Nathaniel Booth – A brief insight into a forgotten man

Booth House Courtesy of Written in Stone:Ulster County's Historic Legacy

Diaries are personal and confidential works of our own creation. They can be our mini biographies which we may or may not wish for others to see. About 9 years ago when I started my career in public history I began seriously keeping a diary. I have written stories of encounters with visitors, research projects, successes and failures. But it was the words of a dairy keeper who had been dead for well over a century that inspired me to express my feelings in such a primitive media. The inspiring documents are the dairies of Nathaniel Booth. Booth was a transplanted Englishman who kept detailed dairies on the happenings of his life, political beliefs, and events around the Hudson River Valley. He was diligent and very opinionated about all of the things he witnessed or had heard about. He wrote down his interests, his desires, the good times, and the bad. All of these images flowed elegantly onto the pages of his books no matter where he traveled or what the circumstances.

Nathaniel Booth fascinated myself and a few eager historians at Senate House State Historic site as we transcribed and typed out the words this man never imagined anyone would read. We all seemed to have feelings of love and frustration for this character, who until fairly recently had been all but forgotten. Now his name has made it into the press thanks to his crumbling home on the edge of Wilbur Avenue in downtown Kingston. Efforts are being made to save the home of a man that time would have forgotten. What makes him so special? What makes his journals so significant? What do we really know about this man that makes his home so worth the efforts to save?

Nathaniel was born in Manchester England in 1819. His parents brought him and his two brothers to America in the 1830′s. Like so many immigrants to these shores, they wanted to succeed and live the American dream. He spent some time living near Washington D.C. where he married his first wife Mary Ellen Lipscomb of Richmond Virginia on October 24th 1844. He neglected to write about the excitement leading up to his big day and apologized to his diary for the lapse in action.

January 1st 1845
“My poor old journal – the companion of what would otherwise have been many a lonesome hour – a record of thoughts and incidents that would otherwise have been forgotten – how you have been neglected – three months have passed in which to me events great & momentous have transpired yet not one line in evidence appears upon your pages – you have been laid aside at a time when you should have been most used – at a time when your pages would have presented events more interesting than have hereto occurred in the annals of my life – But you have not been entirely forgotten no though suffered to lie neglected – laid aside thoughts fond and affectionate have reverted to you and now when leisure enables me to darken your fair face once more we —- Ha! What’s that? We? yes, we – but “hereby hangs a tale” – we I say have reproduced you to chronicle the second grand era in a man’s life ‘Marriage’”

Not long after his marriage to Ellen the couple gave birth to a girl. Booth wrote for what seemed like pages and pages of the excitement of becoming of father. He was quite pleased with his new family life but longed for something more profitable than the work his was doing in D.C. The idea of heading out west for work both tempted and scared him. He continued to write about the events around him while he pondered following his friends west for fortune. He talked about those involved in the temperance movement who couldn’t seem to stay the course and were found drunk. He wrote about his disgust for women who were interested in doing the work of men. “I cannot bear a woman in a public capacity like this. Fairs I detest, female preachers, female lecturers and the whole tribe women who seek notoriety away from their proper sphere.” Booth even managed to find time to write about his hatred for his neighborhood’s cat problem and how he intended to take care of it.

September 8th 1845
“The Gentlemen and Lady cats of the neighborhood have lately made our garden a place of assignation – an Elysian fields – Vaux Hall garden or Point Comfort – and many of them hold choir meetings in the kitchen where they sing solos – duets – trios – quartettes – and concertos with original accompaniments while a jubilees swain or two will curse, swear, and spit at and fight each other on the roof – or perhaps two or three of meandering dispositions will make a voyage of discovery through the house in search of cream jugs &c. – Set a noose for them and rejoice in anticipation of a deep revenge – how glorious it will be to see one or two of them next morning swinging between the floor and ceiling – with its music silenced forever”

After having enough of the D.C. area (and its cats) Booth decided to pack up his family and head out west. He intended to work hard and make good money but instead he lost out on the love of his life. Ellen took ill within a year of their settling in Missouri and died on August 21st 1846. Booth was heartbroken and wrote tenderly of his beloved wife including poems of his love and lost. It didn’t take long before he decided to come back to where his parents had settled here in the Hudson River Valley. Here is where he seemed to find at least some form of fortune and happiness again.

