History of Beekman, NY
From: General History of Dutchess County
From 1609 to 1876, Inclusive.
By Philip H. Smith
Published by the author 1877

POPULATION, 1,500. - SQUARE ACRES, 17,230.

BEEKMAN was formed as a town by act of March 7, 1788, and embraced land granted to Col. Henry Beekman. The Precinct of that name was formed December 16, 1737, and Pawling Precinct was set off in 1768. A part of "Freedom" (now Lagrange) was taken off in 1821, and the greater portion of Union Vale in 1827. It derives its name from the Beckman family. At the death of Col. Henry Beekman, the tract was divided into lots one mile wide, running from the Rombout Patent to the Oblong, and the lots divided among his heirs.

Beekman contains some of the finest farming land in the county. Its surface is a broken and hilly upland. Limestone and slate crop out at the summits and declivities of the hills. The streams are small creeks and brooks, tributaries of the Fishkill, and are bordered by wide, fertile intervales. The soil is a productive, gravelly loam. Sylvan Lake is a fine body of water near the west line. The Indian name for this lake is A-po-qua-que, signifying round lake, from which "Poughquag" is derived.

The first settlements are supposed to have been made about the year 1710: but the early records are lost. A. Delong located in 1716, and kept an inn at an early day. Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, Bishop of Penn., and his brother, Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, Bishop of the Diocese of New York, were born in this town. Lossing, the historian, and ex-Minister DeLong, were also born here.

The Uhls came from Germany, and settled in the north part of the town. The Haxtuns and Sweets from Long Island, and the Gardners and Reisoners from Nantucket, settled in Gardner Hollow. A family named Hogeboom came to Gardner Hollow, but after remaining a year removed to Hudson. The Bakers settled on Pleasant Ridge. The Cornwells came from Long Island, and the Noxons from Rhode Island.

John Brill came from Germany, soon after marriage, and purchased a large tract of fertile land south and west of Poughquag. It is worthy of note that much of the land is still in possession of his ancestors, the farms of the Brill family lying contiguous to each other from Poughquag to Green Haven, a distance of two miles. The Barnards moved in at an early date.

The old part of the upper store building at Poughquag has a history worthy of record. It stood, at the time of the Revolution, above the present residence of E. L. Williams, and was occupied as a Continental Store. Harness, powder, cutlasses, guns, cartridge boxes, and other military stores were kept there. It was guarded by soldiers stationed there for the purpose. A man named Champlain had charge of it. Among the other old buildings may be mentioned the M. E. parsonage barn at Poughquag, which was in former times occupied as a distillery. Henry I. Brill had a fulling mill, on the site of the saw mill now belonging to Daniel Thomas.

There was a grist mill at Green Haven in the Revolution. kept by one Vincent. The Bogarts from Holland settled here. Richmore Bogart was elected Justice of the Peace, of whom some amusing anecdotes are told. Men differed in opinion then, as well as now, and had recourse to law to settle their difficulties. Squire Bogart was soon required to sit in judgment upon several cases, and uniformly gave his decisions in favor of the plaintiff. When asked the reason for so doing he replied, "Do you believe any man would be foolish enough to bring suit against another, if he did not suppose he had good ground for complaint ?" However wise Squire Bogart's decisions may have been in the eye of the law, the results was to put an effectual stop to all litigation in the neighborhood.

The Squire fattened considerable pork each year. He was at one time advised to feed his hogs on what is commonly known as the "Jamestown Weed." being assured that this would not only impart an agreeable flavor to the pork, but would cause them to fatten much sooner. Accordingly he set about raising a quantity of the weed, and when the time came threw it in to the hogs. The result was that every one of them died.

