[Continued from Fishkill, NY History part 1]
The Reformed Dutch Church was built about the year 1725. It was constructed of stone, quadrangular in shape,
and the roof came up from all sides to the center. On the apex was the cupola, in which the bell was suspended.
The window lights were small, and set in iron sash-frames. In the upper story were port holes for defense against
the Indians. An old resident used to say, that after peace was proclaimed, a grand Fourth of July celebration took
place at Fishkill, and services were held in this edifice. The gallery was so crowded that the supports began to
give way. A general rush was made for the doors, but no serious accident occurred.
This church was enlarged soon after the Revolution, and changes made in its appearance. The extension covered Madam
Drett's burial plot; and the remains of her and some of her descendants now repose underneath the present edifice.
The walls are three feet thick, and thirty feet in height. The name of the architect was Barnes. Every stick of
timber, every load of stone, lime and sand, were brought on the ground by the congregation gratuitously. General
Swartwout gave the shingles for the roof. The timber was mostly obtained from the Highlands. The congregation turned
out in full force with horses, oxen, carts, and negro slaves, and hauled the material on the ground. Their money
gave out before the building was completed, and money was borrowed on Long Island to finish the work. The interior
has been remodeled several times. Originally, the galleries were supported by iron rods fastened to the timbers
above the arch. Then there were no columns to distract the view, and the pulpit and side pews were elevated six
inches above the floor. The pews were lowered and columns placed under the galleries in 1806; four teen years afterward,
the entrance on Main Street was closed, and the pews re-arranged. The building shows no symptoms of decay; and
of all the churches that have been built in the Fishkills none have eclipsed it; and it still remains an ornament
to the village. Lossing says he was shown in 1848 a silver tankard belonging to the communion service of this church,
which was presented to the society by Samuel Verplanck, Esq., chiefly for the purpose of commemorating, by an inscription
upon it, a resident Norwegian, who died at the extraordinary age of 125 years.
Several British and Hessian soldiers were at one time prisoners in the old Stone Church. The former were captured
by stratagem at Teller's Point, near the mouth of Croton River; the latter were stragglers, who fell in with a
party of Royalists near Yonkers, on the Neutral Ground. The British soldiers were captured by Enoch Crosby and
a few men, who composed a part of the detachment under Col. Van Cortlandt, then stationed on the east side of the
Hudson to watch operations upon the Neutral Ground. While they were near Teller's Point, a British sloop of war
sailed up the river, and cast anchor in the channel opposite. Crosby and six others proceeded to the Point, five
of whom, with himself, concealed themselves in the bushes; the other, dressed in infantry uniform, paraded the
beach, the officers on the vessel observed him, and eleven men were sent in a boat to effect his capture. When
the Englishmen landed, the American took to his heels_ Unsuspicious of danger, they followed. As soon as the pursuers
had passed his own little party, who were scattered about among the bushes, Crosby exclaimed: "Come on my
boys, now we have them!" At this signal every man sprang up in his place with a loud shout; at the same time
making such a rustling in the bushes that the British thought themselves: surrounded by a superior force, and surrendered
without resistance. The next day they were marched to Fishkill, and confined in the old Dutch Church.
The Episcopal Church - otherwise called the Trinity, or English Church - was built, as nearly as can be ascertained,
about the year 1760. It was the third church edifice erected in the town, and the first of its denominational character
on the east side of the river above the Highlands. This is one of the oldest church edifices in the State. It had
originally a towering spire, only three feet less than that of the Dutch Church, upon which perched the inevitable
weather cock. The said venerable bird is still flourishing on another building in full sight of his more ancient
perch. The interior arrangements are believed to be the same as when first erected.
It is said the architect, who first had supervision of its construction, left with all his men, before the work
of framing was completed. Some say they were of intemperate habits. Another set of hands was obtained, who were
obliged to commence anew the work of framing; it is said the two framings can be seen in the upper part of the
structure. When this building was being raised, a workman fell from a height of nearly sixty feet, and was instantly
killed. The upper portion of the steeple was taken off in 1810, as it was considered dangerous. Another section
was taken off some fifteen years since. Otherwise the exterior has never been changed, though the building has
stood more than a century.
This church was used as a meeting place for the New York Legislature, when it adjourned from White Plains to Fishkill.
