History of Esopus, NY
FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory
Of Ulster County, N. Y. For 1872-2.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1871



ESOPUS was formed from Kingston April 5, 1811. A part was set off to Kingston, and a part of Hurley was annexed in 1818, and a part of New Paltz, April 12, 1842. It lies upon the Hudson and is the central town upon the east border of the County. The surface is rolling in the east and moderately hilly in the west. A range of hills extends north and south, through near the center of the town, the highest peak of which is 1,632 feet above tide. Huzzey Hill, named from an Indian, south of Rondout, is 1000 feet high. Wallkill forms a part of the west boundary, and Rondout Creek forms the remaining part of the west and the north boundary. Swartekill and Black Creek are in the south part. The soil is a light clay loam. Fruit growing is an important branch of business. Cement is extensively manufactured, and considerable commerce is carried on by means of the river and Delaware & Hudson Canal. Along the bluffs that overlook the Hudson are some fine residences. Two light houses are built in the river opposite this town, one of them being at the mouth of Rondout Creek. A new lighthouse is in process of construction for Esopus Meadows. The foundation is to consist of 250 piles, 40 feet long, driven down solid and cut off three feet below low water mark; these piles are to be capped with timber twelve inches square, planked over with three inch pine plank, making a round pier, 49 feet at the base and 46 at the top. The house is to be 27 feet, ten inches square, one story with mansard roof, surmounted by a tower for the light, 52 feet above mean low water.

Port Ewen, (p.v.) situated on the west bank of the Hudson, a short distance below the mouth of Rondout Creek, was laid out in 1851, by the Pennsylvania Coal company, as a coal depot, and has been used as such until the present time; but since 1865 the greater part of the business has been transferred to Newburgh, the Company using the Erie Railway for transporting their coal, instead of the Delaware and Hudson Canal as previously. The village is beautifully situated on land gradually rising from the river bank to the hight of 180 feet. The view is very fine, with the river and Dutchess County on the East the Catskill Mountains in the north, while the river valley stretches away to the south, bordered by Huzzey's Hill and Shawangunk Mountain on the west. The village contains two churches, viz., Methodist and Reformed; two public schools, a hotel, five stores, a bakery and about 1,200 inhabitants. Two daily lines of steamboats connect the place with New York, and a ferry connects it with the Hudson River Railroad.

At the time the village site was purchased in 1851, the property consisted of three farms containing about 150 acres. The officers of the Company were Irad Hawley, President; John Ewen, Vice-President; George A. Hoyt, Treasurer; E.H. Hoyt, Secretary; Wm. Hathaway, Agent. The next year a change took place in officers, John Ewen taking the place of Mr. Hawley as president, and Jacob Kline becoming cashier at Port Ewen, since which there has been no change, all the officers having been re-elected for twenty years. This Company has been very successful in business, the stock being regarded among the most desirable in the New York market.

Rifton Glen, (p.v.) formerly called Arnoldton, in honor of the builders of the first manufactories, is situated in the south-west part of the town, on the Wallkill, and contains a hotel, a store, a worsted and woolen yarn factory, a blacksmith shop, a school and about 150 inhabitants. Buttermilk Falls, about a half a mile below, are 42 feet in hight. The village was founded by B. & J. Arnold, who erected a cotton mill in 1827-8. The Factory of J.W. Dimick & Co. contains eight sets of worsted machinery and seven sets for yarn, consuming about 2,500 pounds of wool per day, and giving employment to one hundred hands.

Dashville is situated on the Wallkill, about half a mile south of Rifton Glen, and contains a Reformed church, a school, a grist and flouring mill, a saw mill, a carpet weaver, and about sixty inhabitants.

The Dashville Custom and Flouring Mill, established in 1834, is owned by Wm. T. Demerest, and has three runs of stones.

The Laflin & Rand Powder Co. have mills for the manufacture of blasting powder in the west part of the town, making about 600 kegs per day and employing 54 ment.

South Rondout, situated in the south side of Rondout Creek, contains a malt house, a brewery, four groveries, a manufactory of lime, a school hous and about 400 inhabitants.

