Luncheon Presentation by David Baker

From the Newsletter

Luncheon Presentation by David Baker at CFA Annual Meeting August 4, 2001

Welcome to Kingston. I had hoped at this time I would say “Welcome to Hurley” because we were supposed to eat at the Hurley Mountain Inn; however Mr. Niccos discovered that contractors, like everyone else, take their own sweet time. They were supposed to be finished last Saturday, but you couldn’t have lunched there today.

I’m going to give you a little general discussion about Hurley and life back in the 1600’s and 1700’s; then we’re going to Hurley. We’ll meet at the church and then we will go from the church up Main St and I will identify houses that are associated with the Crispell family. If I don’t walk too far, those of you who want to, can park at the bank on left hand side of the church (going into Hurley). First go to the church so you can hear about that end of town. Then get in your cars and go back up to the bank and park in the bank parking lot, directly opposite the burial ground and another Crispell house. From there you can easily make the trip back into the burial ground and back out again. Those of us who are adventuresome will take one more trip further up the street to see more houses which are associated with the Crispell family.

I have here for you a publication of old gravestones in the old Hurley cemetery and the new Hurley cemetery. It lists all the Crispells buried, up to about 1850, that were living in the town of Hurley. When we get in Hurley, don’t start the trip. I have two more handouts for you.

Whatever you learned about colonial history, and this goes for the younger generation we have here, do not apply it to Hurley. Hurley was not a time in the 1600’s or 1700’s when women stood at the spinning wheel and spun the garments, and where they used cattle horn cups and wooden bowls; trenchers, they were called. Hurley, in 1662, the year it was settled, was Levittown USA at that time. It was a modern village. What is not clearly understood by most people, is that the Dutch had a tremendous infrastructure of which Hurley was a part.

All the grain grown at Hurley was ground in the mill at Hurley, barreled, sealed, put on board wagons, and driven to Albany in the fall, during the month of November. At that time the farmers from Hurley and all around would go out and dicker with the merchants of Albany to get the best price for their grain. They were then paid in gilders, no barter, gilders. Of course, Mom went along because while Dad was busy doing his thing, Mom did her thing. She would buy newly imported clothes from Holland and that new stuff called “Japan Plate” and those new crystal goblets with the thin stems. And they had Madeira wine.

Am I talking about Colonial 1600’s? They lived in a one-room house, but that was for tax purposes. A Dutchman was a Dutchman. He could stand a one room house, but he lived very well at his table.

Corn was grown in Hurley. We fed that to the cattle; the horses and we drank it. Whiskey! Just north of Jan’s house was the town distillery. I don’t think Jan ran it; he might have but I have no record of it. The distillery was there and we had a farmer of distilled drinks. A farmer ? Yes, a person who regulated the distribution of alcoholic beverages. His name was Blanchan. He was Antoine Crispell’s father-in-law, Mattys Blanchan.

So as you can see, the family was well placed. And don’t get the idea that Maria, Antoine’s daughter, was standing, doing all the labor-intensive stuff.

We grew grain. In Hurley several grains were grown, wheat, barley, and rye. We also grew hops. They were grown on the other side, not in the farm yard. Some of the lots you’re going see are tremendous in size. If you read Antoine’s will, you’ll discover that he had a 16 acre lot. That was not his farm. That was out in the valley. He had about 100 acres of farm land out there. This 16 acres was just his (Jan’s) personal orchard and pasture land right next to the house. Most home lots are 3-4 acres. Just for the house. But it contained a lot of stuff. They were eating very well.

They did not treat newcomers or strangers very well at all. We have accounts of a favorite dish to give a guest whom they didn’t know, was parched corn and you could also feed them raccoon. Or, if you really didn’t like them, it was woodchuck. Woodchuck has a taste, if you don’t prepare it right, that will keep you from ever coming back and eating woodchuck again.
We did speak Dutch. Yes, we did. Antoine spoke French; his will is in Dutch. He was bilingual. All the records were kept in Dutch. Jan, Johannes, and Anthony all spoke Dutch. That was the business language of the time. It was the business language up through the Revolutionary War. You spoke Dutch because the English controlled the place.