He got into the business of trade and running a store in Wilbur or downtown Kingston. He wrote a long passage on the area and his store and he didn’t seem to have much confidence in either. Concerning his store he wondered about the plans behind whoever had originally built it when he sarcastically remarked “by whom it was designed or after what order is lost in obscurity. I do not think it was after any model or Michael Angelo or Sir Christopher Wren.” He went on to say, “It must be original. The master mind that conceived the original plan could never stop to borrow any of the details.” Within the surrounding area he referred to the Twaalfskill brook which lies directly across from his store and home as a beautiful sight but of the village around him he thought “an imaginative mind would suppose a wagon load of houses had been “dumped” from above which stuck fast where they struck and consider it miraculous that they did not fall bottom upwards.”

From this area he could watch all aspects of life and today what we consider to be historic events were quite regular and mundane to him. The moving of bluestone towards the creek where it was loaded onto ships. The harvesting of ice from the creek in the winter where it was then stored in ice houses nearby. One of the great concerns of the 19th century which is no longer a threat in our time was the surge of Cholera that managed to make its way into the Kingston and Rondout area by 1849. He wrote of the fear that spread through his community.

June 25th 1849
“The Cholera had made its appearance in Rondout – four deaths occurring last night – Morning cooler than usual – a man found dead in the Creek and a woman found dead on the road near Kingston last night – People look very grave and thoughtful – the terrible disease is now amongst us and no one knows how soon his time may come – Many are so alarmed that they are throwing their garden stuff over the fence fearing its very growth will bring the epidemic to their house”

When he came to the end of his first of many books he felt the need to thank his diary as if it were a trusted friend who kept all of his memories and secrets.

“My book is now full – for five years it has been my companion – my friend – I feel an affection for it I could not have conceived possible – With all its faults I love it and when years have given it their charm it will be one of the dearest treasures I possess – Like good wine it will improve by age and I look forward with pleasure to the time when reopened I will peruse its contents and revive old scenes – that were otherwise forgotten”

Booth would go on to write more diaries and make more memories including marrying again and continuing to pursue his business ventures along the Hudson. Like so many of us living in this valley he worked and enjoyed the pursuit of a happy, prosperous, and true American life. His writings remain a wealth of information on what that journey looked like for those living here over 100 years ago. Booth’s words, life, and home should not be forgotten.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Gunks-Ridge and Valley Towns Through Time

Ireland Corners Hotel from Gunks Through Time

Gardiner, NY ( April 20, 2016)-Ron Knapp and Michael Neil O’Donnell will present a program on The Gunks-Ridge and Valley Towns Through Time at the Historical Society of Shawangunk-Gardiner on Monday, May 2 at 7 pm in Gardiner at the Gardiner Town Hall, Route 44/55 Gardiner NY.

Their new book The Gunks-Ridge and Valley Towns Through Time ranges across the ridge from Sam’s Point in Warwarsing to Joppenberg in Rosendale.

The Shawangunk Mountains (The Gunks) are renowned for stunning landscapes on and off the ridge in a region that has remained a favorite destination for visitors since the middle of the 19th century.  A highlight of the book are nearly a hundred pairs of photographs taken approximately a century apart.   In addition to presenting information about the fabled Lake Mohonk and Lake Minnewaska hotels, the book puts a spotlight on the economic and social changes over the past century in the towns of New Paltz, Gardiner, and Rosendale in the Wallkill Valley and to a lesser extent locations in the Rondout Valley.

