POPULATION, 1,410. - SQUARE ACRES, 18,176.
PINE PLAINS was formed from Northeast, March 26, 1823. Extensive plains covered with pines, where the village
of that name now stands, suggested the name of the town. The surface is a hilly upland, the ridges being separated
by broad valleys. Stissing mountain, so named after an Indian chief who lived in the "Notch," a short
distance below its northern extremity, is in the west part of the town, and is 400 to 500 feet above the valleys.
Its declivities are steep, and it is crowned with a mass of naked rock. Roeliff Jansens Kill crosses the northwest
corner, and Shekomeko Creek flows north through near the centre. The principal bodies of water are Thompson, Stissing,
Mud and Halcyon Ponds. The soil is generally a productive, gravelly loam. Upon draining a small pond one and a
half miles southeast of Pine Plains village, a very deep bed of marl, covering six or eight acres, was found. Marl
is also found in Halcyon Pond. The first settlements were probably made about 1740.
The following is taken from the records in the Town Clerk's office in Pine Plains:
At a meeting of the Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Northeast Precinct, Duchess County, on Tuesday, the 5th
of April, 1771, after choosing James Atwater, Esq., Moderator, made choice of the following officers: Charles Graham,
Clerk; Morris Graham, Supervisor; James Bryan and Hentice Couse, Assessors of County Taxes; Hentice Couse and Israel
Thompson, Assessors for the Quit Rent; George Head, Constable and Collector; Middle Constable, James Young; East
Division, Josiah Holley; James Hedding, Hentice Couse, and James Bryan, Overseers of the Poor; Lewis Bryan, Daniel
Wilson, and Israel Thompson, Commissioners of Roads; John Collins, Collector of Quit Rents.
April 2nd, 1776, the Town Meeting was held in the Northeast Precinct at the house of James Young.
Town Meeting was held at the house of Cornelius Elmendorph, on the first day of April, 1783, for the Northeast
Town Meeting was held at the house of Cornelius Elmendorph on Clinton Plains, for the Northeast Precinct, on the
first day of April, 1788.
Voted, 1794, April 1st, that eighty pounds money be raised for the use of the poor the ensuing year. Voted, that
all hogs have a right to run on the common if ringed and yoked.
April 7, 1795, voted that £6 bounty be paid by tax on the inhabitants of this town for every wolf's head
that is killed in said town in the year 1795.
Recorded the 10th day of April, 1772, a Bill of Sale, dated April 3, 1772, given by John Hulburt to Joseph Ketchum,
both of Oblong and County of DUCHESS, for and in consideration of the sum of £40 current lawful money of
New York to the said John Hulburt in hand paid, in which bill of sale is mentioned seventy eight acres of wheat,
all which wheat is made over to the said Joseph Ketchum.
BYRON MORRIS GRAHAM,
Recorded the 25th day of May, 1772, the ear mark of Uriah Davis, "which is a crop off the Right Ear, and a
Slit in it, a half crop under the side of the left ear."
Ear mark of Joseph Peck, a space cut out on the under side of the left ear.
Ear mark of Morris Graham, a "crop and slit in the right ear, and a hole in the left."
Taken up, July 6, 1774, by Hentice Woolsey, "a black yearling colt, the near hind foot white, to the fet-lock-no
mark or brand perceivable."
CHAS. GRAHAM, Clerk.
Nov. 25th, 1777. - Came into the pasture of James Young, some time in the month of April last, a sorrel mare, two
years old past, marked with the letter B on the near hind thigh, a. blaze in the forehead, with four white feet.
Record of Katy Jones, who was born May 27th, 1801, at the house of Martin Lawrence, in the town of Northeast. Her
mother was a slave to said Lawrence, named Dinah.
Recorded December 30th, 1812.
ISRAEL HARRIS, Clerk.
We, the subscribers, Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Northeast, in the County Duchess, do certify that Driss,
a slave of Nicholas Row, of said Town of Northeast, appears to be under the age of fifty years, and of sufficient
ability to provide for himself.
Oct. 26, 1813.
PHILO M. WINCHELL,
Overseers of Poor.
The most important historical events connected with the present limits of the town of Pine Plain; in the order
of time, are those relating to the Indian village of Shekomeko, which we now briefly lay before the reader.
MORAVIAN MISSION AT SHEKOMEKO.
It was under peculiar difficulties that the Moravian Missionary commenced his labors among the nomads of the western
world; and it is by these difficulties that we should estimate the magnitude of his work, rather than by the results
growing out of his efforts.* He stood between the white man and Indian, the object of a two fold suspicion, and
yet the friend of both. His mission was to a dangerous people - to a race whose angry passions had bee* rendered
fierce above control in the school of merciless oppression. He saw wife, children, and sisters fall beneath the
tomahawk; the crackling fires of burning dwellings were heard throughout the land, mingled with the shrieks of
the bound and tortured victim at the stake. Yet, turning his back upon the luxuries of civilization, he leads the
way into inhospitable wilds, that he may carry to the hearts of the untutored savages the tidings of a crucified
The Moravian Mission at Shekomeko is remarkable as being the first successful mission to the heathen in North America;
and is among the first efforts of a body of men who above all others have distinguished themselves for missionary
zeal, and whose efforts have been attended with extraordinary success. The good example, the generous conduct,
the self denying devotion for the good of others, that mark the lives of these early missionaries, not only serve
as a theme with which to grace a page in history, but serve as a lesson which all may contemplate with profit.
