POPULATION, 1,322. - SQUARE ACRES, 21,756.
RHINEBECK was formed as a town, March 7th, 1788. Red Hook was taken off in 1812. It lies upon the Hudson, northwest
of the center of the county. Its surface is a rolling, and moderately hilly upland, terminating on the river in
bluffs 100 to 150 feet high. Landmans Creek, the principal stream, flows south through near the center. Rhinebeck
Kil is its tributary. Lake Sepasco is a small body of water in the northeast corner. The soil is principally a
fine quality of sandy loam. The name is compounded from Rhine, in Germany, from whence the early settlers came,
and the first syllable of the word Beekman. It was originally spelled Rhinebeck, which confirms the statement that
the origin of the word is as given above, although some antiquarians hold that it was named after Rhinebeck in
Germany, it being the custom of the early emigrants to perpetuate the names of places in the "Fader Land"
by bestowing them on localities in the new, and thus keeping alive the tender memories of bygone days. Rhinebeck
Precinct, as formed Dec. 16th, 1737, included the lands purchased of Widow Paulding and her children by Dr. Samuel
Staats; all the land granted to Adrain, Roosa., and Cotbe; land patented by Col. Henry Beekman, June 5, 1703; and
the land granted to Col. Peter Schuyler, called the Magdalen Island Purchase. Among the first families were those
named Kip, Beekman, Sipperly, Pink, Schmidt, Shoptown, Elseffer, &c.
The first land purchased in the town of Rhinebeck, of which we have any record, was that bought by Jacobus and
Hendrick Kip, of three Esopus Indians, in the year r686. The following is a copy of the deed:
We the underwritten Ankony, one of ye Esopus Indians, and Anamaton and Calycoon, one of the Esopus Sachems, do
acknowledge to have received of Henry Kip, of Kingstown, full satisfaction for a parcel of land lying over [opposite]
the Redout [Rondout] against the Redoubt Kill [Rondout Creek] on the north side of Arian Roosa on the river, which
is received by me Ankony, Anamaton and Calycoon in full satisfaction for the above said lands. In witness hereof
have hereunto set our marks this 28th day of July, 1686.
The mark of w Ankony.
The mark of (.) Anamaton
The mark of u Calycoon.
June 21, 1688, a confirmatory title to Kipsburgh Manor was granted by his excellency Gov. Dengan to Garrett Artson,
Adrian Roosa, John Eking, Hendrick and Jacobus Kip. The original deed is in possession of William Bergh Kip, who
resides on a portion of the lands conveyed by this deed, and is one of the descendants of Henry Kip. He has likewise
the will of Hendricus Hermance, Rynbeck precinct, dated March 23d, 1750, devising four farms, probably in the upper
part of Red Hook.
Kip owned the property along the river west of Landmans Kill up as far as a certain oak tree standing near the
track of the Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad. Jacob Kip, a very old man, used to say that an Indian was painted
on the tree. An old resident says he remembers when the only houses were the old stone house near Noxon's shop,
called the State Prison; next where Mrs. Staats lives; next a stone house where John Williams lives, which was
kept as a hotel. Another house near by was occupied by Benj. Fredenburgh, who kept the town poor.
About seventeen years subsequent to the date of the above deed conveying lands to Hendrick Kip, a Patent was granted
to Col. Henry Beekman by Queen Anne, including the territory already occupied by Kip. Undoubtedly Beekman had sufficient
influence with the Crown to secure for himself the coveted Rhinebeck Flats, notwithstanding others had acquired
a previous title. There are receipts and other documents to show that Beekman made some arrangements with the former
proprietors after he obtained the patent. We insert the copy of a receipt, which shows how the small land owners
were swallowed up by the patentees and other great land proprietors; and also that the former were forced to pay
a rent to the latter for the whole time they occupied the soil, in addition to having their lands wrested from
A receipt of 52 bushels of wheat making the amount of 370 bushels of wheat being the arrears of 37 years due to
his majesty to the rear 1725, for Quit Rent of a Patent granted June 2, 1688, to Colonel Peter Schuyler, lying
in Duchess County, consisting of two tracts of land, the one near Magdalen Island, and the other at the Long Reatch
on the south side of a place called Poghkeepsie, which quantity of 370 bushels of wheat I acknowledge to have received
in full for the above mentioned purpose. Witness my hand this 4th day of October, 1727.
