Patterson Historical Society, Patterson, NY
Our purpose is to collect and preserve materials which relate to the history of the Town of Patterson,
An Overview of the History of the Town of Patterson
by Ron Taylor and Rev. Horace Hillery
Here we have looked and stood upon ground that is rich in tradition and made sacred by the toil, the tears, the struggles of many an ancestor whose blood flows in our veins. We all honor their memories by our presence here and by our continued consecration to the principles for which they stood. --the Rev. Horace E. Hillery
In the fall of 2007 the Patterson Historical Society published the book Vignettes of Patterson's Past which should be consulted for detailed and pictorial information about Patterson up to the 1950's. In writing some of the history in that book a colleague and myself read the standard works on Putnam County, especially Pelletreau (1886) which should also be consulted for a wealth of detailed information, and Smith (1877) and others on early Dutchess County history and, in the main, we followed their traditional Hudson-River view of the history of the Town. Some of the evidence from our own local investigations, however, did not fit into this conventional view of our history. In the years since the book's publication, as we explored old houses, located and walked old roads, compiled genealogies of the early settlers, ransacked repositories and archives, scrutinized old maps, we started to tell eachother stories, which were different from the traditional ones, as a way of integrating the new and puzzling information we were finding. Over time these stories diverged more and more from the traditional histories, which have been repeated so often in the County to become mythologies. We also came across the works of another historian who had spun his own alternative views at an earlier time (much of it in the 1930's) which corresponded with the ones we were piecing together. He was the Rev. Horace Hillery, pastor of the Patterson Presbyterian church from 1924-1951 and the first Putnam County Historian, in the 1950's.
To some the Hudson River view of history is gospel and immutable, yet for us, Patterson's history has become a new series of stories, and we eagerly await the discovery of each next-installment. The following article is a pre'cis of these stories at the time of the writing, more will surely be brought to light as research continues. (Rev. Hillery's words are presented in a sans-serif font to distinguish them from mine. He wrote without citing references so caution should be exercised. My writing is based on source material, conjectures are preceded by 'perhaps,' 'may be,' or similar warnings.) Although the article retraces Patterson's history from the beginning (because much of that history has been misstated or omitted in earlier works), the article is not intended to be exhaustive but rather a supplement and corrective to earlier works and an outline of an alternative perspective for consideration.
The Great Swamp--also called Bear Swamp--and the surrounding country had abundant bear and deer. Wolves and panthers were a menace [about 1740] ten years after the first Quaker settlements. Beaver dams were still to be seen in the Great Swamp after the American Revolution.
The eastern frontier of New York was part of a large, and originally undistinguished, territory Europeans were acquiring piecemeal but inexorably from the Indians. This area was caught between two cultural forces. Though Dutch merchants coveted the lands from the Delaware River in the south and west and the Connecticut River in the east, their claim was disputed by refugee English Puritans armed with charters that granted them rights from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific sea. Inspired by a sense of divine right, albeit diversely interpreted, and supported by an exploding population supplemented by continued immigrations, many families would transplant themselves from Massachusetts into Connecticut and initiate a process that would yield the distinctive Connecticut Yankee. Part of that collective identity was a purpose that impelled settlers along both sides of Long Island Sound, over eastern Long Island, into portions of New Jersey and even Delaware, and also inland north, and then west into Westchester, and later into eastern New York and western Massachusetts all the way to Canada. After the Revolution, Connecticut settlers and their claims would reach as far as the Western Reserve of Ohio.
The Dutch authorities tried to resist, then contain, then adjust to the Connecticut settlement, but had little success. When the royal colony of New York took over New Netherlands, its leaders were faced with the same challenges to land rights and authority. Although in 1664 an agreement in principle set the boundary between New York and Connecticut at twenty miles from the Hudson River, Connecticut settlers continued to push northward along the river valleys and then westward through breaks in the hills into lands claimed, under royal patents, by wealthy New York City merchants. The settlers' presumption was that even if they could not maintain Connecticut jurisdiction (as they would in Stamford and Greenwich), at least they could retain land titles individually by right of possession (as they had successfully in LI and would in Rye and Bedford, and much later also would in the northern Susquehanna of Pennsylvania, and 'New Connecticut'--Vermont).