While Knapp was responsible for the text, Michael O’Donnell shepherded the striking visual content from idea to reality with photographic contributions by Gardiner residents: Fred Gerty, Susan Lehrer, Michael Neil O’Donnell, and Carol Rietsma.

A book signing will follow the talk and all proceeds for the sale of the book benefit the Mohonk Preserve.

A companion website can be visited at

Posted in Education, Picturing the Past, Press Releases, Shawangunk Mountains, Ulster County | Leave a comment

The Beekman Boys Join Historic Huguenot Street

The Beekman Boys-HHS

NEW PALTZ, NY – After its annual winter “refresh” period, Historic Huguenot Street and its Museum Shop will re-open for 2016 on Saturday, May 7. The organization has spent the last several months revamping its entire guest experience, including the tour format, collections pieces displayed, Museum Shop offerings, and more.

In honor of Opening Day, Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge – proprietors of the Beekman 1802 Farm and Mercantile in Sharon Springs, NY, and stars of the Cooking Channel’s The Fabulous Beekman Boys – will be at the DuBois Fort from 2 to 3 pm to chat about life on the farm and their artisan Mercantile goods. Josh and Brent will sign books at the exclusive meet-and-greet, as guests enjoy wine and cheese from Main Course Catering and 10% off all Beekman 1802 books and products throughout the Museum Shop. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet some local sheep and lambs who will be visiting the street.

“We’ve been carrying Beekman 1802 products in the Museum Shop for about a year now, and they are some of our most popular items,” said Kristine Gillespie, Sales and Tours Manager. “We’re so looking forward to having Josh and Brent join us for Opening Day.”

Historic Huguenot Street’s Museum Shop currently carries a variety of Beekman 1802 goods, including heirloom garden seeds, goat milk soaps, beauty products, and the Beekman 1802 Almanac magazine.

Admission to the meet-and-greet is $25 general admission, 10% off for seniors and HHS members. Register at

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York Department of Education, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.


Posted in Education, Landmarks, Museums, Press Releases, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County | Leave a comment

Historic Huguenot Street Upgrades 2016 Tours With Renowned Interpretive Specialist Bill Weldon

DuBois Fort on Historic Huguneot Street in New Paltz-Collection of A.J. Schenkman

NEW PALTZ, NY (April 15, 2016) – Historic Huguenot Street will officially launch its 2016 season on Saturday, May 7 from 10 am – 5:30 pm. The organization has spent the last 6 months working with Bill Weldon, former director at the National Association of Interpretation (NAI) and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, to develop a completely refreshed tour experience for the year.

The updated tours on Huguenot Street incorporate engaging stories from the National Historic Landmark District’s history, with a renewed emphasis on featuring under-represented groups, including Native Americans and enslaved Africans. Visitors will even have a chance to discover through interpretive illustrations what the New Paltz area looked like prior to the Huguenot refugees’ arrival. The selection of collections pieces displayed in the historic houses has also been updated, showcasing Federal, Empire, and other pieces that have not been exhibited publicly in years.

“We strive to update and improve our tours every year, and Bill Weldon’s knowledge and experience has helped us tremendously this year,” said Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming. “The stories of Huguenot Street are still so relevant today; we’re telling the story of a refugee diaspora that created Huguenot settlements across the globe, and the accounts of their relationships with the existing communities around them.” She continues, “Of course, 2016 is also an election year, so we’ll be touching on some of the lesser-known political narratives of the street, such as the story of Josiah Hasbrouck, an 18th century New York Assemblyman and early 19th century U.S. Representative who grew up in the Jean Hasbrouck House.”

