,
Dewitt C. Noxen, Milton Odell, Edgar Sedore, W.
H. Hall, Alonzo Tracy, C. W. Wilson, Thomas L.
Rogers, Matthew Cram, John B. Cypher, John
V. Wilson, Patrick Monahan, James Hayden,
Thomas Haight, Privates ; Ambrose B. Hart, J. H.
Hill, W. B. Phillips, Leary T. Tracy, Theophilus
Humphrey, Corporals ; Hiram Davison, Walter A.
Hart, A. J. Wyncoop, Sergeants ; Richard Titus,*
David B. Sleight, 1st Lieutenants.

The following are the names of those enlisted
in the naval service : —

Mchael Moran, Lawrence Donahue, Patrick Day,
D. M. Hickney, Christian Frank, Charles Schroder,
W. R. Holden, George N. Quinion, Edward H.
Fuller, Peter Spenser, John McLoughlin, D. W.
Gould, W. D. Birch, Adam Menzman, Kirk W.
Farrington, J. B. Kinsley, G. E. Coenhorn, Ernest
Hall, J. W. Hoffman, George Green, J. C. Gam-
well, John Voght, D. J. Peck, R. T. Walker, James
Morrow, James Gill, E. A. Beresford, Hugh Con-
way, Napoleon Long, John Nolan, John S. Power,
Richard Beard, Olat Ketels, William Robinson,
Hugh Murphy.

The majority of the volunteers mentioned were
connected with the 128th Regiment of Infantry,
and did service at New Orleans. In order to
increase the interest in the enhstment for this
Regiment, a meeting was held August 14, 1862,
which was largely attended. Addresses were made
by Albert Emans and Gilbert Dean. As a result
of this meeting sufficient funds were subscribed to

* Promoted to captain.

give each volunteer from this town $55 additional
bounty. This Regiment was through the Red
River campaign under General Banks, and was
then transferred to Sherman's command, with
whom it closed its services.



Johannes Shear, the great-grandfather of John
C, was born in Germany, in 1718, and came to
America in 1748. Israel Shear, son of Johannes,
was born in America in 175 1. His son, John C,
the father of the subject of this sketch, was born
in 1776. He married Margaret Cornell, by whom
he had seven children, five of whom are living, as
follows : Anna, now the widow of James Town-
send, of Orange County, N. Y.; Catherine E., the
widow of Daniel H. Hosier, of New York ; John
C, Abraham and Sarah M.

John C. was born October 12, 181 1, and was
united in marriage with Catherine L., daughter of
Caleb Pierce, of Fishkill, by whom she has one
child, Anna. Abraham is unmarried and lives
with John C. on the farm formerly occupied by
their father, and of which a sketch is given in this
work. The farm contains two hundred and twen-
ty-eight acres, and the house which these brothers
occupy was built in 181 2. They also own a farm
of one hundred and fifty acres, situated in the
town of La Grange, on the Manchester road, about
five miles from Poughkeepsie. They have given
particular attention to raising fine cattle, among
which were a pair of twins, which at the age of
four years weighed 2,400 and 2,000 pounds re-
spectively. February 16, 1874, they sold in the
New York market two choice high bred Durham
heifers for $450, their gross weight being 4,616

They are also successful breeders of Southdown
and Cottswold sheep. In 1870 they raised eight
lambs from two ewes, since then they have raised
nine lambs from three ewes in one year. Their flocks
of these varieties of sheep took the first premium
at the Poughkeepsie fair. Their farm is conven-
iently and pleasantly situated, about one mile from
the Duchess & Columbia R.R. depot at La Grange-

John C. Shear never left the old homestead, and
being in possession of these qualities which are in-
dispensable to the successful cultivation of a farm,
he has accumulated a competence, and to-day is
considered one of the most successful farmers in
the county.




The Ayrault family are of French origin and
came to America at an early day settling in New
England. John Ayrault, father of George, was
born in Sandisfield, Berkshire Co., Mass., and
moved to Caledonia, Livingston Co., N. Y., where
George was born March 6, 1827. His family con-
sisted of his wife, whose maiden name was Huldah
Smith, and seven children, as follows : Celestia,
Emily, John, George, Allen, Warren and Miles.

George Ayrault remained at home assisting his
father in the cultivation of his extensive farm until
he was twenty-one years of age, when he left home
and was engaged in teaching school two terms.
February 5, 1857, he was married to Jennie D.,
daughter of John Lawrence of Brooklyn, N. Y.
Mr. Ayrault started in life without the assistance of
as much as a dollar from any one, but in the pos-
session of a mind of rare vigor and unusual acute-
ness of observation, faculties which in the school
or his varied experiences in after life enabled him
to become a sagacious judge of human nature and
of the diversified business interests which he inau-
gurated and successfully carried out. He dealt,
for a time, in cattle in a small way, and by practic-
ing the strictest economy he saved a few hundred
dollars, but his natural proclivities led him to seek
a larger field. He accordingly went to New York
City where he entered into business as a cattle
broker, a business for which he was peculiarly
adapted, possessing as he did a clear and accurate
judgment of men as well as of stock. An amusing
anecdote is told of him by some of the New York
cattle dealers who flourished in those days. It
having been rumored that a young man from the
country had come down to struggle for a place
among the cattle kings of the metropolis, a great
curiosity was excited to see this "bold young man."
He was one day pointed out to one of these kings
who remarked : " We will have this young fellow's
hide on the fence in less than six months." There
were, after this, several of the "hides" of those
famous dealers "hung on the fence," but Mr.
Ayrault's was not among the number, and with one
exception he was the most successful operator who
did business in the New York cattle marts * of that
day. He was a partner with Geo. A. Toffey for a
short time, and among his other business associates
were the following men who had a national reputa-
tion in their line of business: John A. Merritt,
Thos. White, Barney Bartram, Wm. and David
Belden, Joseph Williams, Jas. E. Bathgate, David
and Archibald Allerton, Simon Ulery, Charles
Teed and Thomas Wheeler, men who were consid-
ered the cattle kings of New York. Having
amassed a handsome competence, Mr. Ayrault
turned his attention towards the purchase of a fine
farm, which he secured, located about three miles
east of Poughkeepsie, off the main turnpike, which
was formerly known as the Ver Valin farm, it
having been in the possession of that family for one

