NYGenWeb Putnam County, NY -- History
NYGenWeb logo

Putnam County, New York

History of Putnam County
Chapter XXVII
Town of Kent


This reservoir was surveyed and land for it purchased by the mayor and corporation of New York city, in 1866. The first purchase was a farm of 70 acres, which included the land where the dam is built and the land owned by the city of New York on the south of it. This farm was originally owned by Seth Robinson, who had a saw mill near where the dam now stands. This he sold to Jesse Cole, and he in turn sold it to Laban Barrett, in 1836, who sold it to the city of New York. At that time an old road ran across the valley from nearly opposite the present Baptist church to the road to Farmer's Mills, on the east side. On this road, near the west bounds of the reservoir, was the old church and close to it an ancient burying ground. On the low land near the river was, in ancient times, a settlement of Indians, and relics of the aborigines were often found. At this place the old militia trainings were held in the days of yore and frequently closed by fights, not of a strictly military character. Near the north end of the reservoir, upon a road now obliterated, stood, in the beginning of this century, a forge and small furnace for melting iron. This was owned by James Townsend, and he was the first man who used ore from the Tilly Foster Mine. Relics of the old forge may yet be seen at low water. Maps of the reservoir, showing all the land purchased, are now in the office of the county clerk. The reservoir covers 303 acres and its capacity is 2,750,000,000 gallons. The contract for building the dam was taken by Edward Roach, Joshua B. and Simon S. Jenkins for the sum of $201,002.80. The corner stone was laid July 2d, 1866. The contractors soon found that the price was far inadequate to the work to be done and failed to complete it. The dam was finally finished in February, 1873, and the reservoir was first full April 1st of that year. The elevation of this reservoir is 600 feet above tide water.

The old Philipstown Turnpike runs through this town. At the point on this road where it crosses the town line is the house of Isaiah Booth. The boundary, which is the original line between the Morris Lot No. 5 and the Robinson Lot No. 4, runs a few feet west of his house, a large chestnut tree standing on the line. On the north side of the road the line can be distinctly traced, and a short distance from the road is a large boulder, resting upon a rock. On the bank of a small stream, southeast from the house, is a tract of low land, bounded north by a high bank. On this tract was the last Indian village in the county, and it was occupied by them as late as 1812.


This place, which stands on a small stream, the outlet of White Pond, has been a mill seat from very early times, the first mill having been built, it is said, by one Burton in 1784, and was owned by Joseph Farrington at the beginning of the present century. Previous to 1822, the mill site and property were owned by Josiah Terry, but by a foreclosure mortgage it was sold to William Colwell, March 18th, 1822. He remained the owner until his death, and on March 23d, 1828, William Colwell, jr., James Cole, Adah Cole, Warren Townsend, Betsy Townsend, Perry G. Nichols and Phebe Nichols, heirs of William Colwell, sold to Walker Todd, "two pieces of land. The first beginning by a garden wall formerly owned by Aaron Hazen," and ran by the south side of the water course "to a small dam, commonly called the fulling mill dam, but now the turning shop dam, then south to the road, then with the road to the forge dam so called, then east to south edge and along the forge pond, to a stream that runs from White Pond, then east on the south bank of stream, to White Pond, then north across the stream, then west with the bank of stream to head of forge pond, then with the old road to the forge dam, then west with the stream, before the forge dam, to north end of turning shop dam, thence by stream to a stake in the line of land formerly Josiah Smith's, now Gildersleve's." The second piece was on the south side of the stream and the deed mentioned the "house of Harvey M. Dean," "Joseph Philip's Peach orchard," and "Smith Worden's land."

