HISTORY OF THE CITY OF HUDSON
(It is important to the reader of this lengthy chapter to state the patent fact that much of its contents down
to a date a little past the middle of the present century, are drawn from the valuable sketches written about that
time by the late Stephen B. Miller and finally published in a limited edition of a small book. This book is now
exceedingly rare and, as such local historical works invariably do, commands a price ten times above its original
cost. The editors and publishers believe that no greater or more valuable contribution to local history can be
made than to reprint Mr. Miller's book substantially as it first appeared, and accordingly it will be found as
an appendix to these volumes, at the same time using its facts as far as may seem desirable in the preparation
of this chapter. It will be readily understood that some of the features of this chapter may be considerably abridged
without detriment, on account of the reproduction herein of the Miller book.)
It has already been stated in these pages that the history of Columbia county is in many respects exceptional and
unique. The very early date of the advent of white men in its territory; the peculiarities of some of the settlers,
notably the Palatines, and the circumstances and conditions by which they are surrounded; the creation of the manorial
system under which a large part of the territory long continued, and the resultant anti rent troubles; and the
very eminent character of many of the proprietors and pioneers, all contributed to make the historical story peculiar
and uncommon in the annals of the State.
These same conditions to some extent, and others little less unusual, apply to the history of Hudson city. The
early proprietorship of the body of energetic and enterprising New Englanders; their prompt and successful operations
for the upbuilding of the place; the early date of city incorporation; the establishment, rise, and decline of
the whaling industry and its kindred manufactures and trade; the development of commercial operations which were
destined eventually to lose their importance, unite to make the history of the city as exceptioual as that of the
The territory included in the boundaries of Hudson city was formerly a part of the old town of Claverack and was
included in the grant of land purchased from the Indians in 1662 by Jan Frans Van Hoesen, to whom it was confirmed
by Governor Nicoll on May 14, 1667. The patentee died about 1703 and under the law of primogeniture the property
passed to his eldest son, Jurrien; but there were other children and the land was divided. On Jannary 7, 1704,
he conveyed to his brothers and sister, Jacob Jans, Johannes, and Catherine (wife of Francis Hardick), the lands
lying on and near the river. The portion conveyed to Francis Hardick and his wife is thus described in the deed:
"A certain piece of land situate, lying, and being at Claverack aforesaid, on the east side of Hudson's River,
now in their possession, Beginning from the river side and runs up Eastwardly into the Woods along the north side
of the Waggon Way to the Spruyt of Dientz bridge at the bounds of said Jurrien Van Hoesen, and so along the said
bounds Northwest to the bounds of Jacob Jans Van Hoesen, and from thence Westward along his bounds to the said
River side, together with the House and Barn and Orchard."
Francis Hardick when a boy had run away from service in Liverpool and was brought over on a vessel trading between
that port and New York. He found employment with Mr. Van Hoesen and afterwards married the daughter. Jacob Jans
Van Hoesen, brother of Jurrien, received lands to the northward, while those of Johannes, another brother, lay
upon the river and South Bay, extending on the north to the road which formed the boundary of the tract allotted
to the Hardicks. The road, or "Waggon Way," led from the interior to the landing and passed along the
line of what became Ferry and Partition streets. The lands of Johannes and the Hardicks, lying respectfully on
the southern and northern sides of the road, comprised a large part of the site of Hudson city. Francis Hardick
died about 1742 and bequeathed his more northerly land to his son Jan, while the remainder, extending south to
about the line of Ferry and Partition streets, went to his son William; he died about 1760, leaving several sons,
among whom were Francis (the eldest), Gerrit, Jacob and Lendert. The lands descended by primogeniture to Francis,
and at his death, May 4, 1783, were inherited by his sons, William, Peter and Daniel; the part allotted to the
latter was probably outside of the city limits. Previous to the death of Francis Hardick he sold to Jeremiah Hogeboom
a "store and wharf lot," and a "mill lot," the latter including what became known as Underhill's
Pond, and the store and wharf lot lay on the river on the north side of the old County road (Ferry street), as
shown on a map made in September, 1774. In 1783 both of these lots were owned and occupied by Peter Hogeboom, jr.
Jurrien Van Hoesen conveyed his land, extending from the Wagon Way to the South Bay and westwardly to the river,
to Johannes, as stated, and the latter passed it on to Jacob and Gerrit Van Hoesen, October 28, 1724. In 1783 this
land was in possession of Hendrick Van Hoesen, Gerrit Van Hoesen, John Van Alen, and Catharine (Van Hoesen) Van
Alen. The land conveyed by Jurrien Van Hoesen to his brother Jacob Jans, in 1704, extended from the Hardick tract
northerly along the river to the north line of the patent; this, or a part of it adjoining the Hardick tract, descended
from Jacob Jans Van Hoesen to his son Jacob, and from him to his sons, Jacob and John Jacob Van Hoesen, who owned
it in 1783.
