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Olde Ulster History, May 1910

Vol. VI MAY, 1910 No. 5, page 129

The Hardenbergh, or the "Great" Patent

This MAGAZINE has frequently commented upon the propensity to add as much romance as possible to the striking features of the incidents worthy of note in the history of the old county. The story of the Hardenbergh Patent has not escaped. Here was a great region given to a few individuals and within its borders many striking events took place. All these, of themselves, are worthy of the pen of a graphic writer. But much more has been added to the recital of the story. It has been claimed, for instance, that the great domain was granted to Johannes Hardenbergh for his services with the great Duke of Marlborough in the campaign of 1704 which culminated in the memorable battle of Blenheim. In evidence thereof it is said that he was knighted by Queen Anne and it is claimed that his signature thereafter was just his surname "Hardenbergh" and that the records in the office of the clerk of Ulster county show this.

We will deal with these matters in the reverse order. In most of the signatures in the office of the county clerk there is a separate letter " J " before his name. In those on which the claim rests the " J " is formed from part of the " H " of the surname as a monogram. The battle of Blenheim was fought on the 13th of August, 1704 and the records of both the county of Ulster and of the old Dutch church of Kingston show him to have been in this county during that eventful summer of 1704. More than all, the patent was not granted to him, individually, at all. He was one of seven men, and it was purchased, first of the Indians and then of Queen Anne, through her representative, Lord Cornbury, the governor of the royal Province of New York, and the consideration was named in the patent. To the seven patentees an eighth was added, and in 1749 the great tract was divided into " great lots " and each of the partners released unto the others the title thereto, reserving to himself the title to his own, and taking from them their interest therein. So that Johannes Hardenbergh never owned more than one-seventh of what was called by his name in the "Great Patent," and actually but one-eighth.

Previous to this year 1749 several of the proprietors had sold their interest and others were dead. In that year Robert Livingston owned five-sixteenths; Gulian Verplanck three-sixteenths : Johannes Hardenbergh, Jr. , Charles Brodhead and Abraham Hardenbergh together two-sixteenths ; John Wenham two-sixteenths ; the heirs and assigns of Leonard Lewis twosixteenths ; the heirs of Benjamin Faneuil two-sixteenths. Most of the patent was surveyed that year by Ebenezer Wooster and the bounds were marked by monuments along the Delaware and Papakunk rivers. The steps in acquiring this great tract were these : On the 22nd of March, 1707 Johannes Hardenbergh, then a merchant in the Esopus (Kingston), purchased of Nanisinos, "an Indian of the Esopus Indians, and rightful owner and proprietor of several parts of land in the County of Ulster," an immense stretch of land, paying therefor the sum of " sixty pounds current money of New York." This deed bears the sign of the above-named Indian and thus describes the lands conveyed :

"All that track of Land Lying and being in the county of Ulster aforesaid, running from certain Hills that lye on the south east side of the meadow or low land that lies on the fish Creeke River or kil to the north west of Marbletown bounds, and all the north west part of the hills and mountains that range from the blue hills north west Ten miles, and streaches north easterly on the brows of sd hills as they range to the bound or the County of Albany, and southwesterly on the brows of said hills as they range opposite the west corner of Marbletown bounds ; and still further south westerly with the full breadth from the north west boundaries of Rochester, to where the said ten miles end. Running so far as to run with a due South east line to a certain fall in the rondout called by the Indians hootick, which is the north bound of the land called Nepenath, belonging to Jacob Rutsen and Jan Jans Bleecker."

These bounds were indefinite enough to create innumerable disputes. The " Fish Kil " was the name applied to the west branch of the Delaware river above its junction with the east branch. Did the Indian grant reach to the west branch? Besides, the territory between the two branches was claimed as the lands of the Oneidas (Olde Ulster, Vol.III., page 324). If so an Esopus Indian had no right to it.

Having obtained his Indian deed Johannes Hardenbergh applied to the colonial authorities for confirmation of title. On the 20th day of April, 1708 the patent was granted. It was in the name of Queen Anne and set forth that

** Our Loving Subjects Johannes Hardenbergh Leonard Lewis Phillip Rokeby William Nottingham Benjamin Faneuil Peter Fauconnier & Robt Lurting by their humbly Petition Presented Councill have Pray'd our Grant & Confirmation of a Certain tract of Vacant and unappropriated Land Scituate in the Countys of Ulster & Albany.

" Beginning att the Sand Bergh or Hills att ye Northeast Corner of the Lands Granted to Ebenezer Wlllson Derick Vandenbergh &c at Minisinck so Running all along their line Northwesterly as the said Line Runs to the fifish Kill or River and so to the head thereof Includeing the same thence on a Direct Line to the head of a Certain Small River Commonly known by the Name of Cartwrights kill [Cauterskill] and so by the Northerly Side of the said Kil or River to the Northermost Bounds of Kingstown on the said Kil or River thence by the Bounds of Kingstown Hurley Marbletown Rochester and other Patented Lands to the Southward thereof to the Sandbergh the place where it first Begun."