Christian Henry Rauch arrived at New York from Germany July 16, 1740, where he was introduced to several influential
persons from whom he expected to derive information concerning the Indians, and the best means of gaining an influence
with them. They unanimously discouraged the attempt. All efforts at their improvement heretofore had failed; the
Indians. were of such a vicious and abandoned character that to go among them would be dangerous as well as utterly
vain. Not at all discouraged, he proceeded to seek out an embassy of Mohegan Indians, who had lately arrived in
New York on business with the Colonial Government.
At his first visit he found them in a state of beastly intoxication, and terribly ferocious in appearance and manners.
Carefully watching his opportunity to find them alone, he addressed himself to two of the principal chiefs, Tschoop
and Shabash, in the Dutch language, with which they had becomes slightly acquainted in their intercourse with the
Dutch settlements along the Hudson River. Without ceremony he asked them whether they wished a teacher to instruct
them in the way of salvation. Tschoop answered in the affirmative, adding that he frequently felt disposed to know
better things than he did, but knew not how or where to find them. Shabash likewise giving his assent, the missionary
rejoiced and promised to accompany them at once, and visit their people, upon which "they declared him their
teacher with true Indian solemnity."
They led him through the unbroken wilderness to Shekomeko, the beautiful Indian name of the region now known as
Pine Plains. The site of the ancient Indian village was about two miles south of the present village near the "Bethel."
It was located on the farm now occupied by Mr. Edward Hunting, a most beautiful and romantic spot, such indeed
is one who appreciates the nobler traits of the Indian character would be prepared to find a chosen Indian haunt;
and where a passing traveler might even now expect to be startled by the native whoop of the red man of the forest,
or at least to be charmed by the sweeter music of the Christian hymns taught them by the faithful Moravians, who
in their misssionary huts, or in the woods and groves by which they were surrounded, often called to mind the favorite
lines sung by the ancient Bohemian brethren:-
"The rugged rocks, the dreary wilderness,
Mountains and woods are our appointed place;
Midst storms and waves, on heathen shores unknown,
We have our temple, and serve God alone:"
This ancient Indian name is still retained in the picturesque stream which runs near the ancient Indian village,
and unites with Roeliff Jansens Kill in Columbia County.
Rauch arrived at the Indian settlement August 16th, and was received with true Indian hospitality. He immediately
spoke to them on the subject of man's redemption, and they listened with marked interest. The next day when he
spoke with them he perceived, with sorrow, that his words excited derision; at last they openly laughed him to
scorn. He was not discouraged; he persisted in visiting them daily in their huts, representing to them the evils
of sin, and extolling the grace of God revealed in Christ and pointing out the way of salvation. In these labors
he encountered many hardships. He lived after the Indian manner, traveling on foot from one place to another through
the wilderness. Suffering from heat and fatigue, he was often denied even the poor shelter of an Indian but for
refreshment and rest.
His labors did not long continue without their reward. The Indians became gradually more attentive to his instructions,
evidently favorably inpressed with the devoted zeal he manifested for their good, which was so different from the
ordinary conduct of the white man toward them. The first to show seriousness was Tschoop, the greatest drunkard
and most atrocious villain among them. He asked of the missionary a what effect can the blood of Christ, slain
on the cross, produce in the heart of men?" and thus he opened the way to a full explanation. Shabash also
began to exhibit a similar interest. It was evident a work of grace had begun in the hearts of these two savages.
Their eyes would overflow with tears whenever they conversed with their teacher upon the subject.
This effect upon the Indians, who were regarded by the white settlers as a horde of incorrigible wretches, soon
attracted attention. And the missionary, who came to preach to the heathen, was now invited to preach to the white
settlers also, whose vices the degraded heathen had learned but too well.
The change which took place in the conduct of Tschoop was very striking, for he had been notorious for his wildness
and recklessness, and had even made himself a cripple by his debauchery. Having become a preacher and interpreter
among them, he related his experience in the following manner:
"Brethren, I have been a heathen, and have grown old among the heathen, therefore I know how the heathen think.
Once a preacher came and began to explain to us that there was a God. We answered, Dost thou think we are so ignorant
as not to know that? Go back to the place from whence thou camest.' Then again, another preacher came and began
to teach us, and to say, you must not steal, nor lie, not get drunk, &c. We answered, Thou fool, dost thou
think we don't know that? Learn first thyself, and then teach the people to whom thou belongest, to leave off these
things, for who steal and lie, or who are more drunken than thine own people?' And thus we dismissed him. After
some time Brother Christian Henry Rauch came into my but and sat down by me. He spoke to me nearly as follows:
I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. He sends word that he is willing to make you happy,
and to deliver you from the misery in which you now are. To this end He became a man, gave His life as a ransom
for man, and shed His blood for him.' When he had finished, he lay down upon a board, being fatigued with his journey,
and fell into a sound sleep. I then thought what kind of a man is this? There he lies and sleeps. I might kill
him, and throw him into the woods, and who would regard it? But this gives him no concern. However I could not
forget his words. Even while I slept I dreamed of that blood which Christ had shed for us. This was something different
from what I had ever before heard. And I interpreted Christian Henry's words to the other Indians."
