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The Early History of Saint Remy

The village of Saint Remy is located off of Route 213 about four miles south of the City of Kingston. The village proper is one mile south of Eddyville and southeast of the Rondout Creek. The Saint Remy area as shown as ATKARTONC on maps of the early to mid 1800s and covered the area later encompassed by School District Number Five. The area was bounded by the Rondout Creek or Kill on the north and west, by Hussey Hill on the east, and by Rifton and Union Center to the south. The part of Saint Remy near the Rondout was also called Greenkill9

The land around Atkarton was not origionally part of a 2960 acre tract purchased by Frederick Huzzy on June 12, 1685 as stated in "The Town Of Esopus Story" 1979 edition! The general description of the Huzzy Patent was "betwixt Rondout Kill and Clyne Esopus , called Huzzy's Hill, including Cline Esopus Fly and Sunken Fly at the mouth of the Rondout and two small lakes."1 The deed meets and bounds description covers only land east of the top of the hill. Most of the Saint Remy area was included in the Kingston Patent and Township. The southern portion near VanWagenen Lane in the Hurley Patent (and Township) and the Mogowasink Patent25. Both townships were formed by an act of Governor Dongon on 01 November 168318. The Mogowasink Patent was a tract of 600 acres purchases from the Esopus Indians by Henry Beekman on June 24th, 1682.

EARLY SETTLERS

Evidentally, there were only two or three farms in the area in the area in the mid eighteenth century. These were the VanWagenen and VanAken farms.

In 1745 Isaac VanWagenen built his stone house on land obtained in a patent from King George III. The date is carved in to a boulder in the rear or oldest section of the structure.A,D This was the family home until Lewis VanWagenen built a second house a few thousand feet to the southeast of the first one. The exact date is unknown but it was probably in the late 18th century. All that remains of this house is a foundation, but there is a new house (built in 1810) in the same area but closer to the road, along with barns predating that newer house.8 On the northern end of the property still stands a VanWagenen burial ground which is the final resting place of many of the family.

Some time prior to the Revolutionary War, a Van Aken came across Huzzy Hill and built a small house along the Swartekill Road one chain north of the Mogowasink Patent. The author is still researching just which Van Aken it was. By 1790 the home was described as the house of Benjamin Van Aken, thus it most probably built by either Gideon or Jan , both of whom had sons named Benjamin (of similar age, and married in the same year, to women named Maria!). The 1790 census shows the house as being constructed of stone and mud. Nothing remains of the approximately 20 by 20 foot house except for the foundation. It appeared on maps as late as the year 1875.

In 17622, Jan Van Aken and his wife Grietjen DeGraff3 constructed a somewhat larger stone house about a mile further north and along the Rondout Kill or Creek near the ford at Greenkill. This house is at the end of (what is today) Decker Street. The Van Aken family lived on this farm, which covered much of the area, for several generations. As the family grew, it began to spread out a bit. The next generation at the original home were Benjamin and Maria. Their daughter Seletje married Johannes Niese whos grandfather had also come from Holland. The daughter of this pair, Elizabeth4, also married into the Van Aken family (to Peter, the great nephew of Benjamin). Elizabeth remarried to Hiram Terpening after the death of Peter in 1843. Elizabeth may have lived in the stone house at the southern end of Main Street (see next paragraph). C Most of the early VanAken family are burried in the old section of the Saint Remy Cemetary. The house was purchased by Abram Bruyn Hasbrouck in 1840 and there have been several additions to its structure through out the years. It remains in excellent condition.

Another early house is situated on Main Street just south of Union Center Road. It dates to at least the 1790s, possibly much earlier, with an 1817 addition which made it into a classic early "saltbox". The earliest data about this house remains hidden but it was a VanAken house around 1805 and remained in that family for about sixty more years.

The last (known) early house in Saint Remy lies at the top of Pokonoie Road and has been the home and farm of the York family since 1860. According to a french newspaper found within its walls, it appears to have been constructed in the year 180216. The builder was Gerrit I. Freer, the son of Jan Freer of and Lydia Van Vliet who lived on the east side of Huzzy Hill.28

These five houses comprise the original homes of the Saint Remy area. Two or three very old foundations suggest that there may have been a few more small stone or frame houses10. Additionally, Sylvester's History of Ulster County tells of a Doctor William Clark living at Greenkill (St. Remy side) who "was an early physician, probably before 1800". He and his wife Mary are buried in the Saint Remy Cemetary. The doctor died in 1818 at the age of 50. Just where he lived is not known, although his son purchased the stone house at the south end of Main Street from Jonas Van Aken in 186729. In census information from the early to mid 1800's we find several Clarks living just south of "Thompson's Hill"30. Dr. Clark is listed in the 1810 census, but not in the 1790 census. This may be an oversight. Apparantly a "Doctor Clark" came to America with a colony of Irish settlers in 1764. That Dr. Clark may have been the father of oursJ.

