Dutchess/Putnam AT Cultural Assessment

Revolutionary War

Hempstead Huts

Hemstead Huts on AT

In the western part of the town, on the farm of Mr. John B. Gillett, are the remains of an encampment of troops in Revolutionary times. Two companies from Hempstead, Long Island, with a detachment of troops of the Massachusetts line, were encamped here in the winters of 1779-80, and the quarters which they built were called the "Hempstead Huts." Relics of the stone chimmeys [sic] and fire places may yet be seen, though of course the huts themselves have long since disappeared. Late in the fall of 1779, Washington established a line of military posts from West Point through this county and northern Westchester to Redding Connecticut. The object being to guard against attempts by Sir Henry Clinton to pass through the Highlands, General Putnam was stationed at Redding, with some three or four thousand men. He had under his command Gen. Poor's Hampshire Brigade, two brigades of Connecticut troops, a corps of infantry under Colonel Hazen, and a corps of cavalry under Colonel Sheldon. The first post was at the house where Capt. Samuel Jeffords lived, after his retirement from the army, a short distance north of Continental Village. This was called New Boston by the Massachusetts officers. The second post was the Hempstead Huts we have mentioned.

History of Putnam County, New York, William S. Pelletreau, 1886, reprinted by Landmarks Preservation Committee of Southeast Museum, Brewster, NY, 1975. Page 729-30.

The stone foundations of the huts are still evident.

Inoculation Station

The New Hampshire line at Canopus Hollow, in number about 600-500 are just inoculated.

History of Putnam County, New York, William S. Pelletreau, 1886, reprinted by Landmarks Preservation Committee of Southeast Museum, Brewster, NY, 1975. Page 555.

I was soon after this transaction ordered off, in company with about four hundred others of the Connecticut forces, to a set of old barracks, a mile or two distant in the Highlands, to be inoculated with the smallpox. We arrived at and cleaned out the barracks, and after two or three days received the infection, which was on the last day of May. We had a guard of Massachusetts troops to attend us. Our hospital stores were deposited in a farmer's barn in the vicinity of our quarters.5

5 When a smallpox epidemic threatened his army in the winter of 1776, Washington, realizing "we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy," determined that all troops should be inoculated. Inoculation usually induced typical smallpox and was often greatly feared. Patients were quarantined under guard in inoculation hospitals to prevent their going abroad before  being medically discharged and spreading the disease. To conceal from the enemy the weakening of his army by mass inoculation, Washington cautioned his physician in chief to keep "the matter as secret as possible."

One day, about noon, the farmer's house took fire and was totally consumed, with every article of household stuff it contained, although there were five hundred men within fifty rods of it, and many of them within five, when the fire was discovered, which was not till the roof had fallen in. Our officers would not let any of the inoculated men go near the fire, and the guard had enough to do to save the barn, the fire frequently catching in the yard and on the roof, which was covered with thatch or straw. I was so near to the house, however, that I saw a cat come out from the cellar window, after the house had apparently fallen into the cellar. She was all in flames when she emerged from her premises and directed her course for the barn, but her nimble gait had so fanned her carcass before she reached the place of her destination that she caused no damage at all.

I had the smallpox favorably as did the rest, generally. We lost none, but it was more by good luck, or rather a kind Providence interfering, than by my good conduct that I escaped with life. There was a considerable large rivulet which ran directly in front of the barracks; in this rivulet were many deep places and plenty of a species of fish called suckers. One of my roommates, with myself, went off one day, the very day on which the pock began to turn upon me. We went up the brook until we were out of 
sight of the people at the barracks, when we undressed ourselves and went into the water, where it was often to our shoulders, to catch suckers by means of a fishhook fastened to the end of a rod. We continued at this business three or four hours, and when we came out of the water the pustules of the smallpox were well cleansed. We then returned to the barracks, and I, feeling a pretty sharp appetite after my expedition, went to the side of the brook where the nurses had been cooking and eating their dinners. I found a kettle standing there half full of stewed peas, and, if I remember rightly, a small piece of pork with them. I knew the kettle belonged to the nurses in our room, and therefore conceived myself the better entitled to its contents; accordingly I fell to and helped myself. I believe I should have killed myself in good earnest, had not the owners come and caught me at it, and broke up my feast. It had like to have done the job for me as it was. I had a sorry night of it, and had I not got rid of my freight, I know not what would have been the final consequences of my indiscretion.

I left the hospital on the sixteenth day after I was inoculated, and soon after joined the regiment, when I was attacked with a severe turn of the dysentery, and immediately after recovering from that, I broke out all over with boils.  ...