Many stories are told of the Robber Hoag, a noted Tory who infested this vicinity during the Revolution. He carried en quite an extensive business of horse stealing, in connection with his other maraudings. He and his gang were accustomed to enter dwellings, and if the people refused to give up their valuables, or to tell where they were secreted, he would tie them fast in a chair and build a fire under them, and keep them there until his demands were complied with. Many were so injured by this treatment that they did not recover in years. At one time Benj. Noxon was going out in the field, and on passing near a clump of bushes, heard the click of a gunlock. A glance revealed the Robber Hoag, lurking in the bushes. He pretended not to notice the robber, and gradually drew off, and when at a safe distance ran for home with all his might. Hoag was brought up in the neighborhood which was afterwards the scene of his robberies, and he subsequently told the man with whom he had lived, that he had often covered him with his rifle as he was hiding about in the woods, and bushes, but could never summon quite enough courage to shoot. After the war, Hoag fled to Canada. A number of years after he came back to Beekman, supposing that his deeds had been forgotten, to visit the family of a relative But he was not forgotten; for a number of persons who had suffered from him formed a plan to kill him, and he was forced to fly to save his life.

In what is known as the Noxon Meadow, tradition locates a small Indian village, probably some of the Schaghticoke tribe. Arrow heads are picked up in that locality; and a few years since the mounds of the graves were distinctly visible.

Green Haven, Poughquag, Beekmanville and Sylvan Lake are small post villages. Freemanville, or Guinea, is a settlement of colored people in the mountains south of Poughquag. Charles Freeman, a mulatto, was a large land holder, and important personage among them, and is still held in remembrance by the oldest citizens. There are three churches in town, viz: Baptist, Methodist, and Roman Catholic. An Episcopal Church was built in 1852 on the rising ground east of Poughquag, was taken down in 1772, and the material conveyed to Sing Sing camp ground, and there converted into cottages.

The constituent members of the Baptist Church at Beekman, previous to its organization, held their membership with the First Baptist Church of Fishkill, from which they were regularly dismissed. Their house of worship was completed late in the autumn of 1829, at a cost of $3,000, all paid, and dedicated in December following. Dedicatory sermon by D. T. Hill, - text Rev. xxii; 9; "Worship God." In February ten persons were recognized by a council called for the purpose, Rev. Rufus Babcock, D. D., preaching the sermon. Elder D. T. Hill became their pastor, continuing with them until 1843. The Duchess Baptist Association has four times held its anniversaries with this church.

The Centennary M. E. Church edifice at Poughquag was built in 1839. Previous to this there was a small society of two or three members. The corner stone was laid July 24, 1839; sermon by Rev. Mr. Cochran. The house was raised August 10, 1839; and the record states no alcohol was used on that occasion. At the raising, one hundred and fifty people dined, the ladies furnishing the provisions. Henry Wright was the builder; Oliver-Smith, mason. The. house was formally dedicated January 15, 1840; six hundred people present.

The Roman Catholic Church, built about the year 1860, is situated in the west part of the town, near the south borders of Sylvan Lake.

A Quaker Church was early constituted in this town and was known as the A poquaque Preparative Church. Their second house of worship was recently sold to a Missionary Society, and is still used for religious purposes. The first church edifice stood about two miles east of the second one, in the burying ground at Gardner Hollow. Morgan Lewis leased the land for the first house to the society, at a rent of "one pepper corn a year, if demanded." One of the oldest grave stones in the burial ground, that is distinctly legible, is. that of Dr. Ebenezer Cary, who died in 1815, at the age of 70 years. The stone was removed into this ground from the old grave yard south of the road.

The following are from the old records in the Town Clerk's office:

At a Town Meeting held, April 7, 1772, for Beekmans Precinct, chosen for officers as follows, viz:- Maurice Pleas, Town Clerk; Joshua Carman, Supervisor; Samuel Dorland, James Vanderburgh, Assessors; Simeon Noxon, Constable and Collector; Thomas Clements, Maurice Pleas, Inspectors of Intestate Estates.

Memorandum at this Meeting - The parties living on the Clove Road agreed to work it as follows, viz:-that half of the inhabitants that live below to work to Andres Buck's Lane, and the other half to work from thence to Lieut John Uhls.
At a meeting held April 2nd, 1776, James Vanderburgh, Esq., Samuel Dorland, John Hall, Ebenezer Cary, and Eliab Youmans were chosen a Committee to retire and draw up some Prudential Laws relative to height and sufficiency of fences within this Precinct, upon which they drew up the following and read them publickly to the meeting for their approbation, to which the said meeting unanimously agreed. and ordered that the same be recorded. [Then follows the laws.]

