April 19, 1938
Today I covered the territory between Poughkeepsie and Beacon including Beacon. Beacon used to be called Fishkill on the Hudson and many folks stick to the name (Fishkill on further back inland). It is now so named on account of the Beacon Mountain.
The first town you come to is Wappingers Falls named after the Indians. A girl and boy who worked on the Tribune have taken over The Chronicle there and I got a few names from is her. The town does not appear to have much. The Mesier family gave their farmhouse in the center of the town and some land, which now houses the town council room and the welfare offices. The WCTU have given the usual pump dated 1894 with the inscription “Let him who is thirsty drink.” A little further on I took the road to the right off 9B leading to New Hamburg where a family named Reese of New York descended. The Mesier family has a real manor house with a great hall and portraits and elaborate grounds. Their landscaping is in the tradition. Only the servants were there and they didn't know much but they said the old man would be delighted to tell plenty. They are well heeled I gathered. I them went on into the town of New Hamburg and called on Captain John E. Frazier who was widely known as a Hudson River boat captain. It was one of the many disappointments of the last few days. He is picking daises and could only show mm that he still had a license and reel off names of ships, say how everybody knew how well he knew the river. I am saving Capt. Moses Collyer because I almost know he will have something and we can pick him up at Chelsea on our way to Beacon.
I tried to get something out of New Hamburg because it sounded as though it ought to be good. The Drakes and Millards settled the town. It is small but has three churches. The RR rips right thru is and makes house cleaning and sleep hell. Good shad fishing. Miss Katherine Millard I talked to but she had nothing but a curious recipe for Scripture Cake, which I copied down. Every ingredient is given a quotation from the scriptures. The two families were and still are in the lumber business. She had save a clip on the Mary Powell and was one of the ones who were in love with the ship. It must have stopped running about 1913 after 51 years, having started running about 1862. Only two Captains operated her Father and son, A.L. Anderson and A.E. Anderson. Took 27,000 trips, 1,154,000 miles, and 150,000 passengers every year. Miss Mallard said the backbone is the best part of the shad; fewer bones. She rolls the shad in flour pepper-salt and fries in Crisco.
Back to Frazier for minute. He was nearby when the Sunnyside sank and a lady was drowned. He took some people to see the General Slocum the next day after the accident. Beefs about Captains Hudson river not getting any pension. Companies cut them out and Roosevelt has not been good to them. They resent paying a fee for licenses $10. The companies used to pay $15O a month then cut it to $25 and in 1933 stopped altogether. Frazier is receiving state old age pension. Some of the other Hudson River captains are Ed van Wart of Athens in Green County, Aerion Rea of Newburgh, Thomas Hillis of Kingston,NY and Mel Hamilton.
Alfred van Santford (spelling my be wrong) was head of the Day Line and the company has always been a family affair. The old man refused to let his boats run on Sunday because he was very religious and finally consented provided there were services on board.
I went over to Beacon via Mattawan. Mrs. Van Huyton still hadn’t found the pamphlet on Eustacia. But I went to the next house where Mr. Louis Whittimore lives with his wife and sister, Grace Whittimore. Louisa de Windt married a man named Whittimore and these are her children. Caroline, another sister married AJ Downing. She (Grace) said it was strange Downing drowned because he was en excellent swimmer. He saved a couple of ladies but one of then he went back for grabbed him and choked him. She allowed as how these days he probably would have known enough to give her a sock. Grace is a little queer but perhaps if you see her you can recall something to her about Downing. Louie Whittimore is very interesting. He said Caroline who married Downing was the only de Windt (the spelling was later changed to having a d in it as a result of someone finding a tomb in Holland with the name spelled that way) who got a worthwhile husband. All the others, he said, got fortune hunters. Louisa married a second time to a man named Clarence Cook who was a newspaperman.
He showed me a half burned diary, which was rescued from the old de Windt house. (John de Windt gave new houses to his daughters as they married on his place.) They thought it was John Adams’ diary while at the Court of St James. But I soon was reasonably sure it was not. However, it is interesting. It is probably the diary of John Adams Smith, the son of Col Wm Stephens Smith and Abigail Adams, the John Quincy Adams’ only child. They had several children one of whom married, a daughter, married Peter de Windt, son of John. This John Adams Smith was very self-analyzing and his dairy is very amusing. I don't believe it’s been published. It’s dated Report of 1820, London. He copies down a letter he presumably wrote and signs it J. Adams Smith. A book they had said something about his being in the diplomatic service and said none of the children amounted to very much. It is not quite clear why the diary was there except that he was fond of his sister Caroline de Windt or Mrs. Peter de Windt.
The whole Whittimore family are strange and seem to like your being around. You have to let them ramble on in their own way and Louie told all the family gossip such as Grace's daughter de Lancey being found poisoned by herself in a woods. Had many lovers and had plenty of money.
