Collection: Orange County New York

Biographies of Orange County New York

The following biographies have been extracted from The history of Orange County, New York by Russel Headley. Orange county was one of the earliest counties of the State, dating back to 1683, when it was organized by a colony law. It was also one of those formed by a general act of organization in 1788, when it included the present county of Rockland, and was described as extending from the limits of East and West Jersey on the west side of the Hudson River along the river to Murderer’s Creek, or the bounds of Ulster County, and westward into the woods as far as Delaware River — that is, all that part of the state south of an easterly and westerly line from the mouth of Murderer’s Creek to the Delaware River or northerly line of Pennsylvania. In 1797 Rockland county was set off from it, and five towns from Ulster were added. Its boundaries were definitely fixed by an act of the New York legislature adopted April 3rd, 1801. The previous act of April 5th, 1797, provided that five towns, then a part of the County of Ulster, should be annexed to the county of Orange, and that the courts should hold their sessions alternately at Newburgh and Goshen. Two days afterward another act was passed defining the boundary lines of the towns composing the newly constructed county,...

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Biographical Sketch of Nathaniel Parker Willis

Born in Portland, Maine, January 20, 1806, died at his country home, Idlewild, Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, January 20, 1867. His chief works are: Melanie, Lady Jane and other poems; Pencillings by the Way; Inklings of Adventure; Romance of Travel, comprising Tales of Five Lands; People I Have Met, or Pictures of Society and People of Mark; A Health Trip to the Tropics; Out of Doors at Idlewild; Paul Fane, or Parts of a life else Untold, a Novel. Edgar Allen Poe, in a review of the literary work of N. P. Willis said: “As a writer of `sketches’ properly so called, Mr. Willis is unequaled. Sketches especially of society, are his forte, and they are so for no other reason than that they afford him the best opportunity of introducing the personal Willis or more distinctly because this species of composition is most susceptible of impression from his personal character.” Among his short poems, perhaps the most popular are “May” and “The Belfry...

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Biography of Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers

Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers. Goshen’s Sweet Singer, Mrs. Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers, who wrote under the nom de plume, of “Ethel Lynn,” was born at Goshen, Orange County, N. Y., in 1825 and died at Orange, N. J., in 1879. Mrs. Beers who was a woman of rare literary gifts, was a frequent contributor to the leading periodicals of her time. Perhaps her best known poem is “All Quiet Along the Potomac,” written during the civil war, which attracted wide attention, and occupies a permanent place in standard poetical literature. “All Quiet Along the Potomac” was first published in Harper’s Weekly of November 30, 1861. The phrase, “All Quiet Along the Potomac,” was a familiar one in the Fall of that year, and in the indifferent announcement that was one day added, “A Picket Shot,” the author found the inspiration of her poem. This celebrated poem when first published bore only the initials “E. B.,” and as it went floating around in the great sea of journalism, numerous aspirants for literary fame, who were not over scrupulous in their methods of obtaining it, grasped the opportunity of playing the role of literary pirates in their ambitious desire to have their names handed down to posterity as poetical celebrities, in the vain hope of thus achieving enduring literary fame. Mrs. Beers, in an explanatory note in her volume of collected...

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Biography of David Halliday Moffat

David H. Moffat, one of the empire builders of the great West, was born at Washingtonville, Orange County, N. Y., in the year 1839. He died in New York City on March 1S, 1911. He was the youngest child of David Moffat and Catherine Gregg Moffat. The life of David H. Moffat can be properly termed one of the romances of the great Middle West, for he was connected with almost every important development between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, particularly in the vicinity of Denver. He commenced his business career as a clerk in a New York bank at twenty years of age, and in 1860, shortly after the discovery of gold at Pike’s Peak, went to Denver, then a mining camp, where he established himself in the stationery business. That enterprise was first located in a tent, on the banks of Cherry Creek, where his little stock of newspapers, magazines and stationery was sold to the miners from a counter constructed by placing boards on the tops of two empty flour barrels. In a short time he was a clerk in the newly organized First National Bank of Denver, where he rose in rapid succession to the position of Cashier, and then President, a position which he held until his death. His name is inseparably connected with the mining industry of Colorado and the building...

