From Newburgh to Poughkeepsie along the Hudson River

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Newburgh, 60 miles from New York. Approaching the city of Newburgh, we see a building of rough stone, one story high, with steep roof—known as Washington’s Headquarters. For several years prior to, and during the Revolution, this was the home of Jonathan Hasbrouck, known far and wide for business integrity and loyalty to liberty. This house was built by him, apparently, in decades; the oldest part, the northeast corner, in 1750; the southeast corner, in 1760, and the remaining half in 1770. It fronted west on the king’s highway, now known as Liberty Street, with a garden and family burial plot to the east, lying between the house and the river. It was restored as nearly as possible to its original character on its purchase by the State in 1849, and it is now the treasure-house of many memories, and of valuable historic relics. A descriptive catalogue, prepared for the trustees, under act of May 11, 1874, by a patient and careful historian, Dr. E. M. Ruttenber, will be of service to the visitor and can be obtained on the grounds. The following facts, condensed from his admirable historical sketch, are of practical interest:

Washington’s Headquarters

“Washington’s Headquarters, or the Hasbrouck house, is situated in the southeast part of the city, constructed of rough stone, one story high, fifty-six feet front by forty-six feet in depth, and located on what was originally Lot No. 2, of the German Patent, with title vested in Heman (Herman?) Schoneman, a native of the Palatinate of Germany, who sold, in 1721, to James Alexander, who subsequently sold to Alexander Colden and Burger Meynders, by whom it was conveyed to Jonathan Hasbrouck, the grandson of Abraham Hasbrouck, one of the Huguenot founders of New Paltz. He was a man of marked character; of fine physique, being six feet and four inches in height; was colonel of the militia of the district, and in frequent service in guarding the passes of the Highlands. His occupation was that of a farmer, a miller, and a merchant. He died in 1780. The first town meeting for the Precinct of Newburgh was held here on the first Tuesday in April, 1763, when its owner was elected supervisor. Public meetings continued to be held here for several years. During the early part of the Revolution, the committee of safety, of the precinct, assembled here; here military companies were organized, and here the regiment which Colonel Hasbrouck commanded assembled, to move hence to the defense of the Highland forts.”

From this brief outline, it will be seen that the building is singularly associated with the history of the Old as well as of the New World: with the former through the original grantee of the land, recalling the wars which devastated the Palatinate and sent its inhabitants, fugitive and penniless, to other parts of Europe and to America; through his successor with the Huguenots of France, and, through the public meetings which assembled here, and especially through its occupation by Washington, with the struggle for American independence.

In the spring of 1782 Washington made this building his headquarters, and remained here until August 18, 1783, on the morning of which day he took his departure from Newburgh. At this place he passed through the most trying period of the Revolution: the year of inactivity on the part of Congress, of distress throughout the country, and of complaint and discontent in the army, the latter at one time bordering on revolt among the officers and soldiers.

Refusing the Crown

It was at this place, on the 22d day of May, 1782, that Colonel Nicola, on behalf of himself and others, proposed that Washington should become king, for the “national advantage,” a proposal that was received by Washington with “surprise and astonishment,” “viewed with abhorrence,” and “reprehended with severity.” The temptation which was thus repelled by Washington, had its origin with that portion of the officers of the army, who while giving their aid heartily to secure an independent government, nevertheless believed that that government should be a monarchy. The rejection of the proposition by Washington was not the only significant result. The rank and file of the army rose up against it, and around their camp-fires chanted their purpose in Billings’ song, “No King but God!” From that hour a republic became the only possible form of government for the enfranchised Colonies.

The inattention of Congress to the payment of the army, during the succeeding winter, gave rise to an equally important episode in the history of the war. On the 10th of March, 1783, the first of the famous “Newburgh Letters” was issued, in which, by implication at least, the army was advised to revolt. The letter was followed by an anonymous manuscript notice for a public meeting of officers on the succeeding Tuesday. Washington was equal to the emergency. He expressed his disapprobation of the whole proceeding, and with great wisdom, requested the field officers, with one commissioned officer from each company, to meet on the Saturday preceding the time appointed by the anonymous notice. He attended this meeting and delivered before it one of the most touching and effective addresses on record. When he closed his remarks, the officers unanimously resolved “to reject with disdain” the infamous proposition contained in the anonymous address.

The meeting of officers referred to was held at the New Building or “Temple” as it was called, in New Windsor, but Washington’s address was written at his headquarters. The “Newburgh Letters,” to which it was a reply, were written by Major John Armstrong, aid-de-camp to General Gates. The anonymously called meeting was not held. The motives of its projectors we will not discuss; but its probable effect, had it been successful, must be considered in connection with Washington’s encomium of the result of the meeting which he had addressed: “Had this day been wanting, the world had never known the height to which human greatness is capable of attaining.”