Another piece is described as "beginning at the north end of bridge near grist mill," and at that time Jarvis Washburn, Ray Smith, John Patrick and Reuben Barrett were mentioned as living in the place. Walker Todd sold the premises to Joseph Olmstead, April 28th, 1831, and he sold to John W. Brinkerhoff, of Fishkill, December 14th, 1833. In 1837, Brinkerhoff sold to Cornelius H. Cornwell 80 acres, on the north side of the mill stream "with a certain water power to extend to the foot or bottom of the water wheel, of the Mechanic shop," and to Joseph D. Worden "a lot with a blacksmith shop standing on it and opposite the brick house of James Wright, and bounded north by brook."

Previous to that time the place had borne the name of "Milltown." March 8th, 1838, Mr. Brinkerhoff sold to an association of the neighboring farmers, consisting of Daniel Kent, Samuel Townsend, Warren Townsend, Horace Townsend, Samuel A. Townsend and Robert Wixon, "a parcel of land having thereon a grain or flouring mill, dwelling house and other buildings" for $7,700. After this the place became generally known as the "Farmer's Mills," a name which it still retains. Among the various kinds of business carried on at the place was a tan yard, kept by Joseph and William Haight. The Philipstown Turnpike ran through the place, and before the days of railroads it was a business center for a great extent of country round. The Farmer's Mills Company finally dissolved and the property was divided. The store property was sold to Reuben R. Barrett, the present supervisor of Kent, and the mill, after passing through several hands, is now owned by Eli and Charles Mead. The building of the Harlem and the Hudson River Railroads took the business of this place in other directions, and Farmer's Mills at the present time presents the aspect of a "stranded village."

It is said that when the mills were bought by the Farmer's Company, an old resident, when he heard the news, inquired "What did they buy it for? " The reply was "For speculation." "They'll find it a —— poor speculation," was his remark, and it proved true in the end.

Horace Townsend had a store and a hotel here on the place now owned by Reuben Barrett. A brick yard was started about 1836, a bed of clay being near the creek. The Putnam County Bank was located in this place when first organized.

An important mill seat is situated about half a mile southeast of Ludingtonville and now owned by Daniel Merritt. A mill was built here about 1833, by John W. Brinkerhoff, who bought the stream and land from John Nowlen. He sold the mill to Nathan C. Baldwin, and it passed in succession into the hands of John Patrick and Sarles Drew. The latter sold it to Daniel Merritt, the present owner, about 1855. The premises consist of 65 acres besides the mill pond, and the grist and saw mills here do an extensive business.


Is pleasantly situated near the village of Farmer's Mills, in the town of Kent, Putnam county. As this is one of the oldest churches in the association, its early history, doubtless, will be read with curiosity and interest. However, much valuable information has been lost. All the records previous to 1795 can not be found.

The church appears to have been constituted in 1782. The organization was composed of members forming a branch of the Pawling and Beekman churches, and also some from the Carmel church. Elder John Lawrence, having the pastoral charge over the Pawling and Beekman church, was instrumental in establishing this church in Frederickstown. He frequently preached in this vicinity in private houses, and particularly in the upper part of the grist mill in Milltown (now Farmer's Mills), previous to the organization of the church, and became its first pastor. Elder Freeman Hopkins was his successor.

1 From a sketch by Jehial Parker.

Previous to 1795, we find Articles of Faith and Covenant signed by Elder Hopkins, Deacon Benjamin Knapp, and one hundred and sixty members, which, at this early day, testifies to their success in the ministry. In the latter part of 1795 there appears to have been a gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Elder Truesdal came among them, and preached the gospel with such demonstration and power that many souls were convicted of sin and added to the church. Brother Jonathan Sturdevant also preached among them with so much success that his ordination was unanimously called for. He became pastor and labored until April 3d, 1802, with much success; then the church, failing to raise the money promised him, voted to discharge him from the pastorship, giving him an opportunity to labor in another field. He still continued to preach some part of the time until November 7th, 1807, a period of twelve years.

For twenty years after its organization the church had no meeting house. Meetings were generally held at Bro. Joseph Farrington's in Farmer's Mills, sometimes at Israel Knapp's, Benjamin Hutchings, Samuel Hawkins, and in other neighborhoods. By courtesy, Sabbath meetings were held once a month in the Carmel Baptist meeting house during the years 1798 and 1799.