The Seamans have been bleeding her for all the money they can get. George Seaman's father married the youngest of the de Windt girls. He is a closer relative than his wife. But she is a "busybody" says Mr. Whittimore and maybe she can tell us something. She was supposed to there today.
The Seaman place is on 9D just before you get into Beacon. It must have been rather lovely once. George Seaman came to the door in his tattered tweeds. He can’t tell much about Downing just rambles on about having worked for the telegraph Co. (Mexican) in New York. Said the sons and daughters of the old places all went away and used to come back only for vacations and weekends. They all went into business in New York. Whittimore said Seaman and his wife kept trying to have boys but it was no use after they had six or seven girls. They have absolutely no money and the place is heavily mortgaged. Next to them is some orphan’s home, waiting vulture-like to devour the Seaman place when they are finally licked. But you will drop by there and get the picture. Mrs. Seaman was due back from New York tonight but when I left she hadn’t showed up. We'll catch her over the weekend. Remember we must to mention that Miss Helen Kenyon of Vassar sent us.
As I pulled out of the Seaman I was terribly depressed. I hadn't got anything with much lift to it and the picture of the decadent Hudson River aristocracy was sad. I took the road to the famous Verplanck place. On the way I got off the road and found myself at the old Newlin place. I talked to a young housewife who was living in the place and you get the picture. She was a village girl and her husband's family had bought the place. She was pleased to be mistress of the big house even though she was not quite socially acceptable to the Verplancks and the old families. She showed me how to get to Bayard Verplanck’s place.
He is charming. He caught on as soon as I came in the door and we sat down and talked and puttered over things for several hours. He is a local banker in Beacon fairly well-heeled and built the house he is living on about twenty five years ago. It is next door to the remains of the old Verplanck house built in 1722. It burned down a few years ago. The ruins are still standing. It is called Mt. Gulian and Col. Knox and some others founded the Society of Cincinnati which, as you know, is composed only of the eldest sons of the officers of the American Revolutionary Army.
He and his wife were present several years ago when it burned. They think some incendiary did it as there was one in the neighborhood. When the fire was nearly out they left a gardener and a constable and another man in charge to watch it the rest of the night as it was still smoldering. Just before sunlight they saw through the stone window frame a flare of light. All four men suddenly realized that it was not the fire but that a lady in hoop skirts was holding a candle high in the air while a gentleman in Colonial costume was hurriedly writing at a desk. The gardener whose name was Angus McCloud later described the man to the Verplancks and all agreed that it was Uncle Bill or William E. Verplanck. The light died down again and that was all they saw.
Bayard Verplancks's house is built on Spookfield so called because the story that runs in his family says that when Henry Hudson came up the river his crew stopped just below the house and came up to a brook that runs through there to get fresh water. They met some Indians and one of the sailors was trying to make a deal of trading a knife for some furs or something from the Indian. They quarreled and the sailor killed the Indian. On certain nights you can still see the Indian looking for the sailor and the knife. For generations the plowboys have used the story as an excuse to knock off work promptly at dusk because they claim they are afraid.
The Verplancks received their land directly from the Francis Rombout Patent or the Rombout Patent in 1683. They are friends of Spingarn but you know all about him. We are to stop in and see Mrs. Samuel Verplanck at her place, Roseneath. Also a man named Gilland Howland, editor of the Beacon News. Try and read The History of Abraham Isaacs Ver Planck and his male descendents in American by William Edward Verplanck 1892.
The Verplancks had a faithful Negro servant named James F. Brown who served them at Mt Gulian from 1829-64. He kept a diary of the doings at the house and what his orders were which are several volumes. Mrs. Samuel Verplanck has it, I believe. One night some southern planters were the guests at dinner of the Verplancks and there was a bad row. They demanded that he be returned. The Verplancks and some others raised enough money as a result of the row to pay for James Brown’s freedom.
 Captain Moses Collyer was photographed by Marguerite Bourke-White and Croswell Bowen, and provided steam boat stories for Carmer’s The Hudson.
 Alfred Van Saantvoord entered the day boat business in 1856, and controlled the New York to Albany business by 1863, the beginning of the Hudson River Day Line. After his death in 1901, his son-in-law, Eben Erskine Olcott continued to grow the line, until it declining traffic in the Depression.
 Louie Whittemore, George Seaman and others are melded by Carmer into the interlude with man in tweed knickerbockers in Carmer’s “In a Mountain’s Shadow, “ in The Hudson.
 Mount Gulian, hub of the Rombout Patent, was built around 1730, and occupied by members of the Verplanck family until the fire in 1931. It was restored for the 1976 Bi-Centennial. James Brown’s journals reside at NYHS in NYC.
 The Society of the Cincinnati, is a fraternal organization, was initially created to support veteran officers of the Revolutionary War with membership limited to direct male descendents of the original officers.
 Joel Springarn, former professor of comparative literature at Columbia University in New York, and one of the co-founders of the NAACP in 1916, at the Troutbeck Inn in Amenia, NY, was a friend of Carmer.