(now Beacon)
Chapter XLIV
(History of the Town of Fishkill)

(Part One)

FISHKILL LANDING is beautifully situated on the crest and river-slope of the ridge which separates FISHKILL from the HUDSON, opposite the beautiful and historic city of NEWBURGH. It is an important station on the HUDSON RIVER RAILROAD, at the river terminus of the NEW YORK & NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD, and is distant by the former 58.85 miles from NEW YORK, and 83.28 miles from ALBANY, while it is distant only 11.45 miles from the county seat at POUGHKEEPSIE. The name of the station is FISHKILL, while that of the postoffice is FISHKILL-ON-HUDSON. The corporate name by which it is commonly known is derived from the fact that it was an early and principal landing place on the river. This gave it an early prominence, but it was long outrivaled by the interior village of FISHKILL, which, for the time being, possessed superior advantages. In 1864, the question of changing the name of the then pretentious village was agitated and many names were proposed. At an adjourned meeting at the EAGLE HOTEL, Feb. 6, 1864, to consider the subject, it was decided by a vote of fifty-three to thirty-five to call it “BEACONSIDE,” and a committee was appointed to correspond with the Postmaster-General in regard to the proposed change. A counter petition was, however, sent to that official and secured a change of name to FISHKILL-ON-HUDSON.

The first settlement at this point was made by Peche DEWALL, a squatter, who located here, says Mr. BAILEY, in the spring of 1688. He cleared about three acres of land and planted corn between the standing stumps, gathering a tolerable crop in the fall. His wife assisted him in tilling the corn and clearing the forest. The following winter, not having a team, he built a hand-sled and with it drew home from NEW YORK a half bushel of salt and a side of sole leather. The road to NEW YORK was then mostly nothing but an Indian trail. In the spring he bought a horse, paying 3 pounds, which was then considered a fair price. DEWALL and Nicholas EMIGH were until 1700, says Mr. BAILEY, almost the only settlers on the Rombout Patent. DEWALL apparently did not remain long, for his name disappears from the list of inhabitants in 1714.

In 1811, FISHKILL LANDING had not acquired sufficient importance to merit recognition by SPAFFORD, but in 1824 that author describes it as a “handsome collection of houses,” with a postoffice of the same name. It had a line of packets and a steady increasing business. At the upper landing there were six dwellings and two storehouses, but three of the former and one of the latter had then recently been purchased by P. H. SCHENCK, of the MATTEAWAN CO., and made appendages of that prosperous establishment. In 1842, Messrs. BARBER and HOWE (Historical Collections of New York) simply mention it as a small village or hamlet. In 1850, Messrs. MATHER & BROCKETT (Geographical History of New York,) describe it as “a place of considerable trade,” with “much delightful scenery,” and a population of about 1,000. In 1860, says French’s Gazetteer of New York, it had two newspaper offices, two machine shops, four churches and 1,100 inhabitants. In 1866 (Directory of Fishkill that year) it had three churches, two select and one public school, a national and savings bank, a printing office, one hotel, an armory, “a large number of stores,” a machine shop and foundry, and a population of about 1,550. In 1872, says Hough’s Gazetteer, it had two banks, two newspaper offices, a machine shop, four churches, “many elegant residences,” and a population of 2, 992. At present it contains three churches, (Dutch Reformed, Methodist Episcopal, and African M.E.,) a district school, a private school (conducted on the Quincy plan, established in the spring of 1881, by an association of gentlemen, under the tutelage of Miss Mary GAY, who conducted it till her death in November, 1881, when she was succeeded by Miss Alice CHURCHILL,) four hotels (1), the Fishkill Landing Machine Works, the Duchess Hat Works, a newspaper office, a national bank, savings bank, several stores, a blacksmith shop, kept by John POLLARD, two extensive wagon shops kept by S. & J. SEWALL and PEATTIE Bros., the latter of whom keep an extensive livery stable, two carpenter shops kept by James and Patrick MURRAY. The population in 1880, was 2,503.

FISHKILL LANDING is the only incorporated village in the town. The application for incorporation shows that the territory -- 704 acres -- proposed to be incorporated, had a population of 1,536, according to a census taken Dec. 31, 1863. March 16, 1864, Halsey F. WALCOTT, of FISHKILL VILLAGE, Daniel BRINCKERHOFF, of the town of FISHKILL, and James H. WEEKS, of POUGHKEEPSIE were appointed Commissioners by the Court of Sessions of Duchess County, “to fix the boundary line between the proposed incorporation of the village of FISHKILL LANDING and MATTEAWAN.” Incorporation was authorized by that Court March 17, 1864, and Stephen MAPES, Lewis B. FERGUSON, and John PLACE, Inspectors of Elections, were directed to hold an election “for the purpose of determining whether such territory shall be an incorporated village.” Such election was held at the EAGLE HOTEL, April 16, 1864, and the question was decided affirmatively by a vote of one hundred and thirty-nine to sixty. May 14, 1864, the following village officers were elected: Samuel BOGARDUS, Henry L. STEVENS, Charles B. PUGSLEY, William H. ROGERS, Silas G. SMITH, Trustees; William R. ADDINGTON, Stephen MAPES, Assessors; P. Y. YOUMANS, Noah HANSON, Commissioners; William J. SMITH, Collector; John W. SPAIGHT, Treasurer; John PLACE, Clerk; W. Alex. VAN Wagnen, Pound Master. May 21, 1864, Samuel BOGARDUS was chosen President. Feb. 26, 1878 the corporation voted to incorporate under the general act of 1870, and was so incorporated June 25, 1878.

The following have been the successive Presidents and Clerks of the village since its incorporation: --

  Presidents Clerks
1864 Samuel BOGARDUS John PLACE
1866 H. H. HUSTIS do
1867 H. N. SWIFT do
1869 Samuel UNDERHILL Wm. S. SMITH
1871 Milo SAGE do
1872 James MACKIN do
1873 H. H. HUSTIS do
1874 Armand MILLER do
1875 do Charles PEATTIE
1876 do Wilbur F. HOPPER
1877 J. T. SMITH do
1878-’81 do John F. SCHLOSSER

(1) The Mt. Gulian House, which occupies the site of the old Star Inn, was built in 1860 by Charles PUGSLEY, who kept it several years, and is now kept by C. R. BULLARD, who took possession in July 1881. It was a tavern stand a hundred years ago. The building which was burned shortly before this was built was occupied by Dr. MASE as a water cure for few a years; the Irving House, kept by Charles TALBOTT; Flannery’s Hotel kept by John FLANNERY; and the Newburgh BayHotel, kept by Mr. DE GROOT. The site of the Revere House was a tavern stand during the Revolution, but in 1824, was a peach orchard.

Continued  in Part Two-- Merchants, Physicians, Lawyers)

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

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