Olden Time - Chapter Fifteen
Minor Hubbel, Peter Hubbel, Olney F. Wright and Henry Greene
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin. From the book entitled, "Ye Olden Time, as compiled from the Coxsackie News of 1889" written by Robert Henry Van Bergen, together with notations by Rev. Delber W. Clark, and edited by Francis A. Hallenbeck, 1935
Minor Hubbel—Peter Hubbel—Olney F. Wright—Henry Greene—Incidents and Facts in the Lives of These Gentlemen.
Among the first settlers, in the early part of the century and before 1800, was Minor Hubbel, and he was one of the representative men of his day. He was born at Fairfield, Conn., in the year 1778. His family *(Shadrack Hubbell, the father of Nathan and Minor Hubbell was a Lieutenant in the Revolution. He came to a farm west of Urlton and his three sons all began their careers there. Amos was the first school teacher in that district. Phoebe Dunning, wife of Shadrack Hubbell and Amos and his wife are buried in the cemetery near the old community at Urlton. Shadrack is buried in Athens cemetery.) moved into Dutchess county, and afterwards Minor and his brother Nathan came to the town of Coxsackie and located at first in the west part of the town about the year 1790, and Minor lived in a house on the site of the stone tavern at Urlton. He afterwards in the year 1804, built the stone tavern at Urlton and occupied it for a while. He bought, shortly thereafter, the Brownell farm, (so called) as well as other lands adjoining and occupied that for a time. His brother Nathan at the same time owned and lived on the farm just east of Urlton, now owned by David Smith. Minor afterwards moved into Coxsackie Landing, and his first residence here was the house afterwards occupied by Richard Van Denburgh as a merchant tailor. He bought about all the land adjoining and north for a limited space, of Mansion street, from the foot of the hill to Lafayette avenue, and was one of the earliest and largest brick manufacturers of the town, having several yards. He also bought large breadths of land in Coxsackie Patent, not for speculative purposes merely, but for farming purposes and the cultivation thereof. Some of the sandy lands, lying north of the Upper Village and north of the district road, were included in his purchases. Indeed, early in the century, he was offered all the lands lying north of that road up to the present farm of Martin G. Van Slyke, covered as it was with heavy pitchpine timber, at five dollars per acre, and there were a number of trees on every acre fit for sloop mast, and other uses, each worth the price at which the land was offered per acre. He was, in fact, a wide-awake enterprising man all through a long business life. Whenever a new enterprise was inaugurated, which promised improvement and progress, he was usually in the van as leader, with abundant brawn and muscle to fortify him in any work which he undertook to accomplish. He was connected with the work of conducting water to Upper Coxsackie Landing in the year 1806. He was also one of the principal projectors and contractors for the work on opening the Coxsackie and Oak Hill turnpike road, and in fact whenever a man of push and pluck was wanted, Minor Hubbel was sought for. He died in the year 1842, in the brick mansion which he built for his residence in the year 1826. That house is now owned and occupied by Dr. Greene.
Peter Hubbel, son of Minor Hubbel, was an important factor in the business of Coxsackie. He was engaged in the trade for a while, on the site now occupied by Collier & Wolfe. He was one of the largest manufacturers of brick, and owned five sloops, which were principally employed in the transportation of brick to New York. He failed in the year 1837; was afterwards for a while at Schodack; moved to Catskill in 1841, and to Charlestown, near Boston in 1843. He sold the wharf, now called the stone dock, to Levi Freligh for fifteen hundred dollars. The same property is valued today at several thousand. He went to Boston to engage in the manufacture of brick. He introduced to the New Englander something new in the way of improved machinery, patented of course, something which they could not use without infringement upon his rights. By the use of such machinery he could manufacture brick at much less cost than the Bostonian, and with the aid and assistance of the best men, experienced in the work, which he could select in Coxsackie, as workers in various ways he soon rivaled and superseded the Yankee on his own ground; and in the end, in a short time, had complete control of the Boston brick market, as well as the markets all along shore. In a few years, from a condition of bankruptcy, he became a millionaire, and in his days of success and prosperity he paid up every dollar with principal and interest which he owed to our citizens. He died years ago, and his widow, some time after his death, having a strong love and proclivity for the Episcopal church, generously denoted to Christ Church of this village the handsome sum of three thousand dollars. She was a daughter of the Rev. Joseph Prentiss, who occupied the Griffin farm near the village of Athens, and officiated in the Episcopal church at Athens from the year of 1808 until 1831, when he resigned his charge.