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Biographical Sketch of Edward M. Ruttenber

Journalist and historian, was born in the Town of Bennington, Vt., July 17, 1824. He entered the office of the Vermont Gazette as an apprentice to the printing business in 1837, and removed to Newburgh in 1838, where he became an indentured apprentice in the office of the Newburgh Telegraph, of which he became the owner in 1850. He was thereafter connected with Newburgh journalism as editor and publisher during his entire life, dying at the advanced age of 83 years on December 4, 1907, at Newburgh, N. Y. As a historian he was thorough and exhaustive, and to him, more than to any other local historian, is perhaps due the credit of preserving for future generations the vast mass of historical data relating to Orange County and the Hudson River Valley. He is the author of the following works: History of the Town of Newburgh, 1859; History of the Flags of New York Regiments, 1865; History of the Obstructions to the Navigation of the Hudson River, 1866; History of the Indian Tribes of the Hudson River, 1872; History of Orange County, 1881. All of these works are universally regarded as standard authorities on the subjects treated and show ample evidence of his exhaustive research and ability as a...

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Biographical Sketch of Edward Payson Roe

Edward Payson Roe was one of Orange County’s most distinguished writers. He was born in Moodna, Orange County, N. Y., in 1838, and died at his home near Cornwall-on-Hudson in 1888. He is best remembered as a novelist whose works achieved great popularity in America and abroad, several of his novels being translated into foreign languages. He studied for the ministry, but illness caused him to abandon his studies while attending Williams College before graduation, but he afterward received a Bachelor’s degree, studied at Auburn and Union Seminaries, and in 1862-65, was a chaplain in the volunteer service during the Civil War between the states. He was from then until 1874 pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Highland Falls, N. Y., after which he gave himself up to lecturing, writing and fruit culture. His first novel, “Barriers Burned Away,” (1872,) was a story suggested by the great Chicago fire. This was followed by “Play and Profit in My Garden,” (1873.) These two works established his reputation as a writer, and were followed in rapid succession by “What Can She Do,” (1873,) `Opening a Chestnut Burr,” (1874,) “From Jest to Earnest,” (1875,) “Near to Nature’s Heart,” (1876,) “A Knight of the Nineteenth Century,” (1877,) “A Face Illuminated,” (1878,) “A Day of Fate,” (1880,) “A Young Girl’s Wooing,” (1884,) “An Original Belle,” (1885,) “Driven Back to Eden,” (1885,) “He Fell in...

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Biography of Joel Tyler Headley

Historian and journalist, was born Dec. 30, 1813, at Walton, Delaware County, N. Y. He died at Newburgh, N. Y., in 1897. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister settled at Walton. Early in life he determined to follow the ministry as a life work, and after graduating at Union College in 1839, he took a course in theology at Auburn Theological Seminary. After being admitted to the ministry he was settled over a church at Stockbridge, Mass. His health failing shortly after he was compelled to relinquish his chosen profession, and in 1842 traveled in Europe. His “Letters from Italy” attracted wide attention, and on his return Horace Greeley, the veteran editor of the New York Tribune, induced him to become an associate editor of the Tribune. After a year with the Tribune he severed his connection with that paper and thereafter pursued the path of authorship, residing continuously at Newburgh until his death. His published works are: Napoleon and His Marshals, which appeared in 1846, and was followed at various periods by Washington and His Generals; History of the War, 1812; Life of Cromwell; Life of Havelock; Life of Scott and Jackson; Sacred Mountains; Sacred Heroes and Martyrs; Headley’s Miscellanies; The Imperial Guard; Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution; The Great Rebellion; Grant and Sherman; Life of Farragut and Our Naval Commanders; History of the Great...

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Biography of Major Edward Carlisle Boynton

Major E. C. Boynton, a graduate of West Point Military Academy, and for many years an instructor in that institution, is chiefly distinguished as the author of the “History of West Point and the Origin and Progress of the U. S. Military Academy,” and several technical works, all of which are regarded as standard authorities on the subjects of which they treat. He was appointed as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, July 1, 1841. After graduation in 1846, he was assigned to the Second Artillery as Brevet Second Lieutenant and ordered to join the army in, Mexico, where he served with General Taylor at the front of the invading force. He served at Monterey and at the seizure of Saltillo in 1846. He participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, the battles of Cerro Gardo, Contreras, Churubusco, in the seizure and occupation of Puebla and in the skirmishes at Amazoque and Oka Laka in 1847. He was severely wounded in the action at Cherubusco. He was promoted Second Lieutenant February 16, 1847, and First Lieutenant, August 20, 1847, and Brevet Captain at the same time for “gallant and meritorious services in the battles of Contreras and Cherubusco, Mexico.” In 1848 he was assigned to the Military Academy at West Point as Assistant Acting Quartermaster. From August, 1848, to September, 1855, he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry,...