But now many of the white settlers, who, while they corrupted, abused, and vilified the Indians, at the same time
lived upon them, and who made large gains especially by their drunkenness, conceived that their interests would
be injured by the success of the missionary. They therefore stirred up the more vicious Indians, instigated them
to threaten his life if he did not leave the place. And they even tried to seduce the two chiefs to their former
wretched life, whose remarkable conversion had attracted so much attention.
In this extremity the name of John Rau should be mentioned with honor for his noble defense of the persecuted Mora.
He was the steadfast friend of the devoted Missionaries through all their subsequent troubles, until they were
driven from the province by an unjust act of the Colonial Government. With his assistance Rauch overcame, in a
great measure, the obstacles placed in his way by his intriguing enemies. Several new converts were made, and the
mission assumed an interesting and promising character. In 1741, it was visited by Bishop David Nitschman, the
companion and fellow laborer of Count Zinzendorff.
About this time a companion and aid was sent to Rauch at Shekomeko, from Bethlehem. His name was Gottlob Buettnor,
a martyr to the work upon which he then entered, and whose grave at Shekomeko has brought to notice the memory
of this noble effort of the Moravians, and whose brief history is of the greatest interest in connection with the
mission. He preached for the first time to the Indians at Shekomeko, Jan. 14th, 1742, from Col. 1; 13. On the 11th
of the following month Rauch and Buettnor were ordained deacons at Bethlehem. On the same day Rauch baptized three
of the Indian converts who had accompanied them from Shekomeko - the first fruits of this most remarkable Indian
mission. Tschoop was not among them, he having been unable to undertake the long journey in consequence of his
lameness. He was, however, baptized at Shekomeko on the 16th of April following, receiving the Christian name of
John. The annexed is a portion of the letter dictated to the brethren on the occasion of the baptism of his companions:
"I have been a poor, wild heathen, and for forty years as ignorant as a dog. I was the greatest drunkard,
and the most willing slave of the Devil; and as I knew nothing of our Savior, I served vain idols, which I now
wish to see destroyed with fire. Of this I have repented with many tears. When I heard that Jesus was also the
Savior of the heathen, and that I ought to give him my heart, I felt a drawing within me towards him. But my wife
and children were my enemies, and my greatest enemy was my wife's mother. She told me I was worse than a dog, if
I no more believed in her idol. But my. eyes being opened, I understood that what she said was the greatest folly,
for I knew she had received her idol from her grandmother. It is made of leather, and decorated with wampum, and
she, being the oldest person in the house, made us worship it; which we have done, till our teacher came, and told
us of the Lamb of God, who shed his blood, and died for us poor ignorant people. Now I feel and believe that our
Savior alone can help me, by the power of His blood, and no other. I believe that he is my God and my Savior, who
died on the cross for me a sinner. I wish to be baptized, and long for it most ardently. I am lame, and cannot
travel in winter; but in April or May I will come to you. I am your poor wild
The wonderful change which had taken place in this wild Indian awakened the attention of the other Indians, who
flocked to Shekomeko, from twenty or thirty miles round, to hear the new preacher.
In the summer of 1742, the mission was visited by Count Zinzendorff and his beautiful and interesting daughter
Benigna. They crossed the country from Bethlehem, Penn., to Esopus (now Kingston), and arrived at Shekomeko Aug.
27th, "after passing through dreadful wildernesses, woods and swamps, in which he and his companions suffered
great hardships." Rauch received them in his but with great joy, and the day following lodged them in a cottage
built of bark. The Count afterward declared this to have been the most agreeable dwelling he had ever inhabited.
During this visit six Indians were baptized, and a regular congregation was formed. It consisted of ten persons,
and was the first congregation formed of believing Indians in North America.
In September the Count and his companions took leave of them. Two Indians, David and Joshua, accompanied them to
Bethlehem, who were baptized at that place by Buettnor, the Count assisting in the administration.
In October of that year Gottlob Buettnor and wife rejoined Missionary Rauch at Shekomeko, and devoted themselves
to the work of instructing the heathen. In December a burial ground was laid out for the use of the baptized Indians,
the same in which Buettnor was afterward buried. At the close of the year the whole number of baptized Indians
was thirty one.
About this time Martin Mack arrived to assist in the mission, but soon afterward took charge of the station at
Pachgatgoch, (Schaghticoke,) where the success was even greater than at Shekomeko, and where the missionaries continued
to labor more than twenty years. A portion of the tribe still remains; their history is full of melancholy interest,
and worthy of an imperishable record.
