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

(Part Three - Conclusion)

THE PRESS - The first paper in the town - the first also in the County - was The New York Packet, the first number of which was issued in Fishkill, Oct. 1, 1776, by Samuel LOUDON, a Whig printer, who fled with his press, and material from New York when that city came into the possession of the British, and returned there after the close of the war.  LOUDON was a State printer until he found a rival in John HOLT, (who also fled with his press from New York, first to Kingston and then to Poughkeepsie,) and while here printed the journals of the Legislature, "at a time when no other printer in the State would do them," he says in a petition for the State printing, presented in 1784, three days before HOLT's death.  He also printed the orders for the army while it lay at Newburgh; and, says Hon. Gulian C. VERPLANCK, the Constitution of the State of New York, "the first as well as the most important book ever printed in the State," was printed here by him in 1777. * LOUDON occupied at one time, with his press, the present residence of Mrs. John C. VANWYCK, and at another, the building now occupied as a grocery by Jarvis W. CARY, which has since been altered and modernized.  An "extra" copy of this paper, dated oct. 21, 1777, announcing the surrender of BURGOYNE, is preserved at WASHINGTON's Headquarters, in Newburgh; also a copy dated Thursday, Feb. 1, 1781, No 200, containing an anecdote of Lieut. Oliver LAWRENCE.

The Free Press was started at Fishkill in 1841, by Fred W. RITTER.  In 1842, it was removed to Poughkeepsie, where it was changed to The Duchess Free Press and continued until 1844. The Fishkill Journal was started in 1853, by H. A. Guild, and discontinued in 1855.  The American Banner was started in Poughkeepsie in 1856, by Chas. J. ACKERT.  It 1857 it was removed to Fishkill and published as The Duchess County Times, by J. Carpenter MILLS.  Alfred W. LOMAS succeeded Mr. MILLS and changed the name to The Fishkill Journal.  In 1860 it passed into the hands of Caleb M. HOTALING; and in 1862, into those of Chas. S. WILBER, who sold it that year to James E. DEAN and Milton A. FOWLER, and went to the war.  In August 1865, Messrs. DEAN & FOWLER were succeeded in its management by Geo. W. OWEN, the present publisher, who enlarged it after about a year from a six to a seven column paper, and about a year later to its present size - eight columns, twenty-eight by forty-two inches.  In 1865, it was neutral in politics.  After publishing it about a year Mr. OWEN changed it to a Republican paper and has since continued it as such.  It is published every Thursday, simultaneously at Fishkill and Matteawan, and has a circulation of 1,000 copies.   It is, with the exception of the Poughkeepsie Eagle, the only Republican paper in the County.

HOTELS - The old time hotel in Fishkill was the Union Hotel, which was kept for many years by Joseph BOGARDUS, who died Feb. 3, 1859, aged 74.  It was burned Dec. 1, 1873, at which time it was kept by Wm. JACKSON, and the site is now vacant. The Mansion house now kept by I. J. KERN, was built in 1825.  The Kniffen House was built in 1873-'74, by John L. KNIFFEN, the present proprietor, who had previously kept a saloon on its site, which was burned in 1873.

SCHOOLS - The first school house w as built prior to the Revolution, and stood on the south side of Main street, near the blacksmith shop formerly kept by John BEECHER.  The well know VAN STEENBERGH, a celebrated teacher, who fled from New York during the stormy times of the Revolution, taught the youth of Fishkill during that period.  An academy, the first in the County, was in existence nearly midway between Fishkill and Brinckerhoffville, some years prior to the Revolution, and was removed to Poughkeepsie after the close of the war.  It was for a time under the supervision of Rev. Chauncey GRAHAM; and previous to and during the Revolution, The Rev. Dr. Isaac RYSDYCK taught a classical school in Fishkill, as appears from advertisements published in the paper of that time, and the minutes of the General Synod of the Dutch church in 1772.