Weldon is a career veteran of interpretive planning, training, and historical performance. Since 1991, he has scripted, directed and performed in a variety of public programs, special presentations, and video productions for historic sites across the United States. From 2005 through 2013, he has served as artistic director for “Revolutionary City,” Colonial Williamsburg’s interactive outdoor drama. Most recently a recipient of NAI’s 2015 Award of Distinction, he has conducted workshops on interpretation throughout the country and has trained Historic Huguenot Street’s interpreters for the last three years. An interpretive performer himself, Weldon’s principal character has been Patrick Henry, Virginia’s renowned Revolutionary statesman and orator. His audiences have included heads of state, Supreme Court justices, and school children of all ages.

Beginning Saturday, May 7, tours will be offered hourly from 10 am – 5:30 pm (with the last daily tour departing at 4 pm) every day except Wednesdays. Tour tickets are $15; seniors and members receive 10% off, and active military members receive free admission. Tickets can be purchased in the Visitor Center and Museum Shop at 81 Huguenot Street.

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York Department of Education, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

History for Sale, Part II

Abraham Hasbrouck and Wife's Grave - AJ Schenkman

During this time of his expanding family, Abraham Hasbrouck was becoming active in the political affairs of Kingston as well as Ulster County. Hasbrouck ran unsuccessfully for the General Assembly in 1737. However, a year after his marriage, he was elected to the General Assembly. A post he would hold from 1739-1752 and again from 1756-1758. He was also appointed a Lt. Col. in the Ulster County Militia. If his diary is to be trusted, Hasbrouck bought the house on present day Greene Street in 1760 from Robert G. Livingston.

When Lexington and Concord happened in 1775, Abraham was already living in the house on Greene Street.   He was one of the wealthiest men in Ulster County. He owned properties in New Paltz, the farm where he was born in Guilford, Newburgh, New York City, and even in modern day Orange County. It goes without saying that the years 1776 and 1777 would be trying ones for Hasbrouck.

In an often quoted account during the American War for Independence he recorded the burning of his house, he believed by the British, in New York City in 1776, as well as the accidental fire that consumed his home in Kingston the same year. He recorded in his diary that “violent winds and very dry conditions” consumed the house in a short time. He lost just about everything including his store, contents, as well as goods in the garret.  He wrote, “I was unable to help myself.” I lay in bed lame in most all my limbs so that I could not go or walk as little as a first born child.” His family was taken in by Egbert Dumond until May 1, 1777. Shortly after his home in Kingston was rebuilt and the Hasbrouck family moved in, it was burned by the British when they attacked Kingston in October 1777. He believed his losses topped £10,000 from both fires. He also lost three slaves: Harry, Jenny, and Flora who fled with the British. The Hasbrouck family was, once again, taken in by a family. This time his son in law Abraham Hootaling.

Abraham Hasbrouck House Sub-Cellar-AJ Schenkman

Once the home was rebuilt the Hasbrouck family moved into the home on present day Greene Street. Hasbrouck continued to record deaths, births and notable weather events in his diary. He would return to public life for the final time in his 70s. According to his diary, Abraham was elected in 1781 to the New York Assembly for Ulster County. He served “until the 1stMonday in June 1782.” He declined to return to the legislature because he was 75 years old. He continued to live out his life in the house taking care of  his wife who had suffered from a series of strokes. Her latest stroke in August 1791, according to her son, left her speechless.

Abraham Front Door Hinges-AJ Schenkman

Abraham Hasbrouck retired to his bed in early November 1791, as he had done so many times in the three decades since he purchased his home. On the way to his bed chamber he fell injuring himself. A few days later, in the early morning hours of November 10, 1791, Abraham Hasbrouck passes away. His son, who had taken over the diary for his father, recorded that a few minutes before his father died, he called to his wife and kissed her goodbye. His body was interred the next day in the graveyard of the Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston near those of his children. His widow remained in her home until she passed away on August 10, 1793.