March 13th, 1743, holy communion was administered to the firstlings of Shekomeko, preceded by a love feast, followed
by the Pedilavium (washing of one another's feet), both established customs among the Moravians. The Missionary
writes: "While I live I shall never lose the impression this first communion with the Indians in North America
made upon me."
In July, 1743, the new chapel at Shekomeko was finished and consecrated. It was thirty feet by twenty, and was
covered with smooth bark. It is represented as an appropriate and commodious building, striking in its general
appearance, and of great convenience to the mission. It was constantly kept open on Sundays and on festal occasions.
The greatest interest was manifested by the Indians in the services held in their new chapel.
But now troubles begin to thicken in the pathway of the devoted missionaries. The whites were enraged at the injury
of their business; caught every false rumor in circulation against them, and publicly branded them with epithets
of Papists and traitors. The authorities of New York and Connecticut were called upon to interfere and banish them
from the country.
Two of the missionaries were taken up at Pachgatgoch, and after being dragged up and down the country for two days,
were honorably acquitted by the Governor of Connecticut. Yet their accusers insisted on their being bound over
in a penalty of one hundred pounds, to keep the laws of the country. The missionaries then retired to Shekomeko,
followed by many Indians whom they had instructed.
No charge could be more false and preposterous. The history of the missionaries consisted of their good works in
the effort to save souls, and in the trials and sufferings endured from the persecutions of the Church of Rome.
They made it a fixed policy never to interfere in the politics of the country, but simply to labor for the benefit
of their fellow men.
Count Zinzendorff sent Brother Shaw as a school master to the Indian children at Shekomeko. At the close of 1743,
the congregation of baptized Indians at Shekomeko numbered sixty three persons, exclusive of those belonging to
Pachgatgoch. About this time occurred the difficulties between the French and English about the boundaries of their
respective dominions. The French employed Jesuits to alienate the Indian tribes, and prepare them to take part
against the English. The fears of the white settlers were greatly alarmed. The Indians were generally regarded
as enemies, and any one who befriended them was looked upon as a spy of the French. This state of things afforded
an excellent opportunity for the enemies of the missionaries at Shekomeko. They were charged with being Papists
and Jesuits in disguise; preparing the savages for a grand massacre of their white neighbors; and of having secreted
arms for the purpose. These reports terrified the inhabitants; many forsook their farms and fled; others placed
themselves under arms for defence.
March 1st, 1744, Mr. Justice Hegeman, of Filkintown (Mabbettsville) visited Shekomeko, and informed the missionaries
that it was his duty to inquire what sort of people the Brethren were, for the most dangerous tenets were ascribed
to them. He himself gave no credence to the reports, and was fully convinced that the work at Shekomeko was a work
Buettnor, the principal missionary, was at the time absent in Bethlehem. Immediately on his return, they were summoned
to Pickipsi (Poughkeepsie) to exercise with the militia; they refused on the ground that as ministers of the gospel
they could not be legally required to bear arms.
In June of that year a Justice of the Peace arrived from Pickipsi to examine into affairs. He admitted the accusations
against the priests were entirely groundless, but he required them to take two oaths:
1st. That King George, being the lawful sovereign of the kingdom, they would not in any way encourage the Pretender.
2d. That they rejected Transubstantiation, the worship of the Virgin Mary, Purgatory, etc.
In every point in these oaths Buettnor assured him they could entirely agree. And though they could not in good
conscience take an oath, being restrained by the religious principles, which, as members of the Brethren Church,
they had adopted, yet they were willing to be bound by their asseveration, yes or no. The Justice expressed his
satisfaction for the present, but required them to be bound in a penalty of forty pounds to appear before the court
in Pickipsi on the 16th of October following.
The next June they were summoned to Reinbeck, where they were called upon in open court to prove they were privileged
teachers. Buettnor produced his written vocation and his certificate of ordination, duly signed by Bishop David
Again on the 4th of July they were required to appear before the Justice at Filkintown. Here John Rau appeared
in their favor, and gave a decisive and noble testimony, from his own intimate knowledge, in their defence.
In the meantime their adversaries had repeatedly accused them before Hon. George Clinton, then Governor of New
York, who sent for them to inquire into the truth of the startling reports. Buettnor and Senseman, from Shekomeko,
and Shaw from Bethlehem, went to New York, where they found that the whole town was aroused concerning them. Mr.
Justice Beekman, however, who had before examined them at Reinbeck, publicly took their part in New York, and affirmed
that "the good done by them among the Indians was undeniable."
