General history of Duchess County, New York

A History of Duchess County, one of the wealthiest, most intelligent, and most abundant in historical materials of all the shires of the State of New York, has never before been written. A large proportion of her sister counties have had their historians. Putnam, form- part of Duchess, Orange, Ulster, and Litchfield in Connecticut, have each been made the subject of a volume of history, in which the eminent? deeds of her children have been recorded for the instruction and entertainment of contemporaries and posterity. Whether the present volume will supply the deficiency remains for a discerning public to determine.

In behalf of his efforts the author would state that all his spare moments have been devoted to this object for a period of nearly three years. During this time he has traveled through each town, visiting places of interest, and noting down the more important matters that came in his way; copying old records, and questioning the oldest inhabitants in relation to the early history of the localities.

He has also made free use of such authorities at hand as would aid him in the work. He has aimed to avoid burdening the pages in the body of the book with unnecessary references, which, while they may lend the appearance of authenticity to the volume, serve but to confuse the general reader. He would, however, acknowledge the following as having been of great assistance and trusts this acknowledgment will be sufficient: "History of Amenia," by Newton Reed; "Blake's History of Putnam County;" Bailey's and Brinckerhoff's works on Fishkill; "The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea," "The Pictorial History of the Revolution," and other works and papers by Lossing;" Bolton's History of Westchester;" "O'Callaghan's History of New Netherlands;" " Dunlap's History of New York;" "New York Historical Collections;" Spaftord's, Disturnell's, French's, and Smith's Oazetteers; " Moulton's History of New York;" and other sources space would fail us to mention.

In the portion devoted to the history of the churches of the county, the effort has been made to deal impartially with all denominations. If more space has been given to one society than another, it is because the facts connected there with have been preserved with more care, and made more easy of reference. A word in relation to the wood-cuts which are embodied in the work. The sketches were, in most cases, made directly from the buildings, and engraved on wood, by the author. As these constitute the first and only work of the kind ever attempted by him, the reader will kindly pardon the deficiency if not quite up to the standard of artistic excellence. It was suggested that the book would lack an essential feature if devoid of illustrations; and as the expense of having the engraving done at a regular establishment, would more than balance the profits that could reasonably be expected from the sale of the book, the author was, from necessity, forced to do the work himself. They are believed, on the whole, to be as truthful as cuts usually are.

The writer is well aware that he cannot expect to please all classes alike. What, to one person, would be of no consequence, would be replete with interest to another. The effort has been made to abridge so as not to weary the patience of the general reader, and at the same time not to omit what might prove interesting and important; while it is believed nothing superfloas has been inserted. If any reader finds his favorite theme has not been dwelt upon as profusely as he could wish, he should bear in mind that another is the better pleased for the abridgment. If, in the subsequent chapters, there should be found a little tendency toward the romantic, suffice it to say that by tar the greater portion of readers find delight in such topics. The romance of a locality is as much a part of its history, as is the name of its occupant, or the value of its land per acre.

It is believed that the outline map, which forms a part of the work, will add not a little to its value. The preparation of the stone on which it is printed necessitated an original outlay of a considerable sum, and is believed to be one of the most complete of the kind ever issued in a local history, giving, as it does, many of the minor details only to be found in expensive maps.

The author expects to be reminded of errors and omissions. He lays no claim to perfection. But he has the satisfaction of knowing he has done the best he could under existing circumstances. Had he more leisure and means at command, he is confident he could have added much more that might prove of interest. It has been his object to make a book that would be read, rather than praised and not read, as would most likely be the case with a strictly statistical work.

It may not be egotistic to state that this volume, whatever its merits may be, is essentially the work of the County, both as regards its literary and its mechanical execution. A homemade article is always the more prized from its being the work of ourselves.

The writer takes great pleasure in acknowledging the many favors shown by individuals of the different towns, by way of aiding him in the collection of data. Many friendships have been formed, which he values as he would life-long acquaintances. Did he not think their modesty forbids, he would be pleased to mention them by name in this connection.

In conclusion, if the results of the efforts embodied in this volume shall be to rescue one fact from oblivion, the perpetuation of which will prove beneficial to the community; or if its perusal shall suffice to while away an agreeable hour around the evening lamp, the author will consider his work has not been in vain. Philip H. Smith.


Table of Contents

Map of the County
Title Page 5
Preface 79
Table of Contents 10-11
List of Illustrations 1214
Orthography of Name 1516
Aborigines 1722
Earliest Mention 2324
Topography 2526
Geology Including Mineralogy 2730
Botany 3136
Zoology 3740
Patents 4147
County Organization 4850
Military History 5196
General History 97-108
Amenia 109131
Beekman 132143
Clinton 144148
Dover 149173
Fishkill Including East Fishkill and Wappinger 174214
Hyde Park 215225
LaGrange 226235
Milan 236240
Northeast 241256
Pawling 257297
Pine Plains 298323
Pleasant Valley 324331
Poughkeepsie 332371
Red Hook 372385
Rhinebeck 386406
Stanford 407416
Union Vale 417422
Washington 423434
Wappinger 435
Appendix A Comprising Towns in Putnam Co 439471
Appendix B 472501
General Index 502507


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The history of the present limits of Duchess County, prior to 1682, belongs to the Red Man. But those ages in which he lived undisputed possessor of the soil are as a sealed book, to which the historian turns in vain for the records of the past.

There are those who write that this section of country was without Indian habitations. Such, too, was the dream in regard to the land of the Iroquois, until Sullivan's blazing torch lighted the hills and valleys with the crackling flames of forty burning villages. Yet tradition, and the somewhat fragmentary history that has been gleaned, abundantly show that these forest clad hills once resounded with the war-whoop, and the smoke from the wigwam ascended from the valley.