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


UNION VALE was formed from Beekman and "Freedom," (now LaGrange) March 1st, 1827. Its surface is hilly and broken upland, divided into two parts by a broad valley, which extends north and south through the centre. The Clove Kil, a tributary of the Fishkill, flows southwest through the town. Slate crops out upon the summits and declivities of the hills. The soil is a gravelly and slaty loam. An extensive iron mine near the Clove post-office supplies the Beekman Furnace, two miles farther south. Henricus Beekman, the patentee, conveyed 1,000 acres in this vicinity to his son Henry, in 1716, and settlement is supposed to have commenced soon after. Verbank, Oswego Village, Clove, Crouse Store, Mansfield, and Pleasant Ridge, are hamlets.

Families by the name of Potter, Livingston, Hall, Emigh, Wilkinson, Cline, Able, Reed, Morey, and Uhl, settled in Union Vale at an early period. James Skidmore, Adam and Daniel Crouse, and John Mosher moved in at an early date. Half a century ago, a union meeting house stood on the road leading from Union Vale to Beekmanville, near the location of the old union burying ground, which was probably the first church built in this immediate vicinity. It was a plain, old fashioned structure, of medium size, with no gallery.

The Christian denomination is quite numerous and influential in this town. A neat and commodious house of worship has been recently built. They formerly worshiped in an old church under the mountain, which was torn down when the present one was erected. Albert Hall and Joseph M. Cutler contributed largely towards its erection. Near this church is a beautiful rural cemetery. There are several fine monuments, and a family vault upon the grounds. It is elegantly laid out; a miniature artificial lake is enclosed within its limits; all of which adds to the natural beauties of the location. The monument of Albert Hall is a piece of fine mechanism, the design of which is one of his own selection. Another monument will be erected to the memory of Joseph M. Cutler at a cost of $2600. Cutler was largely interested in the mining interests of the town, in which he acquired great wealth.

James Skidmore was an early settler, who built the mill and old house near Crouse Store. He owned. a large tract of land in the vicinity. The mill is one of the oldest in the town.

On Pleasant Ridge is an old dwelling with its siding composed of shingles, built by Nicholas Baker. It is somewhat remarkable from the fact that all the nails used in its construction were made by himself, on the anvil. He was a blacksmith, and made the nails during the evenings, after the regular work of the day was over. He was also a merchant; the building he used for a store is still standing we believe. It was his custom, when about to take a trip to New York for goods - which he only undertook once or twice a year - to prepare his bed, and a stock of provisions to last several days, which he had to take with him, as the sloop did not board passengers in those days. After a deal of preparation, he would be conveyed to Poughkeepsie, take his bed and provisions on board the sloop, and then was often forced to submit to a long and tedious passage. Several days would elapse before he would again set foot in Poughkeepsie, and then all the goods were conveyed in wagons over the rough roads to the top of Simpson Hill.

Another character who flourished in these parts was Caleb Simpson, after whom the hill is named. He came in here, and, much to the regret of the people, started a low groggery. Some of the leading men of the neighborhood went to him and besought him not to sell any liquor, but to no avail. To Nicholas Baker, who was more earnest in his appeals than the rest, he said, "I shall yet live to sell liquor in your house." Years passed away. Simpson was finally reduced to poverty, and went away, and a few years afterward died a pauper. He was brought back and buried in a little graveyard, which may still be seen, on Simpson Hill. The funeral procession passed the house of Baker, who, happening to be looking out of the window at the moment, inquired who was dead. On being told it was his old neighbor, Caleb Simpson, he recalled the remark made by the latter years before, and said "he guessed Old Simpson would not be able to fulfill his threat to sell liquor in his house quite yet."

Years ago, some parties from Connecticut were in this vicinity searching after tidings of a pedlar. He had not returned home at the usual time, after making a trip, and his friends, becoming alarmed, started to look for him. They, by diligent inquiry along the road, tracked him all the way to Simpson's, and there they lost all trace of him. He was seen to go there, but was never seen to go away. Some time afterwards, his wagon was found in the woods, about a mile from Simpson's, and which was completely rifled of its contents. Sufficient proof could not be obtained to convict any one of the crime, though certain parties were strongly suspicioned.

