Eli Hasbrouck Part II

Eli Hasbrouck Grave Courtesy of OTC

The following year, Eli appeared in various publications directly related to his cultivation of grapes. He grew what he called the Anna Grape in his garden. It was prized as a variety because it was free from rot. Eli was drawn to the grape because of it color. A.J. Downing thought highly of it. It was said about the grape, “the raisins had the sweet rich flavor and aroma of those from the Muscat of Alexandria.”

Eli married again in 1855; the same year his brother Jonathan died. He married Margaret Van Wyck, of Fishkill, on February 13. The same time period he re-married, Eli was listed in the census as being worth $18,000. His occupation recorded as “gentleman.” Eli was in fact a merchant and farmer. Where Eli lived during this time was listed in business directories as 167 Liberty Street in Newburgh. In addition to his large family, his sister Mary also lived with the family until her death in 1856.

If his late brother lost the family homestead because of bad business deals and  loans, Eli was well off enough to have a servant/laborer. He had at least three servants. Samuel Carrier of Connecticut seemed to pose a problem for Eli . He wrote, [Carrier] “ has been intemperate which is the cause of his poverty. He is likewise troubled with rheumatism.” This was sworn to by Eli and sent to the Alms-House. His other two servants were both from Ireland. They were Mary Flanagan and William Moore.

By 1860, Eli’s wealth continued to grow. The 1860 census lists a combined worth of $30,000. This would be about a million dollars in 2014 dollars. He continued to reside at 167 Liberty Street, and was also involved in the civic affairs of Newburgh. This included being a member of the Centennial Committee, and a volunteer firefighter His son and namesake most likely worked in the dry goods business that was started by  Eli Hasbrouck. His love of Newburgh extended to the home where he was born.

According to E.M. Ruttenber, a “One arm-chair-one of the set in use in Head-quarters during Washington’s occupation, and known as “Washington’s Chair” was presented to Washington’s Headquarters by Eli Hasbrouck. A portrait of Eli was also gifted to the museum. Finally, a fire shovel remained in the house. Most likely, Eli told the curators that it had never been removed from the house, and was there during Washington’s stay at the home.
Towards the end of the century Eli’s combined worth almost doubled from the 1860 census to $53,000. He had a domestic servant as well as a gardener. Mary, a daughter, born in 1834, still lived at home. She is listed  in the 1870 census as without an occupation. Eli listed himself as a retired merchant. Eli Hasbrouck passed away the following year at his home on Liberty Street on December 28, 1871. Eli was interred in the Old Town Cemetery in Newburgh. His place of burial is marked by a large obelisk. He is buried along with his first wife and two children who predeceased  him.

The obituary in the newspaper was short, “relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral at his late residence No. 167 Liberty Saturday December 30, 3 p.m.” After Eli died, Margaret remained in the home on Liberty Street for a time. Census records show that her sister Cornelia moved in with her shortly after the death of Eli. However, post 1873, to the end of her life; she appears to reside at 73 Grand Street. She died March 23, 1897. The Newburgh Telegraph remembered, “She died strong in the faith of the gospel, desiring ‘To depart and to be with Christ’ and we fully believe that when he shall appear, she also will appear with his Glory”

Eli Hasbrouck was a well known individual, in Newburgh, during his long life. He was also involved in the civic affairs of Newburgh. It is because of Eli that we know some of the Hasbrouck history of Washington’s Headquarters, Newburgh. His own home no longer exists. In fact, little is left of Eli’s life other than his obelisk  in the Old Town Cemetery.

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Eli Hasbrouck Part I

Eli Hasbrouck House-Liberty and Campbell _Newburgh Historical Society

When people visit Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, New York  they are also visiting a Hasbrouck house. This home and farm, from the 18th century to the mid -19th century, belonged to the Hasbrouck Family until New York State acquired it. The home would become the first historic site of it kind in 1850. Some of what we know about the Hasbrouck’s life there came by way of his grandson Eli Hasbrouck.

Eli was the great-grandson of one of the founders of New Paltz named Abraham Hasbrouck. He is known by local historians as “Abraham the Patentee,” a reference to the patent or 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). Abraham’s first son was named Joseph. He married Elsie Schoonmaker in 1706.Shortly after the couple married they secured a large grant of land in Guilford which was just outside New Paltz. Hasbrouck and Schoonmaker had a large family of ten children, the last child was Jonathan Hasbrouck born in 1722.

