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


WASHINGTON.
POPULATION, 3,000. - SQUARE ACRES, 36,648.

WASHINGTON was formed March 7, 1788. The origin of its name is obvious. It is mostly comprised within the Great Nine Partners Tract. Stanford was taken off in 1793. The surface is a rolling and hilly upland. Slate crops out on the hills, and water worn pebbles are thickly strewn over a small portion of the surface. The principal elevations are Muckle Hill, Molly Mountain, Plymouth Hill, and Canoe Hill. The last named is so called because of its resemblance to an inverted canoe. Round and Shaw Ponds form the source of Wappingers Creek. Millbrook (formerly Harts Village) is a flourishing place. The first mill in the town was erected here about the year 1760. Mabbettsville, named from James Mabbett, a former proprietor, and originally called Filkintown,* is two miles east of Millbrook. Mechanic, a short distance below the latter, is celebrated as being the place where the noted Nine Partners Boarding School was located. Little Rest is in the southeast part of the town. An old resident told the writer that many years ago, a young man hired out to a farmer in the vicinity. The farmer worked him late at night, and routed him early in the morning; and seemed determined to get all the work out of the fellow that was possible. The young man complained of his treatment to some of his friends, exclaiming, with an oath, that it was very "little rest" he ever got while living with his employer. The locality has ever since retained the name. Lithgow, Washington Hollow, and Washington Four Corners, are hamlets.
* It is said that Filkin. one of the orignal proprietors, caused the place to be named after him by the present of a barrel of rum.

Examination by Captain Patel Rycaut, taken at Poughkeepsie, Oct. 7, 1771. Serg't Cassedy's account of the ill treatment he Received from Jonathan Mead the Blacksmith and Timothy Driskill at the Nine Partners when on Command after Deserters September the 3oth, 1761.

That on the 29th day of September Lieut. Lyons detached him and a Serg't of the 55th with ten men in pursuit of three deserters from the r7th Regiment, which he had information were concealed by the Inhabitants of the Nine Partners, when he with the Command came to a place called the City (In the Town of Amenia.) he was informed that one McIntosh, a Deserter from the 55th Regiment was at work for Mr. Bokay a Justice of the Peace, near the above mentioned place, he thought it necessary to send the Serg't of the 55th in pursuit of said Deserter, and himself with a Corporal and three men to continue the route to nine Partners, when he parted from the Serg't of the 55th he gave him Lieut. Colonel Darby's orders and pass which he had received from Lieut. Lyons. As soon as he came to the nine Partners he was informed that three men whose names they said were Charles Lee, John Brevington and Joseph Roberts (whom he knew to be deserters from the 17th Regiment) had been lately at Sutherland's Mills. Asked a Blacksmith if he could inform them of any Deserters, he answered he knew of none, and if he did he would not tell the Serg't then proceeded to the Mills and enquired from Mr. Sutherland, (who he was told is an officer of the militia,) if he had seen three men pass that way, he said that he had seen three men there about four days ago, and that he had given them change for some Dollars, and likewise that one of them (which the Serge's knew by the description to be Charles Lee, one of the Deserters above mentioned) had a great number of Dollars in a handkerchief, and wanted to change Dollar for Dollar with the said Sutherland, he giving none of a later date than 1755 - this made ye Serg't conclude that Lee had coined the Dollars - the Serg't afterward came to the house of one Freeman who told him that three men, naming the three Deserters names, viz: Charles Lee, John Brevington and Joseph Roberts had been four days near his house carousing, and had left it about five day since, when they went away they stole a coat from him; the said Freeman next day went with the Serg't in pursuit of the Deserters, on their way they were informed that a Deserter from the 55th Reg't was married to the daughter of Timothy Driskill whose house was in their road, when they came to Driskill's house he told the Serg't he knew of no Deserters. That it was false whoever had told him that his daughter was married to one - as the Serg't had been told that Driskill was a man of bad character and did knowingly entertain Deserters, he secured said Driskill who then confessed that his daughter was married to a Deserter from the 55th, and that he knew of one Armstrong from Sage's light Infantry, and would assist him in taking them. After the Serg't had settled with Driskill in what manner they were to act he with one man of his party went to a house a little distance from the Driskills, and after they were got into bed the above mentioned Mead a Blacksmith with alout thirty other people forced into the house and dragged the Serg't and Allan Cooper a Grenadier into different rooms and beat them in a most cruel manner, saying D__n the king and all such raschally fellows that were after Deserters, and after they were tired of beating them kept them prisoners all night without having any proper authority for it, the next morning Samuel Smith a Constable and likewise an officer of the militia, came to them and said that he had a warrant to take him the Serg't and his party before a Justice of the Peace, the Serg't then directed him to the house where the rest of the party were also secured and with him carried before Justice Roswell Hopkins, who abusei them very much saying Lieut. Lyons his officer, and he deserved both to he hanged, and uttered many abusive expressions, and would not even suffer them to say anything in defense, but committed them unheard to the Common Goal, nor would the Justice take the least cognizance of their information against Driskill for concealing Deserters, nor of Mead the Blacksmith leading a posse breaking into the house where they lay, beating them in a most terrille manner, and using ye traitorous expressions he did against the King's Sacred Majesty. By what information I could collect from the inhabitants, those of the nine Partners are a riotous people and Levellers by principle.
PAUL RYCAUT, Captain.

