Pre-Civil War Maritime Adventure

Dutchess County Free Black Communities:Opportunities & Risks of Maritime Adventure Before the Civil War We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Dutchess County Government in its sponsorship of this program and our Virtual Event Space for Black History Month, 2024. This program is different from our regular programs in that it is more of a sampler of emerging findings that relate to maritime activities of the pre-Civil War free Black community of Dutchess County. Books like Blackjacks and Sailing Toward Freedom have been opening up interest and dialogue in the maritime Underground Railroad and broader maritime life and work of the Black community in America’s first century. With a view to encouraging and inviting others to join in the work of “discovery” DCHS offers this sampler of emerging stories. ~ Bill Jeffway, February, 2024. One hour video documentary program: A few program highlights: We examine the dual water and inland routes, and dynamic of maritime opportunities and risks Expanding our understanding of the free Black community of Baxtertown Verbatim script:Downloadable pdf. Family histories written by descendants: Other topics related to local Black history Silent Sentinels of Local Rhinebeck History Black History DCHS Yearbook Encore Edition
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DCHS Publications

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American Indian Heritage

Recognizing American Indian Heritage Month By Bill Jeffway A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2023 Northern/Southern Dutchess News / Beacon Free Press. While not in a position to explain the full history of local Indigenous Peoples (see recommendations at the end of this article for that), as a way to recognize American Indian Heritage Month, we will introduce you to some of the Indigenous Peoples who lived here locally in the nineteenth century. We are cautioned in the 2010 book, “Firsting & Lasting, Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England” by Jean M. O’Brien, that the myth of the disappearance of the American Indian and the claim of Europeans to be the “first” to do things, like discover the Hudson, are based on an erasure of fact-based historical record. This began with James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 book, The Last of the Mohicans, and remains a popular storyline, although not accurate. This provides short profiles of Indigenous People’s encountered in the documentation of our local history. Daniel Nimham Daniel Nimham (ca. 1724–1778) remains the most prominent American Indian associated with New York’s Hudson Valley and the American Revolutionary War. In addition to military service, he argued in courts for the return of land fraudulently taken by the Philipse family, part of Westchester County today. He traveled to England to argue his case to British authorities but was not successful. He died in service to the United States August 31, 1778 and is memorialized in the Town of Fishkill (see image). “Thick set Indian boy” We don’t know his name, but in DCHS Collections there is a copy of the New-York Journal of November 22, 1779, “Run away, on Saturday the 13th in Dover.. a thick set Indian boy with long black hair, about 13 years of age.” James Morehouse of Dover offered fifty dollars reward. The boy could have been enlsaved or indentured. Hannah Coshire In Frank Hasbrouck’s 1909 history of Dutchess County, he describes Hannah Coshire as the daughter of Jonah and Lydia Coshire and sister of Steve Choshire, owning a small piece of rocky land in the town of LaGrange. Hannah Coshire ied October 18, 1877 and is buried with her family in Moore’s Mills. In the 1860s and 1870s she was living with the Skidmore family as a servant in LaGrange. She was portrayed as the “last of her race” in her obituary. Henry Catskill Again in Hasbrouck’s history, Henry Catskill is described as being of the Wappinger who married and settled with local Blacks in the Fishkill hamlet of Baxtertown. Hasbrouck describes him by saying he was entirely Native in appearance, “a well-built, handsome man, with straight hair.” Susan May In Isaac Huntting’s 1897 history of Pine Plains he describes the May family as “pure Mohican Shekomeko.” From DCHS Collections we have the marriage record of Susan May to Andrew Frazier, Jr., son of a mixed-race African and European heritage. Prince Manessah or Minisee Again we rely on Huntting who explains that Manessah sometimes Minisee is an “Indian name.” “Prince Quack Minisee” is enshrined in a 1935 New York State historical marker saying he was an Indian medicine man. Research shows he may have been Black, in part or in whole, the name Quacko a relatively common name from Africa meaning “born on Wednesday.” He went on to Michigan with his sons in the late 19th century, and there the family became a widely-known and highly regarded frontier farming Black family, the Minisee family with descendants we’ve contacted and spoken to recently. “Louisa” Given her age and Florida birth, It seems very likely that Louisa was brought back from her native Florida by Nathan Darling of Rhinebeck. She shows up as sixteen years old and living in the Darling household as a servant. Darling was a Captain in the 2nd Dragoons during the Seminole Indian wars in the 1820s and 1830s.. He appears to have returned from Florida with a teenage Louisa who went on to marry a Black man, son of former slaves, and lived on Rhinebeck’s Oak Street. John Wannuaucon Quinney From DCHS Collections we have the hotel book register of the Poughkeepsie hotel and find that the John Quinney (1797-1855) who registered as a visitor there was none other than the most notable of Mohican leaders of the 19th century. He is registered as from Wisconsin which is where his people were “relocated to” from the area of the Hudson Valley. His visit may relate to the fact that then US Senator Nathaniel P. Tallmadge was from Poughkeepsie, as Tallmadge’s
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AfAm Burials Rhinebeck