Proceedings were commenced before the Governor touching their case in July, 1744, and the matter was left to a
council. His Excellency communicated to the board that he had sent letters to Col. H. Beekman, one of His Majesty's
Justices for Duchess County, and Colonel of Militia for that county, acquainting him with the reports he had received
touching the Moravians, and requiring him to make the necessary investigation. He also communicated to the Board
a letter from Beekman that there were four Moravian priests and many Indians at Schecomico, and that he had made
search for arms and ammunition, but found none, nor could he hear of any. Before the receipt of the Governor's
order, the Sheriff, Justice and eight others were at Schecomico; they found the Indians quietly at work on their
plantations, who were thrown into Consternation at their approach. The Indians received the Sheriff's party civilly;
but no ammunition was found, and as few arms as could be expected among such a number of men. He denied their being
disaffected toward the crown; that they, too, were afraid of the French and Indians. The only business of the missionaries
at Schecomico was to save souls among the heathen. They were asked to take oaths, but refused through a scruple
Upon examination of the missionaries before the council, these facts were repeated, and they were exonerated from
all blame. The prosecution of the missionaries thus far was under the provincial law against Jesuits, passed 1700,
which was to the last degree unjust and oppressive. It may be urged in palliation however, and with reason, that
the public mind was greatly exercised in regard to the subject; that the people stood in mortal dread of the tomahawk
and scalping knife; and the possibility and even probability that some of the massacres of the white settlers were
instigated by human fiends sent amog the Indians under the guise of priests was sufficient, under such a state
of feeling, to prejudice the people against any who professed to be teachers of the red man.
In September, 1744, Buettnor was again summoned to Pickipsi, and again honorably dismissed. In the minds of most
of the people, the missionaries were innocent of the charges against them.
Thus far the schemes of the enemies of the devoted missionaries had been foiled; now they were to prove more successful.
December 15th, 1744, three justices appeared at Shekomeko, and the missionaries were again commanded to appear
at Pickipsi on the 17th. Buettnor was ill and could not attend; but the other missionaries appeared. The act was
read to them by which the ministers of the congregation of the Brethren, teaching the Indians, were expelled from
the country, under the pretense of being in league with the French, and were forbidden under a heavy penalty, ever
again appearing among the Indians without first taking the oath of allegiance.
Bishop Spangenberg visited Shekomeko to devise means by which the Moravians might carry on their work, but all
in vain. He remained there two weeks, and was obliged to leave the converted Indians exposed to all the evil influences
surrounding them. Finally the white people drove the believing Indians from Shekomeko by main force, on pretense
that the ground the town was built upon belonged to others, and they took possession of the land.
Buettnor now ended his weary pilgrimage, dying Feb. 23d, 1745. aged 29 years. The Indians wept over him; they dressed
his corpse in white, and buried him with great solemnity at Shekomeko; they watered his grave with their tears,
and for a long time used to visit and weep over it. A stone put up to mark his grave bore this inscription:
"Here lies the body of Gottlob Buettnor, who according to the commandment of his crucified God and Savior,
brought the glad tidings to the heathen. that the blood of Jesus had made an atonement for their sins. As many
as embraced this atonement in faith were baptized in the death of the Lord. His last prayer was that they might
be preserved until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was born Dec. 29th, 1716, and fell asleep in the Lord Feb.
Only a small portion of this stone, very much mutilated, and scarcely at all legible, is still preserved. The locality
is still shown by the proprietor, Edward Hunting, as also the site of the Missionary building; some portions of
the foundation are still recognized. The orchard planted by the Missionaries has disappeared; and the medicinal
roots there planted until recently refused to quit their home, and remained a blessing to those living in the neighborhood.
The effect of these misfortunes was disheartening to the the poor Indians. A portion of the tribe removed to Pachgatgoch,
where they attempted to make their home. Another part formed a colony at Wechquadnack, on the eastern border of
Indian Pond, in the town of Sharon, Conn. A portion of the Indian orchard still remains. At this place was formed
a congregation of Indians, under charge of Moravians. David Bruce, a Scotchman, was appointed to this station,
where he died, deeply lamented, in 1749, and was buried here.
After the dispersion of the Indians at Wechquadnack, congregation of white people was established on the west side
of Indian Pond, in North East, on lands owned by Hiram Clark. Here a meeting house was built, which was in later
years used as a school house. Near by, in a burying ground, is the grave of Rev. Joseph Powell, doubtless the Moravian
missionary of that name. Other Shekomeko Indians went to Bethlehem, in Penn., and as it was impossible for the
Moravians to continue their labors here, the field was finally abandoned.
After the death of Bruce, the whites at Wechquadnack still desiring that religious services might be held there,
a Moravian named Abram Van Reinke was sent out. He had appointments at Salisbury and Sharon, in Connecticut, and
also at Oblong, Nine Partners, and Livingston Manor.
Mabbettsville is the "Filkintown" of the historian Loskiel, so called from the Filkins, who were early
settlers in the neighborhood. Before the observer is the rugged back of old Stissing, an isolated granite mountain
with sides and jagged ridge covered with forests as thick as when the Mohegans, one hundred years ago, roamed through
the solitude to rouse the bear, or chase the bounding moose. Eastward, along its foot, are spread luxuriant meadows,
with scarcely a tree to vary the carpeting of green. Halcyon Lake lies south of the village of Pine Plains, surrounded
by pastoral beauties. Here Buettnor and his Indians were wont to shoot the wild duck and spear the pickerel.