ARCHD. KENNEDY, Rec'r. Gen'l.
William Beekman was the ancestor of this Beekman family, and was first a resident of New York City. His name is
perpetuated by two streets, William and Beekman. He came from Holland in the same vessel with Stuyvesant, at the
age of twenty one. Full of strong, healthy life, and ambition, he employed his leisure in searching for a spot
to invest his money for he had not come empty handed from abroad. He finally purchased a tract on Corlear's Hook,
and shortly afterward fell in love with the pretty blue eyed Ca' herine Von Boogh. In the course of years he rose
to distinction. At one time he was vice director of the colony on the Delaware, and at another time was Sheriff
at Esopus. He was nine years a. burgomaster of New Amsterdam. In 1670 he bought a farm stretching along the East
River for a great distance. His orchard lay upon a side hill running down to the swamp which was called Cripple
Bush, and through which Beekman Street now passes. He had five sons, and only one daughter, Maria. This daughter
married Nicholas William Stuyvesant, a son of the Governor.
Col. Henry Beekman was one of the rive sons. He died in 1737, leaving three children: - Henry Beekman, Jun. Cornelia,
wife of Gilbert Livingston; and Catherine, who married John Rutsen for her first husband, and afterwards Albert
Pawling. She left two children. Col. Henry Beekman died intestate it is supposed, and the property was divided
among his heirs. The partition agreement was dated August 30th, 1737. He was at one time Judge of Court of Common
Pleas in Ulster county.
Henry Beekman, Jun., had one daughter, Margaret, who married Robert Livingston. They had four sons and six daughters,
viz.: Janet, Robert R., Margaret, Henry B., Catherine, John R., Gertrude, Joanna, Alda, and Edward.
Janet, the eldest, born 1743, married Major General Richard Montgomery. To her was devised, by will of her mother
Margaret, the land on which Rhinebeck village His situated. At her death, Janet devised a portion to her brother'
Edward, and the remaining part to the Rhinebeck Improvement Company. This company consisted of Rutsen Sucklev,
Freeborn Garrettson, John T. Schryver, William B. Platt, and: Walter Cunningham, who divided it among themselves.
Major General Richard Montgomery was the youngest son of Thomas Montgomery, M. P., for Lifford. He was born on
the 2nd of December, 1736, at Convoy House, his father's seat near Raphoe, county of Donegal, Ireland; received
his education at Trinity College, Dublin; entered the army as Ensign in the 17th Regiment of Foot, on the 2 ist
of August, 1756, and landed at Halifax, with that regiment, on the third of June, 1757.
In the following year he served under Wolfe at the siege of Louisbourg, and with such distinction that he was immediately
promoted to a Lieutenancy. After the fall of that place, the 17th Regiment formed part of the force sent in 1759,
with Amherst, to reduce the French forts on Lake Champlain, and Montgomery became Adjutant of his regiment on the
15th of May, 1760, in which year it formed part of the army that advanced from Lake Champlain against Montreal,
under the command of Colonel Haviland.
One calm summer evening he stood on the shore of Lake Champlain, gazing out upon the beautiful expanse of water.
Before him was the girdled lake, studded with islands, affording a most romantic and picturesque prospect. As the
poetic feeling kindled his dark eye, he little thought of the destiny that awaited him; that in the full strength
of manhood, he was to lead over those very waters a band of freemen, and fall foremost in freedom's battle.
He served in the West Indies in, 1762, on the 5th of May of which year he was promoted to be Captain. After returning
to New York, he went back to Ireland in 1767. He retired from the service in 1772, and returned to America in January,
1773; in July following he married Janet, the daughter of Justice Livingston, and settled at Rhinebeck, where he
devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. In April, 1775, he was elected one of the delegates, from this county
to the first Provincial Congress at New York, and in June following was appointed Brigadier General by the Continental
Congress, and at once set out at the head of an expedition against Canada. After reducing St. Johns, Chambly and
Montreal, he effected a junction with Arnold before the walls of Quebec, where he gloriously fell at the head of
his men on the 31st of December, 1775, in the 40th year of his age, having been shot through both his thighs and
through his head.
