Search billions of records on

History of
Greene County
New York


Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men

J.B. Beers and Co.


Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler

First Presbyterian church of New Baltimore

[The following history was prepared by Rev. Warren Hathaway, who was for many years pastor of this church.]: 

The church at Medway was the first of the Christian denomination organized in the town of New Baltimore, the first in the county, and indeed the first in the State of New York. This religious society was originally gathered at the house of Jonathan Miller sen., the central, and once well known public resort of the town, on the site now occupied by the house of Henry P. Miller. 

The Rev. Jasper Hazen, living in the State of Vermont, on the east of the Green Mountains, started as a self-appointed – or rather as a God-chosen missionary of the free and blessed gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Turning his horse westward, and preaching as he went – at school-houses, or wherever a door was opened, he crossed the mountains, and came at last to the Hudson River – the Mississippi of those days, at a point opposite the village of Coxsackie. That he might tell his friends when he returned home, that he had stood on the west side of the great river, he crossed over to Coxsackie. But the lofty hills beyond seemed to invite – to beckon and to welcome him – and leaving his horse, he walked out to the well known public house of Jonathan Miller, of whom he had heard as a man extremely hospitable, and eminently Christian; while he had heard also that his religious views were so broad that sectarians and sectarian churches regarded him as an unfortunate, and even as a guilty heretic. 

Now it seemed that this Hazen himself, though albeit a God-fearing man, was regarded by his neighbors as slightly tinged with heterodox sentiments, because he would acknowledge, as authority in the church, no other master of ruler but Christ the Son of God. And hence, he would call no man Rabbi, as admitting that any one had power over his faith and conscience. Now it seemed, though he had not been aware of it before, that this independent Christian, Jonathan Miller, loved with all his heart a good heretic, or at least one who, like Paul, bowed only to Jesus as master and savior – who took simply and only his gospel as ultimate authority in all things, religious and spiritual. No wonder that the youthful missionary from Vermont found a home in the large heart and under the ample roof of this Christian man. And no wonder that the well known public house of Miller became, under the earnest gospel ministry of the young Vermont preacher, a church as well as a hostelry – a place where travelers and pilgrims were entertained, though they were looking and seeking for a city unseen – “a city having glorious foundations, whose maker and builder id God.” 

At this public house the first Christian church of New Baltimore – and, as we have said, of the State of New York – was organized by Rev. Jasper Hazen, in 1807. 

A deep religious interest began with the first labors of this young man, and this interest deepened and widened until it extended to many of the surrounding towns. From this central point the spirit of Christ seemed to radiate, until, by the influence of God through Jasper Hazen, churches were organized at Freehold, at Westerlo, and at Stevensville. 

Thus in a strange, yet blessed manner, was the eccentricity and devotion of this youthful missionary from the rocky east perfectly vindicated in the establishment of centers of spiritual light and healing in this hilly county beyond the river. 

For many years the house and ample barns of Jonathan Miller were the only meeting places of the Christian church in New Baltimore. Here were held the general meetings of these days, where often hundreds of earnest believers, actuated by a common hope, faith, and charity, were gathered from every part of the county. 

At last it was decided to build a house for worship, and the spot chosen was on the once extended farm of Jonathan Miller, then owned by his son, at the site now occupied by the Medway Christian church. This house was built in the year 1832. for a time this brotherhood of Christians had no regular pastor, but were supplied by the numerous and gifted evangelists, that were raised up to be the heralds of a free salvation, and of the glorious gospel of the Son of God. These preachers were a class of men especially called to meet the demands of their time. But few churches in the rural districts were then able to give a minister an adequate support; hence those who devoted themselves entirely to the work of the ministry had wide circuits, and labored with the scattered brotherhoods as the spirit of God directed them. 

It was by the labors of these gifted men, called to evangelize, that the New Baltimore Christian church for many years was supplied. Yet, during this period of pastoral destitution, but few churches in the county were favored with such able and inspiring preaching as fell to the lot of this people. Those who came to supply their pulpit, “came in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ,” came as the flaming heralds of divine truth, -- came with “lips touched by the mystic bee, with the honey of persuasion,” and with hearts aglow with love. Hence they preached to attentive congregations, and gathered many souls into the fold of the Great Shepherd. 

