Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tales from Quaker Hill or The Oblong Between New York and Connecticut

                                                                          Wednesday Night
March 9, 1938
Dear Carl,

Today I finally got down to going after the William Prendergast story . It is not an unknown story up here and there is a plaque on a rock, which was erected to his wife who possessed the very delightful name of Mehitabel Wing.

Just as we expected, the story is certainly in her. A preacher who gathered stories in these parts, by the name of Warren H. Wilson,  known to the old timers as Dominy Wilson because he was a preacher, described her as “resolute.” She must have been a hellcat at least. As you know she put up a vigorous defense for husband basing it on the fact that he was “esteemed a sober, honest and industrious farmer, much beloved by his neighbors but stirred up to act as he did by one Munro, who is absconded.” The jury loved it even though they must not have believed it because Prendergast was a wild-eyed Irishman, erratic and impetuous. The State’s attorney was so up at her performance that he moved she be excluded from the courtroom. The court not only denied the motion but rebuked the State’s attorney for “so forgetting himself.” The trial took place in August and I gather that accounts of it were carried in the New York Mercury for August 18 and 25. Other dates which figure in the case are July 28 and Sept. 15, all in 1766. But she lost in the end and he was sentenced to be hanged in Jamestown, New York. Some members of the family neatly cut the hanging part out of the family history but it has been restored since then. All the members of the family are dead. But while they lived they did everything they could to cover up the story of William Prendergast.

Anyway, with the hanging six weeks off, Mehitabel, the resolute Quaker, obtained an audience with the Governor (Sir Henry Moore, Bart.) presumably in New York and returned Sept. first with a reprieve. She arrived in time to stop a company of men who were about to storm the jail to free her husband. Then came the pay-off.  She wrote George III, and within six months got a pardon for her husband.  As the Dominy put it “Six months later, George III, who required six years to be subdued by Washington, released her husband.”

I won’t go into any more detail because I managed to get the Wilson stuff into my hands and I’ll bring them down shortly. I believe there might be a couple of other stories in his book on Quaker Hill. I note the story of a bunch of Quaker boys and girls “skylarking” in the meeting house one night.
One of the girls dared one of the boys to look in the attic “for the Tories.” It was made merely as a joke. The boy took the joke and the Tories (an outlaw band of murderers, I believe, headed by Waite Vaughn (another good yarn)) opened the door and THEY WERE THERE. The outlaws, knowing the Quakers didn’t fight, made the boys and girls lead them to the store and wait around while they loaded up. Finally the blood of some of the Quaker boys refused to remain peaceful or non-resistant and one of them said “Seize the rascals.”

     In the melee the girl who had done this recognized the leader of the band as someone they knew. He was so furious that he grabbed her. Don’t know if she died.


Read how Carmer and others told this tale!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Dear Carl" Letters from Croswell Bowen to Carl Carmer for The Hudson

On March 9, 2010, I'll begin publishing these letters, on the anniversary of the days they were written. Here is a brief listing to aid in using this material. It's organized by date, location subject matter and the names of persons interviewed.
In between I'll post photographs and updated research on these Hudson River tales!

March 9, 1938
Quaker Hill, NY    
Mehitabel Wing, 18th Century Anti-Rent (1 page)
from  Rev. Warren Wilson

April 12, 1938      
Poughkeepsie, NY             
Shad fishing, whaling, Tower Suicide and Murder, Aunt Dina, Innes Dye Industry, Intercollegiate Regatta (9 pages)
from Mrs. Fred Lovejoy, George  Buckhout, Mrs. Elsie Davis, Miss Carrie Raymond, Silas Hinckley, Jim Reynolds

April 13, 1938
Poughkeepsie, NY
Rural Cemetery and Lover's Leap, Andrew Jackson Downing, shad fishing (2 pages)

April 15, 1938
Poughkeepsie, NY
Livingston as author of "The Night Before Christmas," Pollipel Island, Spencer and Roosevelt "Krum Elbow" controversy, Rhinebeck violets, Danskammer (2 pages)
from Mrs. Elsie Davis

April 19, 1938
Poughkeepsie and Beacon, NY
Mesier Family, Captain Moses Collyer, the Mary Powell and other Hudson River boats, DeWindt and A.J. Downing, Mt. Gulian and James Brown (3 pages)
from Louie Whittemore, George Seamon, Bayard Verplanck

April 27, 1938
Kingston, NY
Shad fishing details, sociological islands
from Gruver, Kelly of the Freeman