April 3, 1787 - Voted the sum of seventy pounds to be raised for the use of the poor of this Precinct.

April 1, 1788. It is hereby enacted that the majority of the Justices and a majority of the Overseers of the Poor for the time being, shall be and are hereby impowered to bind out the children of all such poor persons [as are not able to get a livelihood] as apprentices; and they are also impowered to bind out the parents for such time and times as they may think fit and convenient. Passed in open Town Meeting,
J. OAKLEY, Clerk.

April 7, 1789. - Voted that the next Annual Meeting shall be held at the Dwelling House of Henry Smith.

The whole amount of money received by us or our predecessors in office for the use of the common schools during the year ending on the date of this report, and since the date of the last report for our town is $311.20 of which sum the part received from county treasurer is $155.60, the part from the collector $155.60; that the said sum of money has been expended in paying the instructors of the schools of said town. The school books most used in the common schools in our town are as follows, viz: The Juvenile Spelling Book, American Preceptor, English Reader, Walker's Dictionary, Daboll's Arithmetic, Murray's English Grammar, Morse's Geography, and Historical Dictionary by Ezra Thompson.
June 1, 1835.
Commissioners of Common Schools.

We the Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Pawling, do hereby certify, own and acknowledge that Isaiah Burch, labourer, his wife and children, is inhabitants legally settled in our said town of Pawling. - In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this ninth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and fifteen.
Signed in presence of Jacob Parks, Silas Dutcher.

Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Pawling.

April 13, 1816, special town meeting was held at the house of Adam Crouse.

This day received the name of Peter, a black child, son of Sude, a slave of Alida Bogert, who was born the i8th day of
February, 1817.
May 1, 1817. GILBERT B. NOXON, Clerk.

I, George Cornwell, of the Town of Beekman, in the County of Duchess, and State of New York do manumit and set free, and by these presents have manumitted and forever discharged from my service a certain colored man by the name of Harry, who has heretofore been my slave.
Sept. 11, 1823.

Whereas application has been made to us, Nathan Miller and Reed Crandall, Overseers of the Poor of said Town of Beekman, by George Cornwell, who by the above instrument of writing has this day manumitted and set free a certain colored man named Harry, who has heretofore been a slave to said George Cornwell, and therefore we, the said Nathan Miller and Reed Crandall, Overseers as aforesaid, do certify that we are personally acquainted with the said Harry, a colored man, and that we know him to be under the age of forty five years and that he is of sufficient ability to provide for himself. We do therefore record the manumission of the above named Harry.
Sept. 11, 1823.
Overseers of the Poor.

We the Overseers of Rombouts Precinct do give Margeret Keen a permit to go and work where she may best get a living and if she should like to be a Precinct charge we the said Overseers of Rombouts Precinct are willing to take her and provide for her.
Aug. 5, 1772.

Aug. 10, 1800, was born Dinah, a black girl, daughter of
Susan now in possession of ZACHARIAH FLAGLER.

I, John Brill, of the Town of Beekman, do by these presents manumit and set free my black man named Harry, of the age of twenty nine years, hereby acquitting and exonerating him of and from all further demands for service to me for or on account of his having been born a slave to me, on condition of him, the said Harry. becoming legally manumitted.
Mar. 28, 1817.

It was the custom in early times, in New England and New York, for the inns to be kept by the citizens who were the most wealthy and respectable of the people, very often by men who had large farms and possessed the means of providing ample accommodations. The public houses were then not always located at the intersection of highways, and there was seldom any village to give local attraction to a tavern. An old resident pointed out the location of an ancient tavern, some yards southwest of the residence of Daniel Thomas, Esq., now near the centre of a meadow. He recollected the sign which hung on an apple tree, near to the inn. The road at that time ran close to the house, but has since been changed.