Abraham Hasbrouck Front Door Glass-AJ Schenkman

Posted in City of Kingston, Landmarks, Lost Landmarks, Revolutionary War, Town of Esopus, Town of Gardiner, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caught in a Bar with a Stolen Horse

1909-Wurtsboro-NY-AJ Schenkman

Accord, New York is a hamlet located in southwestern Ulster County. At one time, it was a stop on the Delaware and Hudson (D&H) Canal known as Port Jackson. When the D&H Canal ceased operating, trains took its place. It is because it was such a hub of activity that hotels began to open.

There were more than a few hotels in this area during this period of time; one of the hotels where individuals could spend the night was the Davis Hotel. On the evening of March 12, 1903, John Coddington was lodging at this hotel. When he arrived, he unhitched his horse from his wagon and placed it under a shed until the next day.

The following morning, Coddington went out to check on his horse…only to discover that his horse was gone. While searching for signs of his horse freeing itself and escaping, he discovered his wagon had disappeared as well. Incensed by this unexpected turn of events, he located the local deputy sheriff for assistance.

Deputy Sheriff William Barley called together a posse on March 13, 1903. Barley’s group searched the whole area surrounding the hotel, including neighboring Kerhonkson, for both the horse and wagon. They ended up empty handed after each investigation, without even a clue to guide them. Unbeknownst to the search party, as they were scouring the region for clues, the perpetrator was already miles away, heading towards the Ulster/Sullivan County border to a town called Wurtsboro.

As it turns out, Abram Barnhart was the man they were seeking. In fact, Barnhart was no stranger to horse stealing. In 1902, The Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle reported that he was arrested in Rhinebeck for stealing a horse and wagon belonging to Webster Rockefeller. He was charged with grand larceny in the second degree.

In March 1903, it appeared as if Barnhart might get away with his crime this time around. However, he had ridden Coddington’s horse so hard that some two miles outside of Wurtsboro, the horse refused to continue at the speed Barnhart wished. Undeterred, according to the The Kingston Daily Freeman, Barnhart caught a glimpse of a farm with nine well rested horses and decided to swap Coddington’s horse with one of this farmer’s horses. Barnhart continued on to Wurtsboro.

Feeling good about what he considered to be successful escapes, Barnhart wanted to celebrate. When he arrived in Wurtsboro on March 13, 1903, which was a Saturday, he parked his horse and wagon so that he could enjoy a few drinks at the local bar. Word quickly spread that two horses has been stolen – residents of both Accord and Wurtsboro were frenzied with excitement.

While the horse thief drank inside the bar, the farmer who owned the second horse arrived in Wurtsboro while searching for his missing animal. To his bewilderment, he discovered his horse parked outside the bar as he passed by. The man promptly entered the bar and confronted Barnhart. Patrons, hearing the commotion, helped wrestle the crook to the ground and held him there until the local sheriff arrived. Barley’s posse was alerted that Barnhart had been arrested.  When Barley arrived in Wurtsboro, he found Barnhart shackled to a “very oaken chair.”

Barnhart was hauled back to Accord on Sunday morning. On March 16th, he was arraigned before Justice of the Peace George W. Garrison. After the arraignment, Barnhart was brought to jail by Barley and Constable Frank Stevens of Kyserike. Barnhart secured representation by hiring F.E.W. Darrow. His trial in Ulster County Court would not occur until May of 1903.Until then, he was to remain in jail with bail set at $1,000.

On May 11, 1903, Ulster County Court opened at 2:00 P.M. Barnhart appeared before the judge; though he pleaded not guilty the previous month, he would eventually change his plea. As previously stated, Barnhart was represented by Darrow; The People were represented by District Attorney Cantine. It did not take long for Barnhart to be found guilty and sentenced by Judge Van Etten. The Monticello Republican Watchman proclaimed that “the horse thief” was sentenced to one year, but not more than one year and eight months, of hard labor in Dannemora prison. However, this was not the end of the Barnhart Case.

An 1875 map showing the hamlet of Accord in the Town of Rochester. Courtesy of Ulster County Archives.