Here, at Claverack Landing, as it was originally called, the farmers brought their products and the river men took
them aboard their craft for transportation to other points. Two rude wharfs were built, each having a small storehouse,
of which the owners were Peter Hogeboom, jr., and Col. John Van Alen. Hogeboom's store stood on the "store
and wharf lot" mentioned, and Van Alen's on what is now the southwest corner of Ferry and Water streets. Where
the country road came down to the river, at the site of the later ferry slip, was the landing place of a ferry
operated by Conrad Flock "to and from Lunenburgh," which was the upper and older part of Athens village.
Flock's foot passengers were taken over in canoes, and wagons on two canoes fastened side by side, the animals
Peter Hogeboom, jr., built a mill on the mill lot, for which the small stream supplied a somewhat inadequate quantity
of water for a time, and ground grain for the settlers. Orchards had been planted along the country road, which
were in bearing, and the farms were well tilled. The herring fishery in its season aided in adding to the food
supply and the financial income, large quantities being shipped to New York.
In the early part of 1783 came the body of New Englanders, who have been mentioned, to take up the task of making
a city. Among them were a number of sturdy Quakers, and altogether no better party of settlers could have been
gathered to effect their purpose and no event in the history of the county has been of greater importance for its
development at this point. These proprietors were mostly from Providence and Newport in Rhode Island, and Nantucket
and Edgarton, Massachusetts, and the number was limited to thirty, though not quite that number was reached. They
possessed considerable means and were familiar with sea going navigation and the whale fishery. A committee came
on ahead to select a location, passed through Long Island Sound and into the Hudson, examining locations at several
points on the way. The committee consisted of four members, Thomas Jenkins being one and Cotton Geiston another;
the other two are not designated. Thomas Jenkins was the leader and the one having the most money. They finally
decided to locate at Claverack Landing and doubtless were cordially received by the few pioneers who had laid the
foundations for improvement. Their landing was made July 19, 1783, and the first business transaction made by them
was the purchase by Mr. Jenkins of the Hogeboom store and wharf property for £2,600. On the 22d of the same
month Margaret, widow of the second Francis Hardick, William and Peter Hardick, her sons, and Gerrit and Jacob,
sons of the elder William Hardick, conveyed to Thomas Jenkins land "bounded northerly by land of Jacob Van
Hoesen to the river, about 200 rods, and by the river to lands conveyed by Peter Hogeboom, jr., to Thomas Jenkins,"
for £1,870. On the same day Francis Hardick transferred to Thomas Jenkins for £540 a lot of two acres
lying on or near North Bay. These three tracts included the land lying north of Ferry and Partition streets, and
were probably all that was embraced in the first purchase. Title to other later purchases was taken by Mr. Jenkins
for the Association. One of these was dated September 5, 1783, and conveyed from Lendert Hardick twelve and a half
acres and twenty perches of land for £250, lying nearly in the northwestern angle of Second and Mill streets.
Lendert Hardick had purchased it from Francis Hardick, Br., to whom it had descended from his father. The Hogeboom
mill lot was sold to Thomas Jenkins in 1784. Following are the Articles of Agreement made by the Association, with
"WE, the subscribers, being joint proprietors of a certain Tract of Land lying at Claverack Landing, on the
banks of the Hudson River, purchased by Thomas Jenkins of Peter Hogeboorn, Junr., and others, for the purpose of
establishing a commercial settlement, on principles of equity, do enter into the following Articles of Agreement,
"ARTICLE FIRST - That each proprietor subscribe for such part of the above Tract, in proportion as near as
may be to his Stock in Trade, with the others concerned.
"ARTICLE SECOND. - No proprietor shall be permitted to purchase land within two miles of the said landing,
unless he shall give the Proprietors the refusal thereof at the rates at which he himself purchased it.
"ARTICLE THIRD. - That each and every one of the proprietors shall settle there in person and carry his
Trading Stock on or before the first day of October, A. Dom., one thousand seven hundred and eighty five, unless
prevented by some unavoidable event that shall be esteemed a sufficient reason by some of the proprietors for his
non compliance, and his going immediately after that obstruction is removed. In case of Death, his heirs, executors,
or administrators, with fully complying with these Articles, shall be entitled to the same privileges as other
"ARTICLE F0URTH. - That no person be permitted to dispose of his share who has not fully complied with these
Articles, but said share revert to the other Proprietors, they paying the first cost of said share, without interest,
and that the proprietors which have complied with the foregoing shall hold possession of said lands according to
their several proportions.