Jonathan Hasbrouck’s mother Elsie purchased property in what is today Newburgh, New York in 1749. Jonathan would not only enlarge the stone home that was already on the property, but spent a lifetime acquiring property. By 1767, he was listed on tax records as one the wealthiest individuals in Newburgh. He married Tryntje DuBois in 1751, and the newlyweds moved to Newburgh. They had several children; Joseph, Mary, Rachel, Cornelius, Jonathan, Isaac and Abraham.

Isaac was born on September 23, 1761. It was Isaac who eventually took possession of the fieldstone home of his father. Roughly four years after his father’s death, in 1784, Isaac married Hannah Birdsall. The couple would have five children Jonathan III (1785), Sarah (1788), Israel (1789), Rachel (1793),  Eli (1796), and  Mary (1799).

Eli, according to the family bible, was born on March 17, 1796, in the family’s old stone house. When Eli was ten years old his father died. A year later his mother died. Still considered a minor, Francis Crawford was appointed Eli’s guardian. Historic Huguenot Street’s archives holds an itemized account between Jonathan Hasbrouck III, and Eli. It was countersigned by Crawford. This document involved the care of Eli Hasbrouck by his brother. Most likely Eli lived with his brother who also owned 3 slaves according the 1810 census.

Jonathan Hasbrouck III inherited the old stone house we know today as Washington’s Headquarters, State Historic Site. Eventually Eli would inherit lands near the old stone house.  He married Hannah Belknap on September 24, 1816. They were married by Rev. Johnston. The couple would have 9 children. However, shortly after their 9thchild was born, Hannah died on Monday, September 30, 1839.

Eli Hasbrouck WHQ SHS

In 1849, the State of New York took possession of the home built by Eli’s grandfather. This was because of a default on a loan by Jonathan Hasbrouck. His financial troubles forced him to relocate to New York City. The 1850 census lists him living with one of his sons.  After repeated attempts to save the home, it passed out of the family forever. Eli, seems to have escaped the financial problems that plagued Jonathan III. E.M Ruttenber later wrote that some of the house’s history was remembered by Eli.

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The Tory William Caldwell

The name William Caldwell first caught my attention while researching the August 12, 1781, raid in Wawarsing. His name was mentioned again in Governor George Clinton’s public papers. It was also in connection to the August raid which, it was believed, was lead by Caldwell who was then a Captain.  During this raid he led other Tories and Native American allies along the frontier in Ulster County. His name was hated along the frontier.

William Caldwell was born around 1750 in Northern Ireland. Prior to the American Revolution, Caldwell came to England’s North American Colonies first settling in Pennsylvania. The same year of Lexington and Concord, Caldwell was offered an officer’s commission in the British Indian Department. Caldwell fought with Lord Dunmore’s forces, taking part in the storming of Norfolk, Va, early in 1776. According to Canadian Biography, Dunmore was defeated, and  Caldwell had to be evacuated by sea to New York. During the storming of Norfolk, Caldwell was wounded.

The United Empire Loyalists of Canada states, that Butler’s Rangers were formed, in 1777,  and he was commissioned a captain. Caldwell was stationed at Fort Niagara. The following year he participate in the Wyoming Valley Massacre in Pennsylvania. “In September 1778 he led an attack on German Flats (Herkimer) in the Mohawk Valley of central New York, where he destroyed all of the buildings and grain in the area.”

Caldwell became well known in Western Ulster County when he attacked Wawarsing on August 12, 1781.  A force of 300 Iroquois and, according to the Brigade of the American Revolution’s April 2006 newsletter, 90 of Butler’s Rangers raided Wawarsing. This raiding party from Fort Niagara was led, it is believed,  by Captain William Caldwell.

His partisan attacks lasted well into 1782, when he defeated Colonel Crawford at Upper Sandusky in Ohio. During this battle he was shot through both legs. The war came to an end for Caldwell with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. After the war he was granted lands in Upper Canada along with other Loyalists. Eventually he became a merchant in Amherstburg. He would once again serve England in the War of 1812. After the War of 1812, Caldwell continued his life as a merchant. He spent the rest of his life in Amerherstburg, where he died February 20, 1822.

