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

POPULATION, 4,315. - SQUARE ACRES, 22,148.

RED ROOK was formed from Rhinebeck, June 2nd, 1812. It was called by the Dutch Roode Hoeck Tradition ascribes the name to a marsh near Tivoli, which, when first seen, was covered with ripe cranberries. Its surface is a rolling upland, terminating on the Hudson in a series of bluffs 100 to 150 feet high. The east part is hilly. Prospect Hill is a prominent peak a little south of Upper Red Hook village. The streams are the Saw Kit and the White Clay Kil. The valleys of the streams are broad, and their banks low. Long Pond, in the east part, forms the source of the Saw Kil. The soil along the river is a clay loam, and in the remaining parts a sandy, gravelly, or slaty loam.

The first settlements were made between 1713 and 1727, by the Dutch. Among the early settlers were families named Haeners, Shufeldt, Zippertie, Hagadorn, Wiederwax, Trauvs, Staats, Mellbau, Bermar, Woldorf, Near, Proseus, and others, mostly from Germany. They first settled near Barrytown and Tivoli. The first marriage on record is that of Adam Shaffer and Maria Schoett, July 31, 1746. The first baptism on the hurch record is that of Catherine Woldorf, April 23, 1734.

In the Journal of the Second Esopus War (1663), written. by Capt. Martin Kreiger, in command of the military forces at Wiltwyck (Kingston), occurs the following: "In the after noon, July 8th, we examined the oldest Indian as to whether he was not acquainted with same Esopus Indians, and whether he would not lead us to them - gave him fair words and prom= ised him a present; for the Dutch at Esopus had told us that some Indians lived about two miles from there, wherefore we were resolved that same evening to go in search of them with so men. But this Indian said to them - 'Go not there, for the Indians have gone hence and dwell now back of Magdalen Island, in the rear of a Cripple bush on the east side of Fore Orange [Hudson] River, and number 8 men, 9 women and children; and he even offered to guide us thither if we had a boat to put us over the river. I therefore sent Sergeant Chris tiaen Niesen and Jan Peersen, each with 16 men, to look up boat. Called a Council of War, and it was resolved unanimously to set out in the evening with 20 soldiers and 12 Indians under Christiaen Niesen and Peiter Wolfertsen in order to visit the east shore near Magdalen Island, to see if they could not surprise the Esopus Indians who were lying there; they took the old Indian along as a guide, who well knew where they lay. On the 12th, Peiter Wolfertsen and Sergeant Niesen returned with the troops, bringing with them one squaw and three children whom they had captured; they killed five armed Indians and a woman; the Esopus Captain was among the slain; they cut off his hand which they brought hither. Had not the Indian. led them astray and missed the houses, they would have surprised all the Indians who were there to did. number of 28, with women and children. For through the mistake of the Indian, our people first came about mid day where they found the Indians posted and in arms. They im mediately fell on the latter and routed and pursued them. Meanwhile the huts were plundered wherein they found 19 blankets, 9 kettles, a lot of sewan (wampum) and 4 muskets belonging to the Indians who were killed. They returned on board with the plunder and four prisoners, and arrived safe except one of our soldiers who was bit in the leg by a rattlesnake."- O' Callaghan.

A steamboat landing and railroad station in the northwest part is known as Tivoli - a name which carries us back to the palmy days of the City of Seven Hills, and one of the famous watering places in the time of Horace. The derivation of its title is thus given: "Many years ago a French emigrant from Tivoli in Italy came to America and settled on what is now known as the old Elmendorf place and called it Tivoli. He was known as Abbe Sequard, but whether he kept up his Romish doctrines is uncertain. After his death the farm passed into the hands of a family by the name of Elmendorf, and when the first horse ferry boat was put on between Saugerties and Tivoli, Mrs. Elmendorf gave Outwater, the owner of it, a set of American colors if in return he would call the name of the place after her estate."

A correspondent of the New York Evening Mail thus writes:- "A few days ago I happened to be detained at Tivoli, and wandering up into the woods north of the depot I came upon a dwelling which well repaid me for my walk. It was as queer a conglomerate of styles as can well be imagined, some forty paces long, cross shaped, recalling European mansions commenced in one age, continued in another, and completed a century or centuries afterwards. The main building is in Italian style, the north wing simple or rude as may be, the southern somewhat more tastily finished, while in the rear, over the roadway soars a tower, reminding the visitor of the keep of an early modern manor house.

