This is the story of ongoing work to confirm details of an oral tradition in Fishkill’s Brinckerhoff family of nearly 200 years. The tradition holds that Lafayette gave this desk as a gift during his 1824 tour. Recently discovered evidence tends to confirm that oral tradition.
In 2013, with the 200th anniversary of Lafayette’s 1824 local visit approaching, the Fishill Historical Society and Dutchess County Historical Society collaborated to dig a little deeper to better understand what might have happened.
Sandy Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques of South New Paltz provided the answer. He identified the piece as Haines & Holmes in New York City, circa 1825.
Lafayette gave fine gifts, made and purchased locally, to important friends
We know from the start of Lafayette’s arrival in New York in August of 1824, he was inclined to purchase a locally made item as a gift. Under the heading, “An Elegant Present” the newspaper reports, “General Lafayette, on Tuesday evening, very affectionately took leave of Captain Allvn, at his room, City Hotel, and at the same time presented him with a superb writing desk, (made by N. Smith Prentiss, of this city,) replete with everything necessary for a gentleman’s toilet, bearing this inscription, “General Lafayette to his excellent friend Captain Allyn, August 15th, 1824.” He also sent kind remembrances to such of the officers and crew of the Cadmus as remained on board, presenting to the chief mate, Mr. Daniel Chadwick, a beautiful case of mathematical instruments mounted in silver. The Cadmus sailed on Wednesday, for Havre.”
The story as told by Fishkill Historical Society in 2003
From Fishkill Historical Society June 2023 Newsletter
The Van Wyck Dispatch
Above: Patti and John “Brinckerhoff” Haslett – Lafayette Bureau Donors
On May 18th, 2023, Patti and John “Brinckerhoff” Haslett stopped by the Homestead for a “Personalized Guided Tour.” Ten years ago, they generously donated the Lafayette Dresser to our Fishkill Historical Society.
John “Brinckerhoff” Haslett is the nephew of Beverly & Todd Brinckerhoff who were long-time members of our Fishkill Historical Society, and owned the Brinckerhoff Homestead – the big white house up on the hill overlooking the junction of Routes 52 and 82. When they died in 2012, the house was sold – and is now the Brinckerhoff Inn Bed & Breakfast, and all of the furnishings in the home were sold at a local Auction in February 2013.
Since Patti & John live in Virginia, he called me up a couple of days before the Auction, and said: “Don’t BID on the ‘Lafayette Dresser’ I’m going to buy it and DONATE IT to the Fishkill Historical Society in Memory of Beverly & Todd Brinckerhoff”, and, that’s exactly what he did. Now, ten years later, they were on vacation and stayed overnight at the Brinckerhoff Inn – his Aunt and Uncle’s historic house – (where Lafayette was very sick and convalesced for many weeks in October 1778) & then came to our Van Wyck Homestead:
Historical Info: In September 1824, when Marquis de Lafayette came back to America for his “Grand Tour” of the United States, his ship docked at Newburgh on September 13th, while heading north, and then on September 19th, while heading south – back to New York City, his ship stopped at Fishkill Landing. At one of these stops, Lafayette had his personal Three-Drawer Dresser off-loaded and delivered to the Brinckerhoff Family here in Fishkill as a “Thank You” that their Parents / Grandparents had saved his life almost 50 years ago. It was an HEIRLOOM in the Brinckerhoff Home for 190 years, and Patti & John “Brinckerhoff” Haslett generously purchased it at the Auction & Donated IT to our Society!
Steve Lynch, FHS President
Fishkill’s Brinckerhoff House today.
Above left: Steve Lynch, 2023. Above right: Steve Lynch and Joey Cavaccinni, 2003.