Among those who thus came and continued the work of the Christian pioneer, Jasper Hazen, we might mention the Revs. Christopher William Martin, Jabez King, John L. Peavy, Levi Hathaway, John Teets, and John Spoor. The last named, Rev. John Spoor, was one of the first, if not the first pastor of the church. 

In 1861, this Christian brotherhood felt the need of a larger and more modern house of worship. As the result of this feeling, the present neat and commodious church at Medway was built and dedicated, free from debt, in the autumn of that eventful year. Besides the beautiful church edifice, with the numerous sheds around it, and the well kept cemetery adjoining, the society also owns a valuable parsonage with three acres of good land. 

The first Christian church of New Baltimore, whose eventful history is intimately connected with the prosperity, growth, and general welfare of the community in whose midst it has so long been “as a city set on a hill,” is still with light undimmed, and ever widening influence, a help and a blessing to all who love the ways of Zion, to all who are asking for human aid to lead them in the path of heaven, or the bright and narrow road that brings at last the weary pilgrim’s soul to God. 

Though many years have passed away since its organization, and though all of its first members have gone over to the majority and joined the family of God in heaven; yet as a branch of the ever living “body of Christ.” – it is as fresh, as young, and strong in the mission of salvation as ever. 

The present pastor, the worth successor of many eminent men, is widely known through the counties of eastern New York, for his works of love, his zealous ministry and abundant labors – the Rev. Henry Brown. 

The Ice Business of Athens 

The first ice house in the town of Athens was built in 1854, on Lots 8, 9, and 10 of the Flaack estate, on the site of the old chemical works, and was owned by the Independent Ice Company. This house was burned in 1857. 

The second ice house, built in 1855, stood near Dooper’s Island or Swallow Rock, on the old Esperanza purchase. It was taken down, and the Knickerbocker Ice Company built a large ice house on its site in 1873. 

In 1865 the City Ice Company built an ice house nearly opposite the Lutheran church. This was sold to the Washington Ice Company and afterward burned, and another house, belonging to the Knickerbocker Company, now occupies it place. 

The house belonging to the Hudson River Ice Company, south of the mouth of Murderer’s Creek, stands on land which was the former homestead of David R. Palmatier, who sold it to Lewis Wolfe in 1875. He took as partners Frank P. Gautier and William Lott, the Wolfe Ice Company was formed, and the house was built in 1877. They afterward consolidated with the Hudson River Ice Company, of which Lewis Wolfe is superintendent. 

The first ice house in the southern part of the town of Athens was built in 1869, near the Corlaers Kill, and was owned by Hiram Van Steenburgh, of Catskill. He sold it to the Knickerbocker Ice Company in 1872, and it was enlarged by Lewis Wolfe. It was afterward struck by lightning and burned.

The Howland ice house, a little north of Ferry street, in Athens, was built in 1869 and enlarged in 1877. 

The Arrow Ice Company built a house north of Van Loon’s ship-yard in 1877. The firm consisted of Frank Muller, W. H.Brown, and H. C. Fuller. The building was enlarged in 1878, and, July 7th 1883, it was struck by lightning and burned. A new house is being built (1883) on its site. 

Ice Houses in Athens



Tons capacity

Corlaers Kill

Knickerbocker Co.


Corlaers Kill

New York City Co.


Athens (south)

Arrow Co.



Howland & Co.





Athens (Dooper’s Island)

Knickerbocker Co.


Athens (glebe land)

Knickerbocker Co.


Athens (Murderer’s Creek)

Hudson River Co.


Athens (north of Murderer’s Creek

Ridgway Co.