Union Free School No. 6.- Feb. 28, 1866, it was decided by a vote of ninety-seven to eighteen to establish a union free school in district No. 6.  In December, 1869, about three acres of land was purchased as a site for a school house, and December 7, 1869, it was resolved to levy $8,000 for building a new school house, and to apply the proceeds arising from the sale of the old school house and site to furnishing the new building, and the balance, if any, to the building itself.  Oct. 11, 1870, an additional $2,000 was levied for building a school house, which was begun in 1871 and finished in 1872.  It is built of brick and is a credit to the village.  The number of children of school ages residing in the district September 30, 1881, was 231; the number who attended district school some portion of the year was 152; the average daily attendance was 71 138/197.  The number of volumes in the district library was 300, valued at $50.  The amount expended for school purposes during the year ending Sept. 30, 1881, was $2,063.51, of which $1,439 was paid for teachers' wages.


The Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill was organized in conjunction with the church at Poughkeepsie in 1716 by Rev. Petrus VAS, the fifth pastor of the church of Kingston.  The two churches formed a collegiate charge, held property in common, and were served by one pastor until 1772.  The consistory of this church as registered April 17, 1730, were, Abraham BRINCKERHOFF and Hendrick PHILLIPS, deacons, and Peter DUBOYS and Abraham BUYS, elders.  The first name of a church member appears under date of Sept. 30, 1727; the first marriage recorded Oct. 7, 1831; and the first recorded baptism, Oct. 10, 1731.

"Although," says Rev. Mr. KIP,** "religious services were without doubt observed as opportunities offered," it was no until 1731 that their first house of worship was erected, as appears from a petition made to Governor John MONTGOMERY, June 28, 1731, by "Pater DU BOIS," in "behalf of the elders and deacons and other members of said congregation," for permission to receive gifts from inhabitants of the Province in aid of its construction, and from a bond executed the same year, wherein it is clearly stated, that they had agreed and built a church.

This church was built of stone, and its walls were pierced in the upper story with port-holes, as a means of defense against Indians.  It was quadrangular in shape, (though we have been told that it was octagonal,) and faced the street.  It was inclosed with a hip-roof, from the apex of which rose a small cupola, in which the bell was suspended.  The window sash were made of metal and the pains of glass were very small.  The church was enlarged and rebuilt in its present from in 1786, and as much of the old walls as could be were retained.  It was not entirely completed, however, until 1795, owing to the poverty of the congregation.  Subsequently and additional entrance was made making one on each side of the tower, and this we believe is the only external change which has been made.  Various alterations have been made in the interior of the church at different times.  The church was used as a prison during the Revolution, and in it was confined Enoch CROSBY, the supposed original of Harvey BIRCH, the hero of Cooper's Spy.

About 1763 began to be manifested the ill effects of the unhappy strife between the Coetus and Conferentie parties, to which we alluded in connection with the church at Poughkeepsie, and which was not terminated until June 16, 1772, when a plan of union between the two parties was adopted.  But not until May 12, 1778, did the agencies work succeed in harmonizing the conflicting interests which arose from the division in this congregation by Rev. Solomon FROELIGH, a young man, who came to Fishkill about the commencement of the Revolutionary war, gathered around him the members of the old Coetus party, established separate service, and organized a consistory.

In 1772, the services, which had hitherto been conducted in the Dutch language, were commenced to be held alternately in the Dutch and English languages.  Some years later, during the pastorate of Rev. Nicholas VAN VRANKEN, preaching in the Dutch language was wholly relinquished, not only in this church, but also in the churches of New Hackensack and Hopewell, which were, at intervals, for many years, associate with this under one pastorate.  This, connection was dissolved by Classis in October, 1805.

The Church at Hopewell was formed from this in 1757; that at Fishkill Landing, in 1822; and that at Glenham, in 1837.  The silver tankard used by the church in celebrating the Lord's Supper was presented to it by Samuel VERPLANCK in January, 1820, to commemorate Englebert HUFF, a Norwegian, who was attached to the Life Guards of the Prince of Orange, afterwards William III of England, was a member of this church and died at Hopewell, March 21, 1765, at the age of one hundred and twenty-eight years.  It is related of him that at the age of one hundred and twenty-one years he and a young man of twenty-one years were simultaneously paying their addresses to the same young lady.  Two massive silver plates used in the same service were presented to the church in 1836, by three ladies in memory of their sister, Miss Letitia VAN WYCK, then recently deceased.  In Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh are a mahogany oval-leaf table and three chairs, which were brought from Holland by the VERPLANCK family in 1862, and were formerly the altar furniture of this church.