Cessation of Hostilities

Notice of the cessation of hostilities was proclaimed to the army April 19, 1783. It was received with great rejoicings by the troops at Newburgh, and under Washington’s order, was the occasion of an appropriate celebration. In the evening, signal beacon lights proclaimed the joyous news to the surrounding country. Thirteen cannon came pealing up from Fort Putnam, which were followed by a feu-de-joie rolling along the lines. The mountain sides resounded and echoed like tremendous peals of thunder, and the flashing from thousands of fire-arms, in the darkness of the evening, was like unto vivid flashes of lightning from the clouds. From this time furloughs were freely granted to soldiers who wished to return to their homes, and when the army was finally disbanded those absent were discharged from service without being required to return. That portion of the army, which remained at Newburgh on guard duty, after the removal of the main body to West Point in June, were participants here in the closing scenes of the disbandment, when, on the morning of November 3, 1783, “the proclamation of Congress and the farewell orders of Washington were read, and the last word of command given.” From Monell’s “Handbook of Washington’s Headquarters” we also quote a general description of the house and its appearance when occupied by the commander-in-chief. “Washington’s family consisted of himself, his wife, and his aid-de-camp, Major Tench Tilghman. The large room, which is entered from the piazza on the east, known as ‘the room with seven doors and one window,’ was used as the dining and sitting-room. The northeast room was Washington’s bedroom and the one adjoining it on the left was occupied by him as a private office. The family room was that in the southeast; the kitchen was the southwest room; the parlor the northwest room. Between the latter and the former was the hall and staircase and the storeroom, so called for having been used by Colonel Hasbrouck and subsequently by his widow as a store. The parlor was mainly reserved for Mrs. Washington and her guests. A Mrs. Hamilton, whose name frequently appears in Washington’s account book, was his housekeeper, and in the early part of the war made a reputation for her zeal in his service, which Thacher makes note of and Washington acknowledges in his reference to an exchange of salt. There was little room for the accommodation of guests, but it is presumed that the chambers were reserved for that purpose. Washington’s guests, however, were mainly connected with the army and had quarters elsewhere. Even Lafayette had rooms at DeGrove’s Hotel when a visitor at headquarters.

“The building is now substantially in the condition it was during Washington’s occupation of it. The same massive timbers span the ceiling; the old fire-place with its wide-open chimney is ready for the huge back-logs of yore; the seven doors are in their places; the rays of the morning sun still stream through the one window; no alteration in form has been made in the old piazza—the adornments on the walls, if such the ancient hostess had, have alone been changed for souvenirs of the heroes of the nation’s independence. In presence of these surroundings, it requires but little effort of the imagination to restore the departed guests. Forgetting not that this was Washington’s private residence, rather than a place for the transaction of public business, we may, in the old sitting-room respread the long oaken table, listen to the blessing invoked on the morning meal, hear the cracking of joints, and the mingled hum of conversation. The meal dispensed, Mrs. Washington retires to appear at her flower beds or in her parlor to receive her morning calls. Colfax, the captain of the life-guard, enters to receive the orders of the day—perhaps a horse and guard for Washington to visit New Windsor, or a barge for Fishkill or West Point, is required; or it may be Washington remains at home and at his writing desk conducts his correspondence, or dictates orders for army movements. The old arm-chair, sitting in the corner yonder, is still ready for its former occupant.

“The dinner hour of five o’clock approaches; the guests of the day have already arrived. Steuben, the iron drill-master and German soldier of fortune, converses with Mrs. Washington. He had reduced the simple marksmen of Bunker Hill to the discipline of the armies of Europe and tested their efficiency in the din of battle. He has leisure now, and scarcely knows how to find employment for his active mind. He is telling his hostess, in broken German-English, of the whale (it proved to be an eel) he had caught in the river. Hear his hostess laugh! And that is the voice of Lafayette, relating perhaps his adventures in escaping from France, or his mishap in attempting to attend Mrs. Knox’s last party. Wayne, of Stony Point; Gates, of Saratoga; Clinton, the Irish-blooded Governor of New York, and their compatriots—we may place them all at times beside our Pater Patriae in this old room, and hear amid the mingled hum his voice declare: ‘Happy, thrice happy, shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed anything, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabric of Freedom and Empire on the broad basis of independency; who have assisted in protecting the rights of human nature, and in establishing an asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions.’

Marquis de Lafayette

“In France, some fifty years after the Revolution, Marbois reproduced, as an entertainment for Lafayette, then an old man, this old sitting-room and its table scene. From his elegant saloon he conducted his guests, among whom were several Americans, to the room which he had prepared. There was a large open fire-place, and plain oaken floors; the ceiling was supported with large beams and whitewashed; there were the seven small-sized doors and one window with heavy sash and small panes of glass. The furniture was plain and unlike any then in use. Down the centre of the room was an oaken table covered with dishes of meat and vegetables, decanters and bottles of wine, and silver mugs and small wine glasses. The whole had something the appearance of a Dutch kitchen. While the guests were looking around in surprise at this strange procedure, the host, addressing himself to them said, ‘Do you know where we now are?’ Lafayette looked around, and, as if awakening from a dream, he exclaimed, ‘Ah! the seven doors and one window, and the silver camp goblets such as the Marshals of France used in my youth. We are at Washington’s Headquarters on the Hudson fifty years ago.’”

