By Captain Franklin Ellis105





      The city of Hudson, the seat of justice of the county of Columbia, is situated about midway between the northern and southern limits of the county, on the east bank of the Hudson river, twenty-eight miles below Albany, and opposite to the village of Athens, in the county of Greene. Here, from an eastward bend of the river, two bays indent the Columbia shore, and between these bays lies the city, built principally along the top and sides of a high swell of ground which commences at the slope of a loftier elevation more than a mile inland, and extends westwardly to the river, where it ends in a bold headland that rises from the water's edge, almost perpendicularly, to a height of sixty feet.
The length of the city is from river to hill; its width is from bay to bay. In the eastern part rise the spires of the churches, giving relief to what would otherwise be its rather monotonous outline; and upon the high ground overlooking the South bay, and the green slopes of Mount Merino, the court-house rears it dome from among the surrounding trees. The city is well and substantially built, and many of the residences are of great elegance, beautifully embowered, and so located as to give from their verandas charming views of the unrivaled scenery of the locality, as well as of the lofty Catskills in the distance.
     The Hudson and Chatham railroad passes through the southern and eastern part of the city, and terminates at the river, where it connects with the New York and Hudson steamers. The Hudson River railroad, with its steel tracks brightened by the incessant passage of trains, crosses both the South and the North bay, and passes along the entire front of the city, which, by this route, is distant one hundred and fifteen miles from New York. The various manufactories, with their tall chimneys and great piles of coal and iron, are situated near the railroads and the river,--too much in the foreground to add to the beauty of the city, but yet located most advantageously for the requirements of their business.
     In the middle of the river, between Hudson and Athens, is an island of alluvial ooze, nearly two miles in length, the same on which Henry Hudson's little ship ran aground, centuries ago. It is covered in summer with what is supposed to be the wild rice of the northern lakes, and is submerged by the flood, though uncovered at the ebb of the tide, which has at this point a rise and fall of about five feet. This island, known as the "middle ground," has, on either side, a sufficient depth of water to float the largest vessels, but it is certainly a blemish in the otherwise unbroken and beautiful reach of the river.


     The site of the city was comprehended in the limits of that ancient grant of land which we have before mentioned as having been purchased from the Indians, in 1662, by Jan Frans Van Hoesen, and to him confirmed by letters patent from the English governor, Richard Nicolls, May 14, 1667. It is not probable that in selecting this domain he was moved by any other consideration than that of its agricultural advantages, nor that during all the years of his occupancy he ever dreamed of future cities, or commerce or manufactures, or thought of the capabilities of the great river beyond the floating of the little sloops that carried to market the products of his fertile bouwerie which lay farther inland.
     The old patentee died about the year 1703, and among the children he left were Jurrien, Jacob Jans, Johannes, and Catharine, which last named was the wife of Francis Hardick.* By the law of primogeniture, which was then in operation, the eldest son, Jurrien, inherited the landed estate, but he appears to have had no inclination to wrong the other heirs, and so an amicable partition was agreed to; and on Jan. 7, 1704, he conveyed by deeds to his brothers and sister the lands lying on and near the river, which were probably regarded by all as being less valuable than those lying farther back and nearer to Claverack creek.
     The portion conveyed to Catharine and Francis Hardick is described† as "certain piece of land situate, lying, and being at Claverack aforesaid, on the east side of Hudson's River, now in their possession, Beginning from the river side and runs up Eastwardly into the Woods along the north side of the Waggon-Way to the Spruyt of Dientz bridge at the bounds of said Jurrien Van Hoesen, and so along the said bounds Northwest to the bounds of Jacob Jans Van Hoesen, and from thence Westward along his bounds to the said River side, together with the House and Barn and Orchard."
The brother Jacob Jans also received lands to the northward, but no deed of them is found recorded.
The lands conveyed to the brother Johannes lay upon the river and South bay, and on the north they came up to the road which formed the south boundary of the tract allotted to the Hardicks.
This road or "Waggon-Way" led from the interior farms to the landing, and passed nearly along the line of Ferry and Partition streets; and the tracts of Johannes Van Hoesen and the Hardicks, lying respectively on its southern and northern sides, comprised a large part of the site of the present city.
Francis Hardick died about 1742, devising his more northerly lands to his son Jan, but the residue, running south to about the line of Ferry and Partition streets, to his son William, who in turn died about 1760, leaving several sons, among whom were Francis (the eldest), Gerrit, Jacob, Lendert. The lands descended by primogeniture to Francis, and at his death, which occurred May 4, 1783, were inherited by his sons William, Peter, and Daniel; but the portion allotted to the last named appears to have laid outside the present city limits.
