By J. H. French

R. P. Smith, Publisher

Syracuse, New York




Pages 241-249

Page 241

     This county was formed from Albany, April 4, 1786.It lies upon the e. bank of the Hudson, between Rensselaer and Dutchess cos., and extends e. to the Massachusetts line.  It contains an area of 688 sq. mi., and is centrally distant 29 mi. from Albany.  The Taghkanick Mts. extend along the e. border, and the adjoining parts of the co. are broken by numerous irregular ranges of hills which constitute the outlying spurs of those mountains.  The w. part of the co. consists of an undulating plateau terminating in bluffs on the Hudson River.   The principal streams are Roeliff Jansens Kill2 and Claverack and Kinderhook Creeks.  Upon these streams and their tributaries are numerous valuable mill sites.  In the e. and n. parts of the co. are several picturesque lakes, the principal of which are Kinderhook, Copake, and Charlotte Lakes, and Whitings, Robinsons, Snyder, and Rhoda Ponds.  The prevailing rocks are the Hudson River shales.  The slate rocks in this co. crop out toward the w., usually at an angle of 45o, but sometimes almost vertically.  Limestone crops out in different parts of Copake.3  Lead has been mind in Ancream,4 and manganese, peat, and marl are found in different localities.  In New Lebanon are the celebrated thermal springs; in Stockport are other mineral springs, and in Chatham is a small sulphur spring. 

     The various branches of agriculture form the leading industrial pursuits of the people.  Hay, (of which large quantities are pressed and sent to market,) rye, oats, corn, potatoes, and buckwheat, are the staple productions.  Stock raising and dairying receive considerable attention.  The manufacture of paper, cotton fabrics, vegetable extracts, and iron, is largely carried on.5  A greater quantity of paper is made in this co. than in any other in the State, and the co. also takes precedence of all others in the amount of tinctures and extracts prepared form medicinal plants. 

     The city of Hudson is the county seat.6  The courthouse and jail is a fine building, fronting on Washington Square.  It has a marble front, with an Ionic portico, and contains the court and jury rooms, and the co. clerk's, sheriff's, and district attorney's offices.7  The poorhouse is a spacious brick building located upon a farm of 200 acres in Ghent.8

     The most important works of internal improvement are the Hudson River R. R., extending through the w. part of the co., the Albany & West Stockbridge R. R., through the n. part, the Hudson & Boston R. R., terminating at Hudson, and the New York & Harlem R. R., terminating at Chatham Four corners.  Four newspapers are published in the co.9


1 By this act the N. boundary was defined as the N. line of "Kinderhook District," and the S. boundary as the s. line of "Kings District."  The latter line was more accurately defined, April 1, 1799.

2 Named from Roeliff Jansen, Overseer of the Orphan Chamber (an office similar to that of surrogate) under the Dutch government.  The Indian name was "Sauk-hen-ak."--Doc. Hist., III. 612.

3 Large quantities of ore have been taken from these localities.  It is obtained near the surface, and its depth is not known.

4 This ore is found near the junction of the slate and limestone strata, and occurs in strings and bunches.--Geol. Rep., 1838, p. 59. 5 There are 15 paper mills and 8 cotton factories in the co. 

5 The first paper mill was erected at Stuyvesant Falls, in 1802, by Geo. Chittenden; and the first cotton factory, in 1813, by Nath'l Wilde.

6 The co. seat was formerly located at Claverack.  The first meeting of the board of supervisors was held at the house of Gabriel Esselstyne, in Claverack.  An appropriation of 2000 was made for a courthouse, and Wm. B. Whiting, Abraham J. Van Alstyne, John Livingston, Henry I. Van Rensselaer, Matthew Scott, Seth Jenkins, and Wm. H. Ludlow were appointed commissioners to superintend its erection.  In 1788, and additional appropriation of 1200 was made, and in 1798 another of 400.  The first co. officers were Peter Van Ness, First Judge; Peter Sylvester, Peter R. Livingston, Henry I. Van Rensselaer, and Wm. B. Whiting, Judges; Killian K. Van Rensselaer, Surrogate; Lawrence Hogeboom, Sheriff; Robert Van Rensselaer, Clerk; and Walter Vrooman Wemple, Treasurer.  By the act of Feb. 25, 1805, the co. seat was removed to Hudson on condition that the city appropriate for the use of the co. the city hall, a lot of land (upon which to erect co. buildings, ) and the sum of $2000.  A committee, consisting of Wm. Wilson, Jacob Ford, Thos. Jenkins, Benj. Birdsall, and Nathaniel Green, was appointed to superintend repairs and the erection of of a jail.

7 The courthouse was erected in 1835, at a cost of $3500.

8 This building was erected in 1857, at a cost of $22,000, and, together with the surrounding buildings, ahs accommodations for 500 persons.  The farm is mostly worked by the inmates of the institution.

9 CLICK HERE to read the section on Newspapers.


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