Until the English took over New York the second time (1673) there were no settlements except at Kingston, along the Hudson River, between Yonkers and Albany. In 1683 the first counties were laid out.
At first Dutchess County had almost no settlers. But soon a few large land purchases were made along the Hudson River. (It was 50 years before these large land purchasers from the Indians began to seriously extend their claims to the Eastern part of the County, in opposition to the Indians and the early settlers.) A predominantly Dutch strain pushed eastward from Fishkill along the Fishkill and its tributaries. An English strain from Danbury, New England, and Long Island, moved westward. In the same year that the New York Counties were set up, Connecticut settlers had reached Danbury.
We may be able to retrace this track, which cut diagonally across much of present day Patterson, by following remnants of old roads that connect locations of early colonial houses. We might start in Milltown near the 1719 Solomon house, which would then still have been in Ridgefield, Connecticut but today is in the Town of South East. The first colonial house on this track to the northwest in Patterson once stood on the southeast corner of Ballyhack Rd and Route 22. This house was later owned by Abijha Seeley (born in Trumbull, CT in 1777), but the earliest recorded owners of the land in 1754 were Thomas and Jonathan Paddock (who first appear in the Dutchess tax records in 1745). The next section of the track is Old Road where east of the road is a colonial house on the land of Israel Cole in 1754 (Eleazar first appears in the tax records in 1742, Israel Cole in 1754). The next early colonial house, reputed to date from 1720, is on Old Route 22, also east of the road, on the land of Elijah Tompkins in 1754 (the family name first appears in the tax record in 1731, Elijah, in 1741). Turning on to Route 164 to the northwest, we pass a colonial house north of the corner of Farm-to-Market Rd whose first recorded owner was Joseph Craw in 1754 (in tax records, 1741). (The old track next diverged from a diagonal course across the Town inorderto connect with the old millsite at the junction of Route 311 and Route 292.) Just beyond Cushman Rd on the east side of Route 311 is a colonial house on land whose first recorded owner (1754), was Simon Dakin (taxed in 1737). Above Brickhouse Rd is the Old Revolutionary Burying Ground, which probably dates from the first settlement, and then the place where a meeting house stood which in the 1780's was used by the Baptists. Next, at the junction with Cornwall Hill Rd is a house incorporating a colonial inn whose first-recorded owner (1754) was Samuel Towner (taxed 1761). Across the street from the old millsite, on the north side of Route 292 stood an old Congregational (later, a Presbyterian) meeting house perhaps as early as the 1740's. From there the old road continued on to Fishkill where the first house (and a mill) was built by Roger Brett about 1710 on land inherited by his wife, the only child of Francis Rombout who had claim to a third-part of the 85,000 acre royal patent that bore his name.
Although this old road connected settlers of Connecticut with ones of Dutch heritage along the Hudson, it seems to have been a one-way route for settlement, for the Yankees dominated the first decades of Patterson's history (unlike in the Dover, New York and Salisbury, Connecticut areas where the two strains were mixed in the settlement). One family of Dutch ancestry among early settlers in the area was that of Abraham Wanzer, some of whose descendants would reside on Quaker Hill and own land in Haviland Hollow, yet he had come into New Fairfield from the Connecticut coast like many another early settler, not from the direction of the Hudson.
The 1720's saw actions toward resolution of the boundary between Connecticut and New York which culminated with a final demarcation in 1731 that greatly effected the subsequent history of Patterson. In keeping with the principles of 1664, Connecticut exchanged for the areas of Stamford and Greenwich (which intruded beyond the twenty-mile line) an equivalent amount of land all along the boundary northward to Massachusetts. These 'Equivalent Lands' were in a long, narrow 'Oblong,' approximately 1 3/4 miles wide. In exchange for their bearing the cost of completing the final surveys, New York in turn sold ('granted') most of these lands to a group of patentees, among whom were some who in their petition for the exchange of land declared in 1730 they (since they had been among the original proprietors of Ridgefield) were "inhabitants of Ridgefield" who "have for a long Time been settled upon certain Lands near the Eastern Parts of this Province, by Letters Patents from the Colony of Connecticut,"' and who, "or their Ancestors, have many of them spent their whole Substance and worn out great Parts of their Lives in clearing, tilling and improving, with great Hazard and hard Labour, the aforesaid Lands."
To elaborate, because the Hudson River courses to the west from Cold Spring to the mouth of Wappingers Creek, the twenty-mile boundary correspondingly jutted westward. This area was mostly east of the Croton River, its widest part was just above present-day Haviland Hollow and it narrowed to Dover in the north and almost to South East in the South, and it included much of the best farmland north along Route 22. The Oblong line, which was run connecting a twenty-mile point on the southern end in Westchester with the corresponding northern point on the Massachusetts border, lay east of the area, cutting off from Connecticut 4504 acres in Patterson and the southern part of Pawling and 221 acres near Peach Lake. In a 1765 dispute over this land, early settlers based their claims on Connecticut titles they possessed (like those who had lived in what had been formerly Ridgefield).
Settlers in this cut off portion of old New Fairfield east of the Oblong are listed below. (Any surviving, Connecticut records prior to 1731 have not been checked to determine when the families might have first settled in the area, the first date of a family's appearance in the New York records is cited.) As the Croton River divided the farms, the list is separated by the farms west of and east of the river. West of the Croton the farms had only a small amount of their lands within Old New Fairfield which began, by happenstance, just above Ballyhack Rd and ended on the first farm that had been north of where the Muddy Brook empties into the Croton River--north of where Cornwall Hill Rd crosses the Muddy Brook and the railroad tracks. The first families recorded in New York who lived west of the Croton in old New Fairfield were, from south to north, Isaac Chapman (first taxed 1746); Silvanus Cole (family?, 1742; Silvanus,1759); Nathan Taylor (first taxed 1745, a William, 1731); William Palmer (first taxed 1745); Joseph Craw (first taxed 1741); Samuel Goodspeed (first taxed 1753); Jehiel Beardsley (first taxed 1758). Families east of the Croton, the major portion or all of whose farms were in this particular area, were: William Gray (b. Harwich, Ma, lived Haddam,CT; taxed 1753); John Calkins (taxed 1744); John Smith (taxed 1747); Joseph Barlow (b. Stratford, CT; taxed 1740); ___ Fuller (?Matthew taxed 1741); Widow/then Nathaniel Porter (taxed 1741); James Calkins (family taxed 1740); Benjamin Gifford (taxed 1744; he was among a number of cousins and their in-laws and families from around Cape Cod who came as part of the Quaker migration to the area); Malcolm Hatch (family taxed 1743); Malatiah Hatch (born 1727 in Mansfield, CT; taxed 1753; Richard taxed 1743); Moses and Amos Northrup (former, born in Milford,CT, from Ridgefield, CT; taxed 1734); Henry Gray (?from Fairfield Co. CT, family taxed 1731); Thomas Corbin (?from Windham Co., CT, taxed 1739); Edward Hall (taxed 1739); Hunt family (taxed 1736); along with several others not yet identified who were located in present-day Pawling.
In a continuation of the Connecticut migration westward, other families (with or without titles) settled over much of the rest of the area of eastern Dutchess and Putnam Counties, they appear in the tax lists from the 1730's on up into the 1760's. For example, there were the Burtch/Burch/Birch cousins (Jeremiah first taxed 1743, David taxed 1745, Josiah/Isaiah taxed 1746, John taxed 1747) and their in-laws (Billings, Udall, Newberry) and many of their children who came in considerable numbers from Stonington,CT starting in the 1740's and mostly settled in the northern part of Town from the west banks of the Croton to just west of Harmony Rd and on adjacent lands in Pawling; Benjamin (taxed 1753) and one of the many Jonathan Burtch's had farms a little farther west and south in the Mooney Hill-Cushman Rd locale. Another example were the Roblee/Rublee/Rubly brothers (Andrew taxed 1744 and William taxed 1758) and their Baker in-laws and their children from Huntington, LI who had farms in the Terry Hill section of Town (their names were 'Hollandized' by the Dutch tax collectors to Rapalyea/Rapeleje/Rubbelyea contributing to even more confusion when trying to follow the records).
Only three (Adam Ireland, Benjamin Birdsell, and James Brown) of the 25 'Ridgefield' petitioners for purchase of the Oblong, are listed among the original owners. The majority of the Oblong was transferred to New York provincial officials (and some lots to the surveyors), who received blocks of land in exchange for their 'services' in securing the grant. Most of these early owners then resold the land to settlers. Two large areas, referred to as the 'Hoveouts' were not purchased by the patentees. One was in the Milltown area which was already at least partially settled. The other, later called Preston's Mountain, lay between Dover, NY and Kent, CT and apparently was too rocky to be desired for settlement or to be profitably marketed.
When in 1683 New York declared that it would not accept Connecticut jurisdication any farther west then a line beginning at the Byram River--eventhough Connecticut families had settled as far west as greater Pelham--Rye and the settlements west of it, as well as Bedford farther north were severed from Connecticut. In accord with the typical pattern of Connecticut settlement, the original Connecticut proprietors of Rye had reserved an area north of the village as common land in which the original proprietors had shares and which was intended for future expansion. New York appropriated this 'unsettled' land and sold it to John Harrison (among other patentees) in 1696, and it became known as Harrison's Purchase. Portions of Harrison and Purchase were bought by former Connecticut settlers on Long Island (severed from Connecticut in 1664) who had run out of room for their expanding population. Many of these families had become Quakers and appeared to move as an organized block into this unsettled area and after the establishment of the Oblong lands would continue to move and settle and extend their influence and membership along this narrow corridor northward, lending a distinct flavor to this and nearby areas for the next century.
The Quakers established 'meetings,' both places of worship and organizations that governed the lives of their members and in many ways served as alternative- or quasi-governments in the Quaker-dominated areas. As membership grew in the region additional meetings were formed. The meetings were organized (o.) and meeting houses built (b.) in Flushing (b. 1694), Purchase (o. circa 1723, b. 1727), New Milford (o. 1729), 'The Oblong Meeting' (Quaker Hill-Pawling, o. circa 1734, b. 1742), Nine Partners (Millbrook, o. 1744), Peach Lake (b. 1762), Chapppaqua (b. 1764), Valleyville (Patterson on Brimstone Rd near the corner of Haviland Dr., b. 1783). By their beliefs and practice, Quakers set themselves apart from their New England contemporaries who had outlawed and severly persecuted them. Yet, in keeping with the quasi-theocratic condition of New England society the Quakers maintained a semi-autonomous jurisdiction or 'government' within the Oblong Patent. They had their own school system of 'academies.' In 1755 they declared exemption from military duty in the third war with the French and their Indian allies. They even seemed to have avoided some tax collection for a time, for the settlers of the Oblong Patent were given notice in 1761 to pay back quitrents due to the Crown from the creation of the Oblong or face dispossession.
The Oblong strip threw open more than 60,000 acres for settlement. Particulars of the early settlement have not yet been gathered, so it can only be roughly outlined. A road internal to the area of the Oblong was laid out in the 1740's. It may have incorporated earlier roads but in expanding them, as much as topography would allow, extended up the center line of the Oblong following the property boundary line that divided the Oblong (mostly) into a double row of 500-acre rectangles (lots). This centerline route can still be traced in modern roads: going north if one begins in South East, there is Dingle Ridge Rd which connects with Joes Hill Rd and then diverges from the centerline to the old road through Milltown on Milltown Rd and Gage Rd. (This previously-occupied area was part of the southern Hoveout excluded from the main Oblong purchase in 1731. The 2000-acre parcel was purchased from the Province of New York in 1750 by John Ayscough, at the time high Sherif of New York City; by the Revolution the parcel was owned by the loyalist Governor Clinton and was therefore confiscated by New York State and resold.)
The north-south Oblong route enters Patterson on Doansburg Rd and continues on East Branch Rd. Owners from the 1761 assessment in this section of South East and Patterson were Prince Hopkins (80 acres; first taxed in Dutchess County in 1760, Joseph had been taxed beginning in 1754), Joshua Barnum (250 acres; taxed 1756; Bathnel, 1753), Lydia Stevens, Widow (72 acres; of ?Nathaniel taxed 1743), William Porter (48 acres; taxed 1760), John Porter (55 acres; taxed 1759) and Joshua Porter (55 acres; taxed 1756; Smith was on "Porters Place" 1747-55 "becomes John Smith," Noah Smith, a son of John was taxed 1753) (560 acres total). To the north on either side of the southern part of East Branch Rd were Nathan Crosbe/Crosby (55 acres; taxed 1753; Isaac was taxed 1746), Joseph Foster (55 acres; taxed 1759), Tho's Foster (110 acres; taxed 1748), and Nathaniel Foster (145 acres; taxed 1747), and Ephraim Smith (73 acres; taxed 1758; farm, "Crosby on" 1753-54) (438 acres total).
The original lots to the north in 1761 were not as yet subdivided. The 500 acres along East Branch Rd. below Haviland Hollow had Nathan Birdsell(/Burchell) Jr (taxed 1761) and George Hobborn (George Hawbon was taxed 1759-67 and widow 1771; George and Ann Hepbern are listed as members of the Oblong Quakers with two daughters, born in 1759 and 1761; Hobborn may have had the portion on the west adjoining land in the Philipse patent as George Hepburn is listed in the Philipse records (1754) as having "a very fine piece of swamp" and there is a considerable portion of swamp along Rt 22 below Haviland Hollow road in that area; George Hepburn was born in Stratford, CT in 1739). The 500-acre lot to the north located at the entrance to Haviland Hollow and including the mountain slopes on either side was owned in 1761 by Nathan Birdsell, Sr. (Nathan was born 1705 on Long Island, lived in Rye, was one of the Oblong surveyors, and reputedly brought his family by way of Danbury to settle on one of his lots on Quaker Hill in 1728; he was first taxed 1743.)
The land to the east of the previous two lots had been Jacob Haviland's in 1731 (taxed 1743), in 1761 it belonged to the heirs of Benjamin Haviland (430 acres; there is considerable confusion in the Haviland genealogy about which of the many Benjamin's this one was, but the family was from Long Island and Rye; a Benjamin was taxed in 1755) and Mary Haviland, Widow (70 acres); the Oblong road now Haviland Drive approximately follows the eastern boundary of their irregularly shaped lot (trapezoidal instead of rectangular) and then runs westward on Brimstone Rd to rejoin the centerline at Stagecoach. At the junction of Haviland Drive and Brimstone Rd was later located a Quaker Academy (probably the first school in the Haviland Hollow area). Havilands would give some of their lands in the north part of this lot along Brimstone Rd for the Quaker Valleyville Meeting and cemetery. The Havilands also owned land to the east in Connecticut, including the Gerow property below Quaker Rd and west of Route 37. Samuel Haviland later dammed Quaker Brook and built a mill east of where it is crossed by Brimstone Rd just before the junction with Haviland Hollow Rd.
To the east of the Haviland, and the Crosbys' and Fosters', property was another irregularly-shaped lot which includes most of what is the Putnam Lake community. This unnumbered lot of 1500 acres was part of the southern Hoveout and had been patented and surveyed in 1750-1752 by William Smith, Esq of New York City and James Brown, of Salem. (William Smith, was born in England, 1697; died in New York City, 1769; he graduated from Yale in 1719; was admitted to the New York bar in 1724, was partner of James Alexander--of whom more later, and practiced in Connecticut as well; he was attorney-general and advocate-general of New York, member of the governor's council, and associate justice of the New York court; and was one of the original landowners in the Oblong, and among those with the greatest number of acres.) (James Brown, Sr died in 1769, a longtime resident of Norwalk; he was among the purchasers and first proprietors of Ridgefield, and among the petitioners to New York for Oblong lands, and among the original purchasers of them. He was also a purchaser of a large tract of land in Salem, NY on which his son James Brown, Jr settled.)
The settlement of the next 4 lots to the north, mostly on the plateau of Cranberry Mountain and Birch Hill from Haviland Hollow to north of Birch Hill Rd, is unclear. In 1761 these lots were still in the possession of the original owners or some of the same NYC provincial officials, among the former and then owners were: Archibald Kennedy--(He was a Scotsman well-connected with the English monarchy and government--his son would succeed to the family's Earldom; was a member of the Provincial Council, Receiver-General and Collector of Customs of New York; had a large estate in New Jersey; and died in 1763.) James Alexander--(He was born a Scotsman of the nobility--his son would become the Earl of Stirling; and came to America in 1715. Originally a civil engineer/surveyor, he became a prominent lawyer in NY and NJ; was a New York City merchant with a house there and considerable land in NJ. In New Jersey he was a member of the King's Council, Surveyor-General of West Jersey, Recorder of the city of Perth Amboy, member of the Boards of Proprietors of both East and West NJ, Receiver-General and Collector of Quit Rents for the Province, and a Commissioner to survey the boundary between NY and NJ. In the Province of NY he was the Secretary, a member of the King's Council, naval officer for the port, Attorney-General, member of the Assembly; and one of the NY commissioners to survey the lands of the Oblong. He died in 1756, leaving his properties in the Oblong to a son and two daughters.) George Clark--(He was an Englishman who served as secretary of the Province of New York, was a member of the Provincial Council, and Governor; he returned to England a wealthy man, and died there in 1759. His two sons received his American property, one, George Clark, was also secretary of the Province.) Joshua Barnes--(He was born in Southampton, Long Island in 1683, lived in Harrrison's Purchase, Rye and died there in 1763. Barnes was a Quaker and lived in Northcastle and may have been among the original proprietors in the 1720's in areas of it which would become part of the Oblong. He left 440 acres of his property in the Oblong in Patterson to his grandsons Samuel, first taxed in 1761, and Joshua, taxed 1766, and 20 acres each to their sisters Mary and Patience and his youngest son Richard.) Adam Ireland--(He was born in 1694 in Hampstead, LI, and perhaps was reared in Harrison's Purchase where his father moved. He may have been one of the first settlers of North Castle in the 1720's. He was listed among the petitioners from Ridgefield for the Oblong lands, but was not among the proprietors of Ridgefield. He died in North Castle in 1760.)
The next two lots to the north which were partially in Patterson were originally owned by James Alexander and Samuel Baker (baptized in 1702 in Easthampton, LI, moved to Branford, CT in 1728, selectman of Branford, Deputy to the General Court of CT; died in 1767 at Branford). In 1761 one lot was still undivided, but jointly owned by John Ogden's heirs (John was first taxed in 1738), and the Quakers Jonathan Hoag (a Jonathan was taxed 1747) and Nathan Birdsell. The other was subdivided between Nathaniel Stevenson (375 acres; taxed 1753) and Stephen Hoag (125 acres). The lots to the immediate north were settled and considerably subdivided by the residents of Quaker Hill by 1761.
As the land within the Oblong became populated, members of Quaker families moved outward and intermixed with the Connecticut settlers scattered over the valleys and hills of the Croton River. Among the descendants of Quaker families who had a prominent part in Patterson's history were the names Akin, Haviland, Irish, Kelley, Wing, Tabor, Ferris.
If we note the language of the Dutchess road commissioners, some of the established roads were "paths" whereas others were "highways." The pattern of development may have been that paths connected favorable farmsteads with millsites and more developed highways, these ways in turn influenced patterns of settlement as families and businesses clustered at important intersections; and then as settlement increased further, local roads were built to interconnect them, sometimes still going by the best navigable route from place to place but also often following new property lines, as much as topography permitted. An example of the latter is the road laid out up the middle of the Oblong; in Haviland Hollow there is an old section of that roadway up Cranberry Mountain that was too steep and little used to justify the expense of modern maintenance and so has been abandoned.
The large landlords began taking a more active interest in the eastern lands in the mid 1740's. The Dutchess County road commissioners (one of whom was Philip Philipse) imposed a new pattern, and thereafter the dominant one, for transportation, over the one that had been oriented to Danbury. The Patent Road (now approximately Route 22) connecting Beekman's Patent (now southeastern Dutchess) through the Philipse Upper Patent (now Putnam) to Cortlandt's Patent (now northern Westchester), began the reorienting of traffic towards New York City. Between 1745-52 two other important north and south highways were laid out. One ran the entire length of the high ridge that marks the center of the Oblong. The other (now Route 52) ran through Carmel and Ludingtonville. These two highways were to become two of the most important north and south highways in the state during the following century. Two east highways were laid out: one from De Forest Corners to Carmel, the other from the Oblong road on Quaker Hill west through Patterson to Ludingtonville and then north to join the main highway. From two centers, one at Sodom and one at the meeting house (one mile East of Dykeman's) radiated a number of short roads. Other roads connected the main highways. These roads interconnected (or improved the connections between) existing mill sites and settlements: Milltown and Southeast Center (Sodom, in Brewster), Red Mills (in Mahopac), 'Morrison's' Mills (at Routes 311 and 292 in Patterson), Bircham's Mills (along Simpson Rd in Carmel).
The issues in the disputes were more than simple land ownership, and more even than what land ownership meant in terms of access to and control of government. At their core, the conflicts were between two very different views for the organization of society and the matters that framed and guided daily life. These underlying cultural differences were significant and antagonistic (and would later be decisive in determining Revolutionary alignments).
The Yankees had developed from a tradition of contrariness and resistance. Their European ancestors had opposed the Papist monarchs of England (or, for some, France, Spain, or the Holy Roman Empire) and had come to America to fashion a life for their families as part of a new society. For many their American ancestors, in the Cape Cod area, or Rhode Island, or Connecticut, had been exiles or separatists from the practices and policies of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their grandparents or parents had witnessed the civil (and riotous) opposition to the attempts of English monarchs to strip New Englanders of charter rights and turn all of the northeast into a royal province. The Yankees were independent, self-determining and therefore fractious and fragmentative, nevertheless they had developed a community model that was highly successful in rapid settlement of a harsh wilderness (eventhough destructive of Native Americans' cultures and, ultimately, the environment). This settlement process was powered by land distribution to reward the investment of the founding proprietors and the initiatives of the yeomen farmers, to attract vital talents (a minister, a miller, a blacksmith), to support the local church and school, and to provide for limited, local, family expansion. The hard-won returns, of the families favored by Divine Providence, were reinvested in local development or continued frontier settlement. The Yankee values were sustained and the divisive tendencies were kept in check by a social structure centered around the community church and managed through the town meeting (and a representative sent to the distant capital), and by continued access to the frontier which absorbed excesses and provided continued promise of individual family opportunity.