A day or two previous to leaving for Canada, he with his wife went to pay a parting visit to the occupants of the
place near Rhinebeck, afterwards occupied by his brother in law, Peter R. Livingston. As he was walking on the
lawn, in the rear of the mansion, he thrust a little willow whip into the earth, and playfully remarked that they
must preserve that to remember him by. That whip grew into a tree, and it is yet standing, having attained a growth
of more than ten feet in circumference, and is known to this day as "Montgomery's. Willow."
In his determination to join the army he met with no opposition from his wife. She was all for her country, emulating
the Spartan mother in her patriotic zeal. She accompanied her husband as far north as Saratoga, when she received
the last kiss, and heard the last words from the lips of her beloved companion. "You never shall bave cause
to blush for your Montgomery," he said to her, and nobly did he vindicate his word.
Edward Livingston used to relate some reminiscences relative to the parting scenes of the General and his wife.
He was then a mere boy, and accompanied his sister (Mrs. Montgomery) to the residence of General Schuyler in Saratoga.
The evening previous to Montgomery's departure, they, the General, his wife, and Edward, were sitting in a room
together. Montgomery was sitting between the other two, in his military dress; his wife was gazing; thoughtfully
into the fire place, as if reading the future. Suddenly he broke out, as in a dream, in the words of the poet:
"'Tis a mad world. my masters;
I once thought so, now I know it."
Said Edward, "the tones, the words, and the circumstances overawed me; and I soon withdrew from the apartment.
Often have. I since reflected upon those words, uttered by that, young soldier, and wondered whether he may have
had at that moment some prophetic vision of his future destiny."
Margaret, second daughter of Robert and Margaret Livingston, married Dr. Thomas Tillotson (Surgeon General of U.
S. Army, and Sec. of State of N. Y.), in 1779, and died in Rhinebeck, in 1823, at the age of seventy five years,
leaving several children.
Mr. Tillotson invited Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, a prominent Methodist clergyman, to preacb at Rhinebeck, and who
passed several weeks at his house as a guest. Tillotson's sister in law, Catherine Livingston, was there on a visit
at the same time. A friendship grew up between them, which ended in marriage in 1793. Six years after the marriage
they purchased a place on the banks of the Hudson, near Rhinebeck Station, erected a mansion, and named it "Wildercliff."
It was built in accordance with the simple tastes of the proprietor. Rev. Mr. Garrettson was a leader among the
Methodists in the latter part of the last century. When he left the Church of England, in which he had been educated,
the Methodists were despised in most places. He was a native of Maryland, and being convinced of the sinfulness
of slavery, he gave his slaves their freedom. He rreached everywhere, and was fearless in the denunciation of what
he believed to be error, and strenuous in upholding what he believed to be right. On one occasion, a mob had seized
him after the delivery of one of his pointed sermons, and was taking him to prison by order of the magistrate,
when a flash of lightning dispersed them, leaving him unmolested. In 1788 he was appointed Presiding Elder over
the churches in the district extending from Long Island Sound to Lake Champlain, a distance of two hundred miles.
Probably no house in the world has ever had within it so many Methodist preachers as this one at Wildercliff, from
the most humble member to Bishop Asbury; for the doors of Mr. Garrettson and bis wife were open to all.
Mrs. Garrettson wrote in 1799: "Our house being nearly finished, in October we moved into it. The first night
we spent in family prayer. While my blessed husband was dedicating it to the Lord, the place was filled by His
presence, who, in days of old, filled the temple with His glory Every heart rejoiced and felt that God was with
us of a truth. Such was our introduction to our new habitation, and have we not reason to say, with Joshua of old,
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord?' "
Says Mrs. Olin: "It was a home for the Lord's people; strangers were welcomed as brethren; and many a weary
itinerant has rested there as in the Palace Beautiful. Relatives and fiends came to the house year after year,
and enjoyed delightful interchange of thought and feeling with Christians of different denominations. How many
who have enjoyed the genial hospitality of this house will recall the dignified form of the hostess, with her marked
features, her soft hazel eye, the brown hair parted under the close fitting cap with its crimped muslin border,
and the neatly fitting dress, always simple, yet always becoming."