Centennial Celebration

The Hasbrouck family returned to their old home, made historic for all time, after the disbandment of the army and remained until it became the property of the State. On July 4, 1850, the place was formally dedicated by Major-General Winfield Scott, dedicatory address delivered by John J. Monell, an ode by Mary E. Monell, and an oration by Hon. John W. Edmunds. The centennial of the disbanding of the army was observed here October 18, 1883. After the noonday procession of 10,000 men in line, three miles in length, with governors and representative people from almost every State, 150,000 people, “ten acres” square, gathered in the historic grounds. Senator Bayard, of Delaware, was chairman of the day. Hon. William M. Evarts was the orator, and modestly speaking in the third person, Wallace Bruce, author of this handbook, was the poet. No one there gathered can ever forget that afternoon of glorious sunlight or the noble pageant. The great mountains, which had so frequently been the bulwark of liberty and a place of refuge for our fathers, were all aglow with beauty, as if, like Horeb’s bush, they too would open their lips in praise and thanksgiving. One of the closing sentences of Senator Evarts’ address is unsurpassed in modern or ancient eloquence: “These rolling years have shown growth, forever growth, and strength, increasing strength, and wealth and numbers ever expanding, while intelligence, freedom, art, culture and religion have pervaded and ennobled all this material greatness. Wide, however, as is our land and vast our population to-day, these are not the limits to the name, the fame, the power of the life and character of Washington. If it could be imagined that this nation, rent by disastrous feuds, broken in its unity, should ever present the miserable spectacle of the undefiled garments of his fame parted among his countrymen, while for the seamless vesture of his virtue they cast lots—if this unutterable shame, if this immeasurable crime, should overtake this land and this people, be sure that no spot in the wide world is inhospitable to his glory, and no people in it but rejoices in the influence of his power and his virtue.” In his lofty sentences the old heroes seemed to pass again in review before us, and the daily life of that heroic band, when Congress sat inactive and careless of its needs until the camp rose in mutiny, happily checked, however, by the great commander in a single sentence. It will be remembered that Washington began to read his manuscript without glasses, but was compelled to stop, and, as he adjusted them to his eyes, he said, “You see, gentlemen, that I have not only grown gray, but blind, in your service.” It is needless to say that the “anonymously called” meeting was not held.

Near at hand, and also plainly seen from the river, is the new Tower of Victory, fifty-three feet high, costing $67,000. It contains a life-size statue of Washington, in the act of sheathing his sword, with bronze figures representing the rifle, the artillery, the line officer and dragoon service of our country, with a bronze tablet on the east wall bearing the inscription: “This monument was erected under the authority of the Congress of the United States, and of the State of New York, in commemoration of the disbandment, under proclamation of the Continental Congress, of October 18, 1783, of the armies, by whose patriotic and military virtue, our national independence and sovereignty were established.” The Belvidere, reached by a spiral staircase, is capable of holding one hundred persons, and the view there from takes in a wide extent of panoramic beauty. Newburgh has not only reason to be proud of her historical landmarks and her beautiful situation, but also of her commercial prosperity. In olden times, it was a great centre for all the western and southwestern district, farmers and lumbermen coming from long distances in the interior. Soon after the Revolution she was made a village, when there were only two others in the State. Before the days of the Erie canal, this was the shortest route to Lake Erie, and was made by stage via Ithaca. With increasing facilities of railway communication, she has also easily held her own against all commercial rivals. The West Shore Railroad, the Erie Railway, the New York Central and the New York and New England across the river, and several Hudson river steamers, make her peculiarly central. The city is favored with beautiful driveways, amid charming country seats. The New Paltz road passes the site where General Wayne had his headquarters, also, the “Balm of Gilead tree,” which gave the name of Balmville to the suburban locality. Another road affords a glimpse of the “Vale of Avoca,” named after the well-known glen in Ireland, of which Tom Moore so sweetly sung. Here, some say, a treacherous attempt was made on the life of Washington, but it is not generally credited by critical historians. As the steamer leaves the dock, and we look back upon the factories and commercial houses along the water front, crowned by noble streets of residence, with adjoining plateau, sweeping back in a vast semi-circle as a beautiful framework to the wide bay, we do not wonder that Hendrick Hudson established a prophetic record by writing “a very pleasant place to build a town.”

