The First Settlers


Columbia County,

New York

By Capt. Franklin Ellis361


     One of the largest interests was secured by Johannes Hogeboom, some time before 1750.  It included nearly all the fertile lands along the streams in the eastern part of the town.  On a portion of this a family named Sharp had settled, near the present village of Ghent, and had made a few improvements.  There were four brothers, and it is generally believed that they were among the first settlers, and probably the first in the present town, coming somewhere about 1740.  Hogeboom purchased their improvements and immediately began a home of his own.  He erected a stone house on the farm now occupied by his great-grandson, the Hon. J. T. Hogeboom, where he opened an inn, which became one of the best known stopping-places on the road from Boston to Albany.

     Hogeboom had first settled in Claverack, where some of his sons continued to reside; but having purchased this land, most of his sons settled about him, and as they did so he gave them large farms.  Lawrence resided in Claverack until 1767, in which year he moved to the homestead and resided with his father.  In 1775 he lived on the farm now in possession of his grandson Hon. John T. Hogeboom.  His brother, Johannes, Jr., was living on the farm now occupied by Mr. Philip Mesick, then embracing about three hundred acres.  Another brother, Bartholomew, lived about a half-mile east, on the stage-road to Boston, on the farm now owned by Mr. Henry Schultz.  Another, Cornelius, father of John C., and grandfather of Judge Henry Hogeboom, on the farm now occupied by Mr. Henry R. Coburn, and still another brother, Abraham, on the site of the present county poor-house.

     The Hogebooms became a large and respectable family, and some of them attained distinguished prominence in the State and nation.  But one of the branches of the original family now remains in town, a descendant of Lawrence, John Tobias Hogeboom, who is a son of Tobias L., who was born in Ghent in 1816, and is the fourth generation of Hogebooms that have occupied this land.  He has been a member of the Assembly and a judge of Columbia county.

     Farther south, Hendrick Groat was one of the first settlers, about 1750.  Among his sons were William and Peter.  The latter remained on the homestead, where he reared John, William P., Peter, Jacob, Jeremiah, and Henry.  Peter removed to Chatham, at what is now the village.  William P. remained on the homestead, which is occupied by one of his sons, Cyrus.  Some time after the Revolution, Johannes Moul, with his sons Jacob and John, and a daughter, came from Germantown, and settled in the neighborhood west from Groat.  Christopher Moul yet resides on the John Moul homestead.  Both the Mouls served in the war for Independence.  Here also the Harder family settled, from which have sprung many useful citizens in this and adjoining towns.  The Jacobi family was one of the first in the eastern part, where they intermarried with the Snyders, also pioneers in the town.  Aaron Ostrander, with his sons John, Philip, Jacobus, William, Henry, and Aaron; Martine Vallentine, Jacob, and Peter Stupplebeem, and John Holsapple were also among the first in this section.

     About 1785, Jacob and Michael Waltermire came from Dutchess county, and settled on what is known as the Fowler place.  The former had sevens sons, of whom Jacob and Michael I., both old and respected citizens, still live in that locality.  Michael erected a tavern on the turnpike at an early period, which is still standing as a tenement.  A few years later came Henry Shufelt, from the same county, and settled in southern Ghent.  On the breaking out of the Revolution, when but a youth of sixteen, he was enticed on board a British sloop and carried to New York.  He managed to escape to Long Island, where he was secreted five years, then returned to his parents, who had given him up for dead.  Of the sons of Henry Shufelt, Cornelius--better known as Captain Shufelt, from his service in the War of 1812--lives in the northern part of town, one of the best-known citizens.  Of this family there were, also, sons named George A. and Henry.  Another branch of the Shufelt family was Philip's, who reared sons named John, Philip, Peter, and George, who settled in this and adjoining towns.