Sleightsburg, near the mouth of Rondout Creek, contains a store, a ship yard, a school house and about 200 inhabitants. A steam ferry connects it with Rondout on the opposite side of the creek.

Freeville or New Salem, (Fly Mountain p.o.) in the north-west part of the town, on Rondout Creek, contains a church, a school, the James Cement Works, a cement pipe manufactory, a flour and feed mill and 154 inhabitants.

Elmore's Corners, (Esopus p.o.) in the east part, about half a mile from the Hudson, contains a Methodist church, a hotel, two stores, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a grist mill, a sawmill, a baker and 150 inhabitants.

The Esopus Flouring Mill was built in 1860 by Norman Cole, the present owner, contains two runs of stones and can grind 60,000 bushels per year.

Ulster Park, (p.o.) formerly called Amesville, contains a Reformed church, a school house, a store, a hotel, a blacksmith and wagon shop, and about sixty inhabitants.

Pellham Farm is the name of a magnificent country seat of Robert L. Pell, Esq., on the Hudson River, in this town. It contains 1, 200 acres of the choicest land in the State, overlying gravel twelve feet deep. Every lot is watered by living springs. There are over one hundred miles of stone underdrains, built in the substantial manner. There are ten artificial lakes fourteen feet deep and connected by fifteen light and beautiful fancy bridges, constructed on iron rods. In these lakes are fifty-five varieties of fish; among them, imported from Europe are the Tench, known as the physician of fishes, and the Barbel. Mr. Pell was the first man in the United States who raised fish from impregnated eggs, and received a magnificent piece of plate from the State Agricultural Society for his experiment and essay on Pisciculture. He has taken premiums for every agricultural product, including cotton and tabacco, amounting to seventy, and for the best agricultural farm in the United States. There is an orchard on his property containing twenty thousand New Town Pippin apple trees, forty years old. The fruit is shipped to Europe and often sells for thirty dollars per barrel. Eight dollars in New York has been the price for many years, and eight dollars per box containing one hundred apples. The first quality are boxed, the second quality barreled, and the third quality made into cider, which when bottled sells for four dollars per dozen, a barrel making eleven dozen bottles. Three hundred thousand bushels of apples have been converted into cider in a single season. Mr. Pell has a vineyard of Isabella grapes, containing fifty acres, from six to sixteen years old, and as many as one hundred bushel-and-a-half baskets have been sent to New York in a single day, from Mr. Pell's wharf, where four large steamers land daily for his freight alone. On this wharf is a large stone building, covered with slate and ventilated at the top, where the apples are sweated for Europe, after which process they will keep nine months after crossing the Atlantic. Mr. Pell does not think well fo the early varieties of grapes, such as the Concord, Hartford Prolific, Iona & c., for the New York market, because they have to compete with peaches, and there is little or no sale for them. When the Isabella arrives, there is no other fruit in the market except apples and pears, consequently they realize good prices. The peach orchards on this property are extensive and the varieties numerous. There are many horses, mules, oxen, cows, sheep and hogs on this farm. The graveled roads and paths, ten miles in extent, and over many of which we wandered, are romantic in the extreme; the ravines and water courses are spanned by light, airy and durable bridges, generally iron. The buildings are numerous and extensive; the cider mill is one hundred feet long by seventy feet wide, with cellar under the whole, filled with vats holding ten barrels each, in which the cider is refined. There are barns two hundred feet long by sixty feet wide, and many ornamental cottages for the workmen, who have large gardens attached and are permitted to keep a cow. Some of the laborers have lived on this estate for thirty years, and during that period Mr. Pell has had only three gardeners. In the garden there are four hundred feet of cold graperies, containing forty-five varieties of foreign grapes. Here they were first raised in this county without artificial heat. Last year he sold twelve hundred tons of hay and made two thousand double wagon loads of manure.