The present membership of the church is 182; the attendance at Sabbath school, of which E. B. DuMond is superintendent, about seventy-six.

The following is the succession of pastors:

Rev. Cornelius VanSchie, Oct. 4, 1731-1738
Rev. Benjamin Meynema, 1745-1755
Rev. Jacob Vannist, 1758-1761
Rev. Henricus Schoonmaker***, Dec. 11, 1763-1772
Rev. Isaac Rysdyck ****, Sept. 1765-1789
Rev. Isaac Blauvelt, Oct. 26, 1783-1790
Rev. Nicholas VanVranken, Nov. 23, 1791-1804
Rev. Cornelius D. Westbrook, May 9, 1806-1830
Rev. George H. Fisher, Oct. 1830-1835
Rev. Francis M. Kip, D.D., July 25, 1836-1870
Rev. Peter E. Kip, Aug. 2, 1870-1874
Rev. Asher Anderson, Aug. 25, 1875-1880
Rev. M. Bross Thomas, May, 1881-The present pastor

Trinity Church (Episcopal) Fishkill - The incompleteness of the early records of this church makes it impossible to determine with absolute certainty when it was organized, or the church edifice built.  Mr. BRINCKEHOFF assigns to the former event the year of 1765, and to the latter the year of 1760, which, he says, conforms to the opinion of the venerable Rev. Dr. Brown, of Newburgh, and to that of the late Guilian C. VERPLANCK and others.  Mr. BAILEY assigns to the latter event the year of 1770, which is more nearly correct, for among the records and papers now in the possession of Isaac E. COTHEAL, we were shown an instrument bearing date of Sept. 30, 1767, by which Matthew BRETT conveyed to James DUNCAN and Richard SOUTHARD two roods and thirty-one perches of land, in trust in consideration of 2 pounds, "for the use of the inhabitants of Rombout Precinct   *   *   * who are members in communion of the Church of England as by law established, for a cemetery and church-yard, and for building a church of England thereon, for no other use or purpose whatsoever."  This is the plot on which the church now stands and in which those who worshiped there lie buried.  The church building, which was the first of its denominational character in the State east of the Hudson and north of the Highlands, is one of the oldest church edifices in the State, and older by many years than any other in the County.  The State Convention, on taking refuge in Fishkill, first met in this church Sept. 5, 1776, but as it was not in fit condition for use and was destitute of seats or other conveniences, removed to the Dutch church.  It was afterwards used as a hospital by the American army during the Revolution, and was then in an unfinished condition.

The Church is a plain wooden structure, scarcely evincing its extreme age.  A graceful steeple originally towered above the present tower, but being considered unsafe, was taken down in 1803, by Abraham WETMORE, who was hen a vestryman of the church.  The van which surmounted it was afterwards placed on the Dutch Reformed church at Fishkill Landing, and when that building was replaced by the present fine brick structure, was sold to Isaac E. COTHEAL, who placed on the tower of one of his outbuildings, where it still remains.

The church was incorporated Oct. 30, 1785.  Oct. 11, 1796, the church was re-incorporated under the act of March 17, 1795, and Peter MESIER and James COOPER were named as wardens and Daniel C. VERPLANCK, Benjamin SNIDER, Jno. I. CARMIN, Greenleaf STREET, Jno. R. SOUTHARD, Jeremiah GREEN, Thomas POIAR (POYER), and Robert MILLS, vestrymen.

