History of Amenia, NY
From: General History of Dutchess County
From 1609 to 1876, Inclusive.
By Philip H. Smith
Published by the author 1877
POPULATION, 2,700. SQUARE ACRES, 84,568.
AMENIA is one of the original towns formed by act of March 7, 1788. It comprises the width of the Oblong tract, and the east tier of lots in the Great Nine Partners.
The origin of the name is too obscure to venture even a guess upon. It is noticeable from the fact that it is the only locality bearing the name in the whole country. Young, a minor American poet, applies this term in his "Conquest of Quebec," in a description of the several provincial troops employed in that campaign.
The Taghkanick Mountains extend along the east border, and the Highlands belonging to the Fishkill Range extend through the west part. The wide valley separating these two ranges occupies the central portions. The declivities of the mountains are often steep and sometimes rocky, and their highest summits often reach the altitude of 300 to 500 feet above the valleys. Amenia Station is 500 feet above tide water. The soil is a clayey and sandy loam.
The principal streams are the Weebutook or Ten Mile River, Wassaic Creek, and West Brook, and their branches. A low range of limestone, hard and brittle, of a bluish color, considerably disintegrated where it crops out, extends north and south through the valley. Near the village of Wassaic are striking evidences of geological changes in the far off coons of the world's infancy. The bed of the valley is a succession of low hills that were washed up by the waters of some Paleozoic Lake, that at one time filled the valley. Dig into the sandhills and you will see the works of the waves left in the ripples of the sand.
A gentleman who had travelled extensively in Europe, said he never saw a lovelier valley than that of Amenia. No country affords finer contrasts of mountain, hill, ravine, wood and cultivated plain. All its approaches from the west are beside streams, through gorges, up and down steep declivities as wild and varied as those of far famed Switzerland. The contrast between the fairness of a clear Summer afternoon and a ragged thunder storm in the night is not greater than that of the fair fields of Lithgow, and the stern, dark mountains and fearful ruggedness of Deep Hollow.
Amenia Village, The City, Wassaic, Amenia Union, South Amenia, Leedsville, and Sharon Station are post villages.
Richard Sackett was here several years before any other settlement was made, probably about the year 1711. He located at the "Steel Works," about one mile south of the village of Wassaic, so called because a furnace and foundry were established there during the Revolution, to manufacture steel for the use of the army. The site of the works is still covered by coal dust and cinders. Mr. Sackett was connected with the Livingstons in the settlement of the Palatinates at German or East Camp, now Germantown, Columbia County. In the Colonial Records we read: "March 11, 1703, Richard Sackett petitioned government for license to purchase (of the Indians) a tract of land in DUCHESS County, east of Hudson's River, called Washiack." "Oct. 20, 1703, license granted." "Nov. 2, 1704, patent granted to Richard Sackett & Ca, for said land, containing about 7,500 acres, or thereabouts." Mr. Sackett was one of the company known as the Little Nine Partners. He died in 1746, and was buried on the hill, in a little cemetery not far from his residence. At the time that he established his family in Amenia; there was not another white family nearer than Poughkeepsie, or Woodbury and New Milford, in Connecticut.
Uldrick Winegar and his son, Capt. Garrett Winegar, were the next settlers. They were of the Palatinates at East Camp, and located at Amenia Union about the year 1724, where they entered upon land without any title, except from the Indians. Afterward, when the Oblong was confirmed to New York, and surveyed, he received a title from the proprietors of that tract. It is worthy of note that no mention is made of any blockhouse, or any defense against the Indians, put up by these early settlers, though isolated for many years from any other white settlements; while in Litchfield, between 172o and 1730, there were five houses surrounded by palisades, and soldiers were stationed there to guard the inhabitants while at work, and at worship on the Sabbath. Uldrick died in 1754, at the age of 102 years, and Garrett the year following. Their graves and those of many of their descendants are in that beautiful burial ground near Amenia Union.
Hendrick Winegar, the oldest son of Capt. Garrett, resided for several years at the foot of the West Mountain; in 1761 he built the large stone and brick house a short distance west of Armenia Union. He was ancestor of the families of that name in Kent, Conn.
The Rows, likewise Germans, are believed to have been of the Palatinates, and settled near Amenia Union, soon after the Winegars, and previous to 1731. Henry Nase settled below them, near the town line. His memorial stone. in the cemetery at Dover, says: - "Henry Nase, born in High Germany, died Dec. 14, 1759, about 64 years old." The old houses, built by these early settlers, of which there were as many as seven or eight near Arnenia Union at the beginning of the present century, were objects of special interest. The Delimiters were French Huguenots, and settled here previous to 1740.