 

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The Grange

Did you ever wonder when and why the organization for GRANGES was started and what drew so many people to join them?

The Grange was founded as an agricultural organization in 1873, at a time when agriculture was the primary occupation of rural citizens. Agriculture is still important to the Grange and its members know that the economic welfare of rural communities is still strongly influenced by the economic stability of agriculture.

Many people stop at the historical society’s headquarters (the old Plattekill Grange Hall) to reminisce about attending BBQs, dinners, plays, minstrels and dances at the Grange. It was family oriented and a popular gathering place. According to 1930s newspapers, the Plattekill Grange #923 had over 330 members!

There was also an active Junior Grange program that drew those ranging in age from 5 to 17, and many adults still remember the activities held. The Junior members, along with the adults, provided displays yearly at all the local county fairs – a number of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons that were won are now on display at the PHPS headquarters.

The Plattekill Historical Preservation Society has invited and will welcome a speaker from the NYS Grange’s Capital District to give a talk and explore the beginning history of the Grange. The Grange’s original charter and a list of the original members will be on display, along with a number of their artifacts.

Admission is free and refreshments will be served!

For more information, call (845) 883-6118 or visit the Plattekill Historical Society page on Facebook!

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18th – 1 PM
at 127 Church Street, Plattekill, NY (just off Route 32)

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The Ghost of Sam Kettle Part II

Kerhonkson-Bridge-AJ-Schenkman

Monday morning, August 13, reinforcements finally arrived from Marbletown and Rochester. Cantine’s exhausted soldiers were bolstered by some 200 hundred fresh troops and still more came from New Paltz. According to Ralph Lefevre, their force numbered some 400 soliders. A forced march came within striking distance of the fleeing raiders, but they eluded the soldiers. Governor Clinton took the time to write to General Schuyler to warn him, that since this raiding party is now well provisioned, they might try and make more mischief along the frontier. Clinton sent a separate letter to Colonel Willett and General Gaansvoort “to order out part of his Brigade to Schohary [Schoharie] until we have certain advices that this Party have left our frontiers.”

Some historians from earlier periods have written that the original target for the attack was Napanoch. However, the party was deterred by the belief that the settlement was defended by cannons. Regardless of the true target, this would be the last attack on Wawarsing of the American War for Independence. The war gradually came to a close after the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781, and to its conclusion in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris.

In Abraham Garett Bevier’s 1846 book, The Indians; or Narratives of Massacres and Depredations on the Frontier in WaWarsink and its Vicinity during the American Revolution, Bevier writes that another settler was killed besides Tuttle. He recounts the killing of Sam Kettle. Although  the killing of Kettle is commonly centered around the Kerhonkson Bridge where modern day 209 joins Minnewaska Trail, at least one late local historian insisted that it happened along the Cohonkson which is a small stream.  If it happened near the Cohonkson, as some assert, it would put it “about three and a half miles northeast of the old fort at WaWarsink.”

When the events of August 12, began to unfold, Kettle was checking on the Jacobus Bruyn house still located on modern day 209. Bruyn and his family had moved back over the mountains for safety. It was while checking on the house the alarm warning that an attack was under way. Kettle attempted to make his way to a fort at Pinebush (Rochester). The story continues that he was shot and killed while making his way to the fort.

When residents first reported seeing the wandering ghost of Sam Kettle is not really known. However, a local legend that persists in the annuals of Kerhonskson and Rochester is that certain nights you can see Kettle trying to cross the water to safety from the pursuing Native Americans. The only question which remains, does Kettle’s ghost haunt the eastern side of the Kerhonkson Bridge or some long forgotten bridge over the Cohonkson Stream

Posted in Revolutionary War, Strange Stories, Sullivan County, Town of Gardiner, Town of Marbletown, Town of Rochester, Town of Shawangunk, Town of Wawarsing, Town/Village of New Paltz, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ghost of Sam Kettle Part I

Bruin House in Wawarsing HABS HAER

I like a good story and one of my favorites is the ghost story involving Sam Kettle. The first time I heard this story was while on stand-by in the Kerhonkson fire house where I was a firefighter for many years. Many people living in Ulster County do not realize that during the American War for Independence Western Ulster County was considered the frontier. It was not only vulnerable to attacks by Tories, but also by their Native American allies. Sam Kettle, according to C.G. Hine in his book on the Old Mine Road, was murdered in one such raid.

