Dutchess County
New York
Genealogy and History

Historical and Genealogical Record Dutchess and Putnam Counties


CHAPTER XIII.
HISTORIC HOMES; COUNTRY ESTATES.

THE history of the fine old estates bordering the east bank of the Hudson from the south line of Columbia County to the northern boundary of Westchester, is linked with that of prominent families of revolutionary days.

One of the first homes erected within the orginal limits of Dutchess County was the Kip-Beekman-Livingston house, which acquired a noted colonial and revolutionary history. It was built on the Rhinebeck patent in 1700 by Hendrick Kip, and stood a short distance east of the present Rhinecliff station. The original building was a small affair constructed of stone.


It was subsequently much enlarged and improved, and in 1728 became the residence of Col. Henry Beekman, the son of Judge Henry Beekman of Kingston. Col. Beekman and his second wife, Gertrude Van Cortlandt, occupied the house for nearly half a century, and during that time the great men of the period were cordially received and entertained there. The decade before the battle of Lexington witnessed many conferences of patriot sons under its roof to formulate plans in the interest of the colonies.

Following the death of Col. Beekman in 1776, his daughter Margaret, by his first wife Janet Livingston, inherited this property, and it became known as the Livingston mansion.

In 1840 the house was sold to Andrew J. Heermance. It was destroyed by fire in 1910.

"Grasmere," south of the village of Rhinebeck, is a historical place. The original building was erected in 1773 by Gen. Richard Montgomery, the revolutionary hero. It stands in the midst of many beautiful locust trees, of which the General was a great admirer.

"Grasmere" was the birthplace of William Alexander Duer, the grandson of Lord Sterling. He was born in 1780, read and practiced law in Rhinebeck, and was a member of Assembly for Dutchess from 1814 to 1817. For many years he was president of Columbia College.

Gen. Morgan Lewis resided at "Grasmere" after the revolution, and it later became the Livingston homestead. The house was burned in 1828, and rebuilt by Peter R. Livingston. In 1893 it was purchased by the present occupant, Mrs. F. A. Crosby.

A picturesque and interesting place near Rhinebeck, is "Glenburn," the home of Colonel Stephen H. Olin, about three miles south of the village, with its entrance on the new State road directly opposite the Hillside School. The title of the nucleus of this property, since the original grant made by Queen Anne, has been in Henry Beekman and his descendants.

In 1742 Judge Robert R. Livingston (1718-1775) of Clermont, married Margaret, the only surviving child and heiress of Col. Henry Beekman of Rhinebeck, thus uniting the great properties of the Livingston and Beekman families. Of their nine children, Margaret (1749- 1823) married Dr. Thomas Tillotson of Maryland on February 22, 1779, and Gertrude (1757-1823) married Morgan Lewis on May 11th, 1779. Dr. Thomas Tillotson purchased from Isaac Van Etten the southerly lot forming part of the lands which had been granted in 1688 by Governor Dongan to Gerrit Aertsen and others. It was bounded on the south and west by the Hudson River and on the east by the stream known as Landsmans Kill, which also formed the westerly boundary of the Beekman patent. On this property Dr. Tillotson in the years 1788-1790 laid out a country place and called it "Linwood." His house was on the site at present occupied by the residence of Jacob Ruppert, and commanded a magnificent view of the river. Dr. Tillotson also acquired 150 acres of the Beekman land lying between Landsmans Kill and Second Creek, which later became known as Fallsburgh Creek. This plateau, between the two streams, with extensive views of the Catskill mountains and Hudson river, became known as Linwood Hill. At the mouth of Landsmans Kill he built a dock and mill, the remains of which still
exist and where grain was ground until about fifty years ago. Dr. Tillotson also obtained at this time another part of the Beekman lands, twenty-nine acres of woodland lying east of Fallsburgh Creek, where two beautiful waterfalls bring it to the river level.

