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Austin R. Newcombe

From the History of the Valley of the Hudson, River of Destiny, 1609-1930, Volume V, Biographical. Contributed by Jerry Sterrit and transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

Rapidly expanding his interest, Austin R. Newcombe became one of the large oil operators of the Hudson River Valley and achieved a measure of success which now enables him to live retired in Kingston, although he is still connected with the petroleum industry. He was born in Windham, New York, February 21, 1873, and traces his ancestry back to Captain Andrew Newcombe, who was born in the north of England in 1618. A daring navigator, he came to America in his own sailing vessel, landing in Virginia in 1672, after which he operated a ship between Boston and ports of the Old Dominion. George A. Newcombe, the father of Austin R. Newcombe, was born in Union Society, near Windham, New York, July 8, 1848, and owned a productive farm in Greene county. He augmented his income during the summer season by providing accommodations for tourists and at times had as many as seventy-five boarders. He also engaged in business and in 1891 installed the first sanitary plumbing in his district. He married Lydia A. Avery, a native of Jewett Heights, New York, and a daughter of Daniel Avery, a farmer, who journeyed from Connecticut to the Empire state in the early part of the nineteenth century. George A. and Lydia A. (Avery) Newcombe were the parents of four children: Austin R.; Gover C. and George A., Jr., both of whom died when about ten year of age; and Marie W., who was born in Windham, September 18, 1885.

Reared on the homestead, Austin R. Newcombe attended the district school of that neighborhood and also took a course in the Eastman business College. He assisted his father in the work of cultivating the farm for several years and in 1907 started out for himself, entering the oil business at Union Society. While residing in this locality he also became identified with public utility work and in 1906 installed the first electric light plant at Comeston Park, near Windham. Leaving the region of the Catskills in 1924, he located in Kingston and here engaged in the gasoline and oil business on a large scale. He opened twelve gas stations, owing these, and leased many more, while he also established tank and car stations. He operated under the style of the Newcombe Oil Company, Inc., which grew from a very small concern to a widely known corporation transacting an extensive ship cargo business. In its control Mr. Newcombe manifested executive ability of a high order and the scope and importance of his activities is indicated in the fact that in May, 1930, when he disposed of his oil interest to the Cities Service Company, he was operating one hundred and forty stations and had several hundred retail outlets for gas and oil from New Jersey to the Albany (N. Y.) district. Year by year his business expanded and he became recognized as one of the foremost independent oil men in this part of the country. He brought the first large oil tanker from Los Angeles, California, to Kingston. This boat had a capacity of seventy-five thousand barrels and before it could be brought up the Hudson river soundings had to be made from New York to Kingston. His company also owned smaller ships plying between Newburgh and Albany, these tankers having a capacity of eight thousand barrels of oil. Mr. Newcombe is an honorary member of the National petroleum Institute, vice president and a director of the State of New York National Bank. He has laid aside the burdens and cares of business life and represents the oil corporation in an advisory capacity. His time and attention are now chiefly occupied with the supervision of the Manor Lake Estate, which he purchased July 8, 1924. It was first known as the Schufelt Place, on which there was an old stone house, built before the Revolutionary war. When F. G. Schmidt, of New York city, acquired the property the original dwelling was demolished and on the site he erected a modern, pretentious home. It stands in the midst of spacious, well kept grounds and the lane which leads to the house is bordered on each side by beautiful trees which were planted more than two hundred years ago. An artificial lake adds to the attractiveness of the property and a modern dairy is operated on the estate. It embraces fifty-two acres and is one of the show places of the district.

On the 11th of February, 1908, Mr. Newcombe was married to Miss Luella Post, who was born in Catskill, New York, March 20, 1881, and traces her lineage to Jan Janson Post, whose surname, according to tradition, signified his occupation, which was that of mail carrier. Leaving his home at Harlingen, a seaport in the province of Friesland, Holland, he came to America and was numbered among the early Dutch settlers of New York. In 1679 he leased the Harlem farm of Lemens Janson and in 1684 removed to Kingston, where he spent the remainder of his life. He married Jannettie, a daughter of Francois and Jannettie (Hilderbrante) Le Seuer, and they were the parents Jan Post, who wedded Cornelia Jesselstine. Abraham Post, the next in line of descent, married Maria Schut, by whom he had a son, Peter Post, married Deborah Schoonmaker and he departed this life March 12, 1787. His son, Abraham Post was born November 3, 1769, and passed away February 22, 1848. In young manhood he married Catherine Dedrick, who was born July 9, 1780, and passed away November 12, 1857. They were the parents of seven children. Of these Amos Post, the father of Mrs. Newcombe, was born February 15, 1858, and died February 22, 1923. A versatile and resourceful man, he engaged in manufacture of soda water, was a dealer in gasoline and oil and also took contracts for drilling wells, prospering in all of his undertakings. He married Nettie Shoemaker, who was born Ashbury, near Saugerties, New York, May 25, 1860, and died November 30, 1927. She was of Dutch descent and belonged to a family that was founded in America by three brothers who came to this country during the formative period of its history. One of the brothers located in Philadelphia, another established his home in Albany and the third settled in Ulster county. Among their descendants were Peter Shoemaker, who valiantly defended the cause of American independence, fighting under General Washington, with whom he well acquainted, and was mustered out of the service April 28, 1777, as a private. On the 19th of September, 1780, he married Maria Wolf, by whom he had nine children. There were three children in the family of Amos and Nettie (Shoemaker) Post. Edison, the eldest, was born December 29, 1878, and died November 1, 1929. He engaged in the oil and garage business, also operating a cider mill. His wife, Mamie (Delmeter) Post, was born in Catskill, April 27, 1879. Henry Post, born October 4, 1883, also conducts a garage. On the 4th of October, 1905, he married Julia Clark, of Athens, New York, and Clark Amos, their only son, was born June 17, 1906. In April, 1927, he married Elizabeth M. Cummingham and their daughter, Betty Jean, was born December 8, 1927. Luella, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Amos Post, became the wife of Austin R. Newcombe, as previously stated, and they have two sons: Amos Richard, who was born May 15, 1920; and Lloyd Avery, born January 21, 1922. They are natives of Catskill and both are attending the public schools of Kingston. Mr. and Mrs. Newcombe are members of the First Dutch Reformed Church, and Mrs. Newcombe is a member of Wiltwyck chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Mr. Newcombe belongs to the Rondout Yacht Club and to the Twaalfskill Country Club. Fraternally he is a Mason, with membership in Mountain Lodge, No. 529, F. & A. M.; Mountain Chapter, R. A. M.; Rondout Commandery, K. T.; and Cyprus Temple of the Mystic Shrine of Albany. He is a worthy exemplar of the order and a self-made man whose example may well be emulated by all who aspire to a high level of accomplishment. Upon the firm foundation of integrity and honor he reared the superstructure of his success and well merits the respect that is uniformly accorded him.

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