The patent was to be divided into seven equal parts and held " In free & Comon Soccage as of our Mannor of East Greenwich in the County of Kent within our Kingdome of England Yielding & Paying therefore unto us our Heirs & Successors att our Custom House att New Yorke Yearly & every Yeare ...att or upon the ffeast Day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Comonly Called Lady Day) the Rent or Sume of three Pounds Currant Money of our Province of New York in Liew and Stead of all other Rents Services Dues Duties and Demands whatsoever."

Soon after the grant was made to the seven partners an eighth interest was by them released to Augustine Graham, Surveyor-General of the Province. This officer was forbidden to be a party to a land grant in the province. But such things could be as well arranged in those days as in the present.

For many years there was a dispute as to the western bound of the great patent. When the Revolutionary War had brought peace it was found that the monuments erected by Wooster had disappeared. An act was passed by the legislature March 29th, 1790 appointing Charles Tappen and James Cockburn commissioners to make a survey of certain lines and properly mark the same by stone heaps every two miles. The patent was divided into great tracts, numbered from 1 to 42.

An interesting story can be told of the lettings and holdings of farms and other lands of the great Hardenbergh Patent. They were held under long leases and subject to a rental not very large. In 1844 the settlers refused to pay the annual rent any longer. They called upon the Legislature for aid, as well as appealed to the courts. In 1845 associations were formed to prevent the collection of rent. When the sheriff attempted to make a levy or to sell property for rent, men, disguised as Indians, appeared to prevent such sale. An act was passed that year making such prevention unlawful. In August of that year the sheriff of Delaware county went to the town of Andes to sell such property for the payment of rent. Here he found one hundred and seventy-six men, thus disguised, who told him to do his duty and they would protect him, but added, "let bidders beware." The deputy sheriffs rode into the midst of the disguised men and fired their revolvers. The disguised men gave way but fired at the horses of the deputies and deputy-sheriff Osman N. Steele was mortally wounded. About ninety persons were indicted for murder, of whom one-third were arrested. A proclamation was issued by Governor Wright declaring the county in a state of insurrection and placing it under martial law. Two men were convicted and sentenced to be executed. Governor Wright commuted their sentence to imprisonment for life. They were afterwards pardoned by Governor Young. After four months the ban of martial law was removed. The killing of Steele led to an abandonment of secret organizations and Indian costumes. It is said that the legal expenses amounted to about $65,000.

Aside from the troubles occasioned by the nonpayment of rent on lands in the present county of Delaware, in the years named, like troubles arose within the bounds of the present county of Ulster on the same Hardenbergh Patent at Little Shandaken. There were men disguised, there was firing of guns, there was opposition to the payment of rent, there were arrests and trials. No h'ves were lost ; eight disguised men were arrested and tried and nominal fines were imposed. Legislation was subsequently enacted by which title could be secured to property held under long leases, the troubles blew over and are almost forgotten at this day. The name of Hardenbergh Patent survives. Not as much can be said of a Hardenbergh interest therein. Great stretches of mountain land are still held by landlords, but this great patent never profited greatly the original owners.

It was truly a royal domain. While it lay, when granted, almost entirely within the bounds of Ulster county, as originally constituted, the changes wrought by the erection of new counties leave not much more than one-third of the area of the patent within the Ulster county of to-day. One-half of Delaware county lies in the great grant, about one-half of Greene and a large extent of Sullivan. While many square miles were mountains and rock hills, while hundreds of acres were morasses, while thousands of lots which show upon the maps are to-day in the condition in which they were two hundred years ago there were fertile valleys and hillsides awaiting cultivation to produce bountiful harvests. From the hemlocks covering the mountain sides millions of dollars in leather have been produced ; from the quarries of bluestone fortunes have been made. The region to-day is the great summering resort for tens of thousands of the dwellers in the cities on the Atlantic and the many millions of inhabitants of the great City of New York are preparing to draw their water supply from the streams in its valleys.

The late author of " Ruttenber's Indian Geographical Names " used to contend that the name Kaaterskill (Katerskill, Cauterskill) was not derived from the word of the Dutch language meaning " he cat." He insisted that it was from Katarakt, the Dutch word for waterfall or cataract.In view of the many and beautiful waterfalls on this mountain stream, it seems very appropriate.It is a fact that the early Indian deeds of the region have it either " Cartwright's kil," as does the above deed of Nanisinos, or " Katarakts kil.*'

There is an interesting matter connected with the Hardenbergh Patent and Chancellor Robert R. Livingston. In process of time the Livingston family came to own a great part of the patent. Upon the burning of Kingston by the British general Vaughan and the great loss to so many of its inhabitants, Chancellor Livingston offered five thousand acres to the sufferers among the people of Kingston as a gift, provided that they be located outside of settlements upon the patent.A meeting was appointed for April 15th, 1779 when the Kingston trustees directed William Cockburn, the surveyor, to attend with his maps of the patent.After consultation with Surveyor Cockburn Peter Du Mont, Jr.and Peter Hynpagh a tract of land was selected near Paghatackan (Arkville) on the west side of the East Branch ot the Delaware river in Great Lots Nos.39 and 40.The tract was divided into fiftyacre lots and arranged into ten classes of ten lots each.This tract was named "New Kingston," and bears that name to this day.

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