Roads

Well before 1811 when the Township of Esopus came into existance, Main Street and Union Center Road did not yet exist. There was, however, one main road through Saint Remy. This road was know as the "Swartekill Road" and ran from the Rondout Creek opposite Wilber to what is now Carney Road in Rifton. That area was called "Swartekill" in 1710. The "old road", as it was called in 183331, pretty much followed the present day path of Salem Street and Main Street to where Union Center Road now begins. It then turned westward a bit and ran a lot closer to the creek than Route 213 does now. Even today, its path is plainly visable for several thousand feet through the woods until newer houses and yards begin to obscure it.

Van Wagner Road must have been in existance very early on as well, because there was a ford to Creek Locks (Wagondale) at its end. This ford was used by the Van Wagenen family who owned property on both sides of the KillI, and also by travelers to the Port Ewen area who crossed there, then followed the road eastward and traversed Huzzy Hill through the Freer/York farmsteads.16

Main Street and Union Center Road were probably formally constructed soon after the turn of the nineteenth century. The former was known as "the road from Freerville32 to the powder mill" (in Rifton) and the latter as "the road from Freerville to Jacob Weists"33 and then "the road from Freerville to Elmore's corners."34

Pokonoie Road was known as "Dwarfskill Road" or "The road to Hussey Hill" on old deeds. It was also called "the East Saint Remy Road" and "Waterloo Road" at various times.14

From 1811 to 1824 (and other years?), there was a ferry across the Rondout at the end of Greenkill Road. 13 That road was then called "The road to the Greenkill Ferry". According to the town highway rolls for the year of 1811, the ferry was at the end of road district No. 10 and was run by Benjamin Van Aken. 17

Saint Remy Comes of Age

Between the years 1800 and 1850, only a few more houses were added to the village. These can be seen in plates 67, 67A, 68, 69A, and 69B in the "Early Homes" section of "The Town of Esopus Story" beginning on page 49.

In the year 1840 about 200 acres of the VanAken farm in Greenkill along with the 1762 stone house was purchased by Abram Bruyn Hasbrouck. He purchased various tracts of land from the five sons of Jan VanAken and from others and reunified much of the original estate. A large part of present day Saint Remy occupies this same land. Mr. Hasbrouck named his estate after the village of Saint Remi in France 5 because it was a favorite resort of his. G

Abram Bruyn Hasbrouck was probably the most notable resident of Saint Remy. He was a wealthy lawyer and educator and had served as president of Rutgers College for many years. He added the tower to the mansion as he remodelled it, and later added the newest wing. The renovation cost him $70,000! 6 He was also the founder and first president of the Ulster County Historical Society.

Mr. Hasbrouck entertained three presidents of the United States at his estate with some of the finest forests, fishing grounds and orchards of that time. G One of these presidents was possibly Ulysses S. Grant. 16

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Saint Remy consisted of three stores, a blacksmith shop, a school and a Dutch Reformed Church. There were only nine houses in the village and a total of twenty in the area in about 1850. By 1858 there were twelve houses in th village and thirty four in the Atkarton area. A check of the 1875 county atlas shows thirteen houses in town and thirty nine in the surrounding area. The great population boom began by the turn of the century. Many of the houses along Main Street are consistant with styles of the 1880s.

The woods of the area in the 19th century were often practically denuded of lumber. This valuable commodity was used to build homes and sailing ships, and for fuel. The cleared level lands were used for farming. G,11,photos

The occupations of early settlers were primarily, but not exclusively, farming. Flax and vegetables 8 were the most common crops. Because Saint Remy was on the road to Kingston 7and so near to the Rondout, there were also craftsmen and boatmen. Captain Connelly was one of the best known. Legend has it that he was responsible for the catalpa trees found near his former residence at the southern end of of the village. There was an active blacksmith shop near the center of town (see below) and a wagon shop run by Mr. (Matthew?) Thompson on the road to Rifton at the southern end of the school district. F

There were at least three mills in the area. One was to the west of Rte 213 just north of Van Wagenen Road 8, and another was on Pokonoie Road near the top of the hill. The latter was a smaller mill, used only by the farmers immediately adjacent. It had an underflow type wheel and therefore had very limited power. It was in use into the early twentieth century. 16

By the turn of the century, Saint Remy even had a dance hall. It was located across Main Street from the beginning of Union Center Road.