The session here commenced on the 3d of September, 1776. It was also used as a hospital for the sick and wounded
soldiery. Some years since, while digging a grave in the yard, the sexton discovered a skeleton, with bits of scarlet
cloth, and a brass button, the remains doubtless of a British soldier who was buried in his uniform. The following
will aid the reader in obtaining an insight into the hospital department located at Fishkill.
Whereas the principal Surgeons and Physicians of the Hospitals at this place represented to me in December, 1778,
then commanding at this Post, that the barracks and Episcopal church were so crowded with the sick that their condition
was rendered deplorable, and were otherwise in a suffering condition for want of proper covering, and there being
no public buildings fit to receive or accommodate the sick but the Presbyterian Church of this town, which impelled
me from necessity to order the said church to be taken and occupied for the purpose aforesaid; which was accordingly
occupied: whereby considerable damage has been done to said building, now, therefore, I do hereby certify that
at the time aforesaid, I engaged the public faith that whatever damage should be done to the said church would
be repaired or repaid by the public. Given at Fishkill, the 8th day of March, 1780.
ALEX. MCDOUGAL, M. General.
The Verplanck House is situated a couple of miles north of Fishkill Landing, on a bluff overlooking the Hudson.
It is built of stone, a story and a half high, with dormer windows, in the style of the best Dutch houses built
one hundred years ago, and is still in a state of almost perfect preservation. The cut of the building here shown
is only the ancient edifice, an addition having been placed on the north end. It is approached from the highway
by a winding carriage road traversing a broad, undulating lawn, shaded by venerable trees.
This mansion is remarkable as being the headquarters of Baron Steuben when the American army was encamped in the
vicinity of Newburgh; and also the place where the Society of the Cincinnati was organized in 1783. The meeting
for that purpose was held in the large square room on the north side of the passage. This room is carefully preserved
in its original style by the occupants of the dwelling: It was at the suggestion of Knox, with the acquiescence
of the Commander in Chief, that an expedient was devised, by which a hope was entertained that the long cherished
friendship and social intercourse of the officers of the army might be perpetuated, and that at future periods
they might annually communicate, and revive a recollection of the bonds by which they were connected. Pursuant
to these suggestions the officers held a meeting at the Verplanck mansion, and this originated the society.
The chief objects of the Society were to promote cordial friendships and indissoluble union among themselves; to
commemorate by frequent reunions the great struggle they had just passed through; to cherish good feeling between
the respective States, and to extend benevolent aid to those of the Society whose circumstances might require it.
They formed a general Society, and elected Washington its first President. They also made provision for auxiliary
State societies. To perpetuate the organization, it was provided in the constitution that the oldest male descendant
of an original member should be entitled to bear the ORDER and enjoy the privileges of the Society. The ORDER consists
of a gold eagle, suspended by a ribbon, on the breast of which is a medallion, with a device representing Cincinnatus
receiving the Roman Senators. Several State Societies are yet in existence.
Some interesting Revolutionary reminiscences are given by Bailey in his work on Fishkill. Nanna was a colored slave,
born in the old VanVoorhis house at Fishkill Landing. She used to relate that when the British fleet came up the
river, all the family with whom she was living, except her master and herself, left home and sought a place of
safety in the Great Nine Partners, at Filkin's, now Mabbettsville. When the British fleet arrived in Newburgh Bay
they commenced firing their cannon. Their house was secluded from the river, but cannon balls came over the house
and struck near by. One came very near striking the house. Her master proposed going into the cellar kitchen as
a place of greater security, where they remained till the fleet passed by. She said when our army arrived at Fishkill,
her master was glad to think they now had protection. General Putnam came to Fishkill Landing on horseback. Her
master took her to Fishkill Village, where she saw Generals Washington and Lafayette and staff, and also the American
army, which then was encamped on the flats just north of the Highlands. On one occasion she assisted in some arrangements
at the house of Robert R. Brett - now the Mrs. VanWyck house at Fishkill Village - for Washington and his staff,
who were then quartered there. In 1823, at the time of the abolition of slavery in this State, Nanna became a freewoman;
but she was soon reduced to pinching want, and died a few years afterward in a little house near where the Duchess
Hat Works are now located.
