The History Of Putnam County, N.Y.
with an enumeration of its
Towns, Villages, Rivers, Creeks, Lakes,
Ponds, Mountains, Hills And Geological
Features, Local Traditions and
Short Biographical Sketches Of Early Settlers, Etc.
by William J. Blake, Esq.
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
This town by the Act of March 7th, 1788, entitled "an Act for dividing the counties of this State into Towns," is described as follows : "And all that part of the county of Dutchess, bounded southerly by the county of Westchester, westerly by Hudson's River, northerly by the north bounds of the Lands granted to Adolph Philipse, Esq., and easterly by the Long-Lot, number four, formerly belonging to Beverly Robison, shall be, and hereby is erected into a town, by the name of Philipstown." Originally it embraced more than one-third of the county, but has since been diminished by the erection of the town of Putnam Valley in 1839. Its central distance from the city of New York, is about fifty-six miles, and from Albany, ninety-four miles. Its present boundaries are as follows : On the north, by the south line of Dutchess county ; on the east, by the west and north lines of Kent and Putnam valley ; on the south, by the north line of Westchester ; and on the west, extending the whole length of Putnam, by the Hudson river. Its face is broken by hills and mountains, presenting a rough, rugged, and forbidding aspect. Not more than one-fifth of it is under cultivation, and not more than one-third could be made productive, by the most lavish expenditure, of moneys, to the agriculturist.
Let it not be supposed by the reader that it is, therefore, altogether valueless, although the plough of the husbandman would in vain, and to little profit, be held in its bosom. It contains those materials that are worth more to its owners, than if it was susceptible of the highest agricultural improvement. It is covered with timber, valuable for ship building and other purposes ; and, perhaps, from no other township between Albany and New York, for its size, is so great a quantity of wood and timber carried to market. The stone quarries and mineral productions scattered in every direction over its surface, yield a large profit, without any expenditure to the owners of those locations. The burning of charcoal is a profitable pursuit to those engaged in it. The writer has been informed by a farmer owning about 200 acres of land in this town, one-half of which is unfit for cultivation, that during the last year he has realized, from the burning and sale of charcoal alone, $1000 over and above all expenses attending the same.
Although the mountainous and rocky surface of this town will always present an impediment to an extended culture, yet its slopes and valleys in the western part, near the Hudson, are in a good state of cultivation ; "and the agriculturist, although he has to labor hard, receives a good return. There are but few men of wealth here, but the inhabitants seem to be in possession of the necessities, if not the comforts of life."
This town, with those now forming the county, as we have before stated, was comprised in the patent granted to Adolph Philipse, by the King of England, and the land let out to those who would come and settle on it, paying no rent for a few years, except the taxes. The tenants, according to the custom of early times, came under the operation of the feudal system, modified, as it had been, by time and that peculiar state of things incident to the settlement of a new and distant country. In most instances they were tenants-at-will ; in others for life, or for a certain term of years. This system has exerted its legitimate influence in this town in retarding its agricultural development.
Improvement, at first, proceeded very slowly. Nothing short of actual ownership of land, requiring such large outlays of labor and expense, would stimulate the early settlers to an energetic and extended culture. The tenure by which they held was too uncertain to beget that desire for permanent improvement which stimulates the husbandman when he is sure that the profits of his labor and toil are secure to himself and family. This state of things no longer exists ; and nearly all of the land fit for cultivation is now owned by industrious, enterprising men, who have purchased it from the original proprietor, or his descendants.
The best farms are found in Pleasant Valley ; a vale extending from the Westchester line on the south, to Dutchess on the north, having an average breadth of one mile. It skirts the Hudson until it reaches the village of Cold Spring, then deviates a little to the east, between Bull hill, Breakneck, St. Anthony's Face peaks, on the west, and the central Highlands on the east.
EARLY SETTLEMENT OF PHILIPSTOWN AND PUTNAM VALLEY.
We shall treat of the early settlement of these towns together, as they were originally one the latter being erected from the former, March 14, 1839. To us such a course seems not only necessary but proper, as the latter has no early history, independent of the former.
With regard to the early settlement of the towns, we have met with more difficulty than with any other article contained in our paper. The aged people are few, whose memories enable them to give dates, with any degree of accuracy, except in a very few instances.
A generation has passed away, who, twenty-five years ago, could have furnished exact chronological information of a very valuable character ; but the golden period for collecting it has passed, and we must be content with the imperfect sources that are. still left.
The Old highland Church and Vicinity.
The first settlement in this part of Philipstown, was made by David Hustis, who came from England and settled about half a mile north of the Highland Church—on the road from Cold Spring to Fishkill, and where David Hustis, Esq., now living, resides—in 1730.
He settled down with the Indians around him, and procured the corn, which he first planted, from them. They had about the fourth of an acre under cultivation, the year before, on the east side of the road, a few rods south of the house where the present David now lives. He was the first of the name, and the ancester of the Hustis family, in this town. He became a tenant-at-will, of the patentee, and rented 310 acres of land, for which he paid a yearly rent of five pounds, or $24, 10. He afterwards occupied 90 acres more west of the first tract, all of which he afterwards purchased. His nearest neighbor was three miles distant, to whom he was compelled to go, a few days after his arrival, to procure fire ; his own, from neglect, having gone out.
A short time afterwards, the Haights, Bloomers, and Wilsons, came and settled in the vicinity. At the Highland Church, one Anderson built a house on the site now occupied by the house of S. Birdsall, in which Thomas Davenport, Esq., now resides. A man of the name of Lamoreaux settled there about the same time. Anderson was of Dutch descent, and Lamoreaux, French. Both removed before the Revolution. Benjamin Bloomer was the next settler, who, with one Bush, made a large purchase in the water lot of Roger Morris, between the Church and the Hudson.
David Hustis died in the early part of the Revolution, leaving four sons, Joseph, Caleb, Solomon, and Jonathan.
Joseph had three sons, Robert, Joseph, David ; and six daughters, Sarah, Abbey, Mari, Charity, Phoebe, Hannah, and died in 1805. All are now deceased, except David and Phoebe.
Caleb had two sons, William and Jonathan and six daughters, Viz.: Elizabeth, Esther, Anna, Rachel, Mary, and Phoebe.
William had four sans, Samuel, Caleb, Isaac, and Josiah, all of whom are now living.
David Hustis was one of the commissioners, who laid out the first roads in the south park of Dutchess County, now Putnam, in 1744.
Cold Spring Village
Thomas Davenport, great-grandfather to William Davenport, Esq., of Nelsonville, came from England about 1715, and built the first house at Cold Spring. It was burnt down while his son William was living in it.
After his father's decease, William, grandfather to the present William, about 1760, built a small house a few rods distant from where it stood. Isaac Davenport, cousin of William, then built a house on the foundation of the house burned down, which had been built by Thomas, his uncle, and moved the one built by William to it. They now form the old low house on the hill, a few rods distant from the residence of Marvin Wilson, Esq., on the north side of Main Street.
Thomas Davenport had two wives. By the first he had two sons, William and Thomas; and one daughter. By his second he had two sons, and two daughters.
