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Putnam County, New York


History of Putnam County
Chapter XXVII
Town of Kent


Settlement

THIS town is bounded north by the line of Dutchess county, east by Patterson, south by Carmel and west by Putnam Valley and Philipstown. It includes the north half of Lot 6, of Philipse Patent, which belonged to Philip Philipse; Lot 5, which belonged to Roger Morris and his wife, Mary Philipse; and a small portion of Lot 4, which was in possession of Beverly Robinson. It was originally a part of Frederickstown, which was established March 7th, 1788, and was separated from it and made a new town, under the name of Fredericks in 1795, and this name was changed to Kent by Act of April 15th, 1817. This town was not settled as early as the neighboring towns, as its rough mountainous lands were not attractive, and as late as the Revolution the population did not number more than two or three hundred. Among the first settlers of whom there is any knowledge was Joseph Merritt, who was a tenant of Roger Morris, and some years later bought a farm of Col. Morris and his wife, Mary Philipse. This deed is dated September 18th, 1771, and the land is described as "part of farm 76, beginning at a black oak tree, the corner of farm 75." It included 200 acres and is supposed to lie a short distance west of the reservoir at Boyd's Corners.

At the same date Roger Morris sold to John Rhodes 225 acres, being part of farm 75, situated on the west side of a branch of Croton River. This farm is believed to be south of the farm sold to Joseph Merritt and is probably the homestead of the late Dr. Joseph Bailey.

Among the early settlers in the western part of the town was Peleg Wixon, who came from Cape Cod probably about 1754. He had a son Daniel, whose son Reuben died in June, 1828, at the age of 60, and his son, Bently Wixon, is now living on the old homestead about a mile northwest from Boyd's Corners. The descendants of the various branches of this family are numerous.

Throughout the northern and western portions of the town, the Highlands are seen in all their wildness and grandeur. The mountains are steep and rocky, and the streams that flow down their valleys are uncontaminated and glide on in their crystalline purity.

The lots both of Roger Morris and Philip Philipse were surveyed and divided into farms at an early day, but, so far as the portions which lay in this town were concerned, did not readily find tenants, and while the lower land to the south and east were beginning to be settled they remained with scarcely an in habitant.

From the Field Book of Survey of Lot 6, made in 1762, by Benjamin Morgan, the following persons were living at that time on the north part of the lot, which is now included in the town of Kent: William Colwell, Hope Covey, Isaiah Bennett, Amos Northrop, Joseph Northrop, Moses Northrop, William Daley, Nehemiah Barlow, Elisha Calkins, Stephen Osborn, Samuel Daley, Aaron Calkins, Edward Dolph, Jacob Phillips, Joshua Burdox, Samuel Carter, Jonathan Tuttle, Jonathan Hill, Jonathan Gray, William Borden.

May 3d, 1767, Philip Philipse gave a lease to Malcom Morrison for a tract of 688 acres in the northeast part of the town, described as farm 93, bounded north by Jonathan Hill, east by Joshua Burdox, south by Moses Northrop, and west by William Borden. Malcom Morrison was a son-in-law of Rev. Elisha Kent, the first minister in Southeast. As he was a Tory during the Revolution, his property was confiscated, and he went to England and died there.

To locate any of these early settlers seems a difficult task, The Northrop family settled in the south part of the town, a short distance east of the present county farm. Jonathan Tuttle had a mill near the head spring of what was then called "Philipse Mill River," but now denominated "Whang Brook." Samuel Carter also had a mill, on "Townsend Mill River," or the middle branch of the Croton. There are no villages of any size in this town, and the few neighborhoods, which are designated by local names, we will describe in turn.

COLE'S MILLS

In the southern part of this town, on the Croton River, about a mile south of the reservoir, is a place known as Cole's Mills. It was here that the first settlement was made by Elisha Cole, who came from Cape Cod, in 1747. A mill was built on the outlet of Barrett Pond before the Revolution. After the war the family bought the farm, which they had long occupied, from the commissioners of forfeiture and also a large tract adjoining. Soon after the Revolution, two of his sons, Daniel and Elisha, built a mill on the Croton near by, at which a large business for those times was carried on. Connected with the grist mill was a saw and fulling mill, and to the latter, cloth of the good honest homespun of former days was brought from far and. near.

