Article Number 13 - The Catskill Patent No. 6 Con't - The Salisbury Estate
Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 13 was published on November 25, 1876. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.
Local Sketches--No. 13 An Outline of the
History of the Town of Catskill,
To The Year 1783. By Henry Brace.
[In the Local Sketch of the Town of Catskill that we published last week there was an error, which we did not discover in time for correction. The last sentence of the closing paragraph but one and the entire closing paragraph should have been omitted. Both will be found, in their proper place, in the following continuation of the history.]
In 1703, he removed to Catskill, and was appointed supervisor of the district between the Inbogt and the northern bounds of Coxsackie. Two years afterward Salisbury built the mansion in which the Van Dusens now live. It was once the largest and most costly house between Newburgh and Albany. It stands on the northeastern side of the Windham turnpike-road, on the terrace of the alluvial plain beyond Leeds. It is two stories high and about fifty feet wide and about thirty-five feet deep. Its massive walls are of stone, quarried out from the ledges of sandstone in the neighborhood, and these are pierced above and below with several loop-holes--mementos now of days long gone by, when the yeomen of the valley of the Hudson lived in terror of the Iroquois. Under the eaves, along the southeastern front, are the initials of the builder and the date of the building, in letters and figures of wrought iron-- F. S. 184.108.40.206.
The house within has undergone but little alteration. Beams of yellow pine, eighteen inches square--the supports of the upper floor--project into the rooms of the ground story. The windows are made up of small panes, many of which are discolored by age. The fire-places are huge though now disused. Their sides were once covered by square tiles of Delft pottery, on which were painted in blue the scenes of Judasís self-murder and of Pilateís ablution of his hands. In a corner of one room stands an ancient cupboard, and to the front door is fastened a large and quaint lock of wrought iron, as old probably as the house itself.
Here Francis Salisbury lived until his death, about the year 1766. By his will, he devised the homestead to his oldest son, Abraham, his estate at Fox Hall, near Kingston to his son Lawrence, and the farm of Potick, with the house which stands near the turnpike-gate, to his son William.
In 1783, the Salisbury estates at Old Catskill were, I believe, divided into three portions. The farm, and farm-house in which Abraham A. Salisbury afterwards lived, was in the possession of Francis Salisbury. His brother Abraham was occupying the homestead and the land adjoining. William Salisbury, the uncle of Francis and Abraham, and the grand-father of William Salisbury, now of Catskill, owned the plain of Potick and the house near the turnpike-gate. This dwelling was built in 1730, by the first Francis, for his oldest son, Abraham. It is of stone, and was originally a story and a half high. In 1823, Abraham Salisbury added a half story and an attic. The house has undergone many other alterations, which have marred its picturesqueness but added greatly to its comfort.
The view from the edge of the terrace, on the north side of the house, is of great beauty. On one hand is the lovely plain of Potick, bounded on the east by the wooded slope of Potick Mountain. The Catskill runs through the middle of the landscape, from the distant back-ground to the fore-ground--here a swift flowing river, broken by broad ripples. From its bank, the ground rises in terraces of meadows, which, forty years ago, were covered by a forest of huge trees. The western horizon is formed by Black Head and the graceful peaks of the Windham Mountains.