No one could imagine that this was the gay young lady that had been asked for in the dance by General Washington.
She outlived nearly all of her sisters and brothers. Mr. Garrettson was seized with a sudden illness at the home
of a friend of his in New York, in 1327, which resulted in a speedy death. Mrs. Garrettson survived him more than
twenty years. In 1849, in her 97th year, she started on a visit to her sister in law, Mrs. Edward Livingston, at
Montgomery Place, where she was taken suddenly ill, and died on the 14th of July.
The mansion at Wildercliff is now occupied by Miss Mary Garrettson, a daughter of the clergyman. She has more than
reached the three score and ten years allotted to mankind; yet she has all her mental faculties in full play, and
she continues to bestow the generous hospitality for which the house was anciently noted. She maintains two Methodist
ministers in her household, one of whom has a wife and two children with him. She says the house has never been
other than a Methodist parsonage. We subjoin two or three incidents connected with the history of her ancestors,
which we do not remember to have seen in print, as received from her lips.
Some time in the season of 1777, a sloop came down the river, having on board a British officer, severely wounded.
When opposite the residence of Mrs. Robert Livingston, a messenger was sent ashore, to ask permission of Mrs. Livingston
for the wounded officer to be brought into her house, as he could not bear being carried farther on the sloop.
The good lady assented, charitable even towards a fallen foe; and the officer was brought on shore, attended only
by his physician. Weeks elapsed before he became convalescent; but at last he rallied sufficiently to walk about.
This was about the time that Burgoyne on the north and Clinton on the south we e threatening the country bordering
the Hudson. Many of the Whigs along that river had engaged houses farther inland, in momentary expectation of being
forced to fly for safety. Their consternation was still greater when Vaughan set out up the Hudson on his ever
memorable marauding voyage.
Many of their dwellings were fired upon, and not a few set on fire. As they approached the mansion where the wounded
British soldier was quartered, the surgeon proposed that the officer be put into it, and then represent to the
invaders that he could not be removed without greatly endangering his life, and in this way the house might be
saved from destruction. "No," said the owner of the property, "never shall it be said that my bouse
was saved by having a British officer within it." The soldiery applied the torch, and the mansion was soon
Another incident: an ancestor of hers, a young girl, lived with her parents on Long Island, at a time when there
were comparatively few white people there. One day a squaw was tempted to pilfer some peaches growing on the premises
of a white settler; she was detected by the owner, who shot and killed her. This act caused a general uprising
of the savages, who determined on revenge, yet kept their purpose a secret from their white neighbors. The parents
of the girl had occasion to go to New York about this time, taking her along with them. When ready to return, the
girl showed a desire not to return. When asked for her reason, she replied she had a vague feeling of horror, as
though some evil would befall her if she did not remain where she was. She was suffered to remain, and the parents
returned home. That night the savages massacred the whole white population of the settlement. The girl's premonition
saved her life.
Once her great grandfather, Henry Beekman, when a boy, was playing with some Indian lads near a sand bank. Henry
]eft the place before the others did; and soon afterward the bank fell in, burying all the little Indians under
it. As they did not come home, the Indian parents began to search for them. Unable to ascertain their whereabouts,
they began to accuse Henry of having foully dealt with them, as they were last seen in his company. He told them
that when he last s uw the Indian boys they were playing near the sand bank, and on going there saw the bank had
fallen. They commenced digging. and the bodies of the missing ones were found.
A little above the residence of Miss Garrettson stands the ancient grove, distinguished in the annals of the Methodist
Church as having been the scene of camp meetings, such as were held when Rev. Freeborn Garrettson and bis cotemponries
were on the stage of action. We passed tbrough it as the shades of evening were creeping over the landscape and
paused a moment among the grand old trees that "oft have listened to the voice of song and praise" of
the pioneer Methodists. Within these limits many a weary soul has been led to that fount from whence flows eternal
life. Here hundreds have gathered, from near and from far, to listen to the preached word. Here many a word has
been dropped, wbose influence has gone out into the world, and will continue to act as long as time lasts.
The Methodist Church at Rhinebeck was erected in 1822, Rev. Freeborn Garrettson contributing largely towards its
erection. His monument stands in the graveyard attached to, this church.