Sam Kettle was killed in the raid of August 12, 1781. A force of 300 Iroquois and, according to the Brigade of the American Revolution’s April 2006 newsletter, 90 of Butler’s Rangers raided Wawarsing. This raiding party from Fort Niagara was led by Captain William Caldwell. “They had marched for 18 days.” One of the first individuals to apprise New York State Governor Clinton of the attack was Colonel Levi Pawling from the 3rd Ulster County Militia. A letter, written by the colonel, contained in Clinton’s papers, arrived from Marbletown. It occurred, according to the letter, at 9:00 in the morning. He continued that Colonel Cantine, also of the 3rd Ulster County Militia, was at “mumbakers.” This is probably a reference to Mombaccus which is the present day Town of Rochester. He explained as events unfolded that Cantine sent an express letter to Colonel Albert Pawling to alert him that the enemy was at Wawarsing. Cantine reported that there was lots of gunfire and that smoke was coming from several houses. Albert Pawling, hurried to the relief of Wawarsing. He also sent a letter asking Levi Pawling to contact Major Adrian Wynkoop.

The attack was over by 10:00 in the morning. Soldiers that were stationed to defend the settlement were no match for the superior force. In a letter, two days after the attack, Clinton wrote to General Philip Schuyler, that the soldiers took to the houses to defend the settlement. It was this maneuver he felt that saved the settlement from complete destruction.

It was not until noon, that Major Wynkoop finally assembled troops to march to the relief of Warwarsing. Once the Tory led raiding party retreated, a Tory deserter was captured. He was identified as Vroom, and told his captors all the information that he knew. This included the size of the war party including they were in desperate need of supplies. He confirmed that the war party had originated in Niagara. When asked how they attacked Wawarsing, the prisoner informed them that they had captured two scouts posted near the Delaware River. These scouts, named Burgher and Hine, gave the leaders of the party the “strength and disposition” of the troops at Wawarsing.  The party“quietly slipped past the Patriot post at Lackawack and arrived undiscovered.” In addition to the valuable intelligence from the deserter it became apparent that the raid was quite destructive. A letter by express to Levi Pawling from Albert Pawling confirmed a lot of what would later be learned about the size and purpose of the raid on Wawarsing.

Among the houses that had been torched were the homes of Johannes G. Hardenbergh, as well as, “Benjamin Bruyn, 2 other Bruyn houses, Rubin DeWitt and several others.” There was only one known casualty on the Wawarsing side. It was John Tuttle who was killed and scalped. However, several dead and wounded were the casualties on the other side. The party was able to make off with many horses and other livestock.

Although urged to pursue the raiding party, Colonels Cantine and Albert Pawling decided that it would be prudent to wait for reinforcements. Instead Albert Pawling sent a letter asking Levi Pawling to use his influence to convince Colonel Snyder to send his regiment marching without delay.  According to Clinton’s papers, Cantine and Albert Pawling also wrote to area officers, including “Colonel Elvindorph,” asking them for help. If Elvindorph could march quickly enough, the soldiers would leave “about the rising of the moon.” Although some planned on pursuing the war party, they were delayed because night of the attack it rained heavily. It was also quite a dark night.

Bruin House Wawarsing Route 209 HABS HAER

In his letter to Governor Clinton Levi Pawling complained about the lack of help from Elvindorph and Snyder. Some help had arrived but it was not enough and he was not sure if those soldiers who did arrive were actually planning to march in pursuit. This prompted Levi Pawling to write, “such Deadness of Military Spirit I never saw before. I think an Inquiry into such conduct ought to be made.”

 

 

 

Posted in Catskill Mountains, Revolutionary War, Shawangunk Mountains, Strange Stories, Sullivan County, Town of Rochester, Town of Wawarsing, Ulster County, Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HRMM Celebrates Black History

 

Black Mariners Provided

KINGSTON, NY – The Hudson River Maritime Museum is pleased to announce a special lecture celebrating Black History Month on Saturday, February 4, 2017, at 2:30 pm in the museum’s Riverport Wooden Boat School classroom.

