Article Number 2 - The Lindesay Patent No. 2 -
Madame Jane Dies and the Village of Catskill

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 2 was published on January 22, 1876. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.


January 22, 1876 An Outline of The History of the Town of Catskill, To the Year 1783. By Henry Brace 

From the Hans Vosen Kill to Greene Street, Main Street now occupies the highway which, in 1783, had been laid out through the Lindesay Patent. But from Greene Street, this road, with a steep descent through what is now Mrs. APOLLUS COOKE’S garden, ran along the eastern base of Diamond Hill, and pretty near the Catskill. Traces of it may still be seen near the Long Dock.

It was a rude, country road, full of muddy hollows, and crossed by steep gullies, and by brooks, which ran down the hillside into the Catskill. JEHIEL TUTTLE, who, in 1783, came with his father from Connecticut to make a home in the wilderness of the Batavia Kill, among the Windham Mountains, once told me that their wagons were mired on the road in the bed of the rivulet, which still makes its way through what is known as The Hollow.

On the western side of this road, between it and the Catskill, were the pastures, the cornfields and the apple orchards of JANE DIES and of EGBERT BOGARDUS. On the eastern side, on the slopes of the hill and on its level top, the primeval forest had hardly felt the axe. The trees were not large, excepting a few white oaks and aged pines, which had found a more congenial soil near the water courses. On the rocky ledge, which overlooks the Hudson, foxes had their dens, and in the thickets ruffed grouse had their coverts. The top of the hill was reached by wood-roads which had been cut through the forest. Of these one is now occupied by Thompson Street and another by Greene Street.

At the time of which I am writing, that is to say, in 1783, at the close of the revolution, there were five houses within the bounds of the Lindesay Patent.

(1.) One was the house of PETER or perhaps SOLOMON SCHUTT, which had been built at least so early as the year 1765, on the farm which is now owned by Mrs. HENRY HOPKINS. 

(2.) Another was the house of EGBERT BOGARDUS, which is still standing on a by-street near the head of Main Street.

(3.) Another was in the rear, or nearly in the rear, of the store of WEY & DuBOIS. Who was its owner, or when it was built, I have been unable to discover.

(4.) A fourth was the house of Madam JANE DIES, near the Catskill at the foot of Main Street.

(5.) A fifth was the house of  JOHANNES VAN GORDON, ABRAHAM VAN GORDON’S father, who, in 1777, took a lease of the land at Femmen Hook, at the junction of the Catskill and the Hudson.

Of these houses, that of Madam JANE DIES deserves a particular description. This house, which was built by JOHN DIES about the year 1763, is yet standing, as sound in essentials as on the day when it was finished. It is fifty-five feet in breadth and about forty-five feet in depth. The outer walls are of sand-stone, taken from the neighborhood, and the south-eastern front is laid in courses with corners of freestone in rustic ashlar, brought from the quarries at Nyack. The roof has the double pitch, which was common to buildings of the last century, and of which the Hancock House, in Boston, was a noted specimen. The rafters and floor-beams are of white oak and yellow pine, and these, by reason of age, have become nearly as hard as Honduras mahogany.

The interior of this house has undergone a good deal of alteration. The chimney, which once stood in the middle of the eastern portion of the house, has been taken down and two other chimnies erected against the outer wall. The windows on this side have been blocked up, but the places where they once were may be seen from the outside. The fire-place in the south-western room of the first floor was once adorned with quaint Dutch tiles. By whom or at what time these were removed, I have never been able to learn.

Old men still living in the town of Catskill remember this antique fire-place. The tiles, which were fastened by mortar to the jambs, were about four inches square, made of coarse white pottery and adorned with grotesque figures in blue. These figures represented Scripture scenes--Abraham offering up Isaac, Queen Esther before Ahasureus, and Lazarus coming out of his tomb. In the last instance, the restored and overjoyed man is waving above his head a Dutch flag!

It was deemed a splendid house in its day, and was named by the people in the neighborhood Dies’s Folly. This name has point, and I regret that the house should now be known by the plebeian title of The Stone Jug.

When it was built, this mansion stood in a field and pleasure ground of about five acres, which was bounded on the east by the highway, now known as Main Street, and on the south and west by the Catskill. For many years the beauty of the place suffered no loss. No building of any kind was in sight, nor any structure excepting a low wharf near the mouth of the Catskill, which had been built by one of the DUBOISES. The western hill across the creek, as it is called, now disfigured by wharves, and brick-kilns, and unsightly cottages of workingmen, was covered by a forest of great oak trees, and from the front stoop of Dies’s Folly one could look down the lovely Catskill between Hopen-Nose and the wooded slope of the opposite bank, to the further shore of the Hudson and to Blue Hill in the distance bounding the south-eastern horizon.

JOHN DIES, the husband of Madam JANE DIES, was a drunkard and a gambler. As an illustration of his recklessness in the use of money, it is still repeated that he was want to amuse himself by “skipping” silver Mexican dollars across the Catskill. It is also said of him, that he was an officer--a Major--in the British army. About the time of his marriage with Miss JANE GOELET, he deserted and fled with his wife from New York to Catskill, as to a remote and sure refuge. Yet he lived for some time in fear of arrest. When British troops were in the neighborhood, camping for the night on the Old King’s Road, at the Fuyk, or waiting in their transports becalmed at anchor off the mouth of the Catskill, at such times, the tradition is, DIES used to secret himself in the garret of his house, in a secret recess in the eastern chimney-stack. To this hiding place, his trusty wife used to betake herself thrice a day, to bring him food and drink, always locking behind her the door on the stairway leading to the garret.