"This tower, some sixty or seventy feet high, is a square, with one corner cut off, with heavy iron balconies, richly carved keystones with deeply cut armorial bearings, marble and stone sculptures set in without regard to artistic design, as if dictated by caprice. And queerest of all, in a niche, aloft, sat a huge Aztec idol, such as is only seen in museums.

"A short distance north of the house are extensive stables and farm buildings, overlooking the river, with huge gate posts, crowned with huge eagles or vultures. The roads were wonderful for such broken grounds, and seemed to twist off in every direction up steep hills and through woods of grand trees; within the same area it would be almost impossible to find more natural beauties, almost altogether undeveloped by art. Towards the southwest, adjoining the grass land, niched in this country seat, stood a very attractive gothic church amid trees, with a row of massive funeral vaults as unlike the usual appendage of American country churches as the mansion which first attracted my attention. On my return I stumbled into a cemetery devoted to dogs and parrots; and finally made my way through the noble woods, almost as shady in the bright autumn sun as are many forests in summer, so numerous were the lofty evergreens. From the front of the house, at a point by the way, there is a river view, backed by the Catskills, that is unexceeded in extent and beauty."

Tivoli was formerly called Upper Red Hook Landing, and Barrytown was known as Lower Red Hook Landing. It is said, when Jackson was President, and this village wanted a post office, that he would not consent to its bearing the name of Barrytown, from personal dislike to General Barry, and suggested another name. But the people were loyal to their old friend, and went without a post office until a new administration. This we give, without vouching for the truth of it.

Cedar Hill, Upper and Lower Red Hook, (the latter formerly called Hardscrabble) and Madalin are small villages. Madalin is adjacent to Tivoli, and the two form one continuous village. The former was originally known as Myersville, atter a family of the name of Myers; then it was changed to Mechanicsville, and last of all to Madalin. A man named Ten Broeck Myers lived here and built a large house about the the year 1825. It is said he at one time kept the Poughkeepsie Hotel.

Back of Tivoli is an ancient burial place, said to be the grounds in which the slaves and colored people of the vicinity were buried. Near a cluster of wild plums in this enclosure are several tomb stones, which have stood so long that they have become soft and crumbly with age.

At the time of the Revolution, a store house filled with wheat stood on the river bank, north of Barrytown. When the foundation was being laid for an ice house on the same site a few years ago, a large quantity of the charred wheat was found upon the spot, still in a perfect state of preservation. The residents about the vicinity gathered up quite a large amount, which they show to visitors as a relic of the struggle of one hundred years ago. Tradition says that Fulton's steamboat, the "Clermont," put in for repairs at De Kovens Cove, or Bay, still further to the northward.

Opposite Tivoli, in Ulster County, is the pleasant village of Saugerties, near the mouth of the Esopus Creek. Near this village was the West Camp of the Palatinates, East Camp being what is now Germantown in Columbia County.

From the lower border of Columbia County opposite Catskill village, to Hyde Park a distance of thirty miles, the east bank of the Hudson is distinguished for old and elegant country seats, most of them owned and occupied by the descendants of wealthy proprietors who flourished in the last century. Most of these are connected by blood and marriage with Robert Livingston. Of this gentleman Lossing says: In 1683, Robert Livingston, a landless but shrewd adventurer from Scotland, married the young widow Alida Schuyler, daughter of Patroon Nicholas Van Rensselaer. With her money he purchased an immense tract of land of the Indians on the eastern borders of the Hudson River, which in 1710, was created a Manor, embracing 160,000 acres. He lived at Albany, and was Secretary of the Commission of Indian affair's fora long time.

When Vaughan passed up the Hudson in 1777, some of his command crossed over into Clermont, Columbia County, where they burned the house just built by Robert. R. Livingston, (more generally known as Chancellor Livingston) and also the old one where he was born, and where his widowed mother, relict of Robert Livingston, resided, and then retreated to New York. The Chancellor had a library of 4000 volumes, of the choicest selections, and at that time was the moist complete one in the country. He introduced the merino breed of sheep into this country. We append a copy Of a letter, written by Mrs. Livingston to the Judge, her husband, giving the details of a long journey from New York to Clermont, through the almost unbroken wilderness:

CLERMONT, July 12th, 1766.
With joy I embrace this opportunity of conversing with you, by the Manor Sloop, since it is the only way now left of conveying our sentiments to each other. We set out from New York in so great a hurry that I could not give myself the pleasure of seeing or the pain of parting with you. We had a. very pleasant ride the first day, which brought us to Croton. Here we were detained until the next day by rain, but it is impossible to describe this day's journey; the crags, precipices, and mountains that we had a view of, together with the excessive badness of the roads, that were laid bare by streams of water taking their course through the midst, which made it very disagreeable to me. We could go no further that day than Warren's, who lives in the midst of the Highlands, but the next day made up for the fatigue of this. We had a most charming journey the remaining part of the way. We breakfasted at Van Wyck's, who lives at Fishkill; dined at Poughkeepsie, slept at Rhinebeck, where we arrived at 6 o'clock. The next morning, which was Sunday, we came home at 9 o'clock, and found the family all in good health and spirits.