In 1799 the church laid aside the written covenant, and took the Bible as a guide in discipline and travail.

In 1800, the church built a house of worship upon the ground occupied by the present building. For eight years the church worshipped in this building, having no walls. Then it was furnished, by each member paying his equal proportion according to his ability. In 1800 Simeon Barrett was licensed to improve his gift in the ministry. He preached one-fourth of the time until 1805, when he was ordained. He still continued to preach a part of the time, and in 1807 took the oversight of the church. He continued his labors with them until 1830, having the care of the church twenty-three years. Deacon William Knapp was licensed in 1800. He preached one-fourth of the time, until August, 1816. In 1804 they licensed Bro. Luman Burch to preach the gospel. He preached one-fourth of the time in connection with Elders Sturdevant and Barrett, and Deacon Knapp, for several years, when he began his labors with the church at Stamford, Dutchess county. Bro. Nathaniel Parker, after having served as deacon several years on trial, was ordained in December, 1806, by the assistance of the Carmel and North Salem churches. He faithfully filled the office for fourteen years. Bro. Moseman Barrett received license to preach in 1815. He preached about one-half the time at this church as licentiate, until June, 1818, when he was ordained. Although he was never considered as pastor of this church, still he continued to preach nearly one-half the time, until 1844, in connection with Elder Robinson.

In 1818 Elder Barrett and several other members of this church accepted an invitation from the Peekskill Hollow church, and united with them in order to build up the cause of Christ in that place. Elder Barrett took the oversight and continued his labors with them until his death.

November 3d, 1819, Bro. John Patrick, jr., after having served as deacon two years on trial, was ordained and set apart to that office by a council called for that purpose. He filled that office faithfully until February 2d, 1822, when he united with the Second Baptist Church in Fishkill, as deacon, and officiated until his death. In the same year Bro. Nathaniel Robinson related his call to the ministry, and the following year received license to improve his gift. He preached onefourth of the time at this church, and the rest of the time in different places, until October 21st, 1824, when he was ordained upon application of the Second Baptist Church in Fishkill. He still continued to preach one-fourth of the time until 1832, when he became sole pastor of the church. In 1865, feeling too feeble to be of service to the church, he advised them to call another preacher to fill the desk. Acting upon this advice, the church called Bro. Samuel Sprague, after giving him license to preach, to fill the desk and break unto us the bread of life. Brother Sprague performed the duties of pastor until August 17th, 1867, when the church unanimously called upon Brother Robinson to resume his pastorship. His first pastorate covered a period of thirty-four years.

In 1820 Bro. James C. Barrett and Bro. James Mead were licensed to go out and improve their gifts in the ministry. In 1821 this church was first called the Kent and Fishkill Baptist Church. November 4th, 1826, Bro. James Scut was appointed deacon. In 1832 the church licensed Bro. George Horton to preach. In 1837 the church voted to raise $60 as a salary for Elder Robinson, who preached one-half the time. This is the first salary mentioned on record. September 16th, 1840, the present house of worship was dedicated.

In 1848 the church gave Bro. Judson Dykeman license to preach the word. June 4th, 1845, he was ordained, by request of the First Baptist Church in Pawling. He became pastor of that church and still fills that office with acceptance. He also labored with this church nearly one half of the time, in connection with Elder Robinson. In 1857, Elder Robinson becoming too feeble to administer the ordinance of Baptism, Elder Dykeman administered the ordinance, and also assisted at the communion table.

April 20th, 1844, Bro. Peter Robinson united with this church by letter, as deacon, and faithfully filled that office till death, being highly esteemed by the church and society.

January 28th, 1860, Bro. Addison Kelley received license to preach. By the request of the Second Kent Church, he was ordained and installed pastor of that church on the 26th of October, 1861. About the same time the church met with a heavy loss in the death of Deacon Patrick.