The following are extracts from newspapers published at the time to which they refer:
JULY 12th, 1765. - We hear from the Fishhills that for a week or two past, a tiger or panther has been seen in
the woods in that neighborhood, not far from Mr. Depeyster's house. It had killed several dogs, torn a cow so that
she died the same clay, and carried off the calf; it likewise carried off a colt about a week old. Eight men with
their guns went in search of it, and started it at a distance; it fled with great swiftness, and has not since
been seen at the Fishkills.
FISHTAIL, Feb. 7th, 1783. - It is with pain and regret that we mention the death of Lieutenant Colonel Barber,
who was unfortunately killed at camp the 11th ult. The circumstances which led to this unhappy catastrophe, we
are told, are as follows: Two soldiers were cutting down a tree; at the instant he came riding by it was falling,
which he did not observe, till they desired him to take care; but the surprise was so sudden, and embarrassed his
ideas so much, that he reined his horse to the unfortunate spot where the tree fell, which tore his body in a shocking
manner, and put an immediate period to his existence.
Below is given the copy of a letter which sufficiently explains itself:
FISHKILL, Nov. 12, 1777.
SIR:- Ever since my arrival here in this quarter, I have been endeavoring to collect the best idea I could of the
state of things in New York, in order the better to form a judgment of the probable reinforcement gone to General
Howe. On the whole, this is a fact well ascertained, that NewYork has been stripped as bare as possible; that in
consequence of this the few troops there, and the inhabitants, are under so strong apprehensions of an attack,
as almost to amount to a panic, that to supply the deficiency of men, every effort is making to excite the citizens
to arms for the defence of the city. For this purpose the public papers are full of addresses to them, that plainly
speak the apprehensions prevailing on the occasion. Hence I infer, that a formidable force is gone to General Howe.
The calculations made by those who have had the best opportunities of judging, carry the number from six to seven
thousand. If so, the number gone, and going to General Washington, is far inferior; five thousand at the utmost.
The militia were all detained by General Putnam till it became too late to send them.
The state of things I gave you when I had the pleasure of seeing you was, to the best of my knowledge, sacredly
true. I give you the present information, that you may decide whether any further succor can with propriety come
The fleet, with the troops on board, sailed out of the Hook on the 5th instant. This circumstance demonstrates,
beyond the possibility of doubt, that it is General Howe's fixed intention to endeavor to hold Philadelphia at
all hazards; and removes all danger of any further operations up the North River this winter. Otherwise, Sir Henry
Clinton's movement at this advanced season, is altogether inexplicable.
If you can with propriety afford any further assistance, the most expeditious manner of conveying it will be to
acquaint General Putnam of it, that he may send on the troops with him, to be replaced by them. You, Sir, best
know the uses to which the troops with you are to be applied, and determine accordingly. I am certain it is not
His Excellency's wish to prostrate any plan you may have in view for the benefit of the service, so far as it can
possibly be avoided, consistent with a due attention to more important objects.
I am, with respect, sir,
Your most obedient servant.
ALEX. HAMILTON, A. D. C.
To GENERAL GATES,
The following description of the Highlands. by the pen of Washington Irving, may not be out of place here. It relates
to the voyage of Dolph Heyliger up the Hudson.
I have said that a voyage up the Hudson in early days was an undertaking of some moment; indeed, it was as much
thought of as a voyage to Europe is at present. The sloops were often many days on the way; the cautious navigators
taking in sail when it blew fresh, and coming to anchor at night: and stopping to send the boat ashore for milk
for tea; without which it was impossible for the worthy old lady passengers to subsist. And there were the much
talked of perils of the Tappan Zee, and the Highlands. In short, a prudent Dutch burgher would talk of such a voyage
for months, and even years, beforehand; and never undertook it without putting his affairs in order, making his
will, and having prayers said for him in the Low Dutch Church. * * * In the second day of the voyage they came
to the Highlands. It was in the latter part of a calm sultry day, that they floated between these stern mountains.
There was that perfect quiet that prevails over nature in the languor of summer heat; the turning of a plank, or
the accidental falling of an oar on deck, was echoed from the mountain side, and reverberated along the shores;
and if by chance the captain gave a shout of command there were airy tongues that mocked it from every cliff. To
the left a mountain reared its woody precipices, height over height, forest over forest, away into the deep summer
sky. To the right strutted forth a bold promontory, with a solitary eagle wheeling about it; while beyond, mountain
succeeded to mountain, until they seemed to lock their arms together, and confine this mighty river in their embrace.
