History of the town of Newburg, NY
From: The History of Orange County, New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Published by: Van Deusen and ELms
Middletown, New York, 1908



WHILE Newburgh is the most important and impressive place in Orange County, Newburgh Town, outside of the city, has its facts and points of interest.

After the annulment, in 1669, of the patent purchased of the Indians by Governor Dongan, and conveyed by him to Captain John Evans in 1684 in which patent was included the territory of the Newburgh precinct, the entire district was conveyed, between 1703 and 1705, in small patents, ten of which were in the Newburgh precinct, and a list of which is given in the chapter on Newburgh city.

All patents were conditioned upon a payment of quit rent, sometimes in money, sometimes in wheat or other commodity.

The Palatine settlement, including a portion of the present city of Newburgh and a portion of the town, is elsewhere considered. So are the changes and troubles that followed the coming of the new Dutch and English settlers, resulting in a decision of the council which practically terminated "The Palatine Parish by Ouassaick." Ruttenber says that when this decision was rendered the original members of the parish had long previously removed from it or been laid away in the quiet churchyard, and adds: "As a people they were earnest, good men and women. Wherever their neighbors of subsequent migrations are met, their record compares favorably with that of immigrants from any other country. No citizens of more substantial worth are found under the flag of this, their native land, than their descendants: no braver men were in the armies of the Revolution than Herkimer and Muhlenberg. Had they done nothing in the parish but made clearings in its forests and planted fields they would be entitled to grateful remembrance. They did more; they gave to it its first church and its first government; and in all subsequent history their descendants have had a part."

As to the other patents: The Baird patent included the settlement of Belknap's Ridge. later classed at Coldenham. It was issued to Alexander Baird, Abraham Van Vieque and Hermans Johnson, and was sold to Governor William Burnet. The Kipp patent included the district east, north and west of Orange Lake, and adjoined the Baird patent on the south. It was issued to Jacobus Kipp, John Conger, Philip Cortlandt, David Prevost, Oliver Schuyler and John Schuyler. It was divided into six parts, and these were subdivided into farms. About 1791 a company of Friends from Westchester County settled on the patent. They were Daniel, Zephaniah and Bazak Birdsall, John Sutton and John Thorne. The first purchasers on the Bradley patent are supposed to have been Johannes Snyder and John Crowell. The Wallace patent, issued to James Wallace alone, was afterwards purchased by John Penny, who sold 200 acres of it to Robert Ross, and settled, with his seven sons, upon the remainder. The Bradley patent was to Sarah, Catherine, George, Elizabeth and Mary Bradley, and was taken in their name by their father, Richard Bradley, who thus secured six tracts, of which that in Newburgh was one. The Harrison patent was to Francis Harrison. Mary Fatham, Thomas Brazier, James Graham and John Haskell. It included the present district of Middlehope, and its settlers were influential in the control of the town during its early history. The Spratt patent was in two parcels, 1,000 acres in Newburgh and 2,000 acres in Ulster. It was issued to Andrew Marschalk and John Spratt, the latter taking the Newburgh tract. This was purchased in 176o by Joseph Gidney, and took the name of Gidneytown. The Gulch patent was to Melichor Gulch and his wife and children of the original company of Palatines. The Johnson or Jansen patent adjoined the Gulch patent, and was the first occupied land in the northwestern part of the town.

The settlement of these patents resulted in dividing the old precinct of the Highlands in 1762 into the precincts of Newburgh and New Windsor, the former embracing the towns of Marlborough and Plattekill in Ulster County with the present town and city of Newburgh, and the latter covering substantially the same territory as now.


The next April, 1763, Newburgh's first town meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Hasbrouck, now known as Washington's Headquarters, and these officers were chosen: Jonathan Hasbrouck, supervisor; Samuel Sands, clerk; Richard Harper, John Winfield and Samuel Wyatt, assessors; Daniel Gedney and Benjamin Woolsey, poor masters; Jonathan McCrary, John Wandel, Burras Holmes, Isaac Fowler, Muphrey Merritt and Thomas Woolsey, path masters; Nathan Purdy and Isaac Fowler, fence viewers and appraisers.

Ten years later Marlborough and Plattekill settlements were set off as New Marlborough, and left Newburgh with almost the same territory as that of the present town and city. The first supervisor of this reduced town was John Flewwelling and the first clerk was Samuel Sands.