To Lieut. Colonel JOHN DERBY.
The Nine Partners Boarding School was established in 1796, at Mechanic, by the society of friends. A farm of one hundred acres was attached to it, and it was provided with a cash endowment of $10,000. For many years it had an average attendance of one hundred pupils. Jacob Willetts was the first pupil of the school, and was connected with it, either in the capacity of pupil or teacher, for a period of thirty years or more. The school building was originally built for a dwelling house; Samuel Sweet was the builder. It was a large and commodious edifice, and well adapted to the purpose. The society purchased the building, and the lot on which it stood, of Samuel Mabbett. They afterward made some additions to it, and also some changes in its interior.

Jacob Willetts was the first teacher that was educated in the school. Tripp Mosher was the first Superintendent, and Joseph Talcott the second. Willetts commenced teaching when he was eighteen years of age; his wages were taken up by his father. The day he was twenty one he stepped into the Superintendent's office, and speaking in a manly tone, said - "you may make your entries in my name now, sir, if you please." A gentleman by the name of Huntington was teacher one or two years.

Willetts married Deborah Rogers, descendant, in a direct line, of John Rogers of early colonial history. She, too, was first a pupil in the school, and afterward became teacher. She taught most of the time from 1802 until the Separation. This occasioned so much feeling that the school was nearly broken up, and Willetts and his wife went to Nantucket, where they remained about five years. They returned in 1832, and opened a private boarding school in the spring of the following year. He taught there two years, when he was requested to go back to the Nine Partners School. He accepted, at the same time engaging a man to teach his own school, to which he soon afterwards returned. He traveled summers and taught winters until about the year 1853, when he gave up teaching.

The fame of the Nine Partners Boarding School while Willetts had charge of it extended far and wide. But what brought his name still more prominently before the public was the fact of his writing some text books for schools, which at that time were considered the best extant. The first edition of "Willetts' arithmetic" was published in 1813. Paraclete Potter, the old bookseller of Poughkeepsie, was the publisher. Willetts took his manuscript to him, uncertain as to its fate. Potter looked over the pages, saw there was true merit in them, and readily offered to become publisher; and furthermore, made a payment of $20 in books. Mrs. Willetts said to the writer, that when her husband returned with all those books, she felt the richest she ever did in her life. This arithmetic was extensively used throughout the country, and passed through several editions. There are many a prosperous merchant and business man now living, who received their first lessons in the deparment of figures from Willett's arithmetic. The work was afterwards revised by Augustus McCord, of LaGrange. Willetts afterward issued a geography and atlas, the most accurate of any then known.

The beloved widow of Jacob Willetts is still [1876] living at a very advanced age, and is enjoying the eventide of a useful life under the tender care of her daughter, Mrs. Franklin T. Carpenter. It was recently the fortune of the writer to spend an hour with her; her cheerful countenance, and her sprightly recital of events occurring in the dim past, will long the remembered. Among other things that contribute to cheer the old lady's walk in life, not the least are the little mementoes she continues to receive from time to time, from people eminent in the varied professions, who received their early education - and perhaps the lofty inspiration that led to their success - at the schools of which she and her husband were the guiding stars. She holds these little tokens as giving her far more satisfaction than if they were of shining gold.

Some of the readers of this volume, who were pupils in the Nine Partners School, will doubtless recall the shining countenance of Esther, the colored cook, and also the ebony visage of her consort, Emanuel Carman, who figured as a man of all work. She used to "haul him over the coals," so to speak, after the manner of a notalle housewife, when he did net demean himself according to her standard of propriety. The cut of the school building, here given, is taken from memory, but is believed to present quite a correct idea of its appearance.

William Thorn, great grandfather of the present owner of Thorndale, was one of the first settlers of Nine Partners. He was a merchant and large landholder. He also owned considerable land in the State of Vermont. It consisted of bounty lands of soldiers, which he had purchased - giving them a suit of clothes in exchange for a land warrant. His wife was named Jemina, who died at the extraordinary age of 99 years. She was a tall, spare woman, of very plain features, but very amiable disposition and sterling worth. William used facetiously to remark that he did not many Jemima from motives either of love or money, lut solely for her beauty. Samuel Thorn, son of William, also kept a store at Nine Partners, (now Mechanic,) opposite the Nine Partners boarding school, in 1805. This was then the great business mart for alb the country round.