In 1830, Dr. Tillotson gave as a present to his twelve-year old granddaughter, Julia Lynch, the wooded gorge containing the waterfalls of Fallsburgh Creek. She called the place "Glenburn" and, when a new cottage had been built, it became her summer home and that of her parents. At "Glenburn," in 1843, Julia Lynch was married to the Rev. Stephen Olin, President of Wesleyan University, and she returned there after her husband's death in 1851. There Judge Lynch and his wife lived and died, and there, during many summers, lived Mrs. Olin's sisters, Jane Lynch, Adelaide Fitzgerald and Margaret, wife of the Rev. Henry E. Montgomery.

In a hemlock grove beside the stream a group of children gathered round Mrs. Olin on every summer Sunday, until, after years, the Glenburn Sunday School grew into the Hillside Chapel.

At one time the neighborhood had a post office of its own—the Glenburn post office, but this dignity passed away when rural delivery service was established in Rhinebeck.

At Mrs. Olin's death, in 1889, "Glenburn" descended to her son, Stephen Henry, who lives there today.

Stretching eastward across the old Post Road and northward to the Foxhollow road, "Glenburn" has become a farm of more than 200 acres, but the characteristic part of it is the rock glen, which from 1697 has had six owners—two since Thomas Tillotson and three before him—Henry Beekman, Henry Beekman, the younger, and Margaret Beekman, wife of Robert R. Livingston.

In 1903, Alice, the elder daughter of Col. Olin married at "Glenburn," Tracy Dows, of Irvington, N. Y., and two years later they bought the property adjoining "Glenburn," known as Linwood Hill, and began laying out the estate to which they gave the name of "Foxhollow Farm." The first purchase, Linwood Hill, was a part of Linwood, and was sold in 1835 by John C. Tillotson, son of Thomas Tillotson, to Dr. Federal Vanderburgh, who built a house on the bluff overlooking the river, and resided there until his death in 1868. Afterwards Linwood Hill belonged to Harrison G. Dyar, and from 1891 to George Holliday. To this Mr. Dows added a tract of 117 acres purchased from Elizabeth, I wife of Herman Asher, part of a farm leased by Morgan Lewis and his wife Gertrude, in 1806, to John Brown. From Mrs. Ernest H. Crosby was purchased a part of "Grasmere," which, before the Revolution, belonged to Major General Richard Montgomery, another son-in-law of Robert R. Livingston; from Gertner Fraleigh was bought the farm which  Steven Fraleigh had taken in 1806 from Morgan Lewis and his wife, and from John Schultz, the farm which they had leased in 1822 to Abraham Schultz. In 1910 Mr. Dows moved into the
house which he built on the site of the former residence of Dr. Vanderburgh.

The northern boundary of "Foxhollow Farm" is the Foxhollow road. The southern boundary is along the river road and the Hudson river. The western boundary is that long stretch of Landsmans Kill which formerly separated the fulling-mill of General Lewis from Dr. Tillotson's grist mill; Glenburn and the Post Road form the eastern boundary. Taken together the two places are a compact tract of about 800 acres, well watered, of beautiful and varied scenery, with woodland, meadow and pasture, traversed by drives and bridle paths and containing many buildings, old and new.

"Linwood," the estate of Mr. Jacob Ruppert, was originally the property of Arie Roosa, who bought it from the Indian owners in 1686, as appears by the record in book AA, in the Ulster County clerk's office.

It is situated on Lot 1 of the Roosa Patent in the town of Rhinebeck, and the royal patent covering and confirming this sale bears date June 2, 1688. In 1788 it was the Van Etten farm, and was then purchased by Dr. Thomas Tillotson, a surgeon in the Revolutionary War and subsequently Secretary of State. Dr. Tillotson erected a mansion, named it "Linwood," and resided there until his death in 1832.

Dr. Federal Vanderburgh, the founder of homeopathy in America, and a son of Colonel James Vanderburgh, a member of the Provincial Congress from Dutchess, then purchased this estate. He sold the land west of the creek to his son-in-law John B. James, who in turn sold it to his brother Augustus James, who lived there for thirty years. In 1868 "Linwood" was bought by Alfred Wild who transferred it to John G. Gillig, and November 28, 1883, Mr. Ruppert purchased the property. He increased the acreage, improved the roads, planted many beautiful shade trees, and erected a modern mansion which commands a river and mountain view of great extent and beauty.