The ancient Indian village of Shekomeko was situated, it is believed by some, in a field that slopes southward
from Buettnor's grave to the meadow - less than twenty feet intervening between the missionary's graves and the
Indian huts that were arranged in a crescent around the little bark covered church. Others locate it about one
fourth of a mile southeast of the grave, not far from a pile of stones said to have been the foundation of the
"sweat house," and a basin in the brook that comes down from the hillside, where the Moravian missionaries
used to dip the Indian children ill with the small pox.
In 1854, Rev. Sheldon Davis interested Mr. Hunting in the search for the grave of Buettnor. One Winans, a descendant
of the former proprietor, was the only one who could identify the spot. He came, and driving down a stake, said
the grave was within a rod of the same; and that the first stone the plow would strike would be a fragment of the
old gravestone. After turning a few furrows, the plow stuck a slab a few inches below the surface that proved to
be the object sought after.
It appears that during the proprietorship of Winans, between 1762 and 1797, an attempt was made to remove the stone.
It then stood upright, in the middle of a field, and was an obstacle to cultivation. A yoke of oxen and three horses
were unable to draw it away, and it was allowed to stand. As late as 1806, the school boys as they passed would
gather about the grave of the unknown man, and gradually demolished the monument. One boy, who strongly protested
against the sacrilege, was, in 1860, the sole survivor of the party.
Shortly afterward the grave was searched for treasure, it being said there was an Indian warrior buried there,
with a rifle of costly workmanship. Nothing, however, was found, except a skull and a few bones, and fragments
of pine boards. The fragments of stone were replaced, but gradually became scattered, and the plow and harrow finished
the work of destruction. When Mr. Hunting came in possession of the farm he found a portion of the slab in a stonewall.
It was removed within doors, and became an object of curiosity.
In 1859, the Moravian Historical Society took measures to erect monuments over the grave of Gottlob Buettnor, at
Shekomeko, and near the graves of David Bruce and Joseph Powell, at Wechquadnack. Lossing assisted in the undertaking,
and to him was entrusted the designing of the monuments.
It was thought that the occasion of the dedication of the monuments, which took place in September, 1869, demanded
something of a historic nature. Ministers were appointed to prepare discourses embodying all historical data that
could be found bearing upon the subject. Portions of the Moravian ritual that relate to the death and resurrection
were selected; the use of litanies was deemed appropriate, for the missionaries were buried without those cherished
rites. Easter morning litany, prayed yearly on Moravian burial grounds, and the choral music of trombonists, a
characteristic of Moravian obsequies, were added to the programme of religious exercises. It was deemed best to
hold introductory services of a more general nature on the evening before the first day of dedication, in order
that the committee and friends might witness ceremonies of Moravian worship; and they were accordingly held in
the "Bethel," a little Union Church in the valley of Shekomeko. The memorial services were attended by
a concourse of over one thousand people.
The site of Powell's grave, and the Moravian church and cemetery, being on lands of Mr. Clark, it was deemed proper
to hold services in this locality, and from thence proceed across the lake in boats, pursuing the same course toward
the southeastern shore as had been followed by the Indians when, over a hundred years ago, they carried the remains
of their loved teacher over "Gnaden-See" for interment in their national cemetery.
Near the site of the ancient village of Wechquadnack is a marble shaft erected to the memory of David Bruce and
Joseph Powell. It is situated at the summit of a little knoll, in a sheltered nook, a few rods from the eastern
border of Indian Pond. Around it are the same grand old mountains, which echoed back the beautiful hymns sung by
the Moravian, missionary and his dusky congregation.
On the north side of this monument is inscribed:- Joseph Powell, a minister of the Gospel in the church of the
United' Brethren, born 1710, near White Church, Shropshire, England. Died September 22, 1771, at Si-them, in the
Oblong, DUCHESS County, New York. On the south side are the following words:- David Bruce, a minister of the Gospel
in the church of the United Brethren, from Edinburgh, Scotland. Died July 9, 1749, at the Wechquadnack Mission,
DUCHESS County, New York. And on the west side:- erected by the Moravian Historical Society, October 6, 1859; on
the reverse, a selection from Isaiah.
The following are the inscriptions on the monument at Shekomeko: North side - Shekomeko Mission, commenced April
6, 1740, by Christian Henry Rauch. Erected by the Moravian Historical Society, Oct. 5, 1859. South side - In memory
of the Mohican Indians, Lazara, baptized Dec. 1,1742, died Dec. 5, 1742, and Daniel, baptized Dec. 26, 1742; died
March 20, 1744. On the east and west sides are similar inscriptions, one in English and the other in Dutch, the
same that was inscribed on the original monument.
An old church, built by the Moravians, or, as some believe,: by the Dutch Reformed Society, once stood a mile or
more east of Pine Plains, near Hammertown, in the vicinity of the old burying ground. The house was quite large,
square built, and was never ceiled. Alex. McIntosh brought over the communion service and presented it to the church.
The grandfather and grandmother of Abraham Bockee were buried here in 1764, about the time the church was built.
Much of the material of this ancient edifice is still preserved, having been used in the construction of a barn
in the vicinity.