There was a quiet luxury in gazing at the broad, green bosoms here and there scooped out among the precipices;
or at woodlands high in air, nodding over the edge of some beetling bluff; and their foliage all transparent in
the yellow sunshine.
In the midst of his admiration Dolph remarked a pile of bright, snowy clouds peering above the western heights.
It was succeeded by another and another, each seemingly pushing onward its predecessor, and towering with dazzling
brilliancy, in the deep blue atmosphere; and now muttering peals of thunder were faintly heard rolling behind the
mountain. The river, hitherto still and glassy, reflecting pictures of the sky and land, now showed a dark ripple
at a distance, as the breeze came creeping up it. The fish hawks wheeled and screamed, and sought their nests on
the high dry trees; the crows flew clamorously to the rocks, and all nature seemed conscious of the approaching
thunder gust. The clouds now rolled in volumes over the mountain tops; their summits still bright and snowy, but
the lower parts of an inky blackness. The rain began to patter down in broad and scattered drops; the wind freshened
and curled up the waves; at length it seemed as if the bellying clouds were torn open by the mountain tops, and
complete torrents of rain came rattling down. The lightning leaped from cloud to cloud, and streamed quivering
against the rocks, splitting and rending the stoutest forest trees. The thunder burst in tremendous explosions;
the peals rolled up the long defiles of the Highlands, each headland making a new echo, until old Bull Hill seemed
to bellow back the storm.
There is on the west shore, in full view from the bluffs near Fishkill Landing, a large flat rock in the river
above Newburgh, known as Der Duyvel's Dans Kamer, or The Devil's Dance Chamber. This rock has a broad surface of
about one half an acre (now covered with Arbor Vita), separated from the main land by a marsh. It it here, as tradition
asserts, that the Indian tribes of the vicinity held their festivals. Hendrick Hudson, in his voyage up this stream,
witnessed one of these pow-wows; and here it was that Peter Stuyvesant and his dew were "horribly frightened
by roystering devils," according to Knickerbocker. It was the custom of the natives to build a fire on this
rock, and, grotesquely painting themselves, gather about it, with hideous contortions of face and body, evoke the
Great Spirit to bless their undertakings, under the direction of the medicine man. Presently the Devil, or Evil
Spirit, would appear in some form that either betokened evil to their undertaking, or prophesied success. For a
century after the Europeans discovered the river, these rites were performed upon this spot, as many as five hundred
Indians haying been known to engage in the services at one time. Tradition tells the sad fate of a wedding party
that once indiscreetly went ashore at this point;
"For none that visit the Indians' den,
Return again to the haunts of men;
The knife is their doom! Oh, sad is their lot!
Beware, beware, of the blood-stained spot!"
Hans Hanson, a noble Dutch youth, loved Katrina Van Vrooman, a plump, rosy checked Dutch damsel. His love was reciprocated;
and the pretty maiden consented to become his wife. They lived at Albany; and a journey to New York was necessary
to procure the marriage license from the Governor. Young Hans invited his prospective bride to accompany him, attended
by a faithful squaw, Leshee. The latter was said to have communications with the Evil One; and was often consulted
by the Dutch. In the course of three days the license was obtained, when the party set out for home; and on the
evening of the sixth, they reached the vicinity of Dans Kamer. The company resolved to go ashore and partake of
refreshments. Leshee remonstrated, portending that some dire calamity would befall them for their temerity; but
the evening was beautiful, the place attractive, the Indians were at peace, the war-whoop hushed and the sacrificial
fires extinguished - why regard a foolish tradition? In the midst of their festivities they were startled by the
fierce tear whoop of the savages,:closely followed by a flight of arrows. Hans caught the chief and held him in
front to protect himself from the missiles, and got into the boat. The Indians hesitated, fearing to wound their
captain; but he gave the war-shout - a cloud of arrows darkened the air, and the chief fell dead. Hans and his
company tried to escape; but the Indians pursued, took them back and tortured them in all the ways that savage
ingenuity could devise. They gathered materials for a fire, and the forms of Hans and his intended bride were soon
mingled with the ashes of the pyre The remaining captives were treated more humanely, and were finally ransomed
by their friends.
