Olden Time - Chapter Five
A Sketch of Unusual Interest
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
A Sketch of Unusual Interest—When the Centre of Coxsackie’s, Business Was Not Where it is Now—Pioneers in Hay Pressing—The Dunscomb Property—Other Facts.
We have heretofore, Mr. Editor, described somewhat generally the Hotaling and Van Den Berg Patent. We now propose to give you something, quite as general, descriptive of Coxsackie Patent adding such reminiscences as may occur.
And here the question often appears upon the surface, how many of us, Coxsackie born and bred citizens and having lived a life-time on the lands can give the enquirer any intelligent idea of the Patent, the Patentees, the location, and from what source derived or obtained? To be sure, Mr. Pelletreau, in the History of Greene County, give some meagre data, but historically nothing very descriptive or satisfying and certainly not very correct or reliable.
In the first place, then, Pieter Bronk, of Beverwyck, whose name stands very prominent as one of the pioneers in our early history, bought, in the year 1662, of the Indians, the lands now embraced in Coxsackie Patent, which purchase was, a few years therefore, confirmed by the Colonial Governor, and it was, in fact, the first Patent granted to a private individual in this locality, although earlier purchases of the Indians had been made by several parties. Pieter Bronk was the great grandfather *(Pieter Bronk was a great great grandfather of Leonard Bronk. "A. W. Van Slyke.") of Judge Leonard Bronk, who died in the year 1828. Judge Bronk married a daughter of Rykert Van Den Berg, the first settler. Jan Bronk, *(the author has confused the Bronk family rather badly. Jan, the son of Pieter Bronk lived at Catskill in 1734. The Jan Bronk who was so prominent in Coxsackie Real estate Transfers was Jan Leendertse, the son of Leendert, the fifth son of the first Jan. Jan Leendertse was the father of Judge Leonard Bronk.) who succeeded his father Pieter, in conjunction with Marte Gerritse Van Bergen, * (Martin Gerritsen Van Bergen died in 1696 before most of the deeds referred to were issued. Miss Eleanor Heermance notes her copy of the Greene County History, page 231. Bought by Martin Gerritsen Van Bergen Mach 8, 1668. This refers to the Bronk Patent. The real development of Coxsackie came after Martin Gerritsens’ sons grew up around 1700. The leading Van Bergen of Coxsackie was Petrus, the youngest son of Martin Gerritsen and the father of Colonel Anthony and Captain Henry.) who seemed to be joint owner, sold and conveyed to various parties, Philip Collier, Hendrick Van Den Berg, Silas Rushmore, Martin Hallenbeck, and others, portions of the Patent, amounting to about one-third of the whole; and in the year 1784 the balance of the land was surveyed by Van Rensselaer & Lansing, of Albany, divided into lots, sixty-four in number, and apportioned among the Bronks and Van Bergens.
The Patent may be described and bounded as follows:
"Beginning at point near the mouth of Coxsackie Creek, in the town of New Baltimore, and running thence about N. 75 degrees W., a distance of about one and three-quarter miles, to a corner on the old Indian Trail leading to Kingston; thence along the Indian foot-path, following the base of the hills west of Coxsackie Flats, in a general southwesterly direction about four miles to a point on the north line of "Fountain Flats"; easterly to Hudson River, about 3 ¼ miles. (The north side of "Fountain Flatts" is, today, the north side of the (so-called ) Dr. Ely Farm, now occupied by Rev. Lewis Lampman, and continued westerly to the great Fountain, near the house of Philip Collier, (deceased); thence up the Hudson River to a place five thousand acres of land more or less."
At this time, about 1784, what is now Coxsackie Landing, was called "Reed’s Landing," and is located on lot No. 48, as numbered by the surveyors, and the road to Upper Coxsackie village passes through lots, 48, 49, 30, 31, 32 and the road from the upper village, northly, passed along the division lines of lots 22, 21, 20 and 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40. The road from Jno. L. B. Silvester’s to Upper Landing passed through lots No. 33,34,and 52. Lafayette Avenue was located on the line of division between lots 49 and 30, 31, and 50, 32, 50, and through the east end of lot No. 33.