Gertrude, also a sister of the Cbancellor, was born in 1757, and married Governor Morgan Lewis. He was at the bloody
battle of Stillwater; led the van of the attack against Johnson and Brant at Klock's Field, on the banks of the
Mohawk; was Attorney General of the State of New York, and afterwards Governor. He may be said to have been the
founder or the common school system. He was President of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1838 to the time of
his death, which occurred in 1844, in the Goth year of age. His wife died in 1837.
Joanna Livingston, born in 1759, married the great politician, Peter R. Livingston. He passed the greater part
of his life at Rhinebeck. It is on the farm occupied by him that Montgomery's Willow stands. Joanna died February,
1827. The Livingston family was a most remarkable one. All of the daughters married distinguished men; and the
sons occupied high positions. Writes Mrs. Montgomery of a family dinner party: "Never was a table so surrounded.
All the sisters were ardent politicians, of more than ordinary ability, who followed with intelligent appreciation
the public labors of their brothers and husbands."
John R. Livingston, a son cf Judge Livingston, married Margaret Sheaffe, in 1779. Margaret was greatly admired
by LaFayette. Said he to John R., while the latter was paying his addresses, "Were I not a married man, I
would try and cut you out." When he returned to his native France, he sent her a handsome present. John R.
was a merchant in New York; retiring from business he returned to his estate in Red Hook, now owned by the Aspinwall
Thus is given, in brief, a sketch of this most reniaikal family. We doubt if a parallel can be found in the annals
of the whole country.
Conspicuous among them was the lamented Montgomery, a man of genteel, manly, graceful address, and possessing the
love and confidence of the whole army. Congress voted a monument to his memory; and in 1818 his remains were taken
up and conveyed to New York, where they were deposited with the highest honors in St. Paul's Church.
The first church - Reformed Protestant German - was formed May 23d, 1724, at the present village of Monterey. This
was originally the village of Rhinebeck; what is now Rhinebeck being then called Rhinebeck Flats. The old church
edifice having been injured in a severe tornado, the structure was taken down and afterward built in the town of
Red Hook. The Lutheran Church at Monterey was formed in 1730. Fred. Henry Quitman, father of General Quitman, of
the Mexican War, was for several years pastor of this church. He was born in the Duchy of Cleves, Westphalia, 1760,
and died in 1832.
The Dutch Church at Rhinebeck Flats came into being simultaneously with the German Reformed at Monterey. John Benner
used to tell the following story: The first minister that preached in either church came from Germany. At first
he preached in both churches on the same day. The German Reformed Church at Monterey raised their full quota of
the salary. The Dutch Reformed at the Flats were short. Notwithstanding this, the minister preached the first sermon
in the latter church. At the close of the services, it is said, one Hendrick Heermance, probably one of the elders,
was in rap_ tures over the sermon; he urged the people to put their hands in their pockets and complete their portion
of the salary. The good people demurred, however, until they could hear him preach in a language they could understand
- the sermon having been delivered in German - a fact which Heermance had' not discerned before. Annexed is a copy
of deed by which Henry Beekman conveyed a tract of land on Rhinebeck Flats for the use of the church:
ATT the Request of Lowrens Oosterhout Jacob Kip and Wm. Traphagan and the Rest of the Inhabitants of the North.
Ward in Dutchess County. I have surveyed and laid out for them a certain tract or parcel of land being situate
and lying in Dutchess County aforesaid on the north side of a certain Creek called Lansmans Kill near the house
of Wm. Schut. Beginning at a stone putt in the ground on the north side of the said Creek from thence running North
twenty chains to a stone putt in the ground, then East one degree South, nineteen chains to a white oak saplin
marked; then South Twenty chains to the said Creek; then along the same as it winds and turns to the first station.
Bounded on the South by the Creek and on all other sides by Lands of Col. Henry Beekman - containing forty and
four acre two Quarters and thirty and three perches.
Performed this 26th day of August, 1730.
Per me-GER. VAN WAGENEN.