February 15th, 1862, Bro. Nathaniel R. Shaw and Bro. Joseph P. Russell were elected deacons by vote of the church.

Rev. Nathaniel Robinson, after a long life of active labor, departed to his rest August 20th, 3869, at the age of 81. A neat monument near the church marks his resting place, and near him rest the mortal remains of his father, Peter Robinson (so long identified with this church), who died May 21st, 1849, aged 88 years, 2 months, 13 days, and also his mother, Phebe Robinson, who died in May, 1834, aged 70,

Rev. Judson Dykeman died October 11th, 1875, aged. 70.

The pastors since Elder Robinson have been Rev. James C. Smalley (who resigned in 1877), Frederick Kratz, Daniel W. Sherwood and Daniel Sprague.

The first Sunday school was organized in the spring of 1857. It was a flourishing school, being under the superintendence of Bro. Silas Russell. Since then a Sabbath school has been maintained every summer. Preaching has always been sustained by voluntary subscriptions, with the exception of eight years previous to Elder Robinson's pastorate, when the sacred rite was entirely unobserved. This church has never failed to come to the communion table at least four times a year.

The church at Farmer's Mills was dedicated September 16th, 1840. The old church was built about 1800.

In 1866, a small number of members seceded from the church and formed a new organization called the "Central Baptist Church of Kent." On Sept. 22d, 1866, they purchased from. Samuel T. Barrett "all that certain store house known as the Wm. Taylor store," with the land on which it stood. This store stood on the south side of the turnpike, and on the east side of a road running south. The trustees of the church were Jacob Wright, Sarles Barrett, and William Wright. The new church existed for a few years and dissolved. The building has since been destroyed. The church was dedicated February 26th, 1867. The first pastor was Rev. C. J. Ganong, who also preached at Ludingtonville. Rev. William James was there in 1873.

Dates from burying ground by Baptist church at Farmer's Mills:

Pamelia, wife of John Sprague, died 1804, age 37;
Andrew Robinson, March 31st, 1843, 76;
Jemima, wife, June 3d, 1803, 35;
Elisha Robinson, Feb. 22d, 1860, 62;
Andrew Robinson, Sept. 17th, 1866, 63;
Seth Kelly, June 11th, 1848, 80;
Esther, wife, March 14th, 1852, 86;
Joseph Lee, May 3d, 1846, 72;
Abigail, wife, Dec. 10th, 1855, 80;
John H. Spencer, May 4th, 1877, 40;
Rev. Judson Dykeman, Oct. 11th, 1875, 70;
Corinda, wife, Oct. 19th, 1872, 73;
Rev. Nathaniel Robinson, Aug. 20th, 1869, 81;
Ada, wife, Oct. 9th, 1883, 93;
Elijah Wixon, May 2d, 1862, 71;
Joseph Wright, Sept. 24th, 1870, 64;
Isaac Wixon, March 26th, 1853, 66;
Zechariah Smalley, Jan. 14th, 1851, 85;
Priscilla, wife, Jan. 14th, 1836, 92.

About half a mile southeast from the church, is a burying ground laid out in later years. Among the old residents buried here are the following:

Samuel Hawkins, died July 17th, 1834, age 74;
Abigail, wife, Feb. 14th, 1834, 72;
Squire Mead, 2d, 1860, 81;
Polly, wife, Oct. 30th, 1837, 51;
Robert Russ Feb. 3d, 1858. 69;
Mary, wife, Aug. 11th, 1848, 49;
Robert Thompson, Sept. 17th, 1842, 67;
William Russell, Feb. 7th, 1846, 67;
Amy, wife, June 27th, 1844, 44;
Joseph Phillips, April 10th, 1812, 50;
John Phillips, Oct. 13th, 1826, 38;
Agustus W. Haselton, Feb. 25th, 1839, 50;
Jacob Barrett, May 15th, 1881, 74.