A copy of the will of DIES’S father-in-law, bearing date the 9th day of July 1768, is in my possession. By this instrument the testator gave his estate to his executors in trust for the benefit of his daughter, JANE DIES, “designing by this devise”--so the will reads--”to prevent any Part of my estate from falling into the hands of my son-in-law, JOHN DIES, of whose prudence I have no opinion, and intending the more effectually to provide for my said daughter and her children, by effectually guarding against the Interposition of the said JOHN DIES of the Possession or management of any Portion of my estate in any manner whatsoever.” It is evident from this will, that JOHN DIES was living in 1768. But when he died, or where he was buried, I have never been able to learn. Nor do I know anything more of him, except that, in 1753, he was appointed deputy surveyor, by CADWALLADER COLDEN, to survey a tract of land on the Schoharie Kill, from the Van Bergen Patent down to Brakabeen.

JANE DIES, the wife of JOHN DIES, was the only child of Jacob Goelet, a resident at one time in Albany, and afterwards a merchant in New York. In my boyhood, I knew several persons who remembered her, and who often spoke to me about her. She was always addressed and is still mentioned as Madam DIES. Indeed she seems to have been held by her acquaintances in a certain sort of awe for her fine manners, for her rigid piety, and especially, I suspect, for her ability to read and write English with ease.

She died on the 5th day of March, 1799, and was buried on the west side of the Catskill, in the grave-yard of HUBARTUS DUBOIS. All marks of the grave are now obliterated, and the tomb-stone which once marked the spot is lying upon the ground. It is a plain slab of brown free-stone, and bears the following inscription:

In memory of

JANE DISE,

wife of JOHN DISE,

who departed this life

the 5th of March, 1799,

aged 78 years,

See, here she rests, free from all care,

The world no more to mind:

But mounts up to her Savior dear,

Her sure and faithful friend. 

Two portraits of Madam DIES are in existence, one taken in childhood, the other--now cracked and discolored by age--in early womanhood. These pictures are worth preserving, as mementos of a noble Lady. But they are worthless as objects of art; and it must be confessed that if were were solely dependent on these for a knowledge of the kind of woman Madam DIES was, he would be forced to describe her as fond of fine clothes, and especially of lace, and as having no other characteristics, good, bad or indifferent.

Her tea service--perhaps rather the remains of it--was once shown to me by her grand-daughter, Mrs. JENNET DUBOIS. It was of china, and was covered with the outlandish yet picturesque figures common to the ware of the Celestials. It was never used by Madam DIES, except on occasions of ceremony--at such times of special invitation, one may suppose, as when Mistress JUDITH VAN VECHTEN of the Mill, and Widow ELSIE VAN BERGEN of the Vly, came down through the woods to spend a summer afternoon at Dies’s Folly, returning home before nightfall, through fear of BRANDT and his band of marauding Mohawks.

The will of Madam Dies bears date the 24th day of August, 1796. Her lands in Schoharie and at Catskill, and indeed all of her estate she divided pretty equally among her children, MATTHEW, JACOB, JOHN, and CATHARINE, and among her grand-children, ISAAC, JOHN DIES, JAMES and JENNET DUBOIS.

MATTHEW, JACOB and JOHN DIES, as early as 1764, were living on the Schoharie Kill, and were among the first settlers of what is now the Town of Gilboa. They built the first grist and saw mills there.

Mrs. JENNET DUBOIS, some time ago, permitted me to make a copy of a letter, written by her grand-mother Madam DIES. This letter is as follows:

CATTS KILL TOWN, March 15, 1796.

DEAR CATE.
I Received all you Sent, for wich Receive my harty Thanks. Your Brother tels me of your Suffering, for wich am Sory. I have you and all your Sisters and Brothers with me in my Approches at the Throne of Grace, Morning and Evening, that the Almighty out of his Infinite Goodness and Merci will be Pleased to Restore you to your Health: if it is our Blessed Savior’s will to take you to himself, to fit and Prepare you for your next Remove and Receive you into his Blessed Arms. Aman.

You my dear Children that are in health, Seek the Lord while he may be found, then I shall have my wish in the Family that I am Connected with and in the Bonds of Love and Friendship. I feal for Richard on the Water. I Pray that the Lord will Send his Gardian Angel to Protect him and Send him Safe to his Family again. Cate sent me Last fall 2 Viols of she said was Lavandar. I did not smell the Lavander; the Other was for Weekness but did not Say how it was to be Taken. Dear Cate I send you Eggs as you Desired. I gave 3 shillings a dozen, you must Counte them and pay for the 2 Viols and let me know how I am to take this Midcine for Weekness.

Hope this may Meet you in better Health and Our Blessed Jesus Grant you Some Longer time on Earth with the Under Aged Children. Inclosed you have 5 Doller wich, with the Eggs for wich I was Obliged to give 3 Shillings a dozen, Please to pay Post for the 2 Viols and send twelve shilling Kag Corn, Hams, Buiskets: Mark it J. D.: and the Remainder Send in Sugar Candy and Candied Oranges: my Cate joyns me in tender Regard to Self and all the Family, and after my best wishes for your better health, believe me.

Your sinciar frind

JANE DIES.

I forgot 5 lb. of Pepper Mint Losingis, wich Please to Send and Less of the other. Please to Return the Baskit, you Can pack up my things in it.

(Directed) Miss Cornelia Blaare att Doct. Post’s, New York.

Favored by Capt. VAN LOAN.


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