Fishkill

Directly opposite Newburgh, one mile north of Denning’s Point (formerly the eastern dock of the Newburgh ferry), rises on a pleasant slope, the newer Fishkill of this region. A little more than a mile from the landing, is the manufacturing village of Matteawan, connected by an electric railroad. Old Fishkill, or Fishkill Village, is about four miles inland, charmingly located, under the slope of the Fishkill range. This was once the largest village in Dutchess county, and was chosen for its secure position above the Highlands, as the place to which “should be removed the treasury and archives of the State, also, as the spot for holding the subsequent sessions of the Provincial Conventions,” after they were driven from New York. A historical sketch of the town, by T. Van Wyck Brinkerhoff, presents many things of interest. “Its history, anterior to 1682, belongs to the red men of the valley, and, more than any other spot, this was the home of their priests. Here they performed their incantations and administered at their altars.” According to Broadhead, “It would seem that the neighboring Indians esteemed the peltries from Fishkill as charmed by the incantations of the aboriginal enchanters who lived along its banks, and the beautiful scenery in which those ancient priests of the Highlands dwelt, is thus invested with new poetic associations.” Dunlap speaks of them as “occupying the Highlands, called by them Kittatenny Mountains. Their principal settlement, designated Wiccapee, was situated in the vicinity of Anthony’s Nose. Here too, lived the Wappingers, a war-like and brave tribe, extending themselves along the Matteawan, along the Wappingers Kill and tributaries, along the Hudson, and to the northward, across the river into Ulster County. These and other tribes to the south, west and north, were parts of and tributaries to the great Iroquois confederation—the marvel for all time to come of a system of government so wise and politic, and for men so eloquent and daring. The Wappingers took part in the Dutch and Indian wars of 1643 and 1663, led on by their war chiefs, Wapperonk and Aepjen. A few Indian names are still remaining, and a few traces of their history still left standing. The name Matteawan is Indian, signifying ‘Good Beaver Grounds,’ and the name Wappinger still speaks of those who once owned the soil along the Hudson. Their name for the stream was Mawanassigh, or Mawenawasigh. Wiccapee and Shenondoah are also Indian names of places in Fishkill Hook, and East Fishkill, and Apoquague, still surviving as the name of a country post office, was the Indian style of what is now called Silver Lake, signifying ’round pond.’ In Fishkill Hook until quite recently, there were traces of their burial grounds, and many apple and pear trees are still left standing, set there by the hands of the red man before the country had been occupied by Europeans.”

To return to Brinkerhoff, “The first purchase of land in the county of Dutchess, was made in the town of Fishkill. On the 8th day of February, 1682, a license was given by Thomas Dongan, Commander-in-chief of the Province of New York, to Francis Rombout and Gulian Ver Planck, to purchase a tract of land from the Indians. Under this license, they bought, on the 8th day of August, 1683, of the Wappinger Indians, all their right, title and interest to a certain large tract of land, afterward known as the Rombout precinct. Gulian Ver Planck died before the English patent was issued by Governor Dongan; Stephanus Van Cortland was then joined in it with Rombout, and Jacobus Kipp substituted as the representative of the children of Gulian Ver Planck. On the 17th day of October, 1685, letters patent, under the broad seal of the Province of New York, were granted by King James the Second, and the parties to whom these letters patent were granted, became from that time the undisputed proprietors of the soil. There were 76,000 acres of these lands lying in Fishkill, and other towns taken from the patent, and 9,000 acres lying in the limits of the town of Poughkeepsie. Besides paying the natives, as a further consideration for the privilege of their license, they were to pay the commander-in-chief, Thomas Dongan, six bushels of good and merchantable winter wheat every year.” In the Book of Patents, at Albany, vol. 5, page 72, will be found the deed, of special interest to the historian and antiquarian.

“After the evacuation of New York, in the fall of 1776, and the immediate loss of the seaboard, with Long Island and part of New Jersey, Fishkill was at once crowded with refugees, as they were then called, who sought, by banishing themselves from their homes on Long Island and New York, to escape imprisonment and find safety here. The interior army route to Boston passed through this place. Army stores, workshops, ammunition, etc., were established and deposited here.” The Marquis De Chastellux, in his travels in North America, says: “This town, in which there are not more than fifty houses in the space of two miles, has been long the principal depot of the American army. It is there they have placed their magazines, their hospitals, their workshops, etc., but all of these form a town in themselves, composed of handsome large barracks, built in the woods at the foot of the mountains: for the American army, like the Romans in many respects, have hardly any other winter quarters than wooden towns, or barricaded camps, which may be compared to the ‘hiemalia’ of the Romans.” These barracks were situated on the level plateau between the residence of Mr. Cotheal and the mountains. Portions of these grounds were no doubt then covered with timber. Guarding the approach from the south, stockades and fortifications were erected on commanding positions, and regularly manned by detachments from the camp.