Other Localities

Adjoining the west line of Philipse Patent, Lot No. 6, and in the northern part of the town, is the farm of Coleman Robinson, formerly supervisor of Kent. This farm originally belonged to Jesse Barrett, and was given by him to his son, Moseman Barrett, who was for many years an active elder of the Baptist Church. A stone wall three rods west of Mr. Robinson's house is the original line between the Philipse and Morris Lots, and this line of fence continues unbroken to the north corner of the lots, on the line of survey of 1754. This corner is some distance north of what is called the county line, and is on the top of a high hill. A more perfect description of this line will be found in the sketch of Carmel.

Near the southeast corner of the town, at the head of the "Mudroad" at the place where it is crossed by the roads leading to Ludingtonville and to Southeast, was a large farm of 500 acres which, on Aug. 2d, 1766, was leased to Samuel Peters. This farm was sold by Samuel Gouverneur and wife to Edward Smith, June 2d, 1824. This place was the residence of Judge Smith till his death, and was one of the business headquarters of the town. The tract was bounded east by Mill River and north by James Baldwin's land. After Judge Smith's death it was sold to Harry Kent, and subsequently to its present owner, Albert E. Nichols.

North of this, on the Horse Pound road, was the former residence of Hon. John Jewett, the first clerk of Putnam county. He was born in Pawling and came to Kent in 1795. He was a magistrate for many years and member of the Legislature in 1802, also associate judge and commissioner to locate the county buildings. In 1818 he moved to Tioga county, where he died, April 17th, 1849, aged 93. He was a soldier in the Revolution.

The east line of the town is the same as the east line of Lot No. 6 of Philipse Patent. This line is a few rods east of the house of Lewis G. Robinson. About 80 rods south of this house on the same line, is the corner of the short Lots 7 and 8, which is more perfectly described in the town of Patterson. To the north of Mr. Robinson's place the line runs up over the top of a very high mountain. This line, continued, strikes the rail-road station at Reynoldsville, on the N. Y. & N. E. Railroad. This is about 50 rods north of what is considered the county line and is in the town of Pawling. Directly at the station is a small brook, which crosses the line, the highway and the railroad almost at the same point. This, in the survey of 1754, was called "Campbell's Brook," from John Campbell, who had a house on the west side of it. The original northeast corner of Lot No. 6 is 35 chains north of the place where the line crosses the brook. This corner is the northeast corner of the land of James Holmes and the northwest corner of a tract belonging to Silas Abbott, which is described in the sketch of the town of Patterson. For some distance above the station the line runs along a road, but leaves it as the highway turns to the west.

The farm of Mr. Lewis G. Robinson originally belonged to Capt. Joseph Dykeman, a brave officer in the Revolution, and the ancestor of the family of that name, so numerous in this county.

In the south part of the town are located the County Alms House and Farm, a more extended notice of which will be found in another chapter. On the road from Carmel to the County Farm is the residence of William D. Northrup. This homestead is noted as the birthplace of Daniel Drew2. The farm was the home of his father, Gilbert Drew, for many years. After his death it was owned for a time by Gen. James Townsend, and then passed to the father of the present owner. The old house where the boyhood of Daniel Drew was passed was torn down to make room for the present residence.

2 Daniel Drew originated the term "water stock." He was a drover in early life, and one day when a party desired to sell him some inflated stock, said: "That stock makes me think of old farmer Brooks up in 'Put,' who used to salt and water his stock to make his cattle weigh heavy when he sold them!" The broker told the story in the street and it became an adage.

Source: pages 681 through 690.

Return to the Table of Contents for Chapter XXVII .

Return to the Table of Contents for the History of Putnam County .

Return to the main Putnam County page.

Return to NYGenWeb web site.

© 1998-2004  Cathy Horn. All Rights Reserved.

NYGenWeb's Putnam County — https://sites.rootsweb.com/~nyputnam/