The first highway from Salisbury was from Weatague through Lakeville, Ore Hill, Sharon Valley, and Sackett's Farm in Dover, showing the intercourse of these Dutch families. The first important immigration to this town was not until the year 1740, and it appears that ten years afterward the population was sufficient to encourage the people to institute public worship in three places.
In the journal of Abraham Rhinke, one of the Moravian Missionaries, who preached at "Nine Partners and the Oblong" in 1753, he says: - "The people came here five years ago in expectation of bettering their fortunes by the purchase of cheap farms, and for the enjoyment of religious liberty." From this it would appear that the influx of population was about the year 1748; and it also affords an idea of the sentiment of freedom in religion, entertained by the early settlers.
At the time of settlement a remnant of the Pequod Indians had a village in the northeast part of the town,* called Wechquadnach, on the west side of Indian Pond. Some Moravian missionaries began to labor with them about the year 1740, with evident success; but so annoyed were they by the officers of the Colonial Government, that in a few years they were driven out of the State. These Christian laborers were charged with being Jesuits, and emissaries of the French. Although the charge proved groundless, it may be some palliation of the jealousy of the Colonists, that the French were sending their emissaries among the Indians in other quarters to incite them against their English neighbors. It should be noted that it was not the local authorities that suspected the peaceable savages, for they were held in the highest esteem by the whites. Afterward, one of the Moravians, Rev. Joseph Powell, ministered to a congregation near Indian Pond. He died in 1774, and was interred, with some of his people, in the burial ground near their house of worship. A more extended account of the Moravians in DUCHESS County is given in the chapter on Pine Plains.
* The town limits, or rather the precinct limits, have been since changed.
Several Indian burial places are spoken of in tradition: one on the lands of Myron B. Benton; another near Amasa D. Coleman's, still the burial place of families in the vicinity. At a place by the river called the "Nook," near South Amenia, the Indians were accustomed to hold their noisy pow-wows. There were a few wigwams near the outlet of Swift's Pond.
Amenia is topographically divided into three valleys. In early times each valley had its separate place of worship, each church being of the same order - Presbyterian or Congregational. The oldest was organized near the centre of the town, and was named "Carmel, in the Nine Partners." In 175o, Abraham Paine, Jun., "was set apart to the work of the ministry by solemn ordination by laying on the hands of the Presbytery, and by the power of the Holy Ghost." Mr. Paine and some of his church soon became affected with the notions of the "New Lights," or "Separatists," which lead to some disagreement with the more conservative of the congregation. The house of worship known as the "Red Meeting House" was built in 1758, and stood about a mile northeast of the village of Amenia, near the burying ground. It was a square building, two stories high, with a gallery on three sides, and seated with square pews. This house was built and afterwards repaired by contributions from persons not strict adherents to the Congregational polity, and was occupied harmoniously in later years by the Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists. In the Summer of 1770, the celebrated Whitefield preached in the Red Meeting House to the crowds that followed him all the country round. Elder Elijah Wood, a Baptist, was the acceptable minister of the congregation for several years. In the early part of the present century the line was gradually drawn between the three denominations, and each sustained a separate organization. In 1811, this church was connected with the associated Presbytery of Westchester, and in 1815 with the Presbytery of North River. In the same year Rev. Joel Osborne became pastor, giving to the church one third of the time.
The congregation in the Oblong Valley, known as the Oblong Society, was made up partly of families living in Connecticut, the church edifice being located at Amenia Union. about twenty yards west of the colony line. It was a capacious building, with galleries, and with doors on three sides. The roof had four sides, terminating at the top in an ornamental cupola, which gave it the name of "The Round Top Meeting House." It was built in 1755, and in 1786 it was taken down and another erected near where the present church edifice stands. The society was organized in 1759, seventeen years before the Revolution, twenty nine years before the organization of the town, and about ten or fifteen years after the principal settlements had been made. Palatinates and Huguenots escaping from the fire of persecution, and Puritans from New England composed the membership.
