FISHKILL (Village)
Chapter XLIV
(History of the Town of Fishkill)

(Part One)

FISHKILL, though the oldest, is one of the least populous of the many villages in the Town. It is situated northeast of the center of the town, near the creek from which it derives it name #(see note at end), about five miles from the Landing, with which it is connected by rail and stage. Few villages surpass it in beauty of location; and while the construction of railroads had detracted from its importance by withdrawing it business to other centers, it will ever possess strong attractions as a place of residence to those who desire a retired situation combined with scenic beauty.

The historic associations cluster around it will ever give it a prominence in the town’s history.

It is a station on the Newburgh, Duchess & Connecticut Railroad, and the New York & New England Railroad, by which it is distant 5.94 miles from Duchess Junction, and 6.7 miles from Fishkill Landing. The Newburgh Transfer Co,’s stages connect it with the latter place. It contains four churches (Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal and Catholic*), a union free school, two hotels, (the Mansion House, kept by I. J. KERN, and Kniffen’s Hotel, kept by John L. KNIFFEN,) a newspaper office, (the Fishkill Journal, George W. OWEN, publisher,) the Fishkill Savings Institution, a paper bag manufactory, eight stores, two blacksmith and wagon shops, (kept by J. WILBER and John MITCHELL,) two shoe shops, (kept by N. LANE and E. B. ALLEN,) a marble shop, (kept by James E. DEAN, who is also the postmaster,) and had in 1880, a population of six hundred and eighty two.

During the Revolution it was one of the largest villages in the County, though even then its size must have been very inconsiderable; for DeCHASTELLUX tells us that in the 1780 there were not more than fifty houses in the space of two miles, while ANBURY tells us that in 1777 there were not more than that number in “near three miles.” The first settlement was made about the beginning of the eighteenth century; the first house still exists, says Mr. Bailey in 1874, and is now owned by the SOUTHARD family. Zebulon SOUTHARD, the grandfather of the present occupant, purchased his farm from Madam BRETT, in 1760. It is the first farm east of the creek in the west end of the village. SOUTHARD was the brother of Daniel, Richard and Gilbert SOUTHARD and was the captain of the first company of militia in Rombout precinct in 1776.

The first settlers in FISHKILL VILLAGE, says Mr. Bailey, were Henry TERBOSS and Henry Rosekrame, but the name of neither appears in the list of inhabitants in Duchess County, in 1714, though both appear in the list of freeholders in 1740. TERBOSS, he says, was an eccentric man, and since he locates him where he elsewhere locates Johannes TEBROSS (TERBUSH,) we are inclined to think he has confounded the two names. The name of Johannes TERBOSS appears in the list of 1714. It is one of varied orthography, and has, says Mr. BRINCKERHOFF, who pronounces him one of the first representative men in this part of the County, either been changed from it original or otherwise has now become extinct among us. He was an early Justice of the Peace and is spoken of in old manuscripts as being a Judge. He was admitted as a Representative in the Colonial Assembly, May 4, 1717, on the death of Baltus VanKLEECK, and was succeeded at this death by Henry BEEKMAN, August 31, 1725. He owned lands about FISHKILL village, including the site of the Dutch Church, which was purchased from him.

The Wm. VanWYCK place in the west part of the village, came into the possession of Allard ANTHONY soon after the Revolution, and is now occupied by the widow of Watson W. ANDREWS.

East of the old Union Hotel, on the north side of the street, there was only one small house before reaching the Dutch Church. It was occupied by Abram SMITH, and was recently taken down. East of the church there was but one house on that side of the street till the residence of Mrs. John VanWYCK is reached. The old VanWYCK house, now owned by Sidney E. VanWYCK, was erected in 1737 by Cornelius VanWYCK and has been referred to as the headquarters of the officers of that part of the American army stationed here during the revolution.

The first settler west of the village was Cornelius HAGEMAN, whose farm of one hundred and thirty acres was purchased April 10, 1739, by John BAILEY, (great-grandfather of Henry D. B. BAILEY, the historian) who was born in Westchester county about 1704. Mr. BAILEY enlarged the farm by subsequent purchases to one hundred and ninety-seven acres, and in 1784 it was sold to Robert BRETT, Mr. BAILEY having removed to POUGHKEEPSIE in 1778. It now comprises two farms, which are owned by Charles C. ROGERS and William M. BAXTER. Mr. BAILEY was a builder in early life, and took contracts for building mills in New Jersey. He came to FISHKILL about 1730 or ‘31. The next settler was James HUSEY, whose name appears in the list of 1714. He died prior to 1739, and the farm, it is supposed, was purchased from his heirs by Hendrick KIP, who was a freeholder in 1740, and built the house still standing, in the front wall of which is a stone bearing the initials, “H. K.” and the date “1753". The house is now owned by the heirs of John SCOFIELD.

(* from the book and # by the Transcriptionist from elsewhere in the book for a better understanding of this segment)

*        The history of this church is given in connection with the Catholic Church of Matteawan.

  1. From the history of the Town of Fishkill - “Its name, which is a modification of the Dutch Word Vis-Kill, meaning Fish-Creek which flows centrally through it . . . . . . . . . .”

Continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part Two includes Merchants, Physicians, Lawyers

Typed and submitted by Virginia A. Buechele
Ginny's Genealogy Page

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