Near Tivoli is an elegant country seat built by one of the Livingston family, who occupied it when the British burned old Clermont, and also the residence of Chancellor Livingston, already alluded to. The red coats landed in De Kovens Cove, just below, and came up with destructive intent, supposing this to be the residence of the arch offender. The proprietor, a good humored, hospitable man, soon convinced them of their error, supplied them bountifully with wine and other refreshments, and made them so cheery, that had he been the rebel" himself; they must have spared his property.

Five miles below Tivoli is Annandale, country seat of John Bard, Esq. The approach from the north is along a picturesque road, bordered by the grounds of numerous beautiful villas. The Church of Holy Innocents, built in Anglo-gothic style, standing on the verge of the open park, was erected by the proprietor of Annandale for the people of the neigborhood as a free church.

Adjoining Annandale on the south is Montgomery Place. This elegant mansion was built by the widow of Gen. Richard Montgomery, being also a sister of the Chancellor. With ample means and good taste at command, she built this residence, and there spent fifty years of widowhood, childless but cheerful, loved and respected by all. The mansion, and four hundred acres of land, passed at her death into the hands of her brother Edward, and is now occupied by a family by the name of Hunt.

Downing thus describes this retreat: "There are few persons among the traveling class who know the beauty of the finest American country seat, Montgomery Place. It is one of the superb old seats belonging to the Livingston family. Whether the charm lies in the deep and mysterious wood, full of the echo of water sprites, or whether it grows out of a profound feeling of completeness and perfection in foregrounds of old trees, and distance of calm serene mountains, we have not been able to divine; but certain it is that there is a spell in the very air, which is fatal to the energies of a great speculation. It is not, we are sure, the spot for a man to plan campaigns of conquest, and we doubt even whether the scholar, whose ambition it is to scorn delight and live laborious days, would not find something in the air of this demesne so soothing as to dampen the fire of his great purposes. There is not wanting something of the charm of historic association here. It derives its name from Gen'l Richard Montgomery, the hero of Quebec. Here Mrs. Montgomery resided until her death, when she bequeathed it to her brother, Edward Livingston, the distinguished diplomatist and jurist. The age of Montgomery Place hightens its interest. Its richness of foliage, both in natural and planted trees, is one of its marked features; the fine specimens of hemlock, lime, ash and fir, forming the finest possible accessories to a noted and spacious manor."

Mrs. Montgomery writes to Mrs. Warren, the widow of Gen'l Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill:

NOVEMBER 20, 1780.
I have been interrupted by another alarm of the enemy's being in full march for Saratoga, and the poor harassed militia have again been called upon. My impatient spirit pants for peace; when shall the unfortunate individual have the satisfaction of weeping alone for his own particular losses. In this luckless state, woes follow woes, every moment is big with something fatal; we hold our lives in the most precarious tenure. Had Arnold's plan taken place, we could not have escaped from a fate dreadful in thought, for these polished Britons have:proved themselves fertile in inventions to procrastinate misery.

In 1818, a request in behalf of Mrs. Montgomery was made to Sir John Sherbrook, Governor in Chief of Canada, to allow the remains of General Richard Montgomery to be disinterred, and removed to New York. The request was acceded to. James Thompson, of Quebec, one of the engineers at the time of the storming of that place, and who helped bury the General, assisted at the disinterment, and made affidavit of the identity of the body. Gov. De Witt Clinton, in conformity to an act of Legislature of New York, passed at its previous session, touching the removing of the body, commissioned Lewis Livingston, son of Hon. Edward Livingston, to proceed to Whitehall to receive the remains, and convey them to New York.