     Some years before the death of Francis Hardick a "store and wharf lot" and a "mill lot" had been sold out of the Hardick tract to Jeremiah Hogeboom, for the purposes indicated by their names. The "mill lot" adjoined and partially included what is now called Underhill's pond, in the northeast part of the city, and the "store and wharf lot" lay on the river, upon the north side of the old country road, or wagon-way (now Ferry street), and is so shown on a map of the landing-place and vicinity, made by William Ellison in September, 1774, now to be seen in the office of the secretary of state at Albany. In the year 1783 both these lots were owned and occupied by Peter Hogeboom, Jr., having probably come into his possession by devise or descent from Jeremiah Hogeboom, the purchaser.
It has been mentioned that the lands lying south of the old country road, or "Waggon-Way," and extending thence to the South bay and westwardly to the river, were conveyed in 1704 by Jurrien Van Hoesen to his brother Johannes. He in turn conveyed them (Oct. 28, 1724) for the consideration of natural love and affection, and the sum of five pounds, to his sons Jacob and Gerrit Van Hoesen. Fifty-nine years later (1783), these lands were in possession of Hendrick Van Hoesen, Gerrit Van Hoesen, John Van Alen, and Catherine (Van Hoesen) Van Alen, having probably come to these owners by descent, though no record is found showing whether they came in that manner or otherwise.
The land conveyed by Jurrien Van Hoesen to his brother Jacob Jans, in 1704, extended from the Hardick tract northerly along the river to the north line of the patent. These lands, or a portion of them lying adjoining the Hardick tract, descended from Jacob Jans Van Hoesen to his son Jacob, and from him to his sons, Jacob and John Jacob Van Hoesen, who were its owners in the year 1783.
Among the sloop-skippers, river-men, and small traders, as well as among the thriving farmers who occupied the rich meadows and bottom-lands to the eastward, and who transported their products hither for shipment, this locality was known as Claverack Landing. Here were two rude wharves or piers, each with a small store-house in connection, of which the respective owners were Peter Hogeboom, Jr., and Colonel John Van Alen, husband of Catharine (Van Hoesen) Van Alen. Hogeboom's store stood upon the "store and wharf lot" before mentioned as having been sold by the Hardicks to Jeremiah Hogeboom. Colonel Van Alen's store stood on a lot which is now the southwest corner of Ferry and Water streets.
     At the point where the old country road came down to the river (the present ferry-slip) was the landing-place of a ferry, plied by Conrad Flock, to and from Lunenburgh,‡ for the accommodation of occasional teams and passengers desiring to cross. If he had only foot passengers, ferryman Flock transported them across in a canoe, but if teams were to be ferried, then two canoes were fastened side by side to carry the wagon and driver, while the animals were compelled to swim astern.
     A water-mill (very poorly supplied with water, but answering in some manner the purpose of grinding grain for the neighborhood) which stood upon the little stream, in the "mill lot," was also owned and operated by Peter Hogeboom, Jr.
     There were thriving orchards upon the lands along the old country road, and the farms were well tilled, as was usually the case among people of Dutch birth or extraction. Besides bestowing the necessary care upon their lands and cattle, some of the inhabitants here found time to engage in fishing, particularly during the herring season; taking large numbers of these fish, for which they found ready sale in New York.
     In the preceding brief mention we have enumerated the business enterprises of this obscure landing-lace, and have traced the proprietorship of the adjacent lands down to the closing year of the Revolution.
     In the early part of that year (1783) there came to this quiet spot a party of visitors, four in number, sober, undemonstrative Quaker men from the southeastern part of New England. Their arrival seemed but a commonplace occurrence, and none could at that time have thought it a matter of very great moment, yet it proved to be of more importance in the annals of dull old Claverack Landing than all the previous events of its history during the one hundred and twenty years which had elapsed since the time of its purchase from the Mohicans by the pioneer Van Hoesen.
The circumstances and motives which had brought these visitors to the landing were as follows: About thirty persons,±  principally Quakers, residents of Providence and Newport, in Rhode Island, and of Nantucket and Edgartown in Massachusetts (all of whom were or had been engaged in commercial pursuits, the whale fishery or other branch of marine navigation, and all possessors of considerable pecuniary means, while several were persons of large wealth), having suffered very severely in their business by reason of the ravages of British cruisers during the war, had, about the commencement of that year, formed themselves into an association having for its object the establishment of a commercial settlement or town at some safer and more sheltered location, and the removal thither of themselves, their families, and their business; and in pursuance of this project they had appointed a committee from their number to make a tour of exploration to select a proper and eligible site for the proposed settlement.