Henry Beekman also conveyed two acres of land at the same time, where the Dutch Church now stands, to the Inhabitants
of Rhinebeck who worshipped according to the profession of the Reformed Dutch Church of Holland, situated on the
"King's Highway" - afterward called the "New York and Albany Post Road" neither shall any person
sell any wines, rum, brandy, beer; cider, or other spirits, nor peddle, trade, nor carry on a merchandise upon
the hereby granted premises," - a requirement which has not been closely adhered to. Under this church lie
the remains of Henry Beekman, the donator of the land, and the sacred edifice is itself a monument to his:. memory.
The first house of worship was a wooden building. The present one was afterwards built, which has since been considerably
remodeled. Two sides are constructed of stone, and the other two of brick. It is said there was a diversity of
sentiment as to what the house was to be composed of - one: party wanting a brick and the other a stone house.
To effect a compromise, it was built of both stone and brick.
The Baptist Church at Rhinebeck was constituted July 4th, 1821. On the Sabbath previous, ten persons were baptized
by Elder Freeman Hopkins, of Northeast. On the day of organization four were baptized, who, with the other ten,
and five received by letter, composed the church. The following ministers and brethren were members of the council:-
Elders Hopkins and Buttolph, and brethren Philo M. Winchell and Nicholas Vosburgh, of Northeast; and Elder Jesse
Hartwell, and brethren Jonathan Smith, Sylvester and Asahel I)oud, of Sandisfield. Robert Scott, one of the constituent
members, was ordained at the same time, as their pastor. He continued to preach, in addition to teaching a valuable
school in the village, as long as his health permitted. Before his death, which took place Sept. 24th, 1834, at
the age of 74, he prepared an address to be read at his funeral. In the Spring of 1842 Isaac Bevan settled in this
village as a missionary in the employ of the County Association, and became pastor of the church.
When the old Dutch Church was rebuilt, a low wooden building stood there. When the steeple was pulled down, the
air was thick with bats. Below the church, where the mill was recently burned, stood the old grist mill put up
by Col. Henry Beekman, probably the first in the town. Near the stone bridge was formerly a toll gate, and the
road there was then known as the Delaware and Ulster Turnpike. A man named Hagadorn was gate keeper. Dr. Kiersted
lived in the William Teller house. Where Platt's store and adjacent buildings now stand was an apple orchard. Christian
Schell built the store, and his heirs sold it to W. B. Platt. Among the early settlers were Palatinates, who located
near Monterey or "Park's Grocery."
The oldest school in the place, in the recollection cf the present inhabitants, was that taught by Elder Robert
Scott, a Baptist, from England. The Algates, afterward prominent men of New York, were among his pupils. A Miss
Jones taught school in the lecture room of the Dutch Reformed Church, during the ministry of Dominie Hardenburgh.
Miss Jones had a "flare up" with the latter because of her breaking an engagement with him to teach his
There is a map in the Starr Institute, drawn 1797, which shows three Dutch Reformed Churches, one German Reformed,
two Lutheran, and one Methodist Church in Rhinebeck, which then included Red Hook. One of the Dutch Churches was
near Tivoli; another in Upper Red Hook, formed 1780; the other was in Rhinebeck village. There are now five Lutheran
Churches within these limits. There are also two Methodist Churches and three Chapels, against one in 1797; two
Baptist Churches and four Episcopal Parishes against none in 1797.
An old stone house on lands of Mrs. Huntington, probably the oldest in the village, was occupied some eighty years
ago as a pest house. "Crazy Gin" was an inmate of the town poor house, and was quite a character in her
way. In order to keep her within bounds, a heavy block and chain were attached to her ankle. She used to attend
church, and engage in prayer with the rest. Her petitions were always of a personal nature; mentioning each individual
by name, she would ask that good or evil might befall them, as they happened at that moment to have her good or
her Among the other relics in Rhinebeck is a cradle, over two hundred years old, in which several generations have
been rocked; also a powder horn, likewise supposed to be over zoo years old, and which was used at the battle of
The first substantial house built in the town, and probably the oldest now standing within the county, is the Heermance
House, situated about a mile from Rhinebeck Station. The old part of this building was erected, it is believed,
in the year 1700, and has stood therefore more than one and three fourths centuries. It has port holes under the
eaves, it having been used as a sort of fortress in early times, as a protection against the Indians. On a stone
in the rear of the house is the inscription - "J. & A. K., 1700" - supposed to be the initials of
the builders and the date of erection. As before stated, the Kips were living here, and had some sort of claim
to the land, before Beekman obtained his patent. The settlers first built log houses, eventually putting up more
substantial dwellings, as occasion offered. The Heermance house is composed of stone, and the brick for the chimneys
came from Holland. In 1703, Beekman acquired a title to the land bordering the river from Staatsburgh to Red Hook,
which of course included the stone house just mentioned. In this house resided Col. Henry Beekman, and afterward
his son Henry, and it is still occupied by descendants of the Beekman family. It is usually, spoken of in history
as the "Beekman House." The first sermon preached in this town was before a congregation assembled in
this stone dwelling.