June l0th, Gov. Clinton wrote to Mrs. Montgomery, that the remains of the the General were at Whitehall. The body was received there with honors, and a military escort accompanied it to Albany, where it arrived on Saturday, July 4th, and lay in state at the Capitol until Monday. It was then removed to New York, under a military escort, on steamboat Richmond. The Governor had written to Mrs. Montgomery giving the time when the boat might be expected to pass Montgomery Place. She had lived with the General but three years; and it was then forty three years since the parting kiss was given at General Schuyler's residence at Saratoga. She stood alone on the portico of her mansion fronting the river, at the appointed hour, watching for the expected boat. At length it hove in sight. Stopping in front of her residence, the band played the "Dead March;" a salute was fired, and the boat proceeded on her way. The friends of the lonely widow now sought for her:- she had fallen into a swoon. "Her Soldier" had gone forth from her side in the bloom of life nought returned to her but his ashes. Mrs. Montgomery died in the month of November, 1827.

A short distance below Barrytown is "Rokeby," formerly the country seat of Gen'l. John Armstrong who married Alida, a sister of Chancellor Livingston. He will be remembered as an officer in the Revolution, and a member of General Gates' military family. Armstrong was the author of the celebrated addresses which were circulated at Newburgh, already familiar to the student of history. He was chosen successively to a seat in the United States Senate, Embassador to France, Brigadier General in the Army, and Secretary of War. He held the latter office in 1812-14, during the war with Great Britain which Lossing denominates the "Second War for American Independence." Gen. Armstrong was author of a "Life of General Montgomery," "Life of General Wayne," and "Historical Notices of the War of 1812."

The "Newburgh Letters" may be briefly adverted to 1782, the soldiers encamped near Newburgh had become discontented. This feeling spread among other portions ol the army, and. was assuming formidable proportions. Complaints were sent to Washington through Colonel Nichola. In May, the Colonel wrote a letter to the Commander in Chief, which affected him deeply. In that letter he argued that no Republic could stand; that the government of England was the nearest perfection of any on earth. He depicted in strong terms the destitution of the army, and the faint hope that the poor soldiers would ever receive any pay from Congress. This drew a feeling reply from Washington.

In the meantime Congress was making but feeble efforts to satisfy the demands of the soldiers. Gen Armstrong wrote an address to the army, which was circulated anonymously, and which made a deep impression upon the minds of the disaffected A meeting of officers was called on the nth of March. Washington was present and read an address. His first words, before unfolding the paper, touched every heart. "You see, gentlemen," said he, as he placed his spectacles before his eyes, "that I have not only grown gray, but blind in your service." It is needless to add that the touching appeals of the Commander in Chief had the effect of quieting the excited soldiery.

As before intimated, Gen. Armstrong was a man of eminent attainments. One illustration of his power as a political writer, which we do not remember to have seen in print, we will give as we received it from the lips of an aged citizen who had some acquaintance with the General. On one cccasion a member of the Livingston family was nominated for an office to which he greatly aspired. Armstrong wrote an address, and circulated it anonymously, stating various reasons why Livingston should not be elected. When the address met the eye of the latter, he saw at once the arguments it contained must be met and refuted, or his case was hopeless. Unsuspicious of its origin, he sought out Gen'l Armstrong, laid his trouble before him, and requested him to write an answer. Said Armstrong "why not write the reply yourself?" "Oh, I cannot," replied the other, "you are the only one I know of that is capable of doing it successfully; and if it is not satisfactorily answered, I shall be defeated." "Well," said Armstrong, "I will write the reply provided you will pay me $1000" The political aspirant was forced to acquiesce to the proposal; the answer was circulated, and so ably was it written, that he was elected to the desired position by a handsome majority.

A daughter of Armstrong married the millionaire, Wm. R Astor, son of John Jacob Astor. It is said the old people first proposed the marriage, and made all the essential arrangements for the ceremony, before the young folks had seen each other.

The mills were a prominent feature of the earlier times. A clothing mill and saw mill formerly occupied the site of the present grist mill east of Madalin. Above this is a mill, now in ruins, known as Hoffman's Mill, which has been occupied from time immemorial by the family. The building, as well as its interior arrangements, was of the most primitive kind. The water wheel was made like the paddle wheel of a steamboat, and was acted upon by the running force of the water only. The gearing by which the power was communicated to the stone was of the simplest kind - merely wooden cogs working in a trundle head; while the stone was raised or lowered by means of a strap. Each run of stone required a separate water wheel. A rude sort of elevator consisted of a wooden trough, along which the meal or flour was forced by means of small paddles. There was not an iron wheel in the the whole structure. Cook's grist mill was formerly a cotton factory, built in the year 1786.