The history of the Saint Remy school is just beginning to come to light. In the division of the Kingston Commons, a piece of land was set aside from lot No.47 north for the construction of a School House. This deed is dated 1804.

In 1813 the Town of Esopus was divided into six school districts. A list of school budgets from 1822 to 1860 shows Saint Remy with 55 students and an annual budget of $22.51 in 1822, rising to 102 children and $92.70 in 1860. The school is shown on the map of 1853. Apparently, it was constructed between 1804 and 1822, with the earlier date probably the closer with a facelift likely done around 1900. (Updated January 2003)

Class of 1913?

Stay tuned for much, much more ...


Footnotes

1) Sylvester - Page 110, G, 10
2) A, Gate Plaque by A. B. Hasbrouck
3) From References G, H, B - page 110
4) Apparantly born after 1798
5) The Frenchvillage was named for Saint Remigius (born ca. 439) then Archbishop of Rheims. Saint Remigius converted King Clovis to the Catholic Faith. (E)
6) From A - What was original reference?
7) F - Road District no. 13
8) Mr. Raymond Krom (Jr.) in an interview
9) Greenkill was on this side of the river by the Hasbrouck estate (too). Sylvester - page 110 and others. Also in several 19th century deeds, and statement of intent for the Saint Remy Church.
10) Two in the woods to the north of Pokonoie Road at the top of the hill.
11) Mr. Samuel Haines Carman in many interviews.
12) Deed L414 P240
13) Deed L25 P519 "the road to the Greenkill ferry" 10 may, 1824.
14) See Deeds: L248 P547, L357 P102, L453 P174, (15) page 828.
15) I - page 828
16) Mr. Myron York in an interview.
17) Sylvester - page 111. I believe this to be Union Center Road from Hardenburg to Saint Remy and Greenkill Road.
18) Anjou - Ulster county, NY Wills page 5 for more details of resolution.
19) Mr. Lemon - See Junior League Survey.
20) Mrs. Beatrice Ellsworth Jordan / Mr. Martin Jordan - in several interviews.
21) Deeds: L525 P488, L617 P44.
22) Census 1925 #136, #137 district 4.
23) Post office a vague recollection of stories by Sam Carman and by P.O. written in ink on Mrs. Jordan's copy of the postcard. Barber shop from (11).
24) Mr. Billy Reynolds - in an interview.
25) K - pages 80, 81. Deeds: L17 P304, L36 P101, L55 P75.
26) A - page 165. Rondout Savings Bank flyer of sunday 09 may, 1933: A photo in the John Matthews collection shows the stage at the strand ca 1880s. It's sign gives the times.
27) 1910 Town of Esopus property tax records, pages 133, 134.
28) Freer Genealogy D-413, Deed L39 P103,104 06 Feb 1830 "... part of the old farm of Garret I. Freer ..."
29) Deed L145 P4
30) The rise on route 213, about half a mile south of William White Road.
31) Deed L46 P338
32) What is now called "New Salem". C, F
33) At the intersection of Hardenburg road and Union Center Road. 1805 Kingston Commons Map et. al.
34) Esopus. F

Reference Works Cited

A) The Town of Esopus Story (1979 edition).
B) History of ulster County - Sylvester 1880.
C) Map of 1858, Map of 1853.
D) Junior League Survey of historic buildings in the Town of Esopus - 1967.
E) "The Catskills" An Illustrated Historical Guide with Gazeteer - by Arthur G. Adams (Hope Farm Press).
F) Atlas of ulster County - Beers 1875.
G) The History of Ulster County with Emphasis on the last 100 years - 1883.
H) Van Aken Index - Klein Esopus Historian/Librarian (Dorothy Dumond).
I) Commemerative Biographical Record of Ulster County New York - Beers 1896
J) New York Genealogical and Biographical Record - April 1981 issue. Volume 112 #2 page 73.
K) The Early History of Kingston and Ulster County New York - Fried.




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