Some years since, a man by the name of Lee, we believe, was suddenly missing from this vicinity. Some supposed he had gone into other parts without mentioning the matter to any one; but others thought his sudden disappearance very strange. Some time afterwards, as one Henry Harrington was upon his death bed, and almost with his last breath, undertook to make a confession of a murder. He expired before all the details had been disclosed; but sufficient information was gathered to establish the fact that about the time of the disappearance of Lee, Harrington, in company with another man, were each driving a mule team between Beekman Furnace and Poughkeepsie; that they were returning from. one of their trips by the upper road, passing by Crouse Store; that on their way the said Lee got in to ride with them, and they, being full of liquor, killed him for his money. They procured a shoe-box at the store, put the dead man into it, and hid it away in what is still known as the Factory Woods, just in the edge of Union Vale, above the furnace pond. Harrington's companion soon fled the country, and he kept the secret to himself until he was induced, at the very thresh-hold of eternity, to divulge the crime. About the time of the disappearance of Lee, two young girls were rambling in these woods, when they suddenly came upon a man who was sitting by a pile of fresh earth. He was one of the mule drivers above mentioned. The girls wondered what the fresh dirt meant, but never thought of the matter again until years afterwards, when the confession of Harrington brought it to remembrance.

Many years ago in this town, while a number of men were excavating for the purpose of making a new road, they came upon a quantity of human bones, which had apparently been thrown promiscuously together, and left there to decay. No one could recollect, not even the "oldest inhabitant," of any person or persons having been buried there. It is supposed an Indian battle occurred on this ground, and that friend and foe were buried together, and left to rot.

Verbank Station is located on the line of the Duchess and Columbia Railroad. It is at the intersection of the main highway between the Clove, so rich with immense beds of irow are, and the beautiful region of Washington Hollow. On a knoll, a few rods from the station, is a schoolhouse and an antiquated church; and on another, a rural cemetery. Where only a few years ago were green, open meadows, bordering 4 crystal stream, a little village has sprung up. Verbank Pillage lies about three-fourths of a mile from the station. It is located upon the verdant banks of Sprout Creek, from which it takes its name. Formerly a cotton mill and a paper mill were operated here by the water power furnished by that stream. A flour, grist, and plaster mill is now in operation here.

Quaker City, or Oswego,* as formerly called, is below Verbank, about one mile east of Moores Mills Station, on the Dachess and Columbia Road. Here is located a Hicksite Church and a boarding school. The latter was established by the Quakers after the Nine Partners School had closed, and was a flourishing institution under their charge. It was afterwards purchased by private parties, by whom it is now' managed. It is situated on an eminence, surrounded by enchanting rustic scenery, and by a rich farming country. Its retired situation makes it eminently suitable for children, where they avoid the many temptations incident to large villages and cities.

* The origin of this name was thus told the writer:An Indian and his squaw were once going rip a winding path in the vicinity. buth the worse from having hubbed two much pow whiskey, As they traveled on, reeling against each other? they would antiaulate "Us we go, Us we go."

The Factory Woods derive that name from the fact that a woolen factory was formerly established on the adjacent stream just above the furnace pond. The factory was not designed for the manufacture of cloth, but merely for carding and spinning. A fulling mill was established here at the same time.

Some years ago, a widow named Odell, living in the town of Union Vale, picked up near Pleasant Ridge a silver Spanish dollar, and the question as to how it came there raised considerable comment at the time. Afterward, her son, in passing over the mountain, found another coin of the same kind. Report of the discovery spread among the people of that section, and excited them to the extent that they repaired to the spot with picks and shovels, and began to search for treasure that was supposed to be hidden there. All day Saturday and Sunday they pursued their investigations. At sundown on Sunday, as they stopped work, it was mutually agreed to desist from further explorations until daylight the following morning. Some parties, however, were so anxious after the treasure, that they broke over the agreement, and dug away with might and main all night. About sixteen Spanish dollars in all were found. Old settlers tell the story of a foreigner who visited these parts about fifty years ago, who stopped but a short time, and his final disappearance was so sudden as to cause general remark. At the time there was a hotel on the mountain, kept by George Wait, and the building is still standing. The supposition is that the foreigner buried his money in the mountain, and it has washed out of its bed. In no other way can the presence of money in this lonely place be accounted for.

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