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Article Number 23 - The Loveridge Patent No. 4 - The Dubois Family

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 23 was published on April 13, 1878. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.

LOCAL SKETCHES No. 23. - An Outline of the History of the Town of Catskill, To The Year 1783 by Henry Brace 

The Duboises of Catskill are the descendants of Louis Dubois, a Walloon and a Huguenot. He was born in the province of Artois, in Wicres, a hamlet about twenty miles southwest of the ancient city of Lille, and a farm which was his birth-place is still pointed out by the inhabitants of the neighborhood. The region has undergone but little change for two hundred and fifty years. It is an uninteresting country, yet in spring, when the meadows are green and the apple trees are in blossom, is not without beauty. A frugal and industrious yeomanry till the fertile soil. Cheese is made in large quantities, orchards are numerous, and the arable land is devoted to crops of rye and flax. There is no lack of water in the sluggish streams and the white sails and brown or red towers of the wind mills are never out of the traveler’s sight.

Louis was the son of Christien Dubois, and was born on the 27th day of October, 1626. Of his early life little is known. That he went to school is proven by his handwriting, of which specimens are preserved in the records of the church at New Paltz; that he was reared a Protestant and a Calvinist is evident from his life in this country. Urged perhaps by the desire to better his fortunes, or more probably by the hope of enjoying greater freedom of religious thought and action, he removed, while he was still young, to Mannheim, in the Palatinate. On the 10th day of October, 1655, he was married to Catharine Blanjean or Blanshan, the daughter of a burgher of that venerable city. Two children, Abraham and Isaac, were born to him there. In 1660, Dubois, with his wife and two sons, came to New Netherland. He first settled on the Esopus near or in what is now known as the village of Hurley, and became a shop-keeper, trading thriftily in cloths from Antwerp, in the earthen ware from Delft, in Barbadoes sugar and rum, and in beaver and other skins, with his neighbors and the Indians of the upper waters of the Esopus. In the Indian war of 1663, his wife and three of his children were taken prisoners by the savages. Fourteen years later, he, with eleven other men, Huguenots and Frenchmen like himself, obtained from Governor Andros a patent for a large tract of land, which now lies in the valley of the Wallkil, in the town of New Paltz. Removing thither, Dubois began the life and underwent the privations of a pioneer. But his first care was to found a church. Its early records were kept in French and are still in existence, and one can spell out from their yellow and mutilated pages the piety and the childlike faith of Louis Dubois.

He remained in New Paltz until 1689, when he removed to Kingston, where he died about 1695. Of his ten children, seven sons and three daughters, we have only to do with Salomon.

Salomon Dubois was born in 1669. His wife was Tryntje Gerritsen, and by her he had four sons and four daughters. He had a talent for acquisition, and upon his death in 1759, at the age of ninety, he was the owner of large tracts of land in Catskill, in the county of Ulster, and in the fertile valley of Perkiomen in Pennsylvania.

The tract in Catskill was Lot Number One,*[*Salomon devised this lot to his son Benjamin.] in the first division of the Loveridge Patent, which contained nine hundred acres, and which lay upon the north side of a line drawn nearly west from the upper extremity of the Hopenose to the Katerskil. It was bought in November, 1720, by Salomon Dubois from Alexander McDonell and Margaret Loveridge, his wife. This purchase was followed, in January, 1729, by the purchase, by Salomon’s son Benjamin, from Gysbert Lane and Hannah Loveridge, his wife, of Lot Number Two in the first division of the Loveridge Patent, which contained fifteen hundred and fifteen acres, and which lay between the southern boundary of Lot Number One and a line drawn nearly west from near the head of Ram’s Horn Creek or the Plattekil to the Katerskil. But out of this tract were excepted about five hundred acres, which had been previously sold, in various parcels, to Jouryn, John Pieter and Pieter Overbagh, to Nicolaas and Johan Wilhelm Brandow, and to Frederick Diedrich.

Salomon Dubois never lived at Catskill. But his second son, Benjamin, at least as early as 1728, took possession of Lot Number One. He at first occupied the house of the Loveridges. About 1740, he built the stone house which is now the residence of his great-great-grandson, Benjamin P. Dubois.

Benjamin Dubois, the son of Salomon was born at New Paltz, in 1697. At the age of twenty-four, he married Catharine Suylandt, of Hurley, and in 1767, died at Catskill.