Below: The story of Andrew Frazier, the ancestor. The only Black family with a large plot. Adjacent to and facing, but not technically within, “Colored Section E.” Below: Images and profiles.
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Guide to the Study of Local Black History

Starting Places People Places Things Words from the past Newer Perspectives Other Starting Points The Walter M. Patrice Collection focuses largely on the history of the Smith AME Zion Church in Poughkeepsie, which through Mr. Patrice’s efforts was listed on the national historic register. Although unable to part with the photo album, Mr. Patrice allowed DCHS to take photographs and use the images from his mother’s family’s photo album. In most cases, his mother was not able to identify specific individuals (aside from her father, Jasper Jackson) but she confirmed that it is the family album of Henry and Alma Jackson of the Town of Milan. Below right are some striking images by Reuben Van Vlack of men preparing to serve in World War One in 1918.
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1824: Lafayette in Dutchess County

The first in a series of programs celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States, through the local lens of Dutchess County. A collaboration of the American Friends of Lafayette, the Dutchess County Historical Society, the Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Locust Grove Estate, and Dutchess Tourism. Monday, September 16th12:00 noon to 1:30 pmPoughkeepsie Big Moves & Intimate Gestures:Why Lafayette Has Meant So Much to So Many for So Long You are invited to a special reflection and celebration of Revolutionary War Maj. General Lafayette on the 200th anniversary of his late-in-life local visit. Free and enslaved Blacks. Ostracized elites. Working class. Women. Indigenous Peoples. Why this man has meant so much to so many for so long. Hosted Bill JeffwayExecutive Director, Dutchess County Historical SocietyResearch Committee, Celebrating the African SpiritAdvisor, Vassar College Inclusive History Initiative Presentation, discussion, Q&A over lunch. Note from presenter: I am indebted to the foundational work presented by Dr. Linda McMullen, recently retired Professor at LaGrange College, at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Friends of Lafayette which can be viewed here. Big Moves & Intimate Gestures. Why Lafayette’s approach to equality has meant so much to so many. Below is a continually evolving concept that looks at Lafayette through the hearts & minds of those in his 1824 diverse, record-size audiences (and later audiences well into the 20th century) who were at greatly varying degrees of success in realizing the American promise of equality. An in-depth look here: Click full screen icon bottom-left for best view A quick summary below: September 16, 2024 will mark the 200th anniversary of Lafayette’s visit to Dutchess County’s Poughkeepsie and Staatsburg — and Columbia County’s Clermont and Hudson. September 19 will mark the same anniversary for his visit to Red Hook and Fishkill Landing. Part of a 13-month tour of all 24 states, he was the “nation’s guest” at the instigation of President James Monroe, at the invitation of Congress. They sought to rally and unify the country as it approached its 50th anniversary: July 4, 1826. Monroe’s sense that time was running out was prescient.  Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on that day. Monroe died July 4, 1831. Lafayette died in 1834 in France. Called a man of two worlds because of his role in the 1776 American Revolution and the French Revolution at the end of the following decade, he was only 19 years old when Congress made him a Major General. In addition to citations for bravery and effectiveness in the military, he contributed his personal wealth, and persuaded the King of France to formally and actively support the American cause. Green indicates public events. Blue indicates private visits. A firm commitment to truth. Big moves & intimate gestures. Toward the end of his life, Lafayette called for a strict adherence to truth. He said that moderation is not the average between two points, but a firm grip of the truth. “When it is said that four and four make eight and an extravagant person pretends that it makes 10, is it more reasonable to maintain that four and four make nine? No, true moderation is discovering what is true, and firmly abiding by it.” Nowhere is this more evident than his views and actions and commitment the idea that all are created equal. To Lafayette, all meant all. In Lafayette we find a very distinct combination of big moves, such gaining the support of France in the American cause, or his own personal support of the same, and small gestures, like kissing the hand of Marie Antionette to calm an angry crowd, or the tip of his hat to an enslaved Kentucky boy (Lewis Hayden shown above) who said that inspired him to become the nationally known abolitionist that he was. American Indians. Big moves: Lafayette assisted the Oneida Nation, America’s ally during the Revolution, with fortifications of their settlement and persuaded them to send 47 of their soldiers to join the Continental Army. They gave him the name Kayewla, or Great Warrior. Small gesturees: Not seeing any Oneida on his June 10, 1825 visit to Utica, a former Oneida stronghold, Lafayette asked his hosts about them, surprising them with the request. When the Oneida came, they had a private audience with Lafayette that he had not granted others.  Free and enslaved Blacks: Big moves: Lafayette enlisted James Armistead, an enslaved man in Virginia who had earned a temporary reprieve from his owner, to became an invaluable double-agent spy, infiltrating the highest levels of the British military. Small gestures: but was returned to being enslaved at the end of the war and was denied a pension for lacking a combat role. Lafayette successfully personally petitioned congress on both accounts. White working-class and poor: Big moves: There is less of a direct connection, but an important one nonetheless. For much of his tour, Lafayette travelled with a close friend, Frances “Fanny” Wright. Within a few years, she be so aligned to the Working Men’s Party that the party became known as the Fanny Wright party, and its candidates Fanny Wright men. Small gestures: The Poughkeepsie Telegraph reported that at Forbus house, “We observed among [the crowd] an old revolutionary soldier bearing the marks of poverty and hardship, but whom the general recognized. And it was gratifying to see with what cordiality they shook hands. The old soldier was obliged to yield to the pressure of the crowd and passed off with his eyes sparkling and his countenance lighted up, and was evidently inspired with a new glow of life.” Fanny Wright became close to Lafayette immediately upon meeting him in France in 1821. She travelled with him on a good portion of his 1824/1825 tour including a stay with Jefferson at Monticello. She went on to become associated with the Workingmen’s Party. Lafayette penned a successful letter of support in James Armistead’s request for freedom, which had prior been denied. When Lafayette arrived in Utica in 1825, he insisted the
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NYS Abolition