Our older citizens will remember that Prentiss met with an accident and an untimely death, coming to Coxsackie to visit his daughter, *(The death of the Reverend Joseph Prentiss occurred Jan. 7, 1836. A contemporary newspaper story states he was on his way to Albany. R. H. V. B. has confused the two wives of Peter Hubbel. The wife at the time was Abby Jane who died a few years later. Peter later married her sister, Sarah Louisa who gave endowment and also the bell to Christ Church.) by the overturning of a stage on its downhill passage, near what is known as the Betty Moore place, just south of Coxsackie Landing, on the Coxsackie and Athens turnpike road. The writer, when a mere stripling of a boy, about thirteen years of age, often met Peter Hubbel and his estimable wife, on the occasion of their visits at his grandfather’s house. Dr. A. D. Spoor, *(The rest of this paragraph refers to Dr. Spoor whose wife was Robert Henry’s aunt.) who lived with us at that time, 1834, and Hubbel were intimate friends. The conclusions of the boy, although not usually at that age of much value, were still abundantly verified in after life. He was a man of splendid physique, and very gentlemanly in his intercourse with all his friends, and what is perhaps of more importance than all else, he was thoroughly honest in all his dealings and transactions with his fellow man. He built and lived in the house now occupied by Wm. E. Edwards, the hardware merchant.
Olney F Wright *(Olney Franklin Wright married Sarah, sister of Peter Hubbell.) was another man of mark in the early history of Coxsackie. He came from New Lebanon, Columbia county, before 1830. He married a daughter of Minor Hubbel, and built the brick house, now the residence of the pastor of the Second Reformed church, in the year 1830. He had a store on Main street, and was also largely engaged in the manufacture of brick. He was, in many respects, a prominent man. He was a free and easy speaker in public assembly, with considerable gift of speech and never abashed in any presence; was prominent as a debater in the debating societies of that day, and on all public occasions was usually put forward as the mouth-piece for the occasion. Seward, while Governor of the State, had occasion to come to Coxsackie for some sort of a military review. Wright, with a party of gentlemen, were appointed to receive him on landing at the wharf, and it is said he acquitted himself handsomely. Even Seward himself, a ready speaker as he was on all occasions, complimented him very highly on the happy effort he made at that time. Seward, for that day, was the guest of Peter Hubbel.
Henry Greene, *(Henry Green married Mythilla, sister of Peter Hubbell. This article could be head The Hubbells.) although never actively engaged in business in Coxsackie, was one of our most respected citizens; respected for his quiet, unobtrusive, unostentatious way of life. Not very demonstrative, to be sure, but always ready with a helping hand to counsel and assist those who were worthy of and deserved his support. His active business life was spent in the city of Albany. He was one of the principal stockholders of the People’s Line of steamers, and for a while in a partnership under the firm name of Greene & Co., in the wholesale grocery trade. In the year 1845 he bought several acres of land in Coxsackie, including the site where he built a house *(The old residence of Henry Green in now the Kaksakee Inn.) in the Tuscan style of architecture. In the year 1849, with rare good taste, he planted on the border of his house lot, years before building, elm trees, principally, which, after a few years’ growth, added a quiet dignity to this surroundings, which could not have been effected so well by any considerable outlay in other directions.
The new school building now occupies the site of his house—a very commodious location, but the vandalism of the present day in removing many of the trees which had made a growth in diameter of some eighteen inches and in heighth forty feet or more, under the plea of some fancied street grading necessity, has sadly marred the beauty of the site, and the lapse of twenty years or more will only replace what the ruthless hand of misguided zeal in a few hours entirely destroyed.
If a landscape gardener had been consulted, a man skillful in the art of laying our grounds, and arranging trees and shrubbery to produce the most pleasing effect, and if his counsel had been heeded, those trees would have remained untouched by the woodman’s ax, and without interfering in any way with the proper grading of the street adjoining. "But there is no accounting for taste."