William, grandfather of Willliam now living, was by the first wife, and had one son, named Thomas, who was the father of the present William of Nelsonville, and two daughters, Marybee and Elizabeth.
Marybee married Thomas Sutton,
Elizabeth married Solomon Cornell, who emigrated to Kentucky.
Thomas had one son, William, and two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth.
Sarah married John Snouck, and is dead ;
Elizabeth married Jonathan Hustis, and is still living.
Thomas the great ancestor of the family in this town, died the 30th of December, 1759, aged 77 years. His grandson Thomas, and father of the present William, was barn April 11th, 1750, and died _____.
Thomas, the brother of the grandfather of the present William, built a house which stood in the garden just north of the farm-house of Henry De Rhams, on the road leading from Cold Spring to John Garrison's, esq. Oliver Davenport built the old house still standing in Nelsonville, opposite to the residence of William Davenport, Esq. Isaac Davenport, the grandfather of Capt. Cornelius and Sylvenus Davenport of Cold Spring, was the son of Thomas Davenport, and born in the old house at H. De Rahams.
The next house was erected by Elijah Davenport the son of Isaac, and father of Capt. Cornelius and Sylvenus Davenport, and forms the rear of the house now occupied by Asa Truesdell, Esq., on the south side of Main Street. It was built about 1795. Elijah Davenport kept store in it ; and in 1817 it was occupied by the Hon. Gov. Kemble, President of the West Point Foundry, as an office. The third house erected in the village, now forms the rear part of the building occupied by Thomas Rogers, at the north end of Foundry Street.
The next house built, in the vicinity of the village, was the old house now standing near Clark's brick-yard, at present unoccupied. It was built shortly after the Revolution by Peter Lindsey, who subsequently sold it to Samuel W. Baird, a cooper by trade, who kept a grocery in it.
An old log-house stood opposite to where William Davenport now resides in Nelsonville, and on the site of the old, low, frame-house now standing. It was occupied by Stephen, brother of the first Thomas Davenport mentioned above.
Thomas Davenport was one of the commissioners for laying out roads in that part of Dutchess County, which is now Putnam, from 1745 to 1755.
Nelson's Highlands and vicinity.
John Rogers made a settlement about 1730, where Cornelius Haight now lives on the old post-road, a few miles north of Continental Village. At that time there was only a path used by the Indians, leading from Westchester through the Highlands, to Fishkill. Having built a log house sufficiently large for a country tavern, he was always sure to have a traveler for his guest during the night, if he reached the house in the middle of the afternoon ; as none ever departed on their journey after that time, owing to the danger of traveling through the Highlands after night, and the difficulty of threading such a wild, mountainous, and solitary path. He continued to keep tavern there during the French and Indian war ; a short time previous to which, the old post-road was cut through the Highlands by Lord Louden, for, conveying his baggage, stores, and troops to the North; to attack the French out-posts. The road followed the Indian path, and is very little altered from the original line. Rogers' was the first house built along the path.
The next house on this road was built by James Stanley, where Samuel Jeffords, deceased, lived about 1750. Thomas Sarles built the next on the east side of the road, between Samuel Jefford's, Esq., and Justus Nelson's, at the foot of the hill, about 1756. The next northward, was built by Elijah Budd, where Joseph Wiltsie now lives, called the Andrew Hill farm. Gilbert Budd about the same time, built a house where John Griffin, Esq., now resides. Gilbert lived there in the Revolution, and his brother Elijah on the Hill-farm, a quarter of a mile south.
At the south end of Peekskill Hollow, in the now town of Putnam Valley, a family of the name of Dusenbery and Adams, made a settlement, but at what period of time, we have not been able to ascertain. On the road leading to Peekskill, where Abijah Knapp now lives, George Lane made an early settlement, about fourteen miles east of Continental Village. Nathan Lane settled a little below, where the Hon. A. and S. Smith reside. John Hyatt, who was commissioned a Colonel in the militia in the Revolution, settled between the Lanes.
In Peekskill Hollow, a little south of where Dr. John Tompkins resides, the Post family settled. At what is now called Tompkins Corners, was formerly called the Wickopee and Peekskill Hollow Corners, those roads intersecting each other at that point. Wickopee was the name of an Indian tribe, that lived at Shenandoah, in Dutchess County ; and another tribe called Canopus, lived in Westchester, near the line of Putnam, and extending into the hollow which bears their name. Up and down Peekskill Hollow these tribes used to pass, when visiting each other. The lower tribe, when asked by their white neighbors where they were going, when setting out to make one of their visits, would reply, " We're going to see old Wichopee." The name, we believe, is now spelled Wickapee, but we have been informed by old people, that it was formerly spelled as above. The Lanes, Posts, Dusenberys, Smiths, and Adams, were original settlers in this town. About two miles south-east of Tompkins' Corners, Abraham Smith, grandfather to the Hon. A. and S. Smith, made a settlement, and purchased a large tract of land from CoL Beverly Robinson, about 1760, where his grandchildren, above-named, now reside.
He emigrated with two of his brothers from England, about 1720, and settled at Smithtown, on Long Island, where they purchased a very large tract. In 1760, he removed to Putnam Valley, and died in 1763. He had one son named Abraham, the father of the Hon. Abraham and Saxton Smith, who reside on the paternal estate. After having surveyed out the tract, he gave the farm, where John and Reuben Barger now live, to one of his chain-bearers for his services.
An early settlement was made by the Ferris family, from New Rochelle, Westchester County. The ancestor of the family came from Rochelle in France, on the repeal of the edict of Nantz, by Louis XIV., in 1685. The family before the Revolution, moved to the vicinity in which Joseph Ferris, now living, resides.
Extract from Town Records.
"At a town meeting in Philipses Precinct in Dutchess county on __ day of Apr. 1772 the following officers were Chosen:
John Crumpton - Clark
Beverly Robinson - Supervisor
Joseph Lane & Caleb Nelson - Assessors
William Dusenberry - Collector
Israel Taylor & Israel Taylor & Isaac Devenport - Constables
Justus Nelson & Cor's Tompkins - Poormasters
Cor's Tompkins - Poundmaster for Peekskill Hollow
John Likely - Poundmaster for Canopus Hollow
Elijah Budd - Poundmaster on the Post Road
Caleb Nelson - Poundmaster on the River
Isaac Rhodes & Moses Dusenberry - fence Viewers
Isaac Horton & John Jones - do - do
Joseph Haight & James Lamoreaux - do - do
Jacob Mandevell & Tho's Devenport - do - do
Isaac Rhodes - Highwaymaster, for ye Road from Frediraksburg Precinct to the Bridge over Peekskill River near Lewis Jones.
William White - Highwaymaster for the Roade from William Dusenberrys up Peekskill Hollow to the Bridge near Lewis Jones which bridge he is to make with his hands & to continue up the Hollow to the Line of Fred'sburgh Precinct-
The remainder of the entry of this Road District, with the next one, of which Robert Oakley was chosen Highway Master, has been nibbled away by mice.