The great grandfather of the venerable William Sharpstein owned an extensive tract of land at Washington Hollow. The latter says that as far back as his recollection extends, farms were more or less improved, though there was much more woodland. His grandfather used to tell him about the wild deer that frequented localities in plain sight of the housed; he was also in the habit of pointing out places in the woods where he had at various times shot wild animals. The Indians had a rendezvous on the south side of a hill, on the farm now occupied by him, where they came to winter. When he was a boy, the Indians were accustomed to visit this vicinity occasionally, but they were not numerous. He had a mortal fear of them however, though they were entirely harmless.

Above Washington Hollow, on the main road to Stanford, nearly three fourths of a century ago, were the following residents: first was one Halleck, and above him was Nicholas. Bush; next lived Jacob Sharpstein, and then came Jacob Smith, who owned land adjoining the south line of Johnson's patent; above him lived, in the order of their names mentioned, one Harrington, John Albright, Coonley, and Tobias Green; David Johnson lived at Lithgow; he was one of the Nine Partners. The house built by him is still standing, we lelieve. There was considerable lease land about here at that time.

East of the Hollow, along the turnpike on the hill, were the families of Hallecks. Wallace and Baremore were original settlers. Washington Four Corners used to be a public place, and was then called the Cross Roads. At what is now Mechanic used to live a number of families named Haight. Sheriff' Thorn, who figured quite conspicuously in the early history of the county, lived at Little Rest. He hung some fellows in Poughkeepsie. William Sharpstein, Esq., from whom many of the foregoing facts are obtained, went to Poughkeeppsic to see them hung. The Germonds settled between Nine Partners and Verbank. In 1813, William German kept tavern at Washington Hollow, east of the gate. Sharpstein says he went to Poughkeepsie to see the first carding machine that was ever set up in the county. It was set at work in a. building near Peltons Pond, and was owned by one Booth.

The Bloom House was built in 1801. Bloom owned a mill on the premises. An extensive cotton factory was burned here a few years ago. Carpenter and Bedell were extensive early landholders. The Conrad Ham House, south of Washington Hollow, on the road to Verbank, is of quaint construction, and is over a hundred years old.

Swift's Lowlands, a name given in former times to a low tract of land in the vicinity, is associated by local tradition, with the movements of the Tories in these parts. Mention has already been made of a collision that occurred between a. band of Tories and a number of volunteers, in a meadow near the Hollow. The volunteers, many of whom were from Connecticut, met at Blooms Mill, and one fine morning marched down and attacked the Tories, who were on parade. About forty of the latter were captured, and sent to Exeter, New Hampshire, where they were confined a long time. This was probably the worst Tory nest in the whole country.

Matthew Comstock was one of the oldest settlers in this. region. He engaged in the manufacture of refined cider, near
Mabbettsville, from various varieties of the apple, viz: The: crab apple; a peculiar kind of russet; the styre, red streak, &c.

North of the Hollow was formerly a small burial ground. Here a little negro boy was buried, over whom was placed a headstone, with the following quaint inscription:

"Here lies a little nigger;
If he'd lived a little longer, he's have been a little bigger."

One of the first substantial church edifices in this town was the Brick Meeting House, built in 1780 by the Society or Friends. The bricks used in its construction were manufactured in the immediate vicinity; the mortar in which the bricks were laid is at this day harder than the bricks themselves. The walls two feet in thickness, and true as when first built; the windows set in, heavy sash frames; yellow pine flooring, fastened to the timbers by wrought iron nails; the antiquated pews and unpainted columns which support the galleries, and which have not been altered since the house was built; the huge rafters, a foot in thickness, which support the roof;- these and other peculiarities fill the mind of the beholder with wonder. Two huge horseblocks stand in front of the church; time has rendered one unserviceable; on the other was a sundial placed there by Jacob Willetts, nearly seventy years ago. A winding flight of stairs leads to the gallery, where are long rows of benches which once were thronged with worshipers, but which are now silent as the chamber of death. A brick in the rear wall bears the date of its erection, 1780. Time as yet has made little or no impression on the building. The same windows and shutters, sills and frames, all of cypress wood, are in good preservation.

Attached to this meeting house was one hundred acres of land, which was purchased by the Friends before the house was built. The church and the Nine Partners Boarding School building was afterward erected on it. After three fourths of a century had elapsed, they sold ninety acres of land, including the school building. The purchaser demolished that edifice, and now nothing remains of it but its history. The Friends have now about ten acres of land, including the burial ground. The Orthodox house is a plain wooden building, erected about the time of the Sepiration.