The territory of the present town embraces 26,882 acres in the extreme northeast portion of the county, The soil along the river front for a distance of five miles is warm, productive and well cultivated. The rock formations are largely slate and lime. In 1875 its population was 3,538, and the census of 1905 places it at 4,885 persons.

Subsequent to the incorporation of the city of Newburgh, April 25, 1865, the town of Newburgh was invested with the government of its own officers. The following supervisors have been elected:

Nathaniel Barns, 1866; C. Gilbert Fowler, 1867; Nathaniel Barns, 1868 to 1870; W. A. Pressler, 1871: John W. Bushfield, 1872 to 1877; Henry P. Clauson, 1878 to 1880; W. A. Pressler, 1881 to 1885; Oliver Lozier, 1886; John W. Bushfield, 1887; Oliver Lozier, 1888 to 1891; William H. Post, 1892 to 1899; Henry P. Clauson, 1900 to 1906; Fred S. McDowell, 1907 and 1908.


But little need be added to what has elsewhere been sketched regarding Newburgh's part in the war for independence, Its people were prompt in patriotic response to the non importation resolutions of the Continental Congress, It was one of the five precincts to publicly burn the pamphlet assailing those resolutions, entitled, "Free Thoughts on the Resolves of Congress," and on June 27, 1775, at a public meeting, appointed a Committee of Safety: Wolves Acker, Jonathan Hasbrouck, Thomas Palmer, John Belknap, Joseph Coleman, Moses Higby, Samuel Sands, Stephen Case, Isaac Belknap, Benjamin Birdsall, John Robinson and others. When the pledge to support the acts of the Continental and Provincial Congress was ready 174 names were voluntarily signed to it and twenty one of the fifty four men who refused to sign afterward made affidavit that they also would abide by the measures of Congress and pay their quota of all expenses. Some of the thirty three Tories who stood out were imprisoned and some were executed. The Newburgh patriots as promptly reorganized the militia of the precinct. They furnished two companies for a new regiment in September, and in December helped to constitute a regiment of minute men, and provided its colonel in the person of Thomas Palmer. They also, in 1776, organized as rangers or scouts to prevent attacks from hostile Indians. Throughout the war the citizens of Newburgh were conspicuous as volunteers in the regular army and as local militiamen in the cause of the Revolution, and were subjected to much inconvenience and many privations in consequence of the presence of other troops, as elsewhere stated. Many of them were killed and many more taken prisoners in the defense of the Highland torts, after which the poor taxes were increased from £50 to £800 and special donations were collected for those who had been deprived of their husbands or parents.

The history of Washington's doings and sayings in and near Newburgh is so familiar that they need not be repeated here.


The Benevolent Society of the County of Orange was formed in January, 1805, with the following officers: Hugh Walsh, president; Gen. John Skey Mustache, vice president; John McAuley, treasurer; William Gardner, Secretary.

In the sketch of Newburgh village and city mention has been made of the charter provision for a Glebe fair. This fair is believed to have been held occasionally as late as 1805, as there has been found in an old newspaper notice of one to be held in October of that year, with an offer of $125 as a premium to the jockey riding the best horse on the course of Benjamin Case, $50 to another jockey riding the best horse on the following day, and $25 to the jockey riding the best filly on the third day.

The Newburgh Bible Society was organized September 9, 1818, at a meeting held in the Presbyterian Church of Newburgh village, after a discourse by Rev. Tames R. Wilson. The first article of the constitution declared that its "sole object shall be to encourage a wider cireulation of the Scriptures, without note or comment." The following officers were elected: Jonas Story, president; Isaac Belknap and Joseph Clark, vice presidents; Rev, John Johnston, corresponding secretary; Charles Miller, recording secretary; Benjamin J. Lewis, treasurer.

In 1823 the Newburgh Society for Aiding Missions was formed. The report said: "Its design is to be auxiliary to the cause of missions in general; its funds, at the disposal of a board of managers, are to be appropriated from time to time to such societies or other missionary objects as may seem to have the most pressing claim to assistance."

