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


PLEASANT VALLEY.
POPULATION, 1,826. - SQUARE ACRES, 20,049.

PLEASANT VALLEY was formed from Clinton, January 26th, 1821. Its surface is a rolling and hilly upland. Barnes and Dennis Hills, in the northwest, are the highest points. Wappingers Creek flows southwest through near the centre. Sprout Creek takes its rise in a pond near the southwest part. Slate crops out along the hills, and a vein of marble has lately been discovered. The largest body of water is Pond Gut, in the southeast part of the town. The soil is a clayey and gravelly loam.

The village of Pleasant Valley was incorporated April 15th, 1814. It is located in a pleasant vale on the borders of Wappingers Creek, from which the town derives its name. But little attention has been paid, however, to the election of officers under the charter, which was packed away among other papers and almost forgotten. Some four or five years ago, an act of the Legislature so modified the excise laws that a town board of excise could not legally grant a license to a resident of an incorporated village; but provided that the question should rest with the board of trustees. This called up the question of the village charter. After a diligent search the instrument was found, and it was ascertained that all except one of the board of trustees were dead. This solitary member at once organized a meeting of the board, filled up the vacancies by appointments, elected J. B. Duncan, President, proceeded to grant the required licenses, and adjourned. The board has never since met. The Pleasant Valley Institute is located here.

Among the oldest settlers of Pleasant Valley are the names of Newcomb, Peters, Forman, Hicks, Devine, Humphrey, Dubois, Thurston, Everson, Dean, Holmes, Sharpstein, Ham, &c.

William Holmes settled in the southeast part of the town. He came from Long Island; a large number of his descendants still reside in this and neighboring towns. Benjamin Lattin, also from Long Island, located in the neighborhood of the village of Pleasant Valley. One Major Vanderburgh is mentioned as having lived at an early date, to the west of Salt Point. The Blooms built a mill and mansion a short distance north. of Washington Hollow.

A large cotton factory is located at the village of Pleasant Valley, owned by Garner & Co. The cloth is manufactured here and conveyed to the print works at Wappingers Falls to be printed. East of the village are the Pine Grove Woolen Mills, owned and managed by the Bowers family.

Before the division of the town of Clinton, town meetings were sometimes held at the house of one Wood, still standing, a short distance west of the residence of Bradford Holmes, Esq., in Pleasant Valley.

The old Presbyterian Meeting House, built about a century and a quarter ago, stood not far from Wheeler's Hotel, at the Hollow. It was a plain square building, quite large, two stories in bight, and was furnished with a gallery on three sides. The land on which it was built was deeded for the purpose by Isaac German, a large landholder. The cemetery ground here was originally connected with this church. During the Revolution this edifice was used as a prison. The country here was mostly settled by the Germans, who thought it very wrong to turn against the King; Toryism was therefore rampant in this vicinity, and it required the strong arm of the military to keep it in check. Says Lossing "During the year that Burgoyne was making his victorious march toward the Valley of the Hudson, the Tories of DUCHESS became bold, and defied the militia guard that had been established. About four hundred of them, well armed, asembled at "Carpenter's," now Washington Hollow, and threatened destruction to all the Whigs in the neighborhood. An expedition was immediately set on foot in Sharon, Connecticut, to break up the gang. A strong party of armed volunteers gathered at Blooms Mills, north of the Hollow, and early in the morning marched for the latter place, where they found the Tories paraded in a meadow. Marching up with spirit, the volunteers fired on the insurgents, who broke and fled. Thirty or forty of them were captured and taken first to Connecticut, and afterwards to New Hampshire, where they were confined about two years."

The building now known as Wheeler's Hotel was built about the year 1800, by William German. Early in the year 1813 a large number of cannon and troops were being transported from New York to Sackett's Harbor. A portion of them passed by different routes through our county. The cannon were heavy, the roads were bad, and the passage therefore extremely difficult. A detachment stopped for a night at the Hollow; the officers taking up their quarters at the hotel, and the soldiers seeking the protection of the old Presbyterian Church.

A large landholder west of Washington Hollow was named Newcomb. He left, at his death, three hundred acres of land to each of his three sons. This side of him is a rough streak of country. A man named Hall was looking for a place to locate. He came from Pleasant Valley on foot, through the then almost unbroken wilderness He was a feeble man, and his strength gave out just as he reached the rough section referred to. He concluded therefore to go no further, and settled down there among the rocks. A few minutes' walk would have brought him to the productive lands in the neighborhood of the Hollow; where he might have located had he chosen to do so.

The Newcomb house was occupied at the time of the Revolution by a Tory of a very decided character. His wife was a staunch Whig; and it may be surmised the domestic felicities of the family were nothing to boast of. The woman was too many for him, however, in the wordy encounters that occurred; but she could not succeed in converting her renegade husband. The DUCHESS Turnpike runs diagonally through this town, -meeting the Amenia and Dover Turnpikes a short distance east of the Hollow. It was built about the beginning of the present century.

A gentleman living in this vicinity mentions some circumstances connected with the Erie Canal project. The two political parties which were divided on this question, were here sharply defined. One side claimed a canal would be ruinous to the grain producing interests of the river counties, and objected to being taxed for that purpose equal to the farmers in the western part of the State, who were to reap the whole benefit of the work. When the State Canal was finished, their predictions were realized; the price of wheat fell from $2.75 to $1.00 per bushel.

