By Captain Franklin Ellis198
The name is supposed to have been determined by Oliver Wiswall, who assisted in procuring the act authorizing the formation of the town. Its significance arises, perhaps, from the beautiful appearance of Mount Merino, as it projects, with its rounded summit, to the view of boatmen coming from the north; its slopes and its heights, covered with green verdure, marking from a long distance above the entrance to the port.
The town was formed May 13, 1837, and was composed of the outlying territory of the city of Hudson, leaving to the latter only a narrow tract, beyond the compactly built portion of the city. The people in the remoter portions of the city territory had for many years been opposed to sharing the heavy financial burdens incident to the city government. The cost of paved and lighted streets--of public buildings--of city improvements generally, was being paid in proportion to their assessments by the citizens four and five miles distant equally with those in the city proper. This became very burdensome, and the movement for a town organization acquired finally a controlling power, and was successful in procuring the authority of the Legislature to organize.
There is no doubt that there was some reasonable argument on both sides. It is true that perhaps nine-tenths of the people of Greenport--weekly and many of them daily--enjoy all the city improvements, and therefore it was argued that they might justly be required to pay for them. Yet there was danger that useless and unnecessary expenses would be voted by the compactly settled portion of the city despite the protest of the "rural districts." The farmers were successful in releasing themselves from this danger. The movement, too, had an immediate practical result. Charles Hollenbeck states that the taxes went down nearly one-half the next year after the town was organized.
It is due to the citizens of Hudson to add that they made no very determined nor prolonged opposition to the formation of the town. Those friendly to the organization of the town and active at Albany in supporting the measure were, besides Mr. Wiswall, Jacob R. Hollenbeck, Michael W. Hollenbeck, Jones (sic) H. Miller, Christian Happy, John Tompkins, and probably there were others.
The first town-meeting was held at the house of Jacob R. Hollenbeck, now the McKinstry place, June 6, 1837, and the following town officers elected: Hugh McClellan, supervisor; Zachariah Bush, town clerk, Jonas H. Miller, Ezra Doane, John J. Vandenburgh, assessors; James Hollenbeck, John V. Deuel, John T. Van Deusen, commissioners of highways; Abraham T. Van Deusen, Jacob Rockefeller, overseers of the poor; Peter Vandenburgh, Jacob R. Hollenbeck, William Van Deusen, commissioners of common schools; Robert Thomas, Peter E. H. Plass, Jonas R. Delemater, inspectors of schools; Jacob Traver, John W. Hollenbeck, John Weeks, Peter Ham, constables; Neil McNeil, sealer of weights and measures, and also poundmaster. Voted, that the next town-meeting be held at the house of Zachariah Bush.
The town was divided into fourteen road districts, with the following pathmasters: No. 1, Abraham J. Hardick; No. 3, John E. H. Plass, No. 4, Isaac Shaw; No. 5, Nicholas Ten Broeck; No. 6, William Van Deusen; No. 7, John T. Van Deusen; No. 8, Jacob R. Hollenbeck, No. 9, Jonas H. Miller; No. 10, John P. Kipp; No. 11, Jacob Happy; No. 12, David R. Bunker. The names for three districts are not obtainable form the records.
Of the town officers elected at this first meeting, 1837, the following brief memorandum may be of interest, though it relates to a comparatively modern date: Hugh McClellan, the first supervisor, lived not far from the toll-gate on Columbia turnpike, his place being the present Brownell farm. Zachariah Bush, first town clerk, lived near the "Fountain," and kept the tavern now the Hollenbeck place. Jonas H. Miller's place was the farm now owned by William Coons, between the Reformed church and the ferry. Ezra Doane lived on what is still known as the Doane farm. John J. Vandenburgh on what has been known as the Curry place, now owned by James Storm. James Hollenbeck's place was the present farm of John E. Gillette. John V. Duel lived in the north part of the town, somewhat away from the road, near the Claverack creek. John T. Van Deusen was east of Becraft's mountain, near the creek, on the farm now owned by Brownell. Abraham T. Van Deusen lived near his brother John, above mentioned. Jacob Rockefeller lived in the McKinstry neighborhood, on the present farm of Richard Hollenbeck. Peter Vandenburgh was the father of John J., mentioned above. William Van Deusen lived on the creek, near the stone mills on the present farm of Peter P. Groat. Robert Thomas owned the present farm of Mervin Best at Becraft's mountain. Peter E. H. Plass lived in the south part of the town. Jonas R. Delemater's place was the farm now owned by Henry Delemater. Jacob Traver lived in the north part of the town. John W. Hollenbeck kept the old tavern across South bay from Hudson, at the foot of Mount Merino, known as "First House." John Weeks lived near Becraft's mountain, and furnished the stone for the court-house. Peter Ham lived near the mountain also. Neil McNeil's place was just on the east line of the city.
Of these twenty named, Jacob R. Hollenbeck is still living. He has been in office all the time form that date to the present, and is now serving as justice of the peace in the twenty-third year. There are also still living Neil McNeil, John P. Kipp, Jacob Happy, and Robert Thomas.