The Newburgh Sabbath School Society was organized in 1816, and the following officers are found recorded, as chosen in 1823; sixteen years afterward: Superintendents, Mrs. Agnes Van Vleeck, Mrs. Mary G. Belknap, Mrs, Harriet M. Bate, Miss Joanna Schultz; secretary, Miss Louisa Lewis; treasurer, Miss Jane Carpenter. The secretary, in her report, stated that the school then consisted of more than 300 scholars, the average attendance being 200, and that there were thirty two classes instructed by forty six teachers and assistants. She stated that the number of verses committed to memory during the year was 21,440 and of divine songs 8,684.

Eager reports a meeting of the Orange County Medical Society in Newburgh in October, 1823, which invited the members of the Newburgh Lyceum to attend, Medical and scientific essays were read by Drs. John M. Gough, Francis L. Beattie and Arnell, other essays by George W. Benedict and Rev, James R. Wilson, and "the merits of each underwent an able discussion."


Just outside the legal boundary line north of the city of Newburgh is the fashionable suburb of Balmville, named after a large Balm of Gilead tree, which is estimated to be one hundred and fifty or more years old, and nearly twenty five feet in circumference. The population is large and wealthy, inhabiting charming country seats. Continuing northward about two miles is the village of Middlehope, formerly known as Middletown. It is the center of a prosperous fruit section where many varieties of fruit originated with men foremost in pomolog. North of "is settlement is Cedar Hill Cemetery. The grounds are from the design of August Hepp, and are under the control of the Cedar Hill Cemetery Association. which was organized in 1870, mainly through efforts of Enoch Carter. Roseton, four miles north of Newburgh, on the banks of the Hudson, was named after John C, Rose, who established extensive brick yards here in 1883. Brick yards have multiplied in this section, and destroyed the natural attractions of a once pretty cove. The Dans Kammer, a promontory just beyond, marks the northern extremity of Newburgh Bay. Hampton, now known as Cedar Cliff Post office, is a landing on the Hudson, adjoining the Ulster County boundary line, Savilton, formerly Rossville, is a small district eight miles northwest of Newburgh city, named from Alexander Ross. Gardnertown is a small settlement four miles northwest of the city, and was named from the old and numerous family of Gardners who settled there,

Orange Lake, now a noted summer resort, was called by the early settlers Dutch Bennin Water, and later Machen's Pond, from Captain Machen, an engineer employed by Congress in 1777 in erecting fortifications in the Highlands and stretching the huge obstructing chain across the Hudson, It was also called Big Pond as distinct from Little Pond in New Windsor. The lake covers about four hundred acres and is kept well fed by creeks and large springs. Numerous cottages dot its shores, and an amusement park is conducted under the management of the Orange County Traction Company, Extensive improvements were made in 1907, including the erection of a large theatre and other buildings.

Quassaick Creek is a fine stream entering the Hudson between Newburgh city and New Windsor, and is formed by the united waters of Orange Lake outlet and Fostertown and Gidney's Creeks. It has supplied many mills and factories with power.

King's Hill is a high boundary elevation in the northwest part of the town affording an extensive view in all directions. Bacon Hill is another, north from King's Hill, at the edge of the town. Limestone Hill is a ridge running north and south two miles northwest of the city.

Fostertown Creek, one of the tributaries of Ouassaick Creek, is a small stream which rises in Ulster County and drains a narrow valley several miles in extent. Bushfield Creek also rises in Ulster and is one of the streams which feed Orange Lake.


Among the "remarkable incidents" of early times mentioned by Eager, are the following: In 1803 the formation of a Druid society, composed, it was said, wholly of deists, whose proceedings were secret. In January, 1805, a son of Warren Scott, 14 years old, was torn in pieces by wolves in the west part of the town while feeding his father's sheep. The wolves at this time also came down and killed sheep near the village of Newburgh. In 1816 the owners of the Newburgh ferry first used a horse boat, and on August 13th of that year the boat Jason Rogers crossed the river with two horses attached to a coach and a wagon, seventeen chaises and horses, another horse and fifty passengers. In 1817 Government officers inspected ninety tons of cannon made by Mr. Townsend on Chamber's Creek, and all proved good. They were the first manufactured in the State, and were of sterling ore from the town of Monroe, November 24, 1824, the schooner Neptune, on the way from New York to Newburgh. was upset and sunk, and the most of her fifty or more passengers were drowned. She had forty or fifty tons of plaster on hoard, and the heavy wind shifted it, which caused the accident.

[Also see History of the City of Newburg, NY.]

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