"ARTICLE FIFTH. - That no proprietor be permitted to erect any building on any proprietor's land until it
shall be divided, and they shall be subjected to such regulations as shall be hereafter made for regulating the
Streets, Lanes, Highways, Gangways, &c.
"ARTICLE SIXTH. - That we further agree that if any one or more shall forfeit the right of his or their interest
in the aforementioned lands, according to the true intent and meaning of the preceding articles, that he or they
shall, if furnished with Deeds or other instruments of conveyance from Thomas Jenkins, give up the same to the
Proprietors, or furnish them with a clear Deed or Deeds of all their right, title, and interest in said lands,
they paying such person or persons the first cost, as described in article fourth.
"ARTICLE SEVENTH. - That the subscribers do solemnly agree to abide by the preceding Articles and regulations,
and that this Instrument be signed and sealed by each individual proprietor, and the original be lodged in the
hands of the Proprietors' Clerk.
NATHANIEL GREENE. "
Besides the foregoing names the following persons were included in the list of proprietors: Alexander Coffin,
from Nantucket; William Minturn, from Newport; Shubael Worth, from Nantucket; Paul Hussey, from Nantucket; Marshal
Jenkins, from Edgartown; Deborah Jenkins, from Nantucket; Lemuel Jenkins, from Edgartown; Benjamin Starbuck, from
Nantucket; John Cartwright, from Nantucket; John Allen, from Edgartown. The names of Benjamin Hussey, Samuel Mansfield,
Walter Folger, Daniel Paddock, and Peleg Clark, appear also in the proprietor's records, indicating that they were
members of the Association.
These sturdy and enterprising men immediately began operations to improve their property. In the fall of 1783 the
brig Comet, of Providence, arrived with three of the proprietors and their families; two of these were Seth Jenkins
and John Alsop, and the other was probably Joseph Barnard, as he came that fall. Another passenger was Marks Barker,
a young man of about twenty years, who had studied medicine in Philadelphia; he was a Quaker, resided in or near
Hudson more than half a century, and died January 24, 1839. The other proprietors came on in the following spring.
Some of them brought portable houses, in order that there might be no delay after their arrival in beginning their
various business operations; one of these was the first residence here of Stephen Paddock.
On the 23d of November, 1784, Thomas Jenkins, Gideon Gardner, and David Lawrence were appointed by the Proprietors
"to wait on Colonel John Van Alen, empowered to purchase his real estate for £2,500, and a one thirtieth
interest in the first purchase made." This offer was accepted, but Colonel Van Alen died December 15, 1784,
before the transfer of the deed. Later, on February 8, 1785, the same property, including all of the land south
of Ferry street and between Front street and the river, and the "store and wharf lot," was purchased
from the widow on the same terms.'
Another pioneer who deserves mention here was a young man who was in the employ of Colonel Van Alen at the time
of the arrival of the proprietors; his name was Samuel Edmonds and he became an influential citizen. He had served
in the Revolutionary army and after the close of hostilities at Yorktown, he journeyed northward and finally made
his way to Claverack Landing, where he was engaged as clerk by Colonel Van Alen. After the death of the latter
he engaged in a small business and soon married Lydia, daughter of Thomas Worth; the late Judge John W. Edmonds,
a distinguished citizen of the county, was their son.
On the 14th of May, 1784, the proprietors held their first business meeting, of which David Lawrence was chosen
moderator, and Reuben Folger, clerk. Seth Jenkins, John Thurston, Daniel Paddock, Joseph Barnard, Thomas Jenkins,
Gideon Gardner, and David Lawrence were appointed a committee "to regulate streets, and attend in a particular
manner to fixing the buildings uniformly." By this committee Front, Main, State, Diamond, Union (formerly
South street), Second and Third streets were laid out, some of these names being applied later. Excavating and
blasting were begun on Front street to open a passage to the river, at the same time supplying stone for building
purposes. They were wise men who located the main street of the city along the ridge of land beginning at the bold
promontory at the river and extending easterly to what is now Prospect Hill. On the north side of this street the
land descended to the wooded shores of North Bay, and on the other side it sloped to the South Bay. A ravine crossed
this street just above the intersection of Third street, and another and deeper one at Fourth street; the latter
was called "the great hollow," and on the 24th of October, following their arrival, the proprietors voted
that a "bridge be built over the great hollow in Main street, with stone buttments;" Seth Jenkins was
given charge of the work. The smaller ravine also was crossed by a bridge, but both were filled in before many
years. Main street retained its name until October 10, 1799, when an ordinance of the Common Council gave it its
present name of Warren street. The old country road, so frequently mentioned, crossed Main street diagonally at
about the point where Sixth street was laid out.