Some years ago this spot was searched for the buried treasures of Captain Kidd; and a river pilot still dreams
semiyearly of the finding of countless chests of gold.
From Fishkill Landing the view embraces a vast extent of mountain and river scenery of rare loveliness, and rich
in Revolutionary associations. On the southern verge of Newburgh the spectator beholds a low, broad roofed house,
built of stone, with a flag staff near, and the grounds around garnished with cannon. That is the famous "Headquarters
of General Washington" during one of the most interesting periods of the war, and at its dose. Then the camp
was graced by the presence of Mrs. Washington a greater part of the time, and also by the cultivated wives of several
of the officers; and until a comparatively few years ago, says Lossing, the remains of the borders around the beds
of a little garden which Mrs. Washington cultivated for amusement, might then be seen in front of the mansion.
That building, now the property of the State of New York, is preserved in the form it was when Washington left
it. There is the famous room, with its seven doors and one window, which the Commander in Chief used as a dining
hall. In that room, a large portion of the chief officers of the Continental army, both American and foreign, and
many distinguished civilians were at different times entertained.
We cannot forbear a mention of a jolly Dutchman, named Burgune Van Alst, who once lived near Hopewell. He was a
man that could tell his own stories, crack his own jokes, and never whimper a muscle. Uncle Burgune had a pair
of fleet horses. He went to the river once upon a time - his own declaration so states - to do an errand, and drove,
as usual, his airy black nags. When about half way home on his return, a shower came up as black as a black hat.
He had not observed it until the rain was close upon him; so he whistled to his blacks, and they started at a pace
at which only his horses could travel; but Uncle Burgune declared it was about the evenest race he ever had; could
distance anything else, but this time it was neck and neck, throughout. For when he got home the butter tubs had
lost their lids and were full of water in the back part of the wagon, and not a drop had touched him, not one.
As Uncle Burgune grew old, he enjoined upon his family that he must not be buried at Hopewell church. "You
must bury me on the hill behind the barn," said he, "I won't stir a step if you take me anywhere else,"
and it is related when the funeral procession started the horses balked, and many old ladies were slyly winking
and intimating that Uncle Burgune was holding the horses. His reason for being buried behind the barn was that
he wanted to be where he could hear whether his black folks threshed or not, for they wanted a good deal of watching.
Petition for aid to erect a church at fish creek Duchess County.
To his Excellency JOHN MONTGOMERIE Esqr Capt Generall and Governor in Chief in and over his Majesties Provinces
of New York and the Territories depending thereon in America and. Vice Admirall of the same &c.
The Humble Petition of Peter Debois and Abraham Musy Elders and Abraham Brinckerhoff and Hendrick Phillips Deacons
of the Dutch Reformed Protestant Church of the fish Creek in DUCHESS County in the Province of New York in the
behalf of themselves and the rest of the members of the said church.
That the members of said Congregacon being in daily expectation of a minister from Holland to preach the Gospel
amongst them according to The Canons Rules and Discipline of the Reformed Protestant churches of the United Neitherlands
and therefore have agreed amongst themselves to erect and build a Convenience church for the Publick worship of
God nigh the said fish Creek in the county aforesaid but finding that the said building would be very Chargeable
and therefore as in the like cases has been Practiced and is usuall in this Province they would desire the aid
help and assistance of all Charitable and well disposed Christians within this Province for the Compleating of
They therefore most humbly Pray for your Excellences Lycence to be granted to the said Protestant Congregacon to
collect gather and Receive the benevolence and free gifts of all such Inhabitants of this Province as shall be
willing to contribute somewhat toward the erecting and building said Church as aforesaid for the Publick service
of almighty God and that only for such a time as yor Excellency will be pleased to grant the said Lycence. And
yor Petitionrs as in duty bound shall ever Pray &c.
in the behalf of the Elders and Deacons and other mem of said Congregacon 28 June 1731.
PETER Du Bois
The Reformed Dutch Churches in Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, from the most reliable authority that can be obtained,
were both of them organized about the year 1716. Previous to this services were performed, no doubt, in both places.