Elisha Cole married Hannah Smalley and they were the parents of twelve children: John, who moved to the western part of the State; Joseph, born in 1746; Joshua, who went away and was never heard from; Ebenezer, born in 1754, died August 18th, 1815; Elisha, 2d, born September 3d, 1742, died February 3d, 1826; Daniel, born 1744, died December 10th, 1831; Nathan, born 1745, died February 6th, 1805; Hannah, wife of Freeman Hopkins; Eunice, wife of Hackaliah Merrick; Priscilla, wife of Gen. James Townsend; Mercy, wife of Tracy Ballard; and Naomi, wife of Jesse Smith. Ebenezer, Daniel and Nathan were Baptist preachers and were justly esteemed as good and worthy men. Daniel Cole inherited the old homestead at Cole's Mills, where Theodore Cole now lives. He married Susannah Ogden, who, according to the tombstone inscription in the old burying ground at Carmel, died November 3d, 1857, at the age of 102 years, 4 months and 8 days. Their children were John, Elisha, Daniel and Jesse, who all settled near each other near Cole's Mills. The house and farm is now owned by his son, Hiram. Daniel lived where the brick house now stands near the mill, now owned by Tillott Cole, while the house of Jesse Cole is where Cornelius B. Nichols now lives. The various branches of the family are numerous and widely scattered, and include many of the best citizens of the county.

Elisha Cole, son of Elisha, the first settler, married Charity, daughter of Caleb Hazen. His homestead was a farm in the town of Carmel, about a mile and a half southwest of Cole's Mills, and now owned by Henry Cole. A few tombstones in a field on the south side of the road mark the last resting place of Elisha Cole and some of his family. His son, Elisha 3d, was and born in 1776, died July 19th, 1851.

Although the mill yet stands, the business of the place is no longer what it was, and the changes produced by the railroad have affected this, as they have many other like localities. South of Cole's Mills, on the road to Carmel, is the old homestead farm, which originally belonged to the Hopkins family. It was here that Capt. Solomon Hopkins lived during the Revolution. He was the brother-in-law of Enoch Crosby, the hero of Cooper's "Spy," and after the war he purchased 341 acres of land in the Morris Lot No. 5 from the commissioners of forfeiture. The homestead descended from Solomon Hopkins (who died September 22d, 1792, aged 52) to his son, Jeremiah, who in turn left it to his son, Abraham, who sold it to his brother, Solomon, and it came to his son, Addison J., who sold it in 1869 to Polly D. Haight, wife of Joseph Haight, to whom it now belongs. It was in the old house which stood on the site of the present residence of Mr. Haight that the murderous attack was made upon Enoch Crosby, which came near ending his days. The old house was torn down and the present residence built about 1874.

It was on this farm that the first school house in Kent was built. This stood about eight rods east of the present school house, and was torn down more than sixty years ago. In its place was built another, for which purpose Abraham, Nathaniel, Reuben and Jeremiah Hopkins leased "for one pepper-corn, to be paid annually 4 rods square of ground, five rods north westerly of the old school house, and south westerly of Daniel F. Cole's mills for the term of forty years." This in turn became unfit for use and pretty well hacked to pieces by several generations of jack knives, and the present school house was erected, a few rods west of the former one, on land bought from Stephen Townsend, December 15th, 1865, in exchange for the former site.

BOYD'S CORNERS

The valley which is now covered by the Croton Reservoir was the best tract of farming land in this portion of the town. The place derived its name from Ebenezer Boyd, who was of Scotch parentage, and born about 1735. He was a captain in the Revolution and a brave and gallant officer. About 1780, he removed from his home in Westchester county, came to Kent and bought several tracts of land in Lot 5 from the commissioners of forfeiture. Here he built a house, and kept a tavern till the time of his death which occurred June 29th, 1792. He was buried in the old cemetery which is now covered by the waters of the reservoir. The homestead was left to his oldest son, Ebenezer, who died March 27th, 1848, at the age of 82 after which it fell to his sons, Ebenezer and Stillman. The latter sold it in 1853, and moved to Jefferson Valley where he now resides. The place now belongs to John Bennett and his house stands on the site of the old mansion.