“Black Maritime Workers in Early America: Challenging Slavery and Shaping Freedom Then and Now” is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5; HRMM members are free.

Dr. Craig Marin, Assistant Professor of Maritime Studies at SEA or Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, MA, will be connecting Early American history experiences for black maritime workers to modern accomplishments and continued challenges for African Americans. Dr. Marin will use maritime stories uncovered in his research that will further illuminate the circumstances of Africans and African Americans in the maritime world during the age of sail.

For more information about the lecture, please contact Lana Chassman, lchassman@hrmm.org, call 845.338.0071 ext. 15, visit our website www.hrmm.org or like us on Facebook.

About the museum: Located along the historic Rondout Creek waterfront in downtown Kingston, NY, the Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries. In 2016, HRMM opened the Riverport Wooden Boat School.

HUDSON RIVER MARITIME MUSEUM 50 Rondout Landing ▪ Kingston, NY 12401 ▪ 845.338.0071 www.hrmm.org

 

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IMAGES OF INTERNMENT: THE INCARCERATION OF JAPANESE AMERICANS DURING WORLD WAR II

Japanese Relocation Center at Manzanar NARA-1942

HYDE PARK, NY — On February 19, 2017 — the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 — the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will open a new photographic exhibition entitled, IMAGES OF INTERNMENT: THE INCARCERATION OF JAPANESE AMERICANS DURING WORLD WAR II, with over 200 photographs including the work of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams. Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Executive Order 9066 led to the incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent — including approximately 80,000 American citizens — during World War II. The exhibit will be on display in the Library’s William J. vanden Heuvel Gallery through December 31, 2017. Regular hours and admission apply.

 

In the tense weeks after Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans — particularly those on the Pacific Coast — feared enemy attack and saw danger in every corner. Rumors and sensational media reports heightened the climate of fear. Under pressure from military and political leaders, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. It is widely viewed today as a serious violation of civil liberties.

IMAGES OF INTERNMENT begins with a small document-focused display that briefly introduces the context behind FDR’s decision to issue Executive Order 9066. It includes the role of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who disagreed with FDR’s decision. In April 1943, the First Lady visited an internment camp. Shortly after that the Japanese American Citizens League presented her with a painting of the Topaz camp by Chiura Obata (1885-1975), a Japanese American artist who was confined there. Mrs. Roosevelt displayed the painting in her New York City home until her death in 1962. It is included in the exhibition.

 

Visitors then enter the exhibition’s main gallery where they will encounter over 200 photographs (including some reproduced in dramatically large formats) that provide a visual record of the forced removal of Japanese Americans and their lives inside the restricted world of the remote government camps operated by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Most of these images were shot by skilled photographers hired by the WRA. The WRA visual records (held at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland) include the work of Dorothea Lange, Clem Albers, Francis Stewart, and Hikaru Iwasaki. IMAGES OF INTERNMENT also features photographs taken by Ansel Adams at the Manzanar camp and a selection of photos shot by George and Frank Hirahara, who were held at the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming.
The exhibit includes a short film that features excerpts from oral history accounts of Japanese Americans in which they describe their experiences. There is also a video presentation of President Ronald Reagan’s remarks when he signed the 1988 bill that provided an official government apology and cash payment to each surviving person covered under Executive Order 9066.
Please contact Cliff Laube at (845) 486-7745 or email clifford.laube@nara.gov with questions about the exhibition.
The National Archives holds hundreds of thousands of records relating to the internment, including the personal records of those detained, films of life in the camps, and documentation of the administration of the camps.

 

Related Online Resources:
FDR Library Online Exhibit/Virtual Tour
FDR Library – Japanese-American Internment: World War II “Teachable Moment”

 

Japanese-American internment video, from the FDR Library’s Pare Lorentz Center

 

FDR and Japanese American Internment

 

Japanese Relocation During World War II
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Designed by Franklin Roosevelt and dedicated on June 30, 1941, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is the nation’s first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president. Every president since FDR has followed his example and established a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve and make accessible to the American people the records of their presidencies. The Roosevelt Library’s mission is to foster a deeper understanding of the lives and times of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their continuing impact on contemporary life. This work is carried out through the Library’s archives and research room, museum collections and exhibitions, innovative educational programs, and engaging public programming. For more information about the Library or its programs call (800) 337-8474 or visit www.fdrlibrary.org.

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An American Paradox: “Enslavement on the Hudson”

Springwood Hyde Park Roosevelt Mansion-Wikipedia

HYDE PARK, NY — The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project — in commemoration of African American History Month — will present ”An American Paradox: Enslavement on the Hudson” with Associate Director of Content Development at Historic Hudson Valley Michael A. Lord on Thursday, February 2, 2017. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. This event is free and open to the public.

Although the history of enslavement in the Hudson River Valley is well documented and researched, its existence and significance to the development of New York’s commercial and cultural development continues to be obscured, ignored, or misunderstood by many. In ”An American Paradox: Enslavement on the Hudson,” Michael A. Lord, examines the issues, events, and individual choices surrounding enslavement in the Hudson Valley from the perspective of the enslaved. Using the historic site of Philipsburg Manor as a focal point, Lord’s presentation traces the development of slavery throughout the Hudson River Valley, and why this most-American of stories continues to be relevant.

A magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College with degrees in History and Black Studies, Michael A. Lord was introduced to living history as a graduate student at the College of William and Mary. He began his work at Historic Hudson Valley in 1998 as the Associate Director for Reinterpretation, working to create and implement Philipsburg’s story of northern colonial enslavement. Currently the Associate Director of Content Development, Lord trains staff at all five Historic Hudson Valley historic sites to tell the story of the Hudson Valley. He also writes, produces, and directs museum theatre presentations for Historic Hudson Valley and other institutions.

Please contact Cliff Laube at clifford.laube@nara.gov or (845) 486-7745 with questions about the event.

The Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project (MHAHP) is a non-profit group created in 2006 to bring together researchers, educators, community leaders, and members of the public to: conduct and synthesize research on the history of antislavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley, with special emphasis on the Underground Railroad; interpret this history and share these interpretations with a wide array of residents and visitors in our area, with particular attention to students and youth; and place this local history in the broader contexts of racial slavery in the New World, the African-American experience, and antislavery legacies today, including the impact of this historic grassroots movement on subsequent struggles for racial and social justice. For information visit www.mhantislaveryhistoryproject.org.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Designed by Franklin Roosevelt and dedicated on June 30, 1941, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is the nation’s first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president. Every president since FDR has followed his example and established a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve and make accessible to the American people the records of their presidencies. The Roosevelt Library’s mission is to foster a deeper understanding of the lives and times of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their continuing impact on contemporary life. This work is carried out through the Library’s archives and research room, museum collections and exhibitions, innovative educational programs, and engaging public programming. For more information about the Library or its programs call (800) 337-8474 or visit www.fdrlibrary.org.

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A Roadside Murder

1909-Wurtsboro-NY-AJ Schenkman

“How long will peaceable people consent to being shot down, clubbed, or choked to death is a question not much longer to remain unanswered.” The New Paltz Independent of March 1873, continued, “if the present plan of uncertain and dilatory punishment is continued, quick death will overtake the murderer by summary process.” This was an obvious reference to vigilante justice.

Ulster County, more specifically New Paltz, had, had enough of what it perceived as an escalation in grisly murders. The populace read in dismay as each murder was more violent and sensational than the one before it. The latest was the ax killing of Daniel A. Hasbrouck, by Levi Bodine. Prior to this murder, Ulster County read with horror about the roadside murderer.

 “A loafing, shifting vagabond, too worthless to work…” is how The Monticello Watchman described forty-two year old Jeremiah Smith. He was a native of Neversink in Sullivan County when he met Sophia Tompkins who hailed from Olive in neighboring Ulster County. She had four children 5, 9, 12, with a daughter already grown and married. All her children were from a previous marriage. When Smith met Tompkins she was the widow of Private Jacob Hornbeck. Private Hornbeck had enlisted in the 143rd Regiment, Company C, in Sullivan County during the Civil War. Her husband was killed in 1864 during Sherman’s March to the Sea.

 Smith, a farmer, was about 6’ tall with a light complexion. Those who knew him believed he slept with 2 loaded pistols and an axe in case anyone tried to give him trouble. He trusted no one, not even his prervious wife, who, according The New York Times, was locked in a room at night while Smith slept. His neighbors described him as “very intemperate in his habits.” Tompkins and Smith were wed in September 1867. Tompkin’s family was doubtful that her new husband could be of any benefit. Some believed he was only after her late husband’s military pension which she had been collecting since his death. In addition, she also collected a pension for the three children who were still minors.

Wurtsborough Sullivan County Atlas, F.W. Beers-Library of Congress

The family eventually ended up near 3 miles west of Wurtsboro in late 1867 on the road to Monticello.  It was here that the new Mrs. Smith put down $125 with the intent to buy a place to live. The money according to newspapers came from her late husband’s pension as well as a bounty paid to her husband.

On Saturday November 14, 1868, Smith left home to rent a wagon and a horse from the Mansion House Livery. When he returned, about 1:00 pm, he greeted his wife. He explained to her that he had rented a horse and wagon to take her to Olive. His wife’s eldest daughter, he explained, had been in a terrible accident. Smith continued that she had been thrown from a wagon, and could die.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith climbed into the wagon, and made the journey towards Olive making one stop in Ellenville. It was at the stable of E.D. Terwilliger. The couple continued their journey in the evening. However, the couple never arrived at their destination. Police later determined that they only got as far as Accord.

As the wagon approached Accord, Smith pulled out one of the pistols he kept with him when he slept. He fired a shot point blank range at his wife, followed by a second shot. She tumbled out of the wagon. Smith stopped the wagon, hopped out, and found a rock.  He proceeded to pound his wife’s head until he was sure she was dead. Smith buried her in a shallow grave on the side of the road, and then turned the wagon around. As he neared home he saw a local boy walking along the road. He asked the boy to take his horse and wagon back to where he had rented it. His only comment to the boy was that the horse gave out, and could not continue the trip. He explained that he sent his wife on to Olive with a passerby. It was Sunday, November 15. Smith walked back home where his wife’s three children waited. He arrived Monday, November 16 leaving the next day with the children after cleaning out the house of everything but a small trunk.

When the horse and wagon arrived, the owner of the stable found a pillow, according to The New York Times, covered in blood. Citizens became suspicious at this point and went to the Smith house. After repeatedly knocking, they forced the door. What they found was an empty house with only a trunk belonging to Mrs. Smith. Later when they located her body the dress she was wearing at the time of the murder, would match fabric in the trunk.

 Smith took the children with the intention of going fleeing towards Otisville. Newspapers reported that he stayed one night there. Some believed he was on his way to Newburgh, one paper stated, when a local resident felt something was amiss and alerted authorities.

 Authorities retraced the route taken by Smith with his wife. In a shallow grave they found the remains of Smith’s murdered wife. District Attorney Wesbrook, Coroner Bogardus, a police officer, and the late woman’s daughter as well as husband were summoned to the scene. They positively identified the body.

A 1,000 dollar was offered for the capture of Jerimiah Smith. Sam Gumaer, a hotel keeper in Wurtsboro, hoped to make his fortune. He followed the trail until it went cold. The last time anyone saw Smith would be on November 24, heading towards Port Jervis. He resurfaced briefly abandoning the children with a local charity. 

Frustrated, the reward was increased to $3,000. A break in the case finally came in December 1868.   A thief was picked up by police in Kingston, and reported having known Smith. H believed that Smith was still in a jail out west. in Clyde, OhioThe New York Herald reported the following year, that Smith, committed a robbery in order to “get incarcerated in an out of the way jail.” Smith wanted to avoid being convicted for the death of his wife. What jail he was being in housed in, was never mentioned. It was described as off the beaten path.

Jeremiah Smith was never brought to justice.  As late as February 11, 1870, Detective Harrison of Ohio, had traced Smith to Clyde, Ohio with the help of Sam Gumaer. Harrison felt that Porter Smith had travelled to Ohio to help Jeremiah, and he felt that Gumaer should question a Peter Smith of Hasbrouck. Once again, the trail went cold. Some believe after serving his time, Jeremiah Smith moved to California where he died.

 

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

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