This was the case at Hopewell, prior to the church organization. For the lack of better accommodations the services
were held in barns. On one time the meeting was being held in a barn belonging to Isaac Storm, of Stormville, and
the preacher had occasion to ask the question, "Who is Beelzebub?" A little Irishman perched on a high
beam, thinking himself personally addressed, sprang to his feet and cried out - "Och, mon, that's easily tould
by a mon of ch'racter; the High Praist of Hill, sir."
The Dutch church at Poughkeepsie was the first church built in DUCHESS County, probably about 172o; the one at
Fishkill was erected some years afterward. There was a glebe attached to the latter church, purchased in two lots.
One of them, "containing seven and almost a half acres," was purchased of Madame Brett. The other portion
"containing three quarters of an acre and fifteen rods, whereon to erect a church or house," was purchased
from Johannis Terboss. This was the first church built on the Rombout Patent.
For twenty years it was the only church on the patent. It was attended on alternate Sabbath mornings by people
living far into the interior beyond Hopewell and New Hackensack. For beside the Poughkeepsie church, there was
no other church, at that day, north of the Highlands, except in the vicinity of Albany. Whenever, therefore, the
preacher lifted up his voice at Fishkill, it was the only voice, the only open pulpit in all that land.
Rev. Cornelius Van Schie was the first pastor. He was installed in October, 1731, and removed to Albany in 1738.
He was succeeded by Rev. Benj. Meinema. His letter of recommendati0n by the Holland professors speaks of him as
having undergone a proper course of study, as a "praestantissimum juvenem," a most excellent young man.
He was called here in 1745, retiring in 1758, and died in September, 1761. Rev. Mr. Van Nist was the next pastor,
but died in early manhood. Van Nist and Meinema were both buried in the burial ground adjoining the church. As
population increased, church organizations were established at Hopewell and New Hackensack; at the former place
in 1757 and in the latter the year following. These organizations were afterwards associated with Poughkeepsie
and Fishkill, and so continued for years, having one settled pastor over them all. The records of the church at
Fishkill were until a late period kept in the Dutch language, and extended back to the year 1730.
On the Fourth of July, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, a banner was strung across the
street from the top of the poplar tree, under the shade of which the first Methodist minister preached in Fishkill,
to the spire of the Dutch Stone Church. A procession was formed at the lower end of the village, headed by a body
of cavalry dressed in blue and scarlet uniforms, and followed by the citizens with flags and banners. Arriving
at the church the cavalry dismounted, and the procession marched in. A band of music occupied the whole front of
the gallery, playing "Hail to the Chief." Rev. Dr. DeWitt delivered the oration; Rev. Dr. Westbrook was
Marshal of the day, and Gen. Swartwout and other Revolutionary worthies, participated in the general rejoicing.
The old Dutch Church here shown is copied from an old engraving in Barber's Historical Collection, and represents
the more ancient appearance of the structure, together with the willow tree partially covering the window through
which Enoch Crosby effected his memorable escape.
The second church built in this town was Presbyterian, and was erected two miles east of Fishkill, at Brinckerhoffville.
in 1748. This is worthy of mention as being the first church of that denomination built within the present limits
of DUCHESS. It occupied the site of one burned some years ago. It is said that this congregation was collected
about the year 1746, by the Rev. Mr. Kent. In 1747, Sept. 17th and 18th, the frame of the meeting house was raised,
and an acre of ground given by Jacobus Terboss as a burial ground and site for the building. The condition of the
grant was that the church be organized in accordance with the order of the King of Scotland. The first interment
in the above lot was the wife of Stephen Ladoe, in Sept. 1747. Rev. Chauncey Graham was ordained pastor of this
church, in connection with the Presbyterian church at Poughkeepsie. In 1852 Mr. Graham's connection with the latter
church was dissolved by the Presbytery then convened at New York, owing to the failure of that church to meet their
pecuniary engagements. His whole time was then devoted to the church in Fishkill.
The appearance of this first church edifice is thus described: It was a wooden building, two stories high, with
tight shutters on the lower windows. The center pews had very high backs, so that nothing could be seen of a person
when seated but his head. The pulpit was shaped like a wineglass, and over it the inevitable sounding board, fastened
to the ceiling with iron rods. The galleries were very high, supported by heavy columns. The arch only extended
to the front of the gallery, and under it were large timbers extending across the church to keep it from swaying.
