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
(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
(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
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
In memory of
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.
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
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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