According to The Kingston Daily Freeman, Barnhart was resentenced in October 1903, as the result of his lawyer citing that the law provided “that an indeterminate sentence can only be imposed where a defendant has not been convicted before, and as Barnhart had been convicted before it was necessary to give a definite sentence.” Darrow pointed out that his client had already been in jail for three months in the Ulster County Jail and five months in Dannemora Prison. Van Etten resentenced Barnhart to one year in prison. Once released, Barnhart again made news by receiving stolen goods.

Posted in Bringing the Wicked to Justice, Strange Stories, Sullivan County, Town of Marbletown, Town of Rochester, Town of Wawarsing, Ulster County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Las Villas of Plattekill and Ulster County

On Saturday, April 16th, at 2 p.m., the Plattekill Historical Society will introduce Ismael “Ish” Martinez Jr., the author of the newest Arcadia book “Las Villas of Plattekill and Ulster County,” which will be released the end of July 2016.  This program will be held at the society’s headquarters, 127 Church Street (off Route 32) in Plattekill.

Mr. Martinez was raised in the Town of Plattekill on the property called Sunny Acres, which started off as a farm and then converted into a villa.  By the time he was 14 years old he was working for his parents doing various jobs which eventually led to him tending bar when he got older.  Sunny Acres was only one of the multiple Villas within the southern section of the town.  He remembers well not only the growth of all the Puerto Rican, Spanish and other Hispanic villas, but the families who ran them, the weekly entertainment that was provided, and the Spanish food that was served!  Over the past years, Ish has made contact with and interviewed many former owners and family members of these villas, most of which are now closed, and has an extensive collection of photos and memorabilia to share with us, adding to the Town of Plattekill and Ulster County’s history.

Join the Plattekill Historical Society and be among the first to view Mr. Martinez’s power point presentation showing all of the Villas which once graced the countryside of what was once referred to in the 1950s newspapers as the “Spanish Alps” (Plattekill).

While visiting the new PHS headquarters, located in the old Grange, be sure and enjoy the historical displays that the historical society have provided! Open to the public – Light refreshments will be served – easily accessible, parking is plentiful. ​For more information, call (845)883-6118(845)883-6118 or visit the Plattekill Historical Society page on Facebook.

You’ll need Skype CreditFree via Skype
You’ll need Skype CreditFree via Skype
You’ll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

Posted in Education, Lost Landmarks, Press Releases, Town of Plattekill, Ulster County | Leave a comment

Did George Washington Eat Beaver Tail in Newburgh?

George Washingtn at Trenton (1792) John Trumbull Yale University Art Gallery

It has been over two centuries since George Washington
rode into Newburgh, New York to take up his headquarters in the Hasbrouck
house. “Situated at the southern end of King’s Street,” he used the Hasbrouck
house as his military headquarters from 1782-1783. While headquartered in
Newburgh, Washington used the room of seven doors and one window as his
military dining room. When available, Washington enjoyed many of his favorite

One of his favorite foods was nuts of all kinds, especially walnuts.  In fact, John
Adams commented that Washington believed that his boyhood practice of cracking
walnuts with his teeth may have been the root of his teeth woes. The Marquis de
Chastellux commented that Washington consumed “a tremendous amount of nuts
eating them for some two hours.” Washington had other epicurean tastes.

George Washington Parke Custis, step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington,
remembered that the general was quite fond of fish, and even drank chocolate at
breakfast. When in Newburgh, the quartermaster department did their best to
secure Claret or Madeira wines, different types of meats, vegetables as well as
pastries. Sometimes they were able, according to Major Edward C. Boynton, to
secure butter, pickles and even cider.

Even after Washington left Newburgh and returned to his home in Mount Vernon he continued to consume
a wide aray of foods. Colin Schultz writes that Washington absolutely loved ice cream
before the America Revolution and even while president. He ate many foods we
would recognize today, but at least one would produce a question mark above our
head-beaver tail.

Beaver tail, Li Zhou writes for Smithsonian Magazine, enjoyed its hey-day in the 17th century. It was
considered a delicacy among American Indians and European trappers during the
17th century. “The food’s ascent to popularity was primarily fueled by its
utility. Those out traveling in the wild urgently needed food that was high in
calories and fat.” Did George Washington eat beaver tail? He did receive a
recipe for the delicacy on June 2, 1795, in a letter from George Turner.  Turner was appointed a judge of the Northwest
Territory while Washington was president.

In a recipe entitled Canadian Recipe for
Dressing Beaver’s Tail,
Turner explained that the tail had to be boiled
until it became soft. Once it was softened the tail needed to be transferred to a grid iron which was
used for grilling meat. Eventually, fat would begin to pour out of the tail. This is when, Turner continued, you coat the tail with bread crumbs and finely chopped parsley. When it was brown and crisp, he instructed Washington, “serve it up with vinegar, salt and pepper.

Room of 7 doors and 1 window

General Washington probably did not eat beaver
tail at his Newburgh headquarters. He might have tried it earlier in his life
or when he was president or still later at Mount Vernon. If he did try it, it was
probably not a favorite.  In Martha Washington’s cookbook transcribed by Karen Hess, there is no recicpe for beaver tail.

Posted in City of Newburgh, Education, Hudson River, Landmarks, Museums, Orange County, Revolutionary War, Strange Stories, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History for Sale, Part I

Abraham Hasbrouck House-AJ Schenkman

It is not every day that a house so connected to Hudson Valley history goes up for sale. This is just the case with the Abraham Hasbrouck house located on Greene Street in the Stockade District of Kingston, New York. Abraham Hasbrouck’s house was not only burned by the British in 1777, he is also well known for his account chronicling the attack on Kingston. Hasbrouck is equally well known for his diary which contains notable weather events, and other interesting information.

Abraham Hasbrouck was born in 1707, in Guilford, New York, just outside of New Paltz in Ulster County. He was the grandson of one of the founders of New Paltz, who shared the same name. In order to differentiate the many Abrahams, the founder of New Paltz is known by local historians as “Abraham the Patentee,” a reference to the patent (land grant) that he helped secure. Abraham the Patentee’s family had fled Europe because of religious persecution (they were Protestants in a largely Catholic country) and they arrived in Esopus in the 1670s, later settling what became known as New Paltz. His first son, Joseph, married Elsie Schoonmaker in 1706, shortly after securing a large grant of land in Guilford. Abraham was their first son.

Joseph died in early 1724, when Abraham was entering his 17th year leaving a widow with eleven children, aged 2 to 17. Shortly after the death of their father, Abraham recorded, in a diary he kept most of his life, that the farm was devastated by hail. The orchards were hit hard, and the rye destroyed. If the storm was not enough, locusts wreaked more havoc. After helping his mother run his late father’s farm, Abraham decided to leave the farm in his 27th year.

Abraham Hasbrouck Daughter's Grave - AJ Schenkman

In 1734 Abraham decided to leave the farm and journeyed to Boston, Massachusetts by way of New York City. In Boston he pursued the life of a merchant. His diary states that he returned to Guilford the next winter, and by June 1735 he permanently settled in Kingston, where he would spend the rest of his life engaged in “trade & traffick.” Where and when he met his future wife Catharine Bruyn is lost to time, but they married January 5, 1738/39. Their first child would be born in 1740, followed by Elise in 1741, Joseph in 1743, and Geertruy in 1746. A second Geertruy would be born in 1747 after her sister of the same name died in 1746. This would also be true of Cathrina who died in 1747, and a second daughter of the same name was born in 1748. These births were followed by Marie in 1751, Jacobus two years later, Abraham in 1756, Daniel in 1758, followed by another son named Daniel in 1760 when his namesake died. The last child born was Jonathan in 1763.