The next in order is as follows
John Winn - Highwaymaster for the Road from the Cold Spring Along wycopy Road to the Line of Rumbout's Precinct all the people living north of sd Spring to belong to his Company.
Reuben Drake - Highwaymaster from Drake's Mills up Canopus Hollow to the Post Road.
John Meeks - Highwaymaster on the Post Road from Westchester line to Joseph Bards.
Elijah Budd - Highwaymaster on ye Post Road from Thos Sarles to Rumbout's Precinct.
Jacob Mandivell - Highwaymaster from the Post Road near Widow Areles through the Highlands to sd Mandivell's House from thence to Caleb Nelson's & from thence to Christopher Fowler's and from thence to the first mentioned Road.
John Nelson - Highwaymaster from Mr Robinson's Mills to his fathers from thence to Tho's Williamson & from thence to Mr Robinson's house.
Thomas Devenport - Highwaymaster from Caleb Nelsons to his own house & from thence thro the woods to the post Road near Elijah Buds.
Here, again, the mice have destroyed the entry of the remaining road district. After which, is the following entry of a challenge by Uriah Drake, questioning the election of Cornelius Tompkins to the office of Poormaster, and the result on a second ballot.
N. B. all the foregoing persons was chosen Unanimousley Except Cor's Tompkins Poormaster who was opposed by Uriah Drake who demanded a pole at the Close of which
Cor's Tompkins had 47 Votes Uriah Drake 35 do
upon which Cor's Tompkins was Declared poormaster.
April the 25 John Armstrong his mark a Crop of the Right ear.
May the 11 1772 John Cavery Desires his mark to Bee Enterd In this Book Which 1 have Which is a Crop of the neer ear and a Slit in the same and the off ear A Hol and a half Penny and the Half Penny on the under side.
May 11 1772 Sibit Cronkit Juneer De Sires his mark to Bee Enterd in this Book Which I have Which is two niks in the neer ear one on Each Side and the off Ear a Slit and a Half Penny upon the under side.
There were thirteen road-districts in this town, then including the town of Putnam Valley, in 1772, and sixteen in 1773. Commissioners for laying out highways were not elected previous to 1773. At the town meeting held in the spring of that year, Joshua Nelson, Moses Dusenberry, and Isaac Rhodes were elected. The record does not contain the names of persons assessed on the different road districts, but only the names of the path masters. The whole number of days assessed on each district were put down on the record against its overseer or master. There is an exception to this, however, in 1783 ; and it is the only one that we have been able to find upon the earliest record.
The entry is as follows:
" a list of amos odell's Company to work the Highway for the present year 1783
Name & Number of days for each man to work:
Amos Odell 8 Days.
John Armstrong to work 8.
Jacob Armstrong to work 4.
William Cristion to work 5.
Richard Criston Jun to work 7.
Henry Youman to work 4.
Oliver Odell to work 8.
Aaron Odell to work 4.
The first road laid out by the Commissioners of this town was in I784; and the description thereof is characterized by more than Spartan brevity. It is as follows:
"May the 10 in the year of 1784 Then we the Comishners Laid out a Road from Calip Nelsons to his Landon Beginin at his house Ceepin as near the South of the Brook as near the Brook as Connevent as Can for us.
The following is a list of the names which appear on the town record, including Putnam Valley, from 1772 to 1782:
Beverly Robinson, Israel Taylor, John Crompton, Isaac Devenport, Joseph Lane, Justus Nelson, Caleb Nelson, Cornelius Tompkins, William Dusenberry, John Likely, Elijah Budd, Isaac Rhodes, Isaac Horton, Joseph Haight, Jacob Mandevill, Thomas Devenport, John Jones, James Lamoreaux, Moses Dusenberry, William White, John Winn, Reuben Drake, John Meeks, Samuel Warren, John Nelson, Uriah Drake, John Armstrong, John Cavery, Sibit Cronkit, Edward Meeks, Anthony Field, Cornelius Gea, Joseph Nap, Peter Bell, Murty Heayerty, Nathaniel Jager, Stephen Lawrance, Jedediah Frost, Peter Dubois, Joshua Nelson, Justus Ones, Peter Snorck, Joseph Hosted, John Avery, Thomas Bassford, Sylvenus Haight, Benjamin Rogers, Stephen Conklin, Daniel Bugbee, Daniel Willsie, John Sherwood, Reuben Tompkins, Stephen Devenport, John Van Amburgh, Ezekiel Gee, Samuel Jenkins, Jacob Reade, Isaac Odell, Capt. Israell Knapp, John Haight, Hendric Riers, Amos Odell, Jacob Armstrong, William Cristian, Oliver Odell, Aaron Odell, Henry Eltonon, Robert Oakley, Thomas Smith, Joseph Arpels, William Wright, Cresterfer Fowller, Jonathan Ones, Gabriel Archer, Sylvenus Lockwood, Abraham Garrison, Joshua Mead, Hendrick Post, Absalom Nelson, Peter Ryall, William White, Capt. George Lane, Peter Likekey, Gilburt Budd, James Jahcocks, Gabriel Archer, Henry Wiltsee, Petor Drak, Matheuw McCabe, Cornelius Tompkins Junior, Danel Buckbee, Comfort Chaddick, Thomas Lewes, Nathan Lane, Moses Dusenberry Junior, Joseph Garrison, Peter Warren, Peter Keley, John Yeouman, Abraham Croft, Abraham Marling, Joseph Bare, Elisha Budd, Titus Travis, Gilbert Oakley, John Drake, John Edgar, Philip Steenburk, John Knapp, Isaac Jacocks, Richard Denny, Isaac Garrison, David Henyon, Isaac Danford, Thomas Williams, John Christian, Jessee Owen, William Deausenberry, Solomon Smith; Thomes Brient, Joshua Tompkins, Charles Cristian, Jonathan Miller, James Peney, Nathaniel Tomkings, Col. Samuel Drakes."
Cold Spring Village
This is the largest village in the town or county, and the only incorporated one in it. The Act, incorporating it, was passed by the Legislature, April 22, 1846. Vide chap. 102, Session Laws of 1846. It is twenty miles from Carmel, and one and a half from West Point. It covers a large extent of ground, embracing what is called the Foundry district. The west end of the village, from the store of Lewis Birdsall, to the present steam-boat landing, and some portion of it, north and south of Birdcall's store, on Foundry Street, is made ground, and was formerly a bay ; and by filling up, the docks have been extended into the river to their present location. It takes its name from a spring of water which is unusually cold, located on the line of the low and high grounds of the village, at the north-west corner of the door-yard of Henry Haldane, Esq.
It contains 4 churches, 4 clergymen, 2 attornies, 4 physicians, 10 stores, and 4 taverns. If we may be allowed the expression, it is the commercial metropolis of the county, and is the principal freighting depot, on the east side of the river, between the Dutchess and Westchester line. It is the birth place of Lieut. Col. Duncan, of the United States Army, who has rendered his country signal service on the bloody battle fields of Mexico. The old house in which this gallant officer was born, is no longer standing, having been accidentally burned down in 1841. It stood, at the time of his birth, in nearly the centre of Main Street, opposite to the new, large frame building, lately erected by Oliver Elwell, Esq. ; the road or street, at that time, running south of Main Street, as it now is. The house, some years since, was moved to the position it occupied when burned down, and was used as a paint shop.