     The committee so chosen proceeded on their mission, passing westwardly through Long Island sound and the East river, where they examined and came near purchasing a site from Colonel Rutgers.# They, however, decided to search farther, and so passed into and up the Hudson, stopping for a considerable time to examine a location offered by Mr. -----Davies, at Poughkeepsie; but finally declining this offer, they proceeded up the river until they came to the old sloop-landing at the clover-reach, and here we find them; the same four Quaker visitors whom we have mentioned above.
The chief personage among this part was Thomas Jenkins, Esq., of Providence, a merchant of high standing in that city, and by far the wealthiest member§ of the association, as well as a man of excellent business capacity, fine attainments, and great dignity and polish of manner. He had been the originator of the project, and to him the other members of the committee yielded great deference. Another of the explorers was Cotton Gelston, also of Providence, and an intimate friend of Mr. Jenkins, but possessing neither the wealth nor business ability of the latter. The names of the other two members of the committee cannot be given, nor are we able to say whether their journey from New England was made in their own vessel or by the packet-sloops of the Sound and the North river. It is most probable, however, that they came in the manner first mentioned.
     It would be interesting to know the details of that first visit, of their reception by the Van Hoesens, the Van Alens, and the Hardicks (though, from what we know of their later intercourse, there can be no doubt that it was a cordial one), of their examination of the site, and negotiations for its purchase; but we find no account of these, nothing to show whether a decision was arrived at and a bargain concluded by the committee before reporting to their associates. We only know that it was finally decided to locate at Claverack Landing, and that on the 19th of July, 1783, Peter Hogeboom, Jr., conveyed his store and wharf property by deed to Thomas Jenkins for the consideration of twenty-six hundred pounds; and that, on the 22d of the same month, Margaret, widow of the second Francis Hardick, William and Peter Hardick, her sons, and Gerrit and Jacob, ƒ sons of the elder William Hardick, united in a conveyance, also to Thomas Jenkins, of certain land described as "bounded northerly by land of Jacob Van Hoesen to the river, about two hundred rods, and by the river to lands conveyed by Peter Hogeboom, Jr., to Thomas Jenkins." The consideration named in this conveyance was eighteen hundred and seventy pounds.
     A lot of two acres adjoining the above, and lying on or near the North bay, was conveyed on the same day by Francis Hardick¤ to Thomas Jenkins, for a consideration of five hundred and forty pounds. These three tracts, embracing the lands lying north of Ferry and Partition streets, and extending along the river and the North bay, were probably all that were included in the first purchase. The titles to these, as well as to tracts subsequently purchased,¶ were taken by Mr. Jenkins for the association. 



*Francis Hardick had, when a boy, been kidnapped (or rather assisted to run away) from service in Liverpool by the master of a vessel trading between that port and New York; and having by some means found employment with Mr. Van Hoesen, afterwards married his daughter Catherine.
*Francis Hardick had, when a boy, been kidnapped (or rather assisted to run away) from service in Liverpool by the master of a vessel trading between that port and New York; and having by some means found employment with Mr. Van Hoesen, afterwards married his daughter Catherine.
†Albany Deeds, Book "D," pp. 282 to 285.
 ‡The upper and older portion of the present village of Athens, opposite Hudson. This name has sometimes been incorrectly spelled Loonenburgh. The orthography which we give is as found in Sauthier's map, published in London, Jan. 1, 1779.
± The number of proprietors was, by their agreement, limited to thirty, but the association never reached quite that number at one time.
# The tract offered by Colonel Rutgers was considered as entirely too small for their purpose; otherwise it would have been approved and purchased by the committee. As it was, they offered within five hundred dollars of the price demanded.
§ It is said that the property brought here by the different members of the Jenkins family amounted to the aggregate to fully a quarter of a million dollars.
ƒ Gerrit and Jacob Hardick had, by purchase, acquired small lots within the boundaries of the tract.
¤ This person, usually known as Francis Hardick, Jr., was the son of Jan Hardick, and a cousin of that Francis Hardick who died in May, 1783.
¶ On the 5th of September following, Lendert Hardick conveyed to Mr. Jenkins twelve and a half acres and twenty perches of land, for a consideration of two hundred and fifty pounds (Alb. Co. Deeds, Book K, pp. 3880, 381). This tract lay in or nearly in the northwesterly angle of Second and Mill streets. It had been purchased by this grantor (April 3, 1767) from Francis Hardick, Jr., to whom it had descended from his father, Jan Hardick, who acquired it about 1742 by devise from his father, the first Francis Hardick, son-in-law of the patentee, Jan Frans Van Hoesen.
The "mill lot" which had also been a part of the estate of Jan Hardick, and had been purchased from Francis Hardick by Jeremiah Hogeboom some years prior to 1774, was sold by Peter Hogeboom, Jr., to Thomas Jenkins in 1784.