The “Dumb Dutchmen” would stand out on the street and conduct business, that’s what the English called us, because they couldn’t understand what we were talking about. The English didn’t know we were foreclosing on their mortgages. It was always maintained as the language. The schools were bilingual. We had classes in English, at the local school level, and we also had classes in formal Dutch, direct from Holland. We spoke ‘Amsterdam Dutch’ at the time of the Revolutionary War. Bilingualism was there. I have records of people who were writing letters in English and doing it in the perfect manner, as if they were Englishmen, and then turning around and writing letters concerning business ventures in Dutch. It’s obvious that they knew the ‘Holland Dutch’ just as well.

So we are not talking of the ‘colonial period’ in Hurley as a typical “puritan” way of life. We lived “high off the hog” and traveled up and down the Hudson. We had relatives who went as far away as Raritan NJ. Why did they go down there? Because it was no big deal to get on board a boat. Claus DeWitt made boats in Kingston and you walked down to the East Kingston Slip and took sail. That was the express route at the time. Whenever you wanted to go any place fast, it was by boat. If you just wanted to get there, you went by wagon. Actually, we were not connected by wagon to NYC. We were connected to Albany. The grains that were grown in the Esopus valley had us named as the major grainery of the New England area, prior to, and during the Revolutionary war. The Crispell’s who were Jan’s family, and Johannes’s, were still farmers at that time. The grain that you grew was shipped to Albany, and then instead of shipping it to England as we were supposed to, down through the port of NY, where we had to pay taxes on it, we shipped it overland into Hartford CT and Boston MA; and those dumb Englishmen over there, ate our grain at expanded prices. We charged them English pounds for it. We wouldn’t take anything but English pounds. So our pockets jingled all the time. The English are the ones who called us “Dumb Dutch”; the English are the ones who turned around and said “Dutch Treat”. We hated the English. No two ways about it.

In 1669, Antoine was luckily in the wrong place. He was not in Kingston. He was in Hurley; why, I don’t know. He did not take part in the last Kingston uprising against the English. It was a mutiny, as they called it. Some of our Hurleyites got excommunicated from the world, in a sense, which was a joke. They only went about a half mile to be outside the village.
We disliked the English, because in 1664 when the English took over, they imposed military law on the entire colony of New Netherlands, which meant every third house had to have an English soldier living in it. That English soldier was between the ages of 14 and 21. What do you think about that, when your daughter is 16 years old? One thing nice about it, was that he couldn’t speak Dutch. You could speak English and Dutch. There was turmoil for a period of five years. In that period, many people ran into trouble with the English soldiers. Antoine was not one of them as far as the records are concerned, but there was a great deal of difficulty with them. So Governor Lovelace, who named Hurley after his manorial estate outside of London, England, established them in a place called Marbletown, which was as far away in the woods as you can get. That’s the next town down. Marbletown was all English.

To show you how much we hated them, we had the mill, but would not build a road to Marbletown from the mill. They had to come all the way around to bring in their grain to be ground, and if I know the guys who ran the mill, they ran that grain last. They had to take it all the way around to take it back home. We politically fought with the people of Marbletown for 100 years. At one point in time, in 1708, we annexed about a third of Marbletown. This didn’t make them happy either.
(David Baker, spoken in a manner to end his remarks)
“There are some lies in life”. The doctor who tells you you’re going to get a shot, and it won’t hurt”; the person who says “the check is in the mail”, and the historian who says, “I have a few short words.”

“Is there anything you’d like to know about Hurley, back in the time of the Crispell’s?”

