History of the Town of Wappinger

The Town of Wappinger is the smallest and youngest town in Dutchess County but in 1875 it was the most populous. Its industry powered by the Wappinger Creek and Wappinger’s Falls and the agricultural life in the hamlets helped play a huge role in the formation of Wappinger.

In 1685, Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck purchased 85,000 acres from the Wappinger or Wappani Indians, for hunting and trading ground for the king of England. This would later be known as the Rombout Patent. The patent covered the towns of Fishkill, East Fishkill, Wappinger, the City of Beacon, and parts of LaGrange and Poughkeepsie, these municipalities were once all a part of the town of Fishkill.

One of the first settlements in Wappinger was in 1722, when Verplanck family owned much of the land after the patent; they constructed a grist mill on the Sprout Creek. The wheat and flour was then brought to their home on the Hudson called “Farmer’s Landing”.

Nicholas and his brother Adolphus Brewer, Dutch millers, purchased 750 acres of land near the 75 foot Wappinger’s Falls in 1740. Nicholas built his small stone frame house and Adolphus constructed his house and mill on Mill Street in the village of Wappingers Falls. Unfortunately, Adolphus Brewer was struck by lightning in 1742; he was buried in a Native American burial ground which would later be used as the Zion Episcopal Church Cemetery. Nicholas sold his home in 1776 to Peter Mesier who enlarged it in the same year. Mesier, a New York City loyalist, conducted a store from his home and charged a high price of tea. So high, that the neighbors became furious, and in May of 1777 broke in to the Mesier’s store beat and tied up, him, his wife, and his slaves then locked them in the basement and then stole all of the tea. It is believed that the residents of the area dumped all of the tea in the Wappinger Creek, similar to what the Sons of Liberty did at the Boston Tea Party.

In 1760, Jacobus Swartwout, who is the highest ranking general in Dutchess County, purchased 3,000 acres of land from Madam Brett. Swartwout built his first home after his wedding to Aaltje Brinckerhoff. In 1775 at Jacob Griffin’s Tavern in Swartwoutville (now a historical ruin) there was a Rendezvous there about the Revolutionary War by the Committee of Safety and at the meeting they named Swartwout's farm (which was used to feed the troops stationed at the nearby Fishkill Supply Depot) a village, Swartwoutville.

Swartwoutville became one of the first hamlets in Wappinger. These meetings here define the role this county played during the American Revolution. George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Baron von Stueben, and Israel Putnam all visited the hamlet during the Revolution. By the 1800s the hamlet had a district school, several stores, a burial ground, houses, and farm land.

According to the list of inhabitants of Dutchess County in 1714 the VanBenschotens are the first settlers of the town of Wappinger and the hamlet of New Hackensack. Johannes Schurrie came from Hackensack N.J. and so did many others, that is how the hamlet got its name. In 1758, the New Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church was organized as one of the four dutch churches in the area at the time. By 1834 the church was taken down and rebuilt. The congregation is still active and built their present church in 1993.

In 1732, Peter Dubois constructed his house at the corner of All Angel’s Hill Road and Old Hopewell Road. The house is believed during the Civil War to have been on the Underground Railroad. The White Family purchased the house and the 109 acres of land and from then on the property and the house has been known as White’s Corners.
John Myers from Holland purchased 150 acres of land at the corners of All Angel’s Hill Road and Myers Corners Road. The hamlet of Myers Corners was once home to a physician (who lived at All Angel’s Hamlet), a tavern, several stores, houses, and a school.

In 1782, the Middlebush Methodist Church was established, the property was owned by Abraham Van Wyck. A year later the Middlebush Cemetery was established, which is now owned by the town of Wappinger. By 1869 the Methodist Church of Wappingers Falls was constructed and the church at Middlebush was torn down. In 1824 Middlebush had its own post office which also served Chelsea.

According to legend in 1696 Captain Kidd set sail from New York Harbor up the river to Hughsonville, since the area was not settled, Kidd buried his stolen treasure somewhere within the hamlet, will you be the one to find it? William Hughson and his four other brothers from England settled in Hughsonville hamlet in the 1700s. By 1840, the Hughsonville Presbyterian Church was constructed. Then by 1847 Hughsonville had its own post office which is still in use today. The Wheeler Hill Historic District is within the hamlet and is home to many estates from the 19th and 20th centuries. The hamlet’s fire company in 2013 is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

In 1776, a place called “Ketchanes Town” was mentioned in the minutes of the First Committee for Detecting Conspires. This hamlet is believed to be today’s Ketchamtown, and Ketchamtown Road. The Ketcham family has lived in the Dutchess County area since before the Revolutionary War. The hamlet of Ketchamtown is home to many homes from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Hughsonville tavern was located here as well.

Diddell hamlet was named after J.J. Diddell and was on several traders routes for caravans in the 1700s, by the 1800s there was a Maybrook train station here as well. Also the hamlet is home to several historic homes, the Dutchess County Rail Trail and the Van Dyme/Robinson Ln. Cemetery.

The deep water of the Hudson River near Chelsea was a great source of food for the Wappinger Indians and the early settlers of Wappinger. The hamlet of Chelsea, originally Low Point, and then Carthage Landing, was a hamlet of industry. The town’s first railroad station was located there. At the time the station’s name was Carthage Landing, and the name of the post office was Low Point. In the 1860s the Carthage Landing Mill was constructed then by 1870 it was turned in to the Carthage Cement Factory. By the late 1800s early 1900s the hamlet got the name Chelsea on the Hudson.

Once the town of Wappinger was officially erected from the town of Fishkill on May 20th 1875, it took another year to elect officials. The first meeting was held at the Brower Brother’s Wagon Shop in the village of Wappingers Falls. Wappinger, even though the youngest town, still played a crucial role in the history of Dutchess County.

Written and submitted by Joseph Cavacinni in 2013

A Volunteer in the Office of the Historian