The first preaching there of which there is any record, was by a Moravian missionary in 1753, named Rhinke. Rev. Ebenezer Knibloe was installed first pastor. He came from the Philipse Patent, near "Kent's Parish," or Carmel. He was a Scotchman by birth; his manner unfortunately was such that members in his congregation, fired with patriotic zeal. became suspicious of his loyalty to the cause of the king, and he was dismissed after serving them sixteen years. The evidence, however, was clearly against the suspicion; and, after the war, he again ministered to them acceptably until his death, which took place in 1785. Marriages, recorded by him, numbered 321; baptisms, 581. This would seem to indicate a population greater than at present.
While the British were in possession of New York, the distinguished Dr. John Rodgers, a Presbyterian, left the city and found a safe retreat in the country. He came here in 1778, out of the way of the disturbing effects of the war, and ministered to the people about two years. Rev. Dr. Livingston also spent some time here during the war.
The following are from the old church rccords: - "Voted. that Capt. Colbe Chamberlain, Lieut. David Doty, Dr. Timothy Babcock, and Mr. Benjamin Delano, be quoristers; that Capt. Colbe Chamberlain and Ebenezer Hatch, be tithingmen." [The office of tithingmen was to keep the young people in becoming order.] In 1778 the society voted to give their pastor, Dr. Rodgers, $16 per Sabbath. That season the people furnished for Dr. Rodgers' family one hundred pounds of butter; Simeon Kelsey provided a pig of about one hundred pounds; Moses Barlow a pig and a beef; and Jedediah Bump about six hundred pounds of pork. Dr. Rodgers resided a part of the time in the house called Deacon Leonard's house, near George Swift's.
"Feb. 22, 1786, voted that our present old Meeting House be taken down and applied to the building of a new one; and that all persons who had any right in the old meeting house shall be considered proprietors in the new one." Thus it appears the true succession was preserved in the house and in the congregation. Some of the material of that first building is doubtless in the present structure.
After the death of Mr. Knibloe, several ministers were engaged temporarily, till 1802, when Rev. John Barnet was engaged as preacher, but not as pastor, who continued with them upwards of ten years. He was a Chaplain in the war of the Revolution, first in Col. Hopkins' Regiment, of Amenia, at Saratoga, and afterwards in the regular army. Mr. Barnet's salary was sixty pounds per annum, and the use of the parsonage farm, which then included, besides the present parsonage land, that part of Henry Cline's farm west of the highway. A Fourth of July oration by Mr. Barnet in 1812 was published; also a funeral sermon for Ambrose Spencer, Jun., who was killed at the battle of Lundy's Lane, and who had been a pupil of Mr. Barnet's. In 1815, Rev. Joel Osborne became pastor; dismissed at his own request in 1825; died in Kent, Conn., in 1856, aged 66 years. Rev. Asahel Bronson was installed pastor in 1827; Rev. John G. Lowe in 1830; Rev. A. Cogswell Frissell in 1843; and Rev. Harry Smith in 1859. The present parsonage was built in 1815, and the present church edifice in 1849.
The following is a brief compendium of the history of the Smithfield Church and Society:
About the year 1750, at the time when the dark cloud of the French and Indian war hung over the Colonies, a plain church edifice was erected upon the ground occupied by the present building. At an early date two churches occupied the ground now covered by the Smithfield Church and Society. After the Revolution there was an effort made to unite the two which proved successful. Rev. John Cornwell, it is believed, preached the gospel in both places until his death. Both societies were originally Congregational, and remained so until one ceased to exist, and the other became Presbyterian in 1824. It is supposed that the church at the Separate was built very nearly the same time with the one at the City, but we have no records of either.
It is a well known fact that those who desired a thorough reformation of the Church of England in the time of Queen Elizabeth were called Puritans; and that those Puritans who left the Church of England were called Separates or Separatists. Some of both parties sought refuge from persecution in America, and in 1670 commenced the settlement of New England. Those who afterwards settled in that part of this society known as the "Separate" may have been Separatists, or in sympathy with that branch of the Puritans, and hence the name.