"Blithewood," the estate of Captain Andrew C. Zabriskie at Barrytown, has an interesting history. The land was originally part of the Schuyler patent. The portion on which Blithewood is located was purchased by the Van Bentheusen family, and used as a farm for a number of generations.

In the year 1800, General John Armstrong purchased a part of the farm from the Van Bentheusen family, and erected a house thereon. After a few years, he sold his property to John Stevens, of Hoboken, who made improvements to the estate, including a half-mile race track. He, in turn, sold the property to John C. Cruger, who, after a residence of some years, sold to Robert Donaldson, a southern gentleman.

It was during Mr. Donaldson's ownership that the greatest improvements were made to this beautiful estate. Mr. Donaldson engaged the celebrated landscape artist Andrew J. Downing to develop and lay out the property. Much of the present beauty of Blithewood is due to the skill of this distinguished man.

Mr. Donaldson in his turn sold the estate to John Bard. During his ownership Mr. Bard built the chapel of the Holy Innocents on a portion of the property and gave it to St. Stephen's College, an institution with which he was largely concerned in founding, and which has its buildings directly across the road.

Afterward the property became involved in litigation which lasted for several years, and was finally foreclosed and secured by St. Stephen's College.

In 1899 the present owner bought the property from the trustees of the college. The original estate of Blithewood, embracing about one hundred and forty acres, has been added to from time to time by Captain Zabriskie through the purchase of several additional estates, until now Blithewood embraces one thousand acres.

Downing, in his Landscape Gardening and Rural Agriculture issued in 1840, gives a view of Blithewood as a frontispiece for his work, and speaks of it as follows:

"Blithewood, the seat of R. Donaldson, Esq., near Barrytown on the Hudson, is one of the most charming villa residences in the Union. The natural scenery here, is nowhere surpassed in its enchanting union of softness and dignity—the river being two miles wide, its placid bosom being broken only by islands and gleaming sails, and the horizon grandly closing in with the tall, blue summits of the distant Kaatskills. The smiling, gently varied lawn is studded with groups and masses of fine forest and ornamental trees, beneath which are walks leading in easy curves to rustic seats, and summer houses placed in secluded spots, or to openings affording most lovely prospects.

 "As a pendant to this graceful landscape, there is within the grounds scenery of an opposite character equally wild and picturesque—a fine bold stream, fringed with woody banks, and dashing over several rocky cascades, thirty or forty feet in height, and falling, altogether, a hundred feet in half a mile. In short, we can recall no place of moderate extent, where nature and tasteful art, are both so prodigal of beauty, and so harmonious in effect."

"Rokeby," near Barrytown, containing some 300 acres, was first established under the name of "La Bergerie" by General John Armstrong, who built the house in 1812. His daughter married William B. Astor, and in 1836 Mr. Astor bought the property, and changed the name of the estate to "Rokeby." It was bequeathed by him to his grandchild, Margaret Astor Chanler, and in 1875, it was inherited by the present owner, Mrs. Richard Aldrich.

"The Callendar House" at Tivoli was built by Henry Gilbert Livingston, who in 1795 sold it to Philip Henry Livingston, who occupied it until 1828. In 1860 it became the property of Mr. Johnston Livingston and is now occupied by his son-in-law, Mr. Geraldwyn Redmond.

"Ferncliff," near Rhinebeck, was the birthplace of Col. John Jacob Astor, the present owner. It was selected and named by William Astor who was born in 1829, and died April 25, 1892. He was a son of William B. and a grandson of John Jacob Astor.
"
Ferncliff" is today the largest estate in the Hudson Valley, and contains within its borders all that is desirable.