He was short and slender, as his grandson, John Dubois of the Point remembered and forty years ago described him, active, resolute and pious. He was one of the founders and first elders of the “United Congregations of Catskill and Coxsackie”; he aided also in the building of the church at Kaatsbaan, and to this day his initials may be seen rudely cut in a stone in the walls of that ancient edifice. The tradition is that his funeral was an occasion of great ceremony, common perhaps in the manors and in the two cities of the Province, but unfrequent among simple yeomen. The body of the dead man lay in state for several days; the house was open to all comers, and, after the burial, a feast was given, with rude but generous profusion. Benjamin Dubois, old people were wont to say, was buried like a gentleman. Five children survived him, Huybartus, Curnalius, Isaac, Sara, the widow of Christiaan Overbagh, and Trintje, the wife of John Van Orden. Salomon, the oldest son of Benjamin, was dead, but he had left a son Benjamin.

In 1783, the three sons and the grandson of Benjamin Dubois were living upon their patrimony. Their fragmentary history is recorded in the books of the churches of New Paltz, Kingston, Kaatsbaan and Old Catskill, and is preserved in the traditions of the family. The meagre recital may not be uninteresting to some of my readers.

1. Isaac Dubois was born on the 6th of July, 1731. In the twenty-second year of his age, that is to say, on the 28th day of May, 1752, according to the quaint record, he “a young man, living at Albany,” was married “with Lena Sammons, a maiden, living at Schwaegonk.” He died on the 8th of October, 1795, leaving four children, Lena, who became the wife of Abram Fonda, Archie or Eghje, who became the wife of Jacobus Bogardus, John and Joel. His body was interred in the grave yard of the family at the Point, where his tombstone stands to this day.

He spent his boyhood and his early manhood in the house of his father, going to school in winter in the little school-house of hewn logs on the Snake Road, drawing seines for shad and herring in the Plaatje or at Boompje’s Hook, ploughing the flats above the Devil’s Aspect, making hay in the meadow, which afterwards became the garden and pastures of Caleb Benton, and cutting wood in the forests upon the hills near by. It was not an idle life. But can any one now-a-days comprehend its isolation? To Isaac Dubois and his brothers, the world was scarcely larger than the neighborhood. They were without books and newspapers, never wrote and never received a letter, saw few strangers, and seldom went abroad. When they made a journey, the farthest bounds of their travels was Kingston or Albany. It is doubtful whether they ever heard of the campaigns of Frederick the Great, or of the conquest of India by the English. With regard to affairs in the American colonies, the story of the defeat of Braddock, of the massacre at Fort William Henry, of the storming of Quebec, came to the ears of these young men without accurate detail and only after a long delay.

Between the year 1760 and 1762, Isaac Dubois took possession of the farm at the Point, and in 1767, under the will of his father, became the owner of that portion of the estate, including the farm, which lay south of a line drawn from the Hopenose in a southwesterly direction to the land of the Overbaghs. The house† [†It stood a few feet behind the site of the present house and was torn down in 1820.] in which he lived was of stone and one story high, and had been built about 1750 for his brother Hubartus. For him, too, an apple orchard had been planted. The trees in the fertile soil attained to great size. In 1862 I measured the stump of one of them. It was three feet and four inches in diameter at the surface of the ground.

Isaac Dubois, after the death of his father, led a life of ease. Two or three slaves, with the occasional and moderate help of their master and his sons, did the needful work of the farm, sowed and harvested the wheat, planted and gathered the maize, made the hay, tended the small patches of flax and tobacco, sheared the sheep, killed the hogs, cut and rode in the wood. The truth is, this man, among his other virtues, had the characteristic virtue of the Dutch yeomen of the valley of the Hudson--he was contented with such things as he had. His estate produced or gave him the means of buying whatever his moderate wants required, and a life of toil would have given him only greater wealth, for which he did not crave.

During the Revolutionary War, it was agreed by the family, that, of the two sons of Isaac Dubois, John should remain at home in charge of the farm, and Joel should join the militia. Joel accordingly, although not more than fifteen years old, enlisted as a soldier or enrolled himself as a minute-man. He served in his Uncle Cornelius’s regiment, saw a good deal of arduous service on the Mohawk and lay a whole summer in garrison at Johnson Hall. 

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