The burial grounds attached to the Brick Meeting House have been devoted to purposes of interment for more than a century. The Friends in early times were opposed to erecting monuments over the dead; and so long have the graves been there that even the mounds have disappeared. Dig down into any part of the enclosure, and you will find the bones of those long ago laid there to rest. The long rows of sheds; the staples driven into the trees whose birth appeared to reach beyond the time when the first white man saw the Nine Partners Tract;- all speak of the period when this hallowed place was thronged with worshipers. But now the turf is unbroken, which whiled: was torn asunder by the restless hoof.

The grounds of the Duchess County Agricultural Society, organized Oct. 16, 1841, lie partly in this town. The first President of the Society was Henry Staats, and the first Secretary, George Kneeland. The County Poor House, which was formerly kept in Poughkeepsie, was a few years since erected in the town of Washington. The small building shown at the left of the large one, in the cut, is provided with cells, in which the more dangerous paupers are confined.

In an old day book, dated at Nine Partners, Charlotte Precinct, in the year 1770, occur the following names of persons, many of whose descendants are yet living in various parts of the country: Titus, Sherman, Allen, Sackett, Boyce, Northrop, Gifford, Morey, Cutler, Swift, Sutherland, Hurd, Hilliard, Mabbett, Wolsey, Mott, White, Thorn, Hammond, Hart, Belding, Holmes, Sweet, &c. It would seem that the store was patronized by people living in widely separated districts, as the names given are those of the early settlers of other towns in the county. We annex a list of some of the items charged, together with the price:

Isaac Boyce, 1 gal. rum, 5s; Joseph Thorn 1/2 gal. molasses, 1s. 5d.; Joseph Brown, 1 qt. rum, 1s. 9d.; Honamonas Knickerbacker, 1 tea by Tom, 7S. 6d.; David Ketcham, 1 pair heels, 6d.; James Logham, 1/4 lb. tea, 1s. 11d.; 2 lbs. sugar, 1s. 5d., 3 tobacco, 2S. 6d.; There occur also the following: credits; 1 deer skin, £1 5s.; 4 yards toa cloth, 2s. 9d. The frequency with which the item rum occurs in the charges would seem to indicate that it was an important article of traffic.

The original Harts Village is situated upon the banks of a wild and picturesque ravine, through which flows a tributary of Wappingers Creek. The water power furnished by this stream was the cause of the growth of the place. It takes its name from one of the first settlers, who, a century since, purchased nearly one thousand acres of land, and immediately commenced improvements upon it. There are few deeds of old date covering land in the vicinity which do not refer to Philip Hart. Some of his descendants still reside in the village.

About forty years since, he firm of Merritt & Haviland purchased much of the water privilege here, and erected three large cotton factories. Overtaken by adverse circumstances, the firm failed and the buildings were sold. One is now occupied as a flouring mill, another as a dwelling, and the third, having been destroyed by fire and rebuilt, is now used as a milk condensing establishment. There are various saw, plaster and grist mills, and also a manufactory of spools, along this stream, which falls more than a hundred feet in less than a mile. The enterprising village of Millbrook sprung up a few years since, adjoining Harts Village, after the Duchess & Columbia Railroad was built, and the two villages are now considered as one under the name of Millbrook.

A fulling mill was established at Harts Village in 1813. About the year 1820, the firm of Gifford, Sherman, & Innis, started an establishment here for the cutting of dye-woods. One of the firm is still living, we believe, and has an interest in the dye-woods business in Poughkeepsie. An old grist mill stood in this ravine that was luilt by Philip Hart, the original owner. The top of the mill was fifty feet below the road; a long trough or "shute" was constructed by which the grain could be conveyed from the wagons through a hole in the roof of the mill, fifty feet below.

A few years ago, George H. Brown, Esq., President of the Duchess & Columbia Railroad, took up his residence in this town. He was induced to do this, it is said, under the belief that the recuperating air of this region would aid in the restoration of his health, a belief which has happily been verified. He built an elegant villa on a high plateau, a short distance from Washington Hollow; which is probably one of the finest in the state, outside of the largest cities. He has been instrumental in the erection of two or three spacious churches, contributing largely of his means for the purpose. One of these, the Reformed Dutch Church at the Four Corners, is a magnificent structure of Gothic architecture. Over the north entrance is a tower and a spire which shoots up to the height of one hundred and thirty feet from the earth. A fine toned bell and clock is placed in the upper section of the tower; striking of the hours may at times be distinctly heard a distance of two miles. Two aisles lead the way to the preacher's desk; behind this is the choir's seat, which faces the congregation.


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