These timbers were elegantly carved. The church was much disturbed and the building greatly damaged during the
The third church erected within the town, the first of its. denominational character in the present limits of the
county, and the first on the east side of the river above the Highlands, was the English or Trinity [Episcopal]
Church at Fishkill Village. This church edifice is among the oldest in the State. In reference to its erection,
Dr. Buel furnished several years since a copy of a subscription paper "for the purchase of the Glebe in some
convenient place in Poughkeepsie, Rombout, the Great Nine Partners, or Beekman," bearing date April 2nd, 1766.
The subscription states: "And inasmuch as there is not any settled church of England in the said county, by
which means public worship, according to the Liturgic of the said church, is altogether neglected." From this
statement it would appear there might not have been an Episcopal church at that time within the county.
The first services, says Dr. Buel, were held by Rev. Samuel Seabury, in the year 1756. Rev. John Beardsley was
appointed for the Poughkeepsie, Beekman and Rombout, and accepted Oct. 26th, 1766. Beardsley preached his first
sermon at the house of William Humphrey, in Beekman, Dec. 21st 1766, from Luke ii: 32. Trinity Church, Fishkill,
and Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, were united under one rector for nearly fifty years. A controversy about the Glebe
at Poughkeepsie, which they owned together, was adjusted.
The Methodists first began to hold services in Fishkill about the year 1794. The first sermon was preached in
the street, under a poplar tree near the Baxter House. The preacher, named Croft, attracted a large crowd. The
first society was formed in Fishkill Hook, about the beginning of the present century. Near this place is a grove
in which the Methodists have held camp meetings at various times. The first place of worship erected by this denomination,
in the original town of Fishkill, was built at Fishkill Landing in 1824. It is now known as Swift's Hall. At present
they have no less than eight church edifices in the territory mentioned.
The first church edifice in the eastern part of the town was erected at Hopewell, in 1764; and the following year
another was built at New Hackensack. Both were Dutch Reformed. This period of the church was very much disturbed
by unfortunate dissensions, being divided into two parties called Coetus and Conferentia. The latter were tenacious
about old customs, ordination of ministers in Holland, and the Low Dutch language in church worship. The Coetus
party favored the ordaining of ministers in America, preaching in English, etc. Each of these parties supplied
themselves with a preacher of their own belief, who officiated over the same churches for nearly ten years. It
was a stormy period in the church, when bitter feelings were engendered, and but little good done.
"Tumults on the Lord's day at the door of the church were frequent. Sometimes the house of worship was locked
up by one part of the congregation against the other. Quarrels respecting the services and the contending claims
of the different ministers of the two bodies were frequent. The ministers were frequently assembled in the pulpit,
and public worship was disturbed and even terminated by violence. On one occasion a minister was forcibly taken
out of the pulpit by a member of the opposite party. This difference happily terminated in 1772."
The location of the First Baptist Church of Fishkill was formerly at Middlebush, where they owned a meeting house
and lot. Their present location is on Fishkill Plains. They were organized November 13th, 1782, with a constituent
membership of eighteen, by Elder John Lawrence, of Pawling, and Elder Nathan Cole, of Carmel. The services were
held at the house of Abraham Van Wyck. Elder James Phillips was one of the constituent members, and was called
to be their first pastor. He served them many years with great acceptance, and died in February, 1793. The church
licensed Jonathan Atherton to improve his gifts, and to conduct a meeting at New Marlborough, where a branch was
organized, which called for his ordination.
Mr. A. Van Wyck gave the society a deed for a piece of land for the site of their house and burial place at Middlebush.
Elder Lewis was pastor of the church for several years. He preached at Middlebush, and in the Union Meeting House,
at Green Haven. In March of 1821 Elder Burtch and wife:united with them by letter from Stanford. He served them
as pastor for several years. When he first settled with them they met for worship in private houses. Through his
judicious labors they succeeded in erecting a spacious house of worship, in which he had the privilege of preaching
to large and attentive congregations. Elder John Warren, of Carmel, preached for them a part of the time for two
or three years, and was succeeded, in the autumn of 1832, by Elder Isaac Bevan. Elders Underhill, Ambler, and others,
have since ministered to this church with acceptance.