Sixty or seventy years ago, the Doughty Tavern, located between Po'quag and Beekman, was a noted inn. That and the mill opposite was once owned and managed by a Widow Dennis, who afterward married N. Doughty, ancestor of the present families of that name. Doughty's Tavern was celebrated for its good board, excellent beds, and ample accommodations; its fame was in the mouth of every traveler journeying that way. At that time emigration from the Eastern States was quite extensive. People travelled in wagons, usually in trains. As many as twenty or thirty wagons were frequently in one train. The custom these emigrants brought to the taverns along their route proved no small source of their income.

The Vanderburgh mansion, a subjoined cut of which is given, from a pencil sketch in possession of the family, built some time previous to the Revolution, and razed in 1860, stood about one fourth of a mile northeast of the village of Poughquag. It was one of the first substantial dwellings erected within the limits of the town, and was a fine specimen of the better class of dwellings of those early times. It was constructed partly of stone and partly of wood, with a broad covered piazza extending the whole length in front, and a roomy, well lighted basement, which was set apart for the use of the slaves. In this mansion Col. Jas. Vanderburgh had eighteen, children born to him, all of whom reached the age of maturity, and whose descendants are now reckoned among the most esteemed and influential in the county, and elsewhere.

Col. Vanderburgh was an officer of note in the War of the Revolution. At one time, having returned borne sick, the Tories of the neighborhood deemed it a favorable opportunity to attack him. Knowing the location of the bed he occupied, they approached during the night and discharged a volley at the house, hoping that some of the balls might penetrate the siding and hit his person; but his wife, having had an inkling of the matter, had secured his safety by placing a bulwark of pillows about him. It is stated that General Washington was once the guest of Col, Tanderburgh at this house, having occasion to stop there when passing between Fishkill and some eastern point.

On one occasion, his children in company with some of their youthful neighbors were playing with the young slaves in the basement. Among their playthings was an old musket, with which they amused themselves by pointing at each other and pulling the trigger. The piece contained a charge which had been in from time immemorial. It, however, had long been used by the children in their play, so long that it was deemed impracticable to make it "shoot." But, on that day, one of the boys, nicknamed "Lud," we believe, caught up the gun, and, aiming at one of the little darkies, cried out "see me shoot a black crow," and pulled the trigger. By some means the gun went off, and the little fellow was blown to atoms.

Another relic, which some of our older readers may remember, was the house occupied by Joshua Burch, which stood west of the road, nearly opposite the residence of Thomas Brill, Esq. It was built after the old Dutch style, with long rafters, steep roof, with eaves nearly reaching the ground, and stone chimney at one end, with a fire place of sufficient capacity to hold a saw log of moderate size. Burch, it will be remembered, was an early settler and large land holder, from whom some of the finest farm lands of Beekman have been handed downs.

The old Poughquag Tavern, (now the residence of Daniel Thomas, Es.,) though of not so ancient origin as those just mentioned, yet may well claim mention here. It was built about the year 1800, by Henry Brill. It was afterwards consider ably remodeled, but the front appearance is much the same as it was originally. This was the "halfway house" for the line of stages, running between New Milford and Poughkeepsie, and was well patronized by travelers and drovers. Its upper room has often resounded to the tread of the "light fantastic toe," and the loungers of the bar room as often regaled with travelers' stories, for which the hardy adventurous life of those early times afforded abundant material. The Noxon house, built about the same time, possesses litttle historical interest. It was erected by Benjamin Noxon; and a portion of the brick of which it is constructed was manufactured on the farm on which it stands. It is rapidly falling into decay, and will soon be numbered among the things that were.

The Beekman. Cemetery is pleasantly located on the southern and western slope of a gentle eminence, north of the village of Poughquag. It is tastefully laid out, and decorated with evergreens, which mingling with the pure white marble of the numerous monuments and headstones, produce a pleasing effect.

The Centenary M. E. church of Poughquag stands on the east side and within the enclosure.

Mines of hematite iron ore are being extensively worked near Sylvan Lake, and at Beekmanville. Two blast furnaces are located a short distance northeast of the latter place, only one of which is now in operation.

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates

All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy