Columbia County

New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis408



     Johnstown, the largest village in Livingston, is located east of the centre of the town, about nine miles from Hudson.  It derived its name from John Livingston, who was active in promoting the settlement of the place.  Being surrounded by very rich farming country, and on the intersection of the old post-road and the Catskill turnpike, it was formerly the seat of considerable business and a place of notable importance.  It is pleasantly situated, contains the Linlithgo Reformed church, a good school-house, several large mechanic shops, and about two hundred inhabitants.

     John Van Deusen was one of the first to engage in active trade at this point, selling his first goods in an old shed.  About 1800 he built the store-house now occupied by N. Hallenbeck, in which he followed merchandising forty years, becoming one of the wealthiest men in town.  Where Samuel Cole now lives Jonathan Lane had a store about 1790, although not conducted on a large scale.  the successive merchants at the Van Deusen stand were Henry A. Du Bois, John Whitbeck, Philip Smith, Samuel Cole, and the present merchant.  In 1827, Herman Livingston erected a store building opposite the above, in which Bonesteel, Broadhead & Co. engaged in trade, being followed, in 1830, by Henry Baker.  Here Samuel Shutts was the last in trade, in 1877.

     About the time Van Deusen opened his store the present hotel was erected by a member of the Livingston family.  Jacob M. Fonda was one of the first innkeepers.  In 1822, L. Homedieu kept the house, and later landlords have been George W. King, Peter Smith, Henry Hare, Peter Van Deusen, Reuben Van De Bogart, Edward Hermance, and the present, Walter Haynor.  In the lower part of the village was a famous hostelry as early as the Revolution.  It was a long red building, with spacious stables, where stage-horses were changed.  Among the proprietors were a man named Pulver, and, after 1800, William Huddleston and Henry I. Baringer.  About 1825 it was converted into a tenement.  Other taverns were on the post-road, north and south of the village, and in 1805 twenty licenses were granted to keep public-houses in the town.

     The post-office at this place was established April 1, 1805, with the name of Livingston, there being another Johnstown in the State.  Jonathan Lane was appointed post-master, and held the position many years.  Other appointees were Killian Miller, Robert H. Morris, Walter Patterson, John Whitbeck, John Van Deusen, Frederick Best, Peter I. Bachman, Henry Baker, Henry Du Bois, Samuel Cole, Simeon Clark, German Fingar, and, at present, James Rossman.  It has a daily mail from Hudson direct.

     Some very eminent attorneys have lived at Johnstown.  Killian Miller was in practice here from 1807 till 1833.  Robert H. Morris, afterwards mayor of New York city, was here as the attorney of the Livingstons, and was succeeded by Josiah Sutherland.  He removed to Hudson, and from there to New York city, where he still resides, honored as an upright judge.  Charles Esselstyn came to the village as a young attorney in 1820, and lived here until he was elected surrogate.  Seymour L. Stebbins was associated with him a short time, and then removed to Kingston.  Robert H. Andrews, now of Hudson, lived in the place about 1840; and John M. Welch, of the same city, at a later period.  After this John Whitbeck was for many years a practicing attorney, and Robert Hood has been located here since 1866.

     Dr. John McClellan located as a permanent physician at Johnstown about 1800, and remained about forty years.  In the last ten years of his practice his contemporary physicians were Dr. John Rossman, in 1830; Dr. Samuel McClellan, in 1832; and Dr. George Livingston, in 1834.  After that period Dr. William Jones located here, remaining until 1865; Dr. Robert Humphrey from 1840 till 1860; and from 1858 till his death, in 1867, Dr. Stephen Platner.  Since 1850 Dr. Jacob Horton has been one of the leading practitioners, and is now the only one located at this point.

     Among the oldest citizens at present living at Johnstown is Samuel Shear, who came to the place in 1829.  For the past thirty years he has been a justice of the peace.