The true name of the Col. is Duncanson ; and, as his father alleges, when he entered the army, by an oversight, or mistake of the recording clerk in the War Department, at Washington, his name was written Duncan. The mistake not being corrected, the Department, as a lawyer would say, " stuck to the record ;" and the Col., since then, in all his communications to Government, and others, has written his surname, Duncan.
Within the last few years the village has grown rapidly, and is still increasing as fast, perhaps, as any other on the East Bank of the Hudson. The West Point Foundry, located here, has been the main cause of its flourishing condition ; and within the last five years its building lots have doubled in value.
This village is only a continuation of Cold Spring, and is built on the reverse slope of the hill, on which a part of the former is built. There are a few rods of ground intervening upon the top of the hill, but they will soon be covered with houses. The plot, originally made, embraces both villages. The turnpike leading from Cold Spring to Carmel runs through it. Like Cold Spring, it has greatly increased in population, buildings, and business, within the last few years. It is named after the family of Nelsons, which are numerous in this town, to which is added vale, from the Latin " villa," signifying a village.
A small collection of houses, about four miles north of Cold Spring, on the road leading to Fishkill. John Davenport, deceased; kept a store and tavern there, after whom it is named. It is sometimes called "The Old Highland Church," which is located there but it is more generally called "Davenport's Corners."
John Davenport was the father of Elijah J. Davenport, Esq., of Cold Spring.
A few houses, at the intersection of the Cold Spring turnpike with the old post road, three miles east of Cold Spring. John Griffin resides there, in the old house, built by Gilbert Budd, before the Revolution. It has undergone some repairs, and additions have been made to it, but the old park is still standing.
A small collection of houses on the east bank of the. Hudson, about two miles north of Cold Spring, through which the River-road runs to Fishkill Landing. Many of the best stone-quarries in this town are located here ; also the brick-yard of Clark, Esq., and a short distance south of it, the brick-yard belonging to the estate of Daniel Fowler, deceased. These are the only places where brick is manufactured in this town. It takes its name from Break Neck Hill, at the southern base of which it lies ; the etymology of the name will be given in the description of the " Hill." Here is a dock, erected by the Harlem High Bridge Company, who rented from Messrs. Howard & Haldane, a few years since, their stone-quarries and the adjacent land, from which a greater part of the stone at this place is shipped.
A settlement of French people in the central part of the town, about one mile west of Justis Nelson's mill. It was settled by a family of the name of Denny, whose descendants are numerous in this town, and who own a large tract of land in that region. Town is derived from the Saxon word tun, and signifying a walled or fortified place ; a collection of houses inclosed with walls ; in popular usage it means a township. It takes its name, therefore, from this family of early settlers.
A small settlement and district of country in the northern part of the town, about one mile north of the second gate on the turnpike leading to Carmel, and so called from an old and numerous family by the name of Horton, who resided there, many of whose descendants still live there and in the vicinity.
A small narrow point of land, jutting into the Hudson a few rods above Cold Spring. There is a small bay on the north side of it, a part of which is uncovered at low water, revealing a sandy bottom. In 1810, Henry Haldane, Esq., built the house now standing there, occupied by James Warren, Esq., as a dock and storehouse. The storehouse was taken down in 1845. The Hudson River Railroad passes over the west end of it. It was called " Eel Point, near Sandy Landing." Eels congregated there, and its proximity to the sandy shoal just above it, accounts for its name.
A few houses in the southeast part of the town, one mile from the Westchester Line. In the revolution it was the main entrance to the Highlands in this town, and was guarded by a detachment of American troops. Two small forts were erected for its defence, one at the north end of the village on the high ground, the remains of which are still to be seen ; and one about a quarter of a mile northwest of it, on the road leading to the Hudson, the foundation of which is also standing. It was burnt by a detachment of British troops in the early part of October, 1777, after forts Clinton and Montgomery had been taken by Sir Henry Clinton.
John Meeks was the first settler at this place. The first grist-mill in Philipstown was built at this place by Col. Beverly Robinson, about 1762, and stood a few rods east of where the paper-mill now stands, on the same stream. He also erected a saw-mill and fulling-mill there. Gallows Hill lies to the south of it, in full view, just across the Weschester line, on the east side of which the British troops advanced to the south entrance of the village. In the Revolution, a man by the name of John Strang was caught in the act of enlisting men for the British army, with a commission in his pocket signed by one of the generals. He was tried, condemned to the gallows, and hung upon this hill ; hence the name.
The house at this landing was built in 1804 by John Warren, father of the Hon. Cornelius and Sylvenus Warren, of Cold Spring. It is opposite West Point, a little to the west of Constitution Island. About 1798 George Jefford built the dock and a house, which was subsequently torn down.
This place is now called Garrison's Landing. It was built about the year 1814 by Joseph Mead. A store was formerly kept there. It is nearly opposite West Point.
A dock a few rods south of Mead's, built before the last war by a man of the name of Hoyt, a cooper by trade, who built a house, shop, and constructed the dock for the accommodation of freighters in that vicinity and to increase the facilities of his own business.
A steep eminence at the southwest corner of the flat on which the West Point Foundry is built. It takes its name from its fancied resemblance to the back of that animal.
Vinegar Hill and Mount Rascal
Two elevated ridges, lying parallel with each other ; the former on the east side, and the latter on the west side of the West Point Foundry. They form the sides of the Foundry brook where it empties into the Hudson. It is said they were named by William Youngs, Esquire, who formerly was a manager in the Foundry, after two places bearing those names in Ireland.
A lofty peak of the Highlands just above Cold Spring, and separated from Breakneck peak by a narrow depression, or slope of land. Although termed a hill, it, with Breakneck north of it, is more properly a mountain. But not so thought a son of Erin, who, being met on the road from Cold Spring to Breakneck by a traveller, was asked, " What mountain is that, my friend ?" To which he replied, "Sure, sir, an devil a bit of a mountain is it a-tal, sir --its Bull Hill."
According to tradition, a bull had made it his mountain home, from which, at night, he would descend to the low grounds in its vicinity, and commit sundry depredations in corn fields, meadows, and grain fields. The neighbors formed an "alliance," offensive and defensive, against this bold and ruthless mountain robber, determined to pursue him to his strongholds, and effect his capture or destruction. They chased him from this Hill to the one immediately north of it, where, being hard pressed by dogs and armed men, he was " impelled and propelled down a precipice and through the chaparal," by which Sam Patch-like leap, he broke his neck ; whereupon his pursuers immediately christened the hill from which they started him " Bull Hill," and the one where they captured this midnight guerilla chief, " Breakneck." The word hill is from the Saxon hyl, and means " a natural elevation of land, or a mass of earth rising above the common level of the surrounding land."
