THE FIRST SETTLERS
STUYVESANT, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Capt. Franklin Ellis75
The first settlers were Swedes and Hollanders, who came soon after 1650, and bore the names of Scherbs, Scherp, Peitersen, Van Alen, Van Der Poel, Van Valkenburgh, Vosburgh, Van Alstyne, and Schermerhorn.
In 1763, among other improvements in the town, were houses owned by the following, most of whom have yet descendants living in Stuyvesant, and constitute now, as then, its principal citizens: Jacob Vosburgh, near the landing; Andreis Witbeck, near Coxsackie station, which at that time was called Nutten Hook; between this point and the landing northward, in the order named, lived Jacob Van Valkenburgh, Gerrit Van Hoesen, Abraham Wingaart, and Gysbert Claw; on the hill, east from the landing, were the homes of the Scherbs and Sharps, who are called, in the document before us, the Swedes. The latter became very numerous, and the locality where they resided was known as Sharptown until recently. Peter Van Buren and Peter Vosburgh lived on the river-bank north from the landing, which was then called Swate Hook, probably from the fact that the Swedes settled there. The upper landing was called Kinderhook. North of this was the old house of Adam Van Alen; and still farther north the homes of Jacobus, Barent, and John Van Der Poel. The house of the latter and the house of Lendert Conyn stood opposite Bear Island, which at that time is said to have been covered with fine timber, and afforded excellent fishing and hunting. The Van Alstynes and the Van Hoesens lived near the great falls (Stuyvesant), on the very same land now occupied by their posterity. At a later period these settlers were joined by families named Van Ness, Van Dyck, Van Slyck, Schermerhorn, who had settled very early in Schodack, Bayly and Sickles. Their descendants and those of other families, named in Kinderhook, in most instances, yet live in town, and date the settlement of their ancestors prior to the American Revolution. The population in 1875 was two thousand three hundred and ninety-one, an increase of one hundred and fifty-seven since 1865.
In addition to these homes of early settlers, it is generally believed that there were saw and grist-mills on the great falls, although not indicated on the map of that period. Dr. Rockwell states that two Labadist brethren, Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, visited this locality in 1680, which they thus described in their journal: "We came to anchor at Kinderhook (Stuyvesant), where a certain female trader had some grain to be carried down the river." While waiting the process of loading, the journal continues, "We stepped ashore to amuse ourselves. We came to a creek near which lives a man whom they usually call 't' Kinder van Walde' ('the Child of Luxury (?)' He had a saw-mill on the creek, or a water-fall, which is a singular one. The water falls quite steep in one body, but it comes down in steps, with a broad rest between them. These steps are sixty feet or more high, and are formed out of a single rock." One familiar with the scenery of Stuyvesant falls will not hesitate to locate this fortunate settler at that point, but who he was or what became of his mill, since it is not mentioned in subsequent writings, will perhaps never be revealed. The location and ownership of another mill in this town is more positively fixed. Frans Peiters Clavers had a saw-mill on the little stream, two miles north from the landing, as early as 1665. It formed a conspicuous landmark in the first patents granted to De Bruyn and others, and was unquestionably the first improvement of this nature in this locality, if not in the county. There are also intimations, although obscure, that other mills were located on the Saw Kill, as it was then called, and it is supposed that the brook in the southern part of the town was also forced to do service as a mill-stream for the early settlers.