Stephen Kenney settled near the Separate in the year 1740, and was one of the number who signed the covenant of the organization of the church in the year 1787. Elisha Adams found a home very near the same time at Adams' Mills, who also signed the covenant as a member of the church. Abraham Bockee, from New York, at an early period settled upon the land purchased by his father in the year 1699, and which has remained in the family until a very recent date. Robert Willson, Sen., died in 1799, just twelve years after he had signed the covenant at the organization of the church, in 1787. He doubtless was among the first settlers. Benjamin Herrick died in 1778, having buried two children in the cemetery at this place in 1755, only five years after the first church edifice was built. No evidence has been found that a settled pastor served this church from 1750 to 1775, a period of twenty five years, and it is probable that during this time the gospel was preached only by such ministers of Christ as might journey through this section of country. Among these was the Rev. George Whitefield. In a letter dated New York. July 29th, 1770, he says: "Since my last I have been above a 500 mile circuit, and have been able to preach and travel through the heat and dust every day. The congregations have been large and attentive, particularly at Albany, Schenectady, Great Barrington, Norfolk, Salisbury, Sharon, Smithfield, Poughkeepsie and Fishkill." Tradition tells us that church edifices here could not hold the people who assembled to hear the most wonderful preacher of the age. Near the church was a grove of oaks, one of which still stands; under the shade of this grove the people listened to this eloquent man.
In 1775 the church gave a call to the Rev. Job Swift, D. D., who faithfully and ably preached the gospel for more than seven years. While living and laboring here a son was born to him, afterwards known as the Hon. Samuel Swift, LL. D., one of the most learned and honored citizens of Vermont. From 1782 until 1812, the church was without a pastor, when a call was given to Rev. Eli Hyde. The call was accepted and a council called to meet on the 8th day of January, 1813. The following churches, by their pastors and delegates, were requested to attend, viz: 1st Church in Sharon. 1st and 2d Churches in Cornwall, South Church' in Canaan, Congregational Church in Southeast, the Presbyterian Church in Pleasant Valley, and the Reformed Dutch Church in Poughkeepsie. Mr. Hyde remained pastor a little more than eight years. During his pastorate, in the year 1514, the second church was built on the site of the old one. He married the daughter of his teacher and pastor, the Rev. Samuel Cott, D. D. She was richly endowed by nature and careful culture, and possessed great devotion to the cause of Christ. With her originated the idea of forming a Bible Society, for the distribution of the Word of God among those destitute, and this idea took form in the DUCHESS County Female Bible Society, of which she was the first President, and which is still doing a good work. It was organized several years before the American Bible Society.
From the close of the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Hyde the church was without a pastor for more than three years, when the Rev. Robert G. Armstrong accepted a call, and was installed pastor by the Presbytery of North River, Sept. 20, 1824. He was pastor about seven years, being dismissed by the Presbytery in 1831, and at the same date installed pastor of the Presbyterian church at Fishkill; in 1840 he was dismissed to the Presbytery of Hudson.
The Baptist church, at its organization May, 1790, seems to have been composed of some from the old Congregational Church, and of others who had been members of the Baptist Church of Northeast. They chose Rev. Elijah Wood for their pastor, who on the 27th of June administered the ordinance of the Lord's Supper to them for the first time. Mr. Wood had ministered to the Congregational Church; but this uniting with a new organization did not sunder his fraternal relations with the brethren of the old church. He was a native of Norwich, Conn., came to Amenia before the Revolution; and was counted among the most active patriots. He was not a scholar, but a close student, and an acceptable minister. In 1816, this church was greatly revived and enlarged. Rev. Mr. Peck, who officiated as pastor two years, seems to have been the active agent in bringing about this prosperity. He was born in Litchfield, Conn., came to Amenia when a young man; engaged in teaching awhile, and then became minister of the church.
The Methodist Society of Amenia, one of the earliest of that denomination in this part of the country, was formed about the year 1788, and consisted of eight members. David Rundall was the only male member for several years. The first sermon was preached in a private house, one half mile east of Sharon Station. The meetings were held in this house for a time; when, more settlers coming in, a society was formed in the vicinity of the old Red Meeting House. Mr. Garrettson formed the first class, and Captain Allen Wardwell was the first class leader.
The late Dr. Wakely was wont to call that part of Amenia The Old Methodist Classic Ground." The important position of this society at that time may be inferred from the fact that the New York Annual Conference was held here. It was in 1808, and the sessions were held in the Round Top School House, about half a mile northeast of the Old Red Meeting House. Rev. Bishop Asbury presided and occupied the teacher's chair, with the school desk before him; and the preachers sat upon the benches of the pupils. On the Sabbath the conference occupied the meeting house, when the Bishop preached. One hundred and three preachers were stationed at this Conference. Some families entertained ten or twelve of the preachers each, with their horses; and the community were so gratified with the Conference that a committee waited on them with thanks for holding the session there, and invited them to come again. The first church edifice of this society was built in 1812, in which the New York Conference met in 1813, when Bishop Asbury and McKendree presided. At this Conference eighty six preachers were stationed - the Conference having been divided since 1808.