 “What to the slave is the 4th of July?”   At the heart of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 pointed question was the unmistakable irony that the United States was founded on the 1776 premise that all are created equal. When Alexander Hamilton successfully led New York’s US Constitutional Convention in Poughkeepsie in 1788 to endorse joining the union, the three-fifths clause was embedded to accommodate the institution of slavery.  This timeline is meant to help us look at some of the local persons and milestones leading up to that date, and eventually leading to the complete abolition of slavery, guarantee of Citizenship, and guarantee of equal treatment under the law through the 13th, 14th, and 15th US Constitutional amendments that were all in effect in 1870. 2027 /1827 July 4th, 2027200th Anniveersary of the end of slavery in New York State. July 4th, 2027 marks the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in New York State The relief of the end of slavery in New York State in 1827 was greatly tempered by the purely racially motivated 1821 voting restrictions requiring property ownership for Black men only, and the fact that the United States was entering a period of decades of what Abraham Lincoln correctly described as a divided house that could not stand.  With a “free north” and a “slave south,” Dutchess County became and important route on the Underground Railroad, with an inland route and a river-oriented route. 2026 JULY 4, 2026The premise and promise that all are created equal began a series of smaller revolutions continue today. 1776 Premise "All Created Equal" The great abolitionist leader, author, and speaker, the former slave Frederick Douglass, famously penned a critique entitled, “What to the slave is your 4th of July?” The 1776 premise that “all are created equal” was followed by the adoption of a US Constitution that literally defined inequality, stating that slave states like New York, could have 3/5ths of the Black population counted toward Congressional representation and the Electoral College for electing the US President. Poughkeepsie, of course, was host to the New York Convention in July of 1788, at the site of the current court house, when New York State, with the smallest margin of any state, agreed to join the United State. 2025 DECEMBER 31, 2025250th Anniversary of the Death of General Montgomery 1775 Death of Montgomery: Whose Freedom? The tragic December 31, 1775 death of Rhinebeck’s General Montgomery in the Revolutionary War is captured in this iconic painting by Trumbull. The event came to symbolize the profound personal sacrifices made by all levels of society during the war, on behalf of freedom. But whose freedom was being secured? In the 1940 Rhinebeck Post Office murals painted by local artist Olin Dows, we see a depiction of an enslaved man making bricks for Montgomery’s estate, Grasmere, which stands today. Also shown here, the Rhinebeck census for 1820 indicating that the widowed Janet Livingston Montgomery, who never remarried, had 12 enslaved men, women and children at her home in Red Hook, Montgomery Place. CLICK FOR DCHS HORIZONS: REV 250 2024 SEPTEMBER 16, 2024200th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Nation's Guest, the Marquis de Lafayette. 1824 Visit of Lafayette: NYS Was a Slave State As the nation’s guest, the American Revolutionary War hero from France, the Marquis de Lafayette, stepped onto the dock at the foot of Main Street, Poughkeepsie in the early morning of September 16, 1824. Newspapers reported it was the largest gathering of men, women, and children — civilian and military — in the village’s history.  We know that among the cheering public would have been persons of color, many of whom were enslaved as NY State would not abolish slavery until July 4, 1827. Three years earlier, in 1821, New York instituted a property requirement for a man to be eligible to vote that applied only to men of color.  They would have been aware of Lafayette’s outspoken advocacy of the abolition of slavery, his collaboration with a former enslaved man who became a spy and American war hero, and his specific actions freeing the enslaved. The emerging program, DCHS Horizons: the Marquis de Lafayette, will culminate in at event on the 200th anniversary at Revel 32, Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie on the morning of Monday, September 16, 2024. More on that in time. CLICK FOR DCHS HORIZONS: LAFAYETTE 1824 TO 2024
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Bill of Sale Four Persons

DCHS Collections: Documents of Enslavement Two adult men, and adult woman, and a young boy are sold in 1775.
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Slavery: Record of Self-Purchase

DCHS Collections: Documents of Enslavement Bartholome Noxon, Jr., records payments by his “negro boy Cezar” who literally purchases his own freedom.
Posted in: African Heritage
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Manumission Approval

DCHS Collections: Documents of Enslavement In this document we see the certification by the overseers of the poor of the Town of Washington (Stephen Thorn and Thomas Howard), permitting Isaac Smith to manumit an enslaved woman named Dinah.They certify that she is under the age of 45, and in such a condition that she will not become an economic burden to the town. This step was required of anyone wishing to manumit an enslaved man, woman, or child. DCHS Collections.
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