"Ellerslie," the estate of Hon. Levi P. Morton, way in 1750 the farm of Hendricus Heermance. His daughter, Clartjen, married Jacobus Kip. The farm passed to the Kips by inheritance, and was in 1814 sold to Maturin Livingston, son-in-law of Gov. Lewis. He built a mansion on it, and in 1816 sold the property to James Thompson, who named it "Ellerslie." In 1841 it was sold to William Kelly, who increased the acreage to nearly eight hundred, and greatly beautified the estate. The present modern mansion was erected by Gov. Morton.

"The Locusts," the estate of the late William Brown Dinsmore, occupies a thousand acres in the town of Hyde Park, north of the village of Staatsburg. A large portion of this property was inherited by George William Prevost, who, in April, 1811, conveyed it to James Duane Livingston, and October 19, 1835, it was sold by Mr. Livingston to William C. Emmet of New York, who occupied it as a country seat until 1854, when it was purchased by Mr. Dinsmore. The mansion which commands a view of the Hudson for several miles, was built by Mr. Dinsmore in 1873. The grounds surrounding the house form a lawn of from fifty to sixty acres, beautified by extensive floral display and a profusion of bedding plants. Mr. Dinsmore's interests in horticulture and especially floriculture amounted almost to a passionate fondness, and no grounds along the Hudson present a greater collection of costly plants than those surrounding

"The Locusts." The farm is conducted more with a view to excellence than profit, the whole premises being made to cater to an aesthetic taste. With the varied industries which it supports, this estate constitutes in itself a village of no mean pretensions.

Adjoining the Dinsmore place on the south is the former estate of General Morgan Lewis, now owned by his descendants, Mrs. Ogden Mills, and the family of the late Lydig M. Hoyt. The Mills mansion was built in 1832; only the wings are modern. "The Point" was built by Mr. Hoyt in 1858. He was a son of Goold and Sabina (Sheaff) Hoyt, and was born in 1821. His earliest American ancestor was one of a company of Episcopalians who purchased and settled on a tract of land in Connecticut in 1640. Lydig M. Hoyt married in 1842, Geraldine, youngest daughter of Maturin and Margaret (Lewis) Livingston. Mrs. Livingston was the only child of Gen. Morgan Lewis and his wife Gertrude, who was a daughter of Judge Robert R. Livingston (1718-1775).

At Hyde Park village is the country seat of Frederick W. Vanderbilt, who purchased this property in 1895. This is the estate to which the name of Hyde Park originally applied, and which was for many years the home of Dr. John Bard and his son Dr. Samuel Bard, the first president of the Dutchess County Medical Society. In 1827 the estate was sold to Dr. David Hosack. He died in 1835, and it was sold to Walter Langdon, Sr. His son Walter inherited and occupied the estate to the time of his death in 1894. Mr. Vanderbilt removed the Langdon house, and built a stone mansion considered the finest example of Italian renaissance in this country.

South of Hyde Park is "Crumwold," the estate of Mr. Archibald Rogers, who purchased it in 1889. In 1842 it was owned by Elias Butler who gave the place its present name. The Miller and Hoffman families resided on a portion of this property, and the houses of General James J. Jones and Dudley B. Fuller now form a part of this immense estate.

"Wood Cliff," just north of   Poughkeepsie, is the home of Mrs. Harriet Wickes Winslow. The estate comprises about thirty acres of Lot No. 1 of the Great Nine Partners patent, and was originally a part of the farm of Roderick C. Andrus. In 1840 it was transferred to Henry S. Richards, and later was purchased by Edward Crosby, son of William B. Crosby of New York.

Mr. Crosby tore down the old house and built the present one. He married Miss Elizabeth Van Schoonhoven of Troy, and they occupied the property for many years. June 10, 1867, it was purchased by the late John Flack Winslow, whose memory in connection with the building of the Monitor is perpetuated in our national history. Mr. Winslow remodelled the house, laid out the gardens and greatly improved the estate. He resided at "Wood Cliff" until his death in 1892.

Of the historic homes in Poughkeepsie only one remains,— the Governor Clinton House. The Van Kleeck House built in 1702 was demolished in 1836. It was probably the first stone house in the place, was strong enough to serve as a fortress against Indian attacks, and was loop-holed for muskets. It long served as an important gathering place, where committee meetings were held, particularly by the patriots previous to the Revolution.