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Biographical Sketch of Benjamin Barker Odell

Benjamin B. Odell, thirty-seventh Governor of the State of New York, was born at Newburgh, N. Y., January 14, 1854. He was the son of Benjamin Barker and Ophelia (Bookstaver,) Odell. He graduated from Newburgh Academy in 1874, and entered Bethany College, in Bethany, W. Va., the same year. He remained there one year, after which he entered Columbia College, New York City, where he continued until 1877. He married Estelle Crist, of Newburgh, April 25, 1877; she died in 1888. His second wife was Mrs. Linda (Crist,) Traphagen, a sister of his first wife, whom he married in 1891. He was a member of the Republican State Committee 1884-96; Chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee 1898-1900; Member of the 54th and 55th Congresses 1895-9, 17th New York District; Governor of New York, two terms, 1901-5. He died at Newburgh, N. Y., May 9, 1926, aged 72...

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Biography of William Henry Seward

William H. Seward was born May 16, 1801, in the village of Florida, Town of Warwick, Orange County, New York. His father, Dr. Samuel S. Seward, was a physician of good standing and the first Vice-President of the County Medical Society. Dr. Seward was a farmer, as well as physician, and also the magistrate, storekeeper, banker and money-lender of the little village. He lived to a good old age, dying after his son’s election to the United States Senate, in 1849. The family was of New Jersey origin. John Seward, the grandfather of William Henry, served in the war of the Revolution, beginning as Captain and ending his campaign as Colonel of the First Sussex Regiment. William Henry was the fourth of six children, and following the custom of those days, was selected as the least physically robust, to receive a college education. The village school, the academy at Goshen, a term or two in a short-lived academy at Florida, gave him his preparatory training, and at the age of fifteen, he passed the examination for the junior class at Union College, Schenectady, though the rules as to age at that institution compelled him to enter as a sophomore. He graduated in 1820, having also spent six months of his senior year teaching in Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1822 and settled in Auburn, N. Y....

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Biography of Dewitt Clinton

DeWitt Clinton was born at Little Britain, Orange County, N. Y., in. 1769. He died suddenly while engaged in official duty at Albany, February 11, 1828. His paternal ancestors, although long resident in Ireland, were of English origin, and his mother was of Dutch-French blood. He was educated at Columbia College, graduating with high honors. Choosing the law for his avocation, he studied law under Samuel Jones, afterwards Chief Justice of the United States Superior Court. He was admitted to the Bar in 1788 and entered immediately into political life, being an ardent supporter of his uncle, George Clinton. He took an active interest in the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and reported for the press the proceedings of the convention held for that purpose, also acting as private secretary for his uncle. His first office was Secretary of the Board of Regents of the University, and the next, Secretary of the Board of Commissioners of state fortifications. In 1797 he was elected to the State Assembly as a representative from New York City, where he made his residence, and the next year was chosen State Senator for four years. In 1802, when but 33 years of age, he was appointed a Senator of the United States. He labored for the abolition of slavery and its kindred barbarism, imprisonment for debt. Before his term as Senator expired he resigned...

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Biography of George Clinton

For many generations the name of Clinton has been a name for New York State to conjure with. The public achievements of George Clinton and his fame as a farseeing statesman have been somewhat obscured by the later brilliancy of DeWitt Clinton, of the same clan. George Clinton was born on July 26, 1739, in what is now the Town of New Windsor, Orange County, N. Y. He was the youngest son of Charles Clinton, who came from the North of Ireland. He was born in 1690 and died in Orange County in 1773. It should be stated by way of explanation regarding the birthplace of George Clinton, that he was born in what was then the County of Ulster, but his life work and political associations were confined largely to this county. In the year 1797 Orange County included the present county of Rockland, its northern boundary extending only as far as Murderer’s Creek. In that year, what is now Rockland County, was detached, and five towns then in Ulster County, viz, New Windsor, New burgh, Wallkill, Montgomery and Deerpark were annexed to Orange County, whereby Orange County acquired its present dimensions. George Clinton resided at New Windsor and the house in which he lived is still in existence. His first noteworthy adventure was connected with privateering in the French war of 1763. He was an officer in...

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