Old Miscellaneous Records
The Second Book of the Supervisors and Assessors,
Transcription and HTML by "Ginny"
In July, 1908, there was published under the auspices of Vassar Brothers' Institute the First Book of the Supervisors and Assessors of the County of Dutchess. The quaint spelling of the records in this little volume and some of the records themselves attracted considerable attention. The book was published for the purpose of preserving these records with the thought that there was much of them of local interest and some things of more than local interest. The present publication takes up the next book of the series. Like its predecessor this in its original form is an unbound, time-stained manuscript pamphlet. In most respects it is well preserved, but there are parts of it where the deciphering of the manuscript is difficult and in a few places, indicated by dashes in this publication, the words were not legible.
This volume is not so distinctly a book of records of the supervisors and assessors as its predecessor and contains many more miscellaneous records. The assessment lists extend to 1729, and the election records to 1732, but the miscellaneous records extend some ten years later and cover a period when the growth of the county had begun to make itself felt. The three divisions, or wards, into which the county was divided originally had give place in 1737 to seven precincts, or townships, under authority of the Colonial Legislature. Evidence is to be found in this volume of the spread of population back from the river into densely wooded interior and also of Immigration to the county across the border from Connecticut. Among the miscellaneous records in the last pare of the volume are a number of road surveys and these include the laying out of roads entirely across the county to Dover (page 162). It is interesting to note that the big hill just as the road enters Dover was called Plymouth Hill as early as 1736.
There are many interesting little bits that throw light upon the life of the times. We note, for instance, on page 17, a reference to "damage in wheate" in the middle ward, which shows that wheat was raised in the County of Dutchess at that time. Among the records of expenses such items as the following (page 22) are not infrequent: "To Leonard Lewis, Esq., for Beer & Rum for ye Assessors & Supervisors." We find also that bookkeeping was not exactly a science in those days and that allowances for services were often much delayed, as for instance the payment to Hermanes Reynders "as Cryer in ye Cercut Cort several years agoe." On Page 139 is strong evidence of the difficulties that sometimes occurred in collecting taxes, making it necessary for the county officials to borrow in order to make good a deficiency. The purposes for which money was raised in the various tax lists is of some interest, as on page 137, "For repairing the barrack in His Magesty's Fort George in New York." and on page 20 where the efforts of the Colonial government to bind the five nations of Indians to the English are mentioned. Currency difficulties find a reflection in this book in many places. On page 44, the assessors are directed to raise "5,350 ounces of Plate." though underneath the items are always made out in pounds, shillings and pence. It is evident that the north ward of the county was the richest, the middle ward next and the south ward the poorest, from the apportionment of taxes among them.
The record on page 17, of a meeting [Fish Kill 1724] of freeholders and tenants at the Court House is the first mention of that building in the county records, as a "Court House." It had been completed a few years before and the earlier records in connection with its construction name it always as the "county house: or the "county house and prison."
To the painstaking care of Mr. Henry Booth we are indebted for the opportunity to reproduce these records. It was, of course, out of the question to put the originals in the hands of the printer, but Mr. Booth has prepared for this volume, as was the case with its predecessor, a literal copy, page by page, and the greatest care has been exercised to follow the original spelling and arrangement exactly.
Sept. 25, 1909
[Dutchess History and Genealogy]