By James H. Smith
Chapter XXI.

Part One
The town of North East lies on the extreme northeast border of the County. It is bounded northerly by Ancram (Columbia county;) on the east by Connecticut; on the south by Amenia; and on the west by Pine Plains and Stanford. Its name was derived from its geographical position in the County. The surface is hilly and broken, while along the eastern border extend the Taconic Mountains.

In old documents this name is written Tachhanick, Taghhanick, Tahkanick, Tachkanick, and some other ways. “It is probably impossible now,” says Isaac HUNTLING, “to get the true Indian word and its signification, as in this case, like many others, the true Indian word has been corrupted and abbreviated for the convenience of writing and ease of pronunciation by the early settlers.” The stream running through the gorge at Bash Bish, having its origin on the mountain elevations in the town of Washington, was the Indian Tankhanne or Takhanne, “the Small Stream,” as it united with a greater near what is now Copake village, the site, or near it, of the “Toghkanick” of Colonial times. It is presumable that the mountain as well as the old village derived its name from this stream. Probably the oldest document containing this word is “Fragment of an Indian deed, 17th Feb. 1687,” (Doc. Hist. N. Y., Vol. 3, p. 628), where it is written “Toghhanick,” “Tachanick,” and “Tachhanik,” which evidently are corruptions of the old Indian name of this stream, Tankhanne or Takhanne. Confirming this new view it is significant that in this old document the second syllable commences in every instance with the “h” instead of the “k,” which is an additional recent corruption and now used in the word “Toghkanick.” This view leads to the conclusion that the mountain, the old village and the surrounding country, repeatedly refered to in the Livingston papers, derived their names from this stream. It was a stream probably as greatly celebrated among the Indians before the appearance of the white man as well as after. That the surrounding lands were thus named is proven by the records. It was applied to the “Flats” west of the mountains, and to other lands embraced in the Livingston patents for some considerable distance northwest and south, and was applicable and appropriate, so far as the papers show, to them as to the mountain. The name as applied to this range, according to the earliest records, and reference only to the mountain locality adjoining the stream mentioned. The prominent points north and south had other Indian names. The Moravians who established missions in New York and Connecticut in 1740, put the name “K’takanahschan,” and give the signification simply as “Big Mountain,” which is really no signification. Others give it from the Indian signifying “Mountain of trees,” but the opinion is inclined to, that the name is derived from the stream which has its origin on its highest plateau and summits, and is applied to the mountain as local and not generic. The deviation being so indefinite there has appeared among intelligent writers a tendency to transpose the spelling to the plain English Taconic and not mutilate with a mongrel “Taghkanick,” our own language, and also that of the race which now lives in the dreams of romance.

North East was formed as a town, March 7, 1788; Milan was taken in 1818, and Pine Plains in 1823. North East Precinct was formed from the North Precinct, Dec. 16, 1746, and embraced the Little or Upper Nine Partner’s Tract. In the earlier or Precinct records is found the following:--
“On the 10th day of April 1769, Then the Overseers of the Poor of the North East Precinct for the year 1768 meet at the Dwelling House of Caleb ATWATER in said Precinct and Rendered their accounts for the said year 1768, being examined and allowed by Elisha COLVER, one of his Majesty’s Justices of the peace in said precinct, and for Dutchess County, viz: Hantice COUSE, James ATWATER, John TRUESDELL, and John COLLINS, Overseers. First agreed Between the overseers of the Poor, Esq. COLVER and John COLLINS, that the said COLLINS shall pay unto the Overseers of the poor of the Precinct two pounds, Money of New York, for the service of the wife of Jacob CARPENTER for the year ensuing."
“Second, agreed that John TRUESDELL shall take old ELLIS’ wife and keep her at the rate of L15qr. year.
“Hendrick HOFFMAN’s am’t examined & allowed for the maintainance of John ELLIS & wife L30: 17 : 6.”

The earliest settlers in that portion of the Oblong now contained within the boundaries of North East, from 1730 to 1737, when the first civil divisions of the county were made, were simply inhabitants of the State of New York, freeholders perhaps, but it is doubtful if they were tax-payers, for they were not included even in North precinct until December 17, 1743, at which time Beekman’s Crom Elbow, South and North Precincts were extended across the Oblong to the Connecticut line. North East precinct first appears with definite boundaries December 16, 1746, being bounded on the south by the northern line of the Great Nine Partners Tract, granted to Caleb HEATHCOTE and others, May 7, 1697, and by an east line from the northeast corner thereof to Connecticut, and on the west by the westerly line of the Little Nine Partners Tract, the patent of which was granted to Sampson BOUGHTON and others, April 10, 1706. Hence adjoining North East Precinct on the south, from its formation until March 10, 1762, when Amenia Precinct was formed, was Crom Elbow Precinct. By an act of March 7, 1788, the north lines of Amenia and Washington are described as the north line of Lower or Great Nine Partners Tract, and the easterly line of Rhinebeck as the westerly line of the Little or Upper Nine Partners, and “all that part of the said County of Dutchess bounded westerly by Rynbeck, northerly by the County of Columbia, easterly by the Connecticut and southerly by the towns of Washington and Amenia shall be and hereby is erected into a town by the name of North East Town.” Notwithstanding that act, the then town clerk persisted in keeping the old name, for his records say, “town meeting was held at the home of Cornelius ELMENDORPH on Linton Plains, for the North East Precinct, on the first day of April 1788.” These, then, were the boundaries of North East for about thirty years, until Milan was set off in 1818, and 1823 when 18,176 acres were taken off for the erection of the town of Pine Plains.
Continued in Part Two

Typed and submitted by Janice Sanford

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