Article Number Six - 
 Hendrickson and Shue Families - Patents

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on April 12, 1879, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell



Our forefathers found, after a few years' residence here in the wilderness, that there were those who had claims (real or pretended) to their landed possessions. It appears that it was the custom of the Dutch and English governments to grant, by letter patent, thousands of acres of virgin soil of America to their favorites; some of whom had won distinction in war, or had otherwise leased the fancy of the Sovereign. Hence we find great Rensselearwyck Patent, in Albany and Rensselaer counties, which was granted to Killian VanRensselaer by the government of Holland, in 1641.  This patent was 24 miles wide on the river and 42 miles long, with the city of Albany near its centre. The county of Greene was covered with Patents. The Hardenburg Patent includes nearly all of the county west of the mountains, while in the eastern part we have Loveridge Patent, the Catskill Patent, the Brandow Patent, Johnson's Patent, VanHoesen's Patent, Pleasant Valley Patent, Lunenburg's Patent, Verplank's Patent, Salisbury's Patent, Vandenburg's Patent, Houghtaling's Patent, Coeyman's Patent, and I do not know how many more besides.  The town of Durham, of course, had lots of claimants. In the N. E. we find Sir Henry Seaton's Patent, while adjoining it on the west was  Maitland's Patent of 5000 acres.  This included the village of Oak Hill and a large territory in every direction, especially south of the village.  Richard Maitland was a Colonel in the British army and received his Patent, bearing date June 23, 1767, from George III, King of England.  Mr. Lucus DeWitt's farm was in this Patent, and his lease was given in 1774, some time after he took possession.  He was to pay a rent of "One ear of corn and a proportion of the King's rent per year for five years,"  and after that the rent was to be five pounds and 12 shillings per year.  In the north part of the town, including the village of Durham, Stewart's Patent was located. In the south east part of the town and extending into the town of Cairo, was Barker's Patent, containing over 6000 acres, while in the west part of the town was a large Patent held by Martin G. VanBergen, and near the center of the town was Proctor's Patent, Shue's Patent, and a Patent of 2000 acres granted to Hugh Frazer, which was surveyed by Eliab Youmans, in 1767.  Besides these Patroons, there was a race of squatters, who troubled the early settlers with pretended claims.  Some of the settlers bought them off, not only once but twice, and even it is said that Capt. Jairus Chittenden and others bought their land three times before they got a good title. Others, like Curtis Baldwin, gave up their improvements for a small consideration and located elsewhere. Finally they concluded, in the language of Mark Twain, that "virtue ceases to be a forbearance," and about thirty of them disguised themselves, somewhat in Indian style, and drove them out of the country; and it is said one of the women furnished a gallon of soap to wash the men, after the affair.  In the west part of the town they were troubled by a Mr. Schermerhorn, who claimed the land and demanded yearly rent, until finally five of them told him, in the language of  Capt. Newell, "If you don't leave this country, we will put your head under the sod." From that time they had no further trouble with the squatters.  Augustus, or as he spelled his name, Augustines Shue, came into the town as early as 1783 (for he sold one and one-half bushels of seed wheat to Selah Strong in 1784) and settled somewhere near where Mr. H. B. Kirtland lives.  Afterward he left his place to Peter Shue, and built a house on William Baldwin's farm. The house was on the south side of the road, about on the site of his wagon house. The road, as it was laid out in 1793, went over the present site of  William Baldwin's house, and so directly east, along the southside of Wetzel Brown's woods, to Shubal Finch's on part of Edwin Elliott's and the Rockerfeller place, to the turnpike at Smith Bear's barn.  This Augustine Shue was a Dutchman, and claimed quite a large Patent in the neighborhood, which he offered to sell to the settlers for from twenty-two to twenty-six shillings per acre.  Roswell Post bought his farm of the said Shue on the 27th day of April 1801, for twenty-six shillings and five pence per acre.  But many of the settlers resisted his claims, and the result was the commencement of suits in the Supreme Court of the State, and attempted ejectment of  Mr. Shue. This history of that time is very obscure, but from what I can learn it appears that his title was defective, on account of its conflict with Frazer's  title, or perhaps for other reasons, so that he was not able to carry his case successfully through the courts.  As a consequence he lost his claims and his money, and sold his farm to Luke Kiersted,  (Col. "Kit's" Father,) and left the country a poor man---an impressive warning to those who press their own selfish plans without regard to the interests of others. Mr. S, had an intimate friend and neighbor Mr. Henry Hendrickson, who settled on the farm now owned by Sherwood Johnson.  He was a much better man than Mr. Shue, and lived on the farm until his death. He was a member of the old Dutch church west of Oak Hill, a history of which I hope our mutual friend, Mr. Aaron Roggen, will soon write for your columns, Mr. Examiner.  His wife died early in life, and he lived many long years a widower, one or two of his sisters and others taking care of him. His brother William settled near by, west of him, and afterward moved up on the south part of the farm now owned by Mr. Austin Hull.  He had a family of children, one of whom, John, froze to death on the mountain, within a short distance of his home.  Mr. Hendrickson, when in his prime, was a good hunter; game was abundant, and he was a good marksman, and with his snow shoes in winter and his rifle and trusty dog he caused many a deer and wolf, and smaller game to bite the dust.

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