The original Turnpike Road ran from Reed’s Landing northerly through the Upper Landing, along the new cemetery and crossed Coxsackie Creek north of the farm house formerly owned and occupied by Garrison Palmer, and now in possession of Philip Hotaling. This road beyond Palmer’s house was abandoned years ago as a highway, but a line of telegraph poles still locates the direction of the road, and many amusing stories are told as to the confusion of tramps, who, following in their usual way, the line of telegraph poles in their northerly travel, suddenly found the line of poles going apparently, through the cleared land; the highway making a right angel and leading off westerly. They would loiter about the locality for hours, making all sorts of enquiries of everybody passing along, but seemingly never entirely satisfied with any explanation.
The "Cuyler" property, at the Upper Landing, owned and occupied years ago by Garret Heermance, and now owed by Bogardus, *(Dr. Van Slyke adds Charles (Bogardus.)) in on lot No. 53, and just above that house is an old dilapidated wharf where New York steamers once landed their passengers. Just below the "Cuyler" house was located the wharf owned by Ambrose and Lewis Baker. They had a store and were engaged in general mercantile trade, receiving and exporting large freights of flagging stone, and they also ran a hay press. The farmers for some distance away carried their hay to that press for packing.
At that date the Upper Landing and Upper Village transacted about all the business of the town. This was about the year 1830, but some few years preceding that date Judge Anthony Van Bergen was the pioneer in that hay packing business in this town. He used the old-fashioned screw press, which made heavy bales for shipping. Farmers for miles away drew their hay up to the farm of Van Bergen, he being the only buyer of that staple at that time. He was a large exporter of hay to Southern ports and the West Indies, and was known very generally in New York as a man of enterprise and wealth. His paper in Wall Street was just as negotiable as that of any well-known man in the city.
The house of Isaac Wells was on lot No. 52. It was an old brick structure and is now owned and occupied by the Briggs family, and just below on lot No., 50 was the house of Edward Wells, who largely engaged in fishing during the shad season. His fishing ground was opposite his house, over toward the island. At that point most of the shad were bought and sold sixty years ago. The population then, near the river, being small. There was not much retail trade, but the farmers were accustomed to go to the Wells place and buy from one hundred to five hundred shad at the price, on the average, of $6 per hundred. They would take them home, dress, and salt them down for use during the summer.
These random recollections will end with some reference to what has long been called the " Dunscomb Property." This is located in the northeast corner of the Patent and bounded on the east by Hudson river, and was bought in the year 1832 by W. E. Dunscomb, who was afterwards in a very responsible position as treasurer of Trinity church corporation in New York, and continued as such up to the time of his death, some ten years ago. The property was sold by his heirs, about six years ago, to Mr. Shear, of the town of New Baltimore.
This man Dunscomb had some rose colored ideas as to the prospective value of water power for milling and manufacturing, and boarding for some time with Martin G. Van Bergen he became familiar with the surrounding of Coxsackie Creek and the rapids and falls which occur not far away from its entrance into the river.
He resolved to buy some property there, which would be a good thing to hold, and he accordingly negotiated for and bought a strip of land on both sides of Coxsackie Creek, about four rods in width, beginning south of the bridge of the old Albany and Greene turnpike road which crossed Diepe Clove Kill where said Kill empties into Coxsackie Creek, and running up the stream about one-quarter of a mile, taking in all the falls of the creek. His final object seems to have been to locate some milling or manufacturing plant below the falls, and thus utilize the whole body of Coxsackie Creek. It has been the writer’s business to make some levels in that quarter, and it is entirely practicable to carry all the water of Coxsackie Creek over a 25 foot over-shot water wheel.
In addition to the land along the creek, the main property included in the purchase was, as before stated, in the northeast corner of the Patent and is bounded generally as follows:
"On the north by north line of Coxsackie Patent, on the south by lots No. 64 and a portion of lot N. 44 (making a jog into lot No. 44 of about twenty chains in length and five chains wide. This "jog-lot", as it may be called, lies about midway between Coxsackie Creek and the river. The widow Terry farm lies on the three sides of it. The ingenuity of man has not yet solved the object or propriety of this "jog-lot" purchase.) on the east by Hudson River and on the west by Coxsackie Creek and Diepe Clove Kill."
Perhaps, Mr. Editor, this story is already too long and I will postpone whatever I have yet in mind about Coxsackie Patent and the former business men of the village to another time.