Another house, interesting in its history, stands in the village of Rhinebeck. We refer to the Montgomery House
distinguished as having been occupied by Gent Richard Montgomery, and his wife from the time Of their marriage
until he left home to join the expedition against Quebec. The young couple were living in retirement in their plain
but comfortable cottage attending to the labors of their farm. The house then stood on the "King's Highway"
[the post road] a short distance north of the village; it has since been removed a short distance to the eastward
of its original location. As the cottage and its surroundings were hardly suited to their tastes and feelings,
they looked about for a suitable place to locate and build up an estate more in keeping with their aspirations.
They finally selected a tract of 400 acres, in what is now the town of Red Hook, the same on which the widow afterwards
built "Montgomery Place."
Undoubtedly the young couple held many an interesting conference in relation to their new home, and looked forward
with bright hopes to the time when their plans would all be perfected, and they permitted to enjoy their earthly
paradise. But an overruling Providence ordained that their companionship should cease ere their plans had been
fully matured. They were living in this little cottage when the tocsin of war was sounded, which brought our Revolutionary
army into the field. We can imagine the struggle in the mind of Montgomery, as he weighed the love and companionship
of his accomplished wife against his duty to his country. His decision was soon formed; nor did any sordid self
interest prompt her to turn him from his purpose. He might fall on the field of bloody strife; yet his services
were needed, and the call was answered. Their affairs were put in order, and the young general left for his command.
She accompanied him on his journey as far as was deemed advisable, and at the house of a friend at Saratoga, took
her last leave of him. In mid winter, before daylight, in the midst of a furious snow storm, he led his command
to attack. the Prescott Gate, at the foot of Cape Diamond. The vigilant captain of Canadian militia, in command
of a masked battery at that point, knew of the approach of the Americans. The latter were gallantly marching up,
expecting to take it by surprise, and when within fifty yards were met by a charge of grape, which swept their
column with terrible effect. General Montgomery, his aid McPherson, and Captain Cheeseman were instantly killed.
The rest, appalled at the slaughter, fled. The body of Montgomery was found in the snow by the enemy the same day,
was carried into the city, and buried within the walls that surrounded a powder magazine.
Though savoring strongly of the romantic, this chapter: would be incomplete without a mention of Capt. D'Hart's
War Horse. Some time ago, about seventy five or eighty years, when training days were regularly observed, and militia
officers were strutting about in their gay trappings, full of martial valor, there appeared a man of soldierly
bearing, who was familiarly known as Capt. D'Hart. But still more noteworthy was his war horse, a dapple gray,
of warlike spirit, who would have made his mark on the field of battle. The captain loved his horse as he did his
own soul, and truly he was a noble steed; and when in his war dress he pranced and curvetted about the parade ground,
he was the center of admiration.
As the animal advanced in years, the fire of his eye grew dim; his step became less buoyant, and his martial spirit
was quenched. At last he laid himself down and died, to the great grief of his master. Most persons would have
merely hitched a rope to the animal's neck, dragged him away to some secluded hollow, and there unceremoniously
put him out of their sight but not so did Captain D'Hart. He shocked the community by observing that horses had
souls as well as anybody, especially if they were good horses. He further declared his defunct war steed should
be clothed in his armor, and buried with military honors. Great preparations were made for the funeral ceremony.
Two or three companies of militia assembled, full plumed, each member wearing crape around his left arm. They formed
on each side of the vehicle on which reposed the body of the horse, and the procession moved forward to the sound
of martial music. Capt. D'Hart followed behind, in the capacity of chief mourner.