Another lofty peak of the Highlands, just north of Bull Hill, the name of which has been explained in the description of that locality, above. A tunnel is now being cut through the western flank of this peak, for the Hudson River Railroad. The western flank protrudes itself almost into the river, through the centre of which runs the dividing line of Dutchess and Putnam Counties. On the south side of this peak, and within Putnam, within a few feet of its apex, "St. Anthony's Face," so celebrated in the history of the Hudson's scenery, once peered out and over the rocky battlements below, gazing, as it were, at the eternal ebb and flood of the mighty current that breaks with unceasing fury against the lofty parapet that supported it. Thousands of the travelling community on board of steamboats, with glass in hand, have turned their eyes on passing Break Neck, to gaze upon the stern and rugged features of St. Anthony's Face ; but the venerable patriarch, destined like everything of earth, has passed away, and is numbered among the things that were.
In the summer of 1846, Capt. Deering Ayers, who was engaged in the service of the Harlem High Bridge Company, by one fell blast, detached an immense block of granite weighing nearly two thousand tons, and shivered in atoms the majestic brow and weather-beaten features, of the venerable mountain hermit. Nero, the last Roman emperor of the family of the Caesars, set fire to Rome, merely, as it is reported, that he might have a real representation of the conflagration of Troy, and fiddled while it was burning. We are not informed whether Ayers, like Caius Marius amid the ruins of Carthage, smiled over the wreck that lay shattered around him, or evinced sorrow at his wanton demolition of nature's sculpture ; but the act was vandalic, in the extreme, to the true lover of Nature's works ; and the more so, as the stone was utterly useless to those who sought it in its mountain-home.
"From his eyrie, that beaconed the darkness of heaven,"
and for ages, he had looked abroad upon the restless and ever-agitated world, defying the warring elements of nature and the tooth of time—majestic in the solitude of his mountain home, he stood an admired specimen of nature's mechanism,
"A man without a model, and without a shadow."
"0, woe to Mammon's desolating reign,
We ne'er shall see his like on earth again."
The tragedy was not ended with the destruction of St. Anthony's Face, for with the same terrible and destructive agent with which the venerable saint was hurled from his airy pedestal, the poor unfortunate Ayers met with an untimely death. Some months after the scene at Break Neck, Ayers was engaged on Staten Island, blasting rocks. Having set fire to the fusee, he retired, but the blast not going off within the usual time, he returned to it, and having commenced working with it, it exploded, blowing the celebrated blaster of St. Anthony's Face into an hundred fragments.
The greedy, sordid, and avaricious spirit of man is making sad havoc among the beautiful mountain scenery of the Hudson. Where it will stop, is more than we can tell. The sound of the ax and the railroad excavator's pick, with the steady click of the quarryman's hammer, is daily sounding is our ears, and slowly, though steadily, performing the work of demolition.
"Rock and tree, and flowing water,"
are alike the subjects of this railroad tariff—a sort of steam custom-house tax ; and with the stereotyped plea of utility in one hand, the utilitarian of the nineteenth century, with the other, grasps without remorse the beauty of the richest landscape, and all that is noble and sublime in the scenery of the natural world.
This chiseling of the Great Architect, bearing such a striking resemblance to the human face, was named in honor of "St. Anthony the Great ; first institutor of monastic life ; born A.D. 251, at Coma, in Eleraclea, a town in Upper Egypt." At the base of this mountain peak, on the eastern shore of the Hudson, begrimed with smoke, dust, and powder, the mutilated features of the celebrated Face of St. Anthony now lie,
"And none so poor to do them reverence."
" Sic transit gloria mundi."
A large rocky hill, about two miles east of Cold Spring, near Justus Nelson's mill. In the earliest settlement of this town, it was the resort of wild cats. As the country became more thickly settled and cleared up, those animals were entirely exterminated ; and dropping the word wild, the people named it as above. Its wild, rugged aspect, would have justified the inhabitants in retaining the first word, as the name would not have belied its appearance.
Sugar Loaf Mountain
A lofty peak of the Highlands about two miles southeast of West Point, near the " Robinson House." Its altitude, as taken by Lieut. Arden, late of the U. S. Army, is 800 feet above the level of the Hudson. Its shape is conical, resembling a loaf of sugar, and hence its name.
Anthony's Nose Mountain
This is the highest peak of the Highlands, on the east side of the Hudson, in this town. It is situated at the entrance of the Highlands, and is about 1100 feet in height. It is in the southwest part of the town, near the line of Westchester and Putnam, and opposite Fort Montgomery, on the west bank of the Hudson. From the base of this peak, a large boom and chain extended, in 1776, to Fort Montgomery. This was the second obstruction attempted in the Hudson, to prevent the British from ascending it. The first was at Fort Washington, below the Highlands in Westchester County ; the third at West Point and Constitution Island and the fourth at Pallopel's Island, at the south entrance of Newburg Bay, extending to Plum Point, on the west bank of the river.
From the Journal of the Committee of Safety, we extract the following, respecting the chain at Anthony's Nose and Fort Montgomery:
Nov. 30th., 1776. In perfecting the obstruction between St. Anthony's Nose on the eastern shore and Fort Montgomery, we endeavored to avail ourselves of the model of that which had proved effectual in the river Delaware, and were assisted by the advice and experience of Capt. Hazelwood, but the great length of the chain (being upwards of 1800 feet), the bulk of the logs which were necessary to support it, the immense weight of water which it accumulated, and the rapidity of the tide, have baffled all our efforts ; it separated twice after holding a few hours.
" Mr. Machen, the Engineer at Fort Montgomery, is of opinion, that with proper alterations it may still be of service in another part of the river, and we have, with Gen. Heath's concurrence, directed him to make the trial. But we have too much reason to despair of its ever fully answering the important purpose for which it was intended. A like disappointment we are informed happened at Portsmouth. Gen. Heath, on a conference with Gen. Clinton, has been pleased to recommend the obstruction of the navigation in this part of the river by cassoons," &c.
Gordon, in his Gazetteer, states, that the cost of this chain at 50,000 pounds, continental money ; that it was made of iron 2 or 2 1/2 inches thick, was 1,800 feet in length, and weighed 50 tons. From a fancied resemblance of this peak to the human nose, and in Honor of St. Anthony, it received the above appellation before the Revolution. There were two redoubts on this mountain, a short distance apart. They were intended to guard the entrance of the Hudson into the Highlands, and as an additional security to the chain. It is said that the manufacture of this chain, with the cost of placing it across the river, exhausted the Continental treasury ; and so far as any good was effected by it, Congress might about as well have caused a roll of twine to be stretched in its stead. Its own weight parted it twice, and when the leading English ship struck it, it broke with the facility of a pipe-stem.
An eminence near the Mansion House of Mrs. Mary Gouverneur, so called from pine timber growing upon it. Philips' Quarries are located there.
A rocky peninsula, nearly half a mile northwest of the village of Cold Spring, and stretching into the Hudson about one fourth of a mile. The west end is an entire mass of granite rock, and has been quarried successfully by Alex. Anderson & Co., to whom it now belongs.
It is steep at the west end, with a sufficient depth of water to float vessels of the largest class navigating the Hudson.
