Poughkeepsie's Early Days

Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

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Early Days

Poughkeepsie is the shire town of the wealthy and flouishing county of Dutchess, situated on the banks of the noble Hudson, equidistant between New York and Albany, containing a population of twenty-two thousand inhabitants. The original name of Poughkeepsie was Apokeepsing, an Indian word signifying Pleasant Harbor." The first permanent settler in Poughkeepsie was Baltus Van Kleeck, who built the first house within the present limits of the city in the year 1702, on land now owned by Matthew Vassar, which was demolished in 1835. It was incorporated as a village, March 27th, 1729, and as a city, March 28, 1854. Dutchess county was organized by the first Legislature in 1684. It derived its name from Duchess, the wife of a Duke. The first Court House in Poughkeepsie was built in the year 1717. An Act was passed that year by the Colonial Assembly to authorize Dutchess county to build a Court House and Prison, the notice of which, addressed to the county authorities, bears date, June 11th, 1717. Pursuant to the provisions of that act, the freeholders of the county were commanded to meet at the house of Leonard Lewis, on the 22nd of June 1717, and appoint by a plurality of voices two persons, being freeholders, to superintend the construction of the building. Leonard Lewis, Baltus Van Kleeck, and Johannas Terbots, signed an order addressed to Cornelius Van Der Bogart, constable, commanding him to summon the freeholders to attend the meeting. At this meeting Capt. Baltus Van Kleeck and Jacobus Van Der Bogart, supervisors, were chosen to build the Court House and Jail. In the order from the Provincial Secretary it is said the meeting shall be held in Pockepsink. The certificate of the result is signed by Leonard Lewis, Judge, Capt. Baltus Van Kleeck, and Michael Palmateer, Justices. But notwithstanding that the colonial legislature authorized the building of a Court House and Jail as early as 1717, a Court of Common Pleas was not established until 1721.

Local Tales and Historical Sketches, by Henry D. B. Bailey, Fishkill
Landing, John W. Spaight Publisher, Fishkill Standard Office, 1874, pages 308 - 313.

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Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

HTML by Debbie

Copyright Dutchess, ALHN October 10, 1999

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