“Upon one of these hills, rising out of this mountain pass-way, very distinct lines of earthworks are yet apparent. Near the residence of Mr. Sidney E. Van Wyck, by the large black-walnut trees, and east of the road near the base of the mountain, was the soldiers’ burial ground. Many a poor patriot soldier’s bones lie moldering there; and if we did but know how many, we would be startled at the number, for this almost unknown and unnoticed burial ground holds not a few, but hundreds of those who gave their lives for the cause of American independence. Some fifteen years ago, an old lady who had lived near the village until after she had grown to womanhood, told the writer that after the battle of White Plains she went with her father through the streets of Fishkill, and in places between the Dutch and Episcopal churches, the dead were piled up like cord-wood. Those who died from wounds in battle or from sickness in hospital were buried there. Many of these were State militiamen, and it seems no more than just that the State should make an appropriation to erect a suitable monument over this spot. Rather than thus remain for another century, if a rough granite boulder were rolled down from the mountain side and inscribed: ‘To the unknown and unnumbered dead of the American Revolution,’ that rough unhewn stone would tell to the stranger and the passer-by, more to the praise and fame of our native town than any of us shall be able to add to it by works of our own; for it is doubtful whether any spot in the State has as many of the buried dead of the Revolution as this quiet burial yard in our old town!” Here also on June 2, 1883, was observed “The Fishkill Centennial,” and few of our centennials have been celebrated amid objects of greater revolutionary interest. Near at hand, to quote from the official report of the proceedings, is “Denning’s Point where Washington frequently, while waiting, tied his horses under those magnificent ‘Washington oaks,’ as he passed backward and forward from New Windsor and Newburgh to Fishkill. Near by is the Verplanck House, Baron Steuben’s old headquarters. On Spy Hill and Continental Hill troops were quartered. At Matteawan Sackett lived, and there is the Teller House built by Madame Brett, where officers frequently resorted, and there Yates dwelt when he presided over the legislative body while it held its sessions in Fishkill, that had much to do with forming our first State Constitution. Baron Steuben was for a while in the old Scofield House at Glenham. In Fishkill are those renowned old churches where legislative sittings were held, which were also used as hospitals for the sick, and one of which is otherwise known as being the place where Enoch Crosby, the spy, was imprisoned, and from which he escaped. Near at hand the Wharton House (Van Wyck House), forever associated with him, and made famous by Cooper’s ‘Spy.’ In the Brinckerhoff House above, Lafayette was dangerously ill with a fever, and there, at Swartwoutville, Washington was often a visitor. Whenever Washington was at Fishkill he made Colonel Brinckerhoff’s his headquarters. He occupied the bedroom back of the parlor, which remains the same ‘excepting a door that opens into the hall, which has been cut through.’ It is an old-fashioned house built of stone, with the date 1738 on one of its gables.” With the story of Fishkill we close the largest page relating to our revolutionary heroes, and leave behind us the Old Beacon Mountains which forever sentinel and proclaim their glory.

Low Point, or Carthage, is a small village on the east bank, about four miles north of Fishkill. It was called by the early inhabitants Low Point, as New Hamburgh, two miles north, was called High Point. Opposite Carthage is Roseton, once known as Middlehope, and above this we see the residence of Bancroft Davis and the Armstrong Mansion. We now behold on the west bank a large flat rock, covered with cedars, recently marked by a lighthouse, the

Duyvel’s Dans Kammer

Here Hendrick Hudson, in his voyage up the river, witnessed an Indian pow-wow— the first recorded fireworks in a country which has since delighted in rockets and pyrotechnic displays. Here, too, in later years, tradition relates the sad fate of a wedding party. It seems that a Mr. Hans Hansen and a Miss Kathrina Van Voorman, with a few friends, were returning from Albany, and disregarding the old Indian prophecy, were all slain:

“For none that visit the Indian’s den
Return again to the haunts of men.
The knife is their doom! O sad is their lot!
Beware, beware of the blood-stained spot!”

Some years ago this spot was also searched for the buried treasures of Captain Kidd, and we know of one river pilot who still dreams semi-yearly of there finding countless chests of gold.

Two miles above, on the east side, we pass New Hamburgh, at the mouth of Wappingers Creek. The name Wappinger had its origin from Wabun, east, and Acki, land. This tribe, a sub-tribe of the Mahicans, held the east bank of the river, from Manhattan to Roeliffe Jansen’s Creek, which empties into the Hudson near Livingston, a few miles south of Catskill Station on the Hudson River Railroad. Passing Hampton Point we see Marlborough, the head-center of a large fruit industry, delightfully located in the sheltered pass of the Maunekill. On the east bank will be noticed several fine residences: “Uplands,” “High Cliff,” “Cedars,” and “Netherwood.” Milton is now at hand on the west bank, with its cozy landing and West Shore Railroad station. This pleasant village was one of the loved spots of J. G. Holland, and the home of Mary Hallock Foote, until a modern “Hiawatha” took our Hudson “Minnehaha” to far away western mountains.

Springbrook, opposite Milton, a place of historic interest, near the river bank, was bought by Theophilus Anthony before the Revolution. Some of the links of the famous chain in the Highlands were forged here in 1777. When the British ships ascended the river the family fled to the woods, all but an old colored servant woman who wisely furnished the soldiers a good dinner and got thereby their good will to save the house. The old Flour Mill, however, was burned which stood on the same site as the present Springbrook Mill.