* The cattle market at that time was located on Forty-fourth street^
near where the N. Y. C. & H, R. R. R. depot now stands.

hundred and fifty years. The farm contains four
hundred and forty acres of productive land. Mr.
Ayrault purchased it in 1859 and moved there with
his family from New York. In 1861 he built the
fine brick dwelling he now occupies and which is
in such perfect harmony that it has frequently gen-
erated the remark, " It looks as though the house

V had grown there." Never, however, was the saying
" experience is the best teacher" better illustrated
than in the hfe of George Ayrault. After a time
he turned his attention to the breeding of large
cattle for beef, and to-day he stands without a

. rival, as the owner of the largest cattle in the world.
After settling on his farm he went to Western
New York and selected the three finest cows he
could find, one from each of three of the largest
herds in that part of the State, and from those
three cows sprang the cattle that have given Mr.
Ayrault a world wide reputation. The four stuffed
specimens on exhibition in Central Park, N. Y.,
were raised on his place, the lightest of which
weighed three thousand three hundred pounds,
and it is conceded by all, that they were the four
largest head of cattle ever raised on one farm in
America. Mr. Lalor of New York was the pur-
chaser and had them stuffed, and presented to
Central Park. There has been no time since Mr.
Ayrault came into the possession of the three
Western cows but he could show the two heaviest
and fattest cattle in the world. He was also the
owner and breeder of the celebrated "Queen of
cattle" that was exhibited at the Centennial.
The receipts from showing her there and at agri-
cultural fairs amounted to more than nine thou-
sand dollars and her heaviest weight was three
thousand three hundred pounds. She was a thor-
oughbred Durham beautifully proportioned and
was conceded to be the finest animal ever exhib-
ited. "The champion ox of the world" weighing
about four thousand pounds, "and his mate"
weighing nearly the same, may be seen at the
commodious stables of Mr. Ayrault and have
been exhibited at all the principal fairs in the
county, where they have never failed to draw
large crowds.

Ayrault Place which is one of the main attrac-
tions to visitors who are interested in cattle, cheer-
fully extends its hospitaUty to all who may call,
afid after taking a survey of his large oxen and
fine herds, one comes away with the feeling that
there is one man who is entitled to all the distinc-
tion and notoriety he has received, and that man
is George Ayrault. In connection with his large
farm in Duchess county he grazes several hundred
head of cattle in the Genesee valley near Geneseo,
Livingston County, where he also owns several
farms. His possessions are so widely apart that
he does not insure them, being as he terms it his
own insurance company.

Mr. Ayrault is the father of three children : —
Emily L., George, Jr., and Sara Belle. Sis father
was the possessor of a large property at his death,
but in his will he left nothing to George, thinking
that as he was richer than himself, he needed no


:snj>-'btiXBMIltSmsJJ M'ilm: jviin-

■5" . ^'.■^ >'. >■'**■'

Photo, by Vail, Pouglikeepsie.



help. So beginning life with but few advantages,
he has by energy and perseverance attained the
pinnacle of success. He was the first president of
the Hudson River Agricultural and Driving Park
Association, and was instrumental in getting the
stock subscribed, and under his administration it
was a great success. Among many other enter-
prises in which he became interested was the
erection of the fine soldiers monument at La Grange,
which commemorates the death of Lieutenant
Sleight. He was the originator of that idea, and
through his efforts the amount to defray the
expense of the same was raised, and at its unveil-
ing he was made president of the meeting.

Mr. Ayrault is an advocate of early rising, and
while in the cattle markets of New York, daylight
seldom found him in bed. It was a common say-
ing among dealers that if you want to keep up
with Ayrault " you must get up in the morning."


Ayrault Place is principally noted for the mam-
moth cattle that have been raised there since it
came into the possession of George Ayrault.

Mr. Ayrault advances the theory that inasmuch
as the United States have become a beef exporting
nation no American farmer can really afford to
raise cattle merely for dairy purposes, and in order
to make cattle raising a success he must combine
the qualifications of beef and milch cows, and he
has fully shown that it can be done if only proper
care and judgment is exercised in the selection of
parent stock. That Mr. A)Tault possesses all of
the necessary qualifications which place him at the
head of successful stock raisers, is evidenced by the
immense cattle that roam his fields. They are of
extraordinary size and weight and add much to the
attraction of the place with its well watered pas-

Ayrault Place is distant a pleasant drive of three
miles from Poughkeepsie, and the fine residence
together with its beautiful surroundings, make it
one of the most desirable places in the county.


The ancestors of Peter R. Sleight were among
the early and prominent settlers of this country.
The first authentic record we find of them was of

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 95 of 125)