When Livingston's surveyors were running the line between his manor and the Little Nine Partners' tract, they were
believed to be locating the line too far south, and were met and fought back by persons in the interest of the
land company. When they came to the west line of the Oblong, then the boundary of Connecticut, the people of that
colony offered armed resistance to the surveyors, who were about to run their line through to the Taghkanick Mountains.
In the skirmish one of Livingston's surveyors was killed. From this and similar circumstances it would appear that
force was a favorite instrument, in those early times, of settling difficulties. Instead of going to law, as a
means of deciding a boundary, armed bodies of men were brought on the ground, when the question of ownership of
the disputed territory would be decided in favor of the victorious party.
Henry Yonkhonce and a man named Montross were among the early settlers of Pine Plains. The latter located in the
northwest part of the town, where he built a mill; the former settled to the east of him, not far from Hammertown.
Yonkhonce, so it is said, was slain on his own domain by a war party of fierce Mohawk Indians, who were on their
way to attack the Shekomeko settlement. By some means they were deterred from the intended attack, and commenced
a retreat; the Shekomeko tribe sent a party of armed warriors in pursuit, who overtook their foe near the borders
of Copake Lake, in Columbia County. Here a sanguinary battle was fought, resulting in the total destruction of
the invading party - not one of them being spared to convey the news of their disastrous defeat to their distant
village in the valley of the Mohawk. Ebenezer Dibble, C. W. Rauty, James Graham, John Tice, Smith and Snyder were
Two log houses are yet standing in the vicinity of the village of Pine Plains, which were among the first built
in the town. Their sides have since been covered with clap boards, thereby concealing the manner of their construction.
The larger of the two, known as the Lasher House, stands a short distance west of the village. The house and farm
on which it stands are leasehold property. It is quite a large building, quaint in its style, and was doubtless
reckoned an elegant mansion when first built.
During the Summer of 1876, a centennial tea party was held in this dwelling. Antique furniture was brought in for
the occasion, the dishes were of the pattern in use one hundred years ago; the viands were of the primitive kind
partaken of by our "rude forefathers"; and the dresses of the guests were in keeping with the occasion.
This ancient edifice has its traditionary story. At the time of the Revolution, it was occupied by a Tory named
Lewis. His movements were closely watched by his Whig neighbors, who were suspicious that he was secretly intriguing
with the enemies of his country. At length they became so well satisfied of the fact, that they deputized some
of their number to wait upon him, acquaint him of their suspicions, and inform him that he must either renounce
forever his Tory sentiments, or leave the country - giving him until the following morning to make a final decision.
Upon going to the house the next morning, they found the old Tory had hung himself in the garrett during the night,
and was stone dead. This circumstance has caused the house to be regarded by many with a superstitious dread; which
has given rise to other tales of strange doings in it. It is said that, a few years ago, bloodstains were visible
on the floor of an upper chamber, which were attributed to some dark deed yet hidden worn the eyes of the world.
One venerable pine, a specimen of the primitive forest trees that once covered this plain, yet stands within the
limits of the village of Pine Plains. It is preserved and cherished by the people as a memento of the past; and
will doubtless be suffered to remain until the process of decay and the rude storm blasts shall lay it prostrate.
In a field near this tree is an old burying ground, in which were interred, in early times, the colored slaves
of the settlers.
North of the village is a beautiful rural cemetery, in which are deposited the village dead. The grounds are tastefully
laid out, and ornamented with evergreens and shrubbery. The numerous marble shafts rising on every hand, and the
less imposing slabs embowered in trailing vines and enclosed with little beds of exquisite flowers, testify to
the passing traveler that departed friends are held in tender remembrance.
About half a mile east of Pine Plains village is the quiet little settlement of Hammertown. Here was an extensive
tannery, recently discontinued. Here the ruins of the Harris Scythe Factory are also located; in which, years ago,
the sound of a score or more of trip hammers was heard, and which suggested the name of the place. The original
factory was established in 1776, the year of American Independence. Its location was to the east of the Shekomeko
creek; but was afterward removed to the present site, where it was destroyed by fire. The present buildings were
then erected. Work in them has some time been discontinued, and the buildings have been suffered to go to decay.
The roof of one of these has fallen in, and the walls are crumbling from neglect. This was at an early period a
thriving business place; but has been outstripped in the race by its sister villages, whose location proved to
be more eligible.
At the beginning of the present century, though stated meetings were held in the town, but little was said about
sects and doctrines. Meetings were held in schoolhouses and private dwellings, mostly by Presbyterians and Methodists.
Rev. John Clark of Pleasant Valley, and a Mr. Price, an itinerant M. E. preacher, used to hold meetings in the
vicinity. About the year 1818, Elders John Buttolph and Luman Burtch came here and preached a part of the time.
Previous to this, however, a number of enterprising individuals had set on foot a project to build a meeting house.
A committee had been appointed to inquire into its feasibility, and to perfect a plan of operations. This committee
advised them to purchase a lot, and build a house 34x50 feet. As a means of raising the necessary funds, it was
determined to issue stock, divided into shares of one hundred dollars each; this was readily taken up by resident
capitalists, and the work was commenced with vigor. The understanding was, that at the completion of the house,
the seats were to be sold to the highest bidder, the purchaser to receive a title by deed; those who owned stock
were to take their pay in seats, unless they chose to let them go to the highest bidder. In nine months the edifice
was completed, and was called the Union House, because all joined in its construction, irrespective of creed.