At the annual town meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the Precinct of Amenia, on the 1st Tuesday of April, 1762, at the house of Roswell Hopkins, Esq. Michael Hopkins was chosen clerk of said Precinct, and Capt. Stephen Hopkins was chosen Supervisor; Samuel Doty and Jonathan Reynolds, Assessors; Benj. Benedict, Abraham Paine and Moses Barlow, Overseers of the Poor, and Conrad Winegar. Constable.
In the War of the Revolution, the patriotism of the citizens of Amenia, was manifested by promptness and almost entire unanimity. A committee of safety was appointed here, as in other towns. The vigilance of the committee was particularly directed to the movements of the Tories. A rude prison, constructed of logs, was used for confining suspected persons. This was built about half a mile east of the present village of Amenia, and north of where the turnpike now runs. The remains of this prison were visible a few years ago.
When the news of the battle of Lexington reached Amenia the military companies came together with a spontaneous will. They were addressed by Ephraim Paine, Esq., in a masterly oration; at the close of which Simeon Cook, captain of one of the companies, said to his men:- "Fellow soldiers; the time has come to give up our liberties, or to defend them with the musket. As many of you as are willing to march with me to the scene of action, I will lead; and I will expose myself to all the hardships and dangers that you will be exposed to. If any of you are unwilling to go, you are dismissed." It is added that not one left the ranks.
In April, 1777, the lead mines at Great Nine Partners were explored, with some success, by an agent of Congress. These mines were on lands of Mr. Fish, in the present town of Amenia, and were explored at the suggestion of Moses Harris. The Commissoners appointed by the Provincial Congress were Jonathan Landon and Ezra Thompson, and they employed John McDonald, an experienced miner from Scotland, (one of the distinguished family of that name) who appears to have come over for the purpose of aiding the people in their struggle. The work at these mines was continued throughout the season. as reported by Mr. McDonald.
Cornelius Atherton, engaged at the Steel Works, in this town, in September, 1776, petitioned the New York Council for the exemption from military duty of his workmen engaged in the manufacture of firearms in his contract with Congress.
Among the citizens in Amenia, who rendered valuable service in the wars, none were more worthy of favorable mention than the Hon. Ephraim Paine. He was from the beginning employed in offices of very high responsibility and honor. His integrity and firmness were not less marked than was his Puritanic simplicity of manner. He held that there should be no distinction in dress, and wore, therefore, the dress of a laboring man in the halls of legislation, and in the house of worship. Many mistakes are mentioned, resulting from Mr. Paine's plainness of dress. He was at one time treated as a menial by the landlady at whose house he was stopping during his stay at court in Poughkeepsie. The only rebuke he gave when she apologized was, "you should treat all men alike." A gentleman who rode in haste to the house on public business gave him his horse to hold while he went in to speak to Judge Paine. Another was once looking over the farm for Judge Paine, and, finding a man ditching, asked him, "Where is your master ?" "In Heaven," was his ready answer. Judge Paine's education had been without the aid of schools, but his mind was disciplined to a habit of clear comprehension and strict accuracy. He was on many occasions in his public service a valuable adviser on matters of finance; he opposed decidedly the financial policy of Gen. Hamilton. He was a member of the Senate when he died.
Silas Marsh, called "Lawyer Marsh," was an active patriot in civil life. Samuel King and Hon. Egbert Benson are favorably mentioned as stern and true patriots.
This part of the country was singularly free from any disturbance, resulting from the near approach of the enemy, or the movements of the American troops. The people here, it is said, heard the sound of the cannon at the battle of Long Island, and they saw the smoke of burning Kingston; but it "did not come nigh unto them." The nearest encampment of Continental troops at any time was that at Pawling in 1778. In the summer of that year, a large number of prisoners - mostly Hessians, taken at the battle of Saratoga the year before - were marched through this town on their way to Fishkill, where they crossed the Hudson. It is said that some of the Hessian soldiers solicited the people to aid them in escaping; a few succeeded, and remained in this country.