The Second Baptist Church of Fishkill, was organized by a council composed of Elders Hull, Sturdevant, Johnson,
Ferris, etc., which met at the house of N. Miller, February 17th, 1808. It at first consisted of twelve members.
Elders Lewis Barrett, and Burtch, preached for them more or less from 1814 to 1823; and then for a period of twenty
years were supplied a part of the time by Elder N. Robinson, of Farmers Mills. Elder Isaac Bevan, then pastor of
the First Church in Fishkill, supplied them one day in each month for two years.
Elder Bevan commenced preaching in Franklindale in the Autumn of 1837, at which time there was but one Baptist
member in the place. A series of meetings was held the following Spring in a schoolhouse. Elder Bevan was assisted
by Elder Roberts, of Pleasant Valley. A revival resulted. In June, 1838, twenty three members organized into a
church. Elders Dowling, Warren, Vilks, Roberts, and Bevan, assisted in the constitution. John Johns, from Hamilton,
supplied them for a number of months. B. Clapp, at his own expense, erected a neat and commodious house for the
use of the church, and for a select school. Elder D. T. Hill became their pastor in 1839. He preached for the church
at Newburgh the same year. C. F. Underhill supplied them for a time. The church has sustained a Sabbath School
from the time of its organization.
In 1834, a number of brethren belonging to the Kent and Fishkill churches, finding it inconvenient to attend public
worship at a distance of five or six miles over a hilly road, resolved, together with some of their neighbors,
to build a meeting house. This was done in the summer of 1834. May 4th, fifteen brethren and sisters constituted
themselves church, to be known as the Baptist Church at Shenandoah, and were recognized by a council called for
that purpose, composed of Elders Barnard, Miller, Robinson, etc. George Horton was ordained their first pastor,
and Jacob Charlock, deacon. The first Baptists known to have preached in this place were Elders Cole, Gorton, and
Hopkins. They preached in the woods, in barns, and in dwellings. For many years previous to the erection of their
house of worship, the neighborhood was notorious for vice and immorality. In January, 1836, a series of meetings
was held, continuing some weeks. Elder Enos Ballard, from the Red Mills, assisted, whose labors were richly blessed.
It was thought about one hundred were converted, fifty of whom were baptized.
A little before the breaking out of the Revolution, an academy building was erected near Brinckerhoffville. To
the credit of Fishkill be it said, this was the first academy established within the county. Dr. John B. Livingston
and other distinguished men of Church and State are said to have received their early academic education at this
place. For a time, Rev. Chauncey Graham taught them. The building was surmounted with a cupola, and provided with
a bell. Shortly after the Revolution it was taken down and rebuilt at Poughkeepsie, where it was known as the DUCHESS
Academy. It is now used for an "Old Ladies' Home."
Johannas Tur Boss was one of the first representative men in this part of the county. He was elected a member of
the Colonial Legislature for 1716 to 1728; he is also spoken of as Judge in old manuscripts.
Philip Verplanck was a native of the patent, and son of the elder Gulian Verplanck, after whom Verplanck's Point
is named. He represented the Manor of Cortlandt from 1737 to 1764.
Derick Brinckerhoff was a member of the Colonial Assembly from 1768 to 1777; was member of the First Provincial
Congress, chairman of Vigilance Committee of the town in the Revolution, a member of the State Legislature, a Colonel
of the Militia, besides occupying other positions of trust.
Jacobus Swartwout served as a captain in the French and Indian Wars, was a member of the Vigilance Committee, and
afterward a member of the State Legislature.
Judge Abraham Adriance resided in Hopewell. He was an active politician, and in 1798 was elected to the Legislature
of the State.
The Schencks were an old family that settled in and about Matteawan and New Hackensack. Some of that name took
a conspicuous part in the cause of the Colonies during the great struggle for independence.
Thomas Storm kept a tavern, with store attached, east of Hopewell. He was a member of the Vigilance Committee in
the Revolution, and also of the Legislature from 178r to 1784. He once was candidate for Lieut. Governor of the
Dr. Theodorus and Isaac Van Wyck were representative men of a noble family that settled in and about Fishkill Village
and the Hook.