A small eminence on the old road leading from Continental village to Garrison's Landing. During the Revolutionary war, some soldiers were carting a hogshead of whiskey from Continental village to West-Point, for the use of the garrison at that post. On reaching nearly the top of this hill, the blocks in the hind part of the cart slid from their positions, and the hogshead, smashing the tail-board into pieces, rolled to the foot of the hill, where coming in contact with a large stone, it bursted to the deep chagrin of the soldiers, who were anticipating a hearty dram of it on their arrival at the post. They immediately christened it "Whiskey Hill," which name it has ever since retained.
A Lofty eminence, the timber of which has been cut off, a few hundred rods east of the mansion-house of Jude Garrison. Two redoubts were erected on it in the Revolution, one at the North end called "North Redoubt," and the other at the south end called "South Redoubt." This redoubt may have been the one spoken of in Gen. Heath's order of. Dec. 3d, 1780, as the "Middle Redoubt." There were works thrown up on Sugar Loaf Mountain and by way of distinguishing the two, the one on the South end of this hill may have been called the "Middle redoubt."
Extract from " Revolutionary Orders.
GEN. HEATH'S ORDERS.
Head Quarters, West Point,
Decem. 3d, 1780.
" Brig. Gen'l Huntingdon will please to assign one Regiment of the Conn. Line to the defence of the North Redout, one to the Middle Redout, and one to the works on Constitution Island, which works are to be considered as the posts of those three Regiments in case of alarm ;.- the other Regiments of the Line, in such case, are to be held in readiness to act as circumstances may require.
" The 4th Mass'ts Brigade is assigned to the defence of Fort Clinton and its dependencies ; the 2nd Brigade to the defence of Forts Putnam, Willis, and Webb ; Col. Shepard's and Col. Bigelow's to the former, Col. Vose's to Fort Willis, and Lt, Col. Commandant Smith's to Fort Webb : the 1st and 3d to act as circumstances may require, and, on all alarms, to form on their Brigade Parade, ready to receive orders.
" The Connecticut Line is to mount a Captain's Guard at the Continental Village for the security of the public stores, and guarding that avenue into the Highlands." [This extract is given to show the Military localities of West Point at that early day.]
The Sunk Lot
This name is given to a tract of land in the east part of the town, containing about 1300 acres, belonging to Joel Hamilton. Its northern termination is near the Cold Spring turnpike, about one and a half miles southwest of Griffin's Gate, and extends south nearly to the former residence of Joel Bunnell, Esq. Its location is low, apparently sunk down ; and hence the name.
This island, projecting half way across the Hudson, forms its elbow nearly opposite West Point. Its western side is formed by steep and inaccessible precipices ; on the east, between it and the main land, is a large marshy, flaggy meadow, which, within a few years past, has been partly drained by ditches cut through it. This island is, probably, about two miles in circumference, and half a mile wide from north to south. It is covered with timber of an inferior kind, and uncultivated except on the southern and eastern edges. The entire marsh meadow contains about 300 acres, and the island about 250.
This island, previous to, and at the commencement of, the Revolution; was called "Martelaer's Rock Island" but after a fort was erected here in 1775, it was more often called Constitution island, by which name it is now known. The fort was called "Fort Constitution. " In the correspondence between the officers of the army and the New York Committee of Safety, and also with the Continental and Provincial Congress, it is sometimes written " Martles' Rock," and also " Martyr's Beach."
From the most accurate information that we have been able to obtain, this island was called after a Frenchman by the name of Martelair, and who, probably, resided on it with his family. A family, bearing that name, were early settlers at Murderer's Creek, in the town of New Windsor in Orange co. and were murdered by the Indians about the year 1720. It may have been the same family who previously resided on this island, or a branch of it. The Provincial, as well as Continental Congress, early saw the necessity of fortifying the Hudson river to prevent its ascent by the enemy, and thus keep open the communication between the eastern and middle States. The Continental Congress moved first in the matter, but the published record of its proceedings does not disclose the date.
On the 18th of August, 1775, the Provincial Congress of New York passed the following resolution:
"Resolved and Ordered, That the Fortifications formerly ordered by the Continental Congress, and reported by a Committee of this Congress, as proper to be built on the banks of Hudson's River, in the Highlands, be immediately erected. Mr. Walton dissents. And that Mr. Isaac Sears, Mr. John Berrien, Col. Edward Flemming, Mr. Anthony Rutgers, and Mr. Christopher Miller, be Commissioners to manage the erecting and finishing the Fortifications. That any three or more of them be empowered to act, manage, and direct the building and finishing thereof."
The "Fortifications in the Highlands" embraced, not only those to be erected on Constitution Island, but also those afterwards erected on the north and south sides of Poplopen's Kill, called Forts Montgomery and Clinton. These were the main works, while redoubts were build on the neighboring eminences, on the east side of the Hudson ; two on Redoubt Hill, called North and South Redoubt, just east of Judge Garrison's residence, two on Sugar Loaf Mountain ; and one on Anthony's Nose Mountain. Col. Edward Flemining and Capt. Anthony Rutgers, notified the Provincial Congress that they could not attend to the duties of Commissioners ; on the 22nd of August, in the same year, Capt. Samuel Bayard and Capt. William Bedlow, were appointed in their stead.
The Provincial Congress employed Bernard Romans, who held a commission as Engineer in the British Army, to construct the "Fortifications in the Highlands." By order of the Committee of Safety, he commenced operations on the 29th of August, on Constitution Island ; and on the 12th October, 1775, he applied to the former body for a commission, with the rank and pay of Colonel.
Fort Constitution, October 12, 1775.
" Honourable Gentlemen
"By order from the Committee of Safety, I am up here for the purpose of constructing this fort ; said gentlemen gave me their words that I should be appointed principal Engineer for this Province, with the rank and pay of Colonel. As I have been now actually engaged in this work since the 29th of August last, I should be glad to know the certainty of my appointment, and therefore humbly pray that my commission may be made out and sent. I have left the pursuit of my own business, which was very considerable, and endangered my pension from the Crown, by engaging in our great and common cause. These matters considered, I hope my request will be thought reasonable, and therefore complied with. I remain, with the utmost respect, honourable Gentlemen; your most obedient humble servant,
Romans and the Commissioners soon became involved in an unpleasant dispute about the construetion of the works on this island. Romans claimed the right, by virtue of his office, to build the works according to his own furnished plan ; and pointedly told the Commissioners that they had no right to interfere with his operations; that their business was to furnish him with men and money, reserving their condemnation or approval until the Fortifications were finished.
