Clinton, Dutchess, NY ALHN

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September 24, 1999

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Clinton Town, Pages 144 - 148

Clinton
Population, 1, 793 - Square Acres, 24, 064

Clinton was organized March 13, 1786.  It was formed from Charlotte and Rhinebeck Precincts, and derives its name from Hon. George Clinton, who was then Governor of the State. It originally embraced territory much larger than at present.  Hyde Park and Pleasant Valley having been taken off in 1821.

Its surface is a rolling upland, considerably broken by hills in the north and west.   Shultz Mountains in the north part, and Sippe Barrack in the west are the highest points.  The principal stream is the Salt Point Creek, which flows south, near the centre.  Crom Elbow Creek forms a portion of the west boundary.  In the north are several small lakes, the largest of which are Long Pond and Round Pond.  The soil is a sandy loam.  The principal post-offices and villages are Clinton Corners, Clinton Hollow, Bull's Head, Hibernia, Pleasant Plains and Shultzville.

Two Irishmen named Everson came into the southeast part of the town over one hundred years ago, where they put up a grist mill, and erected a substantial stone dwelling, both of which are still standing.  They named the place Hibernia, - probably by way of keeping alive the memory of the land of their nativity.  A cut of the mill is here shown, representing it as it was originally built, since which time considerable changes have been made. Stephen Sweet, grandfather of John Ferris, Esq., of Washington, *(NOTE:   He was ancestor also of Mrs. Benson J. Lossing) was the builder of the mill. Benjamin Sherow, who died some years since, at an advanced age, used to tell about being here at the time the mill was raised, which they were three days in accomplishing.   Many of the beams are fourteen inches square, of solid oak, and are still in a perfect state of preservation.  A fulling mill was established here at an early date. The Parks, the Porters, the Hutchinsons and Coopers located at or near Hibernia.

At Clinton Corners stands the old Hicksite Church called the "Creek Quaker Church," erected, according to the date on the roof in the year 1777, the second of the War of American Independence, and therefore wants but one year of being a century old.   It is one of the few relics left.  It is built substantially of stone, and has recently been furnished with a slate roof, and considerably remodeled in its interior.   The house had originally two porches, one for each door; they were afterward joined, and extended across the whole front of the building.  An orthodox Church stands a mile or so north of the Hicksite building, built after the separation.

Before the first house was erected, the people would throw up a pile of stones, and gather around to conduct their worship when permitted to do so by the scoffers and enemies of their faith, who frequently molested them in their services.  When the church was in process of construction, which was during the Revolution, the builders on several occasions ran away to avoid being pressed into the ranks of the army.  Thus in the midst of the toils and dangers was the church nourished and built up; and in the church yard lie the church fathers, calmly resting from all their trials and persecutions.  The walls of the building are as firm as when first built and with a little care will stand the storm of another century.  Within its sacred enclosure the fervent prayers of godly men and women have been offered up to the giver of all Good for a century.  Men have stood up in all the pride and glory of manhood, and passed away, and their places have been filled by others, until three generations have gone by, and yet the old house stands, a beacon on the ocean of time.  May it long continue to stand, to light the lonely traveler journeying on to eternity.

At Clinton Hollow is a quaint-looking grist mill, built over a century ago, by the Halsteds, who were early settlers in this neighborhood..  Some of the timber used in it is nearly two feet square, of solid oak.  A fulling mill was likewise located in the vicinity.  Grist mills and fulling mills seem to have been necessities of the people in those primitive days, and their location was the nucleus around which the hamlets and larger villages clustered. Then an available mill-site did more towards determining the location of a settlement than fertility of soil or eligible building plots. The Knickerbackers settled near Clinton Hollow at an early date.

St Shutlzville is another mill, probably not as ancient as the others mentioned, around which a village has sprung up.  Here is located a Christian Church edifice, built in 1864, and also a Masonic Hall.  At Pleasant Plains is a Presbyterian Church, a branch of the Pleasant Valley church of that denomination.  The society was formed in 1837, of twelve members regularly dismissed from the mother church for the purpose, and the house of worship built about that time.  At LeRoy's Corners is another old mill, a store, and a few dwellings.

At the upper end of the Shultz Mountains, in the north part of the town, a slate quarry was formerly worked by the Hudson River Slate Company, but it is now abandoned.

The LeRoys and Cookinghams were early settlers near Pleasant Plains.  The Van Vliets located in this town about the year 1755; quite a number of that name still reside here.

Near Clinton Corners stands the mansion built about the year 1792, by Abel Peters, now owned by B. Hicks, Esq.  Peters was an inn-keeper and merchant, and appears to have accumulated wealth in the business; and was withal, a representative man of that class who did all the public business required by the people of those primitive times.  IT is said that Peters kept his tavern and store in the mansion spoken of; but this is denied by a grand-daughter of his, who visited here several years ago, and who said the hotel and store stood opposite, and have since been removed.  The Peters mansion was built when she was a little girl; the brick was manufactured just to the rear of the house, the materials for which were thrown together in mass, and mixed by means of cattle treading it; and she remembered driving the oxen for the purpose.

Standing near the road leading from Clinton Hollow to Rhinebeck is an old log cabin built by the Sleight family, in which two maiden sisters of that name formerly lived, and both of whom recently died in one day.  The house is now unoccupied and is probably one of the first dwellings ever put up in the town.

Agriculture was the chief business of the early settlers, as it has continued to be of their successors.  Most of the tillable land was easily prepared for   cultivation; there was plenty of timber for their log cabins and dwellings; the country abounded in clear springs and brooks, and it may be supposed the pioneers had no trouble in gaining a subsistence.

The proximity of grist mills made it easy for them, from the first, to get their grain converted into flour or meal, and afterwards furnished a ready market for their wheat, the first product that brought any considerable income.

Their sugar and molasses were furnished by the towering sugar maples that graced the native forest about their lonely cabins.  Their plain but substantial homespun woolen and linen cloth furnished the family with comfortable clothing.  Their leather was in proportion to their beef and mutton, and the bark for tanning was near at hand.  The skins were carried to the tanner, marked with the owner's initials, and returned to him after several months.  Then the shoemaker would make his yearly rounds, when he would make all the shoes for the family for the year.

Almost every article of food required by their simple habits could be raised off their farms; their appetites were unpampered, and their active life and vigorous health caused their plain food to be relished; and when anything was required out of the usual line the considerable towns of Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck were near at hand to supply them.

One distinguishing feature of the town of Clinton is that there is no hotel kept within its limits - at least such is the assertion of those who profess to know.  The lakes, of which there are several, afford find opportunity for angling; and we may readily suppose were a favorite resort of the Indian.  The wooded hills which spring up in the picturesque landscape have the same appearance as when looked upon by the primitive owners of the soil.  Removed from the hurry and bustle of commercial life, as well as from the din and smoke of the manufactory, Clinton affords a fine retreat to one to whom the absence of excitement and the free enjoyment of rural sports and occupations are congenial.

The following statistics may be of interest: - the price of wheat in 1776 was five shillings a bushel - just the price of a day's work in harvesting. Butter was ten pence per pound. The wages of a woman to do housework was five shillings a week.

From: General History of Duchess County, From 1609 to 1876, Inclusive,
Philip H. Smith, Pawling, NY, Published by the Author, 1877.