Theophilus Anthony’s only daughter married Thomas Gill after the Revolution, and from that time the property has been in the Gill family. Few places in the Hudson Valley have such ancient and continuous family history.

Locust Grove

Locust Grove, with square central tower and open outlook, residence of the late Prof. S. F. B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, is seen on the west bank; also the “Lookout,” once known as Mine Hill, now a part of Poughkeepsie cemetery, with charming driveway to the wooded point where the visitor can see from his carriage one of the finest views of the Hudson. The completion of this drive is largely due to the enterprise of the late Mr. George Corlies, who did much to make Poughkeepsie beautiful. The view from this “Lookout” takes in the river for ten miles to the south, and reaches on the north to the Catskills. In a ramble with Mr. Corlies over Lookout Point, he told the writer that it was originally the purpose of Matthew Vassar to erect a monument on Pollopel’s Island to Hendrick Hudson. Mr. Corlies suggested this point as the most commanding site. Mr. Vassar visited it, and concluded to place the monument here. He published an article in the Poughkeepsie papers to this effect, and, meeting Mr. Corlies one week afterwards, said, “Not one person in the city of Poughkeepsie has referred to my monument. I have decided to build a college for women, where they can learn what is useful, practical and sensible.” It is interesting to note the fountain-idea of the first woman’s college in the world, as it took form and shape in the mind of its founder.

Morning View At Blue Point

We now see Blue Point, on the west bank; and, in every direction, enjoy the finest views. The scenery seems to stand, in character, between the sublimity of the Highlands and the tranquil, dreamy repose of the Tappan Zee. It is said that under the shadow of these hills was the favorite anchorage of

The Storm Ship

The Storm Ship, one of our oldest and most reliable legends. The story runs somewhat as follows: Years ago, when New York was a village—a mere cluster of houses on the point now known as the Battery—when the Bowery was the farm of Peter Stuyvesant, and the Old Dutch Church on Nassau Street (which also long since disappeared), was considered the country—when communication with the old world was semi-yearly instead of semi-weekly or daily—say two hundred years ago—the whole town one evening was put into great commotion by the fact that a ship was coming up the bay.

She approached the Battery within hailing distance, and then, sailing against both wind and tide, turned aside and passed up the Hudson. Week after week and month after month elapsed, but she never returned; and whenever a storm came down on Haverstraw Bay or Tappan Zee, it is said that she could be seen careening over the waste; and, in the midst of the turmoil, you could hear the captain giving orders, in good Low Dutch; but when the weather was pleasant, her favorite anchorage was among the shadows of the picturesque hills, on the eastern bank, a few miles above the Highlands. It was thought by some to be Hendrick Hudson and his crew of the “Half Moon,” who, it was well known, had once run aground in the upper part of the river, seeking a northwest passage to China; and people who live in this vicinity still insist that under the calm harvest moon and the pleasant nights of September, they see her under the bluff of Blue Point, all in deep shadow, save her topsails glittering in the moonlight.

Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie, 74 miles from New York, is now at hand, Queen City of the Hudson, with name, derived from the Indian word Apokeepsing, signifying “safe harbor.” Near the landing a bold headland juts out into the river, known as Kaal Rock, and no doubt this sheltering rock was a safe harbor in days of birch canoes. It has been recently claimed that the word signifies “muddy pond,” which is neither true, appropriate or poetic. Poughkeepsie does not propose to give up her old-time “harbor name,” particularly as it has been recently discovered that the name “Kipsie” was also given by the Indians to a “safe harbor” near the Battery on Manhattan Island. It is said that there are over forty different ways of spelling Poughkeepsie, and every year the post office record gives a new one. The first house was built in 1702 by a Mr. Van Kleeck. The State legislature had a session here in 1777 or 1778, when New York was held by the British and after Kingston had been burned by Vaughan.

Ten years later, the State convention also met here for ratification of the Federal Constitution. The town has a beautiful location, and is justly regarded the finest residence city on the river. It is not only midway between New York and Albany, but also midway between the Highlands and the Catskills, commanding a view of the mountain portals on the south and the mountain overlook on the north—the Gibraltar of revolutionary fame and the dreamland of Rip Van Winkle.

The well known poet and litterateur, Joel Benton, who divides his residence between New York and Poughkeepsie, in a recent article, “The Midway City of the Hudson,” written for the Poughkeepsie Sunday Courier, says:

“Poughkeepsie as a township was incorporated in 1788. The village bearing the name was formed in 1799 (incorporated as a city in 1854), and soon became the center of a large trade running in long lines east and west from the river. Dutchess County had at this time but a sparse population. There was a post-road from New York to Albany; but the building of the Dutchess Turnpike from Poughkeepsie to Sharon, Conn., connecting with one from that place to Litchfield, which took place in 1808, was a capital event in its history. This made a considerable strip of western Connecticut tributary to Poughkeepsie’s trade.