ROGER: I’ve never learned how they got from New Amsterdam to Kingston. Was it by boat?
DAVID: Yes, they came on a boat. That’s a very involved answer. Why to Kingston is another matter. Peter Stuyvesant was the Governor General and he had absolute control over where you settled in New Netherlands. So you had to arrive into New Amsterdam. At that time, he apparently checked you out. What can you do? What can you not do? And it turned out that Mattys Blanchan (Mattys, no H-there are no H’s in these names yet) Mattys Blanchan was apparently a person who ran lumber mills and could do things along this line which were needed in Kingston. Mattys had his entire family with him, including his extended family, Louis DuBois, his son-in-law, Antoine Crispell, his other son-in-law, his wife, and a couple of other younger children. All of them came as ‘one package’ into Kingston. The first thing Mattys did, was set up a lumber mill and saw pit. Then he set up a distillery for them. He was needed. We needed to turn that corn into something we could eat (or drink).
There was a lot of river travel in small sloops. It didn’t cost very much to make the trip.

ROGER: Were all the Patentees early Hurley residents?
DAVID: They weren’t all Hurley residents. Hurley was the site where the New Paltz patent with the Indians was signed. By the way, it was not a “steal”. They paid (traded) the equivalent of a lot of money for that. I figure it probably took about two years to get everything together for Louis (BeVier) to make that purchase. He was the main signatory, but the others contributed.

We (Hurley) were the road to New Paltz. I will show you where the road is. You did not go to New Paltz from Kingston like you do today on Route 32. That road was built in 1715. The road in 1700 came into Hurley, went out Main St, then went south.
Some of them did live in Hurley, but most of them lived in Kingston. They used Hurley as a “jumping off” point. I understand that you are very loyal to New Paltz and I don’t mean to say anything negative.

There are some old non-historic “histories” which state that the women went with the men to New Paltz. Now, New Paltz is only 6?? miles from Hurley. You have a good road to get there, a wagon road. There were living accommodations in Hurley which were modern, up-to-date. I don’t think I should ask your wife this, but if your husband said he was going to go build a house for you six miles away in New Paltz, with Indians there, and you’ll have to cook over a dirty fire, and live in a ramshackle lean-to, where you’re standing there looking at him from your new Dutch home in Hurley, would you tell him what you think?
Because women haven’t changed, you might not want to say it, but I think you’d say, “Hon, I’ll see you Friday. Right? Give me a progress report. I’m going to keep the kids here and when you get the house finished, we’ll move in.” Now that’s basically what it was. I haven’t found any women associated with families, the Freers, nor anyone else, that had to go. The Freers were building a house in Rosendale. They had to use the Hurley Road anyway. Building a house a few miles away? Forget it. They aren’t going to go out there and leave the home fires. We’ll stay right here while Dad is away building a house.

By the way, New Paltz is the site of an archeological dig from SUNY New Paltz. Joe Diamond is in charge of the dig; he’s a Hurleyite. I told you we were good people. They’re doing a lot of work. I think they found an old foundation. Last year we came across part of a building foundation which may be the foundation of the original fort. That requires more work. Keep tabs on New Paltz, because a lot of exciting work is now underground. It’s been going on for four or five years now. I do keep track of what’s going on there because it’s very interesting.

The digs are right by the old stone fort. The Bevier house. They’re usually covered over at this time. You can probably only tell they’re there because of a brown patch in the ground. There seems to have been an Indian religious site there because they’re finding all kinds of Native American artifacts in an area around there. That’s very interesting from the point of view of Native American studies.

There are no houses open here in Hurley. I would suggest if you have time that you stop off at the Museum. The Museum has one room set up as an early colonial room, which will give you some idea of what life was like.

Question about “Skull & Crossbone” stone in cemetery (Carleton & Lydia Crispell)

That’s Gitty Pawling. It’s not a curse. It is the wife of a Pawling. She died very young, in her 30’s, with children. Her husband was absolutely devastated. You can tell by the tombstone. She was a Newkirk and the Newkirk family said you could not, did not buy English tombstones. That’s a carved local tombstone with a skull & cross-bone which is an English sign of ultimate death. It’s Wordsworth, “And now my friend as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you too shall be, Prepare my friend to follow me.”