The Commissioners, on the other hand, claimed the right, as superintendents, to approve or reject his plans, and direct the mode of operations, contending, that his duty was to work according to their directions. They objected to his plans, as involving too much expense to the State. A long epistolary correspondence followed, with drafts, reports, and estimates, for which we have not room to gratify the reader, as our. work is limited to a given number of pages. A condensed view of the " Reports" and " Plans" of the fortifications to be erected on this Island, made by Romans to the Commissioners, and through them to the two Congresses, is as follows;
On the south side of the island, he proposed to erect five block houses ; barracks, 80 by 20 feet ; storehouses and guard-room, 60 by 20 feet ; " 2,400 perches of stone wall, each perch containing 16 1/2 feet in length, 18 inches high, by 12 wide ;" five batteries, mounting 61 guns and 20 swivels ; a fort, with bastions, and a curtain, 200 feet in length ; a magazine ; and estimated the entire costs, materials of every description, with " labour of, and provisions for, 150 men for four months, 26 days to the month, at an average of 3s. per day, at 4,645 lbs. 4s. 4d." The cost of ordnance was not included in the above sum.
In the Revolution, this Island belonged to Mrs. Ogilvie and her children. She was the widow of Capt. Ogilvie, a British officer in the French and Indian war ; and grandmother, as we have been informed, of Mrs. Mary Gouverneur. The Committee of Safety, when about to fortify it, applied to Beverly Robinson, offering to purchase it. The following is the correspondence between them respecting the purchase of sufficient ground to erect the works on:
" In Committee of Safety.
" New York, Sept. 19th, 1775.
" Sir—By order of the Continental Congress, founded on the necessities of the present times, the Provincial Congress of this Colony has undertaken to erect a fortification on your land, opposite to the West Point, in the Highlands. As the Provincial Congress by no means intend to invade private property, this Committee, in their recess, have thought proper to request you to put a reasonable price upon the whole point of dry land! or Island, called Martelair's Rock island ; which price, if they approve of it, they are ready to pay you for it.
We are, sir, your humble servants.
"To Beverly Robinson, Esqr., at his seat in the Highlands."
"In Provincial Congress, New York, 6th October, 1775.
"A letter from Beverly Robinson, Esq., was read and filed, and is in the following words, to wit " Highlands, October 2nd, 1775.
"Sir—Your letter of the nineteenth of September; I received a few days ago, in answer to which, I must inform you that the point of land on which the fort is erecting, does not belong to me, but is the property of Mrs. Ogilvie and her children. Was it mine, the public should be extremely welcome to it. The building a fort there can be no disadvantage to the small quantity of arable land on the inland. I have only a proportion of the meadow land, that lays on the east side of the island.
" I am, sir, your most humble servant,
" BEV. ROBINSON.
" To John Haring. Esqr., Chairman of the Committee of Safety, at New York."
The Hudson River Railroad crosses the east end of this island, and on the southeast part of it, is cut through a gravel hill, on which was erected a bumbert battery in the Revolution.
Opposite to West Point, embowered among trees and shrubbery, and surrounded by the eminences on which the " fortifications" were built, stands the sequestered and rural country seat of Henry W. Warner, Esq., Counsellor, &c., called " Wood Crag." The kitchen part of this mansion is a fragment of the old barrack erected in 1775. The remains of Fort Constitution at the water's edge, are still to be seen. This island, with the marsh meadow east of it, belongs to H. W. Warner, Esq.
This beautiful country seat is the residence of Richard D. Arden, Esq., and is situated on the east bank of the Hudson, about one fourth of a mile north of the " Robinson House."
is the name of the mansion house built by Capt. Frederick Philips, deceased. It is a charming spot, located on the immediate bank of the Hudson, opposite to West Point. About half a mile north of Highland Grange, is the summer residence of Henry De Rhams. It is a lovely spot, with an extensive view north, south, and west. We do not know that it has been christened by any rural name.
This is the romantic and beautiful country seat of the great lyric poet of our country, Gen. George P. Morris. There is a romantic truth in the name, for it is well-nigh under one of the bold, rugged, and frowning cliffs of Bull Hill, at its southwest side. Here, the lover of the grand and sublime —the amateur of the mystic science of nature's works—may scan, on a most stupendous scale, those immoveable bulwarks, against which "the artillery of a thousand armies might roar out their ineffectual vengeance," vvhile ''the parapet would laugh in scorn at the power of battle."
From no residence in the Highlands, perhaps, can such an extended view be had, as at Under Cliff.
"To the right, to the left, in every direction, tower the rocky pinnacles of the Highlands, whose giant forms seem separated by the hand of Omnipotence, to make way for the quiet Hudson, as she hastens to pay her tribute to her monarch, the ocean." To the right and north, Bull Hill and Break Neck stand, like weather-beaten sentinels, to guard the further encroachment of the mighty current on the east, as it surges from the broad and ample bay above, through the Highland pass. To the west looms up Butter Hill and Crow's Nest, casting their sombre shadows far into the Hudson ; while to the south, Fort Putnam, at an elevation of 500 feet above the river, with its massive walls, still venerable in its ruin, stands "to give an ocular demonstration of the untiring industry and hardy enterprise of the heroes of '76."
The scenery of the Hudson, in this vicinity, is unequalled, and " bears nature's grandest imprint." The Rhine, in Germany, is said to resemble it more than any other, but does not equal it. This mansion is a few hundred rods north of Cold Spring. Here, beside this mighty river in its hour of glory, at sunset—tinging with Eden dies the most gorgeous scenery the eye ever rested upon—" where the rock throws back the billow, brighter than snow"--is the spot most fitting for the wrapt mountain-bard to tune his lyre, and chant an anthem to the sylvan deity of the place.
A small body of water located on the land of Daniel Smith, Esq., in the south part of she town ; and covers about three acres, containing perch and trout. It is circular or round, and hence its name.
A small sheet of water at the base of Cat Hill, on the land of Mrs. Mary Gouverneur, covering about two acres, on the west side of the "Old Post-Road," near Justus Nelson's mill. It takes its name from its contiguity to Cat Hill.
The Robinson House
This mansion, around which the stirring incidents of the revolution have flung such an interesting and melancholy interest, is situated in the southwest corner of this town, upon the water lot formerly owned by Col. Beverly Robinson, about 400 yards from the Hudson, in a straight line, and at the base of Sugar Loaf mountain. It is about two miles south-east of West Point, and four miles south of the village of Cold Spring. We gazed long and intensely at this memorable building ere we entered within its walls, on our first beholding it. Its grounds and halls have been hallowed by the tread and presence of the "Father of his Country"," by Knox, Greene, Putnam, Steuben, Kosciusko, Heath, Parson, McDougal, and many others, in " times that tried men's souls." And even while the patriot of his own, country, and the lover of liberty from another—Lafayette--rested beneath its roof, it has also held the dark, clutching, sordid traitor; Benedict Arnold. It was here, in the upper back room of the main building, where Arnold began and completed those sketches and drawings of the fortifications and works at West Point, which subsequently cost the youthful and accomplished Andre his life. Here he perfected and finished the requisite evidence of his allegiance to the British King, blackening the page of our country's history by a perfidy that is without a parallel, and unlike Judas, .he refused to weep, but singing the song of his own infamy, he sank " like mad Ophelia on the wave, singing as he sank."