“Over the turnpike went four-horse Concord stages, with berailed top and slanting boot in the rear for trunks and other baggage. Each one had the tin horn of the driver; and it was difficult to tell upon which the driver most prided himself—the power to fill that thrilling instrument, or his deft handling of the ponderous whip and multiplied reins. Travelers to Hartford and Boston went over this route; and an east and west through and way mail was a part of the burden. A sort of overland express and freight line, styled the Market Wagon, ran in and out of the town from several directions. One or more of these conveyances started from as far east as the Housatonic River, and they frequently crowded passengers in amongst their motley wares.

“Speaking of the stage-driver’s horn recalls the fact that when the steamboat arrived—which was so solitary an institution that for some time it was distinctly called ‘The Steamboat’—the tin horn did duty also for it. When it was seen in the distance, either Albanyward or in the New York direction, a boy went through the village blowing a horn to arouse those who wished to embark on it. It is said the expectant passengers had ample time, after the horn was sounded, to make their toilets, run down to the river (or walk down) and take passage on it.

“In colonial days few were the people here; but they were a bright and stirring handful. It seems as if every man counted as ten. The De’s and the Vans, the Livingstons, the Schuylers, the Montgomerys and ever so many more of the Hudson River Valley settlers are still making their impress upon the country. I suppose it need not now be counted strange that the strong mixture of Dutch and English settlers, with a few Huguenots, which finally made Dutchess county, were not a little divided between Tory and Whig inclinations. Around Poughkeepsie, and in its allied towns stretching between the Hudson River and the Connecticut line, there was much strife. Gov. George Clinton in his day ruled in the midst of much tumult and turbulence; but he held the reins with vigor, in spite of kidnappers or critics. When the British burned Kingston he prorogued the legislature to Poughkeepsie, which still served as a ‘safe harbor.’ As the resolution progressed the Tory faction was weakened, either by suppression or surrender.

“It was in the Poughkeepsie Court House that, by one vote, after a Homeric battle, the colony of New York consented to become a part of the American republic, which consent was practically necessary to its existence. How large a part two small incidents played here towards the result of nationality. That single vote was one, and the news by express from Richmond, announcing Virginia’s previous ratification—and added stimulus to the vote—was the other. Poughkeepsie honored in May, 1824, the arrival of Lafayette, and dined him, besides exchanging speeches with him, both at the Forbus House, on Market Street, very nearly where the Nelson House now stands, and at the Poughkeepsie Hotel. It was one of Poughkeepsie’s great days when he came. Daniel Webster has spoken in her court house; and Henry Clay, in 1844, when a presidential candidate, stopped for a reception. And it is said that, by a mere accident, she just missed contributing a name to the list of presidents of the United States. The omitted candidate was Nathaniel P. Talmadge. He could have had the vice-presidential candidacy, the story goes, in 1840, but would not take it. If he had accepted it, he would have gone into history not merely as United States senator from New York and afterwards Governor of Wisconsin territory, but as president in John Tyler’s place.

“In 1844, the New York State Fair was held here somewhere east of what is now Hooker Avenue. It was an occasion thought important enough then to be pictured and reported in the London Illustrated News. Two years after the telegraph wires were put up in this city, before they had yet reached the city of New York. Considering the fact that Prof. S. F. B. Morse, the telegraph inventor, had his residence here, this incident was not wholly inappropriate.

“The advent in 1849 of the Hudson River Railroad, which was an enterprise in its day of startling courage and magnitude, constituted a special epoch in the history of Poughkeepsie and the Hudson River towns. Men of middle age here well remember the hostility and ridicule the project occasioned when it was first broached. Some said no railroad ever could be built on the river’s edge; and, if you should build one, the enormous expense incurred would make it forever unprofitable. It seemed then the height of Quixotism to lay an expensive track where the river offered a free way to all. Property holders, whose property was to be greatly benefited, fought the railroad company with unusual spirit and persistence. But the railroad came, nevertheless, and needs no advocate or apologist to-day. There is no one now living here who would ask its removal, any more than he would ask the removal of the Hudson River itself.”

Poughkeepsie has been known for more than half a century as the City of Schools. The Parthenon-like structure which crowns College Hill was prophetic of a still grander and more widely known institution, the first in the world devoted to higher culture for women,

Vassar College

Vassar College.—This institution, founded by Matthew Vassar, and situated two miles east of the city, maintains its prestige not only as the first woman’s college in point of time, but also first in excellence and influence. The grounds are beautiful and graced by noble buildings which have been erected year by year to meet the continued demands of its patrons. The college is not seen from the river but is of easy access by trolley from the steamboat landing.

Eastman College

Eastman College is also one of the fixed and solid institutions of Poughkeepsie, located in the very heart of the city. It has accomplished good work in preparing young men for business, and has made Poughkeepsie a familiar word in every household throughout the land. It was fortunate for the city that the energetic founder of this college selected the central point of the Hudson as the place of all others most suited for his enterprise, and equally fortunate for the thousands of young men who yearly graduate from this institution, as the city is charmingly located and set like a picture amid picturesque scenery.