The first dwellings in the place were those of Seth Jenkins, John Alsop, and Joseph Barnard, which were built in
1783, before the arrival of the main body of proprietors. The first two stood on the north side of what is now
Franklin square. The first meeting of the proprietors was held in the Jenkins house, which in after years was known
as the Swain house, and was burned in the great fire of 1838. Stephen Paddock's portable house was set up on Front
street and occupied only until he could erect a more commodious one. The Robert Barnard house was the next one
built and stood on the corner of First and Warren streets. Jared Coffin built on the south side of Union street,
directly opposite First street. The first house on Main street was built by Peter Barnard; he was not a proprietor,
but was long a respected citizen, The dwelling stood on the south side of the street about midway between First
and Second. Some of the very early houses were of brick, which had been burned in the vicinity many years; one
of these was the residence of Colonel Van Alen, which stood on the southeast corner of Ferry and Water streets.
Brick were manufactured on the north side of the old wagon road near Third street and also on Diamond street, in
The improvement of the Hogeboom wharf was promptly undertaken by the proprietors and a substantial structure took
the place of the first rude affair, and named Hudson wharf when that name was given to the city; this change took
place on November 14, 1784, at a meeting of the proprietors, the title being given in honor of the famous explorer
of the river. One of the first stores in the place, if not the very first, was kept by Cotton Gelston in a part
of the building in which he lived, on the south side of Main street above Second. This was followed by others within
a very short time, as noticed further on. Steps were taken also in 1784 to provide a public market. On June 28
at a meeting it was "voted that a house be immediately built at the expense of the proprietors, twenty feet
by thirty, to be appropriated for a Market House." Daniel Paddock was appointed to have charge of this work,
and the building was erected on the northwest corner of Front and Main streets, where the later brick market building
was erected in 1807, which is still standing and rented for market purposes. The open space around the building
was named Market square, and there, after obtaining permission from the proprietors to do so at his own expense,
Thomas Jenkins set up a hay scale; he pledged himself to "not exact more than 1s. 6d. per load for weighing."
On September 2, 1784, Gideon Gardner, Cotton Geiston, and Daniel Paddock were appointed a committee in charge,
in response to a proprietors' vote "that the three wells be stoned and masoned up." In Mr. Miller's book,
reprinted herein, he terms these wells as cisterns; but it seems doubtful that the intelligent proprietors would
have so misused the word, "wells." A cistern at that date meant just what it does today, and a well was
a source of drinking water coming up out of the ground. These three were undoubtedly dug for public use, one of
them being situated on Third street, another in the vicinity of Second street, and the third near the market house.
In any event they were supplemented in a short time by a water supply brought in an aqueduct.
The year 1785 saw great strides in the progress of the young city, and perhaps the most astonishing phase of the
general aspect of the settlement by the proprietors was the energy, enterprise, and good judgment displayed by
them. On the 9th of June, of that year, a committee of proprietors was appointed "to survey and plot the city."
This important work was done under the direction of Cotton Gelston, who was given "one house lot for his trouble
in laying out and making a plot of the city." This survey included the streets before named and added thereto
Fourth and Fifth streets. Between the long streets extending eastward from Front street, were laid out so called
"gangways," twenty feet wide, which formed the rear lines of the town lots, which were laid out fifty
by one hundred and twenty feet in area. The city plot extended southwardly to the old country road and in the opposite
direction to the alley next north of State street. Thomas Jenkins and David Lawrence were appointed to name these
streets. This survey was accepted formally by the Council on July 13, 1786. In September, 1785, Peter Van Hoesen
obtained permission "to lay out a road to the South Bay;" this was done and became South Third street.
In the same fall the road from Claverack bridge to the Hudson was widened to sixty six feet, as also was the one
from Livingston manor "until it intersects the Claverack road near the house of John Mandeville." Other
important streets were added as the growth of the city demanded Partition street from Front to Third, in May, 1794;
Chapel street in May, 1796; the road up the Academy Hill in 1800, opened by the Columbia Turnpike Company; Seventh
street in 1801, and Union street and Cherry alley at the same time, etc.