General William Salisbury

The subject of this sketch was born at Leeds, or Old Catskill, in the home of his ancestors. His parents were Abraham and Rachel Eltinge Salisbury, and his birth occurred August 15th 1801. His home in Leeds was the mansion built by Francis Salisbury for his son William in 1720, on the west bank of the Katskill Creek, and which is now owned by Robert Badeau. He had a sister Anna, wife of Henry Lane. At the decease of his father he inherited a large tract of land, the most fertile portion of the Catskill Patent. Throughout his active life he was connected with the militia of the county, and went through all the grades of office, from sergeant in 1822, to lieutenant colonel of the 3rd regiment in 1826, brigadier general, commissioned July 15th 1835, by Governor William L. Marcy, and major general of the 8th division by Governor Silas Wright, January 17th 1845. His agricultural enterprises were conducted on a very extended scale, and his connection with the Greene County Agricultural Society and the American Institute continued throughout his busy life. In the latter part of his life he was called to bear several pecuniary reverses, and moved to Catskill Landing, where his last days were spent.  He was deacon of the old church at Leeds, and one of its most liberal supporters. His nature was benevolent, and no man in the town or county was more popular than he. His home at Catskill still contains many relics of the past, and among them may be mentioned a portrait of the ill-fated queen, Anne Boleyn, said to be the work of Hans Holbein. The arms of the family, carved in wood, and brought from Europe by his ancestor, Captain Sylvester Salisbury, together with Indian deeds and land grants, make a collection of which few families can boast.  General Salisbury married Miss Jane Mairs, and left a family of six children. He died at Catskill, May 12th 1883. Thus ended the life of one who was worthy to bear without reproach the grand old name of gentleman. The following extract is from the "Catskill Examiner":  

"The death of General William Salisbury occurred at his residence in this village, Saturday morning last. He was in his 83rd year. Although he was yielding to the infirmities of age, his death came sooner than anticipated. His is the record of an honorable life. A past generation knew him better than this. In his time, he was among the most progressive of men. We remember well his position as a farmer and stockman. We cannot now recall any one in the history of agriculture and stock breeding in this county, whose labors will compare with the work performed by him in these directions; for by his industry and liberality, he marked an era in the way of local development within his chosen field. The county should respect the memory of one who did so much in the way of improved methods in the lines of agricultural science."  

"After severe financial reverses he left the old farm at Leeds, and came to this village to reside. A quiet man, fond of quiet ways, he sought in his limited sphere to indulge the rural tastes of his more prosperous years. The strong love of nature, of trees and flowers, of the domestic animals, burned at the last as brightly as it did in early days. As a citizen, a father, and a Christian, he strove faithfully to perform their respective duties. A consistent member of the Reformed church, he kept his profession without a stain. The discipline through which he passed was a severe one, known only to himself, but that he bore it with great patience we have the evidence of his daily life. The funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at the Reformed church."

The Witbeck Family

Andries, son of Jan Witbeck and Agnietje Bronck, and grandson of Andries Janse Witbeck and Engeltje Volckertse Douw, married Mayke, daughter of Pieter Barentse Coeymans and Elizabeth Greveraad, and died November 22nd 1765.  

The children of Andries and Mayke were: (1) Elizabeth, born in 1739, married in 1757, Thomas, son of Hendrick Hoogteling, and died July 29th 1820;  (2) Zelotti, born in 1741;  (3) Agnietje, born in 1742;  (4) Peter, born March 22nd 1744, married October 16th 1766, Maria Van Alen, and died February 12th 1813;  (5) Charlotte, born in 1746, married in 1771, David McCarty, and died in Coxsackie, April 22nd 1828;  (6) Gerritje, married Daniel VanAntwerp;  (7) Mayke, married Cornelius Vanderzee.  

The children of Peter and Maria Van Alen were:  (1) Mayke, born March 12th 1769, married March 3rd 1787 Peter VanBergen, died March 31st 1825; (2) Catharina, born March 30th 1770, married John TenEyck;  (3) Elizabeth, born July 12th 1778, died in 1779;  (4) Elizabeth, born November 18th 1785, married David, son of Isaac Davidse and Lena Verplanck;  (5) Andrew, born February 3rd 1790, married Charlotte Amelia, daughter of Peter Coeymans Bronck and Elizabeth VanWie.

The children of Andrew and Charlotte are:  Peter, who died young, Elizabeth, John Bronck, who lives in Coxsackie, William, David, Henry, VanAllen, Maria and Peter. VanAllen Witbeck lives in the town of New Baltimore on a portion of the lands of Pieter Coeymans, which fell to Andries Witbeck and his wife Mayke.

  Home            Table of Contents        History of Greene County Main Page