Tag Archives: Dutchess County

Dark Eagle: Was Colonel Jacob Griffin A Spy?


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Colonel Jacob Griffin portraitThe American Revolution forged a nation out of a place where none had existed previously, and in one of history’s truly shocking instances, a modern democracy had created itself and turned on its former master with stunning speed and resolution.

Colonel Jacob Griffin, a tavern keeper from Dutchess County at Fishkill, was a brazen and unflappable American Patriot. He had helped stir anti-British sentiment in 1775 by using his tavern to draft a formidable petition supporting the Continental Congress and openly maligning the Crown. The document demanded the Colonies’ separation from England and mustered 502 signatures.

In the late spring or early summer of 1775, he joined the Dutchess County (New York State) Militia as a Captain and would be promoted to Colonel before War’s end.   As a successful tavern owner Jacob Griffin rubbed elbows with the Continental Army’s elite – Steuben, Putnam, the Marquis de La Fayette and Washington. But is there more to Griffin’s role in the Revolutionary War?

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A Ghost of American Patriot Colonel Jacob Griffin


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Griffins TavernHe is one of the great patriots of the American Revolution, and he is barely known outside of his native Dutchess County, New York.

Born in the Fishkill area ca. 1729-1730 (sources vary), Jacob Griffin was a staunch Yankee Presbyterian, who wanted a clear and a complete parting of the ways with King George III of England.

From the mid to the late 18th century the Thirteen Colonies of British North America experienced one huge wave of social upheaval after the other… the reasons of these societal changes being many and very subtly related to the other. Continue reading

Winnakee Launches Northern Dutchess Trail Project


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marist-college-students-clearing-trailsWinnakee Land Trust has announced the Northern Dutchess Trail Project and receipt of a grant in the amount of $14,800 from the 2016 Greenway Conservancy Trail Grant Program.

The grant was one of 22 received in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Capital Region. The Greenway Conservancy Trail Grant Program, funded by NYS Environmental Protection Fund, supports the Greenway’s goal to establish the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail, a contiguous trail linking cultural and historic sites, parks, open spaces, and community centers from New York City to the Adirondacks. Continue reading

The Mystery of Dutchess County’s Chief Crow


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chief crow burial groundA familiar blue 1935 New York State Education Department roadside marker proclaims, “Indian Burial Ground. Chief Crow and other Mohican Shacomecos of Moravian Faith buried here. Last burial about 1850.”

At first glance, the marker is not at all out of place. The sign is located in the hamlet of Jackson Corners on the Roeliff Jansen Kill, a 56-mile tributary of the Hudson River that is considered to have been populated by the Mohican. The hamlet is technically in Dutchess County’s town of Milan, but borders on Pine Plains, the location of Shacomeco village, and Columbia County’s Gallatin. Continue reading

Recent Lower Hudson Valley History Meeting Highlights


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hudson valleyIn recent weeks I have had the opportunity to attend and participate in three regional and county history community meetings. These included the annual meeting of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network; a meeting of Region 3 (mainly the Hudson Valley) of the Association of Public Historians in New York State (APHNYS); and the Sullivan County History Conference

These three meetings provided opportunities to meet with colleagues, discuss important issues, and learn what’s happening. What follows are some highlights from those meetings. Continue reading

Exhibition Features Mt. Beacon Incline Railway


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Beacon Incline Railway LogoComing on the heels of the recently published book on the Mt. Beacon Incline, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society has announced the opening of a six-month exhibition. Entitled Along the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway: Past, Present & Future, the exhibition explores the initiative to bring back the Mt. Beacon Incline through the lenses of a historic narrative and an eye towards the future.

As Beacon, in Dutchess County, continues to transform and revitalize, the organizers argue, the Incline’s restoration provides a unique opportunity to connect the past with the future in a way that is meaningful to the city’s heritage and relevant to the community of today. Continue reading

Talk Planned On Staatsburg Estate Owners


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Staatsburg BookAnthony Musso, author of Staatsburg: A Village Lost in Time (2014), will give a talk entitled “Staatsburg: Its Estate Owners and Their Impact on the Village” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site on April 11, 2015.

The tiny community of Staatsburg was once the home of several large estates.  As Musso writes in his book on Staatsburg, each of the estates “had an impact on the character, finances and preservation of the village and its surroundings.”  Continue reading

Willa Skinner Recognized As 2015 ‘Woman of History’


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FSHSHH_WS_MtGulianGalaEach year, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site sets out to recognize one woman’s demonstration of the character traits of Martha Washington. Throughout the American Revolution, including the time she spent with her husband at Headquarters, Newburgh, Martha Washington partook in activities displaying a myriad of traits that would cement her unique position as a woman of history.

Since 2003, fourteen leading women of the Hudson Valley have been chosen to receive the “Martha Washington Woman of History Award.” This year’s recipient was Town of Fishkill Historian Willa Skinner. Continue reading

Hudson Valley Docs From 1911 Fire Being Digitized


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document_reinforcementAT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.

The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading

Heritage Tourism Lessons from the Tappan Zee Bridge


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designOnce upon a time America was known for its building projects, for its infrastructure, for its vision of a better tomorrow. New York was in the forefront of such optimism and achievement. Think of the Erie Canal which helped make us the Empire State, the Croton Aqueduct, the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscrapers from the Woolworth Building to the Empire State Building to the Twin Towers, and, of course, Robert Moses. Now the new Tappan Zee Bridge bids to join this pantheon of larger than life achievements made in New York.

Besides all the other concerns related to the bridge, there is the issue of tourism. Back in June, Mary Kay Vrba, tourism director for Dutchess County and leader of the Hudson Valley Path region, spoke to 50 people at “Destination Rockland: Blazing New Trails in Tourism.” Visions of jingling cash registers filled the heads of the participants who envisioned tourists by foot, bike, and later a revitalized bus system bringing people from the east side of the river to Rockland County. Alden Wolfe, chairman of the Rockland County Legislature convened the conference as a “launching point” for future discussion on this subject. Continue reading