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Article Number 24 - The Loveridge Patent No. 5 - Cornelius Dubois Family

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 24 was published on May 18, 1878. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.

LOCAL SKETCHES. No. 24. History of the Town of Catskill, To The Year 1783 By Henry Brace 

Loveridge Patent. No. 5. 

(2.) Cornelius Dubois was born at New Paltz on the 14th day of September, 1727, was baptized by Domine Petrus Vas on the 12th of November following, was married to Catharine Vanderpoel, of Kinderhook, on the 21st of September, 1751, and died at Katskil on the 5th of June, 1803. He was probably buried in the grave-yard of the family in the meadow west of his house.

While he was yet an infant, he came to Catskill with his father, and passed his youth and the first years of his manhood in the usual occupations of a husbandman. He may also have learned a trade. At any rate, in later days, he was a cooper, and had his shop near the spot where the south gateway of the house now is. But I doubt whether he ever worked hard in making barrels or in making anything else.

Catharine, the sweetheart and the wife of Cornelius Dubois, was the daughter of Lourons Vanderpoel, a well-to-do yeoman in the fertile valley of the Kinderhook. She was brought up in thrifty ways, and became a dexterous spinner and an expert maker of butter. The tradition is that the enamored youth of Catskill Landing, though comely in person, of unusual intelligence, of good habits, and a rich manís son, found the maiden for a long time obdurate. It is not an unpleasing picture that one forms of Cornelius, on horseback, dressed in his best clothes and a three-cornered hat of beaver, riding, during the long Saturday afternoons in mid-summer, through the woods of Claverack on his eager way to the house of his mistress.

The portion of the estate which was devised to him in 1767 he took possession of at least as early as 1760. It was a noble inheritance, of at least six hundred acres. Its eastern bounds were upon the Catskill from the Hopenose to a black oak which stood at the waterís edge in the northeast corner of the land which Caleb Benton once owned, and which the family of Caleb Hopkins now occupies. The western bounds of the estate extended from this tree, for a distance of nearly a mile and three-quarters, to the farm of the widow Sara, the great-great-grandmother of James P. Overbagh.

At either side of the front door of the house in which Cornelius Dubois lived for many years, inscriptions, rudely cut in the stones of the outer wall, may still be read.

On the left hand, are the letters and figures L. D. B., B. D. B., C. D. B., 1762, C. D.BS.; on the right hand are the letters J. R. Y., CC. ER. and perhaps C. A. M. The date is the date of the erection of the house, and some of the initials are undoubtedly the initials of Cornelius Dubois and of his sons Lawrence and Benjamin. It was the custom of the Dutch yeomen in the valley of the Hudson thus to record the date of their buildings and the names of the builders, a custom which was derived from their forefathers and which holds in Holland to this day. Such inscriptions signify, I think, permanence of occupation. The inhabitants of New England of the last century never thought of their houses as the abiding places of themselves, their children and their childrenís children, and never inscribed a name or a date upon the wooden walls of their dwellings.

The cottage, which I am describing, stands to this day with slight external alteration. It is a structure of sand-stone, one story high, with small windows and a steep roof. A porch, which the Dutch called a stoep, extends along the southern front. The site of the house is still pleasing, but, a hundred years ago, it was delightful. From the sunny porch Dubois looked down, if he cared to look, upon the Catskill, a clear river of twice its present volume, and across upon its left bank, covered with huge pines and ancient elms. A meadow lay in front, and beyond the meadow were the forests and a rocky, precipitous hill. The only house in sight was the mansion of Madam Jane Dies.

Within, the cottage was a pattern of the houses of the Dutch husbandmen of the better class. The main room was kitchen, bed-room and sitting-room, in one. Access to it from without was through a stout door, or rather through two stout half-doors, one above the other, hung upon heavy hinges and fastened by latches and bolts of iron. A large fire-place, without jambs, was in the western wall. Huge beams of oak or of yellow pine supported the floor of the granary overhead.*[*A kitchen and a buttery built of wood but under one roof attached to the northwest corner of this house, seem to be nearly as old as the house itself. The incongruous but needful addition of brick upon the east side was built by Catch Benton sixty-five or seventy years ago.]

I wish the walls of this venerable house could tell us of all that has taken place within and about them. They gave shelter, during the Revolution, to the inhabitants of the Schoharie and the Delaware, who were driven from their homes by the incursions of the Indians. John T. More, of Moresville, remembered, to the day of his death, his flight with his fatherís family to Catskill Landing, and the profuse hospitality with which he and they were entertained by Cornelius Dubois. After the surrender of Cornwallis, a supper, in celebration of the event, was given in the chief room. By the great fire-place in winter, and upon the stoop in summer, Cornelius Dubois would sit at ease, with a clay pipe in his mouth, and talk to his guests, or a chance passer by, of his campaigns against the Indians in the Valley of the Mohawk. In 1795, when Jacobus Bogardus was the owner of the house, the Duke de la Rochefoucault visited it, occupying the room in the southeast corner for several nights.

The story of the supper comes down to us from Annaatje, who was the daughter of Cornelius and who became the wife of her cousin Joel Dubois. The feast was held late in the autumn of 1781, after the turkeys and the chickens had been fattened, and the hams had been cured, and the cider had become mellow. The house was filled, the sitting room with the Whigs of the neighborhood, the Duboises, the Salisburys, the Van Ordens, the Van Vechtens, Gysbert Oosterhoudt and Domine Johannes Schuneman; the kitchen in the basement with the uninvited but not forbidden slaves of the yeomen overhead. There was loud and hearty talking in Dutch; there was dancing to the music of the fiddles of the negroes; there was a long table covered with food, there was an abundance of flip and toddy in bockjes or wooden bowls. A prominent figure in the crowd was the figure of a repentent Tory, who went about with a bowl of milk punch, asking each guest to drink with him to the final success of the American arms. When the vessel was nearly empty, he was full of the generous liquor, and put the bowl upon his head. With the small remainder of the punch streaming down his long white hair upon his shoulders, he kept on with his noisy and strained rejoicings over the surrender at Yorktown. The party broke up after midnight, and it is said that a venerable elder of the United Churches of Catskill and Coxsackie went to his home, for the only time in his life, in a state of unnatural exhilaration.

During the Revolution seventeen regiments were organized in the Province and the State of New York. The commissions of the officers of the eleventh regiment bear the date of the twentieth of October, 1775, The colonel was Anthony Van Bergen of Coxsackie, the lieutenant-colonel was Cornelius Dubois, and one of the captains was Samuel Van Vechten. Dubois served within the State during the greater part of the war. But I have not been able to determine whether it was he, who, in October, 1780, so bravely commanded the extreme right of Van Rensselaerís little army at Klockís Field on the Mohawk, or whether it was he who, in May 1781, built the block-house near the house of Jacob Shaler on the Cobleskill, and which was called Fort Dubois.

The last days of Cornelius Dubois were days of poverty. He was always careless in money affairs, and, while he had means or credit, lent both freely. It is still remembered that needy borrowers would shout their requests to him across the Catskill, and would receive their answer back in like manner. He also paid large sums in taking up the forged notes and orders of his oldest son Benjamin. About 1789, he sold his house and lands to Jacobus Bogardus, and although Dubois lived nearly fifteen years longer, further mention of him ceases.

He had nine children. The sons were Benjamin, Lawrence, Barent and Abraham. The daughters were Geertruy, who died young, Catharyntje, who married Peter Bogardus, Geertruy, who married John Dubois, Araantje, who married John Mallory, and Annaatje, who married Joel Dubois.

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