Private Yankee Doodle, Joseph Plumb Martin, Edited by George F. Scheer, Little, Brown and Company, 1962, pages 65-67.

The foundations of both the barn and the house are still evident, one on each side of the trail.

Mile Markers

The Old Albany Post Road is the second road crossing north of Graymoor. This road was built in 17xx. There are mileage marks for miles to NYC along it in the vicinity of the trail, the nearest one, mile 55, about 100 yards north of the trail. Mile 54 and 53 are to the south.

Iron Mines

MINES IN PUTNAM VALLEY.-The wild and rugged mountains of this town, though unfavorable to the agriculturalist, contain mineral wealth which has not yet been fully developed. The first attempt to explore for minerals was made in 1756, and in that year Col. Beverly Robinson granted permission to Jacobus Ter Boss and John Burnett " to dig and search for mines and ore for 21 years." The terms of this grant were, that they should pay "for the first year two fowls;" for the next ten, they were to give " one quarter of the ore;" and for the next ten years "one third of the ore, the same to be delivered at the river." From that time to the present, the iron mines of this town have been worked to a greater or less extent. In Peekskill Hollow, a mile or two above Tompkins' Corners, is a bed of Limonite or Hematite iron, and more than fifty years ago the mine was opened and considerable ore taken out, by one Nathaniel Bradley, of Connecticut, who purchased a large amount. of mineral property in the Highlands. The work was soon abandoned, as the ore contained too much silica to work well in the furnace. A vein of magnetic iron ore runs through the northern part of the town, and was known as the Philipse vein, as it ran through land which was purchased by Frederick Philipse, in the early part of the present century. This vein has been traced for a distance of eight miles, and is believed to be continuous, except where interrupted by dykes and transverse heaves of the strata. Many mines have been opened on this vein. The Cold Spring Turnpike crosses it, near the crest of the mountain, about the middle of the north line of this town. A large tract of 1,000 acres, in this vicinity, was owned about the year 1800, by Col. Alexander Stewart, and a mine was opened there, and a large quantity of excellent ore taken out. The land afterward passed into the possession of James Agustus Hamilton. A large tract in this neighborhood is low, and presents the appearance of having sunk down, and the mine here is known as the Sunk Mine. Here a forge was erected and dams built on the stream, and quite a business was carried on. The tract was afterward sold to Paul Forbes, who built the narrow gauge railroad from the Sunk Mine to a point on the Philipstown Turnpike. On the south side of the turnpike are to be seen the openings of mines, which were started long years ago. In 1828, Silas Slawson sold to the West Point Foundry Association, a tract of land, 84 chains long and 26 chains wide, "being the same tract sold by Daniel Graham, Surveyor General, to John Armstrong May 5th, 1786." Mines were opened on this tract. and much ore taken out. A mile or two southwest of this is the Denny Mine. A tract of 207 acres was sold by the commissioners of forfeitures, to Richard Denny, after the Revolution. He conveyed it to his son, Thomas Denny, in July, 1817, and he in turn sold it to Peter Denny in 1844. Peter Denny transferred it to his son, William J. Denny in 1851, and his children sold it to George H Potts October 1st, 1874. The Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company now own it. The mine was opened more than forty years ago, and thousands of tons of excellent ore were taken from it. Ironworks were started at an early day, and as early as 1810 Elijah Bunnell had a forge and trip hammer on Canopus Creek, and one Pratt had a trip hammer, turning lathe and whip saw works, on Peekskill Creek, where the road over Bryant Hill crosses it, and where the blacksmith shop of Robert Hamilton now is. When the Philipstown Turnpike was built, it is said that a deposit of plumbago was discovered by Dr. Parks, the contractor " near the old saw mill, one mile east of Mekeel's Corners." It was announced at one time that red anthracite coal had been discovered in the Canopus Valley, but it is needless to say that it was nothing of the kind.

History of Putnam County, New York, William S. Pelletreau, 1886, reprinted by Landmarks Preservation Committee of Southeast Museum, Brewster, NY, 1975. Page 728-29.

  • The Manitou Copper Mine was opened about 1767 by Peter Hasenclever (see Ringwood Manor State Park in New Jersey). The iron mining operation was not successful because the ore was too sulfurous. The extensive dumps of the old mine are found on the east end of the ridge of Anthony's Nose. The mine was worked for a number of years as a sulfur mine.
  • Bob's Rock Shop Anthony's Nose, New York A Review of Three Mineral Localities

Camp Smith