Burnings in Poughkeepsie

Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

nyhis.gif (9063 bytes)

bow.gif (3065 bytes)bow.gif (3065 bytes)

Burnings in Poughkeepsie

For nearly a century and a half Poughkeepsie has been the shire town of the wealthy county of Dutchess, but her hearly history is written in tears of blood. We look back with horror in English history, in the bigoted and bloody reign of Queen Mary, when man was burnt at the stake for his religious zeal. But in the early history of Poughkeepsie we find the scenes took place almost as cruel and revolting as in the bloody reign of Mary Tudor.

The burning of a white man and negro for incendiarism about a century ago, took place in Market street, and was witnessed by a great concourse, and the horrors were indescribable. It seemed as if the sufferers never would die, but continued their screams of agony longer than it was thought possible they could live. After the wood was nearly all consumed, and their bodies charred and half consumed had fallen among the coals and ashes, the negro's jaws continued to open and shut as if yawning for some minutes, as the people crowded about to witness the end. But there was another scene of horror which took place in Poughkeepsie in the early part of the Revolution, which exceeds, if possible, the burning above alluded to. Two boys in Fishkill, only about sixteen years of age, were arrested as spies. Being without friends, they were undefended, tried and condemned to be hung, and actually were hung on what afterwards was called Forbus Hill. But the trial and execution of a poor man from Beekman, whose name was Brock, which took place about the year 1770, is too melancoly to dwell upon. He was poor and friendless, and was arrested for passing conterfeit hard dollar, which was proved to have been given to him. On the trial he had no defense, being unable to employ an attorney, and he was found guilty and sentenced to be hung, and have his body delivered to the surgeons for dissection, all of which was done at Poughkeepsie. But a brighter day has dawned, those laws this then took the life of a fellow being for so trivial of crimes, have long since been obliterated. They have been erased from our statute books, for the diffusion of knowledge has so enlightened man that it has enabled him to frame laws founded upon equity and justice, and at the present day, when a criminal is tried for a crime, he has justice done him; and in all cases when necessary, mercy is exercised.

Poughkeepsie has kept pace with the age, and has always had her share of learned men. That venerable Court House has its history. It was the nursery of the genius and eloquence of Edmonds, Jourdan,Talmadge, Williams, Cleveland, and others tho have filled distinguished positions in American politics. At the bar, one of the most interesting cases which ever occurred in Poughkeepsie, was the Collins will case, which had been in litigation for years. The closing scene took place in the winter of 1861, and the summing up occupied a week. It called out the talent of the prominent members of the bar, and the learned council on either side displayed the finest specimens of forensic eloquence.

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

bow.gif (3065 bytes)bow.gif (3065 bytes)

Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

HTML by Debbie

Copyright Dutchess, ALHN October 10, 1999

Return to Dutchess County ALHN

You are the 3028th Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since March 9, 2001.