In the early part of the war, a man called at Judge Paine's in his absence, who was suspected by Mrs. Paine to be a British spy. She persuaded him to partake of refreshments, which caused his delay, while she sent for two patriots to arrest him. He was however, an American spy, and the committee who knew him, were obliged to use some deception in planning his escape, in order that his character might not be revealed. He was sent under guard on his way to Poughkeepsie, but managed to escape.
A young man named Samuel Jarvis joined the army from Amenia, where he left a wife and two children. He afterwards deserted into the British lines, went to England, and married again. After almost a hundred years his legitimate family here have recovered his estate left in England,
In the disturbed condition of society incident to the war, lawless and rapacious men used the opportunity to indulge their spite, or to gratify their greed for plunder. Even in this safe retreat, though so far removed from the armies, there were instances of robberies. Philip Nase, Sen., and his wife who lived where their son afterward did, had laid up a considerable sum of gold and silver Money and other valuable treasure. Four men, in the disguise of British officers and soldiers, came one evening, armed with axes, demanded the key to the treasure, and threatened death to the family if any resistance was offered. The key was given up, and every part of the treasure carried off, and never heard from again.
The attempted robbery of Capt. David Collin, father of the late Capt. James Collin, came to a different sequel. A company of robbers, supposed to be some well known Tories, came to Mr. Collin's house, in the absence of his wife, and demanded his money and other treasures. Upon his refusal to give up his valuables, they proceeded to hang him, and probably would have carried their purpose to a fatal issue, but for the timely arrival of his wife, who saved his life and their treasure. The family have some memoranda of this event, and of the goods concealed.
Henry, the oldest son of Philip Nase, Sen., was a Tory of so positive a character that he left the country and made his home in Nova Scotia. It is said he concealed some money in great haste at the foot of the mountain, before going away; when he returned to get it he was not able to find the place, and it is supposed to be there to this day.
Deacon Moses Barlow,- and his brother Nathan, came front. Cape Cod in 1756. Before leaving there they had been seafaring men. They came by water to Poughkeepsie, and journeyed across the country to this place. Their diary speaks, of a kind hospitality extended to them by the Newcombs, of Pleasant Valley, on their way to their new homes.
Caleb Benton, of Guilford, Conn., purchased of Capt. Lasell, in 1794, the place now owned by his grandson, Myron B. Benton. He paid for the land in specie, at the rate of fifteen dollars per acre, which he brought with him on horseback. When his family removed hither, they too came by way of Poughkeepsie.
Soon after 1750, Abraham Bockee, a merchant of New York, came to Nine Partners and entered upon land purchased of his grandfather in 1699, which has been in possession of the family to the present time. He was one of the Colonial Justices appointed by the Crown as early as 176r, at which time he is mentioned as a "Mr. Bokay," a Justice of the Peace at Nine Partners, near a place called the City. The immigrant ancestor of Mr. Bockee was Johannes Bockee, who came to this country in 1685, and who was of that noble Huguenot stock that has contributed so many families of worth and distinction. Abraham Bockee, was the father of Jacob Bockee. a grandfather of the late Judge Abraham Bockee, Jacob Bockee, a graduate of King's College, N. Y., was Captain in the Revolution of a Company in Col. Willet's Regiment, and was a member of the Assembly in 1795 and 1797, where he introduced a bill for the abolition of slavery in this State. Phenix Bockee, a brother of Abraham, was Lieutenant in the war of 1812, and died in Poughkeepsie in 1814.
Capt. John Boyd was of Irish descent, and came from Orange County previous to 1769. He married the daughter of Conrad Winegar, built him a house which is still standing a little south of Amenia Union, and in which he died in 1817.
Lemuel and William Brush, sons of Reuben Brush, from Long Island, lived in the west part of the town, not far from the City. Lemuel had five sons; Perlee, Jesse, Platt, John and Henry. Jesse was an officer in the Revolution. John was the General John Brush who commanded the DUCHESS County troops at the Harlem Bridge in the war of 1812, and who was afterwards Major General of the Militia. Col. Henry Brush was Captain of the Ohio Volunteers in the war of 1812, and was on his way to Detroit with 230 men, 100 beef cattle, and other provisions, and a mail, at the time General Hull surrendered, August 16th, 1812. Capt. Brush had arrived at the river Raisin, and was in imminent danger of falling into the hands of the Indians under Tecumtha, through the negligence of Hull to send a reinforcement. When notified on the 17th, by a British officer, with a flag of truce, of Hull's surrender with his army, including his own command, he refused to accept the notice as authoritative, escaped with most of his stores to Ohio. It is said that Capt. Brush purposely allowed the whiskey among his stores to fall into the hands of the Indians, which so demoralized them that they were unable to pursue the returning party.