Among many successful public institutions of Poughkeepsie are the Vassar Hospital, the Vassar Old Men’s Home, the Old Ladies’ Home, the State Hospital and the Vassar Institute of Arts and Sciences.

The opera house is one of the pleasantest in the country and received a high comment, still remembered, from Joseph Jefferson, for its perfect acoustic quality. The armory, the Adriance Memorial Library to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Adriance, and the historic Clinton House on Main Street purchased in 1898 by the Daughters of the Revolution, also claim the attention of the visitor. Several factories are here located, the best known being that of Adriance, Platt & Co., whose Buckeye mowers and reapers have been awarded the highest honors in Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States, and are sold in every part of the civilized globe. The Phœnix Horseshoe Co., the Knitting-Goods Establishment, and various shoe, shirt and silk thread factories contribute to the material prosperity of the town. The drives about Poughkeepsie are delightful. Perhaps the best known in the United States is the Hyde Park road, six miles in extent, with many palatial homes and charming pictures of park and river scenery. This is a part of the Old Post Road and reminds one by its perfect finish of the roadways of England. Returning one can take a road to the left leading by and up to

College Hill, 365 feet in height, commanding a wide and extensive prospect. The city lies below us, fully embowered as in a wooded park. To the east the vision extends to the mountain boundaries of Dutchess County, and to the north we have a view of the Catskills marshaled as we have seen them a thousand times in sunset beauty along the horizon. This property, once owned by Senator Morgan and his heirs, was happily purchased by William Smith of Poughkeepsie, and given to the city as a public park. There is great opportunity here to make this a thing of beauty and a joy forever, for there are few views on the Hudson, and none from any hill of its height, that surpass it in extent and variety. The city reservoir lies to the north, about one hundred feet down the slope of College Hill.

The South Drive, a part of the Old Post Road, passes the gateway of the beautiful rural cemetery, Locust Grove and many delightful homes. Another interesting drive from Poughkeepsie is to Lake Mohonk and Minnewaska, well-known resorts across the Hudson, in the heart of the Shawangunk (pronounced Shongum) Mountains, also reached by railway or stages via New Paltz. There are also many extended drives to the interior of the county recommended to the traveler who makes Poughkeepsie for a time his central point; chief among these, Chestnut Ridge, formerly the home of the historian Benson J. Lossing, lying amid the hill country of eastern Dutchess. Its mean altitude is about 1,100 feet above tide water, a fragment of the Blue Ridge branch of the Appalachian chain of mountains, cleft by the Hudson at West Point, stretching away to the Berkshire Hills. It is also easy of access by the Harlem Railroad from New York to Dover Plains with three miles of carriage drive from that point. The outlook from the ridge is magnificent; a sweep of eighty miles from the Highlands to the Helderbergs, with the entire range of the Shawangunk and the Catskills. Mr. Lossing once said that his family of nine persons had required during sixteen years’ residence on Chestnut Ridge, only ten dollars’ worth of medical attendance. Previous to 1868 he had resided in Poughkeepsie, and throughout his life his form was a familiar one in her streets.

Dover Stone Church

The Dover Stone Church, just west of Dover Plains Village, is also well worth a visit. Here a small stream has worn out a remarkable cavern in the rocks forming a gothic arch for entrance. It lies in a wooded gorge within easy walk from the village. Many years ago the writer of this handbook paid it an afternoon visit, and the picture has remained impressed with wonderful vividness. The archway opens into a solid rock, and a stream of water issues from the threshold. On entering the visitor is confronted by a great boulder, resembling an old-fashioned New England pulpit, reaching half way to the ceiling. The walls are almost perfectly arched, and garnished here and there with green moss and white lichen. A rift in the rocks extends the whole length of the chapel, over which trees hang their green foliage, which, ever rustling and trembling, form a trellis-work with the blue sky, while the spray rising from behind the rock-worn altar seems like the sprinkling of holy incense. After all these years I still hear the voice of those dashing waters and dream again, as I did that day, of the brook of Cherith where ravens fed the prophet of old. It is said by Lossing, in his booklet on the Dover Stone Church, that Sacassas, the mighty sachem of the Pequoid and emperor over many tribes between the Thames and the Hudson River, was compelled after a disastrous battle which annihilated his warriors, to fly for safety, and, driven from point to point, he at last found refuge in this cave, where undiscovered he subsisted for a few days on berries, until at last he made his way through the territory of his enemies, the Mahican, to the land of the Mohawks.



MLA Source Citation:

Bruce, Wallace. The Hudson; Three Centuries of History, Romance and Invention. New York: Bryant Union Company. 1907. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 19 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/new-york/newburgh-poughkeepsie-along-hudson-river.htm - Last updated on Jan 6th, 2014


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