By Capt. Franklin Ellis310
Chatham Centre is a little west of the centre of the town, on both banks of Kinderhook creek. The location for trade is favorable, and it was in early days an important point. Being a station on the Boston and Albany railroad, there is yet considerable traffic. The village has a neat appearance and very attractive surroundings. It contains a few hundred inhabitants. The principal early settlers in this locality were Peter Van Alstyne, John Van Slyck, Derrick Sluyter, Gershom Reed, Gaylord Hawkins, Rowland Gifford, Robt. Van Alen, Amos Sutherland, Israel Phelps, James Brebner, Peter Pulver, James Van Valkenburgh, Isaac Mills, and Seth Rose.
Colonel Peter Van Alstyne had the first store in the place, near where the Van Alstyne mansion now stands. It is said that Martin Van Buren frequently made pleas in the old store-room. On the opposite side of the stream James Brebner had a rival store, and, as both men were also mill owners, the competition was often very exciting. Timothy Oakley and J. J. Van Valkenburgh were other early merchants. In 1816 the latter erected the store building now in use, and which was occupied by Van Valkenburgh until1835. The place has several stores at present.
Gaylord Hawkins had the first tavern in a building opposite James Brebner's store. Many other innkeepers followed.
The post-office was established about 1830, with John Rogers postmaster. James Sutherland, R. Sleigh, W. L. Van Alstyne, R. H. Vedder, Jacob V. Schermerhorn, Abram Wiederwax, and Andrew Van Alstyne have been the subsequent postmasters.
Dr. Russell Dorr was the first physician in the place. Dr. John Sutherland remained until his death. Dr. R. H. Vedder is the present physician. Others in practice were Drs. Miller, Phillips, Cook, and John Newman.
The Methodist have a neat church, whose history is elsewhere given. The usual mechanic shops are carried on but no other manufactories are at present in the village.
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