Arrived at the place of interment, the military surrounded the grave, and as the horse was being lowered into his
last resting place, the band played the "Dead March in Saul." A deep hole had been dug, into which the
animal was placed in a standing position. He was clad in all the gay trappings that were wont to grace his form
in the days of his strength: Solemnly the earth was closed over him; a mound was raised over the spot, and covered
with green turf. The race course wads after ward located near his grave; and it is often surmised that his ghost
still haunts the vicinity, and infuses a little of his old mettle into the equines gathered there. At an exhibition
of wax works in the village of Rhinebeck, some two or three years since, D'Hart's war horse appeared to the audience,
clad in his armor; and so life like did he seem, that some were almost ready to admit he had really broke away
from the grave, and was present to their senses.
The Starr Institute, already referred to, is an elegant structure, standing in the village of Rhinebeck, which
is used as a public library; tree reading room, and for other kindred purposes. For this noble institution, the
people of Rhinebeck are largely indebted to Mrs. Mary R. Miller, who donated the building, and contributed a large
proportion of the books. The experiment of a free reading room, and a circulating library at a small subscription
price was first tried; and the success of the effort encouraged the erection of a commodious edifice. April 18th,
1862, an act passed the Legislature incorporating the Starr Institute; and on the 24th of July following, Wm. Kelly
was elected President, Theophilus Gillender, Sec., and N. W. H. Judson, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees. The
Stan Institute property consists of real and personal property connected with the building. The lot on which it
stands was conveyed by Mrs. Miller, the deed bearing date of May loth, 1862. The property was purchased, building
erected and furnished at a cost of $15,000.
Opposite Rhinebeck Station is the old Kingston Landing, where the three thousand British troops went ashore. That
port was the port of Kingston until within a few years, and the New York and Albany boats used to stop there; but
the thriving village at the mouth of Rondout Creek caused it to be abandoned. In 1614 the Dutch traders built a
redoubt at Rondout [corruption of redoubt] Creek. Kingston was first called Wiltwyck, or Wild Indian Town, and
its inhabitants were dispersed by the Indians. Another settlement soon followed, but the natives soon drove them
off. In 1660 a treaty of peace was concluded which promised quiet to the settlers. But the wrath of the Indians
was soon kindled against one Mr. Stuyvesant, who had sold some of their number as slaves, and war broke out about
three years afterward. Some of the red men came into the fort, in June, 1663, ostensibly to trade. At a concerted
signal they fell upon the white people, murdered eighteen of them, and carried away forty two captives. The out
settlements were all destroyed. A destructive war ensued, and the Indians were expelled from the fort. Nine days
afterward a reinforcement came front New Amsterdam, when the savages were pursued and almost exterminated. In the
Autumn they returned all the captives but one, and sued for peace.
Isaac F. Russell, the venerable postmaster at Rhinebeck Station, related some facts connected with the early settlers
of this vicinity. His father, Isaac Russell, was from Sherborne, Mass., and was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary
army. His captain was killed at the battle of Saratoga, when Russell was promoted to that office. One Ames was
a captain of the Athol company, and a friendship sprung up between the two young officers, that lasted through
life. They were employed to assist in guarding Burgoyne's captive troops when they were marched through our County
to Fishkill. They stopped and encamped one night in the vicinity of Staatsburgh, and were so charmed with the country
that they mutually agreed if their lives were spared, they would locate there after the war was over. This they
afterwards did, taking up some of the most desirable land in that quarter. Russell also took an active part in
the suppression of Shay's rebellion, and used to relate many entertaining incidents connected with that event.
Our informant said the first meeting he ever attended was held in the Lamoree house, near Staatsburgh. An itinerant
M. E. Minister preached there. He, while a mere lad, went in company with Morgan Lewis, to the soldiers' encampment
at Greenbush, during the war of 1812. Lewis was Commissary General of the troops quartered there. Russell was a
member off the Board of Supervisors contemporaneous with J. M. Ketcham, of Dover, James Duane Livingston, of Hyde
Park: Henry A. Livingston, of Poughkeepsie, and Daniel Toffey of Pawling.