A great celebration was held in New York City in honor of the completion of the canal, and our informant, in company with others, went to see it. An immense procession was formed, comprising representations of the varied interests of the commonwealth, with cars and banners. Not the least interesting part of the exercises was the aquatic procession which sailed down the bay to Sandy Hook, carrying with them a barrel of Lake Erie water, which was poured into the ocean at this point with very imposing ceremonies. One may judge of the splendor of the celebration when it is stated that upwards of two hundred banners and standards were displayed among the different societies, many of them really elegant. So crowded was the city that many of the visitors could not find lodgings.

The Presbyterian church at Pleasant Valley was organized by the Presbytery of Duchess County, in the year 1765. The society was legally incorporated January 26th, 1785, agreeably to an act of the Legislature, passed April 6th, 1784. Cornelius Humphrey and Eliphalet Platt were chosen Inspectors, and John Everson, Clerk. The following persons were chosen Trustees; Cornelius Humphrey, Eliphalet Platt, Lemuel Conklin, John M. Thurston, John Everson, and Joshua Ward. "Voted, that this congregation be known by the name of the Presbyterian Congregation, of Pleasant Valley. - Charlotte Precinct, Jan. 26th, 1785."

Rev. Wheeler Case was ordained and installed the first pastor, Nov. 12th, 1765, his pastorate continuing twenty six years. Rev. Methuselah Baldwin succeeded him, and continued over the church a period of five years. Rev. John Clark became pastor in 1808; resigned in 1806; was recalled in October, 1808, and remained pastor for a period of thirty seven years. Rev. Henry J. Acker was installed pastor in April, 1869.

August 19th, 1826, the Session received and granted a petition of sixteen members of this church, to be dismissed to form a Presbyterian church in Poughkeepsie.

August 4th, 1828, a similar request of sixteen members was granted to organize the Presbyterian Church at Freedom Plains town of LaGrange.

March 28th, 1837, twelve members were dismissed to organize the Presbyterian Church at Pleasant Plains, town of Clinton.

December 15th, 1860, seventeen members were dismissed to form the Westminister Presbyterian Church at Salt Point.

The first house of worship* was a wooden structure, erected in 1770 on the main streets in the village of Pleasant Valley, a few rods west of the present building. In 1812 it was repaired and considerably enlarged, at a cost of $2,500. The present brick edifice was built in 1848.

* A Presbyterian meeting house stood at Washington Hollow, built about the year 1745 or '46.

"At a meeting of the trustees, held March 11th 1794, for taking into consideration the subject of a parsonage, it was agreed, after some debate, to drop the idea of building, and to give Mr. Baldwin a settlement of £100 in lieu of a parsonage. The money was subscribed, and Mr. Baldwin accepted it." In 1801, the congregation secured a parsonage, with about twenty acres of land attached, one mile east of the village. In 1869 this farm was sold, and the present parsonage near the church erected, at a cost of $4,500.

The old burying ground attached to the church contains the remains of Revs. Case and Clark, and of many of the oldest members of the congregation. These ancient burial plots are justly regarded with great veneration. By recent purchases, the grounds of the cemetery have been greatly enlarged. They are under control of the Board of Trustees.

In April, 1770, Jacob and Margaret Everson gave the congregation the deed for the land on which the church was built. Mrs. Susanna Ward, in 1845, left by will $600 for furnishing the Sunday School room. In 1859, Dr. Edward L., and Adeline Beadle gave the congregation a valuable piece of land where the present parsonage stands.

Elder John Lawrence, a pioneer Baptist, preached in this town at an early period of its history. He held services in barns, schoolrooms and private houses, and not unfrequently in the woods. In 1770 he organized a small church at Zaccheus Newcomb's house. Christian Newcomb preached occasionally. Joseph Harris was the first deacon. The Society lingered awhile, and was subsequently left to dwindle away. Sometime afterward, Elder Bullock, of Stanford, preached near Salt Point. His labors were rewarded with a revival, and some forty or fifty were baptized. These became a branch of his church. In 1790, John VanVoorhis gave them a deed for half an acre of land, and they determined to build upon it. Their first records were made in 1792. Elder John Dodge became their first pastor in 1795, continuing till 1813, when he resigned. The church did little for his support, except to provide him with fire wood. The records speak of Elders Hoadly, Stevens, Warren and Burtch, as having preached for them occasionally.

About the year 1836, the church was visited by Elder Philip Roberts, Jr., as a county missionary. A protracted meeting was held, in which he was assisted by a brother Waterbury, from New York, and by other missionary brethren. The meeting lasted twenty days, and people came from all quarters to hear the Word. From sixty to seventy conversions are recorded, and thirty eight were baptized. Elder Roberts accepted the call of the church to become its pastor, serving them a period of seven years with fidelity and success. In 1842, Geo. W. Houghton, a very useful and excellent member of this church, was ordained an Evangelist. From that time until 1850 the society improved their house of worship; erected a public shed; bought six acres of land for parsonage; erected a barn, and greatly improved the parsonage house. The family names of Badgley, Wilde, Thurston, Garret, Travis, Schryver, Fosdick and others, appear on the records as early members.

A Quaker [Hicksite] meeting house is situated in the village of Pleasant Valley, built nearly three fourths of a century ago. A Mr. Dean gave the land, and contributed largely towards the erection of the house. Engraven on the monuments in the old burying ground are the family names of Attwood, Whipple, Farrington, Bloodgood, Lawton, &c.

The Westminster [Presbytenan] Church at Salt Point, a Methodist and Episcopal Society at Pleasant Valley, and the Christian Church at Washington Hollow, comprise the churches in the town, in addition to those previously mentioned. The Methodist house was moved, some thirty years since, from the hill east of the village, to its present location. The Episcopal house was built on the old ground of the Presbyterian church.


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