His mansion house is built of brick, in the Roman style, and painted a beautiful straw color and white. It has columns in front and extensive piazzas, and is about seventy feet square. The interior is Grecian. On the ceiling of the dining room, which is twenty-eight feet by twenty-four, there are pictures, painted in Rome on canvass, expressly for it, and costing many thousand dollars, representing Guido's Aurora, Raphael's Galatea, Venus drawn by doves, Triumph of Alexander entering Babylon, Morning and evening by Thorswalden.

Mr. Pell owns a magnificent island, over a mile in length, and lying opposite his domain in the middle of the Hudson River, for which he has been offered fabulous prices for ice houses. He also owns Woodstock (Overlook) Mountain, now a fashionable resort for summer tourists; Paltz Point, another favorite resort, and four thousand acres of land in one body in rear of his country seat. The writer was informed by a reliable person, that Mr. Pell purchased during the Rebellion, seventeen millions of acres of wild land, for nominal prices, in Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri; and sold to the Rothschilds in Europe three millions of acres for seven dollars and acre, and they resold the same for fourteen dollars an acres.

Settlements were made by the Dutch soon after the first settlement of the County. William Houghtaling came from Holland and was one of the first settlers. The farm now owned and occupied by William Smith, near Rifton, was originally purchased of Johannis Hardenburgh, the patentee, by William Smith, who was the first settler in this part of the town in 1730. The farm has been handed down from father to son till the present time, and during this 141 years there has never been a mortgage or any incumbrance given. John Delamater is said to have been the first settler at Freerville. Gerret I. Freer settled here about 1785. Eliphas Van Aken was another of the early settlers. Johannes Louw is supposed to be the first child born in the town, in 1681. The first marriage was that of Baltus Terpening and Tryntje Van Vliet, in 1682. William Hinman taught a school at the Hook in 1763.

The Reformed Church of Esopus, located at Ulster Park, was the first church organization within the present limits of this town. It was organized in 1791 by Rev. Stephen Goetchius and his Elders, with fourteen members. The early settlers were connected with the churches in New Paltz and Kingston, and received occasional visits from the pastors of those churches. During the stormy times of the Revolution, the churches were distracted as well as the country. From the History of the Church at New Paltz, we find the following extract from one of the sermons of Dominie Goetchius, who was pastor of that church from 1775 to 1796:

"At the close of the war I perceived there were places where new congregations might be gathered. I did undertake-collected-and organized nine churches. Being the only minister in the Dutch Church in Ulster County, my labors in solemnizing marriages, in visiting and performing parochial duties, were very severe, and rather more than I could endure; but the Lord helped me as I have reason to believe."

The first pastor of the Church was Rev. T.G. Smith; the first house of worship was erected in 1792; the present house in 1827, at a cost of $6,000. The present value of the church property is $12,000. The present membership is 50; the present pastor is Rev. I.N. Voorhis. The number of members received from the organization of the Church until the present time is 660. Two churches, North Esopus and St. Remy, have been organized from this, which accounts in a measure for the small membership at the present time.

St. Remy Reformed Church, located in the north-west part of the town, about a mile from Eddyville, was organized in 1857 by Rev. Mr. McFarlane, with 22 members. Their first pastor was Rev. Mr. McFarlane. Their house of worship was erected in 1857; it will seat 150, and cost about $2,000. The present membership is 43; the present value of church property is about $2,500.

Ascension Church was organized in 1842 by L.M.H. Butler, Archibald Russell, John Griffith, Reuben Sherwood, Joseph B. Cottle and E.W. Butler. A house of worship was erected the same year, costing $1,500 and seating 150. The first pastor was Rev. Albert D. Traver; the present pastor Rev. Henry B. Sherman. The membership is sixteen, and the value of the property is $10,000.

The Church of Jahva, (Jehovah) located at New Salem, was organized in 1860 by Joseph T. Curry, the first pastor with 25 members. A house of worship, seating 150 and costing $800, was erected the same year. The present membership is 26; the present value of church property is $1,200.

The population of the town in 1870 was 4,552; its area 22,059 acres, with an assessed value of $661,075.

It is divided into 16 school districts, employing 18 teachers. The number of children of school age is 1,845; the number attending school, 1232; the average attendance, 577; the value of school houses and sites, $14,650.

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