The Gov. Clinton House, now in the possession of the D. A. R., was built by Clear Everitt, who was sheriff of the county from 1754 to 1761. It was used for important purposes during the Revolution, and it is quite probable that Gov. Clinton occupied it for a time as his residence, although there is no positive evidence which was the gubernatorial mansion during the many years Clinton lived in Poughkeepsie.

The Livingston Mansion was built by Henry Livingston on the river front soon after his purchase in 1742 of a part of the Conklin property just south of Poughkeepsie. It was used for several years as an office by the Phoenix Horse Shoe Company, until torn down in 1910. This was a delightful country seat far into the nineteenth century, and was occupied by descendants of Henry Livingston until about 1870, although the railroad destroyed much of its attractiveness. When General Vaughn sailed up the Hudson, in 1777, with a formidable fleet, he fired a few shots at Poughkeepsie, one of which struck the Livingston house. It was an iron ball some four inches in diameter, and is preserved in Washington Headquarters museum at Newburgh.

At New Hamburgh is the old colonial mansion "Edgehill," for many years the country place of the Sands family, and now owned and occupied by Austin L. Sands. The estate covers some seventy-five acres, and was purchased by the late William Sands from Dr. Satterlee. The house was built in 1810, and commands a magnificent view of the Hudson.

"Mount Gulian" the most historic home in the town of Fishkill, was built about 1740 by Gulian Verplanck, grandson of Gulian Verplanck, who purchased the adjacent lands from the Wappinger Indians in 1683. The old part is of stone, and stuccoed; over it is a gambrel roof with dormer windows. This house was for a time the headquarters of Baron Steuben during the Revolution, and under its roof was instituted, in May, 1783, the Society of the Cincinnati, of which General Washington was the first president, an office he retained until his death. "Mount Gulian" is now owned and occupied by William E. Verplanck.

The oldest house now standing in the town of Fishkill is the Teller House at Matteawan, built in 1709 by Roger Brett. He married Catherine, the daughter of Francis Rombout, the patentee. Madam Brett was very active in the early development of the town. The homestead is now occupied by her descendants—the Crary family.

"Undercliff," at Cold Spring, has been the gathering place of many notable people. It was built by John Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, but before it was finished Mr. Hamilton abandoned the idea of a summer home at Cold Spring, and the property was sold to the poet, Gen. George P. Morris. It was here that Rodman Drake wrote the first part of his fanciful poem,  "Culprit Fay." General Morris made his summer home at "Undercliff" from 1830 until his death in 1864, and a few years later the place was sold to General Butterfield, and is now owned by his widow, who resides upon the adjoining estate, "Cragside."

"Beverly House," which stood near Garrison until its destruction by fire a few years ago, became famous during the Revolution as the headquarters of the Continental forces for the defense of the Highlands. It was from this house that Benedict Arnold deserted to the British, an account of which will be found in Chapter VI. The house was for a time the home of Dr. Dwight, then a chaplain in the Continental army, and afterwards president of Yale College.

Of the time when the house was built there is no certain knowledge, but Beverly Robinson was living there in 1768. On Erskine's map it will be noticed that the only houses in this  neighborhood are those of Robinson and John Mandeville. A few tenants were scattered on farms. At the time of the confiscation of the estate of Col. Robinson, the greater part was sod to William Denning, who died in 1819. The Bevlerly farm was struck off at auction by his executors at the Tontine Coffee House, New York, January 22, 1822, to Thomas Arden for the sum of $20,000. It passed to his nephew Richard D. Arden in 1826, and from him to his son, Col. Thomas B. Arden. March 28, 1870, this historic estate was purchased by Hon. Hamilton Fish. The highway which runs through the property was formerly a private road and bore the name of Beverly Lane. It became a public road in 1866.

(Source: Historical and Genealogical  Record Dutchess and Putnam Counties New York, Press of the A. V. Haight Co., Poughkeepsie, New York, 1912; pp. 267-280; Transcribed by Terri Griffiths)

 

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