     About 1800, George T. Snyder settled west of the present village of Ghent, on the Henry T. Snyder place, where he reared a son,--Tunis G.,--who died in town in March, 1878, at the age of ninety-seven years.  He was for a long time one of the leading citizens of Ghent.  To this locality came Johannes Fredenburgh, in 1766, and settled on a piece of land which now belongs, in part, to a great-grandson,--Abram Vosburgh.  The Vosburghs first settled in Stuyvesant.  Peter I., the grandfather of the above, was a captain in Colonel James Livingston's regiment, and did good service in the patriot cause.  General Lafayette recognized these services by presenting him a sword, which is now in the possession of Abram Vosburgh.  At the close of the war he joined the "Society of the Cincinnati," his certificate bearing date Dec. 10, 1785, and is signed by G. Washington, president, and J. Knox, secretary, of the society.

     Among the first in the western part of the town was the Philip family, composed of four sons,--Peter, John, Jacob, and Wilhelmus.  Among the children of the first was a son, also named Peter.  One of his sons, Delaway F., is yet living on the homestead.  Another son, Peter, became distinguished as an inventor.  The Philip family has been one of the most numerous in town, and its descendants yet live on the lands purchased by their ancestors one hundred and thirty years ago.  In this locality a man named Decker settled very early.  A daughter married John Kittle, also one of the early settlers.  Kittle reared four sons,--Henry, John, Andrew, and Nicholas,--all of whom remained in this section of the county, and reared large families, many of whose descendants yet live in west Ghent.

     Other early and prominent settlers in west Ghent were William, Thomas, John, and Laurence Van Alstyne; Adam Tipple, Wilhelmus, Philip, Nicholas, and Daniel Link, of one family; and Henry, John, Wm. H., and Zachariah H., of another family; and the Leggett, Hardick, Van Slyck, Van Bramer, Van Buren, and Van Valkenburgh families.

     Godfrey Garner took up a piece of land in the northern part of the town, now occupied by a grandson, Aaron C., where he reared sons named Godfrey, Martin, and Christopher, who became prominent citizens.  David Crapser, Philip Diedrich, Lucas, and Jacob Shaver, Anthony, John, Henry, and Adam Melius, the Millers, and Wm. Holmes were also early and well-known settlers.

     In the eastern part of the town, the Wager family and Philip Dunspaugh made early settlements.  North were James and Samuel Crandell, and the Coleman family.  South of them were other members of the society of Friends, notably the Macy families.  Abram Macy settled here in 1782, taking up his abode with his family of ten children in a log house of two rooms.  Two years later he erected a house with his own hands, which is yet occupied by George G. Macy, a son of Abram, Jr., who is the only grandson of Abram Macy remaining in Ghent.  Another son of Abram, Jr., Aaron C., resides at Hudson, and both are among the most honored citizens of the county.  The Powell family, also Friends, came to this section at a later day.  Some of this family have become noted for the bold position they have taken in favor of reform and civil rights.  The position take by Aaron M. Powell on the marriage relation is worthy of being here noted:

     "Aaron M. Powell, of Ghent, and Judith Anna Rice, of Worcester, Mass., on the 15th day of April, 1861, at the house of Townsend and Catherine Powell, in the town of Ghent, have assumed the relation of husband and wife.

     "Herewith we record our united protest against the inequality and injustice of the statutes of the civil code pertaining to marriage, which assigns to the wife a position of legal inferiority.  The marriage contract is formed in ignorance, inequality, and injustice, in the making of which one of the parties becomes at once civilly dead and legally buried.  The individuality of the wife is merged in the husband.  Her personal and property rights are surrendered.

     "Against this inequality and injustice, this monstrous sacrifice of the birthright of every human soul baptized by Apostolic hands, as a holy sacrament and everlasting ordinance of the living God, we do protest.

                                                    "Aaron M. Powell

                                                    "J. Anna Rice Powell."

     Signed and attested by thirty persons, and recorded in the office of the clerk of Columbia county July 25, 1861.

     For the names of many other early settlers, the reader is referred to the several church histories of the town.

     Ghent settled rapidly, as we learn from the census of 1820 that there were 460 male persons in town upward of twenty-one years of age, who owned 17,342 acres of improved land.  In 1875 the population was 1543 males, 1514 females; and 432 were foreigners.