Abraham Hasbrouck House Stairs-AJ Schenkman

Posted in City of Kingston, Landmarks, Lost Landmarks, Revolutionary War, Town of Esopus, Town of Gardiner, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mystery Solved: Cornelius Hasbrouck, Stolen Cattle and Newburgh, NY Part III

The courthouse and goal in Kingston as it appears in an illustration in Marius Schoonmaker’s History of Kingston. ca. 1777- UC Archive

Judge Robert Yates penned a letter dated January 13, 1781, to Governor George Clinton. It included the sworn examinations of John Stillwell, and John Simpson. He alerted the Governor that Cornelius Hasbrouck had been tried and convicted in the theft of Continental Army Cattle. Governor Clinton no doubt was also made aware of the examinations of Benjamin Knapp and Martin Weygant, Jr. Judge Yates continued, “that Congress may upon your Excellency’s representation, appoint pursuant to a law of this State a procurator or attorney, for the purpose of commencing suits ags’t him” in order to recover damages from Hasbrouck.

A second letter was sent the next day by the secretary of the New York Assembly, John McKesson to the Congress. In the letter written to the New York Delegates to the Congress, McKesson recounted the court case, and his belief that an example needed to be made of Cornelius under a law enacted by the New York State Legislature in 1779, which “enabled the recovery of Continental Demands (sic) and punishing the misbehavior of persons in Continental employ.” He advised that the case for damages be pursued with great haste because Hasbrouck’s jail sentence expires in less than two months. Since Hasbrouck appeared to be a man of financial means, it would be easy to recoup the damages. Although Cornelius Hasbrouck was not the first individual to steal from the Continental Army it appears he was one of the more high profile individuals to be made an example under this law from 1779.

Cornelius Hasbrouck, of Newburgh, was released from jail on “March 4, 1781.” There is no indication that he made restitution or at least no known documentation. He returned to his home in Newburgh, New York. Cornelius Hasbrouck of Newburgh probably was not a Tory. Instead, he was an individual who believed the army wronged him. There is no doubt that his neighbors, who in some cases suffered more than the Hasbrouck family, saw his actions as that of a crown sympathizer; a reason he might have been remembered as a Tory. His visible brand was a constant reminder that he could not be trusted.

Eventually Cornelius did leave Newburgh. A deed, in possession of the Huguenot Historical Society in New Paltz, listed him as being late of Newburgh. This deed is from 1800. He most likely left before this time. After the 1800 deed, almost all traces of him disappear until 1818 when he draws up property transfers. He is listed as living in the Town of Sandwich in Upper Canada. Hasbrouck gave John Sudam of Kingston, power of attorney to dispose of his lands in Newburgh which he had not previously disposed of while he lived there. He also settled a dispute raging over the will of his late uncle

which involved his surviving siblings and other relatives. This dispute made it into the several newspapers of the time including a foreclosure notice. Once his business was concluded Cornelius Hasbrouck disappeared again.

Posted in City of Kingston, City of Newburgh, Education, Historic Sites, Hudson River, Landmarks, Lost Landmarks, Museums, Orange County, Revolutionary War, Strange Stories, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Author

    AJ Schenkman

    A.J. Schenkman is the author of numerous books and articles. He is Consulting Historian for Historic Huguenot Street and Town of Gardiner Historian. Read Full

    Elizabeth Werlau

    Elizabeth Werlau is an English teacher in the Hudson Valley and is the historian for the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. She has authored and contributed to several books on regional history, including her most recent publication, Murder and ... Read Full

    Debra Conway

    A former Features writer/Columnist for the Times Herald-Record and Director of Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History in Narrowsburg, Debra Conway is currently the Executive Director of The Delaware Company, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ... Read Full

    Matthew Colon

    Matthew Colon is the Director of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. He has interpreted the American Revolution at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site since 2009. He currently assists other history focused volunteer ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives