In earlier posts, I have written of the settlement of what is now the town of Schaghticoke. Though Native Americans had lived there for thousands of years, a unique Indian settlement occurred in the area around theKnickerbockerMansionbeginning in 1676. The Governor of New York settled a number of Mahican Indian refugees there, tasking them with protecting the city of Albanyfrom attack by the French from Canada and their Indian allies, and planting a Council Oak tree as a symbol of this pact. In 1709-1710, the city of Albanypurchased land in the same area and began to lease it to Dutch farmers fromAlbanyin parcels of about fifty acres. The number of white settlers grew slowly, probably due to the location of Schaghticoke on a dangerous frontier. Meanwhile, the number of Indians decreased, mostly due to mistreatment by the Dutch farmers and the colony ofNew York.
There were several other land grants outside the Albany Corporation Lands but within what is now the town of Schaghticoke. Settlement was even slower there as the areas of land being bought and sold were larger, and mostly beyond the ability of a small farmer to purchase. There was quite a bit of speculation, with people buying and selling land who never intended to settle here, including the Lieutenant Governor of the colony and the future General Philip Schuyler. Schuyler or William’s Patent of 1739 and DePeyster’s Patent included the southern part of current Schaghticoke, and the Cambridge Patent of 1761 covered the eastern part of town. By the time of the Revolution, smaller parts of these patents and several others had been sold and settled. For example, members of the Lansing family purchased land in the southern part of town, Andrew Weatherwax of DutchessCountybought land on what is now Calhoun Drive, Michael Sipperly purchased land in the Melrose-Speigletown area, and Simon Toll purchased land near Valley Falls.
There were enough settlers in the current Schaghticoke outside the Albany Corporation area to form a Lutheran Church by around 1800. The first church building was located near the junction ofValley Falls Road and North Line Drive. A number of the new settlers, including Andrew Weatherwax, had left the Palatinate area of what is now Germany, first arriving in the Dutchess County area early in the 1700’s, then moving on to our area. Unfortunately the records of the Lutheran Church don’t survive until 1829, so the early members of the church aren’t known.
Fortunately for historians, the new New York State assessed land taxes for the first time in 1779, creating a list of tax payers in the district of “Schatacook”. This lets us know who lived in the town of Schaghticoke at the time, although the Schaghticoke district also encompassed much of what is now Pittstown. The list also included some speculators who owned land here but certainly did not live here, including Lord Alexander Stirling and General Philip Schuyler. It probably excluded men who either rented, or owned too little to be taxed. There are 384 men on the list, giving a rough estimate of about 1200 people in the area of the current towns of Schaghticoke and Pittstown in 1779.
In the next posts, I will discuss Schaghticoke in the American Revolution.
Bibliography: Kloppott, Beth, History of the Town of Schaghticoke, 1980.
1779 list of taxpayers in Schaghticoke, in the NYS Archives