There is no record of the earlier rectors, but during the period for which the record is wanting, they were, it is believed, the same as officiated at Christ Church, Poughkeepsie.  Services were discontinued during the Revolution.  Rev. Henry VAN DYCKm was the rector Nov. 10, 1790.  Dec. 7, 1799, the vestry concurred with the vestry of Christ Church in calling Rev. Philander CHASE, afterwards Bishop of Ohio, to the rectorship of the two churches, devoting two-thirds of his time to Poughkeepsie and one-third to Fishkill.  Mr. CHASE continued until 1805, and was succeeded in 1807 by Rev. Barzillai BUCKLEY, who closed his labors in 1809.  Sept. 28, 1812, Rev. John BROWN was engaged for six months.  Sept. 6, 1814, he was called to the rectorship, which he resigned Dec. 6, 1815.  Dec. 15, 1816, Rev. Mr. TEN BROECK commenced his labors as rector.  Aug. 1, 1733. Rev. Robt. B. VAN KLEECK was called to the rectorship, which he resigned in 1835.  He was succeeded by Rev. Jno. L. WATSON Nov. 9, 1835.  Rev. Colby A. Foster was called Sept. 1, 1837, and Rev. Richard L. BURNHAM, Feb. 1, 1838.  Rev. Robt. SHAW was the rector April 12, 1841.  June 11, 1843, a call was extended to Rev. Wm. H . HART.  Rev. Christian F. CRUSE was the rector April 1, 1847, and Rev. F. W. Shelton, Nov. 2, 1852.  Rev. Jno. Henry HOBART, D.D., son of the Bishop of that name, accepted the care of the parish, which he still retains.

The interior of the church was quite extensively repaired and modernized in 1870, but its exterior remains the same as in the Revolution, except that the steeple was removed as before stated.

Methodist Episcopal Church of Fishkill - Methodism was introduced into the town of Fishkill between 1785 and 1795.  By reference to the life of Rev. Benjamin ABBOTT we find that he was appointed to the Duchess circuit in 1789.  He refers to a ‘brother Tolbert" who preceeded him.  They had an appointment just over the line in Phillipstown, near Fishkill Hook, where there was a society of about forty members.

It is probable that a class was organized in Fishkill village about 1810 or ‘12, of which John PURDY was leader.  But this organization was not permanent.  They had preaching for some years in a school house standing in the upper part of the village, about that time, and Rev. Fitch REED, D.D., preached his first sermon in that school house before this class and congregation in 1815.  But the first Methodist sermon in the village, says Mr. BAILEY, was preached in the street under a poplar tree, near the BAXTER house, in 1794, by a man named CROFT, who attracted a large crowd.  This class subsequently became scattered; but in 1829, Rev. Marvin RICHARDSON organized a second one, which became the nucleus of the present Society.  Meetings were held in private dwellings and the school house until the present church edifice was erected in 1838 - ‘9.

In September 1834, a meeting of the members and friends of the Methodist church in this village was called to take steps to secure a lot suitable for a church site and hold the same till the society should be in a circumstance to build.  The present site was secured, but the church was not completed until 1841.  Rev. L. M. WINCHELL, was then pastor.  The parsonage was built in 1865, at a cost of $2,344.  The present membership (January, 1882) is one hundred; the attendance at Sunday School, which is superintended by Thomas BROWN, is fifty-eight.

The following is the succession of pastors since 1853, at which time, in conjunction with Matteawan, Glenham, Fishkill Landing and Johnsville, it was on the Fishkill circuit: - -

Rev. Uriah MESSETER, 1853
Rev. Marcus M. CURTIS, 1854-55
Rev. Elijah B. SHURTER, 1856-57
Rev. C. W. LYON, 1858
Rev. T. LAMONT, 1859
Revs. Wm. F. GOULD and A. P. LYON, 1860
Rev. A. HUNT and A. P. LYON, 1861
Rev. William STEVENS, 1862
Rev. H. C. HUMPHREY, 1863
Rev. C. M. EGGLESTON, 1864-65
Rev. A. L. CULVER, 1866-68
Rev. E. S. BISHOP, 1869-71
Rev. T. ELLIOTT, 1872-73
Rev. C. R. NORTH, 1874
Rev. W. F. BRUSH, 1875-76
Rev. E. S. BISHOP, 1877-78
Rev. E. F. BARLOW, 1879-80
Rev. Wm. STEVENS, the present pastor, 1881-82

*Lossing's Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution I., 691
**This sketch is mainly prepared for a discourse delivered Sept. 12, 1866, at the celebration of the church's 150th anniversary, by Rev. Francis M. KIP, D.D., who was then the pastor.
***Called by Coetus party.
****Called by the Conferentie party, and served till within a short period of his death, which occurred at New Hackensack, Nov. 20, 1790.

Transription by:
 Virginia A. Buechele
 Ginny's Genealogy Page


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