There wasn't a place for the Yankee yeomen in the political order of New York which was an oligarchy of wealthy merchants and large landowners who controlled all phases of government for economic and personal interests. These presumptive aristocrats supported the English monarchy and advanced an English model of great estates worked by tenants as part of a royal province (in opposition to the Yankee model for participatory, colonial government and small, family landholdings). These rich gentlemen hoarded land, and instead of re-investing the farmers' surplus skimmed off much of this capital to squander (it may have seemed to the frugal and modest-living New Englanders) on great houses, fancy dress and carriages, imported goods, and lavish entertainments in New York City. The society of wealthy New York City merchants and landlords was as foreign to the Connecticut Yankees, in many ways, as the Dutch had been, and it was more hostile. Accommodation with the New England cultural strain was not a consideration for the landlords who felt entitled to influence and control education, religion, and the standard of living of the populace, and to deny the Yankees their own views of status and self-worth. The landlords' idea of social order was one that subordinated the populace (socially, economically, religiously, politically) to a small cotherie of privileged, interbreeding, wealthy families. Nevertheless the Yankees attempted to defend the existing distribution of land and the accompanying social order and local rule.
One possibility for expanding the bounds of the Patent derived from changes in magnetic declination (the result of the gradual shifting of the magnetic poles). The 1691 deed of purchase from the Indians set the line of the northern boundary as "eastwards in the woods" and in one place the royal patent (1697) said the tract is "bounded Northerly and Southerly by East and West Lines." The surveyor noted (1753) that adjusting for changes in compass direction in the intervening 68[?] years would result in a line E 3-degrees N of the due east line "Col. Beekman wants" which would result in a wedge of additional land about .8 of a mile wide at the eastern end. (No corresponding change in the southern boundary with Cortlandt's Patent, which would have resulted in a loss of land to the Philipse heirs, seems to have been proposed.)
The northern boundary of the Highland Patent had been defined in one place in the royal patent (1697) as along Rombouts and Beekman's Patents. On the other hand, the Rombout and Beekman's purchases and Patents set their southern boundaries along the Fishkill and adjacent lowlands. The Highlands raising south and east of the Fishkill and north of an east line were then either: 1) unsold territory still belonging to the Indians (an argument not given credence by the Patent holders); 2) a gore of unclaimed land open to settlement (of which Connecticut families attempted to take possession and for which some of them secured titles from the Indians); or 3) part of the three Patents but with an unresolved boundary. The landlords quashed all other claims and in compromises defined the boundaries and divided the lands among themselves. As a result of the compromises, the northern line of the Philipse heirs' properties was moved farther north: along a E 6-degrees N bearing between Rombout and Philipse Highland Patents (1771), and between theirs and the Beekman Patent (1758), into a block of territory that included much of present-day Pawling (in which the Philipse heirs held their third parts in common and to which they referred therefore as "The Undivided," commonly also called The Gore).
In 1761 the Philipse heirs secured a Patent for the two pieces of land formerly parts of New Fairfield and Ridgefield, Connecticut "at the Distance of Twenty Miles from Hudson River and between the Lands formerly Granted to Adolph Phillipse Esq. Deceased and the Equivalent Lands surrendered by the Collony of Connecticut."
The eastern portion of the Philipse lands, including most of the annexed ones, became known as Fredericksburg, and were officially designated as such in 1772 when Dutchess County administratively divided its southern portion into three precincts, for the Highland Patent, a western half, Philipsburg, and an eastern half, Fredericksburg (which included only about the southern half of The Undivided), and Southeast.
(One result of all these boundary changes is a difficulty and confusion in trying to interpret records. Did a family move within the area or did they remain on the same farm the jurisdiction over, or name of, which shifted several times? Until the particular land on which a family resided is located this confusion will continue.)
The village which was clustered around the intersection of Routes 311 and 292 and the mills at that site was already an important center of the area, and after it took on the name of the larger area, Fredericksburg, it would obtain national notoriety, first in the land revolts of 1766, and later when the Continental Army encamped in the area during the summer and fall of 1778.