Public notice was given of the sale of the seats; a large assembly was on hand at the appointed hour; a crier was
selected, and the sale went on with spirit. At the close of the sale it was found the proceeds exceeded the expense
of building by several hundreds of dollars. Before the people separated, they were called to order by the moderator,
who proposed that the desk be occupied by certain denominations to the exclusion of all others, and that six trustees
be appointed to carry the resolution into effect which proposition was adopted by vote of the assembly.
The community being largely Presbyterian, Rev. Mr. Blair was hired to preach one half the time for a year; he was
succeeded by Rev. Robert G. Armstrong, of Orange County. During this time Elder John Buttolph, a Baptist, occupied
the pulpit every fourth Sabbath, and ministered to the people for about two years; Elder Luman Burtch assisted
a part of the time. This church edifice is still standing in the village of Pine Plains, and is occupied exclusively
by the Presbyterians. Rev. Wm. N. Sayre is their present pastor, who has been over this charge for a period of
forty three years. This is the first and only pastorate over which he has been placed, in which he has so long
and so acceptably labored.
In 1834 or '35, a series of meetings was held, resulting in many conversions. All denominations participated in
the exercises; and when the new converts began to declare in favor of this and the other sect, an unfortunate division
of feeling occurred among the members of the different churches. Finally, the Baptists resolved to build a separate
house of worship. They purchased a lot, laid the foundation, and raised the frame. When nearly completed, on the
3d of June, 1837, a sweeping tornado passed through a part of the town and village, carrying destruction in its
way. The new house of worship was laid in ruins.
This was a crushing blow to all their projects. However, they resolved on another effort. The public, and the sister
churches in the county liberally assisted them. In eleven months another house, very neat and commodious, was erected.
May 7, 1838, the house was dedicated, Elder John Leland preaching the dedicatory sermon, from Matt., xvi: 18.
There are seven church edifices within the town of Pine Plains, viz: A Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal,
Christian and two Union Churches. The first four are situated within the village of Pine Plains; one Union house
is at Pulver's Corners, and the other at Bethel; the Christian Church is a neat little edifice standing near the
west line of the town.
In the year 1800, the village of Pine Plains contained only a hotel, and four or five isolated dwellings. A tract
of about fourteen hundred acres near the village is still owned by the heirs of the original proprietors. In 1808
some enterprising men commenced improving the village. A large and commodious dwelling of brick, a store, and a
hotel were erected by a Mr. Dibble, who carried on the mercantile business for many years, doing a large trade
in barter. He purchased most of the grain produced by the surrounding country. In 1853 the village contained twenty
four dwellings, together with several stores and shops; and as late as 1860, could boast of only 382 inhabitants.
It now (1876) contains four churches, a union free school, two hotels, a National Bank and about 800 inhabitants.
The scenery in this vicinity is unsurpassed. The numerous lovely lakes in the quiet valley; the rugged mountains
bounding the vision on either hand; the gently undulating plain stretching away before the beholder; all contribute
to its attractiveness. People from the city in large numbers are drawn hither during the sultry Summer months.
The rugged back of Stissing Mountain abruptly rears itself above the plain about one mile west of the village.
From its summit an extensive view is obtained of the surrounding country. It is yearly visited by numbers of tourists
and picnic parties. A writer thus says of it:
"An hour's drive brought us to the foot of the mountain, at which point the way became so precipitous that
we had to perform the rest of the journey on foot. After considerable effort we reached the summit; from whence
the mountain appears like a huge boulder transported there by some freak of nature, rising solitary and alone from
the midst of a beautiful valley. Westward lay an undulating country, extending to the noble Hudson, a distance
of eighteen miles. The glories of a September sun painted its dark blue waters with a still deeper hue. Beyond
lay the Catskill Mountains, whose blue summits rise one above the other, stretching beyond the vision's utmost
limit. The far famed Mountain House was in full view, perched on its airy cliff. Eastward the view extended to
the Taghkanick range. The village of Pine Plains, with its church spires glittering in the autumnal sun; the adjacent
valleys, dotted over with white farm houses, and rich with ripening harvests; the numerous romantic lakes, bordered
with dark evergreens, and rich in Indian legends; all combined to form a most charming prospect."
Halcyon Lake is a remarkably picturesque body of water. Its location is near the site of the ancient Indian village
of Shekomeko. Before the advent of the white people the dark pine forest came down to the brink, and cast a melancholy
shadow over the waters. The red man sought its banks, at the time of the deepening twilight; he heard, in the moaning
of the evening wind among the branches, the voice of the Great Spirit, speaking in mysterious tones of the "land
of the hereafter"; and he saw upon the bosom of the lake-
"Lighted by the shimmering moonlight,
And by will-o-the wisps illumined,
Fires by ghosts of dead man kindhled,
In their weary night encampments."