The ancestors of the Carpenter family came from England to Massachusetts in 1638. In 1752 Daniel Carpenter purchased land in Crom Elbow Precinct, near Salt Point, where he died in 1777. His son Benjamin, being excessively annoyed by the Tories, removed to Amenia. This was at the time the Tories of DUCHESS County put on such a bold front and gathered their forces at Washington Hollow. Mr. Carpenter was three times robbed by them.
Joseph Chamberlain came from Tolland, Conn., in 1755 and settled on the farm afterwards owned by the Nye family. He had four sons; Colbe, James, John and William. The latter was a captain in the Revolution, and was in the battle of Bennington, Saratoga, and other bloody fields. He lived on the farm now owned by J. H. Cline. and kept tavern there, which was Much frequented during the war.
Peter Cline (Klein), a native of Germany, came into Amenia from Rhinebeck in 1760. He was one of the
Redemptioners," who paid for their passage to this country by their services afterwards, to which they were bound by the captain who brought them over. He located where his grandson, Edward E. Cline, now lives, purchasing one half of Oblong lot No. 43, at ten dollars and a half per acre.
Dr. Benjamin Delavergne settled on the road to Kent, previous to the war, and built a dam which is still visible, and which yet bears the name of the French Doctor's Darn. He took a prominent part in the Revolution, and was Major in the Fourth Regiment of DUCHESS County Militia.
The Justices of the Peace, previous to the organization of the Precinct, were Castle, Hopkins, Bockee, Winegar, Smith, arnsey, and others. The record, kept with admirable clerical skill by Roswell Hopkins, Esq., shows the "actions determined" in his official service, a period of thirty years, to have been 2,564. This record also shows the criminal penalties of the age, which sometimes read "lashes upon the bare back." These convictions were by a Court of Special Sessions, held by three Justices. Sometimes Justices from other towns were associated with them. The fine for breaking the Sabbath, for drunkenness, and for profane oaths seems to have been three shillings, which went to the poor. Sometimes the penalty imposed was that the criminal be transported out of the county.
The German Settlers and the Delematers had their slaves: Jacob Evartson had as many as forty, it is said. Most of the slaves in this town were manumitted in the manner and under the conditions prescribed by law. Owners were not permitted to make free and cast off any slave who was not capable of providing for himself. In 1824, three years before the completed abolition of slavery in this State, there were 32 slaves in Amenia.
In 1764, the following persons in Amenia Precinct received license to keep tavern: Samuel Smith, Robert Johnson, Jonathan Reynolds, Edmund Perlee, Stephen Ray, Widow Eunice Wheeler, Samuel Snider, Michael Hopkins, Simeon Wright, Stephen Johns, Ichabod Paine, Benjamin Hollister, Jun., and Daniel Castle.
In the latter part of the last century the Federal Co. was organized, and a Federal Store established in the northwest part of the town, with Judge Smith at the head. The freighting business at Poughkeepsie was a part of theirs scheme. Previous to 1817, another association was incorporated, who had their headquarters at the Federal Store. Their first operation was carding wool by horse power. Next they moved to the stream near Adam's Mills, and erected a woolen cloth manufactory, using water power to propel the machinery. The late Capt. Robert Willson was President of the Company, and they issued a considerable amount of small bills as currency. The property was afterward sold to Lawrence Smith, who continued the work of cloth dressing.
On the small stream passing through the mountains west of Leedsville, some time previous to the Revolution, Capt. Samuel Dunham had a forge, using the ore from the Amenia bed. It is also evident there was a forge at the Steel Works as early as 1770, the ore being taken from the same place. It was not until 1825 that the important works of N. Gridley & Son were commenced at Wassaic.
The cast iron plow was introduced in the early part of this century, and the first manufacture of them in this town was by Mr. Calvin Chamberlain, at the City.
Near the beginning of the Revolution, Capt. James Reed and a Mr. Ellis entered upon the manufacture of steel at what has since been known as the Steel Works. They obtained the iron for their purpose in pigs from Livingston's Furnace at Ancram, the first blast furnace in this part of the country.