About a mile northeast of Madalin, years ago, stood the Old Red Dutch Church, belonging to the Dutch Reformed Society. It was some time since taken down, and another structure, of more modern architecture, erected in its stead. The old church was built probably about one hundred years ago, though the absence of records leaves the date somewhat a matter of conjecture. The house was a curiosity in its way. It had a steeple, situated about the center of the roof, and which was surmounted by a rooster. When the sexton rang the bell he stood in the centre of the church. A raised floor extended along each side of the body of the house, on which were square pews, provided with an ornamental railing on top, so high that when a person was seated nothing of him was visible except his head. These were intended for the use of the families of the landed proprietors. The common people occupied the slips in the body of the church. The elders and leading members sat in the side pews on either side of the pulpit. This was in keeping with the other arrangements, and over it was suspended the sounding board, then reckoned an essential thing in the construction of a church. When this church was demolished, it was in a good state of preservation, all that could be said against it being, it was "not in fashion." Several prominent citizens plead that it might be permitted to stand, but without avail.

In the church yard are monuments of freestone, dating back into the last century. One of the oldest was erected to the memory of John Grier, who died on the 13th of March, 1797; aged 54 years. Other old slabs contain the family names of Vosburgh, Roorback, &c. In this church Dominies Fox, Rudy, Kettle, Romaine, and other eminent men have preached. Zachariah Hoffman gave the ground for the church and burial ground, which is located near the south line of the Hoffman Patent.

A dispute once arose between Hoffman and Chancellor Livingston concerning this tract, both laying claim to, it. A suit at law was held in the Old Dutch Church at Germantown. Alexander Hamilton argued the case for Hoffman, and the Chancellor plead his own case. Hoffman was the victor.

The first Episcopal church in the town was the Church of St. Paul, which was a wooden building, erected about the year 18r8, and stood half a mile east of Madalin. It was rebuilt, of stone, in 1868, and now stands west of the village, romantically situated in a wood. The first Episcopal sermon was preached in 1813, by Rogers, from Connecticut, at Palmer Cook's house. Cook was a prominent man, and had removed from Connecticut that year. Dr. Anthon, of St. Marks Church, New York City, preached the first sermon in the new church. The Trinity [Episcopal] Church stands near the village of Madalin. A school is held in the building. The Trinity is the High Church and St. Gauls the Low Church.

The Ref. Dutch Church near the lower border of the town formerly stood in Rhinebeck. A tornado having nearly laid it in ruins, the structure was taken down and rebuilt in its present location.

Near the north limits of the village of Madalin stands an elegant monument of variegated marble, erected "by this immediate neighborhood to her defenders who lost their lives in suppressing the slave holders' rebellion." On it are the names of twenty nine soldiers, representing many of the bloody battlefields of that struggle. Four cannon, partially sunk into the ground, with breech uppermost, serve for posts, to which is attached a chain enclosing the monument. One of these cannon was presented by each of the following named persons: Johnston Livingston, Eugene A. Livingston, William Chamberlain, and Brevet Maj. Gen. DePeyster.

A house in the vicinity was in olden times said to have been haunted. Many stories were circulated of strange sights and sounds within it. Finally no one could be prevailed upon to live there, and it stood a long time untenanted. At length it was purchased by a gentleman residing in Albany, who sent some workmen to repair it. They determined to have some sport at the expense of the people of the neighborhood. They collected a lot of old lumber in the garret, and so arranged it that by pulling a string the lumber could be made to fall upon the floor with a terrible clatter. They then represented that at precisely four o'clock each afternoon, a fearful noise would commence in the upper part of the house, as though the building was coming down; but on going to the place nothing could be seen. Numbers came from the surrounding neighborhood to hear the uproar, and went away full of the idea that the house was haunted by "some wandering ghost" The secret finally came out, and ever afterwards the matter rested. No ghost has latterly dared to show himself or play his pranks about the premises.

The Baptist church at Red Hook may be regarded as the first fruit of the missionary labor sustained by the Association in the county. Elders Stokes and James preached at Myersville [now Madalin] in this town, a part of the time for two years. Isaac Bevan held a series of meetings at Myersville in September, 1842, in a schoolhouse. In January following, he commenced a series of meetings at the Landing [Tivoli] in a store kindly offered by its owners, Messrs. Collins. These meetings were continued a number of weeks, with favorable results. Elders Benedict and Shook rendered some assistance during the meetings. March 13th, seventeen of those who had already been baptized in the place resolved themselves into a church. On the following day they were publicly recognized by a council called from the neighboring churches. Rev. D. Morris, Rosendale, preached the sermon. They erected a church in 1843, at a cost of a little less than $1000.

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