The confidence that Washington reposed in his confidence was unbounded, or he would hardly have entrusted him with so important a post as West Point, which was the key that would unlock the southern door of the northern department. And how could it be otherwise ? Who could doubt the fidelity and patriotism of the leader of that Spartan band of heroes who marched in the depth of a rigorous winter from the cold, bleak, and barren frontiers of Maine to the rock-bound citadel of Quebec ? Who could entertain a suspicion of the man, who, after marching the foremost of his little band two hundred miles through the snow-clad forests of Maine, over rocks and precipices, and the inhospitable deserts of Lower Canada, where the foot of the white man had never passed, had sat down to satisfy the cravings of hunger on the body- of a dead camp dog on the banks of the Chaudiere ? He who headed the forlorn hope at the storming of Quebec, where his leg was shattered by a musket ball ; who had poured out his life-blood like , water on the plains of Saratoga and Stillwater for his country ; who had fronted the cannon's mouth, charging up to their very muzzles amid the storm of iron hail that so dreadfully wasted his followers ; could such a man be trusted ? Washington felt that it was wickedness to doubt, and he gave to Arnold the command of West Point and its out-posts.
But when the dreadful truth was disclosed, it wrung his great spirit with an anguish that his officers had never before witnessed : and the question he asked of Lafayette, "Who can we trust now," shows the extent of confidence reposed by Washington in the patriotism of that fallen hero of our early struggle—Benedict Arnold.
The following acrostic is about as severe and sarcastic as it is possible to express in the English language:
"Born for a curse to virtue and mankind,
Earth's broadest realms can't show so black a mind ;
Night's sable veil your crimes it cannot hide,
Each are so great, they glut the historic page ;
Defam'd your memory shall for ever live,
In all the glare that infamy can give;
Curses of all ages shall attend your name,
Traitors alone shall glory in your shame.
Almighty vengeance sternly waits to roll
Rivers of brimstone on your treacherous soul :
Nature looks back, with conscious sorrow sad,
On such a tarnish'd blot as she has made—
Let hell receive you riveted with chains,
Doom 'd to the hottest focus of its flames."
Three buildings joined to one another compose the mansion. Nearest to the river is the farm-house, one story high, and connected to it, on the east, are, the two main buildings, two stories high, with a piazza extending along the north, east, and southerly sides of the building nearest the Sugar Loaf Peak, and on the south side of the centre building. The house and lands attached now belong to Richard D. Arden, Esq., and are occupied by his son, Lieut. Thomas Arden, late of the U. S. Army, and an officer in the Florida war.
" The same low ceiling, large and uncovered joists, the same polished tiles around the fire-places, and the absence of all ornament which marks the progress of modern architecture, preserve complete the interest which the stirring incidents of that period have flung around the Robinson House."
In the centre building is the large dining room, where the traitor, with his wife, and two of Washington's aids-de-camp, were at breakfast, when a messenger dashed up to the door and handed him a letter, which the stupid Jamieson had forwarded by express to Arnold, informing him of the arrest, and discovery of the papers. We have stood within this room, we have planted our feet upon the broad staircase that the avaricious traitor mounted " in hot haste," after reading Jamieson's letter, as he flew to the chamber of his wife in the second story of the eastern main building fronting to the north, where he " disclosed to her his dreadful position," urging her to burn all his papers, and informed her "that they must part for ever."
This house has been kept from dilapidation and decay by repairs, when needed, but in no way has it been changed from its original appearance. It has been roofed from time to time, as often as the wear and tear of the elements have rendered it necessary ; a new piazza has been added in the place of the former one, but no alterations have been permitted, either inside or out, that has changed, in the least, its original shape and appearance.
Beverly Robinson, who built it about 1750, was a Major in the British Army, under the gallant Gen. Wolfe, in the battle upon the Plains of Abraham. The lands, originally attached to the mansion, are of an excellent quality, and numbered one thousand acres, under a good state of cultivation. He married a beautiful, amiable, and accomplished lady, a descendant of the original patentee of Putnam County, by whom he acquired large tracts of land, and then retired from the army to the enjoyment of that domestic happiness upon his estates, which a rural life and such a partner are so well calculated to secure. He was for several years Supervisor of this town, and took an active part in everything that concerned its interests. The lands he acquired by his marriage with Miss Philips, was the water-lot, four miles square, and on which the " Robinson House" stands ; the first longlot adjoining the water-lots on the east ; and the short-lot the north-east part of the county.
While residing at "Beverly," in this quiet and secluded retreat, where nought is heard but the sighing of the breeze, the murmurs of the rolling Hudson, the song of the robin, and the whoop of the whippo-will —surrounded by every comfort that the heart can desire, and dispensing a generous hospitality—the storm that had been long gathering between the Mother-Country and her Colonies burst forth, and he was summoned to the field, by virtue of the right of England's King, to demand the services of his native-born subjects in time of need. He obeyed the call with great reluctance, and it is said, pled hard to be allowed to remain in the bosom of his family, and in the quiet enjoyment of his rural pursuits. But the constant and unceasing solicitations of his influential and English friends, reminding him of his oath of allegiance to his King and country----that he was a native-born subject, and when his country had called him in days gone by, his soldier-like heart faltered not on the Heights of Abraham, where he became enamored of her glory--at last prevailed under a sense of that stern system of teaching, which impresses on the soldier, as the first duty, obedience to superior authority.
Having removed his family to New York, he departed from his long loved " Vallambrosa," to the British army, in which he received a Brigadier-General's commission. His family never returned to " Beverly," where they had spent so many years of unalloyed happiness ; but when the British army under Gen. Clinton moved up the Hudson after the battle of Fort Montgomery, it is said, he visited, and for the last time, his house, to which he was destined never more to return.
Such men at this day are sometimes called " Tories." But is the charge just or true ? with a solemn regard for truth, we think not. When the reader shall have patiently examined all the facts up to the commencement of the Revolution in the life of Beverly Robinson, we think he will concur with us, that he was not a tory, nor can he be brought within the meaning of the word, as understood by the native-born patriots of the Revolution. Webster says that the word " tory" is " said to be an Irish word, denoting a robber." That " in America, during the Revolution, those who opposed the war, and favored the claims of Great Britain, were called tories." But this latter meaning and understanding of the word, as given by Webster, was, and could only be applied to native-born citizens of this country, and not to those born and brought up in the Mother-Country, who had passed more than half their lives in her standing armies. The latter class of persons, at the breaking out of the war, were just as much Englishmen, and subject to the laws and government of that country, although they had resided a few years in the colonies, as if they had always remained in England. How stands the case with respect to Col. Robinson ? He was not a native-born citizen of this country, and at the time he returned to the British army, we had not a national existence. To whom then did he owe alliegance ? not to us, for we did not exist at that time as an independent nation ; not to the country, for he was not born here ; not to the land, for that he only held in right of his wife, in whom the title was vested ; and when it was confiscated by an act of the legislature, the reversionary interest was not affected, for " in 1809, John Jacob Astor bought the reversionary interest of the lands acquired by Beverly Robinson by his marriage with Miss Philipse, and also those of Major Roger Morris, who married Miss Mary Philipse, sister to Col. Robinson's wife, off the heirs of both for 8100,000." For this Mr. Astor received from the State, 10 years after, the small sum of $500,000 !