About the year 1812 a company was organized in this town for the manufacture of woolen goods, styled the "Amenia Manufacturing Company." The factory was located on the banks of the Weebutook, at Leedsville. Its ruinous walls still stand where they were first built, after all those who instigated the project have passed away. The principal owners were the Barkers, Bentons, Ingrahams, Parks and Canfields.
Shortly after the war, the company issued fractional currency, of which the following is a specimen:
The bill was 4 1/2 by 2 inches, and printed only on one side.
The failure of the company occurred shortly after, caused partly by too much rag money, and partly by the diminished profits of woolen manufacturing, brought about by the conclusion of peace with Great Britain. The bell of the factory was rung long and loud when the news of peace arrived, but it was the death knell of its prosperity. The property was purchased by Selah North, who established the business of cloth dressing. About the year 1818 the "store mentioned in the scrip was sold to Joseph Hunt and Abraham Miller, who did business under the firm of Hunt and Miller. The store was a large building for those times. After the dissolution of the firm, Mr. Hunt carried on the mercantile business under the sign "Hunt's Old Stand." This was the emporium of business for miles around. The post-office was located there, and a four horse stage was a morning and evening arrival. The building was finally moved across the river, and converted into a gigantic barn, where it was afterwards burned.
The Seminary building is located in lot No. 32, of the Nine Partners' tract, and was set to James Emmott, one of the Nine Partners. James Emmott was attorney to the King's bench, and a member of the Church of England. He was the ancestor in the fourth remove of Hon. Judge Emmott, of Poughkeepsie. We next find the title of this site in a family named Lord, who built a mansion where the seminary now stands, about the year 1740. A son named Ephraim inherited the estate as early as 1760; when the tocsin of war was sounded, this noble patriot took his musket, joined the Continental army, served all through the war, drew his pay as a soldier and sent the money home to his wife, who, with an eye to business, laid it out in land. Ephraim Lord thus became a large land holder in the then Armenia Precinct. He had one daughter; who married Simeon Cook, and at the death of her parents came in possession of the entire estate. She had a number of children, the youngest of whom distinguished himself in the war of 1812, and was advanced to the rank of Colonel, and who finally became owner of the homestead, at that time known as Cook Hill.
In 1832 this community resolved to have a seminary, and the three prominent places named were Amenia Village, Leedsville, and Amenia Union. Two full years was spent in fruitless efforts to locate the ground. In May, 1834, a committee was appointed to determine the matter. On Monday, June 2d, they rendered a sealed verdict, which was not to be opened until twenty four hours after the committee left town. The next morning the seal was broken, when it was found that "Cook Hill" was the favored spot. The first Seminary building was erected in the summer of 1835, and the school opened in the fall. of that year, with C. K. True for Principal. For a portion of the time since its establishment it has been under the management of the M. E. denomination.
"In 1826 there was a great celebration of Independence in Amenia. That was fifty years after the declaration, and it is now fifty years since that. A procession was formed in Amenia Union, and marched under the inspiring strains of martial music, down to the old meeting house, a mile and a half. The house, which stood in the highway, was packed as full of people as the old square pews and broad galleries could hold. The officials of the day and invited guests entered the front door, in stately order, under the sounds of Hail Columbia, by the band. The rest of the congregation crowded in at the two end doors.
" The Chief Marshal of the day was George M. Perry, who had, in his younger days, a military bearing. The presiding officer was Thomas Barlow, Esq.; the chaplains were Rev. Abner Morse and Rev. Fitch Reed; the orator of the day was Robert Wilkinson, Esq., who then resided in Dover. His oration was worthy of his reputation as a public speaker. The chairman of the committee of arrangements, and one of the principal movers in the celebration, was Uriah Gregory, who resided then at Amenia Union. The singers filled the front gallery, led by the significant gestures of the old chorister, Thomas Barlow, Esq., and Lewis Warner played on the bass viol. They sung Hail Columbia with a patriotism that was alive.
"After the services in the church, the procession returned in military order, to Amenia Union, where a great feast was prepared by Isaac Crane and his family. The tables were spread outdoors, under a bower put up for the purpose. Mrs. Wilkinson and a large number of other ladies were present at the feast. The toasts were fired out of a cannon, as usual. The President of the United States was toasted; the surviving heroes of The Revolution were toasted, and the memory of the departed heroes, with a plaintive air by the band. Little did the company think when they reverently called the names of two surviving ex-Presidents of the United States, who had been the authors of the declaration, that on that very day they died. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died that day, just fifty years from the day when they put their hands to the great declaration."