Columbia County

New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis402


  Livingston was originally the northern part of Dutchess county.  It embraced a tract of land extending from a point five miles south from Hudson, twelve miles along the Hudson river, and eastward to the Massachusetts line about twenty miles.  In 1715 this territory was constituted the "Manor of Livingston," and invested with court privileges by the king of Great Britain.  On the 24th of March, 1772, it was formed into a district under an act which authorized the election of civil officers.  In 1786 the manor was attached to the new county of Columbia, and on the 7th of March, 1788, was organized as a town.  Germantown was taken off from the original manor in 1710, and Clermont from the district in 1787.  The town was reduced to its present area, twenty-two thousand eight hundred square acres, or nearly thirty-six square miles, in 1803, by the formation of Taghkanic and Ancram from its eastern part.

     Livingston received its name from the first lord of the manor, and is south from the center of the county, bordering on the Hudson from the town of Greenport south to Roeloff Jansen's Kill, and extending southeast along that stream to its southernmost bend, near the Dutchess county line thence north along the towns of Gallatin and Taghkanic to the town of Claverack on its northeast, being almost triangular in shape.

     The topography of the town is somewhat varied.  In the west are local elevations of considerable height, the principal one being Oak hill, near the Greenport line.  From this the country slopes south and west towards the Hudson.  Eastward is Blue hill and other ranges containing mineral deposits, chiefly iron ore, although indications of lead appear in certain localities.  In the central part the town forms a handsomely-undulated plateau, and on the eastern line it is somewhat broken by hills, whose surfaces are generally arable.  The general landscape is very attractive, and as most of the land may be cultivated, its resources have given it a prominent place among the towns of the county.  Although not so well watered as some localities, the natural drainage of Livingston is good.  Copake creek flows through the northeastern part, and the Kleina and Dove Kills have a westerly course south of the center of the town into the Roeloff Jansen Kill,* which flows northwest into the Hudson.  Near their outlet these streams have deep and rocky channels, affording good water-power, but in most of their courses they flow through broad and fertile meadows.  There are also a number of brooks, and in the southeastern part of the town several small lakes of clear and fresh water.  The largest and finest are known as Twin lakes, and are much frequented by fishermen.

     The soil is usually fertile, varying from a sandy loam to a fat clay, or a clay admixed with gravel and small stones, with occasional ledges of limestone or slaty rock outcropping the surface.  Grass and rye are the principal products, although lately much attention has been paid to the cultivation of small fruits and apples, and the yearly return from these sources forms much of the wealth of the town.  In early times much of the town was covered with fine growths of timber, chiefly oak and pine, and a limited quantity of these stately trees yet remain.  In the central part of the town, on the Kleina Kill, was a grove of unusual beauty, locally known as the "Piet Bush."

*Named after Roeloff Jansen, an official of the Dutch government.