At this place is located the First Baptist Church of Kent. This church was constituted October 4th, 1810, by a Council called by the First Baptist Church in Philipstown, and held at the house of Isaac Drew. Of this meeting, Elder Ebenezer Cole was moderator and among the members present were Elders Job Foss, Jonathan Sturdevaut, and Simeon Barrett. The new society was known as the "Second Baptist Church in Fredericktown." Elder Moseman Barrett was the first pastor, and Abijah Yeomans, clerk. From July, 1818, to February, 1819, 58 members were added to the church. November 30th, 1826, Peter Robinson was ordained deacon in the church. By a revival in 1828, 50 more members were added to the church by baptism, and another large addition was made in 1836. March 2d, 1844, Elder John Warren was engaged as pastor and November 30th of the same year the church dismissed a number of the members to form the Second Baptist Church of Kent. Up to 1831 the meetings had been held in school houses or private dwellings, and in that year the first meeting house was built on land said to have been given by Ebenezer Boyd, Jr. This building stood on the old road, across the Croton and directly east of the present church 1, and near it was the old burying ground. In February 1846, another revival increased the membership and on August 4th, 1849, the church voted to unite with the Union Baptist Association. Rev. John J. Eberle was ordained pastor March 13th, 1850, and was succeeded by Elder David James July 5th, 1851. Rev. James C. Smalley was licensed to preach the gospel July 31st, 1852, and on the 13th of December, 1854, he was ordained pastor. James J. Townsend was licensed to preach, May 1st, 1858, and in January of the same year a new revival added 40 members to the church. February 5th, 1859, Allen Barrett and Charles Patrick were elected deacons. Henry Light and Allen Light were elected deacons February 4th, 1865. Rev. James C. Smalley resigned the pastorship February 6th, 1869. The construction of the new reservoir rendered the removal of the church necessary and a new meeting house was built and dedicated on the 29th of September, 1869. This building stands directly west of the former church on land given by Platt Parker.

1 This church was dedicated November 16th, 1881.

On the 6th of August, 1870, Rev. Allen E. Light was licensed to preach the gospel. In January, 1874, Rev. W. S. Clapp was invited to act as pastor and accepted but preached there only twice a month. He was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Henry Light, who was ordained January 26th, 1876, and still continues to labor in this place. During his term of service he has baptized 129 persons. At the present time he also supplies the church at Dykeman's Station and his labors, though arduous, are crowned with success.

West of the church is a new burying ground, to which the remains were moved from the old one now covered by the reservoir. From the oldest stones we give the following names and dates:

Sarah, wife of Jacob Knapp, died Jan. 2d, 1878, age 73;
Solomon Williams, Jan. 1st, 1873, 77;
Rachel, wife, April 11th, 1872, 79;
Josephine Townsend, Nov. 9th, 1858, 71;
Stephen Brown, April 20th, 1852, 73;
Jan wife April 2d, 1856, 70;
Nathaniel Nichols, April 8th, 1861, 60;
Elizabeth, wife, Oct. 3d, 1855, 53;
Moses Adams, May 20th, 1851, 82;
Phebe, wife, Aug. 19th, 1849, 71;
John Mead, March 4th, 1826, 77;
John S. Mead, Aug. 22d, 1840, 66;
Hannah, wife, Sept. 6th, 1830, 59.

"In Memory of Isaiah Smalley, who died July 7th, 1856, aged 100 years three months and 14 days."

On the west side of the reservoir and at the corner of the road running down Peekskill Hollow, is the old homestead of the Bailey family. Rowland Bailey, who came to this part of the country in the latter part of the last century, was the county clerk in 1820. He purchased several tracts lands, and was a very extensive owner of real estate. He died in the summer of 1839. The homestead was the residence of his son, Dr. Joseph H. Bailey, during his whole life, and few of the citizens of the town or county were more prominently known than he. Dr. Bailey was a surgeon in the United States Army, and a practicing physician in the county. The homestead was sold to William H. Stevens in 1885, by the executors of the estate.

The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist is located at this place and was built principally through the liberality of Dr. Bailey. The church was organized March 8th, 1878, with Dr. Bailey and Andrew John Bennett, as wardens. The church lot was given by Dr. Bailey, November 26th, 1881, and the edifice was built soon afterward. Rev. Matthew A. Bailey was the officiating clergyman till the decease of his father, who in his will bequeathed to the church the family burying ground on the estate and certain lands adjoining the church edifice.

On the road running northwest from Boyd's Corners, is a small neighborhood known as Richardville. Through the public spirit and liberality of Dr. Bailey, a chapel has been erected here. The land where it stands, on the north side of the road, about half a mile from the corner, was given by Dr. Bailey to "Jackson Bennett, Darius Williams, John P. Williams and Corigan Tompkins, trustees of the Richardville Chapel, " June 27th, 1873, and the building was erected soon after. A large number of people attended the dedication, and the Sunday school established was doubtless productive of great good, and redounds to the credit of the liberal donor.

The neighborhood of Boyd's Corners is now more generally known as " Kent Cliffs," a name which has been given to it in later years.

Source: pages 675 through 681.



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