April 28, 1938
Kingston, NY
John Vanderlyn, Reminders of what Carmer heard: "Fresh Shad," and "Why the deWindts built the dock that the Verplancks landed on." Cheese mines of Hurley, Brickmaking, Rondout Creek.
from Nick Lamersdorf

April 29, 1938
Rosendale, NY
Canalers, Cement burners, AJ Snyder Cement, Abe Samon and Sam Haley's applejack, the Vermonter fights the Irish gang, the ghost of a girl in a scow  (4 pages)
from Joseph Fleming and Jake Snyder

May 10, 1938
Newburgh, NY and Washingtonville, NY
A.J. Downing, Brotherhood Winery myths and facts, The Traps, Widow Rayner
from Walter Haible, Superindent of Parks; John J Gleason, Brotherhood Winery Manager; Dwight Akers.

May 11, 1938
Roseton, NY
The Armstrongs, The Jovas, The Jukes and the Baisleys of Newburgh, importing labor for brickmaking,
the Burr-Hamilton dueling pistols, the character people of the east and west banks of the Hudson, Wiltwyck.
from Noel Armstrong, Major L.K. Savercoll.

May 12, 1938
Kingston, NY
Plans to visit Hardenburgh Sheep at Stone Ridge, plans for Carmer's next visit.

May 13, 1938
Kingston and Malden, NY
Raising sheep, wild dogs
from Cornelius Hardenburgh and
The Bigelow Family
from Poultney Bigelow

May 14, 1938
Catskill, NY
Joseph Waltz, murderer of Hoelcher and Constable Ernst, the Old Heidelberg, the suicide of Ellen Way and the drowning of her husband, the Salisbury family and the silken noose, the Catskill Abeels, relations of Cornplanter, witches, Uncle Sam, hears of "sociological island:" Bushwackers in Columbia County
from Constable Ernst's son and others.

May 14, 1938
Coxsackie, NY
Rev. Delber Clark's history, Hudson River Flood of 1906, Hallenbeck and novel about deLeon, mushroom production in the old ice houses.

May 14, 1938
Stuyvesant, NY
Italian boy singer becomes Albany coal dealer. A version of the Elena Vespucci-John Van Buren scandal.

May 20, 1938
Highland, NY
Bolognesi Vineyards

May 21, 1938
Eagle's Nest, west of Hurley, NY
Stories and superstitions
from Cornelius Haasbrouk

May 21, 1938
Napanoch, NY
Yama Farms
from Mrs. Frank Seamon

May 22, 1938
The Traps
Witches and Witchcraft, The Smiley Family's land acquisition.
from the Burgers

May 27. 1938
Coxsackie, NY
Bronck Barn, reminders to Carl from interview at the Traps.

May 28, 1938
Tivoli, NY
The plan for Tivoli, Hudson River Aristocracy
from Mrs. Redmond and Angelica Livingston

May 30, 1938
Lake Charlotte, east of Hudson, NY
from George Proper, Fran Ingalls, Carrie Simmonds, Freeman Hotailling, Bertha Sigler. Also Mayme Thomson, teacher.

May 30, 1938
Barrytown, NY
The Chandler Family
from Chandler Chapman

July 9, 1938
Mechanicville, NY
The Champlain and Hudson Canal, paper mills.
from Joe Caringi and Tony Fargnoli

July 9, 1938
Schuylerville, NY
Jesse Billings murder
from Tom Hanrahan

July 10, 1938
Fort Edward, NY
Duncan Campbell, Jane McCrea and Jesse Billings
from W.H. Hill
from George Thebo
Baroness  Reisedel
from the Bullards
from O'Hearn and Griffin

July 11, 1938
Glens Falls, NY
Duncan Campbell, Solomon Augustus Park, Jane McCrea, Solomon Northrup, pickle boats on the Champlain Canal.
from Fred Richards

July 12, 1938
North Glens Falls, NY
Lumber camp life
from Albert Fisher, Henry, Earl and Julius Palmer, Yankee John Galusha

July 15, 1938
Tahawus, NY
McIntyre Iron Works, Roosevelt's Mid-Night Ride
from Noah LaCasse

July 16, 1938
Minerva, NY
Lumber Camp and log driving life,
Eloise Cronin, Jack Loveland, Mike Breen

July 18, 1938
Hartford, NY
Guilder Hollow
from Van Guilders and neighbors, Hicks, Martins, Will Norton.